The Writer's Corner
Chapter 106 - Kiowa Reacquainted
Written by Deanne Bertram
Upon hearing that they would be meeting real, live Indians, the
boys begged and pleaded to be able to ride their ponies to the
“But we have church, tomorrow is Sunday!” stated Hope. “You’ll
be in your Sunday clothes.”
“We can pack other clothes to change into. Mama, them Indians
need to know that we can ride!” Zach stated.
“Please, we all have to ride our horses, you too Mama,” Josh
“What of Eli and your sisters?” asked Mark.
“Can’t they ride with Grandma and Grandpa?” Zach asked.
“I ride with Papa!” Eli declared.
After discussing the situation with Lucas and Milly, and having
Myra and Little Ted overhear the others would be riding their
horses, they too pleaded to ride their horses. Milly stated she
would drive the buckboard with Mykaela and Faith, as well as the
carpetbags with their change of clothes.
After church, the McCain’s stopped by Seth and Lilah’s in order
to change their clothes before proceeding to the settlement.
“You come with us, Grandpa?” Eli asked as Seth handed him up to
“I’ll stop by the settlement after the performance. Someone has
to keep an eye on the town while you and your papa are having
Seth wasn’t quite sure he wanted to meet Iron Heart and the
others. He had invited them to Hope’s wedding, but after he
learned of why Hope had tried to kill herself a few years prior,
he wasn’t sure he wanted to know more of her life with the
Buffalo Bill Cody, his show manager Johnny Baker, and Chief Iron
Heart waited at the entrance to the settlement, “Welcome!
Welcome one and all!” Buffalo Bill declared as the McCain
The children were wide-eyed in amazement as they stepped down
from their horses, or were helped down from the buckboard. Mark
introduced his parents and had to hide his laughter as the
children huddled together to be introduced to the three men who
“Pleasure to meet each and every one of you. I wish that I could
show you around, but Johnny and I need to get ready for this
afternoon’s performance. If you’ll excuse us?”
Cody tipped his hat and walked away.
Several braves ran to the group when Iron Heart motioned for
them, which caused the children to step back and seek protection
from their parents.
“The children of McCain have nothing to fear, you are welcome as
honored guests into our camp,” Iron Heart stated as he knelt
down and waited.
“You’re not gonna scalp us?” Little Ted dared ask as he looked
from behind Lucas.
“No, you have my word as chief of the Kiowa that you will not be
“What about the others?” asked Myra as she stood next to Milly
and pointed to the others.
“They too will give you their word. Anyone you meet from our
tribe will be your friend.”
“You mean it? We can meet everyone?” Josh asked as he stepped
closer to Iron Heart.
“Yes, we will be honored to show you our camp and teach you of
our way of life.” Pointing to his son, “This is Grey Heart, he
will show you where to take your ponies.”
As the children followed Grey Heart, the elder McCain’s smiled
as they heard the barrage of questions asked and the patience
Grey Heart showed in answering the questions.
“Iron Talon will see to your team. Come, I show you where you
can put your horses, then I’ll show you to our teepee.”
As they walked along, Iron Heart commented, “May I commend you
upon your own horses. They are… the word escapes me…”
“Beautiful?” offered Hope.
“They are that, but the word I was thinking… mag… mag…”
“Magnificent,” offered Milly.
“That is the word. Have you thought of breeding them?”
“They kind of took care of that themselves, earlier this
Spring,” Mark replied.
“Should be a strong foal.”
Running Fox opened the gates to several corrals where Blade,
Rainmaker, Two-Bits, and the team could be turned loose.
“If you don’t mind, Iron Heart, I’d prefer to keep Rainmaker
saddled; as a U.S. Marshal, I really need to be ready to ride at
“You are no longer a deputy, but a U.S. Marshal? I am sorry I
did not see the change,” spoke Iron Heart.
Iron Talon excused himself from the group as Iron Heart led the
way to the center of the settlement and to his teepee.
Silver Moon excitedly asked, “Are these your children?” when she
saw Mark carrying a young child on his hip and Hope holding the
hand of another.
“These are our daughters, Mykaela and Faith,” answered Hope.
Silver Moon could not keep the disappointment from her voice
when she asked, “The Great One has not blessed you with a son?”
“Oh, he has,” replied Hope. “Grey Heart is helping them take
care of their ponies and showing them and Mark’s younger
brothers and sister around.”
“They, the Great One blessed you with two sons?” asked Silver
Moon with a smile spreading across her face.
“He has blessed us with three strong sons. Silver Moon, these
are Mark’s parents.”
“I remember from your wedding,” Silver Moon stated as she
graciously greeted Lucas, Milly, and Mark. “You have met Grey
Heart, this is his wife, Moon Shadow. Iron Talon took Crying
Dove to his teepee, and running fox took White Morning.”
“You said yesterday, you were blessed with many grandchildren,”
“You will meet them later, they are with Grey Heart and Iron
Talon,” answered Silver Moon. “Please be seated. We have
prepared a meal for you.” As the others took their seats, she
continued. “We are pleased you returned with your whole family.
I have longed to know if you are truly happy and I know you are;
I can see the love of your family.”
The group had finished their lunch when they heard the
unmistakable sounds of children, running and yelling, coming
their way. The McCain’s quickly rose to their feet to make sure
their children were not the cause of any trouble.
“Papa, you’ll never guess what!” Little Ted called, out of
breath, as he abruptly halted causing Levi to run into him and
Josh and Zach were quick to help Levi to his feet; they too were
excitedly calling out.
“Easy there!” Mark called as he tried to restore order to the
mob of McCain children and children from the camp.
Iron Heart yelled even louder as he too attempted to restore
order; silence quickly surrounded the group.
Silver Moon stood with her hands clasped together when she saw
the children; curious as to which ones were Hope’s.
With hands on his hips, Mark declared, “And I thought we had
raised proper children, not a mob of banshees.”
“But Papa,” Josh dared speak.
“First, you will thank Chief Iron Heart and Silver Moon for
allowing you to visit their camp.”
Introductions of all the children were made and appropriate
respect was given by white and Indian child alike.
“Now, what was so important?” asked Lucas.
“It’s Sunday!” Little Ted declared as if that would answer his
“I know it is, just what does today being Sunday have to do with
the lot of you creating such a ruckus?”
“Just say yes, Grandpa,” Josh chimed in.
“And just what is your Grandpa saying yes to?” Mark seriously
asked, upon folding his arms and casting a disapproving look to
“Mr. Grey Heart and Soaring Hawk said we could ride during the
performance today. They say on Sundays the children are part of
the performance. Please? We can only ride if you say we can,”
Little Ted rapidly spoke.
The Silver Moon suggested to Iron Heart and Grey Heart that they
take Lucas, Mark, and the children, to discuss the arrangements.
Hope stared at Silver Moon upon hearing the name Soaring Hawk.
“He lived?” asked Hope when Silver Moon looked to her.
“Yes, he lives.”
Milly walked to stand next to Hope and placed a hand upon her
shoulder, Milly remembered when Hope had told her about Soaring
Hawk. Upon seeing Mykaela and Faith starting to yawn, Silver
Moon suggested, “Why not put them down for their naps inside,
they will be safe.”
Silver Moon opened the flap and helped Hope put her daughters
down for their nap.
Upon exiting the teepee, Hope stood to see a young Indian boy
wearing leather breeches and a leather vest with many beads
adorning it, standing by the campfire, watching. As with most
young Indians, he was lean and muscular, little fat appeared on
his young body.
“Soaring Hawk, come here,” called Silver Moon, using the Kiowa
language, as she motioned with her hand for the boy to approach.
“Yes, Silver Moon,” the boy answered, in Kiowa.
“Do you know who this is?” asked Silver Moon.
“If she is who Grey Heart said, she is Dawn Fire, the one who
kept me alive after my parents died.”
“Since you know who she is, we will speak using the white man’s
“I am pleased to meet you,” Soaring Hawk stated, bowing his head
“I’m pleased to see you… so grown up,” offered Hope as she
smiled at the boy.
“I thank you for milking the goats and giving me the gift of my
life,” Soaring Hawk spoke.
Hope nodded as she remembered the sad events that prompted her
to take care of the baby, who now stood before her as a young
“It was nice to meet you, but…”
“But what?” Hope asked.
“If I have paid my proper respects, may I go play with the
Silver Moon nodded and playfully pushed Soaking Hawk away. “Go.”
Upon turning to Hope, “Do not think poorly of him.”
“He is precious, as any child his age. He’d be ten now?”
Silver Moon nodded.
Time passed quickly and soon it was time for the afternoon
performance, a special performance including the children from
the camp and the young McCain’s. Mark and Lucas kept to the
fringe of the arena, having planned to help keep an eye on their
children, not that they expected them to cause trouble, but they
didn’t know how they or their ponies would react. Rainmaker and
Blade displayed they were upset at not being able to join the
others; both fidgeted and would not stand still, several times
Mark had to calm Rainmaker as he reared. Regardless of the
antics of their own horses, fatherly pride swelled in the hearts
of both McCain men as they watched their children perform with
The McCain’s rode behind their children, watching them interact
with their new friends and laughing as they made their way back
to the settlement following the performance. Mark was quick to
hear, “We’ve been robbed!” when he turned Rainmaker and headed
toward the man who yelled. Mark’s vision followed in the
direction the man pointed; at least three riders were racing
away from the ticket booth. Mark didn’t hesitate to give chase;
Lucas hesitated long enough to hear Iron Heart say, “Go, we take
care of them.”
The crowd thought the robbery was all part of the show; they
applauded and cheered the riders on, outlaws and lawmen alike.
Mark and Lucas carefully guided their horses through the crowd
so as not to run anyone over.
Father and son made their way to open ground and gave chase,
encouraging their horses into a gallop. They were soon joined by
Seth Lane and Johnny Drako, who had been riding to the show
grounds, and upon seeing Mark and Lucas racing their horses,
urged their own horses to catch up.
The only comfort the posse had as they gave chase to the three
robbers was that they were out of range when their quarry turned
in their saddles and fired upon them. But the outlaws failed to
recognize that each time they fired, they were slightly giving
up ground to their pursuers. Even when the posse lost sight of
the outlaws over a rise or around a rock outcropping, there was
a cloud of dust to show them the way.
As the chase wore on, Seth and Johnny felt their horses
faltering, regardless how much they encouraged their horses,
they were unable to keep pace with Lucas’ or Mark’s horses; the
two slowed their pace, hoping to give their horses a brief
respite. At the same time, the horses the outlaws were riding
were also faltering; the men whipped and spurred their horses
without mercy. They had managed to make it to a rocky butte,
where they jumped from their horses, abandoning the moneybags,
and ran. They began their ascent, recklessly picking their
route, losing their footing, sliding down a ways, only to try
Lucas and Mark reached the outlaws’ abandoned horses and
silently surveyed the location, and without a word, made their
way to an adjacent rock outcropping. Mark chose to stay at
ground level, behind a cottonwood tree, offering protection to
Lucas who carefully made his way up the hill. Lucas heard Mark’s
rifle fire and ricochet numerous times in response to the
outlaws’ gunfire. Several times the outlaws fired bullets in
both their directions, but none came close to striking their
intended targets. Lucas heard a rifle shot from below followed
closely by a human cry as a bullet from Mark’s rifle struck
true. Lucas paused and cast his gaze to see the man’s fall turn
into a rockslide gathering other loosened other rocks, causing a
cascading effect down the face of the butte. The man’s body came
to a rest at the foot of the hill, covered over by an avalanche
of rocks and dirt.
Lucas finally reached a location that offered him excellent
coverage and an advantage over the robbers. Lucas carefully
aimed his rifle, and smiled when he heard his own ricochet and a
man yelp as rock chips struck one of the outlaws. Without
needing to be told, he was going to do his best to bring the
remaining men in alive.
Johnny and Seth arrived to add support from the ground, allowing
Mark to make his way up the rock face from a different direction
than what Lucas took. Mark prayed the others would keep the
outlaws distracted enough to prevent them from seeing him as he
worked to gain an advantage of his own. Seth kept an eye on his
son-in-law and fired anytime he saw Mark start to slide, driving
the outlaws back from the edge; giving Mark the time to regain
his footing, without the outlaws being wise to his planned
Mark finally had the high ground; he stood, allowing the sun to
cast his shadow across their quarry. They men tried to shield
the sun from their eyes as they looked up. Lucas’ fired one last
shot, striking between the two men.
“We give up!” one of the men yelled as he threw his handgun over
“Nos damos por vencidos! ¡No disparen!” the other yelled,
dropping his gun. “No me mates!”
Lucas kept his rifle trained on the two as Mark pointed for them
to make their way down. Mark waited until the two had reached
the ground, slipping and falling one into the other, causing
more rocks to start an avalanche, before he started his way
down. But first, he picked up the Mexican’s handgun, emptied the
bullets, and slipped the gun into his belt.
While Johnny and Seth took care of the surviving outlaws and
Lucas made his way to the ground, Mark emptied his rifle and set
it aside in order to dig the other outlaw out from under the
debris. By the time Lucas reached Mark, he had exposed enough of
the man’s upper torso to see that he too was Mexican. Mark sat
up after listening for a heartbeat and shook his head in answer
when Lucas placed his hand to Mark’s shoulder.
“I’ll get his horse and some rope to tie him over the saddle.”
Once Lucas returned with the man’s horse, he helped his son
finish digging the man out.
“He wasn’t there when I pulled the trigger. I didn’t intend to
kill him,” commented Mark as they pulled the man free.
“No one will hold his death against you Mark. You’ve the badge
on your side,” Drako stated as he approached the McCain’s,
“Commendable that you’re able to bring the other two in alive.”
“It took all of us to do that,” answered Mark.
Mark felt three sets of concerned eyes upon him as he climbed
into the saddle, he knew why they were looking at him, and he
took comfort in their unvoiced concerns.
“Do you two think you can keep up with us?” teased Mark, trying
to turn their attention from him. “Or should Pa and I leave a
trail for you to follow?”
“Keep up? We laid back to make sure they didn’t have any other
associates waiting to spring a trap on you two,” declared Johnny
Drako as he pushed his hat back on his head, leaned forward in
his saddle and rested his arm on the saddle horn. “Can you
believe him? A U.S. Marshal and he races in without thinking
about a trap.”
“I thought you trained him better than that,” Seth joined in the
“I did,” Drako seriously answered, looking squarely at Mark.
“So you did. But it’s not like we didn’t know the two of you
were back there,” Mark replied. “Okay, touche’. Let’s get them
back to town.”
“What about the money?” Lucas asked.
“I already grabbed it from this one’s saddlebag,” commented
Mark, extending his rifle to reach for the reins to the dead
man’s horse, before turning for North Fork.
Lucas led the group as they entered North Fork, dusk was
settling, casting long shadows across the main street.
Storekeepers had long closed up for the day, if they had even
been open on a Sunday, while Sweeney was lighting the lanterns
that hung on either side of the swinging doors to his saloon.
The two surviving outlaws, with their hands tied to the saddle
horns, rode between Johnny and Seth as they broke off to head to
the Marshal’s Office.
Mark started to lead the horse with the dead outlaw to the
undertaker’s, “Pa, go on to Iron Heart’s, let Milly and Hope
know we’re back safely,” said Mark.
“I think I’ll wait for you to finish. You still have the money
and I’m sure Cody will be anxious to get it back.”
Without saying any more, Lucas waited; he knew how Mark had to
be feeling…after taking a life. He wanted to be there for his
Stepping down from their horses in front of the show office,
they met Johnny Baker and Bill Cody, “Here’s everything they
stole,” Mark called out as he handed over two moneybags.
“Little did I know when I offered to host you and your families
this afternoon, that I would also be indebted to you for saving
our box office,” Buffalo Bill stated. “Johnny, see that this
gets placed in the safe.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Cody.”
“So did you take them alive or did ya kill ‘em?” asked Cody.
“Two are at the Marshal’s Office and one is at the
undertaker’s,” Lucas answered, a little upset at Cody’s carefree
attitude about killing.
Buffalo Bill continued to offer his thanks when Johnny Drako and
Seth Lane joined them, it was then that a look of recognition
came to Cody’s face. “Forgive me, but I do declare, I have
finally put everything together… Mark McCain, The Lawman…Lucas
McCain, The Rifleman…Johnny Drako…The Gunslinger. Well, if this
don’t beat all!” Cody slapped his gloves against his thigh. “And
you, Seth Lane, you carry yourself as one who has served in the
“Yes, for over twenty years I served in the U.S. Cavalry, I
resigned my commission as a Major a few years back,” answered
Cody removed his hat and scratched at his head. “I tell you
what; I want to offer all four of you a place in my show. I’ll
bill you as The Four Guns of North Fork.” Cody raised his hands
over his head, at first together, but he spread them apart as if
to emphasize the title of the banner he had in mind.
“I have a job, I’m a U.S. Marshal,” Mark replied.
“No thank you, we all have families,” Johnny replied.
“Cody, none of us use our guns for money, we defend our town and
those who visit us,” replied Lucas.
“Personally, I spent too many nights out on patrol and I’ve come
to enjoy sleeping in a good, solid bed, and knowing where that
bed will be, at all times,” Seth seriously jested.
“It would sure be some shootout.” Bill twisted his mustache as
if not hearing their objections.
“Shootout?” asked Mark, but unsure if Cody heard him.
Cody yelled out, “Annie! Frank! Over here!”
After introducing Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, Cody insisted
in leading the group to a long bench table and invited everyone
to have a seat. Many in the crowd strolling by were awed in
seeing who all sat around the table, talking as if they were old
friends, but behind the veil of their civilized talks, Cody was
trying his damnedest to see that his show had a new attraction
to draws crowds like none before. Those from North Fork were
trying their best to explain to Cody the reason for their
“Listen Cody,” Drako stated, narrowing his steely eyes. “We have
a nice quiet town, a town I happen to like just the way she is.
You put banners out like that and you’ll only be giving outlaws
an excuse to come and disturb what we’ve worked hard to create.
A safe town, a peaceful town…”
“Bill, it is an interesting proposition, but we’re all in
agreement, we must decline. If you’ll excuse us, we best be
getting to our families, they’re probably worried about us,”
Lucas eventually stated as he reached for his hat.
“At least your family saw you ride out,” Seth stated. “Lilah is
probably worried sick about me. I told her I’d be home long
before now to bring her to the camp.”
“Mr. Cody, thank you for your hospitality,” Mark offered.
Buffalo Bill thought quickly, he needed a little more time.
“Then I insist all of you shall receive complimentary tickets
for your families to next Saturday’s performance. It’s the least
I can do.”
Cody called out to Johnny Baker and instructed him to bring
enough tickets to allow all the family members to come to the
Bill Cody’s Four Guns of North Fork walked to the front of the
sideshow area, when Mark asked, “Were you able to find out who
“All three have wanted posters out of Texas. I wired the Rangers
to let them know we had two of them in custody. Amos said he’d
leave any response under the door to the office.
As the four continued to talk, a young boy ran up to them,
“Excuse, please. I, Soaring Hawk. Iron Heart sent me, bring to
“Son, please thank your chief, but I had best get home to my
wife,” stated Seth.
Johnny Drako also begged his apologies that he needed to get
back to his family.
“Sirs, families with Iron Heart and Silver Moon. Mr. Cody send
riders, they are with McCain’s.”
The group followed Soaring Hawk, “I tell you, young ones have
much fun today.”
Their wives patiently, if not nervously, waited for their
arrival, but were unable to restrain themselves when they saw
them; each ran to their respective husband and welcomed him
“Iron Horse, thank you for watching over our families,” Lucas
stated as he walked to the chief and extended his hand, the one
not wrapped around Milly’s waist.
“It was the proper thing to do.”
Mark quietly asked of Hope, only seeing Faith in his wife’s
arms, “Where are the other children?”
“Inside,” Hope pointed to the teepee; she stopped Mark from
leaving her side.
Milly, Hope, Lou, and Lilah insisted that their husbands come to
sit beside them. As if upon cue, the elders took beating the
drums around the fire. Women from the village brought plates of
food to give to them. In the language of the Kiowa, the tribe
members began their song. Soon the flap to the teepee opened and
an Indian woman led the McCain and the two oldest Drako children
out, the flames from the campfire illuminated the excitement on
their faces as they joined other children from the camp.
With Faith sitting in his lap, Mark looked around to see Johnny
and Lou, each holding one of the twins in their laps. Mark
clapped his daughter’s hands in rhythm to the drums, she
squealed in laughter while everyone watched the children dance.
Buffalo Bill Cody soon joined the group around the fire and
smiled as he realized the significance of the dance – a dance of
At the end of the dance, several Indian women led the children
back to the teepees from which they came. With lateness of the
night, the youngest ones were put to bed, but still the evening
and entertainment progressed outside the teepee. Try as each one
might, with all the excitement and activity of the day, they
couldn’t keep the Sandman from seeing them to peaceful dreams.
By the end of the evening, Lucas stated, “Thank you for a
wonderful evening,” as they prepared to get the other children
to take them home.
“Please, leave the little ones here; they’ve had such a
wonderful day and made many new friends. We will watch over them
as if they were our own,” Silver Moon asked.
“We can’t ask that of you,” Hope replied.
“It was not asked, it was offered. It fills my heart to share
the laughter of so many children, including your children.
Please… Let us say proper goodbyes in the morning.”
All agreed that the older children would spend the night in the
camp of the Kiowa and the Drako’s and McCain’s would return by
eight o’clock the following morning.
Night had settled when Cody entered the trailer housing the show
office and spoke with Johnny Baker.
“You want what?!” Baker asked, unbelieving what he’d heard.
“You heard me, I want you to have Pony ride to the surrounding
towns and put an announcement in all the local papers regarding
a special performance by the Four Guns of North Fork.”
“But they said no. Oh, I get it. The tickets were an excuse to
make sure they come back. I take it you’re gonna keep this a
secret from them?”
“They turned me down once; they can’t do it in front of a large
crowd. I want people from miles around to know this is
happening. I’ll get my show! Annie and Frank are good draws;
however, I’m sure that there are many people in this territory
who would change their minds to travel here, if only to find
who’s the better shot. There’ll never be another showdown like
it.” Bill stretched his legs out on top of his desk, while he
leaned back in his chair, interlacing his fingers behind his
head. “Ain’t ever gonna be another show like this one.”
“And if they don’t agree?”
“They will. The crowd will see to it that they will.” Cody’s eye
held a gleam of someone who knew how to get what he wanted.
The families returned to the Kiowa camp Monday morning to
collect their children. After bidding goodbye to Johnny and Lou
Drako and Lucas and Milly McCain, Silver Moon asked, “Do you
have to go? It has been long and I enjoyed your children
yesterday, please, won’t you stay. Mr. Cody said we are to stay
here and rest before traveling. I would like to spend more time
with you and the little ones have had such fun with their new
Hope’s eyes asked, even though she knew her husband would say
“You make sure you mind your manners,” Mark replied upon
pointing to his children.
“Can we really stay and play with the others?” Zach asked.
“Yes, but I’m still the marshal and if I hear you’ve done
anything wrong…” warned Mark.
The boys ran off to play while Moon Shadow took Mykaela and
Faith to be with her youngest, allowing Silver Moon and Hope to
“Silver Moon, would you like to go into town. I have other
friends who I would love for you to meet; people who welcomed me
shortly after I started living here.”
Riding astride their horses, the two women rode into North Fork.
Their first stop was at the Day Care where Hope introduced
Silver Moon to Hattie and explained how at first she had lived
with Milly, until Milly married Mark’s father. Then she lived
with Hattie who treated her as her grandchild, until it was time
for her to wed Mark.
“She still treats me as her grandchild, as she does Mark, too.”
Next Hope introduced Gwen to Silver Moon and explained how Gwen
had come to live with them, before marrying her husband.
“When is your little one due?” Silver Moon asked.
Rubbing her hands over her pregnant stomach, Gwen stated with a
smile, “Sometime in November.”
The four women spent time talking while they watched a few of
the children play, until Micah walked through the door.
“Micah, I want you to meet Silver Moon,” Hope announced.
The two graciously greeted each other.
“Thought I’d invite my wife to lunch, would you care to join
us?” offered Micah.
“Thank you but we need to get back to the village; I wanted
Silver Moon to meet the rest of my family and a few others.”
Micah tipped his hat as he offered his arm to Hattie.
“Gwen are you okay to stay here?” asked Hope.
“Sure, there’s only the three today. It’s an easy day. Hattie
said she’d watch them this afternoon, giving me time to go to
Lilah’s to be fitted for new clothes while I’m carrying this
little one. Jake will come for me after he’s done out at Lucas
The women said goodbye.
Stepping to the boardwalk, Hope called out, “Mrs. Donner?”
The woman turned and made her way to where Hope and Silver Moon
“Madelyn, I’d like for you to meet Silver Moon, she raised me as
her daughter, after Iron Heart found me.”
Hope smelled the man approaching and moved out of the way before
he could bump into her. She couldn’t make out what he was saying
as mumbled under his drunken breath.
“Silver Moon, this is Madelyn Donner, she runs the general store
and between her and Lou, they helped me choose my clothes once I
came live in town. She has been a good friend.”
Next, Hope introduced Silver Moon to Stevan Griswald, informing
her that he was her first teacher; Mark had only been a student
teacher while working with her those first few months.
That evening, Sweeney nervously ran into the Marshal’s Office,
“Johnny, he’s at it again.”
“Trumble?” Drako asked.
“Uh Mark, I think Johnny can handle him,” Sweeney stated.
Mark paused in reaching for his hat and rifle, “What do you
mean, it’s always taken at least two to deal with him,” replied
“It would be for the best… if you didn’t…” was Sweeney’s
“He’s coming,” Drako insisted.
“He ain’t being…kind.”
The three entered the saloon to hear Trumble stirring up
“I tell ya, he’s a squaw man.”
Nils tried to quiet him, “You’re out of line!”
“There’s nothing worse than a white woman raised as a squaw.
Ain’t nothing worse than a white man marrying one; and raising
The saloon silenced as the others recognized who walked through
“TRUMBLE!” Drako yelled.
Not turning around, Trumble declared, “I’ve paid my tab! If
fact, I’ve paid more than what me and my friends have drunk.”
“You’re coming with us!” ordered Drako.
“Us?” Trumble teased as he turned around. “Filthy stinkin’ injun
lover. No wonder ya weren’t concerned when they took your
squaw.” Trumble pulled himself to his full height and took
several steps towards Mark. “And you…you ain’t worth the dirt I
walk on.” Trumble spat on the floor in front of Mark.
Mark did his best to keep his temper in check, allowing that
Trumble was drunk; his reaction surprised those present because
he didn’t tear into the man, but his body posture reflected his
“Trumble, I’m not asking, I’m ordering you to shut your mouth
and come with us,” Drako again ordered.
“An old washed up, has been gunfighter and a squaw man are what
this town has for lawmen.” Trumble bellowed a hollow laugh, and
with speed belying his bulk, he charged Johnny and Mark.
The new hostess at the saloon, screamed as she saw Trumble crash
into the two lawmen, driving them through the swinging doors and
out onto the boardwalk. Johnny had gone for his gun and barely
cleared his holster when the weight of Trumble drove the breath
from him. Mark had the butt of his rifle in motion, aiming
directly for Trumble’s jaw when the impact threw him backwards
causing him to struggle to inhale as Trumble landed upon him.
Trumble bellowed his anger as he stood to his feet, and prepared
to kick Johnny. The other patrons in the saloon jumped from
their chairs or left the bar and crowded the doorway and windows
to watch the fight, that didn’t materialize when Seth Lane
brought the butt of his revolver to the back of Trumble’s head.
“You two okay?” asked Seth upon returning his gun to his
“Yeah, give me a hand up,” asked Johnny, extending his arm.
Once to his feet, Johnny turned to Mark, “How about you? Here,”
he said upon extending his arm to Mark after Mark had pushed
Trumble from him.
“Ow,” complained Mark, rubbing at his ribs once he was to his
feet. “How many times will this make that we’ve had to drag him
“Too many to count,” Nils stated as he exited the saloon and
offered to help.
The group relaxed upon hearing the cell door clank closed and
Johnny turned the key to lock it.
“Nils, will you go wake Micah and ask him to come to the
office?” Seth asked.
“Why are you wanting to wake Micah?” Mark asked, after letting
out a groan in sitting down at his desk.
“Because I want Doc Burrage to have a look at the two of you, I
didn’t like the way I heard both of you huffing and puffing
getting him here.” Seth motioned with his head towards the cell
where Trumble lay.
“I’ll be fine,” Drako stated.
“No you aren’t, you still look pale. Nils, do as I said.”
“Okay, Seth,” Nils hurried out the door before Johnny or Mark
could countermand Seth’s orders.
Johnny heard Lou enter the clinic, asking, “Where is he?”, “In
here Lou,” he replied.
Lou entered the room to see a shirtless Johnny sitting on the
examination table as Doc Burrage tightly wrapped his ribs in a
“He’ll be okay in a week or so. Nothing to get overly worried
about, Lou,” Sarah McCafferty volunteered as she handed a pair
of scissors to Thadd.
“Was it Trumble?” Lou whispered as she gently placed a kiss to
“When is it not him?” Johnny replied.
“Why did ye try to take him on by yerself?”
“He didn’t, Mark’s next door,” Thadd replied.
Setting his roll of tape down, Thadd stated, “There, he’s all
yours Mrs. Drako.”
“Thank ye, Doc. Can I take him home?”
“It’s still my town to oversee…”
“Not tonight, the doc said yer all mine,” Lou replied, with a
gleam in her eye.
“I did say you were all hers,” Thadd laughed. “Take it easy for
a few days. Stop back by on Thursday and I’ll take a look at
those ribs again.”
“Well Mark, seems you took the brunt of Trumble’s tumble.”
“Don’t make me laugh, Doc. They’re just a few bruised ribs, I’ve
had bruised ribs before,” Mark diagnosed.
“It’s a little more serious than a few bruised ribs, Mark. I
think with Trumble’s weight, he actually cracked a few of your
ribs. They’re not broken, just cracked. Regardless you and
Johnny are going to be wrapped up for a week or so. I don’t
think it will stop either of you from doing your jobs, but just
try to take it easy. I’ll give you a prescription you can have
filled at the general store in the morning; it’ll help alleviate
some of your pain.”
“My pain is dealing with a drunken Trumble all the time,” Mark
expressed his frustration.
“Mark, try to take it easy and next time Trumble gets so drunk,
maybe you should wire Ethan and have him bring in the cavalry to
deal with him.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” teased Mark.
Placing the tray to the desk, Sarah stated, “Mark, I don’t know
why, but ever since he first bumped into you at the Sweetheart’s
Dance, he’s not had a liking for you.”
“It’s only going to get worse,” Mark whispered, not realizing he
said it loud enough for Thadd to hear.
“Sarah, we’re through here, why don’t you go on home for the
“Good night, Thadd, Mark.”
Sarah left the office.
“Okay, so why are things going to get worse?” Thadd asked.
“Mark, I’m your friend. Let me help you.”
“There’s nothing else. Thanks for bandaging my ribs, Doc.”
Hearing a knock on the door, neither had time to say come in
before the door opened to have Seth enter the room.
“Well? How’s my son-in-law?”
“Stubborn. Maybe you’ll tell me what else happened tonight?”
“Just Trumble being drunk and spouting off,” answered Seth.
“Okay, be that way. Listen, I’m your friend as well as your
doctor. Most times people confide in me.”
Thadd stood back and crossed his arms, waiting.
“Doc, Trumble was spouting off about Hope and… Well, he said
some mighty unpleasant things…that I don’t care to repeat, I’m
just worried about people who are new to town and don’t really
“Mark, don’t keep this from her. She has a right to know, so she
can be prepared to handle the situation, should it arise, when
she comes to town. She should hear it from you, not someone in
town who doesn’t know any better. Besides, you have plenty of
friends who will be the first to correct anyone who dares repeat
anything Trumble says.”
“Doc, again, I’ll heed your words of wisdom,” Mark stated as he
pulled on his shirt and began to button it, before tucking his
shirttail into his pants.
“Thanks for watching the office,” Mark said to Micah as he
escorted him to the boardwalk.
“You sure you’re okay to take over,” Micah asked.
“Yeah, with Trumble in jail, who else is going to cause us
trouble? Go home and give Hattie a kiss from me.”
Drako returned to the office Tuesday late morning only to have
Wyman Wimbleduff corner him, “I want to press charges!”
“Who punched you in the nose?” Drako asked, seeing blood seep
through Wimbleduff’s fingers as he held his hand over his nose.
“You’ll put her in jail, won’t you?” Wimbleduff asked.
“Her? Just who punched you?”
“That new hostess.”
“A woman did this?” Mark asked, unable to keep the laughter from
“I want to press charges!”
“Okay, let me get you to Doc’s and Mark will go and get her side
of the story.”
“There ain’t no story, she punched me!” Wimbleduff proclaimed.
Mark walked into Sweeney’s, surprised by the sight that greeted
him; the men were cheering and congratulating someone who stood
amid them. Slowly the group parted allowing Mark to see a pretty
woman standing at the middle of the bar.
“Well Marshal, I presume you’re here to take me to jail?” the
woman asked, holding her arms out as if ready to be handcuffed.
Mark observed that she wasn’t that much taller than Hope, and
her dark hair was attractively done up on top of her head. Her
tanned complexion contrasted against the light colored blouse
she wore, fully buttoned, over a dark full-length skirt. She
wore a minimal amount of make-up only enough to accentuate her
“I take it you’re the one who punched Wimbleduff?”
“I don’t think we’ve had the chance to be properly introduced,
my name’s Thelma Van deHan.”
“Marshal Mark McCain. Was he ‘forward’ with you?” asked Mark,
knowing how some drunks would treat saloon girls.
“No Marshal, he didn’t do anything in appropriate to me,”
“Mark, she was in the right,” Johnny Gibbs stated. “Had she not
been the one to punch him, I sure would have. But I wasn’t close
“Uncle Johnny… Would someone like to tell me what happened, so I
can make my report and decide what charges are to be pressed and
No one was forthcoming in offering information as to why, only
that each man present had wished they had been the doer of the
“Okay, since no one will tell my why, I presume it has something
to do with what happened last night, involving Trumble.”
Mark looked at those present and guilty faces reflected back at
“Marshal McCain, I briefly met your wife yesterday when she was
introducing Silver Moon, she’s a lovely woman… And she don’t
need nobody repeating words that should never have been spoken
in the first place. I’m sorry but I just couldn’t stop myself.”
“Mark,” Johnny Gibbs interrupted. “She gave him fair warning to
stop talking. Wimbleduff actually had the nerve to swing on
“That’s right Marshal,” was repeated by several others.
Mark saw Sweeney nodding. “Mark, Thelma’s a very nice lady, she
hasn’t caused me any trouble since I hired her as a hostess, she
ain’t no saloon girl. In fact, she’s kept most of the ranch
hands in line when they’re here.”
“Care to tell me how you learned to punch like that?” Mark
couldn’t help himself from asking.
“I have four older brothers,” answered Thelma.
“Well?” Drako asked as Mark returned to the office.
“Wimbleduff should be thankful I’m not arresting him. He had the
nerve to swing on Thelma first.”
“Who said?” Wimbleduff asked.
“Everyone. Go home and sleep it off.” Mark let him off with a
warning, “And next time you decide to spout something you heard,
get ALL the facts. Be thankful it wasn’t me who heard you.”
“You didn’t do anything last night,” Wimbleduff replied.
Mark called Wimbleduff’s bluff, he removed his badge and set it
on Johnny’s desk, his look told his friend to ‘stay out of
“I’m not wearing the badge now. Care to repeat what you said in
front of me?”
Giving the man time to think, Mark stated, “Didn’t think so. Get
out of here.”
Mark returned to Johnny’s desk and picked up his badge.
“He repeated Trumble’s words?” Johnny asked.
“You don’t know how hard it was to restrain myself last night.”
“I do. Maybe just a little harder than it was for me to restrain
“But Hope’s not your wife!”
“No, but she’s the wife of a very good friend of mine, a very
good friend to my wife, the daughter-in-law of another good
friend, and the daughter to another. And regardless, no one has
the right to speak about her in such a manner.”
“What about Trumble?” Mark asked.
“Martha came and got him while you were at Sweeney’s,” Seth
“I bet she wasn’t too pleased with him,” Mark replied
“Embarrassed was more like it. Mark, why don’t you head on home,
your shift is about over anyway,” stated Seth.
Mark returned to his home for lunch, knowing Hope planned to
ride to the Kiowa camp. Tying Rainmaker to the hitching rail
Mark entered his home, excitedly greeted by his children.
“Have all of you had your lunch?” asked Mark.
“Why don’t you go outside and play for a little while. I need to
talk to your mama.”
Mark closed the door behind his children, and turned to face his
“What’s wrong?” asked Hope.
“I need to talk with you, without them overhearing.”
Mark unbuttoned his shirt to show Hope his bandaged ribs.
Startled Hope asked, “What happened?” and gently placed her
hands to the bandage.
“They’re just bruised and maybe a couple are cracked. We had to
deal with Trumble last night.”
“That man! Why can’t you just lock him up and throw away the
“I wish I could, if only to prevent you from being hurt,”
“Me from being hurt? Mark, what are you talking about?”
“Hope, last night Trumble was spouting off over at the saloon.
He wasn’t being very kind with his words…”
“I saw him yesterday afternoon when I was introducing Silver
Moon to Madelyn Donner. If I hadn’t smelled him coming, I
believe he would have deliberately bumped into me.”
“Hope, there were others in the saloon who overheard what he
said and how he said it.”
“Wyman Wimbleduff started spouting off in the saloon today,
repeating a lot that Trumble said. Hope, there are a lot people
who call North Fork their home, that weren’t here when you first
arrived; they don’t know your whole story. I just want to
Mark pulled Hope to his lap.
“I don’t want to see you getting hurt,” Mark whispered.
“Mark, you don’t know my whole story either. But, if they can’t
understand and accept my past, then they’re no friends of ours,”
“But they are our neighbors. We all call North Fork home.”
“They’ll have to be the ones to change. I can’t change the past,
but these people have known me since they arrived and I’m the
same person I was before the show arrived. And if someone spouts
off in front of me, I’ll give you fair warning…” Hope pointed
her index finger to Mark.
“Please don’t try to take any scalps,” teased Mark.
“I can promise I won’t take any scalps, but some just might find
themselves on the other end of a knuckle sandwich.”
Hope balled her fist to prove her point.
“Well, Thelma Van deHan gave Wimbleduff a knuckle sandwich on
your behalf today. He was at the saloon and a number of men from
town witnessed it and most wished they had been the one to
defend your honor. Including Uncle Johnny.”
“What are you going to do about Trumble?”
“There’s not much we can do except keep throwing him in jail for
drunk and disorderly or disturbing the peace.”
Hope stood from Mark’s lap and walked to the front door to watch
their children playing together with Lucas and Milly’s children.
“By the way, since you are off tomorrow, Silver Moon and Iron
Heart have invited the whole family back to their camp. Mark,
visiting with them, is wonderful and I’ll admit Silver Moon and
Iron Heart have opened my eyes about why they chose to work with
Mr. Cody. I didn’t realize how much I missed them. I hope you
“I don’t mind. This is important to you, so it’s important to
“I also invited Ma and Pa, as well as Father and Lilah to join
us tomorrow, I think it’s time everyone heard from Iron Heart
and Silver Moon, the whole story of my living with them.”
Mark walked over to Hope, stood behind her, wrapped his arms
around her waist, and sighed, “I love you. I’ll help you get
Two-Bits saddled so you can ride to their camp.”
Seth and Lilah cautiously met the McCain’s outside of the
encampment Wednesday morning, Seth wasn’t sure he was ready to
hear the details of his daughter’s life, during the years he had
thought she was killed along with her Aunt Susan’s family.
The McCain children ran to play with the children of the camp,
but Hope kept Faith with her.
Iron Heart told of taking Grey Heart and Iron Talon hunting,
when they came upon a small figure lying next to a watering
hole, dress torn and dirty. He told how he stepped from his
horse and walked to the child, knelt and lifted the girl into
his arms. Placing his hand to her chest and feeling it rise he
said, “She lives.”
“The child started to wake, her eyes held fear as she clutched
the doll she carried. I tried to talk to her, but neither
understood the other’s language. I knew there was a family
homestead at a distance, so I carried the child and set her to
my horse. Together we rode until that night. The smoke was
bitter and smelled of death.
“We looked for others, who might live, but regrettably, the
entire family was dead; no animal was left alive.”
Moon Shadow joined the group and offered to take Faith and set
her to play with the other toddlers of the camp.
“Whoever killed the family, wanted others to think Indians had
killed, but I knew different. The ponies were shod and the
arrows were not of the Kiowa. Anyone who knows the tribes knows
the patterns and materials each tribe uses to make their arrows.
“We were many days ride from the nearest white man and who of
them would believe us. We buried the dead and left.”
“I didn’t know you buried Susan and her family, it wasn’t
written in any of the reports,” stated Seth.
“Why would the white man write of our compassion?” Iron Heart
asked as he paused, giving the others time to reflect.
Iron Talon spoke, “My father and brother and I rode with the
child, offering her water and to share our meals as we returned
to camp. The first morning we rode, we feared she was scared of
us when she ran. I followed and watched her jump into a... the
water. She splashed and dove under the water again. Coming up
for breath, she rubbed at her hair. Next time she rise for
breath, she rubbed the dirt from her dress. She walked to the
bank and twisted the water out before removing her dress. The
sun was just cresting a hill when it struck her hair, and made
it appear on fire.”
“That’s how you gave Hope her name?” asked Seth.
“Yes, Dawn Fire,” Iron Heart stated and continued, “She hung her
dress over a low branch of a tree and came to sit across from us
wearing just her...”
“Petticoat,” offered Hope.
“Yes, petticoat. When the dress was dry, she put it back on and
waited. We broke camp and travel back to the settlement.”
Silver Moon picked up the story, “I did not see the little one
who rode behind my husband, at first all I saw were the rabbits
and deer they hunted. When I stood next to Iron Heart, I saw the
two tiny fists balled around his waist. I reached up to help the
child down. I feared what was to come because the child was
Iron Heart continued the story, “We told the Man of God, who
visited our camp several weeks later, of finding the child. He
talked with her and said the child would be better with us. He
continued to visit with us once a month to check on the child
for many years.”
“Did the priest ever say why he felt the child would be better
off with you than her own kind?” Seth asked.
“No, we never knew…” Iron Heart answered.
“Father, it was because of what I saw?” answered Hope.
“What you saw?” asked Lilah.
“I saw the men who came,” whispered Hope.
“You what?” startled Seth.
“Seth, remember when you and Ethan were first reunited with Hope
in Alamagordo, she told us then that it wasn’t Indians,” Mark
answered. “She said brown and white men. The Priest must have
“Hope, remember, what did you talk about with the priest…”
“I told him of the men who came to Aunt Susan’s and how Aunt
Susan had Henry take me to the cellar and lead me out the
tunnel; he shut the door behind me, I couldn’t get back inside.
I watched them, I heard them…”
Hope shivered as the memories returned; she panicked and looked
around, the memories were that vivid; her breath shallowed, in
expectation of those men finding her.
Mark sat next to Hope and pulled her close, “You’re safe, you’re
Hope couldn’t stop the tears or the sobs that came in spasms;
she clung to Mark as if her life depended upon him. Mark had
never felt Hope tremble so violently or react in such a fashion
the whole time she had been a part of his life. The others of
their family felt concerned and gathered around Hope and Mark,
pleading with her that she was safe.
Hope kept pleading, “Please don’t let them find me. Please,
don’t let them find me.”
Silver Moon returned with an older man, his face lined with age,
his hair white tied down the middle of his back, his posture
stooped over. Iron Heart took the furs the old man removed from
around his body, to show he was even frailer than he first
Lucas pulled Seth aside, while Milly moved Lilah away.
“What’s wrong with her?” demanded Seth.
“Seth, we’ve talked a little bit about Hope’s past, but never to
this degree. These are memories she’s kept hidden for a long
time,” Lucas answered. “She’s talked of her life with the Kiowa,
but never of what happened that day.”
“What’s he giving to her?” demanded Seth as he watched the old
man pull out a pouch and mix whatever was inside into a gourd
The old man spoke, and Silver Moon translated, “Mark, he said to
make her drink it all. It will make the gasping stop.”
“What’s wrong with her?!” an alarmed Seth asked.
“Seth, please,” Lilah stated as she placed her hands into her
Mark held the gourd to Hope’s lips while Silver Moon held her
hands, to prevent her from trying to push it away.
“Please Hope, drink this,” pleaded Mark.
They saw Hope struggle to bury her memories and to do as she
Mark asked, but her emotions were too much for her; tears poured
down her face.
“Hope, listen to me,” stated Mark. “You’re safe; you’re with
people who love you. Please, drink this…”
As sobs continued to wrack her body, Hope tried to do as asked;
trying not to choke as she drank all that was in the gourd.
“That’s it. Try to breathe slower, try to relax. Please…” begged
Upon Silver Moon releasing her hands, Hope immediately clutched
Mark’s shirt, and nestled her head to his shoulder. Tears still
fell from her closed eye, but the sobs were lessening, Mark felt
her relax against him, her breath calming.
Silver Moon quietly spoke to the old man and said to the group,
“She will sleep for some time. Mark, if you will carry her
inside, it will be easier upon her when she wakes.”
Carrying his wife, Mark followed Silver Moon into their teepee
and placed her on a pallet of furs; and watched as Silver Moon
placed another fur over top of her. ”You will stay with her. She
will need you when she wakes.”
After taking the old man back to his teepee, Silver Moon
returned, “The medicine given will not make her forget, only to
sleep. Sleep is the best thing for her. I have more, should it
“We are sorry to bring such memories back to her,” Iron Heart
spoke as he wife sat next to him, tears on her own face. “She
never told us…only the Man of God knew.”
“I guess it had to be done. She wanted us to know more of her
life with you… I wonder…” stated Seth. “If the priest knew you
had a white child and if he also knew about the massacre, could
he have known who did it and left her with you to protect her
from those responsible?”
“Seth, that is a possibility,” replied Lucas. “He must have felt
it was safer to leave Hope to live her life with the Kiowa
versus taking her back to a town and have those men find out
there was a survivor. If they could murder a whole family in
cold-blood, what would have kept them from trying to kill one
Silver Moon wanted Seth to understand how much she cared for the
girl, “I took her into our home as if I had carried her and gave
birth to her. That first night, I held her to my breast and
allowed her to cry. I put her to bed and slept under the furs
with her, she needed to know she was not alone. To me, Dawn Fire
was the daughter I never had. A chief expects to raise sons, but
the mother always longs for a daughter. She was an answered to
my prayer. I grieved with her for her loss, I would hear her cry
at night, but when the sun chased the moon from the sky, she
never cried. In time, she no longer cried at night.”
“But if I had known she was so stubborn,” Iron Heart stated as
he laughed at a long forgotten memory.
“Stubborn?” Seth asked.
“She insisted in learning as the braves, she said that if she
was to live with us, she must know all there is to know. She
spent the sunrises with the women learning how to be an Indian,
and our words. As the sun moved to slumber, she spent time with
me, learning of animals, and the ways of our people.”
“She was very eager to learn when she was in school,” Milly
interrupted. “Her teacher and I would talk many times about her
eagerness to learn. That’s probably why she caught up so quickly
with her studies.”
“And here I always thought it was because of my son being an
excellent student teacher,” Lucas stated lightening the mood.
Silver Moon continued, “She never complained about helping with
the younger children or the elders. When work needed done, she
was there to help. I remember when I was teaching her to weave
baskets, she would try so hard to keep up with the older girls
when it came to harvesting the reeds from the ponds; she would
bloody her hands, but she never complained, until I told her she
could no longer help, not until she was healed. In time, I
believed she forget her time before…”
“Silver Moon, there was an incident several years back, where
she told me about Running Wolf, Spotted Doe, and Soaring Hawk,”
“Yes, I know of what you speak. Dawn Fire grew into a beautiful
young woman, and as the daughter of a chief, many braves favored
Silver Moon needed to talk more of her memories, “It is time men
go and talk of men talk, this is women’s talk.” Silver Moon
waited for the men to leave and soon it was just her, Milly, and
Lilah. “These are words for you to hear, not men… Dawn Fire
longed to be given to a brave, as many of her friends had been;
some already had a child or carried the life within. I knew of
“Hope told me could not be given, as she was not old enough,”
“That is what I told her. Iron Heart had told me of a dream he
had seen from the elders…showing that her own would come for
her. Little did we know how that would end,” Silver Moon paused
to collect her thoughts.
“Silver Moon, before Hope married Mark, she told me of a dream
she had from the elders, when the men had taken her from your
village. In her dream, a man came to take her home. At first,
she said, she thought he was to take her back to you, but as she
came to know Mark, she realized the dream was that he would be
“It is difficult at times to truly understand the dreams the
elders’ send, until the dream become real.” Silver Moon
continued, “But still, we could not tell her of the dream. Dawn
Fire was there when Spotted Doe birthed Soaring Hawk. She wiped
the sweat from her friend’s body as she struggled to birth, from
when the sun was high in the sky, until it hid from the moon.
When the child arrived, Dawn Fire held the child as Spotted
Mouse cut the cord of life. Dawn Fire held the bloodied baby to
her and wrapped him to keep him warm while the others tended to
Spotted Doe. She watched when Spotted Doe took the child and
placed it to her breast and watched as the milk of life spilled
from around the child’s mouth. I was there when Dawn Fire left
the teepee, blood from the birth on her dress and arms.
“I followed her to the stream, I knew she needed a mother. As
she knelt in the cold waters, I asked if her tears were tears of
joy for Running Wolf and Spotted Doe. She did not answer, she
did not move, leaving it to me to remove the soiled clothing
from her body as she cried. She looked to me and I saw the
longing in her eyes and I yearned for her to know what it was to
receive and carry the seed of life within.”
Silver Moon continued, “As I bathed the blood and sweat from
her; she asked if she was so unworthy that the Great One made
her body so small that no brave wanted to take her to give their
seed to her to bring forth a child from her womb. She told of
her yearnings while she helped her friend.”
Milly tried to envision what Hope endured; Lilah understood
Hope’s longing to have a child.
“Yet, the elders’ dream did not tell us when her own would come
for her, so I told her she was not of age. I told her many of
the braves in the tribe favored taking her, but that Iron Heart
had not chosen which brave would bear the honor of taking his
daughter, at least not until she was of age. I told her by
waiting until she was older, this gave the braves time to
increase their herds in their offerings to Iron Heart. The more
horses presented, the stronger the brave and stronger the sons
he would have her bear.”
“But what would have happened had she turned eighteen?” Milly
“We prayed the white man would come for her, but had he not, she
would have been given to the brave who offered the best and the
most to us,” Silver Moon answered.
“She would have been sold, for horses?” asked Lilah, she
couldn’t listen anymore; she stood and excused herself.
“It is difficult for others to understand our way of life, but
it is the father’s right to choose who is best for his daughter.
By presenting the best ponies, it shows the brave is strong, for
only the strongest brave would be able to present such an
offering. In time, the woman would come to love her husband, as
I came to love Iron Heart and bore him three fine, strong sons.
There were many braves who sought her favor, but we also did
this to protect her.”
“Protect her?” asked Milly.
“When Dawn Fire first came, there was one who could not accept
the fact that Iron Heart had brought a white child into the
tribe, he was most vocal, yet Iron Heart proved time and time
again, that he was in the right. After the dream, we prayed the
Great One would fulfill the elders’ dream, I fear had the past
not happened as it did, Dawn Fire would be dead today.” Milly
sharply inhaled when she heard Silver Moon’s words. “Thundering
Buffalo was most demanding against her living, but his grandson,
White Buffalo, was the most demanding when presenting ponies to
“But if he was a strong brave?” Milly tried to understand.
“Many times in counsel Thundering Buffalo would argue how the
Kiowa had grown weak, so weak that Iron Heart brought a white
bastard child into the tribe. We were pleased when White Buffalo
made his offering; that maybe the grandson was ready to live as
Iron Heart had chosen to lead the tribe. She was fourteen when
he first tried, but it is for the father to choose when and we
both knew she was too young. When Dawn Fire turned sixteen,
Black Hawk also sought her; he and Grey Heart were as brothers.
He knew he could never present as many ponies as White Buffalo,
but he told us of what he heard White Buffalo boast he would do,
were Dawn Fire given to him, he said he would take the white
bastard to his bed and seed a life inside her, and shortly
before the birth, he would kill both.
“Milly, you must believe me. White Buffalo would have drug her
from their bed and in front of all, cut the baby from her womb
allowing her to bleed to death. White Buffalo grew up hearing
tales from his grandfather of the Kiowa’s long ago wars against
the white man, when Thundering Buffalo killed white women in
such a manner. White Buffalo would do such to his wife to
appease his grandfather’s death and to prove he would keep our
tribe, Indian. You understand more of why we told her the lie
that she was not old enough. We prayed her own would come, and
The images Milly envisioned were revolting and it took
everything she had to keep from losing the contents of her
stomach, even though breakfast had been hours before.
“Milly, I mourn the loss of my daughter, but I know she lives a
better life with you; as she first lived a better life with us.
Be grateful she has a life to live.”
The two women cried and hugged each other, counting their
blessings that Hope still lived.
“What of White Buffalo?” Milly dared ask.
“After Iron Heart first returned without Dawn Fire, White
Buffalo killed a soldier. Iron Heart stated that he would stand
trial in the white man’s law, but if found guilty, he would face
Kiowa punishment. In a way, the white man’s law would have much
kinder to him, but, he has been reunited with his grandfather.”
Hope woke, finding herself wrapped in furs with her husband’s
arms around her; she gave a start when she remembered what had
“I’m here, Hope,” Mark stated as he woke and propped himself up
on his elbow.
“How long?” Hope tried to ask, as she started to fear her past.
“The sun has already set. Are you okay, should I send for Silver
“I just want you to hold me… I want to forget those men… I need
to know that I belong here with you.”
“I know. Shhhh. Regardless of how it happened, you belong by my
side.” Mark pressed a kiss to his wife’s head and pulled her
closed to him. “Iron Heart and Silver Moon said we were to sleep
here tonight. Ma and Pa left to go home earlier this evening.”
“What of Father and Lilah?”
“Ma and Pa said they’d see them home, they knew that the tribe
would look out for you, plus, I’m right here with you.”
“What of the children?”
“They’re having fun with the others and looking forward to
another sleep over.”
Mark climbed from the fur pallet and stood up.
“Where are you going?” Hope asked, not wanting to be alone.
“I’m going to get us something to eat. I know you’re hungry.
I’ll be right back.”
As Mark promised, he returned. After they ate, they set aside
the dishes and sat and listened to the sounds outside the teepee
as the tribe prepared for night, Hope asked, “Are you sure we
should stay here?”
“Are you sure you’re up to offending Iron Heart or Silver Moon
if we leave? They gave up their sleeping quarters for us
“I guess not…” Hope stated as she cast her eyes down and closed
The fire in the middle of the teepee cast a gentle glow that
flickered along the hides stretched across the poles that met at
the top of the teepee; with a hole large enough to allow the
smoke to slip out, but constructed in such a way to not allow
the gentle rain that had begun to fall to enter.
Mark leaned forward, taking Hope’s chin in his hand, giving it a
lift and kissed her. Mark couldn’t stop himself as he pressed
Hope to lie back down on the furs. Slowly he worked at
unbuttoning his shirt and pulled the shirttail from his pants,
not willing to separate their lips, he allowed Hope to slip his
shirt from his shoulders. Her hands came to rest on the bandages
around his ribs; Mark broke off their kiss allowing Hope to
unwrap his ribs before he finished stripping. He rolled to his
back, pulling Hope on top of him and they kissed again. He
unbuttoned her blouse and slipped it from her shoulders as Hope
slipped from her skirt. Having removed her camisole from over
her head, Mark lovingly ran his hands down her soft skin,
causing a brief shiver to course through her body, before she
lay back down to him, and Mark pulled a fur across her back. As
the sounds of the tribe quieted to the sounds of the night and
with the rain gently striking the teepee, nature created its own
music, to which Mark ensured Hope forgot her past in while he
made love to her.
So intense was their passion, they were oblivious that the furs
had slipped from them as two intertwined into one, both seeking
the pleasure the other offered, oblivious to the fact that
Silver Moon entered the teepee to see if they needed anything
for the night. Silver Moon smiled as she slipped back out,
closed the flap, and walked to where her husband waited.
Upon putting their youngest children to bed, and retiring
themselves, Lucas asked about the rest of Milly’s afternoon with
“We talked more of Hope’s growing up and becoming a young
woman,” Milly answered quietly.
“Is that all? You seem… a little upset about something…”
“Oh Lucas,” Milly cried. She so much wanted to protect her
husband from knowing, but the secret was tearing her up inside.
With Lucas’ arms wrapped around her, Milly lay back against
Lucas’ chest and told him everything Silver Moon had said after
Lilah had left.
Lucas did his best to calm himself after listening to Milly.
After working through their anger and tears, both vowed, neither
Mark nor Hope would ever know what could have been Hope’s life,
had she not entered the McCain’s lives.
When Hope woke the following morning, she sat up and wrapped the
furs around her while she quietly watched Mark dress. After
pulling on his boots, she asked, “Do you have to go to work?”
“Yes, you know I do. If you want, you can come to town later…”
“No, I think I want to stay here. Silver Moon stated the other
day they would be weaving baskets today. I remember how much fun
I had and how all the women would talk while working. I guess
you could compare it to a quilting bee.”
Mark knelt in front of his wife, “Hope, just remember, your life
is here, with me.”
“After last night, how can I forget?” she blushed.
“Just try to forget those men. They’re long gone and can’t do
you any harm.”
“I know, it’s just, hearing Iron Heart and Silver Moon last
night, it all became so much more real.”
“Promise me, you’ll rebury those memories.”
“I’ll try to be home early tomorrow. I love you,” said Mark.
“I know you do.”
“I don’t know how I can ever repay them for saving her life…”
Seth stated as he and Lucas walked through the Indian camp
Thursday afternoon. “Their life is nothing like I imagined --
it’s so simple. In case I haven’t thanked you enough for raising
Mark as you did…had he not been there that day…Stedman and the
others could very well have destroyed this tribe; this way of
“How are you handling what you heard yesterday?” asked Lucas,
mindful of the secret.
“It was difficult to hear the details, but if it meant my
daughter lived, I’m thankful that Iron Heart found her and that
priest chose to keep quiet to the authorities. Had Stedman not
plotted to kill Senator Borden, using Hope to lure Iron Heart
after them, I think I would be happy to know that this would
have been her life. Marrying and bringing children into their
world. As long as she would be happy, that’s what really
matters; she’d have a life.”
The Next Step — The Four
Guns of North Fork
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch