Prologue: Another chapter from my historical novel about the Oregon Trail.
The Hermoso family owned a vast tract of land West of Santa Fe, in an area that was to become the western portion of the state of New Mexico. It was a land grant awarded by the King of Spain, as a result of the heroic and bloodthirsty actions of Ignacio Hermoso during the conquest of Mexico. One of the early conquistadors, Ignacio was dark and diminutive, and said to be of Moorish heritage; he was considered a methodical, coldblooded killer among coldblooded killers. A devout Catholic who prayed out loud and recited scripture while performing his gruesome homicidal rites with religious fervor.
As any geneticist or stockman will tell you, some traits are inherited through generations and some are discarded. Ignacio’s detached indifference toward killing disappeared in later generations, but it was replaced by cruelty and sadism. The devotion to God and the Catholic Church, were replaced by the feelings of omnipotence and self-deification that are often taken on by those with vast holdings and enormous wealth. The sons, grandsons, and great grandsons of Ignacio ruled their holdings with a ruthlessness that struck terror among the Indians and Mexicans who lived on the Hermoso Hacienda and were considered to be the property Hermoso family. The Hermoso family considered themselves to be law, the law ordained by God and the King of Spain. The only people who opposed them were raiding Indians and Comancheros.
Through the generations, the bloodlust was passed down, along with excessive and cruel carnal desires, a trait that led to fierce opposition in the future. The Hermoso men took wives and mistresses whose taste for cruelty rivaled their own, but any Mexican or Indian woman was considered property and to be enjoyed and discarded with indifference.
Heredity and inheritance was often decided with poison and assassination, but the family managed to hold together and keep their fiefdom until just before the US War with Mexico, fought between 1846 and 1848.
In Mexico, there was a strict caste system: at the top was the Spanish born aristocrat, next came the people of humble Spanish blood born in Spain, people of Spanish blood born in Mexico were next, then came the people born of a Spanish and Mexican (mixture of Spanish and Indian blood) marriage, the Mexican was next, followed by the Indian.
The Hermoso Hacienda was awarded to Ignacio in the North Western area of what was to become New Mexico. It was only two days ride west of Santa Fe, but it was considered to beIt so far beyond civilization, young Spanish maidens, from aristocratic families, would never consider the possibility of marriage in such a God-forsaken wilderness; consequently, the Hermoso men were left with only Indian and Mexican women for wives. Thus their chances to be recognized in Mexican and Spanish society diminished with each generation, a societal distinction that added to their feelings of discrimination, fueling their cruelty and expressions of omnipotence.
The isolation of the hacienda, both geographically and socially, led to extreme contempt for the Indian. This was compounded by the indigenous people being culturally conditioned to subsistence farming; the concept of being a European serf and growing crops to give away the largest share to a landlord was alien to them. Consequently, the Hermoso clan persecuted them for being lazy and slothful without mercy. Rape, torture, and murder were seen as expedient measures to force these slaves, who didn’t consider themselves slaves, to be more productive and provide the wealth, the Hermoso clan needed.
Some Indians endured these transgressions meekly: others became hostile and sought vengeance. From both groups, children of rape were born. Humiliated and rejected by almost everyone from birth, these outcasts became the nucleus of the Comancheros and rode from East Texas to Arizona seeking revenge on all those who wronged them and many innocents.
Feared by Spanish and Indians alike they were the scourge of all Northern Mexico. Despite their penchant for bloodshed and larceny, they became excellent traders, dealing in guns, slaves, and whiskey. Although they traded on a wide profit margin, they were not beyond raiding the people they had just traded with to steal the goods back and increase their profit margin even more.
In the year of 1845, one year before The Mexican American War, the Comancheros descended on the Hermoso Hacienda and killed everyone, except for a woman giving birth to a baby girl in the loft of the main horse barn.
Her name was Minnow, she was a Comanche by birth and only fifteen years old. Abducted, she was held against her will, and raped by Pablo Hermoso. He became attracted to her when she became pregnant and the idea of having a child by this beautiful girl appealed to him and to his sterile wife, who thought a child by this attractive intelligent girl could be raised as her own. She would have the mother tortured and killed once a suitable wet nurse was found.
People who have massive amounts of wealth, power, and control often consider people without money and power to be less than livestock raised for slaughter. Pretenses of humanity are forgotten as they deal with lesser humans.
Minnow had her child in silence during the attack and when the survivors were brought out of the main ranch house to be tortured she expelled the placenta and escaped with her baby north into the mountains, while listening to the screams of the man who had raped her and his wife who planned to kill her.
She was the daughter of a chief and her father would show favor to the man who brought her home, but the Comancheros were overcome by blood lust. The Hermoso clan had inflicted assaults and many casualties on them and it was time for exacting revenge. Her highborn status would be overlooked by those consumed with the lust for blood and revenge; she and her baby had to escape if they were to survive. She headed north to avoid the Comancheros when they traveled home to Texas.
Her baby was strong and her milk flowed from her small breasts, but if she couldn’t find food, her breast milk would give out and her baby would starve.
On the third day of walking, she saw a grouse making his drumming noise to attract a mate. She laid her baby down in the soft grass and looked for a good throwing rock. She picked up two and walked a few steps closer to increase the odds of hitting the bird. She threw the first rock with desperation, knowing she must kill the bird while she still had strength. The rock whistled through the air with the force and accuracy Indian women are noted for, it struck the grouse in the back just behind the neck. The stunned bird tried to fly away, but only managed to jump up in the air and flip over backwards. Minnow threw the second rock and hit the bird in the head, he ceased his struggles.
There was no way to build a fire, she ate one half of the breast and washed it down with cold water from a small stream. After three days of starving the piece of raw meat felt like a feast. She felt the energy of the protein reviving her arms and legs and felt pressure from the milk being supplied to her breasts. She would eat the other half tonight before falling asleep, the days were warm but the nights were near freezing. She saved the wings and carefully skinned the bird to keep the feathers embedded in the skin, they would help keep her feet warm on these cold nights. She used a piece of the intestine to secure the feathers and placed them in a pocket of her skirt.
The baby girl seemed to feel the life giving power of the grouse. She sucked a little harder and seemed to thrive on her mother’s milk.
She and the baby slept through the night, the feathers helped keep Minnow’s feet warm for the first time since the night of the raid.
Minnow slept well, but she awoke hungry; hopefully, she would find more food during the day.
She was feeling weak from hunger that afternoon, when she found an old Poplar tree that had fallen down with the trunk split down the length of the tree. There was a huge beehive exposed, with enough honey to feed her whole tribe.
Minnow broke off huge pieces of the comb and ate so much of the honey she almost became sick. She was covering the honey she pulled from the tree with pine boughs, when she saw a hobbled horse in a meadow to the East.
The horse was steaming with sweat, it had a Mexican saddle on its back with a long reatta wound up on the right side. The horse had been struggling for hours against the hobbles and had probably traveled for miles. If she could undo the hobbles and take off on the horse before the owner tracked it down, she could make a lot of miles and better avoid the Comancheros.
She broke off several large pieces of cone and walked over to the horse. He was a gray gelding, about fifteen hands. When Minnow was a few strides away, he snorted and pulled back by dragging his hobbled fronts hooves in the dirt. Minnow stopped and took a bite of the honey and held out a large chunk of the honeyed comb as an offering to the horse. His appetite overcame his fear of this human female with a child. The horse ate the honey like it was starving and looked for more. Minnow gave him another piece and untied the reatta and slipped the loop over his head and around his neck, then ducked down to slip off the leather hobbles. She moved slow and smooth to gain the horse’s trust.
Minnow knew she must move quickly; if the owner saw her, she would be considered a horse thief and a bullet would be the kindest response she could expect.
She used a portion of the reatta to fashion a hackamore and laced the rest of the 60 foot leather lariat back on the saddle, the reatta would make life so much easier and survival more likely.
Minnow looked in the saddle bags and found a knife with a stone for sharpening, a flint and iron piece for striking sparks and building a fire, a metal plate and drinking cup; life was about to get much easier for Minnow and her baby.
There was a blanket roll and serape rolled and tied behind the saddle. She fashioned a backpack out of a portion of the serape and carried the baby on her back to free up her arms.
Minnow was now rich beyond measure, not with gold or silver, but with the means to survive. The horse accepted her small body, now so much lighter from starvation and the demands of a baby that seemed to thrive in amid the harsh mountains.
She kept heading north, but at a much faster rate. She found a creek and walked in the middle of the stream for a mile upstream before finding a large gravel bar that would cover her tracks coming out of the stream, just in case a good tracker was following her trail.
She traveled upstream because most people would travel downstream to save their horse from fighting the current, but she was so small, she figured the horse could handle the current and she could lose her tracker, if indeed there was a tracker closing in on her.
Late that afternoon, she found a large pine that had blown down and started to rot, so far the bears had beat her to every tree, but this one was hers. She used her knife to break loose huge sections of bark to find the succulent grubs and hundreds of black ants. The grubs were an inch and a half long and as big around as one of Minnow’s fingers and full of nutrients. She lifted the strange creatures from the tree, brushed off the pieces of wood off their worm-like bodies and ate them like candy. She crushed the ants between her index finger and thumb and ate them as quickly as she could catch them.
She ate for twenty minutes and fed her baby at the same time, the incomplete cycle of sustenance, constant travel, and demands of her child was depleting her vitality and strength. She was growing weaker each day, but the baby was growing stronger. Minnow’s belly had shrunk to the point that she required only a small amount of food to be full, but she would be hungry again in two hours.
The ridge above her could provide a view of the open valley she had just traveled through. If there was a tracker, she would see him from up above when he crossed the valley floor. To the west, the ridge tapered down to the valley. She put he horse in a trot and then asked him to climb the steep slope to the top of the ridge. She noted a large spruce tree just barely kept from falling directly into the narrow path of the trail she used to climb the steep grade.
Minnow rode directly beneath the leaning tree on purpose. She then pushed her horse to trot up the mountain and jumped off to tie her horse well back from the edge of the ridge. She looked at her back trail, being careful not to silhouette herself against the clear blue sky.
Sure enough, there was an Indian following her trail. He was an Arapahoe, he had a saddle horse and a packhorse with panniers. If she could kill him and get those panniers, there was surely food stored in them.
With her reatta and knife she ran back down the leaning snag to set a trap.
Loading a dead fall to kill a man or bear is tricky business, since it can kill the person setting the trap, if a mistake is made.
It was the leaning tree she was thinking about. She needed to free it up to make sure it would fall directly into the trail and then design a trigger mechanism.
The top half had broken off years ago and the bottom half stayed upright because it was wedged against a good solid tree. Minnow climbed the healthy tree with a limb to use as a pry bar. Using an innate sense of leverage, she was able to move the top of the dead tree so that it was barely wedged against the healthy tree and held in place by a few dry branches.
Back on the ground, Minnow devised a figure four trigger mechanism that would be set off by the tracker’s horse stepping on the reatta or hitting it with the forward motion of one of his legs. She had to make the leather reatta invisible by putting branches and grass over the reatta, but not so much that it would be obvious. She also had to set the trigger just right: if it was not tight enough, the tree wouldn’t fall, it was too tight, it would fall on its own before her tracker arrived.
There was no time to make elaborate preparations, she had to set the trap and hope it worked. Minnow relied on her own abilities and intuition, she only had one chance to make it work, if she made the log fall too soon she could never get it back up in the air. To bait the trap, she placed the backpack and baby in a tree at the top of the hill and tied the horse a few feet away.
Hopefully, the tracker would be concentrating on the baby and the horse and be less likely to see the taut rawhide trip line, just a few inches off the forest floor.
If he saw the trap or it failed to work, it would be a matter of personal combat for survival.
The tracker entered the trees and Minnow’s baby started crying to be fed. The Arapahoe moved cautiously toward the crying sound while following the trail. He was closing in and this was the most dangerous part of this life and death drama.
He saw the baby up ahead in a tree, and he moved toward the baby with a smirk on his face. His horse made a step and pulled its foot up in surprise, but a noise from up above caught the Arapahoe’s attention; he looked up in time to see a 24 inch diameter log that was over 20 feet long, just before it landed on him and his horse.
The Arapahoe was knocked out and pinned beneath the log. The horse’s back was broken and it was crawling around on the ground with its hind legs paralyzed, while it screamed in agony. Minnow made sure the warrior was incapacitated and then cut the throat of the horse to put it out of its misery. She stripped the warrior of his clothing and moccasins. They were large, but she could wear them over her moccasins to help keep her feet warm. The warrior woke up to realize his body was broken and useless. He looked at her and was surprised at how beautiful and young she was, marveling at how such a mere girl managed to defeat a well known and respected warrior like him. She noticed he was still alive and leaned over to cut his throat, then took his scalp while he gurgled a barely audible protest and died in a state of disbelief a few seconds later.
Minnow was thrilled with her new possessions. Survival was more assured and they could live more comfortably.
The horse was butchered and cooked. A portion of the back hide was salted and packed for brain tanning at a later date. She used her new tomahawk to crush the horse’s skull and remove the horse’s brain and thanked the Earth Mother for making each animal with enough brain to tan its own hide. She ate portions of the liver and roasted several large pieces of the hindquarters for the trail. She could eat well for a week or so, before the meat spoiled.
The panniers had a good supply of pemmican. It was a mixture of dried ground meat, blueberries, and fat. It was well made and would last for months on the trail. There was also leather, cloth, leather thongs, salt, and bone awls for sewing. She and her baby would be warmer and more comfortable on the trail when the snow started falling.
Now that Minnow was more likely to survive, she named her baby Montana, the Spanish word for mountains. She liked the sound of the word and her baby seemed strong like the mountains they were traveling through.
With the bow, she killed a cow elk that allowed its curiosity of the horses to overwhelm its sense of danger and wandered too close to Minnow and her new bow. She made camp for several days while she jerked the meat and tanned portions of the horse hide and the elk hide, in the last sunny days of fall. Minnow was confident she would find a good winter campground if she kept bearing to the northwest. She had heard of the rich waters of the Colorado River in that area.
It was during a blizzard that she became disoriented in the deep snow and lost her way. She was cold and exhausted, letting her horse lead the way. Her gray walked up to a corral and stopped. Minnow looked up to see horses and a cabin with smoke coming from a chimney, it was just visible as an outline in the heavy snowfall. She dropped from her horse and tried to stagger to the cabin. The snow was waist deep and her legs gave out trying to wade through the snow. She collapsed and her horse screamed into the gray mist.
Angus Cunningham knew the noises his horses made and this one was not one of his and yet, it came from his yard. He put on his boots and a coat made from a Hudson Bay blanket and a felt slouch hat. He walked out on his porch and saw the skinny saddle horse and packhorse standing in the yard. He started to walk over to them and noticed the figure half buried in the snow. He picked up the form and was surprised to find it was a woman holding a baby to her breast. He carried her into his home and placed her on his bed. He pulled some cotton and woolen clothes from the stacks and pulled her frozen rags from her body. He covered her warmly and put another baby at her breast to suckle. He fed her a few spoons of chicken soup and washed her body with warm water and soap. He would wash a small area and then dry the area to make sure she didn’t become chilled. The only thing he noticed about her nakedness was that she was skinny and tiny, and that her breasts were the size of champagne glasses, but they were big enough for two babes he said to himself with a smile. He fed the fire to make the cabin extra warm and set food roast chicken pieces next to the bed. He picked up her baby and washed her. He noticed a rash on the baby’s bum and smeared bear tallow over the redness and fashioned a clean cotton diaper.
Angus was happy, his baby boy now had a chance to survive. His wife had passed away the night before and Angus had tried feeding him sugar water with flour, but he refused to eat anything. Now, he was sucking at the girl’s breast, her milk paps were small and she was tiny and looked like she was just barely alive, but his son was sucking greedily at one of the breasts. He would make sure she had plenty to eat and was warm, that was the least he could do for keeping his son alive.
Angus meant to watch over her and the children through the night, but the extra warmth of the cabin made him drowsy and he drifted into a deep sleep in a chair next to the bed.
The next morning, Minnow woke and looked around the cabin wondering if she had died. She was in a bed with warm blankets and she had gained an extra baby during the night. This one was larger and had thick blonde hair. His little hands were reaching out and he was making sucking noises. She saw his strange blue eyes and she was filled with wonderment. He started making, “eh eh” noises and the milk began to flow from her breasts. She put him to her breast and noticed that she was clean. That’s when she noticed the form in the chair. It was huge, so big, she wondered if it was human. It had reddish blonde hair and a full beard.
Angus was big enough in those days to be considered a giant. He was six foot five and weighed over 300 pounds with just a slight layer of fat around his middle, but he was known most for having a huge heart, for he treated all people with kindness and warm hospitality, a trait that made him one of the most successful fur traders on one of the far reaches of the Santa Fe Trail.
Minnow was barely five foot tall and might have weighed ninety pounds. She was a well-formed and well proportioned girl, but considered small among smaller people.
The hungry child nursing so greedily at her breast filled her with a sense of attachment and importance. There were pieces of chicken on a plate resting on a small table beside the bed. She ate the meat, chewed off the ends of the bones and split the bones to eat the marrow. She noticed a bowl of soup and drank it from the bowl without stopping. The food in her belly sent its life force coursing through her body, she knew she could survive another two or three days and she could keep her baby alive, and maybe even this strange barbarian baby as well, he who had made himself at home at her breast.
Her own baby began to wake and she put her at the breast vacated by the barbarian breast a few minutes ago, she was not as demanding and was content with a lighter milk flow. The food seemed to increase her milk supply and the sucking action of the two little mouths combined with a full belly lulled Minnow into a deep sleep.
When she awoke, there was the wonderful aroma of food cooking, but the sight that greeted her was from another world. Angus had put on his regimental uniform from the Royal Scottish Highlanders, complete with kilt, tunic, and the little hat they wore.
It was his intention to welcome her to his home in the most formal way possible, but for the first time in her life, Minnow was scared. It was possibly the strangeness of the kilt, the long stockings that came to the knees with a jeweled dagger attached to one of the garters, and those massive knees with the covering of reddish hair that looked like they belonged on an ox that frightened her the most. Surely this couldn’t be a human being. She ducked under the covers to protect herself and the babies. For this monster was big enough to eat them all in one meal.
That’s when the noises began. Never in her life had she heard such noises. She hid under the blanket and shook with fear until the noises died and Angus put away his bagpipe.
Breakfast was ready. Angus moved the kitchen table in front of her bed and laid out several dresses on the bed for her to choose from, along with articles of women’s underclothes, he thought she might need.
She peeked from beneath the blankets and touched the clothing with tears of fear still in her eyes.
Angus smiled the biggest and warmest smile she had ever seen and turned to face the stove to dish out breakfast on two huge plates. She used the opportunity to put on a deerskin skirt and a white cotton blouse.
Angus sensed when she was dressed and turned to place the plates on the table. Minnow fought the urge to eat like a starving wolf with the desire to appear like a proper Comanche maiden in front of this strange barbarian monster with the huge smile.
The meal was rich beyond imagination for Minnow, there were eggs, ham, toast, strawberry jam, honey, porridge, and coffee with cream. Minnow ate for a few minutes, and was stuffed. She placed her plate of food on the bed and covered it with the blankets, to preserve it for later: Angus smiled, he knew the effects of starvation.
Suddenly, Minnow remembered her horses, “Mi caballos?” she asked, and turned to run out the door.
“En el establo,” Angus replied. From the porch, she saw her horses with his large team and pack mules munching on hay in a three-sided barn. They looked content and glad to be eating.
She walked back into the house belonging to this rich giant and began to look around. The house was primarily a log warehouse. There were furs and buffalo hides by the thousands, there were copper kettles, iron skillets, knives, guns, and the tomahawks with a pipe bowl on the hammer side with a hollow handle tapered at the end to facilitate smoking. Never had she seen such wealth, nor could she imagine there was this much wealth in the world.
She wondered if the giant killed people and robbed them. How else could he accumulate such immense wealth. There were many mysteries and their meager knowledge of Spanish was going to make it difficult to communicate, but at least he could speak and she was fairly certain he was a human being.
The babies were beginning to wake, she remembered the strange blonde haired baby, where did the baby come from? She didn’t really care, this baby was fast becoming hers.
The answer to the question of wealth accumulation came later that day. A White Mountain man barged into the warehouse. He was dressed strangely as White men seemed to do, he and Angus engaged in conversation for several minutes. The stranger put a bale of beaver pelts on the counter along with a leather sack of dried beaver castors, several coyote and wolf hides. Angus examined the furs for several minutes and placed three steel traps and an iron tomahawk on the counter. The mountain man picked up the tomahawk and pointed to Minnow. Angus put up his hand and waved it back and forth and shook his head to say, “no” in a sign language Minnow understood.
Minnow released her grip on the knife on her hip when the stranger shrugged his shoulders. Her confidence was growing in this giant called Angus.
A few days later, he took Minnow and the babies for a walk. There was a large cottonwood tree by the river called the Colorado. There was a body in the tree on a funeral platform. Angus placed his hand over his heart and said, “Mi mujer,” and the mystery of the baby was solved.
Minnow’s feelings for this giant were growing daily. The funeral bier was elaborately decorated in Indian style, it was touching and showed the love the big man had for his woman. It would have been impossible to bury the body in the White man style, because of the frozen ground, so he had used the Indian type burial in the tree and placed her higher than any funeral she had ever seen. Who would think such a big man could climb that high.
On the way home, she thought about the possibility of claiming this blonde haired giant as her own. It was a big decision, if she declared this man as hers, she would not share him with anyone, with all her Comanche spirit, she would own him, protect him and even die for him, but he would be hers until the end of time.
Later that night, she convinced him to let her shave his wild reddish beard away; he became the first White Man to be shaved, rather than scalped by a Comanche. He was nervous during the proceedings and convinced her to leave his moustache, she was so captivated with the smoothness of his face, he vowed to always shave for her.
She continued touching his face with her hands, then she rubbed her cheek against his and he felt desire for this tiny child woman. He was embarrassed, but when she noticed his reaction, she wasn’t embarrassed in the least.
Later on in the evening, when Angus and the babies were asleep, Minnow crept from her bed wearing a white cotton nightgown and crawled between the blankets with Angus. Thus their romance was consummated on the floor of his cabin, a romance that flowered for a lifetime. In a language Angus couldn’t understand, Minnow declared to the Earth Mother that Angus was to be her man to the end of time. His fate was sealed and he wasn’t even aware of the situation.
The children grew together as best friends who were inseparable and the trading business grew to be one of the most successful of all trading outposts of the North America. Trappers and Indians would come from hundreds of miles to see the blonde haired giant and his tiny Comanche wife who never took her hand away from her knife when men were in the store.
Their hospitality was legendary, the giant treated all people the same and the Comanche treated all with the same mistrust. The story of her survival and victory over her pursuer was legend and the scalp that was hanging from her belt was a reminder to all who came to the trading post of the sharp knife she carried.
It was obvious, Angus could crush a man’s chest with his massive arms, but it was the silent, razor sharp knife of Minnow that men feared.
Angus had named his son Seamus, he liked to joke about how Seamus would one day be famous and Montana had such a big name to be little more than a mouse. Minnow didn’t take offense, she liked to see her man happy, she had seen many men beat their wives. Angus was always happy and would never hurt someone without cause.
The children grew up together and seemed to think just alike, but tiny Montana watched over Seamus like a hen watching over one chick. One of them would speak half a sentence and the other one would finish the sentence without a break. Angus asked Minnow if they should try to find mates for their children when they became old enough to be sexually aware, but Minnow said they were not of similar blood and if they became a couple it would be fine, but if one of them found another mate, the one left alone might be destroyed. They decided to let nature take its course and not interfere.
Fortunately, Montana and Seamus based their relationship on the relationship of Angus and Minnow.
When they were fifteen, they had several fish traps on the Colorado. Montana rolled her skirt to her waist and Seamus was nude as they caught the trapped fish and tossed them onto the bank. They were laughing and enjoying the sport, but they neglected to see the three young warriors appear out of the brush. One of them grabbed Montana by the left arm and jerked her out of the river. Seamus protested and received a blow from a war club across his face, breaking his nose. He fell backwards and the other warrior jumped on him and started to drown him while the three of them were laughing. Montana reached into the folds of her skirt and pulled out her knife, she cut the throat of the warrior holding her arm in a split second, before he could react. He let go of her arm to try and stop the spurting blood with his hands. He had a surprised look on his face as he dropped to his knees, bleeding to death.
The warrior with the club didn’t hear the gurgling of the warrior behind him, because of the struggle and splashing in the river. Montana stuck the knife deep in his lower back, into the right kidney, he leaned back in pain and she ripped the knife in a saw like motion out through his right side. He fell to his knees in pain, but when he started to scream, she stabbed the knife through his neck and pulled it forward through the front of his neck. He fell forward silently and was dead when he hit the ground. She jumped from the bank onto the back of the warrior who was drowning Seamus. She stabbed him three times in the back and took his scalp as he fell helpless into the water, he rolled over to look at her before he started floating down stream.
Montana knew she should have finished him, but Seamus was more dead than alive, and he was her first concern. She pulled Seamus to the bank and put him on his belly and pounded on his chest. She had no idea of what to do, but it seemed to be the only thing she could do.
He coughed several times and spit out a tremendous amount of river water. He was alive.
She scalped the other two warriors and gathered up their weapons. She told Seamus to get to his feet. They needed to get home and tell their parents what had happened.
Angus and Minnow listened to the story; afterwards, Angus looked at the arrows and the decorations on the assorted weapons.
He walked over to Montana and placed his big hand on her back and said, “You did good my little mouse, but it is time to move on. The Beaver is gone and the fur market has gone to Hell. It is time to load our freighting wagons and travel to Oregon. We can trade in Oregon and not worry about fighting the Cheyenne the rest of our lives. Let’s start loading our best trade goods, it’s a long way to Oregon.”
Minnow knew there were problems of a more serious nature. When they were alone, she asked Angus what he wasn’t telling the children. He said to Minnow in a barely audible voice, “Montana took on the secret warrior society of the Cheyenne, the Ghost Coyotes. She killed and scalped two, as far as I know, no one has ever killed two of them in personal combat and none of them have ever been scalped, the third one escaped with several knife wounds and without his scalp lock. They will be seeking revenge, if the third one survives Montana’s knife and the Colorado River, they will come here looking for revenge. We must leave as soon as possible. I don’t know how she did it, but she did it, and now, we must leave these mountains and this river forever.”
Minnow looked up at her blonde giant with dark brooding eyes that looked to be on fire, she was silent, but deep in her thoughts, she said to herself, “Montana, my daughter is Comanche, she knows neither defeat nor fear.” Minnow shook her head once to say yes, and continued to help load their two freighting wagons.
Epilogue: The American west is often thought of as being conquered by White men; sadly, this revisionist history is perpetuated in books and film. The role of women has been omitted in the story of the west. Women complain there are no leading roles of substance for women, but they are quick to subjugate themselves to silliness and ditzy headed roles like the types portrayed on “Sex And The City”; is it no wonder, the money men aren’t willing to cast women in leading roles that contradict these stereotype roles of modern women. Women have helped bring this on by allowing themselves to be cast and thought of in silly vain glorious roles of everyday life. Examining the women in roles like Minnow and Montana and adjusting their lives into more powerful and meaningful representations might open up the opportunities available to all women. This is not to say that women need to be killers, but displaying power, fortitude, and strength of character will help change the way women are perceived. Make no mistake here, women of America, I am on your side.