Western Fiction posted May 24, 2020 Chapters:  ...10 12 -13- 14... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
JB meets someone who will later become famous

A chapter in the book A Grain Of Wheat

Horse sense

by Ben Colder

Created from American True History and dedicated to several scouts who lived the day.

My companion was waiting near the tent entrance when arriving. He spoke, "Blue Horse, speak for you, he tells the council, he no want to kill the soldier, but him to tell Blue-coat chief, we no want war."

Together, he and I found a place behind the windbreaker and waited to be called inside the tent. Our welcome mat had just been pulled away as Two Strikes walked outside and looked at the young Lieutenant and spat at him. However, the wind caught the spit and blew it back on his foot. He huffed." You die and all soldiers die."

I knew my chances of finding the white family had just slipped away as I watched him call the braves together and ride from view.

Blue Horse walked out of the tent and motioned for us to come inside. Ma-toosh led the way.

I listened to Dee as he tried assuring the officer, they would be all right and if Old Smoke had any voice in the matter, they would be riding back to Fort Laramie before the day was through.

Respected for his long life and wisdom, Old Chief Smoke of the Wagluhe Band shared this virtue with others. Out of the seven bands of the Oglala Lakota, his group were known as Wagluhe; meaning (One who lives with relatives and stays near the white man's forts allowing their daughters to marry soldiers.")

Nevertheless, Little Thunder and many others had no intentions of slicing away any of their principles and were ready for war.

By noon, Blue Horse persuaded the council to allow the young officer to take a message to the fort, but Red Cloud, Blue Horse's brother argued if they should leave, the white man's Army would come back to Little Thunder's camp and massacre the women and children.

I, for one, was in favor of Dee and the young officer following Blue Horse's advice, but who was to say; if Two Strikes waited along the trail to carry out his threat.

I knew my voice in the matter was not asked, but I spoke anyway. Boldly, I went before the council.

"Little Thunder, I realize the council has not called upon me to speak but hear me! Blue Horse speaks for the safety of everyone, and it is a good thing. Little Thunder, he is wise to let the scout and Army Officer go in peace, but I must agree with some of the others. They will be back, and they will bring hundreds of troops with them. They will not stop until you and your people answer for killing soldiers, even if the Army is at fault."

Everyone sat quietly, looking at me as Little Thunder spoke, "Why you warn Little Thunder? You scout for Army. They find Cheyenne camp and kill J B's sister. Maybe all Cheyenne!"

Old Chief Smoke burst with laughter, causing everyone to join in, except Blue Horse. He spoke, "some whites are good. Some bad, like our people J.B. talks truth. He sees the bad white man, not see the good white man."

I remained quiet while listening to the tribal leaders mumbled at each other. Ma-toosh stared at me as though we needed to leave.

Nevertheless, I spoke, "Little Thunder, I speak with a sincere heart, I came here hoping to find a white family. Two Strikes took them from a wagon train. I speak the truth. The Army will come, and they will fight until all is dead."

A blanket of silence covered, as Ma-toosh motioned for us to leave. He whispered, "We go."

Perhaps Little Thunder and others took heed to my warning, but I knew nothing else could be said to convince them. I never lied or misled in any manner, and they knew it.

Blue Horse walked with us to our animals and before departing he asked, "You go now to Cheyenne?"

Ma-toosh grunted, "We go, Cheyenne."

Blue Horse spoke, "J.B., maybe, the white family now dead you look for? Woman be Two Strikes woman now? J.B. no more look for the white family? He stays with sister and Cheyenne now?

A million thoughts crossed my mind as I mounted my horse and with a smile, I replied, "Maybe."

Although it was not the fault of the Sioux, I still knew the Army would never allow Little Thunder to go unpunished for the Grattan Massacre.

Beyond my knowledge at the time, the U.S President coined the phrase, "Whip the Indians," was now becoming more apparent each day.

My friend, Dee Pack was living with his wife and children within the Sioux tribe, and I knew when he reached Fort Laramie, he would try to persuade the Army to recognize the truth of the matter. However, things were yet to be seen.

Within minutes of our ride, whoever oversaw Nature showed mercy! Unruly wind, sometimes so unbearable for man and beast, had suddenly died to a whisper.

Ma-toosh was ahead, leading up a narrow trail, as I paced Molly a few yards behind. I suspected if Two Strikes were anywhere close by, he would show his presence.

Two Strikes was someone with no love for a breed or half-breed who scouted for the Army, and after the Mud springs incident, it was almost certain he and I would one day, face each other in battle.

The man had something I needed, and after my little self-honesty speech made before the council, he, no doubt, already knew I would stop at nothing to take the white captive's home.

Darkness was at hand when my companion and I arrived at the Cheyenne camp.

The women were mostly in their dwellings, attending to the children and preparing for the night.

A small batch of ashes from a previous cooked meal simmered in a pit as Ma-toosh greeted his family.

I stood watching and remembered seeing how my mother greeted my father after his coming home from a successful trapping season.

Things were kosher as my friend invited me into his lodge for the night and there, a bear skin rug gave comfort as we dined on fresh cooked antelope,

All was quiet as I sat watching my friend play with his children and for only a moment, I thought about Lottie and the day of my departure. Though, the uncertainty of my seeing her again, it made my mind refused to ponder the subject.

There had been excitement in the Cheyenne camp earlier in the day, A few warriors captured a white man who was suspected to be a scout for a wagon train. Word was his fate would be decided by the council.

I knew Ma-toosh expected to be at the council meeting, so I would occupy my time by walking down to the river come morning.

Sleep had less problems finding me. I would hear my friend on several occasions get up and go outside. However, I turned over and drifted to sleep only to see the sun peeping through the top of the tent and wondering how long I had slept.

Nature had started to live up to her reputation. March unruly winds was underway as I stepped outside to greet the day.

My host had gone to the council lodge to speak for the scout's defense, but I doubted if the poor soul would see nightfall.

The Cheyenne people were like all other tribes. They were tired of seeing the white people come into their lands, killing off the food supply and leaving it mostly to rot in the sun.

I stood near the bank of the river and looked out across the flowing stream. Moisture from the water instigated the hurt from Arthritis in my left wrist.

A young brave leading a string of ponies down a path toward me had my attention as I watched him turn and walk the animals into a shallowness.

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