“Stop. If you don’t want an bullet in your back ….”
Cheyenne froze at the sound. His fingers were only inches from the trigger of his rifle. But the movement now sounded almost on top of them.
How had they managed that? To creep up on them. And neither had heard a thing. Until it was too late.
“Bodie. Don’t move.”
Jacob’s whispered voice to his side sounded nervous. Instinctively Bodie’s hand went to his rifle.
Bodie turned his head to his companion. Not thinking about the warning not to move.
Jacob frowned at him. But said nothing. Did nothing.
The pair of them had crawled on their bellies through the long grass to the brow of the hill. On Jacob’s tip-off that the tribes were gathering. A hundred yards back they’d tethered the horses and slithered on their fronts to look down over the plain. Jacob had been right. Hundreds of tepees. Hundreds of Sioux braves gathered.
“For the Blood Moon,” Jacob had said.
Down on his front in the long grass, Bodie had been shocked by the numbers. In silence they had watched. This was war, it would be a bloodbath. Bodie had looked without talking. Wondering how-in-heaven they’d defend the railroad against numbers like that.
It was then that Jacob had broken the silence. Warning Bodie. Cheyenne questioned his companion with his eyes. Gesturing behind them. Questioning without saying a word. Jacob nodded lightly. His attuned hearing had heard what Bodie had not. They had company.
“Move and it’s a bullet in your back ….”
Cheyenne froze. His rifle only inches away. But the voice now sounded like it was breathing down his neck. It could only be Sioux. Crept up on them. Not made a sound. Bodie had not heard a thing. And now it was too late. Cheyenne saw movement to his side. Bare muscled legs passed by his head. A moccasined foot kicked his rifle away. One man, one pair of legs. But from the way Jacob lay passive, offering no attack, Bodie guessed his hearing had perceived many more.
Jacob was Sioux. Until he’d baptised. But all his previous life he’d been Sioux. He knew what his tribesmen were capable of. If he thought the pair of them were out-numbered, Bodie knew to trust Jacob’s instincts.
“Our brother is back.”
The moccasin placed its foot on Jacob’s rifle. The pair of them had no weapons now. How many were they? And how well armed? Could they fight them off? The voice above them had talked to others. Confirming this brave was not alone.
Hands were quickly on Bodie’s arms. Lifting him to his knees. The bare legs belonged to a Sioux warrior, tall, authoritative. Dressed in just his loincloth. Lean, muscular. With piercing eyes. But those eyes were only for Jacob. A pair of Indian braves remained hovering over Cheyenne but their leader was only interested in Jacob.
“Red Fox has returned.”
Clearly these were men from Jacob’s tribe, he was recognised. But this was no enthusiastic welcoming. The reunion was met with hostile silence. Cheyenne worked out the odds. About a dozen braves. Against the two of them. The Sioux armed with rifles. Suicide to start a fight.
“Our father is sick.”
The well-built Sioux stood right in front of the pair of them on their knees was talking to Jacob.
“Gone to the shrines .. for healing. Leaving your brother as chief.”
Was this “brother”-thing just the way Indians spoke about others in the tribe? Or .. somehow the way this muscular brave looked at Jacob ……. Bodie wondered .. Was this brave actually his brother? Jacob’s own brother? Was that some similarity?
The tall warrior loomed over Jacob on his knees.
“Our father has wept. Over the loss of a son. A son who followed the white-man’s ways. Who took on the white-man’s god. Cast the Great Spirit aside.”
Was Bodie hearing this straight? Our FATHER? Not our chief.
“Our father is sick. Sick in his spirit. At a son’s betrayal.”
Was Cheyenne getting this right? Jacob had been a chief’s son? Named once Red Fox? Bodie was trying to make eye-contact with Jacob. For clarification. But his companion was looking up into the stern face of the brave. Staring up into … his own brother’s face?
“OUR father ….” – these two were brothers, then? Jacob had been Red Fox before converting? Their chief’s son? Was Bodie putting this together right? Incredible. For his new Christian faith Jacob had abandoned the old ways. In despair or shame the chief, his father, had pined away. So … this muscular brave .. he had taken over as chief .. he was Jacob’s actual brother? And now he had captive the treacherous brother .. who had left to follow the White-men’s ways?
Red Fox/ Jacob had suspected the tribes would be gathering for battle. He had persuaded Bodie to come scout-out the land. His suspicions were right. His Sioux nation was gathering in force .. for the Blood Moon. In overwhelming numbers. A massive army to stop them laying tracks. Halt this desecration of sacred lands.
And, disastrously, Jacob/ Red Fox had got caught. With him a white-man. Spying on his own people. The worst betrayal. And the pair of them had fallen into vengeful hands …….
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