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"The West"


Chapter 1
Starting Out

By Thomas Bowling

“How much longer are we going to wait here?"

Sarah Beauchamp was pacing around the wagon, anxious to begin her journey. A new life awaited her out west, and she wanted to get started. She was traveling with her father and setting off on the adventure of her life.

She had waited months for the arrangements to be made. Supplies had to be stocked. A wagon must be bought. Sarah's father purchased a Prairie Schooner. This had become the wagon of choice. The first settlers went in Conestogas because they were larger and families could ride in them. They soon found out that their size was their weakness.

A Conestoga’s weight was a detriment in the mud that was often encountered. They broke down more readily from the distance, and the mountains became impassable. Prairie Schooners were smaller, they didn't put the strain on the oxen or horses pulling them like the larger wagon. The Schooners weren't big enough to carry the families and all of the supplies needed for the journey. This meant that travelers had to walk the two thousand miles to Oregon, but at least they would get there.

After a committee formed by a group of the travelers conducted interviews, a wagon master was hired. This last item was the most important. Many stories were told of inexperienced wagon masters leading their group into disasters. The West was a dangerous place when it wanted to be. Jarrod Green, an imposing trail hardened man, was chosen to lead the wagons west. He was an experienced wagon master and had led several trains. He came highly recommended to the group and had proper letters of introduction.

Sarah paced around the wagon. “When are we leaving?”

“We need to leave soon,” Sarah's father said. “Or we'll lose our window of opportunity. We only have from mid-April to late May or the weather won't hold, but we have to wait for the stragglers to join the group.”

Sarah rearranged the supplies for the fourth time. She took inventory, again - 200 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon, 10 pounds of coffee, 20 pounds of sugar, and 10 pounds of salt. A cooking kettle, frying pan, coffee pot, tin plates, cups, knives, and forks.

She had packed clothing and other necessities. In all, they were taking 1,200 pounds of supplies on their journey. If this wasn't enough there would be forts and settlements along the way where they could purchase more.

“I don't know why we have to wait,” Sarah complained. “The Petersons said if we don't leave soon, there won't be grass on the plains to feed the livestock.”

“We'll wait as long as we can,” her father, Maurice Beauchamp said.

“They would do the same for us. Don't be in such a hurry. The West will still be there when we get to it.”

“I know, Papa, but I want to travel. I wasn't meant to stay still.”

“Yes, you're just like your Mama. She was always on the move, too. That's how we wound up in America. France couldn't contain her. She heard about an exciting life in an untamed land and she had to go see it. Now, New York isn't big enough to satisfy you. You have to see what else is here.”

“There's so much to see, Papa. Out west, I'll be able to put my teaching to real use. I can civilize the Indians and teach them a better way of life.”

“I'm sure they like their way just fine,” Maurice said, chuckling. “How do you know they won't teach you something? Knowledge wasn't invented in Europe.”

“I know, Papa. It’s just they're so . . . savage for lack of a better word.”

“Poor girl. You've got a lot to learn.”


To be continued . . . 

Author Notes Thanks to Phyllis Stewart for the Indian Chef illustration.


Chapter 2
The West

By Thomas Bowling

Previously . . .

Sarah Beauchamp and her father Maurice, French immigrants have joined a wagon train to travel west to Oregon. 

Chapter 2


Independence, Missouri, was called the gateway to the American West. Virtually, all wagons trains started from there. The group would travel two thousand miles to Oregon City, using the tried and true Oregon trail. If a wagon train ventured off of this path, they were certain to encounter trouble.

Hostile Indians often attacked settlers who veered from the established route. Harsh weather conditions could make travel impossible. The wilderness was not a friendly place for novices. Stories of shortcuts were just that, stories. Two thousand miles is two thousand miles.

The travelers were in a jovial mood. Introductions were made, and friendships formed. Everyone agreed to make any sacrifices necessary for the good of the trip.

As the new settlers were preparing for the trip west, the wagon master called the group together.

“As we start out, there are a few things you need to know. This is not going to be an easy journey. You must be able to endure heat like a salamander, mud and water like a muskrat, dust like a toad, and labor like a jackass.

“You must learn to eat with unwashed fingers, drink out of the same vessel as your mules, sleep on the ground when it rains, share your blanket with vermin, and have patience with mosquitoes. You have to cease to think, except of where you may find grass and water and a good camping place. If you're ready for all of this, you will make it to Oregon."

“What about Indians?” Herb Jenkins asked.

“Indians are the least of our worries. We may never see one. I've made this journey without encountering Indians. Mostly, when we do, they pay no attention to us. There are a couple of places where they're hostile, but we try to avoid them. Everyone stay together in a group and we'll be fine.

“One more word of advice, the best way to prepare for this trip is to head out on your own for three or four days. Get familiar with your equipment and your animals. Find out what it's like to be on the trail. Then come back and we will leave as a group.”

Everyone agreed that this was good advice, but only a few actually did it. Those that did benefited from the experience.

After the wagon master spoke, the travelers had something to think about, and the mood became more serious. They realized that they would need some organization.

A vote was held, and Herb Jenkins was selected as a go-between, to represent the group in whatever situation may arise. His only qualification being that he was the most outspoken of the travelers.

Eventually, everyone was ready, and the wagons pulled away with much fanfare.

“I'm disappointed that we may not see any Indians,” Sarah said. “I was looking forward to seeing some real natives.”

“Be careful what you wish for, child,” her father said.

“Look, Papa, a band bidding us a good journey.”

“Yes, we're on our way. Oregon, here we come.”

The morning air was crisp as the wagons came to life. As they moved forward; the settlers spread out across the plain. Sarah was confused by the lack of formation.

“Papa, I thought we would travel in a line, one behind the other.”

“No, Sarah, If we did everyone would get covered with dust from the wagon ahead of them. This way everyone can breathe. The only time the wagons will gather together is in the evening, when we stop. We'll circle the wagons, and put the livestock in the center, so they won't wander off during the night.”

The group consisted of twenty-four wagons. That's ninety-six wheels, all of them squeaking in their own pitch. It created a symphony of pitchy violin-like music. It was rather pleasant for seven or eight miles. Then, it became irritating. It sounded like twenty-four giant crickets singing to each other.

All that cacophony of squeaky instruments. It was enough to drive you batty unless you could put it out of your head. It went on all day until the wagons stopped in the evening. Then the real crickets took over, rubbing their legs together like tiny violins, singing back to the wagons.

The little cricket songs went on all night. Then, they turned the serenade over to the giant crickets again, as the wagons creaked into life. Four months of out-of-tune love songs.

Most wagon trains traveled the Oregon Trail. It was considered the safest route to the west. It bypassed the fiercest Indian tribes, and the wagons could travel at a rate of ten miles a day. Sarah's great adventure had finally begun. She felt this is what she was born to do. She couldn't be happier.

To be continued . . . 

Author Notes Special Thanks to Phyllis Stewart for the illustration of the Indian Chef.


Chapter 3
Tom Gordon

By Thomas Bowling

Previously

Sarah Beauchamp and her father Maurice are part of a wagon train traveling to Oregon in the 1800s.

Chapter 3

On the fifth day out, Maurice's wagon broke a wheel. The travelers lined up in rows and helped unload the supplies. When the wagon was lightened, a group of men lifted the broken wheel off the ground and replaced it. Now, all that was left to do was reload the supplies. This was the first test that the group could work together to reach their destination.

One of the men who helped was Tom Gordon, a young man from Edinburgh, Scotland. Tom was a handsome young man. He had just turned eighteen. He was tall, well over six feet, and had long reddish hair. He was attempting to grow a beard but wasn't having much success.

His parents had died of typhoid two years earlier, and he was making the journey alone. Tom came from hard-working stock. He was a natural farmer, a trait that would serve him well as he set out to raise a family in the west.

The young man approached Sarah as they were loading the last of the supplies.

“Hello. My name is Tom.”

“I'm Sarah. It was nice of you to help.”

“On the trail, we have to all band together,” Tom said. "When we get to the next settlement your father's going to have to buy a new wheel.”

“We planned for emergencies. Papa has some money set aside for it.”

“That's good. It cost me all I had to outfit my wagon. I'd be in bad shape if I had trouble.”

“I'm sure everyone would help you. Like you say, on the trail, we have to work together.”

Sarah and Tom were the only ones of their age in the group. It was natural that they began to walk together. There was little else to do on the trip but walk.

Sarah loved to write poetry. This journey promised to provide enough material to fill several books. With her long brown hair and bright blue eyes, she looked like a poem.

She would read some of her poems to Tom as they traveled. Tom didn't understand all of them, but he pretended to be fascinated by Sarah's ability. He could listen to the sound of her voice forever.

Sarah had attended finishing school in France and carried herself with the grace of a fine lady. In France, she would have been courted by dozens of wealthy men, but rich men were few and far between in America.

That didn't matter to Sarah. She would be happy as the wife of a teamster. A life spent traveling would suit her fine. Even though the clothes of a frontier woman were coarse Sarah would wear them with grace. But not on this trip. On this trip, she would dress like a fine lady with billowy dresses and several petticoats and bonnets with ribbons.

She tied the skirts up as best she could to keep them out of the mud, but soon gave up and let them become tattered and soiled. No matter, when they got to Oregon, she would make new dresses.

Sarah's mother passed away from dysentery shortly after arriving in America. She never got the chance to see the new country that she wanted to be a part of. Sarah's father thought of returning to France, but he had become captivated by this new world and stayed. Some said it was to honor his wife, but Maurice knew it was for himself.

Things happened fast on a pilgrimage. Sarah and Tom grew fond of each other. As the weeks passed, they walked together and talked about their dreams for a new life.

“What do you want to do, when we reach Oregon?” Sarah asked.

“Open a general store and raise a family. My father was a storekeeper. There's a good living to be made in it.”

“That sounds like a good plan,” Sarah said. “It will be a good life. I want to be a school teacher. There is so much teaching that needs to be done.”

As the weeks passed, Tom lost his shyness. One day he looked Sarah in the eyes. “I realize we hardly know each other, but I've grown fond of you, and I think you feel the same. Maybe we could achieve our ambitions together. I could make you happy, Sarah.”

“You make me happy just thinking about it.”

Tom leaned in and kissed Sarah.

Sarah held him and whispered. “Let's make that our plan.”


To be continued . . .


Chapter 4
A Proposal

By Thomas Bowling

Previously:

Sarah Beauchamp and Tom Gordon have met on a wagon train going west. They developed a bond and are ready to take things to the next step.

Chapter 4

They made a handsome couple as they walked along, and could often be seen sneaking away from the train. Never venturing far from the wagons, they walked hand in hand and talked for hours. Before long, rumors of marriage spread through the camp, but this couldn’t happen until they reached Oregon, and joined a proper church.

“Tom, have you considered children?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, I want lots of them. I hear they sell for a lot out west.”

“Stop it. You're terrible. Sometimes, I don't even know why I let you kiss me.”

“You mean like now.”

Tom leaned over and kissed Sarah in a way that always made her go weak. At this point, she would have sold their children herself.

“How do you do that to me?” Sarah asked.

“What, this?” Tom kissed her again, and they tumbled to the ground.

“This trip is going to be perfect,” Sarah said.

“I know. I thought I was going to travel west, and meet a girl out there. It turns out, I started for the west, and met a perfect girl from the east. What were the chances?”

“God has a plan for us, Tom Gordon. You wait and see. The two of us are going to bring civilization to the west, and start a new world. It's all part of His plan.”

“Sarah, Tom, you young people get back to the wagon. We're getting ready to head out. You don't want to be left behind.” Sarah's father knew what was going on and mostly approved of it.

Sarah hurried back to the wagon. “Sarah, if your mother knew the way you two were carrying on, she would put a stop to it.”

“Mama would have liked Tom. He's a fine young man. I could do a lot worse.”

As they traveled west the two lovers became closer and closer. Privacy was hard to come by on a wagon train, but Sarah and Tom managed to find some from time to time. On one such occasion, Tom took Sarah by the hand.

“Sarah, I intend to ask your father for your hand in marriage, but I want to hear your answer first.”

Sarah wrapped her arms around Tom and squealed with delight. She kissed him over and over.

“Oh, Tom, yes, a thousand times yes. I'll marry you a thousand times, and then I will marry you some more. You've made me the happiest girl on earth.”

“I'm the one who's happy,” Tom said. “Now comes the hard part. I have to talk to your father.”

“He's not as mean as he looks. Just tell him. I'm sure he'll be as glad as I am. Well, not as glad as I am, but he'll be happy. Hurry, go ask him.”

Tom was nervous as he went to talk to Maurice. He had to struggle to look him in the eyes. He fidgeted and worried the brim of his hat.

“What is it, young fella?” Maurice asked. “I can see you're all tangled up about something. I've been watching you pace around for an hour.”

“Sir, I've come to ask for Sarah's hand in marriage.”

It didn't help Tom's nervousness that Maurice hesitated before answering. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime to Tom, Maurice spoke. “The two of you just met. What's the hurry?”

“If I waited a lifetime I couldn't love anyone more. Sarah feels the same. We're sure God has brought us together.”

“Young people always think they know what God wants. I think you should wait. If you still feel this way when we get to Oregon, I'll consider it.”

Tom found some backbone. “Sir, that's not good enough. I need an answer right now.”

“In that case,” Maurice said, "the answer is no.”

“How can you say that? Sarah will hate you.”

“Sarah doesn't know how to hate. You'll have to come up with a better answer than that.”

“Then we'll get married without your blessing. We would rather have it, but we love each other and we'll do what is necessary. You would have done the same when you met your wife.”

Maurice stopped and considered what he had just heard. “You're right. Sarah's mother and I would have run away. In fact, we did. Her father hated me for it. The two of us never spoke again. That's no way to start a marriage." Maurice stared into the distance and pondered Tom's words. Now, it was his turn to fidget with his hat. Finally, he gave in to the inevitable. "It took courage for you to say what you did. I've reconsidered. Your answer is yes. You’re a good man. I'm sure you'll be a good husband.”

“Thank you, sir.” Tom let out a sigh of relief. He hadn't realized he had been holding his breath. “I'll be good to Sarah. I'll treat her as well as you have. She won't want for anything.”

“Things don't make a marriage work. It takes love and hard work to keep a good woman happy, and never forget, Sarah's a good woman.”

“Yes, sir, I know. I think she's the finest woman God ever put on earth.”

“I wouldn't go that far, son. I've seen Sarah get downright cantankerous when she gets a bee in her bonnet.”

“I'll keep that in mind, sir.”

“You do that, and you'll be spending a lot fewer nights sleeping outside. Have you decided when the wedding will take place?"

"We want to wait until we reach Oregon, and find a church. We want God's blessing on our marriage.”

“That's a good choice. Now, go tell Sarah that I said yes.”

Tom ran to the river where Sarah was washing clothes. “Sarah! Sarah! He said yes.”

“I knew he would. Everything is wonderful. I knew I was going to like this trip. I just didn't know how much. How could I be so lucky? I’m starting a new life with the man I love.”

“He said all I had to do was come up with ten cows and a couple of sheep, and we could get married.”

“He did no such thing. Why do you tease me so?”

-------       -------       -------

Sarah was more anxious now than ever to get to Oregon. Complete happiness awaited her there. “Oh, hurry, Papa. Go faster.”

“We're making good time, Sarah. Sit back and take in the view. We might even see some of those Indians you've been looking for.”

“I don't care about any Indians. I just want to get to Oregon and marry Tom.”

“I don't know why you have to get married in Oregon. There are plenty of towns with churches along the way.”

“I want to be a member of the church we get married in. That way, it'll be our church. We can go there every Sunday and raise our kids there.”

“Speaking of church, have you two decided whether you're going to be Protestant or Catholic yet?”

“It's not important. There's only one God, and He takes care of all of us. Religion doesn't matter to God. Only people care about that.”

“You're wise beyond your years, Sarah. You're not a child anymore. You're seventeen. Soon, you'll have children of your own to look after. Have you thought about that?”

“Yes, Tom and I want to have lots of children. We'll need a big family.”

“And why is that?”

“Tom wants to start a farm and open a little store. Maybe a hardware shop.”

“That's a lot to take on.”

“Tom's a hard worker and has big plans.”

“I can see that.”

“And I and the kids will be there to help him. He might even be governor someday when the territory becomes a state. Wouldn't that be something? Tom Gordon, Governor of Oregon.”

“Are these Tom's plans or yours?”

“He'll go along with what I say.”

“I thought as much. He doesn't know what he's getting into. Poor boy.”

“Why do you call him a boy? Tom's a full-grown man.”

“I know. I call him that because I'm tired of being an old man. When I think of all the things that could be done in the west, I wish I were a boy.”

“Oh Papa, you're not old. At least not to me. Do you ever think about getting another wife?”

“No. No one could ever take your Mama's place. I wish she had lived to see all this land.”

Maurice looked out at the endless, grass-covered plain. “She would have loved it.” As they traveled along a single tear formed in Maurice's eye.

“Please, Papa, go faster. Just a little bit wouldn't hurt.”

“It wouldn't help either.”

“I just don't know why we have to go slow just because some people weren't smart enough to spend some more money and buy stronger oxen so they could keep up.”

“What if Tom had slow oxen?”

“He's too smart for that. Besides, if that were the case, he could ride with us.”

“You and Tom may not want to get married after spending four months together in a covered wagon.”

“Don't be silly. I'd marry Tom after spending a year with him in an outhouse.”

Maurice made a face and Sarah laughed.

“That sounds terrible, doesn't it? Please, Papa, go faster.” Sarah rocked back and forth.

Maurice scrunched his face up. “What in tarnation are you doing, girl?”

“I'm trying to make this wagon go faster. I've got to do something.”

“Hahahaha. I swear you're the reincarnation of your mother.” Maurice kept a steady pace. He knew what was best for the oxen. Slowly, the wagons ground on, pushing into a vast, new world.

The first obstacle they came to was the Missouri River. It wasn't as bad as the Platt River and some others. Actually, the smaller rivers presented more of a problem.

The Missouri had ferries to take the settlers across. The shallow rivers would have to be forded. Scouts went ahead to find the best places to cross. The settlers would wax the sides of their wagons to make them waterproof, then they would unload as much as they could and make the crossing.

They would carry as much as they were able, including children, and walk behind their wagons. Sometimes they would need to make several trips to transport all of their belongings across the river.

The trip west was not an easy one. It was full of excitement and danger. It promised adventure and a new beginning, for those brave enough to make the journey, into the great unknown.

To be continued . . .


Chapter 5
Comanche Territory

By Thomas Bowling

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previously:

Tom and Sarah have made plans to get married in Oregon. Sarah has big plans for Tom.

Chapter 5

“You need to stay close to the wagon for the next few weeks,” Maurice told Sarah. “We need to keep a watch out for Indians.”

“Indians? Do you really think so? This will be exciting. I'll be able to tell my children that I saw a real Indian.”

Maurice had good reason to be concerned about his daughter's safety. They were approaching South Pass and Humboldt Rivers. Most Indians were tolerant of immigrants, but the ones along here sometimes attacked without provocation.

Only three men among the group had any experience with Indians. The wagon master, and Travis and Joab, the scouts. The three of them had several past dealings with Indians. They had brought four other wagon trains west and had never lost a soul, not even to sickness.

The scouts kept a sharp lookout until the group passed danger. After passing through Missouri, and into Nebraska, they relaxed. The wagon train traveled without incident for hundreds of miles.

Things changed in Wyoming. Wyoming was known as the land of the Comanche. The Comanche were savage fighters, the most aggressive of the Indian tribes.

The trail boss paced nervously, this being the largest group he had ever led. He knew the Indians wouldn't like the intrusion. Hell, he wouldn’t either if he was them. He called the travelers together.

“We're entering Comanche territory. Those of you who know how to use a gun, keep it handy. Usually, the Indians let us pass, but you never know. It doesn't hurt to be prepared.

“For the next few days, we won't spread out. We'll keep the wagons bunched together in case we need to circle them in a hurry. In the evening, when we stop, we'll form a circle for protection.

“These precautions probably aren't necessary, but I would rather play it safe. I don't mean to alarm anyone. Indians usually let us pass without any trouble.”

“This is so exciting,” Sarah said. “Real Comanches. I read about them. They're called the Vikings of the West. They're supposed to be the fiercest fighters. I hope we see some. It would be something to tell my children. 'We traveled west and saw real Indians before they were civilized.'”

“How can you be excited about Indians?” her father demanded.

“Oh, Papa. Let me enjoy it. It's part of why we came, to see what life for them is like. Besides, I've got you and Tom to protect me. No girl could be safer. If an Indian rode up, Tom would shoot him. Besides, they may be friendly.”

“I hope it's as easy as that.”

At night, the immigrant Americans listened to the drums of the original Americans.

Jarrod Green, the wagon master drank coffee and stared into the darkness. He spoke to his scouts. “I don't like the sound of those drums. You boys keep your eyes open tomorrow. I don't want to have to fight Comanches. I'll turn these wagons around and take the southern route if I have to. Even the Apache is better than a Comanche attack.”

In the morning, Travis and Joab stood watch, and by early in the afternoon, the attack came.

Redskins!” Travis called out.

The travelers didn't have time to circle the wagons. They were caught in the plain with no cover. The Indians attacked from all sides, screaming and shooting arrows at the pilgrims. The battle seemed like it went on forever. The painted Indians, riding on their painted ponies, attacked over and over again. They relished in the carnage.

The few rifles of the settlers were no match for the Indians. Soon, there were more dead travelers than living ones. Indians leaped from their horses. They scalped the dead and captured the women. The last sound the dying men heard were the screams of their wives and daughters, as they were carried away. The doomed people came seeking a new life. In a few moments, they found death instead.

Maurice Beauchamp was one of the first to be killed. He was pierced by a dozen or more arrows. The dime store novels would have you believe that men died from a single, well-placed arrow. Actually, it usually took several arrows to kill a man.

Death was a slow process for a man attacked by Indians. Maurice suffered terribly, the blood oozed from his body. As he died, he looked at his beautiful, young daughter. So full of life, but now filled with tears and terror. What was to become of his dear, sweet daughter? His heart ached, but not from the arrows.

Sarah held her father. “Oh, Papa, I should have listened to you. We should never have come. Why did I ever want to leave New York? I hate the west. I hate myself.”

Sarah was consumed by grief. She thought she had reached her limit until she saw Tom surrounded by screaming, wild Indians. They were raining down heavy blows on him with their blunt stone tomahawks.

“Tom!” she screamed. Their eyes briefly met, and then he was gone. Sarah's hope of having children, and raising a family had been murdered by the Comanche devils. That's what they were in Sarah's eyes.

They weren't the downtrodden people that she had heard about. They were savages that needed to be killed. There should never be a place for them on earth.

After the men were slaughtered. The women and children were taken captive. The Comanche tribe was being depleted, and captives were a way of replenishing their numbers.

This was the west for Maurice Beauchamp, a French immigrant who was taking his daughter west to start a new life.

To be continued . . . 

 


Chapter 6
The Comanche Village

By Thomas Bowling

Previously:

The wagon train has been wiped out by Comanche Indians. Sarah and the other women and children have been taken captive.

Chapter 6

The captives were marched all day and night. Some of the Comanche walked behind the group, beating any who didn't keep up. When the children cried for water, they were given urine. The Indians didn't care if they drank it or not.

Water was a precious commodity and the Indians didn't want to waste it on these devils. In the coming weeks, most of the children would be adopted, and take the place of Indian children who had died, and their treatment would improve.

The small group of survivors was taken to a Comanche village. It was a cluster of tepees, home to about four hundred Indians.

In the morning, the Indians gathered around a fire to prepare the scalps they had taken in the massacre. The Indians made the survivors watch. Sarah looked on in horror, as one by one, the scalps were scraped and scorched. She fainted when she saw Tom's red hair.

At first, the captives were closely guarded. Those who tried to escape were beaten. The children had been given to Indian parents to raise, and soon took on the appearance and mannerisms of their captors.

In time, the captives would become tribe members with a standing in the community. Sarah spoke several languages and served as interpreter between the Comanche and the pilgrims. Sarah cried until she couldn't cry anymore, but in time, she accepted her fate, terrible as it was. She tried to make do with the misfortune that had come her way. She didn't know why God wanted her to suffer so, but she knew He must have a reason for it. She never tried to escape. She had no family and no place to go. She knew she could never survive on her own. She busied herself in an effort to overcome her new reality. Sarah set up a makeshift school and taught the children. The children would need a lot of education if they were ever going to overcome hundreds of years of Indian culture.

Sarah ignored the fact that in many areas, the Indians were wiser than her. To her, real knowledge was only found in books. She wished she had some to teach from, instead of relying on oral lessons. The Indians thought she was soft in the head. Indians excelled at oral history.

The Indians allowed Sarah to conduct her experiment with the little savages. She was determined to make them into something they weren’t meant to be. She was convinced that the white man was the future. She intended to make these red children as white as possible.

The children were fascinated by Sarah. They marveled at her blue eyes and snow-white skin. She was soft as a baby, yet somehow full-grown. Indians had rough skin from years of facing windblown sand.


To be continued . . . 
 


Chapter 7
Dark Waters

By Thomas Bowling

Previously:

Sarah has been taken captive by a band of Comanche. She started teaching the children and is trying to teach them the ways of the whites.

Chapter 7

One young student was taken by Sarah more than the rest. Dark Waters had a schoolboy crush on her.

“The Great Father sent her to us to show us what spirits look like,” he told his friends. “One day, she and I will fill the earth with spirit children. I have seen it in a vision.”

The boy started following Sarah everywhere. “Sarah, where are you going?” he called out to her one day.

“To the river to wash clothes.”

“I'll go with you. To make certain you are doing it the right way.”

“I know how to wash clothes.”

“But do you know the Indian way?”

“Everyone washes clothes the same way.”

“Still, I will watch.”

“Would you like to help?”

“No, that is women's work. A brave does not do women's work.”

The other children would follow the two, and recite Indian love poems.

Sarah couldn't help but notice Dark Waters' infatuation with her. The idea of a Comanche being attracted to her repulsed her, but she tried not to let it show.

Dark Waters would follow Sarah as she did her chores. He was happy to watch her, but he would never help. It wasn't the Indian way to mix the work of a man and woman.

One day, Sarah said, “I'm curious, you're older than the other children yet . . .”

Dark Waters interrupted, “I'm not a child.”

“Of course, you're not. You're a young man. What I meant was, you're older than the others who I teach. I was wondering why you come to be taught by a woman at your age. The other young men refuse to let me help them.”

“They are fools. I am smarter than all of them. Already the other chil . . . braves look to me for leadership. One day, I will be Chief. A Chief must learn from anyone he can, even a white woman.

“If I am going to know how to kill whites, and drive them from our land, I must know how they think. You are helping me to understand the whites. It is not your fault that you're one of them. The Great Father has sent you to me, so I will learn how to fight the white devils.”

A chill ran up Sarah's spine.

Dark Waters noticed. “So, maybe you no longer want to teach me, now that you know my purpose.”

“Of course, I want to teach you, because I want you to understand that our way is better.”

“If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man, he would have made me so in the first place. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows. Tell me, Sarah, what can be better than the Comanche way?”

“Civilization is better. Not killing people is better.”

“You talk of civilization, yet here you are among us, living the Comanche way, and one day, you will be a Comanche's wife.”

“No! Never!” Sarah couldn't hide her emotions.

“The thought fills you with dread, doesn't it? Now I see you for what you are. You live with us, but you hate us. You teach us because you feel it is some punishment you have been given to pay for a past evil. I was a fool to want you for my wife.”

It was all Sarah could do to keep from crying out. She hung her head. She couldn't deny the words of Dark Waters. Dark Waters never followed Sarah again. He still came to her teaching circle, but both he and Sarah knew why he was there. At every opportunity, he disrupted the class and tried to upset Sarah with lewd comments.

“Why does she live among us, but dress like a white woman? Take those silly clothes off and be one of us.”

“Yes,” the other children would join in. “Take your clothes off.”

The children would strip naked and dance. “Join us, white woman. Be Comanche.”

“Children, put your clothes back on. We're not done yet.” The children would run away, laughing. “We are Comanche. Sarah is white. We are Comanche. Sarah is white.”

The adult Indians laughed at Sarah's frustration, in her attempts to make their children white, and the children's attempts to make her Indian.

Running Horse, an older brave, watched with amusement. “Who is winning the battle today?”

“The children are winning today, but the war isn't over yet. I will win in the end.”

“And when will that be?”

“Soon, you'll see. Before long, these children will have proper manners.”

“And then will they be permitted to sit at your table?”

Sarah didn't have an answer for Running Horse. She knew no Indian would ever be welcome in her home.

When Running Horse decided to take Sarah as his wife, her first thought was to kill herself. The beautiful children she and Tom had hoped for would be half-breed Comanche. It was more than she could bear, but then she thought, God must have a plan. She prayed that at the least, she would be barren. Every night she prayed, “God, let me die first. I know it would be a sin to take my own life, but please, God, let me die.”


To be continued . . .


Chapter 8
Sarah's Ordeal

By Thomas Bowling

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previously:

Sarah has been captured by the Comanche and has tried to fit in.

Chapter 8 

Running Horse, a middle-aged warrior, announced that Sarah was to be his wife. Among the Indians, the woman had no say in the matter. According to custom, first, she must pass through the gauntlet. Sarah was made to walk between two rows of Indians. They beat her with sticks and hurled insults at her in an effort to frighten her.

Running Horse was a brave warrior. It would not do for him to have a coward for a wife.

Among the tormentors, Sarah saw Dark Waters. He pushed several Indians out of his way to get close to Sarah. He screamed obscenities at her while hitting her with a rough stick, causing her to bleed. Dark Waters spat on her.
“Let's be done with this and kill the white devil. Her presence brings a curse on our tribe. Our crops refuse to grow. Our corn wilts. How much longer must we endure this evil living among us?

Sarah was bloodied. She could barely walk. Running Horse wanted to help her, but this was forbidden. She must endure the test on her own. She could barely crawl for the last few feet. She was bleeding and dragged herself to the end.

After surviving the gauntlet, Sarah was branded. Running Horse's brand was burned onto her forehead. Tattoos were carved into her face.

The last ordeal was the test of the serpent. Sarah was tied spread eagle on the ground. A snake was placed between her legs. She was told to lay motionless. Sarah didn't scream as the reptile slithered inside her. She simply went insane.

She never spoke again. The refined lady from a good family found out what it meant to travel west.

After her ordeal. After she had gone insane, the children who had been her students would push her down and throw stones at her, but Dark Waters chased them away. “Leave her alone. She is a good woman. We did this to her.

From time to time, Sarah would pound on her stomach with her fists. “She still feels the demon inside her,” the Indians would say. They became afraid of her, and she was banished from the tribe. Running Horse was shamed for choosing such a wife.

When I found Sarah, she was wandering in the desert. She was as red as the Indians who had banished her. The desert sun had scorched her once delicate skin. She was as leathery and stretched as taut as my saddle. She had abandoned her clothes in the desert heat. When people lose their minds, they don't understand that clothing provides a layer of protection and cooling.

I got off my horse and slowly walked toward her with my canteen in my hand, holding it out to her. She crouched down low and bared her teeth, making biting motions. As I drew near, she made animal noises and threatening gestures. I did the only thing for her that I knew to do. I put a bullet in her head.

“Welcome to the West,” I said as I buried her. "I hope you find the peace you came seeking. May God rest your soul.”

This was the West for Sarah Beauchamp, a fine lady who went to finishing school in France and traveled west in America.

To be continued . . .


Chapter 9
The Traveler

By Thomas Bowling

Previously:

A cowboy finds Sarah in the desert and puts her out of her misery.

Chapter 9

I put the woman out of my mind and continued west. Traveling across the plain is a lonely place, but it suited me. I never minded the solitude. A man who doesn't like to be alone doesn't like himself. That's all there is in the west.

The west was where I was meant to be. I never felt the need to be around people. I always found that the more people there were, the more trouble there was. I was convinced that people were never meant to live around each other. It's hard to kill another man if you never see one.

The west was a perfect place to put my philosophy to the test. A man could live forever here without having to be around anybody. That meant never having any problems as far as I was concerned.

I rode for two days and came to the tribe that had banished Sarah. That's where I learned her name. I was safe riding into the Indian's camp alone. They gave passage to a man who posed no threat.

Funny thing about Comanche. If they had ridden up on me a mile outside of camp, they would have stripped me, staked me out on the desert floor, and skinned me with their flint knives, but a man riding directly into their camp received no more than a passing glance.

The Indians asked if I had seen a crazy woman. I denied seeing her. There was no telling what their reaction would be if I told them I had killed a demon possessed woman. Indians believed that a devil woman was protected by the spirits.

The Comanche believed that everything had a spirit. The trees had spirits. Wolves had spirits, even dirt had a spirit. They always offered part of their food to the spirits. They would cut off a piece of meat, hold it up to the sky and then bury it. They probably wouldn't take kindly to my killing Sarah's spirit.

At night, I would join the Indians in smoking a pipe. It was their way of communicating with the spirits. After the pipe, the Indians would usually dance around the fire. Sometimes, I would join them. Even I could do an Indian dance. I thought I could but my movements were uncoordinated and jerky. The Indians laughed at my attempts.

“You don't have the spirit of dance in you. You must have great happiness or great sadness. You have neither. You're white. You're stuck between spirits.”

________       _______       _______
 

Ten Bears told me where Comanche’s came from. "One day, the Great Spirit collected swirls of dust from the four directions in order to create the Comanche people. These people formed from the earth had the strength of mighty storms.

A shape-shifting demon was also created and began to torment the people. The Great Spirit cast the demon into a bottomless pit. To seek revenge, the demon took refuge in the fangs and stingers of poisonous creatures, and continues to harm people every chance it gets."

I guess that's as good an explanation as any. It was better than my theory that they came from dogs. When Ten Bears saw that I accepted this story, he went on and told me about where buffalo came from.


To be continued . . .


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