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Calico Mary

Dreams of the Golden Aspen Ranch

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Buick asked Cheyenne if he thought it was possible that Barrett would hear the commotion and send for the sheriff. Cheyenne agreed it was possible, but that could take a while, and maybe we oughta eat something while we waited. Morning Star went to the kitchen to make breakfast, and Buick asked Red to take over watching out the side window in the bedroom. Red replied "Maybe Mrs. Culpepper should, she ain't lookin' too good..." and my jaw just about hit the floor!

 

"I ain't Mrs. Culpepper!" I told him, "but I will take over in the other room." Red turned almost as red as his hair, and I thought I heard Win try to smother a laugh. Morning Star had started frying some bacon, and the smell was starting to get to me. I went in the bedroom shut the door, one of the windows had been shot out so there was some fresh air in there, and that helped a little....

 

Now, if I could only concentrate on watching the side of the house and quit thinking about how nice it would be to lay down on the bed for a nap......

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It didn't take long for the men outside to quit shooing at us, what were they waiting for I asked myself. Wake up dummy I said to myself as I realized that the next best thing to the barn cupulo was the upstair's windows. Before I went upstairs I had everyone remove the window sashes. "No used in letting them break anymore windows out" I said as I went up in the loft with my glass. I could see two men from up there, then I had an idea, bout time I thought to myself again.

 

I asked Red to hand my Sharps up to me, why was he sooo red faced I thought. Then I told them my plan, Calico should come up with me to help me glass the area and to spot for me. I was sure that the men outside had seen the long barrel of the Sharps with that first shot, so I told them to stick the pipe out the window, hoping that that would draw their fire again. When I found a target I would count to three and then they were to fire two pistols close toghether at the same time out of the window with the pipe. I would fire at the same time, hoping that they wouldn't see the shot from the Sharps..

 

"Hey Calico, come on up" I called...

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I heard Cheyenne calling me, and I couldn't figure out why I had to go up and help him, why not one of the others? I was just so tired, and I still didn't feel well, I had skipped the breakfast Morning Star had cooked. But I went anyway, if Cheyenne thought it was so important....

 

I got dizzy again climbing up the stairs, and had to hold on tight to the railing. When I finally got up to the loft, I told him I had to sit down for a minute or two. He just looked at me funny, and told me to let him know when I was ready, but not to take too long, no telling what those men out there were up to...

 

While I was sitting on one of the bunks, Cheyenne explained his plan to me, and all I could think was "I hope this works, we can't be stuck in here forever...."

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It took me a couple of minutes to pull myself together. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so sick, I mean, yeah I was upset about these men out there trying to kill us, and the fact that Margaret was probably behind it, but I'd been through tougher spots before without wanting to throw up...

Finally I was able to go over to the window to help Cheyenne. He pointed out the location of one of the men, and handed me his looking glass, telling me “Keep an eye on that one until I'm ready, make sure he don't move.” So I did, but the man stayed put, and it wasn't long before Cheyenne called downstairs “Get ready down there, let's do this,” and he started counting. When he got to three there was a loud BOOM, and another softer one from downstairs, and I could tell right away his bullet had found it's target. That was one scumbag that wasn't gonna be firing on us anymore. Cheyenne told me to try and find another one, but as I was doing that I heard a new sound, one that got my attention.

“Listen, ya hear that? I haven't heard a scream like that in ages....that ain't no white man yelling like that!” and then I also heard the sound of more gunfire, a little farther away, and it seemed to be coming from behind our attackers. I turned to give the glass back to Cheyenne, thinking maybe he could see what was going on, and found him staring at me, a real funny expression on his face. “Whut??” I asked, “Why you starin' at me like that?”

“I....I....well...I...I'm just worried about you.....are you gonna be ok?” he asked, and he looked scared half to death! What was up with that, we weren't in that much trouble, and it sounded like help was on the way, what could possibly be scaring him so much? I wasn't that sick, just had an upset stomach....

“I'm fine, now can we PU-LEEZE worry about these fools out there tryin' to kill us?” I insisted, though the gunfire from beyond those other men had picked up, obviously someone else had in fact entered the fight, I just hoped they were on our side.


We went back downstairs, and Buick had heard the other shots as well, and had instructed the others to hold their fire unless they could see their targets, if help was on the way we didn't want to shoot anyone on our side. The sounds of gunfire intensified for just a couple of minutes, then faded away. Before long we heard the sound of Sheriff Gibson shouting, “Hey MacKane, is everyone alright in there?” “Yeah Sheriff, we're fine, is it safe to come out?” Buick answered, and there was an affirmative reply from our friend. We went out on the porch, and the Sheriff and about a dozen or so other men were there, and they had a few of the attackers with them that they had captured, the rest had either been shot or had run off.


One of them looked to be no more than a boy, and I was kinda shocked, the Scotts were so desperate that they had used children to help? Just then the boy's hat came off as he struggled with Deputy Gibson, and it hit me, that was no boy, that was Annie Scott, the younger sister of the men Cheyenne had killed right after we had arrived. “Annie, what the heck did you think you were doing?” I asked her. She started screaming at me “It's all your fault my brothers are dead! How dare you? We don't want their kind around here,” and she was looking straight at Morning Star, “At least if your sister takes over we won't hafta put up with no dang injuns!”


I just walked over and slapped her, hard, I wasn't gonna let her talk to my best friend like that! I would have hit her again, but then someone grabbed my arm. I turned, about to give whoever it was a piece of my mind, when I realized that it was Chief Hosa that had a hold of me. “No,” he told me in Arapaho, “This one is not worthy of your anger. She already told the chief of the town that your sister paid them to do this. Save your anger for her.”

The Sheriff started telling us how Rick Barrett had come riding into town to ask for help when he had heard the noise coming from our place. They'd quickly put a posse together, and were heading here when they came across Chief Hosa, who was also on the road to the ranch. When Chief Hosa had seen the men, he had flagged them down to ask if this was the right road to my place, and told them who he was, so the Sheriff told him what was going on and asked him to join them. It had been the Chief that I had heard yelling, and he had distracted the attackers long enough for the rest of the posse to get in position to enter the fight. I was sure glad he had come, but then I realized that Morning Star probably wouldn't agree, there was still the little matter of her father not knowing what his daughter had been up to.


“Father?” she said, her voice shaking a little, “Welcome. We are honored that you have come.” Chief Hosa went to hug her, then stepped back and looked her up and down, then said “Do you have something you wish to tell me, daughter?” and I could see he was trying not to smile. Then he looked straight at Cheyenne and said “Or do you have something to tell me?”

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Before the fight had started Morning Star pulled me aside, I asked her if she knew what was wrong with Calico. She gave me a silly look like my father often had and then she pointed at her tummy. "Calico too" she said.

 

What? I thought to myself, Calico isn't getting fat!

 

I kept wondering when this girl was going to marry me. I was giving her all kinds of hints, what was with that anyway?

 

During the fight we had really worked well together, and I sure liked her pushing up behind me as she glassed, that was soothing to my soul. Her breath on my neck was warm and moist,,,, back to the fight. It was over pretty quickly, what with 3 quick kills with the Sharps and then sheriff Gibson came riding in, with Chief Hosa too boot, how had he managed that?

 

When Chief Hosa looked at me and asked, "do you have something to tell me?" I didn't know what to say! I felt like a kid again when my mother would catch me with crumbs on my face after I had snuck some of her flatbread before dinner. I hemmed and hawwed for what seemed like an eternity, did I looked into Calico's eyes, "just when are you going to let me marry you?" I blurted out.

 

Calico's eyes got real big, Chief Hosa turned REAL red, Buick had his eyes in the dirt, and Morning Star was looking up at the sky. Were they looking for Calico's answer, or did they know something I didn't!

 

Ouch, this time it wasn't Calico punching me in the arm, it was Sheriff Gibson, "You big dummy" he laughed as he took a few steps back.

 

All I could say was "WHAT?" "I didn't think asking her to marry me was that funny!"

 

OUCH, that time it was Calico!

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Chief Hosa spoke up, "You want TWO wives? You best think about that one Cheyenne!" "I know that they call you He Who Walks Two Paths, but son you have no idea what your getting into!

 

 

"Two wives?" I stammered, "I ain't got one yet!" "Besides Morning Star already married Buick there!" "Been married long enough to get that belly she's been eating so well!"

 

Dang it! What were they all laughing about now! Except for Chief Hosa,,,he had a strange look on his face....and I wasn't laughing, nor was Morning Star, or Buick, but Calico was nearly rolling on the ground. Hmmph I thought, no wonder I can't ever get an answer outta her!

 

Then I repeated myself,,, sorta,,, "Calico, if you could stop your laughing, could you please tell me when you're going to let me marry you?!"

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Wow, she sure got better quick, I said to myself. "Why don't we all go have a cup of coffee while Calico decides." I told them, as I started for the house I noticed that Chief Hosa hadn't budged, nor Morning Star or Buick.. "What's up with that" I thought.

 

Then I heard Morning Star say real quiet like, "father, I fell in love with Buick, not Cheyenne, and now your'e gonna be a grandpa."

 

"WHAT? She's not getting fat, she's pregnant?" Just came out of my mouth, I felt my knees getting weak, everything was getting fuzzy, my head was floating away, I was looking down on everybody as my head kept feeling lighter and lighter, and dang it all, they were all laughing again! What was so durn funny?"

 

The next thing I knew I was in Calico's arms with her looking down at me...."you'll be alright" she was saying.....

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It figured, first he embarrasses me by blurtin' all that out in front of everyone, then he faints? What the heck was with that man....and all this time I was thinkin' he had sense.....

 

But then again maybe he was gettin' sick too, maybe there was sumthin' going around?? I hoped it wasn't nuthin' serious, last thing Morning Star needed was to get sick. Maybe we should just stay outside for a while...less chance of passing it around...but I was already starting to feel better. After I made sure Cheyenne was ok, I went over to talk to Morning Star, she was a little upset and I could tell her father was too, but I didn't know what to say about that. I did ask her if she had any idea why Cheyenne and I had both gotten sick, she looked at me funny and said "Neither one of you is sick....Cheyenne fainted when he realized you're pregnant" "Where'd he get a crazy idea like that?" I asked...."I mean, it's just an upset stomach....ain't it? I can't be...well...you know....."

 

"Oh yes you could be...." she told me, laughing, then went in the house to get Cheyenne some water. He was sitting on the porch, and his face was starting to get some color back, that was a good sign. But was that why he had said all that...and in front of Chief Hosa! Oh boy, I needed to think about this for a while....

 

I went to follow Morning Star into the house, when Cheyenne called out to me "You haven't answered my question yet...."

 

As I went in the house I called back over my shoulder "Maybe when you ask me proper....and alone!"

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When I ask proper like, and alone? I had, at the water hole I had asked her if she was ready! We were alone then, and that was as proper as I ever was!

 

I could feel me feet finally so I went to my saddlebags and found the little box my father had given me, "when you're ready give this to Calico" he had told me, "It would make your mother real happy for her to have it." I wasn't sure what was in it, so I opened it slowly. I remembered it, it was the ring that I had always thought was a piece of ice on my mother's finger. I didn't know if Calico would like it, but if it would have made my mother happy, then it was worth a try.

 

I walked straight to the house, things were calming down a little, Chief Hosa was starting to smile again, that was a good sign for Buick. I asked Calico to join me for a walk, alone. We went out back under the Aspens, when we got there I looked her straight in the eyes, "I thought you knew that when I asked you if you were ready that that meant were you ready to marry me." "Will you marry me?" I asked her, then I held up the little box, my father told me that it would have made my mother real happy for you to have this" and I opened the box real slow like. Her eyes got real big, tears started rolling down her cheeks, and she started mumbling something....I couldn't understand her as I put my hand on her stomach and kissed her cheek......

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When Cheyenne asked me to go for a walk under the aspens, I got a little nervous...what if he'd changed his mind? But I shouldn't have worried, when we got there he turned to me and pulled out a little box, and asked “Will you marry me?” He said something else but I almost didn't even hear what he said, all I could think of was that finally one of my good dreams was coming true!

I had dreamed of this many times, but the reality was a little different, and all of a sudden all I could do was cry, especially when I saw what was in the box. I understood that it had been his mother's, and that his father had wanted him to give it to me. All I could do was nod my head, I couldn't even get the word “yes” out, much less anything else. I was just blubbering nonsense, but he didn't seem to mind. He took the ring out of the box and slipped in on my hand, and it fit perfectly. Then he kissed me, and for some reason he had one hand on my stomach. Oh lord, did he really think I was pregnant? Was I? I had no idea, maybe Morning Star was right, I had no clue. I thought it was just an upset stomach...and I sure hoped that wasn't the only reason he asked me....

He waited until I calmed down, then suggested we go back in the house. I wasn't sure that was a great idea, maybe it would be a good idea to give Chief Hosa and his daughter a little more time to talk. But as we approached the house, it wasn't talking that we heard, but yelling, in both English and Arapaho. This wasn't going well, and inside was the last place I wanted to be right now. Cheyenne suggested a trip down to the water hole, but I wasn't too sure I really felt up to that, not right now. So instead we went and leaned against the corral fence, and watched some of the foals playing for a while. We didn't really say much, but he did tell me his father would be pleased, and that we had to wait until we got back to the Culpepper ranch to get married, which was fine with me. I realized now that's the ranch that would be home, and I was fine with that.

But we would still have to decide what to do about Margaret, just because the Scotts claimed she put them up to the attacks didn't mean we had any proof that would stand up in court. I was really worried about that, I just couldn't let her have the place! She didn't care about it, and I knew Buick and Morning Star did. Plus, they obviously had other things to worry about right now....I sure hoped that lawyer would be able to help us out on this one.

We stayed out by the corral most of the evening, to let things calm down inside. The yelling went on for a while, but eventually stopped. I wasn't sure if they came to an understanding or if their voices just gave out, coulda gone either way. Finally Cheyenne insisted we go in, that I needed to get some rest. I looked down at that beautiful ring on my finger, and thought to myself that rest was the last thing on my mind....

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After I got Calico to go inside I knew I needed to try to smoothe things with Chief Hosa and Morning Star. He Who Knows No Fear had accompanied Chief Hosa, I found him outside and asked if he had a pipe. He smiled, and quickly pulled one from his bag. Then I found Buick and had him bring some tobacco outside with him. I invited Chief Hosa outside for a talk at the fire. I motioned for everyone else to let the three of us have the area alone, they were pretty eager to go seeings how they had been listening to the arguing for quite a while.

 

The three of us sat in a small circle by the fire, Buick handed me his tobacco and I stuffed the pipe and handed it to Chief Hosa, and then I gave him a twig from the fire to light the pipe. "My mother was Lives Again of the ohktounna tribe of the Cheyenne, friends of the Arapaho, I am grateful that you have joined us to talk." The chief lit the pipe and took a long draw and handed the pipe to me. I took and long draw and returned it to the chief. Chief, your daughter came with us from your village with hopes of finding love. she found it in a man, a good man, a man who is my friend oh great Chief Hosa. I trust my life with this man, and I know that he loves your daughter Morning Star, and will protect her and love her all the days of her life. "

 

With that the chief took another long draw and handed it to Buick. "you take care of my daughter, do not mistreat her, if you do, I trust my brother Cheyenne to protect her for me." Buick took a long draw and passed it back to the chief, we stuffed the pipe several times that evening. Before long Morning Star and Calico joined us around the fire.

 

My but that ring sparkled in the light of the fire, and so did her eyes as she looked at me. The two of us excused ourselves and went back inside, I was thinking what a lucky man I was.

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When I woke up the next morning, Cheyenne had already gotten dressed and left the room. I didn't really feel like getting up, until I realized that Morning Star had started breakfast and she was cooking bacon again....why all of a sudden did that smell bother me so much? I had never minded it before, now all I could think of was I had to get out of that house....

I put on my buckskins as fast as I could and went outside. I could see Buick and Cheyenne over by the barn, so I headed their way. The night before Morning Star had told me about the argument with her father. Chief Hosa was willing to accept the fact she had married Buick, of course he didn't have much choice at this point, but he wanted both of them to return to Indian Territory with him. He didn't like the idea that they might come under attack again, no thanks to my sister, and didn't feel his daughter was safe staying there. Of course Buick insisted on staying, as much as he loved his wife he didn't really want to live with her people. Can't say I blamed him, they had it rough living on that darn reservation.

I had made it halfway to the barn before I had to change direction and head for the outhouse instead. Just what the heck was wrong with my stomach, I couldn't believe I still wasn't feeling good, what was wrong with me? It was several minutes before I could go back and try to find the men again. Cheyenne was asking Buick about the two new hands, and if Buick thought he could trust them. “As much as I trust Jesse and Pete. They're both good hands, and intensely protective of Morning Star,” he said, “I got real lucky when I found those two. They also have another friend, Cutter, who is on his way here with his wife Josie to join us as well. From what I've heard, Josie could be a big help to Morning Star in a few months.”

I listened to them for a few minutes while I was trying to convince my stomach to settle down. It had dawned on me that if I wanted Buick and Morning Star to travel to the Culpepper ranch for mine and Cheyenne's wedding, we better be doing it soon, while Morning Star could still travel safely. But there was also the matter of what Margaret was up to....


Then I got an idea, I knew that several of the men who had attacked us were now sitting in Sheriff Gibson's jail, maybe one of them could be of some help. That lawyer, Winchester, may be interested in talking to one of them, if we could get one to tell the truth about who was behind the attack. So I asked Buick, “You still have that tin star?” and he said yes. “Well, how about we see if we can get one of those scumbags to cooperate with us, maybe hint that the judge will give him a better deal if he helps, and use his testimony against Margaret? Do you think Gibson will let you take one of em' up to Fort Collins?”

Buick thought about it for a minute, and said it wouldn't hurt to at least ask the sheriff. I told him our best chance would probably be with Eddie, one of the Scott family cousins. Buick and Cheyenne agreed to go to town after breakfast and talk to Sheriff Gibson about it. Morning Star was nice enough to serve breakfast outside, she said the house still smelled like bacon cooking...how did she know it was bothering me?


After breakfast the two of them left for town, and I started helping Morning Star get some things ready so that her and Buick could return with us to the Culpepper ranch. She was all excited about helping me plan the wedding, but all that talk just made me nervous. Now that Cheyenne had proposed I wasn't so sure about this, was he positive his father was going to accept me into the family? And what if Morning Star was right about me, what would Frank Culpepper think about that?

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Buick and I rode into town to talk with that Eddie feller, and as we went into the Sheriff's office to "visit" with Eddie I carried my Sharps in with me. We had a hot cup of coffee with him and told him what we wanted to try with Eddie. He agreed that it was a novel idea that just might work. Buick and I made ourselves comfortable as the sheriff went to get Eddie. I sat there leaning back in my chair with the Sharps across my lap, I wanted Eddie to get a good look at it, just in case he didn't take our bait.

 

Eddie's eyes got as big as saucers when he saw the Sharps laying across my lap, he even tried to turn back to his cell but Sheriff Gibson pushed him down into a chair.

"What do you want with me?" Eddie blurted out, "I was just doing as I was told."

 

"Is that so, and by who?" Buick asked him. "And for who was he working for?"

 

"Well, my uncle needed money and this woman from back east offered him $500 if he could run the folks on that new ranch off."

 

"you best be telling us everything and it best be true, or we get the sheriff here to let you go", I said with a smile, rubbing the long barrel on my Sharps. "I don't reckon you'd get too far."

 

"I think her name was Mar,,, uh Margie, no, that wasn't it, Margaret Miller, yea that's it".

 

"You willing to testify to that in court, Eddie?" Sheriff Gibson asked.

 

"As long as you keep him and that Sharps away from me, and he promises not to track me down, I'll tell everything I know to anybody who asks. He done kilt three of my cousins, yea I'll do it!"

 

The sheriff put Eddie back in his cell and we all decided it would be best if no one outside the office didn't know anything about our deal or they might try to kill Eddie right there in his cell.

 

As we rode back to the ranch we past close by the water hole, hmmm I thought,,,,maybe Calico would be feeling better today..

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While Buick and Cheyenne were in town, Red and Win's friend Cutter and his wife Josie arrived. We helped them settle in, then Josie volunteered to help Morning Star with her chores, and lunch. I was grateful for that, I just didn't feel like helping, which wasn't like me at all. So I just sat on the porch and tried to read a book, but I couldn't concentrate. I sure hoped this idea with Eddie was going to work, even though that would mean we'd have to leave soon, and I wasn't sure I wanted to go. I tried to tell myself that of course I did, but still....

Buick and Cheyenne got back right before lunch, and said that Eddie may have just seen the error of his ways, so we would in fact be taking him to Fort Collins to meet with the lawyer. That was good news, even if I couldn't get much enthusiasm for the idea. I was just so tired... Cheyenne came and sat with me for a few minutes, and talked about the trip north. He asked “What do you think of the idea of asking Chief Hosa and He Who Knows No Fear to go with us? I know the chief would like to spend some more time with his daughter before he goes home. Little hard for him to do that if he stays here and she goes with us.”

“Are you sure your father won't object? I mean, it's one thing to invite Buick and Morning Star, he already knows we wanted them to come for a visit, but to bring two more people without asking?” I was a little hesitant about that, I wasn't sure if that would be polite, and I was trying to work on improving my manners.

Cheyenne reached over hand gently lifted my chin until I was staring him straight in the eyes. “It's OUR home too, and there's no reason at all for my father to object. You have a right to have your family there for our wedding as much as I do, and right now they're about the closest thing you have. Don't tell me you want to invite Margaret, I know better! I think my father would be honored if I invite them to stay for a while.”

That made me feel a little better, so I told him to go ahead and talk to the chief, we didn't even know if he'd want to go, but it would be nice if he did. With my parents gone, the chief, his daughter, and Buick were about the only “family” I had, well, them and Jesse and Pete. But those two would need to stay here, the ranch was steadily growing and there was just too much work to be done. At that point Josie came out to tell us lunch was almost ready, and could we get everyone else to come to the table please? Cheyenne went to get the other men, and I asked if I could help bring out the food, but Josie just shook her head, and told me to go sit down.

Once everyone was seated and the food was served, I realized I really didn't feel like eating much. I was just kind of pushing the food around on my plate and listening to everyone else talk, when Chief Hosa spoke up. “You need to eat, White Deer, it's not good for you to go without food right now.” I looked at him and he was smiling, and so was almost everyone else, and I couldn't figure out why. Well, everyone but Cheyenne, all of a sudden he turned really pale and looked for a couple of seconds like his stomach didn't feel any better than mine. Just what the heck was wrong with these people, and why were they acting like this? I kept telling them that I was fine, why wouldn't they listen?

After lunch Cheyenne got a big grin on his face and asked if I wanted to go to the water hole. The idea of soaking for a while in the cool water was nice, since it was hot that afternoon, but I said no. All I wanted to do was take a nap....I almost changed my mind when I saw how disappointed he looked. But then I yawned, I couldn't help it, and he immediately decided that a nap would be the best thing for me. He went inside with me and sat on the bed next to me while I closed my eyes and tried to relax. It was so nice having him there, but as I was falling asleep I couldn't help but wonder why he (and everyone else) was acting so funny.....

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Calico was too tired to go to the water hole, first time that had ever happend to my dismay. She really did look tiredthough and when she went sleep immediately I knew that she was really tired, but why? I quietly left our room and closed the door behind me, if the women started cooking I didn't want any smells awaking her before she was ready to awaken.

 

I found Chief Hosa and asked him to join me out by the fire that we had burning constantly now to make our quests feel welcome. Buick joined us with more tobacco, that brought a quick smile from the chief and the chief pulled out the pipe and handed to Buick for him to fill it, a sign of respect. Buick even remembered to sprinkle some tabocco on the ground, this brought another smile to the chief's face. We passed the pipe around for a few minutes without saying a word, as well as things were going I didn't see the need to risk saying something wrong.

 

"Chief, Calico and I are going to be married on my father's ranch, near Ft Collins, and we would like to have you honor us with you being there. You and Morning Star are like family, well better than what family she has left and she would like very much for you to be there."

 

The chief tried to act like it was a hard decision to make, but I could see the smile starting to curl his lips. "I have heard of this great Culpepper Ranch and of the kindness of the man that owns it, it would make my heart sing to meet him and to see the two of you married," he spoke. "But we will need to go soon, we have agreed to go to the reservation and we must honor our word." "I will send He Who Knows No Fear back and he can tell them we will return after the wedding."

 

We smoked a few more rounds from the pipe before we decided it was time to get busy. The horses in the corral caught my attention, some of the lesser stallions were chasing the autumn pony around, as they did Blackie would chase them off, biting at them and at times rearing on his hind legs and flailing at them with his hooves. Then he and the autumn pony mated, I had been wanting an offspring from the two of them and finally it was going to happen, I knew we were going to have a fine colt from the two of them!

 

We decided we would leave in the morning, and pick up Eddie in town to take him to Fort Collins to meet with the attorney and the judge there. I was hoping whatever this was happening with Calico would pass quickly, it wouldn't be an easy trip for her if she was still feeling poorly.

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We all turned in early that night, it seemed as though Calico was feeling better by then, but we needed a good night's rest for the trip home. I was having dreams that night, I was chasing Black Dawg after he had stampeded the cattle, the searing pain of the wounds, and then the saddlebags full of papers! I sat up straight up in bed, we had never gotten around to actually reading all of them! I didn't know if it would make a difference but who knows.

 

I heard Calico whisper, "What's wrong, did you hear something?" "Naw, just my heart thinking about you woke me up" I quietly told her as she wrapped her arms around my neck.

 

That morning we all awoke at sunrise, Calico wasn't quite herself again, she had put on the new leathers, and wow Mike must have made a mistake on the neckline, not that I'm complaining mind you, but I wasn't sure the men would be able to push their eyeballs back into their heads if the saw Calico in it. I didn't say a word though, I had learned that much during the last 2 years. I just smiled and joined the men getting things ready.

 

We rode into town and picked up Eddie, and made sure he knew I would have no qualms about using the Sharps if he decided to try to escape. His eyes did get real big though when he saw Chief Hosa. I kinda smiled and told Eddie, "You know it's been a while since he's gotten to use that knife of his to give someone a close hair cut"

 

That must have tickled Hosa, because he petted the stag grip and just sorta smiled evilly at Eddie. Eddie started looking about the same way Calico had been looking about then. I just giggled under my breath as I hoped Eddie wouldn't test us. But just in case a couple times a day when I would spot a rock of in the distance I would dismount and watch the rock disappear after the Sharps would speak. Each time the chief would let out a mighty war cry, the chief was having a good time, but Eddie not so much.

 

We couldn't make town that evening so we found a grassy spot with trees along the creek to camp for the night. The trip was going much better than we had feared, but we still set up a watch that night, no use taking chances now, we only had a few more hours ride the next morning til we got to Fort Collins.

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"Buick wake up, where's Eddie?" I shouted. That no good had somehow managed to slip away during the night. Dang it anyway! He was our best bet to end the fight over the Golden Aspen Ranch between Calico and Margaret.

 

His tracks led straight for Fort Collins for a while, I couldn't figure out why he was headed there at all. We came over a rise and spotted a calvary patrol in the distance, they spotted us as well and we rode towards each other. It took a few minutes to explain what Chief Hosa was doing with us, but the LT in charge knew the Culpepper name and that helped out big time. They had seen Eddie a couple of hours earlier but he was no longer headed for Ft Collins, but due east, and with four other men. We explained our predicament to the LT and he offered to ride along with us.

 

I looked over at Calico and Morning Star, then asked the Lt for an escort to ride to the ranch with them as I feared for their safety if they stayed with us. He agreed and assigned three of his troopers to escort them.

 

Ouch, OUCH, dang it that hurt, apparently Calico wasn't happy about something!

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“I'm going with you....Margaret is related to ME, and this is MY fight! These troopers can take Morning Star to the ranch, but I'm going with you!” I couldn't believe Cheyenne was saying I couldn't go, how dare he? “No, you are NOT going with us, you are going back to the ranch with Morning Star, and that's final!” Cheyenne insisted. “You don't own me, and you can't tell me what to do!” I told him, I was furious. “I'm not letting you put yourself in danger, not any more! You are going back to the ranch, and I don't want to hear another word about it!” he demanded. Next thing I knew we were both yelling at each other....that had never happened before. Why was he being so darn stubborn, I had every right to go after Eddie, after all, I was the one that needed him to give up what he knew about Margaret's involvement in the attacks on the Golden Aspen!

Cheyenne just wasn't listening to reason, and I couldn't figure out why. I was fine, why was he acting like I wasn't? The other men just looked at the ground or at the sky, except Buick, who stood staring straight east, the direction Eddie had gone. I wasn't about to be left behind, and Cheyenne made it clear he had no intention of letting me go along....we kept arguing with each other for several minutes, until Chief Hosa had had enough.

He walked up to me and told me in Arapaho “That's enough White Deer! You will do as Cheyenne has asked, and not another word out of you! You should be ashamed of yourself, arguing with him like that. He has told you to return to your home, and you will do so, now!” All I could do was say yes sir, with my father gone Chief Hosa was the one man that I wouldn't argue with about anything. I climbed up on my pony, crying hard, and turned her towards the ranch and rode off without another word. Morning Star and the troopers caught up to me quickly, but I could hear Cheyenne calling out to me “Calico, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you, please don't go away mad!”

I just ignored him and kept riding, I was really mad and even more hurt. Why was he treating me like this? Was this the way our life together would be if I married him, always left behind or sent away like I couldn't do anything useful? I bawled almost the whole way to the Culpepper place. Morning Star tried to comfort me a couple of times, but I didn't want to be consoled. The troopers didn't say anything, just kept an eye on us and kept their mouths shut....smart men.

When we arrived at the main gate to the ranch, we didn't get far before Bob came riding up to see who was coming. He recognized me and Morning Star right away, and told the troopers that he'd ride along with all of us back to the house, where the troopers could get something to eat and drink and water their horses before returning to the fort. Frank was just coming out of one of the barns when we rode up, and came hurrying over to help Morning Star down. He tried to help me, but I had already dismounted on my own, I was going to show someone that I could still take care of myself! I did let him give me a hug, I wasn't going to take my anger at his son out on him.

He took Morning Star's hand to lead her to the house, and went to take one of my hands, the one with the ring that Cheyenne had given me. A smile spread across his face when he saw that ring on my finger, and he dropped Morning Star's hand to hug me again, saying “Welcome to the family, Calico honey, I can't tell you how happy you've made me!”

Well, what could I do besides thank him and try to act happy about it too. He led us both inside, and made sure Morning Star sat down in the most comfortable chair in the den. He called out to Hop Sing to make some herbal tea for her, then asked me “Would you prefer something a little harder?”, reaching for the bottle of fine whiskey he had. Morning Star quickly spoke up “No, she would like some tea as well, if it's not too much trouble.”


I wasn't happy with her for that, but I'd already had my fill of arguing that day, so I just nodded. Frank looked at Morning Star for a second, then looked really hard at me, but called to Hop Sing to make it two cups of tea. We told him what had happened at the Golden Aspen, and all about Eddie and why we had brought him, and how he had got away and the men were going to go after him. I complained about how Cheyenne wouldn't let me go too, I knew I was pouting but I didn't really care. Frank just kept staring at me until I was about to squirm, then finally said “Well, I'm sure Cheyenne had his reasons, but while we're waiting for them you two have a wedding to plan. I'm so glad my son has finally decided to settle down, so anything you want for this wedding, just say so and it's yours.”


That was sweet of him, but I had to admit I didn't know anything about planning a wedding. When Morning Star and Buick had gotten hitched, we had just asked the justice of the peace in Hugo Springs what day he could come to the ranch and perform the ceremony, then made sure the neighbors knew what day to come over. That was about it, but Mr. Culpepper wouldn't hear of me and Cheyenne doing that, he insisted we needed a big wedding, this was cause for a huge celebration! He offered to have Lu Sing and her daughter help us, but I had heard voices outside the den earlier that I was sure were the two of them, and they hadn't sounded happy. I knew that Lu Sing had never gotten over the idea of getting Cheyenne to marry Water Lilly, and I knew Water Lilly was all for that idea!

I asked if maybe some of the other women could help instead, maybe Schoolmarm if she had time, or Skipper, or maybe one of the others that had treated me kindly before. Frank said I could ask anyone I wished, and to let him know if I needed or wanted anything from him. After we had finished our tea, he called for Hop Sing again, to show Morning Star to a guest room where she could rest, then told me “Why don't you go up to your room and get a little rest before dinner as well? You look a little tired....” Now, why did everyone keep telling me I looked sick or looked tired? What was wrong with all these people, I was just fine.....wasn't I?

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Dadgummit, I messed that up somehow, and nobody was laughing either this time. What's worse is that I had forgotten to tell Calico to send the saddlebags with all the pappers to the attorney via a rider. And wow was she mad! I was glad that Chief Hosa had stepped in, but I just knew that I was gonna pay for this!

 

Back to the matter at hand. "I'm gonna turn Eddie's head into red mist" I shouted patting my Sharps, that snake won't even know what hit him.!"

 

"Cheyenne, calm down, we need him alive, without him to tell about Margaret we'll loose the ranch!" Buick said, trying to get me to settle down. "I know you're upset about Calico, but we need Eddie, ALIVE!

 

"Oh, all right, I know we need him alive, but if there's no way, then he's MINE!" I replied, trying to get myself under control.

 

We started riding east following the tracks of the troopers to where they had seen Eddie and the men with him. From there the tracks turned southwest, it looked like they may have been turning to return home. Chief Hosa took the lead and we were making good time, we were hoping that Eddie and the men would be feeling confident we hadn't been able to get on they're trail this soon.

 

I had an idea, I would take two of the Lt's best men and horses and try to circle around in front of them for an ambush. The Lt picked his two best long range riflemen and had them pick which horses that they wanted. Then the three of us started making a path that would take us wide around them. We pushed pretty hard, hoping we could overtake them by late evening, with hopefully enough light left to attack them.

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I slept til it was almost time for dinner, then decided to change out of my buckskins and put on something else. Those new ones had seemed to fit at first, but now both the shirt and britches seemed to be getting a little tighter, could they be shrinking? I tried a couple of dresses on before I found one that didn't seem to be getting tight. That was strange, they'd all fit just fine a few weeks ago....

At dinner all anyone wanted to talk about was the wedding, but I wished they'd pick a different topic. After the fight we had, what if Cheyenne changed his mind and took back the ring? I thought maybe it would be a good idea to wait and see if he still wanted to marry me. Somehow I managed to get through the meal, but as soon as it was over I excused myself, saying I wanted to take a walk...alone.

I followed the path down to the water hole, and sat on the log where we'd always left our clothes when we were...well...swimming. All sorts of memories started going through my mind, all the times we'd spent together, both good and bad. I missed him so much, and wished that fight had never happened...before I knew it I was crying again and couldn't stop. Then Frank sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder, and softly said “Go ahead and let it out, it'll help,” and he just held me until I could pull myself together.

Then he started saying “I spoke to Morning Star, she told me all about the fight you and Cheyenne had. I'm sure he feels awful about it, but there will be times when the two of you don't see eye to eye, and you'll have to learn how to work through those times and put them behind you. Lives Again and I had our share of arguments, but it never stopped us from loving each other. Cheyenne loves you, and I doubt he wanted to upset you like this, he's just so concerned for you right now...”


“But I don't understand why! The last few days everybody's all of a sudden treating me like there's something wrong with me or something! I mean, I know I've had an upset stomach, but it's no big deal, I'm fine, really! It's like people are trying to smother me, telling me to take it easy, and that I gotta eat, and I need all this sleep, and it's really starting to annoy me....why won't people just leave me be? I'm a big girl, and I CAN take care of myself just fine! I coulda gone with them....” I insisted, I was starting to get grumpy again for some reason.

“Well, honey, I talked to Morning Star about that too...let's just say that your life will be changing in a lot of different ways in the near future, and leave it at that for now. Please just try to show some patience, I'm sure you will be fine but don't be mad because we're concerned about you. It's only because we all care. Now, how about we head back to the house, the sun will be setting soon, and I don't want you out here all by yourself when it starts getting dark.” He stood up and held out his hand, so I took it and he helped me stand, then we walked back towards the house.

As we did, neither or us spoke, but I did have a lot to think about. I remembered Morning Star had tried to tell me I was pregnant, is that what she had told Cheyenne's father? If so, he was being awfully polite about it. Could she be right? I didn't know nothing about such things...I mean, I thought that only happened to married people, and Cheyenne and I weren't married yet....how could that have happened? I definitely wasn't ready for THIS....

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We hadn't gone but about four miles when a flash caught my attention way out ahead of us. I motioned for the men to stop, then I pulled out my glass, it was Eddie and the four men. They were circling back, I was sure they were hoping to try to come up from behind we're we would have been if we hadn't met the troopers.

 

We were going to have to handle them without the rest of the troopers, Buick and Chief Hosa. We turned west to run off to the side of them. The troopers were well experienced and knew the area well. They knew of a water hole that the men would come across and were sure that they would need to stop there. There was a knoll to it's north and about 800 yards from it.

 

"The Lt had heard about you when you were in Kansas and what you did to those marauders with your Sharps. He ordered two of them, and since we were the best riflemen he has we got them. That knoll is gonna be fun when we get there, but we gotta know which one Eddie is," the troopers told me. "The one with the red shirt, he's the only one with the red shirt" I repeated. We all smiled, this could very well end up being like shooting fish in a barrel from 800 yds.

 

We spotted the knoll and circled around behind it so that we could ride up to the top of it out of sight of the men. We left the horses behind just before we reached the top and the continued on foot to the top, staying just below the top. We got into position and I started glassing the water hole. They had just arrived at the water hole, I watched as all five of them plopped down face first into the water, with Eddie the furthest from us. We each picked a man and on the count of 3 all of our Sharps spoke. Three men rolled over like logs rolling down a hill. We quickly reloaded, the two troopers both fired on the fourth man, and as I watched through the tube I saw his chest explode into red and watched as his head vanished.

 

Eddie just stood there and after a few seconds threw his hands up into the air. "Well he ain't all that stupid" I said aloud as the troopers started laughing and slapping each other and me on our backs. The two ran to the horses and brought them up the knoll to me, Eddie hadn't moved a muscle the whole time. I think he had finally gotten the idea that we meant business.

 

We rode to the water hole and tied Eddie up, this time really well. And then we jumped into the water, felt pretty good, except for the fact that I was missing Calico real badly. About the time we got out we heard a bugle in the distance, it was Buick, Hosa and the Lt and the rest of the troopers. They had heard the Sharps and knew where we had to be.

 

Chief Hosa was the first to arrive, and as he did he drew his knife to scalp one of the dead men. The Lt called for him to stop, as he did the chief looked over to me with a pleading look in his eyes. "Lt, these are the men that attacked his daughter's and Buick here's ranch. The Lt smiled a little and said, "Proceed, with all due speed, please proceed!" Well he hadn't finished speaking before Hosa had the man's scalp in his hand held high. Then he threw it out into the brush around the water hole. Then the chief dove into the water.

 

We continued on to Ft Collins after we had rested and watered the horses, arriving there before dark. The Lt had his men take Eddie to the brig and Buick Hosa and I headed for the rooming house in town. Buick was a little worried about the chief being able to stay there, but I just turned to Buick and reminded him that we were in Culpepper country now.

 

We all got fine rooms and got a good night's rest that night. I had a few dreams, I think it was about me running around as a very young boy dressed in buckskins, except he had blonde hair, just like Calico.

 

After a good breakfast we rode by the Fort, I had to invite the Lt and his men to our wedding. I just hoped Calico hadn't changed her mind after our fight.

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I cried myself to sleep that night, and when I woke up the next morning I still didn't feel good, this was starting to get really annoying. I dressed and went down to breakfast, in time to hear someone complaining that there wasn't any bacon that morning. I walked into the dining room just as Hop Sing was shaking his head and saying “No more bacon, not for awhile.” What was up with that, I wondered?


After breakfast Frank said he would like to show me something, and asked Skipper to join us. He led us to the master bedroom and invited us inside. There was something laying on that big four-poster bed, wrapped in a sheet. “Last night I had an idea, if you would rather not do this, please feel free to say so, it's entirely your choice. But I was thinking how nice it would be if you would wear Lives Again's wedding dress when you and Cheyenne get married, so I had Hop Sing bring it down from the attic. It would mean a lot to me to see you in it,” he said as he unwrapped the sheet. I looked down, and my jaw almost hit the floor, oh but that dress was beautiful! I couldn't believe he could be so thoughtful...I told him it would be my honor to wear it. He told me to go ahead and try it on, and have Skipper help me, that he'd wait out in the hall.

I quickly changed, but I was almost devastated when Skipper tried buttoning it up the back for me. The waist was a little tight but manageable, when she got to the buttons between my shoulder blades she just couldn't get them fastened. I was ready to cry again, it looked so pretty but it just didn't fit. Skipper saw my face and quickly told me “Take it off and let me have a better look at it, there's still hope...” so I did. She checked the insides of the dress, and started smiling. Then she went out in the hall, and I heard her ask Mr. Culpepper “Is it ok if we do a minor alteration or two? She looks lovely in it, but it's a little tight in a couple of spots, I know I can let out a couple of the seams a little, maybe move the buttons over just a bit, and make it work, if that's alright.” He quickly agreed, and Skipper came back and hugged me, telling me “I'll get right on this, it won't take long. Cheyenne's gonna love seeing you in this!”


Well, I hoped so....if he even still wanted to marry me. Suddenly I heard noises out in the yard, and Mr. Culpepper called out “Calico, have you finished changing? Cheyenne is here, and he has two men with him. I wasn't expecting them back this soon.” My heart just sank, what if he was still mad at me? What was I gonna do? But as I came out into the hall, so did Morning Star, and she was very excited. She practically ran outside, and I slowly followed. I got to the porch just in time to see her throw herself in Buick's arms, and they both looked so darn happy to see each other. I glanced at Cheyenne but got no similar greeting...

“We got Eddie, and he's now a “guest” at the fort, and the Lieutenant assured me that they see to it he remains there until we need him. Father, in case you haven't guessed, that fellow over there is Buick MacKane, Morning Star's husband” and Buick let go of his wife long enough to shake hands with Mr. Culpepper and thank him for taking care of her. Then Cheyenne introduced his father to Chief Hosa, and Frank welcomed the chief in almost perfect Arapaho. Chief Hosa thanked him for his hospitality in the language of the Cheyenne, and I could tell those two were going to get along just fine. Frank then gave instructions to some of the men to start preparing for a celebration to be held that night.


I watched all this from the top of the porch stairs, I was scared to move. Cheyenne slowly walked up the stairs towards me, looking very serious. I was terrified, what was he gonna say? He stopped right in front of me and looked down at me, and asked “Well, are you still willing to be my wife? Please....” I didn't say anything at first, I just put my arms around him and tilted my face up to kiss him...but first I whispered “We need to be visiting that darn water hole....soon!”

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The trip back to the ranch from Ft Collins seemed to take forever, and it didn't help that I was full of uneasiness the whole trip. Chief Hosa and Buick were talking back and forth, they had given up on me early on, I was just staring off into the distance and didn't hear them anyway.

 

Just before we had left town we stopped by the lumber mill, I wanted to see if they had filled and delivered the order I had Prairie Dawg put in before we had left for Buick's ranch. That seemed strange, calling it Buick's, but there was to be a new ranch started, wasn't sure what it was going to be called yet. Maybe the C&C ranch, that way there wouldn't be another arguement over who's name was first..

 

Danged arguement anyhow, didn't she know I was just looking out for her, especially with her being sickly lateky! I guess I could have handled it better, I had never had to take anything like that into account much before. Besides, I didn't want to take a chance with her safety, seems like I was seeing her in danger's path much too often..... These kind of thoughts went through my head the whole trip back to the ranch. But I did finally start listening and talking with Chief Hosa and Buick after I realized that I had started answering myself out loud. Course so had they, dang it all I was good at getting people to laugh, even if it was at me!

 

After what seemed like forever we finally got to the ranch, and I quickly did the introductions and headed for Calico. I think we both had the same look on our faces, unsure of what the other was going to say, but as I held her and looked into her deep blue eyes and made sure she still wanted to marry me, all I heard after that was water hole.

 

I grabbed her hand as we sprinted around the house, dang it, what were they laughing about now?, and headed for the water hole. As we cleared the back of the house Calico stopped suddenly, "What's that?" she said pointing at where the trail used to be, but now was a lane heading up through the trees.

 

"I don't have a clue" I lied as I pulled her on up the lane. The lane continued on up to the water hole, but keep going up a small knoll that had had several trees cut to make for a small area cleared on top of the knoll.

 

"They've done went and ruined it" she cried out. "Who told them to do this? she wimpered.

 

I took and deep breath, "that would be me, who told them to ruin this place." OUCH, dang she was fast. As I rubbed my arm, again, I continued "that ruined spot up yonder is where our place is to be built, with a good view of our water hole." OUCH, but this time it was from her hug as she squeezed me like I had never been squeezed before.

 

I hollered "quiting time" loud enough for all the men working on the knoll to hear, "now git! specially you Karl!" I thought it would take forever for them to disappear.

But then, I wasn't complaining, I was still getting the best bear hug I had ever had, and she was keeping me from saying anything else!

 

I was going to have to try to remember to have her get the saddle bags out too with the papers, but that could wait,,,,and wait.....and wait.........

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Well that sure turned out to be an enjoyable afternoon....I was going to have a new house to live in, in one of my favorite spots, and Cheyenne and I even managed to do a little talking.....

We both apologized for what had happened the day before, and Cheyenne explained that he hadn't meant to hurt my feelings, he was just concerned about me because of the way I had been feeling. I had to admit that I had a tendency to get into some pretty bad situations that he was always having to get me out of, so I could finally see the man's point. I needed to be more careful, not only for myself but for him, I couldn't keep putting him in danger trying to save my troublesome rear!


After a while we dried off and headed back to the main house, and sat on the back porch talking some more. He told me all about catching up to Eddie, and then suggested that maybe we needed to turn over those old papers he had brought me so long ago to the lawyer, maybe those might help my case. He said he would take them into town the next day, and I could go with him if I felt up to it. And that brought up another subject we needed to discuss....

“I don't know what's been wrong with me lately, one minute I feel fine and the next I feel sick as a dog....I'm starting to get a little scared,” I had to admit to him, I was beginning to think this was never gonna go away!

“Mary Elizabeth...” he started, then stopped, and I got real scared at that point, he'd never called me by my given name before, ever! “Mary Elizabeth, I think we're gonna have to accept the idea that Morning Star may have been right....I think we're going to be parents before too long,” he told me, and I think that scared me even worse! I wasn't ready for that, not yet, but he just reached over and hugged me, and said “I think I'm kind of starting to like the idea myself....had to happen sooner or later!” Well, that made me feel a little better, but I was still terrified. I had been the youngest child in my family, what did I know about babies?


We sat out there until Buick came to tell us that dinner was ready, and everyone was heading for the fire pits for a big celebration. There were a variety of different foods, lots to drink (with tea for the ladies and Chief Hosa), and plenty of music and laughing. There was some dancing, but I told Cheyenne I really didn't have the energy, and he said that was fine, he didn't want me getting too tired anyway. He even got out his flute and played for a while, I sure loved listening to that! Frank and Chief Hosa spent most of the evening talking, in a mixture of Cheyenne, Arapaho, and English, it was actually pretty funny, but I was glad to see that they were becoming friends. This was my family now, and I had to admit, I was really happy they were. I still missed pa and ma something terrible, but I hoped that somewhere, somehow, they knew that their youngest daughter was doing just fine.

Now, for what to do about the oldest one.....

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I played my flute for a while at the fire then I snuck back into the house to get something my mother had given me that I was saving for a special occasion. I got it out of the closet, many pains had been taken to preserve it. Just looking at it brought tears to my eyes as I thought of my mother's life. The daughter of a Cheyenne chief who died in the chorea epidemic in '49. My mother had brought his things with her when my father rescued her from the desease ridden village. She had given it to me just before I left on my quest about three years ago.

 

First I pulled the loincloth from it's shelf and after removing my things I put the loincloth on. Then I pulled the moccasins of my grandfather from their box and slipped them onto my feet.

 

I looked at the headdress hanging from it's hook, shivers ran up and down my spine as I reached for it. I pulled it to me and just stared at it for a while, imaging my grandfather in it, with my mother sitting wide eyed as he danced around the fire. I gently set in upon my head, I could feel my grandfather's presence as I settled it down firmly.

 

I could feel my feet becoming happy, and my knees were wanting to bounce. I could feel the Cheyenne love dance language starting to emerge from deep within me.

 

I went down the stairs and stopped on the porch at the top of the stairs, there I let out the scream of the eagle and jumped from the porch, I felt like an eagle in flight. As I did I could hear the silence and I caught sight of Calico's eyes, they were as big as saucers.

 

It felt as I was soaring as I circled the fire, each time I passed Calico I would circle her three times. Chief Hosa had gone to her side to explain what was happening, and as he did I could see her smile getting bigger and bigger. On I soared until Chief Hosa prompted Calico the rise and join me. As we both soared around the fire any sense of being tired had left her.

 

When we were done we went for a long walk,,,,

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Cheyenne and I walked for a while, neither of us saying much. Finally he looked down at me and suggested we return to the house, he didn't want me getting too tired. I had to admit, it was a little late for that, I was already starting to yawn. He just smiled and hugged me close, and we walked back to the house. Almost everyone else was still by the fire pits, the celebration wasn't over yet, but I noticed that Buick and Morning Star were missing, they'd obviously already turned in for the evening as well. Considering Morning Star's condition, I didn't blame her, but thinking of that reminded me that she was probably not the only one...

Since no one else was around, Cheyenne didn't even make any attempt to go to his own room. We laid down, but all he did was hold me and tell me to get some rest, and before I knew it he was sound asleep. It took far longer for me to doze off, there was too much on my mind. Cheyenne coming out to the fire tonight dressed in his grandfather's stuff, well, that had been a bit of a shock, but not a bad one. For some reason it just seemed so right to see him dressed like that. And that dance, I was still blushing over that one! Despite spending a lot of time in both Cheyenne and Arapaho villages while I was growing up, there was still much about their cultures that I didn't know anything about, though I was willing to learn more.


But it did make one thing occur to me that I hadn't really thought about before. If Cheyenne and I were going to be parents, either then or at some point in the future, our child would be one quarter indian. I knew that around here, it was no big deal, the Culpepper name carried enough weight so that no one dared object to Cheyenne's heritage. But beyond this area, I knew that it was still an issue. Everything that had happened down around where I grew up, from my parents being killed, to the way Morning Star was still being treated by a lot of the townsfolk there, to the bad attitude of my very own sister, that all told me there was still a lot of prejudice between the two cultures, red and white, and it did go both ways.

Even for my best friend...I knew that Morning Star was caught in the middle between her father and the man she loved. Both Buick and Chief Hosa were trying to make the best of the situation for her sake, but I doubted that the two men would ever be close. In that regard I was blessed in the fact that I got along so well with Frank Culpepper. As hard as it was on Morning Star, I knew it would have been equally as hard for Cheyenne if his father and I didn't get along. All I could do was hope that both my and Morning Star's children would be able to grow up without having to deal with the pain such unfair prejudice could cause.


Then my thoughts turned to the upcoming wedding. Skipper had been able to fix Lives Again's wedding dress so that it would fit me, and I was looking forward to wearing it. Cheyenne had already asked Buick to be his best man, and there was no one else I wanted as my maid-of-honor except Morning Star. I thought about one of the native dresses of Lives Again's that Frank had gifted to my friend, it was a very pale tan doeskin dress, with fringe around the bottom and a lot of beautiful beadwork on it. There was also a matching pair of moccasins that fit Morning Star perfectly. As I drifted off to sleep, all of a sudden I knew exactly what I wanted my best friend to wear during the ceremony...

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We took a long walk after the dance, I didn't say much because I didn't know how to tell her that after the dance a period of purification was traditional. I sure didn't like that part of it, but I did want to keep that part of my heritage intact. Boy, I sure hoped this wasn't going to cause another fight. I was wondering just how soon we could get the preacher back out here!

 

That night I had dreams, I dreamed that I was an eagle soaring among the clouds in search of vermin for food. I could see for miles, yet I could see a prairie dog from the clouds. I would tuck my wings and go into a dive, pulling up at the last second, extending my legs and talons into the hapless prairie dog, and then flying off with it to the nest. But I didn't eat it, I fed it to an eaglet. hmmm, I was coming to the realization that my life was soon going to be changing, a lot, and soon.

 

At breakfast I had a strange urge for meat, lots of meat, but there was no bacon to be found anywhere. When I asked Lu Sing for some I got the same dirty look that I got when I was young and wanted sweets just before a meal. Calico had stayed in her room, she wasn't feeling very well and said she would dress and be done soon. I had already learned to just say "ok". She was looking for something comfortable for the ride into town, but wasn't happy with anything so I had left her to decide for herself, which is what she did anyway. Just after I had finished eating Miss Tabitha came in with a new set of leathers for Calico, she winked at me and apologized for the "mis-measurements" of the first set. These were beautiful, and with the extra time that they had this time they had added some intricate beadwork on them.

 

I hugged and thanked Miss Tabitha and bounded up the stairs with them, when I entered Calico's room she was sitting on the bed in tears and clothes scattered all over the bed. I handed the new leathers to her and told her that Mike and Miss Tabitha were sorry for thier error and sent this new set up for her. A huge smile came across her face as she looked them over, then said "Well, get out, I need to get dressed." I well thought out "ok" came out of my mouth as I closed the door behind me.

 

I bounded down the stairs and headed for the barn, I saw Little Joe and asked him to hitch up the surry so that Calico and I could use it for our trip into town. Although I was thinking that the horses might be a better idea, that way when I got the courage to tell her abut the purification period she would have a harder time trying to slug me in my arm, again!

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Oh, maybe I should just stay here and let Cheyenne go to town alone, I thought to myself, I just can't find nothing to wear.....why was all this stuff getting tight all of a sudden? Most of these clothes had fit fine just a couple of weeks ago! Oh lord, Morning Star must be right.... Next thing I knew I had burst out in tears, again! Seemed like that was happening a lot lately, I'd never been this dang emotional before, not without good reason. Just how long was this and those upset stomachs going to last? This was starting to get ridiculous! A few minutes later, Cheyenne showed up at my door with a new set of buckskins...these looked like they would fit...at least for a while. Didn't know what I'd do if these ones started getting tight, I couldn't expect Mike to keep making me new ones every couple of days forever!

I got changed and went downstairs, Cheyenne was waiting for me next to the surrey, and my saddlebags were already in there. As I was walking up to him, he started shaking his head and I heard him muttering something about “This ain't gonna be easy!” but I had no idea what he was talking about, so I just let it go. He helped me up, then got in and took the reins, and we headed for town. On the way there, he suggested that we also stop in to talk to the new preacher, who had just moved there from Ft. Hays, Kansas, to see when he might be able to come out to the ranch to perform the wedding ceremony. Sounded like a good idea to me, as nervous as I was getting about the whole idea, the sooner we could get it over with the less chance there was that I would chicken out!

We got to the lawyer's office, and he invited us right in. We sat down and started explaining about Eddie, and the attacks on the ranch, and Mr. Winchester said he would head over to the fort to talk to Eddie as soon as we were done. Then we showed him the papers from the saddlebags, and Cheyenne told him the story of having recovered them from Black Dawg last year. Where Black Dawg had gotten them, I had no idea, but I knew my father's signature was authentic. Mr. Winchester looked them over, and told me “Your father obviously intended you to inherit the ranch, this will really help. But right now Mrs. Miller's lawyer is giving me some trouble, he wants the case heard in Tennessee, where she's living, but this should be enough to allow me to get the case heard here in Colorado Territory, and that's definitely to your advantage. Let me look these over some more, and go visit the fort, and I'll get back to you then.”

 

We thanked him then excused ourselves, it was time to go find that Ft. Hays preacher feller and find out when he was going to be available for a wedding...

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I didn't get the news from the attorney that I was hoping for, it was still gonna drag on for who knows how long. I sure hoped he was going to have better luck with Eddie. Oh well, couldn't do anything more about it so we left his office and headed to find the preacher.

 

"Just why are you in such a big hurry?" Calico asked me. I put my hand on her tummy and said "Well, just in case, I guess." "What if I'm just sick from something?" she continued, "Maybe we ought to wait for a spell to get things ready."

 

"Because after the dance the other night there is a time of purification until the wedding!" I blurted out. "No more water hole until we're married" I said as I tried to lean away from her as much as possible. OUCH, dang it, wasn't far enough, should of brought the horses I thought.

 

We found the preacher at his house with his wife. They invited us in and I introduced ourselves, the Culpepper name got their attention pretty good. They tried to tell us it would be two months before they could come out to the ranch for the ceremony.

 

"Two months?" Calico almost shouted,"we can't wait TWO MONTHS."

 

That took the preacher back a little, "well maybe we could do a little better, but I don't know."

 

I was getting a little rankled by then. "Well, we may just have to take our backing and such to the church on the other side of the street, iffn you're just to busy to ride out to the ranch for a day, and then either stay for the party afterwards or come straight back to town. and it's not like it's going to be on a Sunday, or even Saturday. You decide which day of the week, this next week. Not what do you think you can do for us?"

 

"Now Now Mr Culpepper" he stammered, "next Wednesday will be just fine. We can be out to your ranch by 2 in the afternoon, does that suit you?"

 

"That will be fine," I answered quickly," we seen you then, and please bring your wife with you, and spend the night at the ranch."

 

The ride back to the ranch was pretty silent, every once in a while Calico would mutter, "No water hole, phooey!" My arm was getting really sore by the time we got back to the ranch.

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No going to the water hole til after the wedding? I guess that's what he must have meant about 'this ain't gonna be easy'....he wasn't kidding! At least he didn't need to bother with trying to sneak into my room at night without getting caught now...

 

But I wasn't expecting the wedding to happen THAT soon, I mean, I didn't want to wait too long, but Wednesday was only a few days away...was everything going to be ready in time? Was I going to be ready? Oh, I really was gonna need some help with this...I still had no idea what all we needed to do to get ready. I sure hoped someone at the ranch had some clue how to pull this off!

We got back just in time for lunch, and I was pretty hungry, I hadn't been able to eat breakfast. As we ate, Cheyenne told everyone about stopping in to talk to the preacher, and how arrangements had been made for him to come out on Wednesday, and I think most everyone was a little shocked at that. But Frank just said “Wednesday is fine, and I'll make sure everything is ready in time. Calico, you don't worry about a thing, the other ladies are going to make sure to take care of everything that needs doing. All you have to do is take care of yourself, we want to make sure you're feeling your best that day,” and he smiled at me. Oh lord, I had forgot all about that, what Morning Star had told him....I was so glad he didn't seem mad about it.

After lunch, Frank said he wanted to talk to me in private, and for a few seconds I froze, was he finally gonna get mad at me? I followed him into the den, and he asked me to sit down. Then he started talking about how bad he felt that I didn't have much family that could be there for my big day. Then he told me, “I spoke to Chief Hosa, and explained our wedding customs to him as best I could. Your father can't be here to give you away, and I was thinking of offering, but I know Chief Hosa would consider it an honor if you would allow him to do it. Will you please at least think about it?”

“I don't need to think about it sir, I'm the one who would be honored!” and I almost started crying again, that was so sweet of both of them to come up with a solution to that particular little problem for me. But I really had to get that crying thing under control, and fast! Frank gave me a hug, and then told me “Why don't you run upstairs and lay down for a while, we don't want you tiring yourself out too much. And by the way, stop worrying about it, I'm thrilled!”

My jaw just about hit the floor, but he just laughed and pointed towards the door, “Now, off with you! I'll see you at dinner.” I went upstairs, and I had to admit a nap did sound good. I laid down and fell asleep almost immediately, and then the dreams started....


First I dreamed about the wedding, but it wasn't like I had imagined it would be. Everyone but me was in native dress, even the preacher, and we were all standing around by the fire pits, but then I ran away because I was scared of getting Cheyenne's mother's dress dirty. Then I saw Cheyenne and I living up on the little knoll, but in a tipi instead of a house. While I was dreaming about living in the tipi, I saw myself trying to take care of two babies...and I woke up crying, worried sick that my dream meant something bad was going to happen to Morning Star. I sure hoped not, and that it was just another one of my bad dreams, one that wouldn't come true.

After dinner that night, Cheyenne and I sat on the porch for a while, and he played his flute for me, I sure loved listening to him do that. When it started getting late and I started yawning, he suggested it was time to go in, so we went inside and headed upstairs. At the door to my room we stopped, then he kissed me on the forehead and asked “How many more days til Wednesday?” then turned and walked on down the hall to his own room....and I wondered if he was really gonna stay there all night this time....

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That night was a struggle, once I was all the way to Calico's door and as I reached for the doorknob I heard my mohter's voice quoting one of my favorite verses,, "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles and soar, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint." A smile came across my face as I remembered her sitting on my bedside reading from the bible to me. I guess I should have done a better job of waiting.

 

I went to sleep easily after that, the dreams of soaring as an eagle returned, but this time I had a mate flying with me. It is hard to explain the joy of soaring among the clouds, gliding effortlessely for hours.

 

Calico's voice awakened me just after daybreak, "You gonna sleep all day, there's things to do, decisions to be made," she was telling me. I interupted her, "and clouds to soar through too." She looked at me like I was crazy, and disappointed, "Sure was lonesome last night!" I looked into hers eyes, "and you were complaining about getting the preacher out here so soon?" She got a little red faced, kissed me, and turned and took off for the stairway.

 

Breakfast was filled with talk of the wedding, this dress, that dress, this food, you name it, but I got lost soaring in the clouds again until Korupt Karl burst in. "Rustlers got 50 head of cattle last night Frank. They took them out of the north pasture, I sent 5 men to track them down and told them I'd come and get re-inforcements. I had no sooner backed up my chair six inches when, yup you guessed it,,, OUCH!!! Calico looked me straight in the eye and sternly told me, "You ain't going NOWHERE!"

 

"But, but, I gotta go" I started to say when I was interupted by my father, "Son I think your mind is elsewhere, you go out there like that and you're likely to get killed and some of the men too, you just sit right there, Karl, Rye Miles, Prairie Dawg and Wagonmaster Duke can handle this."

 

I tried to get another but out , but, yup OUCH! "ok, ok, okaaaaaaaaaaaayy" was all that could come out of my mouth....

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We finished eating our breakfast, but lord I was edgy. I wasn't used to being left behind, I was really struggling to keep from saddling up Blackie, and catching up the the others.

 

Dang it, Blackie wasn't a name for a horse like he was, hmmm. I was going to have to come up with a better name for him. Soaring Eagle, that was it, Soaring Eagle, and after I wed Calico my Cheyenne name would be Soars With Eagles.

 

I was lost in thought again, soaring through the clouds when Korupt Karl with his yellow shirt dripping in sweat and covered with dirt came riding hard into the ranch. "They got Rye Miles pinned down up in the canyon he yelled, and we can't get at them. We're gonna need you and your Sharps Cheyenne." I yelled for Little Joe to get Karl a fresh mount as I saddled up Soaring Eagle. My father had heard the commotion and yelled for his horse to be saddled. Then he ran back into the house and returned with two Sharps, his and mine.

 

Calico came running to me as I was about to mount, I was fraid to look into her eyes as she reached out her arms for me. Before I could say a word she blurted out, "I know you've got to go, but please come back to me, please" then she turned to may father and told him, "You both come back safe or you'll have me to answer to" and held up her fist as she smiled. "My grandson will need a daddy" my father told her as we mounted and headed off with Karl.

 

We had about a five mile ride ahead of us before we could get near where Rye Miles was trapped by the rustlers, and our men had the rustlers trapped. It was pretty much a stalemate, Rye couldn't get out, nor could the rustlers. You could hear occasional shots as we neared, Karl told us it sounded like everyone was in the same positions as when he had left. We were trying to come up with a plan, but without seeing just where everyone was we had to wait until we got there.

 

We drew fire as we neared, I heard Karl grunt real loud as a bullet tore threw his shoulder, red running down his yellow shirt. Duke came running over and helped Karl off of his horse as more bullets whizzed by, knocking Duke's hat off his head, leaving a long red line along the top of his scalp. He slid his hand over the wound after he laid Karl against some rocks and said "Dang it Cheyenne, I never thought I'd get scalped by a bullet." We would have had a good laugh but bullets were whizzing all around us.

 

We sought cover behind some large rocks and looked down into the canyon. It was hard to spot Rye through all the smoke, but we could make him out trapped behind a large boulder. His hollering at the rustlers to come and get him sure helped us locate him. They hadn't hit him yet, most likely because he was such a small target. His horse had been killed as he was riding up the canyon towards the rustlers leaving him no quick way out.

 

I was getting a feeling for who we were facing, their fire at us was much to accurate to be anybody but the Ain't Dunnit Gang. A gang of cut-throat outlaws who were known for shooting their way out of most anything. It looked like the only way they were going to escape would be through us, this wasn't going to be easy. The distance would be no problem, but the time in which we could take shots with our Sharps would be short. There were eleven of us, with one badly wounded and one trapped in the canyon below, against as well as I could make out eight of the Dunnit gang. This wasn't going to be easy.

 

We had the men open up all at once, then poked our Sharps on top of the rocks and looked for a shot. I took a shot and could see one of the men fall to his knees as the heavy bullet nearly tore his leg off. I started taking heavy fire as the Dunnits had seen my rifle flash. I could hear my father say "Got cha" just before his Sharps spoke.

 

I heard Duke holler, "One of them is headed for Rye." I looked down into the canyon and could see Rye trying to reload his pistol, but the man got to him before he could do anything. The man grabbed him and put a pistol to Rye's head and hollered up to us, "you want us to blow his head off? Or you want to let us ride out of here?

 

The man had made a huge mistake, here was Ain't Dunnit hisself standing behind Rye. The mistake was, Rye is a mite short and came up only to the man's mid-stomach, leaving his shoulders and head exposed. Out of the corner of my eye I could see my father swing his Sharps towards Rye as my rifle instictively did the same. Our shots sounded like a stick of dynomite going off as we fired at the same time. It took some time before the smoke cleared well enough for us to see if we had hit Dunnit or worse Rye. When we finally could see down the canyon, Rye was standing there yelling at us with his hat that was nearly torn in two held high in his hand. "Good thing he's short" my father laughed.

 

The other six Dunnits didn't have any fight in them after seeing Ain't send to his maker and they all surrendered, though Rye did manage to shoot two of them before they could raise their hands all the way up. My father laughed again and said, "well I guess them Dunnits ain't as fast as they thought they was.

 

I helped Karl up onto his horse, getting blood all over my chest as I did, I didn't think anything about it, it had happened before. We left the other men to deal with the Dunnits and rode back to the ranch with Karl, I had found some crown in his saddlebag and at least for now he wasn't feeling much pain.

 

 

 

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I stood there watching the men leave until I could no longer see them, then Morning Star insisted I go back inside. I didn't really want to, right then the wedding plans were the farthest thing from my mind. All I could do was pray Cheyenne would come back to me safe and sound, as well as his father and the rest of the men. It had been a long time since I'd been that frightened....

I went back in the dining room where the other ladies were still busy with all the planning, but I just couldn't concentrate. Several times someone would ask me a question, but I had no idea what they had asked, I wasn't paying attention. They would just shake their heads, and repeat what they had said, but it quickly became obvious that this wasn't gonna work, at least not until the men returned.

Morning Star finally sent me upstairs to rest, and I was more than happy to go. I wanted nothing more than to be alone. I went to my room, but I didn't feel like resting. I sat on the end of my bed and stared at the gunbelt I had hanging on the bed post, my pistols still in the holsters. I wished so much that they had let me go with them, I was a good enough shot, I could have helped. But I also knew that there was no way Cheyenne or his father would have allowed it. I took one of the pistols out and looked at it, many times had those pistols come in handy the last few years. They had belonged to my father, and he had loaned them to me the day that he sent me to Denver for supplies we just couldn't get anywhere closer to our ranch. He didn't want me going to the city alone and unarmed, being a young woman in a rough frontier town. That night was the night that those men had burned down the cabin and killed pa and ma...would it have made any difference if I hadn't taken both pistols, and he had been able to fight back? I would never know, and I had never fully gotten over the guilt I felt.


I put the pistol back in its holster, and went over to the corner of the room where my rifle was leaning against the wall, and picked it up. It had been a gift from Buick, I knew he had hoped to win my heart with that thing, but it hadn't quite worked out that way. In a way, I felt bad about that, but I also knew that he loved Morning Star very deeply, and I was happy for both of them. But I was starting to get a little nervous about the way things had worked out for me. I loved Cheyenne, but I was beginning to wonder if I would ever feel comfortable here, the Culpeppers lived an entirely different life than what I had grown up with, pa had never even come close to having this kind of money. It didn't matter to me, but I was still afraid there would be people that might not except a poor orphan like me being married to the only son of one of the richest men in the territory.

Was it time for me to give up those guns, and just depend on Cheyenne, his father, and the rest of the men to protect me from then on? Could I hold on to them and still become the lady I knew Cheyenne deserved me to be? Was there really any reason for me to keep them? I didn't know, but I also didn't know if I was ready to let them go. Too many years of having to help pa feed and defend the rest of the family because he didn't have any sons made me uncomfortable with the thought of not having at least one firearm within close reach. But ladies didn't go around wearing gunbelts and carrying pistols and rifles, did they? That gun belt wasn't gonna fit for too much longer at the rate my belly seemed to be growing anyway....

I heard horses approaching, and shouting, so I ran downstairs and outside onto the porch as fast as I could. As the men got closer, I could see Cheyenne, and the entire front of his shirt was covered with blood! All of a sudden the world started to spin, and go dark...I tried grabbing the porch railing to steady myself but missed...the last thing I remember was hearing Morning Star yelling “Buick, catch her, quick!”

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Korupt Karl was having a hard time staying in the saddle as we made our way back to the ranch. I looked down at his blood on my shirt, I got a sickly feeling in my stomach, my good friend was wounded defending our herd. I suddenly understood my father's respect and downright love for his men. Here was a man who put himself in harm's way for us. That really got me to thinking about how I treated the men.

 

Boy, I wished I could move back the hands of time, these past three years had been hard on my spirit. I had never even shot at a man, much less killed one until I had began my quest. But, I wouldn't move time back for even one second if it meant not having Calico. I could only pray that life would settle down soon, life was about to change a great deal for me, and I sure wished this part would too.

 

We finally arrived at the ranch, and not a second too soon for Karl, he had lost a lot of blood, and he had drunk a lot of crown, I don't think he'd have gone another ten feet before he would have hit the ground. We road straight for Doc Eel's cabin and carried Karl inside. Doc took a quick look at Karl's shoulder and assured us he would be ok. Then Doc took a good look at me and the blood on my shirt, "my God where were you hit?" he almost cried. I was dumbfounded, until I remembered the blood on my shirt. "No where, that's Karl's blood!" I answered Doc as I took off for the house yanking my shirt off as I ran. I had seen Calico on the porch as we had ridden in and thought she had started down the stairs to come greet us, but as I pictured it in my mind something didn't seem right.

 

I rounded the corner of the house at a full run, there were several women in a circle. As I got closer the circle parted and I saw Morning Star and Buick kneeling beside Calico who was sprawled out on the ground. As I bent down to her I had a flashback to Kansas when she had left the village and was attacked by those renegade braves. I scooped her up into my arms wimmpering "NOOOOOOO!" She looked at me like I had just awakened her, her hands went to my bare chest, it felt as if she was searching for something as her fingers explored every inch of my chest. "I thought you had been hit" she almost cried. "I was so afraid I was going to loose you!" We slowly lifted Calico and I carried her into the house where we got her some cool water to drink and cool compresses for her head.

 

The ladies soon left us to go back to planning for the wedding and soon it was just the two of us in the den. "Cali, tomorrow you and I are going for a ride, just the two of us. We've had trouble with coyotes attacking calves in the west pasture and I would love for the two of us to go hunting for some. I need to have fun shooting again, so how about it, just you and me with our guns out having fun!"

 

She got a huge smile and acted like she was going to slug me, but instead wrapped me in her arms and made me wish the purification ritual was already over.

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Cheyenne made me stay on the couch in the den for most of the afternoon, I think it had scared him when I fainted. Not as bad as he'd scared me when I thought he'd been shot, but he knew I wasn't the type to pass out over nothing. He did stay with me for most of it, and we talked about going out hunting the next day. I didn't really care much about that, but getting out of the house did sound nice. Plus, he wanted to ride towards the west pasture, which stretched almost into the foothills, and I wouldn't give up the chance to get closer to those mountain any time I could.

 

Before dinner was ready, he suggested we go over to the doc's cabin to see how Karl was doing. As we walked over there, he kept one arm around my waist, and having him so close was making me anxious to get this whole wedding ceremony out of the way....I was missing those trips to the water hole. When we got there, Doc said Karl was doing sleeping but was otherwise doing ok, and should make a full recovery. Then Cheyenne started telling Doc about how I had been feeling, and ended with the story of me fainting that afternoon. I about fainted again, this time from embarrassment, but Cheyenne was insistent, he wanted Doc to check me over and make sure I was ok, and I was pretty sure he wanted a definite answer as to what was up with me. I followed Doc into the back room, and he did a pretty thorough job of examining me, then took me back in the front room where Cheyenne was patiently waiting. Doc said “Well, I'm pretty sure this won't come as a shock to either of you, but yes, it's official, Miss Calico is expecting. I guess congratulations are in order....” but I wasn't too sure he really meant that, it wasn't like it was any big secret that the wedding hadn't happened yet.... What we'd been doing just wasn't proper....and I couldn't expect everyone to approve....


After dinner we sat out on the porch for a while with Frank, Chief Hosa, Buick and Morning Star, talking. There was a slight breeze coming from the west, and I could tell summer was winding itself down, and fall would soon be here. That was fine with me, as that was my favorite time of the year, and I found myself wondering if the mountains to the west of the Culpepper ranch had as many aspen trees as some of my favorite places further south did. I would have to ask, maybe we could go for a ride up there when the leaves started changing....if I still could. I was also wondering how long it would take the men to finish our new house...it was going to take longer than the cabin we had put up on the Golden Aspen, but since it also wouldn't be quite as big as his father's house I hoped it would be done before cold weather set in. It would be nice for me and Cheyenne to have our own place, come to think of it we'd never really stayed anywhere with just the two of us there. A little privacy would be nice.

 

After I while, I kind of dozed off sitting there on that porch, and it wasn't long before the dreams started. These weren't nightmares, thankfully, but they were still confusing. I saw myself standing alone on the top of a mountain, surrounded by aspen trees in all their golden glory, and there was an eagle circling above me in a beautiful cloudless blue sky. I heard the cry of the eagle, then the cry of a baby, and then another baby. But I didn't see Morning Star, or Buick, and that confused me. If I was hearing both mine and my best friend's children, why wasn't she part of my dream? Where was she?

I woke with a start, Cheyenne had started gently shaking me, saying “You're already sleeping, but you can't stay out here all night. If you wanna go hunting tomorrow, we need to get an early start, how bout I walk you upstairs?” I just smiled and let him help me up, then we said good night to the others and headed inside...unfortunately again to our separate rooms....just how much longer was it til that wedding?

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