Cynthia Ann Parker, her young son Quanah, and her husband, Wanderer.
Ride the Wind has generated more reader comments than all
of Lucia's other books combined. Here are two:
Tears glittered in Cub's eyes. In his right hand he held a sharp rock. In his left he brandished a hefty chunk of firewood, a club to defend himself.
"No! I won't go. Grandfather, help me." But Old Owl sat hunched and sobbing in front of his lodge door. His robe was pulled entirely over his head in deep mourning. Cub had the desolate feeling that he was already dead and being grieved. The men of the band were gathering outside their lodges, muttering angrily. Women collected in their doorways, watching and crying.
David Faulkenberry sat back on his heels in the dust. He ran a hand through his thick, gray-streaked hair and squinted at the child in perplexity. Getting down on his level and reasoning with him obviously wasn't the answer. He stood, towering over the boy, who was big for his age. Cub took a better grip on his weapons and glared at him. He'd be a lot to handle, and taking him by force might set the braves off. The woman who thought she was John's mother was wailing in a lodge nearby. His aunt and his mother's friends were comforting her by howling even louder.
The women were getting on David's nerves. This was turning out to be harder than he had figured. Then a slender warrior shouldered his way through the men and stood behind Cub.
"Who's that?" David muttered from the
corner of his mouth.
"Bear Cub's father. He will tell the boy to go with us."
Arrow Point leaned down with tears in his own hard eyes, and spoke softly in his son's ear. Jim couldn't hear but could guess what he was saying. Arrow Point would tell Cub to go with the men and escape a the first opportunity. Shaw neglected to tell the white man that. There was no sense complicating things even more.
But even Arrow Point had a difficult time convincing Cub. The child spat out a flood of chopped, explosive Comanche. Shaw chuckled a little as he translated it.
"Bear Cub says he has a pony and friends and a family here. He likes the taste of raw liver and he likes to hunt. He will be a herder on the next raid. When he grows up, he will kill Texans. And he'll start with you if you don't leave him alone." Shaw grinned, his handsome face mocking. "Do you think his white family will want him?"
It was a good question, but there was no turning back now. It had taken David Faulkenberry six years to locate the boy, tracking down elusive reports from soldiers and hunters, trappers and traders. If it weren't for his robin's-egg-blue eyes, Bear Cub would have looked like any other urchin in the village. His blond hair had been darkened with grease. This would not be a simple matter of exchanging the goods and horses David had brought and taking the boy with him.
"What do we do now?" David asked. He was glad he had brought Shaw along. The man deserved his reputation, even if he was arrogant.
"We wait. John Parker will be delivered to us."
"If they want to keep him so much, why are they
letting me have him at all?"
But it wasn't an act. Under the stifling robe Old Owl was genuinely grieving, sobbing uncontrollably. He mourned the loss of his beloved grandnephew, and more. There was a sense of loss that he couldn't define. The lost honor at San Antonio and Plum Creek. The loss of his own youth. The loss of the past, and a feeling of impending doom. He could size people up well, and he knew that Cub wasn't likely to escape from this white man. From some other maybe, but not this one.
He saw the stubbornness in Faulkenberry's face. Old Owl had stayed a leader of his band for thirty years because he could read faces. If he hadn't agreed to sell the boy, this one would have come back with soldiers. And there would be no avoiding them. They would have hounded his people across the plains. They never gave up, the white men. Burn them out and they built again, in the same place. They didn't know when they were unsuited for a country. They stayed and changed the country to suit them.
They were like the warrior ants that held on, their pinchers grasping their enemies, even after their lumpy heads had been torn from their bodies. They were like ants in many ways, the white eyes. They were everywhere and into everything. One year there were none, and the next their nests were spreading. Soon they'd be moving into the People's lodges and making treaties giving them rights to the honey supply.
The white men were changing the very patterns of life. Old Owl knew, somewhere in his gut, that the People could no longer depend on their world to function as it had since before their ancestors could remember. White men disturbed the order of things, sent it off onto strange paths, until it might never find the main trail again.
There in the dark under the robe, Old Owl came to a fork in his own life's road. If the boy came back, he would rejoice, and do whatever he had to to keep him. If he didn't, there was no longer any reason for Old Owl to avoid the white men. He knew he and all the People's warriors could no more turn them back than they could turn back a flood, or the wind.
He would start down their path and learn all he could about them. He didn't have many years left to him anyway, and as much as he disliked them, they interested him. As would any new species of animal that intruded into his world.
Maybe, in the end, he would find that Old Man Coyote had been playing a practical joke and would resolve it, as he usually did. But Old Owl doubted it. Old Owl was sure of only one thing. Bear Cub, Wee-lah, was one of the People. He would never be a white man again. It gave him grim satisfaction.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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©Lucia St. Clair Robson 2001 - 2010
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