The Langston Saga

By Carolyn Boyd

Historical fiction

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577
3 mins

The Little Indian Boy

One day, the first week in November, the sun wuz shinin' an' there wuz jest a light frost
on the grass, so Mommma said we should go pick up pecans and black walnuts for the holiday cookin'. Well, as dearly as I love pecan pie I wuz all for it, so after dinner me an' Momma an' Bubba loaded a bunch of tow-sacks an' some half-bushel baskets in the wagon an' set out for the meadow about half a mile from the house. We gathered up a sack full of walnuts then started in on the pecans. We got about three sacks full when Bubba yelled that Momma should come over to where he wuz workin'. When we got over there he pointed at a horse that suz standin' with its head down at the edge of the line of trees that bordered the meadow. We started over to him, movin' easy so as not to spook him, an' saw there wuz a boy layin' there on the ground. He wuz prob'ly about Bubba's age, but smaller, an' he wuz a Indian.
Momma said it looked like his horse had stepped in a gopher hole an' throwed him off. She said he had a purty bad lookin' bump on his head. I run an' got the wagon an' we laid him on a pallet we made out of a bunchof sacks. Momma told Bubba to fetch up the boy's pony an' take him to the barn an' Dad could look him over while she seen to the boy.
The pony wuz kind of skittish, but he couldn' move around too fast 'cause of favorin' his left front leg so Bubba was able to gather up his reins without too much trouble an' started leadin' him off toward home. He hadn't gone far when he called back to Momma that the horse wuz limpin' awful bad on that leg. She told him to go as slow as he had to so as not to damage the leg any more, but that we wuz gonna go on so she could get the boy into bed right away.
When we got to the house Dad had come in from checkin' on the cows in the south pasture an' he helped me carry the boy into the house an' put him on a cot by the fireplace in the kitchen. Momma told Dad that Bubba wuz bringin' in the boy's horse so he got back on his horse an' went to meet him. We didn' think nothin' of it, I guess cause we wuz busy cleanin' the boy up an' gettin' a poultice made for his head, but later I thought it wuz kinda funny Dad goin' off like that when Bubba wuz plumb capable of bringin' in a lame horse by hisself.
While Momma wuz makin' some willow bark tea an' some broth for the boy I sorta looked him over. I never had seen a real Indian up close before. He didn' look no diffurnt from me an' Bubba, 'cept his hair was longer an' his skin wuz darker. I sorta wondered what made 'em so cranky and always wantin' to fight. Dad told me later that he reckoned it wuz 'cause they thought the white folks had come out west an' took their land and killed off the buffalo so it was ruinin' their way of life. I thought about that for a while an' it seemed to me like it wuz mighty like the war an' what had happened to the southerners. I hoped it didn' turn out for them like it had for us.
Ack-shully, we had come out purty good, we'd made us a new home an' it seemed like it wuz ever bit as good as we'd had it in Mississippi, but I couldn' think of any place the Indians might go if they had to start over.
When Dad an' Bubba come in with the little Indian's pony I went out to the barn to help them. We doused the horse's leg in liniment an' bound it up tight with some cotton batting an' tow sacks tied on good an' tight. Dad said it looked like a pretty bad sprain, but it would probably be okay in a few days. We fed him an' rubbed him down food 'fore we put him in a little stall so he wouldn' move around too much.
We rubbed down the other horses an' Dad said to put them out in the catch pen that wuz attached to the south side of the barn. Then while we wuz milkin' an' Bubba wuz feedin' the chickens an' gatherin' the eggs, I asked DAd why he went back to help Bubba bring in the horse. He started sayin' somethin' about Indian horses bein' hard to handle sometimes, then he stopped an' said, "Truth is, Trey, I saw Mr. Reese this afternoon. He rode over to tell us the Indians are actin' up again. They killed a man named Fortenberry over near Bolivar yesterday...they scalped him, then tied him to a wagon wheel and burned him to death. The Rangers are trackin' them now. He wanted to warn us so we could be prepared in case they came this way. I didn't think they would since Bolivar is in Denton Counrty and I figured they'd head north for Indian Territory...but I may have been wrong."
"You gonna tell Momma?"
"Of course, I just didn't want to worry her right now...that boy is hurt pretty bad, and you know she's going to doctor him whether he's an Indian or not."
"Yeah...you think he was with the bunch that killed that man?"
"Well, it's not too likely, he's just a boy...just guessing I'd say he can't be more than ten years old, and boys his age aren't normally included in war parties. Of course, it may have been a hunting pjarty that just happened onto Mr. Fortenberry...but whoever did it, they're stone cold killers and won't hesitate to kill again given the opportunity. We'll need to stay close to the house for a while till the Rangers catch them or chase them back to the Territory."
That explained why we put the horses in the catch pen instead of lettin' 'em graze free. That night we lock all the doors for the first time since we'd been here. We didn' know if the boy had anything to do with the raidin' over to the northeast of us or not, but we decided not to take any chances.
We didn' have to shoot it out with the Indians after all. About ten days after we'd found Little Wolf, a couple of Texas Rangers stopped by an' said they'd caught up with the bunch that killed Mr. Fortenberry in the Arbuckle Mountains an' they'd taken them to the prison in Fort Sill, so we sor of relaxed...maybe too soon.
Two nights later me an' Bubba wuz settin' at the kitchen table doin' our lessons when the door wuz flung open an three Indians rushed into the room carryin' rifles an' knives an' lookin' real mean. The leader had on a loose fittin' buckskin shirt with a red had print over his left side like where his heart would be. It was Red Hand! We'd heard of him...an it wuzn't good.


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