Whispering Wind

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Pregnant and alone, Tsopo, Wind, leaves her Blackfoot people to save her lifelong friend, Kom-zit-api, An Honest Man, from untrue accusations. Kom-zit-api finds Wind and asks her to be his sits-beside-him wife. Before she can give him an answer, he dies saving her from Crow warriors. Trapper, Jake McKinney hears her cries and finds her down on a ledge, birthing a child that has arrived too soon. Now Wind finds herself at a crossroads. Ashamed and confused, she accepts McKinney’s offer to go with him to the Big Belt Mountains, where his Confederate war buddies are prospecting for gold. They meet brothers, Tucker and Alexander Walsh on the trail. McKinney, with his valuable bales of furs and buffalo robes, and the Walsh brothers, with their four wagons of supplies, strike a partnership. They’ll start up a general store for miners on the east side of the Missouri River near Diamond City. Wind reveals possession of a gold nugget the size of her thumb. Her father gave it to her, and she knows where in Confederate Gulch it was found. The men make her an equal partner in their business they are now calling Whispering Wind. Nothing like her peaceful village, Wind finds herself among ramshackle clusters of tents, lean-tos, and crude log cabins. The main street is a knee-deep mud trail mixed with horse manure, lined with make-shift stores, hotels, rowdy saloons, and a single assayer’s office. Wind aspires to find love and happiness where greed rules actions above common sense. Dressed like a white woman, hiding her part Blackfeet blood, she faces being one of a few women in a wild, lawless mining territory. Who can she trust? Can she survive where so many men have failed?

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Publié par
Date de parution 30 avril 2014
Nombre de visites sur la page 2
EAN13 9781773620008
Langue English

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Whispering Wind
By Rita Karnopp
Digital ISBNs EPUB 978-1-77362-000-8 Kindle 978-1-77362-001-5 WEB 978-1-77362-002-2 Amazon Print 978-1-77362-003-9
Copyright 2014 by Rita Karnopp Cover art by Michelle Lee All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights un der copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any mean s (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this boo k.
Dedication The Blackfeet were known as thesavages, the cruel and bloodyraiders of the northwest plains. If you could have lived among them though, I beli eve you would have found them to be caring, compassionate, kind, gener ous, friendly, joking and laughing, loving and lovable human beings. They were accompli shed stealers of horses, yet sincere and honest, and were relentless killers of their enemies. You can be certain though; the Blackfeet were undoubtedly killed by th e white man before he became a killer of white men. This is dedicated the spirit of the Blackfeet—past, present, and future. Wide brown plains, distant, slender, flat-topped bu ttes; still more distant giant mountains, blue sided, sharp peaked, snowcapped; od or of sage and smoke of camp fire; thunder of ten thousand buffalo hoofs over th e hard, dry ground; long drawn, melancholy howl of wolves breaking the silence of n ight, how I loved you all! James Willard Schultz,My Life as an Indian
Chapter One
Montana Territory Spring 1865 Kai yiwahts, daughter?”A-sa-na-ki Ahki sat on the buffalo robe besideTso’po and patted her knee. “You’ve been brooding for months. Do you want to talk about it?” Sa! Matsikiwa.” “It must be something or you wouldn’t be hiding her e in our tipi instead of gathering ok-kun-okinwith the other young girls. Tell me,kai yiwahts.“I wanted to pick sarvis berries, but I have other things on my mind. You know what bothers me. How could you not?” She placed her moth er’s palm across her swollen abdomen.Tso’po stared ork dress. Tearsdown at the bulge beneath her soiled, elk w threatened. “Who is the father ofpokaup?” “You know, mother. You might not want to admit who, but you must know.” “I trustedKom-zit-api. How long has this been going on between you two?” Tso’po sharply glanced to the right and stared long and h ard at the woman who should have protected her. “Why would you ask me th is?Kom-zit-api is as his name says; an honest man. He has too much respect for me to have. . . caused this.” “Even an honest man can find himself in this positi on. He has made it no secret he wishes you to become his sits-beside-him wife. Your father is going to be very angry with both of you.”A-sa-na-ki Ahkito her feet and filled two wooden bowls with got buffalo stew and returned to sit beside her daughte r. Tso’polo robe. The smell ofthe bowl and quickly set it down on the buffa  took cooked meat sent her stomach retching and she fough t down the bile that rose. She moved the bowl further away and drew in the scent o f sage that smoldered near the campfire. It helped a little. “First I will sayO’kyai’-yuis not my father. He has never been a father to me. Buck Marshall was my father and I’v e missed him every day since my tenth summer. I wish he’d never died.” “I wish that, too,Tso’po. It’s not often our people accept a trapper among them. Everyone knew he wase-kus-kiniut. I have told you many times, we must not think abo him. It will not serve us. ” “Yes, he was a very powerful person. I loved him. I will always love him. He would have protected me.” O’kyai’-yau. No other warriorme with a half-white child. He accepted yo  married offered to do that. We could have been left out on the prairie to die. He saved us and we must be grateful.” “I wish we had been left to die.” “Kyai-yo! You must not say such things.” “Don’t sound so surprised, Mother.O’kyai’-yasneaks around like theota-tuyi.” “You must not call him a red fox.”A-sa-na-ki Ahki set her bowl down and wiped at the tear that rolled down her cheek. IfKom-zit-apinot the father of your child, then is
who is?” “Are you saying you still don’t know? You who broug ht me into this world. You who knows all there is to know about me. You who sleeps in the same tipi as me. You do not know the father ofpokaup?” “Mah-kah-kan-is-tsi.” “How could you doubt I’m speaking the truth? Tell m e you didn’t know he first came to me when I was twelve summers? I cried for days. I told you I hurt. You told me it would pass. You knew he came to my sleeping blanket s and you saidmatsikiwa.” Tso’pogrit her teeth and swallowed hard. She refused to cry. Soon the people would be calling her Cries All The Time Woman, like they did her mother. “I never said it was nothing. I said there was noth ing I could do. IfO’kyai’-ya gets angry, he could kick us out. Where would we go? How would we live?”A-sa-na-ki Ahki openly trembled and cried. “I couldi’nit’-si’wah! ”Tso’poto her feet and faced the back of the color  jumped ful tipi. Today it brought her no joy. A-sa-na-ki Ahkiscrambled to her feet. “Look at me.” Children ran past their tipi, laughing as though th ey’d played a joke on one of their mothers. She wished to be young again, running thro ugh camp with her friends. She longed to spend long sunny days on the riverbanks g uessing which of the young warriors they would marry. “I said look at me.”A-sa-na-ki Ahki’stone allowed no choice. Tso’pospun around and glared at her mother. “You must never say you could kill him. You must ne ver consider such a thing. His relatives would kill you—a life for a life. They wo uld strip everything that was his in payment. I would be left with nothing and no one. Is that what you want?” Tso’poted me from him . . . andstood silent for a moment. “You should have protec you didn’t. You let him . . . do that to me and now you want me to . . . what? You know O’kyai’-yaputpokaupinside me,”Tso’poscreamed. An-nat-or-kan-nai! Do you want everyone in the village to hear you?” “No, it’s not enough. I will not carry this shame a lone. They will take pity on me when they learn the truth.” “You will keep silent. We’ll figure something out. MaybeKom-zit-apiwill still want to bring forty horses for you to be his wife? He’s muc h like the honest man he is named. You must know he’s very much in love with you. He m ay not care aboutpokaup.” Tso’polooked at the woman she called mother. It seemed i mpossible she wished to hide the truth. She protected her husband and not h er daughter?Tso’poher shook head. “I won’t remain silent. I refuse to let the p eople think so little of me.O’kyai’-ya should have to face the people and admit his shame. He did me wrong.” “You’re aahsi tupi. We are not so young. The deed is done and what go od would come of shaming your father and me? If they send us from the village—where does that leave you, ifKom-zit-apind thewant you? Say nothing and we’ll keep you a  doesn’t child with us.”
“You wish people to thinkKom-zit-apiis the father, and shame him when he denies it? He’ll always have to live with that shame, even though he’s innocent.” “We don’t have much choice in the matter. We’ll pro tect you.” “What? You want me to becomeO’kyai’-ya’swife? I refuse! I’m nearly second seventeen summers and you both have ruined my life. I would never askKom-zit-apito take me now.” “No one must knowO’kyai’-yais the father of your child.” “Ahksi Kiwa!” “What do you mean, you care for nothing?” Ahksi Kiwa!Tso’poky shore, turned and ran from the tipi. She followed the roc blinded by her tears. She ran, ignoring how the low hanging cottonwoods scratched at her bare arms and how the sharp rocks cut into her feet. Soon the early evening light turned into shades of black. She stopped, her chest burned, and she gasped for air. Scrambling up the hillside,Tso’poto pull herself on top a large boulder. managed Standing, she scanned the land in all directions. S he shouldn’t have acted without thinking. Even the campfire smoke from her village couldn’t be seen. She had taken no food, water, or even a blanket with her. Should she go back or continue following the Big River east? She wasn’t familiar with the low di rection. If she traveledap-put-os-ohts, what her father called north, she might be able to find her people in Grandfather’s land they call Canada. It was the time when grass starts up and the buffal o calves were yellow. It was also the time when rain replaced snow and brought life t o the land. Already clouds built and wind stung her cheeks. A screech owl settled in a n earby cottonwood. His ways were evil, containing the restless and unhappy spirits o f people long dead. Would he bring her misfortunes? Could he be warning her of death? Quickly she pulled a strand of beads from the bottom of her braid and laid it on t he rock. “You are my relative,” she said, knowing if he thought she was related, he wou ld not harm her. It didn’t take long to scurry down from the boulder and run yet further away from camp, always keeping the creek within sight. Breath less once again, she stopped to look around, using the light from the moon, inching between a break in the clouds. Exhaustion gripped her. She needed a safe place to sleep for the night. Several water drops hit her cheeks. If she didn’t find shel ter soon, cold and wet would become her new concern.Tso’poall. Not’s gaze rested on a slight indention in the rocky w wasting time, she attacked the steep, rocky incline , praying toNapi the moon would stay free from clouds, aiding her safe ascend. “What do you think you’re doing?” Tso’po jumped, ncing her bottom hardlost her footing and sliding downward, bou across the rocky incline. Within seconds she hopele ssly picked up speed until she found herself inKom-zit-api ’s firm arms. She didn’t have to look into his dark, mysterious eyes to know it was him. “Put me down. You nearly killed me!” She didn’t mis s how gently he set her feet to the ground. “What were you doing? You could have easily fallen to your death.”
“Well, I nearly did, thanks to you. What are you do ing here?”Tso’po glanced around, grateful he came alone. “I’ve come to bring you to your senses.Tsima’ kit-aak-itap-oo-hpa?“It’s none of your business where I’m going.Aahsa k-omoht-o’too-hpa?”She wanted to be angry, but couldn’t help being relieved she w asn’t alone in the dark. “You know why I came. Your mother found me and told me . . . told me you’ve run away from the village like a spoiled child. She ask ed me to bring you back.” “She tell you why I left?”Tso’po watched his expression as best she could in the dim moonlight. His blank stare told her he knew not hing. She took his hand and placed it on her swollen stomach. He jumped back and stared back at her.“Tsa anistapii-waatsiksi?“It’s a baby,” she snapped. “I know, but who is the father ofpokaup? I know of no other warriors you have given favor. I always thought you would be my sits-beside s-me-wife. I . . . tell me . . . who?” “Maybe you should askO’kyai’-ya?“Why should I ask your father? You’re not making an y sense,Tso’po. I don’t understand why you would do this to me.” She didn’t need to see his eyes to feel his hurt. “ I didn’t do this to you. I didn’t even do this to me.” “Then explain what’s happening because I don’t unde rstand.”Kom-zit-apiat stared her. “You may not wish to know. There is no answer . . . other than I need to leave the village.” “Not without an explanation, you won’t.” Tso’pothat rolled down herin a deep breath, swept away the single tear  drew cheek with her fingertip. She released a rush of ai r and shouted, “O’kyai’-yais the father ofpokaup.” There, she’d said it. She held her breath, waiting for the disbelief. “Tell mekit-itakomimm-oki-hp-yiand I’ll still take you as my sits-besides-me wife .” Tso’po stared at the handsome warrior before her, frozen in place. Should she tell him she loved him? She didn’t. She likedKom-zit-apiand considered him a good friend. “And what ofpokaup?” “Do you . . . wish to . . . did you share the buffa lo robe withO’kyai’-yawillingly?” “How could you ask such a thing? I despise him. I w ish him dead. My mother . . . stands by him.” “Givepokaupto your mother. It’s more their child than yours.”Kom-zit-apistomped his moccasin into the ground. “I’m leaving the village with my shame. If I do as you say,pokaup will always be known as the child no one wanted. As much as I don’ t want a baby of his growing inside me, I cannot do such a cruel thing topokaup.” “I want no child ofO’kyai’-yace. Only! Not only is it a bad seed, but it’s a seed of for evil will come from such a child.Pokaupis not welcome in my tipi. Give the child to your mother and come to my tipi.”Kom-zit-api’s stern expression allowed no discussion in the matter.
“You ask too much. I’ll leave the village.”Tso’poagainst the boulder, leaned exhausted beyond belief. “Go back and say nothing. Soon the people will understand I left because of my shame. It isn’t your responsibil ity.Miistap-‘aaatoo-t annoma.” “You really want me to go away from here and leave you alone? You don’t have any supplies to travel. What ifpokaupand you’re all alone? Are you comes ma-zap? Omatap-izitaw. I’m sure you mustinip-izi?Tso’poy it wouldn’t be for manywant to think about the child coming. Surel  didn’t moons. “Yes, I feel it’s raining and you can tell I ’m cold. That’s why I was headed up there.” She pointed to the small indenture in the r ocky wall above. “And you know I’m not crazy!” “I’ll help you get up there. We could wait out the storm together and then go back to the village in the morning.” They would call memazapaki if you stay the night with me. It would not help y our cause in making them believepokaupis not yours.Nohk. I repeat, please,you must go back to the village.” “I wouldn’t let anyone call you a prostitute.Nita-akah-kayithe night for .you But must promise to stay here and wait for me to bring you supplies and a horse. I’ll ask my father if I can take you to my mother’s sister inKikoh-kia-ayowa’scamp.” “I’m glad you’re going home for the night. Do you m ean Butterfly Woman? I remember her and her husband Black Bear with much f ondness. Do you think they’d take me in?” “If my mother asks them to. I’ll ask her if she has a gift I can give to A-apa-ni-akiiwa. They are close and would do anything for each other.” Tso’poer lips. She found thea slight smile to rise at the corners of h  allowed strength to push off the boulder and took several s teps toward the incline she’d recently slipped down. The now steady drizzle made the rocks slippery and the climb all the more dangerous. It didn’t takeKom-zit-api long to pass her and offer his hand to help. She c ouldn’t help being grateful for his help. Each step became a chore to her tired body. By the time they reached the slight indenture in the rock,Kom-zit-apinearly carried her. “Wait here so I can make sure no snake or a family ofap-ai-kai-koamade this has home.” “I think you exaggerate. I don’t think such a small cave would be home for a family of skunk. Snake, maybe, which I would not care to s hare with. They aren’t even fit to eat.” Kom-zit-apiark cave, then broke off a shrub branch and swept it around the d returned limping, gripping his leg. “It bit me . . .kyi. . . it bit me!” “What bit you? A snake?” Fear filled her. She didn’ t know what to do for such an injury. “Let me see where you were bitten.”Tso’podropped to her knees. He raised his elk skin pant leg and waited as she s earched for the bite marks. “I don’t see anything. Where . . . where did it bite y ou?” She moved her palms up and down his leg, yet found nothing.
“It didn’t bite me. There was no snake! You should have seen your face. Even in this darkness I could see—” “You think this is funny? We are out in the middle of nowhere and you think it’s funny to make me think . . . I imagined you were go ing to die?” She grit her teeth and stared at him. Kom-zit-apifunny. I onlyhis head. “You once thought such tricks were  shook wanted to make youiyim’-mit.You do care about me, don’t you?” “Well I don’t feel like laughing. Now isn’t the tim e to laugh. We’ve been friends our entire lives. Of course I care about you. I’m tired of getting wet. Is that cave safe or not?” Not waiting for an answer, she stomped past h im. “I’ll build a fire so you can get warm and dry. I’l l make a pile of wood that should last you into the early morning. You promised to stay he re and I will hold you to it. You sure you don’t want to me to stay here with you? I will. ” Making a mound of dried leaves and sticks, he quickly brought fire to life. Tso’po sat behind the fire, her back inches from the back rocky wall. She wanted Kom-zit-apistay, but she refused to admit it. Besides, she  to needed the supplies and horse he promised. She would pray his mother would consent to letting him take her to Black Bear’s camp. A single tear rolled down her ch eek, and before she could stop them . . . several more followed. “Mi-inas-ai’ nit.” “I didn’t mean to cry . . . but . . . right now it seems I don’t have a choice. My tears come of their own free will.” She quickly wiped the m away with her palms. “Don’t tellnik-sisstaI am. where Ohk, don’t tell anyone but your parents. I’ll wait here for you. If you can’t go with me, I’ll understand. I hope you can a t least bring the supplies and horse.” “I won’t let you go alone. If you won’t stay at our village, I’ll take you to a safe place to live. Give serious thought to being my wife. I won’t change my mind aboutpokaup.” She swallowed hard and cleared her throat. “Then I won’t change my mind either. You give serious thought to that.” Silence fell bet ween them. She shivered and moved closer to the small fire. “There’s plenty of wood. Here’s some jerky to eat a nd I’ll leave my water bladder for you. Don’t let the fire go out . . . and you’ll be safe.” Reaching for the water and jerky, she suddenly real ized how hungry she was. “Iiks-soka’piiwa otai’-soota-ahsi.“You’re right, it is good that it’s raining. Many a nimals will be hunkered down to stay dry.” He added several sticks to the fire. “I . . . want to go to camp and kill your father for what he’s done to you. My anger is building inside me.” Ohk . . . ohk . . .don’t do that. It’ll only dishonor you and your fa mily. I’m not worth that much fuss or effort. I . . . would not wish to be the reason you can’t ever return to your home. I promise to stay here and wait for you, if you promise to only speak with your parents. Promise me you’ll not do anything as foolish as attempt to killO’kyai’-ya. He’s no boy warrior. He could easily kill you.” “Is that what you think of me? You believe I’m a bo y warrior?”
Tso’podn’t mean . . . I didn’tpressed her palms across her face and sobbed. “I di mean to insult you and suggest you were anything bu t a fine warrior and honest man. You’ve been nothing but kind to me. You . . . are a ll I have for hope right now.Ohk, forgive me for speaking wrong.” Mi-inas-ai’ nit. It saddens me to see you cry. I’m not angry with you. Eat and drink and try to get some rest. I’ll be back at first lig ht. You sure you don’t want me to . . . you want to stay here alone?” “I’m certain. Telliyi’m-mitthat I would be most grateful if she would ask her sister to help me in my time of need.” “I’ll tell my mother that, but I don’t think it’s n ecessary. She has always liked you and was hoping to have you as her daughter. She’ll be happy to do this.” The baby moved andTso’po placed her hand on her hard abdomen. She looked across the fire atKom-zit-api. He stared back at her for a moment, turned and walk ed away. Completely alone,Tso’po crossed her arms and rubbed her aching shoulders. She wanted to yell forKom-zit-apicome back, but she remained silent. Should she have to accepted his offer? It wasn’t her fault that a baby grew inside her. She didn’t want pokaupshe didn’t want harm to come to it either. Was but Kom-zit-api right? Was the child a bad seed?Tso’porubbed her stomach, comforting the child within he r. After adding more sticks to the fire, she lowered h erself down on dried leaves. When she started this day she hadn’t imagined it wo uld end with her sleeping alone in a cave. Her body ached and she fought to keep her eye s open. * * * * Startled . . .Tso’poupright. The smoldering campfire burned her nose. She bolted quickly added sticks to the pile and a fire snapped alive. What had wakened her? She listened. She searched out into the darkness. A Crow appeared in front of her. He pointed and sho ok a sharp spear toward her. The feathers dangling down appeared to be dancing. He was stripped down to a loin cloth and his body was painted black. White lightni ng strikes rose from the corners of his mouth across his cheeks. Several grizzly claws hung from leather strips tied into his black hair which hung loose, nearly reaching his wa ist. Tso’postared at theisapo’-aikoan. She understood much of the Crow language and wasn’t sure she wanted to reveal it. Awushi’m chihpa-shi’k. Iiku-sh-chi’.” He motioned for her to come toward him. She already knew the cave was dark. She would have laughed at his comment, had she not feared the Crow. They didn’t treat Blackfee t captives well. She would be taken to their village and be given as a slave to one of their women. She remained on the other side of the small fire. “Bia’ iiku-sh-chi’.” Woman come out? Was that the best he could do? She wanted to scream at him to justde’e. But she knew he wasn’t going to just go and leave her.