Clouds blew shadows over the white, brightly decorated teepees of a large Souix village. Children played in the center of the village. More children played in the nearby river. Women shared a common task, in a group at one side of the village, in front of a cluster of teepees. Men herded ponies into an area West of the camp. Two boys kept the herd in place as the men rode off to the North in search of more horses. The tall grass blew in the brisk wind, hissing and sighing. The sigh of nearby weeping willows added a sad note to the wind.
The lone footsteps of 6 horses was almost downed out by the common sounds of the camp. Gabriel Traynor, also known as Cemetery Traynor, reportedly because he carried so much firepower he could start his own cemetery, rode into the Souix camp as calmly as a general at the head of an army. He had, in fact, been part of a small army, the 1838 Ronson expedition. After two months of travel he was the last of the twelve men who had left Saint Louis in search of furs. Gabriel calmly looked around himself with a half-smile on his bearded face. He knew the chances of his survival were slight, but the overwhelming guilt at being the last man left alive, had pushed him to the brink of insanity. He knew where he was, he knew who the Souix were, he just didn’t give a damn.
Gabriel was a daunting sight, his multi-layered furs made him look huge, despite his thin frame. He led five pack horses, managing to keep the supplies intended for the entire 12 man expedition. He was now the sole owner of hundreds of pounds of food, tobacco, cooking pots, and hardware. Gabriel was lonely, and not altogether insane. He knew he had a fighting chance at escape, if they refused his generous offer. He was offering the supplies and the use of the horses, in exchange for a place to live, and some company. Gabriel was not good alone. He liked company. He liked to talk until the wee hours of the morning.
Gabriel rode with an 1836 Patterson revolver stuck down the front of his pants in plain sight. He had two more under his fur coat, and one in a holster on his saddle. He carried a Kentucky flintlock rifle because flints were far more plentiful than percussion caps, and when the caps ran out he still had something that could shoot. He had a flintlock pistol in his saddle bags, and a flintlock derringer in his pocket.
Men leaped from their teepees and glared as he passed. He gave a polite smile to each. He knew the teepee he wanted was down at the end of the lane in the most prominent position. That would be the chief. Chief Red Hand was known to be agreeable, up to a point. Gabriel picked the Souix because they were civilized, by heathen standards. He also picked them because he spoke their language. He had grown up near a Souix camp and learned their language as a boy.
Red Hand stepped from his teepee and stood glaring. He looked fierce. Gabriel felt his first tendrils of doubt. The tug on the lead rope was reassuring. He came bearing a wealth of gifts.
He stopped, just a few feet from Red Hand, took a deep breath and stepped down from the saddle. He started talking, just before noon. He was still talking long after sunset.
It was just after the first of November when he started his many traplines in different areas nearby. At first the Indians had pulled several traps, some out of spite, and some because of curiosity. He let it slide. He was living on the good graces of the Souix and had to put up with their little quirks. The gifts had put him in good standing. But he was still an outsider. He worked hard and minded his own business. It seemed that beaver was a delicacy in the tribe. He happily gave up the bodies of the trapped animals, keeping only the furs. This act ingratiated him to them, and the first signs of real kindness began in the form of young women.
Unlike the Souix, who cooked and heated their teepee with an indoor fire, Gabriel preferred to cook outside. He sat his coffee pot on the flat rock, which he used for the purpose, and started biscuits cooking in a large collapsible tin oven. He cut bacon into an iron skillet and sat back, waiting. He heard a giggle and looked up. Two girls, sisters or friends, stood peeking at him from between two teepees. He smiled at them, then returned his attention to his food. In a moment their giggles again drew his attention back to the girls. The boldest waved, then jerked back out of sight. He ignored her, checking the thermometer on the front of his oven. Cooking in a campfire oven was a tricky thing, and took a lot of attention. It ran off the coals of a fire, never flames.
He shifted a few coals to keep the temperature even. When he looked up, they were gone. He felt a little jolt of disappointment. He missed female attention. Indian women could be some of the loveliest women on earth. Weather and mother nature tended to make an Indian woman old before her time, but the young women… well they were very appealing, especially to a lonely mountain man. And Gabriel was lonely.
Gabriel opened the small oven and sniffed the wonderful aroma of properly baked biscuits. He smiled as he carefully shifted the biscuits to a wooden tray. He stuck his fingers into his mouth to cool them, while looking for honey in his pack. He took out the large jar. It was crystallized, but he didn’t mind. It would melt on the hot biscuits. He spread it liberally, then heard a giggle at his elbow. It was the same two girls, of course, they had come around behind his teepee. He paused and held the biscuit up to the girls. The bold one came forward first, took the biscuit from his hand and sniffed it. Her eyes widened at the strange delicious scent. Indians didn’t bake with flour and leavening, their only bread was a tortilla like bread baked on a heated rock, made of nothing but ground corn. He could barely choak one down.
The girl licked the biscuit and moaned at the familiar taste of honey. She bit into the biscuit and made a little dance of pleasure as the delicious taste filled her mouth. She motioned for her friend to take one. Becoming bold, the second girl slid closer and extended her hand. Gabriel placed a honey covered biscuit in her slender little palm, allowing his hand to linger on her’s for a moment. She pulled her hand away in embarassment, then bit into the biscuit. Her moans of pleasure joined those of her friend.
Realizing that he had a thing going here, Gabriel quickly dumped out the last of his coffee and refilled the pot from his canteen. With the clear water heating quickly, he dug a tin of tea and two cups out of his pack. It took only minutes for the water to heat. He dropped tea leaves inside the pot and waited. In a few minutes he poured tea into both cups. He added a liberal swirl of honey to each. Looking up, he saw the girls watching in interest. He handed a cup to each girl.
The girls retired to his teepee to explore the magical contents of his packs. He allowed them, for a price. A tickle here, a touch there. In a moment he had his hand on the full of the bold girl, while she calmly emptied the contents of one of his packs. It was obvious to the other girl that they were both happy with this arrangement. She started to turn and leave, but Gabriel stopped her. He beckoned her closer and filled his other hand with her smooth thigh. She watched in amazement as the white man slid her skirt ever higher until her underskins were clearly visible. In a few minutes see too was panting in desire.
Gabriel soon realized that the bold girl was indifferent, but the quiet one was more than willing to lay with him. He dropped his hand from the other girl’s breast and laid the quiet one down on his sleeping furs. She watched his face expectantly, jerking her head with each move he made, to follow his movements. He was afraid that she would back out, but she didn’t.
Gabriel was shaking like a nervous bride. His hands had trouble opening the wooden toggles on her dress. He thumbed them open calmly, one at a time, looking at her face each time for traces of fear, or protest. She was as nervous as a gunshy doe, but she made no sounds one way or the other. A sudden realization occurred to Gabriel. He realized that she had chosen him to take her virginity. No matter how painful, or how nervous she might be, she intended to go through with it.
He stopped disrobing her and decided to take a new angle on the situation. Her should be memorable, pleasant if possible. She should be aware that at that point she was a woman, beautiful and desirable, not just a thing for sex.
“Come down to the river with me so we can bathe,” he whispered. Her eyes went to her friend, but the girl paid no attention. She was gazing at a striker box in wonder, trying to divine how it worked. She barely noticed when Gabriel and the girl left her alone. She stretched out on the now vacant sleeping furs and turned the flint this way and that. Finally she struck the flint against the corrugated metal ramp inside the box. The explosion of sparks delighted her. She started to turn and show her friend, and found she was alone. Oh well, there was a lot to explore.
They chose a bend in the river, far downstream where the river had thrown up yellow sand and a huge pile of driftwood. They both disrobed, embarrassed at their nakedness. As was customary for the time, Gabriel broke off two willow branches and handed one to the girl. He chewed the end of his branch and used it to clean his teeth. The bitter taste in his mouth was refreshing. Willow was good for cleaning teeth. It was also good for a headache. The girl cleaned her teeth, then tossed her branch into the swiftly running river. It immediately turned and spun until it disappeared from sight.
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