On The High Plainsbytechsan©
Author's note: the following story is purely a work of fiction and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental. The author wishes to express his gratitude to Copperbutterfly for her editing to make this a better story.
It had been a long, hot summer, one of many in a chain of such summers in the north Texas heat. The year 1857 had been pretty much just like 1856 and every other year along here: too much sun, not enough rain, and very few people.
It had been almost ... hm, seventeen months, I think ... since I had last seen people, on a week-long wagon trip to Fort Worth. Well, people that didn't have naturally red skin, that is. There were roving bands of Comanche that came through the area from time to time, sometimes giving my place a wide berth but keeping out a wary eye, sometimes coming close enough to kill one of my longhorn steers. When they killed a steer, I had to give them credit; they left nothing behind but a few blood spots on the ground and some bent grass where they had worked. They took everything. I'm not sure how they used some of the parts but they weren't left behind.
If there were women in the party, one or more of them would leave dragging a travois, a contraption made of two long poles lashed to a horse, held apart by another pole or two and connected by the hide strung between the poles. The majority of the dead animal was carried on its own hide on the travois. I knew the women of the band would spend the night making jerky out of most of the meat, although I wondered what they did with the head and entrails.
On very rare occasions, the band might be just a few warriors hunting for trouble. Usually when they went on the warpath, they were fighting their chief rivals, the Apaches, who normally lived in the region the Comanche considered to be the southern portion of their range. Thus when a war party came by my place, they weren't actually out to attack me ... but as long as I was there on their way, they might as well see if they could "count coup" on me too.
Counting coup was a strange practice to most whites. They were not necessarily trying to inflict harm on the person they counted coup on, but they were showing other members of their tribe just how brave a warrior they were by darting in to the opponent, whether it be a white man or a soldier of another Indian tribe, and touching that person, either with a hand or with a coup stick, and then darting away unharmed. Of course if the opponent reacted violently, as often happened, counting coup became a matter of life or death.
The problem most opponents had was not knowing whether the attack was simply counting coup or if the attacker actually meant to kill the opponent. Thus, discretion being the better part of valor, it was a natural practice to defend one's self with whatever weapons were available.
It had taken three separate and very bloody battles for the Indians to give my place a wide berth. It was fortunate that my weapons were more advanced than theirs. Although I had single-shot rifles just like theirs, mine were breech loaders, theirs the older muzzle loaders, at least those who had them. Many of the braves still used bows and arrows, although they were outstanding at their use. Still if they got close enough, my trio of Colt revolvers with six shots each could be an effective deterrent. I hadn't escaped without my share of wounds but I fared better than the several braves that went home draped over their horses' backs.
A couple of times, I'd had to make some major repairs to my dugout home. I'd gotten a great belly laugh, afterward, at the brave who thought he could ride his horse over the top of it, only to find that, when the horse stepped on the sod roof between the rafters, there was nothing to hold him up and he had come crashing through, hoofs flailing to gain purchase. The rider had scrambled to safety, although he took a bullet in one shoulder and had a lot of damage to his pride. Fortunately the horse finally managed to extricate himself but my roof had suffered major damage. But, with a sod roof and new rafters down at either the South Wichita or the North Wichita Rivers just waiting to be cut, it wasn't too difficult a job to patch and the only cost was my time.
Now, having finished shocking -- tying - the last of my winter wheat crop into tight little bundles for drying, I would have liked nothing better than to strip down and stand under my washtub shower and cool off, but with my meat supplies running low and needing to be built up before the winter set in -- yes, west Texas does have winters, with snow and ice and winds and miserable conditions. There's a saying that there is nothing between west Texas and the North Pole and snowfalls of 10 to 12 inches were not unusual. They weren't here yet but I had to be prepared when they came. So I left the confines of my humble barn and headed toward the South Wichita, hoping to find a white tail along the greenery that marked the river's path.
Usually the deer were plentiful in this part of the state. However with the lack of rain, they had become a little scarce and I hadn't spent much time hunting since I was working diligently to get my crops in for winter supplies. However it was always better to have some meat to supplement a vegetable diet. I could have had beef, of course, but I was still trying to build up my little herd, which right now numbered only 101 - unless some of the cows had dropped a calf in the last couple of days.
Once I reached the river, I turned west ... well, a little south by west, since the river meandered, but it was more west than anything. I picked up signs of deer feeding almost immediately and kept walking, being careful to keep from stepping on sticks that would break and give away my stalking, thus ending my hunt. I also had to be careful of rattlers. This area was a haven for the diamondback rattlesnake. An encounter with one of the highly poisonous creatures could lead to my death.
I was probably four or five miles downstream when I spotted something that seemed out of place. Most animal tracks were familiar to me but this was something different, a pair of parallel tracks that looked like something or someone had dragged something with a bit of heft to it into a pile of undergrowth. Cautiously I turned to the undergrowth and inched forward.
I was more than a little surprised, when I brushed some leaves away, to find a moccasin-covered foot. After more uncovering, I realized it was an Indian woman, a Comanche by the design of her dress. At first I thought she was dead but close examination showed that she was unconscious, breathing although her breath was ragged and shallow. Her heartbeat was rapid and quick. I carefully turned her over onto her back and found the remains of a broken Apache arrow in her left shoulder, an ugly wound. There was blood all down the front of her dress so I loosened the rawhide strings that tied it together and began searching. Nothing. I lifted the skirt and looked and there, between her waist and hip, was another hole, this from a rifle ball from the looks of it.
Not being a doctor, I didn't know if I could help this woman or not. Nevertheless, I would do what I could. Carefully I lifted her over my left shoulder, keeping my rifle on my right shoulder, and started the long trek home.
I knew I had to be jostling her with every step I took and if she had been conscious, she might not have been able to stand the trip. However if I was to be able to do anything for her, I had to get her into my dugout. It seemed to take forever and it was well after dark when I finally felt my way down the steps into the darkness of my home. I eased her down onto my rather crude mattress and lit an oil lantern.
There was no way to work her dress off without reopening her wounds. Besides the huge bloods stains had probably ruined it anyway so I cut it the rest of the way off, leaving her completely naked. Examining the arrow, I decided I had no choice but to just pull it back the way it had entered and hope that the head did not have barbs. Even with my pliers, it took most of my strength to pull it out, and even in her unconscious state, she groaned loudly at the pain. Sure enough she began to bleed, though not profusely, whether because she had already lost so much blood or because it was not badly reopened I didn't know.
I got a basin of warm water and some clean rags and began to clean the wound as gently as I could. Although I wasn't a doctor, I had years of experience with animals and had a few medicines for use with them. I hoped that there wasn't that much difference in caring for animals and humans. I sprinkled the wound with a powder I had used on my animals, bandaged it, and hoped for the best.
Turning to the lower wound, I found that the ball had gone all the way through her side and hoped that it had missed her vital organs. I washed the top side, powdered it, repeated the process on the back side, and then bandaged her by wrapping the rags all the way around her slim body.
She was covered from head to toe with mud and dirt and leaves, so I began to clean her up. It had been so long since I had even been close to a woman, let alone a naked one, that I couldn't keep myself under control. Her skin, except for the wounds, was beautiful and smooth. She had the smell of the woods about her but there was also a soft, sweet underlying fragrance of a woman who cared for her body.
Although her face was scrunched up a little in acknowledgement of pain, there was an innate beauty about her. Her long black hair was so tangled and matted that it did not add to her attractiveness but I could imagine that it would when it was cared for properly. Her breasts were large and full and even lying on her back, they stood tall and proud, possibly indicating something about her young womanhood. The dark brown nipples lay in an oval sea of crimson, the areolas that I yearned to touch. However, except for running the warm cloth over them as I washed her all over, I refrained from indulging my desires.
Skipping over the bandage, I moved down to her feet, removing her beaded moccasins for the first time. Her feet seemed tiny to me, at least compared to my big boots. As I washed between and beneath each toe, I thought I heard her moan but the sound didn't repeat so I resumed washing. Her calves were shapely, the muscles covered with smooth round flesh indicating that she was active and strong. Her thighs were equally strong, yet the flesh was smooth and soft, particularly the inside. I have to admit to staring at her treasure slot, covered with a wild thatch of curly black hair. I had a throbbing hard-on before I moved back up beside her, kneeling as I faced her side.
Carefully I rolled her toward me and washed her backside, from her neck down to her softly pliable buttocks. Once again, I was unable to control my penis as it tented the front of my pants. I tried to ignore it, as I laid her on her back again. I pulled a fresh sheet out of my simple collection and gently covered her from armpits to toes, adding a blanket to held ward off shock.
Using a spoon and mug of fresh water, I managed to get a few drops of liquid into her mouth; just enough to wet the tissues of what I figured must be a very dry mouth. I prepared a little broth from water and some jerked venison. Although it took a while for the boiling water to soften and dissolve some of the meat into a sort of thin gravy, I hoped it would provide a little nutrition for her. Again using a spoon, I got a few drops into her mouth and felt better when I saw her throat move in a swallowing motion. We repeated the process a few times, enough I hoped that she would gain something from it.
For the next 72 hours, the only time I was not by her bedside was when I went to make sure the horses had water or I went out to relieve myself. Every so often, I got her to take a little bit of water or a little of the broth. I changed her bandages twice, adding more powder each time. I also bathed her twice more, then made an attempt to brush her long black hair. It was a miserable attempt since I couldn't lift her head but at least it helped a little.
On the morning of the fourth day after I found her, I awoke from napping in the chair by the bed to see her dark eyes open and staring at me. There was no expression on her face. I jumped up and sat on the edge of the bed, putting her hand in mine.
"Wow!" I said. "You don't know how good it is to see you awake. Do you want anything? Something to drink? Are you hungry? How do you feel?"
She just stared. Nothing moved except her eyelids, as she blinked occasionally. Only then did it occur to me that she surely didn't speak English. She had no idea what I was saying. How do you communicate with someone who doesn't understand?
I got up and got the mug, pouring fresh water into it. Coming back to the bed, I knelt beside her and lifted her with one arm behind her shoulders. At first she looked frightened but when I brought the mug to her lips and she tasted the water, she drank thirstily.
Finally drawing the mug back, I pointed to it and said, "Water."
I had to repeat it a couple more times before she softly said, "Wata."
I grinned and nodded, letting her back down to the bed. I put the mug down and held my hand up, signaling for her to stay. I stepped over to the kitchen area and dipped a ladle into the fresh broth that was simmering over the fireplace, pouring it into another mug.
Bringing it to the bed, I lifted her again and let her see the steam from the mug so she would know it was hot. She brought her good hand up to the mug and carefully lifted it to her lips. She took a tentative sip, nodded her approval and began, devouring the broth sip by sip. By the time the half full mug was empty, she was exhausted. I eased her back to the bed and pulled the sheet back up under her arms. She was asleep in seconds.
After that, she awoke every few hours and I fed her, gave her water, and changed her sheets. Every day, I changed her bandages and washed her from head to toe, although she watched me suspiciously as I washed her breasts or between her legs. On the third day, she was able to sit in the bed long enough for me to sit behind her and brush her long hair out, finally pulling out the tangles and leaves and dirt that had accumulated during her ordeal. After I finished, she gave me the strangest look. I wasn't sure if she approved or not.
Even though she didn't seem to have any real inhibitions when I was washing her body, she still surprised me on the third day after she woke up. I was washing her, having started at her top and come to her waist, then moved to her feet and up her legs. I thought I was finished and was about to get up when she spread her legs and motioned toward her core, then to the wash basin. I finally understood that I had not done a good enough job. While she held herself open with the fingers of her good hand, I washed among the folds of her pussy and, almost as an afterthought, spread her buttocks and washed her anus with slow, gentle swipes of the warm wet cloth. She sighed and nodded her appreciation but didn't say a word.
After I had put the things away and covered her back up, I sat on the edge of the bed and pointed to myself, saying, "Jason," repeatedly.
She finally said, "Jase," very softly and I nodded. That was close enough.
I pointed to her and made a questioning gesture with my hands. At first she didn't understand, but I repeated my name and then the gesture at her.
She said something that sounded like, "Moxa," except it was much longer.
When I frowned, she repeated it several times and I tried to say it but about all I could get out was, "Moxie."
She sort of giggled and made a nod of acceptance so we became Jase and Moxie.
By the fourth day, her wounds seemed to be healing well enough to leave the bandages off, although I knew she needed to take it easy for quite a while yet. Still that evening when I offered her some of the last of my venison along with baked potatoes from my root cellar, she scarfed them up like she was starved, although she was a bit puzzled at first with the potato. But once she tried it with some butter -- yes, you can make butter from the milk of longhorn cows, in case you wondered - she seemed to like it.
In the following days, I brought the sheaves of wheat into the barn, preparatory to threshing it, and spent some time at the river hunting deer. On three consecutive evenings, I was successful in bringing back a nice sized buck. By then, Moxie was even feeling well enough that she helped me dress them and hang them in my smokehouse, where the meat would be cured enough to last through the winter ... what we didn't eat first.
Our communication was slow at best and often ended in frustration on the part of one or both of us. Even trying to develop our own sign language was difficult; how do you make logical signs for some of the actions that we do? I tried to ask her about the band of Comanche that she was from but she didn't seem to understand. I knew the Comanche was a nomadic tribe and wandered by bands all over the south plains area so at any given time they could be located anywhere in the wide open spaces of the Llano Estacado of Texas and points both north and west. I wondered about returning her to her tribe but finding them was like looking for a needle in a huge haystack. She might not even be welcomed back if we found them, since she had been doctored by a white-eyes.
By the time she had been in my home for two weeks, she was up and around most of every day, doing pretty much whatever she felt like. For clothes, she dressed in one of my old shirts and pair of trousers, although she looked rather funny since they were much too big for her. When I went to the barn to care for the horses, she trailed along behind me and tossed hay down to them or brought water. Whatever I did, she mimicked. Occasionally she cooked but some of my food was so foreign to her that she didn't know what to do. I showed her and she learned eagerly.
It was amazing how well we got along with practically no words spoken between us. In the evenings when it was too dark to work outside, she tanned the hides of the deer I had killed and made herself a new dress, although it didn't have the extensive bead work that her original had. Instead she mixed minerals and water to make a sort of paint that she used to carefully decorate the buckskin. She soon had new moccasins ... and then made a beautiful pair for my big feet.
I had been sleeping on the floor, on a pallet beside the bed. One night I picked up the blankets to make my pallet and Moxie grabbed them, vigorously shaking her head as she pointed from me to the bed. I finally understood that she wanted me to return to my bed so, somewhat hesitantly, I climbed into the bed where she had been sleeping, wondering what she planned to do.
I was surprised when she climbed into the bed, laying across the foot, and pulled my feet to her stomach. I was even more surprised when she began massaging my feet. I moaned with pleasure. We were both asleep a short time later, but not without me having some very erotic thoughts.
The next few nights were carbon copies of that one. Then one night, after giving me her magnificent foot massage, Moxie moved one of my feet down to her crotch and pressed it into her crease. A man can only take so much, right?
I reached for her and pulled her up in the bed with me. It seemed like she came willingly, although it was too dark to really see her expression -- if there was one. Still when I began to kiss all over her face while my hand stroked her breasts, she didn't seem to mind. Nor did she object when I bent down to suck one of her magnificent tits, her nipple hard yet soft. At the same time, my hand drifted down between her legs and found her crease damp with her moisture.