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When Wildcat saw Mourning Dove for the first time, he knew she was the woman he wanted as his wife. The fact that she had a son and a daughter were only an added bonus, as Wildcat had always adored children.
Mourning Dove did not think her past would allow someone like Wildcat to love her. Her rejection only sent him to the village that banished her seven winters earlier in search of the truth.
Within the village of Mourning Dove’s birth, Wildcat suffers a life threatening injury as he searches for the reason for her rejection. Even though Mourning Dove knows she is putting her own life in jeopardy, she rushes to Wildcat’s side to nurse him back to health. As she does, she is forced to reveal the truth about her first husband’s banishment. In doing so, she changes the entire make up of the village of her birth.
Wildcat squirmed against the bindings that secured his wrists. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the lodge, he saw that his brother Wading Bird, his sister’s husband, Proud Elk, and his friend, Spotted Pony, were with him.
“What do you think they will do to us?” Wildcat asked.
“Do not fool yourself, brother,” Wading Bird replied. “Before the sun sets this day we will all walk with the ances-tors. We were fools to listen to Buffalo Calf. His loyalty to Hawk will serve no purpose but to cost us our lives.”
Wildcat could hear the anger that tinged his brother’s words and tended to agree with him. Before they left the vil-lage, Buffalo Calf had filled their heads with thoughts of vic-tory. They would travel the distance between Hawk’s village and this one, take the Spirit Woman while she slept and return as heroes.
As young men, their heads were filled with such lofty goals, and they had not asked Serpent’s Wing to bless their mission. If they had, none of this would have happened. The gods would have looked upon them kindly and protected them from the evil that could, at any moment, befall them.
A commotion from outside the lodge caused Wildcat to turn his attention to the door flap. As soon as he did, the early morning light that streamed into the lodge broke the darkness. With it, he easily recognized Snapping Turtle and Buffalo Calf as they too were pushed in to their prison.
“I do not think our lives are in immediate danger,” Buffalo Calf said.
Wildcat knew he was trying to put them at ease. They had known of the danger when they left on this trek. Nothing Buffalo Calf could say at this point could calm the fears that plagued each of them.
“Have any of you been harmed?” Buffalo Calf asked.
“Someone punched me in the jaw,” Proud Elk, declared. “Had I been in his place, I might have done the same thing, if for no other reason than fear of the threat that intruders in our village could mean.”
The others agreed, but their words did nothing to ease Wildcat’s fear over his destiny. If he were to die, he would never have the chance to court one of the maidens in the vil-lage. He certainly would not know the joy of fathering chil-dren, or earning his first eagle feather.
From deep within his belly, Wildcat could hear a grum-bling not unlike that of a bear awakened from his long winter sleep. The sound of it reminded him that he had eaten nothing other than jerky to ease his hunger, since leaving the village before the sun crested the eastern horizon the day before.
They had traveled through the forest until Buffalo Calf as-sured them they were close to the village of the Spirit Woman. Only then had they made a cold camp and rested be-fore going on under the cover of night’s darkness. For Wild-cat, the lack of food was almost more than he could stand. He always ate with great enthusiasm and his heavy frame attested to his appetite for good food.
They continued their discussion, each blaming the other for being foolish enough to accept Buffalo Calf’s suggestion without question, until someone else entered the lodge. Wild-cat looked up at the man who stood before them. In the dim light, the man’s fierce expression was enough to cause Wildcat to tremble. His stomach threatened to rebel, but he forced down the bile, as well as the fear that accompanied it. In the eyes of his friends he had always been the one to make them laugh. In this instance, there was nothing to laugh about. Here he had to be brave. This was the man who had questioned them earlier and brought fear to each of them with his tone and manner.
“I am Atiko, second son of the great shaman Clankor. Since I have questioned each of you separately and heard the same story from all of you, I must believe you.”
Wildcat knew his sigh of relief was an audible expression of what each of his companions were thinking.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 256
Paper Weight (lb): 11.0
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