Posted by Barbanne on July 15, 2003 at 00:51:58:
We proceded up the river, through the rolling, beautiful prairie land of the great plains. Buffalo were our constant companions and the land was so perfect it humbled my mean and ugly spirit. I watched mists drift across the river and curl into the plains before the sun burnt them off. I viewed sunsets when the whole western horizon blazed in a kalaidescope of colours, red, orange, yellow before drifting into the mauves of twilight. It was like a living dream. I watched a bright yellow moon float in a blue black sky over a darkened landscape and the sudden surprise as an occasional burst of late sunset would illuminate a ridge or a clump of trees.
I thought of those I had killed in my greed and hatefulness. My spirit bowed under a huge weight of guilt and self hatred and I knew, with an absolute certitude, that I must submit to punishment for my crimes. My melancholia was apparent to my companions, my beautiful husband and my loving friend Therese. They asked me about it at first, I couldn't answer. Then, whenever the black moods would overtake me, they would look at me aware that something from my past was eating away my soul. Such compassion and love shone from their eyes at these times that it drove me deeper and deeper into despair. I stopped eating properly and began to lose weight in my misery. The blackness of my self loathing became my constant companion.
The weather had become cold and the first hints of a fast approaching winter were to be found every day now. Dave and the others talked of finding wintering quarters. Somewhere where they could establish a land base to sit out the snows. Every day they talked about an area on a bend in the river where it turned towards Canada. It was known to them and if they could reach this spot before the onset of winter proper they would have an ideal spot from which to strike out again once spring came.
Then, one morning, about mid morning as we poled steadily forward, we looked up to see a dozen or so mounted warriors. They were red skinned guys and were naked from the waist up. They had feathers stuck in their hair which was long and black and which they wore in braids which hung down over their shoulders. They all seemed to be men. They had buckskin trousers and moccassins on their feet. They were carrying lances and bows and arrows. They paralleled us on the shore as we moved up stream.
Suddenly Dave gave a shout and I looked up from where I had been watching our visitors to see the water ahead foaming and swirling as the stream coming towards us hit submerged rocks in the river bed. The redskins rode ahead to this area and came down into the stream. They sure looked hostile. The boat hit the first of the white water and yawed and swung in the turbulence. The pole guys tried to keep her straight and Dave was struggling with the big steering sweep. I was gawping at the indians and didn't notice that the spar of our big lateen sail was swinging loose. Not that is until it clobbered me in the back of the neck and I shot forward, lost my footing and tumbled over the side.
Water! I hate water.
Also I was stunned and soon started drowning again. The current threw me this way and that and I could do nothing to help myself. I collided with a rock and it pounded my breath out. I fell back into the water and eddies swept me into the shallows. The redskins rode their horses to where I was. I looked up at them. They looked fierce! I scrambled and scrabbled across the rocky bottom and reached shore and started to run. They wheeled their horses and cut off my every move. I darted this way, then that, searching for an opening, an escape route, always a horse with a savage atop it would be there first. Then one of them rode straight at me and struck me with something, his lance I think, and I felt sure he'd broken my arm. Clutching my arm across my chest with my other hand, trying to ignore the awful pain, I ran for open space but could hear hooves thundering behind me. I ran as fast as I could but remembered thinking, I can't outrun a horse, then something awful hard crashed into the back of my skull and I cartwheeled over and onto the prairie grass, KO'd and out to it.
I became aware that my head was hanging down flopping around as whatever I was on moved back and forth and side to side. My head hurt. Each jolting movement causing an explosion of pain and nauseating agony. I vomited out the contents of my stomach. My arm hurt like shit too, but nothing compared to my head. I opened my eyes. They felt gummy, stuck together, eyelids glued shut. I could see my arms dangling down and below that the ground going past quick and spinning in a blur. One arm was bloody and bruised and very painful. I puked again. Dry reaching this time. I was hanging across the back of a horse ridden by a redskin and I was in bad shape. One or all of us stank to high heaven. The horse ponged horsey and I smelt sweaty and scared, but the redskin seemed to be covered in grease and he was the one doing the main stinking. I looked at the ground flying past and dry heaved some more. This must have alerted my captor to the fact that his captive was awake. He reined in his horse and grabbing a handful of my waist length hair jerked my head up. Pain ripped through my skull and I think I passed out again. Only for a second as that's all it took for me to land bum first on the ground. I cracked the base of my spine on the hard earth and a new wave of pain shot through me. The redman sat on his horse looking down at me. He had painted stripes on his face and long black hair with feathers in it and cicatrices across his chest. An armband encircled one powerful biceps. He made motions at me from which I deduced he wanted me to mount the horse in front of him. I got slowly up and grabbed the horse's mane and tried to scramble up. The redman was riding bare back. I was making heavy weather of mounting, when he again grabbed my hair and using that as a grip hauled me up and onto his horse. My head screamed with pain once more. He settled me in front of him and grabbed the reins attached to the crude bridle, enclosing my body with his arms as he did, and away we went.
He quickly caught the others and we travelled in a group for a half hour or more. His fellow warriors looked at me constantly and I could detect nothing friendly in their attitude. We galloped into a grove of birch trees and there was the camp of the redskins. About a dozen skin covered tepees made a circle around a campfire. Support sticks poking through a hole in the tops of the skins bristled like spines from these conical shaped tents of the indians. More redmen and some women waited for us and my captor reined in his horse before an important looking trio. He jumped down and dragged me down too. By now he seemed to think my hair was for dragging me around by. Or for lifting me or whatever else he wanted to do with me. He dragged me by that hair over to where the other older guys were. He pushed me to my knees and pulling my hair straight up above my head brandished a bloody great knife from somewhere and made slashing motions across my scalp.
Oh shit he was going to scalp me!
I felt faint and my eyes started rolling back.
One of the elders grabbed his knife hand and then made a dismissive gesture and my friend let me go. This older guy then waved two other braves forward and they took me by an arm each and dragged me to a tepee. They shoved me through the door flap and I landed on my knees once more, this time in front of three women.
One said, "Mmmnnnn." and threw her head back. Then another said what sounded like "Sakagawa!" and they all three pounced on me and bore me to a pile of stinking hides at the back of the tent and threw me down onto them. Then they fell on me again and in a trice stripped me naked.
They stood over my cringing, naked body and looked down at me.
One smiled and I noticed she was missing her front teeth. The others made excited gestures and pointed at my painfully thin, very white body. Then they chattered in bird like tones before laughing at what, in their opinion I presumed, was a pretty poor example of a squaw. They squatted next to me and one pointed at my freckles and then the others started laughing and touching me. They held my breasts and fingered my pointy nipples and pointed at my freckles over and over. Then one, the youngest, she would have been maybe thirty, although it was hard to tell as they all looked older than they were, started combing her fingers through my somewhat bushy pubes. This was too much. "Hey you lot. Quit it! What's the matter don't you got pubics and nipples?"
They looked surprised and then started the bird like chatter again.
"Just leave me alone. I don't want to be fingered all over by you lot."
Toothless looked surprised at my outburst.
"That's better. Shit!"
Then suddenly WHACK! Toothless belted me so hard I spun sideways.
"OOOOOOOOOH!" I groaned real loud.
"Look I'm sorry."
"Its just you were treating me like I'm not here."
Whack! Not nearly so hard this time.
I shut up and stared sullenly at them. They took a painted pot and each scooped out a handful of animal grease and they set to coating my body in this odouriferous stuff. Everyone of the redskins seemed to be coated in this stuff and soon I was too. I stank so much I wanted to be a long way from myself. When they'd finished scraping this gunk all over me they indicated I could put my clothes on again. I did and then they led me to an identical tepee next door, except this one wasn't occupied. I sat down and they left.
In a little while the flap opened and a huge brave came in. He smiled at me and then made hand signs, first pointing at me, then at himself, then grinning. I got it. I was his. I sort of smiled and wished I was somewhere else and he gave me a lesson in getting stripped to break the world record. He looked at my greasy, white, skinny, body and smiled again and then he dropped his breech clout and my breath was taken away by the sight of the biggest male erection I'd ever seen. He pushed me down onto the rugs and rammed it into me. He jerked to the fastest climax I'd ever known (for him) and then seemingly tireless kept at it far into the night.
Eventually he finished and snored off. I lay there naked, sore head, sore pussy and very sore arm. I felt wretched and my despair plumbed new depths. I started to cry and it turned into racking sobs and I howled, flooding the bed with tears for what seemed like hours. Throughout it all my new man slept like a baby.
After a few wretched hours broken sleep, I was woken at some unearthly hour the next morning by the other women. The one's who had bear greased me. We had no language, but by signs and stuff I understood that I was to help them make breakfast for the men of the tribe and mine in particular. I tried to get from the other ladies what he was called, but our communications were ratshit and I had no idea what we discussed and I don't think they understood a word I signed or mimed. We got a pot going and a heap of stuff went into it. Vegetable roots, rabbit, more grease, all boiling away together. I almost puked at the smell of our cooking efforts. When it was ready I had to take a bowl of it to my man who was waiting in our tepee dressed to the nines in war paint and feathers and other redskin finery. I suppose like a good little wife I should ask him what he had in mind for the day, but I could get nowhere, conversation wise, with him either. He gutsed down the food while I sat patiently at his feet as I had seen the others do. When he was finished he burped loudly, stood up, farted, belched again and belted me one. I don't know if he rightly guessed the foul food was rotten or just felt the little woman needed a good bashing. The latter I think, because he didn't stop at one, but bashed me about a bit and then left to join his mates, the other braves. They mounted up and galloped off.
I rejoined the ladies and we ate. I managed a sort of vegetable soup from the pot and had to sit stoically while they showed me fatty meat gobbets they were downing and laughed at my pathetic tucker. They also made a great show of inspecting my newest bruises and laughed uproariously and I got the feeling they thought I warranted at least that much of a bashing and probably a good deal more.
No sisterhood here and definitely no sympathy.
After that was over we washed and dried the bowls and pots and they led me back to the tent in which I had first encountered them. I was wearing the pants and shirt I had had on when I fell overboard. These they got off me and then they outfitted me with a sort of short dress of soft hide with fringes at hem and sides. A sort of a shift, it had no sleeves and my bare arms emerged from holes at the shoulders.They also gave me some soft buckskin calf length boots. The dress reached my mid thigh and I had no panties or anything else in the way of undies for that matter, so would have to refrain from doing somersaults or even bending over too quickly.
We spent the morning digging vegetable roots and skinning and quartering more jack rabbits. The boys seemed to have gone for the day and so only we women were in camp for a boring lunch and then we all had a nice lie down. I obviously didn't understand the need for beauty sleep (I looked like a second hand punching bag) and was wandering around when toothless came and got me and, rather tenderly, led me over so I could lie with my new found sisters while we all slept. Well, they did. The snuffling, turning, farting and groaning kept me awake.
About three in the afternoon they all arose and we started in again getting the evening meal, (something of a re-run of breakfast) ready. That was bubbling along nicely when about sundown the warriors came home. They must have been out fighting with some other tribe because they looked battered and a bit dispirited. I figured it hadn't gone well and mentally prepared myself to get another hiding. As they rode into the circle made by the tepees I looked for my man. I didn't see him. At last, bringing up the rear came two horses whose warriors were riding them astride, that is they were bent astride over the horse, dead as mutton. My champion was one of these. He had a sort of split in his head where some brave from the other side had parted his hair and his skull with his tomahawk. They hauled him off his horse and the women started a great lamentation. The gal who had belonged to the other dead dude was put in the centre of the circle of mourners along with me and, taking my cue from her, we started in to outdo everyone else with howling and grief stricken stuff. I have to tell you I wasn't all that heart broken but I guessed that I was meant to show enormous grief for my partner of a few hours.
Well, the lamenting went on for an hour and then they broke for supper. Afterwards they started in again and after a while the other widow was set upon by two women who sliced cuts across her face to show she had lost her man. She bore it stoically but I thought it looked shithouse and just knew who was next. Now, I don't pretend to begin to know what the customs of these guys were, but just when I thought I was going to be scarred for life to satisfy these characters, another brave, a big, hard man with soft, gentle, brown eyes came over and took my hand and led me out of the circle. I reckoned I must have been claimed and, whatever it was, after that no-one seemed to make any more fuss about cutting me up.
I had indeed been claimed and went to live in the tepee of Wa-cha-ka-wa, that sounded like his name. He called me Chu-ku-la or something and I was his third gal. The other two were way prettier than me in that dark, indian way, but, thank heaven, he had taken a fancy to the little white one. That night he claimed his new bride on the hides and he was a heck of a lot more loving than the other un-named dude who lay dead outside.
I lived as Wa-cha-ka-wa's number three girl for a few months and soon winter gripped the land hard. When it started snowing we went nowhere and us ladies would spend all day digging for what veggies we could find and gathering fire wood to keep the heating fires going, as well as doing our normal domestic duties. It soon became a long and hard day's work. At night Wa-cha, as I called him, would keep us ladies amused and fairly content and in a short time I found that the other two gals, Sa-ga-wa and Kee-wa, came to share with me as much as our limited means of communication allowed. To my surprise I found that Wa-cha-ka-wa liked to bed all three of his women at once and the other two showed great pleasure and inventiveness at this. I sure didn't mind and so it wasn't all hard going.
Spring came and the land thawed and the braves started going out on sorties of one kind or another. Our womanly chores returned to bearable and we even had time for fun when the guys were away. In this way I came to be bathing in the stream which skirted the camp one lovely sunny spring afternoon. All of us ladies were nudie and splishy splashing in the shallows when wwwhaaaaang and Kee-wa's got a huge feathered arrow sticking out of her bare breast. Well whooping and hollering over the rise comes a bunch of redskins who were definitely hostiles. These are not our people. Twaaaaaaang! their bows are going and whaaaang the arrows are hitting home and my fellow squaws are biting the dust all around me. I scampered for the woods waiting for my backbone to play host to an arrow, but no, I made it and scrambled into a thicket of scrubby bushes and lay still and tried to play quiet mousey.
After a bit I risked a peek. I could see the injuns down at the stream and they seemed to have killed all but a couple of the gals. While I was watching they sliced the throats of these two and there was dead girls everywhere. They went around pulling their arrows out of quivering and jerking bodies and if any of them jerked too long, they cut her and she'd lie still like the rest. All of the women had been bathing like me so they were all naked and now these savages fell on the corpses and I could see most of them had erections and they used the women again and again. When they were finished that, they dragged first one and then another and another and started piling up dead female carcasses until all twenty or so women I'd been with lay in a big heap, all naked and bloody and with arms and legs dangling out and breasts here and bottoms there, all dead as dead can be. Their poor dead faces staring out at me sort of accusingly, hair hanging down and mouths wide open and eyes all bugged out and gazing into nothing. The hostiles went away and after a while I snuck out of my hidey hole and had a quick check to see they were all dead. They were and I found my dress and boots and put them on and decided then and there I was off.
One last look at that pile of dead women and I headed towards where I hoped the Missouri lay. Dave, I thought, I'm coming home.
I walked off into the unknown without a lot of thought. I reckon its because I'm a city born, and mostly bred, girl. Not much experience of the country. I had no idea whether I was going the right way, no idea how far I was going, didn't really think that I'd probably cross paths with as many injuns as I was leaving behind. Didn't think how or what I would get for food and water. Just blind optimism and sheer bloody stupidity. I walked for a couple of days and it all looked the same. I reckon them injuns of mine didn't come looking for me 'cause when they saw all them dead girls piled up they'd think I was dead somewhere and they hadn't found me, or I was carted away by the boys who did the killing and was dead now anyway.
I ate root vegetables that I'd learnt to find and there was heaps of water and streams. I even figured out that if I found a stream going my way it probably ended up in the big river anyway. By the fourth day however, I had to admit I wasn't doing so good. The food was boring and too much the same and my feet were blistered and my body was sore and tired.
By the end of the week I had to confess I was beginning to feel pretty uncomfortable about my chances. I was rail thin and worn ragged and malnourished and weather beaten and fatigued something cruel.
By the end of the second week I knew I was going to die. I was staggering along, going in circles half the time I feared, suffering recurrent deliriums, and slipping in and out of conscious awareness. I'd nearly been killed by a buffalo herd I had walked into before I even realised they were there, and a couple of dogs, wolves I think, were eyeing me off from a hundred metres or so. I had seen redskins on the horizon at times and had hastily hidden myself for fear of returning to their clutches. My buckskin dress was proving inadequate cover and I got freezing cold at nights. My boots were worn and my toes were peeking out here and there and I had noticed at nights when I stopped that my feet were often bleeding. My period had come on, which didn't help, and was as bad as I could recall and it didn't seem to want to stop. I was losing blood, constantly in a mess and feeling weak and crook and irritable and miserable and didn't really want to go on living. I couldn't make fire at night, no matches and no clues how to light fire without them.
I knew I would die out here and wished I could hasten the inevitable. But the land was unhelpful. Not a decent tree to hang myself from and no cliffs worth mentioning to throw myself from.
In a dazed, feverish, incoherent state, I breasted the umpteenth rise and there was the river. Big, broad, shining in the late afternoon sun. And there was a boat! And an encampment and smoke from fires and people. I waved and sang out, but it was just croaking and I started to run. My eyesight wasn't crash hot and I couldn't be sure but I thought I saw people looking at me and then I was sure they were waving and I ran and ran and then just sort of slumped down on the ground and knew no more.
I had fever, well feverish turns and don't remember much, except dreaming of beautiful things and glorious countryside and people who would love me and take care of me. God I wanted someone to take care of me. It was all I could dream of. I was sick and tired of doing it myself. I was sick of denying my need for others. I wanted someone to love me, care for me and let me SHARE with them.
I woke up five days later and there were Dave and Therese and the other guys and Therese was holding me and spooning soupy gruel into me and they were all smiling and I had found them by some miracle, forty kilometres from where I left them. They'd wintered on the river and never given up hope of finding me and then they'd finally decided they had to leave. Just when their optimism had finally gone, over the ridge came the scarecrow indian lady and collapsed right there amongst them.
I grasped Therese's hand and I grasped Dave's hand and I hung on tight and squeezed their hands and soup dribbled down my chin and I looked at them and felt fat tears rolling down my cheeks and I said. "Help me. Please help me."
They squeezed back.
I was saved.