an Indian girl resuces a Texas Ranger
|She walked amongst the men of the tribe talking and laughing as he watched from his prison. She shot him a smile as they moved closer to where he was bound. She stopped in front of him and pointed, the other braves erupted in laughter. He had no idea what she was saying to them, but it made his head throb even more. This woman was driving him mad, he still tasted her on his lips and the warmth of her body against him as he slept. He closed his eyes and hoped she would shoot him through the head to make the pain stop.
"I want the white-eye." she asked the chief calmly.
"You want the white man?" he repeated.
"I want to use him for target practice." she joked.
They all laughed again.
"Fast Horse brought him in, you would have to challenge him to a horse race, One with Blue Eyes."
"Then I challenge Fast Horse to a race, for the prize of the white-eye." she said aloud hoping he would hear her.
Landen hung his head. The binds were tight and his body ached. The bullet in his leg was burning, the pain creating a fog in his head. He shook his head when he smelled her. Jasmine.
He opened his eyes, shew as cutting the binds that held his wrists. "Can you walk?" she whispered only inches from his ear.
He only nodded and started on the knots at his chest as she cut the ropes on his ankles.
She helped him to his feet, he was leaning on her heavily. She was careful not to get any of his blood on her clothes. She whistled and her horse appeared from the darkness.
"Lightning will take you to safety." she whispered helping the ranger atop the black stallion. She whispered something into the horses ear. He stomped twice and ran into the night.
Mariah made her way back to the bedroll by the fire. She lay awake hoping the Landen would make it back to town alive.
Mariah awoke to the sun. A few of the village children had gathered above her, staring and whispering. She rose and shooed them away. Mariah made her way to the river and washed her face.
Mariah turned abruptly to face her friend, Stands Tall.
"Your white-eye is gone." he said.
"Did you kill him?" she asked tucking her hair under her hat.
"No." he laughed. "We have sent some men to find him, he is lame, he will not go far."
"Good." she looked into the rising sun. "I must move on now."
"No." be said stepping towards her. His six foot tall frame towered her her small stature. "You will stay with my people."
"I cannot stay in one place too long." she started walking back to the village. "We've spoke of this many times, Stands Tall."
"Be my wife. Have my babies." he said touching her arm.
"Dear friend, our babies would be of mixed blood. They wouldn't belong in this world."
He nodded, knowing the one he loved. They made it back to the camp and Mariah rolled her bedroll as he watched and walked over to the horse corral. She whistled.
"My horse is gone." she turned to him.
He looked around and turned and shrugged. "The white eye is a horse theif."
"Lightning." smiled the children filling the small porch of the old house. The horse was standing on the porch nuding the front door.
"Children." said the old woman. "Children, quickly. Fetch the Mr. Daniels." she grabbed his reins and led him into the alley.
She noticed a man draped over the horse. She stopped him and patted his nose. "Good work Lightning." She had two of the older boys help her with the man atop the horse and they took him into the living room of the house. Mrs. Gatlin saw the blood and started to undress the man, she found a white piece of paper in his shirt pocket. She read it aloud. "Please take care of this Ranger, I'll be back as soon as I can. Mariah."
Mrs. Gatlin smiled to herself. Mariah was always bringing in strays.
She sent one of the boys for the young doctor and he arrived an hour later. "What have you got?"
"I think he's got a slug in his leg doc." she said calmly. "It's bleeding awful."
"Let's get to work." he rolled up his sleeves.
Mariah rode into town and stopped at the livery and made sure Lightning was okay. She gave him an apple she had in her pocket and thanked him. He whinned and stomped ready for the next adventure. Mariah slipped across the alley to the orphanage.
"Mariah." smiled the widow. "I had a feeling you would be near."
"Is he alive?" she whispered.
"He's resting upstairs." she whispered stirring the pot of stew.
She pulled off her muddy boots and dropped her jacket on the kitchen chair. She went up the steps and the children led her to him, he was laying in one of the beds pushed up against the bare wall. The shadows surrounded him as he slept.
Mariah lit the lamp and pulled a chair towards the bed. One of the little girls followed her. "He's been talking while he sleeps." she whispered. "Mrs. Gatlin says he's real sick, we should leave him alone."
"She's right Jenny." smiled Mariah. "He's been in an accident, and he needs to sleep now, so his body can heal."
"Oh." she said. "I have to go now."
The little girl slipped from the room. Mariah noticed Landen was bare chested, his tanned skin and muscles took her breath away. She'd grown up with bare chested Indians, but this man was different. She lay her hand over his heart and brushed his sandy hair from his face. He moaned and opened his eyes. Two deep emerald green eyes stared up at her. She moved to the side of the bed and watched.
"Rest now, you are safe." she whispered.
His hands moved to her waist. She shivered. He pulled her to him and kissed her, taking his time tasting her. She let him.
"I must be dreaming." he said slowly.
Mariah sat up touching his lips. "Maybe."
"You are a dream." he said as he closed his eyes. She held his hand as he fell alseep.
She pulled the blanket over him and dimmed the light. "Sleep now Ranger, there is a lot you don't know."
Mrs. Gatlin had a plate waiting for her. She sat in the kitchen chair and started in on the food.
"Tell me about your man." smiled the widow.
"I don't have a man." she said as she took a bite of the biscuit.
"Who exactly is our guest then."
Mariah took a long gulp of milk. "A man I decided to help out."
"You know we're all in a lot of danger now?"
"I'll move him in a few days." she said cleaning her plate. She stood and put her plate in the sink. "I'll watch over all of your children, I figured this was the safest place for him."
"How much do you know about him?" asked the widow pouring herself a cup of coffee. She took a seat at the table.
"I know he's a Texas Ranger who was captured by Fast Horse. I know he's injured and in need of care." she sighed. "And I can't seem to get him out of my head. I dream of him, I think about him."
The widow laughed. "That is only one thing child."
"Love. You are in love with this stranger Mariah."
One of the children interupted the conversation. "It's the man. He's thrashing around and bleeding all over the sheets."
"It's okay Matty." said the widow. "Would you fetch the doctor?"
He nodded and ran out the door.
They sat by his side. Mrs. Gatlin had her hand on his sweaty forehead. "Fever."
Mariah sent for the girls to bring cold water and rags. She helped the widow unwrap the bandage on his leg which had been bleeding. THe doctor arrived giving them some medicine for the fever, and left shaking his head.
"I'll sit up with him tonight." smiled Mariah. "You can have the morning shift."
The widow nodded, thankful because she was exhausted.
Mariah sat with him all night, while he mumbled in his sleep, and kept reaching out for something that wasn't there. Mariah bathed him in cool water and held his hand as she burned with fever.
One of the children awoke Mariah from her awkward position in the chair next to the Ranger. "Miss Mariah, Miss Mariah. The sheriff is here, he wants to ask you some questions."
She awoke and looked down at the little girl. "You didn't tell him the ranger is here, did you?"
"No Miss Mariah, we ain't allowed to talk about him." she shuffled out the door. "He's waitin' on the porch."
Mariah moved to the doorway of the porch. "Sheriff."
"We need your help. It seems the Indians are a little unsettled about a white man who had escaped."
She yawned and leaned against the door frame. "And you need me?"
"To translate for some Rangers." he shifted. "It seems the man the Indians are looking for is the same man the Anderson Gang thinks they killed him, and the Rangers are looking for his dead body."
"Who is this man?" she asked shutting the door and moving towards the Sheriff.
"Ranger Captain Landen Scott." he said. "You haven't seen the papers?"
"No." she replied. "I've not much use for news."
"Will you do it? Will you ride with us to the Indian camp and translate?" he tapped his fingers on the railing.
"Okay, but no guns in the camp. We could all get ourselves killed." she turned toward the door. "I'll meet you at your office in a few hours. I have to tell the children."