by Kristina ~
Tray, a half-breed Bounty Hunter, must choose between his people and the woman he loves
He placed the last stone in place on the chimney. The additional room to the cabin was almost done. He stood back and beamed with pride. It is almost ready for her if she says yes. He found working on the cabin's repair easier than in the past, now that he found a reason to complete it before his self-set deadline—winter.
His pride soon gave away when the image of his grandfather crossed his mind. A month had passed since he had last visited the tribe. He felt the tightness in his chest and a lump rise in his throat again. He threw down his tools and flopped in the wooden chair on the porch. He shook his head while burying his face in his palms. Oblivious to his surroundings, he didn't hear a rider approach the cabin.
"Have lost the sharpness of your senses?"
Startled, Tray looked up, "Uncle! wha...what are you doing here?" He looked around to see if anyone else was about. He was quick to gather his thoughts and address his uncle in the language of the Sioux.
There is no one else, nephew. I have come to see what is laying heavy in your heart. Your Grandfather has sent me."
"There is nothing, Uncle."
"Little Elk, there is no reason to speak with a forked-tongue. I can read it in your face and in your absence from the tribe for one moon."
Tray didn't say a word as Lonewolf continued,
"I have noticed that you have been bringing a white female here to your lodge. I am also thinking that you feel that the time for you take a wife has come. I know that you understand that you must first be granted the approval of the Chief, your grandfather. It is the tribal way. But first you must have your head and your heart on the same path."
"Yes Uncle," he maintained his eye contact with him. To break eye contact with an elder would be an insult.
"I cannot speak of this matter with the Chief, nor can I can I give you the permission. I will tell the Chief to expect you in one moon when your heart is sorted. After your grandfather passes, you will become Chief. When your head and heart are on the same path, you must come and sit down with your Grandfather."
Tray stood and faced his uncle, "Uncle?"
"Yes my nephew."
"Why aren't you to be the next Chief?'
"Little Elk, your mother was my older sister and the first-born. You are the first-born male of a first-born. It is your Grandfather's duty, as Chief, to be sure that the woman you choose is worthy to stand by your side. He must know that she understands, accepts, and will protect the tribal ways of life. So you must choose wisely."
Tray ran his fingers through his hair, "What if I choose not to become Chief?"
"Little Elk, sometimes in life, there are no choices. Becoming Chief is your fate, and you must honor it."
Lonewolf turned his horse and disappeared among the trees, leaving Tray to wallow in his guilt.
Confusion had overwhelmed his world. What am I going to do? What am I going say to Dax? Hey! by the way, you need to come with me and meet the rest of the family—the Sioux Tribe! Yea right! How will she accept that part of my life?. These questions and more circled round and round in his head. He couldn't bear to think that Chief Black Elk might reject his choice. Unable to cope anymore and longing to see Dax, he left his tools scattered about the ground and started down the mountain towards town.
Tray walked into bar and took his seat at the counter. "The usual, Vi." Vi set the beer and the shot down before him.
"Tray..." The phone ringing at the other end of the bar caught her attention.
Looking back at him, "Tray..." He motioned with his fingers for her to take her leave and answer it.
"Kit's Bar N' Grill"
"Vi, it's Dax, I can't find Tray is he there?"
"Yea, he is. I think you had better come talk to him. Somethin' ain't right! This is the fourth time this week he's been in and he just ain't acting like himself!"
"I'll be right down!"
Dax walked in the crowed room. Tray was sitting in his normal spot. Every once in awhile, his elbow would miss the counter causing him to jerk forward. Dax shook her head. She stopped and stood back from the counter. Catching Vi's attention and waved her hand back and forth at her throat, indicating to Vi not to serve him anything else to drink. Approaching him from behind; she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Hey...big guy...whats up?"
Tray looked over at her and shifted his hat back, "Hi Dax, oh nothing," and he turned his attention back to his beer.
"What is it that is bothering you, love. Maybe I can help."
The floodgates to his mind opened. The images of his mother, father, grandfather and the promise that he made engulfed his entire being. The words of Lonewolf kept ringing in his ears Stooping his head forward, he grabbed his hat from his head and put his fingers into his hair. Unaware of his movements, he would wrap his fist around chunks of hair and let go again. "Haven't you done enough already!"
Dax threw herself back against the chair as Tray jumped up from his and started towards the door. He stopped mid-stride and slapped his hands against his thighs, "This is not fair, She didn't cause anything, It is not her fault! He turned and rushed back and grabbed her up into his arms and held her tight.
"Oh Dax... honey...I am so sorry. I didn't mean it the way it sounded. I just can't bear the thought of losing you! But...I can"t break my promise!"
"Losing me! Promise? Tray...talk to me!"
He faltered in her arms. With a puzzled look on her face, she shook her head, "Come on, big guy, let me get you home."
Tray mumbled the entire hour back to the trailer, but Dax couldn't make out what he was saying. The words he used were foreign to her, The only word he spoke clearly was washita (white). She was curious as what that meant.
The blue hue of the morning gave away as the sun crested the mountains. Bess was packed. With a soft foot, he re-entered the trailer and walked over to where she laid sleeping. Smiling, he brushed back a strand of hair that laid across her face. He froze when she stirred. Satisfied that had not woken her, he laid a note on the table beside her purse. I must sit and talk with my grandfather...I've no choice.
He paused for a moment after mounting Kit. Feeling the burn in his eyes, he took one last look towards the trailer. His future was slipping away.
"Come on , Wolf...let's go.
Tray entered the cave hidden behind the falls, and walked towards Lonewolf who was waiting at the other entrance.