muhbat ke ibta(2)
As Josiah cautiously picked his way through the trees and peered onto the open stretch of plain before him, he spotted a man sprawled on the ground beside a wagon. The man wasn't moving, and even from this distance, Josiah saw the bloody scalp where someone had ripped his hair away as a trophy.
Josiah lowered his Hawken rifle. The man's attackers were already gone, and there was little to do but dig a hole and put what was left of the unfortunate man beneath the ground. As he moved toward the carnage, Josiah mused to himself. It was odd to find immigrants so far North, and he was almost glad the man had been stopped. Josiah hoped the frontier would never be tamed, and a part of him laughed for even thinking it might. If everyone was as crazy as this here immigrant, he didn't have anything to worry about! Fool man. Trying to cross the Rockies where there wasn't passage, and getting himself killed by the first Indian he come across. This was a wild land, and you couldn't survive unless you had some hardness in you. Josiah nudged the bloody form with his moccasin. Like this here immigrant. He didn't have what it took to be a mountain man, and likely never would, even if he had survived his attackers.
"Poor old fool," muttered Josiah in a fit of pity. His assailants had cut away a circle of his scalp, exposing his white skull to the sun. Josiah bent down to see if the pockets of his shirt held anything valuable, when the immigrant's face twitched to life, and two startled eyes locked with Josiah's.
"Please," the man rasped, "my daughter! They took my daughter!" He caught hold of Josiah's buckskin shirt and held him fast with a blood covered hand. "Save her!"
This sudden coming to life had startled Josiah, though his face betrayed little emotion. Instead, he raised his eyes to the plain, as if trying to see what he had been unable to before. "Which way did they head?" he asked.
When the man could find no breath to speak, his eyes pointed North.
If a body kept going in that direction, he would find himself in Blackfoot country. Though they were out of their usual territory, it made sense to Josiah that this immigrant had been attacked by Blackfoot Indians. Their hatred of the white man had only grown since trappers discovered beaver was more plentiful in their lands; Blackfoot gave no quarter to neighboring Indians nor white man, and almost always killed any trespassers they found.
"Headed North, was they?" muttered Josiah.
The immigrant's eyesight was dimmed by his fast approaching death, and he couldn't see the man dressed in skins before him. If he had, he would've had reason to fear that his daughter might be exchanging one trouble for another.
"I'm afeared you're done in," Josiah informed the dying man.
"I realize it," he gasped. "Leave me... save her!" The hand turned Josiah's shirt loose, and it clutched his own bloodstained chest before it finally dropped to the ground in one last fit of agony.
Josiah straightened himself, and looked down at the lifeless form at his feet. "They was in a hurry, Mister. You would've been cut up something turrible, if they hadn't." With a sigh, Josiah strode back to his horse and pack animal. If the immigrant's daughter didn't catch the Blackfoots' fancy, he knew she wouldn't last very long. The Blackfoot had a respectable head start, and it would take some doing if he were to catch up with them before nightfall.
Emma Perkins kept trying to look behind her, struggling to get a glimpse of the father that she was hoping would come and save her. She had seen his torture, but a ragged hope kept tugging at her that maybe he had survived. But no Pa appeared, and as her captors took her farther and farther away from the wagon, she knew that he was dead.
2 b cont..............