The Changing Wind

Free The Changing Wind by Don Coldsmith

Book: The Changing Wind by Don Coldsmith Read Free Book Online
Authors: Don Coldsmith
that.”
    “Maybe,” his father answered. “He knows of it, because he told us that the traveler stopped with them.”
    Puzzled, they settled down in their new campsite to wait for Small Elk’s return.
    Shadows were lengthening, and Small Elk had gone far upstream to gather wood and buffalo chips. He had felt a need to escape the social pressures of the day. He wished there was some way he could leave the entire tribe for a few days—until after the Big Council and Sun Dance,maybe. A vision quest still seemed like a good idea, but he really wished to discuss that with his father.
Aiee
, growing up, assuming the duties of a man, was difficult.
    He picked up a dead cottonwood limb and added it to the stack in the crook of his left arm. Already, he had almost more than he could carry. But it would soon be dusk, and if he waited a little longer, he could unobtrusively slip back to his parents’ lodge. Now the sleepy sounds of the creatures of the day were becoming fewer as they settled for the night. A great blue heron beat his way overhead, hurrying to his lodge before darkness fell. There were sounds of some of the night-creatures, coming alive with the departure of Sun Boy and his torch.
    Small Elk turned to start back and noticed a figure on the path ahead of him.
    “Ah-koh
, Elk,” said Crow Woman.
    For a moment, he felt that he had lived this before. The girl carried an armful of sticks, but somehow he doubted that an accident had brought them together. He remembered well their last, emotional meeting. He had a moment of anger. Why would she repeatedly torture him this way, seeking him out to imply things that never were and never could be? He could not stay angry, however. The look in her eyes would melt any but the coldest heart.
    At their last meeting, he had thought that he had never seen her more beautiful. Even that was eclipsed now. She stood there, straight and tall, not moving, looking directly into his face, and her spirit reached out to touch his.
    “I followed you,” she admitted.
    “I know. Crow, you should not have—”
    Now anger flared in her face. He was distressed by it, but
aiee
, how it accentuated her dark beauty. Her eyes flashed, and she stamped her foot impatiently.
    “Elk, what is the matter with you?” she demanded.
    As she moved, the fringes at the bottom of her buckskin dress swayed, and the motion caught his attention. He looked at the attractive exposure of long tan legs, from above the knees downward. He should not be appreciating this, but he had always admired Crow’s appearance, even before the advent of her womanhood. Now she was another man’s wife, and it was wrong to look at her with the thoughts he was thinking. Forcibly, he tried to raise his eyes, trying not to stare at the womanly curves that hefound so appealing. The willowy shape of her hips, the flat belly… wait! Even in the dim light… The traveler had told him, three moons ago, of her pregnancy. This was not…
    “I heard you were pregnant!” he blurted.
    Immediately he felt like an idiot, but it was too late. If she was angry before, now her face showed a rage that was frightening. For a moment, he thought she would hit him with her firewood. Instead, she threw it to the ground and stepped toward him.
    “What?”
she demanded. “Elk, I should walk away and never speak to you again!”
    Now his anger rose. How could a woman for whom he had such high regard be acting so shamelessly?
    “Yes, you should!” he snapped. “You shame your husband.”
    “My
husband?
Elk, you have gone mad!” she shouted at him. “You know I
have
no husband! I would not come here—”
    She turned and started away.
    “Wait!” he called.
    He dropped his own firewood and ran to catch her.
    “Crow! You and Bull… Stone Breaker. I was told… the Falling-Leaves Moon? You were not married?”
    Slowly, a light began to dawn in her face.
    “No!” she said flatly. “Stone Breaker and Cattail. You remember her?
She
is

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