white wolf - part 6

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Chapter 11

The trip across the Rocky Mountains was hard but he didn't come across any Flathead Indians. The most difficult part was getting through the passes because deep snow drifts still lay on the ground. The snow shoes came in handy and the horses were able to manage. He brought a spare horse this time, it was a leopard spotted mare that he hoped was in foal. The mare would carry most of the gear and he intended to give her to Chief Little Wolf, as part of the wedding dowry. She was mostly grey white with splashes of dark spots, just the colour the Cheyenne favoured. She was three quarter native appaloosa blood with the rest Arabian and was just a bit bigger framed than most native ponies.   

 Arriving in Missoula in the Spring of 1869, John was in time to participate in the annual shooting competition. Again he won first prize, demonstrating his amazing shooting skills to everyone there. By the time he reached La Barge it was early April and the weather was cold but not freezing. He didn't stay long, just a day so he could collect the gear from The Deer Lodge Store, repack it so the rifles wouldn't appear so obvious and then head off. He briefly caught up with Meiling and her husband, and told them about the trip to San Francisco and Mr Wu.

During the ride to Helena, they were attacked by a pack of wolves. It happened late one night when they least expected trouble. The pack came out of the forest and were trying to get at the horses. Snowy sensed trouble and was able to meet them head on, giving John enough time to grab his rifle. John shot the first two wolves which scared off the rest and prevented them injuring or killing the horses. Snowy flew in amongst the remainder, snapping and jumping everywhere. When he returned later to the campfire John tended his wounds but they were mostly superficial. In the morning when he scouted around the area, John found the two dead wolves he'd shot plus another two with their necks ripped open. Snowy had certainly scattered the rest of the pack.

John stayed three days in Helena just enough time to check on the transport business, pick up his order of rifles, ammunition, tobacco and axe heads and rest the horses. He rode towards the Big Horn Mountains very keen to meet his Cheyenne friends at their summer camp and in particular the lovely Morning Light.

The Cheyenne lookout signalled a lone rider approaching from the north and soon after a group of three warriors charged out to intercept the visitor. They fanned out in a defensive pattern but recognised the big black stallion and its blonde rider. They also saw the white wolf loping alongside. Standing Bear whooped and Rain Bird echoed the cry, easing their ponies to a trot. Two Moons joined them and the trio waited for their friend. On the way into camp, the four friends laughed and talked, all delighted to see each other after about four months. John's arrival in the village brought great excitement. Everyone was pleased to see him and expectations of a wedding celebration were high. Little Wolf welcomed John to their camp and the two men shook hands. Morning Light rushed through the crowd, calling out to him and they embraced then kissed passionately, oblivious to the onlookers. The younger chief Two Moons then noticed the special necklace John was wearing. Although it was different to the ones worn by the Cheyenne, the chief immediately recognised it for what it was. He whooped and brandished his coup stick high in the air then came over and embraced his friend. Most of the warriors inspected it closely and they were all pleased and proud to see their friend wearing it. John was coaxed into telling them the stories represented by each coloured symbol.

Later that night, sitting around a fire inside the Chief's large tepee, John presented Little Wolf with the waist coat from Chief Joseph. Little Wolf tried it on and seemed very pleased with the gift. John then unwrapped from an oilskin cloth, a brand new Winchester rifle. The Chief's name was engraved on one side of the stock and a picture of a wolf was on the other side. John told him this was part of the wedding dowry, along with the grey mare and a colourful woven rug. He spread the rug out on the floor and told the Chief it was imported from a far away country called China. Next he beckoned the Chief's wife over and showed her the diamond necklace. Wild Flower allowed him to place the necklace around her neck and she couldn't stop smiling. She hugged John and sat down next to her husband, all the while moving the stone in her hand so it glittered in the fire light. Next John motioned for Morning Light's youngest sister 'Smiles-a-lot' to join them. Smiles-a-lot was two years younger than Morning Light and looked very much like her sister. John also had a gift for her so he handed her a small box containing a pearl handled hair brush and matching mirror. She was delighted with the gift and for the rest of the night, lived up to her name.

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