white wolf - part 19

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The next day he was up early and ravenous so he ate a meal with the medicine man then the chief joined them. John thanked them for saving his life and the old healer gave him the arrow head. He told both men about the attack on the ranch, the killing of his family and how he'd tracked the war party back to their camp. The two Crow were stunned to hear he'd killed many Blackfeet warriors and escaped. A young warrior came over and John was introduced to the man who'd found him and brought him back to the camp. John stood and shook the warrior's hand then thanked him. 'Hair in the Wind' was very surprised to see the white-man so healthy and a bit startled by the handshake. Although quite wary at first he soon started chatting to this strange white-man they called White Wolf.

John left the Crow camp as soon as he was fit enough to mount and ride his stallion. The Crow surprised John by having all 4 of his horses ready when he wanted to go. He again thanked them all for helping him and asked if he could visit them at some stage, maybe later in the summer. The chief smiled and said he was welcome to come back as long as he didn't try to stab the young chief Plenty Coups. This also brought a grin to John's face and it was the first time they'd seen him smile. He waved, then rode towards the eastern mountain range and Cheyenne territory.

As soon as he was out of the village the wolf joined him. It came leaping and yapping like a dog pleased to see its master and John was happy to see Snowy again. Two days later they arrived at the Valley of Blue waters and an escort accompanied him into the camp. His friends raced over to greet him but John said their celebrations would have to wait until he spoke to the chief. Little Wolf immediately saw the great sadness and pain on John's face and knew the prophecy was true. "Little Wolf I bring terrible news," said John as the chief stepped forward and grasped his shoulders. "White Wolf I have been half expecting such news." John's eyes filled with tears and he struggled to find the words, "Morning Light and the children were killed by a raiding party of Blackfeet. It happened at the start of winter, I was in town and when I returned they were all dead, along with three white-men I had working for me. I am sorry Little Wolf." The chief held his composure and embraced John then the two of them went to see his wife.

Later, John told the chief and his friends how he'd followed the raiders all the way back to their camp. He explained how he'd taken his revenge on the Blackfeet and killed at least 17 warriors before escaping. This didn't surprise the listeners but they were shocked by John's tale about being rescued by the Crow and nursed back to health. He took out the arrow head and showed them where it was lodged in his upper ribs. Rain Bird held the arrow and said he sensed the Crow medicine man's presence. So John went on to explain how the old medicine man removed the arrow then helped him recover.

When Smiles-a-lot saw him she rushed into his arms and sobbed for a long time. John gently caressed her face then explained what had happened, the tears flowed down his cheeks and they were soon joined by Wildflower. The matron held them both and sang a sad song. John tried to say how sorry he was but the mother hushed him and ushered everyone into a tepee. There they were joined by Little Wolf and his son and the group sat hand in hand singing the death songs. The youngest sister held onto John's hand and each time he glanced at her tear stained face, his heart ached and threatened to burst.

John remained with his Cheyenne friends for many weeks allowing his mind and body to regain their strength. All of them noticed how quiet he was now and how serious he always seemed to be, since his return. They understood he was still grieving and that it would take a long time for their friend to recover. Rain Bird suggested it was very likely the White Wolf they all knew and loved may be a very different man now. He said such a terrible experience can change a person completely and it was obvious John was battling some inner demons or bad spirits. Only time would help to heal him and even that might not be enough to bring their happy go lucky friend back. Then one day early in the summer John rode off to visit his home and the graves of his family.

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