white wolf - part 21

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Standing Bear also noticed the wary looks most of the other tribal leaders and elders were giving John. He too sensed a certain amount of fear and was pleased his friend generated such feelings among those present. He mentioned it to John during the night but John shrugged it off as not particularly important. Two Moons kept a close watch on his friend all night, noticing how he touched the necklace every so often and then glanced at the Blackfeet. Two Moons was very pleased when everyone dispersed and went to their separate areas ready to sleep. Even so, the younger chief slept badly, he worried his friend might roam in the night and slit some Blackfeet throats.

Early in the morning all parties left the valley and made their way back to the tribes. Some were eager to spread the tales they'd heard about the White Wolf, others wanted to tell friends and loved ones how they'd met the mysterious white-man and lived to tell the tale.

John spent the remainder of the summer and early autumn with the Cheyenne. He enjoyed the easy paced lifestyle and liked being around this group of people. Sometimes the blackness swept over him when he thought about the family he'd lost. At these times he usually wandered off to be on his own and his friends respected this and left him in peace.

One morning he walked up to the rock-pools where he and his wife often went to escape the crowded camp. He undressed and immersed himself in the water then lay back and closed his eyes, letting the coolness invigorate his body. In the filtered light shining through the overhanging leaf canopy, John saw a silhouette he knew well. The shadowy shape looked like it was hovering above the water but then he felt the ripples of the pool push into his chest. For an instant he thought it was Morning Light but when he looked more closely he saw it was Smiles-a-lot. She moved through the clear water and swam to his side. Her lovely breasts glistened with drops of water and he reached out to hold her.

They stayed there in the shallows for a long while and John held onto her as tightly as he could. He cried until he couldn't cry anymore and Smiles-a-lot just held him and stroked his head. She whispered in gentle tones, telling him it would eventually be alright, that maybe in time his pain would be bearable. John was able to tell her how guilty he felt for not being at home when the Blackfeet came. He felt like he'd let everyone down, her included because he hadn't been able to look after his family. The words of anguish poured from him and she knew this man was still suffering terribly. She reassured him nobody blamed him, it was just one of those terrible things that sometimes happen in life. In the silence that followed, John enjoyed the feel of her naked body close to his own but didn't make any attempt to take her. He was still mourning the loss of his wife and children, something this young lady understood.

She found the wound on his upper torso and kissed it then stood and let him see her naked body. Smiles-a-lot finally bent down and kissed him tenderly on the mouth then she whispered she would wait until he was ready, no matter how long it took. He watched this gorgeous young woman wade out of the pool and disappear through the trees.

As the tribe got organised and packed up their camp, John explained to his friends he was going to spend the winter at his ranch and would look forward to seeing them again in the spring. He and Smiles-a-lot were together all morning and he had to admit it felt good when she was with him. Her infectious smile and outgoing personality always made him happy. He nearly changed his mind about going back to Secret Valley but he wanted to visit the graves and finalise some business dealings. It would be interesting to see if he missed this remarkable young woman. Just the night before he remembered the old fortune teller's prophecy and wondered about its accuracy.

Snowy bristled and let out a low growl. John took note of the wolf's sudden change in demeanour but expected someone to be living in his house. He dismounted and called out to the house then he saw a young man waving to him from the paddock. John had seen this man before in town and the young man recognised him too. Sam had been staying at the ranch for the past 4 months. From what John could see he'd done an excellent job looking after the place. They shook hands and Sam glanced nervously at the wolf. "It's all right Sam, Snowy won't bite you and he won't bother your stock," said John.

John left him to walk over to the old oak tree where he crouched down by his wife's grave. All the plots were neat and tidy and even had fresh flowers on them. He spoke quietly to his wife and told her the events of the past few months and how much he missed her and the children. A few minutes later he stood up, brushed a tear from his eye and strolled around the house and outbuildings.

Over the winter months John arranged for the purchase of another 100 cattle as well as a good number of horses. It was arranged for Sam to stay on as foreman of the ranch and run the property. He stayed in the cottage and was allowed to keep his own small herd of cattle. John decided to employ Sam once he saw how Snowy responded positively to the young man. The wolf permitted Sam to feed him and even followed the foreman around the ranch.

John's friends in Helena where pleased to see John looking healthy and in good spirits. It was a year since the dreadful killings and it appeared their good friend was slowly recovering his spark and zest for life. Dave noted that John didn't smile and joke around like he once did but he knew the grieving process affected everyone differently. 

Some days John accompanied one of the wagon drivers on a local trip or helped out in the office. He still liked to stay at the Guest House for a few days at a time, enabling him to catch up with friends, help out with the business or just ride leisurely around the district. Most of the locals knew who the tall stranger was and they'd also heard of the legendary tales. John found nearly everyone friendly and welcoming, many loved to stop and chat to him and he cut quite a dashing figure mounted on his flashy stallion.

It was a bitterly cold winter and he liked nothing better than to curl up on his couch and stare into the fire at nights. The only photo he possessed of Morning Light held pride of place on the mantle above the fire place. It was the photo of them both, dressed to the nines and smiling at the camera. He recalled how beautiful she looked that day at the races and how they'd danced afterwards. Tears sting his eyes and wet his cheeks as he remembered his wonderful wife and their precious children.

In his dreams he saw Morning Light coming towards him, holding hands with her sister. Both were smiling and then Morning Light would take her husband's hand and give it to her sister to hold.  This same strange dream persisted night after night. John though long and hard about its meaning or significance and decided it was his wife's way of telling him it was ok for him to move on and stop mourning. A few times in the middle of the freezing night he would wake suddenly and feel her presence in the room. There was nothing to see or feel but he knew she was there. Once when Snowy was in the room, the wolf also sensed something, as his tail started wagging and he looked at the rocking chair like there was someone in it. Perhaps the strangest thing was finding the dried red flower lying near the photo on the mantle. He knew he hadn't put it there but still it was there.

Towards the end of winter he started to think of Smiles-a-lot and wonder how she was going. Sometimes in the middle of the day her face would just flash through his mind. Once when he was in town a young lady walked past and her long dark flowing hair reminded him of her. Whenever he wasn't busy, he found himself often day-dreaming about her. He couldn't get that amazing smile of hers out of his head. She was so similar in many ways to Morning Light but also so different. He didn't wish to compare the two sisters but they shared the same lovely qualities. The younger sister was more outgoing and certainly more talkative and like her older sister, had the amazing ability to charm anyone in her presence. He decided there and then to meet the tribe at their spring camp as soon as the weather permitted.

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