Part 4

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Matthew Bracna frowned as the storekeeper told him about the Indian squaw who'd apparently brought in a wounded man that was very much in need of his attention.

With a hand on his hip, he reached back with the other to massage his neck as he got up and stretched, rolling his head from side to side to release a soft creak or two of relief in the process.

His suspenders now pulled up and adjusted properly, the press of abusive heat reminded him that his straight razor would need to be sharpened, yet again.

As he ran his hands over what remained of his already short blond hair, he began to suspect that if this heat kept up much longer, he'd probably have to shave himself bald to be anywhere near as comfortable as he could be.

Tricks of youth learned while he'd grown up under the oppressive South Texas heat that worked well when little else had, along with the cooled touch of the exotic beauties from nearby Mexico, he mused with a smile.

Now if only he could find a similar more eloquent solution to practiced care with the added burden of a badge amongst a population that far more often than not couldn't find a way to share land, food or other respective ideologies between themselves.

It had been explained it to him quite clearly when he'd first arrived, that both jobs were his to do with as he pleased; while he'd also discovered fairly quickly that one couldn't be done without the other this far out and away from a far more regular civilization that he'd been used to.

Although nearly twenty-eight years old, he'd managed to get used to the new life that he'd become part of and the ongoing feuds of those around him.

He grabbed his medical kit and made his way out front as he put on his wire rimmed spectacles and stepped out into the heat.

Normally not one to wear a gun belt while he tended to patients, he'd discovered early on that both sets of tools went part and parcel with one another; at least until he found out what may have happened and what might be waiting for him once he got there.

Unlike many of the others around him, he hadn't yet developed the distrust that bordered upon clear contempt for their neighbors as he'd often traveled out to tend to their sick and learned new cultures and languages along the way.

This of course had not gone unnoticed and led several of the residents to voice displeasure as they openly questioned his strange and curious ways.

He was pleased to see the familiar face of the Indian woman that usually accompanied an old healer he'd known on several occasions; Running-Deer, if he recalled her name correctly with Crazy-Bear as that of the healer.

Although she'd kept to herself and hadn't exchanged so much as a word between them in the past, he found it somewhat comforting that if anyone had found the injured man, that it had been her.

She stood and looked at him with amber eyes filled with suspicion as he knelt to look at the patient.

"The spirits have put him in good hands." He offered as he managed to stumble through his cluttered understanding of the broken mix of French and Sioux that the healer had taught him.

"How is it that you speak our language?" She demanded evenly without having moved from where she'd carefully watched him; not unlike a coiled predator of sorts that simply hadn't chosen her moment to spring for his throat as of yet.

Bracna could only smile at such a comment that even the others of his own camp had asked, only for very different reasons.

"Crazy-Bear figured that I might need it someday and looks like he wasn't all that far from the truth."

He sensed more than saw her crouch down to help hold the blanket as he did a cursory examination of the man's injuries.

She didn't say anything when he motioned for her to help bring the man inside.

"There's a soft bed that we can lay him on to get him out of the heat." He explained as he folded back the blanket.

Together they lifted the man and carried him with his feet dragging between them into the cooler confines of the trading post.

With their patient properly laid out on the bed, Bracna directed her to wash the man's body clean with a soft cloth to clear away as much of the dirt and grime as she could to get a better look at the wounds.

From the mud packs, it was clear that Crazy-Bear had been busy.

"Did he come with anything else?" he asked as she rinsed the dirt from the wet cloth.

With fluid ease she left the cloth in the basin and walked out of the room without a word.

"Makes you wonder if Indians don't talk much even amongst themselves, now doesn't it?" he mused to the patient, doubtful that there would be any comments forthcoming as to how this man had ended up in her care.

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