CHAPTER 14

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The bunny raises its long pointy ears and bravely stands on its hindquarters. It looks at the silver fox and cocks its head to the side. Moon Beam does the same. The rabbit rotates its head back and forth, checking Kiowa out with both eyes. Its soft pink nose rises and falls, and it reveals its long, pointy teeth. It licks both paws, then bathes its ears by bringing them down one at a time.

"You are brave," Kiowa says, drawing the bow back. He bites down on his tongue and squints one eye so tight that it puckers his face. As he's about to release the arrow, he stops and slowly relieves the tension. "It is wrong to kill you while you clean yourself. I will go and find another bunny."

He decides that if he must kill, he will strike a rabbit that is not so cute and not in the middle of its busy day. He eventually notices a fat rabbit whose belly and chest are white. He draws his arrow and aims.

Enthusiasm swells in his chest as he sees how stationary his prey remains, versus the squirrels that move as fast as lightning.

Aiming at the center of the rabbit, Kiowa releases his arrow and watches it fly toward his target. His devotion builds at the thought of striking the bunny in its furry heart. He imagines the accolades when the tribe sees his first kill.

But then the thought of hurting the bunny causes his heart to ache. Almost at the same time the arrow deviates off course, striking the ground just a few feet in front of the rabbit. It splits from the arrowhead and snaps the shaft on impact. Now mixed emotions of sympathy and anger compete for expression.

"Arrgghh!" he growls, nocking another arrow.

The rabbit continues to graze and completely ignores him.

"This time I will be quick, and you will be dead!"

As he releases an arrow, a voice interrupts his concentration.

"You are the great warrior that will embrace this people?" Kida sighs. The chubby girl looks more like an Eskimo than a Kiowa squaw. She shakes her puffy cheeks back and forth in disbelief. Her long braids flap against her fringed deerskin dress. She wraps her fingers around a carved turtle-shell necklace, made of turquoise, with two pearls pressed on either side.

Kiowa looks at the bow and arrow in her hand and laughs.

"You're just a stupid girl! Go be a stupid girl with the other stupid girls! I am learning to become a great hunter!"

"Is that so?" Kida asks haughtily.

Kiowa folds his arms and stomps his foot as he's seen the bull buffalo do. Moon Beam moves over and sits beside him.

"Let me pet your fox friend and I will teach you how to aim."

"NEVER, KIDA!"

"Why?"

"Because he is pure and you are tainted. You will ruin him!"

She squats down and smiles at Moon Beam. "But he's so cute! Come to me, Moon Beam. I will rock you in these arms and shower you with kisses."

"Leave him alone, stupid girl! You can't do anything right!"

"I can aim!" Kida stands up. She draws her arrow and releases it with accurate swiftness. She moves so fast it doesn't even appear that she takes aim. The arrow soars past Kiowa and strikes his target in the center of its chest. The rabbit falls over and kicks its hind legs violently. Blood mars its beautiful white fur. It squeals, thrashes, and does its best to get away.

Kiowa winces. Moon Beam flattens his ears. For a moment sympathy overtakes his anger. That was my friend. See how you ruin everything, Kida? Kiowa thinks, but he dares not say.

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