September 18, 2016
I would like to introduce you to the thorn in Will’s side, Two Feathers, a half white, half Comanche boy whose goal in life is to capture Will’s big buckskin stallion, Buck.
Here’s a little background history. Before the Civil War the army had managed to push the Comanche back toward the Llano Estacado (also known as the Staked Plains of Texas) and settlers had begun to establish farms and ranches past the hill country of central Texas into the eastern edges of what we now call west Texas. When war broke out the army removed most of its troops to fight in the east and the Comanche managed to reclaim much of their territory back toward central Texas. There were Comanche raids as far east as Fredericksburg.
Will Whitaker lived with his Pa, Dan, on their ranch near Fort Belknap located near present day Newcastle, TX northwest of Fort Worth. The Comanche were active in this part of Texas at the time and danger lurked behind every rock and tree. It was a hard country to live in for both white men and Comanche.
Two Feathers stood behind the trunk of a sycamore just below the edge of the creek bed. He could feel his blood spurting through his arms and legs, making them twitch, pulse, and want to move. Standing still was not an easy thing to do that morning. He waited.
The birds twittered in the trees, disturbed by his presence. The morning held no hint of summer haze. It seemed he could see every detail of every blade of grass. There seemed no end to the distance. He eased his way from the creek bed up a small rise and bellied down to get a better view of the activity at the ranch.
The white man and the boy had been easy to follow. The big horse had left deep tracks. He watched the yellow-horse- with-black-mane-and-tail, a dunnia. Even from this distance, he knew he had not been wrong when he had first seen the horse earlier that morning. How can a white boy, younger than my own twelve summers, ride such a horse? No white boy can ride like a Comanche.
“A warrior’s horse,” he whispered in awe. His head swam from the sight of the magnificent stallion. So big. So strong. So fast.
He dreamed of riding the big horse into his village, the other boys watching in envy as he brushed the golden coat and braided his eagle feathers in the long, flowing black mane.
The morning sun brought new plans, new confidence. I will follow the boy who rides the dunnia. My chance will come. That horse will be mine.
Two Feathers watched as a dark-gray horse and rider burst from the pen and raced across the prairie. The boy and the dunnia followed, easily keeping pace. His heart swelled with pride. No horse can beat you. You run fast, like the antelope. He slipped from the crest of the hill and ran to Old Pony, leaped astride, and took off through the woods, keeping the running horses in sight. Following a gully, he reached the creek bed in time to see the gray horse with his rider leap off the bluff. It was all he could do not to let out a wild whoop in surprise. The man and horse scrambled up the other side and raced off.
Wild, like a gray wolf, fierce and strong. He, too, is a warrior’s horse.
He stepped Old Pony from the cover of the trees in his amazement. Realizing his mistake, he ducked back in the shadows.
He looked across the prairie. No horse stood on the bluff. The dunnia? His breath caught in his throat. Has he, too, gone over the edge? Eyes searched the prairie and relief made him weak when he spotted horse and boy racing back to the ranch.
Two Feathers searched for the gray horse. It had disappeared over the crest of a hill. Its gutsy spirit thrilled him. Two warrior’s horses! He sat still, lost in dreams. Old Pony nudged his shoulder. Two Feathers thoughts returned to the white man’s ranch and the dunnia. I will have you.