Bill Dugan_War Chiefs 03

Bill Dugan_War Chiefs 03 by Sitting Bull

Book: Bill Dugan_War Chiefs 03 by Sitting Bull Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sitting Bull
to. If he had been older, with more coups, more authority, perhaps he could have reasoned with them. But he knew he didn’t have enough of either, so he didn’t try.
    Instead, he paced back and forth, more and more upset at what was about to happen. The Crow woman seemed to understand now, too, and she started screaming insults at the Lakota women, spitting at any of them who came within range. The woman with the brand waited nearby while her allies yelled insults. Once, she feinted with the torch, sweeping it in under the Crow woman’s nose and singeing her hair in the process. The stink of burning hair reached all the way to where SittingBull was standing, and it nearly turned his stomach. He had killed his share of Crows, but that was in battle. That was different somehow. This wasn’t right. He knew it, but didn’t know how to prevent it from happening. Once, he thought to cry out to the women to stop, but his voice caught in his throat.
    He continued to pace as he saw the torch tossed on the heap of bone-dry branches. The flames jumped and sparks drifted upward on the current of heated air. The Crow woman screamed as the flames began to lick at her legs. The smell of singed buckskin filled the air as the fire started to burn her dress.
    Sitting Bull could stand it no longer. He took his bow from his shoulder and fitted an arrow to the string. Without a second’s hesitation, he drew the bow full, until the arrowhead nicked his knuckle, and let it fly. He was noted for his marksmanship, and his skill served him and the Crow woman well. The arrow pierced her heart, killing her instantly.
    The women fell silent, turning to see where the arrow had come from. Sitting Bull stared at them, daring them to say something, but the women, cowed and ashamed now, could not look at him, They stared at the ground and one by one slunk away. The flames climbed higher as Sitting Bull turned his back and walked up into the hills. He had to get away, to be alone, to think about what he had witnessed, to try to understand it. But he knew he could not.

Chapter 11
    Yellowstone River Valley
1851
    S ITTING BULL WAS GAINING greater prominence almost daily. Every time a war party went against the Crows or the Assiniboin or the Arikara, he went along. And there was hardly a time when he came back without another coup.
    His prominence as a warrior was now matched by his increasing reputation as a composer and singer of songs. His studies with Four Horns and Black Moon continued to deepen his awareness of the great mysteries that surrounded the Lakota on every side.
    If anything, as a young warrior of twenty he was even more fascinated by nature and its complexities than he had been as a boy of five. He never missed an opportunity to watch the world around him. Nothing escaped his attention—not a single leaf floating on a current of air, not an ant stumbling its lonely way through the grass, notthe solitary howl of a wolf at midnight. The more he knew, the more he wanted to learn.
    His insatiable curiosity left him little spare time. And there were occasions when it seemed that he was every bit as much the object of curiosity for others as the world was for him. As a renowned warrior, he was considered a good catch by the young Hunkpapa women of marriageable age. As a member of an influential family that included chiefs and holy men as well as great warriors, his desirability was considerably enhanced. Everyone knew that he was destined for great things. He was famous throughout the Lakota nation for being the fastest runner anyone had ever seen, and he never missed an opportunity to demonstrate his great speed … especially when someone was willing to bet a horse or a buffalo robe.
    And those footraces, in which only Crawler could come close to catching him, were run under the admiring gaze of the young women of the village. More than once, after leaving an opponent in the dust, he would stand at the finish line with the young women gathered

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