October Story Contest

The Country Thief
By: MAC1023
Age: 14

The grain rushed past Midnight. He galloped as fast as the wind would let him. As I looked down from him, the field of gold rushed past like rushing river. We were far from the tribe now. Midnight had galloped for a long time. My tribe’s horses would have been tired by now, but not. He is the fastest horse in our Nez Perce tribe. He has beaten my father, the chief, in many races. 
I loved Midnight’s sleek, black hide. If I were riding in the night, he would be invisible to human eyes. 
I had escaped from my tribe for a day. I was tired of skinning fish and deer or gathering berries. I always asked if I could go hunting, but my father said that I was too inexperienced and I was needed to stay. 
Then Mingan came to me and laughed. After that I kicked him in the knees and left. He grabbed me by my arms and Midnight came to my rescue and nearly bit his arm off. I despise him. When I was a little girl, Mingan followed me around and said that I was the prettiest girl in the tribe. My father approves of him, but I cringe when I think of him and me marrying. 
“Midnight, You are an amazing horse and….” Suddenly I stopped and slowed Midnight to a walk. 
Once we got to a hill I dismounted and crawled to the top. Below a man was standing with his horse. I eased my way down the hill to a bush where I could hide behind. As I peered around it, I almost gasped. It was a white man! 
A white man had come to our tribe before to trade with my father. But we trust him and he told us about the evils of other white men. He called then, cowboys, because they wear odd hats and ride horses a strange way. 
I had listened on my fathers trading early on, and he caught me, but allowed me to learn the white man’s language. I was struck with curiosity, so I moved forward to get a closer view.
My dress got caught on the bush and it made a soft noise, but the man heard it. He turned around and our eyes met. I quickly got up and ran back up the hill. He followed swiftly. 
“I won’t hurt you. What tribe are you from, Navajo, Algonquian?” 
I turned around and said, “Try Nez Perce, cowboy!” 
Then he ran faster then I imagined. I saw a large rabbit hole and soared over it. The man was not so lucky. He didn’t see it and his leg fell into it and with a thud, he fell to the ground. I stopped and watched him. His ankle was probably twisted and it would need care. 
I walked forward until I was next to him. 
“Is anyone with you besides your horse?” 
He looked up to me and said, “No, it’s just me and my horse.” 
“Come then.” I grabbed his arm, and with some help from him, got him standing. He held onto me and hobbled to my horse. 
“Call your horse, night is almost upon us.” 
He whistled and his horse came to us. His mare was a red roan and matched the color of a fire. I walked over to her and tried to take off the man’s saddle. I could not get it off, so I took out my pocketknife and cut it off. 
“Hey, what are you doing to my saddle? That was pure leather and now it’s ruined!” 
“You must learn to ride better; the horse cannot support the weight especially now that you are injured!” I said with a sarcastic look and continued to cut. All of a sudden something shiny rolled off the horses back.” So you’re a thief.” 
“No!” he said trying to defend himself. 
“I don’t like liars!” I said pulling out my bow and arrow and pointing it his forehead.
“Okay, okay. I took some gold from my father, but I was going to return it.” 
I kept my arrow pointing at his head. “Okay, I wasn’t going to return it. He’s dead now, died of pneumonia five months ago. Then I came out west, looking for a life.” 
I did not speak and helped the man onto my horse, then hopped on. The man’s horse followed mine. 
After traveling a long distance, the man spoke. “My names Dallas, what’s yours?” 
“Horse feather. People call me that now. I had a different name when I was born, but when people saw my ways with horses, they gave me my name now.” 
Soon we were close to the tribe and the stars were brightly shining. All of a sudden, it appeared that a star fell out of the star. 
“Did you see that, it was a shooting star!” 
“I have heard a story about a Tecumseh. It was when...” 
Then I heard hoof beats and saw a shadow. 
“Oh great, just what we need,” I said in my own language. 
“Don’t seem so upset to see me Horse Feather. Who is this Bilagaana you have?” Mingan said in English. 
“Bilaganna? What does that mean?” Dallas asked. 
“White person. Horse Feather, do not let him touch you; he will dirty your skin. 
I snorted in disgust. “Let’s just go Mingan. I’m sure no on will have noticed my disappearance.” 
Unfortunately, I was wrong. The second I came into camp, people surrounded me. They asked questions about why I had left, what the white person was doing with me, and how much trouble I would be in. My father had to push his way through the crowd to get to me.
“Horse Feather, dismount your horse. You have had the whole tribe worried. We thought that we had been raided. You should be ashamed, first leaving your tribe, then bringing a traitor to us.” 
“He is not a traitor,” I yelled, “When I was far out I saw him and he injured himself. His ankle is twisted and it needs care. I could not turn him away. He is no traitor, he has done no harm.” 
Then Mingan came over to me and pulled the gold out of my hands. “What do we have here? Would you like to explain Horse Feather?” 
“It’s mine. She took it from me. My name is Dallas and I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”
Our elder, Aiyana, started to talk to my father. She told him to remember the story, do them no harm. He listened then said finally that he would allow the man to be healed, but he must leave when he is well. 
I led my horse to the medicine tent. My older brother helped him down and into the medicine tent.
“Horse Feather, why did you help him?” 
I looked around to see if anyone was listening and then quietly said, “Come to the lake when the moon is high, I will tell you then.” 
I walked into the tent to see if he was settled. 
“Thank you for taking me in. It is really nice of you to do it.” 
Aiyana came into the tent and started examining Dallas’s ankle. “It is just sprained and should be healed in a week. You can help me with him. Your father said that you will have to get him everything he needs plus help prepare meals. I will stay with him for two days, but then he will be your responsibility. I have more important things to do. You should be going now; you are already in enough trouble.”
Once I was in my tent I waited for the moon to be over my tent to meet my brother. I lay on my back and watched the sky from the opening at the top of my tepee. 
Soon I saw the moon and quietly slipped out of the tepee. 
I looked around to see if anyone was watching me. All I saw was some dogs sleeping outside tents and a fire crackling in the center of camp. I tiptoed farther away from camp and when I thought I was safe, hands grabbed my shoulders. 
“You should not be out of camp this late. Are you not in enough trouble already?” 
I turned around and expected to see my father, but instead saw my brother. 
“I told you to meet me out here. I am not sure why I decided to help him. You can say what you like, but I saw promise in him. What I mean is that, I think that he could become one of us.”
“Are you crazy? If you even mentioned that idea to father he would have you out of the tribe. It would be impossible for him to leave his ways and join ours. I’m sorry but you have to let go of your childish dreams. They will never happen, so do not try to make them happen.” 
I felt my face turn hot from embarrassment and turned to leave.
“Wait,” Nashoba said, “I am sorry for what I said. I just feel that you will become to close to Dallas.” 
“It will not happen.” I replied harshly. “I regret bringing him here already.” 
I heard Nashoba calling after me, but I ignored him. It was not his job to tell me what to do.
Why does everyone say that I am too little to do anything? I am sixteen, not a child. I could do whatever I want but everyone is too protective of me. Why can’t they just let me free? I wondered. 
* * * * * * * * * * *
The next morning I walked into the medicine tent to help with Dallas. When Aiyana saw me she got an angry look on her face. 
“I do not need your help for the next two days. Go skin deer or gather berries. Do not come back he is fine.” 
I walked out of the tent surprised. It seemed that ever since I had brought Dallas, that she had disliked him and me. 
For the next two days I skinned deer and gathered berries without complaint. I had done these jobs so many times; I had learned not to complain to pass time. No one would listen to me anyway. 
Two days later I listened to Aiyana give me instructions. “You are to feed him and give him his requests. Every few hours, check his ankle. Also exercise him, he can walk and it will help his injury heel. He could leave now, but I do not want him to injure his self again.” 
Dallas was sitting in the corner of the tent. He looked at me and smiled. “When
does the fun begin?” he asked. 
“Never, just eat this and I will leave you alone.” I dropped some fish in his hands and started to leave, 
“Do you have somewhere to go?” 
I turned around and said, “Actually I do not.” 
I sat down and told him about my endless chores. I told him about what I like to do and about the people. I told him stories and taught him some words in my language. 
In return he told me about his life and his world. It seemed very harsh, with rules and certain things had to be done. He told me that he lived in a house by himself, away from other people. 
“After my dad died, I moved far away. I wanted to be alone. I felt that no one would understand. It is far away, probably a two-day journey if you are on horses walking the whole time. It has lots of animals, it’s good for hunting.” 
The rest of the day we talked about our different worlds. I showed him the river and animals. He seemed interested in them and I was glad. He should appreciate nature. 
The next three days we continued to talk and my hatred for him grew less each day. I felt that he could understand me. None of my tribe could do that. He called me a free spirit and I had to agree. 
The next day Aiyana talked to me. “Dallas must go. He is healed now.” 
“But Aiyana, he is my friend. He is the only one here that understands me.” 
“He is leaving!” and with that she turned and walked away. 
I yelled back at her, “Why do you hate him?” 
Aiyana turned around and came back to me. 
“You should not trust him. He has already admitted that he stole gold from his father.” 
“Aiyana, I trust him so you should too.” 
As I walked away, Aiyana said, “Be careful to place your trust.” 
I walked to the river where Dallas was. “Dallas, I have to tell you something.” 
“I have to first Horse Feather. Do you have anything cultural that you could show me? I am talking about objects, not people.” 
“Sure Dallas. I will go get them now.” 
I ran to my tepee to get my best dress, bows and arrows, and weavings. I came back to him and gave the items to him to look at. 
“Thank you. I want to remember my visit here. Oh, before I forget, your mother wanted to talk to you.” 
What did I do this time, I wondered. 
I nervously walked my way through the tepees. The paint on the outside of them danced in my eyes. They blurred with tears but I held them back. 
My mother was in the clearing with other ladies. I sat down next to her and see welcomed me. “Hello Horse Feather. I am surprised that you are not with the horses.” 
It was known in my tribe that I had a special connection with horses. If anyone had any problems with their horses, they would come to me. 
“While you are here, will you help me finish sewing this dress?” 
“Of course I will mother.” 
I stabbed the needle through the rough deerskin again and again. It felt rough in my hands, but once it was laid out to dry in the sun, it would feel smooth. 
“Is this why you asked for me mother?” 
“I did not ask for you. Dallas asked me to fix his saddle and I tried. I sewed the part that goes under the horse.” 
Suddenly panic thoughts raced through my mind. I ran to the river, nearly knocking over my father. 
“Horse Feather where are you going?” 
I did not reply. When I got to the river it was empty. In the distance I saw a red horse galloping away with a man riding it. 
“Horse Feather, tell me what has happened!” 
“Father, the man, Dallas, he is a thief. He stole our stuff.” 
“I will gather people to chase him down.” 
“No father, Midnight and I can get to him much faster.” 
My father gave me his bow and arrows for me to use. It was an honor. I ran to Midnight, my feet barely touching the ground. 
I jumped on Midnight and he ran towards Dallas. I had lost faith that we would catch him until suddenly, Midnight went faster, and faster. He went faster then the wind in the sky. I let go of his mane and spread my arms out. I now knew what it felt like for a bird to fly. 
We got closer to Dallas. He saw us and kicked his horse harder. I took out a bow and shoot at him. I missed, but he got the message. He immediately stopped his horse. 
“What do you think you are doing? You stole from my tribe! I trusted you Dallas..
I thought that you were not a thief. I told people to change their minds about you. Now I wish I had left you injured in the rabbit hole. Give me my stuff back!” 
“Alright, I will.” 
He reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a gun. 
“We can work this out. Go home and you will not die. If you do return, then you will die. Simple choice, now move along.” 
“No!” I yelled. Dallas pulled the trigger and at the last second, Midnight ran into his horse and Dallas fell off. 
I walked Midnight over to him and he stepped on his gun and it broke. 
He looked at the chards of metal and returned my tribe’s items. 
“You will go away from here, never to return. If you do return then we will be hostile.” I circled him with Midnight to show him that I was angry. “You will leave on foot; your horse is now mine. Take off your saddle and leave.” 
He did as I asked and walked away. I stayed until I could see him no more. I had Midnight return to my tribe with my new horse following. 
When I returned, I gave my father the items. 
“I am sorry that I didn’t trust you, or anybody else. Now he knows that I mean business. I also got his horse.” 
“What is its name?” 
“I am going to name her Fire star; she resembles the flames of a fire.” 
I trained Fire star to our customs and she liked them. I had to wait to ride her for some time, because she was injured from the man’s spurs. 
We had no more visits from Dallas ever again, and I was glad. We may not have seen him again, but we all held the memories of the country thief.