Three years later
Mairi was in her kitchen and Wayalee was weaving in the living room. Mairi brought two cups of coffee and sat beside her. It was the weekend, there was no school and the women could enjoy just being at home with little Tomas Young Deer Sevenhorses. The toddler was two years old and adored his granny. The feeling was mutual and Wayalee lifted the lad onto her knee. She spoke to him in Cheyenna and he answered and then they went through the whole thing again in English.
It was something they had all agreed as a family and it had spread to the classroom whenever Waya was around to help. Tomas loved to speak another language and his two year old namesake followed Tomas the way he had followed Red Rain and Waya.
The little one was very like his dad, with dark hair and brown eyes.
Tomas Constanza, that the toddler was named for, was now fifteen and thinking about his future. As they were talking to the toddler, there was a knock at the door and Tomas pushed his head inside.
“Come in,” Mairi said and the little Tomas ran to his hero. He was swept up into the air and giggled with delight.
“Mom wondered if Waya was back yet,” Tomas said. “I guess she is waiting to see what he brings for the store.”
“She has some beautiful things in there. It is proving just what the women wanted out here,” Mairi told him. The toddler tugged at Tomas’ trouser legs and Mairi smiled.
“Take him out there and let him follow you around for a few minutes, please,” she asked Tomas. “It will tire him out and he can have a sleep.”
The two boys called Tomas went outside with the little one clinging onto the teenager’s hand.
“What a fine young man Tomas is,” Wayalee said.
“He is waiting to see if Young Deer comes back with Waya,” Mairi smiled. “Oh, how I wish that everywhere could be the way we treat each other here.”
“I was afraid when Old Wolf died and I came here that everyone would call me names,” her mother-in-law said. “They have been wonderful.”
“You just seem to be regarded as a sort of wise woman,” Mairi smiled. “Kari used your recipes for some ointments for the store and people really like them.”
“The blankets make me some money but I just about keep up with the orders.”
“What would I do without you when I am teaching? Tomas loves his granny.”
“The village is not the same now. I am glad to be here with you,” Wayalee told her. “I worry for my people. I am glad Old Wolf is not here to be unhappy about it.”
Mairi came and gave her a hug. Then the door opened and Waya came inside and with him were three children followed by Blossom.
Mairi screamed and ran to hug the native woman and then her children. Young Deer was fifteen now like Tomas and allowed himself to be hugged politely.
“Go out and find Tomas,” Mairi told him. “He is in the field at the back.”
Young Deer went at a run and his mother said that the sisters could go as well. The two girls were a couple of years younger and went at a more sedate pace.
“Now, tell us what is wrong,” Mairi said and pulled Blossom to a seat. Waya sat as well and did the talking.
“The village has been told officially that they are to move to special areas of land. They cannot stay where they are even though they have made a really good farming community there. It has put fear into everyone.”
“What does Red say?” Wayalee asked, as Red Rain was now the chief. The man did not want to wage war and he did not want to put himself against the army. The newspaper had reported lots of stories had reached them about battles in other parts of the country. Nobody was quite sure what to do and it made some people resent the native tribes. Rumours were everywhere.
“Red says that they will have to go. He has talked, through Running Deer, with the army and they are willing to protect the tribe as they move to the new reservation.”
“Will they be moved again or is that permanent?” Mairi asked.
“They say permanent,” Waya said, “and the Cheyenne will own the land.”
“Is it true though?” Blossom worried. “My husband is working for the army and they want him to stay.”
“What about you? What do you want to do?” Wayalee asked.
Blossom bit her lip and looked frightened.
“I don’t want to go a long way away to a place that we don’t know..”
“But you are frightened to stay here without the other villagers,” Mairi finished for her. Her native friend nodded and agreed.
“We will find Jeremiah and the others and see what everyone thinks,” Waya said. “He always has news from other places.”
“That is sensible,” his mother said. The door burst open and four children and a toddler burst into the room.
“It is their future we have to secure,” Mairi said, and set about finding food for all of them. Waya said that he would leave the things for Kari and find Jeremiah.
“Won’t be long. Tomas, you can help me with these things for your mom.” The man and the teenager went away and the others sat down. The two girls sat on the floor and helped young Tommie play with his building blocks.
Mairi stretched out the stew that was cooking with some cold chicken and bread that Wayalee had made. They were just about to start when Waya came back and joined them. He reported that Jeremiah would come down later with Constance and added that he had told Kari as well.
“I think she was sending Tomas to tell Betty. I looked in at the diner and told Anneliesa. We will see them all later, I should think.” He sat with the others and ate the food. Wayalee fed her grandson and Mairi took him off for a nap.
“Stop worrying, Blossom,” Wayalee said when she settled with her own plate of food. “The people here are fine and Running Deer likes working for the army. He and Waya work together sometimes.”
“Would you like to stay in town rather than go to the reservation?” Waya asked Blossom.
“If the children would be safe, the answer is yes,” she replied. “I can go on making things to sell and the children could go to school here.”
“I would love to have them in school,” Mairi said. “We would all miss seeing Red Rain and the others.” She looked at Young Deer and asked him what he would like to do.
“Go to school here,” he told her. The girls said the same.
It appeared that the government was giving them very little notice to move out and the decisions had to be made quickly.
The children went outside to play and Mairi knew that before long, Tomas would be there with them. Kari and Mac arrived a little later and said that Tomas was outside. The horses had been put in the corral and Young Deer had his own pony now.
Anneliesa, Betty, Jim and the girls arrived but Jed was out of town with some stock.
“Let us get organized,” Jeremiah said and took charge. “Tell us what they have been told, Waya.” Waya said that the tribe had been given a week’s notice to move. It was quite a long journey and the army would accompany them.
“What happens if they don’t go?” Betty asked.
“The army makes them move,” Waya answered. There was a silence as they all thought about what that would mean.
“Red Rain and the elders have decided to go and keep everyone safe,” Blossom said.
“We need to go and see them this week and see if we can help. I can check with the major if there is anything we need to do before they leave,” Waya added.
“What about you, Blossom?” Wayalee asked. “Have you and Running Deer decided?”
“I am putting the children first and I think they would have a better future here,” Blossom told her. The older woman nodded and said that she was probably right.
“I think if you were just to move into town, there might be problems, but if you stay here until things are settled, we should be able to make sure that you are treated properly,” Mairi said. “Tommie can move back into our bedroom and leave the third one for you and the children. Running Deer as well when he is not working. You are very welcome to stay.”
“It is a lot to ask of you,” Blossom said. “I can pay for the school with what I make from the jewelry.”
“The school can stand some free lessons until you are settled,” Mairi smiled. “I am always surprised that people are happy to pay me for doing what I like.”
Kari handed some money over as they spoke and thanked Blossom for the new supplies.
“We need to tell the sheriff and the major what we are planning,” Jeremiah said, “and the newspaper can put in a few articles about the terrible decisions people have to make.”
“It is a huge change for you,” Anneliesa said. “We can all help whenever we can.” They laughed and pointed at the growing tummy that said her new arrival was almost due. Kari asked if she was taking the raspberry leaf tea and she nodded.
“Blue ocosh is wonderful,” Blossom added. “When the time actually arrives and the pains start.”
“I have seen where there is some growing,” Wayalee said. “We will have it ready.”
They told Anneliesa that she should not ride to the village in case it started the baby early. Then decided to go the next day because it was Sunday and they would all be free.
“Should we bring back all of your things when we come back?” Mairi asked, and as there were plenty of them Blossom could have a sled behind a working pony for the heavier things.
“Would it be alright for Callum to come as well? He would be another pair of hands,” Gloria put in hesitantly.
“So, it is getting serious?” Mairi laughed.
“It sure is,” Betty spoke out as Gloria looked a little bit embarrassed. “He is a really nice young man.”
“He knows the two women that Waya saved from those two awful men. His sister buys the bread they make. I know he would like to help if he could,” Gloria told them.
“We would have to meet him sometime, Gloria. You might as well let him jump in with both feet and meet all of us at once,” Kari joked. The girl smiled and looked really happy. Mairi was so glad that she had met someone and could lead a normal life again.
“I did tell him what had happened,” Gloria volunteered the information. “He knows that we were attacked.”
“He says,” Margaret added, “that it is a good job Baker is already dead.”
“He works as a cowboy on the ranch south of town,” Betty added.
They agreed that Blossom and the children would stay with Mairi that night and they would all travel back early in the morning to collect her things.
Tomas reluctantly went home with his parents but knew school was going to be more fun with Young Deer alongside him. The family were settled into the third bedroom. Mairi popped into the store to let them know what was happening and Amy came back into the house to meet with Blossom.
They sat around the fire in the evening and were surprised by Running Deer, who had finished his trip early. The children threw themselves at their dad and he was brought up to date in Cheyenne and English and told them he would be free to be there the next day.
“So, we have decided to stay around here?” he asked Blossom, and she nodded and asked if that was okay.
“I have a job here and we can make enough to feed ourselves and maybe find a house somewhere.”
“But you can stay here for as long as you need,” Mairi said, and knew Waya would say the same.
They were up bright and early, saddled the horses and the others arrived in twos and threes. Callum Magregor turned out to be a cheerful man with a bright smile and a shock of curly hair. Gloria was visibly happy in his company. He said he would never remember all of the names.
He said to Waya that his sister sent a message of thanks for helping her friends.
“Sadly, their tribe is being moved away as well.”
Mairi asked if he had Scottish ancestors when she heard the name. He said that his grandfather was from an island off the coast of Scotland and that was about as much as he knew. Mairi said that her grandmother was Scottish and that was all that she knew as well.
Despite being cheerful and friendly, Callum wore two side guns and Waya assumed he knew how to use them if he had to. The cowboy also had a rifle in his scabbard.
Wayalee waved them off and held her grandson by the hand. The toddler was pulling to go with everyone else.
The journey was easy and they chattered amongst themselves but there was a feeling of sadness underneath it all because Blossom was leaving her village and tribe.
Red Rain and the others were to leave the area and it was possible they would never see them again.
The guards waved them in and the village came out to meet them. Red Rain left the fact that he was chief to one side as Tomas ran to give him a man hug. He had grown far too big to be swung around in the air. Everyone greeted everyone and Callum was introduced. They sat around and ate together and then Blossom went to move all of their things outside to be carried on the horses.
They had a sled on a working pony and finally everything was loaded. It was time to say goodbye. For Blossom and the family it meant leaving everyone they knew. For Waya and Red, it was a break in the friendship of two warriors who had saved each other many times over. Mairi put her arms around Red and cried tears.
“I promise that we will come and see you sometime,” she said. “When you arrive, write and tell us exactly where you are.”
The chief and warrior was a strong man and stood firmly with his arms folded in his imposing stance to wave them goodbye but Mairi could see the tears that were running unheeded down his cheeks. It was a sombre party that rode away to Sheralena.
They reached the town and unloaded everything they had packed. The horses were turned out into the corral and Wayalee had soup ready that would serve everyone.
“School tomorrow for everyone,” Mairi said. “Back to working hard.”
“I think that we should all meet up and make ourselves cheerful,” Betty suggested. “Just a quick bacon and eggs at the diner. Anneliesa finishes work there this week.”
“Good idea,” Mairi said, “but we do have twelve children to look after.”
“Make it Thursday and everyone will have time to get organized,” Kari added, and they agreed that was the best idea.
“Blossom and the children will have time to feel at home,” Waya added.
Callum said he would get the time off as well and they started to drift away home.
There was a lot of putting away of the things that they had brought and they were all glad to fall into bed. It had been a long day.
Monday was the start of school and because the three new children were starting, Waya was in there as well. They all knew that Waya was the key to the school being accepted. The pupils all thought he was wonderful and the parents accepted him happily.
Added to that, the school was doing remarkably well and all of the children were learning to read and write properly and they could all speak a few words in a language that was not their own.
Blossom was greeted warmly by all of the parents who dropped off their children and Caroline Hallett told her that she knew her husband through the work he was doing. It was a relieved Blossom that left Mairi and Constance to teach. Waya said that he would be back later in the day and went off to see where he could easily get the children to cut branches to use for something he had in mind. He had finally finished reading Macbeth and wanted to try something out.
The children were wonderful with the newcomers. She had no worries about Young Deer. He and Tomas were a strong unit and old enough to stick by each other. She was more concerned for the girls but the students made her very proud. They all helped each other and thanks to Blossom and the tribal school, the new girls could write almost as well as everyone else.
At lunchtime they took their pails outside and sat in the sunshine talking about what they liked to do. The boys chased each other around. It was noticeable that Dannyboy was not there as he had started a job at age sixteen. Caroline was still there but her mother wanted her to go to college. The girl was clever and Mairi hoped it would all work out. They had some younger pupils as well who had joined in the last year.
Waya came back and asked if he could try something with the children. She smiled and asked him what it was.
“Macbeth,” he said. “I finally finished it.”
“Do we get to watch this?” Constance asked. He nodded. They all came inside. Mairi and Constance sat at the side and Waya looked at them all.
“We have done a lot of things outside but I wonder how clever you all are and if you can work something out for me.” They all sat up and waited. He told them the story of Macbeth in a very shortened form and said that it was set in Scotland. They talked about Scotland and the countryside there.
“The woods outside of the castle were called Birnam Woods and the hill on which his castle stood was called Dunsinane.” He told them how the witches said he would only lose the battle when Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane. “Could those woods over there come over here to the school?”
“Can you work it out?” Mairi added. She had seen where Waya was going with this plot to get them outside.
“You can talk to each other about it. How can the wood move?”
“Somebody could dig it up and plant it closer,” Tomas said.
“But we would kill them before they could reach us,” Waya said. There were other wild suggestions but none that was quite right. Some of them were close. He handed Mairi the book. “Listen to the words.” Mairi read out the couple of pages and was amazed that the whole class was really interested.
“This man thinks he is unbeatable. He is wrong because his enemies were sneaky. Mairi and Constance will stay here and think that we cannot sneak up on them. Come on.” He took the whole class away beyond the corral and found the pile of leafy branches he had already cut. He sliced some more and handed them out. “Hold them so that they cover you up. You are hiding in the trees.” The class giggled and tried to cover themselves up.
He told them to stay hidden until Mairi and Constance were in place.
“They are looking for you. When they look the other way, see how many steps you can take and then stop when they look.”
“Like granma’s footsteps?” Melissa asked and he nodded.
“Here we go. They are looking away. Make a start.”
There was so much giggling that the two teachers could have heard them a mile away, but they pretended not to see or hear anything and finally the class shouted out and rushed the last few steps.
“Where did all of these trees come from? Sheralena Wood has come to the classroom.”
They took off their various branches and filed into the classroom. The twins wanted to rub the leaves so that they would remember it.
“Tomorrow,” Mairi said. “Time to go home.”
“What on earth is going on?” Missus Cawston said as she was surrounded by her jabbering children.
“We were enacting Shakespeare,” Constance told her. “Waya had a great idea.”
Blossom could not believe the excitement that school had actually created. The talk over the dinner table was all about beating your enemy by being sneaky and fooling him.
The children went away to play.
“You are one clever man, Waya Sevenhorses,” Mairi told him as she flopped into a chair. “They actually want to read Shakespeare.”
The next two days were busy and normal but included writing about disguises and telling stories. The leaves from the disguise were rubbed and colored. It had been a good week.
Blossom had gained in confidence with the way the mothers had made her welcome at the school. They made their way down to the diner with Wayalee coming along as well. Mairi was carrying the toddler when his legs had done enough. The three native children were there as well. Young Deer was starting to look very adult and he had done as his dad and Waya did and worn a jacket that made him blend in more.
They collected Kari, Mac and Tomas and met Jed and Anneliesa at the diner. She had taken the day off and only had one more day to work. Betty, Jim, the twins, Margaret and Gloria arrived with Callum leading his horse and walking with them. Finally as they looked up and down the street, they saw Jeremiah and Constance coming towards them, but followed by some young men who were obstructing their way. A few shouts came to their ears and Waya led the other men down to see what was happening. Callum handed Gloria the reins and went along as well. The women peered down the street. Once there were more people around, the group made progress to the diner. The owner came out to see what was going on. Anneliesa had booked a huge table for everyone and he was ready to serve.
The men and Constance came to a halt and Jeremiah took out his notebook. He looked at each one of the young men and did a quick sketch as well as very quick notes. The group had obviously had quite a lot to drink and were still shouting out insults about Indian lovers and people going native. A separate crowd were gathering to see what was going on and Mairi saw someone had run towards the sheriff’s office. Sheralena was normally peaceful.
Nobody wanted to engage in a shouting match and Jim tried to usher the group inside. The diner owner was helping and nobody noticed that the children were sliding away. They had been put behind the adults for safety. Mairi was staying back because she was carrying the little one and Waya was trying to make sure that his mother and family were out of harm’s way.
The drunken mob became braver because nobody was answering them and nobody was moving.
“Injun women. Wanna see what a real man can do?” one of them shouted and others copied him.
There were the usual shouts about dead natives and other things. Then suddenly there were shouts from behind the group. Mairi could not help but smile despite the situation as the children re-enacted the game from the day of Macbeth. They jumped out, shouted names and jumped back. The girls did it as well as the boys and the drunks were totally confused.
The sheriff and deputies were coming down the street to take over when Mairi noticed that the ordinary people who had gathered to see what was happening came to help the children. They moved in closer and closer and started to call the drunks names in return. The group of young men, the worse for drink, were coming closer to where Mairi and the rest of the women were standing. The diner owner pulled at Anneliesa and took her away from danger.
The sheriff was about to step in and take control when one of the men reached out and tried to take hold of Gloria by the arm. She screamed and the man drew his gun. Suddenly the situation changed but Callum pulled a handgun from his holster with one fluid movement and shot the hand of the man with the gun.
“Well done lad,” the sheriff said and took over the scene. Callum dropped his arm around Gloria’s shoulders and swept her inside the diner. They pulled themselves together and made sure all of the children were inside and safe.
“What an introduction. I am so sorry,” Mairi said to Wayalee and Blossom.
“Drunken fools are everywhere,” Wayalee said, and waited for her bacon and eggs.
The children were being told that it was a foolish thing to do. They grinned and ate their food. Then time after time, the door opened and somebody from Sheralena called out that the drunks were nothing to do with them.
“We are not all stupid in Sheralena,” was one of the remarks.
“We will make sure the sheriff gets rid of that lot,” someone else called and finally the sheriff himself came and took a seat.
“Run them out of town and told them they are in jail if they come back. Really sorry folks. Usually we are well-behaved. Enjoy your meal.” He went to the door. Then came back. “If you want a job as a deputy, son, just come and see me.” Callum looked embarrassed.
“It was a fabulous shot,” Waya told him.
Gloria held onto Callum’s arm and looked happy.
“Good job he didn’t actually lay a hand on her,” Callum said. Then he grinned and turned to Jim. “Can you give me permission to ask Gloria to marry me?”
Jim had a grin across his face from ear to ear.
“Yes, son. Delighted.”
Callum turned to Gloria and, in front of all of them, asked if she would consent to be his wife. Gloria stuttered and gasped and tried to speak and then Margaret gave her a push and she managed to say yes. Everyone cheered and the owner of the diner brought them all free drinks to toast the happy couple.
From a worrying incident to a loud and jubilant party had been a short time. It was a happy group of people that said their goodbyes and went to separate homes.
When Mairi and Waya were finally left alone and the little one was sound asleep, they held onto each other and felt that close connection that had held them together from the first moment they set eyes on each other.
“It will be alright, won’t it, Waya?” Mairi asked.
“It is what we are trying to teach people. The school is a success and the more children that grow up with friends from everywhere, the more successful we will be.”
“You are wise, oh, wonderful one,” she smiled and kissed his nose. “As well as handsome.”
“I am the luckiest man in the whole wide world,” he told her. “I love you, Mairi. Thank you for marrying me.”
“I wonder if you will thank me in a few months’ time,” she murmured as she snuggled into his arms. “I hope we get a girl the next time.”
Waya shot into an upright position.
“Really?” he asked and she nodded and pulled him back down.
“Two blonde women in my life would be perfect,” he said.
“Happy ever after, my warrior. Happy ever after.”