I rode Ko’-LAH, and led Mahkah’s horse, Tawaiciya to the creek. I let them drink their fill of water and graze on grass we found near the stream. I knew I must let them rest before turning back and making our way to the cabin. Mahkah said it is not good to work a horse right after they drink a lot of water. We had made it down in good time, but going back up, would be an arduous journey.
I wondered what I would find when we got back to the spot where I had separated from my brother. I knew he had no idea what to expect when he got to the cabin, but since Soo’-TAH had not given us any kind of sign, something must be very wrong.
We had about an hour to go, and not much more than that before we would be enveloped in darkness, when I remembered Mahkah had asked me to hide the doll. I untied her from my leg and looked around for a place where she would be protected from wind and weather. I also needed to be able to find her later.
I found a cavity in one of the trees that appeared suitable and started to hide her there. I looked at her for a long while, wondering what secret she held. She had dark skin and hair, but she was not dressed in the style of anyone I had ever seen. I noticed her eyes were hazel in color, not the dark brown of my heritage. I wanted to thoroughly inspect her, but I knew I didn’t have the time if I was going to get back and get the horses tied up before dark. As I laid her in her safe haven, I noticed one of her stocking covered legs looked different from the other. I looked more closely and could see something had been carefully woven into the fabric of the stocking. It glistened as it caught the quickly fading light. When I moved it with my finger, something came loose, or actually started to unravel from the threads of the fabric. It was a silver chain. I carefully pulled the chain until I finally came to the end. Something was embedded inside the little doll’s leg, but there was only a small hole..just big enough for the chain. I couldn’t figure out how to remove what was inside, without damaging the doll.
My brother had insisted I hide the princess doll, so that’s what I did. I hoped her secret would be safe until we came back to get her.
I made it safely back to the spot where we had tied the horses before, and made sure they were secure before finding the big rock Mahkah and I had both rested on while we waited for Soo’-TAH. It was getting very dark by this time, so I couldn’t see very well, but there were no signs that Mahkah had been there since he left all those hours earlier.
Though I was filled with fear, I managed to keep myself calm. I was not totally defenseless. I had something else tied to my leg…a very sharp knife.
The minutes passed. I would wait until dawn to decide what my next move would be. The night was very still. All I heard was a light breeze moving through the tall pine trees. Then I heard something different. It sounded as though someone was walking through the trees toward my hiding spot. I quickly knelt down behind the rock and reached for my weapon. My heart was pounding in my ears, so I had to depend on whatever shadows I could see. I silently prayed to God and the Great Spirit to give me courage and all the quickness I would need to defend myself.
I had not prepared myself for what I saw come through the trees. It was Soo’-TAH, and he was alone and hurt.