When his body is found with a portion of a rope hanging from a limb above his head, and, another portion around his body and the tree trunk, the priest believes it is a suicide, and, refuses to bury him with Catholice rites. They believe there is a murderer loose.
Etienne has a bullet hole in the middle of the forehead. A knife stabbed between his shoulders, another in his chest. His scalp is half removed. The legal system does not exist in New France, but the bureacracy must deal with it. Sailing Eagle thought that the pair was much like his own band: given an objective and left to achieve it.
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In this thought he found himself akin to them: they were the epitome of their forces. These two were the avant-garde of the main body of their warriors, just like himself. As he approached his compound, Sailing Eagle knew he was unable to save her or relieve her from the misery she suffered and would continue to suffer for the remainder of her time on these lands. He had been away, reconnoitering their whereabouts, which he had not found, and to locate the place where they would have hidden their canoe.
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To his discomfort he had given up the search in the late evening. He knew, even before he approached, what was happening. The Meskawapi had experienced them before. His heart had become heavy with the pain of realizing that he had lost all of his brothers, and now his squaw. These two, or rather the black-haired one, never enjoyed himself until his work was done.
Only then, would he indulge himself. Coming upon the bands compound, Sailing Eagle, knew the pair would have lain in wait until all of the warriors had returned, and the band had sat around a small smouldering fire pit. They would have waited yet a little until the natives and their squaws had entered their respective teepees to sleep. Then, with the swiftness and dexterity of the night owl, they would have slashed the throats of all the warriors and squaws, save one squaw.
She would be the delicacy of the evening, who would be granted the privilege of surviving their pleasure for at least a time. He would have liked to kill both of these interlopers. He feared that in his struggle to achieve this, which would mean two more scalps on his belt, and two eagle feathers, sewn first to his breasts, and then added to his ceremonial headdress, Featherdust would be lost to him forever. To save her, he thought, would be easy enough. He strongly wished to avenge the many deaths that they had perpetrated upon his nation, as well as the degradation they were imposing upon his squaw.
Before the second arrow had flunked into the structure, Etienne was standing at the door, hoisting his leggings and motioning with a flip of his head the direction of escape. At the edge of the small clearing, they, like mice, listened for a bearing, and like the faintest of morning breezes disappeared through a small gulley into the insignificant hills to the west. Like the zephyr, Sailing Eagle whisked through the area to his own teepee. In the pre-dawn raid, made with the utmost skill and silence, the two had sliced the throats of the four male warriors in the encampment.
This he knew without seeking out his warrior brothers. Entering his teepee, these white faces had tethered the hands and feet of his squaw to the ground, and taken her, possibly several times. She was still moaning with the stinging in her heart with her eyes shut to the world. Beside her, was the dead body of Morningsong, the warrior who had attempted to protect her.
As he cut her loose from her bondage to mother earth, Featherdust, told him of her ordeal, and the place in him where the spirit of anger and revenge resides, grew and grew. He was torn into tiny pieces inside, unable to accept her any longer as his squaw, yet feeling a deep compassion for her.
He knew that allowing her to live was as much a curse, as some believed it to be a blessing. He hoped she would not ask him to send her to the skies. It was something he could not do.
When she had finished telling him of the pain, the hurt, the scar that was forming inside of her, she rose solemnly from the fireside where the coals were almost gone, backed away from him until it was proper for her to turn and walked out of the encampment headed in a straight line out of his life. The hole in his spirit was large and deep. It was the way it was meant to be.
He despised them. He hated them. Not only for their decimation of the Meskawapi people, but for the wickedness they had inflicted on his squaw. Without consulting with his war chief, or, his chief, he had resolved to follow, and when possible to kill these two. This mission was determined without any thought, reason or reflection. It was known to him, in that moment. The Manitou had arranged it.
With little preparation, he made his way to the big water belonging to the Manitou of the Michigans. Leaving the encampment, he knew in his soul that he had already lost much time and their distance from him would increase. He had not found their canoe. He whisked himself near the stream, hoping to catch them in flight. But success was not his. Like superior aboriginals the two had left no trace. However, he knew they were on their way back to a settlement many days away, and he knew the general direction.
He, without any preparation, retrieved his canoe from its hiding place, and set out to track them. His paddle slipped into the waters swiftly and often. His ample chest consumed the fresh air easily, and his angular nose smelled their presence.
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He was determined to kill them both whenever the opportunity would present itself. If need be, his obsession told him he would track them to their winter base.
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All he knew was that this was a good distance away, a fairly good distance away. As the canoe glided over the waters, he patted the pemmican bag he carried in front of him in his canoe. There was enough there for ten or twelve days, if he ate berries and grasses and mushrooms.. He was so revolted by the very sight in his mind of the black haired devil, that his paddle dug deeper and slid passed his body more quickly. The canoe soared like it was a sailing eagle. The sight of him, though, vague, was the picture of the gods of destruction.
He despised him.
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Over the next twenty or so days, into the end of October, he found what he assumed were traces of the pair. The sides of his pemmican bag lay against each other. It was empty. The berries that Mother Earth had left for him on the trees, and the small bodies of squirrels, rabbits, and ducks had not extended it contents.
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While his mission was as resolute as always, his body had thinned, the energy had diminished. The strength, while not apparent to him, had waned. At one point, he had come upon signs of a troop of white warriors, with a leader, and perhaps a dozen canoes. Their camps left telltale signs like a large burned out fire pit, canoe prints on the shore, defecation spots, the bones of animals charred from their cooking.