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"You don't think the Indians are still around, do you?" Hattie glanced over her shoulder and cast wide eyes at Billie.
"Nah, they're probably long gone, but you can never be too careful." He draped his rifle strap over his shoulder, allowing the weapon to dangle, and walked closer. "You almost done?"
"Yes." She wrung the water from the last diaper and tossed it into the laundry basket. Standing, she massaged the small of her back. "How do you think the scouts knew Indians killed those buffalo?"
He bent and picked up the wicker container. "Besides seeing arrows amidst the remains, the way the feathers are notched usually tell which tribe left 'em. If a white man had done the killin', they would have simply skinned the animal and left the rest. The Indians take pretty much everything. The meat, they use for food, the skins for blankets.and coverings for their lodges. Bones serve as utensils for cookin' and eatin', and the some of the innards become bowstrings and thread for their sewin'. I hear tell they use the animal's bladders to tote water."
The unpleasant thought of water carried in that manner caused Hattie to make a face. She wanted to hear more, but Billy dropped the laundry basket at his feet and held a silencing finger to his lips. She cast a questioning look his way, but complied, freezing in place. He craned his ear toward the high grass to his left and pulled his rifle from his shoulder. Placing one foot steadily in front of the other, he approached the dense growth.
A cold chill ran down her spine, but her apprehensive gaze followed his movement. She strained to hear something, but Billy walked on silent feet, causing only the slightest crackle of grass as he parted the crispy strands. He disappeared from sight, leaving her quivering with fear.
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