Within the ring of stones, colorful flames rivaled each other for height as the wood sizzled and cracked apart. Green Eyes leaned on her husband’s shoulder and enjoyed the rare serenity. Her son, seven-year-old Little Cloud, was spending the night with his grandmother. One full moon had passed since Broken Feather’s burial ceremony, and the child’s continued presence in his grandmother’s lodge eased her loneliness.
For the past two weeks, Lone Eagle had met daily with the elder tribesmen, and tonight he seemed lost in thought.
Green Eyes tickled his ribs. “Where are you? Your body sits with me, but your mind wanders. We should be making better use of our time alone.”
“I’m sorry, but I have much to think about.” He sounded unusually somber. “Now that I am Chief, my first concern is the well-being of our people.”
Our people. His words touched her heart. Relations with the whites were strained, and messengers from other tribes continually brought news of raids, kidnappings, and killings. Outsiders made her nervous, and she only felt secure with Lone Eagle’s people—her people.
The anguished look on her husband’s face bothered her. This wasn’t the time to think only of herself. “What worries you most, my husband?” She grasped his hand.
“I fear we will be drawn into war. At the Elder’s Council, there was talk of the white man’s continued encroachment on our land. They violate our treaties, and we can no longer move about safely. Slaying buffalo has become their sport, and our brothers are being killed for no reason. If our tribe had not separated from the rest of the Oglala, we would already be living on a white man’s reservation. There is no way we will surrender our freedom. If surviving means war with the whites, we will fight.”
Her throat constricted. “Where will that leave me?” She forced the words. “Will our people turn against me because of my skin color?”
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