White Sister didn't know what to make of Kirkland as she tried to revive the ranger. Nash started to come around as his eyes flickered a little. He caught glimpses of the beautiful young maiden as she caressed his brow and gently rocked him to and fro. Nash likened it to being in the arms of an angel and thought he'd died and gone to heaven, as he faded in and out .
Kirkland braved the snarling black wolf and stood his ground. "Crystal my child it's me your father." He opened his coat and searched for something inside his vest pocket.
"Why do you say this...my name is not Crystal and I am not your daughter." White Sister dismissed the man as a fool.
"Look I have something to show you." Kirkland pulled out a gold locket on a necklace and gave it to the young maiden. He showed her how to open the shell which revealed a small mirror inset. The oval frame stored a family picture of Kirkland standing behind his wife in a rocker holding a baby and when she saw it, she couldn't believe her eyes . "You look just like her. She's your mother and she's holding you when you were a little baby Crystal."
Kirkland removed his spectacles and dabbed his tears into a handkerchief. " You're as beautiful as she was." He reached out to her as White Sister raised her hand to restrain her overprotective brother-the wolf.
Kirkland then brushed his hand through the fine baby hair in front of his daughter's thick golden mane as she gazed into the locket. She could see the strong resemblance to her mother compared to her own image reflected in the mirror. "This was hers but you can have it. I was hoping I would find you some day and give it to you. It's the only thing I have left of hers."
"What happened to her?" Crystal shed a tear as she stared, fixated on the photo. Big burly miners and warrior tribemen who had gathered around choked back the tears. Dewy slobbered and cried his eyes out as he listened to the gut wrenching story.
" You were both kidnapped for ransom when I was gone on a business trip. I found the ransom note when I got home and instructions to get $25000 in gold to the kidnappers. They requested a lone courier, so I hired the best. When he arrived to make the exchange at their camp somewhere near the base of Mount Gabe, he was met by three ruffians. We think they took the gold and never intended to release you or Margret-your mother as her hands were still bound with rope." All the men were now enthralled by the mine owner's story.
"The courier must have tried to save you both. The resulting gunbattle, as we found out when we came across the scene the next day, had two men dead in camp, another man escaped with the gold and left a trail of blood that dotted the ground. We found your mother and the courier a hundred yards away near the horses. They almost made it. You were the only survivor. Until now I thought the man took you from your mother, but he just left you there." Kirland looked to the Shoshoni. " I see now that it was valley people who had you in their care all along and I'm truly grateful to them"
Chief Wild Horse spoke. "I find her. " Then he went on to say in his limited english that he thought the baby would be better off with his people, instead of her own from the bloody carnage he saw that day. Nash who was fully aware now, heard it all. He got up on his shaky feet. Kirkland helped Crystal steady him. Their would be many questions to come but that would have to wait.
"Let's get him up on his horse." Kirkland put the rangers boot in the stirrup while White Sister and the Chief shoved Nash up to the saddle. White Sister mounted up behind him taking the reigns as her bronco followed.
It was Christmas Eve. The men were eager to reunite with there families. They were quick to make their way to stables. Once the men mounted up, the Shoshoni lead the way down their ancestral trade route that they had taken to get to the mine. It offered the best crossing to take them over the raging Blue Gulch Brook. There was an old windfall upstream just above Blue Falls. The giant Sequoia was a natural bridge that the Shoshoni knew well but the trepidatious miners were slow to venture out on it. They feared the hundred foot plunge to the jagged rocks at the bottom of the cascading chasm. The Shoshoni people had used the crossing for many years, trading with their close relatives the Northern Paiute.
© Copyright 2017 Warren Wheeler. All rights reserved.
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