Friday, October 23, 2009

Thunder Mountain - a mountain man (novel)

This is a finished work but was written with a twist. Every character in the book is a real person I know. I just picked them up and set them down in 1840s Montana. Most of these people don't know all of the others. I have people married in the story who have never met that person in this day and age. In fact, in the 21st century, Molly is married to me BUT in old Montana, she is married to the narrator of the story. I am another person in the story... he he he. This made for interesting reading for my friends in the story.

The following excerpt: Thunder Mountain (Mountain) is a mountain man who rode into these settlers lives. Mountain plays an import role in how the settlers survive in the wilderness. He is leaving the cabin to go up into the mountains to find the bodies of some friends who had been killed. He wanted to give them a decent burial.

Hope you enjoy the adventure:


"On the morning of his departure, he saddled the Medicine Hat with my old saddle. He hoped to find his saddle but really didn’t expect to. Molly made him a bag of cornbread sinkers to eat along the way. I added a cut of smoked meat, some corn meal, coffee, and some salt. Of course we sent a pot and container of water too. As he rode off toward the High Bone, I thought to myself I probably couldn’t find my way back if Indians had been chasing me. But Mountain was a mountain man and he knew the wilderness; he knew his home. As he reached the ridge where we had last seen the Indians, he turned back and waved. He sat for a minute and then left as sudden as he had entered our lives. I hoped to see him again. I had to remember all the things he taught me. He said he would be back but nothing is certain in the mountains. He felt he could find the location of his friends, take care of them and be back in two weeks. He advised I needed to stay close to the cabin and keep an eye to the horizon for Indians. Just because they hadn’t come yet, doesn’t mean they won’t.

The days drifted by slowly. We missed Mountain and worried about him. We weren’t at all happy about his going back up into the High Bone alone. We wanted him to stay. We all had become fond enough that we offered our home to become his as well. He said he would think about it. I think it helped our request a little when Little Joe started calling him Grandpa. Mountain seemed to like the sound of it although he grinningly made the remark the child could call him anything he wanted to. He added he felt more like an uncle than a grandpa. We could tell he had really taken a shine to our son. He would bounce the little Joe on his knee and sing songs to the sounds of laughter. He slid right back into a family lifestyle, something that he had seemed trying to forget. We thought of him as part of our family. We could tell Mountain liked us too.

He opened up and even started joking about all sorts of things. When he first arrived, he was much more reserve with his feelings. The only time he sort of turned away is when he would talk about his family. He loved and missed them very much. Somehow I sensed he felt responsible for their deaths. Sometimes I felt he wouldn’t come back because we made him rehash old memories of his family. Or maybe missing those old feelings would be why he came back.

I always wondered where he had come from. I did manage to find out more about his real name by accident. Sometimes he wore a head rag and, according to Little Joe, it made him look like a pirate. One day his hat fell from the peg by the door and landed upside down. I picked it up to replace on the wall and I saw printing inside. In the sweatband was the initials M L. Even with this hint I never got up the nerve to ask him his real name. I guess I figured it was none of my business and I didn’t need to snoop. Besides, when he was ready to tell me, he would when he returned from the High Bone. I missed him but I didn’t realize how much until my wife disappeared.

Molly had gone down for water to the waterhole where Mountain and I had built the dam. It made a good sized pool. I was around by the back of the cabin; skinning a deer I had killed that morning. I had just completed a smokehouse and was anxious to use it. Little Joe was playing with the hooves of the deer. I finished up and walked around to get the seasoning salt and pepper for the meat I had just hung up in the smoker. Molly wasn’t in the cabin. I went outside and called. I received no answer. I put my son at the table with some sugar bread, picked up the musket, and headed down to the watering hole to check on her. I should have seen able to see her from the house but she was nowhere in sight. Time and time again, I called but to no avail and my mind commenced producing pictures of all the things which could be wrong. Upon inspection around the muddy bank, my worst horrors were realized. I could see Molly’s small shoe prints and then the prints of moccasins; many, many moccasins. I feared the worse as I tried to read the signs left by the prints. There appeared to have been a struggle and the wearer of the small shoes seemed to be drug along by the many moccasins.

I followed the tracks up stream. The tracks were fairly easy to read and saw where Molly had been dragged along. She was fighting them by the looks of the tracks. At one point her tracks disappeared. It would seem she had been carried from that point to where the tracks stopped at the horses tracks. It looked like four or five Indians had attacked and taken Molly. I could tell she had put up a fight by the scuffle marks on the ground. It showed something else. She had been carried and put on an unshod horse. The horses were not wearing horseshoes like white men put on their horses. Her being carried at least hid a little good news. She was alive.

I had to put together a plan to get her back but first I had to get back to Little Joe and get him to safety. I ran hard for the cabin. When I finally saw our home, I called for my son. I dressed him quickly, retrieved a bag of biscuits, and put on my shooting bag. With my rifle in hand and him in tow, I began running downstream along the creek. I remembered seeing smoke from a cabin once while on a hunt. I had planned to make a trek down to introduce ourselves. I had to travel the eight or so miles and seek help. I had to get to that house quickly as I could and leave my son with them for safety. Maybe someone there could help me search for my wife. I could then continue on the trail of the Indians to find Molly. God, I wish Mountain was back. I needed him now. But more importantly, Molly needed him now."

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