Spirit of the Crow
In 1836 John McGregor, a Scottish and Seminole half breed, kills a white man in Florida. The crime is worse when the man turns out to be an Army sergeant. Self-defense is no excuse. McGregor is angry––angry with God, the Maker and Taker of Breath, angry with the red man as well as the white. Among the Indians, this rage earns him the name, One-Who-Gives-No-Chance.
The hardened outcast hides among hundreds of Creek Indians being forcibly removed to Indian Territory. No-Chance ignores the human misery until a scream awakens a hidden memory. He risks exposure of his secret and intercedes for an injured woman in labor. The birth of the infant begins the redemption of John McGregor as he seeks to escape past demons and, despite the hardships, make a place for himself in Indian Territory.
No-Chance grit his teeth as he managed to free one leg. Bile rose in his throat at the torment movement produced, and he collapsed backward into a mound of leaves, the right leg still trapped under the horse’s broad rump.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…be still,” No-Chance gasped, trying to soothe the animal’s suffering. “Never did I think we’d end up like this!” He closed his eyes and clenched his fist against a wave of pain.
Bare branches clacked in the wind and mingled with the rustle of leaves. The horse whinnied, and No-Chance opened his eyes. Did he hear a sound? He listened with every nerve and scanned the sides of the ravine. The roan, breathing labored, raised his head.
“Yes,” No-Chance whispered, “I hear it, too!” After weeks on the removal, he had grown deaf to the constant shuffle of feet, coughs, and moans. Had his ears forgotten the sound of forest spirits as they moved from tree to tree? No, there had been a noise this time, a twig cracking underfoot.
No-Chance stared up the embankment. The throb in his leg caused his whole body to pulsate and vision to blur. He shook his head and focused his eyes again.
A leaf drifted like a sinking butterfly into his lap. Squinting, he studied skeleton tree branches fanned against the gray sky. There, directly above, the shadow form of an Indian with a long bow.
Leaves rustled as No-Chance shifted for a better view. A creeping fear dulled all pain with his discovery.
Looking down, a red-painted warrior scowled back.
No-Chance’s gaze froze on the line of scalps sewn across the yoke of the Indian’s tunic. Comanche! No-Chance swallowed. Horse thieves. Comanche were damn horse thieves.
“Not my horse,” he hollered. “You’re not getting my horse.”
On instinct, he reached for the knife hidden in his right boot. He tried to wiggle his hand under the horse. Teeth clamped tight, he put his left foot against the roan’s rump and pushed in a futile attempt to free his trapped leg.
The Comanche drew an arrow from his quiver. Frantic, No-Chance stretched as far as he could and grabbed for the whip looped over the pommel. His fingers clawed at the horse’s blanket trying to pull the saddle toward him. It did not budge. In one instant he heard the twang of the bow and in the next watched an arrow quiver in the roan’s body.
Boy shuddered, struggled for a moment; then, relaxed.
“Oh, dear God,” No-Chance groaned aloud. Stunned at hearing his own words, he straightened. This was the second time in twenty-four hours he had called on God, something he had not done since he was fifteen! Like a flight of swallows, images of his mother, White Cloud, and the baby, flitted through his mind. Maybe his one good deed would redeem him with his father’s God.
Today he would die with dignity. He was many things, but not a coward. No-Chance pulled open his jacket and shirt to expose his scarred chest.
“The Comanche finds honor in killing a crippled man!” He cleared his throat. “I spit on such honor.”
No-Chance clenched his teeth as he watched the warrior find his heart as a target.