A man as rugged as the New Frontier and as bold as the untamed West . . .
Orphaned at the age of seven and adopted by the Indians, Jami Ian MacCallister grew into a man more at ease in the wilderness than among men. But when the westward strike drove him across the Arkansas Territory into Texas, he finally found himself a home—in the middle of a bloody war.
Texans like Jim Bowie and Sam Houston were waging a fierce struggle against Santa Anna’s Mexican army, and Jami MacCallister made the perfect scout for the fledgling volunteer force. What lay ahead of them was a place called the Alamo, thirteen days of blood, dust and courage, and a battle that would become an undying legend of the American West . . .
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Eyes of Eagles
By William W. Johnstone
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 1993 William W. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
They traveled for three days and nights, first on foot, then in canoes on a big river. When they finally paddled their canoes toward shore, the boy was so lost and so tired and so sore he couldn't tell up from down.
His hands and feet were untied, but his feet were so numb he could not walk. The Shawnee who had taken him picked him up and threw him onto the bank. Then the whole band turned their backs to him and walked into the village amid shouts of greeting from the others.
The Indian boy knelt down beside Jamie. "I am called Little Wolf," he said in broken English. "You must rub your ankles and wrists to get the blood flowing. And you must not try to run away. This is a test. The first of many. If you cause trouble, Tall Bull will kill you."
"Why are you helping me?"
Little Wolf smiled. "Don't be fooled. I am not helping you. But you are a boy and if you live, you will be a warrior. I heard Tall Bull say this from his own mouth."
Jamie thought about that for a second or two. Then fierce pain hit him hard as the feeling began returning to his feet and hands. He did not make a sound. Little Wolf watched this and was pleased. Jamie rubbed his ankles harder and more pain nearly put him out.
"You see!" the Indian said, as others gathered around. "You have pain, yet you do not cry out. You will be a warrior someday. Now get on your feet and walk to the village. Stay to one side and behind me."
"Where are we going?"
Little Wolf struck him across the face with a stick. Jamie felt the warm trickle of blood on his skin.
"Do not ask questions," Little Wolf said, a mean look in his eyes. "Not yet. Learn this now. Do as you are told when you are told to do it. You will endure many beatings before the testing is over. Now do as I told you!"
As they walked from the river, Jamie limping badly on his swollen feet, he looked at the twin lines of Indians up ahead of him, mostly women and young boys and girls. They all had sticks in their hands and were waving them, shouting at Jamie. Jamie did not have to understand the Shawnee language to know the shouts were strong insults upon him. He also knew from listening to adults talk what was about to happen to him. The Shawnees made captives run through a long and cruel gauntlet. And sometimes people did not live through the double line of tormentors. Jamie was determined that he would. He began stamping his feet on the ground and rubbing his wrists harder to hasten the flow of blood to his feet and hands.
Little Wolf turned and his smile was hard. "Now we will see how brave you are, White Hair."
"Braver than you think." Jamie met the older and taller boy's eyes. "I bet I knock some of them to the ground."
"Oh?" Little Wolf said. "And when, or if, you are able to do that, you might die."
"I'll take that chance." Jamie looked deep into the Indian's eyes, and with a start realized Little Wolfs eyes were green!
"What are you staring at, White Hair?"
"What about my eyes?"
"They're green. And your hair is brown. You're white!"
Little Wolf knocked him down with his club. "I am Shawnee."
Jamie got up with blood running down from the gash on his forehead and mad enough to spit. He tackled the bigger boy and they rolled on the ground. The older men of the village ran to the kicking and punching boys and pointed and laughed. But they made no move to separate them. If the boy with white hair bested Little Wolf, so be it.
Jamie took a wild swing and his hard little fist landed solidly on Little Wolf's nose. The blood spurted and Little Wolf jumped back, astonishment and pain mirrored on his face. He raised his club to strike Jamie, and Tall Bull jerked it from his hand.
"No!" Tall Bull ordered. "Wrestle him. Tell him if he can best you, he is spared the gauntlet."
Little Wolf didn't like it, but he told Jamie his father's orders, adding, "I think I will kill you this day, White Hair."
"I don't think so," Jamie told him, and then hit Little Wolf as hard as he could, right on the mouth.
Jamie didn't know anything about Indian wrestling, but he did know a little something about fistfighting, for his father had seen to that.
Little Wolf went down hard, landing on his butt. His lips were red with blood. He became furious when some of the young girls giggled at him. He sprang to his feet and tried to grab Jamie. But the seven-year-old twisted away and kicked out with one shoe, the hard leather catching Little Wolf on the knee. The Indian boy gasped with pain and Jamie set himself and swung. The blow struck Little Wolf on the side of his neck and dropped him like a stone. Jamie had lucked out and quite by accident struck the Indian boy in just the right spot. Little Wolf was unable to get up.
"Enough!" Tall Bull said, holding up his hand. He knelt down beside his adopted son just as Little Wolf was beginning to come around from the nerve-numbing blow. Tall Bull was a brave warrior and a respected subchief of this particular band of Shawnees, but he was also very superstitious. He cut his eyes to the white-haired boy. He knew he should kill the captive immediately. There was open defiance in the boy's eyes. But still he held back. It was rare that Little Wolf ever lost in any contest. He had never lost to a person of Jamie's age and size. He was confused.
A woman stepped out from the crowd and walked to Jamie's side and put a hand on his shoulder. Tall Bull's mind was made up for him. The woman was his wife.
Jamie looked up at the woman and met her eyes. He was not expecting to see compassion or tenderness, and he was not disappointed. Jamie would find out soon enough that he had been spared because the woman needed a slave to work, and work he would, brutally hard work, with daily beatings for many weeks. But he was alive. And for now, that was all that mattered.
Tall Bull stood up, Little Wolf beside him. There was blood on the boy's face and wild, open hate in his eyes. Jamie met the Indian boy's gaze and knew he had made a bitter enemy. He knew, too, that he would have to be very careful, for he sensed, correctly so, that Little Wolf would plot to do him harm, even to kill him, if Jamie ever let down his guard.
Little Wolf spat at Jamie's feet and stalked away, his back stiff with anger.
"You are making a mistake, woman," Tall Bull said to his wife.
"I need a slave and the boy is strong. I want him."
"He is trouble. I made a mistake. I should have killed him with the others."
"But you didn't," she replied smugly.
"Don't point out the obvious to me! All right. Take him. But he is your responsibility."
Deer Woman looked down at Jamie and pointed to the Shawnee town. When Jamie hesitated, she picked up a stick and beat him across the back and shoulders, the blows stinging and bringing blood. Jamie got the message and walked toward the town. Deer Woman stayed right behind him. Every few steps she would whack him again with the stick.
But I'm alive, Jamie thought. I'm alive. Although there would be many times in the months to come when the thought that he would be better off dead would enter his mind.
* * *
His parents had always felt that Jamie was exceptionally bright and very perceptive for his age — of course all parents feel that way — but in Jamie's case it was true. He did as he was ordered to do and did it without question or hesitation. The beatings began to slacken and finally all but stopped as Deer Woman very quickly became pleased with White Hair, as Jamie was called.
Jamie was her personal slave and instantly did her bidding. Since Deer Woman was the wife of a very important man, the others in the camp did not torment Jamie. Indeed, most began to like the boy who did his work without complaint and quickly caught on to the Shawnee way of life.
And Jamie made no effort to escape. That was noticed by all and soon Jamie was free to walk unguarded throughout the Shawnee town. The Shawnee town was a large one, and Jamie soon found three other white captives, all women. Two of them had been with the Shawnees so long they were more Indian than white, and shrank away from the boy at his approach. But the third woman, just out of her teen years, was friendly toward him and was as hungry for news from the outside as Jamie was anxious for knowledge as to where he was and what he might expect in the weeks or months that lay ahead of him.
"In the wilderness," Hannah told him. "I have never been more than two or three miles from this place."
"How long have you been a captive?"
"Five years, I think. What year is this?"
"Four years, then. Seems like forever. Listen to me. We can only talk for a few minutes or they will become suspicious. We'll talk each day when we gather firewood, or gather berries come the spring."
"I don't plan on being here come the spring," Jamie informed her.
Hannah smiled. "You'll be here."
* * *
Jamie began to sprout up and grow stronger. Deer Woman jokingly complained that she had to work all the time just to keep Jamie clothed. When the spring came, Jamie was still a captive and worked the Shawnee gardens, for like most Indian tribes of that part of the country, the Shawnees depended heavily on agriculture for their existence. Jamie helped the women tend the corn, beans, squash, and other vegetables. Since he was so young, he quickly mastered the Shawnee tongue, although he never let on that he knew as much as he did. He preferred to listen.
He learned his approximate location, and was heartsick for a time. He was several hundred miles, at least, from the village near his home. My home, he thought. I don't have a home. For Little Wolf had been more than eager to brag about how the cabin had been burned to the ground. He also went into great detail about how Jamie's mother and father had been scalped and then mutilated. He had taken great glee in the telling, over and over, until Tall Bull had finally ordered him to shut up.
Hannah talked with him briefly each day, and each day he learned more and more about the Shawnees. And to Jamie, none of it was good.
The Shawnee, Jamie learned, were a much feared tribe, and were rarely defeated in battle. They were masters of guerrilla warfare, and were expert in the use of camouflage. The men were for the most part of average height, but with a very stocky build. They were quite strong, with tremendous endurance. The men shaved their heads, using sharpened shells from the rivers, and almost always were elaborately painted. And the Shawnee were very warlike.
They lived in homes, not that much different from the cabin where Jamie had been born. The lodges were long and snug, sometimes forty or fifty feet long, and were built without windows. The smoke from interior fires drifted out through holes built in the roof. When it rained, sliding panels were used to keep out the elements. The Shawnee slept on raised platforms which were covered with bearskin rugs. Since air circulation was poor, the lodges were a mixture of smells, ranging from cooking odors to tobacco.
The Shawnee towns were always built close to a river or stream, and were always built in a circle, with a huge longhouse in the middle of the walled compound that was used for important meetings; such as the declaring of war on another tribe. Jamie learned about the tribe's history and who they called friend (which could change like the wind) and who they had hated forever and ever. At the top of that list were the Cherokees, the only Indian tribe to ever give the Shawnees a thorough beating on the battlefield. The Shawnees hated the Cherokees, also feared them, and avoided them whenever possible.
The Shawnee were noted for constructing the best bows and arrows of any tribe, and they were deadly accurate with them. The horse did not play an important part in their lives — not yet. They had horses, stolen from white settlers, but for the most part the Shawnee of the early 1800s either walked, ran, or used canoes to travel; when possible, they used all three methods.
Jamie MacCallister did his assigned chores, kept his mouth shut, stayed out of trouble, and learned by listening. Their society, he learned, while vastly different from his own, was, oddly enough, similar in many ways. Nothing of any importance was ever done without first having a meeting and discussing the problem. The chief was a great and important man, but his word was not final and could be overruled by a vote. Although that was not often the case.
The language was Algonquian, but Jamie and Hannah spoke in whispered English whenever possible, so they would not forget their native tongue. The other white captives had been in the hands of the Shawnees for so long they had forgotten most of their English.
"They were brought here from far to the east," Hannah told Jamie. "So I was told. They were traded from another tribe. The Indians who took them as wives were long dead before I arrived here. They died cowardly, so no other Shawnee will take them. They are looked upon as outcasts. They could both leave if they wanted to, no one in the tribe would care. But they don't choose to do that."
"Because they know they would be outcasts in a white society more so than they are here. At least here they have a place to sleep, food to eat, and some degree of protection."
"Yes, it is. But in a few ways, Jamie, the Indian way of life is better than what we grew up in. Not in very many ways, but in some. They are truly savages, but in their own way, generous and giving."
"I haven't found any that are generous and giving yet," Jamie replied bitterly.
Hannah looked at the boy and smiled. "Deer Woman saved your life, Jamie. And don't think she didn't take a risk by standing up to Tall Bull. For she certainly did."
Jamie stole a furtive look around him. No one appeared to be watching them, but that was something he could not be sure of. For Little Wolf had a tight circle of friends and Jamie knew one of those friends was constantly watching, usually from hiding. Jamie spotted his watcher. A big hulking boy called Bad Leg because one leg was shorter than the other. Bad Leg disliked Jamie as much as Little Wolf did. Although Jamie had never done anything to warrant that dislike. Little Wolf and his gang tormented Jamie whenever they found him alone and outside the lodge, for they knew that no matter what they did to him, Jamie would never tattle on them to Tall Bull or Deer Woman. Consequently, they did their best to make life miserable for White Hair. Why that name remained was a mystery for Jamie, since Deer Woman regularly put plant dye on his hair to darken the blond.
"I see him, too," Hannah said, resting her back for a moment from the gathering of firewood in the fields and cutting her eyes to where Bad Leg was hiding behind a tree. "He is an evil boy, Jamie. And wicked because the other children used to taunt him when he was little — so I am told. Although I don't believe the parents would have permitted very much of that. Indians are very strict about that sort of thing."
"Hannah? Is Little Wolf white?"
"That is a question you must never ask, Jamie. Not to any Shawnee. I believe he is, yes. Or at least has some white blood in him. And no, I don't know the story as to how he came here. I know only that he is adopted. Deer Woman is barren."
"Oh, I know not to ask Tall Bull or Deer Woman. The worst beating I ever had came after I asked her about Little Wolf."
A woman screeched out for them to stop chattering and to get back to work.
It was the winter of Jamie's second year in the Shawnee town.
* * *
The thought of escaping was never far from Jamie's mind, awake or sleeping. He dreamed of seeing his own kind once more. Of having some candy, like a peppermint stick or a piece of johnnycake or a thick wedge of apple pie or some of his mother's sugar cookies. Home-baked bread all dripping with fresh-churned butter and a glass of cool milk from the well.
But he never let on that he was unhappy. By the end of his second year of captivity, Jamie was allowed to roam unescorted from the village for several miles in any direction. He made snares and caught rabbits, always bringing them back to the lodge and skinning and cleaning them before handing them to Deer Woman to add to the stew or to cook over an open fire on a wooden spit. She always told him what a good boy he was.
But she never told him that when Little Wolf was around. She knew that her adopted son hated White Hair and knew only too well that her husband still did not fully trust the white boy. But that distrust was tempering as the months went by. The turning point came one early spring, when Jamie was very late in returning from a foray into the deep woods, and Little Wolf was urging his father to let him find and kill White Hair. Tall Bull had told his son — over the protestations of Deer Woman — to go, find his friends, and wait.
"He is gone, Woman," Tall Bull told her. "I suspect he hid food in the woods in preparation for this day. I made a mistake. I should have killed him."
"The boy will return," Deer Woman insisted. "Give him time. I know he will return."
"It is nearly dark. You are a fool!"
A shout came from a sentry by the log wall of the Shawnee town and everyone came running. Tall Bull and Deer Woman watched the small figure come slowly walking out of the woods, dragging a travois. All could see the doe on the travois. And it was a good-size doe, too.
Excerpted from Eyes of Eagles by William W. Johnstone. Copyright © 1993 William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIT BEGAN IN 1817 IN THE WESTERN OHIO WILDERNESS ...,
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Part One - The Way West,
Part Two - Winds of Change,
Part Three - The Siege,
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an excellent read