Shielding his eyed from the searing midday sun, Little Tree peered cautiously around the mouth of the cave, then immediately shrank back into the crevice from which he had emerged, seeking comfort in the protection it offered. The stentorian rhythm of hooves approaching at a gallop echoed the melodrama unfolding within his ribcage.
"How were they able to find me?" he pondered incrediously.
"I camouflaged my tracks just like Thunder Bear taught me to do." Little Tree dismissed these distracting concerns from his mind and attempted to draw on his inner reserve.
"This is a grand opportunity to prove myself as a member of the Dancing Sun Tribe - and as a warrior." When he reached for his bow, the courage he had been attempting to muster drained away. He inspected his shoulder strap and found it in tatters. It had relinquished the prized weapon that Little Tree had been carrying. A fleeting image momentarily displaced Little Tree's immediate predicament. Thunder Bear entrusting the sacred bow and arrow to him at his initiation ceremony. Despondently he pawed at the wetness on his cheek. He sniffed resignedly and dismissed the pain of his lose. The immediacy of the situation became apparent to him.
"The pale faced ones must have come across it on the path. They know that little red boy is defenceless, now they chase him like a frightened hare!" The protesting bray of a horse as its rider pulled to sharply on its reins reinforced Little Tree's fears. A spray of gunfire, exploding into the air disturbed the stillness of the desert scape. Small plants shook as small fauna scurried for cover amid the commotion.
"We know you're in there, red boy!" The heavy drawl in the threatening bellow, echoing across the sands did little to abate Little Tree's fear as he quivered in his hiding place.
"The game is up, you rascal of an Indian, We've got you surrounded!" The would be warrior sank despondently against the cold stone that could shield him no longer. The sight of the gun wielding figure, face obscured by the brim of a large fawn hat failed to register in the red boy's mind. Distantly he acknowledged the inevitable click as the cowboy's released the safety catch on his gleaming gun. The Indian glanced at it distractedly and only averted his eyes from it after the bullet had been assigned its mission. He struggled to keep his eyes open after his impact with the earth and was keenly aware of a white feather, dislodged from his headdress, float to rest beside him.
"Tommy! Tommy, you can get up now! We're going home." His older brother, Danny threw down his toy gunand unbuckled the heavy, uncomfortable holster.
"Get a move on Tommy. We gotta get home for dinner. Mum'll be real mad if we're late again." Tommy stirred cautiously, attempting to assimilate his brother's words. He shook his head wildly as if trying to disperse a heavy cloud that had gathered within its recesses. He dragged the back of his hand across his brow and was surprised to find only beads of sweat and a coating of gritty sand. Painstakingly stretching his legs, he climbed to his feet and dawdled after his brother along the path that led home. Distractedly, he retrieved the bow and arrow he had earlier dropped by the roadside. Tenderly, he wiped away the dirt that it had accumulated and hugged it to his chest.
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Copyright © 1994 Ilanit Tof, All Rights Reserved.