Chief By Donna Flood
Chapter 3 - To Live
by the Gun
Dean hired a photograph
to come to the ranch lands so they would always remember, when Weldon
was gifted with his first horse. The scenes were filmed on one of the
early reels of a movie camera.
looked about him only to believe he could not catch the true beauty
of this home on the prairie. What was it? What is this feeling
about these lands? There was no way it could be shown at the time.
The breezes always, were forever moving. They seemed like a
woman, who might brush against him and even lightly kiss his cheek.
How could he catch that emotional sensation on film? Neither could
the camera perceive the strength of the Osage woman, who was
standing at the top of the rock steps of the porch. He knew she
would come across simply as a female, who was a bit too large,
dressed in a very plain house dress. He was wrong through. Her
bearing of dignity he captured even though the severity of the
hairstyle and dress made no attempt to portray only shallow style.
The man searched for a way to make the record one that didnt look
to be just any place on a barren prairie. And then, there was the
purity of the environment. Even strangers said they wished the air
could be bottled and taken home with them. No wonder this family
felt no loneliness out here on these expanses. The pulling and
tugging of the wind behaved like a friend, or at other times, a
playmate, and again, a tormentor. As the light changed while
shining through clouds, there were painted shadows upon the
grreen of the ground, which was a mighty expression of the skys
part to play upon a stage of bluestem grass. The reel was in a brown
tone with none of the ravishing colors actually there. The
photographer felt helpless because he couldnt capture the blue
haze, or the color of azure, hanging over the meadow. What he should
have known was that the eyes of love through the beholder made the
film a success and was totally acceptable to the family.
Weldon rode his pony,
endlessly, round and about the acre of enclosed, chainlink fenced
yard, down the long entry way, but was warned not to go on the road.
The rocked surface of that road wasnt a good place to ride, he was
told. Eighty acres of prairie around the place provided enough room
for the boy to enjoy his Shetland.
He learned about taking care of the leather with saddle soap, and
after it was cleaned to hang it on a rack in the hay barn. Over the
years, a collection of saddles would be added, even an English
saddle was hung there so, Mariah could practice her jumps on her
Bertha watched and
stayed with her sons activities and finally gave in to the
realization that Weldon would, indeed, learn the ways of the
cowboys. It was inevitable, especially since, he doggedly followed
the steps of this one or the other while he watched them as they
worked the cattle. Just as his ancestors before him were ranching
people so was Weldon being groomed, simply through association and
One night after everyone
else was asLeonp Bell heard the front door slam in a loud way which was
an uncustomary thing for Joe to do, when he returned home from his night
in Whiz Bang. Even his step was different as he noisily bumped into
furniture. Instantly, Bell was awake as was Bertha. The way of the
Osage and Ponca tribes was exemplary in how they treated their elders.
Bertha carefully practiced this part of her teachings.
Is Dad all right?
Bell switched on the
light just in time to see Joe hastily making it to the bathroom. They
could hear him retching with deep gasping breaths. The women looked at
What on earth? Bell
was shocked. Joe was never sick and was now a tee-totaler. He couldnt
When he came out of the
bathroom, he had a ghastly pale look to his skin coloring. He staggered
like a drunk man before he collapsed into his leather chair.
Joe! What is wrong?
What has happened? Bell was anxious to know why her husband was in such
Instead of replying, the
man who seemed to be in shock, simply stood up and began to pace back
and forth over the long dining and living room.
There was a killing at
one of the bars tonight, where I was with the Rangers. Im tellin you
right now, this is it. Im through with the law business. Im too
old. A terrible, terrible thing. Let the Rangers do it, thats their
job, anyway. It all happened so fast and was over in minutes. I threw
down my gun and vowed never to pick it up. True to his word, Joe
never worked with the Rangers again. No matter, those men went on to do
their job and the little town of Whiz Bang was soon to become history.
The infection of the place was not allowed to spread to other towns
Joe stayed close to
home after that. He took a grandfathers time with Weldon Curtis,
teaching him to hunt rabbits, fish the main streams around the area and
to practice his marksmanship. Like all the Jones men who had been
hunters Weldon was an apt pupil and learned, maybe too well, how to live
by the gun.
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