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Ride the Moon down: The Plainsmenby Terry C. Johnston
Synopses & Reviews
The baby stirred between them.
She eventually fussed enough to bring Bass fully awake, suddenly, sweating beneath the blankets.
Without opening her eyes, the child's mothergroggily drew the infant against her breast and suckled the babe back to sleep.
Titus kicked the heavy wool horse blanket off his legs, hearing one of the horses nicker. Not sure which one of the four itwas, the trapper sat up quiet as coal cotton, letting the blanket slip from his bare arms as he dragged the rifle from between his knees.
Somewhere close, out there in the dark, he heard the low, warningrumble past the old dog's throat. Bass hissed--immediately silencing Zeke.
Several moments slipped by before he heard another sound from the animals. But for the quiet breathing of mother and the ngg-nggsuckling of their daughter, the summer night lay all but silent around their camp at the base of a low ridge.
Straining to see the unseeable, Bass glanced overhead to search for the moon in that widecanopy stretching across the treetops. Moonset already come and gone. Nothing left but some puny starshine. As he blinked a third time, his groggy brain finally remembered that his vision wasn't what it had been. For weeksnow that milky cloud covering his left eye was forcing his right to work all the harder.
Then his nose suddenly captured something new on the night wind. A smell musky and feral--an odor not all thatfamiliar, just foreign enough that he strained his recollections to put a finger on it.
Then off to the side of camp his ears heard the padding of the dog's big feet as Zeke moved stealthily through thestands of aspen that nearly surrounded this tiny pocket in the foothills he had found for them late yesterday afternoon.
And from farther in the darkness came another low, menacinggrowl--
Titus practically jumped out of his skin when she touched him, laying her fingers against his bare arm. He turned to peer back, swallowing hard, that lone eye finding Waits-by-the-Water in whatdim light seeped over them there beneath the big square of oiled Russian sheeting he had lashed between the trees should the summer sky decide to rain on them through the night.
He could hear Zeke movingagain, not near so quietly this time, angling farther out from camp.
Bass laid a lone finger against her lips, hoping it would tell her enough. Waits nodded slightly and kissed the finger just before hepulled it away and rocked forward onto his knees, slowly standing. Smelling. Listening.
Sure enough, the old dog was in motion, growling off to his right--not where he had heard Zeke a moment before.Yonder, toward the horses at the edge of the gently sloping meadow.
Had someone, red or white, stumbled upon them camped here? he wondered as he took a first barefooted step, then listened some more.Snake country, this was--them Shoshone--though Crow were known to plunge this far south, Arapaho push in too. Had some hunting party found their tracks and followed them here against the bluff?
Everynight of their journey north from Taos, Bass had damn well exercised caution. They would stop late of the lengthening afternoons and water their horses, then let them graze a bit while he gathered wood for a small fire healways built directly beneath the wide overhang of some branches to disperse the smoke. Waits nursed the baby, and when her tummy was full, Bass's Crow wif
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