Esther May suffered from each breath. The Indian must have cracked at least one of her ribs when he delivered that vicious kick.
She lay face down, hands tied behind, unable to move her shoulders to ease the throbbing pain. Raising her head, she saw the Apache’s back as he squatted and waved Clyde’s scalp in C.J.’s face.
The Indian spoke English well.“I have the scalp of the Indian hunter, Stinger. I say his name—his spirit won’t rest. We will dance for his death. I will take your scalp but no Apache will dance. You are a squaw boy sitting in your łizh—your wet pants.”
While the Indian taunted C.J., Esther May rolled over and pulled her knees up until she was in a fetal position. She slid the tied wrists down under her buttocks. The movement sent stabbing pain through her side. She clamped her jaw in time to stop a cry from escaping.
She paused for a heartbeat and remembered the times as a girl she had done this very same maneuver. It was in fun then. Hands behind, loop them under your bottom and bring them back in front. Easy! But her ribcage burned this time. The maneuver took only a few seconds but left her sweating.
Esther May cast a glance at C.J. and willed him her resolve. Stay strong—delay—give her time.
Reach The Rifle
She got to her feet and hopped toward Skewy where C.J.’s rifle hung on the saddle. She was within arm’s reach when Skewy sidestepped.
A hot flash of fear filled Esther May, pushing aside the pain in her side. Dear Lord, not now. Please, Skewy. Let someone other than C.J. near you.
Two more hops and she raised her hands for the saddle horn.
The hand on the back of her shirt was rough. When it pulled her, she couldn’t step back to keep her balance. Esther May went down in a full-body thump.
This time she couldn’t stop the screaming pain.
Her captor stood over her, his knife drawn. “You are mine. You will gather the mesquite beans and grind them. You will cook and gather wood. You will build wikiups. You will do all this for me.” He brought the blade in front of her face. “Now you learn the Apache way of teaching untrue squaw. You will carry your nose in your hand.”
He gripped Esther May’s jaw and immobilized her head.
She managed a muffled scream as the knife approached to slice off her nose.
The Apache collapsed on top of her.
She couldn’t stop screaming. There was blood on her face, she tasted it.
“Get off! Get off!” Esther May pushed and shrieked, but the Indian was too heavy for her to move.
He raised his head, gazing at her with unfocused eyes. He tried to push himself up, muttering in his native language.
She managed a twist and with a shove, the Apache rolled off. As he did, Esther May saw C.J. raise a rock and hit the Indian on the head again.
C.J. Shows Up
Part of Esther May’s awareness stood off to one side watching her, C.J., and the Apache. She was a crying, wailing, broken down mess. C.J. was on his knees an arrow through his side, a rock in his hand. The Apache who had treated them so savagely lay with blood in his hair, still gripping his knife.
Esther May’s nose burned at the memory, and she lifted her bound hands to touch it. She had a cut on the bridge, but the tip of her nose was still there. Through her tears, she realized that her next effort was to get the knife away from the Apache while she could.
Esther May wriggled around and grabbed the weapon. Her cruel adversary stretched out in front of her.
A calm clarity settled in her mind. They weren’t safe yet and may never be.
But she could show the world that this Apache was bested at least once.
Esther May cut off his nose.
Then his ears.
Why was C.J. looking at her like that?
How could Esther May behave like that? Leave a comment now.
Here is an excerpt from:
Vanished Arizona: Recollections of My Army Life
With Twenty-two Illustrations
Philadelphia: Press of J. B. Lippincott Company, 1908
Copyright, 1908, by Martha Summerhayes
Once or twice, I saw older squaws with horribly disfigured faces. I supposed it was the result of some ravaging disease, but I learned that it was the custom of this tribe, to cut off the noses of those women who were unfaithful to their lords.
To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
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