On May 2, 1864 a teen of 14 years going to 15 went into the woods in search of its father. The forest was peaceful almost quiet except for calls from birds, chattering of squirrels, and nickering of the horses.

"Pa, where are you?" Called the boy wearing brown trousers and a deer skin shirt riding on a black & white horse, whose name was Star. Nervously fingering his rifle, heavy on his thigh. After a minute or so he got off of Star and began to search deeper in the forest for his father. He hoped his father didn't meet anyone dangerous while was hunting. He turn quickly as a bush behind him rustled, rifle cocked. It turned out to be Mr. Moore, his father.

"Pa, did you want me to hit you? You could've been hurt!" Nicki Moore said breathlessly.

"Now girl, I know you got better aim than that! Else I would've never let you touch it." Grunted a man of 35-years. His face stern but his eyes would always tinkle in laughter. Pa was the wagon master. He was carrying a big, brown stag (a male deer) and a string of white-gray rabbits.

"Here pa let me help." Nicki put 2 fingers into her mouth and blew out a whistle. In came Star trouncing in like he was to get an apple.

"That dang horse follows you around like you're its mother. Hah! True to his stature. A pure-breed stallion. To the tiniest bone in his whole dang body!" Mr. Moore said as he handed the string of rabbits and tied the stag on to Star's saddle.

Mr. Moore patted powerfully, not enough to make her fall, on her back and smiled.

"So how old are you today? 11?" He said as he pulled on Star's rein.

"Pa you know I'm turning 15 today. Stop kidding." Nicki happily. As they started to return to their camp a small boy in blue trousers came running.

"Nicki! Look at this! Ain't it pretty?" The boy held up a small starling.

"Tell you ma that I'll be skinning and tanning the deer, alright?" Mr. Moore said as he went behind their tan wagon.

"Yes, pa! Theo, do you always catch a small critter every time pa and me go hunting?" Nicki asked her brother, Theodore Moore the second, as she put the rabbits near the fire and her rifle leaning on their wagon. "If you let it go it might come back." Suddenly behind the small boy a tall, lean shadow picked Theo in the air tickling him until he gotten tears in his eyes.

"Go clean up this instant young man!" Chided Mrs. Moore scooting him near the river. The water was pale green-blue and had low currents so they knew it was safe to wash and drink in. "Go with him will you, Nicki?" Mrs. Moore asked as she caught a stray hair and put it back in its place.

"Yes, ma'm. Pa's in the back." Nicki said as she picked up her pistol belt and put it on. The pistol belt was a birthday present when she was 11, from her parents; it had one silver pistol with an initials N.M for Nicki Moore. The rifle was given to her when she was just 13 with the same initials. Normally, she would not have put on the belt but this was unknown territory. She got up and followed Theo as he let the starling go and began to skip toward the river.

"Jessamyn, this the best supper you've ever cook up!" Mr. Moore said as he chewed through a large piece of meat.

"Muhh!" Theo said with his mouth full and covered by the sauce.

"Ma, even if my father and brother talk with their mouth full," Nicki looked at them smiling." I think they mean thank-you."

"I've been with your father to long I can actually understand what he's saying!" Mrs. Moore exclaimed with a hand over her mouth. Everyone began to laugh. After supper, Nicki got up and helped her mother with the dishes while Theo was catching fireflies with his father. The sun was setting over the horizon colors were gliding in to the sky; red, orange, blue, and yellow.

"It's almost time to go bed, Theo. Get Ready!" Mrs. Moore said as Theo handed over the jar full of fireflies. After they had gotten cleaned up and said goodnight to theirs parents, Nicki and Theo began to make their way to the wagon.

"Nicki, are you going to sleep with your pistol, again?" Theo asked yawning loudly and stretching.

"You bet! Ever since that showdown you can never be careful, plus I could shoot one of them monsters that been scaring you so much." Nicki teased gently as she helped him up into the wagon.

"There are monsters! There is, cause I saw it! But I ain't afraid!" Theo whines.

"Sure. Now go to sleep." Nicki replied sleepily. Today's a Saturday so Pa has the first watch then Mr. Buckley, then Andy & me, then Mr. Thomas, Dr. Smith, Nicki thought as she began to doze off in to her dreams.

?é?

She was walking down a dirt road when she saw an Indian sitting on the right of it. She walked up cautiously to the man repeatedly checking if she had had her gun. When she was about a foot away the Indian began to stand. Nicki reached for her gun.

"Peace, Nicki, I mean you no harm. I came in your dreams to ask you to come to my camp."

"How do you get in my dreams? And how did you know my name?" Nicki asked suspiciously as she fingered her pistol, she couldn't see his face. Pa always said if a person talks to you they should show their face to tell you the are not dangerous but caution is always advised.

"Because one of the scouts of my tribe was watching your people call you such." He explained as he stepped out from the shades and folded his arms across his chest, which was painted with blue, red, and black like his face. Now, that Nicki saw his face she pulled her hand away from her gun wearily. He had a warm and handsome face that was lit up with a smile. His eyes were just like pa, twinkling. Just then Nicki heard a roar that sent a chill down her back. She turned around to spot a bear; it was about 7-feet tall and had red-bluish fur. She reached for her gun as she did a hand grabbed her. She looked up; it was the Indian that had stopped her.

" Don't shoot," he whispered and pulled away. " It is your test, how do you get rid of a bear without killing it. Why displease the spirits and waste meat when you don't really need it."

"What test?" Nicki exclaimed. "What will I get out of this? Hey, watch it, buddy!" The Indian was unbuckling her belt that had held her gun.

"I know you will defeat him. My name is Gray Hawk. I had asked you if you wanted to come into my camp. This test will prove if you are worthily enough."

"Did I say, yes?"

"No but, you must come anyway." He had lost the twinkling and gained fierceness that made her eyes water as she stared.

"Jezz. Talk about subtle. All right, I will." Nicki said with a small sigh. She felt for some reason she didn't want him to be sad or angry. Gray Hawk began to grin.

"You will fight the bear now and will be woken up by a man who looks like your father. I will come back as soon as you fall asleep. Be ready." Gray Hawk said as he vanishes. The bear roared again, Nicki had forgotten about it until than. It circled her like a vulture, she was trying to remember what pa would have done if he were to face a bear with out his weapons. Play dead, said a small voice in her head. Nicki dropped to the floor and rolled onto her back. She cleared her mind and began to hold her breath. It came up to her and sniffed her face...

You pass...!

"Nicki, wake up it's your watch." Said Mr. Moore at the entrance of the wagon.

"Yes, suh." Nicki said slurry. She got up and put on her dark blue jacket. Checked to see if her pistol was still there, then if Theo was asleep. Jumped off the wagon, got on Star. That was when she remembered her strange dream or was it even a dream? She started off to the place she was to trade off with Mr. Buckley and met Andy in a daze. She had been thinking about what Gray Hawk had said in her dream when suddenly Andy caught both of her hands and kissed them. She gasped, frightened, and pulled away.

"What was that?" She asked as she wiped her hands on her trousers and looked at Andy suspiciously. "You haven't been drinking booze, have you?" Andy, Andrew Curve, had been her friend ever since she was born, he also knew about her disguise. He was about 17 and rugged as a boy could be and had dark blue eyes, wearing trousers and sitting on his stallion, Blue, he looked to be 6-ft tall. He never wore any shirts, he says it chafed his image around the girls (or ladies as he says). Nicki thought he was more like a brother rather than her friend, but never in her life had she thought that he would kiss her. She never had thought she was pretty enough to get kissed. Andy was laughing. Nicki frowned. She hated it when he would laugh at her for something he did.

"Not fair! Don't do that! I didn't do anything." Nicki exclaimed angrily. Andy looked down on his saddle.

"Your pa didn't tell you, did he?"

"Tell me what? That you have a twisted mind and I should never see you again?" Nicki asked with a laugh full of humor.

"No. I proposed the idea of marriage and he has agreed." Andy mumbled.

"So who is the lucky girl?" She asked nervously watching him as he circled her. Marriages in the wagons were considered as a serious deal. Nicki herself was terrified of marriage even if it was just talk.

"You, Nicki. You are the 'lucky girl'. I want to marry you." Nicki's face was slack, so he misunderstood it for a 'no'. "Of course if you want to decline my proposal I'll be all right." He said hurriedly. He had never felt this way before around her, but he had wanted her dearly. She didn't know that day on Thanksgivings, when she wore a long, drifty, red dress, all eyes, including the girls, were watching her. The way she had ran her fingers through her short, sleek, black hair and laughed made all the boys sigh with content.

"Oh, Andy! I-It isn't that I-I don't like you, it's just th-th-that I don't know if I am ready for ma-ma-marriage." Nicki stammered.

"Nicki, it is all right, I can wait if you want me to." Andy said as he gripped her hands gently and held her eyes. Then he hugged her; she wanted to scream as she pressed her head against his neck. He smelled of hay and soap. Quickly she pulled back as quick as a rattlesnake could strike. Why didn't Pa tell me this? was all she could think about.

"Andrew Curve, you must not wait for me. When the time is right we will see if I will be ready for it." Nicki said as she saw Mr. Thomas ridding toward them. Mr. Thomas was a military man. He was the lieutenant of the Texas Army before they had driven him off because of his slowness to attack. Was it time to switch already?

" 'Evening, little man," Mr. Thomas said as he tipped his hat. "I see Andy had kept you safe. Tomorrow we are 'bout half mile to the Red River. Best you get good sleep if you want to stop Theo from snatching up little snakes."

"Yes, suh!" Nicki saluted Mr. Thomas and waved good-bye to Andy.

As Nicki headed back toward her wagon she heard a shout. When she turned she saw it had belong to a small figure that was standing on the hill near their camp. Thinking it was Theo, who would always get lost trying to get to the latrines, she rode toward the figure. Nicki made Star go into a trot and stopped at the edge hill. The little figure was gone. Nicki shook her head hard. She must have been very tired. Nudging Star slowly back to the camp she thought she saw light coming from the tree. Frightened, she gave a small nudge that set him trotting to their camp. She jumped off and got in to her wagon. She undressed in to her long johns and night shift and crawled in to her bed. Falling asleep, she had forgotten to ask her father about the marriage agreement of theirs.

?é?

Nicki saw a brown face peering down at her; it belonged to a boy. There was a man and woman standing behind him smiling and holding hands. They were Indians; Nicki thought quickly, why am I with Indians? The woman picked her up to her breast as Nicki began to cry and whimper. She heard a deep resonating voice coming from the man, it soothed her somewhat. She heard the boy's small seeking voice asking a question that made his parents laugh. Something in her broke. Why does it feel so right when I know this is wrong? Nicki thought as the woman started to rock her to sleep singing a song in Seneca:

Go to sleep my little cat,

May you wander in your dreams,

Let the sprits all around,

Hear you laughing.

Show them no more fear,

Let yourself fly free,

May you come home back to me,

Safely.

Lighting crashed, Nicki jumped, Gray Hawk was sitting on a rock like last time but he did not turn when he spoke.

"Nicki, you have passed the ordeal, you are ready to return to you rightful place." Gray Hawk said carefully as not to disturb the pile of butterflies that have had land on him.

"What are you talking about?" Nicki asked as she walked slowly toward him. " Do you have something to tell me? Well? What is it?" Gray Hawk turned the butterflies flew up into the sky and disappeared.

" Nicki, do you remember the dream before this?" When Nicki nodded he continued. "The woman is called 'Twilight' because of her shining eyes and the man is called 'Summer' because of the attitude he always had. The boy is called 'White Wolf'. The reason you were in that dream as a baby is because it was a piece of your past. A part, that you had blocked, out a piece that was very painful. You are called 'Rowan' because when you were born you did not cry nor whimper and sat straight in a couple of moons." Gray Hawk finished smiling. "You are Seneca. The Great Sprit has finally decided to give you back to us."

"What do you mean? I'm not Seneca or any other kind of Indian. I am an American!" Nicki said angrily. Shaking her head gently and laughed. "And I thought I was crazy! I was born into my family. I was not born of Indians."

"I know this is hard to believe but ask the ones that you call ma and pa. They took you in when they found you alone by the river-bed. Why do you think people stare at you? It is because you have the Seneca beauty that passes through mother to daughter."

" I always thought they were thinking I was a witch for wearing men's clothing." She said thoughtfully, tilting her head slightly and sighing.

"Nicki, dawn is quickly coming I will talk to you every night till the first Quarter moon arrives. Than I will tell you where to go. You can confide in me as long as you want and after."

?é?

Dawn-light had peeked around the wagon had awaken Nicki up. Theodore was still asleep when she heard a clanging sound and smelt Tabasco smoke. Pa, Nicki thought, pulling up her sagging long johns and jumped into the front where her parents slept.

"Pa," Nicki whispered urgently. Mr. Moore woke up startled; Nicki clapped her right hand over his mouth. "There is something around back. I'll go distract it while you protect ma and Theo, alright!" He nodded and woke ma up. Nicki went back and still heard thumping. She pulled out her pistol and circled the wagon. There was a tall shadow she crept up slowly to try and catch sight of the person.

"Ahh!" The figure screeched as it rounded the corner. It was Jaclyn Smith, daughter to Mr. Smith. She was wearing a yellow shirt and skirt, all muddy and she had a bloody gash running from her shin to her shoes. Jaclyn, 12, Jackie was a friend of Nicki's family even before she was even born. Her father was the doctor who helped ma with the birth of Theo.

"Jackie, what's wrong?" Nicki asked sensing fear in her eyes.

"I-I-I thought I s-saw something, s-s-someone when I went to the latrine!" Jackie said as she began trying to breathe normally again.

"Are you sure? Why didn't you have your brother go with you?," Nicki said as she tried to comfort Jackie (she didn't know how to comfort a girl). Nicki already knew why Jackie was alone, her low-life, son of a gun, brother is the meanest grump in the wagons. Jackie's father couldn't disown his only son because Mrs. Smith became barren after having Jackie. "Go back to your wagon, let your ma see to that scrap. I'll go and check it out." Nicki pushed Jackie toward her wagon and walked over to the spot they had claimed for a latrine. Looking on the ground she saw sets of tracks leading to and from the latrines. She also saw Jackie's foot-prints because she would walk lightly, even when running. She looked around a few more times and found nothing so she looked up at the trees when her father went down to her.

"What happened?" He asked. "Who was wandering around our wagon?"

"Oh, it was just Jackie. She said she saw something." Nicki said absently as she looked down to remember she was still in her night shift and long johns. She got up and ran toward the camp followed by her father, laughing hard, finally noticing she was still in her P.Js.

Nicki, after she had gotten dressed and eaten breakfast, went down to the Smith's wagon.

"Oy, Chubby!" Nicki's nick-name for Burg Smith, Jackie's so-called brother. "Why did ya' let Jackie go to take a trip all alone? Huh? You scared of the dark, ya son of a gun!" She shouted out to anger Burg and it worked well, as always. Burg came out red in the face, his shirt halfway button and shaving cream half dripping off and he seemed to have several nicks.

"What you say, you sad call for a son!" He growled.

"You heard me! Or are you deaf, too?" Nicki hissed back. "Letting your baby sister go around alone, and at night, too. Haven't you heard of decency? There is to much trouble around these parts. Oh! Never mind. You are the only danger here. Getting drunk at every party and chasing..." Nicki was interrupted as Burg tried to use his mass to plunge into her. She jumped to the right and drove her elbow down the middle of his spine making him fall to the dirt ground. She nudged his hand with her foot. He didn't move. She stepped over him and went back to her wagon as the crowd around her disappeared back to patrolling or to move again.



"You know that you shouldn't do that." Mrs. Moore said gently as she scrubbed the pan with water and rocks. "Your father has a hard time as it is controlling the mule-headed men in this camp. You might get hurt."

"Mother! Is it fair? The lord himself granted women to have protection from their brothers, sons, and fathers! Burg don't care if his sister is kidnapped, or if she was kilt!" Nicki whispered back as she took her rifle and settle it on her right shoulder. "Anyway I'm gonna go ahead. Do you need help?"

"Always thinking of you parents. No. I don't, go on ahead. Watch over your father."

"Yes, ma'm!" Nicki walked over to Star and got on. As she rode past a group of girls they began to blush and giggle. She rode a bit faster. The reason why only Andrew knew was that he accidentally caught her bathing in the river. The rest knew nothing except Dr. Smith. Only that she was a boy, son to Theodore and Jessamyn Moore, a exceptional hunter, tracker and is shy around girls. The girl named Solar, they see every Thanksgiving is a cousin and that Nicki was in bed sick. The group never thought any thing of it.

When she reached the front her pa was standing there talking to Andrew and Dr. Smith. Mr. Moore looked grim. Nicki remembered the proposal.

"Pa, what's this? Andrew says that you approved I could marry him." Nicki whispered angrily mounting down from Star. Mr. Moore looked puzzled for a moment and began to laugh. Hard. And soon Dr. Smith joined in. Andrew looked on the ground.

"That's not funny, Pa!" she hissed at him while looking for anyone else listening. "So, explain." she insisted as she took in the laughter.

"I made a bet to Andrew and he actually took it!"