A/N: Hi everone! this is my first story on fictionpress. I wasn't sure weather to put in the western archive or the historical one. But it doesn't take place in the west. It takes place in the mountains of North Carolina and it's a month after the trail of tears happened, where President Andrew Jackson sent most of the Cherokees to Oklahoma.
I hope this story is good, I'd love it very much if I would get some reviews! All the charcters are mine.
Chapter one: It Begain with Water
Fat droplets of sweat rolled down my face and back as I clucked to my mule and started plowing again.
Bett stepped forward and pulled the plow with a little effort through the hard grassy covered ground, turning over chunks of earth as she went while I pushed behind her.
The skirt of my faded blue cotton dress hung limply around my knees, sticking to the sweat there and making it irritating to walk in. The air was humid and smothering, my dark hair frizzing under my leather hat as I worked, Bett's dark-bay coat shown slick with sweat.
Daddy was out hunting today so I had to do the plowing in the upper meadow all day; Mama was at home with my little sister and baby brother, probably getting ready to fix supper.
Sighing as I turned Bett around and we began plowing some more, I wiped my head on the sleeve of my dress and continued walking.
After a while I decided Bett and I needed to cool off. There was a creek down the mountain a piece and I decided it was time to head on down there for a little while. Whoahing Bett I unhitched her from the plow, gathered up the lines and hopped on her back riding her off into the woods.
As we got closer to the creek, I found a clear place on the bank that went in a steep slop to some of the shallower water; taking off my boots and dropping them beside us, I nudged her with my heels and she slid down the bank, stumbling into the creek slightly before getting her footing.
"Sorry about that girl," I said as I patted her neck and road her to the deep end where the water got up to her chest. As Bett drank, I looked around at the green trees surrounding us, it was spring time here in North Carolina, just getting close to summer time and the forest was beautiful.
I leaned down from Bett's back and scooped me up some water to drink, right before Bett's head suddenly jerked up and her ears pricked forward with alarm, a snort coming from her.
I watched her and looked to our right, where she was looking at and struggled to see anyone or anything through the thick blackberry bushes that clustered up by the bank.
It can't be a bear, I thought to myself as I stared at the bushes She would've had a fit if it was a bear.
Bett snorted again and I absently stroked her neck, my other hand slowly going to the knife at my belt. I smelled the air and frowned when I could smell a man, but it wasn't like Daddy or our neighbor a few miles down the mountain.
I heard the barest crunch of leaves and narrowed my eyes, "Who's there?" I asked quietly, my heart pounding in my chest as a man stood up and stared at me.
I took in a quick breath when I saw he was an Indian, a Cherokee it looked like.
His black hair which glistened in what little sun that peeked through the trees hung in a long braid over his shoulder, a dark blue shirt with deer teeth sewn on to it covered his broad shoulders and lanky torso, his skin, a deep tan color, had a light sheen of sweat clinging to it.
I met his eyes and instantly locked stares with him as my light-blue stared into his dark eyes. He couldn't have been much older than eighteen, which was a year older than me, standing at what looked like 6'3" from my view from atop of Bett.
Breaking eye contact, I raised an eyebrow, "What do you want here?" I asked, my voice calm.
Truth be told, I had never seen a real Indian in my life, and this one made me a little nervous.
He raised an eyebrow, and pointed to the creek then made a drinking sign with his hands.
"Oh" I said softly, he had come down here for a drink as well. "Well then, I'll leave you to it." I nodded my head to him politely.
Never loosing grip of my knife, I turned Bett around and we splashed up stream and climbed up the embankment, my head turning every few minutes to look back at the young Indian who continued to watch me. When I went back to the meadow, I hooked up Bett again and started plowing, looking around every once in a while as I had the feeling of someone watching me.
Later on that night I had come back to the house and finished chores right when Daddy came home with a deer and two squirrels hanging over the saddle and across the neck of his sorrel gelding Jim.
When I finally came in, Mama looked at me and gasped, "Lands sake Ruby Oaks! You're dirtier than a pig in mud. Go wash yourself up now before supper!"
Giving a soft sigh, I nodded and went out back to the barn where the water troughs were. I had mud and dry dirt all over and knew that only an actual bath would clean it. Even though the water would be very cold, it would make mama and I both happy.
The moonlight shown brightly as I climbed over the wooden fence and walked over to one of the troughs, stepping out of my dress and shift and unbraiding my hair from it's place on top of my head.
I shivered when the cool wind hit my bare skin. I knew Daddy wouldn't come outside because mama told him not to; so I didn't worry about anyone watching or walking up on me as I gingerly stepped into the deep water trough.
Yelping at the coldness of it, I grabbed my nose and dipped my head under water to wet it and wash off the dirt and grim collected there. I scrubbed my scalp and arms and legs, getting used to the cold water and enjoying myself.
As I ducked my head under water again to rinse my long brown hair of any remaining dirt, I didn't expect to see somebody on the other side of the barn lot fence when I emerged again.
Gasping, I sunk down farther so my chest wasn't showing. Looking around for a weapon I found none, swallowing, I turned my head and stared at the man.
He was the same Indian from before…just in my back yard.
Clearing my throat I asked quietly, "What are you doing here?"
I received no answer, just a blank face. Shivering, I realized how cold it was getting tonight, and being in the water as I was, wasn't helping me stay warm.
I looked around, and saw my dress over by the fence near the gate which was about a yard away. Looking back over to the Indian, I could tell he wasn't going to move. I frowned, "Would you please go away? I need to get dressed."
He said nothing and did nothing, I bit my lip, "Do you speak English?" I asked, again he didn't move nor answer.
"Well then," I muttered wringing some water out of my hair and looking down in slight embarrassment. "Alright, here's the deal, if you don't at least turn around I will find a rock and through it at your head and…" I looked back up and he was gone as fast as he appeared.
Giving a shaky sigh in relief, I checked once more to see if he was around before finally making my self stand and hop out into the cool night air. Slipping on my shift, I bundled up my dress and held it under one arm before leaving the barn lot rather quickly and bolting the cabin door behind me.
All that night I didn't tell anyone about the Indian.
It was six o'clock when I awoke to the sound of the rooster crowing and knew it was time to go milk the cow.
Gently sliding out of bed so as not to wake my little sister Maddie, I quietly got up and went into the kitchen, pulling on my boots and lacing them up before grabbing the milk bucket and heading out.
Lila softly bellowed at me, from her place at the feed trough as I came into the barn, "Good morning Lila darlin'," I smiled, patting her on the shoulder after I gave her an arm full of hay to eat.
Grabbing an empty bucket and sitting down I started milking, softly humming to myself and Lila as I did so. The bucket was half way full of milk when I felt a tingling sensation and felt someone watching me again.
Turning my head, I looked around, not stopping my milking or humming. Smelling the air lightly, I couldn't tell anything different, so shrugging off the feeling; I turned back to Lila and continued humming.
After a while, I stood up and again patted Lila on the shoulder before leaving the barn, carrying the bucket of milk with me on my way out.
As I reached the gate and began to unlatch it I paused, and my brow furrowed; hanging neatly by a leather string was what looked like a hair ornament, I sat down the milk bucket and touched it, picking it up to look closer.
It was a piece of carefully rounded maple bark, dyed a light bone color from clay by the river, sewn into it was small porcupine quills that were embroidered into a swirl, four male cardinal feathers and crow feathers were put in a precise pattern in the middle of the swirl and at the bottom edge of the bark, making a sort of fringe. I had never seen anything so pretty.
Running my finger lightly over it again I jumped when Mama's voice yelled at me from the kitchen.
"Ruby! What are you doing girl? I've got breakfast almost ready. Bring that milk in before it cools." Turning around she walked back inside.
Looking down at the hair ornament again, I carefully put it in my dress pocket, picked up my bucket again and walked inside.
A/N: Please review and tell me what you think?