Sun Stalker                    

                                                 Part Two



                     The Rogue Valley,  Oregon Territory, 1855


            Since there were enough females in his tribe to continue the tribal blood-

line, he eventually married Victoria and vowed to monogamy. She and the children

moved out to his property.

            At every turn there was a setback or danger to confront. The constant

responsibility weighed heavily on Sun Stalker. Since he was not a leader at heart,

his personal sacrifice was great. Fortunately, he had the loving support of friends

and family to buoy his sometimes flagging spirits.

            He could be sullen and stubborn, sometimes distant and uncommunica-

tive, but he treated his family with fairness and kindness in all matters. He rarely 

raised his voice and never his hand to his loved ones. Within two years, Victoria

produced twin boys they named Josh and Abe (their Indian names being Drum 

and Song respectively).

            Acorn Child and his young mother, Willow, were adopted into Sun

Stalker’s family and lived with them in the big log cabin he built. With the

exception of Breaks Camp Woman and Jacob, the rest of the tribe assumed

their natural way of life in a land teeming with potential, for though they faced

the encroachment of civilization head on, the wilderness they were backed up 

against was always at their disposal.

            There was no trouble at first. Art Katzakis spent a lot of money in town

and most of the merchants were colorblind – they only saw green. In addition, he

was a generous contributor to charity and civic projects. The locals assumed that

Katzakis had a bunch of Indians working for him. Most people simply wanted to

be left alone to live their lives as they saw fit and could not have cared less what

Sun Stalker was doing on his own property. But to some, contained Indians were

considered not as good as dead ones and Indian lovers were worse than traitors.

Sun Stalker stayed ready for the trouble he expected to come to a head eventual-

ly. As a paper white man, he was within his rights, but that wouldn’t stop the


            Sun Stalker had managed over the past few years to remain neutral in

local disputes, especially where other Indians were concerned, but it was

extremely difficult. Some terrible slaughters had taken place. There were

members of his tribe who were not of his original tribe and much over lapping

between the different bands through intermarriage. Many of them were refugees

from these atrocities and could not resist joining the fight. Whether former

friends or enemies, they were culturally linked and now victims of the same foe. 

It was hard for Sun Stalker to stand by and watch the injustices, but he made it

clear that his tribe’s tactic was to lay low for a while and grow in numbers,

strength, knowledge and wisdom. His eyes were on the long haul and would not

allow his people to risk futile confrontations. As always, his was not an argument

for peace, but for a war that could be won. No one was required to stay, but if

they did they were required to abide by his guidance and vision.

            His people trusted his judgment and few chose to leave. After all, where

would they go, except to war and almost certain death? However, of those who

stayed and lived by his rules, there were none that believed trouble would not

arrive at their doorstep all too soon.

            Sun Stalker did not travel the roads much and avoided the larger cities

in particular. The less people knew of him the better. When he was restless, he

simply walked off into the wilderness. But there were times when it was necessary

to don the identity of Art Katzakis and go take care of business. He had heard that

there were a couple of children at the Siletz Reservation School that were regis-

tered as belonging to his tribe and he intended to adopt them. If they were not of

his tribe he had decided to adopt them anyway. He and his inquisitive, bright-

eyed, eleven-year-old stepson Ben, also called Trail Master, set out with his

old friend Jacob and one of the young women of the tribe, Maria Red Raven, who

had aspirations of becoming a teacher.

            It was a crisp, clear golden morning as they struck the county road north

and emerged cautiously from the woods. Here they paused to scan the length of

the rutted dirt road in both directions.
            “ How long you think it’ll take to get to Roseburg, Pa? “ Ben asked.

            “ Day after tomorrow we’ll be close, but we aren’t going into the city this time. "

            Ben’s response rang with disappointment. “ Not even to a hotel? “

            Sun Stalker smiled slightly. “ Not unless they have an empty one in

the middle of nowhere. “
            Ben grew silent. At times his silences were rather noisy. He was not a

sulker, he respected Sun Stalker too much for that kind of behavior, but he

thrashed around a lot and made sure you knew he was thinking really hard. Right

now he was slapping at his saddle horn with the tips of his reins.

            Sun Stalker led them off down the road at a ground-eating walk. After

a few moments he said, “ We'll camp in the hills above town west of the

river. You may ride in with Jacob if you want and have a look around. He has

some supplies to get. "

            The boy’s eyes brightened and he smiled. “ Thanks, Pa! That'd be great! "
            Sun Stalker anticipated the next question. “ And yes, you can have

some money to spend. "

           They both laughed. Sometimes it was like they could read each other's


            The four of them rode side by side down the middle of the road as the

sun began to crest the hilltops, turning the low-lying puffs of white cloud to

fiery smoke. The sun sparkled and wavered like a forest fire in the trees and

then topped the ridge suddenly, sending streaks of glorious, warm, golden

light shafting down the steep, dew drenched hillside and across the road.

            “ There’s somebody up ahead, " Ben said. “ See him? "

            The rest strained their eyes to focus on what Ben saw, but none had

the eyesight to match Ben’s. Sun Stalker trusted his son’s vision. “ One man? "

he asked.

            “ Yes Sir, that’s all I see. "

            “ Is he afoot? “ Jacob asked.

            “ No…no…he’s riding. Think it’s a mule. It looks like he’s just sitting
there. "
            “ Yes, I see him too, " Raven said. “ Is he waiting for something, or

what? "
            “ Probably just a pilgrim," Jacob said. “ I expect we’ll see plenty of

traffic between here and Roseburg. It’s been over a year. There’s no doubt a

lot more people than last time. "
            “ I see him now, “ Sun Stalker said. “ Let’s be careful. Could be a trap. "

He drew his handgun and checked his loads. 

            Jacob pulled his old scattergun from its saddle sheath.
            It wasn’t long before they caught up to the man, who was sitting atop

a broken down old mule facing south. The fellow looked over one shoulder,

touched a finger to his battered, black gray bowler and said with a sheepish grin,

“ G’Mornin "
           They acknowledged him politely and rode past a few yards. Then Sun

Stalker turned his horse to face the man. His eyes quickly scanned the

surrounding woods.

            “ Are you in need of help? " he asked.
            “ Well… …in a way, yes, " the man said with a thick, Irish brogue.
           They all waited patiently for him to explain his difficulty.
            “ Well, actually, I'm just fine. It’s this bleemin’ beast that has a

problem. When he moves, he moves so slowly one can barely call it moving.

And he seems to do exactly the opposite of what I want. Believe it or not, I

was going north when I started out this morning. I’ve changed my destination

three times since sunrise. I think maybe he's dying, or something. "
            Jacob shook his head. “ No offense, mister. But that’s the sorriest

looking animal I ever saw. He must be a hundred years old. You’d be a lot

better off on your own two feet. "
            “ Perhaps you’re right. " He dismounted and tugged at the reins. The mule

looked too weary to blink.
            They all watched his inept struggle with the mule for a moment.
            “ Sorry mister, but that mule is more trouble than he’s worth, " Sun

Stalker said.
           The fellow sighed deeply, dropped the reins, removed his hat and sleeved 

his forehead free of sweat.  “ I won’t argue with that. But what’s in my packs is

invaluable and too heavy for me to carry. "

            An annoyed glance between Sun Stalker and Jacob revealed that they

shared the same opinion; this man was one of the greenest tenderfoots they

had ever encountered. It was as if he had dropped out of the sky without a clue

as to the realities of being human. Not only was he incompetent enough to be

sitting stock-still and unarmed in the middle of the road pointed in the opposite

direction than he wanted to go, but he was dumb enough to tell total strangers

that he had something highly valuable in his saddlebags. The man wouldn’t last

twenty-four hours. They felt responsible for him and it irked them both.
            “ What might that be? " Ben asked.
            “ Don’t pry, son," Sun Stalker said.
            The man's smile was honest and open. He had a round face and a lightly

freckled, ruddy complexion. His eyes were the lightest of pale blue – almost white.

It was apparent to all present that the man had not a guileful bone in his body. 

“ Oh, that’s alright, sir, " he said. “ I’ve nothing to hide and everything to share. "

He reached in one of the big packs and removed a black book and held it aloft. 

“ Bibles, sir. Bound for the Siletz Reservation. I’m on a mission." He extended

his hand to Sun Stalker. “ The name’s Reverend Thomas Underwood. Just call

me Tom, though, if you please. I’m not much of one for titles. "
            Sun Stalker shook the man’s hand and then introduced the rest.
            Jacob knuckled one eye and then stared off down the road. The last

thing he wanted was to listen to a sermon all the way to Siletz. He avoided

preachers like he did horse apples.
            Red Raven dismounted and approached the mule, cooing softly. She

looked into its eyes and then ran a hand along its withers. Then she bent close and

seemed to be breathing into the Mule’s nostrils. “ This mule is sick, " she accused him with sad eyes. “ He can’t go any farther."
            Sun Stalker searched the faces of the rest. 

            “ He could ride double with me I guess, " Ben offered half-heartedly.
            “ Good idea, son. Leave the mule, Tom," Sun Stalker said with a

touch of reluctance. " You can travel with us. We’ll pack your Bibles as well.

We’re headed for the reservation, too. "
            Underwood knelt in the road and mouthed a silent prayer of thanks.

Then stood and brushed himself off and said gratefully, “ God’s grace is truly

amazing. I thank you, gentlemen. I’ll make myself useful and that’s a promise.

You will be well rewarded, in the hereafter, I assure you. “
            In about fifteen minutes Underwood had done two of the things that

Jacob found so irritating about most preachers and religious folk in general. First

of all, when you help them they go to thanking God and, secondly, they always

assume they personally have the key to heaven and you don’t. Here this man was,

dispensing the treasures of heaven like they own them. “ Promises, promises, “ he

            After distributing the weight of the Bibles amongst them, Underwood

mounted behind Ben like he was climbing a tree and immediately broke

another western code. He began blabbing about his past.
            It was two hours later before he had talked himself out and if you had

asked any of his traveling companions to repeat his story they would have

been able to give you only the barest of essentials - what most such stories

boil down to – basically, that he was there and now he’s here. It was rough trip

but worth it..

            “ Where are we going to camp tonight, Pa? " Ben asked.

            “ I’m not sure. We’ll stop at Wolf Creek. I have some business there. If it’s

not crowded, we might stay the night there. "

            It was afternoon when they first sighted the stage stop at Wolf Creek. It

wasn’t much really, just a big log shack with a whitewashed front in a clearing of

huge old growth fir trees. There were several hipshot horses hitched to the rail

out front, representing to Sun Stalker his idea of a crowd, so they left the road

and made their way to the top of the ridge where the whole layout could be

viewed more clearly.

            “ What do you think Pa? Will we go down there? "

            “ No. I don’t think it’s a good idea. Too many men. My business can wait."

            The boy knew he meant “white” men. A large group of riders like this

usually meant trouble these days.

            “ Guess we might as well make camp, then, " Jacob said. “ Let’s go on

down the road a ways to that overhang we stayed at last time. I think I lost

my pocketknife there and I’d like to have a look. "

            As they turned to leave, the heavy oak door of the building swung

open and slammed against the wall and two men emerged with a struggling

young Indian in their possession. They dragged him into the yard and one of

them struck him over the head with his pistol butt. The boy dropped to the

ground but was still conscious and as they dragged him across the yard. There

was an eruption of raw laughter as several more men emerged from the building,

two of them with half full whiskey bottles in their grasp.

            The boy’s hands were quickly tied behind his back and he was jerked

roughly to his feet. One of them led a horse forward. Another, not even merciful

enough to fashion a proper hanging knot that would break the neck, already had a

rope uncoiled and was arranging a loop. The boy was doomed to choke to death.

           The young Indian looked confused and angry but unafraid. He did not

plead for his life. He looked straight ahead and did not flinch a muscle as they

slipped the noose over his head and tightened it. One of the men said something

that caused the rest to laugh. After the Indian was thrown over the horse, a toast

was made and a bottled passed.

            At that moment, Sun Stalker and Jacob rode into the clearing. The men

stopped what they were about and turned to look at the intruders menacingly.

            “ Howdy, boys, “ Jacob said, “ See you’re having a little party. Mind if

we join in? "

            “ Not at all, mishter, not at all, “ one of them, a big man with a wild

bush of red beard to mid chest replied with slurred speech, “ the more the

merrier. "

            Jacob and Sun Stalker dismounted and Jacob took a swig of the bottle

handed to him and then offered it to Sun Stalker, who declined.

            “ Just curious, " Sun Stalker said. “ Did this man do something?"

            “ Yeah, he did somethin’. Somethin’ real stupid, " one of them replied.

“ He was born a stinkin’ Injun’. "
            Sun Stalker and Jacob laughed along with the rest of them.
            “ Well, if you don’t mind my sayin’ so, " Sun Stalker said with a friendly

smile, “ no offense meant you understand, you men do whatever you’ve a mind to,

but this sure seems like a sinful waste of manpower. "
            “ Manpower? " one of them asked suspiciously, “ what the hell you talkin’

about? This skinny ass bag o’ bones? "
            Sun Stalker feigned shock. “ Are you serious? Why, I could get a few

years out of this young buck at my mine. He’s literally worth his weight in gold. I

got over a dozen working for me day and night, but I’m always on the lookout for

replacements. "                     
            The drunken men were out to have some fun and did not appreciate this

interjection of sober practicality.   
            “ Yeah, but that wouldn’t be near as much fun as stretchin’ his neck, right 

boys? " the big red beard said.
            The boys unanimously agreed.
            “ Maybe. Maybe not," Sun Stalker said. “ My name’s Jack Bellows. I own a

few claims near Shasta. I have a streak of Scotch in me that hates waste gentle-

men. I tell you what. I’ll buy this red nigger off your hands. "
            Red beard stared at Sun Stalker slackjawed for a moment. “ Well," he said,

“ I don’t 'zactly own him. "
            “ Hey, I am a fair minded man, " Sun Stalker said. “ Possession,

especially when it comes to Injuns, is nine-tenths of the law. "           
            Red beard stood in one place swaying a little, trying to think clearly.

“  Well, Jesus Christ, if you put it that way. How much? “
            “ Hell, “ Sun Stalker said. “ I can get all the injuns I want for

three bucks and some paperwork, but I’ll be honest with you, they’re often

starved and sick. This man looks strong and healthy. I tell you what. I got

a bottle of fine bourbon whiskey with me, mailed all the way round the horn

from New York City, that I can’t drink 'cause I swore off the stuff to my dearly

departed mother. I think that would be even more fun than hanging him, and

way more profitable. What do you say? "
            Red beard, who was obviously the spokesman, if not the leader, blinked

twice, glanced at the rest and then handed the rope tied around the Indian’s neck

to Sun Stalker. “ Mishter, you just bought yourshelf a Injun. If’n it was a girl it’d be

different. Don’t suppose you got any girls you wanna trade, do you? "
            “ No way, " Sun Stalker said with a wink, “ all my women are specially

trained - for domestic duties, you understand. "
            Red beard snickered and some spit landed on his beard. “ Ill bet, " he

            “ But if it’s Injun women you’ve a taste for, “ Sun Stalker added, " there’s a

whole village full of them camped on the north side of the Rogue, about ten miles 

downstream. Their men folk are off fishing during the daytime. I figure a man

could have his choice of prime females, if he was a mind to. "
            “ Zat a fact? " Red Beard said. “ Well, we’ll just have to go check that

out. I appreciate the information. My name’s Red Brodsky, by the way. Why

don’t you fellahs join us for a drink? "
            “ My pleasure, Red, " Sun Stalker said as he shook the man’s hand. “ Much

obliged. But we have to be moving on. We got a ways to go before dark. You men

enjoy that whiskey. It’s some of the best. Sure wish I hadn't made that promise

sometimes. "
            “ And I hope that Injun don’t slit your throat in your sleep, " Brodsky said.
            His buddies laughed along with him.
            “ Good luck with your squaw hunt, " Jacob said over his shoulder as they

rode away.
            Hidden up in the trees, Red Raven, Ben and Underwood lay flat atop a

moss covered boulder watching the whole transaction. When they returned to

where their horses were tied, Sun Stalker and Jacob were waiting for them.
            The young Indian’s eyes lost some of their gloominess when he saw the

Indian girl and Ben, who looked as much Indian in his dress and manner as Red

            Sun Stalker spoke to the Indian in Chinook jargon, a language they both

understood, explaining that he was being set free to do as he pleased. He then

slipped the noose from the young man's neck and cut the rope binding his hands

behind his back.
            The Indian stood there for a moment rubbing his wrists, eyes darting from

one person to the next like a cornered animal, then searching the forest for the

most likely escape route. He was still quite sure they would shoot him down if he

made a run for it or not.
            “ Do not fear, " Red Raven said as she signed. “ You are truly free. We will

not harm you. You may go or stay, as you please. "
            The young Indian was clearly confused. “ Why? " he signed.
            Red Raven shrugged and said with a smile, “ We do not kill innocent

people. We protect them. "
            The Indian man searched her eyes and then nodded solemnly. He believed her.
            “ I am Red Raven and these are my friends and family. "  She introduced

the others and then awaited his response.
            My name is Charlie, " he said in English.
            “ Just Charlie? " She asked.
            He nodded and looked away.
            “ What is your Indian name? " Sun Stalker asked.
            The man shrugged. “ My father is known to the White Eyes by the

second name Shacknasty. "
            “ I know the man, “ Jacob said. He remembered playing poker with

Shacknasty and his buddy Scarface Charlie down in Yreka. They were Modocs from

southeastern Oregon. They loved to gamble and seemed to be all right, at least as

all right as anybody else that hung out in the bars there, which was not saying a

whole lot. The surname Shacknasty was given him by the whites who knew him

and was descriptive of his lifestyle and domicile. If the young Indian was telling

the truth, he was a long way from home with a good reason for leaving.
            The boy shrugged again.
            Sun Stalker knew he was hiding something. But who wasn’t these days? 

            “ Just Charlie is what the white man calls all Indians," Sun Stalker said. “ I

will not call you Just Charlie. If you will not tell your name or you don’t know it, I

will give you one. If you prefer, we will not call you anything. But I will not call

you Just Charlie and I cannot ride with a man with no name. "
            The young man pursed his lips and gazed off into the distance. Sun Stalk-

er swung atop his horse and reined about as if to leave. Jacob and Ben followed

suit but Red Raven was reluctant.
            Charlie Shacknasty turned to face her. “ I am called River Rock, “ he said.
            They were all distracted by the shouting and laughter below at the

stage stop. The drunken men were mounting their horses clumsily and

heading off down the road to the south, firing their pistols in the air.
            Underwood, who had remained wide-eyed and silent during this

exchange, much of which he did not understand, could contain himself no

longer. “ Well, “ he said. “ I must say. I can’t understand why you all think this

is a good deal here. I mean the trade of one rather ungrateful, sullen Indian

for the freedom and possibly the lives of a village full of women and children. “
              Jacob just chuckled and leaned forward in the saddle as if delivering a

secret and said, “ Don’t worry about that, preacher. Mister Bellows here sent those

boys right into the waiting arms of Tipsu Bill and his band of bad boys. They’ll

make mincemeat of those drunks. “
            Underwood blinked and stood there trying to formulate his thoughts.

            “ You mean he sent those men into what is almost certain death? "
            “ Most likely, " Jacob said.
            Underwood climbed awkwardly up behind Ben and after adjusting

himself said, “ Well done. Shall we press on? “
            Sun Stalker smiled approvingly.  “ You can travel with us, River Rock,

if you wish. We are headed for the Siletz reservation. "
            River Rock glanced toward Red Raven and then directly at Sun


            “ I will come. It is safer for all of us. I have an aunt at the reservation

I have not seen for a long time."
            “ You have no horse? "
            “ White men took him."
            “ I will buy one down there," Sun Stalker said.
            The young Indian was flabbergasted. “ I have nothing. I cannot repay you. "
            Sun Stalker shrugged and said in English. " I need another horse anyway.

I’ll take him back with me."
          “ Hoot, man, “ Underwood spoke up, “ would they happen to have two such

animals? This arrangement is not the least bit comfortable. I do have a little

money. How much does a horse cost? "

            “ Depends, “ Jacob said. “ Anywhere from fifty dollars on up to ten

times that. "
            “ What does one get for fifty dollars? "
            “ Crow bait like you left behind. "
            “ You have seventy-five dollars to spend? " Sun Stalker asked.
            “ Yes, but just barely. Every dime counts. I am almost out and then…well,

I have my faith. Man does not live by bread alone. "

            “ Or anything else – alone out here, “ Jacob muttered.

            “ But right now I would trade just about anything for my own horse and

saddle. "
            Jacob smiled and said around a fresh plug of tobacco, “ Who thaid

anything about a thaddle? " 
            “ I’ll talk to Johnson, " Sun Stalker said.  “ He owes me a favor or two. He

worked for us at the Angel at one time. “ With that he wheeled his mount and

headed back down the trail.
            Within an hour, he returned leading two fairly decent horses; both

with their own very used but still serviceable saddles.
            “ I say," Underwood exclaimed, “ marvelous! You are a most resourceful

individual, Mister Katzakis. I can’t thank you enough, bless your soul. " He slid off

the back of Ben’s horse and hit the ground a little harder than he had expected.

            “ I’ll find a way to repay your generosity, I assure you. "
            “ Forget it, “ Sun Stalker said. “ Glad to help. I just borrowed them,

anyway. I’ll return them on the way back. "
            “ Well you are a rare and generous samaritan, Art, and I won’t soon forget

it. " 
            As Underwood fumbled to get his foot in the stirrup, the Indian grabbed a

handful of mane and nimbly mounted. A nod from the proud young brave was all

the thanks Sun Stalker needed.     

            The traffic on the road increased as they neared Roseburg. Freight wagons

loaded down with produce, logs, supplies and equipment, mule teams bound for

the mills, and stages and local buggy traffic competed for space with miners,

soldiers, immigrants, Indians, cows, chickens, deer, elk and wild pigs on a narrow,

deeply rutted dirt road that snaked and twisted around one blind turn after another

over rocks and creeks and two passes above three thousand feet. One was lucky to

make it ten miles without confronting a washout, landslide or a fallen tree. Bandits

and Indians were a constant threat.
            Southern Oregon had some terribly tough winters in the early years when

supplies could not make it over the snowbound passes; times when salt was

literally worth its weight in gold dust and flour brought whatever price you asked.

The sun baked, leather-faced, mountain bullwhackers that risked their lives on this

so-called road were some of the toughest men alive and all too often the unsung

heroes of the frontier.
            They pitched camp beneath a giant oak tree in the hills overlooking

the town - away from the mosquitoes but within walking distance of a swift, cold,

little creek.

            Sun Stalker sat on an outcropping of rock contemplating the town below.

The area was a good deal more settled than when they had visited a year

previously. Besides the addition of the flouring mill and a sawmill of the up and

down variety, the homes appeared more permanent and the fields were fenced

with split rails. A whitewashed church steeple stood at either end of the main street

on the east bank of the Umpqua. A larger bridge was being built next to the

existing one. From where he sat, he could see lumberjacks working north of the

city, their logs sliding down the muddy swaths notched in the hillsides for this

purpose and splashing in the holding ponds where men scrambled form log to log

with giant hooks as if herding cumbersome, dimwitted beasts. Underwood

came over uninvited and sat down beside Sun Stalker and offered him a tin cup of

steaming tea. “ What say to a cup of tea? "

            “ Why yes, thank you," 

            “ I hope you like it. It came all the way from Liverpool. "

            “ Ummm. Very good, " Sun Stalker said.

            They sat in silence for a few moments sipping the tea. 

              “ Reminds me of village life back home, " Underwood said. " Never

thought I’d miss civilization. Lovely sight, eh? "
            Sun Stalker blew on the tea, took a cautious sip and said, “ Depends on

how you look at it. "
            “ Yes indeed. And how do you look at it, Art, if you don’t mind

my asking? “
            Sun Stalker was slow to reply. “ Until a few short years ago, this land,

everything you see in every direction, was the home of the Cow Creek band of the

Umpquas. When I was a boy my father would bring me here with him on trading

trips. One of the best friends I ever had lived here and would come to me as well.

His father and mine were close friends. I used to fish with him right down there.

This whole valley was practically empty then. We were friends with the few whites

there were. “ He paused and gazed wistfully into space. “ But the immigrants came

and then the gold fever. The Cow Creeks made treaty with the white man. They

sold their land for twelve thousand dollars and then were either run off or hunted

down and killed like animals. What you see down there is what the Indians call a

stump town; a place where the spirits of the fallen trees remain angry and vengeful

to all who dare live there in their burial grounds. No, it’s not lovely to me, Tom.

It’s a shame and a travesty. “
            “ I see, “ Tom said, “ how bloody, typically tragic. The same old story

of conquest practiced since the beginning; a superior civilization deposing their

neighbors for land and resources. God rest their souls. "
            “ Yes, but which civilization is superior is yet to be seen, " Sun Stalker said.
            “ Ah, a sad subject, the progress of mankind. "
            “ I don't call this progress, Tom. ”
            “ I mean rather for the human race as a whole. Since the beginning of

mankind, the story is repeated over and over - conquest of the superior, or the

stronger over the weaker if you prefer. The basic reasons are always the same.

There have always been and always will be wars and rumors of wars as long as

Satan reigns in the hearts of men. But there does appear to be a steady

progression of the human soul toward…something better. “
            “ I don't like war, Thomas Underwood, but I like war without honor

even less. The Indian did not steal the land from anyone. It was empty when they

came. "
            “ Correct me if I am wrong, sir, but is there not considerable animosity

and warfare between certain tribes in this area? I have been made to believe

through my reading that there are some rather ancient enmities amongst the native

people here, that they treat their women like beasts of burden and that slavery is

commonplace, not to mention torture and mutilation - even cannibalism. "
            Let’s save the details for another time. No doubt your reading has also

uncovered the brutality of the progress of so-called Christian civilization. I am well

aware of the cruel advance of European culture. I know that war lurks in the

hearts of all men, but not darkness and lies. I am not trying to say that one

civilization is better than the other. The point is, that the two cultures are equal

and deserve equal respect and dignity. White, Christian civilization will settle for

nothing but complete dominance, to the point of extermination. And as for peace,

the red man has found that the white man kills as surely with peace as with


            Underwood sighed deeply. “ Ah, truly a sad state of affairs, and this from

a country founded on the principles of spiritual freedom. I am here in hopes of

doing something about it, be it ever so humble. But first I must gain a true grasp

of the situation. One of the things that confuses me is that many of the people I

talk to here do not seem to harbor ill will toward the Indian. Some, in fact, have a

profound respect for native culture. Of the rest, many depend on gossip and wild

rumors for their information. Just as many seem absolutely oblivious to the

difficulties of their red brothers, as if they live in an information void. "

            Sun Stalker sympathized with him. American culture was raw, immature,

took some getting used to. In some ways he, who was just a rank novice, was

years ahead of Reverend Thomas Underwood. The irony of the situation intrigued

him. For the first time he was using his knowledge of the white man’s world to

help a white man. In this respect, he was an American - a strange revelation.
            Whenever Sun Stalker said the man’s name his inflection lent an Indian lilt

to it – Tama Sunderwood. Sun Stalker looked directly into Underwood’s eyes for

the first time.  “ You are a good man, Thomas Underwood. I will speak the truth to

you because my heart tells me to trust you. Perhaps we are meant to help each

other. Who knows? I will not insult you by making you swear an oath. But make

no mistake, my words deliver my life to your trust. If you would rather I not go

on, just say so. "
            Underwood was extremely honored by such an earnest appeal from this

sensitive and wise frontiersman who had thus far remained aloof and taciturn. A

rush of divine providence washed over him and he closed his eyes and prayed a

silent prayer of gratitude. Wild horses could not have kept him from hearing what

Sun Stalker had to say.
            Sun Stalker paraphrased his own story from beginning to end and when

he was done it was as if his voice continued speaking without him, reverberating

across time. The very air resonated with metaphor and symbol woven into a tragic

tale that expressed the deepest of human feelings, those that that cannot be

expressed with words alone. It was a story of vision and pilgrimage, sacrifice and

faith, heartbreaking loss, love and hate, life and death – a song of despair and a

chant of triumph. It was a story with no ending.
            Underwood was moved to tears. After he regained his composure, he said,

“ Your words strike close to my heart. I have seen much suffering and cruelty.

Mankind is doomed unless something is done. In Europe everything is already

owned and controlled by the ruling elite. The land, the townships, the hunting

rights, the money, and the knowledge belong to a scant few and everyone else is

indentured to them in one way or another. Over the centuries and the dead bodies

of the masses these power lords have climbed atop the pinnacle of authority and

riches while the rest of the world starved in darkness and ignorance. Nothing short

of all out revolution will topple them from their towers of greed. Obviously, you

understand how desperate and outraged a people have to be to attack a profes-

sional army of well-armed brutes with clubs, knives, and pitchforks, how bad it has

to get before death becomes preferable to life.
            In response to your honesty, I will tell you the real story of Reverend

Thomas B. Underwood. I have no idea what the “B” stands for. Anything I please I

suppose, because it's a name I invented, one of many. I was born Christopher

McGonahue in a small village in Ireland where the rolling hills of emerald green

grass end abruptly at what looks like the edge of the world. My life was imprisoned

and protected by sheer, two hundred foot cliffs at the bottom of which the wind-

whipped surf churned and roared incessantly, echoing the admonitions of the

Almighty. It was from the jaws of that ocean beast we  to pry our sustenance. In

such a land, silence exists only within. I was the fifth of thirteen. It was like I was

invisible to my parents. But they were kind to me and worked so hard to feed us

all that I would never have dreamed of them trouble or dishonor of any kind. For

survival, we Irish stick together much like a tribe. And indeed, it wasn’t too many

years ago that that is exactly what we were. We are still considered somewhat

pagan and barbaric by many – the British in particular.
           The story is basically the same. The English coveted what we had and

found a reason and a way to take it. But we are a proud and passionate people

who relish a good fight. Like all men, we were prepared to die for our honor. And

die we did until overpowered. Even now the struggle continues. They took our

land, our homes and our women at will. People starved. I was only ten when the

soldiers came in the night. In a steady downpour my own parents and four of my

brothers were executed before my very eyes - my sisters taken away to be raped. I

managed to escape under cover of darkness, fled into the mountains and almost

starved until taken in by a band of resistors that was hiding there as well.
            I am not as naive as I appear, Sun Stalker, not in terms of my personal

experience and suffering. " He smiled slightly. “ Although my lack of knowledge of

horses and mules is real enough. I fought alongside my comrades and countrymen

and, to make a long story short, was captured eventually. The details of my

incarceration are something I wish not to remember or relate. Suffice it to say that

it was brutal to the extreme. However, it is important to note that it was during

this ordeal I discovered spiritual sustenance and strength. Finally, I was given a

chance to ship out as a virtual slave aboard a freighter bound for Central America

and California.
            Well, much of the rest of my story is true. But as to my being a Reverend

and all that, well, that too is something I fabricated. I don’t really hold much

respect for titles and such, and though my spiritual feelings are sincere and my

convictions sound, I am a long way from living up to the tenets of Jesus Christ,

and Papist to boot. I am actually just a man who has seen so much evil and cruelty

that I want in some small way to help change things for the better, perhaps make a

difference. But I am not what you would call worthy of any presumptions on that

calling. I can handle weapons and I know down deep inside that a raging anger

still boils. When I see weaker beings persecuted and downtrodden, I sometimes,

well, lose my head and become something else altogether than the reasonable,

peaceable man you see before you. Believe it or not, I have killed many men, Sun

Stalker, and I fear the tally is not complete. That’s the truth of Reverend Thomas B.

Underwood. "
            Sun Stalker waited a respectful amount of time and then smiled. “ You

know what you need? A real name. I will call you...Tuntahweh. It means ‘New

Moon’ and stands for new beginnings, the rebirth you are experiencing, the new

spiritual life life you have come to establish. "
            Before McGonahue could react to this noble gesture, they were interrupted

by someone hailing the camp.
            Jacob, who had been aware of the approaching stranger for some time,

answered, “ What can we do for you? "
            “ A bedraggled, bald middle aged man emerged from the bushes in a

dusty herringbone tweed suit with a carpet bag in one hand and his bowler in the

other.  “ I saw your smoke, and I was passing by and, well, I thought you might

spare a cup of coffee and a bit of conversation. I’ve been on the road for

sometime. ”
            “ Sure, come on in and sit a spell, “ Jacob said. “ We’ll have some supper

here 'fore long. You look like you could use a bite to eat. "
            The man smiled and came closer. “ Well, in all honesty, I haven’t eaten

much for a couple of days and…well, I did smell your food cooking a mile away. "
            He popped his hat back on his head and said, “ The name’s Edward

Pease.“ He shook Jacob’s hand and produced a business card as if by magic.
            Jacob introduced himself and the others, then he read the card aloud.
“ Continental Fastener Company, New York, New York, Edward Pease, Sales

Representative. Hmmm. “ A Yankee, he thought, a preacher and a Yankee. This 

ain’t my day.
            Pease dropped his bag on the ground and sat down with a muffled groan

on a log that had been pulled close to the fire. “ Thank you ever so much. I’ve

been walking for almost fifty miles. “
            Jacob was curious. “ How come you aren’t riding something?  If you

don’t mind my asking. "
            “ Oh, I was. Bandits took him along with all my money and a brand

new pistol, damn their eyes."
            “ Sorry to hear that, " McGonahue said, “ This road seems to be

fraught with trouble. "
            Jacob shook his head in dismay. “ What road isn’t, these days? "
            “ But it won’t take me long to recoup my losses, thank goodness.

What I sell will go like hotcakes if I can just make it to Oregon City. Even in a

small place like Roseburg here, I should do quite well. Everybody wants my

product. "

            McGonahue was curious. “ And what might that be, may I ask? “
            Pease held up his grimy index finger. “ Coming right up. “ He unstrapped

the bag and removed a tiny silver object so small that the others had to gather

near to even see what it looked like. “ Beautiful, isn’t it, ' he said as he handed it to

            No one responded one way or the other.
            “ What is it? " Jacob asked as he held it up to the sunlight.
            “ It’s called a safety pin. It was invented two or three years ago. Most

people have never seen one. It is one of the most ingenious and handy little

inventions to come along since the mousetrap. It won’t be long before every

household and business has a drawer full. They have literally thousands of

uses. "
            “ What’s it for? " Ben asked.
            “ Allow me. " Pease demonstrated its use by pinning closed McGonahue’s

shirt where a button was missing.
            “ Well, I’ll be, " Jacob exclaimed. “ Would you look at that. Talk about

handy. "
            “ Ingenious indeed, “ McGonahue said, “ amazing. And so simple. Will

wonders never cease? “"
            “ Hope not, " Pease said. " Wonders are quite profitable. Especially

inexpensive ones. You can keep that. In fact here’s some for everybody. “ He

distributed a couple to each of them. “ They are particularly useful out on the trail

like this, or in any kind of pinch where sewing is not possible. He pulled out a

chain of them. “ Here, string them together like this so they don’t get lost as

easily. "
            All of them, with the exception of Sun Stalker, sat there for a while

opening and closing the pins and finding things to use them on. Ben was lost in

speechless wonder and Red Raven was particularly pleased. Pease, aware of her

delight, said, “ Here, Missy. Something just for you." And handed her a packet of

needles of varying sizes, from finishing needles to a large leather needle.
            Judging by her response, one would think he had just handed her a

diamond brooch. “ Thank you, sir. How kind of you. My…family will make good

use of these. Such things can be very hard to come by where we live. I can’t thank

you enough. They are precious. "
            “ Of this I am all too aware, “ he said. With a sweeping gesture he

indicated the whole of the earth and said with a smile, “ Just my kind of place, I

assure you. "
            “ We will pay you for the needles, " SunS talker offered.
            “ No, no. Please. I've been waiting for the right person to give them to - a

truly appreciative recipient. Besides, in my business, every gift is a promotional

event. "

            The drummer removed his derby and set it beside him and passed a palm

over his glistening scalp. His eyes were as black as soot and shiny as glass

marbles. Absurdly long, mostly white, mutton chop sideburns joined his mustache

and extended beyond his collar like lambs wool. He was dusty and smelled of

sweat soaked tweed, but his face was clean and rosy from exposure to the sun and

a fresh scrubbing in the cold creek. Despite his problems, he had managed to

maintain an air of cheerful optimism and, all in all, had made a favorable

impression on the group of travelers by not bemoaning his difficulties.
            As Red Raven and Ben tended the stew, Sun Stalker and Jacob sat across

the fire from Pease. Jacob smoked a pipe load while Sun Stalker cleaned his rifle

and pistol. They were soon joined by McGonahue, who had one of his new Bibles

clutched to his chest.
Jacob thought, sermon time.
            It was hard to tell if Pease was taking the bait or casting it out when he

said, “ Fine, new, leather bound book you have there, Mister Underwood. I have

an interest in such things. Mind if I ask what it is? “
            “ Oh, this? No, no not at all. But first, we should clear something up.

There's been a mistake for which I am responsible. My name is not Reverend

Thomas Underwood as Jacob introduced me, though he thought it was when he

said it. My name is actually – "
            “ I gave him a new name, “ Sun Stalker interrupted. “ He is now called

New Moon. Or just Moon."
            McGonahue smiled. “New Moon McGonahue," he mused. “ That has a

nice, rhythmical roll to it. Yes, I like that a lot. "
            Pease nodded and waited to be offered the book, or at least the title.
            Moon held it up so all could see. “ It’s the new English translation of the

Holy Bible. Leather bound, dedicated in real gold leaf, complete with references,

family tree, interpretations, maps, and etchings of great moments in Biblical

History; a rare and invaluable treasure. “ He handed the Bible to Pease with both

hands, as if it might explode with spiritual light at any moment.
            “ Beautiful work. Splendid. “ Pease said as he perused the book. “ You sell

these? “
            “ Hopefully, “ Moon replied. “ I intend to when we get to the reservation .I

have sold a few along the way. It’s a lasting attribute to any home. "
            Jacob chuckled. “ Yeah, we always kept one in the outhouse on the claim.

A big one lasts almost a month. "
            Ben thought this was hilarious.
            Pease closed the book and handed it back to Moon.
            “ Man does not live by bread alone, Jacob, " Moon replied.
            “ Yeah,” Jacob said, “ you keep saying that. But the truth is, bread’s at

the top of the list. You gotta eat before you can be alive enough to read, or give a

damn about what happens in the hereafter. "
            Moon was all set to snap back a rebuttal but caught himself midway.

“ You know, “ he said, “ That’s a very good point. Anyway, its not about money

exactly, Mister Pease. You might say I’m on a mission. I intend to get these

Bibles to a place where they can do a whole lot of good. "
            Sun Stalker expressed the spirit of the ideas of his former chief, Bending

Willow, when he said, " It would seem to me, that, as of all things of this world,

such books are only as true as those who read them. "
            This was another very profound and irrefutable concept. So damn simple

yet so crucial that it rocked McGonahue back on his heels. At the expense of his

idealism, he was learning some very important truths about the inhabitants of this

place called America and the spiritualism of its inhabitants. In the general psyche,

nature was given its due as a viable and influential force. The red and white races

had influenced one another far more than they realized, and both races were

molded by the same natural conditions. Given time, one becomes an American, for

the environment can be harsh and unforgiving, requiring the same sacrifices of all

people, thus forming their attitudes and outlooks. People here were independent in

their thinking and their actions. Pragmatism and decisiveness were essential to

survival and an integral part of spiritualism. “ That is so true, “ he said. “ One can

only hope and pray for the best. “
            Jacob snorted and puffed his pipe a little harder. He was not about to be

dragged into a philosophical debate with these two. He had learned long ago that

arguing with a fanatic was about as futile as whipping a stump for being

unsociable. He had said all he was going to on the matter.
            After dinner, of which Pease apologetically ate enough for three men his

size, everyone lounged about on their blankets. Sun Stalker read. Red Raven softly

tutored Ben in mathematics while Pease rubbed his aching feet. Jacob sat up on a

rise behind camp and settled in for the first watch of the night as darkness slowly

enveloped them.

The real John Shacknasty and Scarface Charlie were Modoc Indians who did not enter the pages of history until 1876 during the Modoc Wars.