When she had left her two friends, Norny kept the mountains and the setting sun on her left while riding north. The blanket Rosa had given her came in handy when the temperature started dropping down at night. She grew up in the northern mid west part of the country, were the temperatures got well below freezing. She knew how to deal with the cold, but then cold is cold to anybody no matter where your from. And cold can seem even colder when your alone.
She missed the company of Pete and Roscoe her close friends and rodeo pals. And she thought about them often. They were good traveling companions, and they made her laugh when her spirits were low. And the concern they expressed for her was genuine.
After a full day of riding, she came upon the railroad tracks. The sight of which was a welcome friend. Her thoughts immediately turned to Daniel.
How is he doing. Does he still think about her. Does he still feel the closeness for her that she still feels for him?
She had a lot of things to tell Daniel about, and traveling along the tracks gave her the need to vocalize the words she would tell him if he were there with her. In her mind she felt she was keeping some sort of spiritual communication channel open with him. That was a necessity in order for her to deal with her thoughts and feelings for him.
Norny decided to follow the tracks sense they were heading in the general direction of where she was going.
The third long day on the trail, she could see she was closing in on civilization.
There were signs and evidence that she was approaching Carson City, the capital of the Nevada territory.
She could see the buildings strung out along the way up ahead. There were the mountains on her left, and on her right a flat basin that went out for miles. Though the sun was still in the sky, the over all outlook was for rain soon. And that meant a possible light dusting of snow in the mountains. Off on her left and in front of her were dozens of soldiers in blue coats two by two.
Norny follows the tracks in behind the column of soldiers as she approaches the outskirts of the City. There seems to be quit a bit of traffic in and out. It was a well populated community.
On her right, Norny sees the soldiers gathered around a small fenced area where one of them was riding a bucking horse. She could hear them laughing and taunting the rider. There must have been at least thirty soldiers around the fence watching, and about a dozen civilians. They were making a lot of noise and having a good time by the sound of it. She was drawn to any kind of rodeo event, so she decided to check it out.
She got down off of Poco and walked over to get a closer look at the goings on. No one had even noticed her arrival, they were too busy watching the action.
Just then the rider got thrown while the crowd roared with laughter.
The rider was a low ranking soldier who picked himself up slowly off the ground. While a couple of men held the horse, the man climbed back into the saddle and it started all over again. He would ride for about thirty seconds then he was thrown off. Each time the roar of the laughter got louder. She stood there and watched for a while, not really understanding what was happening. This time as the riderless horse ran around the fenced perimeter Norny thought this looked like fun and would join in the action. she didn't see any reason why she shouldn't. So she couldnít resist when she saw her opportunity.
She quickly climbed up on the rail. When the mount went by she leaped to his back and held on tight. The horse immediately jumped into action. Norny had a firm grip and was solid in the saddle. The other rider quickly ran to the fence to keep from being trampled. The crowd was surprised to see someone else join in. They yelled and laughed at first, but then they realized she was going the distance and started to cheer. After a minute or so the horse quit bucking and started trotting around the small arena. She hadnít even lost her hat on the ride. Some of the people started to applaud.
Finally she does a leg over and dismounts. Some of the men were still laughing while others were patting her on the back to congratulate her, "Good ridin!" Theyíd say.
The Private who was repeatedly thrown from the horse pushes others out of the way and barges up to her, and says, "You son of a bitch! You cost me my pay!"
And with his fist he throws a punch and catches Norny by surprise and hits her square in her left eye. The impact of his right hand knocks Nornyís head out from under her hat, off her feet and onto the ground. She rolled around in the dirt with her hands over her eye in pain.
It seems that this soldier had a bet going with the other men that he could break this animal, and Norny got into the middle of it and humiliated the Private, and cost him a months pay. But most people there hadnít realized that this was a woman yet. It all happened too fast, and she just looked like a cowboy at first glance. Even the hair didnít give her away sense many men wore their hair long in those days.
"Go on kick his ass Jake!" One man yells.
"Come on get up so I can kick the shit out of ya!" The Private says.
Then someone yells out, "Hey you Jackass! You just slugged a woman."
Norny was face down, obviously hurting. When she rolled over on her back they suddenly noticed her breast protruding upward underneath her shirt.
"Oh my God! It is a woman you hit Jake."
"OH NO!" The Private exclaims.
A couple of women who were watching the whole thing charge into the middle of it all, shoving and pushing the men out of the way.
"Get back! Go on, give us some room" one shouts, "You men have done her enough harm." And she crouches down to help her sit up. She carefully removes Nornyís hand from her eye and takes a look.
"Oooo, your gonna have a real shiner."
"A real beauty."
"Whatís that?" Norny asks as the tears roll down out of her watering eye.
"Thatís a black eye Hon." She says.
It takes a couple of minutes before Norny was steady enough to get up.
"You men give her a hand up on her feet." So they did. One of the men start brushing the dust off her back.
Someone else picked up her hat and dusted it off before they handed it to the woman.
Norny held her hand over her now swelling eye. It hurt like hell. In Nornyís mind she canít imagine what went wrong. What did she do to provoke an attack on her like this.
"Are you gonna be OK Hon?" The woman asks.
"Iíll be alright in a minute." She answers.
The woman holds on to Nornyís hat and carried it for her, "Come on with me Hon, and weíll take care of that eye."
"Iím sorry Miss, I thought you were a man. I would never hit a woman." The Private says apologetically.
"Get lost Jake." The woman shouts.
Norny couldnít pay attention to all that was going on around her or being said at the moment, sense the pain of her eye was too much of a distraction right then.
With the woman holding onto her arm, Norny and the two women start to walk off.
"Wait! My horse." And Norny turns and whistles for Poco. He comes right over to her.
Poco puts his nose up to Nornyís covered eye, as if he sensed she had been hurt.
"Iíll have someone take your horse over to the stable for you."
The woman said.
"Jake! Get over here!" the woman yells.
"Handle my horse with care." Norny says.
"Donít worry, I will." Jake answers. That was the least he could do for the damage in inflicted on her.
Norny shows Poco a little affection. " Go with him boy, Iíll be down to see you later Poco." She says.
So Norny and the woman walk toward the buildings in the distance.
The woman had a room in the large boarding house on the edge of town. The womanís room was all flowery and frilly and possessed the sweet fragrance of perfume. It was deifinitly a feminine domain.
In her room they try and make small talk as they attend to Nornyís eye, "Your pretty good at breaking horses. Those men have been trying to stay on that horse for days." The woman says.
"Well they didnít like me joining in thatís for sure." Norny
"Those soldiers can be thoughtless brutes sometimes." Says the woman , "Besides Iím sure Jake didnít realize you were a woman. He may be a little hot headed, but he isnít the type to strike lady. He really isnít a bad sort."
The woman is covering Nornyís eye with a cold compress to help
the swelling go down. As she does she notices, "Ya know, your kinda
pretty. What do you think Amy?"
"Yeah, I guess she is in a rugged sort of a way." Amy replies.
"Iím not beautiful?" Norny asks. Remembering that Daniel said she was. The girls chuckled at her question. They had never heard anyone ask something like that before, and it sounded odd. Where is this woman coming from with a question like that they thought?
"Beautiful, no! pretty yes, but not exactly beautiful." Norny was confused. Then what did Daniel mean when he said I was a beautiful flower. He wouldnít have lied to me she thought. The idea of beauty being relative hadnít occurred to her.
Daniel had come to recognize her physical beauty in the fire light, but her beauty was multi faceted. For it was always her inner spirit as well. Her kindness and generosity of compassion, that was her true beauty. A beauty that would never age or change with time. She possessed the kind of beauty you couldnít measure with a stick.
The women took an immediate liking to Norny. For what ever reason they felt a feminine kinship to her and treated her as if they had been friends for years.
"Whatís your name Honey?" The woman asks.
The women laughed, "Thatís funny, has anyone ever called you Horny?"
"Once." She answers.
"And it doesnít bother you?"
"No. Why should it?" This was the second time she heard it, but Norny still didnít have the word Ďhornyí in her vocabulary.
"Norny huh? Excuse me for laughing but you gotta admit, thatís a pretty strange name."
Norny didnít get it. It sounded perfectly fine to her.
"Well my name is Sabrina, and this is Amy." She tells her.
"You know, you look like a Rebecca or a Priscilla to me. Doesnít she to you Amy?"
"I think she would make a good Marueen."
"Did you ever think of changing your name to something more feminine, instead of Norny?"
"But Nornyís my name. I don't know anything else."
"Do you have a last name?"
"No. Its just Norny."
The two women wondered to themselves who would name their child something so ridiculous as Norny?
But the truth is, to change her name would be a betrayal of her tribal family, a rejection of their claim to her. Still not every woman could go through life labeled something that sounded so ridicules or almost obscene as Norny. But Norny is who she was, though Norny meant "no name" in the language of her tribe, it was still her name and her family gave it to her. They knew she was a special woman and she was capable of creating meaning out of no name. For a name that had no meaning, would take on the form and character of whom ever possessed it. And for her it was a sound that would come to represent pride and courage to those who knew her. For it wasnít a name for decoration purposes as is so often in the white manís world. It was a label of meaning, an identity that was the DNA of her character. The name Norny would never work for another human being. It was meant for only one. And it was the right name for her.
But it didnít take long after you got to know her before you realized that she made the name fit her perfectly, and it didnít sound so strange any more. She was as unique and special as her name implied. And after you got to know her, her persona made Norny actually sound melodic and beautiful.
"No I couldnít change it. My name is Norny, and thatís the way
it will always be." She said.
"I gotta admire you Honey. It takes guts to wear a name like that."
They had no idea how right they were. But then it takes a certain mind set to not care what others think of your name.
"What brings you here to Carson City?"
"Iím just passing through heading west over the mountains. Until it is passable, I thought that I might find a ranch to hire on as a hand."
"Well your definitely good with horses, but why not work right here with us? Your pretty, and you look like you could fit right in with us."
"What kind of work do you do here?"
"Weíll show you Honey, its easy money. Hey! I made a clever little rhyme." Sabrina says
Norny agreed to go to work with them and see for herself.
Later that evening she went with the women. Except for Norny, the two women had changed into the attire they wore in theyíre line of work. They were saloon girls.
When they arrived, there were lots of soldiers drinking and having a good time, and all of them knew Sabrina and Amy by name.
People that noticed Norny's eye all wanted to know, "How'd you get that shinner?" To which she had no reply.
It didnít take long before some drunk made an inappropriate move on Norny even though she didnít look like a saloon girl, and she gave him a quick jolt of reality. She knew she wasnít suited to this line of work. And just as well.
Norny stayed there and observed them at work for a little longer, before she headed back to the stable with Poco. As she was leaving, she thanked them, "Thanks, but this isnít for me. Besides Iíve never worn the kind of clothes that you do, and I wouldnít know how."
"Well thatís easy enough, weíll show you how. And Iíve got plenty of dresses that Iím sure will fit you."
"Thank you anyway." Norny says.
"Well Iíll tell you what Norny. The governor is throwing his annual ball the day after tomorrow. Its a real gala affair. Thereís good food, lots of men and dancing. What do ya say we dress you up and you come with us, and weíll see what kind of time you have. After all, its just a big party. And thatís all we do for work is party. I think we can make you look very presentable. Come on, what do ya say Norny?"
Norny thought this might be a good way to make new friends and
find acceptance here, "Ok. Maybe it will be fun." She remembered the
dance Pete and Roscoe took her to and she loved it.
"What about her eye?" Amy asks.
"We can take care of that with a little makeup." Sabrina says.
"Right now, lets get your things. You can stay with me. I have an extra bed."
"Thanks just the same. But Iím use to staying at the stable with my horse."
"WHAT! Thatís ridicules. The stable is dirty and smelly. Why do that when I have all that space you can share with me.?"
"No, thank you anyway, but Iíll be all right at the stable with Poco."
"Well, suet yourself Hon. But if you change your mind, the offer stands."
For the next couple of days, the girls had a lot to show Norny and took her around to try and make her feel at home. Norny rode out to look at some of the ranches in the area, to see what was out there. Of course most of girls thoughts and energies went towards the big event the Governor was having. They spent a lot of time looking at clothing and accessories that would make them look special for the occasion. Norny was getting caught up in it herself. Sabrina would tell her, "Weíre gonna make you look so beautiful the men will be lining up to dance with you."
A couple of times the Private ( Jake ) would stop by to see if Norny was OK. And Sabrina would tell him, "Sheíll be alright if you just leave her alone." Sabrina was going to make the Private pay for what he did by not allowing him access to her.
As the time would draw closer, the girls were making it sound like a real memorable event and Norny was getting more anxious at the prospect of having fun. She was getting all caught up in the thrill of anticipation. To the two woman ( Amy and Sabrina ), the ball was like the second coming of Christ. They waited all year for the day to come around.
All over the city were reminders of the big event and how important it seemed. When she would think about it, her heart would race and feel the twinge of excitement. It was a new kind of adventure for her that she felt could only be an enjoyable one. Dressing up in clothes she had never worn before, and meeting new people and even sampling some foods she had never tried. She could hardly wait.
Finally the big day came and Sabrina had made it her personal mission to give Norny the complete make-over from head to toe. They didnít know where Norny had come from or how she was raised, but they could see she lacked most of the feminine social graces.
They started with a hot bath. Only her second hot bath in her life. They washed her hair and cleaned her nails. Norny hadnít experienced someone else primping her since she was a baby. They had already gone through all kinds of dresses in preparation of tonightís affair. She had only seen these kinds of clothes in the windows of shops, but she never saw herself wearing them.
Most of the women wore some strange undergarments, like a squeezing apparatus around their waist. Norny refused to wear that. It appeared more as an instrument of torture rather then clothing. There were other bizarre accessories as well. Like something called a bussel that went over her derriere to enlarge the shape. But that made a woman look like a bumble bee rather than a woman Then there was a hoop thing that looked like a bird cage designed to fill out her gown in the shape of a bell. But with that she could never sit down. She wisely said no to all the strange devices, and went with just the basics. But when she tried on the gown, she saw herself in a whole new light. She didn't know exactly what to think, but she was pleased. Is this me, she thought. As she looks at herself in the looking glass she wonders, what would Daniel think of me if he saw me now? Would he like me this way?
Then Amy suggests, "I have some elegant necklaces you can chose
from to wear."
"Thank you, but no. Iíll just wear this." Norny says.
"It looks like an earring on a chain. Is that what it is?" Amy asks.
"Yes. It was a gift from a friend. There were two earrings at one time, then I lost one. So I put this on the chain so that I couldnít lose it. But the earring has meaning to me, from a special friend and I prefer to wear it."
"Oh, I see." Most women could understand that.
Then they had to find slippers to fit her. That was a problem. Nornyís foot was wider then Sabrinaís or Amyís and their shoes wouldnít fit her feet. Nornyís wide feet may account for some of her sure footed balancing. Her feet werenít big, just a little wider than most women.
Then it was time for some finishing touches. A little white mans face painting.
Norny watched Sabrina and Amy apply their own make up in the reflecting glass.
Sabrina and Amy had their own personal colors they were spreading all over their lips and over their eyes. But when they wanted to put it on Norny she balked.
"You want to decorate my face?" She asks. "I have always put it on myself." But whenever Norny would apply her makeup, it would be for something more significant like battle (warrior training) or the preparation there of.
But weíre not going into battle, so maybe this is the civilized equivalent of a tribal dance? Norny thought.
"We just need to enhance the features you already have, like your eyes and your lips and cheeks. And besides we need to hide your black eye." Sabrina tells her.
"Oh! Well I already know how to do that myself. Iíll take care of it." Norny says.
"OK then." Sabrina says.
Norny didnít understand the white man's customs as far as face decorating went. She saw them putting paint on their faces the way they would, and she would do same thing but with her own colors and pattern.
She didnít realize there were rules, like red on the lips and shadow over the eyes, and rouge on the cheeks. You can pick the colors and shades you want, but the civilized rules are specific. Keep the coloration in those areas only.
There was nothing complicated about face painting, she thought. It seemed to be a universal custom.
So Norny gets her grease paint out of her bag and applies it over her left eye just the way she always had.
It was a very attractive, multi colored patter that she applied with the skill of an expert.
Sabrina and Amyís eyes almost popped out of their sockets when they saw her smearing bright colors over her left eye.
"No Norny, thatís not the way its done! That looks like a
savage war paint."
"What I had in mind was a little pancake makeup over the bruised eye with a little eye shadow." Sabrina tells her.
Norny didnít tell the girls about her background but maybe she should have in this case, so they would know were she was coming from with her face painting, "But this is the way I was taught and how I have always worn it. This design and these colors are me and I prefer to wear my own." She says.
"Are you sure Hon? I mean there are going to be a lot of people at the dance, and Iím not so sure theyíre going to understand anything as abstract as your eye painting."
"Iíve always done it this way." Norny says
"OK Hon, if thatís what you want. But the others may not see it the way you do."
It took several long hours for the girls to primp themselves ready for the eyes of men. They were down to the finishing touches. Norny had to wear her own boots sense nothing else would fit her. They were all very presentable and quite sophisticated looking ladies for two saloon girls and a saddle tramp.
Nornyís long brown hair was piled up on the top of her head, with little curls streaming down the side of her face and her long white gloves. She was the picture of elegance.
She stood there looking at herself in the full length mirror and was very surprised at what she saw. She could have never imagined herself to look like this. If only Daniel could see me now, she thought.
They would accompany each other to the ball, and make their appearance together. They were pleased with the way they looked, but they just werenít sure about Nornyís eye make up.
There they were the three of them. Three pretty ladies with beautiful faces accept one had this colorful explosion over one eye. It would take some open minded imagination for some people to see the beauty in that face.
"Before I go I have to do something. Iíll meet you both at the entrance." Norny says.
"OK , weíll see you there shortly." Sabrina replies.
Norny picks up her dress from dragging on the ground and scurries over to the stable. The excitement in her voice was evident.
"Hi boy!....... Do you recognize me?" Her face glowed with her beaming smile as she held her gown up and slowly turned around for Poco. A smile that would make a man want to wrap his arms around her and squeeze her tightly, almost to the breaking point. "What do you think?..... Am I beautiful?"
Of course she didnít expect Poco to answer. She just needed to express her thoughts and questions to someone closest to her heart. And that was obviously Poco.
But to Poco she would always be the only human that mattered and the most beautiful woman alive. If a human and animal could have been connected spiritually or linked to their soul, then her soul was part of his, just as his was to her.
And if Poco could have transformed himself into a person, he would have gladly been her prince charming for the evening, and escort her to the ball.
"I wonder what Pete and Roscoe would say if they saw me now?" She never knew the depths of their feelings for her.
"They would probably get a good laugh and have a funny name for me. Huh Poco?" But the truth is, if Pete and Roscoe could have seen her now, their hearts would have melted into their socks.
She puts her arms around Pocoís head and lays her face against his. "I love you boy. I have to go now, but I'll tell you all about it later Poco."
Norny heads back out and over to the ballroom to meet the girls. She is so excited in anticipation of the nights festivities she can hardly contain herself.
As she approaches the large building where all the music and noise was coming from, she was feeling a little apprehensive. She wasnít really comfortable dressed the way she was, and she had never been to an event like this one.
The building was lit up brightly and she could hear the music as she approached. It wasnít any kind of music she had ever heard before. Not at all like the music she danced to with Pete and Roscoe back in Sedona. This had a sweeter, and more melodious flowing quality to it. It kind of reminded her of the old man and the fiddle the night of the train wreck. She sees her friends waiting out front for her.
"Well, are you ready?" Sabrina asks her.
"Iím ready." She replies.
So as the three of them head up the stairs into the building the sight and sounds of the evening were overwhelming.
Not knowing what to expect Norny had a nervous feeling in her stomach and she wasnít sure why. Climbing on the back of an angry bull was a piece of cake compared to this. She wondered if she looked as awkward as she felt. She was dressed in a way she never had before and for the first time ever, she was concerned with her appearance to others. Daniel was partially responsible for this. After all, he told her she was beautiful and she was counting on his accuracy and hoped that other people would see her that way too. But then Sabrina and Amy said she might be a little pretty, but not beautiful.
Norny didnít really know how to distinguish between pretty and beautiful. This left her a little confused. Especially where it applied to her.
How would she look to others dressed in this strange apparel. She feared humiliation on this level, but she had to experience this night even at the risk of it.
She wasnít like the other women there, and it was quite obvious with the way she carried herself and her facial decor. Her movements and gestures were not as feminine as the other women. But she was still the same Norny, except for the clothes. So the three women head through the entrance and the foyer to the doors of the ball room itself.
"Well here we go." She says.
* And right now Norny is in the chute and dropping down onto the bull. With her head tall and erect and her right arm in the air, she gives the signal to turn him loose and she bursts forth into the arena. *
When Norny and the girls walked into the ball room it was a real eye feast for her. Norny took a deep breath. She had never imagined that anything as grand as this existed in the world. The room was huge and spacious. The ceiling was way up to the sky, and hanging from it were six large crystalline chandeliers that twinkled and sparkled like the smile in her eyes. They were gigantic, each maybe thirty feet in diameter.
The floor was made of an imported polished marble perfect for dancing on. And the room echoed the sound of laughter and joy and conversation till it filled her ears.
"They call this the Crystal Ball Room because of the large imported crystal chandeliers. They brought them all the way over from France ." Sabrina says to her.
Norny didnít have a clue of what or were a France was. But it didnít matter. There was too much for her to absorb all at once anyway.
Norny couldnít say anything, she could have never imagined anything so grand in her lifetime.
There were hundreds of people, all nicely dress in their best. The colors of the room decor were brilliantly displayed with banners and bunting and it was brightly lit all around. There were lots of soldiers smartly dressed in their blue coats, white gloves and presenting themselves in all their brass button gallantry. The air in the room had a pleasant aroma about it which added flavor to the ambiance.
Nornyís head was twisting and turning to catch an eye full of all she could see. The enormity of it all dwarfed her and she felt a chill run up her back at just being there. There was so much to look at, she couldnít get enough. Her heart was pounding with excitement.
It was a magnificent display of sight and sound for her. Suddenly she was elated to be there.
Her heart was filled with joy of anticipation of what the night would bring. She felt good and happy and really alive. And for the moment, she was able to forget all the sad ending she had been through to get here. Within her she felt a warmth for everyone there.
A child at the circus couldnít begin to describe her elation. How wonderful this was for her, discovering a social event of this magnitude, and actually being a part of it, thanks to her two new friends.
"Well I have to admit, sheís damn cute with that artwork on her eye and the beat up old boots." Sabrina says to Amy. "Yeah, I hope these alley cats arenít too hard on. I mean sheís going to stand out like a white horse in a brown herd." Amy replies.
There were lots of beautiful women in gowns and long gloves standing around and chatting with each other and the men. And plenty of soldiers there for the ladies to dance with. The officers were all stepping around with their polished gestures and gentlemanly manors. Most of the women were gathered around the officers socializing and hoping to be noticed and chosen by a man of rank.
"I think we should go over to the refreshment area and get us a
drink before we introduce you around Honey." Sabrina says.
"OK." Norny replies.
So the three of them made their way across the dance floor towards the other side of the room and to the table covered with food.
Norny was in shock when she saw all the edibles in their abundance. Her mouth was wide open and her eyes were bugged out.
"Help yourself to anything you want Norny, its all for the
" But how? Iíve never seen a spider this large or an insect that big. How do you eat something like that."
" What!.... Norny, those arenít spiders or insects. Thatís a King Crab brought all the way from Alaska, and thatís a lobster. Theyíre a kind of fish."
"FISH!!!" Norny replies. It wasnít from any river or stream sheíd ever been in. And she was glad of that, they looked like they would bite her toes clean off, if she had waded into their waters.
"Would you like to try some?" Amy says to her.
"Maybe later." Norny replies.
The buffet table must have been a hundred feet long and it had anything a connoisseur of fine food could possibly want. Unfortunately Norny didnít recognize any of it.
"Well here, at least have some punch. Thereís no alcohol in it unless you want it." And Sabrina hands her a little dainty glass full.
She holds the glass and notices the color before she takes a sip. "MMM... This is sweet and sharp at the same time. Its good." She says.
When Norny notices someone looking at her, she would politely say "Hello." And give them a smile to show her friendly nature. A few would say hello back, but not with the enthusiasm it was intended. Some would gawk or stare intently. But most people represented the face of surprise or astonishment when they noticed her.
At first there were only a few whispers, and then it had a wave effect and spread rapidly. The gradual sounds of women cackling with each other were starting to make there way back to her. Then she started to notice the looks she was getting from the crowd. But Norny just politely smiled at all. Everyone was her friend tonight.
Then the whispers were getting louder. Sabrina is noticing whatís going on. The two women ( Sabrina and Amy ) were praying that these snooty bitches wouldnít spoil this night for their friend. The two of them could see the excitement in her face, like a child on Christmas morning. And they wanted to treat her to a night she would always remember. To give her a memorable experience, and for her to be able to enjoy it for the grand evening it was meant to be.
But Sabrina and Amy saw the beginning of what they feared the most. The alley cats were getting their backs up and hissing at the stranger.
"What the hell you looking at Betsy?" Sabrina yells to
Chuckles were starting to alert the others that hadnít noticed Norny yet.
"Did you ever get that hairy mole removed from your back Claudia?" Sabrina shouts out.
When the other women noticed Nornyís eye, they laughed, and talked amongst themselves about it. "How absurd." One woman says There were giggles from the ladies all around the room.
"Can you imagine what kind of woman would paint something so ridicules on their face? And dressed in a gown no less. She looks like an Indian for Godís sake." Another says.
"And look at those cowboy boots. My Lord, sheís a hick." At first Norny didnít notice them talking about her. But the women were getting progressively louder and didnít care if she heard or not. Soon it was obvious to her.
When Norny realized they were making fun of her, it was a cold sharp piercing feeling that went straight through her gut.. Why are they talking about me she wondered. Do I look so strange? She thought. For the first time in Nornyís life, she felt what it was like to be naked in front of the world. Like there was a reason she should be ashamed of who she was.
The sniping of the women was merciless like small dogs nipping at her ankles.
When she heard the laughing she was embarrassed and humiliated in a way that she never knew before. It was on a much more personal level. Her confidence was clearly shaken. Suddenly Norny noticed the great distance between herself and the exit.
Why are they doing this to me? She wondered.
"Oh my god! Their going to ruin it for her!" Amy says to Sabrina.
"How can we stopíem?" Amy asks.
"We canít. They donít care whether they hurt that poor woman or not. They only care about themselves." Sabrina says.
Here Norny was new in town, and the neighborhood was sending out the unwelcome wagon to greet her..
The nervousness in the pit of her stomach had now turned to a sick feeling.
Norny could take the humiliation and laughter at the rodeo, because she would prove herself and have the last laugh. But in this case Norny had only Danielís word that she was a beautiful prize flower desired by men. But she was competing for them as a woman in a so called civilized social event, and she was being stoned by the competition.
When Norny looked around the room at the people looking at her, she noticed a lot of very attractive women far more attractive then herself she thought, and Norny was feeling inadequate as a woman.
At a glance, there werenít many friendly faces in the crowd, except for Sabrina and Amy. She was in a room full of strangers that had no intentions of becoming her friends.
The women there saw that Norny made a better target then a friend.
The two women saw Nornyís agony and felt bad for her, "Oh the
Poor dear." Sabrina says.
"Its that eye painting. We tried to tell her but she wanted to wear it." Amy replies.
"It doesn't matter, eye painting or not they don't have a right to make her feel bad and ruin things for her." Sabrina says.
All the women wanted to be the one getting most the attention that night, but the attention went to Norny, for the wrong reasons.
As heads would turn to see what others were laughing about, they in turn would also start laughing.
There she was in the scruffy old boots and the eye painting as the object of ridicule. She had become the Cinderella outcast. And she felt anything but beautiful right now.
Norny wanted to run and hide herself, but she had never run from anything in her life and she couldnít bring herself to do it now. Her emotions were reeling with confusion. She didnít have anyone or anything to be angry at. And there was nothing to blame or anyway to fix it.
She felt the tears lining up behind her eyes, waiting for their cue to parade down her face. But she would fight it off as long as necessary to keep these strangers from seeing her break down.
The kind of class conscience women that they were, they would have probably found someone else to pick on had Norny not been there.
Norny wasnít a proper lady by civilized standards, and they treated her accordingly.
She found a little out of the way spot to stand and wait until she could quietly, quickly make her exit.
Sabrina comes to her side and tells her, "Donít pay any attention to these old sows. Who cares what they think anyway."
But it wasnít much comfort to Norny. She was so full of excitement to be there and to be able to enjoy the evening with all the music and dancing, and now it was ruined.
Norny had earned the right to a little fun and friendship because of the way she so selflessly given to others. But she could stay there only as a source of humorous entertainment to be pointed at and laughed at. The women there might as well have thrown the punch bowl on Norny's gown, the results would have been the same.
Norny's confidence was so tromped on that she had a hard time looking up at anyone. But if she had looked around, she might have noticed that not everyone in the place saw her the same way.
Jake, the soldier that socked her in the eye, noticed her. But he quickly realized that the painting hid the black eye he gave her. He thought that it was damn clever of her to mask it the way that she had. And there was something kind of intriguing about the way it looked. Other men didnít quite know what to make of it either, but it had a magnetic effect on them as well. There was something magical about Norny, she was bold and obviously unique, and the men were drawn towards anyone that could be courageous enough to come to a formal affair looking so different as she.
As bad as she suddenly felt she couldnít stand to be there any longer.
Sabrina can't help but see how itís bothering Norny, "Oh Hon, try and ignore those people. Your better then they are." She says, "Here, after youíve had something to drink, something a little stronger, youíll feel better."
"Thank you for inviting me, but I canít stay here." Norny says.
She moves quietly around the perimeter of the room until she reaches the exit. The eyes of the catty females followed her to the door. She had to get to Poco. There was no where else to go and Poco was always there for her. He was the only one she could be sure about.
After Norny leaves, Sabrina says out loud for all to hear,
"There are you happy now? Whatís the matter with you frustrated old bitties? Are you so bored that you had to pick on that woman and spoil her evening. So what she looks different then you. Do you really think that anybody would want to be like you?"
Of course many of the women there looked down their noses at Sabrina and Amy as well sense they were saloon girls. But they were use to it, and they didnít care what the other women thought of them.
As Norny leaves the building, the sounds of the music is fading behind her. Her throat thickens up and she knows that tears are soon to follow. Norny needed comforting and recognition of her worth. She needed some sort of validation as a woman and she needed it now.
She is walking quickly towards the stable, holding her gown up off the ground. With her long dress and long white gloves and her hair all fixed up on the top of her head. All the preparation and fixing in hopes that someone would notice the charm and femininity of this special lady.
That she was different, but she was a woman too.
The three of them went through a lot of trouble in hopes they would accept Norny in as one of them, and allow her to join them in the fun and festivities. But it didnít happen that way. In all her glorious presence, no one could see the charm and rare quality in this elegant black pearl.
What had she done to deserve this kind of treatment. She had hurt no one, and was only being herself. And thatís where she went wrong. This is the civilized world, and the last person you want to be is yourself.
Sheís almost to the stable, she sees it just ahead, and picks up the pace to get to her pal Poco and sanctuary at last.
Poco knew love for only one living thing, and that was his best friend Norny. The woman that cared for, fed, and would lay her life down for him. Pocoís love for her was guaranteed and unconditional . When she comes through the door she canít hold it back any longer.
She heads over to Poco. "Oh Poco." She says as she bursts forth in tears. "It was horrible. They laughed at me."
She just held onto Poco, and though she tried she couldnít seem to stop the tears. "IĎm not like those women." She didnít understand why she was hurting over this, but she couldnít seem to stop herself. Maybe it was the build up in her mind over this special occasion. Or maybe because the white man was her permanent family now, and they were showing their rejection of her.
They were so full of false fronts and illusions, she still didnít understand who they were. So in turn she didnít know who she was supposed to be, or what she was supposed to do in order to gain their acceptance.
She was being the only woman she knew how to be. And for that her emotional state was in crisis.
Who knows how other women saw her. Norny had no facades, deceptions or elusive feminine games about her, she was the real thing. And to another woman, this could be a scary prospect. How would a woman compete with this kind of direct honesty, even if she was out of the ordinary and different then women are supposed to be. Even most men could not be sure of themselves when confronted with a woman of truth. For there is no set rule of what a mans next move would be when there is no game being played.
The reality was that this was her new world. And it was slowly sinking in that there was no going back from where she came. She couldnít run and hide herself when the white man showed their rejection of her. She had to find the way to deal with it.
All the faces and memories of the past were just that, and she couldnít run back to the Indians who created her and was proud of who she is. She was now forever trapped in civilization. All sorts of things were running through her mind in hopes to make sense of it.
What they weren't able to see, was that she was only being honest about who she was with her face painting. They were experiencing a woman who didn't know how to be anyone but herself.
And this wasnít always a good thing in the social structure of the civilized society. And most wanted to be thought of as being better then they really were and better then anyone else. So exposing your true identity in the civilized world could be dangerous and ran the risk of ridicule and rejection just as they did to her. It was their form of class distinction and it was always that way with the white man.
And now with Pete and Roscoe gone, and except for the few people in this city that had given her their friendship, she was very much alone if not for Poco once again.
In her gown and gloves and scruffy old cowboy boots she tenderly caresses Poco and puts her face against his, sobbing and feeling sorry for herself. These were emotions Norny had never experienced before. Where were they coming from. How could she stop them. Where ever they were coming from, she had her lifetime of them stored up inside her, and they were making their presents known now for sure.
Growing up with the Indians she never felt in competition with the other women of the tribe. She had only to compete with the men. She knew how to win at their game. But now she was forced to compete in an area she knew little about, being a woman. In this area perhaps her tribal upbringing was flawed.
As she strokes Poco's face she asks, "Are you my pretty big boy?" She needed confirmation of that now more than ever before. And he gave her a firm yes with the up and down movement of his head. Even that little bit of positive acknowledgement and acceptance was welcome to her at this moment.
She tried to forget what had happened to her and think about Poco. But she really needed someones silent understanding and comfort, and Poco always had that fore her. "I donít understand what happened Poco, Daniel told me I was beautiful. Why would he say that if it werenít true. I believed him, but he was wrong, Iím not the beautiful flower he said I was." She sniffles.
"Oh but you are." Says a voice from behind her. Norny turns around to see the blue coated Colonel in his formal regalia standing at the door looking at her.
He was tall and handsome in his blue uniform with the shiny brass buttons. Sharp and neat to the smallest detail.
Norny was surprised to see someone there. Especially a handsome blue coated officer.
A pretty man Norny thought, capable of turning any womanís head. And he was the chief of the white mans warriors.
"Your the most beautiful woman Iíve seen all night."
"Who are you?" Norny asks.
"Please excuse meÖÖ. Iím Colonel Tims." He says.
"And if you donít come back there with me, I wonít have anyone to dance with."
"Dance with me?" Norny says
"I canít go back there." Norny says "Yes you can Norny."
"All those women back there who laughed at you did so because they envy you."
"Envy me?" Norny inquires.
"Donít you see, those women feel threatened by you. Their afraid that youíll steal all the attention away from them."
"Each one of them wishes they could be as bold and different as you are. But they fear rejection themselves and that others will treat them the same way they are treating you, so they donít dare be different. And the only way they can except their own fear of difference is by mocking those that are, and making you feel less than them. That way in their own minds they make themselves seem better then you. But deep down they know the truth. Can you understand that Norny?"
"Iím not sure I can." She says, "How did you know my name?"
"I watched you as you came in with Sabrina, and I couldnít take my eyes off of you. I saw how the others were treating you, and I heard the laughter, so when you left I had to ask her about you. Sabrina wanted to come after you, but I asked her to allow me to retrieve you back."
"I canít go back there and face all those people." She says.
"Its just like getting thrown from a horse, and Iíve heard your quite good with horses. You have to get right back up and ride him again to shake your fear. But when you go back to the dance youíll be with me."
"Please Norny, do me the honor and share my evening with me. This evening could only be a disappointment for me now without you there to share it with." And the Colonel takes out his handkerchief and carefully blots the tears from her face.
"Alright. If you wait just a moment Iíll remove the colors from my eye."
"The black eye?ÖÖ. One of my troopers told me what happened. Please donít remove it, leave the eye as it is. You wore the eye makeup because it is who you are, and you shouldnít have to change that for anyone, not even me. "
She liked this manís words. He made complete sense and she was beginning to feel better thanks to him.
It was easy for the women to show their rejection of her, but no normal thinking red blooded man could.
Norny draws back her last sniffle and takes a big swallow.
So the Colonel puts out his arm, and Norny takes it. Poco makes a naying sound and shakes his head as if with approval. Poco may not understand what was going on, but he and Norny spent most of their lives together. His keen sensitivity for her could detect her despair. He knew when she was troubled.
So Norny and the Colonel together, they walked back towards the ball.
When the two of them reached the entrance to the ball room, they stood there for a moment. Slowly people started to notice she had returned, and with the prize catch of the evening.
When they stepped into the ballroom, all eyes were on them. Nobody was laughing or making remarks this time. The mass of people cleared a path for them like Moses parting the Red sea.
There she was with that brightly colored eye, arm and arm with the Colonel. To the eligible women of status, the Colonel was the one to be seen with. And they saw he had chosen the woman they had outcast.
"Do you see what I see?" One woman whispers to another.
"Canít imagine what he sees in that wierd looking woman." She answers.
"Obviously something we donít have." A wise woman realizes.
As for physical beauty, there were many beautiful women there. And on a mans ten scale she might not have rated as highly as some of the other women. But it didnít matter. Because Norny had something that was unattainable to other women. And that is who she was, Norny.
What the men here didnít know, was that in the towns she had already been through, were they had gotten to know her, men eventually realized the rare beauty of her and some would have sold their souls for her.
But the men here were just learning there was much more than what meets the eye painting with her. And there was no doubt about it, they were totally enamored by the bold appearance of this mystifying woman.
A night like this was a competitive one for the women there. The room was full of carbon copy women. They all wanted to out do and stand out a little more then each other, but not so much that they would be too different. For this would bring them catty remarks and snide innuendoes. So most of the women there looked pretty much the same. They were cheaper by the dozen. But there was only one Norny. And like Amy said, she was a white horse in a brown herd.
She carried herself with a confidence and courage that was rarely seen in a woman of that time. With her squared shoulders and erect posture, she was a work of art, a living sculpture in a gown and a painted eye mask. And she was curiously interesting to the men in the room.
One by one she caught the attention of everyone in the room and the heads of the officers eventually turned towards her. Elegance in the rough, thatís what they saw.
When the Colonel stepped into the room with her on his arm, the other officers would politely walk up and introduce themselves, bow and kiss her hand. Then they would says. "Well Colonel, I hope you will permit me at least one dance with her."
"Weíll see." The Colonel would say.
Normally Norny wouldnít have let anyone dictate terms on her behalf, but in this case the Colonel had salvaged her from the wreckage and she was grateful. And the hand kissing thing. She didnít know what that was about, but it made her feel beautiful and like royalty.
One after the other the officers would make their approach all night. But right now she was with the Colonel.
Gradually Norny and the Colonel made their way into the middle of the room.
The orchestra began to play a waltz. So the Colonel turned to face her slightly bowed and said, "May I have this dance."
"I donít think I can dance to this kind of music." She replies.
"Well Norny, take off your boots and stand on my feet and Iíll lead you through it."
So she removed her boots and socks, and stood there in her bare feet. The Colonel's aid took her boots from her. Then she stood up on her toes upon his boots. He put his arm around her waist and gently pulled her towards him, then extended his left arm holding her handÖÖ.. andÖÖÖÖone, two, three.... one, two, threeÖÖÖÖÖ.gracefully they glided around the spacious ballroom floor like they were floating on a cloud.
What was it that was so special that all the men wanted her. Perhaps it was the honesty of who she was. The obvious awkwardness of how she was dressed and her presence there. But the men could feel her charisma. Something about her made them feel like they were hearing the sound of a choir holding a sustained ĎCí note in time when they looked at her.
Daniel was right. The accumulative total of all that she was as a woman showed through, and made her beautiful in a way that no other woman could be.
As the evening played on, the music was soothing to her and she felt beautiful and a worthwhile woman once again. The Colonel danced most of the dances with her, but he couldnít stop everyone from trying to steal her away for at least one dance.
Even if she were wearing her scruffy old boots or not, any man was willing to allow her to stand directly on their polished foot wear for the opportunity to dance with and hold her up close. Even for only a moment.
During the orchestra break, the Colonel and Norny were at the refreshment table having a drink. Norny and the Colonel were having the fruit punch.
Just as the musicians were about to return from their break, the Private, Jake walks up.
"Excuse me, Sir. But if the Colonel would be so kind as to allow me to dance with his partner, I would be grateful."
"Private, havenít you done enough for her already." ( Referring to the black eye he gave her ).
"Yes sir, but....."
Norny interrupts, "It's OK, Colonel, Iíll dance with him."
The Colonel tips his head forward and takes a step back out of their way.
They walk out on the dance floor and take hold of each other and begin there waltz.
The Colonel signals his aid to come over, "See to it the Private pulls the duty all next month.." He says.
"Yes Sir." He answers
"I canít begin to tell you just how sorry I am about what happened." Jake says.
"You see, I had a bet going with these guys, and if I couldnít break that horse for what ever reason, I forfeit my pay for the month. Things were going bad for me all that day. When you jumped on and rode him, I lost the bet. I was so mad I didnít take the time to see who you were, with my quick temper I just started swinging. Please accept my apologies."
"I accept your apology. It isnít my first black eye." She said.
" I had a feeling it wasnít. I mean you seem like such a tough and scrapping kind of a lady. And you rode that horse like an expert. Iím sure youíve taken a few falls learning to ride like that."
"Yes, I have." She says.
"You know, you did a real good job disguising your black eye. Though I can still see a little blood-shot in it, it doesnít detract from how pretty and blue they are."
Norny smiled and said, "Thank you."
And when she did, Jakeís heart started to race as he realized the magic in her smile and how captivating it could be.
Her bruised eye was still blood-shot. But it didnít matter. Even the colors of her war paint only accentuated the beauty of her silver blue eyes. When she smiled and the light in the room reflected back from the source of her vision, the glow of her smile cut through a soldiers heart like a sharp sabre. There was no woman in the room that could shadow the brilliance of this special lady. She was a flower of a different color. And her visual fragrance was intoxicating to all the men there. They were tripping over their own feet to get next to her.
All night Norny was caught up in the melodious fantasy, and the almost servient manors of her soldiers polished gestures. She had never been treated like a princess or could even imagine what it would be like until this night.
Just before Jake and Nornyís dance ended, Jake told her, "You
want to be careful with the Colonel. Heís a real ladyís man."
"He seems like such a gentleman."
"Of course he does." Jake says.
But Norny didnít have any idea what a ladyís man was.
They finished there dance and Jake thanked her. It was the Colonel's turn again.
All night she filled the room with a sense of magic. It seemed as if her poise and charm inspired the orchestra to play each tune better then they ever did before. With feeling, and from the heart. The same old tunes sounded new again, and at last the people in the room were discovering Norny for the first time.
Almost every man there looked at her like they wanted to wrap their arms around her and hold her close as they waltzed her around the room. To inhale the fragrance of her hair and feel her head resting gently on their shoulder. At least that was the respectable version of how they presented themselves.
But deep in their own thoughts, they were really thinking how they wanted to ravage her from head to toe and allow their tongues give her a precise tooth count.
"Oh my." Sabrina says.
"Looks like we created something here. I take it back about her being just pretty. After you look at her a while she really is beautiful. We out did ourselves with her." Sabrina says.
There was a lot of sour pusses and frumpy faces from many of the other women in the room. Sense they werenít getting all the attention they thought they deserved.
When Jake went back over to the buffet table, he tells his friend Kenny, "We gotta make sure the Colonel doesnít play the old loveím and leaveím game with that lady. She seems innocent and doesnít deserve to be hurt by him too." They both knew that the Colonel had a reputation with the ladies.
Jake and Kenny were allowed to attend the ball, but they were only Privates, so they were not equal participants in the affair.
Both Jake and Kenny had been assigned to help out with the refreshments on a part time basis. That meant that every hour someone would relieve them so they could enjoy the dance for a while.
Jake felt really bad about the damage he inflicted on Norny when he socked her in the eye and he wished there was something he could do to repay her. After all, the way he saw it was that if people shunned her for her eye makeup, then it was his fault for causing her to have to wear it.
While he was out on the dance floor with Norny, he came up with a plan. They were going to spike the Colonelís drinks with extra alcohol in order for the Colonel to become intoxicated early on and reveal himself to her as the ass they know him to be.
The Colonel was a real ladies man, and he knew the words and had the charm necessary to win a lady over.
According to Jake, the Colonel thinks he knows the exact location of a womanís ultimate ĎGí spot. Whether thatís true or not only a woman knows. But Jake didnít want the Colonel to trifle with Norny the way he had with so many other women. He felt he owed Norny that much.
When the Colonel would send his aid up for drinks, Jake would serve one with and one without. The one with had a double shot of alcohol in it. But when the aid would bring the drinks back to Norny and the Colonel he had no control over who got what. Jake tried to make one of the drinks appear to be more feminine then the other thinking that would do it. But Jake was wrong. It turned out that Norny was getting the doubles and the Colonel got nothing. It looks like Jake was setting up Norny to be an easy mark for the Colonel.
"Hey Jake! That woman with the Colonel looks like sheís starting to float a little. She must be getting the wrong drink." Kenny says.
"Oh no! I gotta think about this for a minute." Jake says. The Private sits down and gives it a thought for a couple of minutes. The Colonel could make an easy score tonight if I don't do something about it, he thought.
"Is the Doc here tonight?" Jake asks.
"I thought I saw him over there by the orchestra." Kenny says.
"Hey Kenny, cover me for a couple of minutes will ya?"
"Alright, but donít take too long."
So Jake heads across the room to locate the company Doctor. The Colonel was pretty much full of himself and wasnít the most popular man in the company. So getting help from the Doctor to foil the Colonel's plans might not be too difficult.
Jake located the Doc and took him aside. He explained what was going on and how the Colonel was sure now to take advantage of the situation if they didnít stop him. There was no love lost between the Colonel and the Doc, so he was glad to help.
"Listen, Jake. Go over to my office and go into the medicine closet. Get the brown glass bottle marked Potassium Nitrate. Thatís what you want. Donít touch anything else. Just put a pinch of that in his drink and you wonít have to worry about a thing."
"Thanks, Doc." So Jake gets what he was looking for and brings it back. Now he canít wait to get the Colonels next drink.
Jake fixes up a fresh drink for the Colonel and Norny and tells Kenny to serve them.
"Here Kenny you take these drinks over and exchange them for the ones they have. Tell them these are a refresh." So Kenny sets them on a tray and does just that. Except on the way over some other officers grabbed the drinks off the tray before he could get over there to them. Now Kenny has to go back and get a couple more drinks.
Well this goes on for quit a while. Kenny was just a Private so he couldnít stop the other officers from taking the drinks. So he kept going back and Jake kept mixing them. Jake was getting pretty sloppy with that pinch of Potassium Nitrate,and he was serving up his potent mixture to every officer there. Now he wasn't sure how much he was putting in. And soon most the officers got the drinks intended for the Colonel.
Jake didnít have any choice now. He would have to mix the drink and deliver it to the Colonel personally.
So Jake takes the drink and hides it under his coat as he takes it over to the Colonel and says, "Here you go sir, a fresh drink just for you."
"Thank you, Soldier, but the lady and I will be leaving soon."
Jake looks at Norny and sees her hair is a little messy, and her eye makeup is a little smeared and sheís weaving a little bit just standing there. Oh god! I think sheís getting smashed! He thought.
"Well, you have this one 'for the road' on me sir."
"Alright, trooper." And the Colonel slams it down the hatch.
Jake goes back to his station.
"Well Kenny, we finally got him. But I had to be sure so I gave him an extra big pinch." Jake looks down into the bottle and says, "Huh Oh! Looks like we used it all up."
Of course Jake and Kenny have been drinking all along and they werenít feeling any pain either. They were kind of sloshing their words a little.
"I just hope that stuff works what ever it is." Jake says.
Later after the ball was over and the officers were taking their dates home for the night, Jake finds the Doc and asks him about it.
"Say what is that stuff anyway doc?"
"You mean the Potassium Nitrate, thats the proper name for salt peter." The Doc says.
"Holy Cow!...........You mean he canítÖÖ.or I mean he wonítÖÖÖ?"
"Thatís right, he can't, he won't." The Doc says.
"Oh no. I gave that stuff out to most of the officers. I hope they don't find out."
"Why? They have been giving it you enlisted men for quite a while. Theyíve been slipping it into your food."
"What!!?ÖÖÖ. Why those bastardsÖÖÖ No wonder my romancin has takin a dive. And all this time and I thought it was me. With the rest of us out of the way I guess it makes them officers look like the real studs? Well theyíre long over do for some of their own medicine." Jake says
Well the Colonel tried to take Norny back to his quarters, but Sabrina and Amy saw her condition and they insisted on taking her with them. But that was OK for now, because the Colonel was having a hard time getting his enthusiasm up anyway. He couldnít understand it, he never had this problem before.
In there zealous attempt to make sure that the Colonel got the right drink, they inadvertently drugged most of the officers there with their little mixture. Needless to say that it rendered all of them impotent that night, and left a lot of hopeful women frustrated.
Ironicly all the women that looked down their noses and made fun of Norny attempting to ruin her evening werenít getting a night cap tonight. They were going home with impotent men. Their gentlemen companions were so full of Jakeís mixture that they might not see any action for a week.
And as for Norny, she would sure feel like hell in the morning and she didn't even know she was drinking.
But at least Nornyís evening was saved, and she had a wonderful time at the ball.
The next morning Norny felt terrible. She and the other ladies took a day to rest and recoup. A couple of days later the Colonel spotted Norny and stopped to chat a while. He asked her if she would like to go on Patrol with him and his troops the next morning. She would get a chance to see them at work.
Norny agreed to meet the Colonel at sunrise.
So Norny saddles up Poco and returns to meet the colonel and his troopers at sunrise.
"Men. We have a lady riding with us today. So I expect each of you to be on your best behavior. And watch your language. Is that understood?"
"YES SIR!!! Shouts the troops.
"Ok thenÖ..COLUMN HOOOOO!" The Colonel shouts as he motions them forward with his right arm.
And they were off. Norny riding beside the Colonel followed by a column of twenty four men two by two.
Norny never imagined that she would one day be riding with the blue coated soldiers her people hated as their enemy. But they didnít seem so bad. They were courteous and polite and not at all the evil villans then were made out to be.
There was a stiff breeze blowing across the basin and a chill in the air. The Colonel noticed that Norny appeared to be a little cold.
"Here Norny take my coat, Iím warm anyway." He says as he removes it and hands it over to her.
Norny slips it on. She loved the look of his blue jacket with the shinny brass buttons, so it felt good wearing it. Now she really felt like one of them, and somehow important.
They had been riding along for a couple of hours when a scout for the patrol comes riding back.
"What do you have to report?" Asks the colonel
"Weíve located a small group of trouble makers. Three wagons of them. The Sargent and Corporal Evens are with them now." The scout says.
"Lead the way. Weíre right behind you."
"DOUBLE TIME!" The Colonel shouts.
And the soldiers are off in a hurry to intercept the problem intruders and Norny is riding right along with them. The enemy was just on the other side of the rise. When they arrived at the top the Colonel raises his arm to halt the troops.
Down below were three wagons. The Sargent and the Corporal were dumping their belongings out on the ground. There was hysteria from the women and the men were pleading for them to stop destroying their things.
"Norny youíd better stay here. There could be trouble."
Trouble! She thought. Those just look like ordinary travelers. They donít look like any kind of threat. Then she looks a little closer and she realizes.
"HEY!ÖÖÖ Thatís Diego and Pablo and Rosa!"
"What?" The Colonel says.
"Those people arenít your enemy." She says. "They're just people, dream seekers trying to find a life worth living."
"Well it isnít here. And they have no business being here." Replies the Colonel.
"But they are just traveling through, theyíre not causing anyone any harm." She says.
Norny liked the Colonel and she wanted disparately to understand his logic. Because if she couldnít, that meant that he and the blue coats really were the enemy, and she was consorting with them. And worse then that, she had romantic thoughts about their leader.
"You donít get it. If you let them in, then others like them will come and weíll be over run with them."
"You mean like you did to the Indians?" Norny replies.
"No, thatís not the same thing. This land didnít belong to anyone before we came. least of all those primative savages. Their not humans, their on the same level as dogs or wolves. Their not God's people." He says.
"Who's god, yours or theirs?" She asks.
It doesn't matter, we're here now, and we have a right to use the land and make it safe so that everyone can have use of it."
"Everyone who is a white man you mean. Your plan doesn't allow for Indians, or Mexicans or anyone else who might be different than you."
"What are you getting all worked up about? Your one of us." The Colonel says.
"Iím not one of you." She said. "You think that because my skin is like yours, that our thinking is alike. You are mistaken." Norny tells him.
And Norny dismounts off Poco and starts to walk down the hill.
"Get back here Norny! Thatís an order!" The Colonel shouts.
Norny stops in her tracks, but doesnít look back.
He must think because I'm wearing this blue coat, that I'm one of his soldiers, she thought.
So she removes the pretty blue coat that she admired so much and holds it out in front of her. Then she lets it fall to the ground and steps directly on it as she goes towards Diego and friends.
"Sargent! Bring her back up here!"
"Yes sir!" The Sargent shouts.
"Come on with me." The Sargent tells her. But she just walks on past. The Sargent says, "Just a minute."
And he takes hold of her arm.
Norny swings back around, and in a quick motion using her momentum and skill she effortlessly tosses the Sargent onto his back and skidding across the ground. The Corporal lunges at her to grab her, and she flips him flat on his back with a thud. Both men lay there groaning for a moment while she goes over to comfort her friends. The Colonel got a big surprise when he realized she wasnít just some powder puff female he was trifling with.
She quickly, easily dispensed with two of his most aggressive troopers. There were many surprizes hidden within that little lady.
"Private." The Colonel yells out.
Jake rides up along side of the Colonel.
"Yes sir?" He says.
"Go down there and fetch her back up here. Use force if you have to."
"No Sir." The Private replies.
"What did you say?" The Colonel asks.
"I saidÖ.. NOÖ.SIR."
"Do you realize I can court martial you for this. Disobeying my direct order?"
"Yes sir. I do." Jake had already hurt this woman once, and he wasnít about to harm her again no matter what it means.
"Alright then. Sargent, Corporal, leave em be. Mount up, lets go. " So the Sargent and the Corporal get there horses and ride up to meet the column. The Colonelís aid picks up his jacket and the troops turn back around and head on to seek other engagements.
Norny had to first comfort a terrified Rosa who feared the blue coats. Diego was so happy to see a friendly face.
"Muchos gracious seniora Norny. We are so happy to see you again."
"Norny,Norny!!" Little Pablo yells with delight as he runs to her.
Diego and his family soon learned that the little friendship they extended earned them a big friend in a lion hearted woman they called Norny.
After Norny calmed Rosa down and let Pablo see that everything would be OK, she started helping to pick up and salvage what they could of their belongings, and the other two wagons of travelers.
These were good descent people.They didnít care anything about becoming rich. They only wanted their own small space, where they could work hard every day and earn a living and feel good about themselves. To reward themselves with the luxury of having food to eat when they were hungry. And to keep a roof over their head when it rains. But most of all to be accepted as friends by those around them. They were small but realistic goals for them, and they didnít interfere with anyone elseís dreams.
Norny had learned many lessons in the past few days, and she was wise enough to apply them where needed.
Norny had noticed something else she wasnít aware of before she entered the white mans world. Class distinction and segregation. The differences in people according to stature. It was always like that in all civilizations since the beginning of time. She had always thought that people were people. But the Colonel and the women at the ball made it painfully noticeable to her.
She also learned that people and looks can be deseaving, and can hide a multitude of differences.
In light of what had just occurred, Norny thought that her time over the next six to eight months would be best spent helping these people find their own place. She had the time and she had her winnings from the Sedona rodeo. So she decided she would go with them and help them make a home and a life for themselves.
And Diego and family finally realized theyíre fortune when they had found a rare gift of humanity in the middle of nowhereÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ.. A special woman they learned to love as their good friend and effectionitly referred to as..... Seniorita...Norny.