chapter four

chapter six

chapter twelve

chapter one

chapter seven

chapter thirteen

chapter two

chapter eight

chapter fourteen

chapter three

chapter nine

chapter fifteen

chapter four

chapter ten

chapter sixteen

chapter five

chapter eleven

chapter seventeen

chapter four
eating crow

After following the iron trail for a couple of days, the tracks took a swing southward. Norny and Poco where heading west so they veered off in the direction of the setting sun. Norny felt at ease having been in the spiritual company of Daniel for a little while. Her inner-self needed attention. Since her journey began, she had experienced new feelings from within her she never knew existed.

Norny set out in the world after her values and character had been carefully shaped with precision craftsmanship, groomed in the belief of love for life and respect for all living things. They instilled in her a self-confidence rare to most women, and a strength in determination that is lacking in most men. But she is still subject to the same human frailties as everyone else. It’s just that she’s new at this, and she’s confused about what it is exactly she is feeling.

Right now she is feeling the emptiness from losing those things closest to her. She had no idea the depth of love she had for Poco until she tried to let him go. The feelings she had for Daniel came on so fast and so strongly that it left her in a state of confusion. She liked the feeling she received from Daniel, and now she realizes that she could be capable and has a need for giving something back. That there were emotions within her that needed satisfying and she had never before experienced them until Daniel. However, Norny was a highly intelligent woman, but lacking in experience and she realized that the odds of her ever seeing Daniel again were pretty slim. Although it couldn’t stop her from thinking about him most of the time. She thought that someday she would meet someone that she could care for as much as Daniel.

Now the hinges and seams of her mental and spiritual make up are being tested to the limit. It won’t be long in her new world, and she will see if her strength and character can carry the burden, or if she would start falling apart like most people might do under these circumstances. She’s already close to the limitations of the average person, but then she’s far from average. Although they say there is a double for everyone somewhere in the world, Norny is a one of a kind that would never be duplicated.

Norny is a loner; she’s most comfortable traveling by herself. She prefers the solitude. Poco is all the company she requires along the trail. Still though, it would sure be nice to have someone like Daniel around once in a while. Maybe to rub my back, or massage my hot, tired feet or even to stroke my forehead when I need to relax my guard down for a while, she thought to herself.

The area they are traveling through is still a no man’s land. Up ahead she sees a clump of green trees. Usually that means water and a good place to rest. Sometime there are friendly people who will offer you a bite to eat, or a cool drink of water. As they make their approach, Norny can see a rider coming at her fast from the trees. He rides right up to her, pulls back on the reins and says, "Whoa."

"Mister, you’d better... Oh, I’m sorry Miss. I thought you were a cowboy. Well, it doesn’t matter," he said. "You’d better turn around and get out of here as fast as you can. Looks like some renegade Indians are in the area and they just wiped out that family back there. They could be watching us right now."

"Thanks for the warning," she said. "I’ll keep a look out."

"What are you crazy? Oh well, suit yourself." Then he snaps his horse on the rump with the reins and they’re gone.

When she gets a little closer she sees a cabin. There is no sign of people or livestock though. There is some debris laying around outside, looks a little messy. Norny spots the water trough and heads there so that Poco can quench his thirst. She dismounts, and while Poco gets a drink Norny looks around.

She walks towards the barn and looks inside. Nothing. She walks out around the back of the barn and she sees a lifeless dog lying on the ground with large wound in its side. This is terrible, she thought. Norny turns around and heads back towards the cabin. She gets to the cabin door which is slightly open. She pushes it open to peer inside, only to be horrified.

Inside there were three people, and none of them alive. She had never seen anything like this before. The scene was gruesome. Norny had seen some bloodshed in her lifetime, but never anything quit so heartless. She stepped back outside to think about this for a while. Who and why? she thought. The sight of such a senseless act hardened Norny to the world just a little bit more. The sight of this tragedy was depressing.

There were a few indications that this could have been done by renegade Indians. Looks like Crow, she thought. She knew now she was going to have to watch her step from here on out. They had warned her about traveling across Crow territory, and that there were some outlaw Indians that hated everybody, the white man and the red.

Norny walked back out behind the barn, bent down and picked up the dog. She knew this was their pet from the collar it wore. She carried the dog into the cabin and laid their pet with its owners. Looking around the room, Norny spotted a small mirror. She picked it up and took it outside to where Poco was, and attached it to the saddle so she could see herself. Inside her vest, Norny had a small pouch that contained grease paint used by warriors of the tribe. Very carefully she applied the paint colors around her eye in the pattern they taught her to make. These were her warrior colors. Markings that were only hers like a birthmark, the colors and pattern applied to her face when preparing for battle. Norny didn’t know what was going to happen from here on out, but she wanted to be ready.

She went back into the cabin and looked around once more. She found some matches and took them. There was a basket of apples, so Norny took a few. Then she found a couple of blankets on a chest, so she opened the blankets out and covered the people. As she walked towards the door she struck one of the matches and dropped it onto the blanket. Norny closed the door behind her. She offered Poco an apple then she climbed up on him and rode off. This was the only burial she knew to give these people.

She followed the sun westward, just as she had been. As she went along she was very cautious of what could be just ahead or behind her. Far in the vanishing distance from where she came, you could see the smoke from the burning cabin.

She had been traveling for about an hour, when she entered a box canyon. There were hills on either side of her and one lone tree off on her right. As they entered the canyon Poco made a neighing sound like something frightened him. Norny stopped and dismounted. She looked carefully around, but nothing was visible. Dropping the reins she walked on ahead by herself. Then oddly enough the next thing she did was to remove the earrings she got from Daniel, and stuff them into her jeans pocket. She slowly kept on going, scanning the area to both sides of her and in front. There was nothing to be seen.

Suddenly, she looks upward and notices two Indians on the hill straight up in front of her. Not just any Indians, but the two renegade Crow that murdered the family back there. Now she knows she’s in trouble. This is the first time she has ever confronted the real enemy and not just a pretend one. All at once the memories of her days of hand-to-hand combat training were coming back to her. When Crow feathers (who got his name from the Crows he defeated in battle, and the feathers he took from them) would yell and charge at her with weapons in hand and threatening her life, she used to get beat up pretty bad from those lessons. It made her tough because of it. But Norny always knew the worst that would happen to her would be a few cuts and bruises, and the others humiliating her in front of the rest of the tribe all day long or until she learned to defeat them.

This was different. If these guys got their hands on her they would enjoy taking her life slowly, and making sport of it. She was really on her own now, and what she did from this point on would determine whether she had really learned from her lessons or not. In just a moment she would be betting her life on all the combat training they gave her. No one was here to help her, and it was two to one. Two male warriors against one female. The pride and joy of the Shoshoni, their maiden warrior Norny. And Norny was unarmed.

From this distance, they couldn’t tell she was a woman. She probably just looked like a lone cowboy to them.

From down here Norny could hear them yelp and see them raise their lances in the air before they charge at her. The yell was meant to terrify the enemy as they went into battle. The yelling did just what it was meant to do. It was sending chills down her spine, and raised the hair on the back of her neck. She felt the fear come up into her throat. Her stomach was churning and a flush feeling came over her. It was another new emotional experience for Norny, real fear!

Norny had to remember what she was taught. She could hear Crow Feathers say to her, "Do not show fear. It is good that you have fear, but do not be frightened. Instead, seize the moment and welcome the opportunity to show your adversary that you are a worthy opponent. Meet the challenge with the strength and pride you have as a maiden warrior. You are the only maiden warrior, there is no other like you."

Fortunately she didn’t have much time to think about fear. She had to make her move now!

At that point in thought, Norny grabbed the brim of her hat with her right hand and flung it out sending it sailing. She immediately dropped to the ground and started pulling her boots off. Then her socks. They were about two hundred yards out and coming fast. The only chance Norny had was to rid herself of her civilized restraints and get to the tree about fifty yards away before they got to her. Norny was up and running for the tree as fast as she possibly could, dropping her vest behind her as she went. The sparkle in Norny’s smiling eyes weren’t going to help her here.

The one advantage Norny may have in her favor, might be the element of surprise when they get close enough to discover that she is a woman. On the other hand what she may have working against her is that she doesn’t have that killer instinct, and they do. She would be relying totally on her fighting ability and quick thinking. However, Norny has never been in a real combat situation before now. It has only been in training. But these two were about to experience something for the first time as well. The thorny side of Norny.

She’s almost there. She’s going to get to the tree before they do. When she hit the tree, her little toes gripped the bark like a tomcat and she thrust herself up to get her arms over the lower limb. At about that time, one of them was swinging in for the kill.

Holding on to the limb she pushed off from the trunk of the tree. Her legs together and at the precise moment, she swung forward to impact the assailant in the chest with her feet. As this was happening the eyes of the Crow Indian were wide open in shock as he noticed it was a woman they were attacking. The Crow flipped over backwards off the back end of his horse. He landed face down. As he attempted to get up, Norny dropped straight down feet first with her full weight on his back. Then her foot came up and kicked him square in the head. He was out cold.

She turned and ran for his horse. She grabbed the mane and swung up on its back. She charged at the other Crow before he could stop and turn around. As he was turning, Norny was right there, and just as she was taught she leaped from the back of her mount right on to the other, taking the Indian down as she went. When they both hit the ground, they turned away and back up on their feet at the same time. He too went into momentary shock. As his eyes widened, Norny’s foot came up once again and changed the octave level of his yell to something only dogs could hear.

It was over. It lasted about 90 seconds and Norny had humiliated the mighty Crow warriors in battle. Two to one. Two male killer warriors defeated by this timid, sweet, little, unarmed woman. She was as fierce as a bobcat with a heart as pure as a new born baby.

If Crow Feathers and Red Arrow and the others of her tribe could have seen what Norny just did, they would be bursting with pride. Somewhere up there, the forefathers are smiling at their accomplishment in raising their little orphan Norny.

Norny was breathing hard, but she didn’t have time to rest. When they realized that they were caught off guard by a woman, they were going to be mad!

Quickly she grabbed the legs of the one rolling on the ground in agony and dragged him over to the tree. Then the other. She took a couple of strands of leather off them, and poured water over the strips from their water pouch. She placed the Indians back to back with the tree between them, and lashed their wrists to each other around the trunk of the tree.

They were both conscious now. With them secured Norny took the water pouch and offered them a drink. She went to the first one and slowly poured it into his mouth. He held the water in his mouth then spit it back into her face. Then yelled as loud as he could at her and shouted obscenities in his native tongue.

She wiped the water from her face then went to the other side of the tree and offered a drink. He drank and said nothing; he just looked at her. The one on the other side was still cursing her.

Norny whistled for Poco. She took a couple of apples out of her sack that she took from the slain family's cabin. She stood in front of the Indian that was yelling at her and waited until he opened his mouth real wide. Then at that moment she shoved the apple into his mouth so hard that he couldn’t bite it or spit it out. There, he was quiet. Now the other one. She held the apple up in front of him and motioned. He looks straight at her and says "Shoshoni." Then Norny shoves the apple into his mouth. This was quite a sight. The two of them tied back to back with the apples in their mouth.

Norny walks over and picks up her hat and puts it on. Then she finds her socks and boots. She gets her vest, then she climbs up on Poco and lastly reaches into her pocket for her earrings and put them on. Then casually she rides away. Looking over Norny’s shoulder as she rides away, you can see two horses grazing and two mighty warriors tied with their backs to a tree and apples in their mouths.

Now Norny’s thinking she had better get some distance between them and her, because when they get loose they will be thinking of getting revenge on her and nothing else. Riding along, Norny uses all the little tricks she learned in covering her trail, so that they couldn’t track her. That night when she made camp, she went without a fire. In case they were loose, she didn’t want them to sneak up on her in the middle of the night.

When morning came around, Norny was up and out of there right away. If she could see the railroad tracks she would travel on them to make it more difficult to follow.

It was about noon. And the trail was starting to show signs of civilization. There had to be a town somewhere close by. When she came out from behind the rocks there it was. At least a mile out in the distance. Before she went any further, she had to remove the war paint. She did and then headed on in. About one hundred yards out she climbed down off Poco. She put her arms around his neck to show him a little affection. She asked, "You hungry big boy?" Then she took the reins and walked him into town.

Right on the edge of town there was a man painting letters on a large piece of canvas. He was looking straight at her with amazement.

"What is this place?" she asked.

"Wyola," he replied. "Excuse me," he said, "but are you the Indian fighter everyone is talking about?"

"I’m no Indian fighter," she said sharply. She was offended by that term.

"Sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m Joe, the sign painter. What’s your name?"

"Norny," she said.

"I like the sound of that," he said. "It suits you. Well, Norny you can water and feed your horse at the other end of town, but let me warn you. The people here know about you and have been expecting you to come through here. Most people here would like to meet you. And as for me, well I’m proud to have been the first to meet you. And if you need anything please come to me. I’d like to help you if I can."

"Thank you, Joe." Norny walked on and Joe watched. He could see there was something almost magical about her.

As Norny led Poco through town, people were looking at her and pointing. They were talking amongst themselves. Norny wondered what they could be talking about. Just then a small group stepped down off the sidewalk and stopped her to praise her. "Miss," they said, "we heard what you did back there with the two Crow Indians. You’re some special kind of woman."

"How could you have known what happened?" she asked. "I was alone."

"No you weren’t. Gus and Will were prospecting up there; they saw the whole thing."

"Which are Gus and Will?"

He pointed and said, "Those two old coots over there."

Norny just looked at them and thinking to herself, "How could they let those two attack me and not want to help me. She says to them, "You saw the whole thing?"

"Yes ma’am, the whole thing."

"Well, you saw that it was two against one. Why didn’t you offer help.?"

"Well, er, ah, ma’am, we were unarmed and no match for those two blood thirsty salvages." Norny just looked at them. She wondered about their self-worth.

One of them spoke out to everyone there and said, "You should have seen her. She had those murderin’ savages out cold in a minute. Then ties them to a tree and shoves an apple into their mouth. Can you believe that? I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. You talk about a humbling experience, that’s it. What’s your name, little lady?"

"They call me Norny."

"Well, Miss Norny, where in hell did you learn to fight like that?"

"My big brothers," she said.

"Then you must come from one tough family, Norny."

Everyone in the town wanted to be Norny’s friend and buy her a drink or treat her to something. She didn’t see what all the fuss was about. She did what she had to for survival. But that town had never seen anyone like, and would never forget Norny. In fact, Norny was such a hero to them that whenever someone would refer to humbling themselves or eating humble pie, they would remember Norny and the two Indians and say "Eating Crow." They knew the pie was apple and it was served up by this prairie flower they called Norny. To this day they still use the expression "Eating Crow," but only the people of Wyola knew that the term started there and it was Norny that inspired that expression by humiliating the two renegade braves that day.

Well, the people of the town loved Norny, and they couldn’t do enough for her. They wanted her stay in their town to be as pleasurable as possible, especially Joe, the sign man. Joe was in awe of Norny, and he could see the depth of her beauty. He knew there was something very special about her, and that there was so much more to Norny than the obvious. But what Joe didn’t know was that Norny’s heart was on the iron rails. At least for now, she was in good hands and she wouldn’t want for anything in this little town. Except maybe.........




(click on Norny's face to see sketch detail)