Excerpt from the HOUSE of CROW

Ireland 1816

When you met Brian Pringle, the first thing you noticed was his piercing blue eyes; eyes that could beguile or make a man look away. Brian Pringle, well-known for his fighting abilities, had a price on his head. That came about when two drunken soldiers of His Majesty’s Royal Army tried to have some sport by poking him with their bayonets. Brian took the first unsuspected thrust in his arm. His immediate response was to wrench that rifle away from his attacker then smash his attacker’s head with the butt-end. When the second soldier tried to avenge his friend by shooting Brian, Brian threw the dead soldier’s rifle and bayonet like a spear, killing him also.

The Pringle Clan gathered in council and convinced Brian that he and his new wife should escape to America. Now, three years after arriving, Brian and his family were on the great plains of America looking for a place to settle. Brian walked alongside the oxen guiding them with his walking-staff. His wife, Elizabeth, sat in the back of the covered wagon with their two-year-old son, Little Brian. Brushing the hair from her face, she smiled as her son struggled to open a small wooden box. She kept her bits of precious in the box which included a cross Brian had given to her. It was a Celtic cross made of silver, engraved on the back, 'E. Pringle'. Elizabeth reached to take the box from Brian when he managed to open it.

“Oh, Brian you must be careful! Now help me pick these up.”

A short distance from the wagon, hidden in a fold of land, a war party of Black foot warriors watched the travelers. With a hand signal from the Indian leader, the raiders broke the silence with their war cries. The pounding hooves of their war ponies shook the ground as they charged.

Brian desperately tried to get his rifle from the wagon, but it had become wedged into the seat. He heard a shot from the back of the wagon as Elizabeth, protecting her son met the challenge. Unable to retrieve his rifle, Brian with a Celtic war cry of “OOO-RAH,” swung his heavy walking staff knocking an Indian from his mount. Another well-placed strike of the staff cracked the warrior’s skull. Brian sagged as an arrow struck him in the thigh. Regaining his footing, he struck a mighty blow with his staff to the forelegs of a passing war pony. The pony stumbled sending the rider over its head. In fear and agony, the pony danced around stomping the fallen warrior.

When Elizabeth heard the war cries she’d pushed Little Brian to the floor of the wagon and grabbed her rifle. A warrior tried to jump in the wagon. She shot him in his painted face. No time to reload, she grabbed an axe they kept in the wagon; but an arrow struck her in the back. Mortally wounded, Elizabeth fell forward on top of Little Brian. The last thing she saw was her silver cross in the small hand of her son.

It was not to be a good day for the Blackfeet. They’d lost three braves and a war pony. Now from nowhere came a band of Crow, the enemy of the Blackfeet. The Crow made short work of the Blackfoot warriors who were intent on plundering the wagon.

 

The Crow leader found Elizabeth and the lifeless warrior in the back of the wagon. He spied the small hand of Little Brian protruding from under his dead mother, clutching the silver cross. Roughly, he pushed Elizabeth’s body aside with his foot. Little Brian now covered in his mother’s blood, stared up at the Crow warrior with his father’s eyes.