A Storm Brewing
(Please ignore all the typos. I had to type this all by hand because I don't have the original disk. Please comment and tell me if something isn't understandable though!)
One warm spring day in east Oregon, a young stallion who was called Blackhawk stood watching over his small herd. He was a handsome black Appaloosa, with a broad white blanket spread over his hips, a thin stripe running down his face, and two white stockings on his forelegs. He looked up at the sky, where a dark mass of clouds was forming. The knee-high prairie grass was bending gracefully with the wind and the air was becoming cooler each minute.
Yes, there was a storm coming and Blackhawk wanted his mares to be prepared. He let out a shrill call to the horses, warning them to find shelter quickly. In a matter of minutes, it was pouring rain, and when Blackhawk was finally satisfied that all of the horses were safe, he went to see his own beautiful brown mare who was in foal to him. She was called Misty and she was his very favorite. She wanted to give him a big, strong colt very badly, but he would be pleased with whatever she gave him, colt or filly.
He trotted up to the forest where his mares had taken refuge. The trees formed a natural shelter from the raging storm. He came up slowly to where his mare lay on the forest floor and nickered. She looked up and returned his greeting; she was always happy to see her mate. He nuzzled her and then examined her growing stomach.
The rain dripped steadily and made a soft drumming noise in the surrounding foliage. Water streamed down the powerful stallion's neck and legs. He shook his mane, showering his surroundings with water.
Misty looked up at him and smiled warmly. "The humans will come soon, won't they?" the young mare asked Blackhawk.
"Yes, they will," the black stallion answered calmly, " and so will your foal."
Misty snorted happily. "Our first one together," she reminded him.
"Yes, and from the size of it I'd guess there is a big, strong colt in there."
Misty only laughed. Blackhawk nuzzled her affectionately and then was off to see to other matters. He hoped the foal would be born soon.
"The foal will most likely be born tonight," thought the stallion to himself. "They always seem to be born at the most inconvenient times." He chuckled.
Unfortunately, he was right.
The next morning a thick mist hung over the valley. When Blackhawk awoke, he immediately noticed that his favorite mare was missing. He quickly stood up and started looking for her. He left the forest and looked around the herd, and outside of where they were grazing. The longer he looked, the more worried he became. She could have somehow been separated from the herd, or chased down by a predator!
But after some patient searching, he found her grazing a few hundred feet from the herd beside a small flowering tree. He trotted over to her and just before he got there, he saw a flash of what was a brown colt dash behind his mother.
He snorted in surprise, but then lowered his head and gave a small whicker, and the colt stuck out his tiny head. Then he stepped out from behind his mother.
He was lovely chocolate brown in color, with a large white blanket that nearly stretched to his withers with many round, dark spots, and one pure white stocking on his long hind leg. He had a beautiful double colored mane, and a small white star on his forehead. He was just perfect! The stallion was full of pride for his first son.
"I'll call him Storm," he said softly as he nuzzled the little brown foal.
"I know he will be a mighty son of Blackhawk," Misty answered. The colt gave a high-pitched neigh, and the stallion nickered, and then left Misty and his new son.
I was that colt. I grew fast and loved to play games with the other little colts and fillies. I would always beg my father to race me, even though I knew he was much faster than I was. I quickly became a small ball of energy, running, bucking and playing all day long.
The one problem I had was with boasting. My father was constantly reminding me to be humble and kind toward the other horses. But I loved to fight with other colts my age, even older ones, to show my power. Even though play fighting would teach us things that we would need to know as adults, my father and the other mares would always keep and eye on us to make sure that we wouldn't get too rough.
Being a colt, I was naturally curious. One day, as I was playing with tow other young foals in a green meadow, I heard a strange rattling noise.
I swung my ears back, and soon found that it was coming from a little off to the left in a bush . . .
So I walked through the tall grass over to it and stuck my nose in. I jumped back and gave a shrill whinny. It was a rattlesnake! I thought that I could take it on, but before I could move, my father was already there, stomping the life out of it.
When it was dead, a blow from the side knocked the air our of me, and I feel head over heels into a bush. My father stared at me, his eyes narrowed, and I knew that I was in trouble.
I stood and looked him in the eye, waiting for what punishment I would receive. I figured that I should have known better, but I thought that if I had fought the snake and won, I would become a hero among the other foals. "That was a very foolish thing you have done," my father said. His words were sharp and crisp in the late summer air.
"Yes," was all that I said.
"I know that you knew better than that. What were you thinking?" he asked. "You could have been hurt very badly, even killed . . ."
"I could've killed that snake if you would have given me the chance."
My father was silent for a second. "Someday you will be wise. And someday you will learn that it is not always wise to take chances."
"Go!" he said. "You are to stay by your mother's side as your punishment." I tossed my head and trotted toward her. My talk with father had shown me that I had been very disobedient and foolish, and that I would have to use more good sense.
The next day my mother told me that I was to stay by her side for six days. It was not a cruel punishment, but still I was taunted and teased endlessly by all the other foals in the herd. But I had learned a good lesson.
I was soon two years old and had already shown that I would be one of the strongest and most powerful of all the horses. My muscles bulged beneath powerful flanks and shoulders. My mane and tail were oddly "double colored", mostly white with a soft brown color streaked through. My chocolate brown coat fairly shone. My neck was strong, and my tail arched. Yes, I was a handsome colt, and I wouldn't let anybody forget it.
My father called to me one afternoon and I came to him wondering what was on his mind. "I have to tell you something," he said, "we aren't exactly the free horses you think we are."
Then he went on to explain that I was what they called a 'range colt' and that the humans would soon come to round up the herd and take us to their pastures. I had heard of humans before, sort of in a fairy tale sense, so this surprised me greatly.
"The humans? But I thought that . . ." My father interrupted me.
"No, son," he said, shaking his head. "We are the horses of the Nez Perce tribe. They have owned me, my father and my grandfathers for years."
My head started to spin, and I backed away from him. "I will go now," I said, and quickly turned and left. The herd members lifted their heads as I passed, running past them and across the fields at a canter. When I was alone, I stopped.
Could this be true? I couldn't believe that they owned us. It just didn't sound right.
Then I got mad, and as I narrowed my eyes I made a solemn promise to myself. I wouldn't let a human make me do anything. Ever.
Sometime in the next week, they came. It was early dawn, and most of the herd members were grazing peacefully. Someone called the alarm, and I jerked my head up, and looked over to where the danger was. I saw copper-skinned humans galloping in our direction on other horses that looked just like us, but few of them had any spots. Their horses kicked up dust as they ran, nearly flying toward us.
Most of the other horses were fleeing with the rest of the herd, but I wanted to get a good look at these "humans."
Then I ran.
My legs parted the long prairie grass as I ran at an amazing speed that was faster than all the other horses, but my colored coat made me a prized target. Before I knew it, a rope flew gracefully around my neck and tightened. I was abruptly jerked to the ground. I stood up quickly and charged at the man who held me prisoner, but another rope was thrown around my forefoot. They brought me to the ground easily, even though I fought and kicked the whole time.
I looked around in a daze. From what I saw, they were going for the strongest male horses first. All the other horses were running, whether they knew the humans or not.
They spoke in a strange language I did not know.
"This one will make a good war horse," one of them laughed. "He fights like a chief for his people."
And they turned their horses and took me, along with a few other colts and fillies to their camp. I half walked and was half dragged there. It was early evening when we came to the Indian village, and I was put into a pen with seven other two year-old colts. They were nervous and twitched with fear. Most of them tried to hide it, since they were almost full grown stallions, but other showed plainly that they were terrified.
I was not afraid. I was just plain mad. How dare they take me away from the herd! I kicked at the fence, but it was made to hold the strong males that would be kept in it. I paced around while the others cowered in the corner staring at me. I pawed the ground furiously, thinking hard with a hot head.
Evening turned to night, and the others grouped together and fell asleep. I was still pacing. I knew it was useless, at least for now, and told myself that I would finish planning my escape tomorrow. I laid down in the thick, overgrown grass and fell into a disturbed and troubled sleep.
I woke only a little later than I usually did, opened my eyes and blinked hard. I had forgotten where I was for a second, but soon remembered, and got up quickly. I decided then that I would do the obvious. I would jump the crude fence.
I backed up a few steps and then ran full speed toward it. In one giant leap, I cleared it! Freedom! I started running only to be caught once again, this time by an Indian squaw. I knew it was useless to fight, even though I could easily overpower her. Strong young men were available to help the squaw should the chance come.
I walked slowly up to the place that kept me confined with the other colts and the Indian let me go with a hard slap on the rear end.
I ran for a bit, then stopped. So far, escape was not possible, but when the chance came, I would take it and be free.
The two year olds grew, and we were soon three. The dark Indian man who "owned" us was planning to trade his horses that he did not need or want for things that he considered more useful.
Many Indians came to look at us one day. They picked up the colts' feet and looked at our teeth. Even though we knew the humans by now, most of us still trembled and shook at their touch.
A couple of the horses were mostly calm with the humans, and thought that they all could be trusted. I wasn't so sure.
Whenever the humans reached out their scrawny arms toward me, I would always reward them with a thrown hoof or a quick nip on the hand.
I had soon learned that the man that owned us was called Broken Arrow and that once he had been a strong, fearless warrior. But by now, wrinkles had taken over the strong, bronze face and his glory days were only memories.
When other Indians came to the man that owned us, they would always tell him that I was the one they wanted most, and that they would trade much for me.
Broken Arrow would then insist that they get into the pen and test me by touching me in three places: my head, withers, and flank. This would make me go wild, striking out and biting anyone who touched me. They quickly decided that I wasn't the one they wanted and traded for another, less colored colt. And after they had received a black eye or large bit mark, most of them decided that my colorful coat was only a disguise for the demon that lived inside of me.
When all the colts had been sold or moved to another pen, I grew lonesome. I missed my father mother, brothers, sisters and friends.
Broken Arrow knew that it was not good for me to be alone. He would move me to a place where he kept a small herd. First he had decided that he might as well keep and gentle me himself, since everyone else was afraid to try.
One day he came to me, a small blanket in one hand, a horsehair rope in the other. I had learned by now that running from ropes did no good, so I stood there quietly and let him tie the rope around my neck. He was surprised, but took me anyway.
He moved me to another corral, a smaller one, with a more rounded shape than the last. I began to get nervous. I backed away slowly, and the rope tightened. Any slack that was left in the rope soon disappeared when Broken Arrow put more and more pressure on it.
He shouted something to a few other men that had come to watch. They threw ropes around my neck, too, and four or five of them finally managed to pull me through the gate.
There I stood, flaring my nostrils, daring anybody to touch me. Broken Arrow approached me slowly and tossed the blanket on my back. It came off just as soon as it was on. He picked up the blanket in one hand, and followed me around the corral, trying just to touch me. We went back and forth, around in a circle. I was dodging his every move.
Suddenly I stopped. He reached up to my back slowly. I exposed my huge, white teeth and bit his dark arm.
Immediately, the backside of his hand hit my tender muzzle with a loud smack. I stood dazed for a moment, but soon saw Broken Arrow holding his wounded hand and cursing me.
Obviously, he was a man of very little patience. I didn't have any more than he did.
I charged at him angrily, but he had jumped out of the pen just in time. The other men standing nearby laughed. "You are getting too old for fighting bad-tempered horses." He only scowled and said nothing.
This went on for a couple of days until Broken Arrow gave up his plans for breaking me. I pranced around the pen, teasing and neighing at him, trying to get his attention. All he did was mumble under his breath about how he hated me.
It was a short-lived victory. I certainly did not count on him giving me to his son, White Feather. But the day came when he told young White Feather that I was his.
White Feather came to look at me one evening and started into my eyes. I stayed still, and did not run as I looked him over. He was a tall, scrawny brave with copper-colored skin. He had soft brown eyes and two long, black braids. He was nearly full grown, but no doubt had already taken on manly responsibilities. He had a look of seriousness on his entire face, with maybe just a hint of laughter in his eyes. He reached out toward my nose, and I jumped, but he stroked the fur on my head softly. White Feather was not at all like his father, so I sat there and let him pat me.
He stopped for a second and said softly, "I will call you Paint of the People, my m'a min, (appaloosa) because Hunyawat has painted you beautifully."
His name for me was strange, but one of importance, and I liked it.
He stroked me once more, and then left. I stared after him. A human had never spoken that gently to me before. What was different about him?