Yellowstone Redemption(2)By: Peggy L Henderson
“Darn right it’s not,” her mother’s voice sounded adamant. “You’re nearly nineteen years old, Sarah, and not married. You know what sort of riffraff shows up at those gatherings. Last year, your dad, Matthew, and Sam spent all their time fending off your wannabe suitors. You have no idea what effect you have on men. And most of those characters have questionable morals.” She took a few steps forward.
Even though Sarah was a couple inches taller than her mother, the woman had an imposing presence, and didn’t leave much question as to who was in charge. She stood no chance once her mother was this unyielding. Worse, she had her father completely wrapped around her fingers.
Sarah didn’t begrudge them their happiness. She’d met other trappers’ wives before, mostly Indian women, and had to listen to complaints of how unhappy some of them were, and how badly their men treated them. The way some made it sound, they were nothing more than a commodity to their husbands.
Not so with her parents. Daniel and Aimee Osborne were equal partners in everything. Neither did anything without the other’s knowledge or approval. The love between them was unmistakable in the way they looked at each other and touched whenever they were within reach. Sarah was proud to be their daughter. What would life be like with a father who beat her mother, or made his woman work from dawn to dusk with little regard for her well-being. Without a doubt, both her parents would lay their lives down for each other without hesitation, as well as for their children.
Along with her three older brothers, she’d been raised here in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains, a place her mother called the Madison Valley on the Yellowstone Plateau. No one else she knew used these words. It was a man’s world, and she had learned early on to adapt. Her father had taught her how to survive in this harsh environment right alongside her brothers. And Sarah loved him dearly for it.
She had the best of both worlds. She could go out into the woods and hunt and foray like a man, but she also enjoyed the chores more associated with her gender, such as cooking, tanning hides, and making pottery. Her Tukudeka aunt and cousins had certainly never let her forget that she was female. Her mother encouraged her to follow whatever made her happy, and also taught her in the art of healing. That was her mother’s special gift, and Sarah was an eager student.
Just the idea of being tied down to a man made her shudder. It would have to be quite an exceptional man to draw her attention. Her father had set a pretty high standard of how a man treated his woman. Over the last few years, she’d become more curious about men, she had to admit. She’d watch some of the Tukudeka hunters discreetly, especially in the summer months when they wore no shirts, fascinated by the movements of the muscles on their chests and arms. However, no man she’d met thus far had made her heart beat faster, or sent her mind spinning. That’s what her mother told her love for a man was like. Sarah doubted she would ever find a man who could elicit such a response from her.
“Sarah Marie Osborne. Are you listening?”
“Huh?” Sarah was pulled out of her thoughts at her mother’s voice in her ear.
“I also need you here to take care of Snow Bird. She’s due to have her baby while we’re gone, and she needs you to midwife for her. We’ve already discussed this.”
“There are other midwives,” Sarah mumbled.
“I agree with your mother.” Daniel’s deep voice brought Sarah to full attention, and she looked to her father. “With your brothers gone to St. Louis this year, it’s too dangerous for you. And I don’t wish for you to be exposed to the sort of men - or women - who attend the rendezvous. Understand this is for your own good. We trust you to be safe here by yourself while we are gone.”
“But no doubt you’ll have Elk Runner or one of my cousins checking up on me regularly.” Sarah tried to keep her eyes from twitching. She swallowed her disappointment. She had lost the argument. Once her father sided with her mother, it was all over. She ventured a glance at him. His dark eyes glowed warmly at her. His slow smile melted her anger.
“I understand your disappointment, bai’de. But I intend to keep you out of harm’s way. No matter how much you may fight it, you have become a grown woman, and men take notice of such things.”
Sarah swallowed, lowered her eyes, and nodded in defeat. The annual trapper rendezvous held to the south of here amongst the Teewinots drew mountain men and trappers from all over the Rocky Mountains. It was an event that lasted for weeks, a time for men to gather and trade furs, supplies, and adventure stories. She looked forward to these meetings every year, which her parents attended to trade necessities to other trappers.
Her father hadn’t trapped for beaver in years. At her mother’s suggestion, they had set up a trading post to supply other trappers in this remote wilderness. Her mother had predicted a decade ago that the beaver would be trapped out in the mountains soon, and demand in the east would cease. Her prediction had come true. Now, along with offering supplies to the dwindling number of fur trappers, the family supplied the ever-increasing number of westward explorers.