Author: Alethea Williams
Genre: Western historical
Publication date: May 9, 2016
At the turn of a new century, changes unimagined are about to unfold.
THE WOMAN: Kidnapped by the Apaches, a Mexican woman learns the healing arts. Stolen by the Utes, she is sold and traded until she ends up with the Piikáni. All she has left are her skills—and her honor. What price will she pay to ensure a lasting place among the People?
THE MAN: Raised in a London charitable school, a young man at the end of the third of a seven year term of indenture to the Hudson’s Bay Company is sent to the Rocky Mountains to live among the Piikáni for the winter to learn their language and to foster trade. He dreams of his advancement in the company, but he doesn’t reckon the price for becoming entangled in the passions of the Piikáni.
THE LAND: After centuries of conflict, Náápiikoan traders approach the Piikáni, powerful members of the Blackfoot Confederation. The Piikáni already have horses and weapons, but they are promised they will become rich if they agree to trap beaver for Náápiikoan. Will the People trade their beliefs for the White Man’s bargains?
The fat man stood swaying a short distance away, greasy hair hanging in tangles about his face. Isobel, despite her own predicament, felt sorry for him. She didn’t know if Áyílaa would permit her to talk to the stranger, so she tried to do so before the Apache returned.
“You,” she said, “¡español! Who are you, and how do you come to be in the hands of the Apache?”
The fat man tipped his head to listen. She could see surprise and confusion, with a hint of distrust of her upper class accent, written on his puffy features. He said, “I am Pedro Navarro.” He hesitated. “Who are you?”
“I am Isobel Ochoa y Ramírez.” Her voice caught. “We—my father and I—were captured by the Apache in the Cerro de los Manzanos.”
“Ochoa? Don Armando Ochoa is your father? What happened to him?”
“He lives...barely. He is strapped to a horse behind us. Do you know him?”
The fat man paused, working his hands uselessly against the bonds on his wrists. Isobel studied him. She decided she didn’t like this fat man; for some reason she didn’t trust him. She needed someone to depend on. Like a heavy snake, Pedro Navarro continued to wriggle out of a direct answer to her questions.
The Apache men waiting for Áyílaa shot her warning looks, and so she fell silent. She glanced again at her unconscious father. She had the eerie feeling that despite the evidence to the contrary, he truly was dead. More and more, she feared it would become her fate to cope, alone, with the Apache.
Áyílaa strode up and mounted the stallion. They swiftly started off once again, Isobel running as fast as she could and Pedro Navarro sometimes running and sometimes being dragged along when he stumbled and fell. As they rode away from the spooky sandstone formations, Isobel wondered dully if she would ever have a chance to escape.
Alethea Williams is the author of Willow Vale, the story of a Tyrolean immigrant’s journey to America after WWI. Willow Vale won a 2012 Wyoming State Historical Society Publications Award. In her second novel, Walls for the Wind, a group of New York City immigrant orphans arrive in Hell on Wheels, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Walls for the Wind is a WILLA Literary Award finalist, a gold Will Rogers Medallion winner, and placed first at the Laramie Awards in the Prairie Fiction category.