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Bright Treasure: Chapter 11

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 28, 2012

Bright Treasure

By Helen Hinckley Jones

Previous chapter

Chapter 11

The Story So Far: Prudy and John Wayne are running Red Rock Indian Trading Post in the absence of their Aunt Aggie and Uncle Simon. Old Toby, the Indian interpreter, helps them.

Prudy and John become uneasy when the Indians begin to act strangely. Instead of coming into the post they ride by, or stand at a distance looking at it. One Indian scout comes up to the post, measures everything with his eyes, and rides away. The children know that he will tell the other Indians that the post has been left in the care of children. They consider leaving the post, but remember that they have been left in charge. They hide all of the guns and knives and ammunition under the plank floor of the living quarters.

The next day the Indians come demanding knives, guns, powder – the things the children have hidden. When they can’t find anything they ride away, threatening to be back. The children feel safe with Toby, but when evening comes they can’t find him. Neither of them have seen him since the Indians rode away.

“Prudy, Prudy, wake up!” John’s voice was only a whisper but it was filled with terror. “Prudy, wake up!”

Prudy stretched, opened her eyes for a minute, then seeing it was still black dark, settled back to sleep.

John shook her shoulder almost roughly. “Prudy, wake up. You – you’ve got to wake up!”

Prudy wakened then, and sat up in her bed. “What is it, John? What has happened?”

“Just a minute ago I saw a light through the window. I crawled over and looked out, but I couldn’t see anything. The light had disappeared. Then, just as I was beginning to think the whole thing was a dream and that I better go back to sleep, the light came again.”

Prudy was fully awake now, shaking with fright. “Let’s look again, John. Do you dare go outside to look around?”

“Well, I – I – Let’s look out of the window first.”

The two crept hand in hand to the window.

“There it is! See? Through the bushes over there,”Prudy pointed.

“Prudy, it’s coming nearer! I wish we weren’t here alone.”

Prudy held John’s hand more tightly. “I can’t help thinking about the stories we’ve heard – you know, the ones where the Indians burn down the houses, people and all.”

John tried to laugh to make Prudy feel less afraid, but the laugh sounded more like a choke. “We’ll be all right. I wish Old Toby was here.”

“I don’t. He’s an Indian, too. Maybe he’d be as bad as the rest – or even worse. He knows we’re alone.”

“Sh! That light is getting closer and closer. Bend a little lower, Prudy, so your head won’t be above the bottom of the window.”

Prudy did as she was told. It seemed ages to both children before the light was within hailing distance of the post. Whoever was carrying it seemed to be circling back and forth as If he were looking for something; but as soon as he reached the brush-cleared ground close to the post he came directly toward the window.

Now that he had left the protection of the bushes, it was easy to see that the light bearer was an Indian. The light seemed to be a torch made with some flaming material on the end of a stick.

When the figure was about ten feet from the house he crossed through a shaft of moonlight and John and Prudy both said together, “Old Toby!” The seamed, weathered old face had a look of wariness on it the children had never seen before.

“What’s he going to do, John?” Prudy whispered.

“I don’t know. I wish I was sure that he didn’t have other Indians with him. I could handle Old Toby by myself, I think but if he had –”

“You think he sneaked away to tell the Indians about the hidden weapons?”

“That’s what I think, Prudy. Get down low so he won’t see you. He may think we’ve taken a chance and started for Tuba.”

Both children knelt on the floor under the window. In an instant the torch was pressed close to the pane and by its light they saw the old Indian peer into the room. A look of worry and concern was on his usually stolid face.

Suddenly he threw the torch to the ground, pushed up the window, and jumped inside. His landing would have been noiseless had not Prudy and John been taken so by surprise that they hadn’t moved. Now Toby’s quick action made a sudden, struggling heap of boy, girl, and Indian.

“Toby, it’s us. John and Prudy,” John cried, fearing that Toby would scalp them in the darkness.

“Safe, safe!” Toby shouted in a voice so different from his usual quiet one that Prudy wondered for a minute if the whole thing were a nightmare.

“Safe!” a voice echoed from the other side of the post. It was the voice of Uncle Simon.

The children raced into the trading room. John was struggling with the lamp when the front door was thrown open and Uncle Simon, Aunt Aggie, and Mr. Joseph Drew came in.

“How did you get home? Why haven’t you come sooner? Where did you –” John wanted to know, his voice still shaking with excitement.

Prudy was too relieved at the arrival of the older folks to even be curious. She climbed onto Aunt Aggie’s lap as if she were not a big girl of ten and held hard around Aunt Aggie’s neck with both arms. “Don’t ever leave us again,” she said over and over.

“Bless your little heart, we certainly won’t. We’d never left you under any circumstances if we’d known this thing was going to happen.”

“What thing?” John asked.

“Oh, Simon,” Aunt Aggie said wearily. “It’s too late to go into the whole thing now. Prudy is dead for sleep, poor little one. Wait until morning.”

But John stood with his feet far apart, as immovable as Red Rock. He tugged at the shock of white hair that hung over his eye. “What brought you home tonight?” he insisted.

Uncle Simon smiled. “Good Old Toby did.”

Prudy and John looked at each other, remembering that they had even accused Toby of calling the other Indians to steal from them.

“When he knew that you two were in danger, he ran all the way to Tuba. Yes, all the way, on his tired old legs. There he found us just ready to start out.”

Mr. Drew spoke now. “I was with them there. Just happened to be.”

When he said “just happened to be,” he winked at Aunt Aggie. Prudy, raising her head from her aunt’s breast, saw the wink. She sat up quickly, feeling suddenly as curious as John. “Why did you wink at Aunt Aggie, Mr. Drew?” she asked.

The three grown-ups looked at each other, then Uncle Simon said, “The Indians have been on the war path. When we got back from Salt Lake City –”

“We had to go to Salt Lake to have my leg put in a cast. It was broken,” Aunt Aggie interrupted.

“When we got back from Salt Lake City and found that the Indians were on the warpath, we were crazy with worry about you. The news of rioting Indians reached Mr. Drew in Tombstone; and though he didn’t know that you children were here alone with Toby, he started out at once. On the way he heard that we had gone to Tombstone so he went over there to see what we had done with the stock of the trading post.”

John asked, “Why are the Indians on the warpath?”

Uncle Simon’s face sobered, and so did Aunt Aggie’s. It was Aunt Aggie who spoke. “Lot Smith is dead. Killed by the Indians.”

Both Prudy and John remembered Lot Smith as the friend of the Indians, the enemy of anyone who even tried to get the best of them in a business deal. It couldn’t be that – But Uncle Simon was talking. “You know that reservoir he and his sons built to keep water for their crops? Well, the Indians insisted on watering their sheep there. No matter how often he and his sons mended the fence, the Indians cut the wires and drove in the sheep. Time and again warned them. Then finally, he decided to teach them a lesson. He shot one of the sheep.”

“Then the Indians –?”

“Yes, John. The Indians forgot his kindness of the past, his patience with them over the use of the reservoir. One of them shot him.”

Prudy put her head against Aunt Aggie’s shoulders again. “Do Indians kill people with as little reason as that?” She was thinking of how she and John had sold the Indian goods and had been able to save themselves from trouble.

“With as little reason as that,” Mr. Drew said. “Everybody was talking about the way that Lot Smith rode his horse to his home after he had been shot, dismounted, and walked into his living room and said, ‘I am a dead man.’ He must have had great courage and will power.”

Uncle Simon nodded his head. “I’ve never known a greater man.”

“What will we do to the Indians?” John asked. “I’ll bet his boys’ll go out and –”

“No, they won’t,” Uncle Simon said. “That wouldn’t do any good. It would undo all the good the Latter-day Saints have done so far. Government agents are trying to find the guilty Indians. The United States Government will bring them to trial.”

“And that’s why the Indians are on the warpath,” Aunt Aggie said, holding Prudy close to her. “They’re not going to let the troops get near those Indians that fired the shot.”

“There’ll be more trouble before this is over,” Mr. Drew said, shaking his head, a worried look between his eyes. “You mark my words. If the Indians can get the arms, we’ll have a full-fledged war over this.”

“The arms –” Prudy repeated. She jumped from Aunt Aggie’s lap and began to tug at the floor boards.

The grown-ups looked at her curiously for a minute, then Uncle Simon said gently, “Poor child. This worry has been too much for her. She –”

“She’s all right,” John said. Then he turned to Mr. Drew. “So are your firearms. When we saw the Indians acting in a strange way, Prudy and I and Toby buried all of the weapons that were in the post under this floor. We weren’t going to let the Indians get hold of those things if we could help it.”

“You did!” Mr. Drew clapped John’s back with a vigorous hand. “Do you know, I didn’t expect to find a single one of those things still here. I’ll not forget that when I make a settlement with you. You’re fine children, I’ll be blessed if you aren’t.” Then he went over to Prudy. “We don’t need those things tonight, Sissy. Fact is, you young ones have already had quite a day.”

“Indeed they have,” Aunt Aggie said. “Now that we’re here to take care of things, you children get back to bed. And don’t let me see you before ten in the morning.”

John was reluctant to go to bed. “What’s going to happen to the trading post, Mr. Drew?” he asked.

Mr. Drew answered slowly, “Well, there’s no use of keeping it open while the Indians feel the way they do. I was just ready to bring in the new season’s stock, but – I guess we’ll close it until things have settled down.”

John’s face fell. “Every time we start something that looks like it’s going to earn us some money, something happens to it,” he said disconsolately.

“It seems to me that you’re mighty anxious about money,” Mr. Drew teased.

John blushed and Prudy spoke for him. “We are, sir. You see, John and I have a special project.”

“Morning will be time enough to talk about that,” Aunt Aggie scolded. “Now to bed with you.”

“I’ll want to see you two in the morning when I make the settlement with your aunt and uncle. And I won’t want you to be half asleep, either!”

Prudy and John laughed. “You won’t find us half asleep, sir,” Prudy said.

It was almost noon of the next day when the children awakened. Mr. Joseph Drew and Uncle Simon had already gone through all of the Indian goods that John had taken in the weeks of trading. When the children went into the trading room, Mr. Drew said, “Come here. I’m paying your uncle for his work in some of these fine Indian blankets. He intends to take them into Salt Lake City and sell them.”

“When we were in Salt Lake City this last time,” Uncle Simon explained, “I took several orders for these blankets. Why, one of the fine clubs there is going to buy enough blankets to cover the walls of its dining room. They are willing to pay well for them, too.”

Mr. Drew said, “And I want you children to have some blankets, too. I want to pay you for the time you took care of the post all alone, and I want to pay you for saving my weapons.”

John pulled at the lock of hair that hung over his eyes. “You don’t need to pay us for saving the weapons,” he said. “Anybody would have done that.”

Mr. Drew shook his head. “No, most people would have been so frightened that they would have hightailed out of the post altogether and left everything to the Indians. Now choose the blankets you want.”

Aunt Aggie came in from the living quarters. “What are you going to do with your blankets?” she asked the children.

Prudy looked at John. For a moment he stood still, pulling at his hair; then he raised his chin and nodded. Prudy explained. She told about how, way back in Salt Lake City, they had heard about how Mother had been ill and Father hadn’t been able to save enough for them to come to America and of how she and John had decided to help. She told about how disappointed they were when Aunt Aggie and Uncle Simon left Salt Lake City and of how she had wanted, oh, so much, to go to Tombstone and sing hymn songs for enough money to bring her parents from England.

When she got to the part of the story about finding the purse filled with gold nuggets, Mr. Drew said, “And you still returned it! If Latter-day Saints are all as honest as you folks are, it is too bad that all the people in the world aren’t Latter-day Saints!”

“And so,” John finished Prudy’s story, “Prudy and I are going to use our blankets to help Father and Mother to come to America.”

Uncle Simon wiped his nose with his big blue handkerchief. “That was a big undertaking for two young ones. If Aggie is willing, I’ll just turn our blankets over to the same cause.” He turned to Aunt Aggie, “How about it, Aggie?”

Aunt Aggie’s eyes filled with happy tears. “Why, Simon,” she said, her gentle face happier than John and Prudy had seen it since they left England. “You know they’re my folks!”

She went over and put her arms around Uncle Simon’s neck and Uncle Simon blushed and looked foolish. “Want to tell the children our secret now?” he asked.

Aunt Aggie shook her head. “Not yet, Simon. There’ll be a better time for a secret as important as that!”

“Tell us,” Prudy begged. But Uncle Simon and Aunt Aggie both shook their heads.

John’s eyes found Prudy’s. What could that secret be?

(To be continued)



6 Comments »

  1. O’siyo,

    I am not happy with the steretyping of Native Americans in this story, which purports to be an LDS blog. For this reason I am removing “LDS Blog” from one of the Twitter accounts I follow.

    For the TRUTH about Native American migration from the land of Israel, see the reprint of [edited] In 20 months there has been no objection raised to this report of migration routes, which destroys the history presented by the diviner, Joseph 156 Smith 510 = 666.

    But the stereotyping in this purported “blog” works against the reunion and reconciliation of a legitimate candidate for Ephraim (if LDS will exert influence to defend the BIBLICAL birthright sought as part of a Palestinian state) with Native American Joes.

    My five-part review of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants put forth by Smith also concludes him to be a fraud based on his conviction for “glasslooking fraud” at Bainbridge County, NY in 1826, four years before the Book of Mormon divined with the same stone was published, and the fraud he got away with until the Rosetta Stone was found. Then the Egyptian papyri traveling with a mummy show, which he acquired and claimed to translate as the Book of Abraham within the “Pearl of Great Price,” the source of much strange LDS Doctrine, was proven to be fraudulent. It is actually a funerary text from the Egyptian Book of Breathings, as I conclude in the only review of the BoM and Doctrine and Covenants commissioned by Native American spiritual leaders.

    Gah geh you e,
    K’alijah Lioneagle (Jr)
    Maggid ben Yoseif (son of Joseph)

    This is the sort of madness I have to cope with all of the time. I ordinarily wouldn’t let it out of the moderation queue, but offer it here as a bonus to those of you who bother to read the fiction posts. — AEP

    Comment by K'alijah Lioneagle (Jr.) (Maggid ben Yoseif) — November 28, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  2. Ha. I haven’t had time to read these lately, but I do want to get caught up, particularly after reading the comments from Alison and Julia and Kevin on the last couple of installments.

    Comment by Amy T — November 28, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  3. All the wackiness I normally expect from one of these serials, notably absent from this one, is more than made up for by comment # 1! You didn’t tell us there would be real life trolls in the story! I am so glad that Messr. Lioneagle reminded us that the papyri is a Book of Breathings text. How fortunate for him that in his review “commissioned by Native American spiritual leaders” he only had to read Hugh Nibley to get that particular nugget.

    Thank you, Ardis, for letting that one slip through the net, as it were, just to show what kind of by-catch teh interwebz can produce. Sigh.

    Back to reality, here, we finally did get something about the dams on the Little Colorado, but not one bursting. And finally, Prudy and John Wayne got around to spilling their secret to their aunt and uncle. It would only be fair to let Simon and Aggie share their secret as well, but then there wouldn’t be a final episode 12, would there? Where….nah, I can’t spoil the ending for you all.

    Comment by kevinf — November 28, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  4. Ardis is our Toby, guarding us from the worst of interwebz trolls.

    I am thoroughly engaged in this story. I drive through Tuba City several times each year, and it’s a beautiful place to cruise through, but might have been quite desolate before paved roads and speedy cars. also, I don’t have a problem being charitable about the anachronistic (for our time) racial attitudes. The author is reflecting accurately the times in which she lived.

    Comment by MDearest — November 28, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

  5. Yikes to comment #1! I had no idea you had so many learned people who hold you and the LDS church in such high esteem that a fiction story for children could completely confound their faith. (Or is it the logic that was confounded? Honestly, I have an easier time scoring 8th writing assessments for the state. Sheesh!)

    My comment was actually going to be that even in the middle of Indians on the warpath, an honest and true friend stayed honest and true. His being an Indian was not portrayed as someone who was a traitor to his friends or his community. He helped to keep more weapons from getting involved, saving the lives of white settlers and Indians alike.

    I have non-LDS ancestors (Ruddle) who had sons kidnapped and raised, by Indians, as young boys after their settlement was raided. While the raids were brutal, they were in retaliation for horses that had been stolen and the rape of several Indian women, one of who died. Even though the boys were kidnapped in the raid, they were treated as children of the tribe, and both took Indian squaws as teenage wives. At 16 and 14 they were “rescued” and returned to their families. Stephen, the older brother remembered speaking English and became a translator.

    The younger brother who had been barely four when they were taken never did settle into white society. He kept his Indian wife, and they sometimes lived at Ruddle station, and other times with the tribe. His wife did learn some English and insisted their children go to English school to learn their father’s culture. Both brothers, and several of their sons worked as translators, negotiators and Stephen’s oldest son, (from his white wife, both of his children with his Indian wife were daughters) was a federal Indian agent for most of his life. His cousins’ tribal connections helped him be very successful in creating cooperative sharing of resources in the Kansas/Arkansas Territory.

    (Although not LDS, it is not clear exactly what his relationship with his Indian wife was after they were saved. He obviously “saw her again,” because she was pregnant with their first daughter when they were rescued. His second daughter and oldest son are two months apart, with his son being two months older. There is a family “rumor” that his white wife made him take a complete shower everytime he came home from doing business with the Indians, so that he wouldn’t “smell of Indian.”

    There is a lot of speculation about whether she condoned the polygamy or not, but while her husband and son attended the funeral of one of his Indian daughters, his white wife did not go. Whether it was out of tender feelings for her “sister wife” in her time of grief, letting that mother have the comfort of their shared husband is the most charitable version I have heard.

    *And I have only heard it from a distant cousin whose family have been LDS since the early 1890s. I suspect that since those LDS descendents practiced polygamy, this became a sister wives myth, and isn’t founded in fact.*

    For almost three years after the funeral his white wife and their two youngest daughters were living with her parents about 50 miles away. They must have “made up” since a census three years later shows them living as husband, wife, 3 white children and one mixed race woman, who is unnamed but the right age to be his surviving daughter. His Indian wife died about 16 months after her daughter.)

    Okay, that is a long way of saying that I appreciate the story sharing the complexity of relationships with groups of Indians, and the strength of the bonds of loyalty and friendship that was sometimes forged.

    I also like that there are no victims in this story. Unfortunate things happen, challenges are met, fear is faced, but no white knights or angelic miracles save the day. Instead intelligent people, relying on the inspiration of the Holy Ghost when they are out of ideas, and people who make do with what they have at hand.

    I so wish they would write stories like this for Primary children today. My 10 year old twins asked not to have our subscription to The Friend renewed because it was just to silly and they felt like they were being talked down to. So, two copies of The New Era, one for my son and one for the twins to share. We will see if they get more out of it.

    I decided I am going to print out this series as part of my Christmas presents for several preteens, and a couple of literary history buffs. Anyone else interested? I am going to add some questions to think about at the end of each chapter, especially asking them to liken the story unto themselves. Besides giving you credit as my source, and citing where you got it, are there other things I need to include to keep things on the up and up? Do I owe anyone any royalties if I make a dozen or so? (I can make more if there is interest.

    I see I have droned on again. Maybe I am just trying to forget comment #1. Lol

    Comment by Julia — November 29, 2012 @ 2:57 am

  6. Julia, this story is in the public domain.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 29, 2012 @ 3:28 am

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