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- The Return of the Raven Mocker: An Alafair Tucker Mystery #9
Alafair pressed him to go back, or she would go herself. But Shaw convinced her that it was use- less. The boy would just run away again. Besides, when Charlie had finally gotten to training camp, the sergeant had taken one look at his youthful mug and assigned him to the motor pool. Charlie spent three months learning to drive trucks and motorcycles and repair engines, and that suited him fine.
While Charlie was in Arkansas learning the vagaries of the internal combustion engine, he had turned seventeen and the draft age had been lowered to eighteen. He wrote to his mother that as time went on he would just naturally become legal. As the summer of progressed and her sons-in-law went, one by one, to do their duty, Alafair had had her moment of weeping for each one in turn. Then she wiped her eyes, squared her shoulders, and went about her business. In fact, over the past several weeks she had seemed happy, as though nothing was troubling her. Shaw thought this was exceedingly odd.
If any of her young ones were in danger, or suffering in any way, and there was anything Alafair could do about it, she would move heaven and earth to see that it was done. Several of the brood were in danger of suffering at the moment, yet Alafair appeared to be untroubled. Cheerful, even. Shaw tried to let it go. Everyone coped with the unthinkable in their own way.
Perhaps he was even a little envious. At not-quite-six, she was still a couple of months shy of the cut-off age for first grade, but Grace had grown up with nine much-older siblings who had taken it upon themselves to be her teachers. All the family attention had paid off handsomely. As the summer wound down, Grace was wild to start school and could talk of nothing else. At first Alafair was worried about starting her too early, even if she was advanced for her age. Shaw had pointed out that if they waited until the next year, after Grace turned six at the end of October, she would be older than most of her classmates and so far ahead of them that it would create even bigger problems for her.
So Alafair had taken Grace to town before school started and asked the primary teacher, Miss Graham, to interview her. The upshot was that Grace would start first grade on Septem- ber second. She already knew many of her prospective classmates, including her own cousin, Katie Lancaster. That was the nice thing about living near a small town and being related in one way or another to most of the population.
Alafair was as excited as Grace about her adventure. In August, she made first-day dresses for Grace, Sophronia, and thirteen-year-old Blanche, the only three of her offspring who were still in school, and a fancy striped shirt for her eight-year- old nephew and ward, Chase Kemp. She and the children made a holiday out of a trip into town to buy new shoes and school supplies. The older children jumped out as soon as they spotted their friends, waving acknowledgement when Alafair called after them to be sure and keep an eye out for Grace through the day.
Ala- fair had intended to escort her youngest to her classroom, but Grace would have none of it. She was a big girl now and knew where she was supposed to go. Then she was gone without a backward glance. She stood there until the schoolyard was empty and the only sound she could hear was the flapping of the flag at the top of its pole. Then Alafair burst into tears.
Her last chick had fledged and was taking her first flight. Alafair felt ridiculous, standing there in the road, sobbing as though she had lost her last friend. She had already been through this rite of passage more often than most mothers. She always felt a bit low when any of the chil- dren started school for the first time. We die.
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She felt like an idiot, and tried to stay out of sight of anyone who passed by. She had finally taken herself in hand and was dabbing her swollen eyes with a handkerchief when she felt a hand on her arm and turned to face a tall, fair-haired young woman holding the hand of a dark-eyed toddler. Come over here, baby, and let me love on you.
Linda ran into her embrace and Alice gave her mother a mischievous grin. Alafair stood up with Linda in her arms. Her daughter went back to school today, too. Thomason had a pleasant look about her. Her eyes were a translucent light gray color, and the hair that peeked out from under a shady straw bonnet was the pale golden-brown hue of maple wood.
She was older than Alice, about the same age as Alafair herself. She was also a substantial woman, thirty pounds heavier and half a head taller than Alafair. Thomason said. Alafair smiled.
I feel like we already know one another, thanks to Alice, here. Your husband and mine have done business. He had been out to the farm once or twice, and Shaw had indeed bought a few farm implements from him. She did not recollect ever meeting Mrs. She shifted Linda to one arm and took the proffered hand. Pleased to meet you. Appearance: By day the Raven Mocker appears as a normal human being.
In such forms Raven Mockers usually appear to be elderly and can be either male or female. By night the Raven Mocker can transform into a ball of fire or light and then roam the land in search of it's prey, sick or dying humans. Lore: Raven Mockers are the most powerful witches of the Cherokee people. They are so powerful that other types of witches fear them and will flee the area if they know that Raven Mocker is near.
The name Raven Mocker stems from the cry of the witch as it sounds similar to the cry of a raven. When a Raven Mocker has found suitable prey it will then sneak into the home and torture and torment the sick and dying person before it consumes their heart. In the old days they had worked and lived together.
Like the Indians the animals had their tribes and elected chiefs. They had their town houses, where they held councils. They shared with man the same destiny in the Twilight Land of Usunhiyi. On the lower slopes a ribbon of red was crawling upward, writhing like a gigantic snake, where the women and children were burning the dead leaves to get the nuts underneath. Big Bear had been homesick for such sights ever since traveling to the North country. No water could ever taste like the water from the Big Pigeon, no nights so mellow and starry as those over the Great Smoky.
And yet the mumbled words of a would-be assassin had poisoned Big Bear's home-coming. The sinister problem was ever worrying him. He had nothing Bridge could want. The trader was a friend of officers at the fort and gambled and drank with them and loaned them money. He had nothing in common with the Cherokee Nation, his relations being confined to exchanging poor guns and strong rum for dressed deerskins and other articles of barter.
Big Bear had seen him many times, a heavily-built man showing the effects of gross living. But he did not believe Bridge knew him by sight. The trader seldom visited the Cherokee towns these days, having reached a plane of affluence. He had a plantation and trading-house near the fort and transacted his business there. Much of his time was spent in carousing with the officers. No; it could not be as The Whistler had said. The Whistler had lost his reason from fear of the Raven Mocker.
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He had spoken crazy words. Determined to accept this conclusion Big Bear resumed his journey, eager to be welcomed by Little Feather. As he ran up the river path he discerned a tall figure approaching at a swift pace. Anywhere between the Ohio and Savannah he would have recognized that loping gait; and he joyously called out:. The Path-Killer fairly skimmed over the trail to embrace him, but Big Bear's heart grew cold with a premonition of disaster as his sworn friend gripped him by the shoulders and spoke never a word of welcome. I can not.
Ask me of those you love and I will answer. But it takes the life out of me," choked The Path-Killer. The Path-Killer took his arm and swung him about and pointed to the west, where a faint touch of pink was left behind by the sun. Little Feather! The Path-Killer became a warrior, burning for vengeance, as he harshly replied: "She fell or jumped off the high ledge near the fort while escaping from Bridge, the trader.
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He stole her and took her to his house but she escaped. He and his men gave chase. They dare not go about. The council would send a force against them but I made the chiefs wait till you could come. There shall never be white wampum between me and the white settlers. THE trader always had considered Indians as inferior animals; to be exploited for gain, or exterminated if they got in the way. That they experienced the gamut of human emotions never entered his head. Little Feather, an uncommonly attractive Indian girl, had appealed to his brutal fancy the moment his bloodshot gaze beheld her.
She had repulsed his brusk advances. But possession had simply meant the taking; so he called in two of his officer cronies to participate in the lark, and gave orders to his henchmen. That the wench should spoil his sport by escaping and falling or jumping to her death was a fault he should always hold against the whole Cherokee Nation.
He declared as much over his glass as he sat with his friends and discussed the tragedy. The finding of one of his employees dead the day following the girl's death turned him into a fiend and he swore in horrible oaths the punishment he would mete out. The discovery of the second dead body ten hours later suggested that some one had started a system of accumulative revenge and weakened his ferocity. He was not accustomed to meet those who struck back. He drank much raw rum in brooding over the second death and had worked himself into a mental state bordering on a panic when his two friends rode over from the fort to take action on the double killing.
They were for calling out the soldiers and raiding the town. But Bridge dissented. I'll see some of the headmen and fix it up. It'll cost a pretty bale of cloth, but better that than to stir up the whole nation. If the Government would pay a decent price for their hair we'd clean them up inside a year. Massachusetts has been paying a hundred pounds for a scalp. What pickings! Put that price on down here, Bridge, and I'll have pounds to your shillings and pay what I owe you to boot.
Got to have Injuns to make profits. You'd better quarter a score of your soldiers over here. My men are getting silly—some of them got Injun women who fill them up with their —— ghost yarns. Then raising his glass he mockingly cried, "Speaking of ghosts, here's to the hussy that was fool enough to prefer the river to your caresses. Bridge rose and examined the fastenings of the heavily-barred shutters.
He was conscious of his companions' curious scrutiny as he returned to the table and fell into his chair. Can't help hearing the Injun women's talk—creepy. Bridge started to pour out a drink, paused and spilled the liquor on the table and raised a hand for attention.
Raven Mocker - Wikipedia
It was a weird night sound. I ain't drunk. Ever hear them Injun yarns about the Raven Mocker? Medicine-men coil the great invisible serpent 'round the house to keep them out. Even that isn't a sure remedy. Otherwise the medicine isn't any good. And there's nothing to stop the Raven Mocker from entering through the gap. I've listened to that rot ever since I came to the Colonies.
And I can't afford to lose any more just at present. Wish they'd offer a decent scalp bounty so us poor devils could get in funds. I'm for the fort. Coming, Finsin? Finsin looked longingly at the bottle. Bridge urged him to stay all night, but, not relishing to return alone in the morning, he muttered an oath and staggered to his feet. Bridge hurriedly gulped down a drink and swore he would accompany them and look for a game at the fort, but a recurrence of the night-cry suddenly dampened his enthusiasm and he gruffly bade them good night from the table. After they had gone he felt uneasy and even imagined something was watching him through the oak shutters.
He knew such spying was impossible but the notion persisted till he rang for his superintendent to keep him company. The superintendent eagerly assailed the bottle, content to sit in silence while his master brooded over the stubbornness of the Indian character. I didn't 'low you'd be interested. He's only a Injun," meekly replied the superintendent.
Been buried but some wild things had dug him out. No Shawnee would 'a' left that. Seems to have been killed by his own knife, jest like he done for hisself. Mebbe he did. Wouldn't send a party out to scout around—seem to think the witches done it. Killed him and buried him so the Raven Mocker couldn't git him.
They believe all the witches and devils are scared of the Raven Mocker and hate it so they'll bury a man jest out of spite. Now I 'low —— ". He's overdue, too. The Path-Killer went to meet him. Path-Killer was sweet—erhum. Leaning over the table he hissed, "Fifty pounds for the Path-Killer's head. But it must be done quickly.
Some one's coming. Several of the servants were huddled in front of the house holding pine-knot torches. Down the trail beyond the cleared ground a voice was softly chanting. The night, the dancing shadows cast by the torches, the fear in his own mind, caused the trader to shiver as though cold.
Yet he could not summon the will power to order the shutter closed. He had to stand there and glare out into the darkness and witness what was to happen. The chanting was scarcely audible, no words being distinguishable. Low and monotonous it kept on, drawing nearer and nearer. Then two vague shapes broke through the darkness and into the rim of the torch zone and came ambling up the driveway. I could tell their hosses anywhere. They've come back to make a night of it. They've stopped singing. The horses made for the lights and the familiar doorway.
The Return of the Raven Mocker: An Alafair Tucker Mystery #9
The men below began exclaiming in horror and amazement as the torches revealed dead men lurching across the withers of their mounts. As they lifted them to the ground and straightened them out under the window Bridge gave a low cry of abject terror.