These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up.
Marie Dorion peered into the calm pool of river water and winced. The eye was worse than she thought, a lot worse. Everyone would know he’d hit her again, and this time no manner of stories about falling or bumping into a tree would do.
She frowned and got up from the bank of the Nodaway River. Marie had long black hair, though she kept it bound at her neck to keep the wind from blowing it about. Her eyes were kind, though held a firm authority. She was a woman that’d seen hardship, that was clear, seen hardship and knew it well. She was an Indian woman of the Iowa Tribe, one that’d been baptized in the Roman Catholic Church at an early age, thus the lack of an Indian name.
She was just 25-years old now, though she’d been married to Pierre for nearly ten years. He was half-French-Canadian owing to his father and half-Sioux owning to his mother. They’d settled around the area of the Yankton Sioux, far up the Missouri and near the Arikara and Mandan lands. Life had been good to them there, with the support of the tribes and the bounty of the land.
She looked back at the group of men a hundred yards away. They were a rough and gruff bunch, drinkers mostly, though they could be counted on to do a bit of work here and there, usually before noon. How Hunt had ever gotten galled into hiring them all on was beyond her. Still, none of them hit her.
That honor fell to her husband, Pierre Dorion, who happened to be the father of their two children as well. Marie looked over her shoulder at them. Jean Baptiste – whom they called Little Bap – was 4-years old now and looked just like Pierre, black hair, straight nose, inquisitive eyes. His brother was 2-year old Paul, who took after his mother with the fine hair and small mouth.
She loved them dearly, though was deathly afraid for their safety. Pierre had a way with the bottle that typically left him moody and violent. Marie’s black eye that morning proved the point once again, and not for the first time did she wonder what she’d gotten herself into.
Getting through the winter had been bad enough, what with the bad hunting and the men getting drunk all the time. Now that the river was breaking up, however, they could set out again. It’d only be another month, two at most, until they reached Fort Lisa, the spot they’d already spent six months in when Manuel had hired Pierre to takeover for Rueben Lewis when the man had gone back East to find out about his brother.
It’d been good times for the family, happy times, with Pierre hunting and trapping during the day and Marie learning as much as she could about roots and berries and making a life in the wilds from the Indians that called the area home. She’d picked up a lot, and quite a bit of it had helped her get through the rough winter with the men Hunt had hired on.
She gave one last look to the still pool of water, wondered what she’d say about that black eye. Then, with a sigh, she called out to the two boys and started back toward camp. They were about to set off again, about to head further into the unknown.