The Native Indians knew well the superiority of the elements and engaged in every activity their imagination would allow trying to win the favor of an entity that often brutalized them. They stood perplexed as they watched a new, hard-fisted race of humanity contend mightily with a power they had long since learned to pacify and reverence. They were entertained by the early trapper’s and settler’s ways until the noise and tremor of the first locomotives erupted into their lives. Now they, the landscape, and the animals were about to be everlastingly altered. This was the environment that Bonnie had unwittingly sought refuge in. Mankind’s eventual irony is the natural world’s greatest achievement. Like nails in a coffin, the miles of railroad spikes were putting an end to a timeless story and marking the beginning of a new family of destiny.
Bill Morton unconsciously pulled back on the reins of his ball-faced gelding and gazed open-mouthed at what lay before him. What would have been two well-bred black draft horses depicted a scene that turned Bill’s insides sour. Their hair, caked with sweat and dust was intermittently scattered with raw, gaping slashes dripping dark red. One horse stood shaking uncontrollably on three legs—the other leg, hanging rag-like at the knee. They were tangled tight to a willow tree by their harnesses. The other horse’s check-rein twisted his head over backwards and prying his mouth wide-open with the bit, had him squeal-grunting for air, his sides heaving and straining. Without thinking, Bill stepped off the gelding, drew his .44 pistol, strode straight to the black with the broken leg and fired a bullet into his forehead. Ignoring the acrid sting of gunpowder on his face, he holstered the pistol, pulled out his knife and started whipping it through the taunt leather harness straps on the other horse. Once free, the big black animal tottered crazily out through the swampy creek bottom, unable to regain his balance or senses. He stumbled wildly into the creek, lost his footing, and plunged head first into the deep, muddy water. Bill dropped his gun belt and dove in after him. Reaching for the horse’s nose, he grabbed with both hands and furiously pulled. The horse began to thrash and kick, fighting for its legs. Bill let go of its head and fought to get away. Getting his feet under him, the black stumbled for the other bank, knocking Bill down into the water and stepping heavily into Bill’s leg as he lunged onto dry ground.