The aunts' story.

f your people's talk?"

She nodded. "IpracticeevrydaysosIdontfergit," she offered, the tone flat, the words slurred together.

"Good. For not bein' with your people so long, you don' soun' too bad. I seen you earlier, and spoke with Running Bear. I want to take you with me. I offered him a trade for you. He took the trade, but first I have to prove I can tame you. He said when one of the men of the village tried to make you his wife, it took five of them and a beating before you gave in."

"I din't givin. He beat I dint know wha happend. I heard him promise his friends they could use me. I din't see that happening with the other women, 'n' I din't want it to happen to me."

The old trader chuckled "Slow down, girl. Tell me the name your ma give to you.. She muttered something. "Piggy? No ma would call a baby that. You mean Peggy?" She nodded, smiling.

While she talked and got used to listening to the cadence of his speech and copying it, her ability to speak his language gradually returned

She cocked her head to the side, looking at him, judging him. "How will you show Running Bear you've tamed me?"

"You'll share my blanket tonight, and we'll need to mate so he can see. I promise you, it won't hurt; you may even like it. Will you come with me?"

"When would you be leavin'?" she asked.

"I got 'nother day o' trading, and a day to pack. Daylight, the next day." She dropped the firewood and turned to enter the tipi. When she returned, she was carrying a small hide bag.

"I'm ready," she said. "Do you have meat for supper, or should I take some from Black Elk?"

"I got a rabbit stewing at my fire. I reckon I'll need to trade for some provision for our trip."

Upon reaching the trader's fire, she put her bag in the tipi, then sniffed the stew. When she asked if he had anything to flavor it, he pulled a thong of rawhide from one of his packs. The thong had several small bags tied to it, each containing dried plants which could be used to add flavor to the stew. She opened each of the small bags and sniffed or tasted each, her smile growing wider with each of the bags.

While she tended the stew, the trader put on a pot of water, then pulled two metal cups from one of his packs and threw some dried leaves he found, tied to another thong among his provisions, into the cups. When the water was hot, he poured some in the cups and offered one to Peggy. She sniffed, dubiously, and made a face. She started to take a sip, but was stopped by the old man. "'S too hot, wait a bit."

When they were done with the stew, he motioned for her to try the brew. She made a face at the first sip. He pulled another bag from his pack and sprinkled some granules into her cup, muttering under his breath, and motioned for her to try again. This sip caused her to smile and drain the cup.

"When did you want to tame me," she asked him.

He looked at her, at the smile on her face. In spite of the broken nose, she was pretty as a picture he thought. "You clean up our dishes, I'll get our bed ready. Then I know a place in the river where we can clean oursel's. We'll both like it better after a bath."

Without a word, she threw some dirt on the fire, and using a square of hide as a hot pad, grabbed the pot with the little bit of stew and carried it to an area reserved for feeding the camp dogs. When she returned, using a combination of sand and water she cleaned the pot and their plates. Looking around she saw an open bag with similar utensils and stowed them away.

She was about to enter the tipi the trader used when he came out carrying some large torn up blanket pieces and a hide container with a whitish cream. He took her hand and led her to the spot he had mentioned.

He set the blanket pieces and container on the ground next to the river.

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