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When the drop-jawed Red Bear still had not regained his senses enough to reply, Becky took matters into her own hands. Or, more specifically, her gigantic right hand!

"I had me some white meat, a year ago, that left a bad taste in my mouth. Even through hot peppers and cold milk! So, let's see if some 'red' meat might go down a tad easier."

Whereupon, the hundred foot-tall naked giantess popped the Penateka Comanche war chief straight into her mouth!!

Almost immediately, Becky looked like a kangaroo rat with too much food in its cheeks. Only, this particular "food" had not yet been swallowed. Instead, Red Bear thrashed around from cheek to cheek. Trying to crash through her density-enhanced skin as easily as a finger through a soap bubble. And, when that swiftly proved futile, he tried to bodily pry her teeth apart!! Unfortunately, for him, her saliva made her teeth too slippery to maintain a good grip. So, he went back to trying to burst out through Becky's cheeks! An act of desperation that would have brought a smile to the San Blas Kid's face if not for one thing.

Red Bear's loyal braves had snapped out of their own shock and awe just enough to start aiming their rifles upward at Becky's face. Prompting the Kid to draw his double-action Starr, as well!

Fortunately, Half Moon the shaman managed to regain his composure, just in time to prevent any shooting.

"Enough of this! We will release the white woman."

Whereupon, he spoke (in flawless Cheyenne) to one of the Dog Soldiers. Ordering the latter to go untie Yvette Reardon and bring her out into the open. And, when the San Blas Kid saw that, for himself, he loudly exhaled in relief.

"We have done as you asked," shouted Half Moon: "Now, release Red Bear."

The Kid reholstered the Starr so he could use his thumb and index finger to whistle upward. Becky heard the whistle and looked downward. Her husband nodded towards Yvette. And, seeing that their goal had been achieved, Becky spit the war chief into the palm of her right hand before placing him on the ground. At the same time, she removed the still-tied up Prarie Wolf from the saddle of his mount in order to replace him with Yvette!

"Como tallez vous, Mama?" the Kid asked his adoptive mother.*

"Je vais bien, mon enfant."

And, she leaned across, to kiss him on his right cheek, in reassurance.

* * * * *


"The Comanche raid on Tonkawa Springs had been the biggest ever made by that tribe. And, among the many victims whose funerals I had the sad duty to preside over were my predecessor, Reverend Shepherd...and Anatole Leblanc."

"Yvette Reardon's pa."

"I had just finished eulogizin' the latter, when I saw 'em. Becky and Dooley; standin' by their respective horses, just outside the churchyard. And, I'll be danged if I wasn't a-bear huggin' them both, while bawlin' my eyes out, faster'n you can say 'carpet-bagger!' "

"Needless to say, we rode back to my place. The two of them tellin' me everything I just relayed to you. And, me, havin' to detail what had happened just a week ago, here."

" 'Accordin' to the Tonkawa scouts from Fort Pecos, your family's place was hit by a raidin' party about three dozen strong. They burned down the house and barn, after runnin' off the livestock. And, judgin' from the blood on his Arkansas Toothpick, your grandpappy must've took quite a few of them with him after him and your ma were driven outside by the heat and smoke!' "

" 'Any idea who done it, Mal?' Dooley asked me."

" 'Most likely Penateka Comanch, under Chief Red Bear. On account of several plow horse tracks were found among all the other hoof prints!' "

"At which point, Dooley looked straight at Becky."

" 'We have to go back cross the border.' "

"But, I shook my head and interrupted Becky afore she could reply."

" 'It won't do you any good, son. Nobody knows what part of Mexico he hides out in!' "

" 'Prarie Wolf might,' Becky declared: 'He's been Daddy's chief translator since their earliest days as Comancheros!' "

" 'Good luck with that,' I countered: 'That mestizo left your daddy's employ, last year. I sure ain't seen hide nor hair of him, in all that time. And, if Ezekiel knows where he lit out for, he sure ain't told me!' "

"The grin that appeared on Becky's face that moment made me shiver a little."

" 'I bet I could get that information out of him.' "

Chapter End Notes:
* "How are you, Mom?"

"I am well, my son."

Carpet-bagger: pejorative slang term for any crooked politician and/or businessman in the Union Army-occupied southern U.S. following the Civil War. Derived from the sarcastic observation that such individuals did not have enough inherent honesty to fill a carpet bag (19th-century suitcase)!

Arkansas Toothpick: obsolescent slang term for the Bowie knife.
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