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Author's Chapter Notes:
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They rode into the canyon side by side.

Bringing Prairie Wolf along with them, they had traveled high into the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental before reaching the entrance to the box canyon. The passage to which now seemed to be proportionately descending!

The San Blas Kid watched the walls on both sides of the passage.

"I can see why Red Bear and his renegades hide out here. Real easy to defend against the Mexican army."

Becky Cousins merely nodded, as she was too busy keeping the barrel of her husband's Winchester trained on Prairie Wolf. The latter was now riding El Blanco, Julio Valdez's Andalusian. And, the hands and upper arms that had been tied up, just prior to their entering the canyon, were only now starting to regain some feeling.

Finally, the passage leveled off. As it did so, however, the odd trio suddenly found themselves confronted by a coterie of Southern Cheyenne Dog Soldiers!

"Hola!" said the mestizo: "Yo soy Prairie Wolf de Haqihana Arapaho. Aqui con mis amigos nuevos para hablar con Jefe Oso Rojo!"

The Dog Soldiers looked at each other. Clearly puzzled by Prairie Wolf's use of "new friends" to describe the people keeping a literal gun to his head. Even so, they gestured for the trio to continue riding forward. With the coterie evenly splitting up, so that one half preceded these visitors while the other half kept a rear guard.

Five minutes later, the entire procession reined their horses to a stop in the middle of a collection of teepees. The Native Americans who came to ogle them were comprised of not only Southern Cheyenne and Penateka Comanches (as Prairie Wolf had forewarned them). But, a large number of Kiowas, as well.

Among the latter was an elderly Kiowa-Apache shaman named Half Moon, who stepped forward wearing a horned headdress made from a buffalo's hide.

"Greetings, Prairie Wolf," said the older man (in perfect English): "Who are these you bring with you? And where is Valdez?"

"Valdez is dead," answered the Kid: "My wife and I killed him. And we plan on doing the same to Red Bear and the rest of you unless he shows himself in the next ten seconds!"

Whereupon, the Kid aimed his double-action Starr at Half Moon, while Becky started the count backwards from ten. Uttering the words "one thousand" between each numeral. It was only after she had reached "four," that they finally got a response.


The thunderous shout came from a cavernous opening in the dead end canyon wall. And from out of that opening came the Comanche war chief they had come so far to see. A seven foot-tall figure who looked to weigh two hundred pounds, at least.

All of it, solid muscle.

No wonder it was said that he had to ride a stolen plow horse on all his raids north of the Rio Grande! Because, as soon as he came down from the tunnel mouth, it was clear to all concerned that he stood half a head taller than any ordinary saddle mount!!

His clothing was simple. A reddish-brown bearskin vest with matching boots; with a horsehair breech clout in between. And, adorning his chest...was a hand-painted likeness of a bear's clawed foot.

"I am Red Bear," said the massively tall figure, at last: "And it is more likely _you two_ who shall die."

Chapter End Notes:
Special note: "Penateka" is the name of a Comanche tribal band. Translating as "honey-eater," it refers to an extremely aggressive species of insect known as the Eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons).
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