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Author's Chapter Notes:
Special note: the military conflict between the United States and Mexico (1846-48) was referred to, in American history books, as simply "the Mexican War" well into the 1960's. So, I use that obsolete nomenclature simply for the retrospective feel of it in Malarkey's "flashbacks."
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The moment Red Bear uttered that pronouncement, Becky looked at her husband...and vice-versa. They each knew that Yvette Reardon might not be able to survive another pregnancy. Especially, at her current age!

So, with her free hand, Becky surreptitiously gesticulated the following to the San Blas Kid in Cherokee sign language (which they had both learned from Echota Reardon).

"Do you trust me?" is what she had "said."

The Kid was naturally puzzled. But, he kept a good poker face and nodded. So, she then shouted aloud:

"Chief Red Bear! If you promise to release the older woman into our custody, unharmed and right this minute, I will take her place...and bear your seed."

It would have been difficult to tell, without a daguerrotype, which of them was more surprised by the offer: the Kid or Red Bear. But, the former was even more surprised when the seven foot-tall Comanche began to laugh! Which, of course, made Becky blush redder than her hair.

"What's so funny?" she muttered through clenched teeth.

"Do you think so little of He Who Rides Beside You that you would willingly throw yourself at another man? Begone with you, both! You are not worth killing. At least, not today."

Whereupon, Becky resheathed her Winchester and jumped down from Crazy Quilt's saddle. This, in turn, made the Dog Soldiers aim their Winchesters at her. Prompting the Kid to stand up in his stirrups, and aim his Peacemaker at them!

Becky, however, merely smiled. Holding up both her hands, palms toward them, before she slowly brought them down to her shirt...and began to unbutton it. The Dog Soldiers looked at each other in confusion. Red Bear and Half Moon shared identical looks. But, the Kid now realized where this was heading. And, so, he just smiled.

Even when Becky had become totally naked before everyone's very eyes!

* * * * *


"Accordin' to El Peyotero, the head of the slaver gang was an ex-Juarista named Nestor Ramos Aguilar. He had ridden with a lancer outfit, called 'the Jaguar Knights,' durin' both the Mexican War and the war against the French. But, that outfit had brought no honor to itself, or its causes, with the atrocities it had committed against any wounded prisoners. Namely..."

"...cuttin' their still-beatin' hearts out of their dyin' chests, Aztec-style."

"So, now, he ran a gang of slavers consistin' of himself and several score of Otomi Injuns still loyal to him from the Juarista Revolution. Slavers who captured able-bodied Injuns from other tribes, and then dragged 'em in chains all the way to Tuxpan, on the Gulf Coast of Veracruz. Tuxpan is where some die-hard Johnny Reb expatriates had set up a small colony.* And, a few of them helped to transfer the enslaved Injuns to the Cuban seaport of Niquiero. Oh, sure, some of the enslaved Injuns tried to escape, en route! But, they never got far. Not once Aguilar unleashed his not-so-little pet. A falconry-trained harpy eagle by the name o' Cesar!"

"And, that dang feathered monstrosity was feedin' on one such poor soul, halfway through the mountain forests of Zacatecas, when Dooley and Becky caught up with the whole bunch o' them."

Chapter End Notes:
*Johnny Reb: derisive Northern term for the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Union Army soldiers were just as derisively known as "Billy Yanks."
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