Based in the mid 1800's, Winterís Promise is the story of Lorrie Wainright, a young Christian woman who, at the onset of winter, loses everything and everyone she loves in an Indian raid on her wagon train. And of Wykatee, a young Shoshone Indian warrior who, only days before, also suffered a great deal of loss at the hands of his own kind.
They are two people of different lives and of different cultures who through tragedy meet, their lives pulled together with need, uncertainty, and on Laurie's part, fear. As Wykatee tries to get Lorrie to the closest town and back to her own people, the story brings you through their personal struggles, their sorrows, their hopes, their dreams, their adventures, and in a time where mixed-culture relationships were looked harshly upon, it ultimately brings you through their deepest personal struggle when they realize they have feelings for each other.
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The day was still warm although the sun was beginning it's decent into the horizon. But despite the warmth that still lingered in the afternoon air, the fall season was quickly advancing upon the local tribes. The camps were beginning to ready themselves for the long winter months ahead, and prosperous hunting was important.
Slowly, steadily, two lone riders could be seen in the distance returning from one such prosperous hunt. Buffalo had been scarce, and unpredictable, and the companions were just two of the many braves that had set out in recent days with high hopes of good hunting.
Wykatee and his friend Bright Moon had spent three successful days on the hunt, and tired but pleased, they were now only a few miles from their village.
Four extra horses made their way steadily behind them, carrying their prey of three buffalo, the gentle rhythm of their hooves hitting the hard earth in unison.
Wykatee's dark eyes looked about at the beautiful land before him as his mount moved steadily along, pride and wonder filling his whole being. The Great Spirit had been good them, had heard their prayers, had seen that Mother Earth took great care with his people. Game hadn't been plentiful but it was always there, out for the taking. The Great Spirit saw to it. Water was always available and plentiful, wood always to be found for making necessary equipment, and in thanks the tribes took great care to return to the land what had been taken whenever possible. The land itself was so important to his people, to all the tribes, and the Great Spirit was always praised.
At nineteen moons Wykatee was strong and skillful, having long become the envy of many of the young braves in his tribe. His father had taught him well the skills of hunting and beginning at the tender age of eight had mounted him on a spirited colt and pronounced him old enough, not only to ride along on the hunt as he had done many times, but to follow in the wake and try his luck at killing the yellow haired buffalo calf.
The little yellow buffalo, always running behind the bulls in a chase, crying their discontent, made easier prey for a young brave in pursuit; and it was an elated young boy, with small bow and arrows capably in hand, that killed his first calf that day. His father, seeing his young son's victory, looked on with obvious delight and pride, shouting his happiness for his son for all to hear. Wykatee's mother later awarded him with a robe made from the small animalís skin. It was a day he never forgot.
Now, many years later, a skilled warrior and horseman himself, Wykatee had been given the responsibility of caring for many of the tribeís horses. He had made his father proud, and then had lost him in a battle with the Sioux. Also injured in that battle, Wykatee recovered quickly. Only his spirit was still healing at the loss of his father.
Wykatee looked over at his friend. Handsome and smart, Bright Moon was also to be envied. His father was the War Chief of their Shoshone tribe. A man respected for his wisdom and great success as a warrior. Yet he was also a man of peace and his experience in battle had kept their people alive and strong for many moons.
It was not because of his father that Bright Moon had earned respect; his own courage and accomplishments had earned it all. At ten moons he had become the youngest brave in their tribe to break a wild horse. Even though much work had to be done that day, all of the people in the tribe stood watching with great interest at the determination of the young boy. Bright Moon had captured the horse himself and brought the discontented animal back to camp. The sun was high in the sky when he began working with it and by nightfall, at the light of the full moon, the horse was broke - completely tame. That night his father gave him his adult name of Bright Moon, believing the moons force would always bring him luck and power.
Now at nineteen moons he was also a skilled huntsman and it seemed only fitting that they should hunt together. The two of them had been friends since they could walk, the friendship greatly encouraged by both sets of parents, and they were closer than blood brothers. They'd die for each other if they had to.
Returning home always felt good and they looked at each other with tired eyes, "It looks, Bright Moon, as if we've made it."
"Yes, I believe your right. I could stop now and eat more buffalo meat! I've had about all the pemmican and berries I can take!"
"Is that all you think about is food Bright Moon! Pity the man with the empty stomach!"
"You tease Wykatee, but I'd wager my horse you'll eat to your fill as well when we return!"
Wykatee loved to tease his friend, unmercifully at times, but knew he was also the owner of a very healthy appetite himself. So turning to him he smiled and replied, "Your right my friend. Your right!"
Wykatee also knew that neither of them would ever bet their horses, their pride and joy, on anything no matter how hungry they were. They were the proud owners of the most beautiful Paint horses in many a mile, Bright Moon still riding the one his father had given him as a gift when he killed his first buffalo.
Wykatee had acquired his mount only the year before when the horse was but a young colt. He had taken special care of his prided mount, as it had been a special gift from his sister and brother-in-law, and immediately the horse had grown to show great intelligence, as well as promise on a hunt. And because of the long, white, straight streak that ran in a direct point from his eyes down to the tip of his nose, Wykatee had named him Straight Arrow. The only problem he had with the horse was its deep devotion to its owner, Straight Arrow deciding at an early age that he wouldn't let anyone but Wykatee care for him or mount him. The horsesí unusual commitment had long since become a light hearted joke among the villagers.
The two became lost in their own thoughts as they made their way closer to the village when Bright Moon suddenly motioned to his friend and abruptly stopped. Wykatee watched as Bright Moon immediately descended his mount and kneeling to the ground, pressed his right ear firmly to the warm earth, and then stood once again looking intently into the sky ahead of them.
Wykatee followed Bright Moon's gaze, the sun no longer blinding with its fall, and realized what was troubling his friend. Even at the distance from which they stood, it was clear that the thickness of smoke they were seeing was not the gentle billowing of camp fires made by their people - but that of a burning village.
Wykatee's heart nearly stopped with terror at the realization of what it meant as Bright Moon spoke the words, "The smoke, it is not the smoke of our camp fires. And the rumbling in the earth is that of many horses, far away. Something is terribly wrong my friend!"
Mounting his horse in one swift jump, Bright Moon and Wykatee put their mounts at full run towards the camp, leaving the packhorses to make their own way.
"Great Spirit do many things I not understand because he Great Spirit. He make the wind, and sky, and animals, and you and me. I not understand how he do these things, I only know they there because I see the sky and animals, I feel the wind. If you say he have Son then it true. But how you know son there?"
"I feel Him Wykatee. I feel Him in my heart, like feeling the wind on your face. He talks to me. He tells me right from wrong. He's taught me patience and love. Because I prayed and asked Him to come into my heart He did and since then he has shown me many things. He has taught me many things and helped me. He showed me that it was right to stay with you and not run away. He brought us together Wykatee."
Wykatee took her hand, holding it tight, and held her eyes, "I glad He did, Lorae."
"Me too, Wykatee. Me too."