Yet, thinking back, he knew, was a snare. They’d come this far. There would be no returning, not presently, not ever.
THEY WERE MAKING THEIR WAY from Pilot Peak when they came on the Indian bodies. The two delicate looking frameworks were not difficult to spot given the shortage of trees. Reed and a couple of others went over for a more critical look. The frameworks remained about the stature of a normal man. The covered bodies were encircled by objects that probably been left in recognition for them: an old blade with a dull edge and interlaced calfskin hold; accessories made of cut bone and quills striped dark, white, and blue; a wild ox robe, the hide dulled by the sun.
William Eddy swiped his face with a lower arm. “What do you think—Paiute?”
Reed shook his head. “Most likely Shoshone,” he replied. “We’re going through their region.”
John Snyder was purposely standing excessively close. Reed felt his essence like a smooth of sweat on the skin. “What—you an Indian master out of nowhere?”
“It was in a book I read about the Indian Territory.” Back in Springfield, after what had occurred with Edward McGee, and the disgrace he’d barely kept away from, Reed had for a period pondered turning into an Indian specialist for the public authority. Be that as it may, arrangements were difficult to get. He currently had a stupid outlook on it, like he’d been determinedly seeking after some infantile dream. Past the point of no return, he saw that this getaway to California was a whimsical dream, as well. He hadn’t took in his illustration with McGee. Snyder may have been enormous and mean, where McGee was slight and beguiling, yet both were entertainers in a dream that had come smashing down.
Reed’s life was brimming with broken dreams.
Keseberg went as far as get one of the pieces of jewelry. “Appears to be a waste, leaving this load of stuff for the dead.”
Reed attempted to picture Keseberg’s pale spouse wearing something like this, however his creative mind bombed him. “It’s for the dead man to use in the following scene,” he said. “Likely best to let it be.” The bodies annoyed Reed. They appeared extraordinarily slender for grown-ups yet excessively tall for kids.
“I don’t perceive any Indians here to stop us,” Keseberg said.
“You shouldn’t screw with Indian graves,” Franklin Graves said. “The redskins are tricky with regards to that.”
Keseberg overlooked him, venturing forward to flip back a side of the deerskin cover. Presently Reed comprehended why the bodies were little: They had been scorched. All that were left were burned remaining parts. Patches of cooked tissue actually clung to darkened bone. The skulls were papered with pieces of seared tissue; void eye attachments appeared to gaze at them severely. A few of the men immediately stepped back. Vortex turned, hacking into his sleeve.
“Savages,” Keseberg said. “What am I continually saying? They’re all savages.”
Reed had no adoration for the Indians, as such, yet he detested Keseberg and his obliviousness more.
In any case, right now he was generally pestered by the cadavers, beyond what he could say. It didn’t bode well. He had heard how the Indians really focused on their dead during the Black Hawk War from one of the scouts.
“Something probably occurred,” he said. Under the blasting sun, the darkened faces seemed to smile terribly. “I never knew about a clan consuming bodies like this.”
“Perhaps they were wiped out,” Franklin Graves said. “Had some sort of illness and didn’t need it to spread.”
Infection. The word waited noticeable all around like a murmur. The gathering gazed at the frameworks peacefully. He realized they were all considering Luke Halloran. Had he gotten some sort of sickness—the very one that may have struck these two Indians?
“What are these?” It wasn’t until Mary Graves shouted out that anybody understood she had shown up behind them. Elitha Donner, as well. Reed had heard she was spunky. Reed thought, notwithstanding, there may have been a major issue with her; he now and again saw her strolling without help from anyone else, mumbling, appearing to contend with the air.
Franklin Graves’ face obscured with outrage. “Go on,” he told his girl. “Get back. This is no sight for a lady.”
In any case, she avoided him when he looked as though he may snatch her. Reed needed to credit her: The young lady had soul.
“There are carvings here,” she said, and carried her hand to the bark of a close by tree. There were squares inside squares, cuts that resembled lightning bolts. Stick figures of men yet with peculiar, weighty heads. “Maybe there’s a story here also.”
“It’s anything but a story.” Thomas, the kid from Fort Bridger, shouted out. Reed had nearly failed to remember him. He was continually stowing away under one of George Donner’s carts in the nights, and who knew where he got to during the day. He’d been no assistance at all during the desert crossing; Reed had half expected that he would run off, as he had finished with Bryant.
“These are charms against awful spirits.” Thomas talked like he were giving up each word without wanting to. “Assurance from the eager ones.”
“For the dead?” Breen moved a hand unwittingly to his rifle. “For hell’s sake, for what reason do the dead need insurance?”