The Test —
While on his way
to Sioux Falls, Jas decided to cut thru a pass when he stumbled upon
a small band of Indians. The four of them had been drinking. The one
Indian, Wild Horse, rolled an empty whiskey bottle down a rock into
Jas' path. Jas didn't say a word, just kept riding. It wasn't long
before they started out after him.
Jas tried to out run them he happened upon a man in a wagon. He
threw his rifle to the man. The man just sat there looking at the
rifle and then at the Indians. Jas grabbed then man and pulled him
along side of the wagon. They used the wagon as a shield to fight
off the Indians. Well, Jas did anyway. For some reason the man
wouldn't fight back. Jas couldn't figure it out. He thought the man
was scared. At one point Wild Horse threw a tomahawk at them,
missing the two of them and embedding the tomahawk in the sidewall
of the wagon. Jas looked at the man, not knowing what to make out of
this. He was fighting for both of their lives with no help from him.
Jas shot the one Indian that had thrown the tomahawk. The second one
came at him with a bow and arrow. He shot him too. He again looked
to the man for help, but nothing. The third Indian jumped on the
wagon and started for Jas. As he leaped in the air to attack, Jas
shot him also. The fourth Indian high tailed it out of there. The
man was checking on the one Indian that lied on the ground. Jas
approached the man full of anger. He grabbed him by his coat. What
he saw was a white collar and a cross. Now he understood what was
going on and why the man didn't fight back, he was a priest.
He invited Jas to
come back to the mission with him. The priest name was Jason Durant,
Father Jason Durant. Jas was surprised by his name and told him his
name was Jason also, Jason McCord. The Priest said Corella (sp), Jas
asked what that meant. "It's an Indian word.....It means brothers,
because we have the same name." Jas laughed and said he didn't know
whether he should call him father or brother. "Call me Jason."
As they sat down
to eat, Father Durant told Jas that he teaches the Comanche children
to read, write and a little bit of the Bible. The children didn't
show up for their schooling. He feared they would keep the children
away from the mission because of what happened. He told of how there
has been resistance from the warriors. They were afraid their young
men would reach for books instead of the tomahawk. The Comanche only
understood strength. It wasn't hard to understand their
logic.....this was violent times. The Priest spoke of how he
wondered if he shouldn't be helping to bring the violence to an end.
Jas assured him he was. He explained that he believed with all his
soul in the way of life that he had chosen. But he also is a man. He
talked about how they were almost murdered while he just watched.
Jas understood what the priest was saying....."Anytime a man takes a
stand there will be a test to see how firmly his feet are planted.
But if he really believes what
he is doing is right, he's got to stand firm." He thanked Jas for
the words of encouragement and said....."A man like you doesn't know
what it's like to be called a coward."
The two men went outside to hoist the bell up to the tower of the
mission. Father Durant asked Jas where he was going from here. He
told him he had a surveying job waiting for him in Sioux Falls and
after that he was going south to some new land development there.
He asked Jas if he was going to settle there. Jas told him that
wasn't likely. The Priest said he didn't seem like the kind of man
whose goal was drifting from job to job. Jas told him he hadn't
thought of the word 'goal' for a long time. His goal was to live
his life so that he doesn't have any regrets later on. The Father
thought that was good philosophy. "Every choice a man makes opens
some doors.....closes others." "I made a big choice.....closed a
lot of doors," said Jas as he picked up his broken saber. Father
Durant asked him as he took the broken saber from his
hand....."Especially one?" "Especially one," said Jas. Father
Durant asked him if the saber was the key. Jas told him it was the
key.....and the lock. Father Durant told him he had seen a broken
saber before and that his father was a major in the cavalry. He was
killed by the Comanche. "I was only fourteen at the time when I
made my choice to be a priest." While they were talking they heard
some horses in the distance. They were carrying the white feather
spear of peace. As the priest started down off the ladder, Jas told
him he would keep him covered. The priest told him not to shoot for
approached the priest and told him Chief Looking Glass wanted to see
the Long Coat (Father Durant) now. He then threw the white feather
spear of peace into the ground and rode off.
He told Jas that
the chief wanted him to go to his camp. Jas told him he would go, he
was the one they wanted. He hadn't killed anyone, only Jas. Father
Durant said he had nothing to fear, the chief is a just man, he will
recognize the truth. Jas warned him that the Comanche's had their
own way of testing the truth. "I'm a trained solider.....I'll go!"
Father Durant told him he will go, he wasn't afraid. Jas warned him
that he would have to fight. He said he would not fight.....but he
would not run! "Then they'll kill you!" Said Jas.
Father Durant went
to meet with Chief Looking Glass as he had requested.
chief accused him of killing the three braves who had attacked them
earlier. He told the priest he must fight Wild Horse, he was the
Indian that got away. The chief did not know that Wild Horse had
lied about what had happened, he told the chief that White Eyes
ambushed them. He turned to Wild Horse and said...."I think you
should know that the Great Spirit I serve does not accept nor ask
for human sacrifice." "They attacked my friend.....he took cover by
my wagon. Then they tried to kill us both, he was forced to defend
us!" Exclaimed the priest. Bold Eagle found it hard to believe that
one White Eyes could kill three Comanche's. He told him 'no' and
spit on the ground in front of the priest. Father Durant told him
they had been drinking. This angered Bold Eagle, he asked Wild Horse
about it in their native tongue. Whatever was said, Bold Eagle
didn't believe the priest. The chief told him he would remain at the
camp and they will talk again tomorrow.
The next day Jas
rode into their camp with the white feather spear of peace in hand.
He approached the chief and stuck the spear in the ground. "I come
to speak to the chief of the Comanche Nation." "I am Chief Looking
Glass.....speak!" "I have heard of Chief Looking Glass.....some call
him the chief who judges wisely." Bold Eagle asked Jas what he
wanted. "This must be Bold Eagle, war chief of the Comanche Nation.
His feats of courage are much praised in the war counsel of my
people. I would have expected him to be more civil to a stranger who
comes in peace." Bold Eagle said that for someone who comes in
peace, he has killed three Comanche braves. Jas told them he killed
no Comanche braves.....I was attacked without warning by a pack of
coyotes! I killed three of them..... (Jas turned and looked at Wild
Horse) the fourth one......sits there. Bold Eagle had heard enough.
He said we would soon know the truth.
Father Durant to fight Wild Horse. Jas told them he wanted to fight
in his place. They would not hear of it. Bold Eagle then handed Wild
Horse the spear of war. He then went over to Father Durant and
handed him the other one; he hesitated, everyone was watching and
waiting to see what he would do. He then took the spear, reluctantly
and speared it into the ground. Jas told them that Long Coat didn't
understand.....he was a brave man, but a peaceful man, so you can
prove nothing. His strength is love, he will not fight! Bold Eagle
insisted that any man would fight if he had to. I told them he
wouldn't fight, as I walked over to face the priest. Jas grabbed him
and pulled him off his mule. The priest looked up at Jas, confused,
wondering what Jas was doing. Jas knew he wouldn't fight back, but
had to show the Comanche's so they would know. It took all he could
do, Jas then slapped the priest across the face. He did not fight
back. Jas hit him again, this time even harder. Again the priest did
not fight back. The Indians sat watching, taking this all in. Jas
then hit him even harder, hard enough to make him fall to the
ground. Jas then turned, looking into the face of each and every
Indian. Bold Eagle thought him to be a fool or a coward and stated
so. "He's a servant of God who will not raise his hand against his
brother," said Jas. "Munchee and White Eyes are not brothers!" Jas
forcefully stated....."All men are brothers Bold Eagle!" Just then
the priest got up off the ground and stood before Jas. Jas drew his
fist back and was going to hit him again when the chief yelled....."Enough!"
"White man both speak same story." "Warrior will oppose warrior."
Said the chief as he pointed to Jas and Wild Horse.
tried to talk Jas out of this, but he was convinced if he didn't do
this, they would kill them. Jas then took his saber and put it
through his belt and unsaddled his horse. Bold Eagle put a necklace
around Wild Horse for luck. Jas then looked at the priest and saw
his cross that was around his neck. He asked him for it. The priest
gave it to him. Jas got on his horse and was ready to face Wild
Horse. Bold Eagle handed Jas the spear of war which he declined to
use. He told him he would rather use the white feather spear of
peace. Wild Horse and Jas went to face each other on horseback with
spears and charge at each other. The chief gave the signal to start.
They were to ride back and forth, serving a blow when they could.
Each time they needed a signal to start. First time they tested each
other with spears just tapping. The second time Wild Horse got the
first blow in; he hit Jas in the back with the stick of the spear.
The Indians cheered Wild Horse on. The next hit was Jas, he knocked
Wild Horse off of his horse. This angered him and got up off of the
ground and got back on his horse. The next time when they charged at
each other, Wild Horse knocked Jas off of his horse and stunned him
for a moment. The Indians were cheering relentlessly. When Jas
looked up he saw Wild Horse charging at him, spear in hand aimed at
him. Jas then jumped up at him, only to get knocked to the ground.
went after him on foot and knocked him to the ground. He pulled his
saber out and they were in hand to hand combat, Wild Horse having a
tomahawk. As they fought, they struggled trying to stay alive. Jas
flipped Wild Horse and he dropped his tomahawk. Now Jas had both
weapons. He tossed the tomahawk back to Wild Horse. This confused
the other Indians. They turned and looked at each other. You could
see the surprised look on Wild Horse's face. Again they struggled,
saber to tomahawk. Jas broke loose and hit Wild Horse and knocked
him to the ground. Jas walked up to him and placed his saber under
Wild Horse's neck. He looked around, all eyes were on him. Jas
walked up to Father Durant and Bold Eagle and said....."I am
grateful this weapon (holding up the tomahawk) was not held by a
true Comanche Warrior such as Bold Eagle. He then handed it to him.
He asked Jas why he didn't kill Wild Horse. "I fought for the Long
Coat, only to prove he speaks the truth, I have told you he does not
believe in killing." "I do not understand.....White Eyes you are a
warrior, yet you serve one that does not fight," said Bold Eagle.
"Because I respect his kind of strength Bold Eagle." "We warriors
can learn much from the Long Coat."
Wild Horse has
dishonored his people and the chief said he must die. "Chief Looking
Glass.....the Great Spirit I serve teaches us to forgive.....let him
live. He has dishonored no one but himself." The chief told him he
would weigh his words and that he and Jas were free to go. "Will the
children be able to return to the mission?" "Can you teach them your
courage?" The priest nodded.
back the cross to Father Durant and said....."What strong medicine
Then rode off.