She approached as a hunter would stalk a game animal, avoiding sticks, totally silent. When she spoke, all three men were startled, jolted into awareness of her presence.
"There is a camp with three tipis in a depression on the other side of this hill. I watched for a while but saw no movement. Let us move to where we can see them, and we will decide what to do."
Without hesitation, she stepped to her horse, took the reins, and headed for the top of the hill as the men followed. As they were about to crest the top, she stopped, and the men joined her to assess what lay ahead.
She turned to Anton. “It is best that I go in alone. The warriors are not there, and my approach will not threaten those within.”
“I think that is not a good idea, Mother,” Four Wings interjected.
"Hear me, my son. I will approach alone. You three stay here until I summon you. Tatemina, you have likely done this more than once. You understand the approach of another camp. Those within are surely anxious after what happened in Minnesota and the Mankato hangings. Don’t think that word has not spread this far. I suggest the three of you remain out of sight until you are invited.”
Star Woman walked with confidence as she advanced toward the small congregation of tipis. Smoke curling from the top told her the one she had to approach.
“Hello inside, my name is Star Woman. I am Dakota. May I speak?”
There was no response, though she could hear movement beyond the flap.
She continued, “I have three friends in the trees to the east. We wish no harm. I am unarmed. My friends hold the horse I rode. We did not want to startle you.”
From inside, a voice said, “From what band do you come?”
“My name is Star Woman, and I come from the place of the hangings to the east. I am from the Wahpeton band, that of Red Iron.”
The entry flap was pushed aside, and a woman, slightly younger than Star Woman, carefully peeked from the opening. “Come ahead. Have your men remain where they are; you may enter.”
Star Woman stooped and entered the structure. Inside were three other young women, a much older woman, and a child. The flap was closed behind her, and she was told to sit. Two of the three women held knives. She folded her legs and sat.
The old lady placed a log on the small fire in the center of the space followed by pine boughs that crackled and popped while thick smoke swirled upward and out the top.
“What is it that you want here?” The old woman was stronger than she first appeared. She approached Star Woman holding a saber of the type carried by cavalry officers. “Why would I not kill you where you sit?”
“Because that would be a mistake. I have no desire to fight you. I come in peace. We have been on the trail for many days. We are cold. We are hungry. We saw your camp. It is simple, we merely . . .”
She moved with unnatural quickness, catching the old woman by surprise, taking her feet out from under her as she swept her leg to make contact. Before the old lady hit the ground, Star Woman was upon her, snatching the saber from her hand as the two younger women looked on with uncomprehending stares.
“Shall we start over?” Star Woman had regained her feet, straddling the old lady; the tip of the saber was inches from the old woman’s midsection. “I am not a threat to you. We were hoping for the warmth of your shelter and nothing more.”
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