A short, barrel-chested Indian man stood at the edge of the encampment with his arms folded and a frown on his face, watching the man and packhorse moving slowly up the valley toward him. When the trader was close enough to speak, the man moved into the path and raised a hand.
The traveler looked at him quizzically. “You talk English?” he asked.
“You come to trade?”
“I hope to,” the traveler said. “If you all have something to trade with.”
“If your terms are fair.” His gaze moved to the horse’s laden packsaddle. “You sell whisky?”
The traveler shook his head. “‘Fraid not.”
The other man stepped to the side of the path and gestured toward the camp behind him. “Then you are welcome.”
The trader moved forward but the Indian put up a hand to stop him. “If you are found with whisky, it will not go well for you,” he said flatly.
“Yes sir,” the trader said, and the glimmer of a smile crossed the two faces simultaneously.
Copyright © 2016 Loretta Miles Tollefson