Anna Louise Lawrence nee Schmidt’s grey eyes were focused on the knapsack she was hurriedly packing. Time was short. Her black curls refused to stay in the braided bun and five-month-old Augustuv, called Auggie was protesting his filled wet diaper. Her stomach and lower regions were warning her that the danger was almost here. Twelve-year-old Margareatha stepped into the doorway carrying the other canvas bag from the barn when the screech of four-year-old Lorenz racked through her system.
She turned to see both boys on the floor. Eight-year-old Daniel was on the bottom, his eyelids blinking up and down, his arms at his side as though unable to move them. Lorenz was landing blow after blow on his brother, screaming, “It’s mine.”
Anna stepped forward and heaved Lorenz upward. Then she found herself screaming, red rage boiling through her at the thought of being delayed and that her handsome grey-eyed son had the same abilities as her husband. Lorenz might hurt his brother and was too young to realize what he had done.
“Du cannot do such things. Du cannot ever, ever get so angry again. Do du hear me?” She shook him. Hurt, fear, anger from the knowledge that her beloved son could do to his brother what their two-hearted father was capable of doing to other people shook her to her core. Margareatha had not shown any such abilities although she also had two hearts. How could she or Margareatha control Lorenz?
Lorenz’s grey eyes were looking at her with hurt and surprise.
“Margareatha, take Lorenz and go to the corn patch and some early ears pick.” Anna was frustrated, but both her husband and twin brother insisted she must speak English not German to the children. Auggie was wailing louder. Daniel had pushed up on his elbows and then scrambled to his feet. She had to get them out of the house; them, Auggie, and herself.
“Daniel, your father go help in the fields.” Surely Mr. Lawrence would protect his own son. That cold, somber man with the two hearts and golden circles around his eyes couldn’t be that unnatural.
Auggie continued his lusty crying while Anna piled bread and rolls into the other canvas sack. She added a sack of sugar and salt. She would put the ears of corn that Margareatha picked in there. She added a flint box and turned to Auggie. Poor baby, his diaper was full.
She grabbed the basin, rag, and cloths to change him. She dug the cornstarch sack out, wiped and washed him, and quickly sprinkled his pink little bottom. At least this baby didn’t have the two hearts and there were no gold circles around his eyes. He was a normal baby like Daniel and they would grow into normal men. What was she going to do about Lorenz? He was so smart, so quick, and he could use his mind on people just like her husband. She did not let Mr. Lawrence into her mind. She could stop him. He had tried it when she first told him she was pregnant. She became so angry that the force of it threw him out. She learned to set her mind and he was blocked.
Outside a whoop cut through her thoughts and she snapped the last diaper pin into place and put Auggie back into the crib. Auggie promptly resumed his screams.
His screams were covered by the whooping going on outside and the whinny of a horse. Anna ran for the front door ready to face whatever was out there and yet she knew.
She looked upwards over the door to two empty gun racks and knew it was futile. Mr. Lawrence had taken both the rifle and the shotgun. She grabbed the broom set by the door and rushed out. Three Comanche warriors sat there looking at the small ranch house and buildings. It was as if they knew there was no one inside but a woman. Comanche women didn’t fight. They were trained to grab their children and then run and hide.
As Anna ran out the door one of the men slid down from his horse and started up the one step onto the porch. She was holding the bottom end of the broom and swung the hard hickory shaft against his knees. They had not expected her to fight; nor had they expected a woman taller than they were. The man’s knees buckled and he went down. Anna swung the broom again with all her strength and smashed it into his head. Her next blow was straight down into the ribs and she heard one crack. She whirled to face the next man coming towards her.
The first man’s horse had reared and fled towards the cornfield. It wanted no part of the flailing broom. The horse next to it began to rear and back away, but his rider had it back under control. He was grinning as though this were some sort of fluke; a woman downing a Comanche warrior. The other man was up on the porch. He was watching her, waiting for her to swing the broom again. Anna realized he was waiting to catch it, sure that his masculine strength was more than hers.
She edged to the side. Perhaps she could draw them away from the house. Her teeth were set, the lips drawn tight. She would stop them somehow and she started to swing and then hurriedly pulled the broom handle back. The Comanche grabbed air and she swung the broom into his arm, side-stepped, and slammed the hickory handle into the man’s head. He went down to his knees.
The other Comanche stepped out of the house carrying the squalling Auggie by one heel, swinging him back and forth. Anna’s mouth dropped and her eyes widened. The man looked ready to bash Auggie’s head into the doorframe. All the while he was looking at her, his head cocked to one side.
Anna dropped the broom and held out her arms for her baby. The Comanche stepped up to her and started to let Auggie drop. She grabbed him and held him tight. The other one had risen and approached with a knife, but the man that had held Auggie shook his head and said something in their language. He directed the man to go inside. He motioned Anna to walk over to the other one. He nudged him with one foot. To Anna his words had no meaning.
The one with the broken rib pulled himself up and looked for his horse. It was gone. His voice rose in anger. The one in charge said something to him. Anna was able to understand the contempt in his voice. There was no pity for a warrior bested by a woman.
She saw movement coming from the field. Was Mr. Lawrence coming to rescue them? And her heart sank. It was two more Comanche warriors and Daniel was riding in front of one.
Find out more about Mari Collier and her Sci-Fi trilogy