I will return to you, my love…
Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.
Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest. But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away. Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane. However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another. And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.
But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son. Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?
Warning: Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
Late Summer 1888
That man had stolen his bride and his newborn son.
Slipping down from his Cayuse pony, Iron Wolf squatted over the ground to examine the place where his father-in-law’s iron horse had recently been located. Was it only yesterday that he had visited his bride, Jane, and his newborn son, here? But, the entire train, or iron horse—which consisted of only five cars—was gone. How long ago had it left?
He could see no trace of it in the distance.
Had Jane wished to go?
Never. He knew her heart.
Admittedly, his father-in-law had shown, in words and in his actions, that he disapproved of his youngest daughter’s marriage to an Assiniboine Indian. But to take her away like a dog in the night…
Was this action supposed to teach him that Jane didn’t wish to remain married to him? To throw him away?
It did the opposite. He knew his wife loved him, and that, were she able, she would never allow this. But, she had only recently given birth and was now bedridden. She had obviously been unable to stop her own father.
Further, did his father-in-law wish to paint him, Iron Wolf, in a bad way? As though to say to Jane that her new partner could not protect and take care of her? And, experienced though he was in the ancient practice of scouting, if he couldn’t catch up to that iron horse and steal her back, would Jane’s military father tell her even more lies? Might he say to her that her newly wedded partner didn’t care? Or worse, that he was too stupid to find them?
Of course his new father-in-law intended to do this and more were he able. Nevertheless he, Iron Wolf, would trail the iron horse; he would find them. And, even though he felt despair in his heart, he would do it.
To another it might appear an easy task—at least at first. But Iron Wolf knew that intertwining tracks from other trains might cause him unusual delays. Thus, he decided he had better quicken his pace and begin his work at once.
With the ease of one who is familiar with the skill of scouting, tracking and riding, Iron Wolf jumped up, landing on his pony’s back, and, directing his faithful animal to follow the tracks, he set out to overtake the train before it intersected with tracks from other trains.
“My darling, Jane,” murmured Jane’s father, General Glenforest. “Forgive me if I am staring at you as though seeing you for the first time. You look so much like your beautiful mother, who has been gone from us all these years. Sometimes when I look at you, I see her, for she was a beautiful woman, with blond hair the same color as your own.”
“Thank you, Daddy,” whispered Jane, placing her hand within her father’s. As she lay in bed, she turned her head to smile at her newborn son, who was in her arms. “I am indebted to you for allowing me the use of your sleeping car. I am awaiting Iron Wolf to finish his performance with the show and to come here tonight. Have you seen him?”
“I have not.”
“Well, no matter. I know that as soon as he is finished, he will come to me.” She placed her finger against the baby’s hand, and his tiny fingers closed around it. She smiled. “He is perfect, is he not? We have yet to name him. But we have time. Did you know that it is not always a custom within Iron Wolf’s culture to select a name for the baby at birth? But, our baby will have a name soon. Are you sure you haven’t seen my husband yet?”
“I have not. Now, Janie, I know of no other way to tell you this except to come out with it bluntly. I do not mean for your marriage to Iron Wolf to last.”
“I know that,” she said, and, turning slightly, she smiled up at her father. “Yet, it will. Wait and see.”
“Janie, I don’t think you understand me. I am saying that the marriage won’t last because I am taking you and the baby away from that man.”
“Oh, Daddy, please.” Jane frowned up at her father.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said. “There is trouble here at Bill Cody’s show, and you and your sister barely escaped with your lives only a few days ago. No, until I discover the source of the danger, you are coming with me.”
“There is no need for that, Father. Iron Wolf will protect me and our baby.”
“I disagree with you. But, regardless, you are still my daughter, and, because you are not yet of age to marry without your family’s permission, I intend to take you away from here, out of the line of fire.”
“Father! Don’t tell me that. Besides, what you say isn’t true. Luci approved of my marriage, and, since she is my sister, I did have permission. After all, you weren’t here.”
“I am the head of our family, Jane, and I am here now. It doesn’t matter to me if she gave her blessing to your marriage or not.”
Jane glared up at her father.
“I don’t think you yet understand, so let me be clear,” said General Glenforest. “I am taking you far away from here. We will be leaving the States. You may or may not remember that I have a half-sister in England, and I am certain that she will be able to take you and the babe into her care until this danger passes.”
Perhaps it was due to so recently having given birth, but Jane was having a difficult time understanding her father’s logic, so she asked, “And Iron Wolf? He is coming, too, isn’t he? He is my husband.”
“That he may be, but he is not coming. I will say this only once, so please listen. Iron Wolf is not this child’s biological father. He is Indian, and, because he is Indian, he does not deserve to be married to you.”
“That’s not true, Father. Do you not know that without Iron Wolf, my babe would have been born outside of marriage? But, even aside from that, without Iron Wolf, I would now be dead, for he defended me against that kidnapper who was aiming a gun at me and my baby.”
General Glenforest grunted before stating, “That may be. But Mr. Iron Wolf is still not coming with us.”
Jane bit her lip, trying to recall the exact phrases she had so often uttered in the past to cause her father to capitulate to her wishes. Yet, she couldn’t remember even one of those expressions, so she reverted to defiance and said, “If Iron Wolf doesn’t come with us, then I will not go with you, either. He is my husband. I love him, and I will stay here. I refuse to leave.”
“You already have.”
“Do you think that the sway of the train is due to the wind? It is not. We are already well on our way.”
“What? Where are you taking me?”
“To New York Harbor, where we will set sail across the great Atlantic Ocean.”
“Well, I guess you’ll be going alone, because I won’t go. Somehow, in some manner, I will find a way to leave you and return to my husband.”
“You have no choice, Jane. I am your father and you are underage. Besides, I promise that if you don’t go with me, I will ensure that your ‘husband’ is arrested by the police. It is a crime for him to be off the reservation.”
“He has a letter from Buffalo Bill.”
“Yes, he may have that, but my authority extends far beyond Bill Cody’s interests, and I can assure you that if I wish to do it, your Mr. Wolf can and will be arrested and will be sent back to the reservation.”
“No!” How could this be happening to her so soon after giving birth? She loved Iron Wolf with all her heart; however, she also loved her father. Suddenly, the elation she’d felt since giving birth dimmed.
Tears were already blurring her vision, yet, with a force of will, she determined that she would not let her father see her cry. So it was with a shaky voice, she muttered, “Father, how can you do this to me? You may think you are hurting Iron Wolf, alone, but you forget that I love him dearly. Please, Daddy, don’t do this.”
To his credit, her father hesitated, but then said, “How can you know that you love him? You are only fifteen, which is much too young to know your heart.”
“I am sixteen.”
“Are you now? That’s right, I missed your birthday while I was gone. But, Jane, sixteen is still very young. I am certain that given time, you will forget him, and that you will come to think of this as a bad time in your life.”
“No, Father, you are wrong. It is not a bad time in my life and I won’t forget him; I will remember always that when I was destitute, Iron Wolf rescued me, and, when I had no one who seemed to care about me, he came to me.”
“Any young man worth his weight would have done that.”
“That’s not true. There were…are many young men with the show, but none of them gave me so much as a second glance. No one. Don’t do this, Father, for Iron Wolf is an honorable man.”
Her father rubbed her hand. “You are young, Jane. Too young to know your own mind. There will be others you will love. You’ll see. Know this, you will come with me. This is an order, for I must ensure your safety and that of your baby. And, you will adhere to my wishes.”
Jane withdrew her hand from her father’s and looked away from him as she requested, “If that is so, then at least bring me pen and paper, so that I might leave a note for Iron Wolf, and please, before you go, help me to sit up that I might write it.”
Her father nodded and assisted her into a seated position.
Once properly situated, Jane demanded, “You will ensure that this note is delivered to Iron Wolf.” It was not a question. “You must promise this to me, for I no longer trust you, Father.”
Her father paused momentarily, then held up his hands in surrender. But, before he stood to his feet, he said, “I do what I do for the best. I think once you are away from here, you will understand that.”
Tears were pooling in Jane’s eyes, but she refused to shed them in her father’s presence. “I will never understand it, Father. Now, please bring me pen and paper.”
He nodded and bent to kiss her forehead, but Jane scooted out of his reach, turning her face away from him. She did, however, watch him leave the “room,” listening to the loud clang of the train-door banging shut.
She stared at the closed door long after her father had left. From deep inside, she found a thread of courage and determined that she would not cry until she had written the note. Later, out of her father’s presence, she would give in to her grief. But not now.
Whispering to herself, for she wished no one else to hear, she murmured, “I will return to you, Iron Wolf, my love. I did not use you as you may come to think I did. Truly, I love you, and I promise you this—I will return.”
Iron Wolf at last admitted that he had failed. There were so many train tracks intersecting each other. For two days he had followed several different tracks, only to realize that none of them was the one that the general had used.
It had been a long time coming, but he realized now that what he was doing wasn’t producing anything except frustration. But what could he do?
Asking that question caused him to look inward, giving him a possible answer: he had been so focused on his lack of experience with the white man’s iron horse, their tracks and the busy vibration waves of cities, that he had forgotten that a scout has many avenues of communication, and that speaking was only one of those. Taking the buckskin reins of his pony in hand, he led it to a patch of ground where lush grasses grew, and, letting the animal feast upon the treat, Iron Wolf sat down, cross-legged.
Closing his eyes, he let his focus expand outward in the way of the ancient scouts. He searched for her, silently seeking her in the spiritual realm.
“Is that you, Iron Wolf?” she asked in a form of communication without words.
“It is I. I look for you. Where are you?”
“New York Harbor. My father is taking me and our son to a ship which is to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Where is this harbor?”
He saw a picture of the place in her mind’s “eye.” He knew this harbor, for he had sailed into it only months ago, he being part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. But where was it from here?
She continued, using only thought, “It is on the Hudson River, where it empties into New York Bay. We leave in the morning.”
“I will come to you. Look for me. Keep me in your thoughts so I might more easily find you.”
That ended their unspoken communication. He would go there at once.
People rushed by him without looking at him, and the noise on the street confused him. Above him were wires crisscrossing the street, and, on the street where he trod, vendors sold their wares, their barking voices drowning out any other sound. These merchant wagons were everywhere, littering the street and causing jams, as a multitude of humanity rushed furiously around the obstacles. The speed in this town was dizzying to Iron Wolf, but each lackluster face he saw was even more troubling. These people noticed nothing, not even the wealth of the kinship of other living beings around them; they seemed unaware that we are all of one family. Áwicakeya, each person he looked at appeared to be enchanted, as though held by some evil force.
Buildings rose up on each side of the street, pushing in upon him, and, with the structures reaching up higher than the tallest tepee, Iron Wolf felt closed-in. Everywhere, and on every street corner, resided children of various ages; they were hungry, they looked tired and they acted as though they had no one in the world who loved them or cared for them.
He had seen faces like these on the streets in England, where children shivered in the cold and starved because of lack of food and the means to procure it. Unfortunately, the plight of these youngsters before him now looked all too similar to those in England. What was wrong with the white man’s cities that they pushed their youth out onto the streets to fight with each other over crumbs of bread?
And, while these infants were clearly weak from the abuse of hunger, there were numerous men and women who passed by the youngsters as though these juvenile, dirty faces didn’t exist. Worse, Iron Wolf had already seen these wealthy men and women parading their well-fed dogs and other pets through the streets of this city.
These men, he thought, might be rich in material goods, but they were vacant incompassion. Such cruelty to the young was unknown to Iron Wolf and his people. In an Assiniboine village, children were treated as though each child were the kin of all the people.
Looking at these youngsters in this city of New York, he lost his heart to them. But, though he wished to, he dared not stop to give them aid; not this morning. His mission was to rescue his bride and bring her home—to his lodge within the Wild West Show.
He glanced around. Where was New York Harbor from here? The noise and confusion was so great that he could not determine which way would lead him to the harbor and to her ship. She had said that they were to set sail this morning. Was he too late?
He attempted to ask one man for help, but that man rushed on by without speaking. Iron Wolf tried again. Surely someone would help point him in the right direction. But, it was not to be.
At last, he saw a boy who was perhaps seven years old; he was sitting alone upon a street corner. He didn’t appear to be in the good graces of the other boys who were either fighting amongst themselves or were shouting out words like…- “Extra. Extra. Read all about it. Get your paper here.”
Leading his pony by his buckskin reins and ignoring the other boys, Iron Wolf approached the small lad, and, squatting down beside the child, asked, “Can you tell me how I might find New York Harbor?”
The young boy looked up; his eyes widened, as though in fear. Iron Wolf understood, for he was dressed in his Indian garb, complete with quiver, bow and arrows.
Iron Wolf said, “I mean you no harm. I am trying to find New York Harbor.”
“Gee, mister, are you a real Indian?”
“I am. Will you help me? Do you know the way to New York Harbor?”
“Sure, mister. Can you read street signs?”
“Okay. Go up that way…,” He pointed, “…About two blocks. Golly, do you know what a block is?”
“Good. Turn left and go straight about 10 or more blocks. Once you get to the water, turn right. You’ll see it then. Lots of ships there.”
“I thank you.” Reaching up behind him, Iron Wolf removed one of the eagle feathers that he wore in his hair. He handed it to the youngster, saying, “This is the feather of an eagle. The eagle is sacred to my people, the Assiniboine, for it is told to us that the eagle saved our world long ago. This feather…it is now yours.”
The boy stretched out a hand to accept the gift. He smiled. “Thank you, mister. What tribe did you say you were from?”
“Gee, I wonder if anyone will believe that I talked to a real Indian?”
Iron Wolf grinned back at the boy, then said, “The eagle feather might cause others to think you speak the truth. May the Creator watch over you and help you.”
Rising up to his full stature, Iron Wolf took his leave and trod in the direction the boy had pointed out. It was good, because, following those simple directions, it wasn’t long before he spotted the ships. Still leading his pony, he broke into a trot, expanding his awareness outwardly to find her. Which ship was hers?
“Where are you?” he asked without words.
“I am here, in the harbor.”
He saw in his mind’s eye her location.
“But hurry, Iron Wolf,” she entreated. “Our ship is starting to pull out of port.”
Running forward, his progress was hampered by the longshoremen who worked at the port. Wood, boards, and machines stood in his way, causing him to side-step them, his pony following his lead.
Iron Wolf beheld the one ship that was only now starting to draw away from its dock. He quickened his pace, racing forward. Could he jump the short distance to the vessel and pull himself up to its deck? Yes, he could and he would.
Looking outward, he saw that many boards were piled up next to the ship’s dock and that they formed a slight rise. Enough to give him speed and leverage. Iron Wolf raced toward that place, pausing only to ask one of those strange and burly longshoremen to hold his pony.
“Iron Wolf!” He heard Jane’s shouted words over the noise around him. “Hurry, Iron Wolf! Please! We are leaving!”
He looked up and beheld his bride with their baby in her arms. He saw her give their son to her father to hold, for the general was standing at her side. She leaned over the railing and shouted, “Hurry!”
That was all the incentive he needed to spur him on, and, speeding toward the tall pile of boards, Iron Wolf ran up it and took a flying leap toward the ship, his arms stretched outward, his legs moving as though they would help him to fly. For a moment, he felt as though he were a bird.
He was going to make it!
He reached out toward the ship’s railing. He was there. His fingers touched the railing’s wooden frame. His fingernails scratched it.
But, there was little to no grip for him to hold onto. With arms and feet outstretched and shuffling about to give him momentum, he bent forward, seeking a place to grab hold of.
But it was not to be. The ship moved away slightly, and, as it did so, Iron Wolf slipped down, the railing now out of his grasp.
He fell down with a loud splash into the water, and, within only a few minutes, a small boat approached him, several men there reaching out to pull him up into the boat. A blanket was produced by one of those men, who set it around Iron Wolf’s shoulders.
“That was quite a leap, young man,” observed an older gentleman, one of the longshoremen. “Never seen anything like it. Wish you had made it.”
Tears stung Iron Wolf’s eyes. He had been so close to rescuing her. And now she was gone. He couldn’t even see her anymore, although he did believe he heard her wails over the sound of the waves.
As he watched the ship gradually fade into the distance, his voice was shaky as he answered the older man, saying, “I wish, also, that I had ‘made it.’”
The man patted him on the shoulder. “She’ll never forget ‘ya. Your attempt today will remain within her heart forever. Now, come on, young fella, let’s get to shore, and, if’n you’ll let me, I’ll buy ‘ya a cup of coffee.”
Iron Wolf nodded. It was all he could do, for words failed him. She was gone.