Sometimes an author gets bogged down in editing, revising and reediting that his mind get cluttered. When this happens, the options are one, go crazy, or two, write something else. Well I haven’t gone crazy. At least some people don’t think so. In one of my near catatonic states, I came up with the concept of what turned out to be entitled, “The Captive,” a novella of just under 12000 words.
“The Captive” is the story of the red headed Bridget O’Keefe, a twelve year old Irish immigrant, the daughter of Irish immigrant farmers, captured in an Indian raid on her family’s farm. A raid which saw her father savagely scalped and butchered and her mother abused, before being butchered. In hiding, Bridget is discovered by Running Bear. He binds her hands behind her and throws her across his horse’s back. As he rides off, the last thing Bridget sees is her house in flames; the flames that became her parent’s funeral pyre.
Bridget is carried into captivity and slavery by Running Bear, abused and beaten by his two wives. She is forced to do every menial tasks Running Bear’s wives demand of her. She sleeps in the teepee of Running Bear’s two wives, both of whom hate her. Bridget’s life in the Lakota Sioux village is one of pain, torture and abuse.
Tom Roberts, a winter trapper and a farmer the rest of the year hears the story of the captured red haired woman. Tom discovers woman, now sixteen years old, in Running Bear’s village and he agrees to buy the woman from Running Bear. Tom returns with the agreed upon price and he and the red haired woman leave for his farm in the Dakota Territory.
Four years of captivity for the now sixteen year old girl left deep, indelible scars on her psyche as well as her body. The only people she truly trusted, per parents, were murdered by the people who took her captive. Now she trusts no one. She finds herself alone in a hostile and life threatening existence with no friends and a village of strangers who would rather see her dead. Even at twelve years old she knew the only person she could trust was herself provided, she could stay alive. Even at her tender age she knew the only way she had any chance of staying alive was to do everything anyone demanded of her.
After all years of the being forced to do whatever she had to do to survive, Tom has the inevitable task of convincing Bridget to trust him; not an easy task for a young girl who trusts nobody. Tom had to find a way to get the abused teenager to trust him not to cause her more pain.
Bridget lives with Tom as cousins for six years. Part of the time disguised as her brother, Breandan, before nature developed Bridget’s feminine figure. They come up with a ruse where Breandan goes back to Ireland and his sister, Bridget, comes to America.
As the years passed, Bridget’s trust grows but Tom realizes Bridget feels she’s still unworthy of finding true happiness. With Tom’s patients and Bridget’s finally coming to grips with her past in the reality of her only two options at the time, life or death; She chose life at whatever the cost.
Over the years of their living together not as lovers, but as friends, Bridget realized she had worth to someone, to Tom Roberts. That she was somebody who wanted more from her new life.