by Hasan Fernandez
Rebecca Irving stood in awe at the Apache standing in front of her. His mane of feathers
which receded backward from his forehead and ended at his spine, gave him the formidable
look that all Apache warriors were required to have. His deep red complexion shone as he
began to speak of the right of the Apaches to stay on what she thought was rightfully owned
by her and her father. Until now she had only seen paintings of the Apache Indians and now
that she was face to face with one, she felt a deep respect for this Native Indian. He stood five
feet and nine inches tall, and was dressed in his traditional costume. His brown eyes gleamed
a little as he confronted this plantation mistress about land rights. He seemed somewhat
amused and yet impressed at her great capacity to argue her point without using abusive
'Sir,' said Rebecca, 'We have bought this land legally.'
'I am sorry, but we cannot move from this land. It belongs to our nation, and cannot be taken
'But the American Government has allowed us to buy this land.'
'The same government plunders our land, our soil, and persecutes our people.'
'I am sorry to hear that.'
'This was a peaceful and fertile land until the colonists came, and now we are being driven
out of our own land.'
'We had no intention of causing such suffering.' Rebecca's mood now became low.
'With the colonists, we have nothing but suffering.'
'My family can always give you compensation,' replied Rebecca in a mournful voice.
'My family, my people will stay on this land.'
Rebecca became silent for a while. The young Apache stood still and somber. Around them
were the homes of the Apache Indians. The tents reached high into the air, with some
slender poles visibly pointing upwards from the topmost part of the white tents. Here and
there some of the Indians were roasting buffalo meat on an open fire. Rebecca was
speechless but then she suggested a compromise with the Indians.
'Well, I guess you are very fond of the land here. How would the idea of being our farm
laborers, paid of course, appeal to you? Then you could still live on the land.'
'I shall have to discuss that with the elders.'
'That is so good of you. I will for my part discuss the proposition I made just now with my
father. I much admire your resilience.'
'Your golden hair and green eyes make that compliment very welcome.'
'Thank you.' she smiled blushing all the while and then took her leave by shaking his hand
Sam Irving stood at the fireplace waiting for Rebecca to arrive at the family mansion in their
large farm in New Mexico. He was warming his hands, rubbing them as if he were very
happy about some accomplishment. He looked forward indeed to some good news from his
daughter. She came about an hour later than she had promised.
'Where have you been?' he asked her happily. 'I was waiting for such a long time.'
'Sorry papa,' she replied, caressing him warmly. 'The Indians would not agree to leaving our
'So did you warn them about eviction?' he said with a gesture of conspiracy with his
'No. Papa, really.'
'Well, what did you say?'
'I offered them a chance of employment in our farm.'
'What?' shouted Sam, turning crimson with anger. 'Are you out of your mind?'
'But papa, he was so well spoken.'
'Who was well spoken?'
'Their leader or perhaps their spokesman.'
'And I suppose you fell in love with him.'
'I just thought he was not being aggressive or threatening. In fact he was very polite.'
'Rebecca,' said Sam, pinching the top of his nose and closing his eyes for a few seconds.
'These red Indians will charge exorbitant amounts for their labor.'
'You mean the Native Indians will overcharge for their work.'
'I am buying some slaves. That should solve the wage problem.'
'Oh no, Papa. Please let’s not have slave labor. Please. I do not want our reputation to be
'We cannot afford Native Indian labor.'
'Papa, whatever you do, do not recruit slaves instead of paid labor. It will be the ruin of me. I
will not want to live.'
'Stop being a child. All plantation owners have slave labor.'
Rebecca was now on the verge of tears. Her eyes were now red with anger and depression.
'Why can't we set an initiative? Why can't we be the first to show that free labor is worth the
'Go to your room. Now. I am sending orders to have the Indians evicted.' Sam's voice could
be heard bellowing throughout their family home.'
Tomahawk was about to mount on his steed, when Rebecca came hurrying up to him. Her
hair was a mess and she was panting with exhaustion. She dismounted from her horse and
spoke in a hurry: 'Young sir, beware. My father is about to evict all Indians from this
'You are very polite with your terms of address. Please feel welcome to call me Tomahawk.'
'Can I call you Tom?' she said nervously.
'I suppose so. You were saying about eviction.'
'Yes, it’s my father. I rose the question of employment for the Indians on this plantation. He
went wild with anger.'
'That’s not new. The colonist has always been evicting us from our own land.'
'But Tom. I never thought my dad would try to employ slave labor instead.'
'Thank you for your warning. You are very kind lady, though I have yet to know you.'
'My name is Rebecca. I do so wish I could find you other places to work.'
'Lady Rebecca. I have never met a plantation mistress think so kindly of us as you.'
Tomahawk said this without a smile.
'Please stay.' murmured Rebecca. 'Please' she gasped as she spoke.
'Let us not get emotional about this. I am sure we will meet again.'
'I will miss you, Tom. I will miss you.'
'You seem a very emotional and affectionate person, I must say.'
'if only you knew what goes on in my parents minds.'
Tom took her hand and kissed it. 'Do not worry. We will all leave very quickly. However we
shall meet again, you and I.'
Rebecca stood still and her eyes became wet with sorrow. 'God curse the people that invented
'So right you are, Lady Rebecca.'
Her fingers reached out for his lips. 'Do not call me Lady. Just Rebecca will do'
'I salute you.' he replied smiling, and then he and all the Indians who had lived on the land
that became a plantation mounted their horses and rode away into the sunset.
Sam Irving could not believe his ears when Rebecca had told him about the departure of the
Indians from the land he had bought at a trivial price. His eyes lit up ready to shout but
suddenly they turned to eyes that rolled with glee. He suggested a party to celebrate his
victory but Rebecca would hear none of any celebrations.
'They have been forced to leave their own soil.'
'So what? I bought it and that is all there is to it.' Sam lifted his hands in amusement.
'Where will they go? What will they do without their land?'
'Oh they can just hunt, like savages,' Sam replied and burst out laughing.
'I cannot believe I hear this from a man who is my father.' Rebecca replied with a mournful
'Rebecca, do not be rude to your father,' said Beryl Irving, looking at her daughter from the
top of her spectacles.
'I cannot stay here anymore. I cannot stand it anymore.'
'Where will you go? What will you do?' Sam raised his eyebrows as he spoke and laughed.
'I am going to Virginia, maybe.'
'Now, now,' said Sam in a patronizing fashion. 'Why not work here and manage the estate
'On one condition.'
'Now what's that my baby girl? What condition?'
'That Tomahawk be called back to this plantation and be asked to work as carpenter or horse
'Why? Don't I fit the role of horse trainer?' said Sam attempting to secure a laugh from his
'Father, do not be like that. I want Tomahawk to have a job of his own choice here on this
'His own choice. His own choice. Certainly not. He can come back but only as a carpenter.
And boy, will I make him work.'
Rebecca did not reply but stood in front of him waiting for a change of heart. However Sam
went on to ask: 'Are we agreed?' and he did so in a loud and grating tone.
'Agreed.' said Rebecca quietly and went to her room where she spent the rest of the day in
very low spirits.
Sam looked at his daughter leave his room and when she was out of his room, he threw a
bottle of brandy with great anger at a wall nearby.
Rebecca went on a short expedition to trace Tomahawk and persuade him to return as an
employee on her father’s plantation. The climb up to the top where she found him with a
group of his relatives and friends was steep and arduous. Still she showed no signs of fatigue
due to her rigid determination to have 'Tom' as she called him, back to her estate.
'Won't you come back to our estate?' she begged him imploringly.
'It is no longer my land.' replied Tomahawk.
'We will give you employment, Tom.'
'So happy you remember my name. But no thank you.'
'I bet you remember my name. Why not come back. Please.'
'I am dubious as to your father's motives.'
'Don't worry about him. He will not be present most of the time.'
'I rather hunt deer.'
'I will let you do that as well.'
He kissed her hand. 'There are very few like you, Rebecca.'
'So you will come?'
'What employment for me do you have in mind?'
'My father wants you to do carpentry.'
'It is agreed. I come with you now?'
'Yes. I will be most honored.'
Tomahawk mounted his horse and they bid farewell to his relatives and friends. They
reached the plantation the same night. Rebecca showed him to his room where he would stay
while working on the farm. It was a large cubicle of a room with a bathroom and other
facilities adjoining it. His room had a view of the plantation through his front window and
the walls had a pleasant light green color. The ceiling was well lit with a chandelier.
Yet in spite of this luxurious room Tomahawk felt homesick within a day or so for his own
Indian dwelling. He began work amid a lot of noise and the sounds of trotting horses. By the
end of his first day of work, he went to bed a tired and disillusioned man. Rebecca inquired
about Tom the next day.
'He wishes to see you missus.' said Josie who was one of her maids.
'Is he well.?'
'I can't say. You better ask him directly missus.'
'This is a trap for me to live here.' Tomahawk said when Rebecca entered his room.
'Please don't be like that. I am not trying to trap you. I just admire you enough to have you
stay on our plantation.'
'I do not admire the noise,' he replied.
'Perhaps you have been in the country too long. It is busy on this estate.'
'What is that meant to suggest?”
'It was not meant to suggest any thing rude.'
'Is it always noisy every single day.?'
'No. It just varies.'
'I will take your word for it.'
That same day, a group of Apache Indians attacked the estate with their bows and arrows.
One arrow narrowly missed Sam Irving, though the shock was enough to send him shouting
and cursing back indoors, after overseeing the slaves on his plantation. Tomahawk had not
seen the raid but could hear the screams and shouts from some of the farm workers as well
as the battle cries of his brethren. Again he longed for his own home among his fellow
Once back indoors, Sam yelled at all three of his maids, and they all trembled in fear of the
worst punishment, for they were used to being punished for trivial reasons by both Beryl and
Sam Irving. Bess came running to Sam and stood shivering in terror at what her master may
say or do.
'Don't just stand there you slime,' Sam shouted at her, 'Where is that Indian who is supposed
to work for us.'
'Who is that, Massa Sam? If it is Tomahawk you mean, he works very hard.'
'Don't talk back at me,' Sam sneered at her and slapped her face hard.
'Sorry, master. Sorry.'
'I said. Where is that Red Indian?'
'He is back at work sir. Shall I call him?'
Sam grabbed her collar and shook her whole frame. 'Next time you do as I tell you and don't
ever talk smart with me you understand?'
'Yes, sir. Yes sir. Please let me call him. I am hurting.'
'Maybe I don't hurt you enough,' screamed her master and almost threw her to the front
Sam decided that Tomahawk should chop some wood for him throughout the evening. He
rapped hard on Tomahawk's door.
'Come on out and do some work.' Sam spoke like a growling lion.
'I am most ready, sir. No need to be so aggressive about it.'
'Spare me your courtesy,' was the reply that came more like a hiss.
'What do you want me to do?'
'Chop some wood. It is cold.'
'It is the summer.'
'Don't argue with me,' Sam pointed accusingly at Tomahawk.
'Ready when you are.'
Tomahawk went to the timber shed with Sam and on the way there the maids all hung their
heads in fear of making things worse for Tomahawk. They dared not to look at Sam either for
fear of receiving his anger. As soon as they were in the shed, Sam shook his whip he had
brought with him in order to intimidate Tomahawk. He continued to shake his whip really
hard every time Tomahawk cut a log of wood. This continued for hours until Sam felt a pain
in his head and arm. Sam rested his hand and stopped shaking his whip, at which point
Tomahawk stopped cutting wood.
'Enough,' said Sam loudly, and then shouted 'Enough.'
'Do we have a break?'
'You bastard,' Sam lost his self control, 'You did that on purpose.'
'I was just cutting wood.'
'Don't lie to me.' Sam yelled and struck the whip at Tomahawk's face resulting in a cut on his
'You can see the wood I have cut for you.' Tomahawk pointed to the chopped wood.
Sam was panting with breath due to the intense anger in his heart. He was flushed red in the
face. 'Yes, I see. I am mad, I am mad because of you.'
'I only did as you asked.'
'Know something? I hate you. I really hate you.'
Rebecca rushed into the shed on hearing the argument. She looked at the deep cut on
Tomahawk's face. She put her hand against her mouth and cried.
'Why do you hate him so much? Why?' Rebecca shouted at Sam through her tears.
'I just do, I just hate him that is all.' Sam shouted back.
'He works for you. Is that not good enough for you?'
'No. No. No. I want them wiped out, wiped out you understand?'
'No I don't understand.' Rebecca shouted again, and the tears and saliva poured down her
face and chin, through pain and anger.
Sam answered this immediately with a frenzied series of whiplashes in Tomahawk's
direction, all the while screaming abuse. Rebecca pulled the Indian along with her out of the
shed and into his room. When she was in his room, he told her to rest and with a soft cloth,
dried her tears. She held him warmly in return, her tender body comforting him from the
pain of the injury caused by the whiplash.
They lay down together and for that night they slept holding each other in their arms. The
next morning she rose and left his room. As she looked back on him, she thought how
graceful his features were.
Brenda Irving greeted her daughter with contempt and wanted to know where she had been
that night. Rebecca did not answer for a while, and then with a deep breath, she said:
'Ma, I am going to marry Tom.'
'Oh you mean our neighbor's son. Congratulations, you are getting some sense after all in
your head. So you were with him last night.'
'No. I mean I am going to marry Tomahawk. The Indian who works for us.'
Brenda dropped her stitching work in shock. With a face ghost white in anger she screamed:
'Absolutely not. You will do no such thing.'
'I love him. I love Tomahawk.'
'I will not allow such a heathen to marry my daughter. Never.'
'I don't care if you allow us or not. I am going to marry him.'
'That Red Indian has upset your father so much. He is a pagan. Godless.'
'More than I can say for you both.'
'Enough. Go to your room.' Brenda stood shivering with anger.
'I wish I was never born.' Rebecca said loudly and rushed to her room. As soon as she
entered her own room, she had fits of crying along with angry thoughts about the whole
plantation. She decided to confront her father about her decision to marry her beloved Tom.
The next morning she approached her father with a proposition that she knew he would
refuse. She took a deep breath as she had done when asking her mother, and said:
'Father, I am going to marry Tomahawk.'
Sam did not even look at Rebecca. He continued to sit rigidly still and pursed his lips tight.
He was red in the face which indicated he had heard her, but refused even to whisper one
'Father, do you hear me? I am going to marry Tomahawk.'
There was no reply and the landowner sat stone still and silent. She tried again.
'Father, I am going to marry Tomahawk.'
She was becoming angry and began to breathe more quickly. She raised her voice and said:
'Father, I am marrying Tomahawk.'
'Go to hell and leave the plantation, then.' said Sam Irving eventually.
'Damn you and damn the plantation.' she said animatedly.
'Get out,' he spoke with a hiss. 'Get out of this estate.'
'To hell with your estate. Let it burn.'
'So what? I will buy more.'
'We will see.'
Rebecca ran to the plantation, and with a stick she lighted with a match, she set fire to all the
plants and the wooden sheds that were part of the Irving estate. Soon the fire grew bigger
and spread faster and faster. The maids went screaming out of their houses, and soon
Tomahawk noticed that Rebecca was lighting up the whole estate on fire.
'Please Rebecca, what are you up to for heaven’s sake.' said Tomahawk loudly.
'I hate this plantation. I hate it all.'
'Don't try to harm yourself.'
'I don't care.'
'But I care. I care for you.' And saying this he ran up to Rebecca and tried to stop her from
setting any more fires. But within minutes the whole plantation was in flames. The fire
spread from the crops to the sheds and soon reached the house at which point both Sam and
Brenda Irving came running out in panic.
In the chaos and confusion caused by the fire, Sam and Brenda had nonetheless succeeded in
grabbing all the jewelry and money they could get and they headed for the gates of the
estate, all the while sweating and panting with exhaustion. They were followed by their
maids who cried out for their help in escaping from the flames, but both Sam and Brenda
were immune to their cries and boarded their wagons in great haste. As Brenda closed the
door of the wagon, the maids begged to join them. Their clothes had caught fire and it was
with great difficulty that they had extinguished the small flames on their clothes without
being burned seriously.
'Please don't delay us, please go.' shouted Brenda Irving.
'Mistress, we have nowhere else to go.'
'That’s not our problem.'
'Please mistress.' As Josie stretched out her hand, the wagon carrying Sam and Brenda sped
off into the distance.
The distraught maids were left behind in a state of despair and hopelessness. They wandered
the fields of New Mexico until they found a resting place to recover their tired bodies and
burns on their skins.
Tomahawk and Rebecca had escaped the worst of the fire due to Tomahawk's diligence.
They had walked further away than they thought from the fire until they reached a meadow.
Here they rested for a while.
'You must control your anger, Rebecca,' said Tomahawk.
'I no longer need anger in my life, Tom.'
'That was a very drastic way to let out your anger surely.'
'But now I am with you, the plantation and all the rest of the world are insignificant.'
'We will have to work hard to rebuild our lives.'
'We will do it together won't we Tom?'
'I don't know.'
'Say we will be together always.' She looked deep into his brown eyes.
'I will have to ask my elders.'
'Do we really? What if they refuse to recognize our love?'
'Can you not trust our nation, our people?'
'Of course. I do.'
She beckoned him to get closer and they embraced each other warmly. Then after a rest and
some fruit from the trees, and some fish from the stream, they headed off to Tomahawk's
home and family.
Sam and Brenda Irving found their way to San Francisco where they used their rescued
money and jewelry to lure people into the night time vices of the city due to which the
problems of red light districts was intensified. They spent their last years as angry tramps
who frightened and upset everyone they met.
Their maids found employment with another landowner who was suspicious of Bess and
Josie at first but soon welcomed them as efficient workers in their kitchens.
Rebecca and Tomahawk could not marry each other because the elders of Tomahawk
advised him that although they fully respected his bond with Rebecca, the law of the land
was made and controlled by the colonizers and thus they allowed him to live with her like
husband and wife.