After dinner and after sundown, Lana told Liam that she had a headache from all the noise throughout the day and that she wanted to turn in early.“I understand,” Liam sympathized. “I’ll try and be quiet so you can rest.”“Is that game still going?”
“Yeah. The one from last night.”
“It’s still going. Why?”
“You could go there for a while until you’re ready to turn in. It would certainly be less boring than sitting here being quiet.”
“You wouldn’t mind?” he asked, surprised.
“Not tonight. Really.”
“All right. I’ll only lose ten dollars. Tops. I promise.” He smiled when she smiled at that. Perhaps, after tomorrow, after Two Hawks was ‘gone,’ things would ease up between them. Kissing her once quickly, he grabbed his money and headed to the game. Lana blew out the lamps, plunging the house in darkness, and walked to the front window, watching Liam cross the compound. When he was inside his friend’s quarters, she put her plan into action.
After changing quickly into her nightgown, she twisted her hair up into a high bun. Next, she pulled on Liam’s uniform shirt and trousers over her gown, and then she put on his cap. Making sure the bed covers were turned down, she took the key to the stockade off his key ring. She raised the back window and carefully looked around. To her relief, no one was in sight. She climbed through the window and pulled it almost closed before she checked again for the sentry. One had just reached a far building and was turning the corner. Scurrying behind Officers’ Quarters, Lana ran from shadow to shadow until she made her way to the back of the stockade, where she knelt, watching again for the sentries.
Still kneeling in the shadows, she spoke in Kiowa in a low voice. “Two Hawks?”
“Two Hawks? It’s me.”
“Water Woman?” he whispered back.
“I’m here to get you out.”
“All right. How?”
“I have a key to unlock the door. You unlock it and give me back the key. Wait for a little while before you escape so that I have time to get back home.”
“I unlock the door. Give you the key and wait.”
Hearing a soft noise, he looked at the bars and saw her hand waving a large key. He took it from her. “Do you have horses?” he asked.
“No. You’ll have to steal some.”
“Also,” she continued, “leave this nail on the floor by the door when you go.”
“A nail? Why?”
“There’s no time to explain. Just do it.”
“All right.” Two Hawks reached out a second time and took the bent nail. With the key and nail in his possession, he motioned to his band to be still. Going to the stockade door, he checked for guards. One stood at the other end of the stockade with his back to them. Two Hawks slipped his hand through the bars, quietly unlocked the door and then placed the nail just inside. When he came back to Lana, he simply dropped the key to the ground beside her.
She had planned to leave quickly, but couldn’t go without seeing him. Checking over her shoulder for the sentry and seeing none, she stood up. Two Hawks stood just inches away, his strong face in shadow.
“I love you, Water Woman.” His hand reached through the bars to caress her face.
“Still? After all that I’ve done?” She held his hand against her cheek.
“I love you so much — but I have to stay with my husband.”
She couldn’t risk staying any longer. “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, my heart.”
He watched her slip away, wishing he could take her with him. It wouldn’t be just his escape. It would be theirs. Even though she hadn’t said, he knew she was in her own prison — a prison without bars. All those dreams of her crying in the night had told him so.
Lana hurried home, slipped in through the back window and closed it like it had been before she left. Taking off Liam’s uniform, she carefully put it away, and put the key back on the ring. Her heart raced, her throat felt dry. She needed to look like she had been asleep. Unpinning her hair, she slipped into bed, willing herself to calm down as she mentally went over all of her steps. No, she hadn’t forgotten anything.
Several minutes later, an alarm sounded. Lana heard the sound of shots and of men yelling. “The prisoners are escaping! Stop them!”
Lana closed her eyes tightly, hoping Two Hawks wasn’t hurt. The sound of hooves thundering crossing the compound filled the night. Lana’s heart jumped to her throat. What had she done? Had she sent Two Hawks to his death tonight instead of in the morning?