Chapter 1. Llano Estacado 1834
The two Comanche youths rode their ponies westward across the sea of grass known as the Llano Estacado, the Palisaded Plain for the steep escarpment that formed its northern boundary. Both rode bareback wearing only a brief buckskin loincloth and moccasins. Their clean limbs gripped the barrels of their mounts giving them a sureness in their seat that a rider used to a saddle could never equal. Comanches learn to ride even before they learn to walk.
Litanka was the leader of their expedition by virtue of being older by a year or so at eighteen. He had the reddish brown skin and dark hair done up in braids typical of the Southern Comanche. His companion was something else, short and slight of build, blond tresses long enough to reach past his shoulders but loose and blowing in the wind. In contrast with his companion's standard brown eyes, his own were a vivid shade of green. The youth's originally white skin was bronzed by years of exposure to the sun and the elements. Called Kitono or 'Sun-born' by the Comanche as a name close to his original English name of Kit, short for Christopher, he had been rescued from an ambushed wagon train years earlier.
They came upon a playa lake, a shallow seasonal rain-fed lake and watered their horses. Since it was so late the afternoon, the youths decided to make camp there. After hobbling their mounts the boys stripped off their loincloths and splashed in the shallow water, using sand to rub and wash their skin clean. The Comanche were a cleanly people, bathing more often than their white enemies, the 'smelly ones' as they called them.
"Are you sure your black stallion will still be there, Litanka?"
The older boy just laughed. "You ask me that every time we camp, my brother. All we can do is hope. You know how much this means to me."
Indeed, Kit knew that his older brother could never find the bride price for his intended from among his own small string of ordinary ponies. He had to bring the spectacular stallion to Monaki's father if he had any hope of impressing him. Since both boys were still un-blooded, they were usually not taken seriously by the tribal elders. The danger that the boys might run into hostile Kiowa would just add to their prestige if Litanka brought his prize back to the tribe's spring encampment.
Once they were clean the boys let themselves dry in the light wind, sitting close together talking about their hopes and dreams for the future. Of course they would be become warriors; that went without saying, but even youngsters like them knew that their way of life was under threat.
Things were changing on the southern Great Plains. White men's diseases had devastated the tribes a decade and a half earlier. The Spanish speakers in Mexico had declared their independence from distant Spain. Later the Mexicans had invited English speaking Americans to settle the land they called Tejas. That meant more cattle and horses on the range to steal in raids, but also more white men with guns. Meanwhile the American government had been removing eastern Indians along the infamous 'Trail of Tears' to the lands north of the Red River in what is today the state of Oklahoma.
"You really should braid your hair like a proper Comanche," complained Litanka once again. Kit just laughed.
"Now who is repeating himself! I like it loose, blown by the wind, a golden halo atop my head. You are just jealous that I am brother to the sun." he added loftily, though softening that with a grin.
The older lad reached out and tousled Kit's corn silk hair. Kit yanked on one of his braids. Soon the lads were rolling around laughing, halfway wrestling halfway just holding each other close, kissing and touching each other everywhere. Not just close friends and brothers by adoption, the two lads were lovers as well, a common and accepted practice among the tribes before a youth took a bride.
Litanka was dark and well built, without a scrap of extra flesh. An aquiline nose lent authority to his handsome features. He bore white scars on his right arm from when he had tangled with a half grown puma that had stalked a colt in his father's herd.
A few months short of seventeen, Kitono was a comely lad, short for his age and slender. He had a fawn-like physique but with a wiry musculature, toned and taut from hard living. He was pretty as a girl with delicate features, a straight nose, high cheekbones, and large green eyes with a blond thatch on top, now plastered to his head by his dip in the playa. He had virtually no hair on his body, just wisps under his arms and at the fork of his legs, with hardly a dusting on his lower legs and arms, and there were no signs that Kit would sprout a beard any time soon.
Litanka loved the way the setting sun painted his lover's skin reddish gold. Kit was such a beautiful boy, always cheerful and helpful, and so very complaisant as a lover, doing whatever was asked of him, however naughty.
The boys made love eagerly with the passion of extreme youth, their kisses and caresses growing ever more ardent. They rolled on their sides and pleasured each other's cock orally, hands roaming all over their rumps, touching, stroking, probing. They came quickly, tasting and swallowing each other's gism, then shifted to face each other once again.
Without words, they agreed to slow down a bit and make their pleasure last longer. Kit lay on his back, knees pulled back and heels in the air with the older lad between his legs. Kit usually bottomed for his brother who was well endowed and knew how to use his natural gifts to penetrate his younger sibling. To Kit it felt so good when Litonka thrust into him, impaling him, filling him up then stroking steadily in and out, arousing his passions higher and higher.
Kit gave himself to Litanka, letting the older youth play with him like a toy. Kit loved it when Litanka took charge of him, giving him orders, and pinching or smacking his butt to show his dominance. Kit was a sexual submissive who wanted and needed a stronger male to establish his ownership and control of his delectable body. Kit did not mind the mild humiliations or the good natured spankings his stronger and larger lover imposed on him. He accepted that as no more than his due, given their differences in age, size, strength and attitude.
Later the older male put Kit on all fours giving him total access to his young lover's delectable body. His hands roamed everywhere, tweaking nipples, fingering the chevrons of his ribs, stroking his taut buttocks. The older boy leaned forward and whispered endearments in Kit's ear as he pumped steadily, letting Kit stroke himself to keep pace. Kit's own member seemed spectrally white by comparison, but there was nothing insubstantial about it. As long erect as Kit could cover with both his small hands, it left no doubt as to his masculinity, delicate girlish features aside.
"Yes little one, work that cock of yours while I cover you like a stallion covers a filly. Let us enjoy our time together, my brother, till I marry. You are so lovely my Kit, actually prettier than any Indian girl in the tribe. I only wish I could marry you, but then you could not give me sons. Instead, give me now what you can, much pleasure, and I will do the same for you."
Kit did derive much pleasure from their lovemaking, maybe too much. The fact is that, for Kit, sexual activity with a young male was not a stop gap till marriage. He did not feel any attraction to females at all, only to males. He wanted to spend his entire life that way rather than start a family.
That was his existential problem. He was torn between his desires and the expectations of his people and his family. He had recently realized that he did not want to take up the life style of the typical Comanche: warrior, husband, father. Nor could he live the life of a berdache, the third gender role which Indian society provided for submissive, effeminate males who typically dressed in women's robes and stayed in the camp. He was a boy, not a girl in every way except one, and he liked adventure and hunting and raiding, though, in truth, he had been on only one raid so far and had not actually fought any Kiowa warriors. He was assertive enough in every way except sexually, so he did not fit the role of a berdache either. He certainly did not want to cover up in women's robes; he would much rather run around in a skimpy loincloth.
Well that made him doubly an outsider among the Comanche anyway. He was originally a white boy named Christopher Landy whose family were slain by a Kiowa raiding party eight years earlier. The hostiles had overlooked him because he had stepped away from their wagon into some brush by a stream to answer a call of nature. The raiders struck just as he dropped his trousers, and he had hidden till they had gone. When the Comanche showed up, attracted by the smoke from the burning wagons, he thought his life was over with. Instead the fierce Comanche warrior chief had brought the white boy back to their encampment.
The Comanche adopted Kit into the tribe after the usual cruel initiation period when the other boys had a chance to torment him and to test his mettle. For eight years he had thought himself a proper Comanche lad. Now he had his doubts about ever fitting in. Was there any place in this world for a sixteen year old boy who was half civilized and half savage, one who found no pleasure in the female of the species?
The next morning the pair of boys rode out heading steadily northwestward toward the valley of the Pecos River which flows for some nine hundred miles in modern New Mexico and Texas before passing through dramatic cliffs to join the Rio Grande. In its upper reaches was just a creek that provided water to the local fauna including a herd of mustangs ruled by a magnificent black stallion.
Like all Comanche, both boys were excellent riders. Comanches were put up onto horses very young and actually learned to ride before they learned to walk. Even for them, capturing a wily stallion would not be easy. Still they had remounts and could force the pace to exhaust their quarry. Even if the stallion could outrun them, he would not abandon his harem for very long. If he got away once or twice, they could simply out wait him. Humans had a kind of patience that no four footed animal could ever match.
Unfortunately the Pecos River lay beyond the Mescalero Escarpment, the western edge of the Llano Estacado and was very close to the western edge of Comacheria, the area roamed by the Comanches. Instead of a herd of horses, they found a Kiowa hunting party encamped in the valley and looking to settle in for some days. The Kiowa would hunt widely, so the best thing for the boys to do was to withdraw to the north to wait till the hostiles finished their hunt and left for their own lands.
Riding alone the way they were, Kit didn't even bother with a loincloth. The skimpy breechclout he favored really left little to the imagination, but he preferred riding entirely bare-ass when he could, letting his brother the sun kiss his skin and turn it an even bronze, so he would look like a proper Indian boy.
After a ride of two days they came to the valley of the river the whites called the Canadian River, though no white man could explain why. The Comanche knew full well that Canada was a thousand miles away and the so-called Canadian river merely a tributary of the Arkansas River, forming the northern border of the Palisaded Plain.
It was there that the two Indian boys encountered a young white man working in shirt sleeves over a sketch pad. Tall, lean, red-haired and good looking, he had brilliant blue eyes and a splash of freckles across the bridge of his nose which was very slightly turned up at the tip. In other words, a face to inspire trust, as indeed it did.
Duncan Barrie was a landscape painter, a member of the Hudson River School. The paintings of the Hudson River School reflect the themes of the discovery, exploration, and settlement of America in the 19th century. Barely twenty, he came from a well-off family in New York City. Duncan had traveled with famed Indian portraitist George Catlin earlier in the year but had since struck out on his own. His aim was to capture the beauty of the countryside, not the lives of its inhabitants.
The man continued sketching as the boys rode up to him, clearly more curious than anything else. Calmly he let them approach him. He could see they were both very young and the small blond one was entirely naked. What a beauty too; he would be perfect as a model. Before getting closer the older one plunged his lance into the earth, disarming himself, to show his lack of hostile intent. The boys rode in empty handed and with friendly expressions on their honest faces.
He showed them his sketch pad, flipping several pages so they could see his work. Both lads nodded. They understood sketching and painting if not the purpose very well. They had met Catlin and knew that the man 'traded' his paintings back East for other goods. The Indians had no concept of money as such.
The tall one who pointed to himself giving his name as Litanka spoke to Duncan in Comanche and Spanish, but the man just shook his head. Though fluent in French and German and able to read Latin, he had just enough Spanish to make it clear that he did not understand. "No entiendo. No hablo espanol muy bien."
Duncan tried English hoping the White Comanche, for that is how the thought of Kitono, would speak that language. Kit did remember enough from his childhood and from speaking with occasional traders to be able to converse with him. They soon were talking away in a friendly fashion. Not much of a surprise for Duncan Barrie was a gregarious fellow and something of a chatterbox.
Kit explained the purpose of their journey and why they had detoured to the north, only to encounter the artist quite by accident. Duncan offered his help. He wanted to see the Pecos Valley anyway, and he certainly wanted to see more of lovely Kit. The two Indian boys accepted his offer to travel with them and they settled into camp with him. During the night, the white man could hear muffled sounds as the boys lay close together and kissed and fondled each other, but they refrained from all out lovemaking, knowing that many white men strongly disapproved of such couplings.
The next morning Kit disappointed Duncan by donning his breechclout. The artist resolved to get the boy to pose for him in the nude, never no mind that he was a landscape painter. Male nudes were proper subjects for artists too, and this extraordinarily beauteous creature was made to order.
Duncan saddled his horse, provoking a scornful remark from Litonka about the riding abilities of white men who needed saddles so they would not fall off their horses. Duncan did not take offense but patiently explained the advantages of a saddle in terms he thought the young Indian would understand.
He explained that fierce warriors among the whites had invented the saddle for warfare. A warrior with a lance can put the whole force of the weight of the horse and rider behind the point of his lance whereas a bareback rider would be pushed off his horse by the impact. A warrior can stand up in the stirrups and shoot a bow accurately from a running horse, even shooting over the back of the horse. Also the saddle-horn was good for anchoring a lariat thrown over a horse's neck. And yes, it was easier to stay in a saddle than on a horse bareback. Did Indians never fall off their horses?
Not that Duncan couldn't ride bareback if he had to. He was a very good rider himself.
The Indian boys and Duncan roamed the area for six days, getting better acquainted with each other. Kit's English was coming back to him in a rush, now that he was speaking it continually. He told his story to the sympathetic artist, though he did not mention his ambivalence about his future as a Comanche. Then the entire party headed south to look for the stallion. To Litanka's bitter disappointment, when they arrived two days later, they found that they had been forestalled by the Kiowa who had abandoned their hunt to capture the stallion and his small herd, leaving the worst mares behind to fend for themselves. The Kiowa were long gone by then, and any pursuit pointless. Litonka would have to find another way to win his bride price.
"You go back to the encampment, my brother" Kit told him. "I will stay with the white man and serve as his guide. Take the sketch he has done of us with you and give it to our father. I will be back in a few weeks."
Litonka was so disappointed at his own loss that he made no objection to the sudden change of plans. The two Indian boys embraced and wished each other well, then set off in different directions.
Chapter 2. Pecos River
The pair of young white men, one Comanche, one American, traveled together up the valley of the Pecos River. Near where the village of Villanueva would one day be built on a terrace deposited from the melting of mountain glaciers millennia earlier, they set up a camp. Duncan loved to sketch the scenic river flowing between sandstone cliffs. His sketches and notes would help him render the scene in oils when he got back East. His water color renderings were visual notes of the vivid colors the countryside presented to him: the green of the trees, the white and blue of the sky, the red of the canyon walls. Not to mention the skin tones of one virtually nude Comanche boy.
"Oh why won't you let me sketch or paint you entirely naked, Kit? Only your loveliness can match the beauty of this wonderful country. You must model for me. Please get out of that loincloth"
"Why are white artists always so eager to depict people without any clothing on?"
"To my people, the human nude is the most beautiful living thing in existence."
"Then why don't you paint females? Don't you like girls?" Kit teased though he had a good idea why Duncan wanted to get him naked.
"What if I promise to reward you with a kiss, Kit? I have seen the way you have been looking at me, especially when I undress at night."
Early on, Kit had laughed at the white man's night shirt, scorning it for a woman's dress. Ever since then Duncan had slept in the nude just like his young companion.
"Very well, but only if you promise not to show your work to Litanka or the elders. One look and they will know that we are lovers."
"Wha..at! But we are not lovers, Kit."
"Not yet, but by this evening we will be."
With that, Duncan moved forward to embrace the lovely Indian boy, but Kit held up a hand.
"Tut, tut. Not yet Red Hair. First you must paint me. Let that show me how desirable I am in your eyes."
The fact is that this was Kit's first real chance to flirt with and to tease a potential lover and he was making the most of his opportunity. Indians were much more straightforward about such things, at least between youthful males. Of course Kit would give himself to the handsome white man, whom he found irresistible, but the artist would have to work for it a bit, to court him properly.
So Durand took a deep breath to settle himself and got to work. He tried to look at the slender youth with a purely professional eye but did not succeed entirely. The white Comanche boy's naked beauty took his breath away. Kit was very slight of build, standing a good seven inches (18 cm) less than his own 5 foot eleven (180 cm). With only weeks to go till his seventeenth birthday, Kit's petite physique was about as developed as it was ever going to get. The boy couldn't have weighed more than 8 stone (112 lbs or 51 kg). From the mischievous look on him, this was a boy who, without being particularly vain about it, was extremely cute and knew it.
The boy's delicate features were prettier than even a girl had any right to be, with high cheekbones, a straight nose, and large green eyes plus a wind-blown blond thatch that reached to his shoulders. He looked so much like a young elf that you found yourself checking for points on his shell-like ears.
Kitono had a beautiful body, slender yet muscular, taut, toned, and tanned with narrow shoulders, eight pack abdominals, and narrow hips. His legs were slender yet well muscled. He carried so little body fat that his flat belly showed a tracery of downward pointing veins just under the skin. The beat of his heart was visible on the left side of his smooth chest.
He was virtually hairless. Like his Comanche brethren he had very little body hair, only a tiny tangle of blond hairs around the base of his cock, with none on his smooth ballsac and sparse tufts under his arms. His skin was sleek and smooth and deeply tanned.
From his tiny red nipples to a deeply indented navel, to narrow hips framing a surprisingly ample manhood for one so slight in build, Kit was real beauty. His wiry physique was a vision of youthful male pulchritude.
His sex was proportional with a smooth cock, foreskin stretched over the head, and a scrotum the size of an apple and held close to the belly. His genitals didn't look shriveled nor his cock gnarly with veins like a lot of other males. The foreskin hugged his cock head, outlining the ridge of the glans under the skin, leaving just the slit at the tip visible. Cock and balls were reasonably sized but Kit wouldn't be scaring the horses. It took both his small hands to cover an erection, but only one when he was soft.
This was a boy that Renaissance masters like Botticelli or Leonardo da Vinci might have fought over to have as a model or as a lover. Kit had a body someone like Michelangelo might have written poems to celebrate, even if the man would not have used him for an artist's model. Duncan could never understand how a boy lover like Michelangelo Buonarotti could have painted so many bad male nudes. In his opinion, the Tuscan master's nudes were grotesque, way too muscular and over padded. His figures in the Sistene chapel were circus strongmen running to fat. Too much! And why had he painted the father of the human race with infantile genitals?
Even his nude sculpture of David in front of the Palazzo della Signoria was wrong. His David was too old, depicting a young man rather than a youth. The real David would have been a wiry teenager not the rather more muscular figure embodied in Michelangelo's statue. Kit would have made a better model for the young shepherd boy who became a king. Dontatello had had the right idea, even if his execution left much to be desired. For one thing his David was too soft. No one looking at Kit's wiry build in the nude would have called him soft. About the only thing soft about him was his endearing nickname. Kit means the young of one of the smaller wild animals, say a fox, surely one of nature's loveliest creatures, as was little Kit himself.
Durand had the boy try various poses till he found the one he liked best. Kit stood feet apart, his weight on his back foot, front knee slightly bent, holding a lance in one hand just above his right shoulder as if about to throw it, with the other arm held out to the front and side for balance. With his blond hair streaming in the wind he looked like one of the nude Celtic warriors who had fought Caesar for the control of Gaul. The stance highlighted the tension in the muscle bundles of arm and shoulder and accentuated the dimpling of his buttocks while uncovering his corrugated chest and belly. His tiny red nipples were like twin beauty marks on small but well defined pectorals.
After the modeling session the two young males, now both naked, ran down to the river. The stream was shallow in most places and rocky with stones washed down from the sides of the valley but there were deeper pools suitable for bathing and swimming. Kit and Duncan jumped in. Both loved to swim, but their splashing about that evening was more about fun and grab ass than actual swimming.
Durand was lean and much taller than Kit. Like many red heads, he had very little body hair and a peaches and cream complexion. No slouch in the looks department himself, he played handsome swain to Kit's pretty young thing. They were a stunning couple, laughing, splashing, pushing each other under, holding and hands roaming everywhere, kissing passionately.
The youths joined lips, tongues dueling. Hot hands stroked flanks and hips. Their mutual excitement was obvious from the rigid members pressed between their bellies.
"We might never have gotten together, if I hadn't insisted on painting you nude, Kit," Duncan chided him.
With that he redoubled his kisses, taking command of Kit's small body, tweaking his nipples and squeezing the em-purpled head of his cock while Kit mouthed and licked and nibbled on his large nipples. Then he guided Kit to a blanket laid on the sandy bank, their love bed now. Duncan had a long virile member and smooth very like Kit's own, and truthfully somewhat longer.
No Indian boy had ever played with him quite as the white man did that evening. No one gives better pleasure with his mouth than another male who does it by preference, not merely as a substitute for making love to a female. As they lay together Duncan licked Kit's smooth cock from the root to the tip. Pointed toward his navel, it lifted completely off his belly as it cantilevered out from the root, rigid but dipping rhythmically with the throb and beat of his heart.
Duncan's hands and lips caressed the wiry lad, stroking the length of his legs, sliding along his flanks, delving between his thighs into his crack, making love with his hands but touching his eager cock only with lips and tongue. Duncan swallowed him to the root, bending it, sucking and licking and swallowing, pumping up and down as Kit's arousal mounted. Duncan pulled off just in time as the ball sac pulled tight against the fork of the young man's legs, the head purpled, its tiny lips spreading open. Abruptly, with only a quick intake of breath and a tightening around Kit's half-closed eyes, his proud cock engorged beyond its previous impressive girth and began spurting and spitting his white seed onto his chest. Even after many strong spurts, the gism continued to drain from the still tumescent shaft but now in a slow flow, emptying into and collecting in a pool in the hollow of his belly.
Duncan used the tip of his finger to gather some of this sweet chrism and brought it to Kit's lips and then to his own. He lapped some of it up and took him back into my mouth, then sucked and tugged on a cock that had a moment before spit his essence onto his belly. The boy whimpered; it felt so good, it hurt. The boy moaned as Duncan teased his softening member, abdominals flexing as he practically sobbed with pleasure. Duncan was happy too. He had so wanted Kit's first experience with him to be memorable. Sighing he lay back to rest. Later Kit pleasured him the same way, making up in enthusiasm what he lacked in technique and experience, though he nearly choked on the copious flow from the white man's balls. Some of it escaped the lips locked around Duncan's cock and dribbled down Kit's chin.
They broke for supper, then prepared themselves for fully consummating their new relationship. Kit lay on his back, eyes bright with eagerness, legs spread wide, knees bent and pulled up. Duncan lay himself atop his young lover. He was young, strong and vigorous and knew how to please a male lover. Kit was clearly not his first. He knew that a sexual submissive like Kit gets a fire going in his belly whenever an large virile member slides along his cleavage, from tail bone to perineum, poking, prodding and playing with the anal ring, teasing the boy before the actual fuck. Duncan fingered the hole, pushing in, lubricating him with a bit of oil, thoughtfully preparing him for the penetration.
Kit felt Duncan's manhood stretch the anal ring as the head push through the first ring then the next. The shaft slid inside, first just an inch to give him time to adjust to his girth, then Duncan fed him more. Duncan's shaft took on a rhythm of penetration and withdrawal, familiar to Kit now from his many times with Litonka.
Then came the moment when his cock touched the boy's joy spot. Kit felt light headed, his whole body shuddering helplessly as his guts clutched in an internal orgasm. The boy's slender body was tempest tossed on a sea of sensation, head whirling, his pulse pounding at the temples, his own member poking stiffly up from his groin. His lithe torso rippled in a wave that started at his ass and traveled up the hips and back and neck to the head. The rapid shaking of Kit's head was a reflex action, an indication of overwhelming lust. He surrendered myself to the good feelings coursing through him.
Duncan let the boy's internal ass orgasms go on and on. The sensation became overwhelming as the older male pumped in and out to reach maximum depth. Kit's experienced lover intended them to come together, so he batted the boy's hand away from his own tool and took total control of his delectable body. Duncan knew to wait for the right moment to provoke the boy's external orgasm. And when it happened, Kit nearly blacked out with the intensity of it. A wet warmth spurted inside him at the same time his own gism shot out onto their bellies again and again. They slumped together, exhausted. It was the best fuck of his young life.
Afterwards, the two youths lay together sweaty and tired, drained but satisfied. That night the young lovers slept spooned together, sharing their body warmth, nuzzling and whispering, happier than either had ever remembered being. The howl of a coyote woke them briefly during the night, but Duncan just snuggled closer to the boy, kissed the nape of his neck and went back to sleep. The happy couple spent six more days in the same camp, hardly thinking about moving on so Duncan could sketch other landscapes.
Kit posed for more drawings and a fine water color portrait. Some poses were deliberately provocative and homoerotic. Duncan had Kit lie on his back over a round boulder, arms and legs wide apart in a spread-eagle, hips and tumescent cock uppermost, all the while looking boldly and directly at the artist or viewer. There were dynamic poses of the boy poised to take off running, bent forward, muscle bundles in his legs taut, his torso forming a single curve from shoulders to his cleft buttocks.
Other sketches used static poses like the one that had the boy kneeling, legs wide apart and bending forward over the boulder, a stance that parted the buttocks enough to show the crinkly pink anal ring and the back of his scrotum. An even bolder pose was with the boy on all fours, like a dog, facing away from the artist, feet wide apart and toes curled to the ground, showing off his bum and hole and dangling genitals. The shameless and cock proud boy had even posed several times with an erection, whether pointing straight up along his belly or sticking out from his groin like a lance. One of those poses had Kit on his knees leaning back, heels of his hands grasping his ankles, tumescent cock horizontal and dripping.
The most scandalous were the series of sketches done rapidly from memory after Duncan had persuaded the boy to pleasure himself into a ejaculation. The drawings perfectly captured the look of the teenage youth as he lay back eyes closed while stroking his turgid cock and pinching his nipples, all the time bringing himself nearer and near to the desired consummation. One sketch depicted the actual eruption, with a jet of gism frozen in mid-air.
Duncan wanted to sketch the boy forever, in one lascivious or erotic pose after another. This was a boy who should be on display for the delectation of anyone who loves beautiful boys. Kit too liked other people to see him naked, to admire his trim body. He wanted his lover to record and display his naked body on sketch paper and canvas that other men, even though remote in space and time, might admire him. No part of his body was off-limits or too intimate or private. How could he have secrets from his lover. As to making drawings for public viewing, Kit knew that the artist's work would preserve Kit's desirability not just for the brief period of his actual youth but for the ages.
Aside from all the portraiture, if that is what it truly was, they rode the scenic country and fished and hunted. Kit even taught his new lover something of the Comanche method of wrestling, though since they wrestled naked, that usually ended up in a session of lovemaking.
It was a time for the two youths to get to know one another better, to share not only their hard bodies but also their hopes and dreams. Duncan's were fairly conventional for a man of his talents and social class. He wanted to be recognized for his talent and to become independent of his family's money. His parents kept asking him to choose a wife from their sort of people. Duncan was no snob, and he had no interest in female companionship. He was due to come into some money on his twenty-first birthday, enough to live comfortably if not in the grand style of his family. He mentioned all this to Kit. His candor let Kit open up about his own problems with identity and his ambitions for the future.
Neither could suggest an immediate solution, but they resolved to spend the summer talking things over as they traveled the Southwest. Kit would be useful as a guide and interpreter. He knew Spanish as well as English and Comanche plus Indian sign language. His English was progressing fast. Duncan had even suggested that Kit learn to read and write. He had had his letters as a boy, but it had all slipped away during his years with the Indians. Even if he stayed with the Comanche, literacy would enable him to help them in their dealings with Anglos, whether Texan settlers or Americans. For that matter, he already spoke Spanish so learning to read that language would be easy once he became literate. Spanish is rigorously phonetic.
Sometimes Duncan was overwhelmed by the cultural gap between the two young males. The first time the older youth mentioned the Roman Empire, he drew a blank look on his lover's face. The same thing happened when he mentioned George Washington and Napoleon. The boy could just recall his folks mentioning New York and London, whatever those places were. Sometimes Duncan could only laugh at the enormity of the task he had set himself, to inculcate something of Western civilization into the mind of the youth who had been raised among illiterate nomads. He persevered not only because he had fallen in love with Kit, but because there were a lot of good stories in history and literature. They would enrich Kit's life and restore his cultural birthright. This white Comanche of his must one day stand at his side as an American citizen.
Chapter 3. The Jaguar
Duncan extended his sketching expedition, eager to keep close to Kit. Over the next seven weeks, the two youths traveled far and wide. Duncan filled his sketch books with images of mountains, rivers, cliffs, canyons, strikingly shaped rock formations, treeless plains and green forests. He also made further sketches of his white Comanche lover. Water colors and sketches were Duncan's passports among the tribes. Even the Kiowa let Kit pass through their lands unharmed given that he was in the company of his white lover. The Indians did not quite know what to make of artists but accorded them the respect they gave to their own shamans.
One evening became engraved indelibly in their memories, a moment of both great danger and great beauty. The sun had just gone down behind the hills to the west, though Venus was still above the horizon as the Evening Star, and twilight lay across the land. While Duncan was preparing their evening meal, the boy betook himself to the nearby stream to bathe. Kit had always been scrupulous about keeping clean, if only with sand and water, and now that Duncan had introduced him to real soap, he loved to bathe. He had just lathered up, scrubbed, and dunked himself to rinse off when he looked up and suddenly froze in position, crouched in mid-stream, water dripping off his naked body.
On a rock by the edge of the stream a jaguar had crouched down to slake his thirst. A large male in his prime, beautiful and deadly, he was nearly triple the mass of the slightly built boy, three hundred pounds (about 150 kg) of muscle and claws and fangs. The jaguar has short stocky limbs good for climbing, crawling and swimming. It is a stalk and ambush hunter, pouncing on its prey from behind. Kit knew that a jaguar sometimes bites the throat and hangs on to suffocate its prey, but it can also use its powerful canines for a skull bite that pierces the temporal bones and kills its prey instantly.
The green eyes of the spotted cat gleamed as they stared at the boy, standing there so still and small and vulnerable, naked prey, caught unarmed and defenseless in the middle of the stream in water up to his shins. The shallow waters of a stream would hardly deter a hungry jaguar. The big cats were excellent swimmers and were known to both hunt and play in the water.
Kit held himself still, not so much frozen with fear like the faun he so much resembled as from realization that any movement on his part might provoke the beast to attack. He wanted to run. Every fiber of his being told him to do so, but the rational part of his mind told him to keep still, to ignore the trembling in his limbs and the way his scrotum had pulled up close to the fork of his legs in fear. He breathed deep but slow, building strength for whatever desperate action might be called for. He glanced over at Duncan, imploring him for help yet hoping his friend would not provoke the creature to attack. Their eyes locked in a wordless affirmation of their love and trust in each other. Then Kit looked back at the jaguar. Maybe he would die in a moment, but he tried to put defiance and pride in his look.
Duncan saw the danger too but made no move to scramble over to his rifle, also fearful that any sudden movement would provoke the creature to pounce on its potential prey to rend and tear. Duncan was sick with the thought that the warm and welcoming body of his young lover might be transformed before his very eyes into just so much dead meat for the great carnivore to carry off into the wilds to devour. His heart went out to the brave boy who stood there strong and proud despite his understandable fear. Not quite seventeen, yes, but already a man in spirit, if not in body. The three of them held still for what seemed like the longest time, a tableau vivant of beauty and terror.
The jaguar must have just eaten its fill because he made no aggressive move toward the lovely boy crouched only a couple of body lengths away. Instead, ignoring the tender flesh of the creature poised so near to him, the animal turned its head down and resumed lapping the water till it had quenched its thirst. It rose to its feet and stared once more at the boy, one of those two legged creatures it had learned to be cautious around, mouth half open, pink tongue licking the last drops off its whiskers. It blinked and opened its jaws revealing its wicked fangs while a low sound came from its belly, half growl and half purr.
Kit's nether pucker spasmed. It was all he could do to control his sphincters. He wondered if this was how he was fated to die, disgracing himself in front of the man he loved. The boy steeled himself for the worst, his only positive thought was that at least his death might spare Duncan. Surely the beast would not kill both of them.
Abruptly the jaguar turned and bounded off, its thick tail whipping the air as it disappeared into the brush. Kit splashed out of the stream and into the arms of his lover who crushed the boy's small water slicked body to his breast, rocking back and forth. They held each other close, murmuring reassurances, still fearful but also filled with wonder at the mystery and the majesty of the great cat. The beast could so easily have slain the boy whose empty hands and fawn like build could not have resisted such an attack, yet he had spared Kit. Neither knew why, but they were grateful, each to his own gods.
Their lovemaking was especially tender that night. Both knew how easily the evening might have ended in tragedy, separating them forever. Duncan inhaled the aroma of the clean scrubbed boy in his arms, pressing him to his body. The boy felt so small and vulnerable. Duncan knew he wanted to protect this lovely lad forever. Kit took his survival as a sign that he was meant to be with this man, that somehow he would have to return to live in the white man's world with Duncan Barrie. For his part, Duncan vowed to never let the boy out of his life. They would make their way together, somehow.
In time, the painting Duncan would make of that evening of beauty and danger, would be his very best single work, capturing on canvas the souls of the artist himself, the beautiful naked boy, and the magnificent jaguar. The picture was a chiaroscuro of light and dark, contrasting the great spotted cat crouched low to the ground in shadow with the upright form of his naked prey bathed in the light of a three-quarter moon. Both the glowing eyes of the great cat and those of the lovely nude boy were green. The boy's blond locks were a halo crowning angelic features expressing both his fear and his courage in the face of imminent gory death.
Quite aside from the sublimity of the setting or the emotional impact of the vignette the picture depicted, the full length nude portrait of Kit in the foreground was itself a masterpiece of portraiture and depiction of the male form. The slanting light of the moon accented the crevices and hollows of the boy's corrugated chest and belly, highlighting the ribs and the rippled abdominal muscles not to mention the surprisingly ample tube between his legs. The composition did not use the usual coy angles or convenient shrubbery to conceal the boy's maleness. The nicely formed genitals at the fork of the legs left no doubt as to the gender of the beauteous creature depicted in the painting.
The picture showed the youth half turned, his face in three quarter profile, torso bent over, arms held out from the body, his manhood clearly visible at the fork of his legs. Perspective made the boy's form in the foreground larger than the much larger body of the predatory cat. Anyone could see that Kit's was a beauty worth preserving for the ages: delicate features that were pretty rather than handsome complemented by a wiry musculature tensed and poised and ready to explode into action.
Critics were amazed that a landscape painter could render such a compelling likeness of the youthful male nude. Despite handsome offers, Duncan never sold the original painting or his preparatory sketches to anyone, though he did allow engravings to be published. In time, his painting titled 'Naked Prey' became one of the iconic images of the romance of the American West.
After sleeping in late the next morning, as they broke camp, Duncan teased Kit about his outfit.
"You know, Kit, if you are going to live in the white man's world, you are going to have to wear a bit more than that skimpy loincloth in the summer. You realize that it's the same color as your bronzed skin. Why from any distance you look quite naked. Hell, from the side you are as good as naked. And that scrap of deerskin can slip or loosen, uncovering what lies behind it. Not that I am complaining, of course."
"Indeed?" the boy responded loftily. "In that case...".
Instead of donning the brief garment, he simply tucked his loincloth into the pack on his spare horse and rode entirely naked for the next few days, except for his moccasins. What a headstrong wanton boy this was, Duncan thought, and how delightful his company. In solidarity, Duncan stripped to the waist, but he did keep his pants on. He did have civilized standards to maintain, after all.
The next day, as the boys rode out of the area, they saw signs that the jaguar had been feeding on an antelope it had killed the previous afternoon. That evening, in keeping with his resolution to return to the white world, Kit began his reading lessons, painstakingly re-acquiring his letters. He had forgotten much but had retained the concept of an alphabet, so it came back to him quickly. Soon he was spelling words aloud as they rode during the day or writing them in the sand with a stick when they stopped for camp. Duncan showed Kit how to write his own name, then his too. When Kit wrote both of them together in the sand, Duncan drew a circle around them, signifying their love. They kissed tenderly, tears of joy in their eyes at how they had been so lucky to find each other.
On another day the pair were riding by a sizable herd of buffalo. They needed meat so Duncan picked one out and shot it. The stolid beasts did not run at the sound of the shot but held their ground, a herd behavior that would be their undoing later in the century when hunters would swarm the Great Plains to slay the bison for their hides alone.
While the boys butchered the carcass for the choicest portions, a bolt of lightning from a thunderhead set the grass afire. It spread rapidly in the dry country. Almost every manner of living thing fled before the flames of the wildfire, predator and prey alike, ignoring each other in the urgency of the moment. Birds took wing, wolves outran rabbits, deer bounded beside a tawny cougar, while prairie dogs simply dropped into their burrows to let the flames pass over them harmlessly.
"Head for those rocks!" Kit called out.
The youths urged their mounts to a canter and rode onto a flat rocky area that the greedy flames bypassed for want of fuel. All around them lay a scorched landscape, but Kit assured his lover that nature would soon restore the land. Grass seeds in the ground would sprout and in a season or two, the prairie would be as it had been before the fire. Indeed the rain from the thunderstorm would start the process of germination. The youths recovered their scorched buffalo meat and continued on their journey.
"See, Duncan." Kit pointed out with satisfaction. "Even a downpour like this is no real inconvenience to a boy wearing only a loincloth. Or less." he added, as he slapped his bare bum lightly.
The water simply sluiced off him, washing him clean of the dust and the smoke and ash that had gotten smeared on them both. The water glistened on his delightful curves, highlighting his shoulders and and arms and tawny rump. The rain plastered Kit's blond locks to his head and ran down his chest and belly dividing at the point where his genitals lay sprawled atop the back of his mount. His cock was long enough that the head of it reached past the scrotum so that it too touched horseflesh. Shaking his head, Duncan had to admit that the blond boy riding next to him stark naked had a point. This time, he did strip completely, though his clothing had soaked through already. The downpour had drenched them both in an instant. They rode off together, happy and joking.
That night at camp, Duncan washed his two sets of shirts and trousers and linen drawers in a stream and hung them up to dry. The youths stayed at that location the next day too so his clothes could dry out thoroughly. Duncan cooked breakfast and sketched in the nude the whole morning, donning dry drawers at noon mainly because of sunburn on his ass. Although he had tanned some above the waist, he was pale below or had been before the sun reddened his cheeks.
"So who is the white man and who the redskin?" Kit pointed out chortling.
"You think that is funny, young man?" Duncan asked, grabbing the boy and turning him over his knee.
Kit kicked and struggled ineffectually, giggling all the time. A well-deserved spanking soon turned his butt cheeks red too. Kit tried to look contrite over his infraction, but the mischievous twinkle in his eye let Duncan know he would tease him again the very next chance he got.
"Shameless boy!" Duncan declared in mock outrage as he finished spanking then started to caress the shapely buns lying upon his lap.
Kit wriggled his hips under the strong hands of his lover, enjoying the kneading and stroking and grabbing as a way for the older male to establish his ownership and rights to the boy's sexy tush. Duncan stuck a couple of fingers in Kit's mouth to get them wet then played with his hole, sinking the fingers into it and stretching him open. The other fingers of his right hand stroked or tapped the back of Kit's ballsac provoking a quick intake of breath. The boy twisted and sat up on his lap with the fingers still inside him. They kissed as Kit's own right hand grasped both their cocks and stroked them together. His other hand played with their nipples till they both erupted joyously at the same time. Neither male could recall a sunnier occasion.
The next day as Duncan got dressed Kit shook his head ruefully as his lover covered up so much of his body As far as Kit was concerned, the clothing that white man wore was too much and too confining. Sure Kit had leggings he could put on to protect him against dense brush. Unlike trousers, leggings had no seat or front. They sheathed just the legs with the loincloth covering the groin and the rump as before. James Fennimore Cooper called them 'leatherstockings' in his novels about Hawkeye. True Duncan's shirts were loose, but Comanches never wore anything at all on the upper body, just wrapping up in a blanket in the winter. His form fitting jacket was far too tight. Admittedly a hat gave good protection against sun and rain. It made Kit wonder why Indians never wore headgear at all. He tried it on, but it was far to big for him, dropping comically past his ears.
Duncan's boots were fine for riding with a saddle and stirrups but quite badly suited for extended walking, though they did protect the calfs from snakebite. Kit's own tough moccasins were better for riding bareback or for going on foot. The Plains Indians used hard-soled moccasins because the ground they walked upon was often rocky with occasional cacti. The soft-soled moccasins of the eastern tribes allowed the wearer to feel the ground, perfect for walking on the leaf-covered ground of a forest. Both styles were light, allowing the wearer to walk quietly.
At twenty Duncan had only a very light beard, still mostly peach fuzz, so he shaved only once every five or six days. Kit didn't shave at all; he was as beardless as his Indian brothers, but Duncan warned him that with his white heritage his chin would not be smooth forever.
"Actually I would like to shave you this morning Kit, if you'll let me. I want to sketch you that way, without any hair in your armpits or at the fork of your legs."
"I don't know, Duncan. Wouldn't that make me look even younger, a hairless boy and not a young man?"
"There is that, but it would make your lines even cleaner without distracting body hair. You cock would look bigger too, sprouting right out of your belly wall. And it would make you even more naked than you are now. Body hair is the very last covering, the last thing you can take off. Would you like that Kit, getting as naked for me as you possibly could?"
With some misgivings, but trusting the man he loved, and excited at the prospect of presenting himself to his lover even more naked than he had been, Kit submitted to Duncan's razor. It took almost no time to denude the lad of those sparse wisps in his arm pits and at his groin, though the boy was visibly nervous as the sharp edge of the razor glided along the bottom half of his shaft and all around the root.
Not that it really needed it, but Duncan stretched out the boy's scrotum and drew the razor over that too, turning the blade so it glinted wickedly and threateningly in the sunlight as it ran over the ridges and curves of the boy's vulnerable scrotum. For good measure, and because it was sexy and provocative, Duncan shaved the boy's anal region too, though Kit had virtually nothing back there. He just wanted Kit trembling on all fours as Duncan scraped a straight razor along his cleavage and then down the back of his dangling ballsac. The boy was so complaisant, naked and on all fours, legs wide apart, offering the most intimate parts of his body for inspection, for exploring fingers, and so trustingly, for the edge of a blade that could emasculate him in an instant.
Kit stood up afterwards ran his fingers over his groin and ass crack, relieved that everything was still there, though it now felt so strange and smooth. And yes, his cock did look bigger, more blatantly on display than before. It was so sexy looking and touching himself down there.
Kit's hormones did the rest. The boy felt a wave of heat wash over him as his ball sac pulled tight to the fork of his legs. He erected almost immediately, his manhood tumescent, the engorged cock jutting straight out with its fleshy glans shaped like an arrowhead at the end. A string of precum hung from the head of his cock, all purple and swollen. Duncan sketched him rapidly. He thought Kit looked so very sexy strutting his stuff, hands on hips. It was a composition bursting with youthful male assertiveness.
The next morning, before setting out, Kit took his knife and cut down his loincloth to a narrow strip not much wider than his hand. Duncan smiled at how proudly the boy paraded around in the skimpy garment. It was a wonder the boy bothered with it at all. He was next thing to naked anyway.
Chapter 4. Texas Rangers
Kit and Duncan finally headed east toward the spring encampment of the tribe. About two days out, from atop a ridge they saw a lone rider who was leading a string of some half-dozen fine horses. Even at that distance Kit recognized his brother Litonka. He signaled to get Litonka's attention. As they rode closer the youths could see that the horses on his string were not Indian ponies at all but larger stock that must have come from a Mexican hacienda or a Texas ranch.
For his part, the Indian youth could see that the breechclout his step brother sported was even skimpier than usual and that his artist friend was stripped to the waist. Nicely tanned, Duncan must have been riding around like that rather a lot. From the looks the two white youths gave each other, they clearly had become a couple. Good. He was glad that his young brother had found a new lover. Litonka knew that he would soon marry and have to stop carrying on with little Kitono anyway, delightful though their time together had been. He nodded at Duncan, gave Kit a wink and an approving grin. Kit's bright smile beamed back at him.
"Look Kitono at the fine horses I have taken from the white eyes. Monaki's father will surely look with favor now on my suit."
"And just where did you acquire such fine stock, brother mine?" asked Kit.
The Indian brave explained that he had raided the remuda of a nearby ranch the day before. It was an exploit worthy of a song. Raids like that were what young braves did to prove their worth in the eyes of their peer and elders. Acting entirely alone he had run off with six of the man's best mounts. He had even 'counted coup' when the rancher tried to stop him. Instead of killing the man, armed though he was, Litonka had knocked him senseless with the flat of his tomahawk, leaving him a living witness to his prowess and courage.
Litonka had spared his life not only for the prestige but also because he had nothing against the rancher and certainly did not wish him any real harm. Anyone who raised such fine horses was a good man as far as he was concerned, a fellow admirer of sound horse flesh. True another white man had got off a shot then tried to chase Litonka and the mares on bareback but had been thrown by his own horse. So Litonka got clean away with his booty.
Unfortunately for the young Indian brave, Texas Rangers, led by a man named Jeb McGraw, were on the trail of the stolen stock and caught up with the riders the very next day. Though as yet an unofficial formation, the Rangers were the only law along the frontier. The three youths found themselves surrounded, outnumbered, and outgunned. Indeed only Duncan had any firearms at all, a single shot pistol still in its holster and a rifle in its scabbard. Litonka had only an unstrung bow and lance and tomahawk. The rangers forced them to dismount.
"What's a white man doing riding with two Comanche horse thieves?" McGraw growled.
"Hey look, the little one there is a white kid, not a Comanche at all," another ranger called out before Duncan could answer.
"Curiouser and curiouser." was McGraw's comment. "So why is a next thing to naked blond boy riding bareback on a Comanche pony? You a renegade, kid?"
As he pulled on his shirt to lend himself some dignity, Duncan tried to talk them all out of trouble. He explained that Kit was not a renegade who had recently thrown in his lot with the Indians. He had been adopted by the tribe as a young boy after the Kiowa killed his parents. He insisted that Kit was innocent of any wrong doing. He had been with Duncan as his guide the whole time and had not taken part in the seizure of the horses. As for that, Litonka was only trying to win a bride price. No real harm had been done there. Litonka hadn't killed anybody, after all, just knocked a man senseless. The rangers had recovered the horses, and anyway, he Duncan Barrie, would be happy to pay their owner full price for his mounts. No hard feelings.
With one of the rangers translating his Spanish, Litonka confirmed that he had acted alone. He was proud of what he had done all by himself. Just ask the ranchers.
"A pretty tale but with two big problems. We hang horse thieves in Texas as a matter of principle, not to mention murderers. What you don't know is that old George Bailey broke his neck trying to ride bareback after the stolen horses. That makes it a case of felony murder."
Duncan tried to protest that the man's death was simply an accident. Litonaka's action in merely knocking that rancher senseless proved he had had no deadly intent during the raid. The rangers weren't buying it. The only reason they did not suspect Kit or Duncan himself is that the rancher had said he had seen only one Indian before being knocked cold. Besides Duncan was an unlikely horse thief: a rich man who carried paper money and gold coin of far greater value than the horses. Also his sketch books backed up his story about being an artist. One ranger even remembered him from when he had traveled with Catlin.
So Duncan himself was in the clear and Litonka definitely not. That left little Kit.
"Hey look at these drawings of the white kid. He don't have a stitch on. And those poses. Positively indecent!" one man exclaimed. He had been leafing through Duncan's sketch book. "Pretty little thing though. What is it with artists and nekkid people, anyway?"
"Those are just studies for paintings I plan to do when I return east to my studio. The boy really did encounter a jaguar. I had him pose for the rest."
He briefly explained the incident that had inspired his planned painting of the boy and jaguar, pointing out those sketches. The rangers paged forward glancing back and forth from the pad to the pretty White Comanche boy. Kit had the good grace to blush as they tsked and tutted or looked over at him with a combination of wry amusement and appraisal, occasionally shaking their heads at some of the more explicit poses.
The scrap of deerskin that constituted his extra skimpy loincloth suddenly did not seem like such a good idea to Kit. It had bunched up in his cleavage while riding, not that it could ever cover much more than the crack itself. At least in front down there he had shriveled from apprehension, so he didn't have to worry about spilling out from behind the small deerskin pouch at the fork of his legs.
"Out of one peril into another." McGraw noted. "We'll hang the Indian straight out for a horse thief. You two white boys are coming back to headquarters with us. You were riding along with the horse thief, so you could be charged as accessories after the fact. Oh, I wouldn't be too worried, if I were you. Probably neither of you will face trial, but we cannot let you go just like that. A kid like blondie here can't be more than fifteen, so I think the law will go easy on him."
"I've actually turned seventeen," Kit insisted. "And the name's not 'kid' but 'Kit', that is, Christopher Landy."
"Well you shore as hell don't look no seventeen, Chris..to..pher Landy. Anyway that Indian with you is a man grown, as we figure things in these parts."
"All right, Litonka is eighteen, but that doesn't mean you can just go and hang him!" Kit wailed.
"Of course we can. We are the law. What's that to you anyway? He something special? I've heard about how Indian boys sometimes fool around together. Is that it. Is he your lover maybe?"
Duncan wanted to declare "No, Kit is MY lover", but that would not have helped matters. Instead he let the boy answer for himself.
"Ranger McGraw, Litonka is my brother by adoption and the oldest son of Chief Natoka. Do you want to start an Indian War over some horses that Duncan is willing to pay for anyway? And over a man who just fell off a horse he shouldn't have tried to ride bareback? He should have known better. Riding without a saddle is for us Comanches."
"Us Comanches is it? Looks like you just picked the wrong side, boy."
This was all going wrong for Kit. He sincerely wanted to return to the white man's world under his birth name, but he was also loyal to his foster brother. What should he do? What could he do? Suddenly Litonka made his move; all the attention to the drawings and his brother's protests had distracted his captors for just a moment. He snatched a knife from one of the rangers and cut his way to a horse, wounding two rangers though not badly. When McGraw aimed a pistol at him, Kit grabbed his arm and forced it down. The pistol discharged accidentally creasing one of the rangers in the leg. Two rangers pushed the boy to the ground and bound his arms.
Other rangers fired at the retreating Indian brave. Litonka almost got away since all firearms in those days were but single shot, but one ranger managed to pick him off just before he got out of range. The bullet hit the Indian boy in the back and burst out his chest, killing him instantly.
"Anything you want to add, Mr. Barrie?" McGraw snarled. The rangers recovered Litonka's body though his horse ran off, heading back to the encampment. McGraw was angry about his three wounded rangers. Never no mind that all would live. With Litonka dead, he had only little Kit to take it out on.
"Three good men hurt by Comanches. Damn them all to hell. Tie the kid up. And don't you interfere Mr. Barrie or we'll do the same to you."
McGraw walked up to Kit and slapped him in the face, then punched him in the solar plexus. He folded, held up only by the grip of his captors. It took all Duncan's self-control not to jump in. That would only make things worse.
"Dumb move there blondie. You just might stand trial after all for aiding and abetting a prisoner to escape and even as an accomplice to attempted murder. The only reason we don't hang you right now is that you are a white boy. Tie 'Christopher' here to that tree."
"Someone should have taught you manners, boy, long before this," McGraw growled as his slipped off his broad leather belt.
McGraw saw himself as a fair man. Kids who misbehave should expect a beating to make them learn their lesson. Anyway, with a wide belt like his, it wouldn't leave any permanent marks on the boy's back or pretty bum. Just bruises and welts. Like his men, the boy would live through his experience unmarked. So the punishment would fit the crime. The idea after all was to teach him a lesson not to scar him for life.
The big ranger walked up to Kit and stripped the lad of his only item of clothing, using his knife to cut through the narrow deerskin thong around his hips. The loincloth dropped to the ground around his ankles. One of the rangers reached down and tossed it out of the way. Then for good measure, he slipped Kit's moccasins off too, looped his ankles, and ran the rope around the back of the tree to spread his legs.
Funny thing about that. From the front the boy looked so flat, though well corrugated with rippled abs, pecs, ribs, and nicely formed muscles. From the rear, the boy was all curves: the calves, the thighs, the firm globes of the deeply cleft buttocks, the swale of the lower back, the slope up to the shoulder blades which formed winglets on his upper back.
Now that they had him entirely naked and vulnerable McGraw ran his hands over Kit's back and rump, noting that the boy was tanned even there under his loincloth. He must spend a lot of time going around starkers. Hmm. White lads his age would probably envy him the freedom to display himself so openly. White youths hardly ever had a good reason to take their shirts off and strut their stuff, especially in mixed company. Yet Comanche males never wore anything on their upper bodies. Comanche youths wore revealing breechclouts in warm weather. The only time white boys could take their pants off outdoors is when they went skinny dipping. Like his tribe, this half wild White Comanche boy went around all the time with most of his butt and all of his legs bared for anyone to see.
Yes, he was pretty as a girl but that pert squared off rump of his was too firm, the hips too narrow for even a skinny female. Flattened at the sides and dimpled as the boy shifted his weight, these buttocks definitely belonged to a young male. The ranger suddenly squeezed one of the firm butt cheeks struck with how frail the boy looked, so small and helpless and naked. A bum boy if he ever saw one.
He wondered briefly if the artist bent that way too, given how vivid his nude sketches of the boy were. A man of the world, McGraw accepted that not all males were as exclusively devoted to the female of the species as he was. He would never give this kid a tumble, but a blind man could see how very pretty he was. If there was ever a male that might make him waver it would be little Christopher here. Small and naked and strangely hairless even at the fork of his legs though he might be, the lad was bearing up manfully, neither pleading nor cursing, no doubt trying to emulate the fortitude for which his adopted people the Comanche were legendary. McGraw couldn't fault him for that.
The boy trembled awaiting his punishment. He resolved to be silent, to show his courage like a Comanche warrior captured by the enemy and put to torture. Just before the whipping started, one of the younger rangers gave Kit a stick to bite on. McGraw glared at the man but let it pass. It seemed the boy's beauty and innocence were getting to everyone. Steeling himself to his duty, McGraw laid fifteen good smacks on the boy's back and ass, hitting pretty darn hard too. Though a tough hombre when he had to be McGraw was never needlessly cruel, so he kept up a slow steady beat with the belt, pausing between strokes, giving the boy a chance to brace himself for the next blow.
Kit's butt cheeks trembled like he was shivering from the cold instead of from fear. The hard leather hurt a lot and the smack the belt made on his bare skin sounded just terrible. Still, though the broad belt raised welts and bruises, it did not cut his skin, so there would be no scarring. Fine with McGraw who had been impressed by the boy's silence during the whipping. Only at the end did the last blow draw a hint of a whimper from the brave lad. The boy had grit, McGraw gave him that much.
Indeed his grudging respect for the lad led him to agree when Duncan and Kit pleaded for a chance to bury Litonka. Comanches did not expose their dead on scaffolds like some of the Plains Indians, but buried them decently in the earth like white men do. McGraw could honor that. Kit was not able to bathe the body or paint his brother's face properly but he and Duncan dug out a pit, put the body in, and piled a cairn of rocks over the grave to keep animals from desecrating the body. Impatient to move on, the rangers even pitched it at the end.
The entire party started back for the ranger headquarters in the afternoon. Duncan was allowed to ride on his horse having given his parole not to try to run off. McGraw figured he would never abandon Kit and leave the boy alone with him anyway. Unsure whether Kit himself might ride off to the Indian encampment, McGraw kept the boy on foot with his hands tied in front and to a lead to his own horse. The boy had to trot behind him, naked and barefoot on the rough ground. Despite Duncan's vehement protests, they proceeded that way for a couple of hours.
Duncan had recovered Kit's loincloth and moccasins, but McGraw was adamant about keeping the boy unclothed and unshod. Duncan's heart went out to his hapless lover, running in the dust and the heat, sweat gleaming on his bared body, his back on fire from the beating, his feet cut by stones or legs slashed by grass stems or thorns. At least McGraw kept the pace at a walk or a slow trot so the boy could keep up. The boy ran gamely, keeping pace with the riders despite his torments.
Now Comanches were not so well known as great runners like the Apaches, but they did compete in foot races among themselves. Kit had always acquitted himself well. He was not the fastest at the shorter distances but could outrun almost everyone else at the longest distances. So the problem for Kit was not the distance but the rough ground and his bare feet and later his thirst. Also at times he stumbled and scraped his knees or his flank. McGraw was careful to rein in and gave him some slack when that happened. The man clearly did not intend to drag him along the ground, as he could so easily have done. He even let Duncan give the boy water to drink.
Finally, moved beyond caring whether he might get shot if he interfered, Duncan spurred his horse to Kit's side and pulled him up on his mount behind him. To McGraw he said with quiet determination and defiance.
"I gave my word I would not try to escape, but I never said I wouldn't help Kit. The boy rides with me."
McGraw let it pass, so Duncan got his way. Kit slumped against Duncan gratefully. The horse could easily carry both of them for the hour it took to reach a good place to set up camp. That evening, as Duncan tended the boy's injuries, the other rangers talked with Duncan and Kit and learned more about them and about their travels. Duncan summarized their wanderings across the Llano Estacado, the Pecos River Valley, and the Canadian River country as he had gone about his business of sketching the scenery of the region. He recounted in considerably more detail than earlier the story of the jaguar and his naked prey and how courageously Kit had confronted the big cat.
After their talk, as a body, everyone, even the three wounded rangers, prevailed on McGraw to have mercy on the boy. Small and blond and slight of build as he was, he reminded everyone of a kid brother or a nephew. Give the boy back his clothes and his dignity and let him ride his own horse.
The chief ranger was feeling guilty anyway now that his initial anger had passed. This was a plucky lad, as everyone had seen. Yes he had spoiled McGraw's aim, but it was his own brother the ranger was shooting at. Anyone would have done as much in the circumstances. The grazing of the other ranger resulted in only a minor injury and was obviously accidental and unintentional. Kit had not taken a knife to anyone. That was all Litonka's doing. And the boy had had nothing to do with the stolen horses. He had taken his beating manfully, and the long barefoot run had been a considerable punishment too. With a sigh and a nod, McGraw agreed with his men. Enough was enough.
Duncan explained to the rangers that Kit, though raised as a Comanche, had decided to return to white society. It would not be easy for a boy raised as an Indian to learn the manners and customs of his birth people. Duncan had taken him under his wing and would be there to ensure his transition. He had already taught him his letters. Good manners and cultural literacy were also on the agenda. When he finished his education, Kit could take up a profession or trade just like anyone else.
Meanwhile, the lad could earn a good living as an artists' model. Duncan himself had several commissions in mind after the jaguar picture: Kit as Ganymede the paramour of Zeus and cupbearer to the gods, Kit as Narcissus, the beautiful Greek youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and drowned trying to reach it, Phidippides the runner who, in legend anyway, brought the news of victory from Marathon to Athens. Other subjects might be Patroclus, friend and lover of Achilles, or Hylas, shield bearer and companion to mighty Heracles. Duncan was sure that other artists would jump at the chance to use Kit as a model for classical subjects.
"Sounds to me like you and your artist friends will want the boy posing totally naked for all those pictures. Tell me if I am wrong, Mr. Barrie."
"No Ranger McGraw, you are correct. Kit will be working as a nude model. He is a natural for the job and not just because of his looks. He actually likes going bare and is even a bit of a flirt that way. Kit has no real skills that white society values, at least not in the city. That will take him time and education to acquire. Meanwhile modeling will provide him with honest work and an income of his own, so he can stand on his own two feet. I don't want him to have to rely on charity, even my own. Do you see anything wrong about that? Do our plans offend you? I am laying all my cards on the table."
"No, I am not offended, not really, Mr. Barrie. Outside of my job as a ranger, I have learned not to be too judgmental about people. I can see how much you care for this boy and he for you. Don't tell anyone, but my favorite cousin was the same way. I only wished I had helped Jack instead of standing mute while his father drove him away. Good luck to both of you."
With a nod of agreement, the two older men sealed their truce.
The rangers let the boy sleep with Duncan. The older youth held his young lover tenderly, curled up in a blanket with him, cuddling him but letting him rest, knowing how trying his ordeal had been. He did not care that McGraw saw him kiss the nape of the boy's neck. That simple intimacy confirmed what McGraw had thought, this was a man who really cared for the lad; he didn't just lust after his body. The next morning they put Kit up on a horse for the ride to town, wearing his normal garb.
As McGraw himself recommended to his superiors, Duncan and Kit never faced charges. Instead, after formalities in town, they made their way to the spring encampment of the tribe and reported Litonka's death to chief Natoka. Kit's foster father did not take to the warpath as he had feared. In his mind, his son had escaped an ignominious death by hanging and had died bravely fighting his enemies. Kit, his adopted son, had tried to help too, fighting to protect his brother. His white companion had even offered to buy the horses to get Litonka out of trouble with the white man's justice. His son's was an honorable death during a raid for horses. Such is the way of the Comanche and the cycle of life.
The chief also thanked Duncan for the likeness he had drawn of his two sons when they first met. He would treasure it all his days. Natoka gave his blessing to his foster son Kitono's desire to leave the tribe and live with Duncan in white society. A wise man who could see far ahead, he knew that the future held only travail for his people. Their way of life was ending. Let the two young men make a new beginning for themselves. The two lovers rode out of the camp and toward the future, determined to make their way in the world together.
After they arrived in New York, the happy couple settled by themselves into a pleasant house in a still rural area of Manhattan Island, in today's Upper West Side, overlooking the Hudson River. Kit was agreeable enough to wearing white men's clothing when they were out and about in society. At home he preferred to traipse around in the nude when he was alone with Duncan or even outside, weather permitting, in their garden. Kit reasoned that since he was earning his living as an artists' model posing entirely naked and since he slept naked too, he might as well be comfortable and live that way too. The small all-male staff soon came to delight in or at least to accept his casual nudity.
Kit was Duncan's favorite model. The artist was always doing nude sketches of the boy. Duncan did a series of portraits and scenes from daily life including a series of Kit asleep in bed looking like as innocent as an angel. Other series focussed on the youth's incomparable rump or his manhood in every state of repose or arousal. Duncan did sketches of Kit climbing trees or balancing on a wooden fence rail and other action poses. The oil painting of 'Naked Prey' had a place of honor in their parlor where they received visitors.
As the winter snows closed in Duncan often spent a romantic evening before a fire reading poetry aloud in a large wing chair, with Kit either on his lap or more likely on a bear rug where he could stretch out and let Duncan's bare foot play with his delectable body. Or Kit sat up or knelt by his chair. Duncan could reach out a hand and ruffle the boy's blond locks or caress his face. It was very sweet and domestic, unless of course when he and Kit decided to make love right there on the bear rug in front of the fireplace.
Kit's book about his life as a White Comanche sold well. Duncan contributed woodcut illustrations to the book including a frontispiece version of his painting 'Naked Prey'. A better page turner than other 'captivity narratives' of the day, it stressed adventure and incident instead of the more usual theme of redemption found in books of that genre. Kit was honest enough to admit the faults of his adopted people, but was proud of them too and had very few regrets about living with them growing up. The book's success led to a career for Kit as a writer of adventure tales for the new magazines that were springing up in those days. Duncan's artistic career flourished too, both at home and in Europe. Whatever they did or wherever they went, the two young men always looked back fondly on their early days traveling and adventuring in Comanche country.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]