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Countless perils menaced the settlers of the vast wilderness, and one of the most severe was the scarcity of medical care. Risking his own life by day or by night, in all kinds of weather, the frontier doctor was a rare, unsung hero of the West.
Strong Heart, Able Hands
Dr. Dane Logan and his wife, Tharyn, are happily settled in Central City and considering the right time to start a family. Their medical practice in the little mining town keeps them busy with everything from new babies and appendicitis to gunshot wounds and a rancher gored by a bull. It’s almost more than one doctor can keep up with. Then when the stagecoach he’s riding in crashes down a ravine, Dane awakens with a head injury—and no idea who he is. Will his trust in God help him find his way back home?
Story Behind the Book
Of all the perils confronting the settlers of the Wild West, serious illness, injuries from mishaps of countless number, and wounds from battles with Indians and outlaws were the most dreaded. The lack of proper medical care resulted in thousands of deaths. It is our desire that the reader will be deeply impressed with the courage of those frontier doctors who helped settle the West. We think you’ll find this final book in this trilogy filled with our faith—gained from so many years of serving the Lord and trusting His written Word.
She held her skirt ankle-high and ran for all she was worth, calling out his name. Her eyes widened in pleasant surprise as he called back to her.
Chief Tando, his squaw, Leela, their son, Latawga, and all the others in the village looked on in amazement as their captive dashed toward Dr. Dane Logan.
Dane's words of astonishment, "Melinda! You're alive!" seemed to hover in the air.
Tears streamed down Melinda's cheeks as she skidded to a halt in front of Dane. He extended his hands toward her. She grasped them with trembling hands and cried, "Dane, help me! Help me!"
His dark eyes glinted with elation as he put an arm around her shoulder, then looked at the Ute leader, his brow furrowed. "Chief Tando, is Melinda being held captive?"
Suddenly the warriors in the crowd who had their rifles in hand cocked the hammers, put fierce eyes on the young doctor, and pointed the black muzzles at him.
Melinda stiffened and uttereda tiny cry, staring in numb, open-mouthed horror. Her body began trembling like a leaf in a cold autumn wind, and new fear lanced her heart.
Dane tightened his grasp on her shoulder. "It's okay, Melinda," he whispered. "Stay calm. The Lord will work this out."
Melinda looked up at Dane and took a shaky breath, trying to trust his words. He gently patted her shoulder, then looked straight into the chief 's eyes.
Tando gave his warriors a hand signal and said, "Lower your weapons."
As the hostile-eyed warriors were doing so, Tando stepped closer to Dane, meeting his gaze. "We have held Melinda captive since Tando and his warriors found her at the South Platte River many moons ago. We brought her to village to serve Tando's squaw and other women in village."
Dane wondered what Tando and his warriors were doing so far from their village, but he decided not to ask. He said, "Chief Tando, as you can see, Melinda and I are friends. I am asking you to release her to me."
At these words, the warriors once again raised their rifles.
Melinda grabbed Dane's arm and put her free hand over her mouth to stifle the cry that was begging for release.
Tando shook his head at the warriors and grunted, "Lower your weapons!"
While the warriors reluctantly obeyed, Tando gave Melinda a slight smile, then turned to the doctor and said in a pleasant voice, "Dr. Dane Logan, because you saved Latawga's life, I will grant your request. Melinda is free to go with you."
Melinda's eyes brightened as she looked up at Dane.
Leela smiled and nodded, showing her agreement with her Husband's compliance to the doctor's request.
From where he lay on the blanket a few feet to the doctor's left, Latawga spoke to the chief. "Father, I am pleased that you are allowing Melinda to go with Dr. Dane Logan. Thank you."
Tando smiled down at his son, nodded, then asked, "Does Latawga know what has happened to Nandano and the other warriors?"
A blank look came over Latawga's dark features.
Dane said, "Chief, your son was down and bleeding as the rest of your warriors were riding away. He did not see that shortly after they were off the farm property, an army patrol from Fort Junction-apparently having heard the gunfire-went after them. We heard no gunfire from that direction, so I am assuming that since the band hasn't returned here to the village, the patrol captured them. No doubt they are being held as prisoners at the fort by now."
Tando's dark eyes dilated as he squared his jaw. He glanced around at the taut faces of his people, then looked at Dane and said, "I have been wrong, Dr. Dane Logan. I thought all white men were enemies of Ute and hated us. You have shown me this is not true. You saved Latawga's life and brought him home to the village, not knowing what we might do to you. Certainly you are not our enemy."
Dane smiled. "There are many more white people just like me, Chief. We are not your enemies. We want to live in peace with you."
Leela and some of the women standing close to her were smiling and nodding.
Tando cleared his throat slightly. "Dr. Dane Logan, I am asking for your help."
Dane smiled again. "In what way can I help you, Chief?"
"Will you go with Tando to the chief soldier coat at Fort Junction so I can make peace with the whites and beg for the release of my warriors? I will gladly sign peace treaty."
Dane ran a palm over his mouth. "It is my understanding that this is what the noble Chief Ouray had attempted to get you to do many grasses ago."
Tando's head dipped for a brief moment, then he lifted it, met Dane's gaze, and said, "This is true."
"I am acquainted with the chief soldier coat at Fort Junction, Chief Tando. His name is Colonel Perry Smith. I will go with you to the fort, but may I make a suggestion?"
"I feel it would be wise if we had Chief Ouray with us when we go to talk to Colonel Smith. Chief Ouray is very much respected by our army and our government officials. Colonel Smith will be much more likely to release your warriors if Chief Ouray is present."
"Um. Tando will send a messenger to Chief Ouray immediately with my request to accompany us to Fort Junction. Chief Ouray's village is many miles away in southwest Colorado, near town of Durango. It will take two moons for messenger to arrive there, and two moons for him and Chief Ouray to return."
"All right, Chief. This will give me time to take Melinda to Central City and see that her future husband and her parents are advised by telegraph that she is alive, and that they can come and get her. I will also wire Colonel Perry Smith from Central City, let him know the situation, and advise him that I am bringing you and Chief Ouray to the fort to talk to him."
Tando let a slight smile curve his lips. "Um."
"I will come back here to the village in four days, Chief, so we can travel together to Fort Junction."
Tando smiled once more. "Um."
"Right now I need to put Melinda on my horse and take her to Central City. She and my wife, Tharyn, are very close friends, and Tharyn will be very happy to see her. All of us thought she was dead."
The chief nodded.
"Dr. Dane Logan," came Latawga's warm voice from where he lay on the ground. "Once again, I wish to thank you for saving my life. And I want to thank you for being willing to go with my father and Chief Ouray to Fort Junction."
Dane grinned down at him. "Be sure to keep that bandage clean. I'll take a look at the wound when I return."
The doctor then turned to Melinda. "Ready to go?"
Her face a bit pale, Melinda was still in shock from the events of the morning. "Yes. I sure am."
Dane took her by the hand and led her to his faithful gelding, Pal. He hoisted her into the saddle, then turned to Tando. "Chief, I notice a cool breeze has come up. Could one of the women spare a shawl for her to wear?"
Leela removed her own shawl and handed it to Dane. He thanked her and handed Melinda the shawl. When it was around her shoulders, he swung up behind her.
Melinda smiled down at Leela. "Thank you."
Leela nodded. "You are welcome."
Dane looked down at the chief. "See you in four days."
Tando let another smile curve his lips. "Yes. Four days."
As Dane put Pal into motion and headed northward out of the village, Melinda felt as though she were in a dream.
"You all right?" queried the doctor.
"Yes. It's just that after being a captive in this village for so long, what's happening now doesn't seem real."
Dane chuckled. "It's real, all right. I guarantee it."
Melinda twisted around in the saddle and looked past Dane's shoulder at the Indian people standing quietly, watching them ride away. "It's actually true, isn't it? I'm really free! I'm going home!"
"You sure are."
She took a deep breath. "Oh, Dane, it sounds wonderful! Home. Truly, there's no place like home! It will be so good to see my darling Tim again ... and my precious parents!" She took a sharp breath. "Ah, Dane ..."
"Is-is Tim, ah ... seeing some other woman by now?"
"No. He's still clinging to your memory."
She let out a pent-up breath. "Bless his heart."
Soon they were out of sight from the Ute village. As they rode, Melinda filled Dane in on how she had fallen from her horse into the South Platte River, and was hauled out of the swift current by Latawga. She added that even though Latawga's motive was wrong, she would have drowned if he had not dived in after her.
"Did they hurt you in any way, Melinda?" Dane asked.
"No. They were surprisingly kind to me. Chief Tando did warn me when they got me to the village that if I tried to escape, they would catch me and kill me. Even though I never tried to escape, I was always very much afraid. Living in the village, I never knew what might or could happen. They live a very primitive life."
"Mm-hmm. Quite different than what you were used to." "True, Dane, but I did learn some things."
"Well, they have the highest regard for all of nature. Even though they wouldn't let me tell them about my Jesus, they at least believe in creation by the hand of their god, whom they call the Great Spirit. Chief Tando has learned somewhere about Charles Darwin's evolution theory, and rejects it, saying that all of nature coming into existence was not an accident."
"Good for him. If he only knew who the true God is ..."
Melinda sighed. "Yes. I will say, though, that there is a certain beauty in the simplicity of the way they live, and in the customs they hold dear to their hearts. In many ways, their culture taught me a great deal, and gave me a new love and respect for the land. I know we, as white people, call them savage, but to them their lifestyle makes perfect sense. They are so close to the earth. And there most certainly is great love within their families. Their children are special treasures to them-much like it is with us, but they are more careful to train their children in Ute ways than most white people are to train their children in our ways."
"I think I understand what you mean. They hover more carefully over their children than most white people do."
"Yes. But I'm very grateful to be going back to what we call civilization. What I had was a valuable experience, most definitely allowed by God, and now that I'm free, I don't regret it. And neither will I forget it."
Dane chuckled. "I'm sure you won't."
Pal was carrying them through a forest of tall pine trees. After a few minutes, Melinda said over her shoulder, "Dane, I spoke a few minutes ago about the love the Utes have for their children ..."
"It was that very love that Chief Tando has for his son that caused him to be so grateful to you for saving Latawga's life, and to agree to let me go with you. I'm no longer a captive because of your kindness and compassion in saving the life of a young Indian man."
"I took an oath when I became a doctor, Melinda. In the Hippocratic oath, there are no racial distinctions when it comes to a physician saving lives. The human race is just that ... human. I swore to always do everything possible to save human lives."
"I'll say this, though ... I'm glad the Lord let it be my care for Latawga that brought about the change in Chief Tando's heart attitude toward white people."
"Yes. Praise Him for that."
Dane guided Pal around a fallen tree in their path, and said, "Melinda, I can hardly wait to see the look on Tharyn's face when she sees you."
She giggled. "Oh, yes! There are some precious moments coming up, aren't there?"
"There sure are." Dane then told her about the memorial service that had been held for her in Denver by her pastor, and of the flood of tears that were shed by her family, her fiancé, and all of her friends who attended the service.
Melinda swallowed hard. "Oh, it will be so good to see all of them again. What a surprise they are going to have."
"It certainly was a jolt to me when I heard your voice and saw you running toward me. A pleasant jolt. But still a jolt."
They were coming out of the forest and heading down a steep path in open country. They saw a herd of deer collected near a large patch of trees below them. The deer looked up at them and bolted into the trees.
They were surrounded by jagged mountain peaks that still carried snow from last winter, and the cold wind that was blowing was becoming stronger and colder.
Melinda tugged the shawl up tighter around her neck and let her eyes stray to the scenery around her. The restful green of the pine and fir patches were there, and the cool gray of the crags along the edges of the various canyons. Bold and rugged indeed were the rocky peaks around them, some with fleecy clouds resting on them. She saw a sailing eagle in the blue sky. The cold wind carried with it the incense of pine.
"Melinda," said Dane, "when we get to Central City, I'll take you to our house so your can rest. I'll go wire your parents and Tim, then, and let them know you're still alive."
She nodded without looking back at him. "Thank you." A tired sigh escaped her lips, and she felt herself finally relaxing. I'm going home! she thought. I'm really going home!
She closed her eyes and offered a silent prayer of thanksgiving to her Lord.
* * *
At the doctor's office in Central City, it was almost three in the afternoon. Tharyn Logan had several patients sitting in the waiting area. As a certified medical nurse, she had taken care of those patients who had come in during the day that she could, but at the moment, everyone in the office needed a doctor's attention, and Dr. Robert Fraser was out of town for the day.
Tharyn was concerned that Dane had not yet returned from the Drummond ranch. She wondered if there had been unexpected complications in the delivery of Sherrie Drummond's baby.
At three o'clock, Tharyn left her desk and moved to the waiting area. Three mothers were holding small children who were crying and fussing. All others were adults.
"Folks," said Tharyn, "I feel sure that Dr. Logan will be here very soon. I've done everything I know to do to make you and these hurting children as comfortable as possible."
"We know that, dear," said an elderly woman, who was suffering from a problem in her abdomen.
"We realize your husband would be here now if he could, Mrs. Logan," said a young mother. "Thank you for your kindness."
Excerpted from The Heart Remembers by Al Lacy JoAnna Lacy Copyright © 2004 by ALJO PRODUCTIONS, INC.. Excerpted by permission.
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