Captive Trail by Susan Paige Davis tells the story of a white woman who flees her Comanche captors, running from the warrior, Peca, who would have her as his bride. A captive for twelve years, Taabe Waipu (Sun Woman) remembers nothing of her white family.
Ned Bright, stagecoach driver for the Overland Stage Company, finds Taabe and takes her to a school newly established by nuns to educate children from the surrounding ranches.
Taabe begins an adventure of discovery as pieces of her past come to mind but the dark cloud of Peca haunts her. She believes he is seeking her and her presence places the nuns, the children at the mission, and her new friend, Ned Bright, in danger.
White families visit the mission wondering if she is their missing child or if she knows anything about other missing children. This wears on her emotionally as she sees the disappointment in their eyes.
Slowly, Taabe begins to adjust to her new surroundings as the nuns and a young child, Quinta, engage her and develop relationships with her. Snippets of her past surface through familiar songs, through the crucifix on the wall, through the prayers of the nuns. And Ned visits frequently. Her heart stirs with feelings beyond friendship when she hears the stage approach.
Disaster threatens when Peca locates her and attacks the mission, demanding she come with him. In a bold and daring move, Taabe knocks him off his horse. In the Indian culture, this “counting coup” shames him. He withdraws leaving Taabe with the dilemma of returning to her birth family while acknowledging she has fallen in love with Ned Bright.
This is an excellent read. The author subtly weaves her research and knowledge of the time period, the history and the cultures of both whites and Native Americans without any author intrusion. She naturally weaves facts of the story world through her dialogue and descriptions. She is especially poignant when she depicts white families seeking their loved ones who had been taken.
The plot is fast-paced and keeps the pages turning. Lots of twists and turns as Taabe faces challenges from cultural adjustment to dealing with Peca’s continued searching and the threat this presents to the people who have taken her in and cared for her. Taabe final confrontation with Peca is well-written and entirely believable yet with enough of a twist that the reader doesn’t see it coming.