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Top Reads...this site Thanks folks for spending some time on the site reading our stories. The reason I say "our" is because I cannot take credit for some of the stories being read. The top stories so far this month are...

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Parkinson's....Boxing Helps...Part 2 Rock Steady Boxing Part II A personal statement on benefits of RSB Authored by Otis Vaughn February 28, 2019 Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) really works and greatly slows the progression of Parkinson’s...

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Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter, And... Chapter One       Returning to the Black Range and the land of the Warm Spring Apache Indians, I could not believe what I was seeing. The last time I was here the magical portal...

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Follow the Sun by E. V. Pete Hester Follow the Sun By E. V. Pete Hester Copyright Pending 2015     Foreword Butch Madison told this story to me several years ago and swore that everything he told was true and...

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Alabama Football Fan (A Repost of an Earlier Posting) by Dan Hall

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 09-04-2019

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Big Alabama Football Fan by Dan Hall

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 13-01-2016

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Big Alabama Football Fan

I was watching Alabama play in the national championship game Monday night and got to thinking about one of the biggest Alabama football fan I grew up with, Pop loved the Tide. He talked about listening to the 1925 & 1926 Rose Bowl games on the radio & then going to Tuscaloosa to see them get off the train after winning the National Championship games. He talked about listening when Johnny Mack Brown made that great catch in the 1931 Rose Bowl. I guess between him and my uncles Sam & Pete, they are the reasons I love football & especially ALABAMA football so much.
Back in the early 1960’s Alabama football was not on the TV every weekend, maybe once or twice a year. But they were on the radio, and at the time the best radio Pop had was in the car, so he and I would get in and listen ( him letting me start it up very 15 to 20 minutes to keep the battery charged) to the Tide Roll. Now Pop loved Bama winning but he didn’t like for Bama to lose, as none of Bear Bryant’s teams didn’t lose many times. If Alabama did get behind, Pop would get out of the car saying something about Bear Bryant needing to do better. He would be gone about 15 minutes, come by and ask me ” how they doing now ?”, if we were still losing he would leave again, only to come back again in another 15 to 20 minutes. But if they were back ahead or driving for a score, he would get back in the car to listen some more. We talked a lot listening to those games, about many things but mostly football, Alabama Football.  I really enjoyed listening to those games with him, and watching one on TV was great, he would talk to the coaches & players about what he thought they needed to be doing.
He would love it now that they are on TV every week, and the way Coach Saban has them winning games and National Championships.
Pop got to listen to or see the first 12 of Alabama 16 national championships……
He loved football, Pickens County High School football and Alabama football. He saw his brother-in-laws, sons, nephews, and grandson play for the Tornadoes.  I don’t know about the earlier games, but Uncle Pete’s and my games at PCHS, he was always standing by the fence in the north end zone. I bet at the other games he was in that spot.
And yes, Uncle Pete I was young but I remember going to your games at PCHS…”.

 Dan Hall is writing about his Grandpa and my Dad, D. W. Hester and he was a big fan…He did not take Bama losing very well at all. Thanks, Dan, good story….
Posted April 9, 2019  This is one of my favorite articles written by my nephew Dan Hall. I just wanted to share it least one more time…..Alabama just keeps on winning National Championships…I’m pretty sure Dad is watching with a lots of other Alabama fans from Heaven….(well, I don’t really know that,  but if they can, they are…..)
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Parkinson’s….Boxing Helps…Part 2

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 05-03-2019

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Rock Steady Boxing Part II

A personal statement on benefits of RSB

Authored by Otis Vaughn

February 28, 2019

Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) really works and greatly slows the progression of Parkinson’s Disease!

The leader of the Huntsville, AL Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City (RSBRC) is Mrs. Carolyn Rhodes. Carolyn became intimately interested and invested in Rock Steady Boxing when her husband Jim Rhodes was diagnosed with PD. Carolyn was the driving force in organizing and starting RSBRC. Carolyn and Jim were trained in coaching RSB in Indianapolis. She has done an excellent job, and Jim, and now others with PD, have reaped the benefits as he was one of the original participants and his PD symptoms have decreased considerably since he started boxing. When the average person sees Jim, they would never guess that he has PD. Jim has been a great encouragement to the others who have been diagnosed with PD and have joined our local program. RSBRC was started in June 2016.

Our lead coach is named Dallas. Dallas organizes all our exercises, and he keeps us from being bored by having different exercises for us to do each week. The one constant from week to week is we always do boxing exercises. We usually work on a dozen or so exercises each session with each exercise timed to last four minutes, and when we finish all the exercises, we work through the circuit of exercises again. Dallas has a loud penetrating voice that is easily heard above the loud music. Dallas keeps us moving. We have little if any slack time. Dallas and the other coaches make sure our sessions are fun.

Another lead coach is Snoop. As new PD patients join the group, Snoop teaches them the basics of boxing for several weeks before they join the main group. Snoop’s job is to conduct a basic “boot camp” with new boxers so they can keep up with the rest of the boxers when they join the group.

It has been said that PD should be considered a family of diseases. That may very well be true because almost every PD patient seems to have different symptoms. When I started boxing my symptoms were: whole body tremors and especially my hands; not being able to walk in a straight line; poor balance; difficulty swallowing; digestive problems; speaking slower, lower, and softer than previously; and a tendency to lean left while walking.

Every day our exercise routine is started by all boxers sitting in a big circle and stating our names loudly enough to be heard clearly on the other side of the circle. After we state our names, we loudly answer some question that is designed to get us to exercise our vocal cords. This vocalization of our names plus speaking some additional information exercises our vocal cords since one’s voice is usually affected by PD. In the pictures shown in the following paragraphs boxers wear yellow shirts.

 

Our circle of boxers as we start the day.

After this introduction, we do warm-up exercises that are led by Dallas or one of the other coaches. Our coaches are experts at giving us exercises that are designed to stretch and warmup our bodies. After warmup, we are ready to begin the exercises.

                                           Boxers punching the heavy bags.

A boxer punching the heavy tear shaped bag. This bag is good for practicing upper cuts. Other boxers are shadow boxing so they will be ready to punch the heavy bags.

There are many ways a heavy bag can be pounded and punched on the floor.

We also punch the torso training bag which is named Dallas, Jr. It is impossible for a boxer to knock Dallas, Jr. down.

There are a number of other forms of exercise we do including hitting the speed bags, riding stationary bikes, riding the elliptical machine, hitting plastic shopping bags, lifting weights, using 40″ PVC pipe to do exercises, jumping and running on a trampoline, bouncing heavy balls off the wall, plus many more. There is no end to Dallas’s creativity.

RSB has many doctors who support the program as well as therapists who provide tremendous help in teaching us how to manage our PD symptoms.

Now I want to say what RSB has done for me. Almost all the symptoms I mention in an above paragraph have been greatly diminished in their effect on me. Most people do not know I have PD. I live and enjoy a completely normal life. I have to say that I am not completely healed, and I still take medication for PD every day. I give RSB the credit for providing the means for me to live an ordinary life. I realize that I have the personal responsibility to practice what I am taught, and that practice must include everything I do every day. For example, PD tends to make me walk leaning toward my left. Every day for the rest of my life, I must make myself stand and walk straight and resist the urge to lean left…. and it is so with my other PD symptoms. I must take responsibility for my life. I am approaching being 84 years old, and life is very good!!! Keep moving. Keep boxing. Keep exercising.

After we have completed cool down exercises, we are ready to close out the day. At the end of the exercise day, we gather in a tight circle where we are touching each other. Dallas or one of the other coaches leads us in repeating a poem in very loud voices. The coaches write different poems for each day. The following poem, written by Dallas, is appropriately read only if one shouts the words … we need that vocal exercise!

VICTORY IS OURS

Parkinson’s and Rock Steady had a fight,

Early in the morning and through the night.

Parkinson’s was a worthy foe,

Rock Steady Boxing stole the show.

Parkinson’s started with a sucker punch,

Rock Steady countered and ate his lunch.

Parkinson’s opened his bag of tricks,

Rock Steady hit him like a ton of bricks.

Parkinson’s had to take a standing 8 count,

Rock Steady knew this was a rout.

Parkinson’s staggered and fell against the rope,

Rock Steady charged with joy and hope.

No mas no mas Parkinson’s said.

Rock Steady boxers hit him in the head.

Shout it out loud,

Victory, Victory, Rock Steady is proud!!!

We have many coaches and volunteers who help us every day without pay or compensation of any kind. They perform a wonderful service. We simply would not be able to perform without their help!!! I am sure all the boxers say many, many thanks to them!!! We thank the coaches who have paid the price in time and money to coach us: Allen, Anne, Armand, Carolyn, Dallas, Derrik, Erin, Jim, John, Julie, MC, Ru, Russ, and Susan. We thank the volunteers who dedicate so many hours of their time each week: Angela, Arlan, Bob, Bruce, Chuck, Clint, Daniel, Elena, Erin, Eva, Jane, Jo, Kandy, Maggi, Mary, Mike, Pam, Peggy, Renee, Tamara, and Vicki.

 

Parkinson’s… and Boxing Helps…You Kidding Me? Part 1

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 03-03-2019

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Rock Steady Boxing

Part 1

Introduction to Rock Steady Boxing in Huntsville, Alabama

Coauthored by Carolyn Rhodes & Otis Vaughn February 28,2019

Those with Parkinson’s Disease now have Rock Steady Boxing as a proven way to fight back against the devastating effects of the disease. This article introduces those who have PD, as well as their families, to the health benefits you can achieve with Rock Steady Boxing.

The authors of this article are based in Huntsville, Alabama. As you read this article you will notice that we call our organization: Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City. Rock Steady comes from the benefits that boxing provides to those with PD and gives them the hope that their shaking and other symptoms will calm down and they will be rock steady because of their participation in boxing.Huntsville, AL is called the Rocket City because much of the original rocket development and production in the U.S. was done on the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal located adjacent to Huntsville. At the conclusion of WWII, Dr. Wernher von Braun and his group of German scientists and engineers surrendered to the Americans, and the U.S. government located them in Huntsville so they could work on Redstone Arsenal and develop our missile and space industry. These brilliant scientists and engineers became U.S. citizens, and they did indeed lead our efforts as we learned to build and did, in fact, build many rockets and other items necessary for space exploration. The largest rocket ever built is named the Space Launch System and is being managed and built in Huntsville. That is why the citizens of Huntsville, AL takes great pride in calling our city the The Rocket City.

There are Rock Steady Boxing organizations all over the U.S. and even internationally.Those wanting to participate in Rock Steady Boxing should be able to find an organization that sponsors RSB in their own city or community. We are an affiliate of the National and International Rock Steady Boxing organization. Our organization has grown so rapidly and with such success that Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City has been named one of the six regional training organizations in the U.S., and we will assume that role on April 20, 2019. Many coaches will come to Huntsville to be trained in coaching Rock Steady Boxing.

When you finish reading Part I of this article, remember to continue to read Part II which is a personal account by one who has benefited from Rock Steady Boxing.

RSB Mission Statement: Rock Steady Boxing helps people with Parkinson’s disease maintain their physical independence, improve their quality of life and restore confidence and dignity while they wait for a cure. RSB empowers people with Parkinson’s to “fight back”. Boxers condition for optimal agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and overall strength to defend against and overcome opponents. At RSB, Parkinson’s is the opponent.

Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City is a non-contact boxing program that was developed to help fight the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Several medical studies over a twelve-year period have concluded that the Forced, Intense, Explosive action of boxing training is an effective form of exercise for people living with PD. This fitness program is dramatically improving the ability of people with Parkinson’s to live independent lives, increasing their self-worth, sense of efficacy and quality of life. Recent studies also show that this form of exercise may be “neuro-protective,” actually working to delay the progression of symptoms.

Rock Steady Boxing is a first-of-its-kind organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Patients at all levels of symptom progression are seeing improved motor function as a result of intense non-contact, boxing style exercise. We’re proud to say that Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City has joined the fight against Parkinson’s disease right here in Huntsville!

Medical research is proving early validation of the effects of forced or intense exercise:

In the words of the neurological specialists:

“Twenty-five percent of my patients come from Rock Steady… the changes to their speech, to their cognition, are much slower in those patients. They don’t get worse as quickly, and they tend to be better cognitively for longer.” – Jessica Huber, Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences Associate Professor, Purdue University

“The results from Rock Steady are awesome and impressive…at the end of a two-year study; the boxers had much better results than those who did typical exercise three days each week.” Stephanie Combs-Miller, PT, Ph.D., NCS Associate Professor and Director of Research, Krannert School of PT, U of Indianapolis

Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City was brought to the community through the Huntsville Madison County Senior Center but serves adults with Parkinson’s of any age. We are one of 713 Rock Steady Boxing affiliates world-wide.

We meet at a local gym where our 50 volunteers help our 117 plus ‘boxers’ find that HOPE is in their corner.

We have started to accomplish our goal in that, when people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in our community, their doctor follows that diagnosis with, “but there is a gym down the street where you can fight back and find HOPE.”

General Information:

FUNDING FOR QUALITY OF LIFE: Millions of dollars are allocated each year by Parkinson’s foundations to “find a cure”. While that is a very noble and necessary endeavor, there are few organizations that are focusing on quality of life TODAY. Rock Steady Boxing aims to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s, until a cure is found.

Funds will be used to support operating expenses to include volunteer training, additional coach certification, independent contractor fees, to increase hours of part-time staff, add additional staff, equipment, insurance, utility and gym rental fees.

Rock Steady is promoted through local and regional neurologist referrals, the Senior Center’s monthly Senior Life Magazine with a publication of 6,000, word of mouth, multiple local media outlets and ongoing presentations to professional organizations.

Dr. Amit Arora asked us to give a presentation to the annual Neurology Conference in May of 2018 because he wanted to spread the word about his Parkinson’s patients that are boxers successfully managing their symptoms. He and his office staff stated that they can see when a patient walks in the office which ones are boxers by their posture, gait, voice, strength and confidence. Since Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, their patients usually get worse, but since taking part in RSB, they see improvements in their patients for the first time!

How Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City is Financed

Communities recognizing the need for Rock Steady boxing will need to raise their own funds to support the program. In Huntsville, we are fortunate to have dedicated leadership and the medical community support for our program. Our local doctors recognize the benefits of Rock Steady Boxing, and they encourage their patients to participate. Our total budget is $75,000 per year.

Boxers pay $35 each per month (120 active boxers, with 38 inactive currently). We are adding 6 boxers on average each month.

Coach certification costs $500 for each coach. We sponsor the training for 3 new coaches per year.

Head Coach stipend is $500 each month.

Boxing Coach Stipend is $250 each month.

Utility Bill $150-$500 a month.

Gym Rental Fee $2800 a month

Our next Goal is: Ownership of 10-12,000 square ft building on 2 acres for North Alabama Parkinson’s Support Center where many programs can be held such as: The PD Support Group, Rock Steady Boxing, PD Dance Program, LOUD Crowd Voice Program ©, PD Music, PD Yoga, PD Cycling etc. The estimated cost for this facility is $3,000,000.

Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter, And Me by E. V. Pete Hester copyright 2010

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 04-05-2018

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Chapter One

 

 

 

Returning to the Black Range and the land of the Warm Spring Apache Indians, I could not believe what I was seeing. The last time I was here the magical portal that opened up into the strange land of long ago had caved in and was impassable. Apparently the runoff from our heavy rains had gotten the  creek out of its banks and  had washed the rocks and dirt out of the portal leaving about a four foot passageway all the way through to the other side.  A stream of water about a foot deep was still cascading through the opening. Since I had not expected to find the opening cleared, I had not made preparations for a long trip into that other world.

However, since I was camping out, I did have a few things with me. There were snacks in my backpack; some jerky, trail mix and sunflower seeds, a jar of chunky peanut butter and a sleeve of crackers. For me that was about a day’s worth of food.  Plus, I had some emergency supplies on my ATV. Several cans of ham and pork and beans, so I could walk back and get that stuff if I needed them.  I had brought along my pistol for snake protection, a flashlight, compass and a portable radio, which was a combination radio, flashlight, and clock. It also had a very loud screeching alarm when you pushed a red button. It was a small, lightweight unit, with a darn good radio, having a strap for easy carrying.  I did have those things and I could make do.

Passing up the opportunity just to step through the portal to see the other side now was not an option. The prospects for revisiting my Indian friends were very exciting.  Just who would be or could be standing on the other side?  Could it be some of the tribal members who were there before? Or some of the Buffalo Soldiers? Or maybe there would be no one and no difference in the time zones this time.

Feeling the rejuvenation of my old body as it passed through the magical time changing properties of the portal the last time I was there made me want to experience it once more. To pass through the portal made an older body younger and a later time earlier. I was ready for some of the good “old fashioned” youth make over treatment. I suppose I could name the entrance “the portal of youth”. Now it looked more like a tunnel than a portal.

Last time it not only changed the year, 2002, to a much earlier time, 1867, but it also reduced many years from my life, taking me back to my twenties as best I could figure. My only means of judgment was based on remembering when I had that much hair.

After staring at the tunnel for a couple of minutes, I decided to give it one more try, one more trip back to yesteryear.  What could happen in just sticking my head through for a few minutes? There was no way I could journey to this point and not walk through the opening to see if the old magic was still there. I liked how the passageway had previously renewed my energy and I felt it was worth the trip to get the renewal.

The water flowing through the passage had meandered around the bigger boulders that had crashed down inside the old passageway. Instead of being a straight shot of just a few feet through the portal my path would have to take a zigzagging course to the other side.

When I stepped into the running water it had a shocking effect, like it was straight from a snow melt. Its force required me to brace on the wall of the portal at all times to maintain my balance.  The portal seemed wider than before but not as tall. Last time through the portal walking upright was possible, but now I was bending over to make it through the meandering route, taking longer to reach the other side.

As I walked out on the other side, I braced for unknown happenings. Indians, soldiers, maybe both and they could be engaged in combat.  But there was none of that. I found a peaceful, quiet, sunny afternoon on that side as well. And it was warm, thank goodness. My cold feet and legs needed some relief from the icy water.

The time of day seemed to be about the same as the other side of the portal and the temperature seemed pretty close. My feet were still very cold from the trip. I thought about finding a good warm rock and letting them warm up , but waiting and watching seem more appropriate as Apaches could be lurking somewhere in the shadows.  My surveying the area for a while seemed more prudent. Of course, I was making the assumption that I had in fact time traveled again.

The stream Hawk and I had fished on my first trip here, was out of it banks, still running though a channel that went through the portal.  The stream had been very high until just a short time ago as the banks were still soggy and had fresh debris covering them.

The outcropping of rocks that produced the circular overhang that housed the tribe on my earlier visit had signs of smoke and soot all over them. The ashes of many old fires remained. It was impossible to tell how long these ashes had been there.  The grass around the area had been growing at least a season or so as it was not in the least trampled down, making me think that the tribe had not been here for some time.

There were a few birds singing, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, and the rushing sounds of the stream was all that could be heard.

I suppose I had hoped to see Butterscotch one more time and hear the chatter of the tribe. I could visualize her face and well remembered how pretty she was.

Ok, so I had hoped to see Butterscotch one more time. And I would like to see Hawk and some of the others as well. Yeah, I have to admit I wanted to see most of them, but not Wolf.

“Yooo whoooo, oh, Mister, can you hear me? Wait up, sir.”

“What in the world is that?”  I thought, “Am I hearing things?” The high pitched voice continued.

“Mister, oh, Mister, Hello…. Hello…. Do you hear me? Are you hard of hearing, sir? I have been calling you forever. Ever since I saw you enter the tunnel coming into this valley.”

Hearing the voice had made me jump. Who the hell is that and what are they doing out here, I wondered, looking all around. I could hear a female voice, but I could not see anyone. Finally, she came out from the portal looking all around trying to locate me. She was female, 35 or 40, brown pants, brown blouse,  buckskin jacket, black hiking boots with about a 12 inch lace, a backpack, with a brown hat hanging from it. The pack looked like it could contain a bedroll and a tent. She had short black hair, an uneven cut that looked like it could have been done with a butcher knife.  A lock of hair was hanging down, almost covering the left eye. She had a straight nose, but it blended in with the rest of her face very nicely. She had blue eyes and a nice smile. She was not exactly pretty, but she was close.

“Thank goodness I caught you. I am out of water and out of food and I am terribly lost. I am so glad to see you. First, do you have anything to eat? I am about to starve. I ate my last trail mix yesterday around noon” she said quite pleadingly.

Talk about being surprised to see someone other than Indians or soldiers. I am sure it showed.

“Sure, let me put my pack down and I will get you something. I have some food stuff with me.” While I was talking I started taking out some jerky and crackers from my pack. I confessed my shock at seeing her by saying, “Man, you shocked the crap out of me when you yelled from the portal.”

She immediately started eating. I did not want to interrupt as she was chewing away, doing some smacking and making the food appear so good.

After giving her time for eating and relieving the hunger pains, I asked, “How does it happen that you are out here in the middle of nowhere in the first place and why would you want to be here in the second place?”  I pulled out the chunky peanut butter and knifed some on a couple of crackers, one for her and one for me.  Eating the cracker and peanut butter stopped her from answering for a while. Then she picked up the one I had made for me and ate it. So, I continued making peanut butter and crackers for her for a few minutes. After she slowed some on the eating, I made one for me and ate it.

Finally she replied, “Well, it’s like this. My friends and I were having an argument about where we were and the way to get back to our car. My friends are two dumb-ass guys and one smart-ass girl. I was about ready to put some whip-ass on the smart-ass girl anyway.” She had to pause to get a drink of water, washing down some of the peanut butter. “Well, I was so sure I was right and they were wrong, that I determined I should go ahead and go the way I thought was the proper direction. I think now that I was wrong”, tears welling up in her eyes, “and I should have listened to them this time. I left them breaking camp and they never caught up with me.  Usually I am right. I was positive that the way I was going was the correct way. I was so scared last night sleeping all alone in the forest. I hardly slept any. I called for them a long time early in the evening and they did not reply. Later, I kept hearing noises and critters were walking all around me. I saw one raccoon come right up to my sleeping bag.” She shivered when she told of the raccoon. “I’m just glad it wasn’t a bear. Anyway, looks like this time I may be the dumb-ass girl.”

She looked at me strangely. “You look a lot younger now than you did when

we first started talking. Hair has grown on your head while we have been sitting here. What is happening? Are you ok?” Her eyes were getting large and she seemed to be getting scared.

“Well, young lady… ah… What is your name?”

“Paige, Paige Middleton.”

“Paige, you probably will not believe me……. Well, maybe you will. This is my third trip into this valley. Each trip through that portal into this valley does strange things to me and quite frankly, to time itself.”

“What do you mean? Like Jekyll and Hyde? Does it make you weird or change you to someone bad or what? You won’t hurt me, will you? You don’t look mean but……..” Her eyes widened and the color drained from her face, showing fright as she spoke.

“Forget the weird and mean,” I cut her off short, “I could never be that, well, maybe weird, but not in a bad way. You see, each time I come through that portal I return to my youth. It’s nice. I get my hair back, lose wrinkles, lose aches and pains, and get back the muscles of my youth. And my good looks, too. Oh, and my charming personality becomes more, shall we say, ah, charming.  I don’t want to forget that,” I said, smiling.

“Oh, heavens, no, let’s not forget the good looks and charming personality. You know, you are not all that bad looking now, so maybe it is helping.  I’ll comment later on the personality.”

“Thank you, I think. Anyway, the other thing about coming into this valley is the time or year or zone. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s strange for sure. The last time I was here the year was 1867.”

“No, shit.” She just blurted that out.

I laughed. “No shit is right. Anyway, it seems that we are in another zone right now. I mean, on one side of the portal you have a date and on this side you have a different date.  One thing that is very evident today is that there are no jet contrails over here. Look at the sky. No jets flying overhead. Are we in 1867 as I was before or in a different year this time? I cannot answer which one until I see someone on this side of the portal, provided they speak English.”

“Could we be in 2007, same as the other side? That is also a possibility, huh?” she asked

“Well, yeah, but”, then I went ahead and told her most of the things that had happened to me on my earlier trips[1], into and out of this strange place, about Butterscotch, Hawk, and Wolf and about all of the Indian tribesmen that I remembered. I also told her about the Buffalo Soldier that was a captive here the same time I was and about our escape into the 21st Century. I told her of our trip back to Fort Selden which he had left a few days before he was captured, when it was a working fort. To him our visit was a few days later, but in reality it was 135 years later, and the fort was a falling down monument.  I brought her right up to present with my trip back to see what was happening with the portal and what year it would be if I could get inside. Also, I wanted to see who was around this trip and if there would be anyone I knew. I also knew all those things could be different.  I let her know all bets were off as to what we would really find. I had no way of knowing.

“So, what are you going to do? Explore around to find someone to tell you what year it is? How will you know and how can you meet someone out in this wild country? It all seems weird. It also sounds exciting.” She seemed more accepting and less frightened now. Her face had an “I want to know more about this place” look.

“Well, first, I need to get you back up to the highway. My car is parked near Emory Pass, but my ATV is just on the other side of the portal. I will get you back, stock up on supplies and try to explore this area for a while.”

She said, “I’m a reporter by trade. I had a photographer and a couple of friends with me doing a story on “The Black Range.” We had been to Dusty, Chloride and Winston to check out those old towns. So, this is right down my alley. I would like to explore with you for a few days since we are here. What do you think?”

“I think you are getting younger yourself. Do you have a mirror?”

Reaching in her fanny pack she soon had a mirror in her hand and she was examining herself with extreme interest. I knew something was going on inside her head as she was wondering about what she was seeing. “I look like I did when I was about 18 or 20. Wow, how can that be? How do you suppose that happens? My feet are not bothering me so bad now either. Great.”

“You know, you are not bad looking either, a few more minutes and you may be pretty. This is exciting,” I replied, getting back at her for the earlier remark. She did not say anything but gave me a “go to hell” look or something close to that.

“This is remarkable. I would like to write this story….this time travel stuff; that is if we really have time traveled. For sure something is happening to my skin and face. This might even be something for a novel. Can we get your ATV on this side of the portal?”

“No, we cannot get the ATV over here. It won’t fit through the tunnel. The time travel thing only works when you come through the portal. You can come over the top of that ridge there and nothing happens as far as changes to your age or time changes.”

“I tell you what we can do. We will go back and get what provisions I have on the ATV, some ham, pork and beans and a few more bottles of water and my big light. We can stay over here until the supplies run low. Do you think your friends will be worried about you?”

“Yeah, they will probably be concerned. But since it will only be for a short time and we are already here, let’s do it. I need a good story. This may be a great story.” She seemed very excited about it all.

“We can leave them a note on the ATV. However, I hate to have them come on through the portal without any warning. Maybe we can say, “If you decide to come after me, be very careful. There are some weird dangers and happenings over here.”

“Let me caution you about one other thing. We have to come and go together or very close to one another in time. If we don’t we could end up in different time zones over here. A few minutes later could alter the time. So even if your friends come through the portal to find us, they may enter a world different than the one we are in.”

“We can go out looking for them. Do you think you can find your way back to where you left them? Maybe we can find them? Do you want to try?” I asked.  She did not say anything for a while, thinking about situation.

“No, if we are only going to be a couple of days, let’s go ahead with your search. How long do you think you will be?” she asked.

“Not long. We do not have enough provisions to stay very long.”

 

 

Chapter Two

 

We divided the new rations I brought through the portal, bringing everything we could easily carry from the ATV.  My plan was to follow the creek upstream for a few miles. If anyone was in the canyon they would be following the creek.

We did leave the note almost exactly like we spoke of doing. So if her friends came that far, at least they would know she had company with her. I wrote the note and signed my name stating that a couple of days were all we planned on staying and it would probably be better if they just waited on Paige to return.

We had walked upriver until it was getting near sundown. I felt we should find a good location to spend the night. Heavy clouds were building up in the west indicating that rain was on the way. The temperature was dropping so it could be snow rather than rain. At this elevation, snows were common in May, the month on the other side of the portal.

About twenty yards or so from the creek and about 10 feet higher than the creek bed, there was a rock overhang, about eight foot tall at the front that curved back into the hill a few feet. Plenty of firewood was in the area and we soon had wood stacked at one end of our campsite to keep it dry and to keep us from going out at night looking for it.

Our supper was the ham cut into cubes, mixed with a can of Pork and Beans,’ and heated over our small fire. I boiled water for some instant coffee also.  Paige bragged on the food and it did taste pretty good. We finished the crackers.

Soon rain was coming down in sheets. The lightning was very close and the thunder was extremely loud. We moved to the very back of the overhang with our sleeping bags. We placed the firewood in the front of the opening to block the splashing and blowing rain, which helped some.

Darkness came early with the rain clouds. Our sleeping bags, spread against the back wall of the overhang, were becoming very comfortable. The fire felt good and we added just enough wood to keep it from dying out. The rumbling thunder made talking difficult and all that walking had caught up with us. Sleep came quickly.

During the night, Paige got up to relieve herself, waking me up. After she returned to the camp, I added wood to the fire and made a trip outside as well.

It was still raining very gently while I was outside, but I saw stars in the western sky. Soon the rain would be over.

We finished the pork and beans for breakfast and made fresh coffee. The hot coffee hit the spot in the cold morning mountain air. We both slipped back into our sleeping bags to finish our coffee. The sun was taking its time about coming out. Clouds were still hanging around in the eastern sky while the western sky was very clear.

“Let’s break camp and continue up stream for a while. I want us to stay close to water and specifically this stream as it leads us to our portal. We never want to lose the way to the portal. If we do, we could be trapped here forever, and we don’t know where “here” is. If we get separated remember to follow this stream back to the portal.”

“I know that I have changed, or become younger looking, but I still am not so sure about this being another time. Everything seems like it did on the other side of the portal. The flora and fauna is exactly the same. If it were not for my youthful looks, I don’t think I could believe you at all.” She did not look at me with distrust, but rather like “this cannot be real.”

The rain last night made the ground soft and muddy near the stream so we hiked out away from the stream and stepped from rock to rock up on the side of the canyon. We had been talking most of the morning, but for some reason we had stopped talking and were resting. We both heard the noise at the same time. It sounded like a herd of cattle or horses coming at us. We moved back into the brush, further away from the creek.

It was a tribe. It was not the same people I had been with previously. They had the same features, but were definitely not the same people. I did not recognize any of them. Some walked while others rode horses taking several minutes to pass. Horses were pulling travois, all heavily loaded.  There seemed to me to be 200 or 300 men, women and children passing by.

One of the warriors caught my eye by the way he sat his horse and carried himself, straight, tall and proud. I have pictures of most of the Apache chiefs and he reminded me of Mangas Coloradas of the Warm Spring Apaches. It could be him.

Two small boys were up on our side of the river taking the high road, looking everything over, and headed right for us. We hunkered down behind a big bush. Hopefully, it had enough foliage to cover us. When they were within fifteen or twenty feet of us, someone from below called to them. They apparently were wandering too far away from the tribe and had been called back closer to the group.

It took a while for the tribe to pass by us.  We continued to hide for several minutes after all had passed just in case there were some stragglers or rear guards. Sure enough, two warrior types came by a few minutes after the main group.

Speaking in a soft whisper, Paige asked, “Did you know any of them? Were they the ones you were with before? “

“No, they seem older; that is not the correct term…ah….. they seemed of an earlier age than the tribe I was with. Looking at their clothing and weapons date them to an extent. A few guns could be seen in the hands of the horsemen. Some warriors had bows and arrows and lances. I did see a few metal knives. However, I have no idea how to determine even an approximate year we are dealing with here. But I seriously think we could be back prior to 1863 or before, anyway back to a earlier time than when I was here before, especially if that is really Chief Mangas Coloradas leading them.”

I told her about the pictures I have and who I thought I saw riding with this tribe. Mangas Coloradas could be a vicious dude at times. I read that he had a run in with some white miners in this area and that was bad for the miners and bad for us, if we were in that time frame.

“Well, let’s go meet them and visit with them. Maybe we can determine from that meeting the timing here. Are you ready to follow them?” Page asked. “They will be able to see that we are not here to make trouble.”

“No, I am not ready to follow them. Nor do I want to visit with them at all until we can learn a little more about them. They could be extremely mean and ill tempered today. What if they just got their butts kicked by the U.S. Cavalry somewhere and they are not in a mood for seeing white people? No, I want to stay completely away from them. Maybe after we have determined something more about their temperament we will.”

“Well, I find that totally unacceptable.  I came with you to try and get a story and I cannot get a story sitting up here on my butt. I am going down to get a closer look. If all seems well, then I am going on up to their camp. This can make a wonderful story and I want to tell it.” Paige was not whispering now.

“Wait, just a minute. Hold on please, girl” trying to remain calm and keep my voice down. “Have you ever studied the old west and some of the stories of the Indians and how they treated the white’s, especially after we started taking over a lot of the western territories, areas that they considered their land. Sometimes it was not very pretty. The ladies faired better than the men, I think, but you need to rethink just what you are saying. To approach them now is crazy. Let’s study them for a while.”

“People are people. They could not possibly see me as a threat of any kind.

I am sure they will treat me with honor and respect as long as I treat them respectful. I am going to see them.”

“Girl, of your foursome, I think maybe you were the dumb-ass! You are not going to visit them right now.”

“You want to bet on it?”  She started getting up, “I want my story.”

“Damn it, wait…..” reaching for her but missing as she started for the stream.

I ran after her and laid a tackle on her that would have made my high school football coach proud, taking her down with all my weight on top of her. Rocks were everywhere making me wish I had waited until we had grassy ground to tackle her.  I immediately placed my hand over her mouth and was holding her tightly. I never thought about wrestling a girl, ever. At first I noticed she was so soft.  Then I noticed she was tough. Then I noticed she was pretty damn mean. She was a kicking, screaming, fighting little filly. We rolled all over that hillside, not missing any of the rocks. I did not want to release my hand from her mouth and yet it was very difficult to hold her down with only one hand. “You son of a bit…..” She never finished as she clamped down on my hand with her teeth.  After what seemed like ten minutes of her chewing on my hand and giving new meaning to the term, “steak fingers”, I had to turn her loose. She ran downstream toward the tribe, not looking back.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

I continued lying there, holding my freshly chewed hand, hurting and mad as I could be, wishing this had not happened and wondering “what the hell to do now”? If I go down there and they take us both captive, we are screwed. If I don’t go, how will I know what has happened to the girl. I can’t let her endure whatever is to be endured alone. I have to go down there. “Damn!!!”

It took several hours to reach the place were they were camping. This time they stayed out away from the overhanging rocks where the earlier people had stayed, instead camping in the meadows downstream from there.

There she was, right in the middle of the tribe, surrounded by all the women and children. It looked to me like the women had control of Paige, not the men as I had figured. They were feeling of her, her clothing, her hair, trying to get into her fanny pack and get her back pack away from her. There must have been thirty pair of hands feeling all over her. A couple of the children smelled of her clothing.  I could tell she was now frightened and disturbed. The men had backed off a few yards giving Paige totally to the women and children, but watching closely, some grinning and amused.

I still had the radio, flash light and siren combo hanging around me. I decided the best thing I could do to get them away from Paige was to sound the alarm. I did.

Wow. It echoed across the meadows and bounced off the hills and in general sounded much louder than it ever did at home. Everything stopped.

No one moved. I walked up to Paige, put my arm around her and started backing to lead her away from the entire group. Several of the men started to come after us. I hit the alarm button again as they were surrounding us. They took off running for a few feet, hands over their ears and a wild look on their faces, then stopped and looked at us.

We started walking off again. They did not follow us this time.

We got near the stream, stopped and turned around to look at the tribe.

They had not moved, still looking at us. Paige said, “I’m so sorry. They probably did not mean me any harm, but they scared me. Their hands were all over me and they wanted everything I had on my person. If I would have let them they would have taken all of my possessions. Thank you for coming after me.”

“Paige, it’s not over yet. We have to do some thinking right now. We cannot let them have the upper hand. Let’s keep our distance for awhile.”

Forgetting my hamburger hand for a moment, I was so glad to get her back. The fear hit me after it was over. I hugged her. It seemed we both needed a hug at the moment. It was a very short respite.

I looked just as one of the warriors drew back on his bow to launch an arrow in our direction. It looked to me like it was aimed right at my head. We ducked down behind some brush. The arrow passed through the air right where we were just moments before. He was good. Soon many arrows were coming our way moving us back into the rocks on the north side of the stream.

“Take your pistol and start shooting at them. Try not to kill them, ok?”

“I don’t know, Paige, once I start shooting it will be all over. I do not have enough bullets to kill them all and killing or wounding a few of them will mean our certain death. Let’s work our way down to the portal and get out of here. To stay means big trouble. This has started off wrong.”

“All my fault, dumb-ass girl, huh?” she said as if expecting me to sympathize with her.

“Yeah! You did not think that through at all and I am very disappointed in your actions. That was dumb.” Now I was remembering my hand and fingers and her stupid actions and sympathy was not what I was feeling.

“Thanks a lot, Mr. Einstein, you said yourself you did not know what or who we might find.”

“Well, Sweetie, you could have gotten both of us killed. I am not so sure we are out of trouble yet. I may have to shoot over their heads to slow them down some. They can sneak up on us and it will be all over… let’s go,” pulling her up and heading down the stream.  Soon a sprinkling of arrows started falling around us. I turned and fired one shot up into the tree branches trying to slow down the pursuit. That helped as they headed for cover.

They fired a few rounds from their rifles at us also. We were far enough away that the shots were low but they were ricocheting off the rocks toward us.

Minutes later we were at the portal.  I pushed Paige through before she could slow down. She was trying to look back over our shoulders to see if they were close to us. They seemed content to let us run away. I imagined they knew they could get on their horses and catch us in a very short time, no hurry.

We got on the ATV, it started right up and I drove up the trail for about a hundred yards and stopped to watch the portal. No one came after us.

“That’s strange” said Paige, “I thought they would be right behind us.”

“It is strange. I noticed when I was here before of the tribe’s reluctance to come through the portal. Maybe they know more about it than we do. Or maybe they have lost people that went through it. My friend the Buffalo Soldier started aging pretty quickly after we came through and I had to hustle to get him back here before he died. He looked to be 100 years old when I literally dragged him through the portal. But within minutes after our return he was laughing and joking with me. However, a few more minutes and he would have been history.”

“Were you able to find out anything about him later? I mean, when you next visited Fort Selden?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact I did. He told me the year then was 1867. The records at Fort Selden list a Private Tom Davidson as dying in December of

  1. Dysentery was listed as the cause of death. My guess is it was the same man.”

“Too bad.”

“Yeah. Let’s go try to find your buddies.”

“OK. But then let’s get some supplies and come back up here. I want to buy me a pistol also.”

“Do you know how to use one?”

“No. Do you?”

“Well, kind’ a.”

“Well, I’m probably at least that good. Ha, I’m kidding. My dad taught me how to use one and use it well. In that department I can be a real help.”

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 

The trip up to the car did not take all that long. Soon we had the ATV loaded on the trailer and had the car turned to start back toward Hillsboro.

I thought of the files I had brought with me and had left in the car.

I pulled my file on the Warm Spring Apache Indians. It contained pictures

Of Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Nana, as well as Cochise and Geronimo, chiefs and fighters of the Mimbreno and Chiricahuas Apaches that I wanted Paige to see. “Tell me if you saw any of these guys in that tribe back there.”

“The very first one here was there. This in the one that was sitting with his legs crossed under him watching me. He looked mean. So, Mangas Coloradas……. that is who that guy was, huh!”

“Pretty mean, darling. That’s him.  It says in there somewhere that some white miners around Silver City or Santa Rita tied him to a tree and beat the crap out of him. It upset him just a tad. He went on the war path and was raising all sorts of hell. I hope we are not close to that time frame. His daughter, Dos-The-Seh married Cochise, another pretty mean bunch of Indians. That is not a guy you want to mess with, believe me. You can bring the whole Apache nation down on you.”

I put the car in gear and was pulling out when Paige shouts, “Wait, there are my friends. I’ll go talk to them” as their SUV was pulling into the parking area.

I could tell they were happy to see her, hugging and kissing and carrying on. After a few minutes, Paige was pointing at me which made me think to look in the big mirror in the visor. Thirty years old would be my guess right now in assessing my looks. Well, not to bad.

I wondered if she was telling them about the “old man” she met or about the “man” she met. I continued sitting in the car because I did not want to interfere with her telling her side of the story. They all continued looking at me while she was talking. I figured maybe ten minutes before they all came over to meet the “weird guy”. Just about ten minutes on the nose.

“Hey, how you doing? My name is Butch. Paige was telling us some weird shit about the goings on down in that strange valley; about you growing hair and getting younger, all kind of unbelievable Indian stories and crap.” (This had to be one of the dumb ass guys.)  “Sounds made up to me, but we are thinking maybe we should all go back with you to check it out. We will need to restock before we go in there. Paige agrees that we all should go. You can ride with us down to get the supplies.”

He was a nice looking, snappy dressing, and self assured young buck. I did not like his tone, his looks or his mannerisms. He looked like he was one of those guys who knew it all. And if they were all as careless as Paige seemed to be, for sure I did not need that much excitement. Standing off watching was a short, fat guy and talking with Paige was a cute, perky, cheerleader type girl. Paige may be jealous of her was what I was thinking.

Trying to be nice, I said, “Hi. How you doing? No, I have some research to do and I made some friends back in there many months ago. I would like to try to find them…… Alone.”

“Oh, we were under the impression that Paige was going with you.”

“No, Paige invited herself and quite frankly, she does not think very well or handle herself very well in dealing with the weird things in this particular valley. She could get us both is deep trouble. I would just as soon go by myself. Thanks anyway.”

“Paige, he says he does not want us to come along. Apparently he thinks you will get him in trouble.” The man shouted at Paige.

Paige jerked around and immediately started out toward us, in a hurry, head down and you could tell she was smoking mad. She came right up to my side of the car, leaned her arms on the car door, looked me square in the eyes, “You son of a bitch. What are you talking about, “we are not going with you.” There is a story in there and I am going to get it, with or without you. I think I can find that portal myself by following your tracks. I am going to read up on Mangas Colorado or what ever his name is so I will know what to expect, then I won’t need you.”

“Good, you find it and remember that the Apaches are for real. You may want to study up some on the history of the Warm Spring Tribe before you go back. It may be a different time and a different chief. And if you take this little army with you, you probably should buy some guns. See you around, Paige. Take care.”

I put the car in gear and headed out toward Hillsboro. I was mad and upset, but I needed to calm down and start planning on the supplies I would need. Light weight, dry stuff, instant soups and coffee, hot chocolate, etc and enough of it to last for several days,…. Just forget that hand chewing bitc…….That girl….That Paige, I hated she came into my life…..Dry beans, bacon, etc..

I made it to Hillsboro before Paige’s army, buying out most of the instant food stuffs they had. In part, I was hoping to make Paige drive on to T or C for her supplies. However, there were enough of them to carry a good supply of can goods and stuff should they desire.

Within an hour I was on my way back up toward Emory Pass. I did not meet Paige and her crew on my way up the mountain road. I was worried that maybe they had started back tracking me to the portal without restocking their supplies.  They could already be in the valley.

When I pulled into the parking area of Emory Pass their SUV was not there. It was a 4 wheel drive, but I did not think they would try the narrow and rough trail down to the portal. However, if they were as crazy as Paige, they might try it.

They could have gone over to Silver City, also.

I parked and unloaded the ATV. After tying down my supplies I headed out. The trip to the portal was uneventful. I reloaded my back-pack and put some of the light food stuff in my shoulder tote. I had a full load for sure. I was thinking I will have enough to last a couple of weeks with some planning and without anyone else to feed.

Parking the ATV in exactly the same spot as earlier I retraced my steps into the portal. The run off from the creek had slowed quite a bit. If I had been careful I could have chosen my steps and missed the water completely.

I was in to much of a hurry for that so I just charged on through. A tribe was still camped here. I suppose it was the same people.

I had no quarrel with Mangas Coloradas nor did I especially want to come into the valley during his reign as Chief. I had studied Victorio and would like to meet him before he became so mean and fierce. I am not sure when exactly that “best time” would be. The whites had killed Mangas Coloradas.

The story goes that in the summer of 1862[2] he met with an intermediary to call for peace with the Americans and then later, in January 1863, he decided to personally meet with Brigadier General Joseph Rodman West, an officer of the California militia and a future senator from Louisiana. Armed soldiers took him into custody. West gave the execution order himself. That night Mangas was tortured, shot and killed as he was “trying to escape.” They cut off his head, boiled it and sent the skull to New York City. The mutilation of Mangas body only increased the hostilities between the Apache and the Americans.

Meeting Mangas did not specifically appeal to me at the moment.

How could I change the time frame for a visit back to see my old friends? If I waited an hour or two, how much of a change would that make? What if I just kept going back and forth and looked for the changing time and seasons?

I decided to go back and forth a few times to see what happens between visits. I walked back to the ATV and made a fire and cooked some ham and beans. I added a can of green chilies I had on the ATV. That made a very good meal. I had waited about two hours then  decided to try it again.

This time I did take my time in going through the portal. It was getting on toward sundown on the other side. A little darker than what it was on the 2007 side. There were no camp fires burning. The tribe had moved on or the time had changed or both. How much time had transpired?

I went over to the campsite and the ashes were cold but fresh. Digging down into the fire bed the coals were completely out. So they had been gone for a while, so my two hours had made a pretty good time difference.

I was standing there scratching my chin when I heard Paige and her troops storming through the portal. Butch saw me and hesitated some.

“Don’t pay him any attention. Let’s go upstream. I think we can find them up this way.” Paige was taking charge of her little band.

“Now remember, we have to pay close attention to where we are in relation to this stream at all times. If we don’t, we could spend forever in this strange land.” Paige looked over at me as she spoke, smiling and then led her merry little band on upstream.

I smiled at them and then went back through the portal to wait a few minutes, maybe spend the night, and then go through again.

Going out several yards from the portal opening I started a fire for hot water for a cup of instant soup and instant coffee. Both sounded good.

After enjoying the soup and coffee, I had my gear packed and ready to return into never, never land when I hear the troops coming through the portal. They were grunting, moaning and groaning loudly as they made their way through.

Butch was draped over Paige and the Fat guy. He had blood all over his shirt. It was hard to tell where it was coming from.

“Help us,” Paige screamed at me. “Start up your ATV. We have to get him to a hospital. Dave has some wounds too but not as bad as Butch. Please drive us down to Hillsboro or T or C. We need to hurry.”

Butch moaned, “Yeah, hurry. Man, I’m hurting. I think it may be pretty bad.  He sounded bad.

“How about you, are you hurting bad?” I asked Dave.

“I’m ok.” Then he fainted. I caught him before he hit the rocks that were all around us.

“Let’s load them on the back of the ATV. Put the sleeping bags under them to help soften the ride. Also, we can take these tie down straps to help hold them on the ATV.” It took a few minutes to get them loaded and tied on. Paige was using supplies from my first aid kit to help stop the bleeding on Butch which seemed to be slowing down.

The girls doubled up in the front seat and both watched the guys as we drove slowly up the rocky trail to the parking area at Emory Pass. It took a lot longer to haul a couple of limber guys, bouncing over the trail and all the while trying to take the smoother routes. The last part of the journey required using the headlights making finding “smooth” a lot more difficult.

Arriving at the car, I called 911 asking for an ambulance. I made connections, but I was not at all sure they could hear me. We were cut off before confirming that they were indeed sending an ambulance to meet us. We drove down the mountain as fast as we dared. The curves were so bad we were afraid to drive fast. Before we made it to Kingston, the ambulance met us with flashing lights. I blinked my lights at them to get them to stop. We loaded Dave and Butch up with them and they started giving them medical attention before the ambulance started moving again.

Paige and Faye (the cheerleader type) rode with me. Paige filled me in on the happenings upstream from the portal. A half dozen warriors were camping about two miles upstream from the portal. Paige and her army surprised them and the warriors immediately opened fire on them. The fighting did not last over fifteen minutes. Butch and Dave had been hit right off. But with all of the fire power Paige and her bunch with their two lever action, 30 – 30’s, they had the Apaches riding off pretty quick. So Paige and Faye had to practically carry Butch, as he could not walk consistently. Dave could walk, but was not strong enough to help with Butch very much. Paige and Faye were literally worn out. Soon after Paige finished telling the story they were both asleep.

At the hospital, Butch was rushed into the operation room. The emergency room people took care of Dave. I was standing there looking on and one of the nurses noticed my hand and started doctoring it. I let her work on it and looking over at Paige to see if see noticed at all. She did not seem to, but I noticed some bruises on Paige. “What happened to you?” I asked.

“Some idiot tackled me in some rocks.”

“Oh.” I did not want to go further at the moment. However, I did notice the mean look she sent my way.

The doctor in charge of the Emergency Room wanted to know who shot the two guys. “Doc, it appeared to be some guys dressed up like Indians. I can only assume they were drinking or all drugged up.” I looked at Paige while I was speaking and she remained quiet, at least keeping the law away from the portal. This seemed to satisfy his need to know. He told us he would have to report the shooting and I let him know that only the guys could give him the details of that. I did not want Paige talking about that world being different than our world and have people from everywhere coming in.

After the hospital folks assured us that both of them were going to be ok with a little time and attention, I let Paige know I was headed back up the mountain tomorrow morning.

“I want to go back up there with you. There is a very important story there, one that I really want to tell. One that you would like told as well.  I am sorry I did not listen to you before, but now I give you my assurance that I will listen and not make any trouble. I now know the Apache can be very dangerous, but I am still hoping to find the tribe that you first encountered. May I go with you? Please?….. I promise to listen to you.” Looking so cute as she begged me…. I’m such a sucker for these cute females….

“Paige, you know that this is an awesome responsibility for me in taking you. I don’t know what I am getting into myself, what danger I will face, so I really don’t know how to answer you. I think it would be better to leave you here.” Trying to sound tough and concerned and I was, kind of. But on the other hand I remembered the soft landing and the early part of the rolling around on the river bank……..

“Don’t do this to me. You know I want that story. You know I will face any danger and not hold you responsible for my safety. I want to come with you. Really, you need another strong back to help carry all the supplies. And I know you like me. I can tell. Let me come with you, please…….Please?”

Damn, that did it. How could she tell I liked her? Women!

“Crap.” Trying to sound overwhelmed  “Where is your camping stuff? Let’s get it loaded and stop by a good store to restock. Why am I agreeing to this?…. I am so stupid.”

“Stupid… Well, yeah, I can agree with that. But thank you so much. We will have a good time. I will help with the cooking this time. You’re not a very good cook .Well; I mean you do not have a very varied menu. Ham and pork and beans….. I will not disappoint you this time. Really, I won’t.”

Shaking my head was the best I could give her. We had the car loaded and the supplies bought within an hour and were ready for a trip back up the mountain after a good nights rest in the local Super 8.

The mirror at the motel that night told me I was now approaching 40 or more with the age. I might be an old man again by morning.

 

 

Chapter Five

 

On the ride back up the mountain, I decided that Paige needed a history lesson on the Warm Spring Apaches. I had spent the last few years studying Victorio and some of the other Apache chieftains.  I thought on the trip to the portal I would try to enlighten her as to what I had learned about the Warm Spring people.

_________________________________________________________

In the early years of the development of the west, the United States Government had determined that in order to change the Indians from their free roaming ways that a series of reservations would be established to provide for the Indians and at the same time protect the whites moving into the western parts of the United States. Reservations lands needed to be chosen for the Mimbres (Warm Spring), Chiricahuas, Coyoteros, Gila and Mogollon bands of Apaches dwelling in the New Mexico and Arizona areas. The criteria for reservation lands were: arable land, good water, remote from white settlements, surrounded by mountains not easily crossed and an abundant supply of wood and game. The government learned the hard way that it was easier to establish criteria than to get the Apaches to move to the lands chosen for them.

The Warm Spring Band was living at Ojo Caliente, in the valley of the Alamosa Creek, in the Black Range. The Government thought that this would be a good location for one of the reservations. This area was one of the Warm Spring Tribe favorite locations. Cochise came to this location to visit from time to time. Victorio (Warm Spring Band) claimed this land as his tribe’s ancestral homeland. In the spring of 1871 they were allowed to move onto their new reservation at Ojo Caliente. In August of that same year the Warm Spring Tribe was forced to leave the reservation and move about seventy miles northwest to the Tularosa Valley. This upset the Warm Spring Band as they felt they were leaving their rightful homeland. In the summer of 1874 they were allowed to return to Ojo Caliente. After the passing of Cochise, also in 1874, many of his followers left the Arizona Reservations and joined Victorio on the Warm Spring Reservation.

Also, the Army had built a post at Ojo Caliente bringing increased trade in whiskey for the Indians.  The whiskey created new problems for the nearby settlers and the Army. In May 1877, the Army decided that the removal of the Warm Spring Tribe to the San Carlos Reservation was necessary for the protection of the miners and settlers in the Black Range area.  Victorio and his people were told to relocate to the San Carlos reservation in Arizona along with about five other Apache Tribes. Victorio and his band were told they would have plentiful game to hunt and that cattle sufficient to feed them all would be supplied by the Indian Agent. But there was not plentiful game and the agent did not supply the cattle as promised.

In September, 1877, Victorio and the Warm Spring Tribe and some of the Chiricahuas fled the reservation and started a three year rampage that the southwest had not seen before. They did come back to the Ojo Caliente Reservation in 1878. They were told they would have to move to the Mescalero Reservation so Victorio took off again. He returned briefly in 1879, only to flee again.

The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) chased him all over New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. In 1880, they chased him into Mexico. On October 14, 1880, Col. Joaquin Terrazas of the Mexican Army attacked Victorio in the Tres Castillos Mountains and by the morning of Oct. 15, Victorio and most of his warriors had been killed. However, it has been reported that Chief Victorio took his own life by falling on his knife as death appeared imminent.

The surviving children were distributed among the Mexican families who wanted them and the adult were sold into servitude. Col. Terrazas[3] is said to have earned $27,450 from the sell of the scalps and prisoners he personally claimed.

_________________________________________________________

“Paige, can you understand why I would feel sympatric toward Victorio and the Warm Spring Tribe. History has said he was a very vicious person.

I am saying that maybe we pushed him in that direction. Geronimo, another

 

Apache said that Victorio “was as fine a man as I have ever met.”

“Gene Ballinger in his article, [4]Ambush in Massacre Canyon, wrote while visiting the canyon. The beauty and silence of the spot today, the last resting place for men, mostly Black Buffalo Soldiers, who fought against Victorio, stands as a reminder of the foolishness and dishonesty of some of those in our government of the time. The battle never had to happen, nor many of the others of the Apache Wars that took so many lives on both sides and all the civilians caught in the middle. All our government had to do was keep its word and maintain the treaties and promises made by government officials to the Apache. That was not done.”

“So, Paige, I hope you can see why the time we arrive on the other side of the portal is so important. If we could show up there between, say, 1874 and 1877, we might be able to see the kinder, gentler side of the famed old warrior. If we hit there near one of the major battles, we might be in deep do-do and get to see his vicious side.”

When we arrived at the portal this time there was no water flowing through the opening. The ground was still damp and soft in spots. We went through with all out camping gear and supplies, fully loaded down for a long term stay.

I heard the tribe before we cleared the portal. It was such a familiar sound. I had a good feeling about those noises, the chatter sounded like my long lost friends. I held my hand out to slow down Paige. I eased out of the opening, there was no one camped in front of the opening as Mangas Coloradas had been. I turned and looked toward the overhang. There they were. The camp layout looked almost identical to the one of 1867. I slowly walked out making myself visible to the tribe.

The first one to see me was a small child, maybe three or four years old. She started jabbering and pointing at me and she soon had the attention of the balance of the tribe. Only a few men were there so a major hunt or war must be going on somewhere.

One female started out toward us. She reminded me of Butterscotch the way she walked. As she got closer I could tell that it was Butterscotch, only older than before, but by how much I could not say. The small child followed her toward us. When Butterscotch stopped to look at us, the little girl hugged her leg watching us.

Butterscotch was not as pretty as before but with the hard life she had I was sure living took its toll. I had remembered to bring some candy, butterscotch in the gold wrapper, that I was sure she would remember if it was her. I dug down in my pack and got a couple of pieces. I held the candy out to her. She did not move but she looked at the candy. I walked up to the little girl and opened the wrapper and gave it to her, motioning for her to put it in her mouth. She looked at her Mother and Butterscotch with a slight nod, gave her approval. Within seconds the little girl was smiling and smacking. I held the other piece out to Butterscotch. She looked at it for a time then took it.

She took the wrapper off and gave it to another, older child, standing back behind us that I had not noticed before, also a young girl of five or six. Soon she too was smacking and enjoying the candy.

I held out my hand for Butterscotch to shake. She looked all around at the tribe, those folks who had now gathered behind her, I supposed that she was looking to see if they approved or disapproved. Finally, she extended her hand and shook mine, smiling. I held on to her hand as long as I dared, looking her square in the eyes all the while. I could tell she knew me, but I could also tell that this was the best reaction that I would receive from her. I motioned for Paige to come up close to us. Paige extended her hand to Butterscotch, who hesitated, but after a few seconds shook hands with her.

The tribe had started to chatter again. Butterscotch turned and spoke to them. Several of the squaws come out and looked closely at me. The one I called Grandma before was still there and not looking much older than when she was cooking the tortillas for us. She extended her hand to me and as she did I remembered spraying her hand with the burn spray. I patted her hand with both of mine and got a smile out of her. So, they did remember me.

“Paige, these are the people I was with before. This is Morning Dove, who I nicknamed Butterscotch before I knew her real name. She is the one that led me through the portal into this valley, but neither she nor the rest of the tribe would go out the portal. There was a heavy snow on the ground, but up in that overhang it was probably a good ten degrees or more warmer than out here where we now stand. The way they did their fires and positioned the tribe back under the overhang, it was amazing how cozy it was sleeping with Butterscotch.”

“What? You slept with Butterscotch? Is one of these children yours?”

“No, not slept with her as you might think. It was for warmth as she was single at the time and had no one to sleep with her. We slept fully clothed. This warrior returned later and we had a little trouble over her. He saw me as an adversary. I think that Butterscotch was flattered by it all, but she was really Wolf’s girl all the while. Remember we could not talk, only look at one another. But her eyes can really be a turn on when she looks at you just right, even now.”

“Don’t tell me you still have something for her. When the men return are you going to do battle over her? I didn’t notice her looking at you with desire in her eyes. You must be seeing something I don’t, in her eyes, I mean. She is a nice looking woman in a rugged sort of way. I think I could use some of my make up on her and she would still be a beautiful lady.”

“Well, I’m going around and say hello to the older members of the tribe and see how many seem to remember me. You look around and try to stay out of trouble, ok?” Several of the ladies and children were already gathering around her, feeling of her and looking at all the things she was carrying.

I shared the candy with most everyone I met. Up in the shade, out away from the others, I noticed an old man I had seen before and most of the time he had been riding with the younger bucks. I realized this was none other that Nana, uncle of Victorio and the one who took over after the massacre of Victorio. He was seventy some odd years old when he took over the few surviving members of the Warm Spring Tribe, about 15 warriors in all. I walked up and extended my hand for him to shake. He looked at me, his expression not changing nor did he offer to shake hands with me. I wanted to stay close for a bit, not interfere with him in any way, but just sit near him and observe what he was observing. From his vantage point he could see everyone of the tribe in front of him including the portal entrance. I was sure he saw Paige and me before the little girl.

Life continued down below and no one seemed to notice him or me looking on the actives. Paige was playing with some of the little children and whatever game she had going they all seemed to love.

I tried to recall all that I had read about Nana and tried to visualize him

leading his band in battle. The story is told that the Apaches led by [5]Kas-Tziden (also called Nana) led the surviving party of 15 that evaded Col. Terrazas Army and began a journey of vengeance that became known as “Nana’s Raid.”

In Mexico they left a dozen dead and wounded, then a surveyor’s party near El Paso was ambushed and killed by them. The next victims were scattered sheepherders in the hills of southwest Texas after he crossed the Rio Grande. He was later joined by 25 men from the Mescalero Reservation. He ambushed the Ninth Cavalry supply train at Alamo Canyon, led his people to Laguna Springs at the southern edge of White Sands, across the Jornada Del Muerto, through the foothills of the San Andres Mountains, then west to the San Mateo’s. The Ninth Cavalry was exhausted by the end of July 1881.

In Red Canyon he ambushed a posse and Militias organized to capture him. He killed two of them, wounded seven, and took most of their horses and all of their supplies. At Monticello, Nana attacked a farm and left the mutilated bodies of the farmer’s wife and children. The Ninth Cavalry, right behind him, had to bury the remains. At Gavilan Canyon he killed three more and left three wounded and again he made off with guns, ammunitions and horses. By August 24, Nana re-entered Mexico at Sonora.  The Army had been ordered not to pursue the Apaches into Mexico.

Nana had led a raid that covered over a thousand miles, through some of the worse terrain in the Southwest, covering 70 to 80 miles per day. He was pursued by thousands of soldiers and hundreds of civilians. His band killed thirty to fifty Americans. He won all of his clashes with the Army while losing none or few of his band.

The article completed it summary of Nana with this sentence. “Whether the raid is seen as a vengeance raid or as a manifestation of the irascible nature of the Apache warrior, it was a grand, bold, and bloody adventure.”

I looked at the old man and while there was no change of expressions when he shifted his gaze from the tribe below to me, I could see in his eyes that he was presently right where he wanted to be. These were the people he loved. This was his home.

As I looked at the tribe below us, Butterscotch was over paying close attention to Paige, following her every move and the children were taking in everything Paige did as well. Nothing was missed by them. Every action was noticed and probably remembered. It dawned on me that this bunch of folks lived daily by not missing anything going on around them. To miss a snake slipping through the grass could be a deadly mistake, one they could not afford. They looked and they observed and they remembered. That was how Nana pulled off his raids, using all of his senses.

One more look at the old man and he looked back at me with the same stern look as the first time. Nothing had changed in his mind about me nor was he taken in by Paige. It reminded me of hunts I had been on, hunting Axis deer. They go in groups of twenty-five or so and they are grazers. The alpha male always stays way back from the herd. If you are hunting for the trophy buck you must wait until he shows himself. It is easy to give up and go for a smaller rack of horns. Patience pays off as the old big one never is quick to show himself.

Nana reminded me of that big buck, not showing himself nor playing his hand. Looking at him now, he looked to be sixty already, he was probably just getting started, a few years away from his infamous journey.

It was 1886, when Geronimo surrendered, that Nana was turned over to the Army to spend the rest of his days on a reservation. He is said to have spoken, “that it would have been far better to have died fighting for my people.”

We pitched our tent out away from the tribe. We did not want the warriors coming in and surprising us during the night or early morning. I asked Paige about her first day with the tribe. She had a good experience visiting with Butterscotch, the other squaws and children. She had been on edge all day not sure what to expect from all quarters, so with darkness she was ready for us to spread the bedrolls. We ate some of the fruit and energy bars and called that good. I looked out toward the camp and Butterscotch’s smallest child was standing out looking at me. I dug out several pieces of candy and motioned for her to come over. She did not wait on her Mothers approval this time as she came over quickly and grabbed the candy and ran off immediately. After she had scampered twenty or thirty feet from me she turned and looked back and smiled. She was a darling little girl. She took after Morning Dove.

In the tent, I turned on the big light I had brought. It was very strong and much too big for such a small tent, but we would only need it a few minutes. I was sure the tent was glowing and would certainly be an attention getter if left on for long.

Paige, sitting crossed legged on her bedroll, reached back under her shirt and undid her bra. I started getting excited, but she slid an arm inside her shirt and slid the bra over her arm, did the other arm and then slipped the bra out from under her shirt.

“Hey, that’s cheating. How come you did it that way? I was hoping to get some dream material off of you tonight.”

“What do you mean, dream material?”

“Well, I had envisioned you slipping the shirt off and then taking off the bra and then slipping the shirt back on or something like that, anyway.”

“In your dreams, cowboy! That ain’t gonna happen, not now anyway, probably not ever. If I was drunk, then maybe.”

“Ok, then, I may have some snake bite medication in my bag that we can drink.” She did not change her expression at my attempt at humor.  “I was just thinking about how much you wanted to come along on this trip and how I was being so nice to you about it all and so I just thought dream material may be an ok part of it.”

“Yeah, sure, you wish. Well, dream about Butterscotch. You have spent the day watching her, that’s for sure.”

“Whoa,…. I was not watching her anymore that any others of the tribe.”

“Turn off the light and go to bed. Dream your dreams of whom ever.” She said as she pulled the bedroll up to her chin, with her back turned to me.

I really don’t know what I expected but the last verbal exchange was not it. So I just turned the light off saying, “Night, Paige.”

No response other than a snore or a snort, not real sure which, but either way I took it to mean the same.

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

It was a short night. I was up about daybreak and already fires were going all around the Indian camp. I started a fire and walked out to the stream for coffee water and washing my face while I was out there. Splashing that cold water on my face was a “real wake up call”.

I made the coffee and warmed up the beef jerky to be served with an energy bar. Pretty good breakfast food, but I did wonder what Grandma was serving up at the camp.

Paige came crawling out of the tent and spoke with a hardy “Good Morning” and started out toward the bushes. Soon she was back getting some coffee and jerky. Not wanting to get started off on the wrong foot with her today, I waited until I was sure what her mood was like.

When she poured her second cup, I asked, “Sleep well?”

“You can snore louder than anyone I have ever heard. If you had not quit when I asked you to turn over I would have taken my bedroll out into the forest. ”

“Yeah, well, I just might keep snoring tonight,” attempting humor, again.

“Ok and I just might get your attention with that big light of yours. Or better yet, I might start yelling rape.”

“In your dreams, lady.”

“What!!! You, you, I am not going to call you what I’m thinking. What happened to the dream making crap you were spreading around last night, seems like you may be full of it, that all I will say about that.”

With that she walked out into the fresh, cool, mountain air and took a deep healthy breath. I know what she was thinking and feeling at the moment. You kind of forget you are back in the 19th Century, for a few minutes at least.

I noticed the tribe was gathering up on the higher ground, a slight ridge that runs around the base of the overhang, maybe ten feet above the valley floor. They are very quiet, listening with heads turned to the side as if trying to hear better. I listened also. Then I heard the hooves of horses, pounding the ground, in a hurry, dozens of them headed our way. Soon they came into camp and the tribe went to shouting and running to greet them.

The warriors leaped from the horses and into the arms of squaws and children. All are happy and glad to see each other.

Right away the warriors notice the tent, bright and blue, out away from the camp. Next they notice Paige and me. Next I notice Wolf. He recognizes me immediately and starts my way. I thought he was a tough looking dude before, but now he was bronze, muscular, lean and mean. Butterscotch put a hand on his arm as he started toward me. She nodded her heard toward Paige and I was not sure what that was supposed to mean, but the fact that it did seem to mean something to him, was very satisfying to me. He stopped and they started talking, nodding toward us, as if she was trying to make our presence ok.

Still sitting, tall in the saddle on his beautiful white horse, his face very stoic and stern, looking Paige and me over very closely was none other than Chief Victorio. I knew the worse thing I could do was show fear. But on the other hand I had studied the man for several years now and I knew that this probably was a time before he really became known as a fierce chief.

I walked close to his horse near the Chief’s left side, hoping he was right handed, as if that would help me should he turn on me, and held out my hand for a white man’s handshake. He looked at my hand and raised his hand, palm out in the Indian form of greeting, but with no change in his facial expressions.

On his right side, still on her horse also, was Lozen, Victorio’s sister. I had her picture also. This day she was young and still looked like a young woman. She had told Victorio early in life that she wanted to be a warrior.

I read where later in her life she dressed as a warrior and few could tell  “she was a she.” Looks were apparently the least of her wants. Victorio is quoted as saying[6] “Lozen is my right hand….strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people.” Legend was that Lozen was able to use her powers in battle to learn the movements of the enemy and help them to avoid capture. She could tell the direction of their enemy as her palms started tingling and sweating when she hit the direction of their travel. She rode with Victorio until his massacre, but missed that battle as she was riding over to the Mescalero reservation during Victorio trip to the Tres Castillos Mountains of Mexico, so she rode and fought with Nana and the other Warm Spring survivors on their raids and then later with Geronimo on some of his battles. She was surrendered with Geronimo’s band in 1886. She died at the Mount Vernon, Alabama barracks in Mobile, Alabama of tuberculosis as a prisoner of war. She was approximately 50 years old. Looking at her today she looks to be in her twenties or early thirties. While I could tell this was a female now she looked as if she could whip most of the warriors there. Her look, a stare, was sterner than Victorio’s. I believe she considered herself his protector.

I moved up close to Victorio’s left side. She rode her horse around behind him and then up between Victorio and me, her horse’s shoulder pushing me back. It was very evident that to get to Victorio you had to come through Lozen. Her facial expression never changed. Her look was very definitely “we do not want a white man around our chief” or maybe it was that close to our chief. Anyway, her horse backed me up a good ten feet before she stopped. I turned and walked a few feet further away from her just to ease her suspicious mind. I remembered the number of times Victorio had been lied to over the years by our government and the white man, so I did not take exception to her actions.

Victorio dismounted and walked up to the largest teepee in the group. All the other teepees had been erected around this one larger one. Grandma looked like she had one of the teepees next to Victorio. She might be his Momma or at least close kin. Victorio entered and several of the warriors went in with him. The fellow Nana had left his high perch to visit with them also.

The rest of the camp went back to the work of running a camp doing what ever it was they were doing.

I took some line and hooks, found some bait under logs, and did some trout fishing. Paige for once left her Indian buddies and came out to help with the fishing. Soon we had several caught and cleaned for a late lunch or early supper. I had a very elaborate meal, with instant tomato soup, salted trail snack and six medium sized fried trout. It was delicious. We later learned that the Apache did not eat fish. Maybe that was why they were so plentiful.

We had just finished our meal when the shadow of an Indian came across our campsite. I looked up to see a fine looking young warrior, one who was smiling at me. It took a while for me to recognize Hawk. He had good features. The high, broad cheek bones, wide eyes and long hair, a nice looking young warrior. But the difference with him and Wolf and some of the other warriors was his eyes were soft when he looked at me. What a difference that one thing does to a warrior. We did the palms outward greeting signs and then the white man’s hand shake. He was smiling at me and then nodded at Paige.

She was staring at him. “Paige, this is Hawk. He is the young man I met here before. He has grown up to be a mighty warrior, huh?

“Yes, he is a hunk. I think I am in love.”

“Really, Paige, could you just say hello for now and try to hook him a little later. Good grief, you modern women.”

“Hi, Hawk. I have heard about you and I am very please to meet you. How are you doing? Is your family close by?” She was holding his hand in both of hers and took an awful long time to release his, not that I noticed.

“Good day, Buenos Diaz, Señorita. How you?” Hawk struggled with that, but he did it very well. We were both pleased that he could speak some of our language. It made me wonder how many of the others could speak at least some English words, but would not.

Paige answered his question. “We are fine and are really pleased to meet someone who speaks our language. How is your family? Were they ok while you were on your trip?” Paige said that pretty fast and Hawk looked over to where Paige had pointed when she referred to his family, pointing at one of the teepees.

Hawk pointed away from where Paige had pointed, out over to the edge of the camp stood a teepee, with a squaw kneeling in front of a fire and one small child sitting watching her. They were both beautiful. A little girl of about two years old and an Indian girl of maybe twenty or so and she look up as she saw Hawk pointing to them. She waved. We both waved back smiling.

“Hawk, that is a beautiful family. I am happy for you. You did good. Buenos, amigo.”  I made some hand motions while talking hoping for help with my little speech, but he apparently understood it all.

“Thank you”, pointing at his lady, “I ….good woman.” Saying that caused a big smile to erupt on his face. You don’t see fierce looking warriors smile all that often. I hoped to remember this moment.

A warrior came riding up, his horse all lathered up, and he leaped from the horse, running toward the Chiefs teepee and shouting out something as he ran. Hawk left us without speaking and ran to the chief’s teepee, also.

Within a few minutes all the warriors came out and shouting began. The squaws and warriors were taking down the teepees, putting out fires, gathering horses and children loading travois’s with stuff.

Paige and I never moved nor spoke while this was going on. The tribe started moving out as they got things loaded. What happened? What news was brought in by the warrior?

I caught Hawks attention as he passed by on his horse. “What is happening, Hawk? Why are you leaving?”

“Fighting…. Cochise and Cavalry….. Must go…. You stay.”

Paige started taking down our stuff and rolling up her bed roll. “Whoa, wait a minute, girl. Let’s don’t get to hasty here. They are going off to do battle and we dang sure don’t want to be in the middle of that. We are white, remember? I am not sure what the Cavalry will think about our being with these “Paches. We cannot go.”

“You cannot go. I am going. This is some real history, real stories and a reporter never runs from a story, especially this reporter and this story. You do what you need to do.”

“Paige, listen, you cannot win on this. We are in a wrong time, wrong world. You have to get back to our portal.  I don’t know what an extended stay over here will do to us….Don’t do this to me, Paige. You promised, remember?”

While I had been standing there arguing with her, she continued to pack.

She slipped her back-pack over her shoulders and started following after the tribe, saying nothing more. She did not take down the tent. She took only the barest of supplies, and left leaving the rest for me. Did that mean she knew I would follow her, or hoped I would follow her, or did she want her story so badly she did not care if I followed her or not. My guess was she knew I would follow her.

I took several minutes getting everything loaded for traveling. Two people had been carrying this load, now I had to figure out how to haul everything. I built a travois, loaded up my supplies and hung a strap around my shoulders and under my arms, pulling it. It worked.

Following the tracks was not hard at all. I hoped I could catch them or stay within a close proximity to them. I just could not lose Paige, I hate her. She is the most hardheaded, stubborn, bullheaded person I have ever met; she has to be a Tarsus. A bull….. Bullheaded….. One-sided…. One way type  person. I decided to chase her this time, this time only, and then no more. She could just fight the damn Indians on her own.

Well, maybe I don’t hate her. I just get aggregated with her. I really did not want anything to happen to her. I liked her a lot. I suspect she knew that though. Damn! I don’t ever remember talking to myself like this before.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

Walking along pulling the travois was not easy. I had to stop every few minutes to get my breath. After a couple of hours I came upon a spring. I could tell by the tracks the tribe had stopped here for water. The water had cleared from their drinking. I did my drinking upstream from where the tribe crossed because of the manure littering the area. I tried not to think about all the horse droppings that could be in the water.  It tasted pretty good. I filled up every container I had that would hold water. I would drink from the open top containers first.

I ate several pieces of jerky to keep me going until after sundown, I ate on the move. I did not plan to use my flashlight any more than was necessary, just to stay in the center of the tribes tracks as they headed southwest. Their pathway was so evident as horse hoofs, travois skid marks and footprints all plainly marked their trail.

About dusk I heard some shots fired in front of me. It was as if two parties wanted the other to be aware of the others existence.  I don’t think it was hunters.  I wanted to run to check it out, but I could not get my legs to cooperate, as the speed they were traveling seemed to be about all they could do.

On the horizon, directly ahead of me, south by southwest, was numerous small fires. Cooke’s Peak lay off my left shoulder, east of me, so I put the fires near the Mimbres River, which made a lot of sense if it has water. Most of the time the Mimbres is dry; in the modern world anyway, I am not sure what the river would be doing in this world. Old timers used to say that the Mimbres ran more water than it does in 2007. Over in the other world, in all the years I had been traveling that country, I had never seen water in it.  So I would anticipate a dry camp up ahead with no water available. Wishing for a nice bath tonight was probably out of the question.

I also noticed that due south of me was another series of small fires. I thought that the shots I heard being fired were a limited hostile action and the coming darkness delayed further action until tomorrow morning. I needed to be very careful approaching either of the camps for fear of being shot at tonight.

I stopped at what I figured was about a mile from the camp just west of me for the night. The camp to the south of me was closer. I propped up my travois on some rocks, cleared off some of the cargo and lay fully clothed on my sleeping bag. I did not remember anything until the eastern sky started getting light. I built a small fire, boiled some of my water for a cup of instant coffee and warmed a couple of strips of jerky to go along with my granola bar.

Fires were going at both camps. I moved out as soon as I finished my coffee. I was hoping to get to the Indians before any fighting started. Since I was fresh from a good nights sleep, I tried to go at a fast pace. I hoped to be there in 30 or 40 minutes.

The fires were dying down as I approached the camp. It was still not full daylight. I came into the area of the fires, but there was no one there. All of them had left some time before. Over one fire someone had left a chunk of deer meat, and I could not pass it up. (I wondered if Butterscotch had left it just for me.) I came out of my gear, built up the fire and boiled more water for instant coffee to go with the meat. I had just finished eating and had taken about two sips of coffee when this  deep voice said,

“Get yo hands up fellow,” causing me to jump about a foot in the air.

I set my coffee down instead of dropping it because I wanted to finish it later,  if possible.

This Buffalo Soldier stepped in front of me, holding a carbine with a barrel that appeared to be about the size of a cannon. I guess it appears that way when they are pointed at you.

“Hold on, soldier. I just walked up to this camp fire and no one was around so I used it to make me some coffee. You want some? I certainly don’t have a fight with you.” He was dressed like Pvt. Tom Davidson used to except the markings on his sleeve said he was a Sergeant. I could not tell if he was Cavalry or Infantry in this light. Maybe later I could.

“You out here in “Pache Territory all by yo’self? Man, that’s dumb. You probably like some of dem other fools. Got gold fever? Yo scalp gonna end up on some “Paches spear is what’s gonna happen, I can tell you that now. How long you been roamin’ ‘round out here anyhow? Do you even know where you are? I wants you to ‘splain all that to me, suh.” He seemed a little upset it was me and not the Apaches like he had thought. They had slipped away during the early morning hours.

Six or eight more soldiers were now getting up out from behind rocks and out of canyons. A few came in from the Mimbres River bed. My guess was that they had the place totally surrounded. I decided the best thing I could do for now was share my instant coffee with these guys. I could make some that was weak and most of us could get a pretty good taste.

I motioned all the soldiers to come up to the fire. I mixed in about half of my jar of instant coffee and then poured all of them small taste. They seemed to enjoy it very much.

Sergeant spoke up and said, “You ‘member them questions I axed you a few minutes ago? If you do, go ahead and answer them.”

“Ok, let me see. First, my girl friend and I came into the Alamosa Creek valley up around Ojo Caliente. You know where that is?”

“I sho’ do. That’s where ole Victorio hangs out. You can’t trust that guy for nothing. So how come you way down here and what happened to yo girl friend? You dumber than I thought to bring a gal out in these parts, too, that’s what I’m saying.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not quite what it sounds like. This is a very modern woman, a newspaper reporter, trying to get a news story about cowboys and Indians and soldiers, like you guys. She is not with the Indian tribe that we saw up at Ojo Caliente, but she was trying to catch them to get her story. When the tribe loaded up to move, she took off following them and I had to pack our stuff, and then follow. It looks like she caught up with them last night.  She either stayed out of their sight or came on into the camp and visited with them. She did know some of the squaws, kind of, anyway. My guess is she is with that tribe.”

“Lord have mercy on yo gal, mister. Them ‘Paches done had their way wid her by now. She may be wishin’ she be dead by now. Well, we will try to catch them for you and see can we help. That’s all we can do.”

“Gentlemen, I thank you for your offer to help me, but I want to try and get her by myself. If you guys show up and get them in a fighting mood, they may really hurt the girl. I want to approach them and ask for her release and hope they will listen to reason. Will you let me do that? And could you spare a horse? Pulling my stuff on this travois is killing my back.”

“Sir, my name is Sgt. Hanson, 9th Cavalry assigned to Fort Selden, NM Territory. We been out for a few weeks and I got to get my boys back. I have one man with me, Pvt. Joseph McGilly, 15th Infantry who ain’t in too big a hurry to get back, fur as I know. What I am gonna do is assign two horses to Pvt. McGilly and assign him to accompany you to try and recover yo gal. I’m thanking that Cap’t will not fault me under the circumstance, trying to get that girl reporter back to civilization. However, if you can read and write, I wants you to write me a letter saying what you are telling me is truthful and right and further stating that you are a American citizen in good standing and you be trying to get the girl away from them ‘Paches. Can you write me that letter, sir?”

“Yes, Sgt. Hanson. I appreciate your help and I will write the letter as you have requested. I think I have some paper and a pen in my backpack.”

I pulled out a pad that my company uses for advertising, showing the addresses and telephone numbers of each of our trucking terminals and a picture of one of our eighteen wheelers with a 9000 gallon gasoline trailer in tow. I looked at it for a few minutes debating about tearing off those areas with pictures and addresses. Then I clicked the ball point pen that my company gives away for advertising with the company logo and address written in white on a black pen. I decided that those things would add to the truthfulness of Sgt. Hanson’s story of aiding me and leaving the Private to help me.

I printed the letter so it would be more legible to the reader. I folded the note when I handed it to Sgt. Hanson and also gave him the pen. He looked the pen over good, took the top off, and marked on his palm. He gave it an inquiring look, but he simply put them in his coat pocket. Then he motioned the Private to get his horse and another for me and gave him instructions to protect me with his life. The look the Private gave me was like “this is a joke, huh, Sgt.” However, he did as he was told. Within a short time, Sgt. Hanson and the others of the 9th Cavalry was headed back toward Ft. Selden leaving me to figure out how to strap my travois to my horse.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

Private Joseph McGilly was a little taller than me, skinny, very dark skinned and serious looking. I had not seen him smile all morning. He had little to say. I tried to draw him into a conversation several times and he let my remarks pass, nodding ever so slightly to acknowledge that he had heard me. I did not really press him as I was anxious to find Paige and get started back toward the “portal of youth.” We were getting too far away to suit me. I liked adventure to an extent, but this was far enough. I did feel better having Pvt. McGilly with me.

Joe was a good scout and was very watchful while following the trail. I had asked if it was ok to call him Joe and once again I received a very slight head nod.

That night we camped around where the Mimbres River runs into a larger river. It was running a good, full stream, so it must be the Gila. I decided tonight would be a good time to have one of our better meals. Later it might get too exciting.  I opened another can of ham, a small can of pork and beans, made two cups of instant tomato soup, and opened some trail mix. I had laid out two granola bars for desert. I put about half the ham in a baggie for breakfast tomorrow morning. I hoped Pvt. McGilly would like it.

He was very busy going through the cans and packages of the stuff I was opening, smelling and tasting the residue, while I was preparing the meal.

We had a strip of jerky for lunch so when supper was finally ready, we were both so hungry that anything would taste great to us. Joe ate as if he liked it pretty well, also. I had prepared the tomato soup in our coffee cups so we drank it in place of coffee. I thought I might make some coffee later to have with the granola bars.  Joe seemed to really appreciate that treat.

Clean up did not take very long at all, but by the time we had finished with the chores it was getting dark. Joe got his bedroll out putting his head on a rock. The rock sloped back gently, somewhat like an easy chair. I placed my bedroll in a ditch with a gentle sloping bank, allowing me to have some support for my neck.

The stars made an early appearance in the evening sky and shortly the heavens were in full bloom with twinkling stars. Venus was so bright and beautiful tonight. Joe said, “That sho’ is a big, bright old star, ain’t it?”

I replied, “That is the planet Venus, Joe. It is always the first star you see in the western sky.”

“How you know what its name is? How come you call it a planet? Looks like the same old star I been seeing many a night now, ‘specially since I been out in this country. Seems to me like the stars be just a lot brighter out he’a.”

“Well, I have studied on it some, Joe. I don’t want to sound like a know it all, but I do know a little bit about why the stars are brighter here. Where are you from, Joe, I mean before you came to this country?”

“I be from Vir’ginny. Then we came into Illinois, then Missouri and then into Kansas. I joined the 38th in Kansas. I’s in the 15th now but when I first joined up I was wid the 38th. Anyway, they was formed up down yonder in Louisiana but they moved to Kansas afore I was joined. We marched all the way from Kansas down to Ft. Selden. We stopped at a few other forts on the way, I don’t ‘members all of them. How come you wants to know that?” he asked.

“Virginia is probably not more than a few hundred feet above sea level at best. Same for Illinois and probably Missouri and Kansas, I am not real sure about them, but out here, Joe, in our part of the world we are probably 4000 to 6000 feet above sea level, it’s a lot higher in some areas. That puts us a lot closer to the heavens.  We do not have any humidity or clouds to get our sky hazy or overcast like it does back east.  Those two things just make the sky and stars a lot closer. I love to lay out and star gaze, watching for shooting stars and satellites going across the sky,,,, ah, I mean shooting stars and comets going across the sky.”

“What’s a comet and satellite? They be up there with the stars?”

“Well, yeah, comets are there now and I might be able to tell you about satellites later. We’ll see. Well, I am gonna lay out my sleeping bag, Joe. I will get my light to find us a good soft spot.” I needed to get out of the ditch in case of rainfall during the night. Joe was looking for a spot away from the rock pillow he had been lying on. Soft ground seemed to be a premium.

“What light you gonna get, a piece of kindling wood or what?”

“No, I brought a light with me. It’s one of the new things they are making back east these days.” I turned it on, its beam shinning across the ground, very brightly lighting the area around us.

Joe took a deep breath, “Wow, that’s the brightest light I ever did see.

When you finish finding you a spot to sleep let me have a look at that thang. They sho’ do be making a lot of new thangs back east nowadays. “Pears we done lost out being out here away from civil’zation.”

I gave the light to Joe. He shined it all around. He stood up and walked all about letting the beam pick out his path. Then he turned it up toward the stars and the ray of light cut a path up into the heavens. You could tell that Joe was captivated by the light and its capabilities. After a few minutes he came back to his bed roll, shined the light all over it, fluffed it up a bit, then returned the light to me.

I turned it off making the dark night very thick. Within a few seconds the natural heavenly lights became brighter.

“When did they make that kind of light? I never saw nothin’ like that befor’. I wish I had me one of them thangs. It come in handy fighting them damn ‘Paches. They don’t like to fight at night, so you could just get out and hunt ‘em down.”

“I don’t remember when they started making them. It was many, many,…It was sometime ago. It is a great invention and it does come in handy. You have to have batteries to go with it.”

“What are batteries?”

“Well, they are gadgets that go with the flashlight. They were invented about the same time as the light. It has some kind of stuff in it that makes a current that flows through the flashlight, somehow, making the bulb light up. I just know how to turn the light on so it is hard for me to explain it.”

“Just where you from? You got some strange stuff wid you and I kinda wonder about you and you knowing so much stuff. You ain’t no ghost or something are you? You scare me just a little bit.”

“Aw, come on Joe. I am just from another era, so to speak.”

“What do dat mean, another era? You mean like you from across the sea or something like that. You ‘spain that too.” Joe was sounding a little worried about all the things I was bringing up.

“Joe, what year is it here, I mean, what year is it now?”

“You do beat it all, suh, seems like one minute you know everythang about everythang, and the next minute you just plain dumb. It be 1872, fur as I know. How come you don’t know what year it be?” Joe had set up on one arm on his bed roll. “Just what all you got in that stuff you carrying? And yo food is good, but it’s different too. A lot of that stuff looks very strange to me. Tell me ‘bout that stuff too, while you at it.”

“Joe, it’s a little crazy, I know.”

“It damn sho’ is, and I’m glad you finally said it was crazy and it be a lot more than a little bit too.”

“Well, all right. Did you know Pvt. Tom Davidson? He was in the 38th at Fort Selden and stationed there in 1867 and 1868 for sure. I don’t know just when he got there.”

“Oh, now we gettin’ somewhere. I sho’ did know Tom. He be in the 38th Infantry, Company K. That’s the only’est unit of the 38th stationed at Ft. Selden, few companies of them boys over at Ft. Cummins. Tom told me that crap ‘bout what all he see’d and where all he been, ‘bout something he called flying thangs that left long tails in the sky. He told me about the wagons that haul freight and don’t have no horses pulling them and they go faster than any horse could ever run. Yeah, I knowed Tom and I always thought that he be lying. But he had a thang he brought back wid him that would make a fire by pushing down on it. He had some tobaccee that was real good smoking too. He told everybody that would listen ‘bout all that stuff. None of us could believe all the stuff that boy told, ‘bout a picture box wid naked girls and all that kind’a thang. I don’t know what happened to him when he was captured by them “Paches. “Peared he was a bit touched at times, suh. Short time later he died, I don’t remember now, but a long time ago, two, maybe three years now. It was real quick after he got sick though, I ‘members that.”

“The records say he died in December, 1868. I read about it a few years ago. Let me start from the beginning, Joe, ok?”

“I ‘sho wish you would. I be listening.”

I started from my entry into the “portal of youth” the very first time. I went through all of the happening with Tom and me, our journey out into the 21st century and our trip by Fort Selden to let Tom see it as a Monument.

Joe would make comments from time to time and my story seemed to confirm what his old friend, Tom Davidson, had told him several years ago. Even about the pictures of naked ladies in the box, our television.

I let him know about what had happened with Paige and that we did not really have intentions to travel this far away from the Alamosa Creek area

up in the Black Range. Joe had so many questions. Questions he had been thinking on since Tom first started telling him stories about his travels. He laid them on me and we talked way over into the night. We were so tired we had to stop and get some sleep. We could continue this discussion on horse back tomorrow.

Dawn was breaking in the eastern sky. Venus, the morning star was still shining bright. I mentioned Venus by name to Joe and he remembered me calling it the evening star. “Well, which is it? The morning star or the evening star? It ‘sho can’t be both, can it? Which one is it then?”

I took two rocks, one larger than the other and with my pen made two marks on the larger rock. I put the smaller rock out away from it, turning the bigger rock in the sand and leaving the smaller rock in place. By spinning the big rock I had the small rock to the west of the marks to start and when I ended, I had the smaller rock to the east of the marks explaining the earth turning and that was how it could be both the evening star and the morning star. He seemed to buy that explanation. I hoped I was close to correct.

“That be the star that lead the Wise Men to Jesus? You reckon that was it?”

“Well, that was the Star of Epiphany so that was a special star and I don’t know if that Star is still around?”

“What is the Star of Epiphany? What does that mean?”

“I think we can say that it was God announcing the birth of His Son. The Wise Men followed the star to Bethlehem. It stayed in the Heavens for several days, pointing the way to the Baby Jesus. The Wise Men did find the Baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. They brought him gifts.”

“That’s one of the stories that I ‘members my Momma telling me ‘bout and her telling me never to forget it. I ‘member’s her talking ‘bout the bright star leading the Three Wise Men. That’s a good story ‘bout Baby Jesus.”

“Joe, we better get started. We need to ride hard today and catch up with the tribe. Keep your eyes open for trouble. Apparently some of your troops were after Cochise, but I don’t know who since your 9th Cavalry is on the way back to Fort Selden.”

“We gots a whole bunch of them Cavalry boys at Fort Selden. We got the Ninth and we got the Companies G and C of the 8th Cavalry there. Then we got the 10th Cavalry that be stationed way down yonder at Fort Davis.  They come out this way from time to time. It could be any one of the other Cavalry Boys. Now, Sgt. Hanson, that Sergeant that assigned me to watch over you, now he was wid Company M of the Ninth.  Company F….. now them boys get out and fight a lot. They also Ninth Cavalry. They done had a bunch of their boys killed. Could be them out after Cochise, too. But I be watching out good for you, don’t you be worrying none about that.”

A few hours ago, I could not get Joe to talk. Now, I had trouble getting him to hush. We had ridden several miles and were making pretty good time when we saw some smoke up ahead. It was 3 or 4 in the afternoon and I felt the Tribe was stopping to prepare the evening meal. Anyway, I asked Joe to take the horses out into the brush and hide. I took my gear from the travois and hiked on up to the camp site. Joe was high enough that he could see me for most of my journey on into the camp.

As I came into the camp I could see Paige at one of the camp fires helping with the cooking, I suppose. I waved. She nodded. I did not like the look on her face. Something was wrong and a certain caution came over me, tensing me up, getting me ready for trouble. Butterscotch was near Paige but the look on her face did not help either.  She looked tight and very tense.

Wolf came up behind me and pushed me, turning me around. He pushed me again. Then again. I was wondering if they seen me with Joe. I didn’t have to wonder long as two warriors came pushing Joe into camp. I don’t know how they knew about Joe, but they did. They herded Joe and me together and pushed us toward a couple of sapping trees. They tied us to different limbs. I saw Hawk over to one side. While he was not one of the warriors doing the tying and pushing us, he certainly was not smiling at me this time. I suppose being with Joe made a difference. I tried talking to Joe once and was smacked across the mouth with a back hand from one of the warriors. I could tell blood was streaming down my chin and I could taste blood in my mouth.

Paige was visible from where I was but she never looked at me. She stayed busy with cooking and helping a squaw that was near her. This squaw was unknown to me.

About dark the drums started. Soon a few warriors were dancing around the fire and chanting. It did not sound good. Whispering to Joe, “You think they are dancing for our benefit, probably honoring our presence, don’t you think?  I think it is extremely nice of them to honor us in that fashion.”

“Naw sur, I thank they be celebrating our deaths. I thank befor’ morning we gonna be scalped, tortured and die when we can’t take no more of they pain. I be worried now. Closest I been to dying yet. I believe it be about over for me and you, Capt. I didn’t do a very good job protecting you.”

“You did a great job. I’m going to move over close to you. You have long fingers and if you will, reach into my right pocket and get my knife. Try to do it when no one is looking.  We better hurry because the longer we take, the more worked up those boys are going to be.”

“You sho got lots of jingling around money in yo’ pocket. You be wealthy, ain’t you? To bad them Injun’s don’t go in for jingling money. Course they know they gonna get it anyways, don’t you reckon?”

He felt all around and he got my nail clippers, not my knife. He handed them to me and I could tell he had no idea what the hell he had brought out of my pocket. He gave them to me.  I was able to open them with one hand and started clipping on the leather strings that bound me. Once I almost dropped them as I squeezed them together hard. I eased up on the squeezing, taking smaller bites with the clippers. Soon I had my hands free and without changing my positions I dug out the knife and cut Joe loose.

We waited until all the warriors were engrossed in the dancing. Then we broke out in a dead run. By now, it was completely dark giving us the advantage. I slipped back around to where my stuff was stored, near the chief’s teepee, getting my stuff and Joe’s carbine. Returning to Joe, we headed out into the dark night. I would have liked to have shone my light, but did not dare. We climbed the tallest hill in the vicinity hoping we would be able to fight them off from a high position.

At the very top of the hill, a small level space of probably thirty feet across containing some scatter rocks of medium size. They were not a lot of protection,  but it would have to do. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible.

In my pack, there were two cans of fruit cocktail. Opening one can and pouring half into my cup and gave the balance of the can to Joe. The juice and fruit tasted like heaven. My cut mouth burned some, but my stomach rejoiced.

Joe took the first watch. I did not think I would be able to sleep, but it was not long until Joe was shaking me to take a watch. The dancing was still going on. Surely they had missed us by now and it scared me that the dancing was continuing. Were they out sneaking around looking for us? The moon was about to rise in the east and soon the desert would be flooded with moonlight. Some nights, with a full moon and clear sky, the night would be so bright one could almost read by its light. A night like that tonight would certainly help us.

Just as I was getting concerned about them not missing us, the dancing stopped. Shouting began and I was pretty sure a search party was being organized. The warriors were gathered around the chief’s teepee doing some serious jabbering. I woke Joe.

“Joe, I am going to man my big flashlight. You have your carbine ready.

If I light up an Indian, you shoot.”

“Man, tomorrow gonna be a long day. They ain’t a smidgen of water of here. They know that and they gonna make us pay. They may do something to that gal of yours. You thank about that?”

“Oh, man, no, I had not thought of that. Do you think they will use her to get us to come down? I hope Butterscotch and Hawk will come to her aid. Surely they will.”

“That girl skin be white, boy, and that ain’t good. Best you can hope for is one of them ‘Pache boys take a shine to her, wanting her fur his squaw. Maybe that save her hide.”

The moon lit up the desert to where we could see anything standing or above the brush. We could not see if anything was moving down low. I did not shine the light hoping they were not coming this way.

Things had quieted down since the discovery of the escape. It seemed the camp was sleeping. That would be strange. Maybe the warriors did not like to fight at night like Joe had mentioned.

Before daylight, the tribe was up, taking down the teepees, loading the horses and, in general, getting ready to move out. They made quick work out of it and started out in a southwestly direction. Joe and I watched it all, not moving, but with our heads sticking out from the rocks. If they saw us, it did not bother them.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

After the tribe left there was still some time until sun up. Joe and I took advantage of the opportunity and got a little more rest. Sleep came quickly, but daylight came quicker. We went down to the camp site looking for whatever we could find. Everything had been packed. Nothing was left of value. We fanned one of the fires and got it going again. We noted the spring that had been the center of the camp site the day before. We used it to fill each of our canteen and bottles. We warmed up some jerky, made coffee and ate some energy bars. Joe had really taken well to the energy bars. They helped fill the empty spot and tasted good with the coffee.

He said, “You know, one thang ‘bout working wid you is you sho’ got better vittles than the U. S. Government do.”

We were truly going to miss the horses. We were lucky to have recovered Joe’s carbine. His bed roll was still on the back of his horse. I was lucky to get have gotten my pack back.

We had just loaded up and started walking in directions of the Indians without any question from Joe. After a half dozen steps or so, I stopped. “Joe, do you want to go back toward Fort Selden? I don’t blame you for not wanting to walk now and fight the Indians on foot. You are free to go back if you want to.”

“Naw sur, I ain’t free to go back to Fort Selden. Sgt Hanson assigned me to escort you to get that lady friend of yours and that’s what I gonna do. He court martial me if’n I come back without you and my horses, especially dem horses. The Cavalry sho’ be ‘ticklur ‘bout them horses, mounts they call ‘em. Naw sur, lets be going cause we got to do some figuring on what we gonna do.”

“Joe, I don’t have the foggiest idea what to do to get Paige back. I have never planned a battle or thought about fighting Indians, rescuing fair maidens in distress or anything close to that. I might have to leave all the battle planning up to you.”

“It’s yo woman….. You plan….. I fight. I ain’t gonna take the blame for us getting that gal of yourn killed, getting us killed. Or getting all shot up, then captured, then tortured…… tortured till we be dead. I don’t know what I ever did to that Sgt. Hanson that caused him to assign me to such a gosh awful job. Makes me mad. But I ain’t quitting. Naw sur, I ain’t quitting. You just gotta get your self to thinking ‘bout how you gonna save her. That be your job.”

The sun was bearing down about high noon. The heat was almost unbearable. We had walked, drinking all of our water. Dehydration was setting in. We had to replenish our body water right away. We came upon a small green area. We looked around and spotted a small spring.  It was good, cool water. We scooped out an area big enough for a hand sized pool about an inch or two deep. It worked. I happened to think of a song of all things, “All day I face, the barren waste, without a taste of water, cool water.”[7] We would drink, wait a few seconds, then we would have enough to drink again. After drinking our fill of water, and squeezing several handkerchiefs of water over our heads, we decided to rest during the very hot part of the day before continuing.

Joe said, “I been thinking ‘bout the jiggling money you be carrying in yo’ pocket. Ain’t nobody I know got that much carrying around money? How ‘bout you ‘splain that to me.”

“Ok, let me show you.” I pulled out all my change. “These big ones are quarters, these are nickels and these two here are dimes. These copper colored one are pennies. See, they have dates on them that start way back in the 1970’s and come on up to 2007. These real shinny ones are 2007, fresh from the mint.  I think the size of the coins are about the same as they were in 1872, or at least close.”

“We got some coins, but they don’t look jest like yourn. Can I have some of yours to show the fellows at the Fort.? Otherwise they be saying I’m gone crazy too. Just like old Tom did. Some of the jingling money may change they minds.”

“Sure Joe, take them all. In my world they would only buy a few things. It’s is not very much money in 2007.”

“I just got one coin, a five dollar gold piece. I wish I had two or three of them. When you only get thirteen dollars a month serving in this man army, a little bit of money go a long way. ”

“I wish you had two or three of those five dollars gold pieces, too, Joe. I might sell you my flashlight. They would be worth a lot more that five dollars in 2007.  We may do some trading after a while.”

As we lay there resting, the Cavalry went riding by. We were both sound asleep and by the time we realized what was happening, the Cavalry had past. Joe stood, fired his carbine in the air and we watched as the Cavalry scattered and then came around to bear on us, quickly and in earnest. I thought for a second or two we were in trouble. As soon as they saw the uniform of Pvt. McGilly, they eased up some.

As they were riding toward us, I asked Joe, “Do you know any of them?”

“I see’d some of them a few times. They be the 8th Cavalry, all white boys and they don’t ‘sociate wid us black boys. That be Lt. John Costner. He be mean to us. You do something wrong and that fellow he be rough on us black boys. He be tough on the white boys, too.”

“Company halt. Pvt., what are you doing out here in this country? Who is this gentleman you are with?” Before he let Joe answer, he spoke to me. “Sir, would you explain what is going on with you two? Why are you out here?”

“Yes Sir, I met up with the Ninth Cavalry back in New Mexico and I explained to Sgt. Hanson and his troops about this female reporter that had been with me, but was in the hands of the Apaches, the Warm Spring Band.  Sgt Hanson assigned Pvt. McGilly to me help fetch the lady. We were captured yesterday by the Apaches who took our horses and supplies. We were later able to cut ourselves loose and escape. The tribe never came after us for some reason. Maybe they knew that you were getting close. Lozen, Victorio’s sister has a knack for detecting their enemy. Maybe she could sense you boys coming.”

“I see. Well, we will overtake them and get the reporter back. You say this is Victorio and his bunch. They are not as mean as Cochise. Maybe we can talk the gal out of their hands. We have a scout that speaks the language. That will be in our favor, I think.”

“Ok, do you have a horse for Joe, ah, Pvt. McGilly and me? The tribe took our mounts. But one other thing, sir, that female reporter is working on a story and may not want to leave the Apache.”

“What? Is she crazy? I never heard of such. Is she Indian or something?”

“No sir, just a crazy, modern day female, that’s all I can tell you.”

“Sgt., take the supplies off a couple of those mounts and spread them around the troops. Let the Private and his civilian companion have the mounts to ride.”

After a few minutes of taking off supplies and putting them on other horses, our mounts were ready for us. I was planning to ride in the rear with Pvt. McGilly; however, the Lieutenant insisted I ride up front with him leaving the Private in the very rear. The Apache scout was a long way out in front of us.

After several hours of riding, the scout came back to visit with the Lieutenant. He notified him that the tribe was about a mile in front of us.

“Troops, at a gallop”, ordered the Lieutenant. The troops responded right away probably doubling the speed that we had been traveling.

Soon we were upon the rear of the tribe. Some of the warriors were back in the hills behind us with weapons clearly and visibly pointed in our direction.

“Company halt. Scout, come with me. Mister, join us also, will you?”

We took a white handkerchief and tied it to a guidon. He assigned a trooper to carry it and the four of us proceeded on horseback at a walk. We rode right into the midst of the tribe. The squaws and children stayed pretty far back from the pathway we were taking. The warriors parted, giving us just enough room to allow us to pass all the way up to where Victorio was standing. We had a little trail lined with Indians, just for us. It would have been nice is 2007, but it was scary as hell in 1872.

I looked all around for Paige. I could not see her. Why would she not be standing out watching this unless they now had her captive? It put me to wondering and worrying.

Chief Victorio held his hand out, palm up. The lieutenant responded in kind. I did not salute or change my expression as I continued to look for Paige.

The Lieutenant told the Chief what we wanted and the scout interpreted his message. I was surprised by the response of the Chief’s. He said that Paige was now the squaw of Wolf as he had taken her into his teepee, fed her, and kept her.  It was up to Wolf if she could leave as she was now his property. I wondered how that set with Miss Paige. She was learning about Indian culture in a hurry seemed to me, but I knew her well enough to know that no one would ever own her. That was never going to happen.

I could see Wolf as he stood near the Chief. He did not look like he was ready to release Paige. At least, his expression never changed.

I told the Lt. to ask the chief if I could speak with the white woman. The scout spoke to the Chief and the Chief asked Wolf. Wolf shook his head in the negative. Apparently, that was the end of it in the chief’s eyes.

Lt. Costner turned to me, “It looks like the only way we can get the lady back is to do battle with them. I am short on supplies and could not hold out for an extended battle. If you spot her, we could try and do a quick retrieval in gathering her up and making a run for it. Do you see her now?”

“No, LT. Costner, I have not seen her since our arrival. I think they have her hidden out away from the camp. Let’s do a retreat and I will tell you what I intent to do, ok?”

The scout passed on the Lieutenant’s regards to the Chief. We left the

Camp doing double time and were back with the troopers shortly. They had dug out the little spring and it was producing a lot more water than Joe and I gotten it to produce. All the troopers were filling up their canteens. It was just deep enough that they could put their canteens completely under the water to fill them. It was good, cool, water and very tasty.

“What are your plans for retrieving the young lady, Mister? If we do a full battle, we will need to pick our place. We are outmatched in number and maybe in firepower. They are pretty well armed. Did you notice?”

“Lt. Costner, if we do attack the tribe, we take a chance on the young lady being in the thick of things. I think it is best for me to try and get her back on my own. That way we will at least not have a full scale battle. Maybe I can take Wolf one on one.”

“Mister, I noticed the build of that young warrior and I would be very surprised if you could out wrestle or out fight that one. He looks very cagey.

You may have better luck letting the Cavalry fight this battle if you want to save the lady, that’s my opinion in the matter.” The Lieutenant was looking me over all the time he was talking and I could tell he was not all that impressed with me. (A picture of the big, muscular, tough guy on the beach kicking sand on the skinny guy came to my mind. I was the skinny guy, of course.)

“Sir, I would worry that the tribe would split, some taking the lady on with them while some of them stayed and fought the Cavalry. If it is just me, they will certainly not be concerned and Wolf will fight me one on one to keep the girl. If I lose, at least she will not be injured, or, that is how I see it.”

“Private, find a carbine for this gentlemen and a few rounds of ammunition. You can keep the mount you are riding and if you are ever by Ft. Selden or Ft. Cummins you can leave the weapon and mount there. I wish you luck. I will be taking Pvt. McGilly back with me. A Buffalo Soldier with you will only rile the tribe up more. Good luck to you, sir.”

The Lieutenant saluted me and smartly wheeled his mount around. “Mount up,” he shouted as he left me holding the horse and the newly acquired carbine.

My heart had a sinking feeling as I watched them riding away. Pvt. McGilly turned in the saddle and saluted me. I waved back and watched until they were specks on the horizon.

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

I was worried about Paige. I did not want to wait until tomorrow to approach Wolf about her, so I mounted up and started back for the tribe’s camp.

It was nearing dark as I approached the camp site. Fires were being built up. I decided against a direct approach at this time. I wanted to be able to see everything going on around me and not have any sneak attacks. Dismounting and leading my horse behind some low lying hills west of the camp site, I looked hard for Paige. It was over into the late evening before I finally saw her.

I really noticed Butterscotch first and I knew that if she were with Wolf she would also be with Butterscotch. After a few minutes, Paige come to the fire and dished up some food. She took it near the entrance of the teepee where she sat down to eat.

I considered hitting her with a beam of my flashlight, but all that would do is give away my position. The Indians would not be afraid of it as this tribe had seen a flashlight on my first trip over here. I wanted to get her attention, but I was not sure how to best do it.

Knowing that time was short, I remembered a saying I had heard sometime before, “Desperate times require desperate measures”, or something like that. Anyway, it sounded like what I needed to hear so that’s what I told myself. (Sometimes I will believe anything.)

I took my tent, spread it out enough to cover the saddle of the horse, and tied it in place on the saddle. I took some foil that I had for wrapping food and placed it against the back of the tent, folding it so it would rest in the tent folds. I drew a face with several big grinning teeth on the front of the tent with my black marker. I tied the flashlight on to the saddle horn, shined it on the foil to let it reflect on the face. I hoped that the Indians of this tribe would see their first Halloween monster, and be scared.  If not, I was in a heap of trouble.

I studied about how I could keep the tent on the horse when I rescued Paige. We would be sitting on the canvas part as we rode off into the night, riding away from all the scared Indians, who would still be shaking with fright from seeing the monster. We would be making our way back to the portal and 2007.

If only it would be that easy. “How do people get their lives so screwed up? What happened to “I’ll just stick my head through the portal to see who’s there… God help us.” Talking about it helped some, but I had had my fill of excitement for the time being.

I looked the camp over one more time. The fires were dying down and the camp was getting quiet. Paige was still at the front of the tent. I memorized it’s location in relation to the others. I took out my bottle of snake bite medicine and took two big swigs. That helped some. Then I took a couple of real deep breathes, swelling my chest as much as I could with the cool night air…… Now I was ready.

“Well, here goes,” I said out loud hoping at least the Lord was listening.

I turned on the light and started down the hill, leading the horse. I had left some pans loose by accident, but that was also good as I was making one hell’va racket coming down the hill with that lit up monster, swaying away on horse back.

One by one the tribe started getting out of the teepees, looking at the strange looking object coming down the hill toward them. I maintained the same slow speed as I approached the camp. Some of the children and women started yelling and carrying on, adding to the excitement, and making me think maybe I was doing some good.

Paige stood and walked away from the tent a few feet, with her mouth dropped wide open.  I was glad as that gave me a little extra room to move around. Wolf’s tent was at the outside edge of the camp, so if I could get Paige on the horse quickly, we could get away.

I started a sing-song chant, hoping it sounded like an Indian song, “Paige, get ready to go… Paige, get ready to go… my horse is near so don’t you fear, Paige, get ready to go…… I’m very near, don’t fear my dear, just get ready to hop on this horse and let’s get the crap out of here.” The last part didn’t rhyme very well, but I could see the warriors coming my way so rhyming did not seem all that important right now, and I said the last few words very fast, so the Indians probably didn’t notice the bad verse.

I quickly got in the saddle and rode up to Paige’s side. Even with all my singing, she still did not seem ready for me to pick her up. As a matter of fact, her mouth was still hanging open.  I struggled getting her up and into the saddle with me. At first she was facing me, which was real good if we had all day, but we needed to be riding hard. Finally, she squirmed around and was sitting half on my lap and half on the horse, but at least facing the front end of the horse.

Wolf had figured out by this time that the monster was an old white boy after the pretty white girl. That wasn’t what he wanted apparently. He pulled his Bowie knife and stabbed at me just as we rode by. The knife hit my fanny pack, cut my hip on the way down and buried itself into the fleshy thigh of my leg. A hot burning pain shot all over my leg and hip, causing me to dig my knees into the horse, who responded by starting to gallop.

I wanted to use my flashlight to stay out of more trouble ahead, but I did not want the tribe to see the way we were headed. I rode south for a time, probably two hours, then turned back due east. After a couple of more hours of hard riding, we came upon a small stream. I had to get off the horse and doctor my leg. I could tell that I had lost a lot of blood and it was throbbing severely.

Paige helped me down and using some of her clothing, doctored my cuts. “You are so stupid. Why did you do that? You looked so crazy coming down that hill with the light inside the tent. It was not scary looking, it was dumb looking, and singing that stupid song. How did you come up with that? Couldn’t you have just rode in with guns blazing, like in the cowboy movies? Me and the whole camp of warriors knew it was you right away. But Butterscotch and the kids were scared shitless, or so they seemed.” She actually paused to laugh some. “That was great. That was some face you drew on the tent. I was laughing out loud as you were riding in. Only you could think up some hair brain idea such as that. I am sorry you got stabbed by Wolf. He had already claimed me, did you know that? My guess would be that he just recognizes beautiful women. Don’t you agree?”

“Crap. Did I really risk my life for this? There must be a big picture here somewhere. Just doctor me and let’s go to bed, ok?”

She got the sleeping bags from behind the saddle and soon had our tent set up back among some bush. She did make my leg feel better. She poured a little of the snake bite medicine on it.

I took a couple of swigs of the snake bite medicine, also. Sleep came quickly.

I woke with Paige standing over me. I was shivering and very cold. Paige was wiping my forehead with a cold, damp cloth. “What the hell are you doing with that cold rag? I am freezing……

——————————————————————

I woke up later and it was dark, I was in the tent. Paige was lying up against me with her arms wrapped around me. She was naked, I think.  I heard Paige talking to me, but I could not answer her as I did not know what she was saying.  It sounded like gibberish to me.

—————————————————————————

Later, I saw her bathing in a stream, standing naked, dipping water up over her head. She was beautiful, gorgeous breasts, dream material for sure……..

———————————————————————-

And it was dark again and Paige was trying to pour water down me. It tasted so good. My leg was hurting, my back was hurting, my head was hurting, I needed help, I could tell that……

________________________________________________________

Paige was bending over a fire, a fire with fish on a couple of sticks over it. “When is breakfast being served, I’m starved.”

“Oh, you,… your alive…… And hungry! Great! Just a minute and I will have us some food.” She walked over to me. “I have been so worried about you. I have cleaned your wound every day. I think it has been about a week that you have been out of your head, maybe longer.  The wound looks so much better today. Maybe that is why you woke up.”

Paige pulled the fish from the bone and fed me. I was too weak to sit up.

I must have eaten two of the fish. But I soon became tired and drifted off to sleep again. I woke during the night lying next to a naked Paige giving me some more dream material, so I went right back to sleep hoping for a nightmare.

Morning came and I struggled to sit up. I made it, but it took a while. The horse was grazing nearby in some deep green grass by the small stream. Paige was standing over the stream with a sharp stick in her hand. She immediately plunged the stick into the water and a splashing fish was speared and fighting to get off. Paige flung it out on the bank and resumed her stare into the stream. I watched. Soon another fish was speared and flung up on the bank.

I struggled to get up to go over to join her, but soon found I could not move. I had to work at sitting up which I finally accomplished.

Paige was in the process of cleaning the fish and it was very quiet around the camp, except for the peaceful murmur of the stream. Upstream a couple of hundred yards, a deer came to drink. Slowly lifting the carbine from its resting place, I got off a quick shot, but a good shot, right on its mark.

The deer jumped about ten feet and then hit the ground.

“You son of a bitch,” screamed Paige, “you scared the crap out of me. Couldn’t you have grunted or something before firing that thing. I thought the Indians were here. Damn.”

“Good morning to you too, Paige. Please take your knife and go over and cut the deer’s throat, ok? He needs to be bled.”

“What! You want me to go over to that deer and cut its throat? Is that all? Just like that…….Well, I can’t do that.”

“Any squaw can do that. Skinning the deer is the hard part. And if you want some meat tonight, you need to bleed the deer, dear. Will you please go do it? Put the knife to its neck and push downward. It’s dead now and won’t feel a thing. I’ll try walking over there and get us a few cuts of meat, especially the tenderloin.”

Reluctantly, she did. She looked at it for a few minutes, looked at me for a few minutes and then putting the knife against the deer’s neck and covering her eyes with her left hand, pushed, then sawed with no success. Then she uncovered her eyes and, finally, cut the deer’s throat.

“Good girl.” After I got up, I found I could hop pretty good, but I was a little unsteady, taking a few minutes to compete the journey.  I arrived about the time the deer had bled out. I cut out the tenderloin, giving it to Paige for washing and cooking.

Paige built up the fire. We found some sharp sticks with “y” ends to hold the meat stick over the fire, Paige was continually turning it and adding some salt to it from her bag of stuff. Soon the aroma of the cooking meat filled me with hunger. I could hardly wait. I made some other cuts of meat to take with us, letting it smoke over the fire, and then salted it down in Paige’s fanny pack for our journey back to the portal.

After our delicious meal of fresh deer meat, I remembered that I had a couple of packs of hot chocolate is my backpack. “Tonight we celebrate this occasion with some hot chocolate. Want some?”

“Sure….” She looked at me like she did not believe me for a while, and then said, “Do you really have some hot chocolate? I’d love it. Let’s do celebrate. I’m ready to go home.”

“Well, hallelujah! We have our story and we can go home. I am going to put a couple of shots of snake bite medicine into our drinks. This is really a time for celebrating.” I already had the water for the hot chocolate heating over the fire.

We took our time drinking the hot chocolate. The evening star came out and I related my story to her about Private Joe McGilly.  She seemed sorry that she did not get to meet him. She confessed to seeing us both tied to the tree at the Warm Spring Camp. She said that Wolf had claimed her for his squaw and she was afraid to come to us. She, at first, thought he was just being nice to invite her into his teepee. She found out the next day, through Hawk, just what she had agreed to in Wolf’s and Butterscotch’s eyes. Wolf had agreed to take her in as his second squaw and Butterscotch had said it was ok. She said that Butterscotch was very nice to her and was teaching her how to be a good squaw. Apparently, the squaws do all the work and warriors fight and hunt. That was her understanding of the squaw’s life anyway. She learned that the tribe does not eat fish, turkey or eagles, but she was not sure why.

I told her that on my first trip through the portal, I did some fishing and the tribe ate them. She thought they must have been extremely hungry as they normally do not eat fish.

We had enjoyed our drinks that evening. The night was very pleasant. We were able to talk and enjoy each others company for the first time since coming through the portal, which surprised us both, I think.

She spent a big portion of the evening telling of her experience with the tribe. I asked if she was abused by Wolf during that time. With the tribe moving so fast, and so many times, they would just get the teepee’s set up and get ready for bed and something would happen causing them to pack up and move again. So, no, she was not abused by Wolf, even through he would lie between Butterscotch and her each night. She said Butterscotch was pretty demanding about his attention which was ok with her. She listened to them making out a couple of times. She thought Butterscotch eventually may have let him have her, but when Butterscotch was ready, not when Wolf was ready.

A slow rain started, making us close the tent up except for a small opening for fresh air. We were far enough back from the stream that we should be ok from any flash floods.

Paige cleaned and dressed my wounds, the hip was well, but the leg was still a little nasty. She hung the cloth outside to wash in the rain. Paige surprised me and took off her blouse, removed her bra, and then slipped her blouse back on.

“Huh, it was the snake bite medication, wasn’t it?” I had a very big smile on my face. She laughed and crawled over into my sleeping bag. That night went beyond dream material.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 

We were not is a big hurry, but we moved around as fast as we could under the circumstances. I cut a forked stick to fashion a crutch. It was crooked and not very pretty, but it worked.  It was probably nine o’clock or so before we started northeast. I could not see Cooke’s Peak yet, so I knew we had a long ways to go. I figured we were somewhere between present day Douglas, AZ and Lordsburg, NM. If so, we should be able to see Cooke’s Peak after going over the next range of mountains.

Using the deer hide, we built a travois for me and our goods to ride. Paige could ride the horse. I tried riding the horse, but it caused my leg to pain a lot.  Riding on the travois was much easier as I could prop up my leg on our gear.

I asked Paige to look for green areas as that would usually be a sign of water. Riding across the desert it was certainly not hard to spot the green amongst all the brown.

Paige stayed with it; I’ll say that for her. She kept up a very steady pace until about 2 o’clock when the sun became almost unbearable. Fortunately, we came upon a small green area with a trickle of water coming over some rocks and making a small pool just under them. It was a prize camp spot for a couple of people, I was sure it was a marked spot for traveling Indians. Animal tracks were abundant. We would just have to take our chances.

We drank our fill and relaxed under the largest bush. Birds flying in for water all afternoon made our entertainment. This country was full of birds, for sure. Some took time to feed on some of the grass seeds in the area. The grass was very thick for about a thirty foot area around the spring. The grass produced a head that had a lot of seeds, a prize for these birds.

A cougar or mountain lion came creeping down the slope toward a flock of birds on the other side of the opening. Taking a nearby ball sized rock, I flung it with all my might. The rock might have grazed its shoulder. At least it was close enough that the cat went running back over the hills.

“Paige, lets get our rest now and two or three hours before sun down we will move on for a few miles. This spring may become a very busy place at night. Some of the animals may be as big as we are. Let’s fill all our containers. I think we have many miles of very arid country. I was trying to remember the lay of the land between Wilcox, AZ and Lordsburg, NM. I have traveled that stretch along I-10 many times in the real world. I could not remember any streams, but there is standing water in some of the lower lying areas. I am not sure it is potable water, however.”

It had cooled some when we started out, but not much. North of us, many miles away, we could see dust being kicked up. Bison?  Maybe.  Indians? Maybe. Cavalry? The direction seemed wrong. But we kept our eye on the dust and talked with each other about our suspicions of who it was. Paige seemed to think it may be the Warm Spring Tribe headed back to their favorite land. I agreed with her that it was absolutely possible and they may have the Cochise bunch with them to attack any Cavalry that may get in their way.

We found some brush, that was big enough for some shade, and the brush was surrounded by few medium sized rocks. No water, however, but it would have to do. We heated some of the deer meat, warmed a can of beans and shared a can of peaches.  I guess last night and today’s travels had taken its toll because we were both ready for sleep when the sun went down.

Bright and early the next morning, we resumed out journey toward the east. About midday we could once again see Cooke’s Peak several miles north and east of present day Deming, NM. Paige and I agreed she should keep heading a little north of that point and we could fine tune our directions later.

The dust up north of us was developing into a larger cloud on the horizon.

It had to be one of the tribes. It moved too slowly for the Cavalry and was too steady for a herd of Bison, as Bison would stop to graze.

I checked to see if we were making any dust. It only showed when going through very dry, loose soil with some wind blowing, but then it was not very much, but the Indians would notice it. I passed my thoughts on to Paige. She asked, “What do you think we should do, stop?”

“No, I don’t think we should stop. But be on the look out for small tracks of dust out away from the main dust cloud. That would probably mean a brave or two were headed our way to check us out.”

“Wow, funny you should mention that” said Paige. “Look, there is a small dust cloud out away from the tribe moving our way in a hurry. What should I do?”

“Do you see those rocks over to your right? Head there, quickly!”

We tied the horse to a brush within the group of rocks and got the carbine out and ready, as we watched the approaching dust cloud. I tried to hand the pistol over to Paige, but she was already pulling a snub nosed .38 from her fanny pack. She also had a box of shells in there. Seeing the gun and shells made me feel a little better. “Can you shoot it?” I asked.

“I think I am probably better than you with a hand gun. My Dad taught me how to use one. I will choose my targets wisely.”

“Great, Paige, get ready. We have probably two or three minutes before they get here.”

I had about twenty shells for the carbine, so I knew I had to use them only on long distance shots and use the pistol close up. I gave the warriors about a minute, to where I could see them clearly. I fired at the lead warrior. His horse dropped, throwing the brave for a hard fall. He was very slow getting up, but I could not tell how badly he was injured.

The other warriors jumped off their horses and took what cover they could find. I warned Paige about them sneaking up on us and for her to be very watchful.

The sun was making its presence known. It had to be 100 degrees or more. We both took a sip of water during this lull. It was a short lull.  A bullet pinged off a rock just over our head, and then we heard the sound of the shot. They can be crawling closer. I took a quick look. I saw one running, bent over behind a small rock. I took a shot and missed, but I saw the dust kicked up behind him. I led him a little when he started running again, my shot dropped him.

Not good.

We now had pissed them off.  They would really be after us now.  It seemed like every one of the warriors now started firing as bullets were hitting all around us. One ripped a hole in the tent that was on the horse, making the horse jump around.  I pulled the horse back into the rocks with us. They must have fired ten to fifteen times which kept us from looking over the rocks to see what was happening. Luckily none of the bullets hit us.

When I did raise up, one warrior was very near our location. Before I could bring my carbine up in the firing position, the warrior was jumping at me. Paige fired, hitting him in the head. He smashed against the rock with a thud.

I got my rifle in the firing position and looked at the warrior’s last location. They had all advanced and one stood to charge. I fired just as he stood hitting him in the chest. The other two turned and started back toward their horses. I thought it best not to fire in order to save my ammunition.

Soon the dust cloud was going away from us.

“Paige, we are going the same direction as the tribe. We are both headed for the Alamosa Creek area. Remember, that is their home territory. They are closer than we are so we probably need to go to Fort Cummins and get some help getting to our portal. What do you think?”

“I’m tired. I want a bath. I want to soak for about two days. I want to rest for a month. I want a juicy steak, a baked potato, a nice green salad, ranch dressing, a Margarita, make that two. I’m tired of Indians. I have my story. I want to go home. I have had enough of the dust, and heat, and desert, and …..” she paused.

“Were you going to say, you, as in me? Was that what you were about to say? What were you about to say? That was it, wasn’t it? I have had enough of …..You.”

“No, really, I was not about to say you. I was about to say I’m homesick.

I’m ready to go home. If something were to happen to us out here, today, and they found our bones a hundred and fifty years from now, the authorities would really be confused. A Ninth Cavalry horse, saddle and carbine, a couple dressed in 21st Century clothing and camping equipment. How strange would that be, huh? How close are we to what would be the present day I-10? Pretty close, huh?”

“Yeah, you got that right. We are probably just a little east of Road Forks, a truck stop and pipeline fuel terminal and loading rack. Diesel is, or will be, shipped from there via trucks to the copper mines in the area. But that is several years in the future my dear. And in 2007, there is still nothing built in this area. It may be two or three centuries before our bones would be found.”

“Old beached bones, dry bones,,,,,,, dem old dry bones. Could they tell they were from a beautiful girl?  I need to write some of my story so someone will know just what I have been through, and know what a good reporter I am, eh, was. What a horrid thought! Let’s head for Fort Cummins, ok!”

“I’m with you, babe. Let’s mount up.”

Between the last spring and Cooke’s Spring near Deming, there may have been some springs and running water, but I could not locate them. We did see some green bushes and headed for them. I dug a hole in the damp ground

near the center of the bushes. I dug about two feet deep before any water started seeping in. It took a while, but we were able to fill our canteens and water bottles. After I had filled our containers, I widened the hole to let the horse drink.

We continued our journey, but a lot more slowly than before. The desert was beginning to take its toll on Paige and I was certainly not getting any stronger. About the time we were ready to give up, Paige saw a column of soldiers in the distance. She fired one shot in the air from her .38 to get their attention. It worked.

 

 

 

Chapter 12

 

Lt. Col. Ambrose had invited the two of us for dinner along with his staff at Fort Cummins. It was a formal affair. I had a clean shirt and Paige had a clean blouse in our bags. They were in pretty good shape except for needing to be ironed. We borrowed an iron from the enlisted men. After taking a nice bath, we changed our upper body clothing and dusted our pants as best we could. That helped. The bath was worth the journey.

The camp doctor looked after my wounded leg. He poured a little snake bite medicine on it.  We both took a big swig. One of those treatments made it feel better.

Steak may not have been the standard fare for the Fort Cummins dinner parties.  The soldiers did not carry on about them, but Paige and I did.  They were well prepared and could not have been served at a better time.

We pigged out on the bread, which was something we both had really missed since we had been inside the portal.

“Madam, tell me how it came to be that you were taken by the Indians. Did they kidnap you from somewhere out west? It is my understanding that the soldier’s found you riding in from the southwest, from the Arizona Territory. Is that correct?” asked the Colonel.

“Well, it is a very long story and very complicated. My time with the Indians was so traumatic that I am not sure I can remember everything. But I was chasing or following Mr. Einstein here when he entered this tunnel. I was lost, out of food and very hungry.”

Colonel said, “How did you happen to be by yourself in that country? What happened to your traveling companions?”

“Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, Colonel. I was doing a story; I’m a newspaper reporter, a story on some ghost towns in the Black Range……”

“Ghost towns, what do you mean, ghost towns?” The Colonel looked a little perplexed by the term.

“Oh, well, maybe I better back up a little further. You know what, it will make more sense to you if I let Mr. Einstein here tell the first part of the story. You go ahead, sir. Then I will tell my story. Ok?”

I gave her a very stern look over the Mr. Einstein name, but it did not matter. “Well, Colonel, it’s like this. We are from the 21st century. The calendar year was 2007 when I journeyed through the portal into this era, this time frame that you and your people are in. I have been through the tunnel previously, into the year 1867, but then my year was 2004. The passageway became blocked by a cave-in and lately a flood washed out enough of the fill for us to get through.” I never knew anyone could wrinkle their brow as much as that Colonel wrinkled his. Disbelief was so evident.

I told him our story.  I brought him up to the present, which included our fight with the Apaches just yesterday.

“Well, that is very difficult to believe. I am not saying you are lying, but it is tall tale. Some of the things you tell would be very hard to make up. Thank you for your interesting story, Mr. Einstein. Let me hear your side of the story, Miss Middleton.” I had to smile at the Mr. Einstein bit. What a girl.

“Well, I had trouble believing him also when he was first telling me the story. But that first day, while I was sitting there talking with him, hair started growing on his head. And, he started losing wrinkles and getting better looking. Even though he still has a long way to go, he does look better. Believe me on that. Then he mentioned that I was looking younger myself and he also stated that I was becoming even prettier while just sitting there talking to him.”

I lowered my head, shook it, and grinned.  I could not believe parts of this story either. She continued.

“Everything looked the same as on the other side of the portal. But soon, this tribe of Indians came by, led by Mangas Coloradas, Mr. Einstein told me that was who he was, and that he was the leader of the tribe.”

“Eh, that can’t be, Miss. Mangas Coloradas, was killed in 1863. This is 1872.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ll get around to that. I’m getting there.  We had a small run-in with this bunch of Indians so we returned to 2007 through the portal.  To shorten the story, we replenished our supplies and came back into this country, through the portal again. Only this time when we can through, bingo, 1872, and we walked right into Chief Victorio’s camp. Butterscotch was now married to Wolf, Mr. Einstein’s arch rival and things were ripe for another battle between the two of them. Wolf had a bad dislike for Old Einstein here and wanted to take him on. Butterscotch stopped the fight and we got along ok with the rest of the tribe. That is until Cochise had a run-in with some of your boys and a warrior came to fetch Chief Victorio to help him.”

“How long did it take the tribe to load up and move out? That is information that we need to have.”

“Not long at all, Colonel. They were packed before we could get ready. I left when they did, leaving Mr. Einstein to bring all of our equipment. Then when we had been on the road a full day of marching, I was invited into Wolf and Butterscotch’s teepee, I thought they were just being nice. I found out later that the move signified that I was another squaw of Wolf’s.

The rest is like Mr. Einstein told you.”

The Colonel lit his pipe, taking his time in doing so and took several puffs from it before he spoke.

“Gentlemen,” he said to his fellow officers gathered at the table,” we have just heard one of the damnst stories of this century from both these people. How could something like this be made up? But, how could something like this be true? What are the Indians and Military doing in the, 21st Century you say?”

“Beg your pardon, sir?”

“What is happening in your century? What is going on with the Indians? Has a peace been established? Tell me all about that.”

“Yes, peace, and most all of the Indians live on reservations. We gave them the worst land we had. For a long time, they had a very difficult life. Then we let them build casinos.”

“Build what?”

“Casinos, gambling establishments if you will. Now all the whites are paying the Indians millions and millions of dollars that they wager in the casinos. Most all of the tribes are very wealthy in our world. There are slot machines, gaming tables for poker, dice, and roulette, making a very different world in 2007.”

“Also, the Indians served in our Military in World War Two doing an excellent job and they made some of our best fighting men in some of our later conflicts.”

“They do make good scouts.”

“Yes sir, they are very brave. In World War Two, the Navajo used their language to help us defeat the Japanese. We called them Navajo Code Talkers.”

“Tell me about that. How did they help with their language?”

I went on and on, trying to tell that story in detail that required me to explain radios and walkie talkies.  Then, I added about our tanks, jet planes, aircraft carriers, modern day weapons of mass destruction, one bomb that would destroy a complete city and kill hundred of thousands. On and on I went with wide eye reaction from all at the table.

“In 1969, man walked on the moon.”

The men at the table erupted. Every kind of utterance that could be mentioned was mentioned. Mostly, it was disbelief and most of the men stood and said I had gone too far. Now they are sure that I was lying.

“You have to be the biggest teller of tales that I have ever run across.

I do not appreciate you coming into our Fort and telling such stories and expect that we would believe them. You may spend the night. Then we ask that you continue your journey. If that was our mount we would keep it. The carbine and ammunition you need to turn into our Officer of the Day. Good night, Sir. Madam, good night to you. Thank you for joining us this evening. Tomorrow morning after breakfast, we shall escort you a few miles from the fort, and then you are on your own.” He saluted smartly and walked out. He was followed closely by his entourage.

When we reached the outside, I happened to look across the parade ground and as luck would have it I saw Private Joe McGilly. “Colonel, is that Pvt. McGilly I see over there?”

“Yes, I think that is his name. He in on temporary duty here, loaned to us from Fort Selden. Why do you ask?”

“Could we invite him over here for a moment? I think he has something that will help our story.”

“Well, what more could it hurt.” He shouted across the parade grounds, “Private McGilly, come over here for a moment, please.”

Private McGilly came over, looked at me like oh no, not again, but he only nodded at me. He saluted smartly and said, “Yes suh, Colonel, suh. You needs me over here?”

“Mr. Einstein here wants you.”

“Joe, do you have any of the coins left that I gave you? And if you do, could you show them to the Colonel?”

“Yes, suh, I reckon I can, but I don’t want to lose any of them. I might sell some of them to you, for a good bit of money, understand.”

“No, Joe, we will give them back. We just need to study them for a few minutes. Ok?”

Joe dug into his pockets and I could tell by the way his hand worked in his pocket that he was only getting a few of them for the Colonel’s review. He produced a few coins, enough for what I needed them for anyway.

“Colonel, these are the present day coins of the United States of America. Please look them over closely and see what they tell you about my story.”

The Colonel and some of his officers walked back into the officer’s mess hall, under the lights and began to study the coins. “Captain, what are the numbers on these coins. Are they dates, do you think? Some read, 2004, some 2006 and here is a penny that reads 1982. That is very strange.”

The Captain looked at the coins, agreed that the dates were just what we said they were. He sat down to look at them for a while. After he had studied them he handed them back to the Colonel. The Colonel had already seen enough and handed them back to Joe. “Thank you, Private. You are dismissed.”

Joe immediately started walking off, looking back, he gave me a strange look and disappeared into the night.

The Colonel took a seat at one of the tables and invited me to sit down. He asked the mess hall private to bring us a drink.

This Colonel was nobody’s fool. He was well educated, an officer and a gentleman. He asked some very intelligent questions about the status of the United States of America as a world power and other questions about our government; questions about the names of our Presidents and Vice Presidents; our form of government and how it had worked since the Civil War and what was happening in the southern states?

I felt very inadequate in my answers to most of his questions, but I answered them all as best I could. I could name only a few of the Vice Presidents and not many more of the Presidents and certainly not in the proper order.

He surprised me as to his interest of the well-being of the Indians after the campaigns were over in the west.  He seemed sad about the tribulations of the Navajos on the Long Walk to Fort Sumner (Bosque Redondo Reservation) and the Apaches being removed from Arizona and New Mexico in 1886 and their being relocated to Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma as prisoners of war. I hold him what happened to Chief Victorio and Cochise, and about Nana and Lozen.  Of all the things I told him, his eyes almost teared up, or so it appeared, when I told him of the massacre of Victorio’s tribe. He said, “Whatever else I feel about Victorio, he is a great warrior and I am sorry he met his end in that fashion.” I noted that he said he is a great warrior, speaking in the present tense.

We talked far into the night. As I walked to my quarters later, I felt it was almost time for reveille.

It was.

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

At breakfast the next morning, the Colonel had backed off his orders to see us out of camp, but it was time for us to move on. We told the Colonel we would be leaving after breakfast anyway. He insisted he send a few soldiers with us since the tribe had preceded us toward Ojo Caliente.

We assured him we would be ok, but he felt we needed some protection so he sent some troops with us, a few of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed there.

We said our goodbyes and all the officers from the night before were there to see us off. I am not sure how they felt about us, about our story and if we were for real. There seemed to be mixed emotions with our departure, but most of them wanted to know more as they would come up to Paige or me asking questions about certain parts of the world their family lived in and what was happening in that region in 2007. I guess some of them believed us.

Colonel Ambrose sent six Buffalo Soldiers with us, including Private Joe McGilly. Joe seemed pleased that he had been selected to make the journey.  I was pleased also as I liked Joe.

Joe pulled up alongside the travois, riding by my side, where I could hear him talking and said, “Old Colonel didn’t believe you last night, huh? All that stuff you laid on me, you laid on him I reckon. I knowed it was gonna be rough on you telling all dem tales you got to talk about. It be better off if’n you just keep yo’ mouth shut. In the future, you might want to consider that.”

He did not wait on me to answer. He smiled and rode off to catch the other soldiers.

We rode at a steady pace, but a little more relaxed than we were before arriving at Fort Cummins. The Colonel had sent some extra supplies with us and we felt we were in pretty good shape. We certainly were in no hurry to arrive at the portal since the Indians were probably already camped there.

We did not have enough men to take the tribe on in battle. It would be necessary to slip around the tribe, probably under the cover of darkness and sneak through the portal.

I might leave my “flashlight thang” with Joe if he was still with us when we went through the portal. I was getting just a little ahead of myself and I knew better than to do that. We were climbing higher and higher in elevation and the air was getting cooler. The brush was turning into trees, juniper to pinion and pine. One of the ways we could determine our elevation, especially being above 8000 feet, was the Aspen trees. We did not have any at our present elevation so my guess we were about 7000 to 7500 feet. I knew the nights would be very cold up here and I was already hoping that I would have a sleeping bag partner.

And speaking of sleeping bag partners, Paige calls back to me, “When are we going to camp for the night? Who determines when we stop? If it is me, if I am the boss, it is time to stop. My butt is killing me.” Paige sat the saddle just like the cowboys, none of that sissy girl side saddle stuff for her. I gave her a hard time but she really was a trooper. She had shot Indians, been shot at by Indians, been a prisoner of the Indians, been nursemaid to a wounded man, and she had never whimpered nor complained. I don’t know if that’s the makeup of a reporter, or just the makeup of this reporter. Either way, down deep, I was very proud of her. I probably loved her, but I was withholding that affirmation for a while. Sometimes you hate to stick your neck out when there is potential for a nearby guillotine.

We combined our rations for supper that evening. The troopers loved our pork and beans and our energy bars. We loved their potatoes and bread. We would cut the bars into small portions so that more of them could have a piece, but we would pig out on the potatoes and bread.

The Buffalo Soldiers seemed to love Paige. They appeared to be awestruck and stared at her all of the evening, but she handled it well. It added strength to her perception that she was indeed pretty. She had become prettier to me and I wondered why. I think it had to do with learning about a person’s enter beauty and strength, however I did not want to tell her that as her head was quite big enough, and still growing.

After supper, we had a nice fire to take the evening chill off the air and the sunset was perfect. All the troops were kicked back and enjoying the last of our coffee, quietly talking, and I took that opportunity to look ahead some.

“Well, Paige, my dear. What is your book going to be about? Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, me…….What? Are you really going to tell about the time travel thing? That sort of story is very hard to believe and may not take you to the best seller list. Tell me how you are going to handle all of this.”

“Well, I am not sure you are going to be in it. I need a character of strength; handsome and charming and, also, very sexy. You know, Colonel Ambrose might fill the bill. I might make him my main character. He was a hunk in that uniform. Did you notice?”

“No, I did not notice him being a hunk. Hawk was more of a hunk than him. Are you sure? Ambrose? You have this thing for hunks, I have noticed, and it seems like at times it don’t take much to make one. But what about me, oh pretty one, I mean, really? Will I be in your book?”

“Probably, some bit part, maybe like a crazy guy that came riding into an Indian Camp with a tent on his saddle lit up with a flashlight, with a Halloween face drawn on it or some other crazy thing like that, nothing important.”

“Are you talking about that daring raid, all alone, charging into the heart of an Apache Indian camp where the hero picked up our esteemed story teller and whisked her away from the big bad Wolf, back to the safety of his arms? The guy who risked his life and limb for the same said story teller, bleeding many pints of his blood over the desert floor, complaining not, a real trooper all the way? Is that the guy you are going to write about?”

I never saw a girl soften so quickly. She seemed to melt. “You never did complain. And all the while you were so brave. I think a lesser man would have had to have his guns blazing. Thank you for coming for me, for not letting them have me. It was stupid of me to have followed them and not to have waited on you. You’re in by book and you are the hero.”

“You are welcome.” I was going to say more but somehow those words just kind of affected me and I had to hold back.

I waited a bit then said, “I always wanted to be the hero, especially with you the heroine. It was worth the wait.”

“I just hope I can make it a readable story. We have certainly had plenty of action, huh?”

“Yeah, too much for me at times. I would have much preferred a romantic love story, with a little comedy, one where the heroine pampers the hero a little, takes good care of her man, they go fishing and stuff, lots of food,…..And lots of sex. Now that would be a good story.”

Paige walked out into the brush shaking her head, a big, negative shake. “You really are a dreamer.

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Private Joe McGilly and the rest of the soldier were up early the next morning and had breakfast ready by the time Paige and I got up. It was a cool morning and the fire felt good. The coffee tasted great.

Soon we were moving out, up the canyon and on our way to Alamosa Creek.

It would take a few hours from the time we hit the creek until we would arrived at the portal leading back to our world.

We stopped to water our horses at the head waters of Alamosa Creek sometime later. All the soldiers had dismounted and were walking around, stretching, and taking strolls out into the woods.

A dozen or so warriors came down from the hills attacking. I had heard Indians hollering and carrying on in movies when they were attacking and thought very little about that, but it really is effective in real life, kind of like, well,  scary as hell!. I had my gun strapped on and immediately went to firing at them. Some of the soldiers had left their guns on their horses. Those that were close to the horses grabbed for them and their guns. Two of the horses bolted and ran, running with the Indians and not away from them. Two guns and the supplies that were assigned to those horses were lost.

I fired several shots as did a couple of the soldiers, but if any of the Indians were hit they did not show it. It was over as fast as it started.

Our lost was the two horses, two guns, some ammo and supplies.

“Did you see Wolf? He appeared to be the leader of the tribe on this attack. I did not see Victorio.”

“He stayed up in the hills, watching from his horse, if he was here. I did see Lozen, but not Wolf. I think their plan may be to pester us for a while and take their time before we have a major encounter. We are seriously outnumbered.”

“Men, let’s stay back from the creek, but continue to follow its course until we get closer to the portal. Then we will decide what we need to do from there. I don’t want to be caught off guard anymore. We will spread out until we hear Indians coming, then you guys come to Paige and I. We will be seeking cover sufficient for all of us.”

Joe was looking at me with some concern on his face. “You a fighting man too, are you? Where’d you get yo training?  You be barking out orders like my First Sergeant.  You ever fought Indians before?”

That put me in my place very fast. These men had more Indian fights than I had even seen on TV. I replied, “No, Joe, you are right. I fought Indians only once or twice before. You take charge and deploy the men as you see fit. Sorry about me trying to Sergeant you around.”

“It be ok, suh, and we will do it kind ‘a like you say. Onliest thing, I want one man out scouting. He be the lead man who ain’t on horseback. He walk the highest point around. That way, he sees something he fires a warning shot and we take immediate cover.”

“Good plan, Joe…… We can move out when you’re ready.”

We did not have any more trouble that day. I think the Indians wanted the bread, potatoes and ammo on those horses. Seems like the two they got were those that were loaded the heaviest. We did not eat quite so heavy that night as we were now worried about having enough supplies.

Camp was made close together with one person on watch, changing guards every two hours. We slept away from the fire in the event some Indians came looking for us. Also, the coffee pot stayed on the fire where the guards could come and go and not wake up those sleeping when he came in for coffee.

It was an uneventful night however, with no interruptions. I told Paige that if we should have a major fight and get separated to try and make it down Alamosa Creek to the portal. “Do not wait,” I pleaded, “just get through the portal as soon as you can.”  I tried to let her know that it very well could be a life or death thing. While Wolf wanted her alive, he also wanted me dead and she may have to watch that take place. Her eyes got larger as she imagined that happening and maybe how it would happen. I wanted her to get the point and escape, if escape was possible.

After breaking camp, our scout got a 15 to 20 minute lead on us.  I believed this area was familiar territory to us all and we knew the portal was near.

We were talking about taking a lunch break when we heard a warning shot from our scout and immediately five to six shots followed that. I saw the look on Joe’s face and read that he was very concerned for our scout.

Soon the other five Buffalo Soldiers arrived to the rocks that Paige and I had sought refuge in. Paige and I did a very stupid thing. We did not check for water in our shelter area and when we did there was none. That was very bad, surrounded by hostile Indians, who have all the time in the world, and plenty of water.

Joe pointed to some rocks back up on the hill that had a small stream, only inches deep and a couple of feet wide, running through those rocks. There were a few feet of clear area inside the rocks. A perfect fighting spot but there was several feet of open space to run through to get to them.

Joe said, “We can’t stay here. We have to have water. Mister, you run first, then you Missus, and then me and the boys will start working our way over there. You run fast, zigzagging, so they can’t sight in on you. Now…..run, run…run..” he shouted.

It was an order and I ran without thinking, zigzagging and stumbling on rocks and hearing the bullets striking the ground all around me. I made it. Inside the rock protection, I picked a protected spot to fire at the Indians.

I saw some smoke from one gun as Paige started running, and then I saw Wolf stand and scream something at the warrior doing the shooting. He immediately stopped. Paige continued on with no more shot being fired at her. She kind of dove into the rocks, looked at me and said, “They didn’t shoot at me. He does think I’m pretty, huh?” She smiled a big smile at me.

“Boy, it don’t take a hell’va lot to win you over, does it.” I was smiling when I said that as well. At the same time wondered about her thought process. It must be a reporter thing or something.

That was all we got to say as Joe started running and the bullets started again. I fired at the smoke coming from the weapons as they fired. The best I could hope for was to make them duck down and not fire as much at Joe.

He came in without any injuries. The next soldier made about ten yards and he was hit by several bullets. He crawled for a few feet but several more bullets hit him and then he lay still.

Joe motioned for the others to hold up. He looked at us and said, “We got to lay down a good amount of fire so the rest of them boys can get over here. When I motion them to come on, you, me and Missus Paige start shooting at them rocks so they can’t raise up. We need all them boys to help us fight. Ya’ll ready,” Looking at us, then at the troops, he yells, “Boys, we gonna start shooting and when we do, ya’ll run like hell. Let’s go.”

Joe started shooting. I took my revolver and was firing regular as was Paige with her 38. The rest of them made it ok as the Indians never fired a shot that time.

The soldier that had been hit several times started moaning and moving around and trying to crawl. One of the soldier, they called him Dee, said, “I’ll go get him. He be my friend. We joined up together, worked on a plantation down yonder in Kain’tuck together, too.”

He barely had the last part said before he took off running. Joe screamed, “Fire, fire… Don’t let them rise up.” Every gun inside the rocks went to firing and one Indian pitched forward over a rock. One reached up and pulled him back. No shots were fired at Dee as he was dragging in the trooper.

I looked the soldier over and I appreciated what Dee did, but other than not letting him lie out in the open, it was far nothing but Dee’s peace of mind. This young soldier had given his all for his country. Before he died I hope he realized that Dee had risked his life trying to save him.  I rested my hand on Dee’s shoulder.

What happened next was so fast I did not believe it was happening and could not move fast enough to stop it. Dee grabbed his carbine and started running toward the rocks that the Indian were behind, firing as fast as he could load. It was funny or better said, strange, that the Indians did not fire. Dee was cussing with each step, loading and then firing, cussing some more and then doing it all over again. The Indians did not fire a single shot until the soldier was nearly upon them. Then they all fired, it almost sounded as one shot. Dee took two more full steps then toppling over. The thud of his body hitting the rocks could clearly be heard even with the guns firing.

Joe said, “Hold your fire.” He took a white handkerchief out of his pocket and tied it to the end of his carbine. He rose up and went walking toward Dee. Not a shot was fired as he slowly walked up to Dee. He loaded him across his shoulder and walked back across the clearing with him, tears streaming down his cheek. I guess maybe all of these guys were pretty good buddies; a lot of battles, a lot of rough times and probably a lot of hell raising when they had the chance. I tried not to think it, but I did as it was “because of us”. Protecting us, following orders, trying to get two people safely back home.

All this fighting and dying made me want to cry but it was too late for that. Five of us now left to fight several warriors. No time left for sentiments.

We dug through our equipment trying to find food we could eat and not build a fire. Joe, Jeremiah, and the one they called Valentine, kept watch for the warriors as Paige and I tried to prepare us some food. I noticed that Valentine was tall; my guess was 6’ 5”. He was on his knees and he could still see over the rocks.  If there had been basketball at Fort Cummins they would have had him under the basket. But we were a long way and many years from basketball so no need to bring that up, yet, maybe some night around a nice campfire when stories are yearned for.

We had the supper fixed, as well as we could. We cut up the energy bars into smaller pieces and opened a can of pork and beans. Each of us would have about two or three spoonfuls.

Paige said, “Okay guys, try to find a dry, comfortable place to sit and let’s try to eat something.”

Valentine said, “Great, I’m really hungry.” He stood up and immediately took three shoots through the chest, blood splattering over all of us and the food. Valentine fell into the stream, volumes of his blood making it flow red.

Jeremiah jumped up to return fire and took a single bullet in the head.

Dead before he hit the lifeless body of Valentine. More shots were coming into the rocks, zinging around as they ricocheted from one rock to another.

We crouched low, unmoving. The shooting lasted only a short while. I imagine they wondered how many of us had been hit. We did not move but we listened intently in the event they were sneaking up on us.

Darkness was quickly approaching. Joe said, “The ground on the other side of the rocks is damp. Let’s dig one grave for all these guys. Make me feels a lot better to do that.”

“Ok, Joe. Let’s do it” We took all the available ammunition from each soldier before placing him in the ground.

It was past dark when we pushed the bodies in the shallow grave and started covering them up. Because the grave was so shallow we piled numerous rocks on top.  Joe left their hats on a stick to mark the graves.

After a brief rest, Joe said, “You got yo flashlight thing?”

“Yes, I have my light. Why do you ask?”

“Let’s go hunting. You handle the light and I shoot the gun.”

“Missus Paige, we be telling you when we be coming back into the rocks, talking and all. If somebody starts coming up and he ain’t talking you shoot then axe who it be, ok?”

“Yes, but please hurry. I wish you wouldn’t go.  I’m scared.”

“You have your 38 loaded? I asked.

“Yes, of course.”

“Then no need for you to be scared. You’ll be ok. You’re the best shot out here.”

“You came back to me, Mister Einstein.” A sweetness in her voice not heard before, not by me anyway.

We started out through the woods, feeling our way, as it was very dark. No moonlight at all and the barest amount of starlight.

We were headed toward the rocks that we were firing at earlier today. They may or may not be there. We drifted away from the rock for a hundred yards or so then started directly toward them. They had moved and had a small fire going. We could barely make out the glow and could not see the Indians clearly, just shadowy outlines.

We found some cover and crouched down behind some rocks. Joe propped up his carbine, settled it against his shoulder and whispered, “Whenever you be ready.”

I pointed the light at the most visible shadowy figure and switched it on. The warrior immediately jumped up and looked right at the light, Joe fired. He fell.

I put the beam of light on the next figure, Joe fired and he fell. But then there were no more shadowy figures to see. I swept the area with the light beam and other that seeing some figures clearing rocks and getting behind trees and brush, none were now visible even to the bright flashlight. I did notice that a couple of the Indians were running toward the place we left Paige.

I whispered, “Joe, I think we screwed up. Some of them are headed toward out camp. Let’s hurry. Paige may be in trouble.”

We went back toward our camp in a straight line. I would stop from time to time and shine the flashlight beam all around making sure no warriors were directly in our path. Afterwards, I determined that all I did was tell them where we were.

Then a scream and a gun shot came from the direction of our camp. Paige.

I screamed, “Hold on Paige, we are coming.” Joe and I both went running, stumbling, falling at different times rushing to get to her.

We arrived at the rocks where we had left Paige. Most of the supplies were there but Paige was gone. My heart sank. We were so close to the portal and our return home. Now I was hoping that we could find her and that it was not over for her. (I had a weird thought that she was not really squaw material but evidently Wolf thought differently.)

Joe and I went together down the creek on the side opposite where the warriors had been hiding. Still, every so often I would shine the light through the woods. Each time I did, Joe had the carbine up, pointing toward the light beam following its every move.

We wandered all along the creek bank. As dawn was breaking and we still did not have a clue as to where they were. We had to make the assumption that they would eventually join up with the tribe down near the portal at the hot springs.

“Joe, we must go back for our supplies. We will have to resume the search after daylight.”

“I don’t believe they will take her to the camp. They will send a warrior for some supplies and they stay hid back up in the hill, that’s what I’m thinking,” said Joe.

“Aw, Joe, I sure hope you are wrong. We cannot cover this entire territory.  I think we have to go to their camp at the portal. We can slip through the portal and get us more supplies and ammunition.  We may have to hunt for her a long time. Let’s just hope she is in the camp and we can rescue her from Wolf. I know he is the one who has her. Oh, man, this is not going right at all. I am worried now, Joe, more than I have ever been. There is no way I can leave her over here.”

“I think we get yo woman. She smart and she will help us all she can. I think come morning she be leaving us a trail to follow.”

“Joe, I hope you are right. Lets get back to the camp, get our supplies and start tracking her, ok”

 

 

Chapter Fifteen

 

We warmed some of the deer meat from Paige’s fanny pack. She did not take any of her stuff so her kidnappers were really in a hurry. The evidence was that she put up a good fight. She did fire a shot, but with the blood from Valentine and Jeremiah still all over the place, we could not tell if any of it was new.

We decided to spread out going in the general direction that they appeared to have taken last night, at least for the first few minutes of the journey. Joe called, “Come here, Mister. Looks like Missus Paige left us some feet prints here in the soft stuff. Indians don’t wear boots and she got that funny cut on the bottom of her shoes.”

Joe was talking about the cut out thread in the rubber soles on her hiking boots. The ones that remind you of tire tread, if you’re 21st Century minded. Sure enough she had left us good prints and for several feet in the soft, damp soil. We could determine the direction they were headed at that moment anyway.

A few feet further, on the rocks, was some mud she had kicked out of the soles of the boots. So we had her present direction of travel which was up high from the creek but following its general eastern direction never the less.

After a few miles we had crossed a couple of small streams with no new clues.  At each stream we went up and down the stream looking for a crossing point, foot prints or boot prints or someone kneeling down to drink.

We did not see a thing.

“Joe, I think maybe he worked his way back down to the creek as we may be getting close the to main camp. I think we should go this way.”

“I think it be as good as any. I’m thinking that gal of yours may be in a heap of trouble. That old warrior Wolf got it bad fur her, don’t he? He be as crazy about her as you are, Capt’n.”

“What makes you think I’m crazy about her, Joe?”

“There be some things you just can’t hide, boss, and I believe that’s one of them. You telling me you ain’t?”

“No, I don’t know, Joe, it’s kind of complicated. You see, I am an old man back where we are from and it would never work out. Here in this country I keep forgetting about the age difference, as we both seem to be in our twenties, but back there it would never work. But I do care for her a lot.”

“Well, as I heard you say a time or two….”no shit?”

I had to laugh the way he put it and I suppose we needed a little humor to ease the tension at the moment.

Just before we arrived at the stream, we could hear it running, we came upon some soft ground and we saw another boot print. We were very lucky to have run across it. We had guessed correctly again.

We scouted the banks of the stream looking for a drinking location or crossing point. We saw indications of them getting a drink. It appeared to be Paige and her capturers, two warriors. Others could be with them but they could be staying back in the woods. We continued downstream looking for others coming to the stream to drink.

Near nightfall we were close enough to the main camp that we were beginning to see flickering campfires through the trees from time to time. Soon it would be dark and I hoped we could sneak up close enough to tell if Paige was in the camp. They will probably have her in one of the teepees and it is highly unlikely we will see her even if she is in camp.

I had taken Dee’s carbine as it was the best one left. I wanted to get Wolf in the sights of that gun, one shot….just one shot. I hate to leave Butterscotch widowed but he has pushed me too far. Then I thought about those two little girls of his and my heart softened some. I don’t know if I can do it or not. I suppose it depends on the amount of danger Paige is in at the time I see Wolf. I had this sick feeling in my stomach. Winning was going to be difficult no matter the outcome of this fight.

The easiest path around the Indian camp was on the eastern side. That is the route Joe and I took. It was very dark and not wanting to shine the flashlight, it took us a long time to get around the camp.

By the time we had crossed the stream and arrived at some heavy brush cover, most of the fires in the camp were dying out. We took shelter among some rocks inside the brush. Within minutes Joe was sound asleep. I was thinking about Paige, hoping I could find her and missing her very much. I could not get comfortable, rocks underneath me, uneven ground, nothing felt right in my little nest for the night. I was just miserable.

For some reason an old Ira and Charlie Louvin song came to mind, “Hold back the rushing minutes, make the wind lie still, don’t let the moonlight shine, across the lonely hills, dry all the raindrops, hold back the sun, my world is ended, my Baby’s gone.”[8] I dropped off to sleep singing that song in my mind.

The morning light provide me a sense of direction and just where Joe and I were. We were exactly over the tunnel that could provide us some freedom. But to leave now was to leave Paige. Maybe forever. If we went through the tunnel without her the time and year may change when we came back through. I did not want to take that chance unless we were had no other recourse.

Joe woke up and saw me staring at the tunnel. “That be it, huh? That be the way to that other world you be telling me about? I wants to see it, boss.

Let’s go through there for just a few minutes so I can see that contraction you tell me you haul stuff on. I just wants to see a little of that world.”

“Joe, if we go out it may change the time frame when we return. It is just too much of a chance to take now.”

Joe was up and moving toward the tunnel before I knew what was happening. “Joe, stop,,,,,No, Joe.” I went running after him trying to stop him.

He was already near the tunnels end when I got to him. The 2007 world was now visible. The ATV was right where I left it.

Joe saw it and stopped, rubbing his hand over the fender and climbing into the driver’s seat, turning the steering wheel back and forth like he was driving it. “Take me for a ride on this thang. It do look peculiar. I just wants to say I seed it and rode on it. Ok?”

“Joe, we have to get back. We could lose Paige forever; we have to go back now. Besides, you are going to start aging pretty quickly. We need to go back, now!” I knew it was not that critical for him, but I was worried for Paige.

“Just one little ride, boss, one short ride.” He seemed so excited about it.

“Crap. Ok, climb in the other seat. One very short ride is all we can take time for.”

It fired right up. I backed it up and took it up the rocky trail for good distance. In trying to turn it around I got on some rocks that almost stuck me, taking several minutes to work my way out of the tight spot and not drop off a small cliff of about 15 feet or so. Joe was enjoying all of this and I was getting sicker by the minute, knowing that time was quickly changing on the other side of the tunnel.

After a half hour or so we were back at the tunnel ready to go back through. I started in and turned to talk to Joe and he was not with me.

I had to run back out for him. He was standing looking up in the sky.

“That be them tails you be telling me about, huh, them flying thangs? It’s a long straight cloud across the sky. That do look funny. Look over yonder. Them two tails be crossing. How they do that? Why don’t they run into one another?” He was fascinated by them.

“Joe, come on. I will tell you all about it later. Once we get Paige back maybe we can come out again for a short stay. Maybe I can take you to town with me for a short visit. But for now, we have to go back. Come on.” I was pleading with him and worrying about all the time we were wasting.

 

 

Chapter Sixteen

 

I peeped around the end of the tunnel up toward the overhang. Nothing.

No teepees, no fires, nothing. I have lost her, maybe forever. A sick feeling came over me. Now what year was it? How much time had lapsed on this side? How could I get her back to her time frame? Think. Think. But no real thoughts came. I was so foolish to have let her come in the first place. This time it was my fault for leaving her alone while we went Apache hunting. How stupid can one get?  I sat on a rock unmoving, my stomach churning. I needed to keep trying, the answer may be to keep going back through the tunnel off and on to see what time frame was there.

We went back and forth several different times and most of the time no one was there. On one of our trips a group of soldiers were camped near the tunnel. I asked Joe to walk over and talk to them to determine what year it was. It took several minutes for those soldiers to get over Joe appearing from nowhere, which he explained that he had gotten lost from his troops. It turns out they were from Fort Craig and the year was 1864, much too early for us now.

There was nothing we could do here with the time frame what it was on the other side. I needed to restock on supplies and ammunitions, maybe get a couple of new lever action rifles.

My chances at finding her would be just as good coming back through the tunnel tomorrow as it would be today, or next week for that matter.

Only things I could not keep Joe in my world very long as it would be his death sentence.

“Joe, lets go to town and get more supplies.”

“Alright, boss. Let’s go to town,” Joe almost screamed with delight, Paige forgotten for the moment.

Joe was amazed with the car. He could not believe we had such an invention, so comfortable and fast, with a radio and gadgets. He kept changing stations and pushing buttons. It was hard to keep up with him.

I had to fuss at him when he started digging in the glove box.

I had a can of “curiously strong mints,” peppermint flavored, which he liked very much saying, “they sho be strong, you got that rite, I can breathe better now,” then taking several more from the can. He leaned back in the nice soft seat, head resting on the head rest. “This be nice. I ain’t never seed nothing like this,” then closing his eyes and resting for a while.

The resting didn’t last long. All the cars and trucks on the highway had to be discussed as Joe wondered who each traveler was, if I knew them, etc. He had more questions than I could imagine.

Pulling into Truth or Consequences from the south takes one through the community of Williamsburg. I stopped at the first convenience store, buying several items, mostly junk food. Joe loved it all. He wanted me to buy him

a beer and then a small shot bottle of whiskey. I never liked wrestling with drunks and not wanting to get that started I would not buy it, making Joe a little unhappy. However, I did get a fresh supply of snake bite medication, enough for several doses. You know, sometimes you can use it as a preventive medicine, I think.

We visited a pawn shop to buy rifles, but because of the high prices on guns, we left with some ammo and a good hunting knife for Joe. Also, they had a small flashlight that attached to a belt that I bought for Joe with a box of batteries. One other item he had to have was a toy, an old metal bi-plane. I tried to talk him out of that one telling him there were a lot later models that better reflected what we were flying today. That plane was one of the earlier models and the ones of today were a lot faster and prettier.

“Boss, it be all the same to you, I like this one. I wants to take it back to show my buddies what this world be coming to. You reckon you could take me flying? Where you keep these thangs when they not up in the air?”

“They are in hangers at the airport, Joe. It is several miles out to the T or C airport. But there are not any of the old bi-planes out there now. Maybe I can show you the airport next trip.”

“Boss, chances are pretty good ain’t gonna be no next trip. Can you show me now?” The tone of his voice, the look on his face and his demeanor led me to believe that today was in fact, the day. We went.

A couple of small planes were parked near the terminal building. One was taking off just as we drove up. Inside the flight operations building one pilot was filing flight plans. I approached him, “Sir, my friend and I would like to pay someone for a short ride in an airplane, say down to T Or C, flying over the city and Elephant Butte Lake. Would it be possible to hire you to do that?

My request shocked the pilot and his frown let me know that was not what he wanted to be doing at all. He seemed like a nice fellow and likeable, but he also looked like a busy man who had places to go and things to see. “No, I’m very sorry, but I’m in a bit of a rush and I need to hurry on.”

Joe looked so disappointed that I felt terrible for him and I felt the pilot could see the look on Joe’s face when he said no and now the pilot was feeling badly himself. I could see the changes taking place as he looked at Joe.

“Look, my plane is loaded fairly heavy, full of fuel and I can only take one man and get off the runway in this hot weather. I will take this man here for a very short ride, no charge. But it will have to be short.” I guess Joe’s sad look paid off.

Joe lit up like a neon bulb. “I sho’ ‘preciates it, suh, I shorely do. I’se ready.”

I am not sure Joe’s feet touched the ground on the way to the plane. The pilot went around to the passenger side and helped Joe in. As they taxied out to the runway, Joe was waving at me for as long as he could see me.

The plane lifted off, headed straight for the town. Soon it was a speck in the sky. The air conditioned office felt good as I bought a Coke and waited.

When they returned, and it was a longer flight than I thought it would be, the pilot got out with Joe and came back into flight operations. I stood up and shook the pilot’s hand, “Thank you so much for doing that. I am sure it is a very memorial event in his life, one he will remember forever.”

The pilot responded, “I don’t know when I have taken anyone up who enjoyed it so much. He is a very delightful fellow and it was my pleasure to have shown him around our town.”

On the trip back to town you could not shut Joe up. “I thought you be lying. I didn’t think anything could ever do that. I was like a bird, looking all around and down on them little cars and houses and folks walking all around.

You could see it all from up there. I saw some boats on that big lake, that

Elephants butt or whatever you call it. That boat be fast….You know, ain’t nobody at the Fort gonna believe me either. I be just like old Tom was when he come back. Everybody be saying I’m a little bit tiched in the head.”

We made it back to town to finish up our shopping. We purchased Joe a new pair of pants, very similar in color to those he was wearing and a new pair of boots and several pair of socks. He had not been wearing socks. After he put on a pair, he claimed that his feet felt better than they had in years.

“I sho be glad we come he’a and got these boots and socks. I’m gonna remember where yo tunnel is and make a few trips over he’a ever now and again. Fort McRae used to be over he’a somewhere but I can’t remember where it used to be now, the way this place has changed. Good changes. I likes yo 2007 year. I really like that airplane. That thangs goes real fast and high, don’t it? Ain’t nothing left from the old days, is they? It all be different now and folks from my world ain’t got no idee how it is gonna change. No idee at all. “Paches done be gone too, ain’t they? No body ‘members ‘bout us fighting and all, do they? Did you see that ‘Pache family in that sto? They be having fun and laughing and they ain’t thinking ‘bout no soldiers. I like that too. It be hard for me not to think about them being ‘Injuns, I can tell you that.”

“Joe, the fighting you did, you and all the soldiers assigned to this part of the world did a tremendous service to America.  This part of the world was tamed and the old ways mended. The Indians have accepted the white man’s world. It had to be. It was part of America becoming who we are, including the Indians, including the Irish, including the Mexicans. All of us blended together to make us what we are. You think of me as white yet through my Grandmother I am part Mississippi Choctaw. That is probably where I get my Indian ways.”

“Indian ways? What Indian ways?” Joe is bent over from laughing. “You be the nosiest person I ever saw getting through the woods. Boy, you sho didn’t take after yo Grandma, I can tell you that.” Joe was having a good laugh over me being part Indian. Come to think of it, it was funny, clumsy as I was. We both had a good laugh and every time I would look at Joe he would start laughing again, holding his side.

As much fun as Joe was having I hated to leave now, but his hair was turning gray already and it was time to head back.

“Joe, we have to get back. If we delay much longer you are going to age very quickly. Look at me. Am I looking older? You can judge what is happening to you by looking at me. You will age quicker than me but the process is the same.”

“Well, you be a little older already. I reckon we best get started for the tunnel so we can stay out of trouble and not be old codgers when we get back there.”

On the way back to Emory Pass, Joe commented, “When did the girls stop wearing clothes and go to the little bitty pants thangs. In 1872, women’s got everything covered and don’t even show an ankle. It do beat it all the way you can see so much of them, ain’t it?”

“I really don’t know, Joe, but I think it was somewhere around the 1920’s.

The women folks just got braver and more daring. Something called Woman Suffrage. I think it started somewhere around there. Did you do know they can vote now?”

“They can? Can us colored folks vote since Mr. Lincoln freed us?”

“Yes sir, you surely can. For as I know, Joe, every citizen of this nation

has the right to vote. Worst problem we have is having someone worth voting for.” I didn’t want to tell him of all the troubles we had over the years getting to 2007. I hoped I could ease into more discussions later to cover some of the details of that part of our history.

After parking the ATV near the tunnel, we loaded all our new supplies in our back packs. Joe had been carrying Missus Paige’s backpack ever since she was kidnapped.

Coming out into the mystical end of the tunnel, Indians were camped there. We stood in the tunnel entrance, watching the Indians trying to determine who they were and if we could get an indication of what year we were dealing with.  My heart jumped. I saw our blue tent. I was sure the time was just before the warrior came riding in telling of Cochise being under attack.

We stepped back into the shadow of the tunnel when the warrior did ride in making his announcement. Immediately the tribe started breaking camp. I could see Paige packing, and I could see me, standing there starring while she did so.

Soon they were all gone. Finally I spoke, “Joe, we are at the proper time, only a little early. Let’s wait on the 2007 side for ten minutes then come back in and see where they are.

Ten minutes of waiting took a lot longer than ten minutes it seemed. When we returned there was nothing. Everyone was gone.

Now I knew where we in the correct time zone. Every few minutes we would return.  On the next trip to Ojo Caliente for Victorio’s tribe, Paige would be a captive. So we would go back every ten minutes until they reappeared.

We took turns going into the tunnel and checking for the Tribe’s return.

Every ten minutes for the most part. Through the next day and night we continued going into the tunnel to check. Finally, they did show up.

We looked for evidence of Wolf and Paige. I did see Butterscotch a time or two, but not Paige. While we were on the outside waiting, the two of us came running out and vanished into thin air as we got to the 2007 side. Joe said, “What in the world happen to us. We just disappeared. It sho’ be crazy.”

“No, Joe, I think there cannot be two of us over here. At least that’s the best I can come up with at the moment. Let’s give the tribe about five minutes and check them out. Maybe Paige will be there.”

It was all I could do to stand around waiting. I think Joe got tired of seeing me fidgeting around and said, “I think it is time to go.”

“Let’s go, Joe.”

It was still dark when we emerged from the tunnel and climbed up over it to continue out wait on Wolf and Paige to show up. It was the first of several days of waiting and we did not see Paige the entire time we were there.

 

 

Chapter Seventeen

Because Joe liked to wait on the 2007 side of the tunnel, we backed out of our hideout, back through the tunnel and into the “safe side” as Joe called it. The Indians never did bother us there. They would not come through for some reason. And I suppose every one that did would have gotten lost from the tribe forever.

Our decision to check on them every few minutes sounded good. Eventually Wolf and Paige would show up and we could make our plans to rescue her. How could I be sure that they would come around? It just had to work. I did not want to leave Paige stranded in 1872 as a squaw.  Well, maybe for just a short time. No, I take it back. Not for any length of time. She would work to free me if I was captive. No, this has to work.

My thoughts were running wild. What newspaper did she say she worked for? Amarillo, Plainview, Lubbock? I know it was a West Texas town. Muleshoe, Dimmitt? No, I think they are too small. Gosh, I wish I had paid more attention to her story. If I did not recover her, what would I tell her newspaper editor? “Hello, I just came over to tell you Paige is now an Apache Squaw, back in year 1872.”  Gosh, they will have me locked me up and throw away the key. I know they will think I murdered her or something. Of course, when I am telling them this story I will be an old man further complicating the issues. Oh brother, what a mess, I have to get her back.

Trip after trip, we had nothing to show for our waiting. We started alternating visits through the portal. We saw deer, elk, raccoons and a possum or two. No Indians.  Once Joe shot a rabbit and brought it back for supper. We did not let the night get away from us either. We took turns keeping watch and every ten minutes we made the trip through the tunnel.

Finally, Wolf showed up. No sight of Paige at first but we did see Butterscotch and the girls. We felt like we may soon see some evidence of Paige being in the tent.

We had to return to the 2007 side for our gear. We waited a few more minutes after getting packed up. We went back in and my heart sank. The Tribe had moved out. Joe said, “Something happened in that few minutes. You reckon they got into a fight with the cavalry or something? They sho’ could have. The Ninth Cavalry is always coming up here and running them “Injuns off.”

“I don’t know Joe, but we have to chase them. How far could they have gone in the few minutes we were away? Let follow the trail.”

Of course we knew the direction of travel. Very seldom did the tribe go off to the east. Seems like they always went back west toward their cousins, the Chiricahua, and pow-wowed with them out in Arizona. The Apaches may not have called it Arizona, but that was where they went in our terminology anyway.

That was the way we struck out. Then we were surprised. Up stream on the Alamosa Creek, near the place where we had our battle and buried the three soldiers, the tribe had set up camp. The only reason I could come up with was the hunting was better up here. Joe and I both had remarked on the number of deer and elk in this particular area. That had to be the reason for the camp change.

Joe and I left the valley of the creek and headed off into the hills to the north of the stream. We were probably a half mile to the north of them and about 500 feet above their elevation. It was a good view of the camp but it would be difficult to make out Paige from this distance.

“Joe, come dark we will need to try and get up closer to the camp. There is a promontory point near the camp. If there are no warriors up there we can have a good view of the camp. Tonight let’s try and make it up there.”

Joe nodded, crawling up under some brush and said, “Wake me when you be ready.” He was snoring softly almost immediately.

When we headed up toward the point the moon was trying to make it first appearance of the evening. It was light enough we could make out the big hazards. We stumbled from time to time, brushed up against some cacti and stumped our toe on a rock or two. Other than that the trail was not bad.

The moon had command of the sky when we arrived at our goal. We had an excellent view of the camp as not all of the fires had died down completely. None of the tribe was stirring however. We found good cover and grabbed some sleep.

When we awoke, some of the members of the tribe were up and starting fires for cooking. Fierce looking clouds were building in the west and it looked as if a major storm could be a few minutes away. Butterscotch came out of one of the tents. Paige followed her minutes later, but to my surprise Paige’s hands and feet were tied. So evidently she had been trying to escape this time. Wolf came out of the tent and push Paige out of his way, causing her to fall.

I drew a bead on him in the carbine and was ready to squeeze the trigger when one of Butterscotch’s little girls came out of the tent. I could not do it just yet. It would not take much more from Mr. Wolf to get me really riled up.

The rain started falling hard. It was a cold rain, almost sleet. Joe and I tried to find heavy brush to get under for protection. I was pushing on the ground hard to get up and under this brush when my feet slipped out from under me causing me to fall. With the slick ground and wet brush and grass I could not get a grip on anything. I fell over the small cliff, but I luckily landed in the top of a pine tree. The brittle pine top limbs broke, dumping me from tree limb to tree limb downward. I caught on one of the bigger ones near the bottom of the tree, keeping me from hitting the ground. But with all the noise I had made announced to the entire camp about the arrival of a visitor.

Joe hollered at me, “You looked good sneaking into they camp, oh great Choctaw Chieftain. I never would have thought that one up.”  I looked up to see him grinning at me, a big toothy grin.

First to greet me to the camp was Wolf. I was looking down at Mr. Wolf and his giant cannon, which was sighted in on my forehead at the moment. I smiled at Wolf. He did not return the smile.

He motioned for me to jump down. I looked at him for a few minutes trying to decide if that was really what I wanted to do. The look on his face was getting worse by the second so I thought it would be best to join him.

Before I did, I slipped by pocket knife between my fingers. I hope to drop it in Paige’s lap when I passed by her if possible. If not, I would use it myself.

It was a short drop to the ground, six feet or so. Wolf poked me in the back with his rifle letting me know he wanted me to head toward the camp site. I went directly toward Paige, on purpose, figuring that Wolf would change my course. He did not.

When I got in the general area of his tent he stopped me with his gun barrel, sticking it in my stomach causing me to promptly stop. I was very close to Paige. I pretended to want to shake hands with Paige. She looked very well and was not bruised or hurt, outwardly anyway. Wolf was busy looking for rawhide to tie me with so I was able to exchange the knife with Paige during the hand shake. I said, “When you get loose head downstream for the tunnel. It is probably 3 hours away.  I will follow. Joe is up in the hills. You don’t wait on us. Take the car to T or C. You know where I keep the keys.  You go when you cut yourself loose.”

Wolf walked up as I was talking to Paige. He hit me with the butt of the rifle, knocking me down and putting me out for a minute of so. When I got to where I could see, Wolf was still standing over me trying to determine if another blow to the head was necessary.  Paige had cut herself loose, picked up a fire log a couple of feet long and slipped up behind us. She hit Wolf in the back of the head, hard. She laid him out cold.

We both took off in a run, Paige in the lead. Several warriors pursued me and tackled me before I had covered more that twenty or thirty yards. One of the warriors drew back his knife to plunge it into me. He stopped in mid-air as I heard the gun shot from behind me and up high. Joe took care of this one. Two others stop chasing me to look up at the hill where the shot came from. Big mistake. Joe got the one closest to me, and then there was a pause in the shooting. The other one headed for cover in some nearby trees. He never made it. Joe’s aim was true.

Several shots were being fired by the warriors up toward Joe. I had recovered and had started running after Paige. One of the warriors shot.

I felt the jerk of my body as a bullet went through me before I noticed the pain. I probably took two or three more steps before nose diving into the rocky ground. At first, the fall hurt worse than the gun shot, but soon that changed.

I soon as I came to my senses, I looked at the damage. The shot had hit me in the side. I did not think it was fatal but I was bleeding badly. I lay there unmoving. I could still hear the gun fire exchange between Joe and the warriors. I could also hear someone coming up to me from the brush. I felt myself being rolled over. I looked up into the eyes of Hawk. He looked back, unsmiling, and immediately looked at my wound. He went to the creek and got a handful of mud and slapped it onto the wound. Just as he did I hit him as hard as I could in the nose, spinning him backwards.

His rifle had been lying by his side. I picked it up and continue my run downstream. After a brief sprint, I got behind some rocks. I started firing at the warriors trying to take the pressure off Joe. I could tell by the gunfire coming from the mountain side Joe was working his way back toward me. Between the two of us we kept the warriors pinned down.

Hawk had gotten down to the stream and was lying on his belly washing his nose and face. I probably broke his nose, but I did not have another way to have gotten loose. Hawk did stop the bleeding.

I saved what little ammo I had waiting for Joe to appear. Every so often a shot would ring out from the valley as one of the warriors would get a glimpse of Joe up in the hills as he was moving back away from the camp and closer to me.

I heard a whistle. Across the stream and back in the timber crouched Joe. He was motioning for me to continue on downstream. I made my way from rock to rock. I suppose the distance was too great for the Indians rifles now.

After and hour or so, Joe crossed the stream to join me. He had me lay down in the stream, in the shallow, swift running water as he washed my wound thoroughly. It started bleeding again, so after getting me out of the stream he treated it like Hawk did and placed a hand full of mud on it. In one of our packs, somewhere we had first aid supplies, but I did not feel like looking for it now.

“Lets hurry, Joe. Paige may be waiting on us at the tunnel. But with the crazy time thing, you don’t ever know what’s happening on either side.”

Things started running together after that. I am pretty sure I kept on walking or at least I thought I did.

Then I heard, “She ain’t he’a boss, Yo’ thang be gone too. You lay down right he’a and I will find them doctoring supplies.”

 

 

Chapter Eighteen

 

I woke up looking at the sky, at contrails, a 2007 sky. I was alone. I rose up on one elbow seeing that I was in a crude lean-to. The coals in the stone fire ring were still glowing and slightly smoking. Joe was around somewhere, I was just not sure where.

Looking at my side I could tell that healing had been taking place. It was not completely well but it was a clean looking wound now. A few more days and I would be healed.

Soon Joe came through the tunnel with a half dozen fish, already cleaned and ready for the fire. He was surprised that I was up waiting on him. “Hey Boss, it be about time you got up and started helping out around the camp. I been worried that you ain’t never gonna come around. How you feeling?”

“Hungry and looking at those six fish, I’m wondering what you gonna eat?

I’m kind’a kidding, but I am starving. Ready for some food. Guess that means I’m better, huh? How long I been out, Joe?”

“I imagine it been over a week or so. I done lost count. I had to go back and forth to get my youth back from time to time. I couldn’t jest stay over he’a wid you so I be back and forth….. back and forth. I got tired going that way so much. We need to go over there and stay a few days so my body can figure out jest what my age is. It’s so confused now we don’t know if we be old or young. Parts of me wants to walk all bent over and parts of me wants to run and play. Damnest thang I ever did see.”

That brought out a hardy laugh from me and Joe joined in.

“No word from Paige, huh, Joe? She hasn’t been around? I see the ATV is gone. I hope it is up at Emory Pass. Soon as I’m able to travel I will walk up there and take it down to Kingman or hitch hike a ride on down to T or C. You probably should stay up here so you can keep going back and forth for a while. Or if you feel you are ready, you can go on back to Fort Selden or Fort Cummins.”

“Aw, I have to go back to Fort Cummins. That be where they ‘signed me for a while so that be where I have to go. You know how that Captain is over there.”

“You mean Colonel, don’t you, Joe?” He wrinkled his brow.

“You know that Colonel don’t care nothing ‘bout me and don’t know who I am. Now that Captain that be over us Infantry boys, he sho’ knows ‘bout me and what I be doing and when I ‘posed to be back. That Captain is smart and he a good soldier. I do like that Captain, that’s for sho’.”

“Well, Fort Cummins it is then. Do you think you can make the journey alone or do you want to wait until some soldiers show up on the other side?

It may be they could be up here chasing Victorio. From my research I learned the Ninth Cavalry chased Victorio up here many times. Maybe we can catch them out front.”

“Boss, I suppose it could happen that way, but you remember I got to catch the right year myself. You thought about that any? You be chasing that gal around all over the country side worried ‘bout her year over there and I don’t think you ever once worried ‘bout my year.”

“Heck Joe, you’re right, of course, but I didn’t mean for it to be that way. That gal was all I could think about most of the time. I know she can take care of herself on this side, but on the other side I felt responsible for her. A lot of it was her fault, but I don’t think she ever thought it through as to what she was getting into. Now, however, we will consecrate on your year and hopefully we can see the tribe and figure out what year it is on that side. I will stay with you until we have the proper year.”

“Boss, I can take care of myself. You don’t have to go to battle for me. Old Wolf don’t care about me.” He laughed about that. “I ever get that old boy in my sights he be dead.”

I wanted to tell him to not shoot him, but that may be giving him a death sentence because if Wolf get Joe in his sights, its goodbye Joe. So If Joe gets the chance to shoot Wolf, he will have to shoot him and not hesitate. This was my first time to think about Wolf since the battle in camp that day. I wondered if Paige killed him when she hit him. She really cut loose when she swung that log. “Joe, did you see Paige hit old Wolf in the camp?

I was proud of her. He had given me a bad blow to the head. Good thing I’m a hard headed person, huh?”

“Yes, I seed it all. It was a pretty good wallop old Wolf gave you. I think he meant to put you down wid that hit. I was trying to figure out a way to get Missus Paige and you done had it all figured out while I was still thinking on it. You figured to fall in the tree, break a bunch of limbs on the way down slowing yo’ fall ‘til you get down close to the bottom of the tree, then you grab the biggest limb and hold on ‘til old Wolf come for you. You had it figured out all the time, huh, boss?” We both chuckled.

“Joe, do you have to remind me of all that. Here I am trying to impress my woman and you’re concerned about my methods. She told me not to come in with a gun blazing, that’s the easy way. Do something she can report on is what she told me,” bringing a big smile to Joe’s face.

“By the way, I feel like I’m getting older, arthritis or something, all stove up and out of joint.”

“Boss, you need to take a trip to the other side for a little bit. You be losing hair and I kind’a agree wid Missus Paige, you be getting just a little bit ugly too.” He had a good laugh about that. “I believe it makes you feel better to go over there for a bit. Try it and see. Can you walk all by yo’ self?”

It felt so good just to sit on the other side for a time. While we were sitting there Colonel Ambrose came riding into view. What at shock it was for Joe to see him and his men.

“Mr. Einstein, we have been worried about you and our men. When the troopers did not show back up in four weeks, we decided it was time to come look for you. Where are all the other men, Private?”

“Well suh, we done had several fights with them “Injuns. All our men was kilt except Missus Paige, Mr. Einstein and myself. Mr. Einstein here is just now getting where he can walk. He be hit in the side and be out of his head for a while. He be a little better now, still a little teched in the head if’n you axe me. But he be better.” Joe looked at me and had a big shit eating grin on his face.

I whispered, “Keep it up, buddy, just keep it up. You go to telling him about the airplanes and cars then asked him who is “a lttle teched in the head.” Then it was my turn to grin.

After a few minutes talking, the Colonel and his crew made camp. We shared the evening meal, spent the night and had breakfast the next morning. Colonel Ambrose and his men were ready to ride pretty early and Joe was provided a mount also.

Joe put out his hand for a handshake, “Cap’t, ain’t no way I can tell you about how I be feeling on the inside right now. You special, all I can say, you sho’ly is special. I be missing all the thangs you talk about and all the places you took me. You ever come through that tunnel again; you try to find my year. And if I am up this way again, I may just scoot out that tunnel to see what be happening over he’a. I hope I be seeing you again, Boss.” His eyes watered just a bit.

“Joe, I am alive today because of you. Paige, too. And, speaking of being special, when Paige writes her book I am going to request that she use your name. Then people everywhere will read about you in 2007 and know you were a good Buffalo Soldier, a good American and one hell’va nice fellow. I am going to miss you, Private Joseph McGilly. Gods speed.” I stepped back and clicked my heels and saluted him smartly, holding the salute until he returned it. I saluted the Colonel. Joe mounted up. The Colonel shouted, “Forward, ho.” And they moved out, heading back toward Fort Cummins and deeper into 1872 and for Joe, probably away from 2007 forever.

I packed what I needed for the journey out to the highway and started hiking.

 

Chapter Nineteen

Paige had left the ATV back down the trail from Emory Pass, parking it in some heavy brush. It was visible walking up the trail but you could not see it if you were looking down the trail. Paige had done a very good job hiding it.

I was seriously considering riding it down the highway to Kingston but there were some campers parked at Emory Peak. I had complained about being hurt and the other one in my party had taken my car on down to T or C.

They agreed to give me a ride to T or C so I left the ATV in the hiding place Paige had chosen.

I had the people drop me off at the hospital emergency room so I could get my wounds dressed and seen about. With all the moving about I had done the side wound had opened up slightly again. Nothing serious, but I wanted a professional to look it over just to make me feel better about it.

Later, I hired a taxi to take me to the Super 8, renting a room for two nights. I needed a good soaking bath.  I did not plan to have the water deep enough to cover my wound but I did need a hot, soapy deep cleaning and a good shampoo. I hoped to have two days of sleeping in a good soft bed for a much wanted rest.

I would begin my search for Paige and my car after the resting period.

One night was plenty. I woke up thinking about Paige and just what she might be doing. After breakfast I was walking through the parking lot of the motel and I spotted my car parked there. It was locked and everything appeared to be in it and the car was ok.

I went into the lobby and asked the desk clerk if Paige Middleton was a checked in there. She said that she had been, but she had checked out a few days ago. I mentioned to her she had been driving my car and I wondered out loud where she had left the keys.

She spoke up, “She left them with me. She said if a man showed up for the car to ask him his name. If he tells you correctly, let him have the keys.

Sir, who are you?”

I had to think for a few seconds. She did not know my name. She had never asked and I had never said. “Oh, sorry, I was thinking about her. My name is Mr. Einstein.”

“Yes, ok, Mr. Einstein, I just figured you to be a much younger man. She seemed to be very fond of you.”

“Oh, well, you see, I’m her favorite uncle.”

She smiled and handed me the keys. “Did Ms. Middleton say which way she was headed? We did not make very good plans when we parted company.”

“Let me think. Ok yeah, she was taking the bus to El Paso then she was taking a flight to Lubbock. I remember because we discussed Texas Tech for a while. I went to school there for a year and she mentioned the Lubbock newspaper.”

“Oh, good, I figured that was where she was going only I was not sure if she would travel through Albuquerque or El Paso. Thanks for your help. I am going to check out today. I really need to be getting home.”

I gathered my things and loaded my car. I had to travel back up to Emory Pass to get my four wheeler, then I figured to head for Lubbock after a short visit home.

After getting home and putting all the camping gear, trailer and ATV away I was ready to repack and head out to Lubbock. I shower and dressed and looked myself over in the full length mirror. I was looking at an old man, but I still had not returned all the way back to myself of several weeks ago. The portal stuff had not totally worn off, but I was not the twenty-two year old of a few days ago. A balding headed and wrinkles were starting to show, and I don’t want to use the term ugly, but certainly as handsome.

Paige had a life to live and an old man was not a part of it, unless she did         need an old Uncle. But I wanted to see her and talk with her about her story to see if she really intended to tell it. Well, hell, I wanted to see her. No need beating around the bush about that.

So I went. I parked in the newspaper parking lot and watched the people coming and going. I was sitting on the fender of my car watching all the people not knowing if she would come by on her way to work or not.

A SUV pulled into the parking lot. I could make out that it was a female.

As she got out and started walking toward the office, I recognized the walk. I had followed that walk too many miles to not know it. She had this prissy walk that was visible from quite a distance away. It was her “hunk getter” walk, I think. After chasing that female reporter so many miles through the desert southwest I would never forget it. My heart picked up the beat. She was dressed in a pin-striped business suit, with a white blouse and was she ever a knockout. She was wearing a new hair style, not the butcher knife cut. Wow, she did not look at all like the female reporter I knew.

I almost turned and walked away, scared, thinking that maybe the last few weeks had been left far behind her. But, no, that is not what I really wanted to do and it was not the reason for driving over here. I had to go on, there was no other way. I told myself, “You’ve got to do it, you have to know.” Self said “ok,” but the voice was a little weak.

I walked into the office. The receptionist was a young lady of eighteen or nineteen with a very nice smile, “May I help you, Sir?”

“Yes, I would like to see Paige Middleton, please.”

“Do you have an appointment, Sir?”

“No, I’m an old friend. I just wanted to say hello and see how she is doing. Do you think it would be ok for me to do that? Without an appointment, I mean.” She was already picking up the telephone, dialing her extension. “I think it will probably be ok, but I will call and see.” She was on the phone for a while, listening, but saying nothing, but hanging up.

“I know she is here because I saw her come through a few minutes ago. Her office is the second one on the right and with you being an old friend, I am sure it will be ok it you go on down there and have a seat. She will be in there shortly. She probably went down to the lounge for coffee. I will page her for you.”

“Thanks so much, Miss, I appreciate your help.” I started walking toward her office, second on the right, slowly, trying to look important. The one thing that I still had from our southwestern adventure was my tan. I was one dark sucker. I had noticed Paige still had her tan also.

Inside her office, there were two side chairs facing the desk with the computer on the left side of the desk. It was just now coming to life with the icon jumping in place on her desktop. I took the first chair and waited, nervously.  It had only been a few days since I had seen her but the conditions were much different today. I was thinking of walking out as things were a lot different now. It was not too late. I could tell the receptionist that I would come back later and then just go on home.

Just then the click of heels approached and Paige walked in with coffee. She looked me over and said, “The receptionist caught me in the hallway and told me an old friend was in my office waiting on me. But, Sir, I don’t think I know you. Where did we meet?”

I looked at her for a bit, then took off my glasses and smiled at her. “I guess it easier for me to remember gorgeous women than it is for you to remember old men.”

“I, ,,,,, It does seem like….I… Are you?  Mr. Einstein? Is that you?”

“Yes, my dear, it is me. It is so good to see you again. I cannot get over how breath takingly beautiful you are. Wow. I am impressed.”

She immediately started hugging me. She said, “Oh, we have so much we need to talk about.  The last time I saw you, I had just hit Wolf over the head and we were running for our lives. You were shot, weren’t you? Were you hurt very badly? What happened to Joe? Catch me up on all the happenings after I left the tunnel. Did you find the ATV? And did you find your car?” All the questions were rapidly fired at me.

“Ok, I’ll catch you up on all the happenings.” And I did. It took up a lot of the morning. “Now, you catch me up on you, Paige, what has been happening to you?”

“First, no one believes me. Butch, Dave and Faye says there is no way I could have spent that much time over there with Indians. When I am telling Butch about all the happenings that went on he just shakes his head in disbelief. Even though they saw some of the action themselves, they have trouble with most all of it. And when I say, time tunnel, you should see the looks they give me and each other. You know, they never did see who was shooting at us that time. When I told them it was Indians, they were thinking like present day Indians, not old time real Indians. But I am going to write the book even if it falls into the fantasy genre.”

“ However, you were right, I could put in the comedy parts that you provided, you know the Halloween ride into the camp to save the heroine and

then your daring leap from the cliff into the pine tree top, plus lots of sex. I think I may have a best seller.”

“Fiction, huh, because I don’t remember the “lots of sex” part.”

“Oh, Mr. Einstein, you are so funny.  You know, you don’t look too bad for an old fart. Oh, it is so good to see you. I went to the portal several times waiting on you and Joe. I thought you were stuck over there. I’m glad you made it out. Now, please, tell me some more about me, you know the breath takingly beautiful part, is there more you would like to add?”

“Oh, crap, here we go. I drove over here for this!” I had to laugh because she was not really serious, at least I don’t think she was.

“I am kidding, but I do like to hear that kind of talk.  I have been missing you and our adventures so much. I don’t know if I can take this tame life anymore. My bed even seems too soft. I need some rocks under my bed roll, you know what I mean? I am so glad you came over. Did I tell you Butch proposed?”

“No, you didn’t tell me that.” My heart flopped and nearly stopped. “That is wonderful. He has good taste in women, I will give him that. You look absolutely stunning today, by the way.”

“Oh, tell me more.”

“Geez, me and my big mouth…. But, Paige, did you give him an answer yet? He is the kind of guy that looks a lot better with you on his arm. But before you answer him I would like for you to consider this. I truly like the way the portal makes me feel and how it knocks years off my life. I’m not sure of the long term effects, but I love the short term. My deal is this. I plan to return to Kingston and set up residence there. I hope to make weekly trips back to the portal, writing papers on each year that I am able to visit, on each tribe and chieftain, no matter how far back it takes me. And the best part, with each visit I will renew my youthful self.”

“Part of the deal that I did not tell you yet, and please, try to see the young man from a few week ago talking to you. I fell in love with that “damn reporter” while chasing her all over the Southwest, fighting Indians for her and falling off cliffs for her. Oh yeah, and chasing away hoards of angry Indians with my radio alarm, I nearly forgot that. Never once did I come into a camp with guns blazing like the old time cowboys would have. I tried to give you a true story of a real man of action.”

“Now it’s you spreading the crap around. But, I like where you are headed with this Kingston stuff. I also like the way the portal made me feel. Can we have supper tonight and talk about it? I need to think it over just a bit. Butch is a very nice guy. He is just, well, …… Tame comes to mind. I think that is it. I kind of like, you know, crazy, and with that thought, you come to mind.” What a smile she sent my way, damn. “Tonight then?”

“Yeah…. Tonight!”

 

 

 

Epilogue

 

I truly intended for this to be a Historical Western fiction centered on the Warm Spring Apaches and the Buffalo Soldiers. I had many pages of research and while I used much of it in this story, the female reporter became more and more important to the story.

I hope I presented Chief Victorio and the Buffalo Soldier fairly. Certainly it was not a game between the two adversaries, but history shows it was not constant battle, but lulls of sometimes a year or two of relative peace. I tried to place my story in the lull of those battles.

Studying Chief Victorio since 2004 I have become somewhat of a student of his life. Reading in “SouthernNewMexico.com” on Victorio and the Reservation System- a prescription for disaster, David Burch summed up Chief Victorio very well. Permit me to end this story with a quote of Mr. Burch:

Victorio and his followers paid a horrible price for their bid to escape the

Reservation system designed for them by the American government: a price, paradoxically, they had inflicted on hundreds of men, women and children in New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. The clash between the Euro-American cultures of the United States and Mexico on the one hand and the Indian cultures on the other seemed always to be played out in the context of classical tragedy: Even the apparent winners lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Lost in the Black Range ©by E. V. Pete Hester published by Publish America 2004

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangas_Coloradas

[3] http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Articles/People/Victorioandthereservation.html

[4] http://www.buffalosoldier.net/BuffaloSoldiers&ChiefVictorio.htm

[5] http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Articles/Southwest/Kas-Tzidensfury-Nazasraid.html

[6] http://www.cc.uit.no/svenn/indians/#nana

[7] Bob Noland and the Sons of the Pioneers and others

[8] My Baby’s Gone by Hazel Houser recorded by Ira and Charlie Louvin & others

Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter and Me, by E. V. Pete Hester

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 19-04-2018

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To: Publish America, LLLP,  Baltimore, Maryland, CEO Mr. Willem Meiners
ISBN 978-1-4512-4093-1

Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter and Me by E. V. Pete Hester,  published 2010

Under a seven year (7 year) contract starting in 2010

I have tried to contact this company through Publish America information and through American Star information to no avail. This  notice is to inform you that this book is no longer under contract to Publish America or any of its affiliates. Contact via telephone and e-mail has been unsuccessful on several attempts. Therefore I am taking this means to advise you of ending our contractual relationship.

E. V. Pete Hester,  Albuquerque, NM 87114  April 19, 2018

 

Louis Napoleon Nelson, 1846 – 1934….7th Tennessee Cavalry, Co. M

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 17-10-2017

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A few days ago someone entered the name of Louis Napoleon Nelson on my search engine, one of the things that is recorded for me to see in my C/panel recap summary. Now I had no information on Louis Napoleon Nelson so I Goggled him. The results were very interesting:

Louis Napoleon Nelson, born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee in 1846 and died August 26, 1934. Louis served in an integrated unit for the Confederacy; The 7th Tennessee Cavalry, Company M. Louis is a well known Ripley native due to the efforts of his  grandson, Nelson Winbush. (We might have more on him in a later post.) Nelson went to war with the sons of his owner, James Oldham, as their bodyguard. At first Louis served as a cook and look out, but he later saw action under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Louis also went on to serve as a Chaplain. Louis could not read nor write, but he memorized the King James Bible. He went on to serve as Chaplain for the next 4 campaigns, leading services with the soldiers before they went to the battlefield. He fought in battles at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Brice’s Crossroads, and Vicksburg. After the war Louis lived as a freeman on the James Oldham plantation for several years. He built a yellow, two story house, with a wraparound porch in Ripley. Throughout the years Louis went to 39 Confederate reunions proudly wearing his Civil War uniform. When Louis Napoleon Nelson passed away a Confederate flag draped his coffin. According to a story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper in 1933 Louis described himself as the only colored Democrat in Lauderdale County, TN. His funeral the following year, which included a military procession, was described as “the largest colored folks funeral we had ever seen in our time.” Today his story lives on through his grandson Nelson Winbush, who proudly proclaims his grandfather’s legacy.

As published on Black Ripley, The Histories of African Americans in Ripley, TN and the Surrounding Areas…..www.findagrave.com

So to whoever entered the name of Louis Napoleon Nelson in my search engine, thank you. I’m sure there was nothing in hesterbooks.com on him at that time…..Well sir, there is now…..And a thank you to grandson Nelson Winbush for his efforts on Louis Napoleon Nelson.

Pvt. Wilson J. Moore, 26th Alabama Infantry, Company D, CSA by Dan Hall

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 10-10-2017

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This is another article written by my nephew, Daniel Hall and published in the “Rebel Yell”, Publisher Southern Press, 629 Kirk Road, Gordo, Al 35466, October, 2017 issue, featuring an article in “Grizz’s Corner” and written by Lt. Commander  Dan Hall.

Of course, I never knew Wilson J. Moore, but I knew his grandson Tom Moore and his wife Pearl Hester Moore, my great aunt and uncle. They were both wonderful Christian people and I am richer and a better person by having had them in my life.

Thank you,  Nephew for this well written and informative article.

 

         Wilson J. Moore

Wilson enlisted as a private in Company D, 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment on December 7, 1861. At the time of his enlistment he is listed as 6 foot 1 1/2 inches tall.
The 26th was formed in Tuscumbia, Al. made up of soldiers from Fayette and Marion counties. They were ordered to Virginia to be apart of the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Brigadier General Gabriel Rains. They were in the Battles of Seven Pines, Battle of Mechanicsville, and the Battle of Gaines Mill. Soon after they were resigned to Gen. D. H. Hill’s Division and were engaged in the Battles of South Mountain, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. ( Now I don’t know for a fact that Wilson Moore was in all these battles, but his regiment was so I don’t see any reason for him not being in them.)
At this point Wilson was attached to Chimbarazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia from February 3, 1863 to February 15, 1864, as a nurse. ( For him to be pick to nurse he must have done some nursing before or he had shown to be good working with wounded soldiers.)
On February 15, 1864, he and the 26th were ordered by Inspector General John J. Winder to convey prisoners to Andersonville, Ga. The regiment served as guards at Andersonville until May. They were assigned to the Army of Tennessee, Polk’s Corps, Walthall’s Division, Cantey’s Brigade. Wilson Moore was wounded in lower back at the Battle of Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864. He was given a 60 day furlough to go home to heal and was captured in Fayette County, Alabama and sent to Alton Prison, Illinois. He signed the oath of allegiance there.
Wilson is not a ancestor of mine, but his grandson Tom Moore married Pearl Hester and she is a cousin of mine. Wilson is buried in Bethel Cemetery below Stansel, Pickens county, Alabama.

Poems by Pete…Another Lord’s Day

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 11-01-2017

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J. I. Bonner was my Mother’s dad, my grand father. He was a very kindly man and I loved him very much, as did his other grand children. I had him in mind when I wrote this next poem in 1958 or 1959.

Another Lord’s Day by E. V. Pete Hester

Down a piney road,
Toward the old folks home,
a-walking I went that way.
A gray haired man with a twinkle in his eye,
I chanced to meet that day.

I spoke “Good Morn”,
And he replied with a voice shaky but gay,
“And how are you my good young man,
On this another Lord’s Day.”

“But my”, I said, “you’re wrong my friend,
it’s very near mid-week.” “Not I that’s wrong,”
he smilingly said, then sat down by the creek.

Then I sat too, just to be near,
His charming and smiling face.
And he pointed up past the pines,
To where the skies and clouds embrace.

“See the sun there, how it smiles at us,
been that way eighty odd years.
And this creek here, listen how it sings,
Songs you and I can hear.”

“That bird, see him?
A mocking bird for sure.
He’ll go to singing soon. And look there,
In that tree, an old owl waiting for the moon.”

“That squirrel a-sitting, watching us,
that nut he’s about to eat,
and that old red-headed wood pecker ,
is about to have a treat.”

He went on and on, still smiling,
His eyes still bright and gay,
I thought and smiled, he’d made his point,
Tis truly, another Lord’s Day.

 

Follow the Sun by E. V. Pete Hester

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 30-11-2016

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Follow the Sun

By

E. V. Pete Hester

Copyright Pending 2015

 

 

Foreword

Butch Madison told this story to me several years ago and swore that everything he told was true and it happened exactly as he told it to the best of his recollection. I have tried to pass it on to you as close as I could to the way he told the story. His clarity of details in telling this story made me feel as if I was actually on the trip with him.

 

 

Chapter One

 

John David “Butch” Madison was riding into a strong breeze in the late afternoon of October 15, 1875 thinking to himself the temperature felt more like late November. He could tell by the cutting cold of the wind that early snows would be arriving soon. He had pulled his parka from his bed roll a few miles back down the trail. Now he was trying to find a camping spot for the night and was sure hoping for some cover from the wind and also for some fresh water. He had made dry camps the past two nights and needed of a good cup of coffee. He could see that just a mile or two ahead was the start of some hill country. Not mountains by any means, but the tops of the hills were covered in brush and small trees giving Butch hope of a spring being available.

As he made his way into the hills, he was following a dry stream bed. That did a couple of things for Butch. One, it sandy bottom gave him a better and easier trail to follow and two, the hills and brush had cut the strength of the wind allowing Butch to survey the country side better and afforded some measure of protection. The size of the brush was getting taller and greener as he gained altitude and the dark green made him suspect that a spring was nearby. As he was looking the brush over to determine just where water may be located, he saw a thin whisk of smoke just over the top of the brushes. Not a lot, but enough to know someone had a campfire going and they were trying to keep it smokeless. Soon, the whisk of smoke disappeared, but Butch had already dismounted and was leading his horse toward that spot. He proceeded with caution, lifting then dropping his Colt 45 to make sure it was free in the holster in case he needed it. He knew that some lawbreakers used these hills as hideouts.

Butch stopped short of going into the campsite as he knew that was a good way to get shot. He could not see anyone, but he did not want the camper shooting at a noise he may make. He decided he should call out to the person or persons whose camp it was. “Hello, the camp….May I join you at your fire?” shouted Butch. Now Butch could smell coffee brewing, a very welcomed aroma and he hoped they were willing to share.

“You jest come on out, show yo self and I see if I be letting you come on in to my camp.”

Butch led his horse through the brush and out into the cleared area where man’s camp was located. Water was flowing from the spring creating a small stream of about six to eight inches across and three or four inches deep, but it looked very refreshing to Butch. A coffee pot was situated over the camp fire smelling very good. A black man in a worn military uniform was standing with his hand over his six shooter giving Butch a “once over” trying to determine if Butch posed a problem for him.

Butch spoke, “Howdy, friend…. Man, that coffee sure smells good. I hope you have enough to share with me. How about it?”

“Yeah, I reckon I got plenty fer the two of us. Come on in and pour yo’self a cup. You kind of snook up on me, I must be a’gettin old. I’m jest glad you wasn’t one of them old ‘Paches.” He was picking up the coffee pot as he was speaking and Butch was taking his coffee cup out of his pack at the same time. Butch’s horse was determined to get to the small stream for a little drink of water. The horse won. Butch forgot about the coffee until he could get his horse tied up and unsaddled near the stream and at a spot that the grass was green and plentiful. The other man’s horse was teetered nearby.

Butch made his way back to the campsite with his pack and saddle. He was appreciating the smell of the coffee and the break from the wind he had been fighting all day. There were enough trees and brush nearby to give them pretty good cover.

“My name is Butch Madison, how you doing today?” said Butch as he extended his hand to the black man. The man was in a tattered army private’s uniform. He was either at one time a soldier or he had begged or borrowed the uniform from someone. The man took his hand and gave him a very firm handshake. He was a dark colored black man, flared nostril’s, broad shoulders and stood about six foot two or three and he had a very nice smile, and thinning nappy hair.

“My name is Henry Clark. Lately, I be following the sun. I got me a disability discharge from the U. S. Army two years ago and I been hanging out down ‘round Leasburg in New Mexico territory, trying to make a living. Ain’t no jobs for a man round thar, especially a black man. I tried working for that man what ran the saloon. He paid me 5 dollars a month.”

“Now, he did feed me once a day, sometimes twice if business be good, and he let me sleep in the old shed out back. So I can’t say he be mean to me either. You know, one time I be a slave off down yonder in Georgia. So I know what somebody being mean is all about. Course, you probably don’t know nothing ‘bout that kind’a stuff. In them days, they take a whip to you for sassin’ or smart mouthing the old Massa. They really be mean.”

He paused, taking a drink of coffee. “But President Lincoln, he done stopped all that slavery stuff and I am proud of it. We be free now. Just like you be free. I don’t plan on running back down yonder to Georgia just ‘cause we be free. I just as soon stay out heah. This country be rugged but it treats everybody the same. That’s what I like about it.”

Butch had taken his saddle and pack and placed them under one of the taller bushes lining the camp. He had leaned back against it, sitting on the saddle blanket, enjoying the coffee. Some of the blanket covered his legs that had been exposed to the blowing wind for several hours today and having them covered was feeling pretty good. The brush and nearby rock blocked most of the wind and while it was not cozy, it was much better than being exposed to its full measure. He had not had any conversation for several days and he wanted to sip his coffee, so he was ok with letting the talkative black man speak his mind.

“Shoot, I was a private in the Army a ’fore I be discharged. They paid us 13.00 dollars a month and gave us a rations allowance. It wasn’t much, but a fellow could live on it. Now, a ‘fore 1870, they paid us privates 16.00 a month and rations, but you know how the gov’ment works, they be cuttin’ back and all. All us soldiers shore be mad about that cut in pay, but they said, “you be mad if’n you want to, but that’s the way it gonna be.” But it was sure good duty when I was serving the U. S. Army. I had it good them days, onlyest thing was, I didn’t know it at the time. Then they had all them boys been serving in the Civil War coming out west, so they was getting’ too many soldiers. About that time they give me that disability discharge. I shore hated that.” Henry warmed up his coffee again and offer more to Butch before resuming his story, settling back down on his saddle blanket and leaning against a small tree.

“Now, let me tell you about that.”

“My old horse was acting up this one morning, jest out of the blue. Most of the time he was a good horse, he ain’t ever reared up on me befo’. We was getting’ ready to go chase after old Chief Victorio. You know ‘bout him don’t ya. He be the leader of one of them’ Pache tribes. They call’um the Warm Springs Paches cause they live up yonder at them hot springs.”

” Well, anyway, when I climbed on him he throwed me about 15 feet up in the air and I come down on my leg, my right leg, with all my weight on it and my buddy, who be settin’ over yonder about twenty feet away, done heard that bone snap whenever I come down.”

” Lordy mercy, that shore hurt. I never be the same after that. It healed up and all, but it never be jest rite. Onlyest thing good ‘bout that day was I didn’t have to go out chasing old Chief Victorio.” He paused taking a good sip of coffee. ” Laid me up for a good while, too.”

“My leg never was jest right again after that day. I had me a limp, hard to march, and hard to keep up. So Cap’t had me doing clean up details and all and complained ever day ‘bout me being slow moving a’round. Wasn’t no pleasing that man, I tell you.”

“Well, short time later our old Capt’n say they be a cuttin’ back anyway and for me to jest go on and find something else to do. He be givin’ me a disability discharge ‘cause I wasn’t good ‘nough to be a soldier no more. That shore did get me, but it wasn’t nothing a body could do ‘bout it, that’s for sho’. So heah I be.”

Henry was looking this stranger over and wondering about him as he was speaking to him. He was a good looking middle aged man, over six foot tall and he was packing a six-shooter like he knew how to use it. It hung just about where the man’s hand rested when relaxed at his side. He had seen men like him around Leasburg and most of them were always looking for someone to fast draw against. They called them gunfighters and bounty hunters. They were a pretty tough breed so it made Henry wonder about this guy.

“How come you be riding out this heah way, boss. Which way you be headin’?” Henry paused a bit. “Let me pour you some more coffee. I be making another pot. Matter of fact, if you got something to eat in yo’ saddle bags, I be really appreciating if you share with me. I’ll fix some more coffee fer us.”

Butch agreed that he did have some beans, bacon and hardtack in his saddle bags, so he got up, opened his pack and proceeded to cook. He gave a small piece of jerky for the Henry to nibble on until the bacon and beans were ready. The black man poured the rest of the coffee into both their cups and proceeded to make a fresh pot.

The conversation died down while supper was cooking and Henry was munching on the jerky. Butch knew also that tonight was going to be pretty chilly, so he placed several rocks around the fire to be warming up. They would place them into their bedrolls and it sure would make for warmer sleeping.

After the beans and bacon were ready and they had started eating, Henry still did not have his questions answer, so he asked Butch again about what he was doing riding out in these parts. He made no bones about his concerns. He up and asked Butch, “You be running from the law? That how come you way out here in this country? I ain’t gonna be turning you in or nothing like that, but if you be a bad man, I sho’ would appreciate you not beatin’ up on me tonight.” Henry was smiling when he said that but it was a weak smile for sure.

“Well, Henry, I reckon you lucked out tonight. Until a month ago, I was a U. S. Marshall. But I quit that job. I just got tired of chasing crooks, you know what I mean? I just wanted to do something for myself for a change. I heard about California, about the gold diggings and easy money that is to be made out that way…Or so they tell me there is lots of money to be made out there. I don’t really know myself, so I am going to check it out. You said you were following the sun. I guess you could say the same thing about me. Anyway, that’s kind of my story.”

“Well, that makes me feel lots better, I mean, knowing you be a lawman at one time. I can sleep better tonight if’n I don’t have to keep one eye open on you. I been by myself for a long time and I don’t know how to act with somebody else ‘round come sleeping time.”

” You reckon we need to worry ‘bout “Paches” round these here parts? I heah most of them done been put on a reservations out in Arizona. There be a bunch of outlaw Indians that ain’t ever gonna go to no reservation, what I been hearing.” Henry seemed a little concerned about them coming around.

“Probably not tonight, but tomorrow is a different story. They are all around these parts, that’s for sure. We just have to watch out for them. They have been rounded up and put on the reservations, but a lot of them will not stay there. They keep running off when things don’t go their way.” While Butch was talking he was looking things over to determine the cover they might have in case of some attack.

“Hey, Mr. Butch, a’fore you go to sleep tonight, would you be thinking on me and you following the sun together? I heard about California some time ago and wondered about it. And traveling out heah in these parts I get pretty lonesome, time to time, and I kind’a like you. I mean riding together and sharing coffee and jerky and stuff. I be pretty handy round a camp fire and a good hunter…..Well, you jest sleep on it and let me know tomorrow, ok/”

“Henry, no need to wait ‘til tomorrow. Be ready to ride early. I think you will be good company for me. We might need one another crossing this rugged country….. Good night, Henry” said Butch as he was adjusting the warm rocks in his sleeping bag.

“Good night, Mr. Butch. Yes suh, it shore be rugged country, you got that right..” Henry said as he stuffed some warm rocks into his blanket also, his voice already sounding about half asleep.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Butch and Henry awoke just about the same time next morning. Henry stirred the fire, putting on a couple of small logs and proceeded to make the coffee. Butch was busy getting out several pieces of jerky and hardtack for each of them to chew on during the ride that day. They did not plan to stop again until night fall. There were a few beans and bacon left from supper last night so they were warmed and eaten for breakfast. Two cups of coffee for each man to wash down the beans and they were ready to break camp. They had only known each other a few hours but already they were acting like a team. In very short order, gear had been stowed and they were ready to move out. Butch had a deer gut full of water and four canteens full. He knew that water was the most precious commodity they would have traveling in this country. Henry had about the same for water storage so they should be ok for a full day of riding.

“Henry, we did not discuss which route you wanted to take west, but I prefer to follow the Gila River. I reckon it is probably 30 to 40 miles northwest of where we are right now. But it will furnish us water for many miles across this barren land. What is your thoughts on that/”

“Yeah suh, when we be chasing old Cochise back yonder a few years ago, we be following the Gila River for a ways. It had some pretty good dranking water and a fellow could take him a bath pretty regular too. Yas suh, I be thinking jest like you on that. The Gila River be a good way to go.”

The early morning chill wore off the air about mid-morning and both Henry and Butch started shedding some of their clothing. It turned into a warm day so the men stopped pretty often too rest and give the horses a small drink of water.

Nearing sundown the Gila River was still not in sight. They had ridden hard all day and they knew they had traveled more than 30 miles. Butch was sure the Gila was out there in front of them and he wanted to ride as long as possible during daylight to try and find it.

After traveling a few more miles, the horses sensed the river before Henry and Butch did, they flared their nostrils and picked up the pace, ready for a good drink of water. Shortly, they topped a hill and the green valley of the Gila River came into view. They had enough daylight left to pick out a fair camp site for the night. The campsite was nothing special, but there was plenty of water for coffee and a good sponge bath for both of them, and wood for a good fire. The horses were tethered near the plentiful tall grass and water. They seemed to think it was a pretty good place to be as they drank their fill and splashed around in the water before starting on the grass.

The conversation was very brief, probably because they were so late starting the camp and they were both very tired from the extra-long, hard and hot ride of the day. About sun down the cold started setting in again and the temperature drop was very noticeable. After more beans and bacon, the men heated rocks for their blankets, turning in as soon as supper was finished. It looked like and felt like snow was coming to Butch, so he took out his rain gear and covered his sleeping area with it. Both men bedded down under a grove of tall bushes near the river that offered a degree of protection from the weather.

Sure enough come morning there was two or three inches of snow on the ground. Both decided they should move on out without cooking, electing to munch on jerky, hoping the day would warm up some. It didn’t. The snow kept falling. Because of this early snowfall, Butch thought to himself that they may be facing a long hard winter. He thought it would probably be better for them to find a good place to hang out for a time, maybe even all winter, if it was a good, safe and provided protection from the elements.

After a few miles, Henry pointed out an overhang that was six or eight feet higher than the river and looked to have covered area for them and the horses. The opening was 10 feet or so across and it was carved back about fifteen feet into the mountain. Both men could stand with room to spare.

Wood was in plentiful supply, so they decided to make an early camp and do some cooking. They gathered up plenty of firewood and built a bigger than usual fire. They ringed the camp fire with rocks to keep it contained, placing a few rocks around for sitting on. They were hoping they were the only ones out tonight and that the big fire would not bring in any strangers.

Butch decided for tonight that he would use the beans and bacon along with some chipped up jerky, a little flour to thicken it, salt and pepper, and made a soup to help warm them up. He would make plenty so they would have some for tomorrow also. The jerky provided the meat stock the soup needed to give it some stew taste.

Henry said, “Mr. Butch, you be a pretty good cook. That soup sho hits the spot on a cold night like tonight. If we could block that old wind from us, this heah be a pretty good spot. You got any idee’s on how we can do that.”

“Yeah, I looked over the brush around here. I have a pretty good hatchet, so we will build us a front to this overhang and I think it will make a pretty good shelter. We can do it tomorrow and either wait out the storm or maybe hole up here until the worst of winter is over. I think it is going to be an early winter and a hard winter, so we might want to get prepared. Let’s talk it over tomorrow, ok?”

“It sho’ be ok with me. If we can find some deer and rabbits around heah, we can put up a bunch of meat for the winter and dry some for jerky too. We be sleeping on it, I reckon.”

“I reckon,” came the weak response from a sleepy and tired Butch.

Butch had just drifted off to sleep when he heard this screaming, a high pitched voice down by the river, making his skin crawl. The person was surely screaming some words, but was not speaking a language that Butch could understand. He was pretty sure the voice belonged to a female and probably an Indian. Both Henry and Butch grabbed their guns and moved quickly away from the glow of the fire. The fire was still glowing very brightly and is probably why the person came toward the camp.

In the moonlight they could see it was a squaw and she on her knees out near the river, with her hands stretched upward toward the sky. Every so often she would blurt out a few words in a sing song crying voice. She was making a very unsettling, sorrowful and sad sound to Henry and Butch.

“What you reckon be wrong wid that squaw, Mr. Butch. You reckon some of her family done been killed or something? She be carryin’ on something awful,” said Henry as the squealing squaw kept up the racket.

“I don’t know, Henry. You keep me covered from up here and I will go down and see what I can do. I am sure she knows we are here and this may be some type ploy to get us to come out or something. I’ll try and bring her into camp if she doesn’t give me a problem. You keep you gun handy just in case.”

Butch made his way the short distance down the embankment to the river’s edge. The squaw was kneeling in the edge of the water and it was freezing cold. It appeared as though she had been washing her face in the river. As Butch got closer he could see blood on her face. She did not even look in Butch’s direction as he approached her. When he put his hand on her shoulder she jumped and looked startled. Butch tried helping her up with his hands under her arms while keeping a watch on her hands to make sure a knife was not present.

She allowed him to help her and looked at him with a blank stare. While she was looking up he could tell that her nose had been cut pretty bad, not completely off, but nearly so. One nostril had been cut back to about the center of the nose and then the cut turned like it was going across the nose. She had caked blood on her face as well as fresh blood, so her washing had started the cut to bleeding again.

Butch took her on into camp, put some more wood on the fire, and wrapped her in his saddle blanket. The buckskin dress she was wearing was tattered and wet. The firelight allowed Butch to get a good look at the squaw. She was dirty and her hair was matted and she had a dull, emotionless look in her eyes. Butch had trouble determining if there was more blood or dirt on her face. It was hard for him to put an age on the girl but he reasoned she could be anywhere from a young teenager to a twenty year old. Certainly she was not an old squaw.

They warmed some water and Butch found a cloth he could use to wash her face. Her eyes followed him closely, but she allowed him to work on her without fussing. After the washing, he remembered some aloe cactus near the entrance to the overhang. He went out and cut a stalk and applied some of the sap to the wound, gently rubbing it all over her nose and cheek area. She had not made another sound since her last scream down by the river.

“Mr. Butch, you know what that means, don’t you, I mean the way she be cut and all. She done been messin’ round wid some other Buck and her Buck done found out about it and he tried to cut her nose off. That what they do to a squaw what done been screwing round on they old man. Them folks wild. Then they kicked her butt out of the camp ‘cause they don’t want her hanging round messin’ wid somebody else’s buck. This gal be looking for a place to stay. She be marked for life. However, it do look like she didn’t let them finish they job of cuttin’ her nose all the way off. Her hands be cut too, so she be fighting them back looks like to me” said Henry, while Butch continued to clean her up, and nodding in agreement all the while Henry was talking.

After cleaning and dressing her face, he started on her hands. He was cleaning several weeks of dirt off both her face and hands. His wash water was almost black and her complexion had lightened about three shades. He wondered at the time if there could be a real beauty under this bloody and swollen face. The nostril and cheek area had some bruising and swelling also.

“You better be taking them old wet moccasin off her too, boss. That got to be cold on her. She be takin’ her a death of pneumonia if we don’t warm her up some. I get some of them warm rocks and put them under that saddle blanket wid her. You reckon she be lettin’ us take off that wet dress she be wearing. She might thank we be goin’ after her if we do that, you reckon?”

Butch said, “I don’t know, but we do need to try.” He immediately grabbed her moccasins and started tugging them off her feet. She made no protest at all, just looking him over good. “Henry, put the soup back on the fire. I have an extra cup in my stuff and I will pour her a cup. That will help warm her up and also signify to her that we mean her no harm.”

Henry had put some of the warm rocks under the blanket next to her body. She seemed to welcome them and made no efforts to stop him.

While Butch was in his bag he remembered his extra pair of pants and an extra shirt.. They would be too large for this squaw, however they could fashion some straps to keep them up, at least until her skirt dried. The size of the shirt would not matter.

Butch showed the pants to the squaw and motioned to her that he wanted her to take off the buckskin dress. He was met with a blank stare. He felt very awkward taking her dress off her because she had on no underclothing. She stayed partially covered by the saddle blanket and maybe that offered her some degree of feeling covered. Both Henry and Butch, while trying not to stare, noticed the nicely shaped breasts and legs on the girl. However, she did not seem to mind Butch removing her clothing and let him slip the pants on her legs and pull them up. He tied rawhide string to the belt loop and made straps for suspenders. He figured that would do for tonight and tomorrow they would try for something better. He put the shirt over the tailor made pants he had just made her.

By the time he finished that chore, Henry had the soup warmed up and delivered to her. She accepted it and downed the soup in just a few gulps. She handed the cup back to Henry and indicated to him she wanted more. He made a couple of more trips back to the fire for more soup for her. Butch got out a piece of jerky and hardtack and she seemed pleased with that gift.

“Boy, I don’t know how far this girl has traveled but she sho act like she ain’t et nothing in a while. I believe she come up to our fire purposely just to be getting’ some food. She ain’t got nothing that I can see.” Henry started looking around to see if a horse or anything was hitched nearby. He spoke, “Look yonder, Mr. Butch, on the other side of the river. That be her horse over there. You reckon we ought to go fetch it? She got it tied to that bush over yonder so it probably be alright fer tonight.”

“I think it will be ok myself, Henry. We will get it come first light. We might wade off into a deep pool going across the river in the middle of the night. Tomorrow we can go across by picking out our crossing spot. We’ll do it then.”

The squaw had curled up in the blanket near the warm rocks placed close to her and was sound asleep or at least pretended to be asleep.

“Henry, let’s keep watch for tonight. I’ll take the first watch; let’s do about two hours each watch, that way we can both get a little sleep. Ok?”

“Ok, you wake me when it’s my time, Mr. Butch.”

Butch had the 5th and 6th hour watch and it was just getting daylight at 6 o’clock. Butch stirred the fire and added a few logs. After starting the coffee, he decided to cross the river for the squaw’s horse. By now Henry was up stirring around, but the squaw was still sleeping. Apparently, that girl had experienced some difficult times as she had not stirred at all to Butch’s knowledge.

Butch selected a crossing place where he did have to step into the river a couple of times, but the rest of the time rocks provided stepping stones for him. The squaw’s horse was pretty docile and let Butch lead him across the river. Butch noticed that the squaw’s horse tracks were still visible in the snow. He wondered at that time if any of the bucks from her tribe would try and follow her. He doubted that since she had been kicked out of the tribe for her apparent indiscretions.

By the time he got back in camp, the squaw and Henry were having a cup of coffee. Butch went over to the squaw and check out the condition of her nose. She did not make a fuss of Butch looking her face over. The cleaning rag he had used on her last night was nearby and he rinsed it out and proceeded to clean the wound and dress it with more aloe from the cactus stalk. It looked much better than it did last night. He figured had he not cleaned it up some it would have probably gotten infected. He examined her hands and cleaned and put aloe on them also. They looked much better today. This morning her eyes showed more emotion than last night and Butch got the feeling that the squaw did trust them, to a degree anyway.

“Hey, Mr. Butch, how ‘bout us naming this heah squaw? She seems like she gonna be heah wid us a spell and it just don’t seem natural to keep calling her squaw. What you thank?” asked Henry.

“Well, I suppose we could come up with a name. Why don’t we think on it for a while and if she continues to hang around, maybe we will. She may run off before the day is over also,” said Butch.

“Nah suh, I don’t think so. I can see the satisfied look on her face right now. You see how relaxed she be. She look happy. Now some women be like that. They find somebody that do fer them and they sho do like it. I believe she be heah to stay. You know them “Paches let they squaws do all the work. I mean them squaws do ever thang ‘cept fight and they probably do that to if’n they need to. They cook. They gather fire wood. They plant the crops and then they harvest the crops. They make they clothes. They dry they meat. They tan the deer hides. I mean them squaws do ever thang. Them “Paches got’um trained, that’s what I’m saying.” Henry laughed a little bit and looked over at the squaw, who returned the smile at Henry as if she knew what he was saying. “I been branging her coffee this morning and she still laying thar under that blanket, ain’t moved a muscle and she just eat up that ‘tention you be giving her washing and cleaning and doctoring her face. Nah suh, she ain’t goin’ no whar. She ain’t dumb, I reckon that what I be saying.” Chucking some more and now the squaw joins in the laughing. But, Butch reasons to himself that Henry’s laugh is an infectious laugh and that is why the squaw laughs and she does not really know what he is saying. However, he does wonder about it.

Henry continues with the conversation. “I recollect that down yonder where I worked in Leasburg, one of them ‘hoes called another one of them ‘hoes, Lazy Jane, cause she never help out with any of the work them girls had to do. Now, they didn’t want that girl to know that was calling her lazy, so they jest called her L.J. for short. Meaning Lazy Jane. So, I reckon, lest this gal does something one of the days, we can call her Lazy Jane. Then if’n she do get off her lazy ass and do some work, then we can jest call her Jane. What you thank on that?” asked Henry.

Butch had a good laugh on that one and said, “L. J., it is Henry. That will be a good name for her. I think she may help out when she rests up a bit. We’ll see.”

 

 

Chapter Three

 

While Henry and Butch had been discussing the name for the squaw, she had gotten up and was looking across the river. At first Butch could not see a thing, then letting his eyes scan the horizon, he noted several Indians on horseback coming in a hurry. He could count six. The squaw walked out a ways from the overhang and crouched down behind a big rock. She never took her eyes off the oncoming Indians. Then she started mumbling something in Indian and the more she talked the louder and more excited she became.

“Henry, do you suppose these bucks could be coming after the squaw. Or do you think they are a hunting party?” asked Butch.

“Nah suh, I don’t think they be no hunting party. They riding to hard fer that and they following right in them tracks what the squaw left. They be coming heah. Now why they want her, I don’t know. But I believe they be coming fer her. Maybe she took one of them buck’s hoss. Now that may be what happened. Now, they can get a squaw anywhere, but its hard to get a good hoss. Then bucks don’t take kindly to folks taking they hoss so that’s what I be favoring.” The Indians were now close enough they were slowing their ponies down and when they saw Butch and Henry were with the squaw, they stopped.

One of the warriors rode out away from the others by twenty or thirty yards and yelled something in Apache. This buck was a big and vicious looking warrior, holding his rifle in his right hand and the reins in the left.

The squaw yelled something back. Whatever she said got his dander up. He yell something back in yet a louder voice. The squaw jumped up, grabbed Butch’s rifle right out of his hand, fired at the buck and hitting him in the chest, knocking him off his horse.

Immediately, the other bucks were off their horses and taking cover and beginning to fire at them. The scattered rocks around the cave entrance were not the best cover in the world, especially for three people. Butch grabbed his rifle back from the squaw and started firing. Henry had already taken up the fight. After a few rounds of firing at one another, Butch spoke up, “Henry, let’s quit firing until we can actually see someone to shoot at. We are wasting ammunition that we cannot afford to waste.”

“I sho do wish I knowed what we be fightin’ bout, don’t you. I jest wonder what that old buck was a hollering at L.J. ‘bout. You reckon he mad ‘cause he didn’t cut that nose all the way off?” Henry laughed. Butch did too.

Henry continued, “Nah, he ain’t gonna be ridin’ out heah in this cold to cut off no hoe’s nose. He ain’t gonna do that I don’t speck. If’n she took something that belong to him, he may chase her for that.” He continued laughing. “I never ‘pected when she came into our camp we gonna be having all this excitement, did you, Mr. Butch?”

Butch had been listening to Henry talk while watching the Indians. He had relaxed somewhat, answered his question, then suddenly the squaw grabbed Henry’s rifle and stood up and started shooting at the Indians. It sounded like every bullet hit the rock they were hiding behind.

Henry grabbed his rifle back and pulled the squaw down all in the same motion.

“Henry, get that squaw back under the overhang. Pile up several of those big rocks until you have a pile she can get behind. You and I will take turns up here firing at the bucks. If they look like they are going to fire at us, you shoot. Otherwise, let’s just have a Mexican standoff. We can last a lot longer in this cold than they can.”

After Henry fashioned a cover of sorts for the squaw, Butch handed Henry a piece of jerky and he also gave a piece to the squaw. He hope this would slow the action down and let the Indians suffer a little more from the cold and maybe leave.

Henry was shooting every few minutes. Butch lay down and crawled over to warm the coffee and put another log on the fire. He was hoping to flush the Indians out to come on toward their position or to become discouraged with the lack of action and leave.

After he had finished a cup, he took Henry a cup and took over the shooting chore. While he was watching the Indians, the warriors loaded the shot Indian across a horse’s back as if he was dead. One of the bucks stood up and shouted something and immediately the squaw stood and yelled back. She tried to take Henry’s rifle and he would not let her have it. She went out in front of the overhang and picked up a rock and threw it at them. It splashed in the middle of the river. Henry yelled, “That’s showing them L.J. That’ll run they butts off. You can tell they be scared.” He was laughing pretty good over that.

The bucks shot at the squaw, hitting the rocks in front of her, spraying rock shards everywhere. The squaw jumped and came running back under the overhand and dove behind the rock pile Henry had built.

The bucks left leading the horse with the dead buck on it. Butch and Henry were glad to see them go. They wondered out loud if they would be back at a later time. “I still don’t thank they be coming up heah for that squaw. I bet you anything she done stole that hoss from one of them and it may have been the one she shot. She sho didn’t seem to have no regrets about shooting that old boy, now did she? You axe me, she shoot you and me jest as easy as she shot that old buck. I don’t know ‘bout you, but I be keeping my eyes on that woman. I thank she be mean as hell if’n you axe me. That’s how I feel ‘bout that and I don’t trust her one bit.”

“You sure may be right, Henry, and we should watch out for each other for a while. I hate to kick her out of our camp, but on the other hand I don’t want her hurting either one of us. Probably be best if we posted a watch every night for a while, 2 hours on and 2 hours off, keeping an eye on her and watching out for Indians sneaking up ‘round the camp. Let’s bring more rocks up here from the river bed to give us a little more cover and bring as much firewood and water as we can keep here in our camp. We need to build a place to picket the horses and provide them a little cover if it starts snowing hard again. We need to plan to be around here a few more days so we might as well make it as safe as possible. You agree?”

“I sho do. Which one we gonna do first?”

“Let’s get the rocks up here for a little more protection. That will help. See if you can make L. J. understand she needs to gather some fire wood.”

Henry was immediately pointing to the fire and the wood piled by it and then pointing out away from the overhang, making the gesture of bringing in firewood for the fire. She jumped up and started right away. Butch was impressed and gave Henry a big smile. Henry was already smiling. “Lazy Jane may get a new name pretty soon, huh?” said Henry.

They piled the rocks a couple of feet high for a six or eight foot span. On the top rocks they left a crack of several inches for placing their guns while firing. By the time Henry and Butch had built the protection wall, L. J. had a stack of firewood placed near the rear of the overhang. Butch had motioned that L. J. should now fill the water guts at the river and bring back into the camp.

Butch and Henry took the hatchet and cut some limbs from the bush and trees and fashioned a corral for the horses. They allowed the corral to extend over the river for a couple of feet to where the horses could get to the water. Grass was plentiful in this area of the river valley so the horses would have plenty to eat.

“We need some deer meat, Henry. One of us need to try for one this evening. I think they will be coming down to the river for water around sundown. One of us needs to watch L. J. and fix supper while the other one does some hunting. Which one do you want to do?” asked Butch.

“Mr. Butch, you be a much better cook than I be. So, I will get us a deer and you stir us up some beans. I figure we can fix us some venison to go wid them beans. I always be a good hunter. You can get ready for you some meat.”

“Well, ok then. You bring it in then, Henry,” said Butch laughing.

The beans were beginning to boil when Butch heard Henry’s rifle. He immediately started making some sticks to cook the venison over the fire. Even L. J. smiled.

Henry skinned the deer after cutting off the tenderloin to be used for the next two or three meals, depending on how hungry the three of them were. After skinning, they hung the deer hide up and stretched it on the back part of the overhang for drying and scraping.

The beans, deer meat. hard tack and coffee hit the spot. L. J. ate just as much as Henry and Butch. While they were eating, Butch got L. J.’s attention and pointed to Henry, “Henry……Henry….” Putting his finger up against Henry’s chest, again repeated, “Henry.” She said something close to Henry, but it sounded more like “Enry”.

Then Butch pointed to himself, “Butch…..Butch.” This time the Butch came out sounding like Butch a little more. Butch then pointed at her. “You?”.

“Tah-dos-ta” she said pointing to herself. “Tah-dos-ta” she repeated. Both Henry and Butch repeated the name trying to pronounce it as L. J. did. Henry remarked that saying that name would be a lot of work. He wanted to continue to call her Jane. Butch allowed that would be ok, but they needed to call her by her Apache name from time to time, just to be nice to her. Henry agreed.

They continued to dry the deer meat just in case they needed to move on. It was cut into strips and put over the fire on branches of wood placed very close together but high enough over the fire to keep the branches from catching fire.

A couple of days had passed and the hard work on the cave had been productive. Jane continued to work on the deer hide. Henry was pretty sure she was going to claim it. That was ok with him. He had blankets and extra clothing while Jane had nothing accept what she was wearing.

Butch and Henry had placed their bed rolls out from the fire a ways, but still under the overhang. They did not want the light from the dying fire to illuminate them to anyone sneaking up on the camp. Jane bedded down behind the rocks that Henry had placed for her to get behind during the shoot-out with her “friends”.

After another tiring day of working on the cave and making it safer, Henry and Butch had gone to bed early. They were snoring when Jane crawled by them on the way to the corral. Butch and Henry’s horse whined as Jane mounted hers and rode away. This woke up both Butch and Henry who saw her cross the river, riding off in the direction that the Indians had left. The full moon was giving off lots of light tonight, helping her find her way.

“Mr. Butch, I reckon she be going back to finish the job with them other warriors. Is that what you be thinking?” asked Henry.

“Man, I have no idea. Looks like she took a couple pieces of meat with her and she took my saddle blanket. Man, I needed that. I hope she plans on coming back. I don’t think that tribe will accept her back, so I don’t know what she has in mind. She could be leaving us to strike out on her own. Who knows the mind of an Indian squaw? She may or may not be back. It is probably a couple of days ride to that tribe’s camp, so we will see I guess.” Butch sounded disappointed that she had left them.

The next day the weather had cleared and most of the snow had melted. The middle of the day temperatures were pretty warm allowing Butch and Henry to wash clothes and bathe. Socks and long johns were hanging all around the camp site. The warm rocks turned out to be a good place to dry their clothes.

The second day after Jane had left Butch decided he would try for another deer in order to have a good supply of meat, either for this camp or to dry to take with them.

He was successful finding a buck coming to the river for water a short ways from camp. Butch had been downwind from the buck and the buck had put enough of his head from out behind a bush allowing Butch to get off a head shot, downing the buck and saving all the meat. Henry arrived in time to help skin the buck. He took the liver to the fire to prepare for supper. The beans had been on the fire all day, Butch reasoned that if Jane came back she would be very hungry. He was beginning to wonder if she was coming back since this was the second day she had been gone. He found that he missed having her around. Her being around changed the feeling of the camp, in his opinion at least, as he really enjoyed having her with them.

The liver and beans, coffee and hardtack had been a pretty good meal. Both Butch and Henry were ready to bed down when they heard a horse crossing the river. The night was pretty dark and both Butch and Henry scattered from the fire, picking up their rifles as they went. Jane spoke up, saying her name,” Tah-dos-ta”, letting them know it was her. They stood, holding the rifles at ready just in case. Jane put her horse in the corral, along with another horse she was using as a pack animal. She had brought up a fairly large bed roll and had to return to the pack animal for more stuff. Butch could see his saddle blanket in with her other stuff.

She went to the area she had been sleeping in before she left and placed her belonging in that area. She had several deerskins robes, buckskin dresses, other odds and ends including some vases and urns, and some food stuffs that neither Butch nor Henry recognized.

Henry and Butch retired to their bedrolls and continued to watch Jane do her thing. She was oblivious to their stares and did not seem to be bothered by their looks at all.

She went down to the river and filled a vase with water which she placed over the fire. After it had heated some she stripped, preparing to bathe in the warm water. As the pants and shirt came off, both Butch and Henry were all eyes.

The clothing Jane had been wearing had hung loose and gave Jane the appearance of being slightly heavy. The first time they had undressed her they were really concerned about the knife wounds and not so much about her body. But not so now and she was not fat at all. She had a flat stomach, small firm breasts that apparently had never been suckled, narrow hips and beautiful long brown legs that were very nicely shaped. They looked at one another and grinned. But they did not look at each other very long as all their attention immediately returned to Jane since they did not want to miss any of the show.

She had a cloth that she dipped into the water and scrubbed her body. As she washed, the light glistened off her body making it all that more attractive and desirable. Henry looked over at Butch and raised his eyebrows as if to say, “This girl has a nice body and this is killing me”. She did have a gorgeous body and she was giving rise to some pleasant thoughts from them both. It was dreaming material for several nights to come.

After her bath, she took out a new or different buckskin dress and put it on. She spread the buffalo robes on the ground to sleep on and others for her cover. Butch’s pants and shirt was placed on the rocks. The show was over for tonight, so both boys could now go to sleep and dream their pleasant dreams. This was a very different Jane than they had seen before.

Neither one of them noticed her cut nose tonight, funny how that worked. Before going to bed, she did take the time to put some of the aloe sap on her nose and hands, applying it as if they were still very tender.

A smiling Butch and Henry snuggled up against the warm rocks, slipping their arms around them pretending it was the warm and beautiful Indian squaw, both expecting pleasant dreams.

At breakfast the next morning, Jane did not have to do anything. Butch and Henry out did themselves fixing breakfast and bringing it to her. Now Butch was thinking that there could have been a fight between the warriors over her attention. Someone may have been spurned and had marked her for life out of spite. She was a beauty and some warrior was not about to give her up easily. Someone would be coming for her, Butch knew that. This squaw was a real beauty.

This morning, Butch doctored her nose and hands again taking great pains looking her over. He admired her as long as he dared and then he figured he better get ready for some more fighting. Butch had told Henry that they should keep the camp stocked with firewood and water, just in case fighting did start.

The next morning Henry was bringing a water filled deer gut up from the river into the camp and was stumbling around on his bad leg, stepped on a rock and turned his ankle, bad. Before Butch could get the shoe off his foot the swelling had already set in. Butch doctored it as well as he could and gave him a drink of his snake bite medicine, which helped the pain somewhat. Butch now felt like this would have to be their home for a while.

 

Chapter Four

 

Butch asked Henry if he thought if they should move on further west. Henry said, “Well, Mr. Butch, that’ll be ok wid me. I ain’t gonna be no help trying to help us move. And I guess it don’t matter to Jane. Them Indians know we be heah and that don’t help none. On the other hand, we got us a pretty good place heah. We got water, we got deer, and we got plenty fire wood and this heah little half cave makes a pretty good shelter. We gots a good view of the river and the other side case somebody trying to sneak up on us. That all helps. I can’t walk right now, but I be a good guard while you and Jane work and I got this little fort to guard from. We can put some more limbs and bush up heah in front and it give us a lot more protection from the wind. You axe me, we gonna have a long hard winter. I know it ain’t doin’ no snowing rite now, but I got a feeling it’s about to start again in a few days. How you be feeling about it, Mr. Butch?”

Butch was still nursing his last cup of coffee of the morning and was contemplating what Henry had just said. “I think you are right on all counts, Henry, and I think what matters most is having a protected place to put up for the winter. We are not in a hurry to make California. You have a bad foot. Staying here seems to be the answer at the moment.”

“We are short on supplies, especially coffee. It is about a two day ride over to Fort Bowie, Az. I make it about 50 miles south and west of where we are now. Just a little west of where those Indians were riding the other day. If it’s ok with you, I will leave Jane and you here and ride to Fort Bowie stocking up on supplies we will need for the winter and for the spring trip on toward California. I have been told there is a good trading post at the fort.”

“Well, that be just fine wid me. Only thing, could you get us a few bottle of snake bite medicine. My old foot be hurting something awful most days. I figure time to time we all gonna need some, don’t you reckon?’ Henry said, smiling just a little.

“Yeah, I reckon,” replied Butch. “We will work up a list of all we think we will need for our journey, including measuring Jane’s feet for shoes. Her moccasins have seen better days. I might buy a shirt or two extra and let her wear them from time to time, pants, too. Every time we think of something lets write it down on this list. Ok?” looking at Henry when he spoke.

“Now boss, you know I can’t do no reading and I can’t do no writing. Massas didn’t want his slaves knowing how to read and write so that’s something I jest can’t do,” giving Butch a pretty hard look.

Butch looked at Henry for a few seconds and then responded, “Well, Henry, this winter may be a perfect time for me to teach you how to read and write. Maybe Jane can join you in school also.”

“Well, now, that be pretty good of you boss. I be looking rite forward to that. But, for now, I’ll tell you what I want you to write down on that list,” said Henry. “That be ok for now, won’t it? And I am starting out our list wid snake bite medicine.” They both had a good laugh over that.

The next day just after sunrise Butch headed off toward Fort Bowie leading Jane’s pack animal with him. He intended to buy as much in the way of supplies as he could carry and that he could afford. He had several dollars of his U. S. Marshall’s salary on his person and on his horse, hidden in the saddle horn and some more in his saddle bag. So for now, money was not an issue. But on the other hand it was going to have to last him a long time.

He moved along at a pretty good clip, making camp one night and then arriving at Fort Bowie about mid-morning the second day. The troops were being mustered and it looked to Butch like they were about to embark on some campaign, possibly to fight some Indians. The man running the trading post was leaning against the door jamb watching the troops fall in. He was a big burly man who filled the doorway. As Butch approached him, he stepped inside and grunted out a “good morning”.

“What ya needing this morning, mister? I ain’t had a supply train in a few weeks and I am kind of low on supplies, but I might have a few things to help you out with. Still got plenty of beans, bacon and hard tack. Low on cheese, but I do have some left. Still got .44 and .45 shells if you needing ammo. Whiskey ain’t no problem, got plenty of that. Make my own. Got a few bottles of Kentuck’ made, but it’s high dollar stuff.”

Motioning over toward the troops, the store clerk said, ” Damn ‘Paches left the reservation again. That’s what them troops are getting ready to do, go fight a tribe out east of here and bring them back. I reckon its Cochise’s bunch, ain’t sure though. Ever since they ordered all the Apaches west of the Rio Grande River to be out here on the San Carlos Reservation, they been unruly. Chief Cochise of the Chiricahua and Chief Victorio of the Warm Springs Tribe ain’t taking it too kindly to be ordered onto the res.”

The man hesitated a moment then said, ” Well, I keep forgettin’, old Cochise died back last June, so his boy, name of Naiche, took over. But with old Geronimo still as their medicine man, ain’t nothing changed. They are still mean, just plain old mean, and they ain’t about to stay on no reservation, if you ask me.”

Butch spoke up right quick trying to change the subject as he wanted to be getting on the road, “Here’s my list of items I need. Would you see how much of this stuff you have? I see a couple of good , heavy shirts over yonder and I think I would like to have them. You got boots and pants too, I see. Let me check the size.”

Butch moved on over to where the merchandise was and examined all the goods. He picked a pair of boots he thought would fit Jane and a couple of pair of pants that would fit him, but he knew he could make them fit Jane during bad weather if he needed to. He took most of the beans, bacon and hardtack and he got a brick of cheese. The cheese would sure taste good through the winter. The trading post had small amounts of flour and sugar which he took most of, leaving some for others. However, on the coffee, he took all the trading post had. The trading post man said that the fort had some coffee and would share with him, but he was not real fond of coffee anyway, preferring a good healthy shot of whiskey every morning.

“How much for that Henry Repeating Rifle over there,” asked Henry pointing to a rifle on a shelf.

“Well, $12.00 dollars is what I need to get for that. It’s a little used, but it still works good. You want it?” asked the trading post man.

“I’ll give you ten dollars. I got one, but I could always use an extra, just in case.”

“Well, alright, I’ll take the ten dollars, but only ‘cause it’s so slow around here these days,” said the trading post man.

The old man had one silver necklace, with a cross on it, hanging behind the counter. “How much you asking for that necklace?” asked Butch.

“Well, now, that’s a nice necklace, so it’s pretty high. Got a woman with you, do you?” asked the trading post man.

“No, I don’t, but I may see one and if I do, I might want to impress her. So if you price it right I might buy it.” Butch really did not want the trading post man to be talking about him and to know anything about his business or location, so he elected to keep quiet about who was with him.

“I got to have $5.00 for that necklace. I bought it off some travelers coming through here last year that needed some money to get on toward California. That’s what I give them in goods for it. Pure silver. You want it?” as he reached over and picked it up bringing it closer to Butch for examination.

“Well, it is right pretty. I’ll give you $2.50 for it.”

“Naw, I really need at least 4.00 for it.”

Butch said, “Three dollars, that’s the best I can do.”

“Well, ok, three dollars then, but only cause things are so slow now days.”

Butch paid the man for the necklace, rifle and the goods and placed the necklace in his shirt pocket and buttoned it.

He had a pretty good load on his pack animal and on his own horse. He intended to take his time and he hoped he did not run into any of the warring Indians if they were on the warpath.

People traveling alone were always subject to attack by warring tribes and outlaw Indians. The Outlaw Indians were those that had been kicked out of their tribes because they were too mean or despicable even for the Indians. They would form loose bands and the regular Indians often took blame for the outlaws’ tribes’ indiscretions.

Butch made a late start back to his camp that same day. He made a few miles but he felt the heavy load on the horses was really working them. He found a good spring so he decided to make an early camp and then get an earlier start tomorrow morning.

The weather had continued to be warm during the day, but the nights had been very cold. He built a small fire to make coffee and warm some rocks for his bed roll. He also heated up a couple of pieces of jerky to go with his coffee and hardtack. As soon as he had eaten and the rocks were good and warm, he bedded down for the night.

The next morning it took him a while to reload the pack horse, making sure the load was as balanced as he could make it. The horses seemed rested from yesterday’s work. With another long day in front of him he needed to get an early started.

He kept up a steady pace all day and in late afternoon, he was pretty sure he could see the green of the Gila River Valley. It appeared to be several miles away yet but he could tell the horses could already smell the water. About the same time he spotted the green of the river valley, he spotted dust clouds off to his right, and it was moving toward the river valley also. He was felt like this was a tribe of Indians. By the looks of the dust cloud, he would guess a big tribe also. For the first time he looked behind him to see if his horses had been kicking up dust. They had. He immediately started looking for a place for protection. He knew that as observant as the Indians were they had seen him and would be sending out scouts. An individual with a pack horse was a sure target for them. He would need all the protection he could get if they spotted him. He was sure that they had.

He soon noticed a seep hole with a few bushes around it. There was not a lot of water, but if one dug out a hole it would soon fill with water. The horses learned that they could dig a hole with their hoofs and then drink from the hole. He tied them both to a bush and taking both rifles, he climbed some rocks just behind the bush, the horses were just below him in clear view and he had good field of view all around him. He could make out several braves on their way toward him. He decided to let them get within rifle range before he started firing, planning to shoot in front of them as a warning shot to begin with, hoping they would ride off and yet he knew that riding off was not likely to happen.

About the time they got in rifle range the braves started spreading out as if to surround the place. Butch figured he better stop that maneuver right away so he fired two quick shots to the outside of the two widest riders. Dust kicked up near them and all the braves dismounted immediately, heading for the nearest cover. They opened fire but the shots hit closer to the horses than they did to Butch. Butch held his fire to see what maneuver the braves planned next. He was now worried that a bullet may hit his horses and decided he would go ahead and take out the warriors who had insufficient cover. He lined his sights on the most open and fired. The warrior grabbed his lower leg and was withering in pain. There was plenty of jabbering in Apache as the Indians were discussing their plans, is what Butch surmised.

Still, the rest of the warriors made no move to change any of their positions, so Butch fired a round at the next most open warrior. He did not hit him but hit the rock just in front of him sending rock shards into his face and shoulders. To the Indian brave it must have seemed like multiple gun shot wounds. He jumped up and grabbed his horse and started riding toward Butch, full speed. He made about twenty yards when Butch fired again hitting the brave in the chest area. He fell from his horse, unmoving after he hit the ground and the horse continued toward the smell of water.

From a distance, Butch heard the distinct sound of the U.S. Calvary sounding its charge by the company bugler, heading toward the main tribe. The warriors fighting him heard it also. All of them mounted and started back toward the tribe at a gallop. Butch figured that concern for the tribe was the utmost on their minds now and not him. Also, now the fire from many rifles and guns could be heard from across the desert.

Butch lost no time in collecting his horses, checking the tie down of his load and starting his journey on toward the camp site. He could hear the battle raging behind him so he felt pretty safe in his not being pursued by the Apaches. When he was within sight of the cave, he could see that Henry and Jane had their horses ready to ride. He could see them standing in the cave as though they were ready to come to his aid. Apparently they had heard all the shooting. He waved at them to let them know he was ok and to just stay where they were.

Henry waded out into the river to lead the pack horse up near the entrance to the cave. Butch started unloading his horse’s load. They left the packs intact and would use stuff out of the packs as needed. However, Henry was very busy looking through all that he had bought. As soon as he came across one bottle of whiskey, his looking seemed to be over, at least for the present.

“Ah, boss, this is what I wanted. And this be Kentuck’ whiskey, and you can’t do no better than that. I can read when it say “Kentuck Whiskey” on the bottle. I learned that working for that old saloon keeper. He had plenty bottles for me to keep picked up round his place.” He looked at the bottle for a time then said, “You want me to fix you a little drank, boss?” asked Henry.

“Yeah, I could use a little shot. You got any coffee left that we can mix up a drink?”

“Sho’, ‘nough, it be coming right up, boss,” said a happy Henry.

As they were enjoying their drinks, sitting around listening to the sounds of the battle still going on to the south of them, Jane seemed a little unsettled at the battle. Henry had fixed her a drink also and he did not have to tell her to sip it. She was sipping like a knowledgeable drinker.

Jane kept looking off to the south as if expecting to see riders coming in anytime now.

Butch looked at Henry and spoke, “Henry, let’s not get too relaxed as some of those Indians or Soldiers could be coming our way. They may not know we are here, but they know the river is here and the terrain turns travelers this way coming from the south. I think the other side of the river is a sometimes camp area for traveling tribes. That may be why Jane came to this spot. You enjoy your drink, but keep your eyes on the south for Indians. I will cook up some of our new vitals’ for us.”

He decided on venison stew with biscuits from some of the flour he got at the post and some good hot coffee. While Butch was cooking, the sound of the gun fire kept getting louder and louder and seemingly closer and closer.

Henry spoke up, “Mr. Butch, if’n we gonna eat a’fore them Indians get heah, we better get started soon. Them Calvary boys are backing them up and it seems like to me them ‘Paches got plans to get up heah near this river. They believes they got a chance fighting them boys up heah, this being hill country and all. The Calvary likes it open wid good vision and them ‘Paches likes lots of cover, so they got something to hide behind and sneak up on you. I knows bout them ‘Paches. Jest you look over heah at Jane. She ain’t took her eyes off them fighting. I think she knows who it is.”

They did have time to finish eating. The Indians backed up to the river and made a stand against the Calvary. Butch and Henry held their fire as they did not want to have a cross fire going but they did keep their rifles trained on the closest Indians to the river. One came in for a drink, looked up and saw them, but did not fire. He retreated back to the others. Shortly thereafter, the battle seemed to turn to favor the Calvary. The firing soon died down, as the troops had the Indians surrounded. The Calvary was rounding up the tribe, taking up their weapons. Orders were given to the Apache scouts that worked for the U. S. Calvary to tell the tribe to make their supper and bed down near the river for tonight and that tomorrow morning early they would head back to the San Carlos Reservation. The scout that gave the orders to the tribe later walked over to just across the river from the cave location. He looked up at the three that were watching him and motioned that he was going to cross the river and come up to where they were. Butch stood and lowered his weapon and gave the ok to approach their camp.

The scout spoke to them in good English, asking where they were traveling to or did they plan to set up a permanent site at this location. Butch did the talking for the group saying that he and Henry was traveling together and that this Apache squaw had joined them a few days ago. Butch said he also thought that the tribe across the river was the girl’s tribe.

The scout spoke up, “No, she Navajo, not Apache.” Butch explained her condition when she arrived, the cut nose and cut hands and that the next day Apaches came in chasing her and that she had shot and killed on of them.

The scout’s eyes widened slightly and he turned and spoke to the girl for a long time. Her response took even longer. When she had finished the scout turned and told Butch her story.

“This girl was captured by this Apache tribe some time ago”, said the scout, “captured her when they had raided a Navajo camp. She never liked any of the people of this Apache tribe, however, one or two or the warriors were fighting over her since two of them had captured her and laid claim to her. One became very amorous toward her and tried to rape her. She fought him off and during the fight her hands were cut holding him off. She kicked him several times. He had thrown her down, placing his knife in her nose, threating her to cut her nose off. She then kicked him in the groin and the pain made him jerk and his reaction probably caused him to cut her nose. She escaped from the wigwam and stole his horse and rode away after the fight. She found your camp and came in hoping you two would help her. She says you have been very kind to her and she wants to stay with you and not go back to the Apaches. She hates them she says, but she shot the one who cut her nose. The other one told her he will chase her down when he loaded the dead warrior on his horse. She hopes to get back to her Navajo people someday.”

Henry spoke up, “Well, what do you know about that? I figured Jane had been doing some ‘hoeing” around wid them ‘Pache bucks and got two or three of them upset. She be a good girl, fightin’ off the bucks and all. I be rite proud of her. How ‘bout you, Mr. Butch? What you thanking about her now?” said Henry, looking over at Butch to see if he was also surprised by the news.

“Well, Henry, I am surprised with her story. I was like you and had it all figured a little differently.”

To the scout Butch said, “We thank you for telling us Tah-dos-ta’s story. We had no idea what had happened to her.” Butch saw the scout eyeing the food, so Butch offered to feed him.

The scout took him up on the offer. He had several helping and seemed to be enjoying the food and had several cups of coffee.

After eating, the scout pulled the cloth from around his waist, covered himself, leaned back against one of the rocks and went to sleep. Henry and Butch maintained a two hour watch for most of the night but by morning they were both sleeping.

The next morning, he was gone. Neither Butch nor Henry had heard him leave and he did not leave any noticeable tracks. Butch mentioned to Henry they would need to do a better job of keeping watch in the future. He surmised that the U. S. troops nearby had gave them false security and they relaxed too much.

After the Calvary and the Apaches pulled out, things around the camp returned to normal, except the snow started again. The nights were extremely cold and efforts were made to tighten the holes in the campsite. More juniper limbs were brought in and stuffed into the areas that let in the worst of the wind. Newly scraped deer skins had been attached to the outside limbs helping to keep out a lot of the wind. While the efforts helped, the cold was still very bad. Nights were the coldest.

 

Chapter 5

 

When the wind was out of the north, the cave was at its best in wind protection as the cave faced south. On this night the wind was out of the north and the cave’s warmth could be felt by all three of the occupants. Henry had brewed up a pot of coffee after supper and all three were enjoying a cup. The crackling fire actually gave them some comfort and cheer for a change.

Henry broke the silence. “Boss, having this heah pretty girl to look at sho’ do bring back some good memories for me. I mean, even from down yonder in Georgia, when I be a slave, it bring back good memories.”

Butch spoke up, “How could you have good memories from being a slave?”

“Well, I’ll just tell you how.” Henry settled down into his saddle blanket and leaned back against his saddle. Henry had that comfortable look about him and Butch felt he was in for a long winded story. But, the night was young, the coffee was good and hot, the fire was cozy, so tonight was a good night for a Henry story.

“Well suh, I was in charge of a bunch of field hands for the old Massa. He depended on me to take care of the cotton and corn crops. Now, he say don’t you be messing with the vegetable crops he planted for the white folk and black folks to eat. But, now, from time to time, he would axe me to come up thar and work some. That field be close to the big house and that is where Ber-fa worked. Ber-fa be the one I wanna tell you ‘bout. She be the Massa’s cook and Nanny for his kids and she really be the boss of all us black folk. Now, ‘nuther thing was she be pretty, I’m talking heart stopping, jaw dropping, jumpin’ up and down pretty. When she walk around them black boys and they mouth fly open and they just stop and stare, if’n the old Massa ain’t around, that is. Now, if he be around they kinda cut they heads jest a bit so they can watch her and they hope the Massa don’t take no notice they be looking. Sum’in else too. All them white boys they stop and watch her too and they don’t care if the Massa be watching or not. She be plenty pretty is what I’m saying.

” Well, now you may not believe me on this, but Ber-fa liked Henry. She be liking me a lot. Sometimes she sneaks off from the big house during the middle of the night and come down to my shack, it be an old one room shack, and she crawl in bed wid me. Some days, after one of them nights, I be so plum wore out its all I can do to keep them other field hands working. They know Ber-fa been spending the night, so they slow down they sorry asses on purpose, cause they know I ain’t got no stuff left in me. Now, I’m so happy about it all that if’n the old massa ain’t anywhere around, I jest let them sorry ass field hands be sorry asses. You know what I’m saying, boss?” Henry paused, warming up his coffee.

While he was at a pause, Butch warmed up his coffee also. He asked Henry “Was that girl’s name Bertha? Is that what you are saying?”

“Yes suh, that exactly what I be saying. Ber-fa. Matter of fact, I thank her full name be Ber-fa May. Now I jest loved that gal. I mean, Mr. Butch, I was crazy ‘bout that woman. I didn’t like them other boys looking at her neither, but wasn’t a thang I could do ‘bout it. But I believe she be pretty true to me. I don’t thank she be sleeping round wid any of them. Now, the old Massa, he may have took him a turn are two, I don’t be knowing nothing ‘bout that except she had a boy who be kind’a light skinned. I thank the old Massa be crazy ‘bout her too. The reason I say that is one night he come down to my cabin and he hollered at me, “Henry, Ber-fa May in thar wid you?” You could tell he be mad. I spoke up real quick like, “Naw suh, Massa, she ain’t down heah wid me.” He holler back, “Don’t you be lying to me, I know she be in thar and you send her out heah.” I say rite back to Massa, “Naw suh, I ain’t seen Ber-fa for a while. I don’t know whar she be.” Then he say, “You get yo sorry ass out heah and help me look for her then. She be down here somewhere sleeping wid one of them sorry ass field hands.”

“Now, that got me going. She better not be sleeping wid no field hand. His sorry ass be dead come morning if’n she is. Anyway, I got my ass out thar wid the Massa. We looked in ever field hand’s shack and all the old couples shacks. No Ber-fa. We done looked in all the outhouses, smoke houses, black smits shop, barn and tool shed. No Ber-fa. Massa got so mad, he turned so red in his face I could see it by the lantern light. He done made me thank about the old devil that night. Matter of fact, I thank they be brothers.” Henry stopped and chuckled a while at this point and took his time sipping some coffee before resuming the story.

“Massa got mad. He got real mad. He picked up a hoe and hit me cross the back wid the handle axing me what I done did wid her. He say, “I ought to beat yo sorry ass just cause you been seeing her.” I ain’t never seed him so mad. He told me to keep looking for her all night long and if’n I find her come knock on the big house doe. I went down to the creek where we take a baff thanking that may be she be down thar. Naw sur, she was not to be found anywhere. I slept down yonder at that creek all night cause I did not want Massa finding me sleeping in my bed.” Henry turned to his side, thinking some before restarting the tale, sipping some more coffee.

“Now, let me tell you, boss, we never did find that gal. Not that night, not ever. She done run off. I don’t know where she went fer sho, but word got back to the plantation that she went up the “underground railroad” to Canada. Now, jest so you will know, it ain’t really no railroad, but it is a bunch of people what be looking out for slave heading up norf, kind’a helpin’ them out hidin’ them and all. I thank what got her going was, what I hear’d anyway, that Massa gonna sell her boy and that probably what made Ber-fa May take that boy and run off. Now, she sho loved that boy. I never did heah no mo about her. Plum broke my heart, boss, plum broke it. I reckon she done marry up wid somebody by now. Now, that was not a good memory, but them nites she stayed down yonder at my shack, they was good. I run off a short while later, and went up norf and joined up wid them Union boys to fight them rebels. I didn’t use no underground railroad getting’ up thar neither . I jest traveled by night and hid by day. Took me a long time too. I wore out two pairs of pants wid them brairs clawin’ at me. The thicker them old brairs were the better I liked it. When I got up thar, I looked ever gal over good hoping to find Ber-fa. Yes suh, she be a beautiful gal! Nary a sight of her.”

He hesitated again briefly then said, “But Old Massa didn’t get that memory. It still be mine. I thank on it plenty too.”

Henry paused a good long while and Butch was pretty sure the story was over. Henry said, “Well, that be about all that story, boss.”

And Butch thought it was a very good story too. The fire was dying down and the coffee was gone. Henry pulled his saddle blanket up around his neck and seemed lost in some pleasant memories. Jane was already asleep but Butch noted her beautiful face, pulled his blanket up to his neck and thought some pleasant thoughts about her.

Butch thought that everyone needs a memory of someone to warm up the cold nights, someone to take with them on long journeys, someone to give hope of a better day in ones life.

With Henry it was Bertha May, and with Butch it was fast becoming Tah-dos-ta. He wondered if she would continue to stay with them. He hoped to make it so.

 

 

Chapter Six

 

Early November turned very cold. The day had been dark and very dreary with heavy clouds hanging around all day long. Nearing dark, the snow started. It was a heavy snow fall, producing almost blizzard conditions, very close to a white out.

Butch could make out the river and he could see the horses when he pushed open the Henry made window. Henry had fashioned a few pieces of wood tied with a draw string that he could pull up and the window would swing out. The horses had a pole roof, covered with bushy limbs over a portion of the corral. Earlier that very day, Henry and Butch had cut some tall grass from up river and piled it in the back of the covered portion of the corral. That should keep the horses in food for a few days.

Firewood had been gathered every day so a good fire should not be an issue. Two more deer had been killed in the last week and the meat was still in the drying process over the fire. The three of them felt secure with what they had available to them.

Henry’s foot had healed and other than his original limp he had no sign of a gimpy leg. Jane’s nose was now completely healed but the cut did leave a scar. It did not take away from Jane’s good looks as the scar looked like a dimple on one side of her face, if you did not look closely.

School was coming along pretty good. Butch had kept the bottle of Kentucky whiskey close by as an aid in the school room teaching process. Every container that had a label or any letters of the alphabet, Butch used it. Jane would make the same sounds as Henry, so much so that Butch was beginning to fear that Jane would end up talking like Henry. So he started working on Henry to improve his speaking skills. He would go along for a while doing pretty good, but if they missed classroom study for a day or two, Henry reverted back to his old way of speaking. Both Jane and Henry had already memorized the alphabet. Butch was hoping he could bring it all together soon and since he had never taught before he doubted his abilities to do so.

“Mr. Butch, I done be liking what you be a teaching us. I’m glad you do’n it. Pretty soon I be talking as good as you,” said Henry.

“Henry, it’s, “Butch, I like your teaching. I appreciate you teaching us and soon I shall be speaking as well as you.” I think you should try saying it that way,” said a smiling Butch.

“Yas sir, that’s the way I ought to be saying it,” said a gloomy, dejected looking Henry. Henry seemed very disappointed that Butch had corrected him and Butch realized it was too early to expect Henry to be changing how he spoke. Butch knew that as old as Henry was and speaking as he had for so many years, that he was not going to be changed in a few badly taught English lessons. Butch never again prompted Henry on how to speak, hoping that some of the lessons would soon be learned. He often asked both Jane and Henry to repeat a phrase after him. One phrase he continually used was, “In spring, we shall continue our journey west, following the sun.” He broke down each word of the sentence, mainly for Jane, but it seemed to help Henry also.

Next morning, after breakfast and after all the chores were done, the sun broke through the clouds and the sunshine entered the small cave via Henry’s window. The sunbeam centered on the whiskey bottle Butch had in his hand. Butch had just resumed teaching his English class holding up the whiskey bottle to show Henry about the “Kentucky” on the bottle was not the “Kentuck” as Henry called it. He was pointing out why and had just pointed at the “y” when the whiskey bottle shattered, followed quickly by the sound of a rifle shot. The whiskey splashed all over, even into the fire causing a large flare-up.

Butch, Henry and Jane went scrambling for their weapons. The rifle Butch had purchased in Ft. Bowie had quietly become Jane’s gun and she had become proficient with it. All of them, laying behind the low lying rocks ringing the cave, pushed aside some of the brush that served as a wind break, trying to get a glimpse of the person doing the shooting. Jane had the best eyes and got off the first shot. Butch and Henry saw the bullet strike the rock that the person was hiding behind. Now all of them could see a portion of several individuals hiding in the same proximity.

Both Henry and Butch just happened to shoot at a foot sticking out from behind the rock that Jane hit. One of them, probably Henry as he had already proven to be the best rifle shot, hit the foot. First, the foot shot up in the air, then the butt became visible as the Indian rolled over screaming, well at least making an awful noise, then he disappeared behind a rock further away, staying still and quiet. All three ducked down as about three Indian rose to shoot at them. Several shots, rapidly fired, began hitting the rock wall. All three stayed low until the barrage let up. When it did let up, Henry raised up in time to see a brave try to advance to a closer rock. That was not a good idea as Henry’s bullet knocked him back into the rocks he had just left. His buddies pulled him down behind the rocks with them.

The Indians began to play a waiting game with them. They would only fire ever now and again to keep them down. Butch, Henry and Jane was doing the same to conserve ammo. It was during this slow time that Jane’s head perked up, ears turned and listening and then pointed up and behind them.

The overhang that gave them their protection was probably fifty to seventy-five feet to the top. It was hard to climb up to the top of the overhang, but if someone had ropes or vines they could hold on to, they could climb down right into the cave area, but outside the enclosed area.

Butch motioned for Jane to continue shooting toward the braves in the rocks across the river and then motioned for Henry to take a peek through the brush enclosure at one end and Butch took the other end.

Just as Butch pushed back a portion of the brush, a tomahawk and hand and arm came through inches from his face. He did not have time to aim, firing from the hip, which wounded but did not kill the Indian. The brave jumped up to finish off Butch, and would have had not Jane turned in time to fire, almost point blank into the Indian’s chest sending him turning and twisting into the back of the cave. Butch had no time to recover from his fall or lick his wounds as Henry had a very similar problem on his end. Jane was quick to help him out as well, shooting and hitting this brave in the head. Butch, Henry and Jane quickly examined the Indians to make sure they were dead.

Since the firing had ceased inside the cave, the Indians across the river must have thought their comrades were victorious as they all stood and started walking toward the river. Butch, Henry and Jane now had a form of target practice. Three of the six remaining braves fell immediately.

The others headed to the cover of the rocks again. Butch had risen up to get a better shot at one of the slower departing braves when a shot rang out from behind the rock across the river, catching Butch in the shoulder, knocking him down behind the rock wall. Henry and Jane put shot after shot into the rocks and they could see the Indians in retreat, getting further and further from them. Soon the braves were out of rifle range and could be seen gathering their horses.

While Butch was still on the ground, he asked Henry to drag the dead Indians out of the cave and down across the river. As soon as he had the first one across, Butch wanted him to fire a shot in the air and hold up the braves body for the departing Indians to see. He was sure they would want to collect the bodies and they would not fight them in their retrieval. Henry followed his instructions and fired a shot in the air when the first brave was dragged across the river. Jane had helped him. Jane had already started pulling the second one down toward the river before Henry had returned. Completing the task, all three hid behind the rocks watching the Indians.

They saw two braves approached the river, watching the three of them closely, before loading the two braves on their horses. Shortly the dead were loaded and they left to join the other warriors in the distance.

Butch got the full attention of both Henry and Jane as soon as the Indians were out of sight. It was just a flesh wound to the upper shoulder, taking a small piece of flesh out, leaving a grove across the upper arm. He was lucky as the shooter missed his heart by several inches and that was probably caused by Butch’s habit of leaning forward each time he shoots. He got in that habit as a boy because of the recoil of the old musket he learned to shoot, leaning forward with each pull of the trigger to keep from getting kicked on his butt.

Some things work out for good.

Henry took over the cooking chore and what Henry didn’t already know about cooking he would ask Butch for direction on how to prepare some of the dishes Butch made. Henry was actually a lot better cook than he let on to be. But that was ok with Butch as he had always liked to cook and had rather cook than to sit around waiting from someone else to prepare a meal.

For several days Butch rested, slept, and ate Henry’s cooking and was waited on by Jane. That part he really enjoyed. She had no button on the deer skin top she normally wore, just having it wrapped and tied around her waist. So when she leaned over Butch to help him, every time he had a good view of the beautiful tan mountains on her chest. She did not seem to mind him looking and really took no notice of his wondering eyes. He tried not to stare but he was sure he did. Anyway, he felt badly about the two of them doing all the work, but on the other hand, he was not all that worried about not being up and around.

He did stand watch. He could prop himself up and keep guard on the place to allow Henry and Jane to keep doing all the chores.

While Butch was healing, winter turned to spring.

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

The days were getting warmer and there had been no rain or snow for a couple of weeks. Yet the river was rising rapidly. Butch surmised that the snow melt was very heavy this year based on all the snow they had received. The mountains north and east of them had been snow covered all winter and the Gila River Valley was their drainage outlet. He thought their cave being eight feet above the river level would be plenty of room for most years’ runoff, but already the water was beginning to crowd them. Butch suggested they go ahead and load up and continue their journey west and not risk losing any of their goods to flooding. Henry agreed with this decision and Jane seemed to be ok with whatever the two of them wanted to do. They prepared their loads so that the next morning all they had to do would be to load the horses.

Since the water was rising so fast, Butch wanted them to stand watch all night to keep from being inundated with water. Jane took the first watch, Henry the second and then Butch.

When Henry woke up Butch for his watch, they discussed leaving from their cave right away as the water was within two feet of the rock they had added for gunfire protection. Right now they would have to hug the mountain side to stay out of the water and with darkness and all the rocks lining the riverbank it was going to be a perilous journey for several hundred yards.

By the time the horses were loaded the water had gained another foot and was rushing madly by them creating a roar that drowned out normal speaking voices. Butch motioned for Henry and Jane to follow him. Each of them had a horse to ride and a pack horse also, but they were leading both, not wanting to risk a fall. It was darker in the canyon than Butch had thought it was going to be and it was making the trip more difficult. Many rocks cluttered the bank and the darkness made seeing them very hard. Both the horses and Butch were stumbling with each step.

The rushing water was also sucking up the ground causing some areas to cave in and rocks to roll. It was impossible to see the areas that might drop off into the river, so Butch was leading both of his horses as close to the canyon wall as was possible. In the moon light he could see a bend in the river just ahead and he feared that the water was beginning to erode the bank in the curve. He was right, but he had to get right up on it to tell that going further was unsafe. Already there was less than a couple of feet clearance between the canyon wall and the rushing river. Butch decided that he would have to turn around and go back.

Just as he decided to turn around, the bank collapsed, dropping him and his horses into the rushing stream. They were all three swimming but the pack horse was being pulled under by the extreme weight of the load attached to him and was fighting franticly to keep its head above water. Butch managed to swim over to that horse and to cut the straps holding the pack on. It took him a while as he had to saw cut the leather straps and it really sapped his strength holding on to the horse and sawing on the strap. Immediately the pack horse came up completely clearing the water with its head and was able to start swimming with the rushing water. The supplies took a separate journey, bobbing up and down in the river, but remained tied together. Butch figured those supplies would be lost forever. He swam back to his riding horse and held on to the saddle horn during the wildest part of the ride downstream. Butch was fighting for his life just keeping his head above water. His horse was not fairing much better.

Butch could tell his weight on the horse was an added burden so when a big tree limb came floating near, Butch switched from the horse to the tree limb, which turned out to be a big mistake. The tree limb had branches that would hit rocks and the bottom of the stream from time to time causing it to pitch, roll and flip over. As the limb would roll, Butch would get struck by a limb from the other side and get rolled over to the underside of the log. Once Butch, trapped between some branches that became tangled with his shirt, did not think he would be able to hold his breath long enough. The limb was dragging him on the bottom, bouncing from one rock to another. By tearing his shirt loose, but he came up gasping and fighting for breath and had just recovered from the first roll, when it happened again. This time Butch knew that his survival would be in turning loose of the log and swimming free of it. He was very fortunate that no branches trapped him this time. He had swallowed a bunch of water and had some go down his wind pipe. He not only had to swim but he had to catch his breath while doing so.

He swam to mid-stream to avoid more of the rocks, fighting to keep his head above water, trying to spot his horse again as that was really his best bet. He was now breathing some better which helped. He was tiring so fast as he was treading water, fighting to keep his head up, pushing with his arms and shoulders to stay afloat, swallowing lots of water as he fought the current. He felt he had fought about all he could fight.

After a while he had to give up, having extended his last bit of energy, he could not fight any more. Just before he passed out he did see another bend in the river and some flat land in that bend. He had decided if at all possible he would try to steer himself to that flat area and hopefully grab a big rock. That was the last thing he remembered thinking.

He woke up and it was full daylight. The lower half of his body was still in the river while his upper half was resting on a rocky shore, water lapping up to his belly. He struggled to pull himself up to be completely out of the water, but his arms would not work. He sank back down to the half in and half out position and passed out again.

 

Chapter Eight

 

Henry and Jane had witnessed the bank collapse under Butch and saw him and the horses fall into the river. That was as much as they could see due to the darkness. But they knew that they could not go further downstream along the river bank. Henry decided to back track upstream until he could find a canyon that led away from the stream. He had to go about a mile upstream from where the camp was located before finding a canyon leading out of the river valley.

After daylight, Henry or Jane would get as close to the river as possible from the hills above trying to spot Butch or the horses. Each time they did they were not able to see anyone or anything. For the first couple of miles, they were fifty to seventy five feet above the river. Then the bank started a down slope for a mile or so and it led to a meadow where the banks of the river were only a few feet high. They were able to walk near the river in this area.

The pack that Butch had cut loose from his horse had made it to this same area and was lodged between a rock and a tree near the water’s edge. The river level seemed to now be dropping some, but it was still a very angry, rushing stream. The pack was the first thing Henry spotted when he came as he approached the river. He was able to wade close enough to the pack to pull it free and with the help of Jane, drag it out of the water.

Jane, with her sharp eyes, spotted Butch lying with his head and shoulders on the sandy bank and the rest of his body in the water. He was several yards upstream from where they were. Both ran to him and pulled him from the stream. They managed to lug Butch downstream to where they left the horses. While Jane attended to Butch, even though Butch was still out of it, Henry felt some coffee and food would help them all as they left the camp site before eating any breakfast and it was now mid-afternoon. Henry was sure Butch would be up and around before much longer.

The coffee and some of the food were in Henry’s pack. He built a fire and started some coffee first, and then they put on some soup. While he was doing this Jane had undressed Butch and was hanging his clothes in some trees to dry. Butch was trying to sit up but was still totally worn out but managed to have some coffee.

Later that night, after some soup and jerky, all three were having a hot cup of coffee, Henry spoke up. “Mr. Butch, I figure we be about 8 to 10 miles downstream from where we started from this morning. Now, Boss, from where you went into dat river, me and Jane walked back upstream another mile or two, then we climbed up that mountain and trekked all across them hills, up and down them canyons, walked over to look down on the river a half a dozen times trying to spot you, and just plum wore ourselves out getting’ down heah. But you, Boss, you done had it figured out how to get down here in a hurry. You and them hoss’es just jumped in that old river, swam yo selves down heah in a hurry and then took a little nap while you be waiting on us to get heah. Yo’ sho’ does beat it all.”

Butch could not help but laugh at the way Henry told that little story but he had to speak up about it. “Believe me, Henry, I thought I was a goner. I got hung up on a tree limb under water and it just about did me in. I used up all my energy fighting to get loose and I could not swim anymore. I don’t know how I got up on this bank. I think I just washed a’shore like an old piece of driftwood.”

“Naw suh, Mr. Butch, I believe the good Lord wasn’t ready for you just yet and he had one of them angel reach down and grab you by yo shirt collar and he drug you right up on that little island out there. That’s what I believe happened.” Henry paused some, then continued, ” I sho do wonder what happened to yo hoss’es. I ain’t seed hide nor hair of them two critter since we got down here. They may have drown. The pack came off and lodged between that rock and tree right over there. I had to wade over to get it out and now the water is a foot below the tree. It’s dropping fast now. We probably been alright if we had stayed at our cave.”

“Henry, what happened was the bank gave way while we were trying to turn around and get out of that canyon. After we hit the water, the horses and I were struggling to keep from drowning. I cut the load off the pack horse. The weight was pulling it under so I had to cut it off. Then later, I was holding on to my horse’s saddle horn and my weight was pulling it under, so I grabbed this tree limb. That thing nearly killed me. As for the angel pulling me to shore, I don’t know how I got here, but I am very thankful for making it. I don’t know about that Indian pack horse but my horse has been with me a long time. I think he will try to find me. Anyway, I will look for him come morning.”

After a couple of days resting at this camp site, they divided up the packs so it would fit on two fewer horses. They each had a riding horse and one for the bulk of the packs. It would be a little slower going, but they could make it. They were very thankful that they did not lose the pack Butch was hauling.

They made camp one night near the confluence of a clear running creek that came into the Gila River with a grass covered meadow nearby. The meadow was only a foot or two above the river’s level. There was plenty of firewood in the area and deer dropping were abundant. This appeared to be a regular watering hole for wildlife. They decided to spend a couple of days here to try and replenish their meat supplies, rest some themselves and allow the horses time to rest up.

The first afternoon Henry shot a nice buck close to camp and the butchering and meat preserving began. Supper that night was tenderloin, beans and hardtack with plenty of coffee. After a good meal while drinking the last of the tonight’s coffee, Henry spoke up, “Boss, did I ever tell you about that shoot’n down yonder at Fort Selden while I be serving down thar?”

“Naw, I don’t think you did Henry. Was it a shooting between soldiers? What happened to cause it?” asked Butch.

“Yes, between some white soldiers. And, well, it’s a pretty good story, so let me tell you about it. You ain’t ready to go to bed yet, are you?” asked Henry.

“No, I am not Henry and it has been a while since you told us a good story. Let’s hear it.”

“Well, sir, you know some of them high ranking officer down yonder at that Fort had they wives down there wid them. It wasn’t no good idee, as it made all the other men horny just watching them walk around. And this one gal, whenever she got out in the yard of the fort, everybody stopped to look, enlisted men and everybody. Now Mr. Butch, I’m telling you she was sho’ a looker. She had long brown hair, a real narrow waist line, beautiful hips and butt and she knowed she was sum’in. Now, this Captain she was married to, he had to go out looking for ‘Paches pretty regular like and when he was gone, he always be gone for a good spell. And that gal, being young and pretty, did’t help thangs none cause she would priss out across the parade ground hoping all them soldiers left at the fort be looking at her. And they all did . Well, anyway, we had this young Lieutenant, he be what they called the quartermaster officer. Now, he didn’t go out chasing ‘Paches, he jest stay round the fort watching his supplies, some of the time and watching that pretty gal that belonged to that Captain, all the time.” Henry chuckled.

“Now he be a young, handsome dude and he knowed it. He never seed a mirror he didn’t like. You know what I mean, boss. That boy comb his hair forty times a day if’n he not be watching that gal.” Henry started laughing hard at his own joke. He resumed as soon as his laughing died down. ” That boy. he thank he be right pretty. And when it came to that gal, you could see them looking one another over out in the fort yard. Everybody who wasn’t out chasing ‘Paches, knowed who this Lieutenant be chasing. Now, I never did seed him do nothing and as fur as I know, nobody else in that fort ever seed them two together. However, boss, everybody suspicioned that sum’in was a going on between them two or they was a want’in sum’in to start going on pretty quick.”

Henry walks over and pours the last of the coffee into his cup and settles back down on his blanket before resuming the story. “Now, this one time, Captain done been gone a week or so and comes back into camp. I reckon somebody done told him that sum’in was a going on cause in the next few days that Captain ships his wife back yonder in the east somewhere, where ever her home be, and we hears he gonna get hisself a divorce from that woman.” Henry shook his head before restarting the tale. “I reckon he be the onlest soldier who don’t miss her. Ain’t nobody to look at anymore and it ain’t no reason to set out on the parade ground no more watching her parade around. Yes sir, she be real proud of her body, if’n you axe me. I be real proud of of her body, too. I shore missed her.” Again, Henry had a good laugh at his own joke.

“Well, sir, she been gone, er, I don’t know fer sho, maybe two or three weeks and ever body done just about forgot that gal. But, one night, just before we bed down for the night, this Captain I’m telling about walks over to the quartermaster’s office, where that young lieutenant is, walks right in like he gonna check out some supplies or sum’in and they told me he jest pulled out his side arm and shot that man right between the eyes. Then he turned that gun on his self and shoots hisself in the head. Dead’er than a door nail, what I mean! That did beat it all and everybody in the whole fort is surprised by what he done. I reckon he done went crazy thanking on them two doing sum’ cheatin’.”

“Now, the next day we had to bury them two soldiers side by side, right there in that old cemetery at Fort Selden. That old Captain probably didn’t like been buried right by that lieutenant, but that is where his old body is spending eternity. Right next to the old boy who been playing ‘round wid his wife. Well, I don’t know fer sho’ that he ever did get any of that stuff but he sho did pay fer it.” Henry laughed. “I know it ain’t funny, but ain’t it strange how some things works out. Instead of that Captain laying by that woman forever he be laying by that good looking lieutenant. That’s what I’m laughing ‘bout. Well, I reckon that’s about all I remember on that story. Good nite, Boss.”

“Good night, Henry, that was another good story. A little unsettling, but it has a good moral to it. A fellow needs to stay away from another man wife and that story proved that very well.”

After a few days of killing deer and preserving the meat, the three were ready to resume their journey. They were now well rested and ready to make some serious time traveling.

The day before they decided to leave, Butch’s horse came into the camp, still saddled but the saddle had slipped and was on the underside of the horse. It had to be very uncomfortable. Butch immediately unsaddled him and rubbed him down; feeding him a small amount of grain he saved for times when grass or brush was not available. The horse seemed pleased to have his master back. Butch was extremely pleased to have his horse back. He checked him over good and there were no signs of cuts or bruises on the horse. Butch intended to lead him for a few days and ride the other animal for a while.

Several miles downstream they came upon a wagon train, seven wagons and eight or ten men and several women and children. Butch could not tell exactly how many there were. It was a little early for making camp, but it smelled like supper had already been started in this wagon train and that smell was very tempting. Maybe an invitation to supper would be given, but if not, they could always make their own. They announced to these people they would like to come into their camp.

This one man, he appeared to be the oldest one there, invited them into the camp area. He said, “My name is Jeremiah Snow. We are traveling down to Mexico to do some farming and while there we will be doing some Missionary work for the Mormon Church. We are camping here a few days to repair one of our wagons and to prepare some deer meat for traveling.”

“We left our home in Utah a few months ago and our supply of meat is terribly low. We even planted us a crop of corn, beans, and squash. We are hoping to get them harvested before leaving here. How about you folks? You been traveling very long?”

Butch told them their story, to some degree, but not going into details of how they all met up and the battles they had fought getting to this point of their travel. He simply told they were traveling together trying to get to California and maybe doing a little prospecting for some gold. Mr. Snow did invite them for supper. They were very happy to accept the invitation.

Some of the women folks were talking to Henry during supper that night. This one lady said, “Mr. Henry, you are only the second black person I have ever met. We have very few blacks folks where we came from up in Utah. But last year there was the prettiest lady I have ever seen come through traveling with a group going to California. She was black. She and I talked a long time since I was so fascinated by her looks. You told me you had been a slave down in Georgia. This lady was also a Georgia slave at one time.”

That got Henry’s attention, “They be a whole bunch of slaves down yonder in Georgia, all over the south for that matter. And we didn’t get to do a whole lot of socializing ‘round thar, so I probably would not know her, but what was her name?” asked Henry.

“Well, that was easy for me to remember because she had the same name as my momma. It was Bertha. Only Momma’s name was Bertha Lee and her name was Bertha May.”

Henry didn’t even let her finish before screaming out and making everyone around the campfire jump. “Aww, Ber-fa?….My Berfa May? Which way she be going? How long ago was it that you seed her? Who was wid her? She be married? Did she have a dark birth mark up on her neck that kind’a looked like black berry? Tell me all about her.” Henry questions and statements were in an excited high pitched voice, rapid fired series without allowing her the chance to answer each one of them. He moved over close to the lady doing the talking and it seemed to scare her just a bit as Henry was getting too close to suit her. Up to this point, Henry had not said much and had remained very much in the background while Butch did all the talking.

The lady backed up some and said, “Well, I don’t know much, but she was traveling with a white family. Their one wagon was among many wagons in a train heading to California. I am not sure where in California, but most of the folks passing through Utah going to California were heading toward San Francisco. So I just guess that is where they were going, but I don’t know for sure. She seemed to be the Nanny to the white children, or so it seemed to me. She did tell me she escaped her slave owner by taking the underground railroad up north during the war years. She said that was the best thing that ever happened to her, but she had hated to leave all the people she loved back in Georgia.”

“I thank she be talking about me, mam, I sho’ thank she be talking ‘bout me. Did she have a bruth mark about right heah, mam?” pointing to a spot on his neck just under his ear.

“Why, yes, I believe that she did.”

“Aww, that be her. How long ago was it you seed her, mam? And when did she leave for California?” Henry was still pressing the woman causing her concern that Henry was getting so close again and too loud.

“Well sir, I think it was probably about a year ago now. And she left with those people after two or three days around our community. She is probably in California by now.”

Henry moved over close to Butch to talk to him about his situation.

” I’m gonna have to leave in the morning for San Francisco, boss, and by myself. I got’s to travel fast. You gonna be way to slow for me now. I be getting started early, boss, so can we split up our supplies tonight. I be leaving you and Jane most our stuff as I want to travel light. Jest enough to get me by. Let’s go on and get me a pack ready, ok, boss?

Henry was all excited about getting to California in a hurry now that he had an idea that Bertha was there. Butch was trying to reason with him that it was still a good idea for them to travel together on to California. Matter of fact, Butch argued with Henry. After all, it had been a year or so since the lady had seen Bertha and a few more days would not make a difference after a year anyway. That caused Henry to take a cup of coffee, sit by the fire and contemplate on it some.

Henry thought on it a good bit and he finally decided that Butch was right, but he wondered if they could go ahead and get started in the morning for California again. Butch had to convince him that traveling the Gila River Route was the best way to go, but leaving in the morning would be ok. Henry did not have a good concept of the west, little knowledge of map reading and what traveling the higher mountain route would entail. He finally gave in on the southern route preferring to use the route that Butch found to be the best way.

Henry was the first one up the next morning and the first one packed. He was ready to get started to California and a possibly finding his Bertha.

 

Chapter Nine

 

“Mr. Meadows, sir, are you Mr. Butch Meadows?” I asked the tall, well build man who was very manicured and dapper, a few wrinkles, but he looked very fit sitting on the porch of the hotel watching the evening traffic going up and down the street.

“Yes sir, that’s me. What can I do for you, sir?”, he said as he looked me over very carefully and I could see him looking at the notebook and pencil I had in my hand.

“Well sir, I have heard some stories here and there about you coming out to California and some of your exploits. You were at one time a Marshall, or so I hear. Folks back east eat these stories up about lawmen, gunfighters, Indian fighters and the like. I want to write such a story and send it back, hopefully for publication. I have sold a few stories here and there, nothing major, understand, but I have managed to write enough to keep eating. I was wondering if I could write your story or some tales you would share with me. Of course, if they are a big enough hit to where we could get a book out of it, I would be willing to share the revenues that it may bring in.”

He sat there for a long time, looking at me, then looking at the distance mountains as if thinking about what such a story would sound like in written form, and then looked back at me. He finally said, “I would have to think on it some, son. I guess my life has been something of an adventure, even a couple of love stories in it, but I have never thought about having me, family and friends written about. You a good writer, are you?”, looking me over again. As he looked, I remembered I had torn the arm of my jacket a few days ago and had failed to have it stitched up yet. He looked at that tear for a time, kind of stared at it really and I was wondering if he was thinking I must be a very poor writer to dress this badly. After a while he said, “You be back over here tomorrow, just after lunch and I will let you know. I need to sleep on it and think about it some. You have an article that you have written on you?”

“Yes sir, I have this one in my pocket from the New York newspaper a few months ago. I wrote about what the completion of the railroad from the east coast to the west coast had meant to the people west of the Mississippi. I interviewed people from Kansas City, Denver and all the way out here in California hearing what the coming of the railroad had meant to them. I will leave it with you, sir, but I do need it back as that is the only copy I have.” I handed him the folded up, well worn copy of the New York paper.

“Thank you, son. See you tomorrow.”

I was on his porch well before Mr. Meadows showed up. He owned the hotel and café attached to it. It was a busy place, but Mr. Meadows did not do any of the work anymore. He had people to run it for him. Mr. Meadows sat with his wife a lot, a lovely Indian lady, rocking on the front porch of the hotel. He told me in an later interview that he found it easier to live in a couple of rooms in the hotel and take his meals in the café. That way he did not have to pay for staff help around his house. In time I learned that he had owned a ranch, with a large ranch house on it, but it became a little much for him and Jane to run. He had married Jane as soon as they had arrived in California and started investing and reinvesting in just about every thing he could get into. First, he found a little gold just east of Sacramento and it had probably produced about 20,000 thousand dollars in gold before he had a partner offer to buy it. His partner offered him 100,000 thousand dollars for the mine. Butch thought that was a fair offer since it was hard work mining the gold and harder yet to provide security for the property and the mined gold as every hard case in the country was always trying to steal property, especially if it was a producing gold mine. So selling seemed the best thing for him to do. He had consulted with his other partner, Henry, and he was of the same mind set. He was still looking for Bertha and wanted to have more time to devote to that effort. They divided up the money from that venture and Butch had offered to pay Henry all of his share right then and there. Henry had declined that offer and elected to take a small portion to sustain him while searching for his Bertha, and have Butch invest the balance in whatever Butch chose to get into next.

After ten or fifteen minutes, Mr. Meadows joined the writer on the porch. He had a waiter with him and had the man pull over a table between them and ordered iced tea for them both.

“I am sure glad you decided to tell me some of your life’s stories, Mr. Meadows. I was afraid that this old torn jacket of mine may have help you decide against using me as your writer” I said.

“That torn jacket is one of the things that made me decide to use you. There is a lot more to a man than a torn piece of clothing. Your approach and demeanor means a lot to me. Plus I liked the article you had given me was easy reading and not too complicated. I think we will do just fine together. So, let’s get started, what do you say?” looking at me for an answer.

“Sir, I am ready to write,” said Mr. Meadows and after thinking for a few seconds started talking.

“One of the things I invested in a couple of years ago was an ice house. That’s how we have the ice here today for our iced tea. We learned of the ice making technique a few years ago and ordered the equipment from back east. We were one of the first to build a unit of sufficient size to make enough ice for the town businesses and also for the rail cars going back east that need refrigeration. I have a contract with the Union Pacific and a local shipper to supply all the ice for their refrigerated cars. One of the best investments that I have made to date. And I probably have 15 or 20 delivery men inside the city delivering ice daily. Good business and if the customer does not use all we sell him, well, it melts pretty quickly so he still need more ice. But, I am getting ahead of myself. I liked your writing style, young man. Let see if we can come up with some stories. I just started telling of the ice house but that is kind of in the middle of our investments story. Where do you want me to start?”

“Well, sir, I think maybe I would like to start with your early arrival here and if you would like to share the details of your trip out to California, I would love to here that as well.”

And so he did. He shared the entire story about meeting Henry and Jane, the trip out west with the two of them, which I have already written and sent to a publisher was published as a serial story in the New York Daily. My publisher loved it. I’m hoping that the next installment with be as good as the first.

 

 

Follow The Sun

Book Two

Chapter Ten

So Butch began explaining the happenings since their journey had been completed and their life in California had begun.

Upon their arrival in Sacramento, California, Butch decided that he needed to take care of some urgent business. He immediately asked Jane to marry him. Her English was still somewhat broken, but not bad enough that she did not misunderstand what he was saying. She accepted and as soon as a preacher and a chapel could be found, the deed was done. So, during the honeymoon life continued as normal. He figured they had work to do and he planned to stretch the honeymoon out for a life time anyway.

The second thing he did was rent a small farm with a house, barn, several sheds and several acres of land. The owner stated if Butch liked it they could talk about a selling price as he would like to get rid of that piece of property. He wanted to move away in a few months. Jane liked the place because a garden had already been started and that was something she had done as a little girl. The Navajo were a more settled tribe than the Apaches and did lots of planting and growing. She was very excited when she saw the vegetables growing. This would give her something to do other than housework, which she knew very little about, but Butch was very helpful in getting her used to living in a structured home, very different from a Hogan.

After getting the house into pretty good shape for him and Jane to move in, they went about getting one of the sheds fixed up so Henry could live there on a temporary basis, having a place to call home while he looked for his darling Berfa. He had high hopes that Bertha was still available and had not married nor became involved with another man. And he had equally high hopes that he would be able to find her. He felt sure she had traveled over Donner Pass from Utah into this area of California and it would be only a matter of time until he found her. Every available free hour he had was devoted to looking people and homes over hoping to see her.

Butch and Henry had a long discussion about finances shortly after their arrival in California. Butch let Henry know that traveling and looking for his soul mate was going to take a lot of money. He convinced Henry the two of them should search for gold, even if it was only a few flakes, it would help keep them going until they could determine just what they needed to do full time and it usually was a quick way to earn some money. They purchased tools and supplies for an extended stay up in the hills and set out to find some gold.

So, with Jane staying at the house, Henry and Butch headed up the American River toward Auburn, site of one of the early day gold strikes. Butch happened to meet a rancher on the way up that took a liking to the two men and shared a couple of ideas with them. Mr. John Sanders had been a rancher in this location since 1865, so he was pretty well established. He knew the country well and was a good judge of character. He liked these two immediately and decided to share this information with them in exchange for a small percentage of their find. This information was one of best tips they could have been given. John said that upstream on the American River and about 20 miles south of Auburn, there was a dry stream bed that once fed water into the river from the north, and he told them that it at one time flowed a good sized stream of water. Water that had flowed down from some of the areas that had later had working mines up in those mountains. That flow had continued until folks up stream had diverted the water around a new way to accommodate their placer mining operation. Further, he said since gold was so heavy it would settle in low spots until it was washed out with heavy rains or mined out, so he suspected that gold from eon’s ago had washed down that stream. Since the Auburn operation was going on first, the stream diverted second, the miners had simply by-passed this location forgetting that it was at one time a running stream coming down from the hills. He told Butch if he wasn’t so old he would take a crack at it himself, but he allowed it they would give him a 10% finders fee he would call it good. Both Henry and Butch thought that was a fair offer and shook hands with the man on the spot.

Butch and Henry found the location with the information the John Sanders have given them without any problems. Within a few hours, they set up a mound of rocks with a sheet of paper with their names on it, laying claim to this area for digging gold. This was government land and that was the proper way to lay claim according to the old rancher. He said as long as they were actively mining the site, no one else could claim it, saying that was one of the laws of the state of California. When they came back into town they could file a formal claim on that property. It sounded ok to Butch and Henry, so they decided to give it a go.

Picking a camp site back away from the river on the dry stream bed side meant they had to ford the river. The American was pretty wide at this point, but shallow. The horses did not have to swim getting across. There was ample grazing for the horses near the river and they hobbled them close enough to the river they could drink from it. Plus, there was a small spring that sent its water down the hillside in several small fingerlings of water, keeping plentiful grass growing on the slopes of the river.

Before they even started supper they were eager to get out the picks, shovels and pans and start the mining process. They were excited and had a very good feeling based on what Mr. Sanders had told them. Neither of the two of them knew anything about mining but they did know about gold and what finding some would mean to them and they knew about hard work. So they started digging in the dry stream very close to the water and would later work away from the river.

They would dig a while and then pan awhile. The first few hours were painfully slow and hard work. Blisters had forms on both of the men’s hands, but they hardly noticed. Henry said, “Boss, I don’t know ‘bout you, but my stomach thanks my throat done been cut. It’s growling and carrying on something awful. Don’t you reckon one of us need to rustle us a bite to eat?”

“Yea, Henry, you go ahead a fix us a little something. I’m gonna dig on a bit to see if maybe we can get a little color on our first day.’ He took a pan full of digging over to the water and sloshed water round and round in the pan. He saw color and hollowed. Henry came running and forgetting all about supper grabbed a pan and began sloshing water around his. He too had color.

Butch told Henry, “Henry, you pan and I’ll dig. Let’s see how much we can get in our pockets before dark.”

On day two, not every pan produced color but every fourth or fifth one did. They were not big nuggets, but nice sized flakes. And the weight of the small flakes was beginning to add up. By the end of day two they probably had two or three ounces, not a lot yet, but they knew they were in the right place. Henry said at supper one night, “Boss, you ‘member us talking round our camp fire on our way up he’ar to Californa, how we gonna look for gold and hope we can find some? I never dreams ‘bout us being partners in no mine, but, he’ar we be. Up he’ar with blisters on our hands, a good sized hole in the ground, and a bunch of gold in our pockets and digging for more. Reckon we be doing pretty good so fur, huh, Boss”.

“Henry, I am not the boss. We are partners as you said, so you can drop the boss talk. We are equal in this operation, Henry.”

” Yas suh, I knows that, but I just can’t get used to calling you nothing but boss or Mr. Butch. If’n it’s all the same to you, I’m jest gonna keep calling you Mr. Butch, but I might quit the boss part. That ok wid you?”

“Ok, Henry, what ever you want to do.”

After a week of working the claim, Butch estimated that they had about 25 or 30 ounces ready to be assayed and sold. Butch rode down to the Sander’s ranch and asked if he could come and help Henry guard the mine while he rode into Sacramento to sell his gold. He thought Auburn was to close to their diggings for right now and he needed to check on Jane, also.

The rancher not only kept Henry company, but offered several ideas on getting water to the diggings. As they dug they had gone up away from the stream following the dry stream bed and the further away they went they were that much further from the water. The rancher, John Sanders, suggested they dig a trench from the spring and route it down into the dry stream, right into their diggings. This really speeded up the mining operation and finding the gold by having the water right at the diggings. It was still not real heavy pay dirt, but it was showing color with most every pan now.

When Butch returned, he was amazed at how much gold they had mined while he was gone.

John stayed on with them for a couple of days, giving more valuable tips and lending a strong back with some of the digging. He suggested a sleuth box built right in the stream bed and the water running over it full time. They could shovel the ore right into the box and start picking the gold out from the box. This step and the extra shovel John provided really helped and while they were not millionaires, they certainly would now be able to bank a little money and start saving some for the future.

John mentioned that if the two of them got tired of mining he might like to buy this operation. He felt like it was going to be a big producer. Butch told him he would have first shot at it since he was a partner, but right now they wanted to continue on and put a little something back for hard times.

Butch had the gold hidden in the camp site in the advent crooks or robbers came by. So far they had not had anyone visiting their work site as it was a little hard to get to because of the deep cut of the river through that particular portion of the mountains.

One day, after finding a lot of color that week, Butch told Henry he was going up to Auburn, 20 or so miles away, to sell the next batch of gold. This time he probably had over a thousand dollars worth of gold to be turned into cash. He figured Henry would be ok because it would take less than a day to ride up there and back, so he did not go ask John to come and help this time.

While Butch was gone, Henry was hard at work digging and was stripped down to just his pants and shoes. His pistol and rifle were back inside the tent. He heard some riders coming up behind him and he immediately thought about maybe being in trouble. He slowly turned and realized he was looking at three of the most bad ass men he had seen since he left New Mexico Territory. Those back there were constantly harassing him at the saloon he worked at in Leasburg, a town notorious for harboring hard cases and gun fighters. These looked like they could have been some of that bunch. He was wondering how he could get to his gun and he hoped he could stall them for a while. He thought it may be close to the time for Butch to return, and he certainly hoped that was the case.

“Well, lookee here, a black man working a mining claim, and all by hisself”, said one of the riders. A heavy set, ugly cowboy, who looked to be about as mean as they come, and one who wanted to antagonize Henry a little bit. “Hey, how’s it going there, Blackie? You getting any color at this here location?” Not waiting for an answer, he continued. ” It don’t look like a very good spot to me. How about it Blackie, you hittin’ any color yet?”

Henry had turned slowly around and tried to maintain control of his thoughts and feelings. All three of the men had their gun hands close to their six shooters as if they were ready to reach for them at the slightest provocation. Henry figured it would be better for him to portray a simple miner and not a partner in this stake.

“Nah suh, I ain’t hit a bit of color yet. But I’se hoping I be hitting some a’for to much longer. This he’ar gold mining ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, you axing me. I ain’t found me no gold nugget yet.”

All three of the men had a good laugh over the gold nugget line. The one that was doing all the talking before spoke up again. “You layed claim to these diggings, Blackie? You know if you don’t file a claim, anybody can come along and claim it. I reckon you know that, huh, Blackie?” He dismounted and started over to the pile of rocks where the paper was showing that Butch and him had laid claim to these diggings.

“Nah suh, I ain’t laid no claim, but my boss has. He be back he’ar in just a few minutes. He had some bizness up yonder in Auburn and he be back he’ar directly. He got him a partner too, and that be Mr. John Sanders. You might know Mr. Sanders, he live just down the river a ways. He probably be up he’ar in just a bit too.”

Henry hoped he could fake being very busy and interested in returning to work might send them on their way. “Well, Mister, if’n that all ya’ll be wanting, I reckon I better get back to diggin’. Mr. Butch, he be my boss, and he don’t like no slackers. He ‘speck me to carry my weight and earn my pay. That ‘zackly what he say.” Henry chuckled. “So, if’n you folks ‘cuse me, I be getting back to digging.”

Henry turned his back on the three men and started digging again. The man yell at him, “Hey, get yore black ass back here. I ain’t through talking to you yet. I want you to pan some of those digging you got there and let me see for myself if you hitting any color.”

Henry knew he was in trouble as he had seen several flakes in the last few shovels he had dug. He was not using the sleuth box, choosing to use the pan while John and Butch were gone.

He dug a few more shovels of stuff he had already panned hoping he had not left anything in the pan as he discarded it. The man fired his pistol, kicking up sand from near Henry’s feet. “You better start listening to me, Blackie, cause the next one ain’t gonna be aimed at the sand. You fill up the pan and let me see if I can find any color. You hearing me or am I gonna have to shoot yore black ass?”

Butch was a mile or so upstream when he heard the gun shot. He was not quite sure what to make of it, but he figured it spelled trouble. He rode hard the rest of the way. He came into the camp hard and fast, low in the saddle and fired a couple of shots at the feet of the man with his gun out. The other two immediately went for their guns, firing as soon as they were in position. It had been a while since Butch had been in a gun fight and he missed his first two shoots. But one hit the saddle horn of the man closest to Butch, with shards of the saddle horn peppering the genitals of the man sitting in the saddle. He screamed and dove off the horse seeking cover. The other man had his hat shot off.

The man that had fired at Henry was intent on shooting Butch, taking deliberate aim to get him with one shot. But he was way too slow, Butch’s aim was off, but not his timing. He did not miss with the third shot, catching the man in the left shoulder, spinning him around giving Butch plenty of time to dismount and seek cover.

While Butch was seeking cover, so were the others. Their horses had run off in the direction of their riders, who were hiding behind some waist high rocks. The shooting had slowed as all the men were scrambling to find good cover.

By now, Henry was the forgotten man and he had made it to the tent and had his rifle, found a nice rock to hide behind and commenced firing. His bullets were kicking up rock shards peppering the two men hiding behind them. The rock shards hurt almost as much as bullets so the two cowboys gathered their horses and left the wounded man to fight this battle all by himself. The fighting was over in a matter of minutes, once Butch had ridden up. The wounded man was not nearly so tough now that Butch had his six shooter pointed at his belly.

He went to backtracking to Butch about his comments to Henry, saying he figured the black man was stealing someone’s claim and he was about to go over and check the paper under the pile of rocks. He was just shooting to keep the black man in line just in case he was a robber.

Butch knew a lot better, but he felt that the gun shot was going to keep the man honest for a few weeks while the healing took place. So Butch told him to ride off and not to show his face around this claim any more. He mounted as quickly as his wound would let him and took off in the direction of the other two.

After this, both men kept their pistols on while working even though it slowed them down a little. They figured it would be better to be slow than shot. Both of the men continued digging even after the attempted robbery as Henry told Butch about seeing lots of color in the last few shovels of ore.

Several more trips were made up to Auburn to sell their gold and a lot of folks took notice of him coming in so regular selling off goodly amounts of gold. Miners started following him back toward his digging. Butch would always hold up and let followers pass him by before he headed off the main trail down to his operation.

Always when Butch was gone he worried about Henry having some more surprise visitors. He and Henry had discussed selling the operation to John Sanders to allow them more free time and also the security issues.

Butch was missing his new bride and Henry wanted to do more searching for Bertha. They decided the next time they saw John Sanders they would discuss the sale of the mine. If he would give them a fair offer they had decided they would seek other employment opportunities.

On John’s next trip to the mine some discussions of the sale took place. John Sanders had been around mining enough that he could tell the color was plentiful and he felt like the mother lode was near. He did not want to tell Butch and Henry that, but he knew if that was the case, there were millions of dollars to be made at this site. So, John jumped at the chance to buy the mine and offered 100,000 to buy the mine. He said he would also have a partner who was owner of a mine up in Auburn.

Both Butch and Henry were ready for an immediate departure and as soon as the new miners showed up they would be ready to turn over the operation. All the gold dug until the take over belonged to them. This deal had sounded very good to a home sick Butch and a love hungry Henry. They made a trip to Auburn to sell the gold they had just mined and complete the sale arranging to have their money transferred to a bank in Sacramento.

Within a week of their meeting and selling of the mine to John, they were back in Sacramento.

Butch ended this installment of his story by saying, “It’s getting a little late and close to my eating time. You care to join Jane and I for supper. It will be my treat, if you are willing. Then we will take up some more stories tomorrow. What you say to that.”

“I say, that sounds pretty good,” said the writer with cramping hands from writing so much and so fast, who was needing a break and was excited to have someone buy supper.

TO BE CONTINUED……

 

 

 

 

J. I. Hall, Jr…..A Western Novel by E. V. Pete Hester

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 09-03-2016

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This is my latest novel and it is not in a good format for reading, however, it is readable. I enjoyed writing this book and I had problems finding a publisher….so, what the heck, I wrote it just for you guys anyway.. I hope you enjoy it. To read or download, click on the title below:

 

J I Hall, Jr