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The Road North - the saga continues


Grizzly Dave

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I motioned to Grizz I would take point. I really don't know why, it was something I had to do. Grizz was to emtional now to do anything with a clear head. The big man having his way with that young girl proved that.

 

As we came near the other conor, I thought I heard someone break wind. I took my hat off and put on my Apache headband and as I took out my bow, drew an arrow, I nodded to Grizz to make some noise. As if he knew what I was up to, Grizz sighed loudly and the big man came to investagate the noise. I drew back on my bow,waited till the big man was about eight feet from me, and I let loose the arrow.

 

The arrow struck him in his throat, through and through and as I retrived my arrow, the big man died in his own blood. I held up my index finger to Grizz. "One gone." I thought. I made a slicing motion with my hand, saying I wanted to take his scalp, but Grizz shook his head no.Too bad. What a waste of good scalps.

 

We dragged the body out of sight and proceded down this tunnel. The deaf girl sticking like hide glue to Grizz. I never saw Grizz cry like that before. Not even as they lowered Martha into Mother Earth. Now I aint the one easily scared. I have looked death in the eye, felt his tug on my arm, smelled his presence and tasted him many times in my life. But the way Grizz was then and now was scary.

 

I saw the young girl tugging on Grizz's arm and motioning to him that we where going the wrong way. That would explain why I felt alot of eyes on me. I swung around, by passing Grizz and the young girl without thought and with drew an other arrow. There was a very big man walking, down the dead end tunnel. "So, you da injun dat kilt my friend, uh ? Well I'll just return da favor !" and begain to pull his colt. But before he could clear leather, an arrow found the center of his chest.

 

To my amazement, he broke off the arrow shift, spit on it and throw it to the ground. I let another arrow fly just above the first one, and before the monster of a man could move , I let loose another arrow that split the first arrow into. That mountain of a man, twice the size of Grizz, grab the touch and looked down at his chest. I had the fouth arrow in the bow, ready to fly, but he went face down into the dirt.

 

I ran up to the trouch and put it out, least anyone coming down this tunnel would see us. As we got nearer and nearer to the end of the tunnel, the crying, moaning, sounds of yelling and whip cracking became louder and louder. The young girl froze in her tracks. Alive or dead, she was not going back to that hell again.

 

I crepted up to where I could see. In the darkness of the tunnel, I was in compelte shadow. I saw four men, armed only with sidearms and whips...and as I look up, on a catwalk, there was four,....no wait ....five men with rifles and sidearms keeping gaurd. I pulled back a little and made sign to Grizz. I grapped my dragoon, held it up and held up four fingers and made a walking motion with my fingers. Grizz nodded. Then I pointed up, made like I was holding a rifle and again, held up my dragoon and held up five fingers with a walking sign.

 

Grizz and I pulled back. I could see in his eyes, be he killed or not, he was going to try to free these women. And I was resigned to the same fate. After all, Grizz was my brother, and Martha had been my friend.

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For Grizz it was as if everything was moving very slowly, and someone else was causing his actions, without even giving thought to it, he turned to the girl and signed 'the man that hurt you, get his hat and coat, bring it to me.' She shook her head 'no.' Grizz repeated the signs, and added an emphatic 'NOW' at the end, and she scurried off, returning quickly with the dead mans hat and coat. The man was about Grizz's size, close enough anyway. He quickly put both on.

 

Hawk raised his eyebrows as if to ask 'are you sure?' and Grizz nodded yes. If he could get far enough into that cavern before being identified, they'd have a better chance. If Grizz could get in there, and engage the ones on the catwalk, it would give Hawk a chance with his bow on the others.

 

Grizz signed to the girl, 'stay here, we will get the others.' She looked with pleading eyes at him, but nodded that she would do as told.

 

Grabbing the spare colt from his possibles bag, he set the bag aside and stuffed the pistol in the back of his belt, and covered it with the dead mans coat. Pulling the coat up high, and the hat down low he looked to Hawk. Hawk shrugged his shoulders as if to say 'close enough.'

 

Hawk hung back in the shadows and watched as Grizz walked out into better light. Several of the guards saw him and watched him walking in. "Done already Bill?" one asked. "Dang yer quick" another one jeered, "why didn't you bring her back?"

 

Grizz stopped and spit in the dirt at his feet and grumbled, "thought you might want some" and then started walking again. One of the men on the floor looked up to the catwalk, "what say boss?" The middle man on the catwalk responded, "just make sure she can still work when yer done." The man on the floor quickly trotted off towards the tunnel, when he rounded the bend out of sight, Hawk took him down. The man never even knew what hit him, or who took his life.

 

Trying not to be obvious, Grizz looked around trying to get the lay of the land, and to give Hawk a chance to get back into position. Over to his left and a little ways out was a water barrel, and also a boulder that would make good cover, and give a good view of the catwalk, so he walked towards it.

 

"Where the hell you going Bill?" one of the men hollered out.

"Water" Grizz grumbled hoarsely. There must have been 35 to 40 workers in there, mostly young girls, but some older women and even a few young men. Most likely family who came to check on their deaf children were taken captive rather than risk that they'd learned the truth.

 

When he was about to the barrel, the boss man on the catwalk called out to him "That little tramp bite you or what Bill, you ain't walking quite right."

 

Grizz stopped and drew a dipper of water and grunted "huh?" trying to think of what to say. Coming up with nothing he returned the dipper to the side of the barrel, swinging his hand down and drawing his left colt on the way back up.

 

The boss man was dead before the other's really knew what has happening, and by then Grizz had snapped off 3 more shots, taking out three of the four remaining riflemen on the catwalk before getting behind cover. As the men on the floor tried to figure out what was happening, two of them had fallen to Hawks arrows. Grizz couldn't quite get a bead on the last man on the catwalk, and Hawk was having the same problem with the last man on the ground.

 

Almost as if they shared the same brain, they turned their attention to the other's targets. Grizz could just get a glimpse on the top of a man's head, so he jumped up to get a better look. As Grizz broke cover, he could see the man fully and he fired two shots, in that same instant the remainig man on the catwalk saw Grizz and popped up to shoot at him. Three shots from Hawks dragoons sent the man flying off the catwalk.

 

As the echo's of the gun fire faded away, all that was left was the whimpering of the captives as they cowered in any nook and cranny they could find. Grizz hadn't really foreseen that they'd meet that much resistance, or have that much of a fight, they needed to get out of there before someone came. He would only hope that the Indians had started attacking the front of the trading post as planned, that would at least have drawn away any who might have heard the fight down here.

 

"US Marshall" Grizz called out as he reloaded his guns, "working with the mounted police. Anyone who can hear my words get up here NOW!"

 

Several of the older women and the two young men came hurrying up, babbling as they came "oh thank heavens, you are sent from above" and other such gratitudes. Hawk was working his way through the cavern to make sure there were no other guards lurking about. If there were, he must have been quiet about eliminating them, as Grizz didn't hear a sound.

 

Grizz held up a hand, Quiet, NOW! No time, we need to gather up these kids and get them the hell out of here!" They looked back at him blankly. "You, you and you, get those kids over there, you and you get the ones from down there, Hawk, you bring up the rear, meet me at the mouth of the tunnel, now MOVE!"

 

This time they did as they were told and brought everyone to the mouth of the tunnel. Hawk called out from the back as he worked his way up, "that's all of 'em."

 

Grizz called those who could hear to the front, and had them bring up some of the older ones who were deaf. "Tell them to stay here" Grizz ordered and he went up the tunnel and around the bend.

 

The girl was huddled against the wall shivering, she had felt the vibrations in the wall and seen the flashes of light even though she couldn't hear the gunfire, she knew there'd been a battle. When she saw Grizz she ran out and hugged him. Taking her hand he led her back to the mouth of the cavern, there were gasps when those assembled saw her, they must have given her up for dead. Grizz wondered how many young girls had been led away and had never returned.

 

Grizz stopped and turned his back towards the group, facing the girl. Holding his hands in close so that no one but her could see, he signed "I trust you, I don't know if I can trust them, as we walk through squeeze my hand if there is one not to trust." She nodded.

 

Some of them were chattering and saying it was time to go, we must hurry and the like, Grizz silenced them with a hand in the air, "Be quiet, or you will die." Grizz took the girls hand and walked her through the group. Towards the back was one of the young men who had been able to hear, something about him just struck Grizz wrong, and when the girl squeezed his hand he wasn't the least bit surprised. Grizz nodded to Hawk who quickly moved in and held the man as Grizz rifled the man's pockets, a knife and several gold coins,

 

"Find out what he knows, quicly" Grizz barked as he walked back to the front, pocketing the knife and coins. Back at the front Grizz talked and signed quickly "is there anyone else here to can't be trusted?" They looked around and shook their heads 'no' and some said 'no' aloud. Hawk was back at the front quickly, "he didn't know nothing, just that they paid him to keep watch for any escape plans"

 

"Now," Grizz signed and said "we need to all get out of here, follow Hawk and me and you will be safe." Grizz leaned in close to Hawk "I'll ride drag with one of them what can hear, stop at the main tunnel and I'll catch up and we'll go from there." Grizz grabbed up his possibles bag from where he'd set it and they set off.

 

They worked their way carefully back up the tunnel. Hawk would scout out ahead then fall back and call the others up. Some of the kids had to be carried or helped up the tunnel, many were sick. There were no surprises. When they reached the main tunnel, they could hear gattling gun fire faintly coming from the end of the tunnel that would lead into the trading post, from the other end, that led to the woods, there were no sounds. Hawk held the group there until Grizz came up from the back.

 

"Give me the rest of your dynamite" Grizz ordered, Hawk complied, adding a roll of fuse from his pocket. "Take the group up to the mouth, then use my bow to take out the gattling guns then get them out to the woods." Grizz ordered. "And you?" Hawk asked. "I'll get as far under the trading post as I can, where I hear you take out the guns, I'll hightail it your way lighting fuses as I go."

 

It was a good plan, and Hawk knew it, but there was something about Grizz's manner that told Hawk that there was more to it than that. Grizz sensed Hawks uncertainty and said "see you outside amigo," lit his cigar that flashed brightly with the matches embedded in it, and headed back to the back of the group.

 

As the group moved out, Grizz walked with the hearing man a ways past when they joined the main tunnel. "Get these kids out son, I'll be along" and then Grizz watched the group walk out of sight.

 

By the time Hawk got them to the mouth of the tunnel, he had them form 4 lines, each holding hands down the length of the line. At the mouth of the tunnel he had them wait while he scouted outside. The coast was clear but the gattling guns were being manned. Hawk pointed out in the woods where the groups were to go, making sure each of the hearing leaders knew what to do. Lighting his cigar on the timber of the shaft he then lit two of the dynamite arrows and popped back outside. He let one fly towards the left gun, then turned and fired the second arrow towards the right gun. The charges went off so close together it sounded almost like one explosion.

 

Hawk pulled up a rifle and gave cover and sent the groups to the woods. There were a few shots from up on the wall, but Hawk quickly silenced them with a few well placed shots. Most of the defenders must have been tied up with the Indians on the other side of the trading post as has been the plan.

 

Seconds went by, each taking nearly an eternity. "Damn it Grizz, let's go" Hawk hissed under his breath.

 

Then came a blast from deep down the tunnel, then a second, a third, and a fourth, but no Grizz. Finally the smoke and dust was so thick and the timbers were falling in, Hawk did the only thing he could do, he headed for the woods.

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I ran for the woods and when I got to the others, I did a quick head count. They where all there. I signed to the oldest girl there," Stay hee with da others. Stay under cover. I'll be back soon !" She nodded that she understood, and I ran back toward the remains of the tunnel, zigging and zagging as I went. I didn't care if I was hit or not, and indeed, I was hit, I had to know what had happened to Grizz.

 

I could hear the indians going after scalps, slaves, food and horses. I was throwing timber around and shouting, "Grizz....Grizz....Whar da hell are ya ? Yur too damn orney to go and die....Whar are ya ?" I was digging for all I was worth, then I noticed some one standing behind me. "Stop starin' ! Help me dig my friend out or move on !" I said as my voice rattled. "Then I help you dig in Mother Earth, Hawk of the Apache People !" I turned to look and there was Two Crows, the medicine man who was a father figure to Crying One. The man who married us...my father-in-law.

 

We where digging and throwing timbers around like mad men. Indeed, we where mad men. Then another voice. "May I be of assistance ?" It was Benton ! "Hell ya, Grizz is somewhar under here !" I shouted. Benton looked surpised. " Pardon ? I saw Grizz running off to the woods in this dircetion !" he said, pointing to the woods to the north of the tunnel. "I saw him chasing after a man I beleive to be Obermann, but I can't be sure." I stopped my digging and stopped Two Crows as well. Two Crows rose to his feet, and stood toe to toe with Benton and said to him, "Hawk is my new son. He don't trust you and I do not trust you." I put out my hand to Two Crows. Grizz is running head long into a hornet's nest and I would have to trust Benton now.

 

I looked Benton in the eye and said, "Mountie, I guess you leave me no choice but to trust ya now. But you do Grizz, Two Crows or me wrong, I promise you, you do not know what hell looks or feels like untill you feel it from injuns...Ya hear ?" And I saw the fear in Benton's eyes and he said, "Yes....I understand. But don't you think we should go search for Grizz now ?" But just then, I put two and two together. Grizz had said the code word to me as we parted. My mind raced. Grizz was alive ! "Son, you are hurt ! I will clean and bind you're wounds !" Benton came over, "Do you think they will return ?" pointing to what was left of the trading post. "Not the ones da tangled wif me !" I looked up angerly at Benton.

 

"I gotta git dem folks in da woods over der, " I pointed to the wrong side of the woods. "Git'em to a safe place !" "Very good idead" Benton said and took off running in that direction. As Two Crows cleaned and bound up my wounds he said to me, "That white man can not be trusted. This I know !" I nodded yes and then when Benton was out of sight, headed off to the woods where the deaf folks where. I signed to them and told the ones who could hear that we where heading to the Sioux village. They would be safe and treated like guests there. And Two Crows lead the way while I watched our back trail.

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Grizz watched the last of the group dissapear up the tunnel and then rigged longer fuses on the charges he'd set earlier. The closer to the mouth of the tunnel where it went outside, the longer the fuses, the farther into the hill side and under the trading post, they got much shorter.

 

Grizz felt when the gattling guns had been hit with the dynamite arrows and prayed that Hawk had picked up on the code word as he hurried deeper into the tunnel lighting fuses on his way. The charges had started going off by the time he got close to where the ladder was that led into the trading post. He'd been careful not to touch off the charges within three over head trusses of the ladder, lest he be buried before he could continue.

 

Though he'd stuffed empty shell cases in his ears and covered them when possible, the concussion of the charges going off was more than he'd expected. The dust and smoke made it horribly hard to breathe and he felt as if that badge on his chest was weighing him down making it hard to draw a breath. Grizz closed his eyes and concentrates on slowing down his racing heart and his breathing, drawing only controlled breathes through his nose. The image on the badge held in his minds eye.

 

Outside, Benton ran off on Hawks wild goose chase. He could not find the kids, but he did find the men he'd seen running off. One of them did indeed look like Grizz from a ways off, but close up it was clear it was not him. The other man was not Obermann. Seeing the mountie they spread out to get an advantage, but the mountie stood firm and demanded they surrender. The one that looked a bit like Grizz rushed him, and was met with a knife in the chest. Benton kicked the other away and knocked the breath out of him to give himself time to get untangled from the now dead Grizz look alike. Hurrying, he tied the other up, and then picked up the dead man and slung him over his shoulder and trotted back to Hawk.

 

Hawk's eyes flared as he saw Benton trot up with a dead man who looked like Grizz over his shoulder. Hawk pulled his dragoon "stop there mountie, put him down!"

 

"But Hawk, this isn't Grizz!" Benton insisted backing away from the corpse with his hands raised. Hawk advanced and kicked the corpse over to reveal the face and bloody chest wound.

 

"Dang if you ain't right, that ain't him" Hawk said relaxing just a bit.

 

"Hawk" Benton started "I know you don't trust me, but I gotta tell you something. There's a big detachment of mounties and army headed this way, be here in about 4 hours. If they find Indians fighting against the trading post they'll likely fight them. You need to get the Indians out of here before then or it may be ugly."

 

Underground Grizz was regaining his hearing. All of the lamps had been blown out by the explosions and the only light he had were a few whisps of light showing through the floor boards near the ladder. He watched and listened for any sign of movement up there, seeing none he felt his way over to the ladder and went up, pausing again before pushing the trap door up and out of the way and climbing up into the room above.

 

From the looks of the shelves the room was a kitchen pantry, with food stuffs stacked on the shelves. Grizz hugged the shadows and worked his way towards the door.

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I was truely worryed about what was going to unfold in four days from today. My Indain freinds kept the defenders of the tradng post working hard. And if I aske them to pull out, Obermann's man would come for us, as the freed captives knew far too much. But what to do ? My head was spininng fast, as my wounds had let alot of blood out. Grizz was still missing. I knew, deep down, Grizz was still alive. Seeing him walk off toward the woods, was just a rouse. One that I could easly see through.

 

"Crying One, come here !" I said. She came running and I told her, Two Crows and you kept these folks safe at all costs. If Obermann goes to court, they will be very much needed." "Yes, I understand, my husband ! " and ran off for Two Crows. "My husband" I thought. I've not heard that directed at me for many a year. It felt good and I smiled. But it was a short lived smile cause their was serious work at hand.

 

I signed to the girl that knew all there to come to me. She did, and took my hand. She knew what I wanted and as we walked by Benton she squezzed my hand many time, telling me she did not trust Benton at all. My sences was right, so I kept him closer than the freed captves. "Keep yur friends close, but yur enemies closer" kepted running through my mind.

 

"Benton, we gotta go to the tradin' post and look fer Grizz. I know he's there somemuners !" I almost shouted at him. "Hawk, he's most likely dead by now. We can't go in there !" I quickly drew my dragoon and pointed it to his head...."Then if he's dead, By God, You'll be joining him !" I said to him, as clam and cool as I could be. It was if my body was not my own.

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Whoa boy, this is getting exciting!!!!

 

What's going to happen next?

 

Is Benton really a wolf in Mountie's clothing?

 

Will Grizz make it out of the trading post alive?

 

And if he does, will killing Obermann satisfy his blood lust?

 

Will the mounties show up and save the day, or will they also wipe out the Indians?

 

Stay tuned!

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Grizz stood in the store room for a few moments catching his breath and letting his eyes and ears acclimate. In his mind he ran back over what he knew about the trading post. Benton and Pete had said the tunnel came up in the kitchen, the pantry storeroom where he stood was close enough. Peering out from around the door jam he tried to get his bearings. The kitchen and dining room were supposed to be towards the back of the post from the main gate. A part of the same building housed the main offices, and a short way away was the armory and powder magazine. peering out the windows Grizz saw what looked to be ammo shacks near each front corner so that ammo could be fed to the gattling guns quickly.

 

Grizz moved slowly through the building, checking each room, but finding nobody. From the sounds of things outside, the front of the post was under siege, and it was likely that most everyone who could shoot was up there fighting.

 

As he got up towards the offices, he could hear voices, so me moved much slower to be sure to be quiet. It sounded like three men. "Get together all the cash and gold you can, we need to leave now" one said. "Whatever you say boss" another said. "What did you do to piss off that Marshall so much anyway boss?" a third questioned.

 

The first spoke again, it had to be Obermann "How could I know that little whore that I used to have do my books down in New Mexico would escape and marry a Marshall?"

 

Grizz's blood began to boil, he could feel his face and whole head turning bright red. His hands trembled with rage. A small voice from way deep in his heart was saying 'one, two, three, these are the steps and just must be.' It was a little saying Martha had used when Grizz tried to get ahead of himself as they'd taught each other things.

 

Grizz took a deep breath and shrank back to cover. One. Obermanns guards would likely be more heavily armed than he was, and more skilled with a gun, Grizz would take them out first. Two. Make sure they were dead, and that Obermann is not armed. Three. Obermann would be made to suffer as no man had ever suffered, before he died.

 

Again from deep in his mind came another voice, a different one this time 'What is your exit strategy boy?' He'd heard that often during the war, the best plan to infiltrate an enemies position was nothing without a way to get back out alive. Grizz let the hate push that thought away.

 

"Go get the horses ready, we'll go out the back gate" Oberman ordered. Grizz shrank back into the shadows and waited. A man came out of Oberman's office, closed the door and walked briskly down the hall towards where Grizz was hiding. Sliding his colts back into the holsters Grizz pulled his knife.

 

As the man walked by, Grizz slamped a hand over the mans mouth and slit his throat before wrapping him up in a bear hug. Carrying the man into an office he lowered him carefully, and quietly to the floor lest the others get an idea that something was afoot.

 

Creeping back towards Obermanns office Grizz listened intensely. It sounded like Obermann was likely at his desk, and the other was clearing money and papers out of a safe to the left of it from the door. The two men joked about how they would live like kings in Mexico, or maybe even travel to Europe.

 

One, two three Grizz said to himself silently, even every small step would be broken down further, and you had to do is take on little step and then another. Now outside the office door, Grizz silently repeated, one, two, and on three he kicked the door down. Now mind you he didn't kick the door open, he kicked the thing clean off it's hinges.

 

Inside the guard to the left went for his gun. Grizz fired catching the man in the forehead. Out of the corner of his eye Grizz caught movement to his right. There was another guard who he hadn't heard. That man got off an errant shot before Grizz sent him to meet his maker with one shot from his right pistol.

 

Obermann sat behind the desk, hands raised in the air like the coward that he was.

 

"And you must be Obermann" Grizz said matter of factly holstering his guns. Obermann nodded and seemed to be looking over Grizz's shoulder. "If you're counting on the man you sent to get the horses ready, don't" Grizz said motioning to the blood that covered his vest. Obermann shrank back in his chair. "Well more money for you and me then" Obermann stated, trying unsuccessfully to laugh.

 

Grizz took out his knife, still bloody from the guard and wiped it off on his sleeve. He'd dreamed of this moment, how he was going to make Obermann suffer before he killed him. Perhaps he'd start by cutting off each finger, one knuckle at a time...

 

In the back of his mind, louder this time Grizz heard 'these are the steps that just MUST be....' Grizz could see Martha's face in his minds eye, but it was different now, it wasn't shaded by Grizz's own hate, it was only her, and he could see her compassion and sense of justice. She'd hidden the truth from Grizz because even though she hated Obermann, she loved Grizz more powerfully than the hate.

 

Watching the wild look in Grizz's eyes as he played with the knife, Obermann began pleading for his life, offering all of the money, riches, land, power, anything he could think of that was a treasure to him. "I'll give you anything you want, just let me live!"

 

Grizz walked around the desk with the knife, jerked Obermann to his feet and put the knife to his throat. "Anything?" Grizz asked. "Yes, anything."

 

"I want Martha back" Grizz spat in his face, and then he hit Obermann on the top of the head with the butt of the knife knocking him out.

 

Working quickly Grizz tied Obermann up, and drug him off to where the guard had been heading to fetch the horses. The battle outside was raging and it appeared that nobody had heard the shots inside. There was no time to take out the ammo shacks at the front, but he might be able to get to the main powder shack. Leaving Obermann tied up and unconscious inside, Grizz walked purposely in that direction. As he got there a man was coming out, Grizz rushed him knocking him back inside. The man hit his head and was out cold, or dead, Grizz really didn't care which. Grabbing some dynamite and a keg of powder he went back outside, trailing gunpowder as he went.

 

The horses were where he expected them, and he quickly tied Obermann over the saddle and rode towards the back gate, still trailing powder. He would have preferred to blow the main ammo dump, then the back gate and ride out in the confusion, but someone had spotted him, so he lit off the powder trail and galloped towards the back gate hoping it was as rickety as it looked. There was a shotgun in a pomel holster on the horse he'd grabbed, so he pulled that and aimed for the crossbar in the gate, splintering it, but not destroying it completely.

 

Girzz kicked the horse harder and hit the gate about the same time the powder dump exploded. The gate gave way and Grizz galloped out the back of the trading post leading the other horse with an unconscious Overmann draped over the saddle.

 

As he gallped towards the woods he prayed that Hawk or the Indains, or mounties, or whoever the hell was out there wouldn't shoot him, and also that they wouldn't kill Overmann on sight. Grizz planned to watch Overmann die all right, but he meant to watch him hang, after having a good long time to think about it. That's the way Martha would have wanted him to do it. Grizz smiled, Martha's warmth once again filling his being.

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I went through the woods, looking for some of Obermann's men. There where a few sentires in the woods. Sharpshooters from the war that took refuse in the vast watse lands up here. When I would find one of those men, I would put the sneak on them, come up from behind, clamp my hand around his mouth, tie up his leg with mine and force him to the gound while driving my knife in to his brain just below the right ear. I would giggle the knife around abit, scramble his brain up and he would hit the ground dead with out making a sound.

 

Then I would find another man. Again, I would put the sneak on him, and take him out with a quick slice of my knife across the throat. Ever heard a man die from a cut throat ? He makes grulling sounds as he trys to call out and trys to stop the blood from flowing and trys to run, all at the same time. The night was alive with the sounds and smells of the night. The owls call, the stars how the shined, the smell of Mother Earth ad of blood and of death.

 

As the sun was coming up, I could here the battle taking place in front of the Trading post. I had told Two Crows to tell his people that the monuties would be here in four hours. And they had only half hour left. The Mounties where close enough that they could here the battle taking place. But the Sioux warriors chose to stay and fight Obermann's men, for he had wronged them also. The I heard a large explosion and saw the back gate swing open and a horse with rider, and a body drapped over the other horse. "Grizz !" I thought.

 

I pointed to a spot in the woods and shouted, "There.....GO NOW !" He spurred his horse hard, and shouted back at me, ...."Hard behind me !" I dropped to my belly and waited. I didn't have long to wait. Four riders came out, and as quickly as I could lever my rifle, I sent all of those riders straight to hell. Then, with my own wounds still bleeding, I ran back into the woods and caught up with Grizz. "Is that who I think it is ?" Grizz nodded , "Yup." I walked up and pulled out my dragoon and slugged Obermann on his head, just for good measure. "Dat sould loosen up his scalp a bit !" I told Grizz smiling.

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Grizz kicked the stirrups from his feet and swung a leg over and slid off the horse. He grabbed Hawks forearm in greeting and shook it firmly.

 

"Hawk my friend, I have to ask you to do something, and you're not going to like it." Grizz said looking him square in the eye with a look of some concern on his face.

 

"Name it brother" Hawk replied with firmness, but also a bit of a question on his face.

 

"This man" Grizz motioned towards the man draped on the saddle "is Obermann, and he is not dead, nor do I wish him so....yet."

 

Hawk was really puzzled now, Grizz had talked of nothing but ripping the man's still beating heart out of his chest for what he had done to Martha and the others.

 

"My Martha suffered for many months, knowing that she would soon die, he will do the same. I will take him back to Denver, he will stand trial, he will face those whom he has wronged, and he will be hanged."

 

Hawk considered what Grizz had said, looking deep in his old friends eyes, the wild blood lust wasn't there, but there was a firm resolve in what he planned to do. "And what if the court says he ain't guilty?"

 

"Then he will die in his cell, at my hand, and I will hang for the crime."

 

"NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!!" Hawk yelled. The thought of Grizz on the gallows was not one he would allow.

 

When Hawk calmed down a bit, he spoke again "and what does Martha think of this plan of yorn?"

 

Grizz laughed. "She thinks me following the law is the best way to honor her memory, and she thinks I'm a sadistic son of a bitch because I'm plan to remind him" Grizz jerked a thumb towards Obermann "every minute of every day that he's going to die soon."

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and back to page one again. If Hawk don't chime up soon I'll throw in another chapter tomorrow. Figure I'll either have some down time at the office, or I'll be snowed in here at home, either way...

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I thought long and hard about what Grizz had said,...wanting Obermann alive at least for a while. I could see the limb form stirring and I thought of plunging my knife into his shoulder, but I suddenly felt a burning white hot pain in my upper leg, followed by a report from a rifle !

 

"Ahhhh, whar did dat come from ?" I shouted out and scanned the horizion for sign. But no movement to be seen. "COVER !" I shouted out and the group knew to hit the dirt. "Hawk...you hit ?" Grizz shouted out to me. And I said "Yup...in the upper leg....through and though !" "Damn" said Grizz "Hawk, you see the shooter?.....Hawk.....HAWK !!!" I was up running toward Obermann. He had slipped to the ground and was running low toward the skyline. "NOOOOO !" I shouted and took my bullwhip off my horse's saddle and with a crack, around his ankles and down he went into a fresh buffalo pile, face first.

 

"You see anythin' Grizz?" I asked him. "No....not a thing !" I crawled up to Obermann, drew my dragoon pistol and shoved the 7 and 1/2 inch barrel as far up his nose as possible. "Give me a reason and I'll clear yur sinuses !" That's when I felt the vibration of what must have been hundreds of horses, riding our way.

 

I looked Obermann in his frightened face and said, "If you want to see nother sun raise, run back to Grizz. NOW!" I looked back toward the woods and I saw Crying One with my Henry leveled at his head. And I had to smile. Now, back to the world at present. "Grizz, we got company comin !" "Who and how many Hawk ?" "Don't know who but they are many !" Grizz started to break cover to come after me and I shouted, "NO ! I'm comin' !" I rose and hobled back just as the Ojibwe Indains ride out into the open.

 

They where just out of range, save for a bufflao rifle, and they knew it. The women and younger boys, they would take as slaves, the normal indain way. The whites they would kill and scalp. But I am a mix, and they looked down on that. After torture, they would skin me alive. I was not afriad to die. Death was an old friend to me. I would die with honor. But I didn't want the others to die. Ojibwe know not surrender. So, the fight was on.

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Grizz waited for Obermann to make it back to where he had taken cover. He wanted something powerful to give him another knot on his head to shut him up, but his skull wouldn't take much more after the blows he and Hawk had put on it. Working quickly he tied Obermann up and gagged him.

 

Resting up agin a tree, Grizz took inventory. He had a 73 from the horse he'd taken from inside the trading post, three Colts fully loaded, his possibles bag with some ammo and dynamite, and if it hadn't gotten broken yet, a little bottle of whiskey.

 

The Sioux were at the front of the post, mixing it up with those inside. The Mounties would be arriving within the hour, maybe sooner, and now the Ojibwe were attacking from the back of the fort. Of primary importance was getting those they'd just rescued to safety, the Ojibwe we not known for being kind to captives.

 

Grizz whistled for his horse, his buffer rifle would give them more options.

 

"Dang fool, yer horse is back a ways Grizz, remember we had to buy new ones?" Hawk said.

 

He was right. But to both their surprise, the horse he'd been riding came trotting up. It stood there skittishly with the gunfire about. "And you wonder why a whistle while I ride" Grizz said with a grin.

 

Grizz grabbed the rifle and chambered a round. The Ojibwe were on the far side of in range even for this rifle, and a man if a might smaller target than a buff, a grizz, or even an elk.

 

"Hawk, you reckon it would buy us some time if I drop that chief lookin feller out there?"

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I was learning agin a tree, stuffing moss into my wound. "Nope, not him. I'd drop da medicne man ridin' just behind'em. Show dem warriors you medince is stronger den ders !" I said to Grizz. "Hummmm....maybe you're right Hawk." Grunting to get into a standing postion to cover anyone coming out the trading post, I answered, "Grizz, you'd ever known me to lie ?" "Yup, like the time you was in New Mexico posing as a preacher." I saw some one coming out the trading post, and my round conviced them other wise.

 

"Well, dat was a long time ago. I'm a changed injun Grizz. " My talk turned more serious. "So have you, Brother !" I shouted to Crying One to toss me that spy glass from my saddle bags. She came running up with it. "Gonna have to work on you mindin' me. Take my rifle and shoot anythin' dat comes out dat door !" I said, pointing o the back gate of the trading post.

 

Grizz saw what I was up to, so he put his buffaler rifle up to his shoulder and fired. "Windage is off to the left. El-e-vation needs to come up ." Grizz muttered something, reloaded another round, threw that buffler rilfe back up to his shoulder and fired. Then Crying One fired my rifle. She must have hit what she was aiming at cause a heard a holler go up. "Windage is right, need to come up bout nother foot." Grizz looked at me with a frow on his face. "Hell fire Grizz......He moved !" Grizz muttered under his breath, "Should have hit that injun by now." "Would have ifin' he didn't move !" I said to him, not taking my eye away from the spy glass.

 

Grizz touched off another round and I saw through the spyglass the medince man lurnch forward, then backward off his horse. Grizz just proved his medince was stronger that theirs. "There ! That ought to keep'em !" The Ojibew fell back off the feild of battle, not to be seen again. I smiled at Grizz and said, "Looks like we are in the clear now ! So, you wanta ruff'em up somemore or what ?" I said as I took hold of Obermann and jerked him to his feet.

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Grizz lowered the buffer rifle and looked at Obermann. "Naw, maybe later, right now we have too much to do."

 

Grizz's shoulder was killing him, a combination of old wounds and bashing thru the gate on the trading post. "Lets get back to the others and figure out what our next move is."

 

At this point they needed to get the kids and adult former captives to safety, and the logical thing to do was to turn them over to the mounties. But, the mounties would likely want to take custody of Obermann as well, and that was something Grizz couldn't, wouldn't let happen. He'd kill him first.

 

Hawk seemed to read Grizz's mind as they walked. "Dem mounties is gonna insist on takin him ya know," Hawk nodded towards Oberman who was a few paces ahead, "how we gonna play it?"

 

Grizz shook his head, "good question Hawk."

 

One the one hand were the Mounties who in general could be trusted, at least by Grizz, on the other hand were the Apache, who could also be trusted, by Grizz at least, but the problem was those two groups didn't quite trust each other. It would play better if Grizz could talk to the commander of the mounties, but to do so, he'd either have to expose Obermann to them, or leave him behind, neither of which sat very well. Hawk could go, but it was questionable if his words would carry the same weight as Grizz's with the mounties. Grizz could only hope that some of the adults who could hear would be able to convince the mounties of what had, and was happening.

 

"Send word to the Apache, have them pull most of their braves out, leave just enough to be drawing fire, that way when the mounties show up they'll be taking fire and have no choice to fight." Grizz said to Hawk, it was more of an order than a request.

 

"Dey ain't gonna like that, they want to see it through." Hawk replied.

 

"I don't care" Grizz snapped. "It may well keep them alive. Make sure some go to watch the back gate, don't want no more slipping away"

 

Hawk rattled something off to one of the Sioux warriors who was near them, he swung up onto his pony and galloped off. Grizz didn't understand what had been said, but at this point it didn't matter to him. Sometimes the best you could do was the best you could do, and it's difficult at best to force a man dying of thirst to drink if he doesn't want to.

 

Crying one led them to a clearing where all the former captives were huddled together. Some of the Sioux women were there offering food, but you could tell that most of the kids were leery of the Indians at best, scared of them at worst. As Grizz walked in the girl who had helped them in the tunnel ran over and hugged on Grizz and didn't want to let go. He let her hug for a few moments and patted her back before pushing her away far enough that he could sign to her. 'these are my friends' Grizz both signed and said out loud motioning to the Sioux women, 'they will do you no harm.'

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I raced as hard as I could toward where I thought the Mounties where. I was beeting on Benton being with them, as he said before that he could'nt get into much more trouble than he was already in. I was ridding hard as my pony could run,and I just kept ridding hard till I found the troop of Mounties.

 

"Benton !! I knew to speak to Benton now !" I shouted out as my pony slide to a stop. All the Mounties had rifles leveled at me, I didn't know why untill I felt I was still carrying my dragoons on my hips. I ever so slowy, took one out at a time, laying them on the ground and backing away about ten feet and I threw my hands up. "Deupty U.S. Marshal SilverHawk. I need to speak at Benton rat now !" I saw one Mountie learn over and say something to another Mountie and that Mountie rode off.

 

In what seemed like years, the Mounite returned with Benton riding along side him. I lowered my hands as I saw Benton ride up, but he looked as if he never saw me before. "I will speak to this man. He is an arm of the law and is hornorable being." Very will Benton, just don't take to long. We have a battle to fight !" his commander said to him. As the troop rode off toward the trading post I looked Benton in the eye and said, "Benton, I don't rust you as far as I can throw ya, but Grizz do and dat's good nuff fer me. Grizz has Obermann and he has some capties Obermann had workin' da mine fer him. "

 

"Grizz needs to git'em to safty as fast as possible, but dem Mounties are in da way. He needs to to lead'em on a wild goose chase or to lead da captives to some place safe. But he aint gonna give up Obermann, not to me nor you. Obermann kilt his beloved Martha and my friend. Grizz wants blood, slow and shore. And Grizz is gonna git it even if he has to kill Obermann his own self. Now, I ask you, are ya goin to let another lawofficer die or are ya gonna bend dem spilt and polish rules of yurs ?"

 

I bent down to get my dragoons and I saw Benton shift just alittle. "SilerHawk, is that you're name ? It's a lovely name. And you're a peace officer too ? How grand !! About you're friend Grizz and this Obermann busness. I can not stop him from killing Obermann if I did not see the act take place. However, I can lead the mine workers to safety, with Grizz, Obermann and yourself in tow, passed my friends and out of my country. Are you game ?" I looked Benton square in his eyes, and finding nothing dis honset about the man, answered with "Hell Ya, I'n game !" "Good then, I'll follow you !"

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Sorry folks, I meant to write a chapter today at work but the dang almost vacation itus distracted me.

 

And tonight my head just isn't into it.

 

Maybe tomorrow.

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Benton and I rode like the wind, passed the Mounties, who where riding slowly toward the trading post. Ilead Benton to where the sioux where being lead by Two Crows. They where edgy because they had heard a couple rifle shots from the woods, and had got sign of thier enemy was on the move. I told Two Crows that the Mounites where on the way here. They would be here any time, and I would like the Sioux not to fight the Mounties, but to scatter and reform in the woods behind the trading post. Two Crows said it would be done, eyeing Benton very closely.

 

We rode wide, as not to alarm the incoming Mounties to our postion in the near by woods. "Camp...comin' in wif Benton !" I shouted out as we rode in. Our horses where played out and the Sioux women took them and walked them and rubbed them down. "Grizz...here's da deal.....We gotta git out of here ifin' you want to keep Obermann. And Benton here will help us. Aint dat rat, Benton?" I asked. "Yes indeed !" Benton said. "I know a trail out of my country that will put you back in you're country in three days hard ride." Grizz looked at Benton and said, "But you're Mountie friends know that trail also, right ?"

 

"Yes, they know it. But we will be well into you're country by the time they caught us." Grizz looked at me and I asked, "Benton what's in it for ya? Ya know we just can't let you ride out now. So I ask ya, what's in dis thing fer ya ?" I saw Benton looking along the sky line toward where he thought the Mounites would be. "I told ya I don't trust ya as fer as I can throw ya. Don't make me prove it Benton !" I said. I was holding my leg as it was and had been hurting alot. Crying One came over and put some moss on both sides of my leg. "This will heal you." she said to me. I allowed my hand to drift down to me wound and she slapped my hand. "No.....You do not touch. Only I !"

 

"How about that, Benton ? What's in it for you ?" Grizz demanded to know. "I would like to become an American !" Benton said with pride. "You can not be American. We are American !" I said motoining to Grizz, myself and the Sioux. "It would be a great honor to be a citizen of you're great country." Grizz responded, "I'll see what I can do. I know some pepole in the U.S. Now, Benton if you don't mind, we best get moving."

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As Hawk had ridden off to scout, Grizz sat down and let the Apache woman attend to his shoulder, it was throbbing pretty bad.

 

Obermann had learned to keep his mouth shut, and with each of his outbursts he got kicked, punched, and spit on from his former captives.

 

Grizz talked with two of the older women captives who could hear. It was as he'd suspected, they were mothers of children who had come to check on their deaf kids, and had found out the truth and been taken captive. "What we need to do is get you folks to safety, is there someplace close you can go where you trust the people?" Grizz asked. There was a nearby town where one had relatives, about a half day walk as there weren't horses for everyone. Grizz picked the lady with the relatives and put her on a horse and sent her for wagons, and men, there were kids who would not have been able to make the walk due to sichness.

 

The fact that the girl who has helped them in the tunnel didn't trust Benton was troubling Grizz, so he had her come over so he could talk to her. Signing back and forth he learned that it was the uniform, and not the man that she didn't trust. Grizz could only assume that she'd seen Dirk had been at the trading post and she'd seen him conspiring with Obermann.

 

About that time Hawk and Benton rode in. Benton knew of a way out of Canada so Grizz could take Obermann back without any interference from the mounties, and Benton wanted to come along...

 

"I sent one of the ladies to a town near here where she has kin, they should be back soon with wagons to get these kids to safety" Grizz told them.

 

"You reckon we can trust the kin folk?" Hawk asked. "She does, and besides we can't handle all these kids ourselves." Grizz said "and we can't stick around too much longer afore the mounties come looking for Obermann.

 

Grizz pulled Hawk aside and they walked out to the edge of the clearing. "Dirk may have had others in the mounties that were working with him, I can't chance one of them coming to try and rescue Obermann, we need to get moving as soon as we can" Grizz told him in hushed tones.

 

Hawk nodded agreement. "And you trust Benton not to lead us into an ambush?"

 

"Yes and no" Grizz had to admit. Grizz felt a connection with the young mountie as he reminded him of himself when he was younger, but there were few men Grizz trusted completely, so few you could count them on one hand. "Obermann's network up here was more extensive than I expected, and we can't overlook the possibility that he'll have people loyal to him looking for us once we get back to the US"

 

Hawk leaned in close "Two Crows and several braves will shadow us til we get to the border, but just keep that under yer hat."

 

With some food in his belly and his shoulder tended to, Grizz was getting antsy to get moving. He checked and rechecked the gear on his horse, and then moved to the horse Obermann would be on, one of the ones they'd ridden out of the trading post. Grizz hadn't noticed the saddle bags on it before. Inside was a large amount of money, they must have been preparing to leave even before Grizz had caught up with them in the post.

 

As Grizz was fussing with the gear, that same girl stayed at his side. He learned her name was Jexxica. She had no family to speak of and kept begging for Grizz to take her with him. Part of Grizz wanted to, but his life was not one to be raising a young girl, and what did he know about being a parent anyway? And besides, getting Obermann back to Denver for trial was going to be a long hard trip at best, and a bloody nightmare at the worst.

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I had delivered Benton to the man I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt would put a bullet in him if Benton showed any sign of betrail. Grizz was little my people tend to his shoulder when I rode in. We talked abit, making adjustments on our plan now. So far, the plan was shot to hell and we where wingin' it, doing what we could to stay alive.

 

After Grizz told me he thought Obermann's operation was much larger than he had thought, I almost as soon as he said that, thought of the men in the US hunting us, maybe even hunting us now. I didn't like it, not no nary bit. So I had Two Crows and a few of his braves shadow us to the border. But they would not cross. That part of their lives has died.

 

"Grizz, I can see you want to go. Don't blame ya none nether." I said rubbing my leg wound. It had started bleeding again. I didn't tell Crying One or Grizz. They had enough on thier plates. "I refill my canteen and grab a fist full of jerked meat and be off to check on that wagon !" I un saddled my horse and slipped on the Appy, bare back,..took my 1860 Henry rilfe, brass tacks lining the stock and a eagle feather tied to where the sling used to be. The bridle was weave of horse hair and bone, I looked more red than white at this time and it scared some of the ex-captives. I started out, Grizz stood, grabbing the bridle and said to me, "Hawk, got a bad feeling bout this. You be careful !" All I could do was nod, and rode off. Now matter how hard I tryed to hide something about myself from Grizz, he always samed to know something was up.

 

I tracked the horse Grizz had loaned the women to te town she said she had kin in. I watched and waited but nothing happened. I watched and waited till bout 12:30 in the morning, I saw a women in fresh new cloths, lead a team of horses to a wagon, hicth them up and then lead the to the edge of town. The moon was very bright that night and I was surpised I wasn't seen as well. Once out of town, the women jumped to the drivers seat and without thought, made the horses run as fast as they could with that wagon.

 

I followed a ways back to make sure she was not followed untill Grizz and I wanted to be followed. It wasn't long till she entered the camp where Grizz was. She was smiling and pating as if out of breath . She put the brake on, tied off the reins, jumped down and said, "Mr Marshal, just like I said. I would bring back a wagon for us !" Then she saw me ride in and screamed at the top of her lungs, gethering the young ones around her as a mother hen would do for her chicks.

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I was riding bareback, with horse and human hair reins with bone, turkey feather waved in. Plus I had my hat on my back, and my hair was down. When she screamed, my Appy just stood there, and I was taken back by Grizz's look......like he'd seen a ghost. My buckskins where well wore, and a very large stain on my thight part of the buckskins. And it smelled too.

 

I silde off my horse and walked up to Grizz. The pain was intense, but I covered it well. "She went straight to her home, and back here. No local law or men workin' fer Obermann comin'." I said. The women was surpised at my english speaking and looked to Grizz. Grizz seemed to snap out of it and looked at the women and said, "My deputy. He may come off rough at times, but I have put my life in his hands many times."

 

I worked over to the small fire and started some coffee cooking. "No time for that Hawk. We best be moving !" I went ahead with what I was doing and, without missing a beat I said, "Tat's just what Obermann and his men and dem Mouties think too. So, ifin' you want to ride out der and try to fight'em all, be my guest. I think I'll stay put to just before sunup...and have some coffee. I'm tired Grizz!" "Ok Hawk, I hear ya.....We'll stay put...for now. But I need to know what did you see out there ?"

 

"Well, first off, the Mounties are riding back to their fort, slowly, as if dey be trackin' somethin' or some one. And , second, dem injuns are camped near our route, aint no way around'em wif dat wagon. Dey expect us to high tail it out of here and back to da US. Why don't we set right here till almost sunup and move east fer a day and den head south fer da border."

 

I adjusted my buckskin pants, the blood stain getting larger and smelling worse, but no one seemed to notice except the little girl holding onto Grizz's paw like hand. I put my figner up to my lips and made a "Shissss !" motion with my finger. She didn't respond but she didn't tell Grizz nether. I walked over to my horse, rubbing her down, picking her hoofs and curyin' and combin' her. I then put a feed bag on her head, promted us beside her, and packed more moss onto my wound. It looked infected, even in the woods filtered moonlight, and it stank as well. "I'll git it check out when we're back on America soil."

 

I walked over to the fire, sweat was starting to bead on my forehead. I pulled out my Dragoons, checked'em out and pulled my rifle, levered a round, then topped it off. I saw the women un-hich the team and all the captives had settled down. They had reailzed we wasn't going anywhere till almost sunup.

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Grizz pulled Hawk aside and out of earshot of the rest of the group.

 

"Well, can we trust her?"

 

Grizz would have preferred to take the group to someone he knew and trusted to care for them until they could be placed in a better situation. But being in Canada, not only did he not know who he could trust, he didn't have time to figure it out. He needed to get Obermann and high tail back across the border. The sooner Obermann was in jail in Denver, and then hung the better.

 

"C'mon Hawk, do tell, I ain't got all day!"

 

 

 

NOTE

Afraid that may just do it for me for a while, tomorrow I'll be packing up the buckboard and heading to TX Tuesday morning. I'll have a laptop and may be able to log in a post a chapter, but don't count on it, I might be a tad busy at the Comin' at Cha dust up down to the Badlands Bar 3. :D And judging from the short chapter above, my brain is already there.

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I thought hard of what I saw and how she went about doing it. I could see that the women we where talking about.....the women who had just challgened me, had been very cunning at folling the folks she was staying with. And the same folks that she stole that wagon and team from. Maybe those folks would wanted her charged with horse theift. Witch was still a hanging offense here.

 

"I did not see any thing amiss, Lady ! Are you a spy ? I do not think so. Are you a horse theif ? Maybe . Be one thing is very clear. You aint goin' back, we'll taking all y'all cross the border into ta US. And I will kept my eye on you, dear lady. You seem much to cocky and jumpy here as of late. Think I'll see what happens !" I said smiling at her.

 

Grizz chimed in. "Hawk,...You think we can get them folks and Obermann to Denver in one piece ? That wasn't it the plan at all. Getting Obermann was !" I said, "Grizz,....I'll make it my busness to watch over those folks.....You on the other hand.....You need to make it you're bussiness to keep Obermann under controll till we get to Denver !" I said to him, placing my right hand on his left shoulder. "Hawk...you smell that ? Smells like rotten meat !" I shook my head no and walked on.

 

I sat down next to the fire and poured myself a hot cup of coffee. I wiped the sweat off my forehand and sipped the dark brew. My leg was hurting like hell. But Grizz needed me now more than ever. And with Obermann's operstions as large as they where, I could not trust any townsfolk or the local sawbones. My wound didn't even itch, which was a very bad sign. Just wonder how much longer I could pull this off, before someone reailzes what has happened.

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Between the look on Hawks face and the smell of his wound, Grizz knew it wasn't good. In the war the field medics would have taken the leg off for less.

 

Grizz turned away and was met by crying one with a concerned look on her face. Grizz smiled and nodded and went to his saddle bags and pulled out a bottle of laudanum.

 

"Hawk, get yer boney arse up in that wagon and let yer woman tend to it, or I'm gonna knock ya out and put cha there my own self!"

 

Hawk started to try and protest but looking at the determined looks on Grizz's and Crying Ones faces let him know he'd best do what he was told.

 

Grizz didn't have time to think, just act. While he didn't like to do it, Grizz was pretty good at coming up with plans on the fly, and they ussually turned out just as good, sometimes better than ones he'd had a chance to think through. He called the rag tag group together and laid it out for them, both speaking and doing his best in sign language.

 

"We're heading across the border, those who have folks here we'll drop you off at the next town, those who ain't can come with us."

 

Most of the kids were orphans who had been placed in the deaf school because the orphanage wasn't equipped to handle their special needs. There were a few kids who had been placed there by well meaning parents who thought the kids would get an education and be trained to make a better life for themselves. Those few one of the speaking ladies volunteered to take charge of and see that they were returned to their families.

 

The woman who had gotten the wagon slipped up whispered to Grizz, "take my daughter and me please, when I went to get the wagon I found my husband with my sister, I don't want to go back." "Suit yerself" Grizz said as he was mentally off thinking about other details.

 

"Put the sick in the wagon" Grizz ordered, "the rest will have to walk until we can buy more horses and another wagon." The money in Obermanns saddle bags would buy what they needed and much more.

 

As Grizz paced around seeing that everyone was getting ready, he realized his had a shadow, it was the girl from the tunnel. Seeing that she had his attention, she signed "can I go with you? I have no one here." Grizz touched her head gently and then signed "of course you can."

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BTT to keep it on page one.

 

If Hawk does one this evening, I might just have another chapter for tonight if the kids don't keep me too busy ringing the bell wanting candy.

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About two hours before sunup, I hitched the team to the wagon, and told the lady who got the wagon to get all the young ones and the sick into the wagon. It was going to almost impossible to hide the tracks from the Mounties and who ever mybe trailing us for that matter. Grizz saddled his horse and while I was saddling my horse he asked, "How's that leg ?" And I fired right back, "How's yur shoulder ?"

 

I then rode out to the north east while Grizz and the Sioux braves went due east. I was better at scouting. Since I have Crying One, I must pay it safe as possible, if not for me, then her. But this time it was unavoidable. I was as quite as I could be, blackened my face, the lower half, the upper half, I left it alone. While riding, I put one red stripe down my nose, and two red stripes under each eye. I was the face of death. In the sweat lodge, Grizz heard the voice of death. Now through experience, I am death !!

 

I came up to the town where the woman had gotten the wagon. Folks where going about they're daily chores. Wifes where cooking breakfast, boys where feeding livestock, and men where going to or coming from the outhouse. I could smell coffee and I smelled my leg. God, did it ever smell !! I hope it didn't give me away. As I looked into the woods, and I thought I saw eyes, stareing at me. I just shook it off.

 

I rode quitely on, looking for any sign that would lead to an ambush, or trouble. The sun was coming over the hill top now. I saw movement in the buffalo herd. Movement that was not natrual. I pulled my spyglass from my saddle bag and took a look. "Mounties" I thought to myself. I saw a big bull fall and a few secounds later heard the report of a long gun firing. They where hunting for a sizeable troop, maybe a fort. And I still felt eyes, burning hot on me. I started to sweat.

 

I slipped down of my horse and limbed along, not wanting to be noticed by the Mounties. I knew I'd find sign and I did. It was sign of the Mounties, riding and hunting....and they had a wagon with them ! I just realized how we could cover the tracks the wagon would make as it moved east. The Mounties where riding and hunting going west. I'll just pick up the trail they left and followed it. I dared not get any closer, least the smell of my leg give me away. I reached into my other saddlebag and pulled out more moss and stuffed it in and on my wound.

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Grizz had Oberman on a horse, and tied his feet to the stirrups.

 

"But if I fall off I'll be dragged!" Obermann protested. "Moron" Grizz spat back at him, "if both feet are tied in, ya can't fall off"

 

The going was slow with part of the group walking. And even slower as they were sticking to back trails to avoid any questions.

 

About mid day they came to a fork where the group going home would split off. Grizz hated to let them go, for when they hit town there would be questions, and lots of them. But Grizz couldn't, he wouldn't be a party to taking a child away from kin folk who wanted them. After all, that's basically what Obermann had done. Grizz instructed the woman to tall them that the rest were going on, first to a town to the east for supplies, then south. He only hoped that whoever was listening would fall for the classic misdirect. Though if not, they weren't exactly going the other obvious route either.

 

With that group on their way home, they were still in need of another wagon and horses. Benton knew of a farm where they could get them, with minimal questions if the price was right, but it would be well after nightfall before they got there at the current pace.

 

As the sun started to fade from the sky Grizz called a halt. The slow pace wasn't very taxing on the horses, but even taking shifts walking it was on the others.

 

Grizz and Benton alone would go buy the wagon and a team and as many saddle horses as they could and return. Hawk protested staying behind, but Grizz managed to convince him, though in his own mind, he knew that Hawk wouldn't be far away if there was trouble at the farm.

 

Hawk stayed hidden well, but Grizz could smell that wound, and wondered if Benton did as well. The farm was as Benton had said, and they bought a wagon, team, and six saddle horses and tack. Grizz bartered the sale down to a fair amount, and then produced a sum to bring it back up to the asking price, "and you never saw us."

 

"Saw who?" the old timer grinned patting his pile of bills.

 

As they drove the wagon and stock back to where the others were, Grizz only hoped that they hadn't killed Obermann, lord knew that all had good reason to. When they arrived Obermann was alive, but showed a few new bruises. "You just can't keep yer trap shut can ya?" Grizz laughed at him.

 

After some jerky and bread, they hit the trail again by the moonlight. Best to get out of the more populated places while any sensible folk were asleep. They tied some pine boughs to the back wagon to sweep the trail clean, a dead give away, but it would at least hide their numbers, and a little wind would take away enough sign that most whites couldn't follow them.

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I told Grizz, that the party was moving on by moon light, that I would scout ahead....see what's out there. He nodded and motioned to my leg. "How you holding up Hawk ? I can smell you're wound and I know you can too." I was sweating badly now. I took out a piece of jerky and chewed on it. As I sidle up onto my horse, I looked Grizz in the eye and signed to him, "I am Death. Look on me no more for now !" And Grizz signed by, "I know....just as it was in the sweat lodge."

 

I spured my horse and rode out in front of the party in the moon light. The moon was bright as day and stars lite up a bright cloudless night. It was easy to make out figures out in the open, so Grizz had them stay to the back trails..I stayed in the back trails also, looking for trouble. And sign....and I found sign. I spured my horse on a little harder. The sign lead to a fork in the trail. Sign showed me hoof prints going down one trail and boot prints running up the other then off in the brush.

 

I dismounted and trailed the boot prints on foot. Most white man wouldn't be able to see these tracks. Told me this man was white. And the prints where not too deep. This told me the man was light or lighter than normal. I could still smell my wound. I had to get up wind so he would never smell it. As I circled round, I found a clear stop to attack. the wind was in my face. He had sat his rifle up agasint a tree, tested the wind, cleared some brush, and turned to retrive his rilfe. That's when he saw the face of death. With one quick swipe, I had cut his throat and the next I had his scalp before he hit the ground.

 

As I watched the life leave his body, I felt the same eyes on me, much closer now.

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Grizz knew that he'd have to soon get Hawk on a wagon and have a look at that wound himself. Even ith The Sioux along, Grizz still needed Hawk scouting out the trail ahead, traveling at night with wagons limited where you could go, and left you wide open to ambush.

 

Obermann was asleep in the saddle, for him trouble from the woods would only mean escape for him, so why bother being on alert.

 

Crying One eased her horse up next to Grizz and rode in silence for a while. "His leg is bad" she said. "My medicine doesn't seem to be helping it, or not fast enough anyway."

 

"We need medicine from a town" Grizz told her, "and need to cut into the wound and clean it out, and we need to keep him off that leg for a day or two."

 

Crying one rolled her eyes "that'll be the day."

 

"Well that day had better come soon or we'll have to cut off the leg before it kills him." Grizz told her not mincing his words. Anyone other than Hawk he'd have knocked out and cut off the leg already, but he'd seen Hawk pull through things that would have killed other men several times over.

 

As the light of dawn started to grow, Benton caught sight of horses on the trail, two had taken the fork to the right, another, un shod, he wasn't table to tell where it had gone.

 

"That would be Hawk" Grizz said. It wasn't a guess, it was just fact. "Should we check on those other two? They may mean us harm." Benton asked.

 

"No need" Hawk said riding in, two fresh scalps hung on his saddle.

 

Several of the woman and girls in the wagons gasped.

 

They veered off the trail making sure to cover the wagon tracks and stopped for a few hours. Grizz rode off, reportedly to stretch his horses legs, but did not come back for what seemed like a really long time.

 

When he did come back, he had whiskey and laudanum and bandages. Grizz took out his knife and heated it up over the small fire.

 

"You ain't touchin me wit dat, no suh" Hawk protested.

 

That's when Crying One hit him over the lead with a log.

 

Grizz lifted Hawk into the wagon and worked as quickly as he could, putting some belt leather in Hawk's mouth lest he break his own teeth. Several braves held Hawk's arms and legs, and Crying one poured laudanum down his throat each time he started to come around.

 

The best, safest thing to do would have been to take the leg off, but Grizz just couldn't do it. cutting away the dead tissue, he cleaned it out as best he could, sealing any blood vessels with the hot knife.

 

As he bandaged the wound, he directed everyone to mount up, they needed to get moving. Several of the Sioux braves rode out front to scout and they were once again underway. Crying one rode in the wagon with Hawk.

 

There would be hell to pay when Hawk woke up and got back on his feet, but at least he'd be on his own two feet Grizz thought to himself as they made their way down the trail.

 

Grizz dozed in the saddle with the warm morning sun on his face.

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As the drug started to take affect, I had dreams of death. It was all around. I could see it, feel it, smell it and taste it. And as the wagon bounded it's way along, I could feel death's sting, smoke of burning flesh. I thought I saw Crying One and thought some one was trying to hurt her, but I could not move. I could feel something flowing down my throat. It tasteed like death before, but now, I welcomed my old friend with open arms.

 

I could hear Grizz talking to Crying One, "We may have to cut off his leg to keep him alive." I opened my mouth to say "NOOO !" but was fulled that warn liquid again. I was almost drowning in the stuff. The warn sun om my face made me want to sleep, but the wagon jolting around and some one puring that sweet liquid down my throat, made staying awake almost impossible..........Almost.

 

Grizz was cutting away the dead and dieing shin off om leg, leaving a gaping hole, that he sealed up with that hot knife blade. As the wagon bouced around, I could not tale if he had cut off my leg or not. I tryed reaching for my dragoon pistol, but mt arms felt as if they where made of lead now. I know I could not kill Grizz. He was my brother. Not a single white man, to my knowlege, had made it out of the sweat lodge alive and in sound mind. But if he had cut off my leg, I damn well will mame him.

 

I tryed to open my eyes and I saw Crying One smiling down at me. "Shhhh !" she said to me. "Rest now, my husband." I tryed to say "Ok" and again the liquid flowed into me.

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