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J. Mark Flint #31954 LIFE

In Cahoots or out for revenge . . .

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Chapter 1

 

Smoke drifted across the lake, looking like fog almost, but the smell told another story. Bitter and acrid, the smell of kerosene and burning flesh ripped at my nostrils.  I soaked my bandanna and pulled it over my face, trying to filter out the smell.  Thunder didn't care for it much either, so we turned south and began a wide circle around to where we could approach from the leeward side.  It took the better part of two hours before we arrived.  I slid my Hawken out of the scabbard and dropped Thunder's reins to the ground.  There wasn't much left of the cabin and what was there was still smoldering.

 

I began walking a wide circle around the property, looking for sign.  It was easy enough to find the trail of a half dozen horses heading east, but something told me to keep looking.  I completed the loop of the area without seeing anything else, but my instincts told me to keep looking.  Then I saw it,  a pattern on the ground as if someone had swept away their tracks. Gathering up Thunder, I followed with some caution, but more curiosity as the tracks disappeared into rocks.  With more effort I continued until I found the trail again, no longer covered, but clearly moving at a fast pace as the small footprints stretched for a good distance between steps.

 

Whoever it was had turned and was heading easterly on what looked to be an intercept course with the other trail.  In cahoots or out for revenge, who could say?  but I was going to follow along and figure it out.  So I followed the rest of the afternoon, then built a cold camp.  The area was full of game and I patted my Hawken as I laid it across my bedroll and bit off a piece of jerky and began to chew as I inspected the Paterson revolver.  I would have preferred to have reloaded it, but discharging it now seemed a poor idea, so I carefully removed the percussion caps and replaced them.

 

I gave Thunder a feedbag of oats and spoke softly to him "Thunder, I don't know what we've run up on, but I guess we'll find out tomorrow."  I patted him and went to lie down using my saddle as a poor excuse for a pillow.  Even though the smell of the evergreens was strong, after a bit I noticed another smell-wood smoke and roasting pheasant. My quarry was nearby,  I settled in to wait a few hours. Hopefully, they would sleep.

 

I figured the time to be about 3 am when I finally decided to take a closer look.  In the dark movement was difficult and slow.  I doubt I covered a half mile before dawn.  I found the small remnants of a fire and some feathers, but the camp was abandoned.  With light coming up I went back and packed up my camp.  I could see no reason to hurry,  my quarry was heading to a wide open plain from the foot of the mountains clear to the far side of Kansas.  I'd find out what was going on soon enough.

 

Chapter 2

 

Big fat snow flakes were falling by lunchtime. Now you might think tracking in the snow is easier, and well it is when the tracks are preceded by the snow, but snow covers tracks quickly.  whoever it was ahead of me was in for a damn cold night.  I took a swig of whisky to ease the aches in my bones. It would be a cold night for me too if I didn't build a fire, and from the looks of things there wasn't going to be much from which to build one. 

 

I ground hobbled Thunder and gave him a quarter portion of feed as I gathered what I could find of burnable wood and wrapped it in an oilcloth.  No point in following now.  Too much snow to see last night's tracks and not enough to make tracking easy.  So I gathered as much wood as I could find and returned to camp.  By mid afternoon the snow had blanketed the ground in a good 4-5 inches of powder.  I pushed Thunder to an easy lope and we veered south a bit for a good mile or so and then turned north in an arc trying to cross a trail.  2 miles up and still no sign, but the sun was getting low in the sky and I had no more than an hour to find the trail or it would be dark.  I turned back towards the south in a looping arc and put another mile or so behind me with no sign.

 

I decided to set up camp and build my fire.  If my presence was unknown so far,  whoever had fled the cabin might just walk right into a camp in hopes of a meal and some heat.  Either way I was too damn old for a cold camp two nights in a row.  I built a small fire and gave Thunder the rest of today's oats as the salt pork warmed in the skillet.  With the pork warm and some hardtack to soak up the grease I made a meal of sorts for myself.  The meager supply of wood wasn't going to last the night and I wasn't equipped for too many nights like this.  If I didn't cut trail tomorrow, I'd have to head for a town and resupply.

 

Chapter 3

 

Morning came and I packed up my camp.  Thunder and I started back on a zig zag looking for tracks in the fresh snow, but the constant wind off the foothills made tracking almost pointless.  I kept at it, but  by noon I had found nothing.  Worse yet, while I knew I was in eastern Colorado Territory, I wasn't exactly sure of where I was relative to a town.  I knew I was south of the Santa Fe trail so I turned north and held my course using my compass.  Three hours later, Thunder stepped onto the trail and I spent the next few minutes trying to decide which way would lead me to Bent's Post, a small trading post that had been around for decades even out here in the middle of nowhere.  A wrong choice here would mean another night in a cold camp, or worse yet a run in with the local natives.  Arapaho, Cheyenne and other tribes all were known in the area as well as Apache and a few other tribes shipped out west by the Federals.  Arapaho or Comanche and I would be welcome-the rest would probably just kill me on site.  With that thought I emptied the Paterson and reloaded it with a fresh charge in each cylinder.  When done, I did the same for my hawken.  As I reloaded I heard a shot in the distance followed by a second and a third.  I turned towards the shots and slowly approached their point of origin.  Soon I smelled smoke, and meat cooking.  Finally through the dark I could make out a few lights.  If it wasn't Bent's Post it might be trouble, but I was tired and cold and out of whisky.  Thunder could use a shelter for the night and I could use a bed that was cold and wet.

 

Chapter 4

 

As I rode up, I recognized the surrounding area, but the Post itself was different, now it was 3 cabins in a u shaped arrangement with a stone trading post in the center.  I headed to the stone building as light shown in the window.  I shouted out "hello the Post" and the door opened. and I was waved in.  As I stepped in, I saw the post was mostly empty except for the the thin man who had waved me in.  He approached me as I pulled off my coat and gloves.  I looked at him a moment "William Post?  Is that you?  It's been a while."

 

He looked at me hard " Kekwajoo, it has been a long time, what brings you so far east?"  I looked around the post as I answered "Luck I suppose, not sure what kind though.  The post is new, what happened?"  He frowned "Had to burn it down 2 years ago, Cholera outbreak."  At this sound my ears perked up  "Cholera you say? any more problems since then?"  William Post looked down "If you mean Cholera outbreaks, no, haven't heard of any, but. . ."  He trailed off and took a deep breath  "You ever heard of a Preacher named Garth?  He's got a few sons that ride with him-crazy folks. He's been swearing that the cholera is still around-rumor has it they may have burned a few homesteads with the people inside to stop a future outbreak"

 

I thought long and hard about that-might it be that simple an answer to what was going on?  "How many of them ride together Will?"  He frowned "Just the three of them. but they've been known to liberate horses. Why?"

 

"it's that luck thing, I came across a burned cabin-wouldn't have thought about it too much, but found some tracks, half dozen horses heading away and a single set of footprints-smallish, maybe a youngster that looked to be trying to catch up to the horses.  I lost the trail a day and a half ago when the snow came down.  Tell you what, let me buy a drink and a meal and if you have a room for the night I'll take that too."  He smiled, "I'll tend to your horse, Kekwajoo, and we'll go get a drink and a meal shortly.  As to a room, you'll have to share, but you'll get your own bed."

 

Chapter 5

 

Above the crackling of the fire in the cast iron stove, they both heard a soft noise in the distance. It was a stealthy sound, almost as quiet as a Comanche knife across the throat of an unwary Texian. They weren’t sure they heard it, more than sensed it.

 

As they were moseying off for a drink, Kekwajoo couldn’t shake the furtive sound. He thought about the legendary Rougarou, but he knew the beast was tied to the swamps of Louisiana, where he once traded a horn of powder for some gator hides.

 

He thought about the fearsome Slide-Rock Bolter, but quickly dismissed it, due to the noise that huge beast must make. But he just couldn’t shake the feeling something was not right. “William, have you been having Shoshone trouble in the area,” asked Kekwajoo? Post answered, “No, why do you ask?” Kekwajoo replied, “The sound we heard earlier has put me on my guard.”

 

William grunted, spit out a stream tobacco juice, backhanded his mouth and said, “Aw that is probably just Crazy Joe. He lives out there in the bush. It is rumored he was raised by a pack of wolves. He’ll eat anything from rats to elk. Tried to trade some rat pelts for some lead balls one time. He’s mad as a hatter, but he is harmless.”

 

Chapter 6

 

I headed out to the stables to see that my horse and gear were properly handled.  I retrieved the bundle of mink pelts and threw them over my shoulder.  I turned my saddle over and opened the hidden compartment and gathered the gold dust and nuggets collected over the fall and slipped them into my pocket.  In the morning there would be trading to conduct and hopefully I could replace my pack horse, which I had to put down after an unfortunate encounter with an old grizzly sow. 

 

I headed in to my room and found that my roommate was a fellow named John Morrissey, a bare knuckle brawler headed east after a few years of spending time in the gold camps of California.  He was an affable fellow, but snored rather loudly.  It took a moment and a few swallows of whiskey to drown out the noise and I went to sleep, head on a pillow again for the first time in nearly a year.

 

Chapter 7

 

Breakfast was fresh eggs and plenty of them.  Afterwards I went out and sat on the front porch of the store and had a cigar.  I chewed more than I puffed and after it went out for the third time I put it away and went to find William to see if he had a pack horse for sale.  William frowned "No, but I have a matched pair of mules if you are interested-trade em even for that flea bait you rode in on." he offered.  I smiled "How about I pay you $30.00 for the pair in gold dust"  William shrugged  "Kek-I'll take $50.00, not a penny less, but I'll throw in their pack saddles and a weeks feed for both"  I shook my head no "Two weeks feed for the mules AND my horse AND myself-and not just beans and hardtack." and I crossed my arms.  William Bent chuckled "I suppose, but only because I don't want anyone to see you hanging around here too long.  Bad for business you know." 

 

I paid and searched through thae goods, collecting blankets and a waterproofed tarp and other odds and ends until the two mules packs would be fairly full and then inquired about supplies for my guns.  William put together what I asked for and pulled out from under the counter an 1851 Colt revolver "First one I've gotten, isn't she a beauty!"  I picked it up and tried the action and pointed it.  "Nice weapon, you have a holster to fit it?"  He nodded and pulled out a plain holster with a flap, that would cover the gun from inclement weather.  He also pulled out a bag of appropriate sized lead balls for the gun.  "You can shoot it out back-After you settle your bill."  He pulled out his scale and set it for 4 ounces.   I reached over and set it for 3 and then I poured gold dust til it balanced.  "Nope-its gonna take 4 ounces for all this."  I frowned "Fair enough, but first lets check the calibration on your scale."  He frowned "Take your stuff and go you cheap old bastard."  I frowned "I may be all three, but you left out the one that most people include and that's murderous, so watch your tongue or I'll cut it out next time."  He pulled his sawed off shotgun from under the counter and pointed it at me.  I slapped it out of his hands taking the gun.  "Next time remember to cock it."  I fired both barrels into the ceiling and went to the stable to pack my gear.

 

Chapter 8

 

As I left Bent's Post,  i looked at the sky, clear and blue it looked peaceful and serene.  The hard winds blowing were anything but.  I headed for the mountains, returning home.  Who ever I had followed had disappeared and it was pointless to waste my time now.  If they were dead, there was nothing I could do that nature would not handle.  If they were alive still, after being caught in a snow storm on foot and likely with few supplies, they would have had to have found help.  So as I gave up my quest, I chuckled to myself at the fact that I had, for a time again, tried to be noble and do the right thing.  I unconsciously hunched my shoulders feeling my shirt rub across scars from long ago.  I had tried to do the right thing then too.  It was 1836 and Colonel Travis had been assigned to the Alamo mission.  I was working as a scout and reported the approaching Mexican troops weeks before they began to arrive.  Travis insisted I keep the information to myself, but I did not. I was a civilian scout, so I figured, I wasn't bound to follow his orders.  He saw it differently and I was indeed bound and given 40 lashes.  I imagine he would have killed me if Colonel Crockett and his Tennesseans hadn't arrived at that point.  I was stuck in a wagon and hauled away, rather than being allowed to recuperate at the mission.  I remember the Alamo and all the good men lost because William Travis was an arrogant ass.

 

 

 

I was brought out of my memories by the sight of a young man sitting by the trail.  I eased to a stop and looked him over.  He looked to be 13 or 14 years of age with a bit of peach fuzz developing.  Tall and wiry he looked at me with cold eyes, and I instinctively shivered.  It was like staring at a big cat that was about to attack.  The boy's eyes were the same gold color. hardly blinking and never turning away.  "You alright boy?" I asked simply.

 

He continued to stare "Cold and hungry, but that's not your problem Mister."  I swung down and opened a pack retrieving a heavy shirt and slicker.  "Here, give me a few minutes and I'll build us a fire and see what we can do about the hungry part.  You think you can gather some wood?"  He nodded warily as he wrapped the shirt around him. "Yes Sir, why are you helping me?"

 

I smiled "I'm called Kekwajoo, indians gave me the name a long time ago.  I believe you ran from a cabin by a lake, burned by a Preacher and his sons maybe?"  He nodded "You followed me, thought you were with them."  I nodded,  "Came upon the smoke, never knew about them until the other night.  didn't know who was out there alone. Tried to do the right thing, though to be honest, it has never served me well.  Was that your Ma and Pa they killed?"  He gathered wood as we talked and shook his head "No, they took me in a few years ago after my folks died of the pox.  But they were good to me and I aim to find their killers and make them pay."  His anger was clear and he didn't sound like a child at that point.

 

We built a fire and I pulled out some of the stores and cooked up enough for myself and the boy to each have a meal.  He gobbled the food up and asked for more.  I passed him my half eaten plate of food. "Finish this, I don't have enough food for two, we'll have to make it last if we are going on a manhunt."  He cleaned his plate and handed it back. "I didn't ask for you to deal yourself in."

 

"No you didn't, but men killing and burning homes out here will stir up trouble and innocent people will get hurt, so I'm dealing myself in. You may be ferocious and all, but I'm going to come along anyway.  If you don't like it, Bent's Post is about 6 miles up the trail, Mr. Bent might let you work for a meal or two.

 

He looked at me "Kekwajoo-I hope I said it right,  I'm going to kill those men myself.  Sell me a mule and a gun and go on your way."  I looked at him and almost considered his proposal.

 

Chapter 9

 

It was clear the boy was out for blood and that if left to his own devices someone was going to end up dead.  That fact didn't particularly bother me, but if preacher Garth and his boys were allowed to continue their activity, someone would end up going to war with the indian tribes and this territory would pay bloody hell.  There was little law in the area,  I chuckled at the idea that I would be the one trying to uphold it.

 

The boy tossed and turned in his sleep, me, I watched him sleep, well aware that I knew nothing of what he might be capable.  When morning broke I put a pot of coffee on and he woke up and came to the fire.  "Mornin', coffee'll be hot in a few minutes. What should I call you young feller?"  He looked at me with a squint. "Give me a gun and a mule and you won't have to be bothered with a name.  I'll send you payment when I can."  I chuckled and retrieved a spare cup and tossed it to him.  "I believe you would, but that is not gonna happen today. You have a name, or shall I call you 'Boy' for the rest of our trip?"

 

He looked mad, seething in fact, gritting his teeth. "This ain't our trip, you aren't invited."

 

I nodded my head understandingly.  "Fine, keep the shirt and the slicker, but the mule stays with me.  In the meantime, I intend to hunt those men down and kill them as quickly as I can."

 

He sat down by the fire and poured another cup of coffee.  He'd gotten under my skin and I'm not proud of what I did next, but i kicked the coffee cup away from him. "Get on your way boy. You don't want my hospitality-fine, but you damn sure aren't gonna insult me by not giving me a name while you eat my food and drink my coffee."

 

The boy stood up and was nearly as tall as I, he was thin, maybe 150 pounds soaking wet.  I was twice his size and 4 times his age and he gave me the chills. "Kekwajoo is a nick name, you haven't told me yours either, but you win.  My given name is Joe. Not Joseph-Joe.  My guardians called me J. Mark on account of he was Joe too. Now, if we are going to ride together you need to give me your word that I get first crack at killing those men, and when the time comes you'll give me a gun."

 

I shook my head "No, I won't do that."  I pulled a small bag of gold dust and tossed it to the boy.  "Bent's Post is 6 miles that way" I said pointing "That's enough money to get you a ride to a city, or to buy a gun and a bit of gear. Use it as you will."

 

With that I swung on to Thunder and wrapped the lead rope for the mules around the pommel and headed west. I looked back and the young man was gone.

 

 

Chapter 10

 

I felt like I had failed with the young man, but some people were stubborn beyond reason.  I stayed on the trail the rest of the day and built a camp shortly before nightfall.  There wasn't a lot of wood, but enough for a small fire.  The site had been used before and there was already a stone ring with ashes and even some partially burned wood.  I struck a lucifer and lit a bit of grass and twigs and watched as the fire came to life.  I lit a cigar and puffed until it was burning easily.  I took my knife and punctured the lid of a can of peaches, pouring the juice into my cup and drinking it before widening the opening enough to dig out the fruit.  Come morning, I'd reach the foothills and put this business behind me.

 

Morning came and I broke camp and mounted up.  As I rode I saw tracks crossing the trail.  I got down and examined them.  The edges were crumbling, these weren't fresh, but they were distinct enough.  3 days old maybe four, 3 horses with riders, three without.  Headed south towards a number of canyons in the area.  I couldn't say whether finding the trail was good luck or bad, but only that it was found and I felt obliged to follow it.

 

Chapter 11

 

I followed the trail as it would around around the Arkansas River returning to the river a number of times within a short distance.  Several times I saw holes dug in the earth.  Each time the hole was 6 feet deep, like a grave, but much wider than any grave would be.  After finding the third such hole I started to wonder and tried to draw a map of everything around each hole.  When I found the fourth hole, I realized that there was a tree 10 paces due east of each hole, but there was something else, 10 paces in the opposite direction was a small pile of rocks hastily scattered.  They weren't searching, they were retrieving something and they were moving at a fast pace.  If I kept my route along the river and got lucky I might find out what the hell was going on.

 

Two days later I cut across their tracks, the mules were showing signs of a heavier load than before. Soon the tracks disappeared into the river.  A man midstream was an easy target so I continued downstream for another hour before crossing and heading back towards where they had apparently crossed.  I found their tracks but it was close to nightfall, so I made a cold camp and cared for my horse and mules before settling down for the night.

 

Morning came and I built a small fire and brewed a pot of coffee.  It was a risk, but a small one with the wind carrying the smoke away quickly.  I saddled up and began again following the trail.  It was midday before I saw the next hole, but it was different.  Inside the hole were the bodies of three men with their skulls smashed and their bodies stripped and mutilated.  I added to the insult as I emptied the contents of my stomach violently and suddenly.  I rinsed my mouth out and began to look around.  My first thought had been indians, but the crushed skulls were out of character.  I circled the camp and found the trail of the six horses leaving, but this time, three looked to be carrying  lighter loads.  I continued my search and found the footprints that didn't match the men-the same ones I had followed before.  I turned around and headed for the river.  If it was the same youngster I had met before, I had no desire to run into him again after seeing Preacher Garth and his boys, if that's who those three were.  I'd return to Bent's Post and head home I decided.  I swung back up on Thunder and turned away from scene, wondering what might have been in the holes.

 

Chapter 12

 

Bent's Post was three days away and I made the rip without incident.  I took an antelope on the third day of my journey, with my Hawken, a rare treat, so I skinned it and roasted part of the meat, wrapping the rest in the hide.  At the post it would be worth a few dollars.  I rode in close to midnight, and the post was lit up and appeared to be occupied by more people than usual.  I rode in and tied up the mules and Thunder and carried in the Antelope.  William Bent came over "You again.  That looks fresh." he said as he looked at the hide and meat.  We reached a deal and he paid the price.

"Kekwajoo-the person you were looking for-might he have been a boy, 14 or so, thin with hard eyes."  I nodded.  He reached behind the counter and pulled out my gold dust pouch and handed it to me with a note neatly printed.  "Kek, Thank you for the loan, i hope the repayment is sufficient."  I opened the pouch and with only a bit of dust I found 6 Spanish doubloons.

 

"When was he here?" I asked  "I still am" I heard over my shoulder.  I turned slowly wondering how he had managed to slip up behind me.

 

"Joe. . . " he stopped me "Call me Mark, I never cared for Joe-is our crossing paths here a coincidence or are you still following me?"  I looked at him and saw that he was outfitted with fresh gear and that a pair of 1851's rode on his hips. "I saw your trail a few days ago, I've no desire to follow you, I'm heading back west in the morning."  He danced about from foot to foot. "I'm not sure where to go, all my family is gone."  I rubbed a couple of the coins together so he could see.  "You have the means to better yourself, why not see the world and get an education?" I asked.  He gave a bit of a grin.  "I'd like that, but I don't know where to start."  I nodded in faint understanding.  "Join me for breakfast tomorrow, maybe we can figure that out"

 

Chapter 13

 

As we finished eating, we began to discuss an education "I've been reading since I was 3, I learned some French, speak Spanish pretty well and even some German.  I know my numbers pretty well,  heck, I can even read music better than most."  He looked proud and rightfully so "That's excellent.  You can go a long way with what you already know, but if you want to learn more, then history, politics, business and philosophy would serve you well." I replied  he looked at me-can you teach me all that?" he asked.    "No, I can't, but I know people who can."  I pulled a book out "Watch where you read this-some folks might not take kindly to it." and I handed him a copy of Frederick Douglass' novel of his life as a slave.  He looked at it "How's this going to help?"  I smiled  "The author is a man who could change the world,  but for the intervention of fate.  His life has been hard, but his insight is  invaluable.  When you have read it, come find me, I'll be at that burned out cabin, be ready to tell me what you have learned.  If you do well, I'll arrange for you to meet a man who can properly educate you. . . and as to what you may have found-do not discuss it with anyone, including me."

 

He looked at the book "Won't take too long to read this.  I'll be on my way in a few days.  and i don't know what you are talking about." and he gave an oversized grin.  We shook hands and I went along my way.  His cabin home was burned, but the lake and the land were bountiful and not far from a home I had once kept.  But that is a different story.

 

Chapter 14

 

I arrived at the cabin and began the long process of burying the bodies and burning the remaining portion of the structure carefully and in small piles.  I took down the rock chimney, hoping to reuse the stones in time.   I cleared a fresh site a few hundred feet away and began the slow and laborious process of building a simple corral and then a rock foundation and felling logs and cutting notches. I had a handful of logs in place around the perimeter when the lad rode up with a small string of horses all lightly loaded.  He surveyed the site and the graves.  "You work fast,  but these markers, they won't do."  I nodded.  "Nope, I'll  leave that to you, I didn't know their names or dates of birth.  There's a chisel and a hammer here when you are ready."

 

He turned his horses into the corral and stripped down to his shirt, hanging his guns along the corral fence. "Markers won't keep a man dry, let's do some work."  I nodded and showed him how the structure would be built, how to use the horses to raise the logs into place safely and how to cut the notches into the logs to fit them tightly.  then we took a whipsaw and axes and began harvesting a few trees for the next day's work.

 

Come nightfall I roasted up some venison and we ate and spoke.  "Did you finish the book?" I asked  He nodded. "Strange man, I'd have wanted to kill everyone that done me wrong.  He just seems to forgive them all.  Thinks we're all the same. Hard to ignore his arguments.  What did you think?"  I smiled  "I think he's right about all of it. But I also think the world is full of people who will never see it his way."

 

We ate a bit more and he asked more questions finally I stopped him "Mark, I'm an old man, this winter I'll have my 70th birthday and one thing you'll learn if you live long enough is to get your sleep.  Sleep is a soldier's weapon, you sleep when you can and you eat when you can, you never know when your next opportunity might arise."  He looked at me, you were a soldier? I nodded, "I was in the navy, a Marine."  He looked at me and wanted more.  "Marines are the Navy's elite combat forces, we did the dirty work."  He seemed excited,  "You ever go to war?"  I nodded my head "In Egypt we gathered, in Derne we fought, we left behind comrades in Tripoli. that is a long story that I will tell you when I have had my sleep."

 

Chapter 15

 

For ten weeks we built the cabin.  We would fell trees and cut them into logs of the size we needed for a few days at a time, then move on to notching, raising and positioning the logs, I made sure the young man kept reading the few books I had been able to find and we talked about history and the world across the waters which was different and sometimes we spoke in French, sometimes Spanish and when I could keep up, even in German-he had a gift for language.  As the completion of the cabin drew closer, he began to take time to practice with his pistol, I joined him once, but he shot better than I and I did not even fire my own gun, just nodded approvingly and left him to his business.

 

"Kekwajoo,  when we finish the cabin, what will I do?"  he asked one morning.  I smiled "The cabin is done, what would you like to do."  He grinned "I wanna see the world."  I looked at him "Not a bad choice. What if I could get you into a good school in England?  Would you work hard and learn all you can? Would you stay out of trouble?"  I gave him a stern look and he nodded "I'll do my best on all accounts."

 

"Good, I wrote a friend when we left Bent's post, might be that we have a response there in a few weeks. Help me trap beaver for a couple of months and then we'll go see." I replied.

 

He tipped his head and looked at me quizzically "Why trap beaver? I have enough money for us both, more than we could spend in a lifetime."  I grinned "And if you give it away . . . you won't.  Mail won't arrive til late spring at the earliest, til then I'm going to work.  If you want to go spend your money, I won't interfere-but Spanish doubloons-well they won't be easy to spend and will draw lots of attention."  He grumbled a bit "Well we could melt em down, say we found em."  I shook my head "No, the purity is too high, unless you owned a smelting business it would be hard to move the quantities I think you have squirreled away.  I'm too old to start one and you are too young."   He studied on that a moment and asked-what if we turn it to dust?"

 

I took one of the doubloons that he had given me and ran it across a rasp, creating gold filings and I pulled a pouch of gold I had panned before and showed him the two.  He returned them "Okay,  I see the difference. How do I spend it?"

 

" Well if it were me, I guess I  would try to get a controlling but silent interest in a smelting operation and a played out mine.  Then you can toss it in with the ore being processed and make the mine look prosperous.  When the gold is nearly gone, you sell the operation and you move far away."

 

He nodded "Wonder where I would find such an operation?"  I pointed east "I think, if you move some gold east, maybe to Alabama,  near the capital in Tuscaloosa there are iron mines and coal mines and smelters.  Might be a good place to make some contacts before you go off to school. Now get to sleep we have a trap line to lay tomorrow."

 

Chapter 16

 

After weeks of trapping beaver and preparing the pelts, I decided it was time to see if I had received a response to my letter.  We each packed our gear for the journey and took along  the mules to carry supplies on the return trip.  We had a considerable supply of high quality pelts of both beaver and minks.  The minks were small, but the value was well worth the effort.  I looked at the young man and now after nearly 4 months I could see him growing into a man.  "Mark, you are growing up, seems wrong to introduce you to anyone by a first name and I have been remiss in not asking you before now.  What's your surname?"  He shrugged "Never had a need for one.  My parents died when I was so young I don't remember."  I nodded in understanding "I suppose then, that you had someone look after you-anyone you want to honor?"  He looked at me "I been treated better by you than anyone before, but J. Mark Kekwajoo is a bit of a mouthful"  I chuckled, "Indeed it would!"

 

He looked at me "Do you have a Christian name?"  I scratched my beard and turned to look at him "Now that's a fool question, of course I do. I just haven't heard it in so long I nearly forgot it's Bond Flint, James Bond Flint." I extended my hand in a formal introduction and shook his.  "So if I were to call myself J. Mark Flint, would you be offended?"  I gave him a bear hug "Nope, not at all."

 

We made the trip to Bent's Post, but as we got close I started to worry "How many of those Doubloons did you spend last time you were here?"  He looked down "A handful but even that was probably too much, huh?"  I nodded.  "Let's make camp and I'll ride in alone-no use tempting fate."

 

Chapter 17

 

I rode into Bent's Fort alone, there were several men there besides William Bent and when I arrived I inquired as to whether or not I had received mail.  William brought me a letter and I tucked it into my coat pocket.  He came out and looked over the furs and offered me a fair price. and after a bit of haggling over goods, he paid the remaining balance in gold dust.  As I was loading my ,ules, two men came around from the side of the building. "Hey old timer; heard you were left some old Spanish coins a few months ago by some kid. What do you know about him?"  I  looked over at them and spit angrily. "I know if I catch him, I'll skin him alive.  Damn coins were hardly gold at all,  Just a gold wash on top of lead. I don't know anything."  They looked at me and one of them pulled a doubloon out of his pocket. "Your a liar, old man."  With that I swung my colt into line with his chest and fired, as I turned towards the second man I felt a bullet strike my chest followed by another one.  A shotgun blast from the post rang in the distance and I saw the man who shot me running for his horse.  William Bent kneeled down by the man I shot "Well, He's dead, let;s see about you."  He came over and pulled my shirt open.  "Kekwajoo, I can't do anything for you.  He's killed you sure enough."  I manged to speak "Warn the boy, give him the letter, what's mine is his."  And with that done I closed my eyes and drifted off.

 

Epilogue

 

When Kekwajoo did not return, I feared he had run into trouble.  I approached the Post carefully after dark, finding William and learning that Kekwajoo was dead.  William Bent gave me the letter and I opened it.  Much of it was personal, but I read it and the portion regarding me simply said.  "Have the young man bring this letter with him to Oxford and speak with me, I will find him a spot for the upcoming school year."  I put the letter away and found William Bent "Will you bury him and see to his grave?"  William Bent assured me that he would.  I collected my horse as well as that of Kekwajoo and loaded the mules and headed out to get the education I had promised.  right after I found the man that killed my friend.

 

and so this tale concludes. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Imis Twohofon,SASS # 46646 said:

Keep it going I sez

 

Imis

+1

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So what went on? Well? Dang it man!

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Well, you've had 2 days (since Friday) to find out what's going on.

Either you discovered it was a beautiful, hot looking Native American squaw or maybe a dance hall girl,

(and you ain't got time to tell us about your story),

or you discovered its a sharp shootin assassin and he's blown you off your horse to die out in the

wilderness, never able to tell your friends what happened.

 

Your silence is making us think its the latter..... :o

 

..........Widder

 

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Is Wrangler Jane in this?

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Chapter 5

Above the crackling of the fire in the cast iron stove, they both heard a soft noise in the distance. It was a stealthy sound, almost as quiet as a Comanche knife across the throat of an unwary Texian. They weren’t sure they heard it, more than sensed it.

 

As they were moseying off for a drink, Kekwajoo couldn’t shake the furtive sound. He thought about the legendary Rougarou, but he knew the beast was tied to the swamps of Louisiana, where he once traded a horn of powder for some gator hides.

 

He thought about the fearsome Slide-Rock Bolter, but quickly dismissed it, due to the noise that huge beast must make. But he just couldn’t shake the feeling something was not right. “William, have you been having Shoshone trouble in the area,” asked Kekwajoo? Post answered, “No, why do you ask?” Kekwajoo replied, “The sound we heard earlier has put me on my guard.”

 

William grunted, spit out a stream tobacco juice, backhanded his mouth and said, “Aw that is probably just Crazy Joe. He lives out there in the bush. It is rumored he was raised by a pack of wolves. He’ll eat anything from rats to elk. Tried to trade some rat pelts for some lead balls one time. He’s mad as a hatter, but he is harmless.”

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Sorry weekends are mostly spoken for.  Besides, I've seen no sign of interest in this thread besides your bump.  I may Margaret Sanger it

 

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14 minutes ago, J. Mark Flint #31954 LIFE said:

Sorry weekends are mostly spoken for.  Besides, I've seen no sign of interest in this thread besides your bump.  I may Margaret Sanger it

 

This thread has over 590 veiws, And I love the story, looking forward to the next chapter:D

 

Till then, Keep your powder dry 

 

              The Bearded Wonder 

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Thank you for the story, Please keep writing I for one enjoy your writings.

 

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I’m in. I’d like to read more. Don’t stop now!

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19 hours ago, J. Mark Flint #31954 LIFE said:

Sorry weekends are mostly spoken for.  Besides, I've seen no sign of interest in this thread besides your bump.  I may Margaret Sanger it

 

I might not have replied, but I'm reading. Tell you what, when I do, I'll give it a "Bump".

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J. Mark Flint don't you dare get discouraged and drop this story. You have a talent for it and I suspect that the lack of a huge number of replies is simply because your readers don't want to mussy up the thread.

 

Having said that, your idea of simply adding to the first post is a remarkably good one. Please keep it up.

 

Warhorse

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20 minutes ago, J. Mark Flint #31954 LIFE said:

Will do.  I'm sort of curious to see how long a single post can be!

 

Run it up! Let's see! Enjoying this very much.

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Great story!:)

 

Thank You,

 

         The Bearded Wonder 

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So I am trying to decide whether to tell the whole story from a single point of view, or if I should shift between?  A single point of view is easier to read and requires a bit more imagination from the reader, but i think it is harder to write.

 

Any preferences and why?

 

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I dunt care....jus keep writin'!!!!!!!!

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40 minutes ago, Calico Mary said:

I dunt care....jus keep writin'!!!!!!!!

Yep, and the rest of us will keep it bumped to the top for easy finding ;)

 

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3 hours ago, J. Mark Flint #31954 LIFE said:

So I am trying to decide whether to tell the whole story from a single point of view, or if I should shift between?  A single point of view is easier to read and requires a bit more imagination from the reader, but i think it is harder to write.

 

Any preferences and why?

 

When I wrote my book, I did it from a single point of view. I just wrote it as though I were living it. When you do it that way, the reader doesn't have to try as hard to keep up with you, he follows the story just the way the character does. 

This allows you, as the writer to plan the story out, and to "surprise" the character, and thus the reader with the story line. It also allows the story to somewhat write itself, because you will react to something you wrote as though the story takes on a life of it's own. 

You're doing great, keep it up.

bump 

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