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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  GENERAL TOPICS  |  Saddlebag Tales (Moderators: Marshal'ette Halloway, Lucky Irish Tom)  |  Topic: The Last Patrol 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: The Last Patrol  (Read 117090 times)
Scarlet Angel
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« Reply #750 on: July 23, 2008, 11:24:10 pm »

Cyrus wiped the blood from his lip, then rubbed his chin. He’d chosen to practice hand to hand with the scouts today. Judging from the bruise he could feel developing on his lower jaw line, he was right in thinking the scouts had become more aggressive in the last week or so.

Cyrus turned to watch the others practice. Aggressive, yes, even more brutal, like they were fighting for their lives. They practiced one on one and groups against groups, afoot and horseback. He watched Scarlet closely; she was just as aggressive as anybody else on the field. She had been taught how to fight well.  He wondered how Fritz could let her ride out with a group of scouts knowing full well it could be the last time he’d see her alive.

He looked over his shoulder. Ella was with a group of soldiers teaching them what she thought was going to be most helpful too. Cyrus smiled softly recalling a conversation with Bo.

“They are women Bo. I can’t be responsible for women on the trail.” Cyrus said.

Bo took a long pull off the bottle then leveled his gaze at Cyrus. “They are survivors Cyrus. Here by their own choice. You are only as responsible for them as you are for anybody else rides with ya. You are lucky they chose to come. You have a scout trained by the man who trained me and a medic who was trained both in the old and modern ways. From my view gives us some advantage.”

The better Cyrus had come to know the women the more he’d come to know Bo was right.

He squinted at the sky, watching the puffy white clouds moving fast across it. It was in the wind, the scouts could feel it just as he could.  They were always perceptive of a coming battle. Cyrus knew without asking they would be moving out soon. 
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #751 on: August 05, 2008, 12:01:51 pm »

Cyrus looked back at Ella then to Scarlet.  He couldn’t remember how many times he had talked to Bo about them being of the fairer sex, and wondered if Marshal Ross had any of the same reservations about having women deputies. Cyrus’s own reservations were at rest now. Cyrus rubbed his chin again; a slow grin crossed his sore lip remembering Bo’s first comment about taking women into battle. “Women make some of the best fighters because they can be colder and more calculating than men.” He was right in that statement.

Looking over the men he figured some would still turn yellow and disappear under the blanket of darkness but Ella and Scarlet would be with him til the end. The question in his mind was who would not as he looked at the group of scouts. He always had the same questions many times over before a battle and the answers always came up the same. The old timers that had ridden with him through hell before were there to stay, no matter the odds, no matter how bad it got. Even though Bo didn’t make a practice of riding with Cyrus he was there for the duration too. Men and women who would die fighting for the one that stood next to them, take information to the grave with them no matter how painful the death. Cyrus’s eyes fell on Dick, his own brother. If he was to take a bet it would be Dick would be the one to do something to upset the apple cart.

Cyrus could feel his guts knot at the very thought. Dick would kill his own to save his own hide. If you could look inside a man it was Dick who had the yellow streak. He could talk a big game but he’d sell out.

Cyrus heard a voice directed at him “Yer not gonna let that little bruise on yer lip keep you away are ya?”

He looked around to see Bo looking at him. Cyrus chuckled to himself and waved Bo over.

Bo fell in beside Cyrus he walked.

“Tell me somethin’ Reb.” Cyrus said stopping in a spot no one could hear them. “How much of it is instincts and how much of it is luck and skill?”

Bo cocked his head to the side. It was a strange question coming from a man a seasoned as Cyrus.

“Skill and instincts go almost hand ‘n hand in my book. You’ve got to develop both. I never discount luck Cyrus. Sounds like yer trying to ask an old fighter a question. Just spit it out don’t run round the bushes with it.”

“In all the years you’ve been fighting Bo. Did you go against yer instincts?”

Bo considered the question. “That’s a loaded question Cyrus. There’s been a time or too I had to rely on faith. But it all depends on the situation. Mostly I go with my instincts.”

Cyrus wasn’t really getting where he wanted to go with this line of questioning so he changed strategy. “What would you do if you thought Fritz was going to do something hurtful to Scarlet.”

Bo’s eyes narrowed and grew dark, his stance even changed some. It was subtle enough a man that wasn’t good at reading body language would have missed it but it made the hair stand up on the back of Cyrus’s neck.

“I don’t believe Fritz would ever do anything knowingly that would be hurtful to her.” Bo said calmly.

“Yer instincts tell you that, don’t they?” Cyrus stated.

Bo’s stance shifted and he looked at Cyrus a little closer. “Yes, but we aren’t here to talk about Scarlet, Fritz or MY instincts. Yer still runnin’ round the bushes.”

“It’s hard for a man to think his own brother yellow Bo.” Cyrus felt like he choked on the very words. “I’m ashamed to think such a thing.”

“I want to show you something Cyrus.” Bo said just before calling Scarlet over.

Scarlet walked up and looked at the two serious faced men. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing’s the matter. We’re just talking about kin is all. I told Cyrus Jimmy was you’re brother he says it’s not so because James Bradbury is only a shirttail relative to Rose.”

“I don’t know how you two got on the subject, especially when Jimmy’s thousand miles away. But make no doubt about it Cyrus, as far as I’m concerned Jimmy is my brother. Blood lines count when you’re breeding. Otherwise I think you can choose family with your heart. As I call Ella my sister.”

“So you’re saying you would do more for Ella and Jimmy than you would if you had a blood family member you weren’t as close to?” Cyrus asked.

“What’s the situation? I trust Ella never to ask me to do anything that would hurt either one of us as far as she’s concerned. Jimmy is a different story.” Scarlet locked her gaze onto Cyrus. “If it has to do with Dick you need to follow what yer heart tells you to do.” She stated.

Bo had to suppress a snicker.

“Are we done here?” She asked.

“No, you are to the point Scarlet. What do you think of Dick’s abilities?” Cyrus asked.

“He’s weak on the left. Favors his knee, I’m guessing some old injury perhaps, but he makes up for it with his ability to predict his opponent and tries to hide his weakness of body.”

“Would you ride with him?”

Scarlet squared her chin and she looked at Cyrus. “I would prefer you send me alone.”

“Why?”

“You know why Cyrus. Follow yer instincts and listen to what yer heart says. The man is afraid to die, which is no crime here, he is more afraid to be one upped by you in whose eyes I am not sure of. But the bottom line is he will sell someone out to save his own hide. My advise to you is send him alone if you trust him or send him with two others so they have a fighting chance.”

Cyrus looked at her; she said what he knew but had wondered if it was just him.

“I didn’t know if it was just my feelings because I really don’t want him here or if it was something else.”

“It helps to like the ones you fight with, but it’s not a requirement as long as you can do your job. You’re a good enough leader to look past if I only make you angry but can still do the job well.” Scarlet smirked “Even if I make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t mean you’ll send me to do a job I am not capable of.”

Cyrus shook his head. “Get outta here.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #752 on: October 13, 2008, 11:41:29 am »

The morning broke clear and cold.  He disengaged himself from Scarlet, and slipped out from under the blankets.  The sun was still hours from rising, and he didn’t stoke the stove.  His tent would be broken down in a short time, and if the fire was still burning, the detail would have to let it cool first.  He quickly slipped on his clothes and boots, and stepped outside.  The orderly saw him and saluted.  Fritz returned the honor.  “Son,” he said, “why don’t you see if you can rustle up some coffee for my wife and me?” 

“Yes sir,” he replied, and quickly trotted off.  Fritz reentered his tent.  It was warmer in here, but only slightly.  Scarlet was up and getting dressed.  She asked “what time is it?”

Fritz pulled his pocket watch from his vest.  “Three thirty, or there about,” he replied.

“They should be sounding Reveille soon,” Scarlet said, as she stood and stretched.  “I should make my way to the scouts’ camp.”

“Stay a minute longer,” Fritz asked.  “I have some coffee on the way.”

Two hands appeared at the tent flap, with two steaming cups.  “Thanks son,” Fritz said, passing one to his wife.

“You say that a lot,” she said, blowing across the hot cup.

“What?” he replied.

“Son…you call all of the young ones ‘son.’  Do you even know you’re doing it?”

“No…I suppose not.  But I guess they’re all my children.  They fall under my care.  It’s my job to get them home safely.  And I know that not all of them will come home.”

Scarlet kissed him on the cheek.  Her lips were warm from the coffee.  “I know you’ll do your best.”

He began to feel badly for what he’d said.  The loss of their daughter was still fresh in his mind.  He knew that mentioning children must’ve hurt her too.

“I didn’t mean that…I know that you…aw hell.”

She took his cup and hers and put them down.  She hugged him tightly, and whispered in his ear, “I know what you meant…it’s okay.”

“But I can’t protect you while you’re riding with the scouts.”

“I’ll be all right,” Scarlet replied.  “And I can’t protect you while you’re leading your men.”

“I’ll be all right too,” Fritz said.  He hoped it was true.   
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« Reply #753 on: October 13, 2008, 01:12:20 pm »

There was an envelope waiting in the box assigned to Alan when he arrived at the medical school on Monday morning. The handwriting was unfamiliar, and there was no return address, just the name "Dr. William Martin".  Alan tucked it into his jacket pocket to read later. It was probably another invitation to join a medical practice or to give another series of lectures. The number of job offers he had received after he had left Dr. Abramson's partnership was very flattering. Mrs. Erdbeer was kind enough to act as Alan's secretary, and write the necessary replies.

The lecture went well, and was followed by thoughtful questions that led into an animated discussion. When they vacated the lecture hall to make way for the next session, four people followed Alan to the dining room to continue the discussion over lunch.

Alan remembered the envelope only when he heard the paper crinkle as he took off the jacket at home. He opened it to read.

He pulled the jacket back on and found Deborah. He handed her the letter and said, "I need to go to the telegraph office. Ella's telegraph handle is 'ECW', right?"

At the telegraph office, he thought for a few minutes before writing a 10-word message on the form, "I love you. Staying with Deborah. Samuel burned your letters."

The operator took the message to the key and sent it. Alan wasn't expecting an immediate reply, and turned to leave, but the operator called him back, "Got a reply already," and handed him a flimsy reading, "ECW unavailable. Left fort with army this morning."
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« Reply #754 on: October 25, 2008, 11:37:42 am »

 “I love you.” Scarlet whispered softly as she kissed Fritz’s cheek. 

She stepped away from him, over to the bedpost where her gun belt and buckled it on then headed for the doorway. Reaching the flap she pulled it open. It was still dark outside. Darkest before the dawn she thought to herself. The right time to be up and moving if one didn’t want to be noticed.

She chill hovered about her for a moment. Scarlet stiffened her back. It was only a split second before she relaxed again as she ran her fingers over the butt of the Dragoon. Fritz noticed her turn and look at him because it was one of the very few times she stopped and looked back.  He could have sworn she said “you belong here” as she smiled at him, but the words were soft and barley spoken. Maybe he only imagined she said something, the smile and the sparkle in her eyes he knew for sure were meant for him.

The tent flap dropped behind her but the cool air and the presence of something, or maybe it was somebody, remained.


At the scout’s camp Cyrus was impressed to see Scarlet coming so early. She looked strangely happy for a person getting ready to ride into what he was sure was going to be hell.

“I figured we wouldn’t see you until the last possible moment.” He said teasingly.

“Why’s that?” She replied eyeing him suspiciously.

“Figured you’d be spending all the time you could with your husband.” He said with a slight blush.

 
“Yeah, why’s that?” Bo said stepping up next to her.

“Ah hell.” Cyrus responded. “Let’s get moving, gonna be a long day.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #755 on: October 30, 2008, 03:08:05 pm »

Chris and Samuel helped Ella get her supplies packed onto Joker. During the past week, she had compared her list of supplies with the list the army was planning to take. Most of what she had was redundant. She could have contributed it to the army supplies, or left it here.

But, only Major Martin and Captain Henderson were trusted by her to treat the scouts fairly. She still suspected that most of the medical staff would treat officers first, soldiers next, and leave scouts, especially the Indians and half-breeds, for last.
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« Reply #756 on: November 07, 2008, 03:50:49 pm »

The sun was not yet full up, yet the swollen camp was a maelstrom of activity.  The tents were being struck with rapid, practiced ease.  Columns of soldiers marched past wooden crates, depositing their meager personal effects inside.  Those that could write had penned their names to the wrappings, so that their effects could be returned to their next-of-kin.  The men of I Company, 2nd U.S. Cavalry stood silently by.  They had gone through this ritual so many times that they had no personal effects left.  Fritz had been careful to pack only what he needed; primarily, weapons and ammunition.  Marching orders had been given: one hundred rounds of carbine, and twenty-five rounds of pistol ammunition. Fritz carried at least that, and probably more for his pistols.  Rations enough for man and horse for four days ride, plus a greatcoat or blanket per man.  The worst word was, only one horse. 

Fritz walked over to the corral and whistled.  Two sets of ears perked up. 

“Strider…Buddy…come on!”

The horses trotted over to the fence.  Strider bumped his head against Fritz’ vest.  He knew where the sugar cubes would be.  Fritz patted his head.

“You got one more fight in ya?” he asked, holding a cube under the buckskin’s nose.  He nodded, and sucked up the treat with his tongue.

“Me too.”

Fritz could almost feel Buddy’s eyes on him.  Was it possible for a horse to be sad?

“I know how you feel boy,” Fritz replied, rubbing the spot between Buddy’s eyes.  “But I need all the experience I can muster now…to get home.”

He led Strider back to his tent to saddle up.
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« Reply #757 on: November 08, 2008, 01:52:24 pm »

“Through hell and back.”

Scarlet turned at the sound of Bo’s voice and tilted her head slightly to the side as she questioned. “What do you mean?”

“I heard one horse, ‘cept for medical. Most of the scouts don’t have a choice, they only have one.”  A smile slowly parted his lips. “I knew there would be no question for you. Sometimes I think yer hearts beat as one.” Bo replied looking at Scarlet and Lucky as he stepped up to Dancer’s stall, petting the horse’s neck.

Scarlet slightly smiled. “So I’ve been told before.” She said watching Bo closely.  “You always worry ‘bout me Bo.”

“It’s one of my jobs.” He grinned this time.

Scarlet chuckled still noticing Bo was looking Dancer over, trying not to be obvious about it. He patted Dancer one last time and went to saddle his own horse.

Scarlet quietly picked up Dancer’s bridle and walked over to Bo. He turned when she put her hand on his shoulder then looked down at the bridle Scarlet pressed into his hand. She could tell by the look on his face he was touched at the suggestion.

“No, Thunder is my horse.” He replied.

She knew he rarely rode the Dancer in front of her because he was afraid it would sadden her with memories of her first husband. He’d heard comments from people who knew his brother about how he looked like him, and then when he rode his brother’s horse he’d seen the double takes.  Even Cyrus had made a comment about how it made the hair stand up on the back of his neck.

Scarlet kept her hand in his. “Thunder is a good mount. He’s carried you through a lot Bo, but he’s not a fast horse.” Scarlet stood on her tippy toes and whispered  “ain’t Yankee ponies ya got to out run this time.” as she pressed the bridle harder into his palm.

Bo laughed out loud and looked tenderly at her. “I’m not used to ridin’ him much.” Nodding his head toward Dancer.

Scarlet turned and walked over to Dancer. She appeared to be having a conference with the horse and by the way he bobbed his head Dancer with her. They both looked at Bo. “He says yer lyin’.” She stated flatly.

Bo didn’t know what to say, or how she knew. Certainly Dancer really couldn’t tell her.

“Bo, I came to term with some of my ghosts sometime back.  I’ve got you, Fritz, Patches and Ella to thank for a lot of it. I’ve got Lucky to watch after me, someone to watch after Fritz and you would be honoring the memory of a soldier to take his horse into battle again, it was what he was raised for.

 As if on cue Dancer raised up on his back legs. Scarlet glanced at him as the sound of his hooves hitting the ground echoed through the stables when he came back down.

“He says he will not lose another rider. He will look out for you as he did for Patches, what happened to Travis was no fault of his or of yours.”  Then Scarlet grinned mischievously. “He says he outran the Apache carrying you as he will outrun the Sioux or any other you ask this time.”

Bo looked surprised that she knew about the incident. “Jimmy swore to never tell you.”

“Jimmy kept his secret.”

“Johnny?”

Scarlet grinned she enjoyed the game of “how does she know”. “Daddy never said a word. As far as they are concerned how much you’ve really ridden Dancer I will never know. But I do.” She said with a shrug of her shoulder.

Bo thought about it, it had been him, Johnny and Jimmy on that ride. She was right Thunder didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell outrunning them Indian ponies, maybe carrying Scarlet, but not him. He had opted to take Dancer, who had been left in Jimmy’s care. The only other person that knew had fallen to the Apache.

 “Ya give me the willies when you do that kind of stuff.” He said as he walked back to Dancer’s stall, somewhat thankful she really did know and seemed to be alright with it.     

   

 
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #758 on: November 22, 2008, 08:27:08 am »

29 May 1876, Wyoming Territory

I have taken up pencil and paper to make an account of the expedition we are about to undertake.  Perhaps it will provide the basis of a book, if ever anyone wants to know what the life of a cavalry soldier was like.  And on the off chance that I do not survive this mission, this document shall serve as a last will and testament.  As to whether I am of sound mind to undertake this mission is a matter for later discussion.

We were up before the dawn, breaking camp and dropping tents.  The men of the Second displayed themselves with the same stoic character I recall.  Dave, Scott and Johann are exactly as I remember them, albeit a bit greyer.  Major Schurmann rides in the vanguard with General Crook, but I’m sure he’d rather be here with us.  My promotion to Captain is a much a shock to me as was the promotion to Lieutenant.  I lead these men and I trust God will help me to do so honorably.   

Although we broke camp early, we didn’t start the march until noon.  It was hot and dusty, and the moving column churned up the dirt until it covered us all.  We are 900 strong, including the wagon train.  General Crook is concerned that we have no Indian scouts.  “It takes an Indian to catch an Indian,” I’ve often heard him say.  Scouts from the Crow nation were supposed to join us at Fetterman, but to date, none have arrived.  The civilian scouts man the lead and flanks of the column.  My wife Scarlet is among them, and I am concerned.  I have no doubt that she can handle herself, and for the most part, she rides in good company.  But I fear there are far more Indians off the reservations than initially reported.  Conditions on the reservations are pitiable, and the civilian agencies assigned to care for the Indians are rife with graft.  If I and my family were starving, and game was plentiful, I would probably do the same thing. 

One of the men in the column mentioned that we are following the Bozeman trail, the exact route that the winter column took.  We look like a thin blue line, snaking our way across the prairie…far too thin, in my humble opinion.  I wear Scarlet’s bandana over my nose and mouth to keep the dust from choking me.  I must look like an outlaw, but my men are doing the same.  I hope the weather holds…         
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« Reply #759 on: November 22, 2008, 11:40:12 am »

Ella watched the scouts and part of the Army on the trail below the fort. Scarlet and Bo were easy for her to pick out. Fritz should have been harder, dressed the same as hundreds of men surrounding him, but he rode beside the guidon-bearer for his company.  There was plenty of time for her to watch before she needed to be in her place. The medical team rode with the ambulances that were part of the wagon train.

She and Bo had eaten dinner with the telegraph operator the night before, and she had chatted with Patches over the wire, after delivering messages to Rose and Johnny from Scarlet. Marshall Ross had gotten back to El Paso on schedule. She had left a letter with Stanley, for him to send out with the next wagon. Writing to Alan was a habit, even if it seemed to be a waste of time.
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« Reply #760 on: November 25, 2008, 09:43:32 pm »

Cyrus spent his time riding between the scouts in the front of the group and the ones in the back listening and observing. Conversations and actions told him alot about his people. He always found it interesting to see the differences between the old timers and the greenhorns.

In Cyrus' opinion Dick was falling somewhere in between. Cyrus wouldn't trust him on his own. He didn't look for Dick to be coming back, Cyrus just wasn't sure if he'd die in combat or desert. Dick had survived this far though and not been a deserter, maybe Cyrus would be surprised.

Bo and Scarlet seemed to be at ease. Cyrus knew this was not Bo's first time in this postion. Scarlet had only commented that the group she rode with was bigger than what she was used to but it didn't seem to concern her.

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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #761 on: December 10, 2008, 06:03:09 pm »

"C and G Company of the 3rd were sent forward to Fort Reno yesterday, in an attempt by General Crook to locate our wayward Indian Scouts.  So far, nothing has been seen of them.  We only made about twelve miles today.  We should’ve left earlier, but that wasn’t my call.  I’m so used to moving fast and light that I forget how long it takes an army to get organized.  We have cavalry, infantry, civilian scouts, teamsters, wagons, etc, etc…

We’re bivouacked on the banks of Sage Creek.  I’m sure that Scarlet plans to bunk with her cronies, and I plan to sleep here with my men.  Still, I hope to see her.  The General surprised me by bringing tentage with the wagons.  My tent is small but comfortable.  The night is quiet and cool, but no intolerably so.  I’ve got a few aches and pains today, but who doesn’t in this line of work?  I’d forgotten how comfortable riding in the column can be.  I don’t mean physical comfort of course; I mean the ease of slipping into that familiar semi-alert state.  We ride in force, which is always comforting.  But we know there is an enemy out there, of unknown strength and disposition.  Several times I caught myself running my hand over the butt of my new pistol.  It has comfortable curves and contours…much like the lady who gave it to me.  But I digress…"   
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« Reply #762 on: December 13, 2008, 01:49:16 pm »

Cyrus’ eyes followed Bo’s gaze as he stood next to him. “I seen Teddy pray like that ‘fore, coarse his horse don’t pray with him.” Cyrus chuckled.

“She ain’t prayin’.” Bo replied smiling at Cyrus’ comment.

“What are they doing?” He asked watching with curiosity now.

“She’s listening to the winds and the surroundings.” Teddy said with excitement in his voice. “Do you think she would mind company?”

Bo raised an eyebrow and looked at him. “No, but if you make fun of her she’ll knock you right on yer butt.”

“Been to long since I took the time.” Teddy replied walking out to join Scarlet who sat on the balls of her feet looking across the landscape, her hands barely touching the top of the grasses. Lucky stood next to her, his head high and nostrils flared.

“The scouts that have the strangest quirks seem to be the best at their jobs.” Cyrus commented watching Teddy go. “He used to tell me he was prayin’ probably so I wouldn’t give him any gruff.” He looked at Bo. “You don’t do that? Talk to the four winds or whatever she’s doing?”

The corners of Bo’s lips slightly curled. “Not as often as I should. She is better at it, like her father, and what ever she doesn’t pick up that horse probably does.”

“You’re not going to try and tell me she can hear what we’re talking about are you?”

“No.” Bo chuckled. “She’s to far away, no doubt Lucky can.”


“You have a long stride for you height.” Scarlet said when Teddy was within earshot.

He smiled. “Do you mind the company?”

“No.”

“What does she say?” Teddy asked referring to Mother Earth as he took the same position Scarlet was in.

“Weather’s not going to hold, gonna get cold, but that’s something you should know. It's what is carried on the winds I am listening to.”

Teddy half smiled. “Tell me.”

Scarlet slowly stood and faced him. “I always gave Bo a hard time when he wanted a smoke on the trail. You can smell it for miles.”

“I’ve haven’t seen him smoke.”

Scarlet half grinned. “A glowing ember makes a fine target; you should know that, he should too, ‘specially for men that use their Long Toms very often.”

The comment brought a full smile to Teddy’s lips. “Best be careful sayin’ that. Wrong man might think yer talkin’ of something other than a buffalo gun.”

Scarlet didn’t look amused.

Teddy quickly went on. “What else?”

“Somebody that travels with us is wearing big rowled spurs and the wagons are noisy.”

Teddy tilted his head to the side in question. “You hear spurs in all that noise?”

“I like the sound a spur makes when they sing, not being driven into horse’s flesh but just the sound, it’s like a familiar song or something. But one shouldn’t be signing if you’re hunting now show they?”

“Army movement is not quiet.”

“I know.” She replied with a silent chuckle.

It surprised Teddy that Scarlet found that comment amusing.

Teddy narrowed his eyes looking into hers. “Just how many times have you been a tracker of instead of a tracker for the Army?”

Scarlet continued to smile. “It worries me Teddy. We are in the house of the enemy we seek to find and we sound like some parade coming. We move slow.”

Teddy stood and ran his hand down Lucky’s neck looking close at the horse. “You are used to moving light and fast, small group. Ghosts they used ta call you people. I watched you today Scarlet. I’ve been curious to see your style away from practice and the safety of the fort. Your teachers have taught you well, who ever they were.

Does Bo listen like you do? I saw him riding at different spots in line listening to the sounds, like you.”

“Bo was taught by the some of the same teachers. We have a few different tactics, but we compliment one another working together. I need to know the sounds of those I am riding with. So I know when something is out of place.”  Scarlet’s eyes danced with humor as she taking his offered arm to walk back. “It’s going to be the smells of that many gone unbathed that will really take some getting used to as the days go by.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #763 on: December 17, 2008, 11:17:16 am »

Teddy stopped half way back to camp. “Can you smell that?” he asked taking a deep breath.

Scarlet gave him a look that said are you kidding then replied “I been smellin’ that since the gates at the fort opened that first day. I smell it on every one of us and I feel it in you.”

 Teddy looked surprised and thought about taking his arm back.

“Fear is different for everyone that rides in this group Teddy. I tol’ you, I’m worried  we will be found far before we find them.”

Teddy smiled and continued to walk. “We have too many good scouts.”

Scarlet took a deep breath, faced Teddy and looked into his eyes. He tried to glance away but couldn’t.

“You fear.” She paused, taking hand as she kept looking into his eyes. “You fear.” Scarlet let go of his hand and looked away before looking back at him. Teddy almost looked ashamed.

Scarlet took his arm again and began to walk. “I am a believer of fate Teddy, but I also believe you can change your own fate.  I was once sure I would die young. Like you I’ve saw my own death in my dreams, brutal and bloody. That dream became reality; I knew almost every move and every thing that would happen. Yet there were a few different players in the reality than in the dream and I am still here. It is no shame to fear what you have seen in your dreams.”

Teddy smiled slightly “Perhaps I should stick close to you. You are something I have never seen in my dreams.”

Scarlet grinned at the comment and let go of his arm. They were back in camp. Teddy joined Cyrus and Bo while Scarlet continued towards the soldier’s camp.

The soldier that stood outside Fritz’s tent tuned. The woman and horse that stood behind him caused him to jump nearly dropping his weapon. Scarlet raised an eyebrow thinking if they were already this jumpy things were not going to be good.

“Horse should be on the picket line.” Was all the soldier could muster as he eyed the long gun resting in it’s scabbard.

“Do not touch him or my gear. He’ll bite you.” Scarlet said.

“Yes ma’am.” The soldier replied suddenly realizing he was now staring at the Captain’s wife.

Scarlet had not planned to come over this evening, she didn't want to disturb Fritz but talking with Teddy had changed her mind. She watched the soldier for a moment hesitating to desturb his Captain.
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #764 on: December 18, 2008, 05:37:54 pm »

“Don’t touch him or my gear.  He’ll bite you”

“Yes ma’am.”

Fritz smiled, setting the pencil down.  He’d been thinking of her as he wrote the last line.  He could see with greater perspective what her presence was like to an outsider.  A woman of exceptional beauty, who carried herself and fought better than most men he knew.  She entered your mind like a tornado.  No force other than nature herself could push Scarlet out.

What a sight she must’ve been to the young trooper outside his tent.  Twin Walkers strapped to her hips only drew your eyes to her curves.  The large bore hunting rifle slung from the scabbard of the coal-black stallion told you she meant business.  Although Fritz couldn’t see her, he was sure she was smirking, one eyebrow raised as if in question.

Fritz rose from his campstool.  “Let her in son, and go get yourself some coffee.”

The tent flap lifted, and Scarlet entered.  “Permission to enter, sir?” she said, smiling.

He took her into his arms.  They embraced fiercely.  Lips, eyes, hands and hearts met as one.

“It’s good to see you too,” Fritz replied, as he came up for air.

Fritz offered her the bed, while he took the campstool.  “So, how are things?”

“This column makes more noise than a Chinese funeral procession,” she replied.  “I’m used to traveling quicker and quieter than this.”

Fritz nodded.  “Agreed.  I’ve spent more time in your company recently than in this Company.”  Fritz reached for the cigar on the edge of his desk.  It was out.  He grabbed it anyway.  “Have you noticed anything else?”

“Yes,” Scarlet said.  “The smell.”  She said it with a straight face.  Fritz laughed despite himself. 

“It can get kind of ripe among the unwashed masses…”

“No,” Scarlet interrupted.  “That’s not what I meant.  “I smell fear.  I felt it from Teddy over in the Scout’s Camp.  I smelled it here from the trooper at your tent flap.  Many of these men are untried.  Their fear of the unknown can cripple them at an inopportune moment.”

“I wish I could give a straight answer to that,” Fritz mused.  “The only way to gain experience in this job is to do it.  You can only pray that all the training we gave them will prove useful.  If done right, their response will be automatic.  They will fight.  What is it you always say?  ‘Courage is being afraid, but saddling up anyway?”

“We shall see,” she said.  “So far, we’ve had no sign that the column has been spotted.  There’s been no sign whatsoever.  Have you seen or heard anything?”

Fritz rolled the unlit cigar in his fingers.  “General Crook has dispatched two Companies to search for our Indian Scouts.  So far, we’ve not heard from them.”

“Do you suspect collusion of some kind?”

“If so, it’s from those bastards that run the reservations,” he replied.  “If they’d give the people the supplies they need, instead of trying to feed them rancid beef, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

Scarlet looked at her husband.  “Have you ever considered becoming an Indian Agent yourself?”

Fritz stopped rolling the cigar.  Could that be what Grey Eagle had meant?  Was that the vision he spoke of?  He wished he could talk to him now, but in present company, Fritz knew the warrior wouldn’t be welcome.

“Something to think about…if we all live through this, that is.”  Fritz took his wife’s hand. 

He asked, “Can you stay?”       

     



                           
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« Reply #765 on: December 18, 2008, 11:31:06 pm »

Scarlet slid her arms around his neck and stood on her tip toes. Fritz could feel her warm breath as she whispered “What is it about you that I have never been able to resist?”

He could see her eyes sparkle in the light as she stepped way from him. He thought she’d stay until she ducked under the tent flap.

Strange way to depart he thought watching where she’d disappeared to. He listened for the sound of Lucky’s hoof beats carrying her to where ever she might be going but strangely enough he didn’t hear them. What he could her was her soft voice, obviously she was talking to Lucky, damn if the horse didn’t softly nicker a response.

The tent flap opened and Scarlet stepped back in carrying her saddle and gear. She set it carefully in the corner, removed the rifle from the scabbard and set it safely near the bed. He turned to watch her as she moved around him a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth.

Scarlet sat back on the bed and looked up at him. “Are you going to answer my question?”

“What?” Fritz asked stepping towards her.

She smiled warm and sweet as she looked at him. “What is it about you Mr. Fritz that I cannot resist?”

He could see her eyes dance as she tried to look innocent.
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #766 on: December 27, 2008, 10:38:21 am »

Fritz stood quiet, his eyes told her he was surprised by something folks say and expect no answer Scarlet had asked him directly, and looked to expect an answer.
She knew his mind had been elsewhere, hell they were surrounded by things to keep one's mind elsewhere for months. There were things a Captain had to think about, worries that were unique to only him. She had many of her own concerns in the position she currently held.
Perhaps he really didn't know, after all the question should be asked "What is it about me you cannot resist?" to be appropriately answered if one COULD answer a'tall. She tried to keep from grinning as she watched him; Her handsome man, with the grey blue eyes that seemed to change color with his mood.   
“Sit.” She said with a slight grin at the surprised look he’d given her.

Fritz took the seat, it was hard to say if it was more offered or ordered. Her touch was cool on his skin as she started to massage his neck.

“I may not be able to solve your problems Sugar but I am a good listener.” Scarlet said as her fingers worked their way down his spine. 
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #767 on: January 09, 2009, 08:09:50 am »

Trust…it’s a funny thing.  Though it’s sometimes given, it usually has to be earned.  And there are degrees of trust to be considered.  How much or how little do you trust a person, or just what do you trust that person with?  It’s such a rare thing.  To trust someone so completely that you let them stand behind you with their hands at your throat.  Fritz had no illusions.  He didn’t consider himself to be a dangerous man, though there were some who would argue that point.  He knew that Scarlet was a dangerous woman.  He’d seen her in action the first time they’d met.  She was equally dangerous with guns, knives, or her bare hands.  But they loved each other so completely that this simple act was, in this moment, the most beautiful thing ever imagined.   
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« Reply #768 on: January 09, 2009, 09:03:58 am »

Ella unloaded Joker and got him and Aaron settled in the horse lines before she carried her bed roll over to the scouts' camp while the orderlies were still raising tents for the medical team to sleep in. Major Martin had offered her a place inside, but she wasn't trusting enough to sleep with all those men she didn't know well.

The scouts were not bothering with canvas between them and the sky. They could strike camp in a few minutes and be ready to head out at the crack of dawn.

Bo, Chris and Samuel had saved her a space amongst them.
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« Reply #769 on: January 09, 2009, 10:10:43 am »

Bo smiled at her approach. He had to admit to himself he felt better that Ella was here instead of with the medics. Here she was safer, in his opinion, among these men rather than the men she traveled with. Perhaps it was because he had come to respect MOST of the men here. Chris and Samuel no doubt thought a lot of her. Not that he didn’t think she couldn’t take care of herself but having someone watch yer back was always better.

He pulled the saddle off of Dancer and ground tied the horse near his bedroll.

“Ain’t you afraid he’ll wander off or spook?” Cyrus asked.

Bo half smiled. “If he wanders off he’ll find Lucky.”

“Did you pick that up from Scarlet or she from you?” Black beard joked.

“My brother perhaps.” He reached out and petted Dancer with a smile. “He said it was the one who would sneak into camp close to a man to steal his horse was the man you best watch. He was either stupid or very brave. He would run a long rope next to the bed roll so if the horse moved he’d feel it.”

“Just cut the rope.” Chris said.

“Go steal him.”

“The rope ain’t under yer bedroll.”

Bo shrugged his shoulders.

Chris and Samuel walked over and started to inspect the horse. Chris picked up the lead rope, and tried to lead Dancer, who raised his head but stood hard.

Chris looked at him “Comon Dancer” he said pulling the rope again. Dancer proceeded to paw the air.

Ella grinned. “Maybe I could give it a try.”

“No doubt you will be successful.” Bo said with a chuckle and a wink.

“Lets see.” Chris said dropping the rope.

Ella walked over, patted Dancer’s neck, ran her hand down the leg he had not pawed with and slipped off the thin, dark colored rope. She picked up Dancer’s lead and walked the horse easily around. Then returned him and put the soft rope back in place.”

“Ah you knew.” Chris said.

“You could have asked if there was something else tying him.” Ella said.
“So are all your horses like that?” Cyrus asked.

“A lot of ‘em.” Bo replied.

“And Lucky?”

Bo snorted. “Lucky is of his own mind. If she doesn’t want him to wander Scarlet will do that but he will stay close to her regardless.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #770 on: January 12, 2009, 12:40:40 am »

Ella commented, "My horse Aaron is not much like Dancer and Lucky. But then, he's just a good horse who only had ordinary training until three years ago. Dancer and Lucky are both extraordinary horses who have had extraordinary training their whole lives."

"Your Ruth has had special training her whole life," replied Bo.

"Yes, but different training from what you and Scarlet give. And she is really just a good farmer's horse underneath. Lucky is probably the smartest horse I have ever met, smart enough that he would never have been tamed if he had grown up wild."
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« Reply #771 on: January 12, 2009, 10:11:39 am »

"Lucky's mother was a mustang, a good mother who taught him what it is to be wild, she love's Scarlet and was smart enough to figure out her life was easier in Scarlet's barn. She taught Lucky alot of things, if you've spent much time with them you can see the similarities in mannerisms, she tolerates other riders though not an easy ride when she doesn’t want to be.” Bo chuckled at the last comment; she’d given him a few rough rides. “Lucky’s mother will watch everything you do, like his father and just like him. They all figure out things I don’t think a horse should know. That’s what makes them escape artists.

Lucky’s father is much like him in the way Rose is his rider, as Scarlet is Lucky’s. Rose’s horse will tolerate a few other riders but really shines for Rose. I don’t believe he would hurt her, but under another handler scares me at times.”
 
“You start with a good horse underneath. Ruth, I think would do whatever you asked her or taught her. You have that special bond with her and she is very smart. My horse, Thunder is a good solid horse, as Rose would say. Good for anybody to ride, which makes him more valuable in some ways than Lucky, I think she says that to make me smile though.” Bo chuckled then smiled as he looked at Dancer. “Smartest thing Travis ever did was listen to Rose when it came to horses then he married her daughter. Travis trained Dancer with Rose’s help.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #772 on: January 12, 2009, 03:13:44 pm »

"Aaron is also a good solid horse, and will give anyone a good ride. I'm glad I have Rose and Scarlet to help me train Solomon. He's clearly smarter than Ruth was at his age. When we get back, I'll find out who the father of Ruth's next foal is going to be. I left that decision in Rose's hands."  Ella paused, thinking. "If we are riding into danger, am I better off on Aaron, who has been my horse for a few years, or on Joker, whom I have ridden only a few times? Joker is faster, but Aaron will obey leg and balance cues so that I don't have to use reins."
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« Reply #773 on: January 12, 2009, 11:00:16 pm »

“Joker works off of leg pressure and body weight, most of the horses we raise do. He’s solid and has been up to his knees in blood and gunfire. I would say the advantage you would have with Aaron would be you know him well. How he will react under certain circumstances, if you have been exposed to them. I can tell you how Joker would respond but you have little experience riding him. If you think you will be in a situation where it’s going to turn into a horse race choose Joker. Ride him and become comfortable with him. If you were scouting Ella I would say yes your life could depend on a horse race. Riding with the medics, the only reason I would think you would need a faster horse is if you need to get to a patient and time is precious.” Bo replied.
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #774 on: January 13, 2009, 12:25:16 am »

After a short time of silence Scarlet decided since Fritz wasn’t going to talk she would.

“It’s strange the things one becomes accustomed to, sights, sounds, and smells. Things a person become so used to living with, so used to it being in their surroundings that these sights and sounds sometimes go unnoticed even when you are hunting someone. You have to keep your mind sharp and your ears and eyes open, always. Don’t let your senses dull or you will miss that slight sound or smell that otherwise should not be there because it is something you have grown used to.

Take for instance the sound of a man wearing roweled spurs. The make a pretty song to some. To those people they might enjoy the sound, it is something they are used to hearing. To someone who is not used to hearing them it is out of place. A noise that alerts you like a bell on a still night. I don’t know how many people we are traveling with Fritz, but I can tell you there is one who is wearing large roweled spurs.”

“Do you want me to find out who it is?” Fritz asked.

“The Indians are going to hear the wagons long before the spurs and they are going to smell the tobacco smoke before that. What I’m asking you is if you smoke that cigar you be very careful about it, but I would prefer you didn’t smoke it at all.” 
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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