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GENERAL TOPICS => Saddlebag Tales => Topic started by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 01, 2006, 10:09:21 PM

Title: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 01, 2006, 10:09:21 PM
"Honey...where's my Colt?"

It was an old game, which Scarlet enjoyed.  She wiped a breakfast dish and set it on the table.

"Where did you leave it?"  She tried not to giggle.

"Under my pillow," Fritz replied.  He was getting a little annoyed.  He knew what was coming.

"Did you look there?" Scarlet said coyly.

"If it was there" he said, "would I have asked where it was?"

In truth, Scarlet knew exactly where the Colt was.  The short-barrelled revolver had become his constant companion.  It went everywhere with him.  She'd managed to sneak it out one night, over to Bill's lab.  He was "refining" it at Scarlet's request, for his birthday.  But she couldn't tell him that.

She set the dishrag down, and walked to the master bedroom.  Scarlet was treated to the view of Fritz' posterior hanging out from under the bed.  He was wearing his union suit and wool socks.  The flap gapped partway open.  She slipped her hand inside, giving him a squeeze.  Fritz reacted by slamming his head into the underside of the bedframe.


She couldn't resist now, and began laughing in earnest.  Fritz slid out from under the bed, his chest covered with dust bunnies.  Scarlet laughed harder.

"How can I possibly stay mad at you?" he asked.  Fritz kissed her lips.

"So," he asked, "where's my Colt?"

"Well," she replied, "maybe one of the boys borrowed it."

He got up and got dressed.  "I wish they'd ask me before taking it."  He slid the converted Navy into the flap holster, leaving the other one empty.  Fritz lifted the Berdan from the rack.  Johnny had done a hell of a job.  The wood glistened.  The action had been engraved and gold-filled.  The left side bore their initials in an oval.  He smiled, sliding a cartridge into the breech.

"Where are you off to now, darlin?"

He smiled.  "The range...where else?'     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 02, 2006, 09:19:21 PM
April, 1876...

The crack of the rifle broke the stillness of the morning air.  It was followed closely by a metallic clang as the boiler plate swung on its hinges.  Fritz opened the action.  The Sharps Berdan kicked the empty out sharply.  He reloaded, and put the rifle to shoulder.  A full breath, and let it out slow.  A second breath, let half way out.  His finger pulled the rear trigger, releasing the set.  Focus on the front sight and...


The bolier plate swung again.  Five shots, five hits.  Fritz stood, picking up his empty cases.

The cairn of boulders was painted white.  A sign on it read "500 yds."  He smiled.

The range was something he'd always wanted.  Fritz felt the Army didn't emphasize shooting as much as it should.  He'd change that, at least for the troopers at the fort. 

Fritz walked over, and slid the Sharps into its scabbard.  Buddy nickerred.  Fritz patted his head.  The second wedding present he'd received.  Two surprises.  One from his father-in-law, one from his wife.  He was truly a lucky man.  Fritz mounted up and rode toward the next cairn, at 300 yards. 

It'd been a year and a half since they'd married.  It was the happiest time of his life.  Fritz never expected to live long enough to get a second chance at life.  He thanked God for it.  Fritz dismounted, drew the rifle and took a knee.  Placing five cartridges in his forward hand, he loaded and fired as quickly as possible.  All were hits.

It was funny.  He could still see out to 800 yards, but had trouble threading a needle.  He needed glasses to read now.  Most days, Fritz woke up hurting.  The wound in his side worked like a barometer.  He knew when the rain and cold came.  And he knew that soon, he'd retire from the Army.  Probably sooner than he thought.

Fritz mounted up, and rode to the 200 yard line.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 03, 2006, 12:04:18 AM
Scarlet tucked the thick worn leather gloves into her belt and went towards the barn. She was going to ride to the big foaling barn that was at the Southern Starr and check on the mares before working with the younger horses.

The C-C had a nice foaling barn but it was easier to keep all the mares in one place and share the responsibility between everyone.

She was greeted by Lucky’s nicker and the sounds of “mornin’” from a couple of the ranch hands.

“What’s the good news?” She asked with a smile.

“Breakfast was real good and we have two new additions to the herd.” Zeke said with a smile.

The hands usually took breakfast at the Southern Starr with the others or cooked themselves but some days Scarlet cooked for them. She’d forgotten how much she used to enjoy cooking, it was slowly coming back.

“Don’t go gettin’ spoiled on me now.” She smiled back at the man who had been the foreman of the ranch since the place had been built. Then asked excitedly “Who foaled?” 

“I swear I think you prefer foaling season to Christmas.” Zeke laughed.

It was good to have her back home. The men had been nervous when Fritz had bought the place. What would change? Would they still have jobs? As it turned out not only had Fritz managed to bring Scarlet home, he did a right good job of trying to fit in and understand the men who had resided there for years, right down to union suit night.

Union suit night was what the hands had called it when Scarlet had first come to the C-C. If one wanted to be part of their gathering one had to wear a union suit. It had been there attempt to keep the woman out of the bunk house and out of their business. Bo and Scarlet’s late husband, Travis, were somewhat amused by the entire thing. Scarlet never was one to be left behind and they knew it. It had taken her about three months of being stuck in the house while the boys sat out and drank and enjoyed themselves before she had decided to put on her long underwear and join them with her own jar of home brew. She had earned their respect and then their loyalty.

Fritz had earned their respect and friendship when he’d come to live at the Southern Starr. Sitting around the pot belly stove in his union suit with the rest of them and joining in on the conversations had earned the loyalty of the men, although they all wondered what he had really thought the first time he’d walked in and found his new wife sitting around in long underwear with a hand full of cow hands swilling whisky.

“Zeke” Scarlet waved her hand in front of his face. “Where’d ya drift off to? Who foaled?”

He grinned. “Rose’s white mare and our buckskin.”

“Colt filly black buckskin?” Scarlet ran the questions all together in her excitement.
Zeke laughed again. “Well ride on up and see for yourself.”

Scarlet was mounted up and on her way out before his sentence was finished.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 03, 2006, 11:13:38 PM
The ride to town was uneventful.  The empty brass clinked inside the old haversack.  There was a full arsenal of Bill's pyrotechnics at the ranch, so Fritz didn't carry any.  It was one of th few pieces of military gear he still carried.  He'd even started wearing the things Scarlet bought for him; clothes he claimed he'd never wear.  But the old black slouch was still perched atop his head.  He'd started using a spare saddle from the barn.  His McClellen was still fine, but he'd learned the hard way it wasn't meant for cow-boying.

Fritz tied up Buddy at the general store.  Buddy nudged his side.  Fritz obliged.  He gave his mount a sugar cube.

"That sweet tooth's not good for you," he said, rubbing the spot between his ears.

Fritz went inside, and noticed Milt behind the counter, reading a newspaper.  The headline read, "Crook's Column Fails!"

He shook his head and whispered, "damned reporters."

They never got it right.  Those boys from back east knew as much about indian fighting as they did about fornicating.  Even those who rode with the column told of the 'grand adventure' they were having.  All thought went back to Custer's Black Hills expedition of '74.  All that popycock...hunting and fishing.

Milt laid down the paper and said "Hello Fritz!  I know why you're here."

"Did it come in yet?"

"Yep," Milt replied.  "Came in last Tuesday." 

It was next to impossible to Surprise Scarlet.  She knew every nook and cranny of the house.  She'd find it.  So this year, he'd use a new tactic.  He'd hide it in plain sight.  The anticipation should drive her crazy.

Milt handed it over.  He checked the weight, and put it to shoulder.  Fritz cycled the action.  "Smooth..."

"It's the first one I've ever seen," Milt said.  How'd you get it?"

"I called in a few favors.  Wrap it up...I'll take it!"  Fritz smiled.  "And don't forget the shells."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 05, 2006, 11:22:51 AM
The place was buzzing with activity when Scarlet arrived. It usually was, but foaling and calving time made it even more so. She waved to a group of ranch hands headed out to relieve those who had been taking care of the cattle for a few days. Word was they had lost a cow and calf during birthing and there had been sightings of a big cat around the one of the herds. Scarlet had been helping with both horses and cattle, but the horses always were here favorite.

Scarlet slid off of Lucky and let him go in his paddock, then headed for the foaling barn.

She stopped at the white mare’s stall. The mare nickered a greeting. The jet black colt with one white sock ignored Scarlet as he nursed. It was hard to tell at this point if he would stay black or turn grey then white but one thing was for sure he was adorable.

She looked in each stall as she went down the isle; by the signs of the mares there would be two, possibly three more foals born most likely this evening. One of them was the big black and white mare. She was an excellent mother and had beautiful foals, she just didn’t like people in with her or her foals, one had to be cautious around her for the first few months. Some of the mares were that way though.

Scarlet’s grin widened as she looked into the buckskin mare’s stall. The filly was bright eyed and curious but unwilling to leave the protection of her mother’s side to inspect the visitor. Scarlet stepped into the stall and kneeled down. The mare moved forward to take the piece of apple Scarlet offered. Her foal moved to the opposite side of Scarlet and peered under the mare’s belly. The buckskin foal was beautifully marked with dark, heavy stripes on her legs and down her back. Like her mother, she had the tiniest white band on her back foot at the hoof line and the same white band on her opposite front foot. The filly stretched her dark nose out to try and sniff at Scarlet’s outstretched hand. Scarlet could see also like her mother she had the same white facial markings.

“Oh I can just hear the negotiations now on which ones we won’t be selling.” Bo laughed.

Scarlet chuckled at the comment; it was the same every year, which ones they would keep and which ones they would sell.

“I’ve never steered you wrong Bo. That’s why we have quality animals; this one’s going to be a keeper. How’s the project I gave you coming along?”

Bo smiled “I told you it will be ready and perfect on time.” He said as he walked down the breezeway. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 07, 2006, 10:07:18 PM
Scarlet closed the stall door and sat against the wall. The noises in the barn had always been relaxing to her. The soft knickers of the mares and foals, the sounds of the hoof beats as the horses went in and out of theirs stalls to their paddocks. 

The mare had turned to face her enjoying the apple treat and the attention, her foal still kept a safe distance but had moved closer to inspect Scarlet.

Scarlet closed her eyes and leaned her head back while she petted the mare’s face, suddenly aware of how tired she was. Between being at the foaling barn and the dreams she was starting to have she had not been sleeping much the last couple of weeks. As far as she knew Fritz was only aware of the one bad dream, which she really couldn’t explain the reason for having.

Fritz reached for Scarlet, opening his eyes when he felt the empty spot where she normally lay. He laid awake waiting for her to come back, knowing this was her night off from foaling barn duties, she’d probably just gone to the outhouse or something.

He jumped from the bed when he heard the clatter from the bath house. Opening the door he saw Scarlet bending down to pick up the mirror she’d dropped.

“Scarlet.” Fritz said softly.

He was taken aback when she turned and faced him. It was a cool night yet she stood drenched in sweat and even in the dim lamp light she was very pale.

“Are you alright?” He said crossing the floor in two long strides.

“Yes.” She whispered.

“What is it?” He asked as he placed his hand gently on her cheek.

Scarlet closed her eyes, comforted by his touch. “Just a bad dream.”

“Tell me.”

Scarlet opened her eyes and looked into his. “It was a dream about when my brother was killed. This time I knew it was going to happen before it did but I still couldn’t stop it.”

He could see the pain in her eyes as she spoke. Fritz wrapped his arms around her and held her close. He knew her brother was shot in front of the Southern Star during the war and from the dates on the head stone the boy had been too young to be a solider. He had waited for Scarlet to say more but she had not. 

Scarlet also had had dreams that were once pleasant memories in her life, but now they left her depressed.

As she sat stroking the mare’s nose she wondered if talking to Fritz would stop the dreams.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 07, 2006, 11:47:56 PM
Bill had rigged more bells from the telegraph office before he and Patches had headed East to visit his folks.  Patches seemed to be able to hear the telegraph key from almost anywhere at the Starr, but Ella wanted bells in the infirmary and the kitchen if she was going to be the primary operator for a couple months.  The graphite key was getting as much use again as when she had just started learning the code.

She did have a personal reason to keep a close ear on the key.  The last letter from Alan had said he had completed his studies in Vienna and was making arrangements to travel home.  The next word she expected to get from him should be a telegram announcing his arrival in America, maybe including a date for his arrival in El Paso.

This time the bell summoned her out of Bill's lab, where she was preparing a tincture.  She turned off the heat, and ran to the telegraph office.  The key stopped chattering as she opened the door.   Settling into her chair, she transcribed the message.  It was for Fritz. 

Putting the message in her pocket, she went back to the lab to put the tincture away and take off her apron, then headed for the foaling barn. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 08, 2006, 12:11:18 PM
Fritz walked to the Marshal's office.  The door was unlocked, the office empty.  'Sleep was either out patrolling, or in with 'Becca.  He smiled.  They both got another shot at happiness, and it was a good one.  He looked over the wanted posters.  Not much was going on, and things were unusually quiet.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 08, 2006, 03:06:10 PM
Scarlet opened her eyes when she heard Ella’s footsteps coming down the breezeway.
The feel of the soft tiny whiskers on her arm made her smile but she other wise stayed still.

“Ella in here, have you seen her?.” Scarlet said just loud enough for Ella to hear as she came close.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 08, 2006, 05:03:27 PM
"Yes," replied Ella quietly, coming up to the door of the stall.  "I was in here helping when Kitty was born.  Her stripes put me in mind of a tiger-striped kitten, and she is almost as curious."

Ella smiled at the foal, then turned her attention to Scarlet.  "We haven't had any time to sit down together for the past month.  How have you been?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 08, 2006, 06:09:04 PM
“Kitty, I like that.” Scarlet said gently touching the foal’s nose.

She looked over at Ella. “Oh you know like every foaling season there is a ton of stuff to do and because I don’t want to miss anything I’m going in ten thousand directions, but other wise things are good.” Scarlet chuckled.  “How about you? I bet you are very excited about Alan coming back.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 08, 2006, 06:32:15 PM
Ella watched Scarlet closely while she chattered away.  Scarlet's color was off, and something was reminding Ella about how Patches had looked recently.  Ella had loaded Patches down with advice and morning sickness remedies before she and Bill left on their trip. 

"Excited, yes, and scared too," replied Ella.  "We've been apart almost three years.  I've had some bad dreams where he's angry at me for being unwomanly."

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 08, 2006, 09:51:59 PM
“I can imagine you’re nervous about seeing him after three years, I think anybody would be.” Scarlet said as she stood up slowly so she wouldn’t spook Kitty then moved to the gate and let herself out.

“Unwomanly? I don’t think I understand.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 09, 2006, 12:58:08 AM
"For the past two and a half years, my life has been a little adventurous.  I'm not the demure, quiet housewife he left behind anymore," replied Ella drily.  "I expect we are going to have to go through some readjustments.  He has learned a lot in his studies, but I've learned a lot in practice."

Paper rustled when Ella moved.  She pulled it out of her pocket and handed it to Scarlet.  "I almost forgot.  An official telegram came for Fritz."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 09, 2006, 03:28:37 PM
Scarlet gave her an understanding look, thinking  little adventurous was a mild statement.

“You have survived what life has thrown at you, and well I might add.” Scarlet said taking the telegram Ella held out.

“You have made opportunities for yourself very few white people could by being allowed to talk to the healers in Black Wolf’s tribe and trading knowledge with them, and anybody else you could learn from. I would think that would be something he would be proud of. I think you will be a great asset to his practice, unless he gets jealous folks would rather see you.” Scarlet grinned trying to get Ella to smile too.

 “You were in the hospitals with him; he knew you studied from your Grammy.   I just hope he likes it here, I would surely miss you.” Scarlet said as they walked.

They reached the corral where the green broke horses stood.   Scarlet looked at them deciding which one she might take on today then glanced back at Ella while she put the paper in her pocket.

“Official telegram huh? Something I should be worried about?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 09, 2006, 03:56:01 PM
"I don't know what it means past what the words say.  It's a summons for him to report," replied Ella.  "I've been indoors too much today, and Solomon is due for some training.  How much does he resemble his daddy at this age?  He seems smarter than Ruth was."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 09, 2006, 07:16:24 PM
As if on cue Solomon whinnied from the corral he had been turned out in for the day with some of the colts his age. Scarlet and Ella turned to see him standing at the fence inquisitively looking at them.

“I think he’s pretty smart Ella.” Scarlet chuckled. “You’ve done a lot of good work with him and he learns quickly much like his daddy. Along with that come the things you probably won’t be excited he learns quickly like untying himself and the entire picket line or how to get in the bag of oats and getting out gates. When you think he is just being nosy he is probably checking out how to do something. He seems willing too, it’s always nice when they enjoy the interaction.”

Ella and Scarlet had stepped over to greet Solomon, who immediately started to sniff at Ella’s pockets for anything that might be tasty.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 09, 2006, 09:26:40 PM
Solomon had good reason to expect something tasty to come out of Ella's pockets.  She pulled out a horse cookie made of oats, molasses and dried fruit to give him, and attached the leading rein. 

"At the rate he's learning, he will know all of the gaits and the voice commands long before he is big enough to ride," she said, opening the gate and leading him out to the ring.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 09, 2006, 09:40:58 PM
"With any luck when you're ready to get on him it will be very uneventful and he will take it in stride like he has everything else." Scarlet leaned on the rail enjoying watching Ella work the colt.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 10, 2006, 01:22:37 PM
Solomon's training sessions were always short.  Being smart didn't increase Solomon's attention span, but just let him get bored quickly.  And a bored Solomon was full of mischief.  Ella tried to finish each session before boredom set in, so that she could reward him for the training. 

After she put him back with the other colts, she walked back to the barn with Scarlet, while an internal debate ran through her head. 

For the sake of privacy, she should let Scarlet keep her pregnancy secret.  However, her medical history gave her a high risk of miscarriage, and Ella knew things that could reduce the risk a little or improve Scarlet's health afterwards.  In any case, Ella wasn't going to raise the subject in the open with risk of eavesdropping.

"Scarlet, could you come over to the infirmary later?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 10, 2006, 03:16:42 PM
“Sure.” Scarlet replied not giving it a second thought. It was common she and Ella would sit and visit at times although like Ella said it had been awhile since they visited.

“When will you be there?” Scarlet said the halter and rope off of the peg and sliding it onto the buckskin mare’s head. She opened the door and led the mare into the breezeway giving Kitty her first look at something besides the foaling stall.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 10, 2006, 03:40:15 PM
"I'm heading there after I harvest some things from the herb garden.  I've got tonics to put together before supper," replied Ella.  "Unless another telegram comes in, I'll be there when you are ready to take a break from here."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 10, 2006, 10:40:14 PM
Scarlet turned Kitty and her mother into one of the corrals then went back to the green broke horses. She untied the chestnut and did some ground work with him before climbing aboard.

The young horse was doing well until they passed the shrub, the noise spooked the horse. He spun to the side his eyes wide, slightly unbalancing Scarlet. The horse reared as the small furry horse eating creature ran at him from under the bush. Scarlet scrambled to regain her balance and control of the horse. When he came down he the horse jerked his head down pulling the reins through her hands than began to buck. Scarlet fought to pull his head up and stop him. Finally the horse came to a stop, both of them taking a deep breath.

Scarlet finished working the horse without further incident. When she stepped off her muscles ached and her hands were sore. Determined she was going to finish her chores before the hot bath that now sounded better than anything else Scarlet rubbed down the horse and put him away then put Kitty and her mother back in their stall.

Scarlet peeled her gloves off as she entered the infirmary mumbling something about rotten squirrels.

“I sure hope you have something to take the sting out.” Scarlet said showing her reddened palms to Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 10, 2006, 11:14:51 PM
"Of course I do," replied Ella, pulling a jar off the shelf.  She gently washed and dried Scarlet's hands, then rubbed the ointment into the reddened areas. 

She picked up a few sheets of paper and handed them to Scarlet, "I wrote out a diet and exercise program for you.  You should take a dose of this tonic at noon and at bedtime.  Since this is a high-risk pregnancy, the first priority is to build up your strength." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 10, 2006, 11:47:44 PM
Scarlet stared blankly at Ella for a moment. She wouldn’t lie to Ella but she was less than thrilled that somebody suspected. Her cycles had not been regular for years; nobody would be able to guess by that. She had hoped she would just quietly miscarry before it became obvious she was with child.

“What makes you think I am pregnant Ella?” She asked uncomfortably.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 11, 2006, 12:31:46 AM
"We are talking about my specialty, remember.  The way your color is off and something in your scent tell me you are breeding," replied Ella calmly.  "I know from your medical history that you are unlikely to be able to carry to term.  So I want to build up your strength as much as possible now so that you will be able to recover quickly and completely from a miscarriage.  I won't prescribe bed rest for you, except to tell you to take an afternoon nap, especially if you have any trouble sleeping through the night.  If a miscarriage is inevitable, better it should happen sooner rather than later."

She paused, then continued, "I don't think Rose would be able to guess for at least another month.  Men folk aren't likely to figure it out for another two or three months.  It's up to you whether you want to tell Fritz.  The danger in not telling him is that you might damage your relationship with him while you are moody.  And you are going to be moody."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 11, 2006, 10:36:11 AM
Scarlet cast her eyes down then back at Ella. “I already am moody Ella.” She said flatly “Fortunately for Fritz and I it’s been the kind of mood we enjoy. Except the depression, which I never had with my last pregnancy because it was a happy occasion, and I am good at hiding.”

Scarlet looked past Ella for a moment then her eyes came back and met Ella’s, “I don’t want to sleep Ella. When I close my eyes I have dreams too. The ones of folks dying around me, I learned to deal with that along time ago. It’s the one of when I told Travis we were going to have a baby and he was so happy" Scarlet slightly shook her head, "which is normally followed by the one of me telling Fritz I have lost his child then he tells me he’s leaving me for someone who he can have a normal life and raise a family with. OR he accuses me of just plain not wanting to have his child and that is why I miscarry. That I haven’t quiet figured out how to deal with.” Scarlet clinched her jaw and took a deep breath.

Ella had known Scarlet long enough to read the very subtle signs Scarlet was angry with herself more than anybody around her.   

“After Fritz asked me to marry him I saw a doctor when I went to see my folks in California, over that Thanksgiving holiday. He confirmed everything the doctor told me when I lost my baby. Slim chance of getting pregnant, slimmer that I don’t miscarry and no chance either one of us would survive child birth. He was very sure about the last part.”

Scarlet’s gaze had shifted from Ella to the floor as she spoke. When she paused the muscles of her jaw twitched and her voice was just above a whisper. She wouldn’t let the rest of the emotion she was feeling surface. Scarlet learned along time ago how to hide those well, although she realized she needed to get better control over them now. She was out of practice.

Scarlet drew another deep breath. “I saw another doctor not to long ago to confirm my suspicions. He told me the sooner I get rid of it the better and gave me a different kind of tonic…. if that’s what we want to refer to it as.”

Scarlet’s eyes came back to Ella’s. Scarlet had somehow managed to fight off the mixture of emotions that had threatened to surface, her voice had evened out and she now sounded as if she spoke about somebody else.

“I’ve done a lot of…bad” It wasn’t the word she was looking for but it was all she could come up with at the moment, “things in my time Ella. Killed a lot of people, and while the answer that man gave me might be best for the problem at hand I just have not been able to bring myself to do it. I have thought perhaps talking to Fritz might be a good thing, but again, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. Now I know what folks mean when they say ‘I hoped if I ignored it it would work itself out and go away’.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 11, 2006, 11:01:14 AM
"I have the ingredients for that other tonic as well.  I wasn't going to offer it unless you asked for it," said Ella. "There are times when it is the best solution, but normally that's only the case when the mother is sickly and a pregnancy will weaken her even that even a miscarriage will kill her."

"By starting now to work on your diet and exercise, we improve the chances of you and the baby surviving childbirth.  We'll have Alan available, so that we can perform a Caesarian delivery.  Men doctors have a tendency to prescribe bed rest for the whole time of a difficult pregnancy.  That does make it easier to get the pregnancy to go full-term, but doesn't leave the mother with enough strength and stamina for a difficult dellivery."

"You need to sleep.  Afternoon naps are less likely to be disturbed by nightmares.  I've got some charms you can recite before you fall asleep that can help prevent bad dreams as well.  And we'll hang a dreamcatcher over your bed.  It sounds like we both need to talk to Fritz about the pregnancy.  You told him before the wedding that you couldn't have children, so he isn't going to leave you over a miscarriage."

"You also need to let your emotions out.  It might seem to be easier on those around you to keep everything bottled up,  but those bottled up emotions are causing your bad dreams.  Let's go for a ride now, before supper, and find a quiet place where you can scream and yell."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 11, 2006, 03:48:18 PM
Scarlet was emotionally torn. She was glad to have someone to talk to yet she wanted to be left alone too. Ella had suggested a ride, which was appealing. Scarlet always liked to ride. When she was in a bad mood it helped clear her head and bring things into perspective, when she was in a good mood she enjoyed it even more.

They rode in silence for some time before Scarlet finally spoke in the flat detached voice. “The doctors told me about caesarian deliveries. Apparently it is my only option with the injuries I have. The survival rate is less than twenty percent. I will not lie in some bed waiting for that while people stop by to visit trying to hide their sorrow or pity.”

“When I am ready I will talk to Fritz. I would appreciate it if you let me do that on my own and not mention it to him or anybody else. And yes, I told him before we were married there would be no children.” Scarlet left out any remarks about the comments he’d made about her being a mother. “As for the screaming and yelling I don’t do that in front of people unless it’s directed at them. So this is about the height I’m going to reach.”

“The fates seem to have a sick sense of humor and maybe alla that praying for death I did years back are finally being answered.”

They had ended up at the house Scarlet and Fritz shared. Scarlet slid off of Lucky’s back and went into the house followed by Ella.

Scarlet placed the telegram on the table so Fritz wouldn’t miss it then went to the chair that was near the fireplace and stood on it reaching the dream catcher that hung there.

“This one has always worked well. We should put it in the bedroom like you said.” Taking it down and heading for the bedroom. Scarlet stood on the bed, stretched and hung it from a peg that was in the ceiling.

From watching Scarlet Ella guessed that she had hung dream catchers about this place before.

Scarlet stepped off the bed. “There are a couple more in the barn we can bring one back in here and put it over the chair.”

Scarlet and Ella headed for the barn.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 11, 2006, 11:14:26 PM
"The risk with Caesarian deliveries is infection afterwards.  The survival rate for Alan's patients is much higher than average because he almost always can prevent infection.  I assisted him on a dozen Caesarians while we were in Boston.  10 of those women survived the surgery, recovered from the surgery, and were busy raising their children when we left 3 years ago.  But we can deal about that later.  Let's get your condition built up now without worrying about trying to prevent a miscarriage.  The first step is to help you get the sleep you need.  When you talk to Fritz, you can tell him to see me if he has questions about the medical issues.  I won't bring the topic up with him or anyone else except Alan."

As they walked toward the barn, Ella wished she had Grammy's gift.  Grammy would have seen through Scarlet's emotional masks to find the core problem.  Ella saw the anger when Scarlet let it slip, but there was something underneath.  Why was she angry? 

Fear! Scarlet was afraid of dying and afraid of being an object of pity. 

When they got to the barn, Ella pulled Scarlet around to face her and put all the power she had into her voice,  "Look me in the eye, Scarlet.  This is NOT a death sentence.  You CAN survive this.  Alan and I will do everything in our power to make sure you LIVE!"  Then she pulled Scarlet into a protective hug, and said soothingly, "Cry if you need to, let the emotions out."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 12, 2006, 10:02:01 AM
“Thank you." Scarlet replied returning the hug, appreciation was about the only emotion Scarlet could muster.  The two women climbed the stairs to the room that was much like the one in the foaling barn at the Southern Starr. Not as elaborate inside, it had a cot, a small table and chair and a bowl and pitch in a stand. It was tidy but dusty from no use since the mares were at the Starr.

Scarlet pulled the chair over, stood on it and retrieved the dream catcher. She looked over and saw herself in the mirror that was in the stand. Scarlet stopped and studied herself for a long moment. She looked good, she thought anyway, except for the pale skin, most women wanted. Her eating habits could be better, she supposed. Picking at meals because she wasn’t really hungry she didn’t think was bad, but completely ignoring the hunger pangs because she was busy wasn’t good for her she knew.

Ella had mentioned exercises, which Scarlet hadn’t looked at, but between riding, chasing after foals, cleaning stalls and all the other running around she did she thought she was in pretty good condition. She thought she made a point of staying in good shape in case they had to go on the trail after some outlaw and it was much easier to stick to the bucking horses when one was in good condition.

“You keep talking about my condition Ella and I didn’t look at the exercises but if we were discussing horses I’d expect to be looking at some out of shape mare that had been penned in a stall for months. Oh and she smells funny too.” Scarlet looked at Ella. “I’ve been told I smelled before but never quiet the way you put it. All I can think about now is a lot of soap and very hot water followed by a lot of what ever scent I have the most of so somebody else doesn’t ask what that smell is.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 12, 2006, 11:58:31 AM
"It's not really a smell for anyone to notice, just a slight change in your normal scent.  Trying to cover it up will draw more attention than you want," replied Ella.  "The exercises are for strengthening muscles you don't use as much for riding and working, and for stretching the muscles that you do use.  Diet and sleep are much more important.  I know you skip meals when you are busy, then just grab whatever is handy when you get around to it.  You don't get enough vegetables that way.  I wrote the diet plan with that in mind.  There's a list of foods to eat between meals.  Once you have them available, you can keep some handy to eat on the run."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 12, 2006, 03:50:14 PM
“Those women in town would kill for this paling skin.” Scarlet half smiled.

Ella knew it meant Scarlet was feeling somewhat better about talking to her. She had almost said nothing and when she first brought it up in the infirmary started to wish she’d stayed out of Scarlet private business. But they were friends and after all what were friends for.

Scarlet got off of the chair, replaced it in its spot then looked close in the small mirror.

“I told there is nothing to notice, I did just because it’s my specialty, much like you with the horses. You know the moment one of them is slightly off.” Ella remarked.

Scarlet laughed softly. “I’m lookin’ for the sign that says stubborn as mule.”

“Lift your bangs.” Ella remarked with a slight smile of her own.

Scarlet laughed out loud. “I knew it was there someplace.” She turned and looked at Ella again. “I promise to eat my fruits and veggies.”

Ella eyed her.

Scarlet grinned. “I promise to eat at least half of it on my own and tha horses will not get more than the other half and I will carry enough so I get my recommended daily amount…someday they will have pills er something for that.”

The women headed back for the house.

“I’m going to start looking real good in what you put on my plate when we are there for meals. I’ve been known to mix things I think are good for the horses in with their oats and such and I think you just might do the same to me.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 12, 2006, 04:09:26 PM
Ella tried to look innocent, and failed with a giggle,  "Yes, the dishes and desserts that tempt you most are probably going to have some extra goodness in them.  But Rose does most of the cooking, which will make it harder, but not impossible, for me to put extras in there."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 13, 2006, 08:57:59 PM
Fritz rode back to the house.  He noticed two horses tied at the rail.  Scarlet and Ella maybe.  She did look a little tired of late.  He was sure one of Ella’s tonics would fix her right up.

Fritz dismounted and tied Buddy to the same rail.  Buddy nudged his pocket.

“Not this time pal.  Why don’t you talk to your stable mates instead?”

Buddy grunted in disapproval. 

There was a bucket of sudsy water on the porch.  He didn’t know if it was laundry soap or not. 

“Well, it’ll clean ‘em just as well," he said, and dumped his empty casings in.  He chuckled as he entered the house.

“Scarlet...I’m home!”  No one answered.  “They must be out at the barn,” he thought.  As Fritz headed towards the back bedroom, he noticed the yellow flimsy paper laying on the table.  Usually, telegrams went to the marshal’s office.  He set the Berdan on the table and opened the paper.  It was addressed to him.

“To: 1stSgt Frederick King
From: C.O. I Co, 2nd U.S. Cavalry

1stSgt King,
You are hereby recalled to active service.  You will report immediately to Fort Fetterman, where you will join the 2nd Regiment of Federal Cavalry, actively campaigning against hostile forces in the Dakota Territories.  Your arrival is eagerly anticipated.  Report with all possible dispatch.
Your most obedient servant,
William Schurmann
Officer Commanding
I Company, 2nd U.S. Cavalry afield

P.S.  Welcome home Fritz.”

Fritz set the paper down.  He inhaled deeply, and set his back straight.  Emotions were running fast and furious in his head.  He was excited and terrified at the same time.  He never expected to be recalled this late in his career.  But this was different.  Bill Schurmann needed him.  He’d asked for him by name.  The 2nd Cavalry was his home...his unit. But what about Scarlet?  She was his home...she was his LIFE.  She was all that mattered.

What could he do?

"Orders are orders," Fritz said flatly.

He headed for the bedroom.   

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 13, 2006, 11:27:44 PM
“I probably shouldn’t tell you but it took us years to get her to stop putting vegetables in practically everything but deserts. But ya know misery loves company so everybody can eat the same thing.” Scarlet laughed softly knowing it wouldn’t be hard for Ella to get Rose to serve up more fruits and vegetables.

Her mind wandered to back to when she told the family there would be a new addition and drifted to the conversations that had taken place after the accident.

Scarlet stopped half way between the house and the barn and faced Ella again. “Tis not fear of death Ella, its hatred and anger you see. One who is afraid of death does not pray for it to come. I have Fritz to thank that I still don’t do that." She paused for a moment and took a deep breath.  "You said something earlier about being unwomanly. I would take the opportunity again to kill the ones who made me the way I am. I thought I had come to terms with that until recently. It all seems to have come rushing back.”

There was more about having to deal with the pity folks offered or the accusations that had been made at the time but Scarlet didn’t tell Ella that, instead she turned and started back towards the house. “This is supposed to be a happy time for most women I just wish it was over with.” She said softly.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Butcher Bill on November 14, 2006, 12:29:55 AM
The rider pulled up the big black stallion.The setting sun cast a long shadow of the horse and rider,and the two dogs."Well,it's time to camp pups." he says to the dogs. "We should be at the ranch in a couple of days...unless we get caught up in some trouble or another."

He got off the horse and tended to him,and made a secure camp on a shelf of rock that jutted over a stream."No varmint can get to us pups,only one way in,and certain death to try." "We'll have a nice fire tonight,and cook up that venison we got earlier."

The dogs took their place by the small crackeling fire,as the rider sliced steaks off a haunch of venison. "Feels good to camp like a human for a change,pups."

The man gazed into the fire. "Too bad it won't last....."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 14, 2006, 09:06:44 PM
He set the Berdan on the bed and closed the door.  There, on a hook, hung his campaign uniform.  It was old and faded, but still him. 

Fritz opened the dresser drawer and pulled out boxes of ammo.  First, he reloaded the prairie belt.  Once all the loops were filled, he pulled the converted Navy from its holster.  "No," Fritz said.  He couldn't take it.  It was a custom-made firearm now.  Parts weren't available where he was going.  And he'd never forgive himself if it were damaged...or lost...

He wiped it down with an oiled rag, and put it back in the presentation case.

The percussion guns would stay behind, as would his reloading gear.  He'd carry more ammo.

The obvious choice was the cavlary-issue Colt.  He checked the load, and slid it into the holster.  Fritz slipped the empty holster off the belt.  Even if the short-barreled pistol were around, he didn't want to worry about different ammo in a firefight.

The Trapdoor carbine was on the rack, but the Berdan was coming with him.  He knew what he could hit with that, and at what range.  It'd need a good cleaning before he left.

"A repeater," Fritz thought.  He knew that Sioux warriors favored the Winchester, when they could get one.  They'd have the advantage at close range.  He'd negate that advantage with one of his own.  The improved Henry was the best of the two.  He grabbed additional boxes of .44 Henry ammunition.

Now, off to the barn to clean his rifle.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on November 14, 2006, 10:37:23 PM
"I've got recipes for desserts that contain vegetables.  I'll have to share those with Rose," said Ella with a grin. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 15, 2006, 03:13:39 PM
Ella and Scarlet rounded the corner, seeing Buddy tied to the rail Ella gave Scarlet the “now would be a good time.” look and mounted her horse.

Scarlet wasn’t even sure what she was going to say or how to begin as she went up the steps to the house. It shouldn’t be this hard, Fritz had always been easy to talk to. She figured she was having more of a problem with it that he would, but still what do you say?

Scarlet reached for the door knob just as the door came open. Fritz stood in the doorway with a preoccupied look on his face which Scarlet could only imagine had matched her own until it had changed to surprise.

The moment seemed awkward for a moment as they just looked at one another. 

Scarlet smiled, leaned in and kissed him. “Hi Sugar, how's your day been?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 16, 2006, 06:32:45 PM
Fritz was surprised when he met her at the door.  He shouldn't have been.  It WAS their home after all.  He put the rifle in the corner, against the wall, and took his wife's hands.

"Honey, we need to talk."

Scarlet was taken aback for a moment.  Did he know?

He led her to the kitchen table, and sat her down.  It was then that she noticed the open telegram.  He eyes fell on one word...


"What does this mean?"

Fritz sat down beside her.  "It means I've been recalled to active service.  The Second needs me.  My old C.O. asked for me by name."

He waited for her response.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 16, 2006, 08:58:30 PM
Scarlet took a deep breath and let the words sink in. She wanted to tell him she needed him too, but she would not guilt him into anything. She’d watched what that would do to people. He’d already given up that part of his life once for her, she’d not ask him to do it again.

“When do you have to leave?” She asked softly.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 17, 2006, 09:30:06 PM
He expected more...he hoped for more of a fight.  Scarlet was so hot tempered, he thought she'd be angry.  It would have been easier that way.  Maybe he thought if she fought, he'd be more inclined to stay.  "Scarlet must be sick," Fritz thought.

"Fort Fetterman is about 800 miles away.  It's in the middle of Wyoming Territory.  The old ditty used to say, 'forty miles a day on beans and hay.'  I'm not sure I can make that, but I can try."

"Maybe you can take the rails part way," Scarlet said.  He voice was quiet...small.  "You didn't answer the question."

"In the next couple of days," Fritz replied.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 18, 2006, 10:18:05 PM
Scarlet squeezed his hand tightly. When their eyes met he could see she was burying some emotion, anger, fear, he didn’t know for sure. She looked down at the table where the telegram sat.

“I’m guessing that actively campaigning against hostile forces means it’s not a family trip and I am familiar with a saying that goes something like ‘if we thought you needed a wife you would have been issued one.’” 

Her eyes came back up to his. “You asked me once if I knew what it meant to marry a soldier, perhaps better than anyone knows.”

Scarlet sat back in the chair gritting her teeth for a moment causing the muscles in her jaw to flex. Women, whiskey and outlaws she knew how to fight, this was different.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 19, 2006, 01:38:53 PM
"I can't ask you to go with me," Fritz replied.  "It's gonna be dangerous.  General Crook has been battling the Sioux for months now, and the weather's gotten the better of him.  Conditions will be...harsh."

He didn't know if she knew what soliders on campaign were like.  They could be a smelly, nasty, violent bunch.  Living conditions were cramped at best.  Crook was known for campaigning with pack mules only.  That meant no tentage.  No privacy.  And army fare wasn't the healthiest food, for man nor beast.  Most was probably surplus hardtack from the war, as well as beans, saltpork, and coffee.  And he knew that under desparate situations, they'd subsist on horsemeat.

Fritz finally asked, "Honey...are you allright?"

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 19, 2006, 09:49:56 PM
Scarlet’s eyes narrowed slightly at Fritz’s question.

“No.” She said flatly.

“What is it?” Fritz asked softly, concerned there was something going on he did not know about.

 “I love you to much to be angry with you and I don’t care much for the taste of hating someone I’ve never laid eyes upon. You’re C.O….well it’s not important what I think of him, I know you think well of him.”

Scarlet new Fritz thought highly of his C.O. and it would do no good to pick a fight. Perhaps the man was as smart as some said, after all if she was fighting ‘hostiles’ she’d want her best people with her. Still so close to retirement it was frustrating.

"I have something I want to do that will take a couple of hours. When I get back maybe I can help you get your stuff togeather and we can spend some time togeather before you have to leave."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 22, 2006, 06:25:22 PM
"Please...don't go," Fritz said.

Scarlet's determination showed clearly on her face.  "I won't be long," she replied, as she swung into the saddle.  Scarlet was moving away at a gallop, and quickly crossed over the hill.


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 22, 2006, 07:18:48 PM
Scarlet had stood up, kissed Fritz sweetly, went to the bedroom and retrieved her gun belt. Pulling the knife from its sheath she inspected it for sharpness. She didn’t know why, habit maybe, it was always razor sharp. Scarlet replaced the knife to where she’d worn it on her gun belt for as long as she’d carried it.

Going to her trunk  Scarlet retrieved the old Dragoons and the shoulder holsters. After she put them in place she picked up her saddlebags and inspected them for the everything she needed to shoot the guns she was wearing. Once the saddle bags were filled to her satisfaction Scarlet went out the door to get Lucky.

Her mood was dark and she needed the release Ella had spoke of before she couldn’t control herself anymore. “Going to be dangerous” He said…what the hell did he think she did for a living? “Need to tell him.” Ella had said. Just the thing to make for a happy home. Scarlet thought.

“Please don’t go” she’d heard him say. She’d replied with the first thing that came to mind. She needed space away from people and she needed it now.

Lucky raised his head and nickered as she came out the door. Scarlet put the saddlebags in their place and mounted up. Backing Lucky away from the rail she wheeled him around and started out at a gallop.

 The whinny of the old mare caught her attention. Pulling Lucky to a stop she looked over her shoulder. Gypsy paced the fence her head up and her eyes bright. Scarlet could see the mare bobbing her head up and down as she pressed her chest against the gate.

“What the hell.” She said aloud and spun Lucky back towards the corral. Reaching the gate Scarlet reached down and unlatched it. The mare bolted through as if to escape before Scarlet changed her mind. Scarlet picked up the mare’s halter and then followed after her.

At the pace they had gone it took no time at all to reach the range Scarlet liked to practice on. It had grown quiet elaborate over the years complete with swinging targets. Horse and rider could really be put through their paces.

Scarlet slowed Lucky and rode the course making sure nobody would be in the line of fire, setting the targets as she went. Once it was clear and set she took the halter and rope, put it on Gypsy and dropped the lead to the ground so the mare would stay where she was put.

Hearing fire from the range Bo turned his horse and headed towards the sounds. He pulled his horse up where he wouldn’t be noticed. Bo always enjoyed watching folks run the course and wasn’t surprised to see it was Scarlet. What he was surprised to see the pace she was moving through the course. She would normally ride Lucky fast but she seemed to be asking him for everything he had. It really was a pleasure to watch horse and rider completely in tune neither one missing at beat.

As they reached the end of the course she drew her knife and sunk it into the dummy slicing the chest. Lucky slid to a stop, spun around and headed back down the course, his ears up and tail high as fast as he could go.
The report of the Dragoons was unmistakable. Bo counted enough shots she had to be carrying both of them. Strange he thought, she often carried one but not both.

As he watched he noticed she seemed to be riding more aggressively with each run. 

Scarlet brought Lucky to a hard stop next to Gypsy, dismounted, reloaded her guns and replaced the spend shells in her belt, grabbed the rope, a handful of mane and swung onto the mares back.

Gypsy headed down the course at a full gallop. Bo winced as he watched her ride past the dummy and sink her knife into its groin tearing the abdomen apart.

Scarlet pulled Gypsy to a stop while she reloaded. The mare jigged in place, one would never guess how old the horse really was. Scarlet kicked the mare into a gallop, emptying the Dragoons into the targets as they went. As they neared the dummy Scarlet drew her knife again and urged Gypsy faster. A blood curdling yell could be heard as Scarlet’s knife sunk into the neck of the dummy.  As horse and rider passed by the head of the dummy bounced to the ground.

Bo pushed his hat back as he watched. “She must be in a vile mood” he said aloud.

Gypsy stopped not far from where the head had bounced to a stop. Scarlet slid off, picked up the head and threw it as hard as she could against the tree. She wondered if it would be any different if she was normal. If she could be like other women and give the man she loved a family.

She’d beheaded her demon and taken his heart but he still haunted her.

Scarlet walked back over to Lucky and mounted back up, reloaded and looked down the course. She sneered a bit as a vision of Fritz’s C.O. danced through her mind. She kicked Lucky and headed back down the course.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 22, 2006, 08:47:47 PM
He felt hurt.  There was nothing he could do.  Orders were orders, and he was still a soldier.  He took the Berdan out to the shop.  The wrapped package with Scarlet's present was still tied to his saddle.  That'd have to go inside.

Fritz set the rifle on the bench.  He opened the breech, and puled out a bottle of solvent.  As he worked, his mind wandered.  Old voices filled his head.  Old soldiers, long dead, were calling his name.  And then, another voice...younger.  One he didn't recognize.

"She's afraid you'll leave her...for the Army."

"That won't happen," Fritz replied, as he ran a patch down the bore.

"She's afraid you won't come back," the man whispered.  "That your luck will run out"

"No one knows for sure...God will take me when he's ready."

"Maybe you should stay...I would've."

Fritz laid the rifle down and slowly turned.  For a moment, he saw a tall man with crossed gunbelts.  The large butts of Dragoons stuck from the holsters.  He'd seen those guns before. 

He'd just seen them...on Scarlet.       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 22, 2006, 10:27:13 PM
Her hands were sore again by the time Scarlet stopped, there was only enough ammunition left to load the guns twice each if she needed to, both horses were tired but wound up from the energy.

She peeled off her gloves, one of her hands had raised a blister from the day’s abuse, but she felt better, besides she had cream for just such a thing back at the house.

Scarlet looked at what was left of the dummy. She’d fix that after Fritz was gone, she’d have a lot of time on her hands in the coming months. Swinging up onto Gypsy’s back she headed for home.

Scarlet figured Fritz would be gone for his birthday so she rode to Dr. Bill’s lab and get the pistol Fritz had been looking for earlier. She smiled at the thought hoping he’d be pleased with the alterations she had had done to it. Bill had showed it to her before he and Patches had left to go back east. He’d finished the mechanics of it. She supposed the cosmetic parts would have to wait until Fritz came home.

Scarlet saw the door to the shop open when she rode up. She quickly unsaddled Lucky and turned him into the corral with Gypsy.

Fritz sat with his back towards the door. The rifle was cleaned and sat on the table in front of him. Without seeing his face she knew his mind was taking him places by the way he sat.

Fritz turned slowly at the sound of her footsteps. Scarlet stopped in the doorway, she almost felt like she was intruding on him. She supposed she deserved it after her actions earlier.

“I have something I was planning to give you for your birthday, but I don’t know if you’ll be back by then so I’d like to give it to you now, it can wait if you’re busy.” She said softly.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 24, 2006, 05:19:52 PM
..."It can wait if you're busy."

The image shimmered in his mind for a moment.  He closed his eyes to focus.  When he opened them, the Dragoons were still there.  But they were back on Scarlet's hips, where they belonged.

"  Now would be just fine," Fritz replied.  "It'd take my mind off things."

"Penny for your thoughts?"

"Maybe later.  Whatya got there?"

He recognized the piece of doeskin.  It had held many presents in the years they'd been together. 

"I hope you like it.  It's not quite done," Scarlet said, "but it's done enough."

She handed the package over.  Fritz unwrapped the gift.  He smiled.  "So there it is."

The first thing he noticed was the grip.  Bill had reconfigured it.  Instead of the traditional plough handle, it was gracefully curved at the base.  He slipped it into his hand.  It felt different...not bad, just different.   

"Bill told me he copied from the British Webleys.  It's called a 'bird's head."

The next thing he noticed was the the ejector rod.  Somehow, Bill had put a full-length ejector rod on the barrel.  At only three and a half inches, it was a short rod, but it would do the trick.

"I'd told him to put ivory stocks on it, and to have it engraved," Scarlet said.  "He went east with Patches before it got done.  We didn't expect this.  Cosmetically, it still needs some work.  But mechanically, it's just fine."

Fritz turned the pistol in his hand.  He noticed the markings on the barrel.  They read, ".45 Colt."

"He converted it!  Where did he get the parts.?"

Scarlet smiled again.  "Your friend Keith out at the fort was very helpful."

Fritz put the pistol down, and pulled his wife close.  "Thank you!  I love it!  And I Love You."

They kissed.

"Since we're in a gift giving mood, I suppose I should let you have your present now."

"MY present?"  Scarlet was confused.  "But my birthday..."

Fritz interupted.  "I know.  But I can never surprise you.  I figured I'd leave it in plain sight, and just drive you nuts for a month or two."

He took her by the hand and led her out to his mount.  Fritz untied the parcel and handed it over.  Scarlet's face lit up like a child's on Christmas morning.  She tore at the paper with equal enthusiasm.  When she opened it, she gasped.

"Is this what I think it is?"

Fritz smiled.  "Yep.  I knew you'd want one of the first ones."

She asked, "How did you get it?"

"I have some friends...well, Johnny has some friends."

She turned the carbine over in her hands.  It was marked "Winchester 1876."       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 24, 2006, 08:19:50 PM
Scarlet shouldered the rifle it fit perfectly.

If he was giving this to her now she figured it meant he didn’t think he’d be back in time for their anniversary. She had wondered how long he’d be gone after she saw the telegram. Fritz would just have to wait for that gift, Bo was only half done with it.

Scarlet had done some reading about the new rifle and looking at this one she knew it had been ordered with a few of the options. She favored the octagon barrel over the round and the pistol grip stock over the straight, Vernier and Windgauge sights and the tiger stripe wood was breath taking.

“Why Mr. Fritz, I do believe you have a keen sense when it comes to knowing what your lady likes.” She said with a grin.

“Thank you.” She whispered just before she kissed him. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 24, 2006, 11:23:04 PM
They made love many times that night.  There was an urgency to their lovemaking.  Each kiss was like the first...

...or the last.

At long last they fell exhausted into each other's arms.  But sleep did not come easily.  They held each other close, saying little.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 25, 2006, 09:53:34 AM
The sunrise came much too soon.

 “Good morning.” Scarlet said kissing Fritz sweetly.

He pulled her close; his eyes sparkled as he smiled at her.

Scarlet had sworn to herself she’d make sure Fritz carried memories of her smile with him, from the way he smiled at her now she knew he’d take memories of more than just a smile. 

Scarlet returned his impish grin. She’d have very sweet memories to recall on the lonely nights to come also.

She traced her fingertips along his jaw line. “Where ever you go you take my heart with you.” Scarlet slipped the horn and turquoise fetish she wore from her neck and put it around his.

Fritz couldn’t remember her ever taking it off. He started to object. “Don’t” She said softly.

“Scarlet.” He started again. He knew it was much more than just a piece of jewelry she wore. It was more than a gift her father had given her along time ago. Scarlet didn’t wear a cross she wore this. 

She cut off his objection “When he gave it to me he said it would guide me in my travels, protect me from injury, danger and possession by evil spirits. I believe it must work because I am still here and I know there have been times over the years I should not.”

She could see the concern in his eyes. “There is another that hangs on Lucky’s bridle, I will wear that one. If that is what is causing this look in your eyes.” Scarlet thought on it a moment. They had never really discussed religion, although she knew Fritz carried a bible and he knew she did not. “If you are uncomfortable wearing it and would rather give it back Sweetheart I understand.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on November 25, 2006, 10:48:25 PM
They enjoyed a good breakfast of bacon, eggs, biscuits and coffee.  Scarlet was an accomplished cook.  His campaign trousers were a little snug, but that would not be a problem for long.  Fritz sipped his coffee, and fingered the fetish around his neck.  He swore to his love that he'd never take it off.

"Please don't hate him," he said.

Scarlet set her spoon down.  "What?  Who?"  How could he know?

"Don't hate Captain Bill," Fritz replied.  "I never really told you much about my time with the Second.  It was my first and only unit.  I've only been away from it while serving at Jefferson Barracks...and during our time in Mexico.  It was the only home I ever knew...until now."

Scarlet sat down beside him, and took his hand.

"I was too young to fight in the Mexican War.  I joined that Cavalry in '56.  It was then I met Captain Schurman, my C.O.."

"Wait a minute," Scarlet said.  "You mean to tell me your C.O. was William Tecumseh Sherman?"  No wonder she hated him!

"No.  No, of course not.  Bill Schurman had been in the Army a long time.  He called himself a 'long service Captain.'  I guess he figured he'd pissed so many people off, he'd never get promoted.  His career would've ended, if not for the war.  We rode East, and made quite a record for ourselves.  There was no way they could get rid of him now."

She saw that far away look in his eyes again.

"In the Shenandoah in '64, we ran into an ambush.  Captain Bill was pretty shot up.  I rode in without thinking.  Ranger was still young and plenty strong.  I pulled him up on my McClellen and rode out.  Took two pistol balls for my trouble.  That's where the medal came from."

Scarlet recalled the inverted star he wore on his dress uniform.

"Anyway, Captain Schurman fought the rest of the war from a hospital room.  He put me in command on the spot.  A battlefield promotion.  Breveted a Lieutenant.  I had the honor of leading the men at the Grand March.  Bill worked some magic, and got me that position at the Barracks.  But a desk job didn't suit me.  It was like a death sentence."

He squeezed her hand.  "And the rest you know."       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on November 26, 2006, 09:47:04 AM
“Be cautious of all people and remember to never judge them by the way the look but by the actions they take” Scarlet said thoughtfully. “Dad told me that along time ago.”

Her eyes met his and she smirked. “Why you think he was so agitated when I started lookin’ your way Darlin’. Makes him madder ‘n a wet hen when ya use his own wisdom against him.” She chuckled softly.

“I’m glad you listened to Johnny about that.” Fritz smiled back at her.

Her voice became serious again. “I understand him wanting you there Fritz, especially after what you’ve said. There are certain people I choose to ride with me depending on the task at hand. I will not hate him for that.”

 “I’m irritated he has found where I tried to hide you. Apparently out of sight out of mind does not hold true with this one.” She said a bit teasingly.

Scarlet leaned forward and placed her fingertips on the fetish and his chest. “This does not deflect bullets. That I can tell you for sure, I’ve been reminded of it to often. So maybe think a little before you ride in. That's all I can ask because dad also taught me don't ask anything of anybody you wouldn't do yourself."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 01, 2006, 07:40:12 AM
Once the breakfast dishes were cleared, Fritz pulled a tablet and pencil from the cupboard.  He sat down and wrote two letters.  The first one read:

"To Marshal Tensleep Ross, U.S. Marshal, El Paso, Texas.

Dear 'Sleep,
I've been recalled to active duty with the second Cavalry.  Whatever happens, I intend this to be my last patrol.  Please consider me for hire as a permanent Deputy Marshal upon my return.
P.S.  Please look in on Scarlet from time to time."

He folded this letter and pinned his badge to it.  With a strange feeling of Deja Vu, he started the second letter.  It read:

"Last Will and Testament.

I Frederick H. King, being of sound mind and body, hereby bequeath all that I own, all that I have, all that I AM, to my dear wife Scarlet.  As to my remains, Scarlet may dispose of them in any manner that she sees fit.
Frederick H. King, El Paso, Texas
April 7th, 1876."

He folded this letter and placed it back in the cupborad, with the tablet.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 03, 2006, 12:08:00 AM
He'd checked the girthstraps twice.  Buddy was set up with a pack saddle and saddle blanket.  He carried the supplies, as well as Fritz's Berdan.  There were oats for the horses, and a brand-new tarred haversack with some of Ella's cookies in it.  Much better, not to mentione healthier than Army fare.  There were extra blankets, a medilcal kit, and some salt, as well as a canvas water bag.  Strider was rigged with the McClellen, and a scabbard for his '66.  The sky blue greatcoat was strapped to the front, and a valise with spare clothes on the back.  The saddlebags contained coffee, jerky and ammo...
...lots of ammo.

He was ready.

Fritz ran his hand across the smooth butt of the convereted short barrel.

"Ni Itzo!"  Yellow Arm.

Fritz spun about as he heard his name, his Lakota name, called out.

There stood his friend Grey Eagle.  "Ni Itzo...where are you going?"

"I've been recalled," Fritz said.  "I go to fight with the Cavalry."

Grey Eagle came forward.  "Then...your time has come."

Fritz reached for his arm.  "Take care of Scarlet for me."

Fritz rode Strider to the porch to say goodbye.   

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 03, 2006, 10:09:12 AM
Scarlet stepped off the porch as Fritz approached. He dismounted and they embraced one another.

“Good” Fritz started to say only to be cut off by her kiss.

“I will miss you.” She said softly “goodbye is bad luck unless there is no intention of seeing one another again.”

Scarlet would have liked to tell him she would be here waiting for him when he returned but she knew she wouldn’t. The walls had already started to close in around her and the voices from the past had already made their presence known. She gave herself a few nights in the house before she’d either be back at the Starr or living in Bo’s house again. Perhaps she would ask Tensleep for a field assignment.

“I’ll not watch you ride away either and don’t look back it’s..”

Fritz chuckled “I know bad luck.”

Scarlet smiled as she ran her fingers gently across his cheek. “Take care of yourself Darlin’ and if you think you hear my voice on the wind it is because I am talking to you.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 03, 2006, 06:33:58 PM
He touched her cheek, and felt her warmth.  He'd miss that in the days to come.  He swung into the saddle, and wheeled Strider towards the road.  Buddy fell into step with them as they headed up the small hill.  At the crest, he stopped, and turned in the saddle.

Scarlet had gone inside the house, and closed the door.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 04, 2006, 12:57:13 PM
Scarlet busied herself in the house as long as she could, then gathered her shooting gear and headed for the range again.  As she approached, she heard gunfire.  Someone was practicing, but the rhythm of the shots didn't sound familiar. 

She was surprised to recognize Ella, wearing britches instead of her usual skirt or divided skirt.  Ella was shooting faster than usual for her, and missing a lot more. 

Scarlet waited until Ella stopped to reload to make her presence known.  "Hi, Ella.  What's up?" 

"Hi, Scarlet.  I'm taking my own advice," replied Ella, holstering her guns and turning back to the firing line. "I" BANG! "heard" BANG! "from" BANG! "Alan." BANG! "He" BANG! "wrote" BANG! "a letter." BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

Ella returned to the loading bench.  "He got back a month ago. He says he is staying in Boston until fall.  He was offered a position as a guest instructor at the medical school and agreed to take it for six months so that he can share what he heard in Vienna.  He 'suggested' that I come join him in Boston.  Of course, if I do, he is never going to come here." 

She sighed then continued, "I'm almost calm enough to write a reply.  I am needed here.  I won't leave."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 04, 2006, 03:14:21 PM
Scarlet was shocked to hear what Ella had to say. She took a deep breath then said “Of course you needed here Ella. You’ve also become family and we’d all hate to see you go, but what is it that is best for you? Do you want to start a practice in the city or stay here, and does Allan want the same?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 04, 2006, 05:09:03 PM
"If Alan had asked me two weeks ago to join him in Boston for the summer, I would not have hesitated to go.  I could have traveled east with Patches and Bill, and Alan could have met me in Washington for the last leg of the trip.  That might have been a nice trip for getting reacquainted," replied Ella.  "I had told him in letters about learning to use the telegraph and that I expected to get a wire from him as soon as he arrived.  And I got replies from him that said he had received those letters.  But he was in Boston for two weeks before he wrote that letter.  I don't feel respected by him."

She sighed again before continuing, "Grammy's journals tell about when Grandpa first came to their town to practice.  He didn't take her healing skills seriously until a scarlet fever epidemic forced them to work together.  Then they fell in love and married.  My healing skills have always been overshadowed by Alan's, which seemed perfectly natural.  But I've learned a lot of practical medicine during the past 2 1/2 years, and learned a lot more independence, especially from Rose.  You and Patches are more independent, but Rose is a clearer model for how independence fits into a marriage.  I want Alan to learn from Johnny how the man's side of that kind of marriage works."

"I will send a gentler answer than would have come out of my pen an hour ago.  One reason I will give for not heading east is your condition.  I won't say any names, just that I have a patient at high risk of miscarriage that I need to keep close watch on."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 04, 2006, 10:53:20 PM
“When you said you and Alan were going to through some readjustments you sure weren’t exaggerating.” Scarlet smiled “I hope he realizes how lucky he is and what a great team the two of you will make with your combined knowledge.”

Scarlet’s smile turned into a grin. “If he doesn’t I’m sure there a few men around the place that will inform him how lucky he is.”

Ella knew Scarlet was referring to the doctor from the fort. There had also been a few of the ranch hands that had told Ella her husband was a lucky man.

Scarlet was not the only one the sound of gunfire had attracted, Grey Eagle rode into view. Scarlet excused herself, mounted back up and rode out to meet him.

“I didn’t expect you today.” Scarlet said as she approached.

“I came to” Grey Eagle paused trying to figure out how to say it without upsetting Scarlet.

“You came to pray for him didn’t you?” She looked over at her friend who looked incredibly guilty of the accusation. “You always seem to know when something is happening in my life.”

“We share the same blood. Sometimes the same vision.”

“I am glad my brother thinks my husband is worth praying for. It means a lot to me.”

“His time has come. I wish to pray for the husband of my sister before he rides into battle.” Grey Eagle replied.

His comment puzzled Scarlet. “Do the old ones speak of things happening beyond their home?”

“Yes. They speak of changing times.” Grey Eagle said looking into the distance. “They say things beyond our home will shape our future.”

“Sometimes the same vision Grey Eagle. You know what I ask. What have the elders seen?”

“They have seen mother earth blanketed in blood but they are unsure what this vision means. Black Wolf fears for his people while he waits more advice from the elders.”

“Must be something in the air making everybody unsure of what tomorrow holds.” Scarlet sighed.

“I must go.” Grey Eagle said looking at her. “Where shall I look next time?”

Scarlet knew he was asking where she’d be next time he came to visit. She shrugged her shoulders. “You’ve always known where I was, I spect it will be no different.”

Grey Eagle nodded his head in understanding then moved his horse out at a quick pace.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 07, 2006, 12:00:22 AM
"Scarlet, will you promise me something?" asked Ella.  "Will you let me know before you take off somewhere so that I can go with you?" 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 07, 2006, 09:58:57 PM
The hardest part was saying goodbye.

Knowing that there is a possibility that this will be the last time you ever see your loved ones in this world.  You hold on as tight as you can, for as long as you can.  But must let go.

After that, it's easier.  As you ride down the trail, you begin to focus on your mission.  The sooner you get the job done, the sooner you can come home.

Fritz made about forty miles that day.  He set camp when the sun was low, tying off a picket line between two trees.  Both horses were unsaddled and wiped down, then fed.  They liked Ella's oatmeal cookies as much as he did.  Once the horses were taken care of, he made some coffee, and watched the sun set.  Fritz ate light, and looked at the stars awhile.  As he bedded down for the night, Fritz missed his bed...and the woman he shared it with.  As he drifted off, he began to dream..   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 10, 2006, 07:01:32 PM
He was back a Jefferson Barracks.  It was some sort of ball, in full dress uniform.  He was wearing the shoulder straps of a First Lieutenant.  On the left breast of his jacket he wore the medal.  They made him wear it at every event.  A string quartet could be heard in the background.  The tinkling of glasses, cigar smoke and small talk filled the air.  Fritz hated these things.  There were arranged to impress people you didn't like.

"Fritz?  Is that you?"

Fritz turned to see an old friend.  Sgt Gustav Geotsch. 

"Good to see you old man!  How are you?"  Gus had a cigar clenched in his teeth, as usual.  His uniform was grey.  Gus was serving in the 10th Georgia...when he was killed.

"Ah...good.  And you?"  Fritz reached for a glass from a tray, and hoped it was bourbon.

"Never better!  Glad you finally made it!"

Gus swirled away in the crowd before he could reply.  But he wasn't the only one.  They were all around him.  Old friends, long since dead.  Most had perished in the war, some on the plains.

But they were all dead.  That much was certain.

"What are you doing here?"  The voice shocked him.  She hadn't changed.  His first wife, Melissa.  She adored these parties.

"You gave all this up, and for what?  A blonde whore and a tin star!  You're worthless!!!"

"It's not like that.  I love her," Fritz replied.

Melissa said "You should go," turning her back on him.

He said "Wait!"  But she vanished among the revelers.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the large double doors.  The Officer of the Day called out, "The Guest of Honor has arrived."  Fritz ran towards the man as he pulled the latch.  The doors swung wide as blood curdling screams fill the air.  Savage Sioux poured through the opening.  Fritz instinctively reached for his Colt...but it wasn't there.  Only his sash and belt were tied about his waist.

In a moment, they were all upon him.             
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 12, 2006, 07:41:37 PM
Fritz sat bolt upright, the hammer back on his short Colt.  He scanned the darkness for...


Strider looked at him and snorted, as if to say, "what?"

Frtiz tossed another piece of wood on the fire.  It was going to be a long trip.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 12, 2006, 08:54:33 PM
Scarlet watched after Grey Eagle for a moment then turned to Ella. It was no secret that when Scarlet grew restless she could not stay put in one place, in fact along with the restlessness came the dangerous side. Scarlet didn’t know why for sure, best she could figure if she doing something dangerous it took her mind off of other things. Danger kept her focused on the task at hand.

“I promise Ella, but when I go you may want to think twice before you choose to go with me.”

Ella looked at her questioningly.

“I saw a wanted poster on Tensleep’s desk I was considering, Charley Firehorse, the one wanted for murder and arson. Or maybe I’ll give a shot at that outlaw mare the boys been tryin’ to tame.”

Ella knew the man Scarlet talked about. He’d been robbing stages and setting them on fire along with some of the passengers recently, and the horse, Ella had set two broken arms and wrapped one man’s ribs thanks to the horse Scarlet was considering.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 12, 2006, 09:10:31 PM
"I'm telling Alan truthfully that I'm not returning to Boston because I have a patient I need to keep close watch on," replied Ella seriously.  "So if you go off bounty-hunting, I'm coming with you.  Women die from miscarriages, far too often.  Most of the rest of the time, the miscarriage leaves her weak and sickly.    I'm not trying to keep you from activities that might trigger a miscarriage, but I want to be on hand to minimize the impact it would have on your health."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 12, 2006, 10:59:03 PM
Scarlet took a deep breath and slowly let it out then said. “I love you like a sister Ella, and I appreciate your concern, but please do not saddle me with the guilt feeling I am keeping you from joining Allen and I don’t want you endangering your life following me around.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 12, 2006, 11:11:55 PM
"It's Alan who is keeping away from me, no fault of yours.  I was not planning to return to Boston, because in his letters Alan had agreed to come out here," replied Ella.  "I am going to follow you around.  You might as well get used to the idea.    But can we take a pack horse?  I've gotten used to carrying a field hospital with me."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 13, 2006, 03:03:25 PM
Scarlet had to smile at the get used to it statement followed immediately by the request for a pack horse in spite of the fact part of her really wished Ella would leave her alone. Scarlet knew Ella would follow her, even if she snuck off in the middle of the night. Ella was stubborn and resourceful, too much like herself and she reminded Scarlet of Becca to a point.

“Yes, we can have a pack horse.” Scarlet chuckled softly then asked “You always been this stubborn Ella?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 13, 2006, 05:41:41 PM
"Of course, I've always been this stubborn.  Grammy wanted me to be able and willing to stick up for my opinions.  You just hadn't seen the stubborn much since I was usually getting my point across without it."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 13, 2006, 09:25:03 PM
Fritz ran a hand across his face.  There was stubble there.  He'd shave tonight if he found a good creek to camp by.  Maybe even a bath.  If not a creek, he'd have to wait until the next town. 

"This sure is a pretty country," he thought.  Fritz would see a good chunk of it on his journey North.  He adjusted the McClellen on Buddy's back, and readied for the day's ride.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 13, 2006, 11:21:02 PM
Scarlet and Ella rode back towards home. When Scarlet split off and rode towards the grave yard Ella let her go.

Scarlet dismounted and dropped the reins on the ground, the gate still squeaked when she entered. She walked to the grave and sat down at the end, leaning against the old tree that had stood there since the beginning of time, best she could figure.

She didn’t know how long she’d been there when she heard the gate squeak again. Turning she saw the woman enter. Scarlet said nothing and leaned back against the tree.

Mrs. Corbin came to a stop next to her. “It’s your fault you know.” The woman said looking down on Scarlet in disapproval. “They’d both be alive if it wouldn’t for your actions.”

Scarlet shifted uncomfortably.

“How many mothers’ sons are you going to put in the ground?” The woman asked.

“Wasn’t my fault.” Scarlet said quietly hating being in the very presence of the woman.

 “Their death” Mrs. Corbin snorted as she gestured towards the two graves with her chin “was indeed your fault. Seems to me that Marshal Hart’s death was your fault and Fritz’s death will be your fault too.”

Scarlet’s head jerked up and the two women exchanged looks of disgust.

“You could have kept him at home, Fritz I mean. All you had to do was ask him and you know it. How many times did he offer to quit and YOU told him no. Didn’t you want him around very long Scarlet?”

Scarlet stood to face the woman. “Leave here.” She growled.

“I would have done everything in my power to keep the man I loved away from battle.”

“I know how miserable you made Travis, guilting him to stay and run this place, I will not repeat your mistakes.”

“Only because I couldn’t get them to go to the city. What is it about this God forsaken land men find appealing?”

Scarlet looked around. “Perhaps it is the fact you can see the stars shine brightly and have a single thought without being interrupted here. The Corbin men never liked the city, not Travis, Bo or their father.”

“And it was their downfall.” The woman snapped. “I wonder if you will be responsible for Bo’s death?” She tilted her head “and that woman Ella too, because of your selfishness.”

“Ella is free to make her own choices, like Fritz and Bo.” Scarlet retorted.

Mrs. Corbin laughed. It was somewhat of an evil sound to Scarlet’s ears. “Didn’t you learn anything from me?”

Scarlet had had enough she put her hands on her hips and leaned towards the other woman.  “Yes, I learned how to make a good man miserable. I had to listen to Travis rant every time you told him it was his responsibility to take care things his father could no longer do. I had to listen to him rant about the way you made him feel like he was a child and how he hated you for trying to keep him under your thumb. Now GET OUT.”

The woman narrowed her eyes.

“Out” Scarlet said pointing towards the gate, that’s when she noticed him. The tall dark clothed man that had ridden next to her for so many years. He was handsome in his own dark way and many times had brought her some sense of comfort.

Scarlet escorted the woman to the gate. “You are not welcome here today either.” She said.

The man held out a bottle. “It can end, your friend Ella wouldn’t feel obligated to follow you, you wouldn’t be waiting to die trying to be something you know you never can be. Set yourself free.”

“Why now? I prayed for you to take my soul for so long and you wouldn’t.”

The man smiled “All in good time my dear. You never considered knowingly shedding blood of the innocent before, but lately.” The smile broadened.

“You go to; I’m not ready to sell my soul today.”

The man picked up her hand and kissed the back of it before she yanked it away.

“I will be back Scarlet.” He said.

“Just go.” She said turning and going back to the tree.


The feeling of his hand on her shoulder made her jump, her head jerked up and slammed against the tree.


She was almost afraid to open her eyes.

“You been here all night?”

Scarlet opened her eyes. She was relieved to see him. “When was the last time you talked to you mother Bo?”

He put his hand down helping her to her feet. “Been sometime, you know that.”

“You ok Sweetcheeks?” He asked.

“Yeah” She replied wondering herself.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 14, 2006, 11:15:42 PM
The two rode in silence back to the barn. Scarlet slid off her horse and began to unsaddle him. Bo dismounted and stood watching her.

“You never told him did you?” Bo asked.

Scarlet’s back stiffened, she could never hide anything from Bo for very long and she knew it. “What?” She asked turning around to face him.

“You didn’t want him to go. How mad you are. Better yet.. where you’d place the sights of that ol’ sharps on his C.O. if you think for one minute he is the reason Fritz doesn’t come home, if that were to happen.”

“No.” Scarlet said flatly not liking at the moment how well he really did know her.

“I bet you never told him you’d be gone from here within the week neither.”

“No, I was a good wife Bo. I smiled and gave him a kiss.” She replied.

“Why didn’tcha tell him how you really felt?”

“He’s a grown man Bo, just like you, free to make your own decisions.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t insist on going with him.” Bo half teased only to receive a glare from Scarlet.

 She walked over to where the pack saddle sat on the stand and started to examine it.

“I knew it.” He said watching her. “Not even gonna wait a week.”

“I too am grown Bo, free to make my own decisions.” Scarlet said as a matter of fact.

“First I’m going to take a bath then I’m going to go see the Marshal.”

“I’ll see you before you go.” Bo said kissing her on the forehead before he left.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 16, 2006, 09:26:03 AM
Supper with Rose and Johnny was a quiet meal that evening.  Fritz's departure that morning had dampened everyone's spirits.  After dishes were done and the kitchen cleaned up, Ella went out to the telegraph office. 

Patches had introduced Ella to the network of professional telegraphers when she started learning the codes.  Patches was prone to spending half the night chatting across the wires, exchanging gossip.  Those contacts had been useful several times when the Marshal was tracking down outlaws.  Ella had chatted enough to maintain those contacts. 

Now was time to see what they could say about Charley Firehorse's recent activitiy.  Maybe they would also say something about Army activity in the direction Fritz was heading. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 16, 2006, 11:13:21 PM
Scarlet had finished her bath, gotten dressed, geared up and was headed back to the barn. While she’d sat in the bath she had decided Joker and Dancer would be the pack horses. Ella could handle riding either one of them for switching mounts and they both would follow and be able to keep pace with Lucky without being worried about.

She had finished putting the pack saddles on horses and packing the things she wanted when she heard “Incoming rider!”

Scarlet stepped out of the barn. She recognized the man, it had been sometime, since she rode with Hart best she could remember.

“Corbin! There you are.” He said riding up, his horse steaming in the cool morning air.

“Daniels, what brings you looking for me?” She replied curiously.

“You got a letter. It’s marked urgent from Fort Laramie. The way I figure it is they are either lookin’ for ya cuz ya went and made some soldier mad and you best be headed back to Mexico or they want somebody’s head in a sack and figure you is the one for the job.” He chuckled at his own humor. “Anyhow looks like you might already know.” He said eyeing the horses.

“I’m headhunting.” She half grinned almost afraid to take the letter. Her mind raced, Fritz had only been gone a day and something regarding him would have come to Mrs. King and most likely been brought from the nearby fort.

She took the letter. It was clearly marked on the outside.


“I got to get back ‘for the stage leaves without me.” He said turning his horse.

“Don’t be such a stranger Daniels.” She said looking at the envelope.

“You owe me a drink at the Ace anyhow since I hand delivered that. Gives you a head start!” He laughed as his horse moved off.

Scarlet looked at the return address that simply said Kane, Ft. Laramie, Wyoming.

She couldn’t think of anybody there who would be contacting her but then again this week had been full of unpleasant surprises.

Scarlet tore open the letter that looked like it had been hastily scribbled out.

I find myself looking beyond locals for the upcoming task. The ones who are good at what they do have already ridden out and I am short handed except for young inexperienced. While they are good scouts I fear they will crap their britches under fire.  When I tell them we are headed for Ft. Fetterman I fear they will desert, as you know the only thing appealing there is the Hog Ranch.”

That made Scarlet chuckle. One of the girls that worked the Ace had come from the Hog Ranch. She knew from what the woman had said the Hog Ranch was the only option for the soldiers to socialize with women, and they had to swim the river to do it. She had told the other girls about all the soldiers in wet uniforms half frozen at times that would come to visit. The letter continued.

“From there we are to scout out hostile Indians. I have been lucky enough to get a couple of half breed Crow Scouts, however some of the others would rather see them hung than ride with them. I fear my hands will be full babysitting when I should be able to concentrate on other things. So far only a handful speak the language of the men we go after. What good is that to me? If you can recommend any good scouts that will NOT desert me, have seen battle and speak the language I would be in your debt.

Cyrus Kane

P.S. It is with great sorrow I heard of your brother’s death.”

It was then Scarlet realized this was meant for Bo. She remembered Cyrus too, although she had only met him once. He had come to the Starr to meet with Bo, Travis and some of the other men that ran in their circle. She’d never forget the face of a man who survived an attack from a grizzly. She remembered Travis thanking her for being nice to him. At first she did not understand, later she’d heard some of the other women talking about how scary and awful looking he was and they were afraid to talk to him. She could remember thinking her mother raised her better than that.

Scarlet folded the letter, placed it back in the envelope and looked at it for a long moment. Cyrus needed good scouts, she was just as good as anybody he’d be able to find and better than others.

“I can’t ask you to go with me, it’s gonna be dangerous, conditions will be harsh.” Fritz had said. Scarlet mulled this over for a moment. She’d been through the gates of hell more than once, knee deep in snow and mud or in the middle of the desert in August. She’d ridden with some of the foulest men she’d had the displeasure of meeting, at least soldiers were supposed to be disciplined.

There was her current condition to be considered. If she let her mind wander she could remember the pain of the late term miscarriage and the condition that had followed. If she carried this child that long she was probably as good as dead anyway, her instincts told her so, besides she had already decided she was not going to sit around feeling sorry for herself. The fates had dropped this letter right in her hands, the dreams of the devil earlier, who was she to ignore such signs?

Fritz’s wife did not belong there, it wouldn’t look good at all, she could only imagine what people would say, but the bounty hunter called Corbin would be an asset to Cyrus Kane. Scarlet finished with the horses then swung into the saddle.

She rode past the garden. Ella wasn’t there so she headed towards the telegraph office. Seeing movement inside Scarlet pulled Lucky to a stop and dismounted.
She was smiling when she went inside.

“Good morning Ella.” Scarlet was smiling like her old self. “How fast can we make Ft. Laramie, Wyoming territory? If I am not mistaken we can take the train part way.” She said sliding the envelope towards Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 16, 2006, 11:49:59 PM
He'd made about a hundred miles so far, and though he had enough prvisions, the town below looked pretty inviting.  So as the sunn began to dip, Fritz rode Buddy towards the main street.  The place he was looking for was well marked.  Fritz dismounted, a bit sore from the hard earth and the days ride.  He tied his mounts to the railing and stepped inside.

A bell rung as the door struck it.  The shop was small, but all was neat and tidy.  A voice called from the back, "Just a minute!"  A woman's voice.  Fritz took off his hat.

As the barber emerged, he thought he'd entered the wrong place.  A buxom blonde wearing scarlet and black came from the back room.

"Good evening ma'am," Fritz said.  Have you closed for the night?"

The woman had a warm smile.  "Why no sir.  That is, if you're needing my services."

Fritz hung his hat on the rack, along with his gunbelt.  The short Colt came with him as he sat in her chair.

"What's your pleasure?"  The lady leaned in close, and tied a sheet about his neck. 

"Haircut, shave...and maybe a bath.  What's your name?"

She smiled.  "Rowena...yours?"

"Fritz."  The two shook hands.

Rowena went to work.  She was quite adept

"How close can you come to the scalp?"

"Close as you want," was her reply.  "You don't want your hair?"

Fritz looked her in the eye.  "If I don't have any hair, they can't scalp me."

Rowena broke out a larger pair of scissors.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 17, 2006, 02:44:25 PM
Ella took the envelope and quickly scanned the contents.  "We can take railroads all the way to Cheyenne.  It could take as little as 5 days, depending on how the scheduling works out," she replied.  "Since this letter seems to be intended for Bo, is he going with us?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 17, 2006, 05:24:05 PM
“Don’t know.” Scarlet said with a shrug her shoulders “that would be up to him. I’ll give him his letter and ask him if he would recommend us and if he wants to go along. After he decides what he wants to do we can send a wire to Ft. Laramie letting them know to expect us.”

Scarlet picked up the letter and headed towards the door. “I’ve packed what I want on Dancer, Joker ready to be loaded up with what ever you want to take.” She called over her shoulder.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 17, 2006, 06:16:43 PM
Scarlet found Bo working with some of the young horses.

“You got a letter Bo.” She said pulling Lucky to a stop next to the corral.

Bo rode over. “Ma send me something?” He said stepping off the horse and taking the letter.

“Dang Scarlet” he said looking at the torn envelope. “At least you used to steam them open when you wanted to read them.” He teased.

“Daniels brought it out to the house. I didn’t realize it was for you until I finished it.” She replied waiting anxiously for him to read it.

Bo narrowed his eyes at her. “What does it say that seems to have yer interest?”

Scarlet glanced down, the corner of her mouth slightly turning up.

“Looks like you are ready for a trip.” He observed.

“I just need to let Tensleep know where Ella ‘n I are headed then we’ll be on our way.”

“And what I’m holding has something ta do with it huh?”

This brought a full smile to her lips “Darn skippy.”

Bo read the letter than looked up at her. “Yer insane.” He snorted. Only to receive a blank look from Scarlet.

“Ft. Fetterman is a hole and it’s still cold there.” Bo said not really sure why he was even trying to change her mind, he knew it was already made up.

“Ft. Fetterman or Charley Firehorse? Ella and I are going.” Scarlet said dismounting.

Now it was Bo’s turn to stare blankly, one was really no better than the other.

“If I were Fritz I wouldn’t be thrilled trying to explain to my men why my wife feels the need to come hold my hand.” Bo said.

“I agree. That’s why Scarlet Corbin is going.”

Bo just shook his head. “I knew you’d find some kind of trouble, just didn’t figure on this.”

“Look Bo, just because I got married doesn’t mean I stopped being good at what I do. Kane needs good scouts that understand the people they are going after and will ride with the Crow.”
“Stop, don’t start in on me. I know you’re good and I’m pretty sure you have given this at least a half seconds thought beyond you want to be near Fritz. And I bet you already told Ella to send a wire telling Cyrus you’d be coming and have figured out how yer gonna get there too.”

Scarlet smiled. “I told Ella to wait on the telegram until we knew if you’d be coming with us. She figures we can take the rails most the way and be there in about five days.”

“And what if things get tough and food gets poor Scarlet, that’s a nice looking horse yer riddin’.”

Scarlet narrowed her eyes. “They can eat the caucus of the man who tries it.” She growled.

Bo laughed. “Indeed they would be. I guess I best get my stuff together so I can keep those men safe from you.”

Scarlet hugged him.

“Johnny’s gonna be mad. He’s not going to like you hunting Sioux, kinda like if he lit out after Comanche.”

Scarlet frowned “I hope he will understand. But you know I would understand if he tracked Comanche as long as he didn’t hunt Black Wolf’s tribe. It’s a fine line I know.”

Bo just shook his head in agreement.

“I’ll go tell Ella, then I’ll get my gear. You can talk to yer dad and Tensleep then tell Zeke to take care of things while we are gone.” Bo replied as he tied the young horse back up.   

 “You’re both crazy you know, and me I’m crazy too.” Bo said as he walked into the telegraph office. “Send that telegraph to Ft. Laramie, address it to Cyrus Kane. Say….” Bo grinned “Say Hell must be frozen over you’ve asked a Reb for help. I’m on next thing smokin, bringing another scout and.

He looked at Ella “will it be two scouts or a scout and a medic?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 17, 2006, 06:37:56 PM
"Scout and medic," replied Ella, settling into the sending chair.  "I'm not much use as a scout." 
She tapped the key for a minute.  "Message sent.  I'm glad you're coming, Bo.  Now I'm going to pack a field hospital onto Joker.  Scarlet, did what you wanted to bring and packed onto Dancer include food and cookware?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 17, 2006, 08:50:18 PM
Scarlet was just outside the telegraph door talking to Zeke when she heard Ella's question.

"One pan, coffee pot and provisions for three people, and horses for three days ride, figure we could restock in the next town we came to. If we ride the rails it will be much easier."

"I'll bring an extra horse,we can distribute the pack weight evenly." Bo said then his expresson softened "Would be against my better judgement to turn you and Scarlet lose on poor ol Cyrus." He tried to be serious but chuckled at the end of his statement. Truth was he wouldn't let Ella or Scarlet go alone, both were quit capable as far as he was concerned but he knew just the presence of a man would keep some trouble at bay.

He knew Johnny would go if he had to, hell any of the men would go but Bo was probably the best choice, especially since the letter did come to him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 17, 2006, 11:28:55 PM
Having a whole packhorse for carrying her field hospital felt luxurious.  It did seem that every time she went out on an expedition or with the posse, she found one more thing that she needed to have with her.  It was hard to believe that three years ago, she had carried all the medical supplies she ever needed in her pockets.  Her pockets grew once she started having occasion to use those medical supplies, and started being responsible for more people.  When she reached the limits of expanding the pockets under her skirt, she copied Doctor Bill and added a carpetbag, and then a second one.  Then she started keeping saddlebags loaded and ready in addition to the carpetbags. 

Canvas walls and roof were the bulkiest item.  A dozen bottles of sterilized salt water were the heaviest item, and the most fragile.  Two disassembled cots made an awkwardly shaped bundle.  Canvas bags containing waxed linen bags of herbs and yards and yards of linen and gauze bandages carefully wrapped in more waxed linen padded the box containing bottles of tinctures and tonics.  A couple of pots would be useful for cooking up tonics and soups.  Ella got everything loaded onto the pack saddle. 

Her saddlebags could be used for her personal items, in addition to a little more medical supplies.  Instead of carpetbags, she would carry a bedroll containing a couple changes of clothes behind her saddle.  She was going to ride Aaron this trip.  He was a little faster and stronger than Ruth, who was probably coming into season pretty soon. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 18, 2006, 08:52:05 PM
Scarlet walked up to the house, her mom and dad were sitting on the front porch, she knew they were waiting for her.

Rose met her half way down the steps and caught her in a tight embrace. For a moment Scarlet wondered if she new EVERYTHING.

“You be careful.” Rose said trying not to cry.

“I promise” Scarlet said.

She looked up at her dad, she couldn’t help but feel guilty. He also got up and joined her on the steps and hugged her tightly. He knew she’d be going, it was just a matter of time. It wasn’t like she was going knowingly after his brother, but he knew in her heart she carried that very feeling. He tipped her head up.

“Do not feel guilty; you would hunt Comanche as long as it wasn’t Black Wolf’s tribe, just as you’ve hunted white people. You’re mother and I have always encouraged you to follow your heart, even though at times we’ve questioned if we were right for doing so. Just do me the courtesy of not making me sorry I didn’t try to talk you out of it this time.”

Scarlet hugged him furiously. 

“Remember everything I’ve taught you and who you are.”

“I promise, I’ll remember everything you’ve both taught me.” Scarlet replied then turned and headed towards the Marshal’s office hoping he’d be half as understanding as her family had been.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 18, 2006, 09:13:20 PM
He stared at himself in the mirror.  She'd done a good job.  When the scissors had done their job, she went to the razor.  He'd be a couple of weeks on the trail, so he'd have some stubble when he got to Fort Fetterman...but that was all.

"You're a handsome man," Rowena said, "even without your hair."

Rowena asked, "so...what are your plans tonight?"

"I'd better see to my horses.  Maybe I'll bed down by the river."  Fritz stood and retrieved his gunbelt.

"Nonsense.  There's room here," Rowena smiled.  "In the hotel, I mean." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 19, 2006, 06:36:10 PM
Fritz paid Rowena and walked into the street.  It was cool outside, but not uncomfortably so.  He looked in the lighted doorway, and then towards the river.  He perched his slouch atop his head, and mounted Buddy.

"Let's go down by the river boys," Fritz said, and wheeled his horses about. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on December 20, 2006, 06:15:45 PM
Scarlet found Tensleep sitting behind his desk going through the new batch of wanted posters.

“I was giving thought of going after Charley Firehorse, but Bo got a letter from someone at Ft. Laramie requesting scouts to go to Ft. Fetterman. I want to go, and Ella wants to go with me.” Scarlet said.

"Hmmmmmmmmm, Charlie Firehorse....... " The marshal looked at a wanted poster.
"No need, just got a wire in that said he died when he tried to hit a stage that some Mexican wanted. Way it read wasn't a pretty sight to see."

Scarlet wondered if he'd heard the last part of her sentence for a moment. "Cyrus Kane at Ft. Laramie has requested scouts. I want to go and Ella wants to go with me. We'd like to leave as soon as possible."

Scarlet wasn't in the mood to beat around the bush, she was shouldering as much guilt as she could stand and leaving Tensleep short handed only added to it. She continued "I'd like to tell Ella you were ok with our request and we would have jobs when we returned."   

Tensleep looked up at Scarlet, his eyes flashing. "Now why would you think that you wouldn't have jobs when you got back? There are always more outlaws than deputies in this country."

"As far as your request, is this going to be work for the government? You know that the taxpayers already pay your wages."

"Why wouldn't I think we wouldn't have jobs." Scarlet sighed. "Because I'm leaving you short handed and following my gut feeling or my heart, I'm not real sure yet. Irresponsible to you and my job is what it is and I wouldn't blame you." There she thought she'd spoken her mind. It sounded even worse when she'd said it too.
"Ella's going to sign on as a medic, I'll scout, last time I inquired it was government work yes. Unless you got someone else in the wanted poster pile that might be riding with the Souix I figured we might have to sign on with the army."

"Matter o' fact, just happen to have yer next assignment here on my desk. Crazy white woman named Carrie Moore killed her husband an' two kids then took up with some Injuns fro Palo Duro an' headed north. You get to take whoever ya want with ya." Tensleep looked at Scarlet and winked. "I might be interested in goin' myself. 'Becca told me I needed to get out more but said she had too much to do to go anywhere with me."

Scarlet smiled. "I'll ask Ella to see if she's heard anything about thie Carrie Moore on the wire while we wait for you to pack your gear. You can brief us along the way and if you have any questions about Kane, Bo can tell ya about 'im."

As Scarlet went out the door she said "Becca often tells me you are the answer to a womans prayers."

"I don't know about her prayers but she does seem to call on God a lot at times." Tensleep winked again.

The marshal stood. "I'll have my things together, kiss 'Becca goodbye an' meet y'all at the Livery."

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 20, 2006, 09:20:42 PM
He'd set his camp without incident.  Fritz was too tired to cook, so he settled for some of Ella's cookies and some water.  He tended to his mounts, and laid out his greatcoat.  He fell asleep, and dreamed again...

Fritz recognized this place.  It was Grey Eagle's sweat lodge.  Perspiration flowed from his pores.  Across the fire, through the steam, Grey Eagle stared intently at him.

"Ni Itzo...your time has come."

"What do you mean?"

Grey Eagle smiled.  "It is time for you to speak for our people."

He heard movement to his left.  Suddenly, Fritz was awake, the shot Colt in his hand.

"Come on out!  I know you're there."

She wore a riding cloak, but her frame was unmistakeable.  Rowena.

"Lady, you could've got yourself killed."

She smiled.  "I knew you wouldn't hurt me."  The cloak slipped from her shoulders.

"You took a bad chance."  Fritz stood and holstered his piece.

"I thought you were the hotel."

"Changed my mind" was his reply. 

She moved closer.  "I know you like me...I know you do."

"Ma'am, I..."


"Okay, Rowena.  You've got the wrong idea about me."

"Do I?"  She was almost touching him.  "You're a soldier.  I know what a soldier likes."

"Maybe I was like that once," Fritz said quietly, "but not anymore."

Rowena put her hand on his chest.  Fritz gently pushed it off.

" should go now."

She looked him in the eye, and slowly turned away.  She picked up her cloak as she walked.

"You know where to find me," she said, as she slipped into the dark.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 21, 2006, 08:47:49 PM
He considered moving out that night, but thought better of it.  Fritz laid back down, and tried to sleep.  He spent most of the night in fitfull tossing.  After a few hours worth, the grey tendrils of sunshine crept over the horizon.  Fritz saddled his mounts and headed up the trail.  Then, he decided a cup of coffee couldn't hurt.  He turned back towards town. 

She rose early, as was her custom.  Coffee was on the boil, and she'd begun fixing breakfast, when there was a knock at her door.  Rowena cinched her robe tighter as she opened the door.

"Well, I didn't expect to see you."  Even though the tone was sharp, there was a smile in her eyes.

"Rowena, I owe you an explanation."

She shook her head.  "You don't owe me anything."

"Please," Fritz said.  She opened the door and let him in.

"Your coffee's boiling," he said.  Rowena lifted the pot form the stove.  She poured two cups and brought him one.

"I married once, for all the wrong reasons.  We hurt each other badly."  He sipped his coffee.  "I swore I'd never fall in love again.  Truth was, I didn't want to be hurt again.  So I threw myself into my career.  I tried to be the best soldier I could be."

Rowena nodded knowingly.

"On one mission, I thought I was going to die...and I really didn't care.  And then she came along."

"Who is she?"

" wife.  She saved my life, and stole my heart all in the same moment.  We've fought side by side ever since.  She's my equal.  I couldn't love her more.  And for the past two years, I've been happier than I've ever been."

"So, why are you alone, on the trail?"  She warmed his cup.

"Because I've been recalled to battle the Sioux.  It's my last fight.  When it's over, I'm leaving the Army.  My life's begun again, thanks to Scarlet."

Rowena smiled.  "She's a lucky lady.  Breakfast?" 

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 21, 2006, 11:57:31 PM
The sun painted the sky bright pink as it peered through the lighter pink clouds that lined the sky silhouetting the riders.

Scarlet in the saddle with her knee hooked around the horn. She was looking the information on Carrie Moore while they waited for the train. They’d ridden half the night to make the train stop.

Bo watched her, she looked better this morning than she’d looked in a week  He half grinned remembering the first time Travis tried to leave her behind when they went on a trip. Scarlet never took kindly to being told she was going to be staying behind and as long as he could remember she never did stay put where someone expected her.

It was supposed to be a trip to visit friends, another adventure for the brothers. Travis had told Scarlet she’d be staying at home. Bo could remember how angry she was, but she’d said nothing to her husband. The two brothers had taken bets on if Scarlet would follow them; El Paso to New Orleans, no sign of Scarlet. When they reached the hotel there was a note from Gloria, Travis’ favorite girl before Scarlet, inviting them for a drink at the saloon. Travis couldn’t believe his eyes seeing Scarlet at the bar, it had definitely made an impression on him. Gloria had been the most beautiful dancer Bo could remember until she’d taught the same moves to Scarlet. Best as Bo could figure Travis thought little about Gloria after that trip, Scarlet had indeed figured out how to keep his attention.

Although this was different he figured it was somehow similar. He was sure it was going to leave some kind of impression on Fritz, just what kind he was not sure.

Scarlet looked up, catching Bo’s gaze she smiled. Bo chuckled, what ever Fritz thought he was lucky she loved him the way she did or maybe she was the lucky one.

“Trains here.” He said.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 27, 2006, 08:11:58 PM
He rode thourgh the valley.  It was pleasant, as was his morning.  He'd only talked with Rowena.  They had breakfast, yes, but they talked.  It was nice talking about nothing in particular.  As he left, she said, "you tell that Scarlet how lucky a lady she is."

"I'm sure she knows," Fritz replied.

"But we still like to hear it, now and again."

She kissed him on the cheek.

"If you ever change your mind, you know where I'll be."


He'd never change his mind.  Scarlet was his life.  He was bringing one chapter in his life to a close, to begin a new one.   

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 27, 2006, 10:24:26 PM
They all settled into the stock car with their horses. It came as no surprise to Bo that Scarlet had insisted riding in the car with her horse, he was used to it, he couldn’t count the amount of times they’d done it. He was a bit surprised when Ella and Tensleep insisted on riding in the car with them.

Bo watched Ella curiously for a moment.

“Something you wanted to ask?” she said catching his gaze.

“They say it’s a small world. I was wondering if it was you Cyrus says saved his life.”

It was Ella’s turn to look curious.

“Cyrus Kane scouted for the Yankee Army during the war.” Bo continued “Over 15,000 casualties at Cold Harbor from enemy fire, and one by a Black bear. Cyrus told me the doctors didn’t think he’d make it at first and left him to die. He said there was one young nurse, who helped him, wouldn’t let him give up and then wouldn’t let the doctors take his arm.”

“I’ve heard you say you were there, the nurse he has spoken of sounds like you. I doubt you would forget him if it was you. He has scars across his face from claws and teeth, some deep scars on his chest and arm. Blonde with blue eyes, one of them has a white cast now and he can only see partially out of it. He told me once he never got the chance to thank the nurse and he didn’t know who she was. I was just wonderin’”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on December 28, 2006, 12:47:14 AM
"It's hard to forget anything about Cold Harbor," replied Ella.  "It was my first battle.  I came real close to admitting I was wrong to have insisted on coming with my aunt and uncle and asking to be sent back to the schoolroom.  I remember the man who was wounded by the bear.  I helped with him, and the others that the doctors didn't expect to survive, like Fritz.  Most of the time, the doctors were right, and all I could do was try to make the men comfortable, or write letters home for them.  It was my aunt, Helen Silver, who tended Cyrus and kept the doctors other than her husband and Dr. Alan away from his arm.  You couldn't expect any of the doctors to listen to a girl child."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 28, 2006, 05:10:37 PM
“It was the kindness of folks like yourself that many of the soldiers remember.” Bo said with a smile. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 28, 2006, 09:41:07 PM
The group had ridden together and fought together even socialized together but somehow in the days it had taken them to get to Cheyenne they had become even closer.

Once they reached the city everyone happily agreed to get rooms at the hotel in town before they started the ride for Fort Laramie.

Scarlet opted for a hot bath, figuring it would most likely be her last one that was going to be hot and private, before everyone was to meet for supper.

The sun was beginning to set as she stepped out of the bathhouse, pausing for a long moment Scarlet wondered if Fritz was admiring the same beautiful picture she was. “I love you Fritz.” She whispered softly before turning to go to her room.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on December 31, 2006, 04:16:49 PM
Another night on the trail, sleeping on the hard ground.  Was he getting soft?  Fritz thought not.  He'd gotten tougher as he'd aged.  He had a higher tolerance for pain these days.  It seemed like another constant companion.  Not as welcome as his short-barreled Colt, but there it was. 

Inside the greatcoat pocket was his bible.  He pulled it out, and flipped to a favorite reading.  Matthew 8:5, the story of the Roman Centurion.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, he whispered, "I love you Scarlet."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on December 31, 2006, 08:46:10 PM
A day and a half later the group approached the gates at Fort Laramie.

They could hear the voices on the gate and from the other side.

“Riders approaching.”

“Open the gate.” Came the voice of one of the men that could be seen moving along the wall.

The gates swung open and the man who had ordered the gates open met them inside.

Bo swung down off his horse as Cyrus approached.

“Good ta see ya!” Cyrus said extending his hand.

Bo smiled as they shook hands.

“Yer supposed to reply with good ta be here. Isn’t that the custom?” Cyrus asked.

“I’m here at the request of a very old friend. I would have preferred to be drinking whisky with him in a saloon to standing here.” Bo replied causing Cyrus to laugh.

Cyrus looked over the dismounting riders that had ridden in with Bo. “Bring an extra nurse with ya? Yer telegram said scout and medic.”

“Picked up another scout.” Bo replied.

Cyrus leaned in close “Even with my bad eye there’s no mistakin’ there are two women riddin’ with you.” He said quietly.

Bo looked at the riders and half grinned. “Oh no mistake about it.”

“You always had a sense of humor.”

“Ella is exceptional in her field as is Scarlet.” Bo said.

Cyrus looked at him “Yer not kidding.”

“I am constantly reminded a couple of the lessons I learned about women, and is has nothing ta do with ‘em being soft and warm.  Ya know what I’m sayin’?”

Cyrus considered the question a moment. “Women make some of the best fighters because they can be colder and more calculating than men. Oh and you’d rather have one on the same side than on the opposite side. I remember, but have had little opportunity to experience it.”

“Let me introduce you to the team I prefer to ride with.” Bo said turning towards the group.

They stepped next to Ella. “This is Ella Coatsworth. She is an excellent healer, I can speak from experience. She even brought her own equipment. Miss Ella here would prefer to patch folks up but she is good with her guns. If  you have to seek her care she is very compassionate, unless you have fallen from her good graces..then I’ve heard medical treatment while still first rate is most uncomfortable.” Bo winked at Ella.

Cyrus offered his hand. “Welcome to Fort Laramie Miss Coatsworth.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 01, 2007, 12:18:00 AM
"It is Missus Coatsworth," replied Ella, silently thanking Bo for the information about Cyrus.  "Thank you for the welcome.  I believe I had met you before, while helping my Aunt Helen keep you alive after you had an argument with a bear."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 01, 2007, 09:59:07 AM
He thought he’d recognized Ella although he couldn’t place her right away. Cyrus had been a lot of places over the years with the Army and met a lot of women, ones who most likely still carried a dislike for the man no doubt. Once she spoke he knew immediately, Cyrus could remember voices, he couldn’t always put a face to them but he could remember the voices. Certain ones stood out more in his memory than others.

Cyrus held her hand for a moment looking down before he let it go. He could remember the touch of a girl who he guessed washed the wounds some. “I remember a young nurse and her assistant.” His eyes met Ella’s “Grammy would say this one still had a fighting chance. His heart still beats strong. That was the first time we met?” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 01, 2007, 02:11:24 PM
Ella smiled at hearing those words quoted back at her.  She had said them dozens of times, and most of the patients had survived.  "I'm pretty sure it was the first time we had met.  Before Cold Harbor, I was in Connecticut with my grandmother.  Aunt Helen was in the hospital tents from the beginning of the war."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 02, 2007, 10:22:20 PM
“I remember your Aunt. I remember she helped the ones that needed it the most first, didn’t matter the color of the skin or the uniform they were wearing. I know doctors have an oath of some sort, but sometimes the color of the uniform or the skin dictates what kind of care one will get.

We will be riding with men of different colors; different beliefs. If  you are anything like your aunt, which I think you are, I believe if those men are wounded they truly will not know how lucky they are you are near.”  Cyrus said.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 02, 2007, 11:48:31 PM
"Grammy taught us both.  I think the Healers Oath she taught us might be a heavier obligation than the oath doctors swear.  The Healers Oath doesn't allow me to deny my services to anyone who needs them.  Our posse had to get used to me treating outlaws we captured," replied Ella.  "I spent some time last summer learning from the medicine man of a local Indian tribe.  I had already learned during the War that gray-coat or blue-coat didn't make any difference to the treatment a wounded man would need.  Occasionally during the War, someone important would come on an inspection tour.  After he toured the prison hospitals, there would be a fuss about the lack of care being provided to wounded prisoners.  Dr. Coatsworth would volunteer to work at the prison for a while, and request my assistance.   Since he often bothered the other doctors, nagging at them to wash their hands and their instruments, they were willing to send him away for a couple months, even though they were always short-staffed. "
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 03, 2007, 09:18:57 PM
Cyrus chuckled at Ella’s comment regarding the nagging doctors. “Welcome to the team Missus Coatsworth.”

Cyrus walked around Lucky looking over the horse and the gear he carried, coming to a stop in front of the woman who held his reins he said. “Do you know how to use that big rifle you got stuck on that horse?”

“I don’t pack anything I am not efficient with.” Scarlet replied knowing he was judging her.

Cyrus eyed her, she looked familiar too. When he spotted the Dragoon in the shoulder holster he immediately knew why.

“If we were enemies how much of a chance do you think you’d have with that.” He pointed at the shoulder holster. “Would ‘ve  thought the wife of the late Mr. Corbin would be packin’ something quicker to reload.”

Scarlet half smiled. “If we were enemies Mr. Kane I would have shot you with this.” She said pulling her duster back so he could see the Colt that rested in the cross draw holster. “while you were staring at what I carry between my shoulders.”

Cyrus laughed softly at her remark. “Fair nuff. Tell me Missus Corbin, are the rumors I’ve heard about you true?”

“Depends on what you’ve heard Mr. Kane.” She replied.

“I heard you know what it’s like to be skinned by an injun.”

Scarlet took off her duster and laid it across Lucky’s saddle then turned around and pulled her shirt up in the back.

Cyrus narrowed his eyes as he looked at the fine white line that followed her spine.

Scarlet started to tuck her shirt back in before she turned back to face him.

“That wasn’t done by no Indian though. That was done by a white man. So you see Mr. Kane to answer the question you have not asked but are working up to. Yes, I know what  I could be getting into and I know what it is like to be in fight.”

Cyrus slightly dipped his head in understanding. “Welcome to the team.” He said extending his hand.

“You haven’t asked if I am any kind of a decent tracker.” Scarlet said shaking his hand.

“I knew he was white too. Just one of the rumors said Indian. I was interested in what you say. If Bo says he prefers to ride with you I am not going to question your skills any more. ”With that they stepped over to Tensleep.

“This is Marshal Ross.” Bo said.

“Marshal, what interest does a marshal have with going out with us?” Cyrus asked.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on January 05, 2007, 06:31:59 PM
Being alone on the trail gave a man lots of thime to think.  His mind drifted back to those early days.  He was just a green kid, wearing "dirty shirt blue."  That green wore off real fast on the plains.  Then there was the war.  There were small pieces of him that remained on those distant battlefields.  His blood seeped into the ground there.  Places like Antietam...Gettysburg...the Shenandoah.  A part of him would always be there.  He'd made a difference then, and in the years that followed.  He'd trained the men that served on the frontier.  Hopefully, his training had saved some lives.  Then, on his insistance, he'd gone back to the unit he loved.  The men he knew.  The place he called home. 

He squinted into the sun.  "God works in mysterious ways," he said to no one in particular.  While he sat in the squalor of a Mexican jail, he'd wished he never taken the mission.  But if he hadn't, he'd never have met Scarlet.  He missed her, that was certain.

But he rode with a confidence that pushed that thought aside.  He was going back to the Second.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 05, 2007, 06:59:55 PM
"Not my first time to ride with the Army Mr Kane. I was a Captain with the First Ohio years back, then scouted here in Montana and Wyoming  before I took a Deputy Marshal's job. Still.... reason I'm here this time is to 'observe and evaluate' two of my deputies, they are looking for a woman named Carrie Moore who is running the plains we hear. So, I reckon that you are stuck with me as long as US Deputy Marshal Missus Ella Coatsworth and US Deputy Marshal Missus 'Scarlet' King are riding with you."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 05, 2007, 08:46:32 PM
Ella turned to Tensleep, "I thought we were going to find Carrie Moore, and then you would carry her off to justice while we finish what we sign up to do with the Army?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 07, 2007, 09:16:24 AM

"From what I have heard about Missus Moore, I doubt that there will be much to carry back to justice, but we will see what we will see."
Tensleep paused. "You ladies aren't signed up with the Army, you are just on detatched duty, loaned from the US Marshal."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 08, 2007, 10:37:29 PM
“How ever yer gonna cut it, I appreciate good help. I’ve got some good scouts but there is tension between some of them and between some of the soldiers.  With any luck they won’t start killin’ one another.” Cyrus replied extending his hand. “Welcome to Fort Laramie Marshal Ross.”

Tensleep shook his hand.

“Follow me and I’ll show you around and introduce you to the people you will be riding with that are here. Some of them are already at Ft. Fetterman.” Cyrus replied.

Cyrus lead the way to the stables and waited while the group saw to the needs of their horses. The two women were of interest to him. Most women he knew would have asked someone to do it for them, some help if nothing else. Both of these women seemed to be content doing it themselves. The fact Ella had helped in the medical tents at such a young age told him something about her character. In fact from the experience with Ella’s aunt Cyrus head learned not to judge women to quickly.  He had to admire Ella based on what he knew of her.

Scarlet he knew from some of the things he’d heard from Travis and some of the things he’d from Bo over the years. An angel with a devilish spirit seemed to echo through his mind, Travis always like the ones that were high spirited. Her mother’s charm and her father’s temper that was one of the things Bo had told him. He’d been honest when he’d told Scarlet he would not question the skills of the people Bo rode with. Bo would ride alone before he rode with people who he didn’t trust or he knew couldn’t cover his back.

Cyrus also noticed the group worked together. Bo had finished taking care of his horses first then went to help Ella. It was obvious she didn’t need the help, she was very capable from what Cyrus could tell, it was just a team effort for everyone to finish together.

When the horses taken care of Cyrus showed them to where they’d be bunking for the next couple of days or so before they departed for Ft. Fetterman. The men would be bunking with the other scouts that they would be riding with, the women could share one of the empty quarters. He then took them around and introduced them to the others that would be riding with them.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 10, 2007, 04:01:09 PM
After being done with introductions, Ella headed for the kitchen.  The cook was an older trooper, with a bad limp. 

"Hello," she called from the doorway, "May I help?  I rode in today with Bo Corbin." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 10, 2007, 09:04:15 PM
"Don't know the name." The man grunted.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 10, 2007, 11:16:20 PM
The first day at the fort seemed to drag to Scarlet. Some of the men that she’d be ridding with made no bones what they thought about having a couple of women along that would need watchin’ over along with them. Of course the comments were made between themselves when they didn’t think Scarlet and Ella would hear them. Scarlet figured that was ok, she’d been with men like them before. Minding her own business and doing things on her own seemed to be the best way to get their attention.

Scarlet shouldered the sharps and went to find a place to practice.

Private Billy Glass hurried to catch up to the woman who’d walked past him. The big rifle made him nervous.

“Pardon me ma’am.” He called after her.

Scarlet stopped, turned on her heel and faced the man. “Something you need soldier.”

He stopped quickly nearly running into her. He’d been standing not far from Cyrus when she had shown him the scars on her back but he’d not paid attention to her face. Somehow his mind had just focused on the fact the woman had lived through something like that. Now standing here face to face he realized she was not anything like he’d figured. She was softer looking up close, the sun danced through her blonde hair making it look like silk. Her eyes…her eyes looked right into his and he realized he’d not said anything for a long time.

“Private?” She repeated.

“Ah..Where you headed with that.” He pointed to the rifle thinking how ridiculous he just sounded.

“Is there someplace I can practice?” She replied.

“Are you really going to shoot it?”

The minute she narrowed her eyes he felt even more stupid. “I’ve never seen a rifle like that up close.” He said trying to regain some composure.

“If there is someplace I can, yes.”

“Follow me.” He said heading towards the back wall. “Sometimes the sharpshooters practice from up there.”

One man was already up there practicing. Billy followed Scarlet up the steps and stood back watching as she carefully chose a target.

The two shooters took turns for some time each picking a target further than the other.

“I’m empty.” The man said as he put his rifle down.

“You would be a deadly opponent.”

The man’s head snapped sideways hearing a woman’s voice. A grin slowly appeared on his lips. “I hope I never find myself on the other end of that rifle with you looking down it.” The man said extending his hand. “Teddy Grey is the name.”

Scarlet shook his hand. “Call me Scarlet.” She said flashing a charming smile. “Thank you for sharing your wall with me Mr. Grey.” Scarlet said as she gathered her gear. “Thank you for your assistance Private.” She replied then headed towards the stairs.

“I doubt you will need much watchin’ after Scarlet.” Teddy said with a wink.

Scarlet laughed softly. “Thank you Mr. Grey.” She said.

The two men stood on the wall and watched her cross the grounds towards her quarters.

“I’ve never seen anything like that.” Billy said.

“That thair is a Thoroughbred Billy boy.”  Teddy said watching her walk away.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 11, 2007, 01:06:50 AM
"No matter whether you know him or not," replied Ella, ignoring the gruffness in the man's tone.  "I'm Ella Coatsworth.  I came with ones that Cyrus Kane asked to help dealing with the scouts.  I wanted to see if I could offer some help cooking while we're still here, and maybe get a chance to fix some tastier travel food to take along."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 11, 2007, 08:20:37 AM
The man finally looked at Ella one eyebrow raised. "Ya think my cookin' is bad?" He snorted.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 11, 2007, 09:10:17 AM
"I don't know anything about your cooking.  I do know what standard issue trail rations are like, and those are bad," replied Ella calmly.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 11, 2007, 03:11:56 PM
This time the man faced Ella. "Well don't ya know missus yer supposed to sneak that inta the food supply of the enemy. Then when they is wishin' they was dead ya can go easily right inta their camp." The man began to laugh as he waved her in.

"dealing with the scouts huh? Ol' Cyrus keeps those boyz in line pretty well and they are happy to eat trail rations. Them boyz eat just about anything ifin ya cook it or not. Ah sure some of 'em 'er fussy but only if he lets 'em sit around to long with nuthin' ta do."

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on January 11, 2007, 09:33:52 PM
He could hear Scarlet talking..."This adds to the degree of difficulty."

Fritz laughed, but only on the inside.  The sound of the set trigger had scared the tom off, and it had taken almost an hour to call him back.  He'd considered using the '66 for the hunt, but Fritz only had a limited amount of ammo for the carbine.  When it was gone, that was that.  He had plenty of government .45 ammo, and he'd be able to replenish what he used. 

Fritz was a patient man, but his body wasn't as patient as it once was.  His forearms were tingling, and his right foot was asleep.  There was no way he could hit the bobbing and weaving head at this range, but Fritz figured if he hit the body where the neck met, he could take him.

Fritz held his breath, and touched the trigger.  The report echoed across the landscape.  The other birds scattered.  The tom's neck and head disappeared.  It stood there for a moment, blood pumping from the stump.  It took a step, and fell dead.

Fritz levered himself up.  The pain would pass.  He had his dinner.  He walked forward the collected the bird.

"Lord, thank you for the gifts you have bestowed," he said, then walked back to the spot where Strider and Buddy were tethered.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 11, 2007, 10:53:12 PM
Scarlet sat outside the room she was sharing with Ella and cleaned the rifle. Her mind wandered. She could feel the warmth of his hand as he held hers, see the smile in his eyes as he looked into hers, she smiled at the memory. Although Fritz had not been gone long it felt like forever and she missed him terribly.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 13, 2007, 08:33:45 PM
Over the next few days it was not hard to figure out who was going to be easy to ride with and who was going to be trying on the nerves for any of the group. Cyrus did manage to keep everyone in line that rode with him and tried to keep a compatible group.

Scarlet and Ella managed to ignore for the most part the comments about what women were good for. The first night out a couple of the men did some hunting, bringing the rabbits back to camp they handed them to Ella and Scarlet and said “clean ‘em an’ cook ‘em, like a woman supposed ta.”  Both women fumed but said nothing, actions after all spoke louder than words.

The last day on the trail Ella and Scarlet were seldom seen, they had ridden ahead. Cyrus had told them where camp would be then asked Bo and Tensleep what the women were up to but they didn’t know.

As the camp was being set up Ella and Scarlet rode in, straight to the men that had hunted the first night. Scarlet held the rabbits and raccoon to one of them men. “Is your turn to be useful.” She said flatly then moved her horse off.

Ella held the fish out to one of the others. “You too.” She said following after Scarlet.

The two women watched as the men cleaned and cooked, not really knowing what to say.
When supper was served it was not as tasty as what Ella and Scarlet had cooked but it was enjoyable. One man did manage an apology, the girls figured the other might choke if he tried to apologize.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on January 13, 2007, 09:44:14 PM
Fritz cleaned the bird by the fire.  He was thinking of his mother, strangely enough.  Mom never objected to his hunting.  In fact, she gave him his first squirrel gun.  Mom said that as long as you used what you killed, it was okay.  NEVER kill for sport.

As the bird roasted over the fire, he ran a patch down the bore of his Sharps.  He wondered what Scarlet was doing now.  Had she used her new rifle?  He almost wished he'd bought a second one.  But he wouldn't until they came out with one that could handle the government cartridge.  He turned the action over.  Their initials glowed, intertwining.  They were separate, but one.

"Love ya Darlin," he said.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 14, 2007, 11:13:47 PM
After supper the group sat around the camp. The man that refused to apologize to Ella and Scarlet tipped his bottle up, looking at the two women as he did so.

“I don’t know how you two managed shooting food. I still say the only place a woman belongs is on her bac..”

Before he finished his sentence he was jerked to his feet. Bo had stood and in one effortless motion crossed the distance between them, grabbed the man by chest, causing the ones sitting next to him to scatter.

Cyrus knew Chris had been asking for it since the group arrived, making comments here and there about all of ‘em. Cyrus wasn’t sure what to do. He knew Bo, Bo had a high tolerance for most things but Cyrus had seen some cross the line and Chris was not worth stepping in front of Bo for.

One moment Chris was running his mouth the next minute there was tightness across his chest and he was lifted from the log he’d been sitting on. He felt the bottle being pulled from his hand then a sharp pain along his back caused him to gasp for air.

Chris realized his feet were dangling as he looked eye to eye with the bigger man.

“If I have ta’ listen to ya’ run yer mouth anymore I’m gonna cut yer tongue out.” Bo said coldly.

Normally Chris would have had some smart retort but the cold look through the narrowed eyes told him the man was prepared to do it, here and now if necessary.

Bo’s hold tightened on the man. “Do you understand?” He growled.

“Yes sir.” Chris replied.

Bo leaned close and whispered something causing Chris’s eyes to widen, even in the dim light one could see the color leave his face before Bo backed up and dropped Chris in a pile on the ground.

Bo turned and went back to where he’d been sitting next to Scarlet.

Cyrus watched but said nothing. The fact that he didn’t say anything to the other man told the men that knew him he would not defend Chris from the man, most of them figured Chris deserved what he got anyhow.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 14, 2007, 11:54:14 PM
"Thank you for not damaging him, Bo," whispered Ella as she passed behind him on her way to her bedroll.  "I really didn't want to have to patch him up."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 15, 2007, 07:14:34 PM
Scarlet had always enjoyed the sunrise, she had never seen any two exactly the same, they came close but never the same. Even when she’d prayed she’d never see another one she always admired their beauty, some how in the last couple of years they’d become more beautiful.

As she packed her gear on her horse she noticed she was not the only one admiring the view, except Ella was not looking towards the sunrise. Ella too was packing her gear on the horses, but she would stop and watch something, a smile would play across her lips then she would go about her business.

Scarlet walked over to where Ella had stopped again, that smile barely playing on her lips. The kind of smile that would go unnoticed unless you had done it yourself or knew someone very well. It was the same hint of a smile Becca got when she watched Tensleep, the same smile Scarlet got when she watched Fritz and didn’t even realize they were smiling.

Scarlet suppressed a grin as she looked at the same scene Ella was admiring. He was bent over holding the horses hoof between his knees and working the shoe with his hands. His shirt stretched tight over the muscles in his arms and back leaving little to the imagination. Scarlet always thought Ella had good taste in men, and thought about saying something about how handsome the man was. She wondered if Ella would deny the fact she was looking at the man the way she was looking at him, after all neither one of the women was blind.

“Beautiful morning, view is something else from here.” Scarlet said raising her eyebrows while she still managed to suppress the grin while looking at the man Ella had been admiring.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 15, 2007, 11:09:37 PM
Ella blushed and replied, "That is certainly true.  The sunrise is glorious, and the other scenary is pretty good, too.  I think I remember hearing that Travis and Bo looked a lot alike." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 16, 2007, 02:25:55 PM
Scarlet let the grin play on her lips while she watched a moment longer, the statment Ella made bringing back some fond memories.

"Bo is slightly taller. Travis always wore a mustache, while Bo went clean shaven until the fire. He has a few scares, thats why he wears the beard now. Travis had darker blue eyes if that is possible. From the back their own mother couldn't tell 'em apart unless they were standing next to one another."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 16, 2007, 03:00:35 PM
"I like beards on men," commented Ella dreamily.  "It took me ages to get Alan to try growing a beard.  He was sure it would come in sparse and look bad.  But then he had surgery on his face and couldn't shave one cheek for a few weeks.  So he didn't shave at all until everything was healed up.  He expected that the scar would cause a bald patch that would be more conspicuous than the scar itself.  All of his negatives failed to show up.  His beard is curly and hids the scar very effectively.  He does like not having to shave except to keep the edges of the beard tidy.  We visited his parents after the beard was fully-grown.  He predicted his mother would say 'Oh, my goodness!', and she did.  He could not predict what his father was going to say, which turned out to be 'I expected my son, but instead I see Esau'."

Ella turned to Scarlet, "How are Bo and Travis different?  There must be something significant to make you react differently to the two of them."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 16, 2007, 10:56:36 PM
Scarlet smiled thoughtfully. “I love Bo. He’s my best friend, has been since I can remember. Before his daddy built the C-C we used to go and visit them. When they moved to Texas Bo and I were nearly inseparable. Travis was his older brother and I was Bo’s little girlfriend, at the time that was all there was between us. Bo and I grew up together and we were close, everything I was told made for the perfect couple. Our first kiss was nice, but just nice ya know?  We both thought we were to close to have that spark at the time.”

Ella shook her head in understanding. “But there must have been something else.”

“Bo was always a more reserved than Travis. Travis was more devilish, maybe more of a passion for life. His eyes would light up and almost change color then a smile would creep across his lips when he was thinking about something that intrigued him.” Scarlet paused, her smile broadening “Fritz smiles like that. And the first kiss definitely left you wanting another.”

Ella could have taken her choice if Scarlet was talking about Travis or Fritz.

Scarlet looked from Ella back to Bo. “He’s changed some over the years, we all have I suppose. He laughs more now, not as serious as he once was.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 16, 2007, 11:31:03 PM
"It looks like time to hit the trail," said Ella, pointing to where Cyrus had been making the men get themselves loaded up.  She grinned at Scarlet, "Would it shock people too badly if I responded to Chris's refrain about a woman's place being on her back by saying his imagination and education are both deficient if he doesn't know any other positions?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 17, 2007, 08:17:18 AM
Scarlet burst out in a soft laugh then straightned up and looked serious. "I believe if you said that Ella it would leave him speachless and at the same time amuse the others who by talking with some of them don't really care if Chris rides with them or not and the rest would prefer the not."

Scarlet grinned then headed to her horses still chuckling at Ella's comment.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 18, 2007, 03:38:21 PM
The ride to Ft. Fetterman was uneventful, made up of small talk from the group getting to know one another. Teddy was not much of a small talker but he enjoyed hearing about Ella’s talents as a healer and who Scarlet had learned her talents as a tracker from.

Billy liked listening to the conversation and staying quiet. It seemed to him every time he tried to say anything to Scarlet he became tongue tied. He hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask the relationship to the man who shared her last name, maybe he would ask Teddy later.

Once at the fort the group saw to their horses while Cyrus, Tensleep and Bo went to check in with the C.O.

The three men had no sooner disappeared when Chris started running his mouth to one of the men that had arrived at the fort the week before. This time he thought he would be smart and converse with the man in Crow.

Most of the men that had ridden in with Cyrus understood what he was saying, which didn’t bother him any, he didn’t figure the women could understand it. Scarlet kept her mouth shut and just listened as Chris talked about most of the people in the party. Teddy glanced her way wondering which of the languages of the red man Scarlet did understand. She just shook her head and rolled her eyes. He shook his head, wondering at what point was the man gonna get belted one.

Some of the men ignored Chris’s mouth while the one he was talking to laughed. The man that had apologized to Ella and Scarlet earlier turned slightly red at one of the comments and wondered off deciding he would be better off not being around Chris, once Cyrus got word of what was going on all hell was gonna break lose for sure.

Chris’s comments became increasingly degrading towards Scarlet and Ella. Teddy was about to speak up and tell Chris to shut his mouth. When he heard Scarlet make a remark.

Scarlet had enough. The man was rude and had reached intolerable. She had said it to Ella and spoke Comanche. Ella had responded in the same language.

Chris’ head snapped around. “What did you say.” He said coming towards them.

“Oh you can dish out rude remarks you just can’t take them is that it?” Scarlet spat, her temper had gotten the best of her.

“Did you say what I think you said?”

“Oh don’t understand what I was saying, how convenient if I want to insult you.”

The rest of the men stood in a circle expecting an entertaining exchange of words between the two. Nobody expected Chris to try to backhand her and fewer expected to see her block it and punch him below the sternum.
Chris bent over slightly winded, a little surprised and very angry he charged Scarlet lifting her off of her feet he slammed her into the top railing of one of the corals causing it to break and them both to fall through. It was hard to tell who was who or how to separate them. She fought like a man except when she kneed him in the groin to get the upper hand.

“Get Bo.” Teddy said to Billy.

Bo, Cyrus and Tensleep were about half way to the group when they heard the fight, saw Billy running towards them and Teddy going over the fence.

“Who the..?” Cyrus said aloud thinking Teddy never got into fist fights any more.

“It’s Scarlet.” Billy yelled to the men.

Teddy was looking for a good place to take hold of, Ella right behind him figuring she could talk some sense into Scarlet if they got Chris off of her.

Bo, Cyrus and Tensleep reached the fence in time to see Scarlet roll to the top, her thumb dug in on one side of his windpipe and her fingers on the other. Chris was gasping but not giving up. He tried tugging at her hand only to make her nails dig into her throat and draw blood. He took a swing but she leaned back and he missed. “Yer a dead whore” he managed to choke out. Scarlet drew her knife.

Cyrus came over the fence yelling “Stand down Corbin!”

She thought about gutting him right there, he deserved it and she figured she had every right. Hearing him yell at her Scarlet sunk the knife in Chris’ inner thigh. The man screamed and twisted his upper body he now had both hands on her wrist trying to keep her weight off of his throat.

Scarlet had her weight evenly distributed between the her hand at his throat and her hand on the knife, which was neatly stuck through his pants, and just enough skin to cause him a great deal of pain then solidly into the ground.

She heard Bo yell “Don’t” but wasn’t sure if it was meant for her or Cyrus who was getting ready to make an attempt to get the two of them apart.

Chris’ eyes watered as she glared at him. “One good reason Kane, give me one why I shouldn’t draw and quarter the foul beast.” She growled never taking her eyes off the man she sat atop of.

Cyrus didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what happened; he could only guess Chris had started it. He looked at Bo who shrugged his shoulders.

“Because it’s gonna be worse for him living with knowing he was beat up by a woman. Let him up Scarlet. I’m already going to have to touch him to care for his wounds, and in places I really don’t want to thank you very much for that.” Ella said.

If Scarlet hadn’t been so mad she would have laughed. She pulled the knife straight up, thinking after the fact now Ella was really going to have to disinfect the wound since the blade had been sunk into the dirt as well. She stepped off of him before completely letting go of the hold on his throat.

“You alright?” Bo asked looking at the bruise on her cheek, and the cut on her lip, which was starting to swell.

“I’ll be ok.” She said wiping the blood with the back of her sleeve.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 18, 2007, 04:47:25 PM
"I am not tending him without other men holding him down.  First thing is to carry him to the infirmary," stated Ella flatly, looking at Cyrus.  Teddy stepped forward to volunteer, followed a heartbeat later by two of the other men who had ridden in with the group and the one Chris had been talking to.  The four picked him up, and carried him to one of the smaller buildings, with blood dripping all the way.  Ella mentally checked her pockets, picked up her saddlebags and decided she didn't need anything off the pack saddle. 

The infirmary really needed a good cleaning, thought Ella when she stepped inside.  The bearers dropped Chris onto an operating table.  The fight was going out of him due to pain, since he hadn't lost much blood.  Ella pulled out scissors to cut his trousers and long underwear away from the wound.  A large flap of skin was hanging by one edge, and dirt from the ground underneath was smeared across the flesh underneath.  "She made a good start at skinning you alive," said Ella.  "It is going to hurt a lot when I clean the wound.  Are you as brave as a 14-year-old Comanche boy or do you need to be chloroformed?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 18, 2007, 06:14:46 PM
“Don’t waste yer chloroform on ‘im ma’am. What if one of us who appreciates the fact you chose to come along as our medic needs it later?” One of the men said.

“I got a good hold…just give him a stick to bite on.” One of the others said.

Teddy looked at the flap of skin. “I heard she’s skinned a man ‘er two in her day. Your lucky Ella was there to stop her Chris.”

Chris shot him what was left of a wicked look.

“Maybe she was going to just tear his throat out.” Another said looking at the wounds in his neck.

Teddy half smiled. “Just start scrubbing Miss Ella.” He said “He should be thankful you’re not starting with his mouth. Hold ‘im tight boys.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 18, 2007, 06:54:43 PM
Ella found a sturdy stick in one of the cabinets.  Tooth marks suggested that it had been used for this purpose several times before.  She handed it to the one who had suggested giving him a stick to bite on, and let him put it in Chris's mouth while she pulled out cleaning supplies. 

The fort's medic came in while Ella was working, accompanied by the odor of cheap whiskey.  He leaned against the wall watching. 

Ella chatted while she worked about her summer with the Comanche tribe. 

Chris flinched at the touch of soap and water on the raw flesh.  Once the visible dirt was gone, Ella poured disinfectant over the wound.  The bite of the alcohol was too harsh, and Chris fainted.  Ella blotted the cleansed wound with linen taken out of a waxed linen packet.  The bleeding was nearly stopped, so she kept pressure on the wound for a couple minutes more.   

"The Crow and Comanche languages are not similar enough for me to understand any Crow, although I expect to learn some while I'm here.  Scarlet will help me with that."   

The last step to treating Chris was to sprinkle the wound with herbs before smoothing the loose flap of skin over and bandaging it. 

"Time to dump him in a bed.  He's not going to be happy about walking for several days."  Ella looked at the medic, "The bandage needs to be kept clean and dry, and changed daily." 

The man nodded.  Ella doubted whether he would remember that instruction when he sobered up, and decided she was going have to check on Chris herself.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 18, 2007, 10:46:53 PM
Cyrus moved over to Bo and Scarlet. “What happened?” he asked her.

“He apparently doesn’t have the tolerance towards insults that I do. After listening to his mouth, that even seemed to embarrass the men around him I insulted him and he came after me.” She replied.

“What did he say?”

Scarlet shot him a look that said “I can’t believe you’re asking me to repeat it.”

“How about what did you say to him?”

“I asked Ella how could a family who had men with such small equipment reproduce.” Scarlet said flatly.

Bo turned his head trying to hide his amusement, cleared his throat and asked. “What she say?”

“She said if they were like him, being deficient in both education and imagination when it came to women she was not sure.” Scarlet replied as a matter of factly.

“You don’t make it a habit tryin’ to cut up men do you?” Cyrus asked.

Scarlet turned and faced him. “If anybody tries high handed me like that again I’m gonna split ‘im wide open, and you’d be wise to stay out of it.”

“Why didn’t you just shoot him?” Cyrus asked.

“It probably would have gone through his tiny brain and hit someone I didn’t want it to. Are we done now? I’d like to clean up.”

Cyrus stepped out of her way.

By the time Ella was done with Chris half the fort was talking about what had happened and waiting to hear if Chris tried to fight the woman doctor.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 19, 2007, 03:53:07 PM
Chris woke up while Ella was bandaging the wound, and spit out the stick.  He started to open his mouth and Teddy said warningly, "You say anything rude to her, we drop you head first as many times as it takes to shut your mouth."  Chris closed his mouth. 

The men who had Chris's legs pulled his boots off before the group carried him towards a bed.  The drunk roused himself enough to protest, "You Injuns, take that Injun somewhere else.  I don't treat Injuns and I won't have one staying in my infirmary." 

Ella smiled.  She had had to bottle up a lot of strong emotion in order to comply with her healer's oath, and here was someone offering to be a target. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 19, 2007, 04:08:23 PM
"Cyrus once you have been around these women for a while yer gonna find that don't much phase 'em."

Tensleep paused for a moment. "I've watched Ella an' Scarlet for ah good while now... Ella will shoot any man that needs it an' then patch 'em up. Scarlet is as good with ah pistol, rifle er knife as any man you have ever seen but, she also has tha temper ta match any o' yer scouts or troopers. She is a lady and she will act like a lady until some man starts to act stupid. Hopefully now all these men will have learned to treat my deputies with the respect they deserve. If not either Scarlet or Ella can arrest 'em an' we will lock 'em up. I back my deputies one hundred percent whether we are on tha trail of outlaws or scoutin' for the Army."

Tensleep turned and walked after Scarlet.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 19, 2007, 05:37:04 PM
"Your ridiculous little opinion has been noted.  You obviously are so narrow-minded that you can see through a keyhole with both eyes," barked Ella.  "Are you actually qualified to practice medicine, or are you just squatting in the infirmary because it's a safe, soft job with a bonus of medicinal alcohol?  Based on the cleanliness in this building, you set low personal standards and then fail to achieve them.  As long as no one in authority here at the fort who knows what a properly-run infirmary should look like ever comes in to inspect, you can get away with being a slovenly drunkard."

The medic started to say something, but Ella didn't give him a chance to speak, "These men are members of the Army, with a dangerous job to do that requires knowledge and courage beyond your imagination.  This man will stay in your infirmary until I say he is fit to move elsewhere.  Since I have no reason to believe that you know anything about medicine, I will not be expecting you to care for him.  I try to think the best of everybody, but in your case I'll make an exception. A curse on you, and may the curse be that you remain what you have made yourself."

Ella turned away and gestured to the men to continue carrying Chris to one of the beds. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 19, 2007, 07:32:21 PM
"upity meddling woman." The medic grumbled.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 19, 2007, 09:28:58 PM
Combined effort of Tensleep and Scarlet

"Scarlet, you OK? Not hurt are you?" Tensleep stopped as she turned looking at him.

"I'll be ok. Thank you." She said softly before turning back around and continuing towards the stables where her gear was.

"Sure? You took a pretty good tumble."

"Isn't the first one and most likely won't be the last. I'd like a cold cloth or something right about now though." She glanced back at Tensleep "And I'm trying to convince myself it would be wrong to cut off his hand and hide it where Ella couldn't find it to sew it back on."

"I know what you mean, I felt that way a couple of times...." Tensleep was stuffing his pipe.

"Wanted to castrate a feller once an'.... well, he was still alive an' I wanted to shut him up. Couldn't stop talking."

"Well if I castrated him and stuffed them down his throat Ella would find them. However I bet she wouldn't choose to sew them back on. Sides they were too small to shut him up." Scarlet managed a smile.

"I reckon yer right." Tensleep lit his pipe. "Look Scarlet, you can't go around just cutting people up, you need to rein in a bit. Wanna talk to me about what yer feeling?"

The statement got him a nasty look as she stopped and faced him. "Cuttin' people up! I shoulda castrated him for the remarks he made about Ella and me. I wouldn't ‘ve touched him if he hadn't taken a swing at me first. Tell me why in the hell a man thinks back handing a woman puts her in her place." Scarlet growled.

"Some men... and I said SOME MEN, are as stupid as a rocks. Some saw how their father treated their mother or think that all women are whores and should be treated like trash.
Any woman who puts herself into a 'man's job' and that's what you have done, makes herself a target for stupid remarks, you know that!"

"And I listened to his stupid remarks. I've also learned if I walk away men like him just get worse. He put ME through the fence. You can talk til yer blue in the face on this on and I will still think I was within my rights. I took a man’s job and I've learned the rules of the game. I will not whine about being in a fight, but I'd like to clean up now." Scarlet stared at him waiting to be dismissed, feeling herself getting angrier because the truth was she hurt, all over, and just wanted to be left alone.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 19, 2007, 10:16:48 PM
"I have barely begun to meddle," replied Ella firmly.  She supervised Chris being put to bed, then headed out of the building to talk to Cyrus.  She needed an introduction to whoever was in charge of this fort.  Chris was probably only the first casualty the scouts were going to have, and she needed to be able to treat all of them, from the full-blood Crow Indians like Teddy, through the half-breeds like Chris, to the whites like Billy and Scarlet, without having a drunkard interfere based on his racial prejudices. 

Thinking of Scarlet reminded her that Scarlet needed some tending now as well.  A hot bath would be best, but bruise ointment would help.  Talking to Cyrus could wait, unless that would find her a bath tub.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 20, 2007, 03:39:21 AM
"Go on, clean yerself up, take a cold bath and see Ella, let her check you over. I'll talk to you later." Tensleep lit his pipe again and puffed.

Scarlet turned to walk away. "Keep yer knife on yer belt too." Tensleep chuckled.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 20, 2007, 10:16:47 AM
Scarlet dug in her saddle bags finding the ointments she was looking for, the flask of Johnny’s home brew looked good too, she went into Lucky’s stall.

The horse stuck his nose out and touched the bottom of her chin while he sniffed at her.

“Yeah I know, been along time since ya seen this face huh?” She said stroking his nose.

Scarlet eyed his water bucket, glad she’d cleaned it and put it in his stall. She intended to dip the corner of her bandana in it and clean her face but seeing her reflection in the water, even though it was dark, told her it was going to take more than that. Scarlet sat down and leaned against the wall. The sting that shot between her shoulder blades told her it wasn’t a good idea to lean back on that spot.

“Hells bells” she mumbled not ready to go and ask anybody where anything might be at the moment. She put some of the liquid from the flask on the tip of her finger thinking she needed to do something about the cut on her lip. Gritting her teeth she looked at her finger and took a deep breath, it was gonna burn and she knew it.

Lucky cocked his head and looked at her. She looked back up at him. “I think it would be better to just put up with the questions and remarks and go find a proper place to clean up.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 20, 2007, 12:36:54 PM
Ella found Cyrus very quickly, since he was heading for the infirmary. 

"Where are the quarters for Scarlet and me, and where can I find a bathtub?" she asked. 

"You two are sharing an officer's room.  There is a bathing room in that building," he replied.  "First, I need your report on what happened."

"Chris was running his mouth off in Crow, which Scarlet understands and I don't.  The men around him were looking uncomfortable at his words, which, based on his hand gestures and glances at us, were nothing I wanted to understand.  Scarlet got tired of listening to him and commented to me in Comanche about the size of his parts.  I responded in the same language.  He heard us, and understands Comanche enough to come over to object to her words.  He hit her, she hit back, he pushed her through the fence into the corral, where they rolled around fighting.  Scarlet came out on top, and got hold of his throat.  She pulled her knife after he called her a whore, specifically a dead whore, which sounded like a threat as well as an insult.  She pinned him down with the knife without doing much damage.  He's resting in the infirmary, in spite of the person imitating a medic.  He won't be comfortable riding or walking any distance for a week." 

Ella paused for a moment, waiting for another question, then said, "Excuse me, I need to see to Scarlet now.  Does she know where our quarters are?"

Cyrus replied, "Probably not.  I forgot to tell her." 

"Then I know where to find her," replied Ella, turning away and heading for the stable. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on January 20, 2007, 10:14:31 PM
Fritz grunted.  He'd made good time.  He'd been out eight days, and made over 400 miles.  "Half way there," he said, folding up the map.  Strider snorted his approval.

He supposed he should've taken the train, but he need the trip to clear his head.  He needed to be in the proper mindset when he got there.  Fritz felt that comfortable leaness, that tightness in the belly he always got before a good fight.  The stubble on his head matched that on his chin.  Maybe he'd shave tonight...maybe not.  Seemed a waste of hot water.  The pack saddle was lighter than when they'd started out.  Forage for man and horse was down by half.  They'd grazed and foraged where they could.  He knew he wouldn't go hungry.  There were plenty of cartridges on his belt.

He thought apout Scarlet.  Was she well?  Was she home or at work?  Did they share the same sunrises and sunsets?  Once this was over, he'd never leave her again.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 21, 2007, 12:35:39 AM
Scarlet was right where Ella expected to find her, in Lucky's stall.  "Scarlet, there's supposed to be a bathing room in the officers' quarters, and our room is in that building.  Let's go get cleaned up, and I can put ointment on your bruises.  Going through the fence must have given you some you won't be able to reach." 

Ella collected their bedrolls to put in their room.  Saddle bags with medical supplies were still riding on her shoulder. 
"I'm glad of the hand-to-hand fighting lessons I've gotten from you and Patches, and even gladder that I haven't had to use them much.  I doubt you can win a fight, or even end a fight, staying on the defensive, but I don't know what it would take to make me go on the offensive."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 21, 2007, 09:54:40 AM
“Dad always taught me if you were going to draw the weapon you’d best be prepared to use it and not leave your enemy breathing. If there are witnesses you best be sure you are in your rights.” Scarlet was reciting the rules of engagement she’d learned over the years.

“Travis taught me every once in a while to show mercy on your enemy and not take his life when it indeed belongs to you is good especially when you have witnesses and depending on the enemy. I don’t think Chis has the nerve to shoot me in the back.”   

“I believe for you to go on the offensive Ella you would have to fear for your life or the life of someone you cared about.”

They were now carrying their gear towards the officer’s quarters. Scarlet glanced over at Ella “By the way, since you were the one who offered the reason not to kill him you are now responsible for his actions, that little piece of logic is weaved in many cultures. But Cyrus was the one who told me to stand down so maybe he is responsible. I’m not sure.” She grinned figuring Ella didn’t want the responsibility of Chris’s actions.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 21, 2007, 02:03:53 PM
"I'll have to see if I can figure out how to make Chris behave," replied Ella. "I make up stories about people when I'm trying to understand why they behave as they do.  My story for Chris, an obvious half-breed who gets a little respect by being bigger and stronger than some of the others, is that his white father lived with a Crow tribe.  Having attitudes about women much like his son, he had trouble being accepted as a mate by any of the women in the tribe.  He finally was able to buy a Comanche woman slave to father his child, or children, but I sure hope the Chris is unique.  Chris grew up learning English from his father, Comanche from his mother, and Crow from the rest of the tribe."

There was two privates on guard at the officers' quarters.  One escorted them to their room and pointed out the bathing room, then returned to his post.  Scarlet and Ella put their things down, then went to check out the bathing room. 

"They must have trouble getting officers to come to this post," exclaimed Ella on seeing the luxury of the bathing chamber.  There were two tubs behind screens, a massage table, a stove with cans of water already heating, and a tap that seemed to supply water from a tank on the roof. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 21, 2007, 02:50:15 PM
“I guess I didn’t help Chris’s mental state. Being beaten by a woman coming from a family you describe is gonna piss him off. Perhaps he will shoot me in the back the first chance he gets.” Scarlet replied looking around the bathing quarters.

“This ain’t right.” She mumbled. “Cyrus told me the baths would be cold and semi private at best, we would probably have to have one of the men we trust stand guard. How are those men supposed to take us seriously when we’re staying in here and I've heard the conditions they will be getting are not as good as what Lucky has, did you notice the room?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 21, 2007, 04:28:24 PM
"Sounds like Cyrus doesn't know how much the officers here pamper themselves.  I wonder if two guards at the door to the officers quarters is normal on military posts or is specific to this fort.  Cyrus said the men were not happy about being sent here," replied Ella.  "If the scouts are housed in quarters no better than stalls, then that poor-excuse-for-a-medic's attitude towards Indians is probably shared by the officers. They may not know any difference between Siouz, Crow, Navajo, Comanche and Apache, and just believe that all Indians are trouble.   Right now, I prescribe a hot bath for you, then application of ointment.  After that, we will see what we can do about improving conditions for the scouts." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 21, 2007, 04:50:21 PM
“I can’t imagine all the officers quarters are like that. I wonder who he was and what happened to him. More so we wonder why we got lucky enough to be put there.”

Scarlet half grinned at Ella “Right now I am not going to argue about your prescription.” Scarlet said laying her gun neatly on a stool that she could reach easily if needed then sliding into the hot bath.   

“There are a lot of different kinds of education Ella, unfortunately a lot of people don’t take the time to educate themselves on their neighbors. I’m sure you’ve seen that being you are from a different religious background. To a lot of folk one redskin is as same as the other is the way they would put it. They don’t stop to think all Indians don’t speak the same language and have different beliefs.” Scarlet leaned forward and put her head under the water to washer her hair and face.

The red and blue welt across her shoulders was easy to see along with some of the other faded scars.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 21, 2007, 07:06:24 PM
"Scarlet, you are going to be real happy for a soft bed for the next couple nights.  Sleeping on your back even on a cushion is going to be rough," commented Ella.  "There can be advantages to being female. That's probably why we have quarters in this building.  Some men want to admire women, and treat them as though they were made of fine crystal.  Unfortunately, many of those men also think that women are as fragile as crystal, and have to be protected instead of being given enough rights and education to make their own decisions.  Women need rights to be able to defend themselves against drunkard and abusive husbands."

"Grammy told me about the speakers at the Women's Convention in Ohio in 1851.  The one I remember best, probably because she made a big impression on Grammy, was a former slave named Sojourner Truth.  Grammy had her speech copied down in a notebook.  Part of it was, 'That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?' "
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 21, 2007, 08:47:03 PM
Scarlet finished with her bath and was drying out her hair as they talked.

“I have known a few women who enjoy being treated like crystal. They wouldn’t have it any other way. I have known some strange women who believe if their men don’t beat them they don’t love them.”

Scarlet looked at her face in the mirror. “Been in a lot of fights but I’ve only ever had a couple try and back hand me. Bo crushed the hand of the last one that tried it. I can’t imagine wanting to stay with a man that hit ya, but they do. But I will admit there are times I like the advantages of being female and helped into the carriage.”

Ella and Scarlet no sooner reached their room from finishing their baths when a knock came at the door.

“You ladies decent?” came Bo’s voice.

Scarlet stepped over to the door and let him in.

“The food wasn’t bad, figured the two of you might like something after the day you’ve had.” He said setting the tray on the small table. “and I wanted to make sure you both were alright.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 21, 2007, 09:49:11 PM
"Thank you, Bo," said Ella with a warm smile.  "I wonder if anyone fed Chris?  It won't do him any harm to miss a meal if no one thought of him.  I'll need to check on his bandage in the morning, and I will take a couple of men with me when I do." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 21, 2007, 10:33:49 PM
“You’re welcome.” Bo said returning her smile. “I didn’t hear anybody asking about him at the mess tent. Cept wondering if he’d given you a difficult time trying to treat him. I don’t think he is very popular with the group. Cyrus says he’s good at his job and a few of the men hang around him but most don’t socialize with him outside duties.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 21, 2007, 11:17:00 PM
"Teddy and the other three made sure he didn't give me any trouble," replied Ella.  "The medic could be a problem, though.  He didn't want to allow Chris or any 'Injun' to stay in his infirmary, and wouldn't treat him.  I doubt his medical skill and wouldn't allow him to treat anyone I cared about.  He's a drunkard, for one thing, and doesn't keep the infirmary clean for another."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 22, 2007, 08:30:53 AM
A rather wicked mischievous smile played across Bo’s lips. “Perhaps it would be in our best interest someone speaks to him or the C.O. If he doesn’t have any skills the least he could do is keep the place clean.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 22, 2007, 09:35:36 AM
"I was hoping you would know how to approach the C.O." replied Ella.  "I already chewed out the medic.  It was rather a relief to have someone to vent at after treating Chris.  There are times when I almost wish I hadn't taken the Healer's Oath, so I could refuse to treat people like him."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 22, 2007, 03:08:59 PM
“They’re all just folk, you just have to know how to appeal to their senses.” Bo replied looking around the room.

“Yeah I know just what I’m gonna say.” He laughed softly.

He looked at Scarlet. “You were diplomatic out there.”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow. “How’s that?”

“You didn’t tell Cyrus to go to hell and cut that man up.”

“Diplomatic. Wouldn’t be what others would say.” She replied.

Bo shrugged his shoulders. “You ok?”

“My back will be a little sore in the morning and I’m not gonna be kissing you any time soon.” She smiled back.

Bo kissed her cheek. “If you ladies need anything you send one of those guards to find me.”

Bo closed the door behind him and went to find the C.O.

Scarlet watched the close door for a moment then said “I really want to know what he’s going to say or do.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 22, 2007, 03:40:35 PM
Bo found the C.O. heading his way when he left Ella and Scarlet.

“Evenin’” He said.

“Corbin.” The man replied.

“Sir. I was curious about your doctor.” Bo said as innocently as he could.

The man stopped and glanced towards the direction of the infirmary. “Our regular doctor went on patrol with the last group that rode out.”

“Oh.” Bo shook his head in understanding. “I didn’t figure you for the type of man that would want to be treated by methods..” Bo paused. “I’ve read about using maggots and such for eating away some of the dead flesh. But can’t say I’ve ever seen a bowl of ‘em on hand. I got to admit I wouldn’t have thought of using my left over rations to keep them alive. He must be expecting a lot of casualties too, had a whole mess of the crawly critters”

The man narrowed his eyes. “What?”

“I wonder if Miss Ella has ever seen that. I should ask her, she’s studied a lot of different methods. I didn’t see any leaches but he just might have a few. Ya know I heard the medic didn’t want to treat Indians. That could be a problem since a lot of your scouts are Indian or at least part.”

The C.O. raised an eyebrow.

“Ella has no problem treaten ‘em. She’ll treat just about anybody even if she doesn’t care for them.”

The C.O. was now steadily looking in the direction of the infirmary.

 “You ever been a patient in your career?” Bo asked.

“Yes, I’ve been on the table a couple of times.”

“With all due respect Sir. If I am wounded I hope to be treated where I fall instead of being put on one of those filthy tables and if he is the only one available just make sure I have a round left to put in my head instead of bringing me back to him.”

The C.O.’s eyes flashed. “Excuse me.” He said headed towards the infirmary.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 22, 2007, 03:48:09 PM
"So do I," replied Ella.  "But I'm confident he will be effective.  I've got a theory about this room.    A dressing table with mirror and a big bed like this," as she bounced onto it, "can't be normal furniture.  Maybe this is used as a guest room for any high-ranking visitors who might travel with a wife or mistress, although no one would be so rude as to speculate that the lady with the visiting general were not his wife."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 22, 2007, 06:19:33 PM
Scarlet chuckled at Ella’s comment and sat on the other side of the bed.

“So the high ranking visitors that have slept here. Could it be anybody we are impressed by? We could say I got to sleep in the same bed as….?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 22, 2007, 06:35:44 PM
"It all depends on who would impress you," replied Ella.  "General George Custer might have been here fairly recently.  Some other famous and notorious people who might have been here include Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 22, 2007, 08:49:51 PM
"Some day some body is going to be reading a medical journal and they will say I sure wish I could have met that woman Ella Coatsworth. I bet she was some woman. And I'll be able to say Yes she is. I was lucky enough to travel with her part of my life." Scarlet smiled at Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 22, 2007, 10:45:58 PM
"More likely, I'll just be a footnote in your biography," replied Ella.  "You're the one working in a man's world on an equal footing.  I'm mostly working within the traditional sphere of woman's work, just stretching the nursing side of it a bit.  Women's stories don't get written down much."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 22, 2007, 11:08:32 PM
“Stretching a bit.” Scarlet laughed. “I think you’re pushing the traditional sphere by a long shot. Perhaps when we retire from this we should write some of our adventures down.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 22, 2007, 11:36:19 PM
"I am keeping a diary," said Ella.  "It's mostly notes on medical issues, like Grammy kept.  Then there are the letters I wrote to Alan about our adventures.  I don't think he really believes what we've done."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 23, 2007, 08:29:31 AM
“Maybe if you put men’s names where ours are it would be more believable.” Scarlet teased. “The adventures of Eddy and Sam” She giggled while fluffing her pillow.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 23, 2007, 12:43:47 PM
"Scarlet Sam and Elegant Eddy, US Marshals", giggled Ella. 

Eventually the giggles subsided, and they slept.  Bruises, dreams and the unfamiliarly soft bed woke them several times during the night, but they felt refreshed when daylight started to enter the window. 

Ella applied more bruise ointment before Scarlet got dressed.  Only the bruise across the back was very painful.  Ella was as gentle as possible. 

"If he had kicked or punched you in the belly, I would be expecting you to miscarry.  The stress and exertion could still have provoked one, so please let me know right away if you get any bleeding,"  said Ella.  "We need to talk to Tensleep about our plans to go find Carrie.  Maybe we can do that over breakfast, after I check on Chris."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 23, 2007, 03:05:52 PM
“I don’t believe I will help you with Chris.” Scarlet replied. “I’ll take care of your horses, find Tensleep and meet you for breakfast.”

Teddy and Bo were headed towards the stables themselves when Scarlet caught up to them.

 “Mornin’” She said with a smile.

“Mornin’” Teddy replied.

“Mornin’ Sweetheart.” Bo said. “Feeling better this morning?”

“Some, my back is still sore but comes with the territory I suppose.”

Teddy caught the sparkle of the ring she wore on her left hand. He figured he would not have to ask Bo about the relationship Billy had inquired about.

“Ella was on her way to check on Chris.” Scarlet commented.

“I’ll go make sure he behaves himself.” Said Teddy.

“If Ella needs help give me a holler. Otherwise I’m staying clear of him. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him…in front of witnesses anyway.” Bo said. It was hard to tell if he was kidding or not.

Teddy looked at him curiously before going towards the infirmary
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 23, 2007, 06:40:46 PM
Ella found two of the men who had helped with Chris just leaving the mess hall.  "Joe, Scott, is either of you available to help me this morning?" she asked. 

"Yes, ma'am," answered Joe, the one who had advised her to save the chloroform. 

"Sorry, ma'am.  I've got an assignment today, although I expect that helping you would be more interesting," replied Scott, who had been at the fort longer. 

"I'm sure there will be other times, Scott," said Ella with a friendly smile.  "Joe, I don't know if Chris got any dinner last night, so I was going to take his breakfast with us when I go to change the dressing on his wound.  What would he want for breakfast?"

"Everything in sight," replied Joe.  "I'll get a tray."  He soon filled a plate with sausage, eggs, biscuits, and added two cups of coffee.  Ella collected a cup of hot water. 

At the infirmary, they were greeted by the sight of the medic on his hands and knees, scrubbing the floor.  Ella carefully stepped around the wet area, and walked into the ward, ignoring the mutters from the medic.  He looked like he had been up all night, with a hangover. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 23, 2007, 10:18:22 PM
Chris glared at Ella and Joe as they came closer. “Come to torture me some more.” He growled. “I ain’t worth the chloroform huh?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 23, 2007, 10:56:49 PM
"Joe, please put the tray down over there.  He can eat breakfast after I change the dressing," directed Ella.  "Chris, it shouldn't hurt much when I change the dressing today.  If the wound is too painful, it can mean infection, which unfortunately, would require another round of cleaning." 

She removed the dressing and gently probed around the wound.  "No visible signs of infection," she reported. 
She used the hot water she had brought to moisten the contents of a small packet from her pocket, and spread the warm poultice on the raw flesh.

"Oh," said Chris in a surprised tone, "That feels good." 

"Healing doesn't have to be painful or taste bad," said Ella.  "Difficult patients gets bitter tonics and harsher treatment.  Nice patients gets honey in the tonics and soothing poultices."  She was almost finished dressing the wound when Teddy came in.

"All done.  You don't need to stay in the infirmary any longer.  Avoid activities that might tear the wound open again, such as wrestling, heavy lifting or deep knee bends.  Other than that, you can do anything as long as you keep the bandage clean and dry.  I will change it again tomorrow morning."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 24, 2007, 03:26:03 PM
“Yes ma’am.” Chris managed without choking on his own words.

Teddy and Joe both wondered if Thank you or I’m sorry were in his vocabulary.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 24, 2007, 04:51:40 PM
Ella thought that was as polite a response as she could expect from Chris.  She cleaned up her debris, washed her hands, and headed over to the mess hall to eat with Scarlet and Tensleep. 

The medic was still scrubbing the floor when she passed on her way out.  She had meant to clean up the table and area around it after she had used it for Chris, but the medic's attitude had driven the good intention out of her mind.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 24, 2007, 06:09:26 PM
“What did you say to Chris back on the trail?” Scarlet asked Bo as they started feeding the groups horses.

“Nuthin’” Bo responded.

“Nuthin’ doesn’t make a man lose his color and make sure the remarks are said behind your back.” Scarlet replied raising an eyebrow as she looked in his direction.

“It had something to do with the removal of his spine.” He said.

“With your bare hands not doubt.”

“No doubt at all.”

“Marshal told me to keep my knife sheathed. I guess I will have to call you.” She smirked.

Bo chuckled.

Scarlet was finishing feeding the last horse when Bo came up behind her.


“Yes” she said turning to face him.

“Is there something going on between you and Fritz?” He asked.

Scarlet’s eyebrows knitted together. “No. Things are as good as expected to be under the circumstances, why?”

“You’ve not been completely yourself. Are you ok.” He replied.

She smiled softly “I am ok Bo and there are not any problems between Fritz and I, unless he’s going to be unhappy about me being here. Why do you ask?”

“I’ve noticed that look in your eyes you used ta get. Something that slips through when you least expect it, a sadness. You’re still very good at throwing up that wall so no one sees in, but every once in awhile I see it.”

Scarlet gingerly kissed his cheek. “Thank you for worrying about me. Maybe it’s just I would rather be home with Fritz instead of here. You know I don’t care for being inside the forts much.”

Bo looked into her eyes he knew she was telling him the truth or at least part of it. Scarlet never lied to him. If he could figure out or come close and ask directly she would tell him, but there was something underlying something bothering her. He could feel it.

“Well if there’s anything you ever want to talk about…” He started.

“Bo” she said softly “you know if I want or need someone to talk to I will come to you.”

“Fair 'nuff” he replied knowing if Scarlet didn’t want to talk about something you might as well be poking at a rattler with a stick.

“I need to round up Tensleep and get over to breakfast to meet Ella so we can talk about finding Carrie.”

“Oh that reminds me, I wonder what the infirmary looks like this morning and I had a question for Ella.” He said amusingly.

“Speak of the devil and he shall appear.” Scarlet said seeing Tensleep coming into the stables. “Your horse has been fed and he still has enough water. Ella figured we should be discussing Carrie and will meet us in the mess hall.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 25, 2007, 01:21:38 PM
Finding something for breakfast in the mess hall was being a problem for Ella.  She had slipped a lot on keeping kosher over the past three years, including giving up completely on keeping meat and milk separate, but she still avoided eating pork as much as possible.  The biscuits looked like they were probably made with lard.  The eggs smelled like they had been cooked in bacon grease.  There was cornmeal mush, fried in bacon grease.  There was no fruit.  There was no oatmeal mush. 

She took a cup of hot water and made tea, and sipped that while nibbling on an oatmeal cookie left in her pocket from the trip here. 

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 25, 2007, 10:03:08 PM
Tensleep, Scarlet and Bo joined Ella.

“There are still a few things you might find to your liking in my packs.” Bo said looking at Ella nibbling her cookie.

Scarlet sat down next to Bo and put Carrie’s file between the group.

“From what I can gather Carrie Moore’s family was killed by Indians when she was young.” Scarlet filled the pages while she sipped her coffee. “This.” She said tapping one of the papers. “Is a report filled out by Jack Moore, who at one time was assigned here, that talks about a raid on an Indian camp and the rescue of four white women, two of which.” Scarlet looked at the paper closer. “here it is. ‘Two of the women seemed to understand English but not be able to speak it. While the two older women were happy to see the army the two younger fought to stay with the tribe.’ It goes on to talk about what they refer to as the rescue.”

“My guess is she lived with people who view the white men as enemies, tried to adjust to the way of life of her own people after being rescued and finally one day snapped. It would probably pay off to talk to some of the scouts that have been around here and see if there’s been any spotting of her yet. We could see if anybody knows where the tribe she was living with is located, she’s probably headed back. From the records Jack Moore had not been retired long and the children, one of them was not even a month old.”       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 26, 2007, 12:30:52 AM
"Thank you, Bo," replied Ella.  "I meant to visit the kitchen yesterday and see what I could arrange, but I didn't get around to it.  By the way, what did you say to the C.O.?  The medic looked like he had been up all night cleaning, and had been suffering a mighty hangover most of the time."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 26, 2007, 08:34:37 AM
Bo grinned, it was the mischievous grin he got when he knew he’d done something  in a way he probably shouldn’t have but just couldn’t help himself.

“I inquired about what kind of medieval medic he had. After all.” Bo tried to be innocent again.” I had not seen the use of maggots before. I also complimented the medic on how well he feed them off Army rations and the quantity in the bowl.

Then I proceeded to ask our good C.O. if he’d ever been wounded and had to be treated, at which point I had his attention. I told him I would rather be treated right where I’d fallen or given a bullet instead of being brought back here. And I tossed in some comment about who and who not the medic wanted to treat.

I thought about saying something about the rock gut whisky the man had but the C.O. had had just about enough. From what you say I bet the C.O. will be going to the infirmary to check up on it more often. He also said that’s not their regular man.”   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 26, 2007, 11:43:31 AM
Ella laughed at Bo's words to the C.O.  "Unless the regular man has been gone for months, his standards might not be much better," commented Ella.  "Coming back to a C.O. inspecting on a regular basis will be good for him." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 28, 2007, 03:45:05 PM

Dr. Alan Coatsworth was seated at the desk writing out tomorrow's lecture when Dr. Samuel Abramson brought in the mail. 

"Ella must have received your letter," Samuel said, holding out an envelope. "She addressed it to you directly, not in care of me like the last ones.  It feels thinner, too.  She must not have included the latest chapter of her fantasy."

"Fantasy?" asked Alan, taking the envelope, and turning it over in his hands. 

"Yes, fantasy.  The idea that she could have been hired as a deputy marshal is ridiculous. The only thing more preposterous than her encountering a U.S. Marshal who wanted to hire female deputies, is the idea that she encountered two men with such odd ideas of Woman's proper role in life.  How would a Boston housewife have any suitable skills for deputy marshal work anyway?" 

"You didn't really get to know her until our wedding," responded Alan.  "Ella showed many  talents during the War that a Boston housewife wouldn't use or need."   

"Well, open the letter and find out when she is coming back," ordered Samuel.  "I'm looking forward to seeing her again.  I really miss her cooking.  I never did find a cook or housekeeper who suited me since the two of you left.  I wish she could have stayed here while you were gone."

"She is not coming," reported Alan.  "She says she has responsibilities there that she cannot leave."

"Not coming!" exclaimed Samuel.  "I wrote you that letting her run free was a mistake.  You should have authorized me to send the Pinkertons after her when she settled in El Paso, to either bring her back or take her on to her parents' house in California.  Now you're going to have to rein her in sharply, or you'll never have control of her again.  Threatening to divorce her on grounds of desertion should get her attention.  Detectives could probably find other grounds for divorce if needed.  After all, she's been paying her own way for 2 1/2 years."

Alan stood up abruptly, pushing the letter into his pocket.  "I'm going to talk to the Rabbi.  Don't wait supper for me." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 28, 2007, 04:09:11 PM
"I talked to the scouts in our group about Carrie Moore. She was 'rescued' from a renegade Cheyenne band
that was back and forth with the main tribe. No word of her havin' been seen in these parts so far, but if she is here, she would be layin' low."

Tensleep pushed back from the table. "This is the worst Army mess I have ever been in, this food is nasty. No wonder the men desert from this post in a steady stream."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 28, 2007, 08:47:32 PM
Scarlet chuckled at Tensleep’s comment. “It might be a good idea to ride out for the day and see what we can see.” Scarlet said getting up herself. “Who wants to come with me?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 28, 2007, 08:49:58 PM
"Derned if I ain't ready. Take that buffler gun o' your's Scarlet, let's find some meat."
Tensleep was standing as he said it.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 28, 2007, 09:17:26 PM
Bo pulled Ella’s chair out for her. “You up for coming with us or you going to stay here for the day?” He asked.

Scarlet stepped close to Tensleep and spoke softly. “I get a similar feeling in these walls as I do behind bars. You were in the Army is that a feeling the soldiers get too?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 28, 2007, 09:20:47 PM
He whispered back, "No, not at a good post. This post is a dump, no fresh food, no close town, no women anywhere near. It is like jail. Let's get out of here."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 28, 2007, 09:28:59 PM

“Women close by?” Scarlet raised an eyebrow. “She’d never kill ya for lookin’ but that woman o yers has one hot temper. She says she’s understanding but I bet when it comes right down to it she wouldn’t be.” Scarlet teased.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 28, 2007, 09:36:31 PM
Tensleep laughed. "I ain't lookin' darlin' 'tween you, 'Becca an' Ella, not countin' Rose an' Patches, I'm woman poor...
It's the enlisted men mostly, they want to talk to and look at a woman ever' once in a while."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 28, 2007, 09:51:03 PM
"I imagine swimmin' the river doesn't hold alot of appeal. They would really want some female company to do that." Scarlet looked around as they walked towards the stables. "I bet they pay twice the price happily after swimmin' the river too than they do at the Ace."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 28, 2007, 09:54:38 PM
"I reckon that they would, mighty rough havin' to swim that river." Tensleep winked. "Might be a business to get into."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 28, 2007, 10:00:09 PM
"I don't think Becca would give up the Ace to come here to open a business. One the girls that works for her come from that place across the river. She says she'd never come back."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 28, 2007, 10:05:21 PM
"I figger 'Becca best stay just where she is an' Scarlet best stay close too." Tensleep put his arm around Scarlet's shoulder. "You two make a good team, gangin' up on your husbands."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 28, 2007, 10:14:32 PM
Scarlet grinned. "Why Tensleep we wouldn't do such a thing." She said sweetly batting her eyelashes at him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 28, 2007, 10:27:23 PM
"I had thought to talk to the cook, but if you are all going, I'll go with you," replied Ella.  "Maybe I can find some wild onions or catch fish in the river."  She pulled a little box out of her pocket and opened it to check on the fishhooks and line stored in it.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 30, 2007, 02:45:51 PM

Mrs. Kaplan showed Alan into her husband's study.  Rabbi Issac Kaplan greeted him, "Welcome, Alan.  Would you like tea?"

The two men exchanged small talk until Rachel brought in a tray, and poured cups for both of them.

Then she left, closing the door behind her. 

"I am troubled about my marriage and my wife Ella," said Alan.  "She ran away from her uncle's house while I was in Vienna.  I have asked her to return to Boston, and she refuses.  I can't remember any other time when she has refused a request.  She always had the sweetest temper.  Except when I wanted to sell her horse.  After my parents died, we moved from my father's house to Dr. Abramson's house where there was no stable.  I had needed a horse and carriage to come into town to work with Dr. Abramson, and would not need one anymore.  We were trying to save money so that I could study in Vienna.  She proposed that she would keep her horse only if she could find stabling without cost.  She arranged to stable her horse at the riding academy in exchange for providing veterinary care for all of the horses there.  Dr. Abramson advised me at the time that I should not allow her to keep her horse, that I needed to keep her dependent.  I guess he was right.  She could not have run away as easily without her horse." 

"Did Mrs. Coatsworth give you any explanation for leaving her uncle's house?" asked Rabbi Issac.

"She said that her uncle expected her to replace their hired servant without pay.  She said that keeping house for Dr. Abramson had been acceptable only because she was taking care of her husband by doing so," replied Alan.  "Hmm, maybe that was why she insisted that the impropriety of a married woman living without her husband in a single man's house made it impossible to consider staying in his house while I was gone.  Dr. Abramson did treat her like a servant.  Although she never spoke a word of complaint, not even when he brought six guests home to dinner with no advance notice.  As I remember, she gave them a good dinner, and served pea soup for the rest of the week.  When Dr. Abramson complained at the third pea soup dinner, she pointed out that his guests had eaten all of the food she had purchased for the week, and he had not given her any extra money to replenish the supplies.  He was careful to provide extra money and advance notice before having dinner parties after that." 

"Did she give any reason for refusing to return to Boston?"

"She said that she had taken on responsibilities, based on my agreement to go to El Paso when I returned to the United States, that she was not willing to abandon."

"Had you agreed to go to El Paso?" 

"Yes," admitted Alan reluctantly.  "I was afraid that she would turn her back on me if I were too stubborn in my answers to her letters.  She did make settling in El Paso sound inviting.  But when I got back, Dr. Abramson had gone to a great deal of effort to set up this lecturer position for me at the medical school, and I didn't want to offend him by turning it down.  I owe him a great deal because he helped me get my career started.  Dr. Abramson advised me to threaten her with divorce if she won't return, and implied that I might want to divorce her because of her behavior while she's been out west."

"Do you have any reason to suspect her of infidelity?"

"Nothing in her letters ever gave any suggestion of attachment to any other man, but how could a woman pay her own way without help?"

"Did she write often?"

"She wrote a letter every week, usually a very thick letter, with one page devoted to personal matters and the rest being accounts of the activities of the 'posse' she was with.  Ella never said much about what she herself did for the posse, other than cooking and patching up wounded.  Dr. Abramson thinks those accounts are fictional."   

"I happen to have some information from El Paso," said Rabbi Issac, pulling a folder out of a desk drawer.  "Mrs. Coatsworth named me as a character reference when she joined the congregation there, and Rabbi Jacob Cohen wrote to ask.  We have exchanged several letters since then.  He thinks very highly of her, and credits her with saving his wife when she delivered twin sons last year. Local opinions about the people she stays with are mixed.  Members of the Longknife family do not try to ingratiate themselves with anyone.  Marshall Ross is mostly liked and respected, except by people who disapproved of him marrying a saloon owner."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 30, 2007, 03:07:20 PM
"Those eyes batting at me might have made me wonder about you at one time Scarlet, but I've seen that routine make Johnny Longkife melt. And my dear, 'Becca warned me that your batting, fluttering eyes hide a mind that is working overtime."

The Marshal squeezed Scarlet and grinned.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 30, 2007, 03:26:05 PM
Scarlet snorted at the comment. "Well Sir, your wife she does not lie, but I know someone who is much better at it than I am and I have seen her husband melt a time or two. I've heard it said a real friend knows enough about you and your history they could blackmail you. Becca and I could blackmail one another a thousand times over. I know things about you that quite frankly make me blush Sugar Pants." Scarlet giggled and gave him a squeeze back.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 30, 2007, 03:32:56 PM
Tensleep looked at her and rolled his eyes. "I've heard that same thing and your best friend has told me a few things about you that almost make me blush too, but then I see you and just know that she still hasn't told me everything."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 30, 2007, 03:43:21 PM
Scarlet smirked. "Nobody knows everything Darlin' there a few that come close though." She winked at him then stepped away from him to get her gear so they could be on their way.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 30, 2007, 04:59:19 PM
"I ought to be able to make Alan melt, once I start applying the lessons I have learned from Rose, Scarlet and Becca," giggled Ella.  Privately she wondered if those lessons would give her enough leverage to move him out of Boston if she joined him there.  The trouble was that Boston had too many other people around who could counsel him not to be influenced by a wife.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 30, 2007, 06:11:52 PM
"We all have our melting points. You ladies seem to be able to find them easily enough too." Bo Chuckled.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 30, 2007, 06:38:27 PM
Ella resolved not to think about Bo melting.  That led to dangerous territory.  She could feel herself blushing when he glanced her way. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 30, 2007, 09:20:58 PM
"I hope Rose, Scarlet and Becca taught you to recognize when a man was trying to find your melting point." Bo's smile was slightly fliratious "Alan may have learned a thing or two also." He said with a wink.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 30, 2007, 10:47:02 PM
"You are a very dangerous man, Mister Bo Corbin," said Ella, feeling very flushed and flustered.  She had gotten through the first two years of Alan's absence by suppressing all feminine feelings.  She had released them when she got the letter that Alan was returning from Europe.  Now that he was staying away longer, she needed to bottle them up again, but Bo was making that harder.  Maybe she was going to have to go to Boston to run away from Bo.  She trusted him not to push her into any relationship she didn't want, but he was awfully attractive. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 31, 2007, 08:26:40 AM
Bo's smile widened and he chuckled. "So I been told."

"You better watch him close Ella, Bo likes to flirt if you give him half a chance." Scarlet said over her shoulder.

"I've been able to practice with one who has mastered the art." He replied looking right at her causing them both to laugh. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on January 31, 2007, 09:12:57 AM
"I probably need flirting practice," replied Ella, relaxing.  "That was an area of education my grandmother and aunt neglected to cover.  Rose, Becca and Scarlet have told me how to flirt, but I haven't used that theoretical knowledge.  After all, flirting with other men is not a permissible activity for a proper Jewish matron."  Ella giggled, "But I haven't been very proper for a couple years."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on January 31, 2007, 01:42:17 PM
Tensleep looked across Buck's saddle at Ella with a twinkle in his eye.
"Honey you might be Jewish, but you ain't a matron by a longshot yet." He winked as Ella blushed.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on January 31, 2007, 08:19:42 PM
Fort Fetterman was located on a plateau above the Platte River.  Tactically, it was a good location, allowing for plunging fire from the fort’s artillery.  Logistically speaking, the location was less than ideal.  There was a cistern inside the fort, but relying on the rain to fill it didn’t meet the demand.  So, on a daily basis, troopers from the fort drove a buckboard filled with barrels, buckets and canteens to the Platte.  The water party was led by a corporal who guarded the team, and four or five men to gather water.  They’d stripped their blouses off, and rolled their sleeves.  Maybe if they worked hard and fast, the corporal would allow them a brief swim. 

“Rider coming up,” the corporal said, picking up his carbine.  The others turned to look.  A single man, riding one mount and leading another, came to the ford.  He wore dirty shirt blue as they did, but there was something different about him.  His gear wasn’t right.  The man wore an old four-button sack, with Civil War chevrons.  His McClellan was a rough out type, not dyed black as the regulations required.  Attached to the back of his saddle was a sky-blue greatcoat!  Nobody wore those anymore.  The corporal thought, “old…but well maintained.”  The words applied to the rider as well. 

As the rider crossed the river, the men saw his weapons.  The buckskin had two rifle scabbards.  One carried a repeater, the other long-barreled Sharps.  He carried the regulation Colt on his right hip.  He nodded to the corporal and tipped his hat.  One of the men saw a short-barreled Colt on his left hip, in a configuration he’d never seen before.  It was obvious that this man was serious about his profession.  He was a veteran…a fighter.  Nothing was said, no challenge made.  The veteran trooper crossed in good order, and rode slowly towards the fort.

The fort was a simple affair, as all frontier forts were.  There were wood frame buildings for the officers, the infirmary, the armory and the stables.  But the men resided in large fly tents.  Those that were fortunate enough to be stationed at the fort were close to the parade deck, and more importantly, the sutlers’ tents.  Their tents had slat wood floors.  The units recently arriving were strung out in columns of twos behind.  The result was a long dusty street in the center, which would churn up to a muddy mess in the rainy season.  Sanitary conditions were horrible.  The smell would be enough to drive most decent people away.  But these weren’t “decent” people…they were soldiers.  The officers would have their creature comforts of course, but the men had none.  That would change if Fritz had his way.

The dusty street was a flurry of activity.  Men tended horses, cleaned weapons, and practiced drill.  The sergeants barked orders, and troopers obeyed.  As Fritz rode slowly passed, men grew quiet.  The older sergeants nodded to a kindred spirit.  The younger men gawked unabashedly.  Even the guidons seemed to flap less in the breeze.  This didn’t help matters much, as the guidons were the only way to recognize each unit.  There were well over two thousand soldiers gathered here.  Up ahead, the wind picked up slightly, and he saw it.  The well-worn swallowtail, red over white, moved in the morning breeze.  The two rode proudly over the letter I.  The guidon marked the location of the C.O.’s tent.  An orderly stood outside.  He was a young man, who Fritz didn’t recognize.  Fritz dismounted and slapped the trail dust from his uniform.  He handed the reins to the young man.

“Please advise Captain Schurmann that First Sergeant King is here to see him.”

The man swallowed hard.  He turned and lifted the tent flap.  “Sir…First Sergeant King is here…”

“FRITZ!!!”  The voice bellowed from within.  “Get your ass in here!” 

He couldn’t help but grin.  Fritz took off his slouch and entered the tent.  He snapped to in front of a field desk.  “First Sergeant King reporting as ordered, sir.” 

The captain stood and returned his salute.  The bear of a man was around his desk in an instant, and grabbed him up in a rough hug.  “How the hell are you?”

“Fritz laughed.  “Fine, sir.  And you?”

Captain Schurman clapped him on the shoulders, hard.  “Well, you know me.  I’m just a…”

“…Long service Captain!”  Fritz finished.  He was glad some things never changed.  He saw a pot of coffee on top of the stove.  “May I?”

“Of course!  I don’t drink it as much anymore,” Schurmann replied, “but I thought you might be coming today.  My instincts are still good.”

Fritz poured a cup.  The coffee was strong, but felt good going down.  There was a bundle of cigars on the desktop.

“Like I said…I figured you were coming.”

Fritz pulled one from the bundle, and used his knife to clip the end.  He struck a Lucifer on the desk edge, and lit the cigar.  He suddenly felt twenty years younger.

“So,” Schurmann asked, “what’s going on in your life?”

“Well, I’m sure you read my report on Mexico.  I gathered enough intelligence on their army and their borders to satisfy the Top Brass, but got captured in the process.  It was pretty bad.”  Fritz ran a hand through his stubble.

“I see you still cut your hair before a fight.”  Schurmann saw that Fritz hadn’t changed much either.

“I was doing time in a Mexican jail, when a posse of Marshals came in and got me freed.  I rode with them back to the border, and covered their crossing with the new Springfield rifle.”

“I read your evaluation.  It appears you had a successful field test.”

“Yep.  But they took it away from me when I returned.  I’m sure it’s in somebody’s office right now, collecting dust.  Or maybe it’s in a museum.  Springfield has one I hear.”

Schurmann nodded and sipped his coffee.  He knew the story wasn’t over.

“Anyway, there was this one woman in the posse, like no one I’ve ever known. She…”

“Wait a minute.  There were WOMEN in this posse?”

“Yep.  And they were good too.  There was this one woman named Scarlet.  She captured my heart.  She’s my equal in every respect.  I love her Bill…I married her.”

“And you swore after the last one that you’d never marry again.  I told you the first one would never last.  She was a gold digger.  Scarlet is different?”

“As night and day,” Fritz replied.  We’ve got a place in Texas, and we’re happy.  I thought the Army would let me end my days in obscurity, serving with the Marshals.  But then I received your telegraph.”

“Do I know her Fritz?”

“No, probably not.  But you might just know her dad.  Her last name was ‘Longknife.’  Scarlet Angelina Longknife.”

“Johnny Longknife?  I remember that wily bastard!  Is he still alive?”

“Alive and kicking.  He wasn’t too keen on his daughter marrying a Yankee bluecoat, but we’ve grown on each other.”

“Well, after this is over, you’ll have to introduce me to her,” Schurmann said.
“So, how is Anna...or should I call her “Trooper George?”

Bill Married Anna after the war.  After he’d discovered one of his toughest troopers was actually a woman.

“She’s fine.  Doesn’t campaign as much anymore.  But she can still shoot the eye out of a crow flying.  And these days,” Bill added, “she wears buckskins.”
“I’ve been reading the papers,” Fritz said, blowing smoke.  General Crook’s winter campaign didn’t succeed.  What is the plan?”

Schurmann took his cup and cigar and sat behind the desk.  “From what I’ve been told, this summer campaign will make up for the setbacks during the winter and spring.  The idea is to put so many forces into the field that the Indians will either have to fight or give.  If they fight, overwhelming forces should be able to subdue them.”  Fritz noted the sarcasm in his voice.  They had fought together on the plains before the war.  The Indians would never stand toe-to-toe with a conventional force.  They would attack, run, and melt away into the landscape.  If any units tried to pursue, they would be cut off and ambushed. 

“If they give,” Schurmann continued, “the hope is to canalize and surround the enemy on three sides.  Once so trapped, they must either surrender, or be annihilated.”  The Captain took a map from a case, and unrolled it on his desk.  “Terry will be coming from the East, Gibbon from the West, and our column will come in from the South.  We should join forces somewhere in the area of the Bighorn River.”

“Hmmm.  How many of the men are veterans?  Anybody left from the old days?”

“There are a few, but not many.  Most are just green kids fresh out of Jefferson Barracks.  This leads me to another subject.  I already have a First Sergeant, Fritz.”

“Who is it?”  He already knew the answer.

“Scott.”  Fritz knew Scott Crisp from the old days. 

“I can’t have two of you butting heads.”  The captain stood, and picked up a bundle from his desk.  Fritz stood.

“I need a good exec.  You’re the man.  You were breveted once.  You are now again.  You are hereby promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant.  Congratulations.”  Schurmann extended his hand.

“I’m not sure I want this Bill,” Fritz replied, shaking the offered hand.

“It’s not a matter of want, old friend.  It’s a matter of need.  You’re out of uniform.  Get it fixed.  And by the way, your tent is right next to mine.  Make yourself at home.  I’ll give you a couple of hours to get cleaned up and rest.  We’ll go meet the General this afternoon.”

Fritz snapped to and saluted again.

Schurmann smiled.  “Welcome home.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 31, 2007, 08:21:15 PM
"If you flirt with Alen do you think he will respond well or think he has left you in the hands of folks with questionable backgrounds for to long?" Scarlet asked as she swung up on Lucky's back.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on January 31, 2007, 11:13:52 PM
Cyrus stopped the group near the gate. “You aren’t running out on me already are ya?”

“Just for the day.” Bo replied. “When will we be heading out?”

“Haven’t gotten any word from the ol’ man. Ya know how it is Bo hurry up and wait.” Cyrus chuckled. “I’m on my way to see him now. Hey if you find something worth eattin’ remember me would ya?”

The horses standing near the gate caught the attention of some of the men who had ridden in with them.

“You’re not leaving us are you?” Teddy said approaching the group.

“No, but if I see one more thing on my plate that is floured, fried and is tried to be passed off as meat then see the same thing in gravy the next day for breakfast I think I shall start sharing my horse’s rations.” Scarlet said with a lopsided smile.

“What ya say Cyrus, maybe between the two groups we could get something decent.” Joe said.

Cyrus looked around. It was hard to keep the type of men he’d gathered to behave when they grew bored. They’d behaved for the most part since they’d been here. There had only been a few fights, Chris the only one to end up in the infirmary so far, but he knew they were growing restless. They had been busying themselves practicing and playing games. He’d been worried last night when one of the men asked Bo to practice hand to hand with the knife. Both men were good and luckily no one lost their temper both had a few cuts from it but that was part of the game. His group was getting along well, with the exception of Chris. Some of the other groups had gotten out of hand, he’d heard some of the ones in charge of the groups had been called before the C.O. regarding the conduct.

“What the hell. Just make sure you all come back before dark and I get something. Please.”

“We’ll head down river.” Teddy said.

“Then we’ll go up so we don’t run over one another.” Bo said.

There was a certain sense of relief Scarlet felt when the gates opened and they road out.

Bo watched her while they rode. “Why did you want to come here?” He finally asked.

Scarlet looked at him for a moment, not really surprised at the question. “You know…”

“Before you go any further remember it’s me you’re talking to.”

Scarlet looked at him a moment longer. It was no use trying to dance around him. Besides it was always easier to stick to the truth.

“It was something Grey Eagle said.” She said.

Bo raised an eyebrow as if to say “which was?”

“Fritz’s time has come.”

“That could mean a lot.” Bo said.

Scarlet turned and looked at him. “I’m gonna tell you somethin’ nobody else ever did Bo, maybe they should have.”

Bo looked at her, the tone of her voice made him wonder if he really wanted to know.

“About six months before y’all came home a man came to see your mother; I remember he was in a dress uniform, accompanied by a priest. They told her your dad was killed and the body was unrecoverable.”

“Six months? I don’t understand, he died not long before we came back, Johnny brought his body.”

“You’re mom was confused when she got a letter from him, at first she thought it was mailed right before his death. Then she got another. Nobody could answer her questions or would. Then just when she started to believe he was ok dad brought him home. I didn’t know anybody here. Who would have brought him home should he be killed?”

Bo pushed his hat back. "That would explain a few things about you and her."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 01, 2007, 10:39:04 AM

Alan strolled slowly home, deep in thought.  What had Mrs. Kaplan meant when she said, "We will all be happy to consult our lady doctor again"?  Alan had managed to reply politely, "I'll be sure to tell her that." instead of blurting out "But Ella isn't a doctor!"

What did he know about how Ella had filled her days in Boston?  He had observed that clothes and house was clean and meals were well-prepared, and had assumed that housework and cooking had kept her busy all day, maybe with breaks to go work with her horse and to read. 

She didn't read novels, though.  At least he had never seen a novel lying around the house.  Her favorite Sabbath activity was reading his textbooks and medical journals.   She had stopped reading in the living room after Dr. Abramson had teased her about choosing material that she couldn't possibly understand. 

But she did understand the books and journals.  That had been amply demonstrated by conversations when they were alone.  Dr. Abramson had laughed at her the first time she had tried to participate in a conversation about science and medicine. 

When they had lived with his parents, the work of keeping house was shared with his sister-in-law.  Ella did nurse his parents through their last illnesses, and delivered Mildred's children.  She probably had nursed the children through their illnesses as well. 

He remembered that Ella had asked to assist him in his practice.  He had turned her down, following Dr. Abramson's advice to encourage her to concentrate all her efforts on keeping house.  Dr. Abramson had high standards, but he never had to criticize anything more than once.  He was careful with the household budget as well, wanting an accounting to the penny of everything Ella spent. 

He didn't really know anything about Ella's relationships with the other women in the congregation.  Men and women worshipped separately at the synagogue.  Ella did tell amusing little stories about them as light dinner conversation, the kind of dinner conversation Dr. Abramson expected from her. 

When he had started making plans to go to Vienna, Ella wanted to go with him.  He had said no, and suggested that she could continue living with Dr. Abramson.  She had proposed instead to live with Widow Erdbeer.  He had not wanted to commit any money to paying room and board for her, so he decided on sending her to her aunt and uncle. 

Alan didn't like the new self-image he was building.  He had palmed his duty to provide for her off on her aunt and uncle.  He had been an inattentive husband.  He had paid more attention to unmarried Dr. Abramson's opinions about the limited abilities of women than to the abundant talents that his wife exhibited. 

He had some time in which to sort out his responsibilies.  A postscript on the letter had said the posse was going to Montana Territory and would be gone at least three weeks.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 01, 2007, 02:33:28 PM
The group rode along the river until they spotted what looked like a good place for fishing.

Bo pulled his horse to a stop. "We could fish here for awhile." He said looking back "or we could split up and one of us could stay with Ella while the other two continue to hunt."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 01, 2007, 02:49:34 PM
"Scarlet, are you willing to sit and fish, or are you too restless today?" asked Ella.  "Going out hunting was Tensleep's idea in the first place, so I'm sure he doesn't want to fish." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 01, 2007, 06:56:10 PM
In all honesty Scarlet didn’t feel like sitting and fishing but she didn’t want Ella to feel like she was put in an awkward position if she left her alone with Bo. Not that Bo would ever think of trying to make Ella feel uncomfortable but the way she’d been looking at him lately Scarlet wasn’t sure how Ella would feel.

“I’d prefer to hunt but I’ll stay if  you want me to.” Scarlet said.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 01, 2007, 09:43:14 PM
"Go ahead and hunt, as long as Bo doesn't mind fishing," Ella replied.  "He's good company.  And now that I've admitted he's dangerous, he's probably willing to pretend not to be."  She smiled at Bo, telling herself that she could think of him as the big brother she used to wish she had.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 02, 2007, 08:28:11 AM
“Bo likes to fish.” He said joining in the conversation as if they were talking about someone who couldn’t hear them. “But you may want to watch him Miss Ella now that you’ve admitted he’s dangerous he may not see any reason to try to pretend not to be.” He smiled rather wickedly and laughed.

“I on the other hand.” He said stepping off his horse “am a gentleman.”

He approached her and put his hand out to help her off her horse.

“Ella have you ever encountered a southern gentleman? They reek of charm and they can be dangerous given the chance.” Scarlet looked from Bo to Tensleep.

Bo laughed then replied. “I will do nothing that would be cause for a duel upon the return of  Mr. Coatsworth, better yet I will not give you ladies much to giggle about in your room this evening.”       

"Damn, I guess it's up to Tensleep and I to do that then." Scarlet laughed.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 02, 2007, 09:06:59 AM
"Before joining up with you and Patches, the only southern gentlemen I had encountered were wounded prisoners during the War," replied Ella.  "Even under those circumstances, they were charming and courteous even to a gawky girl-child."  She accepted Bo's help dismounting.  He had a good hand for holding, not limp or clammy or hard or too calloused, just warm and solid. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 02, 2007, 08:53:34 PM
"Good luck fishin'" Scarlet said as she kicked Lucky forward followed by Tensleep.

"If yer not back in three hours we'll come looking for you." Bo called after them as he tied the horses to a near by tree.

Bo dug in his saddlebags. "Look I brought lunch." He laughed as he held the moldy piece of cheese towards Ella. "Think the fish will like it?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 03, 2007, 12:46:03 AM
"I hope they will, because it is sure not fit for humans to eat," replied Ella.  "The fish might also like the grubs and slugs I expect to find under this log."  She turned it over with her toe to expose a good crop of bugs.  "Will you cut a couple poles while I collect this bait?"  She took a large cupped leaf, and squatted down to pick slugs off the rotting wood and drop them onto the leaf. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 04, 2007, 09:15:04 AM
Bo put the cheese on a rock that looked to be a good place to start fishing then started looking at the trees and the ground to find a couple of  limbs that wouldn't be to big or dry, if they were on the ground. He didn't want them so small they would break or so big they were to heavy.

By the time Ella put the leaf next to the cheese he had found a couple of good poles.

"I hope we catch something I'm not fond of eating bugs." Bo said eyeing the leaf. "the medic at the fort might think those are good for medical purposes too." He teased.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on February 04, 2007, 09:29:05 AM
As Scarlet and Tensleep rode north up the Platte the Marshal asked, "What ya wanna hunt? Buff, deer, elk or bear? I see that yer loaded for anything."

He chuckled softly. It was sure nice to have good friends.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 04, 2007, 09:54:08 AM
"Always prepared." Scarlet grinned. "Buff would be good but I don't know how'd we get it all packed and back. I would hate to leave half of it there so perhaps something smaller? What are you up for?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on February 04, 2007, 09:58:32 AM
"I figger deer if we can find a place in the breaks where thay come for water, there should be several come at once if we can wait 'em out. Fresh venison would taste mghty good." Tensleep drew his Winchester and laid it across his saddle bows.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 04, 2007, 11:35:18 AM
"Nah, thinking of medical uses for these things would take imagination, which he probably lacks," replied Ella, tying a line onto one of the poles.  She dropped the hook end into the water, then pulled it back up and tied a twig to serve as a float at the boundary between wet and dry line.  She handed that one to Bo, then prepared the other pole the same way. 

She baited the hook with a slug and dropped it into the water.  The twig dipped a couple times, then went under while the top of the pole bent.  In another minute, she had a good-sized fish out of the water and on the shore. 

"What kind of fish is it, Bo?" she asked. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 05, 2007, 10:58:15 AM
His first step would be to finish writing lecture #5 and start lecture #6.  Tomorrow, he would talk to the school about rescheduling his lecture series, so that he could give two or three lectures per week instead of one.  That would allow him to complete this obligation in 10 or 7 weeks instead of 20. 

Alan stopped and looked around.  He had been walking without paying attention to where he was going.  He recognized one of the houses across the street.  Ella had summoned him there for an emergency Caesarian delivery.  Widow Erdbeer was the primary midwife for the congregation, and Ella one of her assistants. 

He had known Ella worked as a midwife and as a nurse.  Urgent summonses at midnight had made that hard to miss.  Why didn't he think of midwifery as practicing medicine?  What was the difference between what Ella did and what a doctor did?  He had to admit that Ella's herbal preparations were as effective as anything he knew of.  He had given Ella a set of scalpels during the War, and showed her how to use them.  He wondered whether Ella still had that set and whether she ever used it.

While Alan stood there, a woman came out of the house he had been to, followed by three children.  The youngest child, a boy, looked the right age to be the baby he had delivered that day.  The woman looked like she could be the same one.  Ella had told him she had recovered from the surgery. 

Only twice had he lost the mother in the dozen or so times Ella had summoned him.  Both times, the woman was close to death when he got there.  Talking about those cases with Ella later, he learned that she had taken one look when she got there, and summoned him.  Most of the surgeons he knew hated Caesarian deliveries because they lost so many of the patients.  Dr. Abramson's attitude was typical - "Waste of time to cut open a dying woman to pull out a kid that is probably already dead." 

He headed home.  Samuel was in the dining room.  Not feeling like talking to him, Alan went straight upstairs and back to work.  He got #5 done, and had the outline for #6 finished before Samuel came upstairs.

"What advice did you get from the rabbi, Alan?" asked Samuel, settling into the other chair. 

"Good advice," replied Alan curtly, taking a fresh sheet of paper to begin fleshing out his outline. 

"Are you writing to tell her to get herself back here or else?"


"Why not?"

"Because I'm not going to."  Alan was feeling irritated, and starting to be willing to show it.

"There is one mistake you didn't make with Ella," persisted Samuel.  "You didn't let her go to one of those new-fangled women's medical colleges.  What good is that kind of education to any woman?  Their brains just aren't big enough to absorb too much knowledge.  And she was already too full of her grandmother's idea about 'healing', which were just superstition as far as I could tell."

"Whenever Ella applies her grandmother's ideas, her treatment is at least as effective as anything a trained doctor can do," replied Alan. 

"Stuff and nonsense!" exclaimed Samuel.  "Didn't you ever learn that a woman's only purposes in life are to keep her husband satisfied and to produce babies?  Of course, Ella seems to have failed so far at producing babies.  And she's not keeping you satisfied if she's off in the wild west somewhere instead of in your kitchen cooking your dinner or on her back in your bed."

"Enough!" barked Alan, gathering up his papers.  "You obviously know nothing about women other than your own prejudices.  I'll go see a lawyer in the morning to draw up the necessary papers to dissolve our partnership."  Alan stormed out of the room, and up to his bedroom on the third floor to start packing.  He needed to find new lodgings.  Maybe the Widow Erdbeer had a room available. 

As his anger cooled, he almost regretted the decision to break the partnership.  Samuel had been a friend of Alan's father, and taken Alan under his wing when Alan was only 10.  His recommendation had helped get Alan into Harvard Medical School.  Alan had left for the War as soon as he graduated, with a promise of a partnership when he returned.  Having a position in an established practice had enabled him to marry Ella as soon as she turned 16. 

But now that Alan was conscious of Samuel's attitude towards women, he had to choose between Samuel and Ella. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 05, 2007, 06:25:44 PM
Bo looked over at the spotted fish with the red streaks on the lower jaw Ella had landed.

“That’s a cutthroat; it’s common in this part of the country and very tasty. Ya got to be careful not to get your fingers in their mouth; they have another set of teeth inside.” He said carefully picking it up so it wouldn’t slip away.

Ella looked at him wondering why on earth somebody would put their fingers in the mouth of a fish that obviously had a healthy first row of teeth.

 “I’ve done some dumb things on bets. Travis bet me once they had two rows of teeth, said something about being like little sharks like we’d seen drawings of at the docks. Guess I shoulda listened.” Bo chuckled then asked “Did your Grammy teach you to fish?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 05, 2007, 07:23:12 PM
Actually, I learned from my parents when I was little, before I went to live with Grammy," replied Ella.  "They enjoyed fishing as a break from working on the ranch.  I mostly was along to keep an eye on my sisters, but my father would teach me about fishing while my mother was feeding my sisters.  My sisters didn't like fishing, because they were afraid to touch the worms." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 05, 2007, 10:59:06 PM
Scarlet and Tensleep rode until they found a well traveled deer trail. Scarlet dismounted and drew the sharps from it’s scabbard. She settled herself on a long and laid the gun across her lap. She looked up at Tensleep and smiled then patted the log next to her.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 06, 2007, 04:15:50 PM
Fritz stepped out of the tent into the sunlight, with the wrapped parcel in his hand.  Captain Schurmann called out to the orderly, “See to the Lieutenant’s horses.”  The man looked at Fritz.  As far as he could tell, there were still First Sergeant chevrons sewn to his coat.

“Don’t worry son,” Fritz replied.  “I’ll unload them first, if you’ll just hold them for a minute.”

The kid smiled, not sure whether he should salute or not.

Across the dusty street, a familiar figure emerged from his tent.  First Sergeant Scott Crisp was the epitome of a Civil War era Soldier.  He was still drawn and gaunt, just as he’d been in those lean years.  His uniform was worn, but his brass shined, as did his boots.  He looked at Fritz, and the look wasn’t a happy one.

Fritz crossed the thoroughfare and extended his hand.


Crisp shook the offered hand.

“Fritz.”  There were no pleasantries exchanged.  “Let’s talk.”

Scott reentered his tent, and Fritz followed.

“So,” Scott said, “what are you doing here?”

“So this is how it is,” Fritz thought.  “The Captain recalled me.”

“You’re not needed here.  You don’t belong.”

“The Captain begs to differ.”

Scott sat at his field desk.  The same one Fritz had used on countless occasions.  He wondered if the bottle was still where he’d left it.

“You left this unit a long time ago.  No reason, no excuse…just up and gone.  I had to fill the gap.  And now you come waltzing back?  This is my unit now.  These are my men.  You don’t know them a tenth as well as I do.”

Fritz sighed.  “I left on assignment, and couldn’t tell anyone where I was going.  I didn’t abandon my men.  I followed my orders, just as you followed yours.”

“Well,” Scott said, crossing his arms, “why don’t you crawl back under that rock you were hiding behind, and leave the work to the real soldiers.”

His temper was rising, and this wasn’t the place or time for it.  “You’re right,” Fritz replied.  “These are your men now, and there’s no way I’d take your place.  This unit has room for only one First Sergeant, and you’re it.”

Scott hadn’t expected it to go that easily.  He figured on more of a fight.  Maybe Fritz had gotten soft in his old age.  He rose, and extended his hand.  “Nice to talk to you.”

Fritz shook the offered hand.  “We’ll talk again later.”

Fritz left the tent, and walked across to the orderly.  He pulled his rifle and carbine from their scabbards, and walked to the empty tent.  He laid his weapons on the cot inside, and began to offload his mounts.   

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on February 06, 2007, 04:59:08 PM
Tensleep sat down next to Scarlet still cradling his Winchester.
"When do you expect Fritz to arrive? Anyone at the fort heard from him?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 06, 2007, 06:13:14 PM
"He left a day or so ahead of us, we would have beat him by more than a week if we hadn't spent so much time at Ft Laramie, but I ain't going to complain about being there vs here. Depending on how fast he rode, should be here anytime I expect." Scarlet glanced over at Tensleep then her eyes went back to the spot they were watching. "I have not asked about him. I've been doing the job I came here to do and I intend to continue to do so." Her tone was matter of fact.

"He's a grown man 'Sleep, didn't come to baby sit 'im." She looked over at him again and softly smiled. "If I wanted to give someone that impression I wouldn't continue to let Cyrus call me Corbin."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 06, 2007, 10:58:25 PM
Cyrus walked towards the General’s quarters. He expected he and his group were going to be assigned to ride under somebody.

“Cyrus.” Richard called.

Cyrus’s back went stiff when he heard the voice. He looked at the other man. “Dick.” He replied in a barely civil tone.

Richard narrowed his eyes. He hated being called Dick and Cyrus always said it in an insulting tone. The two brothers had always just tolerated one another at best. Richard had been jealous since his little brother had been born; it only had grown worse with age.

Cyrus never liked being the baby brother and he didn’t like the favoritism his father had shown him which made his brother hate him more. He had run away from home and joined the army as soon as they’d take him. He’d hoped to leave his family life behind, hoped they would be so mad they would not acknowledge him any more. It had only back fired. His parents had been so proud, so proud his brother soon joined to try and gain the same recognition.

“I saw some of your people deserting earlier.” Richard said smugly.

“Unlike yours, my people will not desert me. Unlike you I know how to pick people for the task presented to me.” Cyrus replied as he kept walking.

Richard laughed causing Cyrus to look sideways at him.

Cyrus hated the very sound of Dick’s smug voice as he listened to his words.

“I heard how you pick your people. Heard how one of them tried to carve up the other one. Heard a couple of them were women too. I know you try to keep your men happy but never figured you to be draggin’ whores along for them. How much you have to pay the women for going into a battle zone.”

“Shut up Dick.” Cyrus growled stopping short and looking his brother in the eyes. “I will be sure to tell Ella and Scarlet you send your regards. Maybe if I am lucky Scarlet will cut you to and then Ella will leave you for the medic that is here.” Cyrus turned to continue then stopped again. “There are six men that have been sewn back up for one reason or another, only one rides with me. You should rethink the kind of people you have in your group.”

“Tell the General I am here as requested.” Cyrus said.

“Richard Kane reporting as requested.”

The men were shown into the General’s office.

“Cyrus.” He said as he gestured for the men to have a seat.

“Sir.” Cyrus replied.

“Do you share your brother’s skills Mr. Kane?” He asked Richard.

“Yes, and then some.” Richard replied.

Cyrus stood. “The only thing we share Sir is the same last name. Here is a list of the people that are riding with me. Notes on each one, should you have any questions about us you know where to find me. Good afternoon.” He said before turning and walking out.

The General watched him go. Cyrus was a strange man, but he had one of the best reputations a man could have. He always seemed to know what people expected of him and took pride in the people he rode with. A man that had been known to question orders of men who didn’t know as much as he did. He’d been known to save a few missions because of his… stubbornness maybe, and insubordination at times. He stuck to his guns; men like him were becoming fewer and farther between.

“Do you have the list of people that ride with you?” The General asked Richard.

“No Sir, I can tell you.”

“I want a list.” He said wondering how Cyrus knew to bring one, not everybody asked for one but he liked to have it to know exactly who was where.

He looked at Richard a moment thinking although he had a good reputation too he was not as good as his brother.   

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 07, 2007, 05:31:27 PM
Ella took the fish from Bo, carefully removed the hook from its mouth and dropped it into a canvas bucket half-filled with water. 

"Shall we see how many more fish are willing to go with us?" she asked with a smile, baiting her hook with another slug. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 07, 2007, 08:55:53 PM
Scarlet and Tensleep sat quietly waiting. It was a comfortable silence shared by friends. Finally their patients paid off and three deer broke cover.

Tensleep targeted the first deer and Scarlet took the last one to come to the river. It was a team effort to try and shoot close to the same time so the noise would not spook the deer.

It was executed near perfect the guns firing within less than a second of one another.

Scarlet smiled, the bullet entered behind the front leg and went through it’s lungs. The deer wouldn’t go far.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 07, 2007, 09:28:39 PM
Fritz didn’t feel like removing the chevrons from his coats again, so he walked up the dusty street to the sutler’s tent.  There was a line out the door that swiftly parted as he approached.  Although it had been framed and had a wood floor, the roof was still canvas.  The boards creaked under his feet.  It was like many such tents as he’d seen during his service.  Shelves filled with overpriced junk that Soldiers didn’t need.  Prices were inflated and quality was low.  But men were still buying the wares.  Fritz imaged that tobacco and liquor were the two top sellers, and boot black and metal polish were somewhere near the bottom.

“Sumthin’ I can help you wit?”  The voice belonged to a surly man behind the counter, who hadn’t been properly introduced to a razor or a bath in quite some time.

“I need a new blouse,” Fritz replied.  “Something regulation, or close to it.”

The man eyed him carefully.  “What ya got to trade?”

Fritz dropped a gold coin on the counter.  The man’s demeanor changed rapidly.

“Well, why didn’t ya say so?  I have some wonderful items back here.” 

He led Fritz to a rack near the counter.  There were no regulation blouses…no surprise there.  But there were several shirts which were close to the right color.  Close enough for campaign work.

“Now, here’s a nice little number.  The guys in Custer’s Seventh swear by ‘em.”  The shirt was a bib front with yellow trim on the edges. 

“Too much…simpler,” was Fritz’s reply.

“Here ya go then.  It’s the same, but without the piping.”  The shirt was a dark blue, made of heavy material.  It wasn’t wool, but it seemed sturdy enough. 

“How much?”

“For a man like you, I’d take ten dollars.”

Fritz laughed.  “I can get three of them for that price.”

“Not around here ya won’t.  I guarantee it.”


The proprietor was looking at a lost sale.  It’d been slow today.  He couldn’t afford it.

“I’ll take eight.”

“You’ll take seven,” Fritz said, “and you’ll throw in a needle and thread.”

“Gimmie your money,” the man said glumly.  Fritz handed over a coin, and kept his left hand near the butt of his short Colt.

“You want it wrapped?”

Fritz nodded.  “I’d have to wash it by the time I got back to my tent.”


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 08, 2007, 03:23:33 PM
By the time Scarlet and Tensleep met back up with Ella and Bo their bucket was nearly full of fish and they were sitting on a rock laughing, feet dangling in the water.

“Looks like you two had a good day.” Scarlet said with a smile.

Bo looked at the deer slung over the horses “Looks like you two were lucky today too.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 08, 2007, 03:50:40 PM
"We've been speculating what Rose could be teaching Solomon while I'm gone," laughed Ella.  "Owning a horse who can escape from any confinement that doesn't include locks would be very annoying, although the results would probably be very entertaining for everyone else.  But if she teaches him too many bad habits, I could retaliate by teaching him to enjoy eating rose blossoms."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 08, 2007, 05:13:12 PM
"Mom won't have to teach him that Ella, he comes by that knowledge naturally." Scarlet said patting Lucky's neck. "Lucky will nip off the occasional rose bud but it's his mother who will find her way into the garden for them. So Solomon may have a taste for them too." Scarlet laughed.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 08, 2007, 05:14:19 PM
Cyrus had just sat down in front of his tent. He’d made his rounds answered the questions of some of the higher ups and did his best to avoid Dick.

Dick’s men could be heard arguing over something clear across the yard. Cyrus was glad to see his men had organized a knife throwing contest amongst themselves. He was pleased with the way he had balanced the personalities of the men in his group. While Dick had chosen some inexperienced people and people looking to make a reputation for them selves Cyrus had a good mix. The more seasoned scouts had a reputation and nothing to prove while the younger men could learn from them, if they were smart. The more seasoned ones were not afraid to put the youngsters in their place. They were even getting Chris straightened out. He was still making a few comments, but much less offensive than before. Apparently Scarlet had taught him if he was going to dish it out he better be able to take it because the others where teasing him and he was taking it well.

Billy had finished his drills and was now off duty. He couldn’t find Cyrus fast enough, seeing the man just sitting down he ran over.

“Is it true Cyrus? Tell me it’s not!” Billy said breathlessly.

“What is it Private Glass?”

“They’re saying your people are deserting you. That Teddy was one of them. Teddy ain’t no deserter!”

Cyrus’s face turned red, knowing who ‘they’ were. “Teddy ain’t no deserter son. He’s not gonna ride out on me and he’s not gonna ride out on you with out telling you. If Teddy was a deserter he woulda ridden out on us a lot sooner than this. We been in worse crap holes then here.”

“What about Scarlet and Ella?” Billy asked.

“Those ladies are not deserters and neither are the men that ride with them.” Cyrus yelled as he stood back up causing Billy to jump back.

“Don’t worry Glass, I don’t shoot the messenger.” Cyrus said starting to pace in front of his tent trying to think of how he was going to handle this.

Billy’s head rotated one way then the other watching Cyrus pace. “Don’t ever turn into Dick Billy. There is a special kind of hell for people like him.”

Billy cocked his head to the side not entirely how to take ‘don’t ever turn into a Dick’.

Finally Cyrus calmed down, stopping in front of Billy. “Just tell who ever says something to you that it’s not true and there is a special kind of hell for the liar that started the rumor. If they have any questions they can come see me.” Cyrus smiled liking the answer.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 08, 2007, 09:30:02 PM
He'd been too tired to sleep...or too excited.  Fritz couldn't tell which.  So he spent the time sewing the shoulder boards onto his new shirt.  When he slid the shirt on, he looked at his reflection in the shaving mirror he carried.  It was a strange mix; the old wool trousers and the new blue shirt.  And he hadn't worn shoulder boards in quite some time.  But it somehow felt right.

"Am I disturbing you?"  Captain Schurmann lifted the tentflap.

"No sir...just following orders."

"Couldn't sleep, could you?"  No, Fritz hadn't changed much.  "They look good on you."

Fritz grabbed his slouch.  "Do you think the General will see us now?"

Bill smiled.  "Let's find out."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 08, 2007, 10:13:31 PM
After the third time she dismounted to gather wild onions and greens, Ella decided she might as well stay on foot.  It wasn't that far back to the fort.  She asked, "How many people are we planning to feed?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 08, 2007, 11:21:38 PM
"I'd say a mess o folks." Teddy said riding up next to her.

One of the men had a string of rabbits, two had a small elk tied to their saddles.

"I'd day we could dry some for later but I don't know if we will have time." One of the men said.

"That ol' cook probably has something to good to bring to the party too, he keeps dried fruits some times." One of the other's said.

"The men will have a fire ready hoping we will have gotten something." Teddy replied.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 08, 2007, 11:31:32 PM
Richard watched from where his scouts were camped. Cyrus’s men were putting together a large fire pit, one of them had a large pot but he couldn’t tell what was going in it. Some of the others had fixed ropes in the tree. Richard looked over his shoulder, his men in foul moods, some of them were starting to drink while others were agitating one another. Some were actually getting along playing cards.

Richard walked over to the camp, looking at the man with the large pot. “What are you people doing?” He demanded to know.

The man looked up. “Yer that Dick fella aintcha?”

Richard took a deep breath trying not to lose his temper.

Cyrus peered around his tent, a grin playing on his lips. “This is going to be interesting.” He thought to himself.

He’d been told his men were like a pack of wild animals in the past. Wolf packs kept their own in line; they could be sneaky and viscous at the same time, especially when they were thinking of taking down an intruder. Watching them he knew that rumor was true.

A couple of the men stepped around behind Richard.

“You the one that said our people are deserters?” One of the men behind Richard said.

Richard spun around; startled by the gruff voice. He knew the face but couldn’t believe his eyes. It was the man the other scouts called Blackbeard. Nobody knew if the man was related to the pirate but he looked an awful lot like he could be, he had a reputation as being merciless to the enemy.

Richard swallowed hard, afraid Blackbeard might be viewing him as an enemy.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 09, 2007, 01:10:21 AM

Alan woke up earlier than usual.  He had expected to sleep badly, with dreams that replayed the quarrel.  But his dreams had been unusual.  Instead of being based on recent events, these dreams seemed like visions of a possible future.  They were happy, hopeful dreams.

He headed downstairs to the kitchen.  The cook hadn't arrived yet, so he helped himself to bread and cheese.  Why hadn't he ever learned how to cook oatmeal for himself?  Boiling water for tea was the limit of his kitchen skills.

He settled at the kitchen table to work on the lecture until it would be a reasonable hour to call on the Widow Erdbeer.  When the cook arrived, she showed him how to cook himself a bowl of oatmeal, then prepared Samuel's breakfast omelet. 

After eating, he thanked Sarah and left through the back door.  It was a pleasant morning for a walk.

The Widow Erdbeer was surprised to see him when she opened her door.  "Dr. Coatsworth, come in, be seated, would you like tea?" she invited.  "How are you today?  Have you heard from Mrs. Coatsworth lately?"

"I had a letter from her only yesterday," replied Alan.  "That's actually the beginning of the reason I've come to see you.  Can you suggest a rooming house for me to live in?"

"Did you quarrel with Dr. Abramson?  You should talk to the rabbi if you need help to patch up the quarrel."

"Yes, I quarreled with him, but patching up the quarrel might cost me my wife."

"Probably true.  His advice would not aid a marriage.  He never learned to be a good husband."

"I didn't know that he was ever married."

"The matchmakers paired him with my sister.  They didn't suit each other.  Our parents appealed to the rabbi, and Dr. Abramson was persuaded to give her a divorce before he could crush her spirit or maybe kill her body.  My parents moved away with her and she remarried a couple years later.  Matchmakers never found another candidate to marry Dr. Abramson."

Alan thought about how Dr. Abramson had talked to Ella, and imagined what more he might have said and done to someone who could not leave and had no one to witness or intervene.

"If only I had left Ella with you when I went to Vienna," sighed Alan. 

"I might have kept her here for six months, one year at the most," she replied sadly.  "Living in a city was hard on her." 

"She never complained."

"No, she wouldn't complain to you.  She had been taught it was her duty to make your home a refuge for you.  So she would smile and be cheerful, even when she felt the city smothering her.  Her escape from the confines of city expectations was horses.  Did you ever see her riding in competition?"

"I am ashamed to admit that I did not even know she rode competitively.  What else about my wife that I don't know can you tell me?"

"Her barrenness troubled her a great deal."

"Our lack of children is not her fault but mine.  Should I give her a divorce so that she can marry someone who can give her children?" 

"That is an answer only she can give you.  Your wife will be the subject of many conversations between us after you move in here."

"How much will you charge for room and board?  Money might be tight for me. Since I am leaving Dr. Abramson's practice, my only assured income will be the stipend I'm receiving for a lecture series." 

"I am happy to repay part of what I owe Ella by taking care of her husband." 

"Thank you.  I'll bring my trunks this afternoon, after today's lecture." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 09, 2007, 08:32:09 AM
“Are you that Dick fella?” One of the others asked.

Richard was trying to think what to do, get ahold of the fear that was trying to creep up his spine. What kind of rock did Cyrus find these kind of people hiding under anyhow?

He straightened his back and turned back to the man with the pot.

“My name is Richard Kane. I asked you a question and I expect an answer.”

Cyrus looked back towards Dick’s men. Not a one of them had a clue he was missing or about to get himself in deep trouble. That was Dick’s problem, if you didn’t have loyal men you needed to be over there building it. Cyrus knew his men would have been right in the middle of this should he be in his brothers current shoes.

Dick didn’t know what happened he just felt his feet coming out from underneath him. The next thing he knew they were stringing him in the tree they had set up for dressing out the animals.

“I ain’t never skinned a Dick ‘fore.” Blackbeard laughed causing laughter in the rest of the group.

“Ask Scarlet, experience tells me she just might be able to give you a few pointers.” Chris said trying to be in good humor.

His remark sent a roar of laughter through the group.

The man with the pot stood up and took the lid off. Inside was a bunch of potatoes and onions. He had even talked the cook out of some butter as he knew Ella was tired of things cooked in grease.

“We are hoping to have some meat to go with this here stuff.” He said gesturing towards the pot with his eyes. “I guess now we got some. We didn’t even have to go out ta fetch it. It crawled right inta our camp.”

Cyrus was enjoying this. He knew his men wouldn’t do too much damage to Dick. They played up to some of the rumors that were said about them, joked about others, but when Dick had started the rumor that spread quickly about their group having deserters riding with them he had crossed the line of tolerance.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 09, 2007, 06:02:37 PM
Cyrus had sat down so he could watch what his men intended to do to Dick.  He wondered just how warped his mind was that he was enjoying this, but he just couldn’t seem to help himself. 

“Cut me down damn you heathens.”  Richard squealed.

Blackbeard stood back drew his knife and let it fly, the blade stuck in the tree to the right of Dicks torso.

“Oh let me try ta cut him down!” one of the other men said drawing his knife and throwing it, sinking the blade in the tree between Richards spread legs.

The gates of the fort swung open and the riders that had been rumored to have deserted rode through. Some of the soldiers began to whisper and look at them.

Scarlet’s eyes moved from side to side watching the people. “What happened while we were gone.” She whispered.

“Don’t know but damn sure gonna find out.” Teddy replied kicking his horse forward followed by the rest of the group. They skirted the pitched tents until they came to Cyrus’s.

“Cyrus what’s going on? People are pointing and whispering at us?” Teddy said.

Cyrus looked up at him then stood and walked over to his horse. He pointed at Dick and began to tell them what happened.

Cyrus had seen Teddy that mad before and it was never good. Teddy was the man that walked softly and carried the big stick.

Teddy stepped off his horse and tossed the reins to Cyrus.

“Hey I didn’t put a stop to it because I know they weren’t really going to hurt him.” Cyrus said.

Teddy bent over and picked up one of the boards that had been left over from building some of the structures.

“I won’t let you down Cyrus. I never have. That man’s going to think twice ‘fore he starts lying. I may be a lot of things but I’ll not stand for that kind of reputation hung on me.” Teddy said walking towards the tree.

“The deserters have returned!” He announced bringing the board up to shoulder height.

A few of Richard’s men had followed the group of riders over to see if they could overhear anything being said about the fact they rode off. Spotting Richard they stood wondering what was going on and if they should intervene.

Teddy swung the board putting all the strength he had behind it. The board sounded thunder as it splintered into tiny pieces just below Richard’s head.

Richard thrashed around yelling for Cyrus.

Teddy turned on the scouts that had come over to see what was going on pointing the end of the splintered board at them he said. “You help spread the rumor?”

“No Sir.” One of them threw up his hands and backed up.

“Let ‘im down.” Teddy said to Blackbeard who carried out the request.

“Pick up yer trash and take ‘im back to yer own camp.” Teddy said to the others.

“You Teddy Grey?” one of them asked stepping forward.

Teddy eyed the boy knowing somehow the kid suddenly felt like he might be somebody if he took on a man with a reputation. “Look kid, if you’re looking for a reputation you make it by doing a good job. Watchin’ the backs of the people you ride with, not sneakin’ around tellin’ dirty lies. But it’s your choice if you want to die today.”

“You’re threatening my boss there. So I would be watchin’ the back of the man I ride for.”  The kid drew his knife and threw it.

The knife made a dull thump as it stuck into the board Teddy blocked it with.

 “You got a lot to learn kid. Now you’re unarmed and I have your knife. You were slow and I could read your every move. On another day that may get you killed. Now go home and take Dick there with you.” Teddy said calmly.

The kid backed up not taking his eyes off the group until he was out of knife range then turned and ran to catch up with the others.

Teddy pulled the knife out of the board and found a place for it on his belt. “Now we got some skinnin’ and eattin’ to do!”

Cyrus handed the reins back to him and patted him on the back. “Well done.” Looking at the group “All of you, especially those of you who have been gathering decent stuff to eat.”

The man with the pot approached Ella. Paul removed his hat. “Miss Ella, I got potatoes and onions peeled and cut up in the pot and got some real butter from the cook, you have any suggestions on what to do with it?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 09, 2007, 06:28:38 PM
"Butter is wonderful!  Can we get flour as well, and make butter biscuits?" she asked, a little eagerly. 

 "I'm planning to make real bread tomorrow, since there isn't time for it today.  I think the rabbits belong in the pot with the potatoes and onions, while some of the venison roasts.  The fish are going to be stuffed with greens and roasted on a grill.  We're going to have ourselves a feast!  By the way, if no one else wants the skins, I would like them for practice tanning."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 09, 2007, 07:48:20 PM
How easily he fell back into line, one pace to the rear and one to the left.  They walked down the dusty street, two old war veterans.  Even the new blue shirt couldn’t hide that. 

Fritz had expected someone of General Crook’s stature to commandeer the C.O.’s quarters.  So he was pleasantly surprised to find the General resided in a simple wall tent, much like Captain Bill’s.  He hadn’t met Crook during the war.  His war record was unremarkable.  But Crook had built a solid reputation as an Indian fighter in the years after the war.  The tent flap was open, and Fritz looked inside.  The quarters were austere, spartan even.  There were none of the usual trappings of a man of his rank.  Just a cot, stove, map table and a few chairs adorned the tent.

The General wore a simple uniform, not at all pretentious.  Fritz had heard that on campaign, Crook wore a simple canvas riding suit.  He liked him already.  The General looked up from his maps.  Bill and Fritz saluted.  The salute was returned.

“Come in gentlemen,” Crook said.

“General,” Schurmann said, “this is my exec, Lieutenant Fred King.  I call him ‘Fritz.’ for short.”

“A pleasure,” Crook said, extending his hand.

“For me as well sir,” Fritz’s replied.  Crook had a strong grip.

“Sit down please.  So, Fritz is it?  Captain Schurmann tells me you’re the best noncom he’s ever had.  I’m glad to see he brevetted you again.  We need experienced men.  Especially now.”

They looked over the maps.  Terry and Gibbons paths had been marked in ink.  Crook had been penciling in his line of march. 

“As you know, late last year, the government gave an ultimatum for all Indians to return to reservation lands.  Any Indian not on the reservation by January 1st would be considered hostile, and dealt with appropriately.  Our job is to get them to surrender, and escort them back to reservation lands.  The plan is to box them in on three sides, and cut off their avenues of escape.  This is, to date, the largest expedition of its kind.  Our command alone will field over 2,000 soldiers.”

“Sir,” Fritz said, “As you know, there was no way those Indians could have come in during the winter.  The Army runners didn’t make it out there until almost the end of the year.  You saw first hand how treacherous winters here are.”

Crook nodded.  This one wasn’t a ‘yes man’ like so many before him.  He was pragmatic; a realist even.  “Go on.”

“Those Indians didn’t come in because they didn’t want to come in.  They are a society of hunter-gatherers.  They’re not farmers…they’re a warrior culture.  We see this as a simple problem, with a simple solution.  For the Sioux, the problem’s not so simple.  We’re asking them to change their whole way of life…a way that’s been unchanged for a thousand years, maybe longer.”

“Lieutenant King, you and I both know we don’t create policy.  We implement policy.  Our government has determined that the Indian way of life is not compatible with our way of life.  If we can urge them to surrender, we may be able to save their lives.  If we don’t, their culture will die along with them.  I’ve known Bill Schurmann a long time.  He obviously places great confidence in you.  I’m sure it’s well-deserved.  But I have to know…can I count on you?”

The General stared at him intently.

“Of course, sir” Fritz said.

Crook looked to the Captain.  “Bill, what does the Second need to get ready for this fight?”

“I’m going to introduce the men to Fritz here.  Many of them have never met him before.  Then I’d like Fritz to evaluate the unit, and see what our needs are.  We have a little over a month to get ready.  I plan to use that time wisely.”

“Then I won’t keep you gentlemen,” Crook said.  “Dismissed.”




Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 09, 2007, 08:30:59 PM
Paul looked around. “I bribed the cook ta get the butter, told him he could join us. Heck he even said he had some canned fruit and would bring that.” He whispered. “What could we trade for flour?” He said looking around. “Oh wait, I’ll just tell him that’s less folks ta cook for and he can come to our fire.” Paul was excited of the possibility of a home cooked meal, well as close to it as he’d had for some time.

“I’ll see what I can work out.” He said. “come on Joe wez gonna go talk to that nice cook man.”

Cyrus watched them go. He almost wanted to call out and tell them to watch their backs but he knew that’s why his men traveled in no less than two.

Teddy smiled at Ella’s request. “You done tanning before Ella? I’m gonna tan my own elk, I can help you if you like.”

“You could sew all the rabbit pelts together and make something.” One of them said.

The man called Sam spoke up. “You can tan my elk ma’am. If you want the practice, but I could sure use it when you’re done if you wouldn’t mind.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 10, 2007, 11:40:54 AM
"Jesus Fritz," Bill said.  "I didn't expect you to wax poetic in there."

"Sir," Fritz replied, "wasn't it you who taught me "if you ask the question, don't be offended by the answer?"

Bill laughed.  "You would bring that up, wouldn't you?"

When they got back to their wall tent, Captain Schurmann sent the orderly to get the Trumpeter Sergeant.  A few minutes later, Sergeant Dave Powell arrived.  He was just as Fritz remembered him.  A bit greyer if that was possible, but the same man nonetheless.  Dave snapped to and brought his hand up.

"Don't you dare Dave," Fritz said.  "How are you?"

Dave smiled.  "I'm well.  You look like you've done well."

Fritz looked at the shoulder boards.  "These are temporary, I'm sure.  How's your wife?"

"She wishes I were home more, but the Army's all I know."

"Dave, call assembly.  I want the men to meet their new Exec."

Sgt Powell moved out, followed closely by the orderly with their guidon.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 10, 2007, 01:43:44 PM
"Thank you.  I've helped on a mountain lion hide, and tanned a few rabbit pelts last summer with lots of advice.  I would appreciate your help with Sam's elk hide.  I saved the pelts from the trip up here, so I'm sure I have enough to make something.  Maybe a baby blanket, if the furs come out nice and soft."

She looked around at the fire to see what was available and what she needed.  "Can I get some help to bring more cookware from my packs?"

She headed for the stable to fetch the dutch oven and grill that she considered standard cookware as long as she wasn't trying to travel light.  Her larger soup kettle would serve as a mixing bowl.  Sam and another man escorted her, and took the items from her to carry back.  She only had the tin of baking powder to carry. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 11, 2007, 01:56:17 PM
Teddy was impressed with Ella’s enthusiasm. He didn’t know any white women who would even want to know about the process of tanning a hide much less do it themselves.

“You familiar with tanning hides.” He said looking at Scarlet.

 “I’ve tanned a few in my time.” She replied.

“Oh?” Teddy said with a raise of an eyebrow.

Scarlet grinned. “Mr. Grey there was one way to grow up in my house. You didn’t ask anybody to do anything unless you were willing to do it yourself, and then being the daughter you’d best be able to clean yourself up, put on your best dress and charm the pants off the guests. If it is tanning a hide that will charm you I am prepared, however ball gowns will not be seen at that time.” She did a deep curtsy and smiled pleasantly.

Teddy chuckled.

“Now there are animals to be skinned. I will leave the retrieval of the brains for you and Ella to do.” Scarlet said.

“Who taught you to tan a hide?” Teddy asked.

“I learn what I can from who ever will teach me Teddy. My mother and father both taught me what to do with every piece of an animal. I went to a little different finishing school then the other girls." she paused for a moment. "I am no stranger to Indian camps either.” She said.


“Yes.” It was her turn to look at him questioningly.

“The way you fought with Chris, Bo has taught you many things. I watched the way he fights, you have similarities, but also I have seen Comanche fight, you have similarities. They also are the best horseman I know. I bet you ride this horse with no saddle and no reins “Teddy said running his hand along Lucky’s neck “and watching him I know he is your partner. This horse has never been broke; his soul, like yours, still races the wind.” Teddy grinned wickedly. “And like his partner he enjoys some attention but there is only one he will yield to, I believe anyone else would die trying to ride him.”

Scarlet’s mouth dropped open for a second then she shook her head and laughed softly. “You are very good at reading horses and women.”

“Keeps me from getting into trouble where I don’t belong.” He said lifting the deer from Lucky’s back. “My horse will let anybody handle him, if you don’t mind I will hang the deer if you will put my horse away.”

“I don’t believe you are much like your horse Mr. Grey.” She laughed taking the horse’s reins.

“It would have gotten me killed along time ago.” He chuckled back.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 11, 2007, 05:40:43 PM
Ella was thoughtful while her hands were busy making biscuits. 

Because most of Cyrus's men liked her and wanted to impress her, Ella thought that hanging around their camp working on hides, learning the Crow language, and admiring their skills would help keep them from getting into fights with the other bands of scouts or the regular soldiers.  Scarlet complained that the walls of the fort made her feel confined.  Ella thought Scarlet might be sensing an emotional fog of men in cramped quarters facing danger.  At least they were almost all young men and reasonably healty, so Ella wasn't sensing pain that called to be relieved. 

Ella would be able to make some clothing from the deer hides, if she didn't wind up using it to hold bandages in place.  The vision that Grey Eagle had reported left her wondering whether the supply of linen and gauze she had brought was going to be enough.  But she had brought all that she had available at the Starr. 

She hoped that Teddy's and Sam's elk hides would not end up used for their shrouds. 

The first batch of biscuits were ready. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 11, 2007, 06:14:04 PM
Cyrus watched the people around him, he was proud of them. Tensleep and Scarlet had fallen in step together taking the horses back to the stable with a couple of the other men. He noticed Tensleep’s people tended to travel in no less than pairs also. He had been a little concerned putting this particular group together, most of which he’d ridden with at one time but he’d brought together different creeds and colors and then topped it off with women. Most of the men he chose to ride with had to get along with Teddy. Cyrus and Teddy had ridden together for along time and Teddy tolerated little when folks started picking on him because of the red color of his skin. 

While some men had to organize team building activities to get their men to work together Cyrus let his people choose their own. Realizing he seemed to be the only one standing around he stepped up and began to skin one of the animals.

“Was nice of you to offer to help Ella tan the hides.” Cyrus said to Teddy.

“She’s good people.” He stated.

“And if we get into battle?”

Teddy half smiled. “The men like and have come to respect those two women and the men they ride with. I believe Scarlet and Chris have even come to an understanding and will not shoot each other but stand together if they have to.”

Teddy looked over at Cyrus. “Have you heard who we will be riding for yet?”

“No can’t say as I’ve had anybody come round to introduce themselves, neither have the other camps though. I spect someone is trying to come up with who best suits whose style.” Cyrus replied.

“I spect someone is trying to figure out who will tolerate the fact you’ve never saluted anybody in all your life and who will tolerate you’re mouth should they tell you to do something you think is not right.” Teddy teased. “I can hear it now. Look I’ve got this group of crazies. If you know how to handle them you won’t find better.”

“Better than riddin’ for Dick. I’ve got this other group. If you can focus them and liked to be saluted every time you turn around.” Cyrus said then his face grew somber. “I still feel bad ‘bout that last time, wasn’t right that commander tried to run you and Chris into the ground. I didn’t tolerate it then and I won’t now.”

“I never blamed you for that Cyrus. You know that. I know some people don’t care for the color of our skin or the language we speak. I’m glad you stood up for me and didn’t let them send me to the stocks when his horse spooked and he fell of and broke his arm.” Teddy said.

“Anybody could have tied them snake rattles to that bridle, the man was not liked by many.” Cyrus replied.

Before they knew it the meat was ready, the men and women were gathered around the fire and they were enjoying the rewards of the days events.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 12, 2007, 08:41:15 PM
At the first note of "assembly," 1stSgt Crisp was out of his tent and heading to the front of the formation.  He took the C.O.'s position and waited for his troopers to fall in.  The men reported in, and Scott about-faced.  Bill stepped forward and received the report.

"Sir, the company is formed.  All are present or accounted for."

"Take your post," Bill replied.  Scott stepped around and took his place, one pace to the left, and one to the rear.

Captain Schurmann bellowed, "Executive Officer, front and center!"

Fritz marched in and saluted.  "First Lieutenant King reporting as ordered, sir."

Scott's face fell, but he maintained his bearing.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 12, 2007, 11:19:58 PM
Sounds of laughter and good natured teasing soon filled the air within the camp around the group of people that rode with Cyrus Kane.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 13, 2007, 01:58:30 PM
"Miz Ella, you said you might make a baby blanket out of the rabbit skins.  Who's having a baby?" asked one of the scouts. 

"I can't rightly say," replied Ella gaily.  "But I expect Tensleep's wife to need a midwife sooner or later." 

That comment prompted another round of teasing and cheerful advice to Tensleep.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on February 13, 2007, 02:21:35 PM
Tensleep took the good natured ribbing cheerfully then he winked at Ella.
"Been readin' my mail have ya?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 13, 2007, 04:52:03 PM
"I was sure you were thinking about Patches." Scarlet replied to Ella then looked at the man who had asked "she is one of the other ladies Marshal Ross employes."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 13, 2007, 07:26:14 PM
"Request permission to address the men, sir."

Bill nodded.  "Granted."

Fritz lowered his hand and executed an about face.

He called out "stand at ease!"

The unit relaxed some.

"I'm Lieutenant King.  And before you ask, yes, I am a little old for a Lieutenant."

That drew a chuckle or two.

"That's becuase I've been with this unit longer than most of you have been alive.  I served with the Second on the plains, and the rode East for the war.  After a brief stint at Jefferson Barracks, I served with the Second again.  I've been absent for the past few years, but..." 

Fritz looked at Scott.

"...the Second has always been my home.  Now there's only room for one First Sergeant.  1stSgt Crisp has served admirably and well.  You are his men now.  But I am here to command.  I will work with both the Captain and the First Sergeant, to ensure that you come home alive from this fight...and come home victorious."

Fritz was on the move now.

"We have roughly a month to hone our fighting edge to razor-sharp perfection.  I will give each of you 100 per cent of my effort.  And I expect and demand no less of each of you.  Today, I want you to rest and relax as much as possible.  I hope to meet all of you today.  Because tomorrow, WE GO TO WORK."

Fritz moved back to the front and center.


Fritz executed an about-faced and saluted.

"Sir, what are your orders?"

Bill smiled.  "Carry out the plan of the day, Lieutenant."

Fritz smiled.  "Aye sir."

Captain Schurman lowered his hand and returned to his tent.

Fritz stepped into the commander's position.

"First Sergeant."

Scott stepped forward.

"Take charge of your soldiers and carry out the plan of the day."     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 13, 2007, 07:32:57 PM
"I think Becca looks a little farther along than Patches," replied Ella.  "But maybe I'll accumulate enough rabbit pelts for two baby blankets."

The cook for the fort had come over to the camp once his duties in the mess were complete.  There was still plenty of food for him. 

"May I use your kitchen and supplies for making bread tomorrow?" Ella asked.

"I don't mind if you do, but I ain't got any starter.  Damfool used it all in a batch of bread while I was sick.  I ain't had no luck getting a sourdough going, and I cain't get a fresh start when it takes provisions so many days to get here from Cheyenne.  No one on the supplies wagon is willing to learn enough 'womens work' to keep it going," grumbled the cook.

"The cook at Fort Laramie said his starter was extra-special, and he gave me some," replied Ella. 

"You must have charmed him sure enough, because he is right proud of that starter.  He never offered to let me have none of it.  But then I didn't have no way to get it from there to here any how."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 15, 2007, 08:31:51 AM
The festivities wound down in the late evening and everyone went to their quarters.

Sleep didn’t come easy for Scarlet when she finally did fall asleep  her dreams were  filled with death and the dark rider whose presence she had grown at ease with.

Scarlet rolled over took a deep breath finally falling back to sleep again. This time the dream started more pleasantly. She saw Fritz sitting near the fire, the look on his face was familiar, it was the look he got when he didn’t think it possible he could be any happier.

“Your son, like his father grows impatient for your appearance milady.” Fritz called towards the bedroom.

A pleasant laugh unfamiliar to Scarlet came from their bedroom; followed by a blonde woman that Scarlet didn’t recognize. The woman walked to Fritz, picked up the baby then kissed him deeply.

“I love you.” She said softly looking into his eyes as she caressed his cheek.

“I’ve known happiness but nothing like what you have given me.” He said standing so she could sit.

Scarlet’s eyes flew open. It was dark and she heard soft breathing near her; for a moment she wasn’t sure where she was or who she was with, her mind finally focused and she recognized Ella’s breathing. She would have rather had the dreams of death and the dark rider than have seen that. After lying there for longer than she could stand it, Scarlet quietly slipped out of bed, taking extra care not to wake Ella.

She needed some time alone. Her emotions were playing hell with her mind, and her body felt off. She knew the depression and anger she was keeping bottled up came from the fact she felt she was saddled with a death sentence, perhaps not her own, but still the feeling nagged her in spite of what Ella said about it.

 Ella had tired her best to assure Scarlet everything would be ok, Alan was successful doing Caesarian deliveries. What Scarlet felt like she couldn’t seem to get through to Ella is the entire pregnancy didn’t feel right. This time was very different from the first time she had been pregnant. Ella had made the comment in passing that dark thoughts could be self fulfilling, while she understood why Scarlet had them perhaps if Scarlet had more positive thoughts they also would be self fulfilling. She had had a few positive feelings but she couldn’t seem to hold them for very long.  It seemed to Scarlet every time she managed to forget her condition for a moment something happened to remind her. Ella was a good friend and Scarlet was glad to have her close by, she just wished she would stop talking about babies for awhile or giving her that look that said you should be careful.

Scarlet needed a day to clear her mind and gather her thoughts, regroup in a sense. It didn’t matter it was before four a.m she couldn’t stay put any longer. She wrote a note for Ella that simply said “Gone riding need some time to myself will return before nightfall” She was pretty sure Ella would understand. 
Even when Scarlet was happy she liked to get on her horse and go, more so when she was unhappy and most of the time it did the trick. She would be in a better frame of mind when she returned, she always was.

Scarlet placed the note where she knew Ella would find it, and then wrote one to leave on Lucky’s stall that said “Gone riding, back by nightfall.” That way nobody would get the wrong idea. She then quietly slipped out the door.

Just being alone in the cool night air seemed to help. Only the guards were up this time of day.  He simply tipped his hate as Scarlet went by. She figured they had become used to her checking on her horse at all hours of the day and she acknowledged him with a smile then went on her way.

Scarlet could feel the excitement of just being alone as she approached the stall and heard Lucky nicker softly. Scarlet smiled and put the rope around his neck. The only gear she intended to take today was what she wore on her belt, her canteen and saddle bags, which she had put a few things to eat, no saddle no bridle. She opened the gate, patted his nose and placed the saddle bags over his back.

She had lead Lucky out of the stall when the shadow of a man in Buck’s stall made her jump. Her hand went immediately to her pistol, but she didn’t draw. Looking again she recognized Tensleep’s form in the darkness. For a moment she thought about turning and going out the opposite end of the stable so he wouldn’t see her, then decided she would just go by and if he said anything she would tell him she was going for a ride, she would not hide that. Scarlet made more noise than she normally would just. so Tensleep would know he had company in the stables and know it was her so she wouldn’t spook him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 15, 2007, 07:58:37 PM
Co effort of Tensleep and Scarlet

"What did we do wrong Buck? Becca wanted this baby an' I wanted this baby, wish I knew why she lost the baby...." Tensleep continued to curry the big buckskin. His subconcious mind prickled.

"Scarlet? Scarlet is that you?"

“Yes, it’s me.” Scarlet replied. “I am headed out to find a good place to watch the sunrise.”
"Care for some company?" Tensleep turned to look at Scarlet. She could see the pain in his eyes.

She really didn’t, she’d been so looking forward to being alone. She hadn’t heard what he was saying to Buck but the tone of his voice and the pain in his eyes told her her friend needed to go just as badly as she did.

“I don’t plan on tracking anybody, Tensleep. I’m just going for one of those ‘therapy rides’ as you guys so often like to call them, but you know you’re always welcome.”

"Don't want to crowd you... maybe I'll just take me a ride too... south."

Part of her wanted to say ok and just keep going but she couldn’t.

“Therapy rides are good for two. If you decide you’ve had enough or you want to be alone then you can turn around. One of the rules of a therapy ride though. What is said or seen out there stays out there unless the other person ok’s it becoming public knowledge.” She grinned but her tone was serious.   

Tensleep grabbed his bridle and slid it over Buck's head. "Sounds reasonable to me. Let me saddle up."

“Ok.” She replied and went back to where she had put the note on Lucky’s stall. She was going to write that Tensleep went too on her note but didn’t find anything to write with.

“I left a note in case anybody got excited about me being gone. I was gonna add your name to it but I don’t have anything to write with, unless you do we can tell one of the guards to pass along the message.”

"I think that is probably best, have the sentinel tell the officer of the guard. That way it gets entered into the day book or whatever it is they call it these days." He paused a moment. "OK, I'm ready, lets get outta here."

Scarlet swung up on Lucky’s back. Somehow she didn’t feel like she needed to quietly slip out the gate now.

Scarlet and Tensleep rode side by side to the gate.

As they approached they heard "Halt!"

"Easy pard... John Ross, US Marshal an' US Deputy Marshal Corbin goin' on routine patrol, please inform the officer of the guard and let us pass." Tensleep had raised himself in the saddle so that the guard could recognize him.

The guard looked close at Scarlet, he thought it strange the horse had not saddle or bridle but he was not going to question the Marshal.

“Let them pass.” The guard said.

The two horses picked up an easy lope and disappeared into the dark.

They rode silently for about 3 miles then Tensleep broke the quiet. "Lots to think about Deputy?"

Scarlet knew that there was a wink after the question even if she couldn't see it.

“I don’t see no deputies out here.” She said he could hear the smile in her voice. “Left her on the inside of that fort.”

Scarlet knew he’d asked a question but she played it off like it had been a statement. “What’s on you’re mind. I’ve always been a good listener and since I make up the rules of therapy rides I never break them.” She laughed softly.

"Well actually lots of stuff, but mostly Becca. We thought she was pregnant when I left El Paso. Got a letter that broke my heart yesterday. The doctor told her that it's a 'false pregnancy.' I don't understand that, we both want a baby so badly."

Scarlet’s head snapped around so fast she nearly lost her balance. “Is she ok?”

Tensleep sighed, "Yeah, she's fine physically, but she is depressed and disappointed. She is with Rose now. I think that is best for her, she doesn't need to be in the Ace."

“Those girls are like family to her. They will all be supportive; a lot of them have had all kinds of experiences. When Becca told them she was pregnant it was like they all were gonna have that baby. I’m really sorry.” Tensleep could hear the sadness in Scarlet’s voice. “We gonna head back so you can be with her?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 17, 2007, 12:36:06 PM

Alan was in a good mood when he returned to the Widow Erdbeer's house that afternoon, riding on the seat of the cart carrying his two trunks.  The cart driver helped Alan get the trunks onto the widow's doorstep before Alan rang the bell. 

"Welcome, Dr. Coatsworth.  Your room is upstairs, will you need help to get your trunks there?" asked Mrs. Erdbeer. 

"No, thank you," replied Alan.  "I divided the books between the two trunks so that I can manage them one at a time." 

"I'll show you your room then." 

Alan took one trunk with him when he followed her.  After he had taken the second trunk upstairs, he found her in the kitchen, working on dinner.  "May I help?" he asked.

"Please peel those potatoes for latkes," she instructed, pointing at a couple potatoes next to a bowl.

"What kind of latkes do you make?" he asked, starting to peel with a paring knife.  "My mother made the kind with coarsely-grated potatoes.  Ella's grandmother made a different kind, with the potatoes finely grated and pressed almost dry."

"What kind does Ella make?" she asked. 

"Ella's latkes are just like the ones I grew up on.  I guess she learned from my mother when we were living with my parents after we first married." 

"How was your lecture today?"

"It went very well.  Everything today went well.  The lawyer I consulted assured me that it is easy for me to leave the partnership.  The school agreed to have me give two lectures per week instead of one, so that I will complete the lecture series by the end of June instead of in September.  And since the stipend is based on number of lectures, instead of number of weeks, I will earn the same amount of money."

Alan was silent for a moment, seemingly absorbed in peeling the second potato.  "I was wondering something," he asked.  "Other people in the community have asked me when Ella would be joining me, but you asked if I had heard from her.  It seems you know more about her than anyone else does."

"She writes to me a couple times per month.  I had a letter from her just a couple days ago."

"Written after she had received my last letter?"

"Yes.  I can show it to you after dinner."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 20, 2007, 08:57:38 PM
The day was drawing to a close.  He'd met most of the men, and was sadly disappointed.  He'd expected more veterans, but ran across mostly green kids with dreams about how romantic the cavalry would be.  He thought of how he felt as a young man, so many years ago.

" that you?"

The voice was familiar.  He turned, and saw a young Sergeant.  There was something about the eyes...


Johann was surprised as well.  He expected chevrons, not bars.  He quickly saluted.

Fritz returned the salute, and extened his hand. 

"How the hell are you, Sir?"

Fritz smiled.  "Good Johann.  The years have been good to you as well."

"It's just like you said," Johann replied.  "You stick around long enough, and they'll promote anyone!"

The two shared a laugh.

Fritz asked, "Do you still take a drink?"

"Whenever I can get got one?'

"Come on, let's go back to my tent."

The walk was brief, and the company welcome.  It was good to see old friends again.  Johann was a "hard case" from the old days, a young man full of piss and vinegar who thought he couldn't live as a soldier.  He was a discipline problem at first, but became a splendid trooper.  He was first in the fight, both in and out of a battle.  Fritz had convinced him that the Army was a good career, and he'd stayed.  Johann survived the drawdown, and his experience brought promotions.

The two sat in Fritz's tent, blowing smoke rings and sipping the last of his good bourbon.

"So," Fritz asked, "tell me about the men."

Johann sighed.  "They're green as new-mown grass.  They're eager...maybe too much so.  Most of 'em haven't 'seen the elephant' yet.  I hope they survive the encounter."

Fritz nodded.  "If you were to pooint out one critical fault in their training, what would it be?"

"Just one?  Well, that makes it tough."

"Come honest."

"Okay," Johann said.  "Marksmenship training.  These kids can't shoot worth a damn.  They get twenty rounds a year to practice with.  Hell, in the old days, we fired double that in every skirmish.  But the bean-counters back in Washington want to save money.  That's why we're back to a single shot rifle.  I'd rather have my Spencer back...or a Henry."

"Don't knock the Springfield," Fritz replied.  "It gave me good service down in Mexico."

Johann nodded.  "Is that why you brought a '66?"

Fritz looked to the carbine on his bunk.  "I've gotten used to the firepower while serving with the Marshals.  If we're close-in fighting, I'll use it.  If it's a distant fight, the Springfield's a good choice.  Same as my Sharps."

Fritz drained his cup.  "Johann, I think it's time to see how well our men shoot.  I'll talk to the Captain in the morning.  Make sure the men clean their rifles tonight."

Johann stood and saluted.  "Aye sir."       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 20, 2007, 10:57:12 PM
“Nope, not unless Becca or Rose sends for me. Gonna finish up this case just like any other.” Tensleep responded after a few minutes.

Scarlet nodded in understanding. “Doc Woods is a good man, a good doctor if there is such a thing.”

Tensleep looked sideways at her. Scarlet chuckled.

“When Becca and I took over the Ace I insisted the girls have a good doctor, not the town butcher, well maybe the butcher would’ve been ok, but not the man calls himself the doctor of El Paso.” Scarlet said bitterly. “I had met Woods in Galveston; he’s got an office there. Makes rounds to the Ace every three or four months unless we call him sooner.”

Lucky dipped his head and swung it sideways.

“I am headed to the spot we hunted. Lucky says he wants to run, I’ll meet you there if you can’t keep up.”

Before Tensleep could respond Lucky was disappearing into the darkness. Buck’s head was up his ears perked forward waiting for Tensleep to let him run.

Scarlet was off of Lucky when Tensleep caught up to them. She had her hand lightly on the stallion’s nose. His head was tucked and his ears forward, his nostrils fluttered but he made no noise.   

Tensleep dismounted and walked up next to them. Scarlet pointed with her free hand.

The rising sun danced on the rippling water.

“Is a beautiful sight to see.” He said.

“Wait.” She whispered. “There look.”

The foal was first to appear followed closely by his mother into the stream for a drink. The foal put his nose to the water then lifted his head looking in their direction; droplets of water fell from his whiskers.

Scarlet’s eyes danced as she watched the mare and foal, who were soon joined by the rest of the herd. She stood still until the herd had moved off, than began to walk.

“You ever wonder where you’d be or the people you love would be if your paths had never crossed?” She said looking at Tensleep.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 24, 2007, 07:19:32 PM
He’d only managed about four hours of sleep.  Fritz was an early riser out of habit, but there was more to it.  Perhaps he was excited.  Being in this element again reminded him of his younger days.  It was still dark outside, at least an hour before Sgt Powell would call “Reveille.”  He’d stoked his stove, and boiled water and coffee.  He’d turned his lamp up, and dug the shaving mirror out of his saddle bags.  As he lathered up, he looked at the reflection in the steel.  He pulled out the old razor; it was the one he’d been issued all those years ago.  He’d honed it so often that maybe half of the blade remained. 

“Old razor…old face,” he remarked.

After shaving, he dressed and made sure his boots were clean.  He wore his prairie belt, so there was no brass to polish, and none to reflect the light.  His weapons were immaculate.  With his tin cup in hand, Fritz opened the tent flap and welcomed the day.

The men were formed up in four ranks.  Boots and brass shone in the early morning light.  1stSgt Crisp stood to the right of the formation.  As Fritz approached, he snapped to, and executed an about face.

“Company…Attention!  Open ranks…March.”  Scott faced about and saluted.  “Sir, the company is formed.”

“Very well First Sergeant,” Fritz replied.  “Take your post.”

Scott boxed Fritz, taking his position one pace to the left, and one to the rear.  As they moved to the first trooper, he executed “inspection arms,” opening the breech of his carbine and holding it at port arms.  Fritz snatched the carbine away, and began checking it.  The exterior was clean.  Fritz stuck a finger into the chamber and wiggled it about.

“Carbon,” Fritz said, looking at his hand.  “You need to do a better job on the chamber.”

The young man nodded.  Fritz handed the weapon back.

“Chamber a round.”

The trooper was wearing a Fair Weather Christian belt.  The first such belts were stripped saber belts, with leather loops sewn on for cartridges.  Later versions had canvas loops.  Eventually, the prairie belt came out, which was all canvas except the tongue.  It took some effort, but the trooper eventually pulled a cartridge free.  Encircling the center of the cartridge was a green band.  When he tried to chamber the round, the cartridge jammed about half way in.  Not good.

“Every man wearing a variant or Fair Weather Christian belt, take one step forward.”

Over half the company moved.

Fritz said, “All of you remove one round from your belt.”

After a bit of tugging they pulled rounds free.

“Examine your cartridges.  That green band in the center is called verdigris.  It is a form of rust that forms on brass and copper.  It’s a waxy buildup that will jam the action of your carbine when you need it most…in the middle of a firefight.  It’s not enough to clean your weapons.  You must wipe down your ammo as well.”

Fritz continued his inspection.  Their uniforms and equipment were clean and serviceable.  But it was the weapons and ammo he was most concerned about.  Once the last man was inspected, Fritz returned to the front of the formation.  He gave the command, “Close ranks…March!”  Once the ranks closed, Fritz called “At ease!  In garrison, or on the parade deck, shined boots and polished brass are encouraged.  In the field, I don’t give a tinker’s cuss how clean your boots are.”

The men chuckled.

“On the trail, shiny brass reflects light.  A Sioux war party will see your waist plate a mile away.”

No laughter at that.

“From now on, your weapons will be immaculate.  Your carbine and pistol will save your life, and the lives of the men on your left and right.  Company…Attention!  First Sergeant.”

Scott came forward and saluted.  “Your orders, sir?”

“March these men to the Quartermaster’s tent.  Have each man issued twenty rounds each of carbine and pistol ammunition.  Then march them over to the range.  Deploy as skirmishers at the 200 yard line.”

“Lieutenant, the Quartermaster may be holding spare ammunition in reserve.”

“Scott,” Fritz lowered his voice.  “Half their cartridges are contaminated.  They’ll foul their breeches for sure.  They can fire out the ammo in their belts, and replace it with fresh stores.  I want to see how these men shoot.”

“We may need that ammo for the fight, Sir.”

“Carry out your orders, Sergeant.”


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 24, 2007, 07:29:41 PM
The men were formed as skirmishers at the 200 yard line.  Each trooper took a knee, five paces between men.  1stSgt Crisp ordered them to switch the ammo from their belts with the ammo in the boxes.  Much tugging and pulling ensued.

Fritz rode to the right of the line, closest to the berm.  He was well behind the lines, at about the 500 yard line.  In their current position, there was no danger.  He dismounted Buddy and pulled the Berdan from its scabbard.  He dropped into a good tight sitting position, and thumbed the hammer back.  Sighting in on a derelict cast iron stove, Fritz released the set trigger.  He took a deep breath, let it out half way, and squeezed.


The troopers heard an angry buzz pass close by, and heard the metallic thud of lead striking iron.  The sound was followed by another…and another.

Satisfied he’d made his point, Fritz picked up his brass and stood.  He could hear the mumbling as he mounted up, and they didn’t subside until he rode in.  He dismounted and handed the reins over to Johann.  Pulling the Sharps, he walked to the line.

“This is a Berdan Sharps Rifle, converted to fire the .45 caliber Government cartridge.  It’s effective out past 500 yards.  Probably more effective than I am.”  Fritz opened the action and set the rifle down.

“You’re carrying the Springfield Carbine.  It’s a capable weapon, if you do your part.  If you remember your days at Jefferson Barracks, we fire in three positions; standing, kneeling, and prone.  If you have time, there’s one more to learn…sitting.”

“Fancy shootin’ from a fancy rifle,” someone whispered.

Fritz stopped.  He loved a challenge.  He pointed to a young man.  “Trooper, give me your carbine.”  The boy handed it over.  Fritz immediately dropped into the sitting position, and pumped three rounds into the nearest target in quick succession.  He stood and handed the warm carbine back.

“That’s just to show you that the first three shots were no accident.  Washington’s decided to replace a repeater with an extremely potent single shot carbine.  This carbine is capable of taking a buffalo, a horse…or a man.  You have twenty rounds.  I want the first rank to take five, well-aimed shots.  I expect hits.  It’s a simple equation.  If you miss, you die.”

Fritz stepped behind the lines.

“You may commence firing.”

The line erupted.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 25, 2007, 10:15:14 AM
Teddy eyed the note stuck on Lucky’s stall.

“You’re girl doesn’t like the inside of this fort.” He said walking towards Bo who was brushing his horse.

Bo chuckled at the comment. “She doesn’t like the inside of any fort much Teddy.”

Teddy chuckled at the response.

“Has she always preferred the company of the horse she rides to that of the people around her?”

“Depends on the person.” Bo half grinned. “There are a select few that get equal time as her horse. Days like these when there is not much to do she disappears for hours at a time, she says it builds up her tolerance for when she does have to work all day and not have any time to herself.”

“Angel has got to spread her wings.” Teddy said with a smile.

“She says that horse can fly too. So I guess they both have to get out.”

A large grin crossed Teddy’s face. “You have tried to track her when she doesn’t want to be found.”

Bo laughed out loud. “Some of the best trackers are hard pressed to find her when she disappears on purpose. So I’ve started to believe that horse really does fly cuz he leaves no tracks for me to follow. Because I know her I could probably find her if I really thought about it. But she rides with the Marshal today so I am not worried.”

“Where did their tracks disappear?” Teddy still had the smile on his face.

“At the river. I don’t think the Marshal’s horse has wings but he’s good at covering his tracks too.”

“Well lets see if we can pick up the trail. I don’t mean follow ‘em just see if we can find where it comes out on the other side.” Black beard said walking up. “It will give us something to do for a short time and keep us out of trouble. Cyrus didn’t like my idea of sneaking into the enemy camp and taking prisoners.” He said followed by a sinister laugh.
Teddy eyed Scarlet’s saddle and bridle. “Do you ride you’re horse bareback?” He asked the other two men.

Black beard shook his head no.

“If I have to.” Bo replied.
Teddy swung up on his horse with no saddle. “I do not see many who do. What would happen if you lost your saddle?”

Bo sighed, shouldered his rifle, climbed on the fence then onto his horse.

Black beard looked at the two men, mumbled something under his breath about damn Indians and followed Bo’s lead.

Teddy laughed. “Look you might thank me some day.”

Men turned and looked at the three scouts, rifles shouldered; riding horses with no saddles went by.

One of the soldiers stopped them. “The Indians we will be looking for, do they ride like you are now?” He asked Teddy.

“They will be riding what ever they can get their hands on. But like me they will be very good without a saddle. You might do well yourself to brush up on your horsemanship. Indian’s are known for cutting cinches.”

“And if you’re horse spooks?”

“I can stick with my horse. Like anything else practice. That one there” He said pointing at Black beard “He needs a lot of practice. We will see about this one.” He said indicating Bo with a look.

The soldier smiled. “I will take your advice under consideration.”

The sound of the rifle fire spooked Black beards horse causing him to jump, Black beard nearly lost his seat but managed to hang on. “How would you feel about me asking Scarlet or Ella to teach me bare back.” He grinned at Bo.

“Either would be a fine choice and you would do well.” Bo replied.

Black beard thought he might get a look or something from Bo about the comment and was surprised he had not.

Teddy just laughed. “Come on let’s go see if we are safer in front of or behind the soldiers.”

The riders sat back far enough not to be distracting and watched the soldiers practice.

“Private Glass is good. Does he ride bare back too?” Black beard asked.

“The only thing I can not teach Billy is what it is like when the enemy if firing back at you. He will be a good soldier when he gets some experience under his belt. He handles himself well and knows the taste of fear. I have hunted him a few times, but I think he knew I really wouldn’t kill him, and yes I taught him to ride bare back along time ago.” Teddy looked mischievously at his friend “so you better practice on that horse, there is a soldier out there you know can out ride you now.”

Black beard’s look told Teddy he was not impressed with the information.

“Why is he a soldier when he spends all of his free time hanging around the scout’s camp?” Bo asked.

“His father was a soldier.”

Black beard was about to open his mouth when Teddy replied. “I am nor are my people responsible for the death of the boy’s father. Bo’s people can take the credit for that one. Billy was excited to be assigned to the same unit his father served with. Says his daddy spoke very high of them.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 26, 2007, 10:07:48 PM
Co effort of Tensleep and Scarlet

Tensleep considered Scarlet's question "“You ever wonder where you’d be or the people you love would be if your paths had never crossed?” then looked at her. "Sounds like you have... never really crossed my mind til you just said it." He sat down on the log where they had been before.

"Tell me what ya got on yer mind."

Scarlet ran her fingers through Lucky’s forelock, then began to braid it.

“Something I think about from time to time. I always sort of wonder how people’s lives might be different. I’ve been told I let my mind wander to much to places folk’s minds aren’t supposed ta go. 

Tensleep was rubbing his tobacco to ready it for his pipe as he listened. "Know what you mean I guess. Where would I be today if them rogue Rebs hadn't killed my ma? What would I be doin'?"

He began to pack his pipe. "I figger yer mind is supposed to work all tha time, harder to corral than wild horses."

Scarlet had started to braid Lucky’s mane. She smiled at Tensleep’s comment about yer mind supposed to work all tha time.

“Been told one there’s no point asking yourself that question because you can’t turn back time. “ Scarlet paused for a moment then spoke again. “Bo’s wife, Maria, rest her soul, used ta say you could only slightly change fate. If folks paths were meant to cross they would, it was just up to you what you did when you met that person. I always thought it would be interesting to know what would have happened if you’d chosen differently than you had. Grey Eagle says thinkin’ like that’s part of being a dreamer.” Scarlet shrugged.   

"Nothin' wrong with bein' ah dreamer." Tensleep puffed his pipe. "Problem with dreams is that some folks let them rule their lives."

"What if I had seen you first thing that day I rode into El Paso instead of Becca? Reckon we would be havin' this talk?"

“If we hung around one another long enough, perhaps.”

"Hell girl! I see ya more than most folks, you know what our problem is?"

Scarlet suppressed a grin. “I’m talking to much and yer suspicions that I am crazy are being confirmed?” She teased.

"No," Tensleep laughed. "We are too much alike. I had my demons one time." He looked up and watched a hawk circle. "I fought 'em for years, finally let 'em go. Yer still fightin' yer's."

“Yer not the first one to say it, problem is I killed them so I don’t know how or why I can still be fightin’ them. Cept they’ve made me who I am today so I guess every time I look in the mirror I can see ‘em if I look hard enough.”

"Scarlet they are ridin' with ya. I killed mine too an' they followed me ever'where I went. I had to fight the demons an' whoever else was out there in front of me. Best I can tell you is to find a way to forget what they did and look to the future. I ain't sayin' they won't visit now and again, but I don't let 'em ride on my shoulders no more."

“They were gone for awhile but they have come back.” Scarlet said softly. “Guess I’m just tryin’ to figure out how to lock ‘em back up again.”

"Ever think about askin' Grey Eagle to set up ah clensing ceremony for you? I know folks think Indians are backward, but I put lots of store in what they believe, I know Ella has learned a lot from them." Tensleep slid down to the ground, his back to the log. "Come sit down here. You know what they say. Never run when you can walk, never walk when you can sit, never sit when you can sleep." Tensleep winked at Scarlet.

Scarlet smiled sweetly at him. “Grey Eagle has been a great counselor to me over the years.” She replied knowing he could not help her with the particular problems she was currently experiencing.

Scarlet took a handful of mane and swung back up on Lucky.

“I came out here to out run my demons; it is how I regain my strength. If I sit and sleep they will find me today I am afraid.” 

"Wake me up when you come back by this way then." The marshal tilted his hat down and laid his head on the log.

“Fire off a couple of rounds if you need me otherwise I ‘spect to see you here when I come back.” She said turning Lucky towards the direction of where the wild horses had gone.

Scarlet looked over her shoulder and smiled “Sweet dreams John. We both deserve them.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 27, 2007, 07:30:41 PM
"Pitiful...Just pitiful."

Johann nodded.  "For some of these kids, the safest place to stand is right in front of them."

Fritz took the field glasses from his saddle.  The hits were all over the targets.  This wouldn't do.

"Cease fire!"  Fritz called.  "Safe your weapons."

Fritz signalled to Scott.  "Gents, we need to show them how this is done.  Scott, take the left of the line.  Johann, take the right.  I'll take the center."

The three men moved into position.  "The first position we'll teach you is standing.  At close range, it's the best option.  You may not have time to take cover."

Fritz pulled one round from his belt.  "With one round of ball ammunition, LOAD."

Scott and Johann loaded.  "Make ready!"  Three hammers drew back simultaneously.  Three rifles were shouldered.


Three shots sounded as one.  Three hits landed in the center of their targets.


The rifles were readied again.  The drill was repeated twice more.  Three hits, mere inches apart, pierced each target.

"Now," Fritz called out.  That is what the rifle is capable of.  You must concentrate, and take your time.  If you rush, you miss.  And you can't afford to miss.  First rank, step forward."

Twenty men came on line.  Fritz commanded, "With one round of ball ammunition, LOAD!"

Scott and Johann echoed the commands.  Just as they would in battle.

"Make ready!"  Hammers drew back, sights settled on target.


This was going to be a very long day.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on February 27, 2007, 11:16:33 PM
Scarlet rode with the heard as they moved lazily through the clearing then back into the tree line.  The foals ran and played under the watchful eyes of their mothers causing Scarlet to laugh. She’d heard once the outside of a horse was good for the inside of a man. She wasn’t sure if it held true for everyone but it sure did for her.

The heard stopped where the river turned into a quiet pool. Scarlet slid from Lucky’s back and sat on a log on the waters edge. She looked down at her reflection, Lucky standing behind her looking over her shoulder.

“I think Tensleep is right. I sent my demons to the underworld along time ago, no regrets.” She said to the reflections looking back.

Scarlet closed her eyes, thought of those she’d sent and repeated the words she’d said over the bodies when she’d sent them, words she believed bound the souls where she’d sent them. She looked into the pool until she could see the face of the one who she hated the most then closed them. His head and heart had been separated, his soul cursed to wander blindly for eternity not able to pass to heaven or hell. She repeated the words that had been said over his body. Slowly Scarlet opened her eyes and watched the face disappear from the pool she looked into.

She’d always had the inner strength to be able to handle whatever had been sent her way. After all, what didn’t kill you was supposed to make you stronger. The future was something to be looked forward to.

“What do you think?” she said looking at Lucky’s reflection.

The stallion put his nose close to the water and sniffed at it. Suddenly his hoof came up and hit the water splashing both of them. The horse then reared, his hooves coming down in the water harder. Scarlet laughed and turned her body to keep her guns from getting wet as Lucky jumped, kicked and took four strides before stopping and looking at his wet playmate.

Scarlet spent the next couple of hours playing with Lucky and sorting out some of the questions she’d been asking herself lately. She wondered if Tensleep was really tired or if he knew she just needed to some space, either way she was grateful for his company and the space he’d given her.

Scarlet swung back onto Lucky, she had checked the trails between her and Tensleep on the way out, she would let him choose his own pace back.

Before she knew it she was looking down at her friend.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on February 28, 2007, 09:33:08 PM
Captain Bill always said "if you're not pissing someone off, you're not doing your job."  They'd spent the entire morning teaching the troopers how to shoot.  Fritz had loaned out almost every cartridge on his belt, but it was worth it.  The men had more confidence in their carbines.  This afternoon, they'd work on their pistols.  Now they were hot, sweaty and hungry.

As Scott marched the men in he halted the column.  "I was afraid of that."

The mess tent flaps were closed.  The noon meal was already over.

Fritz said, "let me see if I can change their minds."  He untied the ties and stepped inside.

"Can't you read sign?" an angry voice hollered.  "The flaps are tied for a reason."  The man had his back to fritz, scrubbing a pot.

"My men were at the range.  They were training for war.  They need to eat."

"Well you shoulda thought of that 'fore to took 'em to the range."

Fritz grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him about.  The cooks right fist came up fast.  Fritz blocked it with his left and stared hard at the man.  "Someone so grubby shouldn't bee cooking food," he thought.

The man shrunk away.  "Oh...sorry sir.  Didn't realize you was an officer."

"That's because you didn't look," Fritz said.  "Now, I need to feed my men."

"Sir, chow hour is from eleven to noon orders."

"Sergeant, I'm not looking for a three course meal on white linen.  Give them some bacon on a biscuit, and coffee to wash it down, and they'll be fine."

"Okay...but don't tell the boss.  Bring your men in."     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on February 28, 2007, 11:52:07 PM
Ella was about to walk into the mess tent to start some bread with the starter that had been expanding all morning when she heard a familiar voice.  There really wasn't really any reason for her to avoid Fritz, but she preferred not to face his questions.  She figured she could mix up the bread after the dishes were done from that troop's meal as she retreated to the scout's camp. 

Scarlet and Tensleep had come back while Ella was working on hides with Teddy and getting more language lessons from him and other scouts who were making elk jerky.  Her friends seemed ... maybe comfortable was the right word.  Scarlet was calmer and more centered than she had been in weeks. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 01, 2007, 04:09:46 PM
Black beard had been waiting for Scarlet to return since Ella had asked Teddy to work on hides.

“Bo says you ride well with out a saddle.” He said leading his horse her way.

Scarlet smiled “I had to learn to ride with out a saddle before my parents gave me one.”

“I didn’t find it all that comfortable or easy, can you teach me?”

Scarlet looked him over “From the looks of your clothes I think you might have slipped a few times.”

The man slightly blushed. “How good are you?”

Scarlet grinned “I can shoot off the back of him at a full run. I can balance in the saddle when it’s not cinched. I spend a lot of time up here and am very at home.”

Scarlet noticed a couple of the other scouts leading their horses towards her with hopeful looks on their faces. “I am flattered you’ve asked.”

Scarlet lead the group to a place where the dirt looked rather soft and asked to see them ride.

Black beard was not doing bad as he’d had some instruction earlier. The man called Jeremy looked to be curled in the fetal position hanging onto his horse’s neck and Al nearly slipped off every time his horse took a step.

“Show us.” Jeremy said.

Scarlet circled them at a slow lope explaining the best way to sit, how to balance the men all broke into grins when she said something about using your thighs when riding. She then sent the other two scouts for their saddles and continued to work with Black beard since he seemed a little more advanced than the other two.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 01, 2007, 08:35:44 PM
Fritz fired up a cigar as he waited.  He knew they were young and untried, but they had grit nonetheless.  The boys were happy with what they got.  "It's a soldiers life," he thought.

"Hey, Lieutenant...come ere!"

Fritz looked over.  "What's up cookie?'

"Got some nice preserves for ya...maybe some molasses or honey for your coffee?"

"No thanks.  I'll have what my men are having."

"But you're hungry too...come on."

"I'd like too, but I'll wait 'til my men are done."

"Okay...up to you."

The men noticed.  They approved.

Bill had taught him well.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 01, 2007, 09:38:19 PM
Back to work. 

The men were happy, because they weren't marching to the range with their carbines.  The orderly was tasked with guarding the stacked arms.  They sung "The Battle Cry of Freedom" on their way back.  It brought Fritz back to a younger time.  He idly wondered if half these kids were even alive in 1861. 

They'd halted in column, and Scott called "Right...FACE!"

The men faced smartly towards the seven yard line.  Fritz walked in front of the line, his back facing the target.  Johann yelled out "FIRE!!!"

Fritz spun about, drawing the short-barreled Colt in one smooth motion.  Scarlet would've been proud.  The gun cleared leather instantly.  Fritz fanned five quick shots into the nearest target, ad spun the empty gun back into it's holster.  A few of the men held their breath.

"Now...that's how Wild Bill would've done it.  I don't want YOU to do it that way."

A few laughed.  Most remained silent.

Fritz bladed his body towards the target.  He drew the long-barreled Colt from the cross draw rig.  He thumbed the the hammer, firing single shots into the target.  The hits were practically touching at that range.  He reholstered his piece.

"That is how I want to see YOU do it.  Take your time.  Use the sights.  Aim carefully...and take your man down.  'Cause he'd do the same for you."

Fritz stepped behind the line and gave the command "Draw...PISTOLS!!!"

The long day wasn't over yet.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 02, 2007, 06:19:19 PM
Cyrus sat cross legged in front of his tent working his pistol, making sure everything was in working order.

“You ever going to stand and salute when you’re approached by an officer?” Captain Schurmann said.

Cyrus looked up “Ain’t saluted nobody in twenty one years ain’t startin’ now.” he replied with half a grin and stood. “In mixed company I will do you the courtesy of addressing you properly instead of just Capt’n Bill.”

“Some people never change Cyrus Kane.”

Cyrus chuckled at the comment then asked. “What brings you out to my little part of the world?”

Bill chuckled “What usually brings me around?”

“Usually you send someone to fetch me to your tent. So something brings you over here.” Cyrus said ducking inside his tent and returning with the list of people who were riding with him. “Here ya go. I’m guessing that’s what you come for.”

The Captain looked it over recognizing many of the names of the people Cyrus rode regularly with.

“I heard you’ve had some trouble with a few of the scouts getting along.” He said reading down the list.

Cyurs chuckled again. “I’m sure you know all about the people I got riding with me and what happens.”

“Not everything, but enough to peak my interest.”

“You come over here just to poke around or am I going to be able to tell my people who we are riding with?” Cyrus asked.

“You remember Fritz King and Scott Crisp?” Bill asked looing past Cyrus to where the hide tanning lessons were going on.

“I remember them both, good men, saw them at the range earlier. They have their work cut out for them.”

“Your people getting along now, I heard there was an incident.”

“You know there are a couple of women riding with me. That’s Ella there” he pointed at her “she’s a healer, damn good one from what I understand. Very nice lady. The one you’re inquiring about, well all I can say.” He paused and grinned “Man that rides with her told me she was heaven and hell all rolled into one. I’m inclined to believe Bo ‘bout that. One of the men found himself on the hell side and found out she knows how ta use that knife she carries.” Cyrus said as he started to walk, coming to a stop where they could see Scarlet and the others.  “The gal on the black.” He said pointing again. “Both women have earned the respect of the men and I believe Corbin and Chris have worked out their differences. I think if it had come down to it the men would have told Chris to find a new group to ride with.”

“You don’t worry about a couple of women riding with the men?” Bill asked watching Scarlet move with her horse.

“See that big knife on the back of her belt?” Cyrus said pointing it out.

Bill shook his head yes.

“She has no problem sinking that into a man." Cyrus continued "She’s got more experience in the field than a lot of these soldiers. I didn’t asked about confirmed kills, suspect she’s got her fair share, and if that’s not enough I heard Bo tell someone he would reach down the mans throat and tear his spine from his body if they bothered the girls. She and Ella ride regular with Bo and John Ross. Just from watching I think Ross is just as protective as Bo of the ladies.”

“Black beard has been with you a long time; he doesn’t take to people easily.” Bill said observing the riding lesson “Looks like he would stand with her though.”

“You’ve always known people I ride with stand tight together.”

“Yes. It makes up for their unique personalities.” Bill said.

They began walking again. As they passed by Scarlet Cyrus and the others Cyrus called out. “Why don’t you ladies join us.”

“Yes ma’am.” Al retorted.

Cyrus was curious what the reaction of the soldiers would be when they found out there would be a woman riding among them.

The riders stopped behind Cyrus when they approached the range and waited for the Captain to speak to the Lieutenant, who was giving one of the men instructions.


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 02, 2007, 10:17:51 PM
"Keep the front sight in focus," Fritz said, "and keep the target a little blurry.  And don't rush so much."  He handed the boys some of his cartridges.  "Reload and try again."

Fritz stood back to watch.  He smiled.  They still had a long way to go, but the journey had begun.

"How are they doing Fritz?"  The Captain walked up, with an entourage it seemed.  "Think we'll survive?"

Fritz saluted.  "With a little bit of luck sir, and lots of hard work, we'll make it.  Why, Cyrus Kane, you old scallywag, how the devil are you?  Are you still riding with the same gang of cutthroats?"

"Beggin' your pardon, SIR, but weren't YOU one of those cutthroats once?"

Fritz clapped him on the arm.  "Not that I'd admit.  So how many of the old crew ha..."

It was then that he saw her.

His heart was pounding so hard he thought it would explode from his chest.  He wanted to run to her, to crush his body to hers.  He wanted to tell her how much he loved her.

But he couldn't.  Not now.

He didn't want her to lose her standing with the scouts.  She'd become "the Lieutenant's woman."  And the men would see their commander swoon in love.  That wouldn't do. 

He rubbed his hand across his chest, to slow his heart and wipe the sweat away.

"If'n you think this one's a scallywag," Cyrus said, "you need your eyes examined.  This is Scarlet Corbin.  I knew her husband, and there was never more of a fightin' man than he."

Fritz removed the stained slouch and bowed.  "An honor, ma'am."

What would his love say?"

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 04, 2007, 09:32:04 AM
Scarlet was caught off guard, seeing Fritz in a Lieutenant’s uniform. He looked good, really good. She reined in the thoughts of sliding off her horse, pressing her body hard enough against him she would have to buy him a new hat and…She dismissed the rest of that thought.

She had played the game of non recognition so many times it used to be second nature.
Scarlet knew there was a smile playing on her lips. “Thank you Cyrus, tis nice you still remember him.” She said hoping the smile reflected the complement he’d just paid her late husband.

She then turned her attention to Fritz, a bow too. She thought quickly how to respond; it was always easiest when the men just touched the brim of their hats and said hello just to be polite. Fritz was being a gentleman.
Her smile turned polite as Lucky dropped to one knee and bowed his head slightly; Scarlet dipped her’s “Thank you Sir.” She replied.

Lucky stood as Scarlet’s head came back up and her eye's met Fritz's. It was a habit to look people in the eyes, she usually judged then that way, as long as she held the polite smile and kept her mind focused she'd be ok.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 05, 2007, 02:59:27 PM
Ella stood up from the hides and stretched.  "Time for bread-making," she announced, starting to walk towards the mess tent.  Samuel fell in beside her.  Ella appreciated the way the scouts automatically provided her with an escort whenever she left their area.  Some of the soldiers in the main part of the fort looked like they would be rough in their manners towards an unaccompanied woman.  Ella sometimes wondered how many of the soldiers here had been given a choice between joining the Army and going to jail.  During the War, she had seen several who had chosen the Army.  Several of them seemed to have made good use of that second chance.  The Army didn't give the rest a third chance. 

Chris surprised Ella by falling in on the other side.  His wound was healing well, and his temper was improving as well. 

The cook wasn't in the kitchen, so Ella helped herself to equipment and supplies.  Chris carried the 50 pound bag of flour for her and scrubbed down one of the eating tables to use for kneading the bread.  Samuel stirred the cooking oatmeal while she got everything else together. 

The cook came back while all three were kneading the bread dough.  "Looks like enough bread dough to feed an army," he growled.  "What are you doing wasting supplies like that?" 

"I thought we do have an army to feed," replied Ella.

"Only the officers get risen bread.  The men get hardtack or biscuit." 

"Then the men are going to get a treat tomorrow.  The bread won't be ready to bake until after supper." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 05, 2007, 04:44:42 PM
She played her cards well.  No one suspected.

"Sir, if you'll excuse me, the men need my attention," Fritz said.

"Of course.  Carry on!"

Fritz saluted Bill and turned to go.  Scarlet winked.  No one else noticed.  But Fritz did.

He moved back towards the line.  Scott and Johann were instructing the men.  There was no need to remain. 

"Scott, the men are yours.  When you're ready, bring them back in.  Make sure they're fed, and their weapons cleaned."

Scott saluted.  "Aye sir.  Anything else?"

"Yeah...get with the sutler.  See if he'll stay open an extra hour after weapons are cleaned.  Give them the opportunity to buy a drink."

Fritz headed back to his tent.  He figured he'd take Buddy out for a ride.  Strider was back at home, but the sorrel might be a little fidgety around the cavalry mounts.

Besides, it'd be a good way to clear his head.

What was she doing here?       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 05, 2007, 08:45:49 PM
He slid the McClellen over Buddy's back.  Fritz asked "What is she doing here?" 

Buddy didn't answer.

The '66 slipped into its scabbard.  It was the only weapon he hadn't shot today.  There'd be a couple of hours worth of cleaning tonight.

Fritz noticed she'd rode bareback...something she hadn't taught him yet.  He was good, but not as good as she was.

He rode out of camp the same way he'd rode in a day ago.  He didn't even talk to the sentry going out.  There was too much on his mind.  He rode down to the river, and pulled off his boots.  The water felt cool.  Fritz remembered another cool pool of water, just a few years ago.


He pulled his pistols and dropped the empty cartridges.  He had enough for one reload, maybe two.  All the other cartridges had gone to his men.

There was no way to stay away from her.  He couldn't if he tried.  And he'd rely on the scouts heavily this time out.

"Why is she here?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 05, 2007, 11:59:42 PM
They’d only been separated for a short time but Scarlet sure had missed Fritz. She wondered if he knew what she was thinking when their eyes had briefly met. She needed to watch those kinds of thoughts closely in mixed company.

As they rode back to the soft area they were riding in before Black beard teased “Has the Lieutenant charmed you?”

For a moment Scarlet wondered how good he was at reading someone’s thoughts. “Is that what he was attempting?” She asked with half a smile.

“Don’t know but you didn’t respond like that when you were introduced to us.” He replied.

Scarlet laughed out loud. “A grunt when we were introduced hardly qualifies for a polite response.”

“I’m gonna tell Bo you had your horse do tricks for Lieutenant King.” Black beard teased again.

“Are you jealous I have not asked my horse to do tricks for you?” Scarlet chuckled.

“Maybe.” He grinned.

“Well hang on for this one.” Scarlet smiled wickedly.

Black beard wasn’t sure what she said to Lucky but the stallions head swung towards his horse, ears pinned and teeth bared. Black beard’s horse jumped sideways to avoid what he thought would be a bite. Black beard nearly slid off but managed to stick with his horse.


Scarlet giggled. “Now you can tell Bo I had my horse do a trick for you too.”

“I’d rather see the bow again.” He replied over the laughter of the other two.

Scarlet smiled. “This one’s just for you.” She said as Lucky dropped to one knee and dipped his head between his legs, his long forelock brushing the dirt. “And this sir would be the bow if I was trying to impress somebody.”

Black beard smiled widely.

Scarlet gave Lucky another subtle signal and the horse laid over, letting Scarlet step off.

“If you are in the field and need your horse to lay over can you get him to easily?” She asked. 
Looking past Black beard she noticed Fritz riding out. Scarlet hoped her presence in his world didn’t upset him. She’d wondered if she really should have come unannounced and uninvited. She hoped not but figured she would hear soon enough if the Lieutenant didn’t want women for scouts.


Her attention came back to Black beard. “Show me then.”

He dismounted, lifted the horse’s leg and pulled on the opposite rein. The horse came easily down.

Al also was able to do the same with his horse.

Jeremy’s horse was confused by the request. “I guess I could pull him over.” He replied.

“We can train him in no time.” Scarlet said thinking at least this would keep her occupied.


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 06, 2007, 08:02:40 PM
Fritz rode a circular patrol around the fort.  One circuit was enough; there wasn't much to see.  His mind still wasn't clear, but he couldn't afford to stay away any longer.  He rode in, and brought Buddy to the corral behind the tents.  He removed the McClellen and wiped his mount down with the saddle blanket.  There were no sugar cubes here. 

"Go find Strider," Fritz said, patting his flanks.  Buddy trotted off to find his stable mate.

Fritz carried his saddle back to his tent.  He placed it outside the tent flap, and carried his carbine inside.

Bill was sitting at his desk.

"Oh...Good afternoon Sir.  Can I get you anything?"

Bill looked at him for a moment.

"Is that Scarlet?"

Fritz was taken aback.  It took a moment to recover.

"That woman is a scout, sir."

"Fritz," Bill said, "I've known you since the summer of '56.  You never were much of a card player.  Your poker face needs work."

Fritz set the '66 down.  "Was it that obvious sir?"

"No...but to someone who knows your tells, it was easy.  Besides," Bill said, "I can see Johnny Longknife in her eyes."

" won't say anything, will you?"

"Of course not.  But you know you have to be careful.  It would be easier if you just came out with it."

Fritz sat on his cot.  "I don't want her to lose her standing with the other scouts.  She's not ladylike, but she IS a lady."

Bill stood and put his slouch on.  "Tactical problems are best solved at night.  Get your weapons cleaned, and turn in early.  I have a feeling you'll need your rest."     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 07, 2007, 08:51:30 PM
There were lots of thing Fritz needed.  He needed to clean his weapons.  He needed rest.  But he also needed food.  He was sure his men had already eaten, but he figured he'd be able to finagle a bite from cookie.  Fritz left his tent and headed to the mess.

The tent flaps were still undone.  Maybe he'd get something hot after all.  Fritz lifted the flap and went inside, only to run headlong into Ella carrying a tray of bread dough.

"What the..." was all he could say. 

Now he was really confused.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 07, 2007, 11:28:49 PM
Billy made his way to the scout’s camp. He could hardly wait to tell Teddy unlike a lot of the other soldiers he’d done well at the range today. Music and laughter could be heard from the camp. Billy couldn’t help but smile when he saw Teddy doing a waltz with Scarlet.

He sat took a seat on a log next to Cyrus. “I didn’t know Teddy knew how to dance.” Billy said.

Cyrus laughed at the remark.

“What do you know of her Cyrus?”

The question brought a grin to Cyrus’s face. “I know she is a hell of a woman.”


“I knew her late husband. I know it would have taken some kind of woman to bring him down on one knee and keep him happy for more than one night.” His grin turned into a smile at a memory. “You should have seen her dance with him.”

“Do you think a soldier could win the heart of a woman like that?”

Cyrus thought a moment, remembering something Marshal Ross had said. It raised a few questions of his own. “Her late husband was a soldier once.” Cyrus said looking at Billy who was watching Scarlet. Cyrus’s eyes followed Billy’s. Marshal Ross had called her Deputy King, once. That was their business he guessed, as long as it didn’t affect the task at hand.

“It would be the man in the uniform that won that woman’s heart Billy, not the fact he was or was not a soldier.” Cyrus said patting Billy’s back. “You may  not have a chance at this particular woman’s heart for it is already taken, but I believe I can get a dance.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 07, 2007, 11:40:18 PM
"Hello, Fritz," replied Ella.  She put the tray in the oven, and noticed the new insignia on his uniform.  "Congratulations on becoming a Lieutenant."

"Ella, what are you doing here?"  Fritz didn't notice the scout until he stood up, but the man resumed feeding the fire when Ella spoke. 

Samuel wondered where and when Ella had met the lieutenant, but he could ask her later.  He had heard that Lieutenant King was one of the officers of the troop their scouts were going to work with.  It would be interesting to hear what she knew about him. 

"Tensleep, Scarlet and I are supposed to be chasing a woman who killed her husband and is accused of killing her kids.  She was last seen up this way.  We came with Bo, who got a letter from Cyrus Kane asking for his help with the scouting.  Scarlet is being another scout.  I'm the medic.  Are you hungry?" replied Ella.

"I would appreciate a bite to eat.  My men ate earlier, but I was elsewhere."   

"The cook keeps most of the food locked up, but I can give you tea, bread and honey."  She put a pan of water on top of the oven to heat while she collected a cup and plate, and pulled a small jar and a waxed linen package out of her pockets.  The bread was in the shape of small round loaves.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 08, 2007, 09:13:05 AM
Chris came back with an armload of stove wood while Ella was taking the bread out of the oven.  She put in the last tray. 

"Thank you, Chris and Samuel, for all your help today.  Lieutenant King will show me to my quarters.  So you can each take a couple loaves and go back to camp." 

"How about some honey?" asked Samuel, his mouth watering in anticipation. 

"Are you done with it, Fritz?" asked Ella. 

Fritz nodded, his mouth full, and put the lid back on the jar and pushed it toward her. 

Ella handed the jar to Samuel, "Please give me back the jar in the morning so I can refill it."

The two scouts collected their bread and left, murmuring thanks.

Ella started packing up the bread that had cooled longest.  "I'm taking the bread to my quarters.  If I leave this here, it's going to disappear before dinner tomorrow.  Either the cook will transfer it all to the officer's mess, or varmints will get it."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 08, 2007, 09:12:38 PM
Cyrus took Scarlet’s hand in his. She was probably the first girl to dance with him after his tangle with the bear. He could remember the fire in her eyes back then, they still held the same fire. He smiled.

“From what I remember you have not changed much Scarlet.” He said as they danced.

Scarlet smiled softly. “I have, sometimes I think not for the better.”

“I’ve often wondered why you just didn’t let you’re father ride after Travis’s killer, or that brother of yours. Surely either one would have brought you the mans head.”

Scarlet looked down briefly before her eyes met his again. “Revenge is not something satisfied by others actions. I wanted to be the one to look into that man’s eyes as he drew his last breath, knowing that he’d been slain by a woman.”

“Travis often said you were different than any woman he knew. I’m beginning to know why.”

“Because it doesn’t bother me to kill a man?”

“No” Cyrus chuckled. “He used to say you were a fighter. Like a filly that wouldn’t be broke, your spirit was wild.”

“You remind me of some very fond memories.”

“You’ve ridden with different people over the years, in your line of work. Have there been people you found difficult to ride with?” Cyrus asked.

“Yes, there have been trying times.” She replied.

“Do you think riding with Lieutenant King will be trying?”

Scarlet looked into Cyrus’s for a moment trying to figure out how much he did or did not know.

“No, we are both here to do a job.” She said.

“You don’t think he will have a problem if I ask you to do something he might perceive as dangerous?”

Scarlet half smiled. “Mr. Kane if Lieutenant King has issues of you sending me to do a job I do on a regular basis because of who I am then he should bring them to me, wouldn’t you think?”

Cyrus laughed again, she knew what he wasn’t asking and in so many words she had done him the courtesy of answering the questions. “I guess so.”
They were enjoying the conversation and laughing as far as anyone else could tell so when the music ended he escorted towards the stables to check on her horse as he had heard she often did before she turned in for the evening.

“You still use Travis’s last name?” He stated when they were out of earshot of the others.

She knew the game he was playing. Ask somewhat vague questions and get the answers you’re digging for. Only the two involved in the game knew the true meaning behind the questions should any one over hear.

“I wore it for along time, it comes rather naturally. Besides” Scarlet said looking at Cyrus “I would not want anyone thinking any thing other than what they should about the people they are riding with.”

Cyrus shook his head in understanding as they came to a stop in front of Lucky’s stall.

Lucky came over for his attention followed closely by Dancer.

“They are both beautiful animals.” Cyrus said petting Dancer.

“Thank you.” She replied turning to look at Cyrus again. “As long as I do my job, it should not matter what name I use, but people like to talk and judge you when they have no right. They assume when they shouldn’t. I once told Travis there should only be three people concerned about who someone shares their bed with. The two people who are married and the person who will get their throat cut if he or she is caught in the bed of one of those people.”

Cyrus raised an eyebrow. “Well now that explains why he stayed out of the cat houses after he was married.”

They both laughed, Cyrus extended his arm. “I appreciate the talk. I just might enjoy riding with King. I think we have the similar taste in women and we could talk about how they decorate the campsite.”

Scarlet took the offered arm and they headed back towards the camp. “Just remember the kind of comments I do not appreciate and where it gets you.” She smirked.

Cyrus laughed. “No but I think I will tell him how nice it is to dance with you and what it does to a man when he gets the pleasure of seeing you really dance. Do you still dance like that Scarlet?”

“You should come to El Paso for New Years. I dance on the bar top very well, Travis would have enjoyed it.”

“Hmmm, maybe I should make plans for leave around that time then.”

“Every now and then Bo is my partner too.”

“Now that would be something to see. He always liked to dance too.”

Bo stood as they approached “You ready to call it a night?” He asked.

“I believe so.” She said.

“I’ll walk you back.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 10, 2007, 06:25:16 PM
Ella packed the bread into baskets, probably borrowed from a washerwoman, lined with cloth.  Knowing Ella, Fritz was sure it was very clean cloth.   He helped her carry the baskets.  The loaves would be very tempting indeed.  The officers tended to get the best of everything, at the expense of the men.  Fritz wouldn't allow that to happen.  There'd be privation enough for everyone in the days ahead.

The aroma of fresh baked bread wafted ahead of them.  Tent flaps opened, men's mouths watered as memories of home and hearth filled them. 

"Tomorrow at dinner, boys," Ella said.  "I promise."

Ella was walking away from tent city, towards the fort proper.  The men standing guard allowed her to pass.  Perhaps it was her smile, or maybe it was her escort.  They saluted.  It took a moment for Fritz to remember they were saluting HIM.  He returned the honor and the gate closed behind them.

They crossed the parade deck, and headed towards the officer's quarters.

He asked, "Is this where you're living?"

"Scarlet and I are sharing the guest room.  I think people were unsure where to put us.  We wouldn't have minded camping with the scouts, but this is a lot more comfortable." 

The sentries at the door admitted Ella and her escort without hesitation. 

"Won't you come in for a while?  I'm sure Scarlet will be back soon." 

He opened the door for her, and followed her into the room. 

"I see what you mean by 'more comfortable'", he said, looking at the furnishings.  They settled into the chairs. 

"In the day or so I've been here, my commission has been reinstated, and I've been placed in command of my old unit.  i've also found that most of the experienced men are gone...retired or dead.  I've got a few good noncoms, but mostly green kids with little or no training."

Ella nodded.  "What are the chances of success?"

"Well," Fritz said, "let's just say I'm glad you're here.  Your skills may be needed as much as mine."

They shared a smile.  Old friends who knew each other well.

" is Scarlet doing?"

The question startled her.  What did he know?

"She looked poorly the day before I left.  I thought she was just overtired, but I'm not sure.  What do you think?"

Ella took a moment before she answered, "Scarlet had not been sleeping well because of disturbing dreams.  The day after you left, Grey Eagle brought a message from the tribe's elders about a vision they had had.  I didn't follow all the meaning behind what Grey Eagle said, but I knew that I was going to be needed here.  I think Grey Eagle's words also resonated with Scarlet's dreams."

"Grey Eagle's visions can be very powerful," Fritz replied.  He still remembered the one he'd shared vividly.  "I'd like the chance to talk to Scarlet, but what I have to say would be inappropriate for certain audiences."

Ella chuckled, "You won't have an audience here.  I've got letters to write, and there is a parlor next door that I can use."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 11, 2007, 10:44:05 AM
“Is Cyrus good company?” Bo asked as they walked back towards the quarters Scarlet and Ella shared.

Even in the darkness Bo knew a grin had crossed her lips. “You usually don’t play this game with me Bo, when it’s just you and I I am used to you coming right to the point. But yes Cyrus is good company. In the short time I have ridden with him I know why you are friends.”

“What did he want to know?”

“If Lieutenant King would have a problem if he asks me to do something dangerous.”

Bo glanced at her waiting for the answer.

“I told him if he did he needed to speak with me directly. I also told him it is not anybody else’s concern who I lay down with at night.”

“Hmm” Bo snorted. “I doubt you put it like that.”

“No, it was a bit more vivid, but he got the point. I think Cyrus might enjoy harassing Fritz but I doubt that is something new. You all seem to enjoy such things in different ways.”

“Will you be sneaking into the Lieutenants tent tonight?” Bo said teasingly.

Scarlet laughed. “No.”

He looked at her surprisingly.

“Bo, last time a Longknife or a Corbin snuck into a Yankee officer’s tent someone died. I carry both names. That Captain today was taking a good hard look. I don’t know where his tent is either and I have not taken the time to study them. I think it would be very awkward should I go into the wrong tent or be seen wandering the soldier’s camp unescorted by one of them.”

“Billy probably get the wrong idea.” Bo chuckled.

Scarlet playfully slapped him.

“I think he knows better, but you know us men, sometimes it’s hard to give up.” He teased again.

“See harassment, you all do it.”

A guilty smile crossed his face.

“That reminds me. I understand you attempted to impress Lieutenant King today.”

“I was polite.” She said as the stepped onto the porch.

The guard at the tipped his hat with a smile. He was used to seeing the two of them together.

Scarlet turned and faced Bo. “If you are going to be jealous Sweetheart you need to talk to Black beard. I tried to impress him more.”

“Who is the one that teases now? You know your eyes dance when you are being a little hellion.” He said as the guard opened the door for them to pass.

“I heard about that too. You impressed him a great deal and now I think he likes you.”

Bo opened the door to the room for her.

“Elaborate on that a little more.”

“I think he is comfortable including you on the list of people he can tease.”

“That is a good thing.” Scarlet laughed again as she stepped into the room followed by Bo. She stopped short causing Bo to nearly run into her. She wasn’t sure why but seeing Fritz in the room surprised her.

She could feel her heart beating faster, they’d been together nearly three years and half of that time they’d been married, but she still got the same feelings as if he was courting her. Her smile told him she was happy to see him here.

“I see I am going to have to share my two girls now.” Bo said stepping around Scarlet and extending his hand to Fritz. “Good to see you have arrived in one piece.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 11, 2007, 12:31:51 PM
Ella allowed a few minutes for greetings, then stood up, "Bo, let's go for a stroll or sit in the parlor.  Scarlet, is an hour long enough for us to be gone?" 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 12, 2007, 11:57:34 AM
“An hour is fine.” Scarlet replied, curious to see what Fritz would say once they were alone.

“Which ever you prefer Ella.” Bo replied following her lead.

Scarlet moved to the center of the room, her eyes met Fritz’s.  The familiar electrical charge filled the air with the sound of the closing door. Standing there looking at him she knew she’d be finding her way to his tent much sooner than she anticipated.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 12, 2007, 09:57:25 PM
His heart hammered in his chest like it had before, but more urgently.  He heard the door latch, and practically leapt forward.  She charged as well, their bodies collided.  They crashed into the wall, their lips locked passionately.  Their hands seached for buttons. 

"Don't rip this one," Fritz whispered.  "It's the only one I've got."

Scarlet smiled.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 12, 2007, 10:24:31 PM
“I’ve missed you more than I thought a heart could miss someone.” She whispered as her hands slowly undid the buttons so she could slide her hands along his back.

He could feel her warm breath on his neck as she softly spoke.“Perhaps I should have told them an hour would not be long enough.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 13, 2007, 11:24:08 AM
"Let's sit in the parlor," said Ella as Bo closed the door behind them.  "I've been on my feet most of the day with the breadmaking."

"When do I get some Ella-baked bread?" asked Bo.  "I could smell it in your room." 

"You can get a piece when Fritz is ready to leave," replied Ella, sitting on one end of the sofa in the parlor.  The parlor was furnished with a small desk and straight chair and an overstuffed sofa.  A woodburning stove in one corner was still putting out some heat, although the fire had been allowed to die. 

Ella hastily covered a yawn, "Sorry.  Giving Fritz and Scarlet a little time together is more important than my sleep.  There might not be any opportunities for them once the army moves out."

"You can take a nap right here," said Bo.  He settled onto the floor next to the sofa, and started taking off her boots.  "You have nice feet." 

"I have big feet," replied Ella.  "So does my father.  So did Grammy.  My mother says my father would have been over six feet tall if the Lord hadn't turned up so much for feet, and that my feet are a 'good understanding'." 

"They're still nice feet."  Bo swung her feet up onto the sofa.  "Lie down now, and close your eyes." 

Ella obeyed, and quickly fell asleep.  Bo sat watching her sleep for a few minutes, then put a spare pillow from the sofa under his head and relaxed on the floor.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 13, 2007, 05:20:28 PM
Scarlet heard Fritz say something about not wasting any time as he swept her off of her feet and carried her to the bed.

Neither of them knew if minutes or hours had passed while they embraced.  The outside world had fallen away.  They heard nothing except the sounds of their hearts beating in unison. Scarlet kissed him gently and caressed his cheek.

“I like the way you show me you are glad to see me.” She said with a soft smile.

He took her hand in his and kissed it. “As I like the way milady shows me she is also happy to see me.”

Reaching across him she picked up his uniform. “Congratulations on the promotion.” She said handing the uniform to him, her smile widened as she said “You make it look good and the buttons are still all intact.” 

Scarlet would have much rather stayed there in his arms but reluctantly rose and gathered her own things.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 13, 2007, 09:06:02 PM
He buttoned the bib back up.  "It was a surprise to me as well, but I've worn these before."

He looked as his love slid her trousers up her thighs.  "Pity those must be covered up."

She turned and gave him that impish grin.  "Do you really want my company to see the sights you've enjoyed?"

"I suppose not," Fritz said, gathering his gunbelt.  "Let's sit a spell."

"You're wondering why I'm here," Scarlet said.  It was straight to the point, matter of fact.

"Yes.  I said I couldn't ask you to come with me."  He was concerned.

She took his hand.  "You said you couldn't ASK me to come.  But we've fought side-by-side for the last three years.  We are a team.  Where you go, I go."

"But this fight's gonna be different," Fritz said.  "I can feel it."

"What did Grey Eagle tell you?"

"He told me that my time had come.  That one day, I'd speak for all the people."

Scarlet nodded.  "He told me your time had come too.  But I couldn't take the chance...of losing you."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 14, 2007, 08:57:42 PM
How had he come to mean so much to her?  Sometimes, He felt he didn't deserve a love like he shared with Scarlet.  He took her hand in his.

"God has truly blessed me darlin...for bringing you to me."

They kissed.

" you think you sneak by the orderly tonight?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 14, 2007, 09:09:51 PM
“The one outside here?” She asked. “I don’t have to sneak by him. They are used to me coming and going at all hours of the day and night, sometimes I come back, sometimes I don’t.” Scarlet shrugged. 

She grinned “Why?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 15, 2007, 05:48:58 PM
"I don't mean your orderly...I meant the one outside MY tent."


Fritz grinned.  "I know it might be difficult, but an expert tracker like yourself..."

She leaned closer.  "...could do what?"

"Enter the XO's tent undetected, and leave the same way.  I can't promise the comforts of our home, but I can promise the comforts of my heart."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 15, 2007, 09:33:12 PM
Scarlet smirked “Oh a challenge with a prize.” She said with a chuckle.

Her eyes danced with mischief.  “You wouldn’t give me directions to the wrong tent or have others waiting when I arrive would you?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 16, 2007, 02:25:15 PM
"I'd never do that," he said, taking her into his arms.  "I won't share you with anybody."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 17, 2007, 10:33:50 AM
They shared a long sensual kiss. Scarlet looked into his eyes. “Tell me where to find you’re tent.”  Fritz whispered all the details into her ear while he held her close.

As she listened Scarlet realized she’d ridden by his tent a few times since she’d been here. It shouldn’t have surprised her really; she’d been all over the inside of the fort. The thing she didn’t like about it was if she was not careful she had to go buy the camp of Cyrus’s brother, around the back way would be better and it would bring her into camp closer to Fritz’s tent.

She stepped back and grinned “You would have the tent right next to the Captain.” She teased.

Fritz raised an eyebrow wondering how she knew where the Captain’s tent was.

“Old habits die hard Darlin’. Just something I’ve noticed as I’ve ridden around.” 

By her smile Fritz figured Scarlet could draw a map of where the high ranking officers’ tents were.

He pulled her close again. “Mine is not the first soldier’s tent you’ve snuck into.”  He said looking into her eyes.

She slid her arms around his neck and looked back into his eyes. They held the same fire hers did. “No” she whispered softly “but you are the only soldier whose heart I wish to possess.”

“That you already have Milady.”

“As you have mine.” She said kissing him again softly then spoke again. “We should find Ella and Bo.”

“Yes.” He agreed.

Fritz followed her to the parlor. The door stood slightly ajar and the lamp had been turned very low and the fire had been rekindled.

Scarlet slowly pushed the door open. Ella was asleep on the sofa, Bo on the floor.

“I hate to wake them.” Scarlet whispered looking at Fritz. “Ella looks so peaceful.”

Scarlet knew Ella hadn’t been sleeping well either. She figured between the two of them they were getting good rest for one person and just enough for the two of them to get by on. Scarlet suspected Ella’s mind was occupied of what her first meeting with Alan would be like. Was he going to kiss her hand and tell her how much he’d missed her or was he going to hand her divorce papers.

Scarlet was debating about getting a couple of blankets and leaving them there when Bo sat up.

“I’m sorry I woke you.” Scarlet said quietly.

“No worries. Get her boots.” He replied as he stood up.

Bo carefully picked Ella up as not to wake her. She seemed to automatically curl against him as he carried her down the hall. She looked comfortable there. Scarlet could understand how Ella felt; there was something about Bo that made her feel safe when he held her close too. It was the comfort of a good friend she thought as her eyes feel on Fritz, who was opening the door for Bo, or of someone you loved. However you put it, it was the comfort of someone you trusted your heart with.

Bo gently laid Ella on the bed. He turned and kissed Scarlet on the cheek. “Sweet dreams.”

“Good night.” She said to both of the men as they stepped into the hallway and pulled the door closed behind them.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 18, 2007, 12:15:23 AM
Ella didn't wake up while she was carried to her bed, but some awareness crept into her mind, and colored her dreams with happiness. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 18, 2007, 11:29:41 PM

When a neighbor's rooster crowed, Alan gave up on sleep.  He lit the lamp and dressed, then sat at the desk.   He should start to work on the next lecture, but first he would make another try at a letter to Ella.

Her letter to Mrs. Erdbeer had shocked and surprised Alan.  Until the last one, Ella's letters to him never had held any hint of reproach for his decisions.  He had felt a flash of irritation that she didn't appreciate the hard work and sacrifice it had taken to raise the money to replace his steamship ticket home, but a moment later he remembered that he had not told her why he took a position at the hospital, much less told her what kind of work he did there in order to scrape together enough money to get home.  He hadn't told her that he had arrived in Boston with less than a dollar in his pocket.  That lack of funds was the primary reason he had written a letter instead of sending a wire.  He had to admit that needing to earn some money was only one reason for taking the lectureship.  The invitation to give a series of lectures was also very flattering.

He had thought he was being sensible to buy a round-trip ticket from a steamship company with an office in Vienna.  That way, he would not have to worry about having the money for it at the end of his stay.  But, when he went to the office in Vienna to book his berth for the return trip, he found that the company had gone out of business the month before and his return ticket was worthless. 

Writing this letter to Ella was being very hard.  He really didn't know how to apologize for giving her reason to think he intended to divorce her.  Yes, he had postponed returning to her side three times, but that didn't mean he no longer wanted to be with her. 

He crumpled up another sheet of paper and threw it at the wastebasket. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 19, 2007, 08:19:22 PM
The sentry had been at his post for over two hours, and his relief was late.  Why he was guarding the officers' quarters was beyond him anyway.  He figured it had something to do with the two women residing there.  They weren't ladies, that was for least they weren't 'proper' ladies.  One looked like a gunfighter for God sakes!  And the other was a healer, not a true doctor!  Neither one had any business around the fort.  They should be both at home.

His mind began churning.  That oldd grizzled Lieutenant escorted the healer home, and he bet it wasn't for any 'home baked bread,' either.  And those Corbins were obviously involved.  They shared the same last name.  Were they married?  Or were they something else...

He heard the thumping and bumping in there.  The healer was probably making the officer's bread rise.  He snickered at the thought.

"Something funny, trooper?"

The voice caught him off guard.  He snapped to attention.  "Good evening Sir!"

Fritz waited.  The man finally realized he hadn't saluted.  He raised his rifle to 'Present Arms.'

Fritz returned the honor.  "Carry on Soldier."

The Lieutenant and that Corbin fellow walked away.

Oh yeah...he'd have plenty to talk about at chow tomorrow morning.


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 20, 2007, 06:04:08 PM
“Mornin’ Mr. Comstock.” Scarlet said as she came out the door.

The sentry smiled. “Mornin’ ma’am.”

Usually Scarlet left the room towards the end of his shift. He’d been late this morning and the other man standing guard had been irritated at him but he’d heard him chuckle as he walked off. Scarlet was always pleasant to him, which was more than he could say about some of the other women he’d had to stand guard for over the years,  but you could never predict when she’d be coming or going. He supposed it was her nature to be unpredictable.

It was always a pleasure watching her go towards the stables. He imagined if she really knew how to use the guns that hung at her hips the pleasant side is where a person wanted to stay. He’d heard she’d knifed one of the men she rode with over some remarks, but wasn’t sure how much truth there was to it.

Scarlet checked on the horses before made her way towards the soldier’s camp. The sound of voices and laughter from men in Dick Kane’s camp filled the night air and was glad she had avoided going that route. The solders were much quieter, which was not necessarily a comfort either. At least she could hear the scout’s positions.  Most of the soldiers were sleeping but there were a few that were out.

Scarlet tucked her braid inside the long black duster she wore and stuck to the darkest shadows. It would be hard to tell who she was unless someone approached her close. Carefully she made her way to Fritz’s tent.

She stood at the back careful not to cast any shadows and listened.  Scarlet could hear Fritz walking the length of the tent inside, although she didn’t know why. There were no other sounds. She heard the footsteps stop near the front of the tent but no voices. While she listened she looked for a good place to go under the rear of the tent. She looked around to make sure nobody was around then lay on the ground and rolled under the tent wall. Once inside she stayed kneeled down in the dark to make sure he was not leaving or someone else was not coming in then slowly stood.

Fritz turned and came back down the tent. When he was close enough to hear her voice she smiled and softly said. “I have come for your heart Mr. Fritz.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 20, 2007, 09:47:55 PM
He'd cleaned himself up as best as could.  Fritz was, it was excitement.  He turned the lamp down low, and began to pace.  He could feel her; she was near.  As he reached the front of his tent, her aura filled the air.  He turned as he saw the shadow rise.  Her low whisper made his heart race.

"I have come for your heart, Mr. Fritz," she said.  Her voice was silky and seductive.

He undid the bib front of his shirt.  "It's right here," Fritz said, smiling.  "Come and get it."

Her duster slid to the ground.  Scarlet loosened her hair, her hand tracing down her throat.  Her fingers flicked the first button of her blouse open.

She smiled.  "You first."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 21, 2007, 09:01:19 PM
Scarlet reluctantly slipped out of Fritz’s arms and got dressed. She’d stayed as long as she dared before she lost the cover of darkness.

She heard him before she felt his touch. “I thought you were sleeping.” She whispered.

“I’ll not waste time sleeping when you are here milady.” He whispered sliding his arms around her waste.

She turned in his arms and smiled up at him. “You make it difficult to go.”

Fritz smiled. “I’m glad to know that. If it was easy for you to leave I would be concerned.”

“I love you.” She softly said before she kissed him.

He held her tightly for a moment before letting her go. “I love you too.”

“Sweet dreams Sugar.”

Scarlet walked back to the back of the tent where she had come in. Fritz watched her stand and listen to the sounds of the night before she melted into the darkness and disappeared.

Scarlet made her way back to the stables. She noticed there were fewer people about now than there had been earlier. The noises from the scout’s tents had died down.

Lucky greeted her with a low nicker as she slipped into his stall. She curled up in the corner and closed her eyes. Her skin still tingled from his touch. Scarlet feel asleep smiling.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 21, 2007, 09:13:10 PM
He stood a moment longer as she melted away into the darkness.  He thought about laying down, but he was too contented.  There was much to do, and now he had the energy to do it.  Scarlet had that way about her.  Sure he'd be tired later in the day, but that made his evenings that much sweeter.  If he could sleep in her arms tonight, he'd be content.

He donned his uniform and walked out of his tent.  The patrols were still at their posts, although they nodded a bit.  Fritz walked his post as he always did; in the wee still hours before the dawn.  He listened as his men slept.  Their dreams were their own.  He'd let them enjoy them a bit longer. 

Fritz stirred a fire back to life, and filled a coffee pot with water.  He waited for the pot to boil, and added a few handfulls of ground coffee.  The coffee boiled and settled to the bottom of the pot.  As usual, he had the first cup.  It was good.

There was a lot to still be done.  Today, they'd work on skirmish line formations.  But for the moment, he sipped his coffee and thought of his lovely bride.

The pink tendrils of dawn began to work their way out of the cover of night.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 22, 2007, 12:58:21 PM
Increasing daylight pulled Ella out of an interesting dream.  When she realized she was awake, she reviewed the dream before it had a chance to fade.  The action in the dream seemed familiar, as though she had read about it.  The dream had included being rescued from a tribe of Indians that she didn't wanted to leave.  They were her family and friends, and the white men who were taking her were dirty and rude. 

Now she remembered why it seemed familiar.  It was Carrie's story, at least at the beginning.  The dream then diverged from the expected story.  The husband in the dream was harsh and cruel.  He killed her baby to silence its crying, then threw the toddler across the room before slapping her.  The knife she was using to chop onions was sharp, and slid into his chest easily.  When he fell, Carrie ran to her son, and found him dead.  She picked up his body and laid him out in his bed, and tenderly tucked him in, then did the same for her baby girl.  There was nothing to hold her here, and her husband's friends would kill her in revenge for her husband's death.  She gathered what she needed for the journey and headed home. 

Ella got up and quickly got ready for the day, then ate one of her loaves while reading out all the information she and Scarlet had collected about Carrie to see if anything was inconsistent with her dream's alternate explanation.  Everything they had fit with North killing the children and Carrie killing him in self-defense just as easily as Carrie killing North and the children.  Ella gathered up the papers and went looking for Tensleep. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 22, 2007, 06:09:18 PM
Scarlet had only slept a couple of short hours but she felt invigorated. Getting up she shook the straw off her duster and rubbed Lucky’s forehead.

“I’ll be back later.” She said to him as she gave him his breakfast. “Today you need to get out.” She said to Dancer as she fed him.

Scarlet started towards the Scouts camp, she’d found out there was usually something better to eat there than in the mess tent anyway.

“Mornin’” She called to Ella who was headed towards her.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 22, 2007, 08:37:47 PM
"Morning.  I was wondering where you decided to sleep, and see that you chose Lucky as your companion," replied Ella, pulling a piece of straw out of Scarlet's hair.  "I don't think I would have woken up if you jumped on the bed last night.  It's been years since I slept that soundly.  It's scandalous to say, but maybe I need Bo to tuck me in more often, assuming it was Bo who carried me to bed.  Anyway, I woke up with a new idea about Carrie that I should bounce off you and Tensleep."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 22, 2007, 09:57:18 PM
"I was tempted to leave the two of you in the parlor, you looked so content, but I could only imagine what kind of rumors would have started should someone else have found you." Scarlet said with a smile. "I've always felt very secure when Bo is near. I'm sure he'd stay around until we feel asleep if we asked, and yes it was him who carried you to bed. For a moment I wondered if you were just playing opossum and enjoying curling into him. You had this little smile." Scarlet said teasingly.

Ella started to say something to defend herself but realized Scarlet was teasing then replied. "Maybe I've learned more from you and Rose than you know." with a giggle of her own.

"Let's find Tensleep so I can hear your ideas."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 23, 2007, 05:38:34 PM
They found Tensleep at the cook fire, with a fresh cup of coffee in one hand. 

"Marshal Ross," said Ella, using the formal mode of address to signal that she was going to talk about business, "I've been thinking  about Carrie Moore.  Is it possible that she killed her husband in self-defense?"

"Can't argue self-defense for the kids getting killed," replied Tensleep. 

"What if her husband killed the kids, then attacked Carrie?" responded Ella.  "After I dreamed up the idea that her husband might be beating her, I went through all the information we've got.  No one knew Carrie, and one of the neighbor women said, 'Moore kept her pretty close.'  Another one said, 'She sometimes had bruises on her arms from falling.'  My friend, Deborah Erdbeer in Boston, has a sister who married an abusive man.  He tried to keep her from seeing her sister and parents, including keeping her from going to the synagogue.  When he came alone on Yom Kippur, Deborah and their mother left the services and went to her house.  Sarah was reluctant to let them in the house, then tried to explain her bruises as coming from falls." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on March 23, 2007, 06:25:16 PM
"I've seen abuse cases... lots o' them in Denver. Local police usually worked them, but you know how it is, police short handed, take whoever along that will go. I don't know what really happened Ella, our job is to bring in Carrie Moore. The judge has to decide what is goin' on...."

Tensleep sipped his coffee and pulled on his pipe.

"Tell ya what, let's just keep our eyes open, see what we see. Who knows,we may not find her."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 23, 2007, 08:33:15 PM
Scarlet listened while she sipped the cup of coffee she had poured herself. Bringing in innocent people, if Carrie was indeed innocent, it was the part of being a deputy she hated. If Carrie was tried by a local judge who may have known Moore she wouldn’t have a snowballs chance in hell, innocent or not. Scarlet had seen that before.

Tensleep had said in the beginning Carrie had been seen traveling with Indians, no doubt her family. They would not let her go without a fight.

“To bad someone didn’t say what the bruises looked like.” Scarlet thought.

“What?” Ella asked looking in Scarlet’s direction.

“What?” Scarlet said surprised.

“You said something about the bruises.”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow. “Apparently my thoughts slipped out. I wondered if someone stated what the bruises looked like.”

“What difference would it make?” Tensleep asked. He could tell by the look in her eyes her mind was turning something over.

“If you get bruises from falling they will be where you hit, the outside of the arms. But if I grab you hard enough.” Scarlet reached over and took Ella by the arm in demonstration. “I am often going to leave a bruise where my thumb is. Here.” She said pointing to the inside of Ella’s arm “and two or three bruises from my index fingers. Here and here.” She said pointing again. “Depending on how strong or angry I am. A hand print so to speak. A fall does not leave that kind of sign. So I was just wondering if there are any accounts of what the bruises looked like or how many there were. If they were the same bruises on different occassions that may support Ella’s theory.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 23, 2007, 09:27:31 PM
"Punches could leave bruises on the outside of the arms, that might look like bruises from a fall," said Ella. "She won't have complained about the abuse, partially because of her problems speaking English.  Bet Moore never encouraged her to improve her command of English, either.  Isn't one of the advantages squaw men give for taking an Indian wife that she can't nag if she doesn't speak English?"  Ella sighed, "Probably a lot of the case against her is based on her running after killing Moore.  Whoever was talking to the neighbors clearly wasn't interested in anything except clues for finding her.  If she had stayed, and had been assigned a sympathetic and competent public defender, she might have gotten off with self-defense.  But without a good lawyer, she wouldn't have had a chance at all.  If we find her, we might be able to have her family come with her and I can spend some of my saved-up salary on hiring a real lawyer to defend her.  If we don't bring her in, someone else might go after her who thinks she is a madwoman or a vicious murderer."

Ella stopped and thought a moment before continuing.  "When we find her, maybe we can take a deposition and send that to the judge.  If he still wants us to bring her in after he reads it, and any other evidence we find, we will.  She's had enough time to heal any bruises, but she might have scars."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on March 26, 2007, 08:44:10 PM

The line folded, Scott was the pivot point.  A new line formed at right angles, muzzles facing out. 

"Volley fre...Ready...Aim...FIRE!!!"

CLICK.  Hammers fell on expended casings.


Cases ejected smartly.  Hands found more empties on the belt.

"Hurry Boys...Quickly now!"

Chambers snapped closed.

"Fire by files from the Right...Ready...Aim...FIRE!!!"

Again the hammers fell.  "Why the hell are we doing this?"

Johann heard the complaint, and moved from his position to intercept the complainer.  Fritz raised his hand.

"Trooper, how old are you?"

"Seventeen sir," the lad replied.  He looked more like fifteen to Fritz.

"So you would've been four in 1864, right?"  The boy nodded.

Fritz smiled.  "Then you didn't know John Buford.  Take a seat everyone."  The troopers sat down, and cracked open their canteens.

"General John Buford was the Commanding Officer of the First Cavalry.  He won the battle of Gettysburg.  How, you may ask?"  Fritz paused and sipped from his own canteen.

"On the first day of the battle, Buford's cavalry arrived in the town.  Buford recognized the value of the terrain, the "high ground," so to speak.  He dismounted his troopers and formed skirmish lines on Seminary Ridge.  He forced Harry Heth to deploy his infantry lines, and held them in place with his breechloading carbines.  His men could put out a higher volume of fire.  His cavalry held long enough so the John Reynolds and the First Corps could deploy.  His action saved the day, and eventually, the battle."

The men didn't say much.

"John Buford had fought on the plains.  He knew the value of getting his men there fast, and fighting dismounted.  That's what I plan to do.  A cavalry charge, though dramatic, is almost useless against massed infantry.  And never mind what happens with cannister."

He remebered his most recent experience with cannister.

"So that's why the hell we're doing this.  I want to practice this until the movements become second nature.  So, are we ready to continue?"

The men stood.  Fritz smiled.

"Form as Skirmishers!!!"   

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 27, 2007, 06:04:50 PM
“I doubt her family would come with her. Even if they did it might make it worse for the bunch of them.” Scarlet said. A smile slowly played on her lips  “I wonder if Judge Ferris is still working the circuit. Maybe if Ferris is not working he could recommend somebody that would be fair for the situation.”

“Ferris someone Johnny knows?” Tensleep asked knowing Scarlet’s family kept close ties with influential people who might trade favors at times. He knew he'd heard the name before, he just couldn't remember why or where.

Scarlet grinned and chuckled. “Dad knows of him. Johnny doesn’t have the market cornered on knowing everybody.”  Scarlet winked. “Ferris is hard but he is fair. If we got him involved and she was guilty he would not go easy on her because she is a woman. On the other hand he will not dismiss depositions we take because we may have to translate them into English.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 28, 2007, 12:55:06 AM
"First we have to find her and talk to her.  How are you at understanding Cheyenne, Scarlet?" said Ella.  "Right now, it's time to go get the bread and take it to the mess tent before the soldiers start showing up for dinner."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 28, 2007, 08:19:47 PM
"Yes, first we have to find her." Scarlet repeated then answered Ella's question "I understand Cheyenne and I can communicate enough to get by but I am very rusty, unless you want me to tell them we are all crazy." Scarlet chuckled then looked over at Tensleep "but I believe there is one among us who can both understand and speak it if I am not mistaken."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on March 29, 2007, 03:27:11 AM
"Cheyenne an' I go way back, right after the war when I first came to this country. When we find her or somebody that knows her or knows of her I'll speak with them. I'm a mite rusty too, but they will know what I sayin'."

Tensleep looked over at Ella as they walked to the mess. "You appear to have a bit more sparkle than usual this mornin' Deputy Coatsworth."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 29, 2007, 09:03:36 AM
"I slept well last night," replied Ella.  "Maybe I had gone long enough on short sleep that my body decided it was time to catch up a little.  After dinner, I want to see if any of the scouts or soldiers would be interested in getting a little training in basic wound care.  I don't have enough pocket kits to distribute to everyone, but I have 50.  People with a little training might keep some people alive long enough for the real medics to get there."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 29, 2007, 11:26:23 PM
“I think a few of the scouts might be pretty good at medical care. May even already carry something. I think Teddy carries some kind of field kit. I know Bo does, he’s used it on me enough. I have one too. If you need help or something that might be in a kit you should keep that in mind. Bo’s very good if you could get him off the field.” Scarlet replied.

Bo fell in behind the group only hearing the last part of Scarlet's statement. He put his hands on her shoulders. “I am veeery good.” His was low and seductive.

Scarlet grinned and looked over her shoulder. “Do you have any idea what you are good at?” She teased.

“Why yes ma’am I do.” He said before breaking into a grin of his own.

“Did you sleep well Ella?” He asked. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 29, 2007, 11:59:39 PM
"Yes, I did, Bo.  Thank you," replied Ella, certain that she was turning bright red.  She could control her voice, but her skin insisted on signaling.  Bo's voice triggered an echo of a dream she hadn't remembered when she woke up.  It seemed like it had been a pleasant dream starring Bo.  Ella got herself back under control.  "I still owe you a sample of the bread, and I need help to carry it down to the mess tent.  Do you have time to give me a hand?" she asked. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 30, 2007, 08:31:30 AM
“I always have time for my two favorite girls.” He said with a flirtatious smile.

“Remember what I said about that southern charm Ella. He will talk you out of two or three loaves if you’re not careful.” Scarlet chuckled.

Bo raised his finger to his lips “shhhh, don’t tell on me.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 30, 2007, 09:14:20 AM
"Maybe you won't care for this batch of bread.  It's oatmeal bread, which is very much a Northern variety," replied Ella.  Her face was cooling again.  It was strange how having Bo nearby excited her and calmed her at the same time. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on March 30, 2007, 07:41:48 PM
"I'm sure you wouldn't bake anything nasty tasting. Unless you wanted to of course. Oatmeal is not bad with enough molasses or honey. Heck yer so sweet you just had to stick your finger in the batter to sweeten it." Bo grinned.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on March 30, 2007, 09:23:10 PM
"I make plenty of nasty-tasting stuff," retorted Ella with an answering grin.  "Just ask the people who annoyed me before I gave then tonics!" 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 01, 2007, 02:23:11 PM

"How was your day today, Doctor Coatsworth?" asked Mrs. Erdbeer when Alan returned from his lecture. 

"Very good, thank you," replied Alan. "I received a request to publish a book of this lecture series.  It took some negotiation, but I will correct the galleys after each set of 4 lectures, instead of all at the end of the series.  The publisher will mail me the final proof, instead of me staying in Boston until the work is done.  I would come back to Boston for a short stay when the book is released, maybe in October.  The financial aspects of the offer were very attractive.  The contract will be ready for my signature tomorrow."

"I received a letter from Ella today," she said, holding a sheaf of papers out to him.  He quickly took the papers and sat in the study to read about the trip to Fort Laramie and the people she had met there.  He looked up at the end and asked, "What did she say in the cover letter?" 

She handed that single page to him.  Alan read it carefully. 

"We head for Fort Fetterman tomorrow.  I don't know how long we will stay once we get there, and I don't expect to be able to receive mail.  We won't be heading back to the Starr for a couple months.
"Everyone expected Scarlet to be restless once Fritz left for his assignment at Fort Fetterman.  The only question was what she was going to do.  She went through the wanted posters looking for an interesting (meaning dangerous enough to keep her focussed on the task at hand) target and came up with a candidate.  However, Bo got a request for help from the leader of a scouting unit being sent to Fort Fetterman (there is more about him in the accompanying pages) which gave her excuse to follow her heart instead.  Marshal Ross had a target believed to be headed in the same direction for the posse to follow, so the four of us headed out. 
"It's a melancholy trip for me, likely to be my last long ride with them.  Once Alan and I agree on where to settle, my time will be tied up with helping establish our practice.  I won't insist on El Paso, but I won't accept Boston or any other major city in the Northeast.  After experiencing freedom in the West, I think I would feel even more smothered by the narrow conventions of 'proper womanly behavior'. 
"The problem is that Alan would have more opportunity for fame and fortune back East.  He could not find any more satisfaction in his work, however.  There is a great need for trained doctors out here, where most doctors claim the title based on an haphazard apprenticeship.  Fame and fortune didn't use to be Alan's goal, but he might have changed as much as I have over the past three years."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 04, 2007, 04:00:32 PM
Samuel brought the empty honey jar to Ella before Bo and Ella went to get the bread. 
It looked like someone had boiled the empty jar in a coffee pot to get the last traces of sweetness. 

"Why don't you come along?  That way you can bring the scout camp's share of the bread," said Ella. 

Normal errands were run by two of the scouts.  A full half-dozen were coming along this time.  Everyone wanted to make sure all of the bread made it to the camp for distribution.  The party headed for the fort proper. 

The scouts decided to wait outside the gate for Ella and Bo.  The sentries on duty seemed to prefer it that way. 

In her room, Ella counted out the loaves for the scout camp, and wrapped them in a separate piece of cloth.  She went to put that bundle back on top of basket the bread came from, but Bo took it from her and put it on the full basket.  "Your basket is heavy enough, Ella," said Bo, picking up the full basket. 

He was right about the baskets being heavy. Although carrying 40 pounds was within her strength, Ella appreciated Bo lightening her load.  She also appreciated the way lifting the heavy basket displayed the muscles in his back and arms. 

Outside the gate, the scouts took over carrying the baskets.  The two handles made the baskets easy to carry between two men.  At the mess tent, the scouts put down the baskets where Ella directed, took the bundle she handed them, and headed for their camp before the cook reached full volume on his complaints. 

Ella stationed herself where she could hand out the bread to the soldiers when they got their chow, and Bo stationed himself where he could glower at the cook who was trying to insist that he needed to take charge of the bread. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 04, 2007, 08:15:29 PM
Dusty and tired, hot and sweaty…all adjectives that fit the troopers of I Company, 2nd U.S. Cavalry.  Johann marched the men in, while Fritz and Scott walked back in a short distance behind.

Scott asked “well…what do you think?”

Fritz smiled.  “You’ve got excellent discipline, with a few notable exceptions.  They’ll tone down once the shooting starts.”

Scott looked towards Johann.  “I remember when he was like that…wouldn’t get squared away, nor make his bunk.”

“Yeah,” Fritz said.  “I remember it too.  I offered him a French maid to help tidy him up.  I don’t think we ever found him one.”

“Well, we might want to look for one after this is all over.  If we survive, that is.”

Fritz nodded.  “What’s on your mind Scott?”

“I know they’ve under reported the number of Indians who’ve left the reservations.  This time, we’re going to be up against large numbers of hostiles.”

“This afternoon, we need to work on hand-to-hand combat.  The Army likes to fight at a distance.  The Nations like to fight up close.”  Fritz fished around in his pocket for a cigar, but came up empty.”

“Scott, make sure the men get good portions of chow.  They’ll need their strength for what the future holds.”

Scott smiled, and then saluted.  “I’ll do what I sir, but I can make no promises.”

The men couldn’t believe their luck.  No hardtack today…there was BREAD!!!  Real bread in loaves, just like mom used to make.  There was even some honey and preserves to go with it.  This was almost like eating your dessert before the meal.  Sticky hands met smiling faces.  To see their happiness, in some cases, revealed the true ages of the troopers.  Ella smiled.  It was her honor to bring a little slice of home to the men.

“Hello Ella.  Anything left for me?”

“Hello Lieutenant,” she replied.  “I’ve set aside a couple of loaves just for you.”

The men smiled. Some even snickered.

Fritz asked “what’s so funny?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 05, 2007, 06:56:21 PM
"I don't know.  I overheard some comments about bread rising earllier that provoked a lot of amusement.  It's good that the men are in good humor, no matter what is entertaining them," replied Ella.  "So far, they seem to be in reasonable health as well.  I'm not sure how long that health is going to continue on the diet they are getting:  salt-cured meat, no vegetables except potatoes, no grain except hardtack and occasionally biscuit.  Feeding them stew with canned tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes would be a big improvement.  Those supplies ought to be available.  The mess would also need an extra couple barrels of water every day.   I'd like to talk to your Captain, as my first step at going through channels to see what can be done."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 09, 2007, 04:19:00 PM
Scarlet leaned against a log near the scout’s camp, Lucky stood behind her occasionally cropping grass but keeping a watchful eye on the people around him. She heard him shift his weight and sniff the air before she heard Black beard’s footsteps then his voice.

“Talk around camp is you’ve been asking questions about me.”

Scarlet looked up from the maps and smiled. Black beard heard her say something to the horse causing him to relax.

“Not you directly, someone who might know the area well.”

“That animal ever kill anybody?” He said eyeing the stallion who eyed him back as he handed Scarlet a plate of food.

“Thank you.” She said putting the papers in the side of her saddlebags then taking the plate. “Yes he has, but always in self defense.”

“You follow the beliefs of the Indians. Do you think the soul of you’re late husband lives within him?” Black beard said taking a seat near her.

“No, Lucky is too old for it to be Travis, if he is someone who came back to protect me it’s Seth, a childhood friend.”

Black beard looked at the horse again. “This man Seth, when did he die?”

“War of the Northern Aggression.”

“He loved you?”

Scarlet half smiled “Had Seth come home from the war it is likely we would have married.”

Scarlet looked at him again. “You are familiar with the area. We are looking for a woman who was rescued from the Cheyenne but has now returned to them.”

Black beard heard the sarcasm in the word rescued when Scarlet said it.   “You don’t believe she wanted to be rescued?”

“I know Carrie Moore is wanted for questioning for the death of her husband and two children.” Scarlet replied. “I know she was taken or rescued from an Indian camp before she married Moore and now she has gone back to who I am guessing are the same tribe.”

“You think a white woman would go back to a tribe of Indians who had abducted her?”

“I know some who have.” A playful grin danced on Scarlet’s lips as she looked into the man’s eyes. “Just as I know women have returned to the pirates that have abducted them.”

Black beard laughed out loud. “You would have been a good Pirate’s woman Lass.”

“I can swing from ropes alright but I don’t care much for ships.” Scarlet laughed.

“But a woman who fights with a blade the way you do.”

“I’ve been told I should have lived in a castle with a knight to defend my honor.”

“I still think you should be the woman of a pirate.” He winked and then reached for the papers she’d been looking at.

“I know these places. We are a hard day’s ride or so, I can take you or show you how to get there.”
“I will tell Tensleep and Ella.” Scarlet said.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 09, 2007, 04:57:40 PM
Cyrus walked to the mess tent. He wanted to thank Ella for her kindness towards them; he knew she was doing things she didn’t have to do. He stopped short hearing the sound of laughter from Scarlet and Black beard. The two women really were something he thought stopping and looking at Scarlet.

“Would be a beautiful vision if Black beard wasn’t sittin’ next to her.” Teddy said with a smile in his voice.

“I don’t see him.” Cyrus responded. A wicked smile pulled at the corners of his mouth when he realized he was within earshot of Fritz.  “Ya know Teddy, I been thinkin’ if I die. I want to come back as Scarlet’s horse.”

“Do I dare ask why?” Teddy responded.

Cyrus chuckled. “She spends more time with that horse than she does anybody else. Makes me sweat when I think ‘bout the way she wraps her legs around that animal when she’s ridden him.”

“You best be a little more precise about that wish. The bay she rides is gelded.” Teddy laughed with a friendly slap to Cyrus’s back. “Instead of standing here wishin’ I was gonna come back as some gelding I think I will go and see what they are having such a good time talking about.” Teddy laughed again as he walked away.

Cyrus stepped inside the tent and walked up to Ella. “Miss Ella.” He said removing his hat.

Ella turned to him. “Hello Cyrus.”

”I wanted to make sure somebody thanked you for all of your hard work and showing some kindness to the men, they appreciate it even if they don’t tell ya so.”

“It’s my pleasure.” Ella responded. “Do you know Lieutenant King?”

“Oh yes, we go back a spell. I hear you are putting the boys through some good training out there. One of them is friends with one of my scouts and for some strange reason he seems to think you know what you are doing.” Cyrus chuckled.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 10, 2007, 08:30:43 PM
There was a lot going though his mind.  He was thinking about the unit; how far they’d come, and how far they had yet to go. 

He was thinking about Ella’s request; he could take her to see Captain Schurmann, but he wasn’t sure how much that’d help.  The mess was run by the fort staff, and Bill had no pull with them.  However, Bill knew George Crook, and the General had considerable pull.

For years there had been problems with supplies.  Freighting them into frontier forts was hazardous enough; men will kill if they went hungry.  He’d seen it in the war.  Then the sutlers would siphon off some of the best stuff, to resell at outrageous prices.  Someone in the Quartermaster Corps could line their pockets well.  Then the Officer’s mess would sort through the rest and take the best of what remained, leaving the men with little more than hardtack, salt pork, beans and coffee.     

And then there was Ella herself.  By escorting her home, he may have put her character into question.  And by spending time with Scarlet in their quarters, the assumption could be made that he’d spent time with Ella.  “Damn those paper-thin walls,” he thought.  Though they hadn’t talked much about it, Fritz knew that Ella’s marriage was strained.  He had no doubt that Dr. Coatsworth was a professional, but if he had the choice, he’d want Ella to patch him up.     

All this was swirling through his mind as he heard the comments.  He’d come to expect crude remarks.  He’d made his fair share wearing dirty shirt blue.  But when he heard Cyrus and Teddy talking about how they wanted Scarlet to ride them like horses, he’d about had enough.

“Yes Ella.  Cyrus and I have known each other a very long time…long enough to know that when true ladies are present, ‘soldier talk’ is repulsive.”  He looked at Teddy as he continued.  “Somewhere out there, that lady has a husband…or maybe a boyfriend or a brother.  Would you want somebody talking about your wife, or your girlfriend, or your sister like that?”

He hadn’t realized it, but he’d raised his voice while talking.  All eyes were on him now.

“The women who ride with Marshal Ross, are ladies, and will be treated as such, until or unless they prove to be otherwise.  Anyone who mistreats these women will deal with me.”

He turned and left the mess tent, without taking his loaves of bread.       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 10, 2007, 09:37:48 PM
Cyrus was surprised by Fritz's reaction, although after a moment for it to sink in he guessed he shouldn't have been.

“My sincerest apologies for jokes in very poor taste Miss Ella. It will not happen again. From me or any of the scouts who ride with us.” Cyrus said, then excused himself and caught up to Fritz.

“I apologized to Ella for the poor taste of conversation and I will apologize to Scarlet later. I can assure you won’t hear that sort of talk around our camp.” Cyrus stopped in front of Fritz and faced him. “I’ve gotten to know Scarlet some, and you’re right she can be a very gracious lady. I knew her first husband very well; he could have a rotten temper. Never minded another man admiring her, but protective as all hell. I imagine if I had caught him at a bad time I might have been spitting a tooth or two out for such a comment. On a good day he would have told me to eat my heart out. You remind me a lot of Travis.” He looked Fritz up and down “Thank God yer not as big. I’ll give you one good shot if it’ll make ya fell better, unless you would prefer give the same offer to Bo.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 11, 2007, 07:11:55 PM
Dinner time was done, and a couple loaves were left in addition to the few Ella had stashed in her quarters for her own consumption.  It was the fastest she had ever seen 80 pounds of bread disappear. 

Once Fritz reacted to the soldier chatter, Ella realized what "bread rising" must refer to.  By giving Fritz and Scarlet some privacy, she had exposed herself to gossip.  Well, if Alan wanted to divorce her, he already could on grounds of barrenness or desertion.  The only reason he would need to go looking for scandal would be to divorce her without paying her the marriage settlement. 

The bigger problem with gossip was the risk that some of the soldiers would think she was available.  She had hoped that the bread-making would make soldiers think of her as "motherly".  The scouts were treating her like a sister.  If one of the soldiers propositioned her, any of Cyrus's scouts who heard might start a fight.  Imagining Chris starting a fight to defend her would have been silly a few days ago, but he was changing his attitude while his wound healed cleanly and was almost as protective of her as Tensleep. 

She needed to get away from the fort for a few days and let the gossip die down on its own.  Maybe Scarlet had gotten a starting point for the search for Carrie. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 11, 2007, 08:51:18 PM
Fritz already felt like an idiot for his response.  He took a minute to answer.

"I've heard her husband is very much like Travis...not in stature, perhaps, but in spirit."  He put his hand out.  "I appreciate the offer, but there's no need.  I let emotion get the better of me.  I won't happen again."

The two men shook hands, looking each other in the eye.

"Now, what was that you said about "knowing what we're doing?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 12, 2007, 06:04:23 PM
 “I got a spy in your ranks.” Cyrus chuckled. “Our camp gets nightly reports of what you do during the day.”

Fritz raised an eyebrow.

“Billy Glass, he’s been tagging after Teddy for some time now. So he comes over and tells us about his day.

He wanted to be a soldier like his father. We rode with him, maybe you remember Will, was killed late 64.”

Fritz shook his head yes. “I thought I the name sounded familiar.”

“When Billy got assigned to the same company his dad had been in he must have spent every waking moment asking us questions. We have taught him everything we could. Now it’s your turn.”

Fritz could tell by Cyrus’s voice he was glad Billy was serving under Fritz’s command.

Cyrus continued “From what Billy says you are a very good shot have insisted they practice and he says they are improving. He says you have them going through exercises sharpening their skills while the other troops do very little. The boy thrives on hard work and challenge.”   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 12, 2007, 07:06:16 PM
"Well, now I need your skills," Fritz replied.

Cyrus raised an eyebrow.

"You know this Army likes to fight at distance.  The tribes we'll face don't fight that way."

" what do you want from us?"

"I need you and yours to teach the men hand-to-hand fighting skills."

Cryrus Grinned wide.

"Now," Fritz added, "I don't want you to hurt them, just show them what they're up agianst, and teach them to fight to win."

Cyrus nodded.  "You mean, teach 'em to fight dirty."

"Yeah...I suppose I do.  Let's meet in the corral after chow."

"I think I'm gonna enjoy this," Cyrus added.

"That's what I'm afraid of." 

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 12, 2007, 10:17:31 PM
Back at the scout camp, Samuel led a group of scouts over to Ella to ask the question that he had been saving overnight.
"Ella, we hear we're going to be riding with the company that Lieutenant King is training.  What can you tell us about him?"

There was no trace of a smirk on his face, so Ella decided bread-rising gossip was not on his mind.  "Let's settle down.  It's a long story," she answered.  After everyone was comfortable, she started talking.

"I met Fritz King the first time when the Army doctors decided he was more likely to die from his wounds than to live after the battle of Cold Harbor in '63.  Patients the doctors couldn't help were put under nursing care and otherwise ignored.  They had decided the same about Cyrus Kane.  My Aunt Helen and I, and the other nurses, did what we could.  Maybe a twentieth of the patients left to the nurses survived, including Fritz and Cyrus.  I don't remember Fritz from that meeting.  It had been my first battle and all of the patients with gunshot wounds are blended together in my memory.  Cyrus's wounds were unique, so I remember him.  The next time I met Fritz was outside Nogales, Mexico.  A posse led by the US Marshal from Tucson had ridden into Mexico in pusuit of a marauder named Jack McGreww.  The Marshal knew the local Federale colonel and somehow negotiated three days for us to continue our pursuit.  But the price was to take a captured US soldier off his hands.  The Federales returned his horse and his guns, and sent him away with the Marshal.  They came to the rendevous point, and I patched up the damage the Federales had done after they had captured Fritz, when he crossed the border looking for a couple of his men who had disappeared on a foraging mission.  He was a First Sergeant then.  He helped us on our mission, and lost his horse as a result.  He said he remembered me from before, and gave me his medicine pouch." She pulled the string around her neck and displayed the beaded leather pouch. 

"The sting of your patching probably reminded him," interjected Chris.  The listening scouts joined Chris in laughter. 

Ella continued her story, "Because some of our people were injured when we cleaned out the bandit nest, we were slowed down heading back across the border.  It didn't help that a general disagreed with the local colonel and wanted to arrest us.  We got out of that with help from some Apache, and decided to take a different route home.  A Mexican army patrol almost caught up with us, so we rode by moonlight to get as much distance between us and them as possible, in hopes of crossing the border before they caught up.  We were only a couple miles from the border, when a patrol spotted us and fired a signal to the patrols guarding the border that we were sneaking between.  The wagon with the wounded went as fast as it could with me and Doc McCandless trying to keep our patients from being battered to pieces when the wagon hit bumps and ruts.  Fritz got himself onto a high point and shot the pursuing men until we cleared the border and they gave up.  I wasn't in any position to watch, but those who did said that a Mexican fell on every shot."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 13, 2007, 06:28:43 PM
Fritz arrived at the corral first.  He'd missed lunch, but figured he could hold his own.  He took off his gunbelt and blouse.  He took the bowie from it's sheath and put it in the small of his back.

The men began to straggle in.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 13, 2007, 08:33:34 PM
It was going to be interesting Cyrus thought as he walked into camp. The scouts had been practicing their hand to hand combat, just because they enjoyed it. He chuckled at the thought “teach em to fight dirty.” Fritz had certainly come to the right place for that.

Most of them were gathered around Ella listening to her story. He waited politely for Ella to finish then cleared his throat.

Every body turned to look. Cyrus broke into a devilish smile.

“Gather round.”

Everybody gathered around.

“As most of you know we will be scouting for Lieutenant King and his troop.” Cyrus just couldn’t help himself as his smile grew even bigger. “Lieutenant King has requested a favor from us.”

Cyrus looked around, he had everyone’s attention.

“He has requested we assist him in polishing the soldier’s hand to hand combat skills.”

There were a lot of grins and a few chuckles.

“Now you remember we will be fighting along side these men. We don’t want to hurt ‘em.”

“We won’t hurt ‘em any worse than we hurt each other. They’re our brothers in combat.” Somebody yelled, which got a few chuckles.

“Can we scare ‘em boss.” Black beard said.

“You can growl at ‘em all you want.” Cyrus replied. “We’re going to the corral.”

Samuel held his hand down to assist Ella up. “Maybe you should bring some medical supplies, just in case.” He paused “that is if you even care to join us.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 13, 2007, 09:08:55 PM
"Of course I'm coming.  I'd better pick up my saddlebags from the stable on the way there," Ella replied to Samuel.  "I've only got enough in my pockets for routine use.  And I don't think this is going to be routine.    Until someone needs patching, it should be entertaining to watch.  It'll be interesting to add something of what you men know to what I've learned from Scarlet and Patches."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 13, 2007, 10:10:41 PM
Samuel looked over his shoulder at Scarlet who strangely enough was walking next to Chris.

“Miss Ella.” He leaned over and whispered “I just can’t imagine you fighting like Scarlet. But I never figured a woman would fight like that ‘till I seen her fight. I really think she would have.” He paused trying to find the words that wouldn’t sound so offensive. “altered Chris or killed him had that fight gone on much longer.”

They traveled in one group to the corral. Cyrus glanced over his shoulder, it was a scary looking mob he rode with. "God bless their wicked souls." he thought.

Cyrus stopped at the fence. “You want them to wrap their blades with something or shall I just turn ‘em over to ya?” He asked Fritz.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 13, 2007, 10:41:50 PM
The men were sitting on the fence rails, not knowing what to do.  It was an unusual sight.  Their Lieutenant had stripped his shirt, probably because he didn't want to dirty it.

"Keep 'em where they are for now," Fritz replied.  "Ah, Teddy.  I see you're here.  Why don't you come on over, and keep an old man company."

Teddy looked to Cyrus, who just nodded his head.

The boy was quick, he gave him that.  He charged at Fritz with the energy and exuberance of youth...

...and Fritz dropped him with a kick to the balls.

Teddy fell to his knees, groaning.  The groan must've been multiplied by at least twenty troopers.  Fritz clotheslined the boy with his right arm, and leapt accross his chest, straddling him.  Fritz pulled the bowie with his left, and drove it into the ground an inch from Teddy's ear.

"That's what it's like.  You're dead.  No Marquis de Queensbury rules here.  No rules at all."  Fritz stood.  "Ella, could you come and help this man?"

"We're fighting against an enemy who's trained to fight his whole life.  They are a warrior race, a horse culture.  They could ride before they could walk.  They learned to hunt and to fight...and to kill.  They use knives, clubs, spears and axes.  And once you're dead, they mutilate your corpse.  They believe if you're maimed in death, you will also be in the afterlife."

He pulled his knife from the earth.  "This is a fight to the death.  Expect no mercy."           
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 14, 2007, 12:07:47 AM
"Scarlet wouldn't have bothered with anything short of killing him if I hadn't given her a reason to leave him alive, which is why I have a responsibility to get him to moderate his behavior," replied Ella.  "I don't have Scarlet's fierceness, but I can and do fight when I have to.  I've been a Deputy Marshal for well over two years.  Bandits have thought that a healer has to be meek and useful, so they tried to capture me to get their wounded taken care of.  I have survived those encounters, the bandits have not.   I have killed men, when there was no choice."

"How many men have you killed?" asked Samuel.

"At least a dozen, maybe two," answered Ella calmly.  She stepped forward to help Teddy off the field of battle. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 14, 2007, 10:32:00 AM
Cyrus said nothing but he knew “don’t hurt ‘em just was replaced in the scouts’s minds by don’t kill ‘em.. Oh well it was Fritz’s show right now. He had caught Teddy off guard or Teddy had made the mistake and under estimated the Lieutenant. Cyrus wasn’t sure but he knew the others wouldn’t make the same mistake.

“Old age and treachery ladies.” Cyrus said as Teddy walked by.

“At what age does old age and treachery over take youth and skill Cyrus?” Samuel asked.

Cyrus looked over the entire group. Samuel was one of the younger men that rode with them. Teddy wasn’t the oldest but he was towards the top half. Then there was Black beard not as old as Teddy either but by Cyrus’s guess one of the most treacherous, and most skilled.

Cyrus smiled. “You don’t count the age by years Samuel, you count them by experience, and treachery is a state of mind. So your worst opponent will be someone” Cyrus spoke as he walked among the group “who is faster, and fights dirtier than you. You’re daddies probably taught you how to fist fight, perhaps some of you have learned the unwritten code of don’t hit below the belt. This ain’t gonna be no fist fight and a man fighting for his life is about as bad as a trapped wounded griz.

You all take a good look ‘round ya. The person standing next to you might just save your sorry hide someday soon. I’ve heard the comments from both sides. Yes in this little family we got Indians, half breeds”

Some of the soldiers looked guilty.

“Rebs, women and crazy old S.O. B’s “

Both scouts and soldiers looked guilty now.

“You all better be nice to Ella, she may save your sorry ass out there, and let me tell you this, if I fall in battle I don’t want the army surgeon I want Miss Ella to tend my wounds.”

All eyes went to Ella, there was mumbling in the crowd, their eyes went back to Cyrus.

“Chis here can tell you what it’s like to fight with the other lady that rides with us.” He said walking by Chris and Scarlet.

Some of the scouts grinned remembering the fight. Chris slightly blushed.
Cyrus paused in front of Black beard. “Crazy no doubt, but skilled enough to take a man’s life or save it.” He began walking again. “Lieutenant King brought us all together so we could teach each other something. I expect some of you will get hurt, I expect you not to hold a grudge for it, because the same man who hurts you today is going to be fighting next to you when we are in the field.”

Cyrus had made it back to the fence. “I’m done with my rant now, you may have them back.”       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 16, 2007, 01:26:43 PM
Ella said quietly, "That was well-played, Mr. Grey."

"What do you mean, Miz Ella?  I lost," replied Teddy.

"You might not have lost if you had fought the way you usually do.  But you let Lieutenant King get that low blow in so that he could make his point.  By losing, you gave him some standing with the scouts so that they will listen to him and also reinforced his standing with his own soldiers." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 16, 2007, 10:11:46 PM
Teddy chuckled. “I prefer the way you think Miz Ella, but the truth is he got the drop on me. He ain’t no regular soldier.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 16, 2007, 11:15:22 PM
"That's right.  He's not a regular soldier, he is an old soldier.  He's got 20 years on most of those boys under his command.  Cyrus is the only one here who is close to the same age."  Ella sighed, "The sight of those children in uniform makes me feel old."

"Try getting dumped in the dirt for feeling old," replied Teddy. 

"You would do better against him in a rematch, now that you know some of what to expect." 

"It would be a tough fight.  You've watched the scouts playing.  Do you think any of them can take him?"

"Bo can, no question.  Blackbeard might be able to.  Chris can't keep his temper well enough.  Samuel needs more experience.  Fritz has too much advantage of strength or reach over the others."

"What about Scarlet?"

"That's hard to say.  He has advantages of reach and strength, although she is very strong for a woman.  She is faster.  I think the deciding factor would be gender.  Fritz would hold back because she is a woman, and she would not hesitate to go for his sensitive parts."

"What about you?"

"If I'm lucky, I might last as long as you just did.  I've got almost as much reach, but am weaker and slower.  He might hold back for my gender, but I wouldn't go for his weakness unless I was scared enough." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 20, 2007, 01:53:56 PM
To the untrained eye, it looked like a riot was going on in the corral, or at least an all-out brawl.  The only thing missing was someone taking bets.  But Fritz and Cyrus walked around, breaking up anything that got too far out of hand.  They didn’t need any blood feuds on this expedition…they had Indians to fight.

The noise had attracted anyone who wasn’t gainfully employed.  And as it happened, General Crook and Captain Schurmann weren’t gainfully employed at the moment.


Fritz ran to the fence line and saluted.  “Good afternoon Gentlemen!”

Bill looked him over.  Smeared with dust and grime, no shirt; but smiling from ear to ear.
Bill said “You’re out of uniform.”

“Yes sir,” Fritz replied.  “It’s the only one I’ve got.”

The General looked at his men.  “What are you doing here?”

“Hand-to-hand combat training sir,” Fritz said.  “It’s a skill we don’t practice, and I figure where we’re going, we’ll need it.”

General Crook nodded.  “Then we won’t keep you.  Carry on.”

Fritz saluted.  “Gentlemen, may I introduce Mrs. Ella Coatsworth, our resident medic?”

Both men tipped their hats as she approached.

“Mrs. Coatsworth has some concerns about the men’s nutrition, and some suggestions on correcting deficiencies.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 20, 2007, 02:46:10 PM
Ella handled a cloth containing two loaves of bread to Fritz, "You didn't stay to eat." 

Turning to the other two officers, Ella said, "What I've seen in the mess tent so far looks like the diet prisoners in the War survived on - salt-cured meat and hardtack, either fried or boiled into submission.  It's been known for a over hundred years that such a diet causes health problems for sailors and prisoners, principally scurvy and night blindness.  For sailors, there is a valid excuse that they are limited to the supplies they can carry onboard.

"What excuse is there here?  I know all food has to be carried in by wagon, and it's too long a trip for fresh fruits or vegetables to make it.  But root vegetables - onions, potatoes, carrots, turnips - all keep well.  Canned tomatoes keep well.  Feeding the men stew with canned tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes would be a big improvement in their diet.  Giving them real bread would be another improvement.  That just requires a supply of flour, and it doesn't have to be white flour, and manpower.  Three of us made 80 pounds of bread yesterday afternoon and evening."

General Crook replied, "I'll have to look into this.  The officers mess serves more variety than you say the men are getting.  I don't have command over the fort staff, but I will see what can be done."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 20, 2007, 08:21:45 PM
Bo had taken a group of inexperienced soldiers to one side and was trying to teach them defensive moves. Scarlet helped them by giving instruction on how to do some of the moves Bo was trying to show them. He was sure he was the only one that found it odd she didn’t offer to spar with anybody, nobody asked to engage her though. Bo thought about it but instincts told him to leave her be. 

By the time they were done the group had a decent idea but they would need a lot more practice before Bo thought they would even be ready to go against some of the more senior men.

When the group broke to go to the mess tent again Scarlet headed for the barn to feed and check on the horses. Bo watched for a moment then followed.

Scarlet was leaning on the stall door, her head rested on her arm.

“You ok?” Bo asked.

“Yes.” She simply replied but didn’t move.

“I was surprised you didn’t offer some demonstration out there.” He said peering into the stall noting Lucky wasn’t fed yet. Stepping over he measured out the horses food an poured it into the bucket.

“I was only interested in demonstrating to Cyrus what it would feel like to have my legs wrapped around him, but I figured it wouldn’t have been to good if I’d broken his ribs ‘er something.” Her tone was flat and mater of fact.

Bo stepped over and fed Dancer and his horses. Then stepped up behind her and began to rub her shoulders and back. Scarlet took a deep breath and relaxed.

“You sure you’re alright?”

“I’m tired.” She said taking another deep breath. “That feels nice, would you rub a little lower.”

“How low?” He teased, expecting her to say to kiss her butt or something along that line.

Scarlet reached around and touched the small of her back. “There.”

“Maybe you should spend a night in that nice bed instead of out here in the straw with your horse for a night.”

Scarlet said nothing but he knew she rolled her eyes.

“You’ve spent a lot of time keeping busy and while it looks good on you maybe you should take some time to yourself.” Bo had noticed she seemed to look really good lately, he wasn’t sure if it was because she was busy teaching the men to ride bareback, she had struck a good friendship with Black beard and he had kept her laughing. Bo had even caught them one evening sword fighting and talking like pirates. Her moods had been swinging lately but since her ride with Tensleep that had changed. It was like she’d gone out one person and returned somebody else.

“What is that supposed to mean?” She said standing up straight and moving out of his reach.

“You haven’t had a break since Fritz left the Starr. You’ve been busy unless you’ve been sleeping and I know neither you nor Ella been doing much of that.” Bo paused and looked at her.

“Can I ask you something?”

Scarlet eyed him for a long time then finally replied. “You haven’t asked me that since I was nine. You always just say I’m going to ask or you blurt it out so?”

He looked around to see if anybody was near then stepped close. “Scarlet are you…”

They were interrupted by two soldiers coming through the door. Bo took a long step back. The solders never noticed. “If you don’t get over to the mess there will be nothing left.” One of them called out.

“You hungry?” He said offering his arm to Scarlet.

Scarlet looked curiously at him then took the offered arm. She was sure that’s not what he was going to ask but what ever it was had been personal. She wondered if he was going to ask her again if there was something wrong between her and Fritz. He had asked that once before or if he knew she was pregnant. Scarlet figured Bo would be the first to guess, after all he had lived with them when she was pregnant the first time.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 20, 2007, 08:22:45 PM
Combined effort of Ella and Scarlet

Ella was carrying her saddlebags back to the stable when she met Scarlet and Bo coming out of it.

"Care to join us for something to eat?" Bo asked.

Scarlet stepped away from Bo, put her hands on her hips and stretched her back. "You two go ahead, I am more interested in a hot bath."

Bo looked at Scarlet. "Maybe Ella has something for those sore muscles."

Ella looked at Scarlet and asked, "Where are you sore?" 

"My lower back."

"A hot bath sounds more inviting than chow to me as well.  Bo, maybe you could bring us something in a couple hours?" replied Ella.

"Of course." He replied "I'll even try to find something fit for you two." He winked and walked towards the mess tent.

"I'd really like a bottle of whiskey with that bath too." Scarlet said as they turned towards their quarters.

"I've got whiskey in our room, intended for medicial purposes only, of course.  I didn't think I could leave that with the packs and count on it still being there when needed."

"Between the two of us then we probably have more whiskey in our room than some of them soldiers have hidden away." Scarlet half smiled. "Mine was intended for drinking.  Bo stashed his there too."

"Sounds like the medicial whiskey is safe for tonight then," laughed Ella.  "I bought it in El Paso before we left because I didn't have as much alcohol on hand as I wanted to bring.  Dr. Bill had cleaned up all the fermentations before he and Patches left."

"We probably got the best whiskey in the entire fort then." Scarlet laughed softly then took a deep breath.

"What is it, Scarlet?" asked Ella.  "Are you having cramps?"

"They are starting," Scarlet replied. "getting more persistent too. Something tells me it could be a long night, Ella. Maybe you should move your hiding spot for your whiskey."

"If you need my stash of whiskey, you are welcome to it, but I've got tonic more specific to the problem all prepared."  Ella pulled a small bottle with a red ribbon tied around the neck out of her pocket and handed it to Scarlet.  "Drink that."

Scarlet looked at the bottle for a moment. She looked up and smiled at the soldier on guard as they came near their quarters and waited until they were in their room away from earshot of anyone before she asked.

"What do you mean more specific to the problem? What is it and what is it supposed to do?"

"You're starting to miscarry.  The backache was the first symptom.  That tonic is what I use and prescribe for menstral cramps - willowbark, lavender and black cohosh.  It'll ease the cramps a little.  A hot bath will ease them more, and let the miscarriage proceed quicker."

Ella’s comment only confirmed Scarlet’s suspicions. She placed her saddle bags in their normal spot and the small bottle on the table while she gathered her things for the bath.

Once her things were together she picked the bottle back up and opened it. Scarlet took another deep breath and drank it down.

Ella knew the deep breath wasn’t from the back pain or the cramps. It had been a sigh of somebody accepting the inevitable.

Scarlet put to small bottle down and picked up her things, including the bottle of whiskey she had retrieved. "I was almost beginning to wonder if the doctors had been wrong," commented Scarlet as they went towards the bath. 

Ella waited until they were in the bathing chamber with the door locked before she responded, "Based on your medical history, I was surprised that this pregnancy lasted almost four months.  Sooner or later, I would like to examine you thoroughly.  I know you don't like that kind of prodding and poking, but I'm thinking the damage from the first miscarriage, or rather from the infection you got at the time of the first miscarriage, might be healing."

Scarlet was quiet for a long moment. "I've had more than one thorough exam. One when I went home for Thanksgiving after we came home from Mexico, another from Dr. Woods before Fritz and I were married and another when I thought I had become pregnant. You’re right Ella, I DON’T like it. Not at all," she said, sinking down into the hot bath and picking up the whiskey bottle. "The last time Doc Woods said there was a considerable amount of scar tissue." Scarlet removed the cork and took a long swallow from the bottle.

Scarlet knew Ella was trying to be helpful and she knew Ella was a good healer, but Ella had struck a sore nerve. "He said I would not survive natural childbirth. So you can understand," Scarlet's tone became sarcastic, "how very thrilled I am to think certain parts of me might be healing while others are not."     

"I need to look at those scars.  Some kinds of scars matter more than others, and some kinds of scars I can treat.  If you can't do natural childbirth, a caesarian is an option.  I know you're heard the bad statistics about c-sections, but my experience has been better.  In any case, partial healing means is that you and Fritz are going to have to take precautions against you getting pregnant again for at least a year.  If you need advice on that, just ask.  I have plenty of practice at ignoring that damn Comstock Law."

"Now that I know I can get pregnant, precautions against getting pregnant will have to last longer than a year, Ella. A caesarian is not an option."

Scarlet leaned her head back, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I’m sorry I'm being nasty. I know you are only trying to help and please know I trust you more than anybody. I know a few precautions but I’m sure the medical journals you read may be better and I'm sure things have advanced since I was married the first time." 

"They would advance even more if men would allow women to have control over themselves.  If I don't watch out, I'll go off on a rant about laws that give the husband complete control over his wife's funds, even if he is a gambler or a drunkard and leaves her and their children destitute," Ella paused and sighed. "I inherited some money from my grandmother.  The bank account was controlled by my uncle until I married Alan.  He's had control of it ever since.  I could add money to the account, and did put my earnings from working as a midwife in, but couldn't take any out. That's why I didn't tell the bank in El Paso that I have a husband, so there wouldn't be any question about who controlled that account."

Ella sighed again, "I thought I was saving up my way to go with him to Vienna."

Scarlet took another long drink. She wasn't sure if it was the whisky or what Ella had given her that at least gave her some relief from the back ache, nor did she care. The cramps were increasing in pain and frequency but so far she was able to handle that. She figured it was just a matter of time though, this however couldn’t be as bad as the last time.

"How did it make you feel that he chose to leave you behind?" Scarlet said offering the bottle to Ella. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

Ella took the bottle and took a swig while thinking.  The habit of reticence regarding her personal sorrows was strong.  But Scarlet needed the distraction, and Ella needed to talk it out to help get everything straight in her own mind before she saw Alan again.  "I'll tell.  But first, let me poke you to see how things are progressing.  Maybe I have time for a bath, too." 

Ella poked gently, and declared, "There's time for me to take a quick bath, anyway."  She added more hot water to Scarlet's tub, and prepared the other tub for herself, then washed a shaving mug from the shelf and poured some of Scarlet's whiskey. 

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 21, 2007, 03:29:23 PM
Ella disappeared behind the screen around the other tub.  Once she was settled into the tub, she started washing her hair, and talking. 

"I think my parents are like yours, Scarlet.  Their marriage is a partnership.  Each has an area of control, but there is a bigger area where decisions are agreed on by both of them.  I don't know if Grammy's marriage was the same way, because I went to live with her after Grandpa died and Grammy refused to live with her daughter, my Aunt Helen.  I suspect it was, and that example is why my father shares control comfortably with my mother. 
"Alan's parents and brother's marriages were more traditional.  The wife had complete control within the house including the kitchen garden, while the husband handled everything outside, including money.  He gave her the amount of money she needed for household expenses each week, and did not ask for an accounting.  He would ask her opinion, but he made the decision on major issues.
"My uncle is more domineering.  He controls the menu and requires an accounting of the money spent on food, clothing and household items.  I have never understood why my aunt accepts the situation.  I quarreled with him and rebelled frequently.  I suspect he let me come to the hospital tents in hopes that the violence and ugliness of war would scare me into docility.
"His plan might have worked, too, except for Dr. Alan Coatsworth. Alan has been the center of my world since the day I met him, which was the day of the battle of Cold Harbor.  I had been there a week by then, and had learned that none of the doctors would answer my questions.  Some of them were pretty rude about being asked by a 'snip of a girl child'. I was feeling shocked and scared and sick by the sight of all those wounded boys, when this younger doctor asked me to help him dress wounds.  He gave me work I could focus on, instead of being overwhelmed by everything, explained what he was doing while he did it, and encouraged me to ask questions. 
"He didn't get along with most of the older doctors.  He used newer methods than they were used to, and tried to get them to adopt 'new-fangled' standards of cleanliness.  Only my uncle shared his methods.  They graduated from the same medical school 10 years apart, and my uncle had taught some of Alan's classes. 
"Nurses were not much respected by some of the doctors.  They dumped patients they could not help into the ward for the nurses to tend.  I soon learned that Dr. Alan would make the time to come when I asked him to extract a bullet from a patient another doctor had rejected as hopeless.  I don't remember Fritz's injuries exactly, but if he had a bullet lodged in him, Dr. Alan was the one who took it out.  Later, Dr. Alan gave me a set of surgical tools and showed me how to use them."

Scarlet heard splashing and guessed Ella might be rinsing her hair.

"When we were first married, we lived with his parents, brother and sister-in-law in a big house on the outskirts of Boston.  He drove into town everyday to his surgical practice with Dr. Abramson, and I stayed home.  His parents were frail, and his sister-in-law was having babies, so I was busy with keeping house and nursing the family.  I was somewhat bored, so Alan encouraged me to read his medical textbooks and journals to discuss with him.  I especially liked the pharmacy textbook.  There was actual scientific theory to support the observations Grammy had recorded in her notebooks about various herbs!
"When his parents died, his brother inherited the house.  Alan inherited a little money, just enough to make his dream of training in Vienna seem possible.  We moved into town, into Dr. Abramson's house, and started seriously saving.  I offered for him to use my inheritance, but he refused.  He said that money was for me to have a house of my own someday. 
"I added my earnings to my account, but it grew pretty slowly.  I got paid in money only for the delivery of a baby, by the father.  Most of my work was with the women in the congregation, who didn't have money to pay me.  So they paid with time.  For example, Susie would do the laundry for me, and Beth would do the ironing for a week as payment for tonics that helped their children get over an illness.  I received tatted doilies sometimes.  So the house was clean, the laundry was done, and it looked like I filled my time with ladylike occupations.
"Dr. Abramson always insisted on being paid in cash, but Alan sometimes accepted goods instead.  Once, he was given a dress length of rose silk as payment for removing an inflamed appendix.  Alan gave the silk to me for a birthday present, and I wore a dress made from it for his birthday six weeks later.  There had been a measles epidemic that spring, and I had been very busy, too busy to get any sewing done.  But the rabbi's wife got the fabric made into a dress for me.
"Alan didn't refuse to let me come, but he argued that if I spent the money in my inheritance account on the trip, we would have to live in Dr. Abramson's house for a few more years after we got back.  If the money stayed in the bank, we would use it to get a house of our own when Alan got back.  Then he let me choose.
"Dr. Abramson was a bad influence on Alan.  He was fine as a doctor, but a terrible example as a husband.  I really wanted to get out of his house as soon as possible.  Alan was going to be gone for one year, maybe two, and the time should reduce Dr. Abramson's inflence over him.
"But now he's been gone three years, and come back to living in Dr. Abramson's house again.  I don't know why he stayed the third year, and why he's staying in Boston now.  I'm afraid he fell in love with someone else in Vienna, and he's going to divorce me and marry her."  Ella stopped with a sob.  She hadn't meant to expose the fear that was the source of her bad dreams and insomnia. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 22, 2007, 01:11:18 PM
"Have his letters given you that feeling?"

Scarlet’s voice was compassionate. Behind what could be a cold hard exterior she cared a great deal for her friends and family. 

Ella heard the slosh of the water and listened to make sure it was Scarlet washing her hair and not going under from the whiskey, the pain or the combination there of.

There was silence for a moment. Both women became concerned for the well being of each other.

"Scarlet?" Came in unison.

"I mean doesn’t Alan send letters that make you smile and your heart beat a little faster?"

"He did for the first two years.  He was so excited by what he was learning and looking forward to sharing it all with me.  But he didn't send as many letters during the third year.  He said he was working in a hospital, but he didn't talk about anything exciting that he was learning.  For all I know, he might have been scrubbing floors.  I really don't know why he stayed that third year.  I even asked outright, but he ignored the question."

“Do you send him letters that might have made his heart beat faster? Does he know you still love him?”

"I tried to make it clear I love him and want him back with me.  I talked about the possibilities of setting up a practice in El Paso, and told him about houses I had looked at that might work for a clinic and home.  He was more willing to talk about the future than about the present.  Maybe he was scrubbing floors, and ashamed of it.  I asked if he needed money, because I could send him some from my savings here, but that was another question he ignored."

"Perhaps he is nervous about coming home. You are not the woman he left to live with Dr. Abramson. Elegant Eddy is an adventurer." Scarlet giggled then became serious again "He may be thinking the same things you are Ella. What if she's found somebody who I cannot measure up to, expects me to be something I am not? One never knows what another is thinking unless you ask and they answer honestly. Then if it's written and not said face to face the reader may interpret it different than writer intended." 

"I asked my friend Deborah in Boston to see what she could find out, but we headed north before she could have answered. I sent her another letter from Fort Laramie so she wouldn't get concerned if I don't respond to a letter from her.  I sent Alan a letter when the supply wagon left, to wish him a happy birthday and wish him well with his lecture series.  I hadn't congratulated him on that post.  For entertainment, I told him about Chris, and your fight with him.  If we knew how long we're going to stay at this fort, I might be able to get an answer back.  I probably could get into the telegraph office, but Deborah's answer is likely to be too long to send by wire, and Alan already declined to send a telegram when he was supposed to."  Ella was calming down again. 

She came out from behind the screen wearing camisole and drawers with her hair wrapped in a towel.  "It's time to see how things are progressing with you."  She poked again, then started massaging Scarlet's lower abdomen.  The massage soothed the cramps at first, then came a strange feeling.  The strange sensation was repeated.  Ella pulled something out of the water and examined it.  "Complete!" she announced with satisfaction.  She laid it on a cloth, and wrapped it.  "Do you want to see her?" she asked.

Scarlet picked the bottle of whiskey up and emptied what was left. She took a long deep breath as she leaned her head back against the tub and closed her eyes tight. She could feel her body shake and the tears roll down her cheeks.

“No” she said weekly, part of her wishing Ella had not even said she or he. The fact Ella had been able to identify the sex made it worse in Scarlet’s mind.

It was no longer a mass of tissue. Scarlet had seen both stages when the mares miscarried foals. The early ones were masses of tissue while the later ones were developed and had features.  She was about to heave the bottle against the wall in anger but let it slip from her fingers instead figuring nobody wanted to clean broken glass in the bath house.

Scarlet gripped the sides of the tub to stop her arms from shaking. "The fates must hate me, Ella." She muttered, "not only have I become a killer of men, I have become a deceitful wife too." Scarlet clinched her jaw "I don’t know that I will be able to look Fritz in the eyes next time I see him." 

"I wouldn't call you a deceitful wife for refraining from burdening Fritz with female troubles when he has other concerns.  If the two of you had stayed at the Starr, the pregnancy might have gone another month at most, and the miscarriage would have been harder.  Meanwhile Fritz would have been miserable, both with concern for you and worry about the company he had deserted.  Once the pregnancy ended, it would have been too late for him to rejoin the company.  You should tell him about it eventually, but on the way home to the Starr is soon enough.  Miscarriages are frequent enough that my patients in Boston usually didn't tell their husbands they were pregnant until the baby quickened in the fifth month." Ella stood up and went over the other tub, "We should finish up in here.  Bo will be over with our dinner before long.  I'm washing my clothes.  Shall I do yours as well?"

"I'm going to have to remember to do something nice for you, Ella," Scarlet said pulling herself up out of the tub, dressing as she spoke.  "I didn't want to let anybody know about the pregnancy because I've had too many sorrowful or pitying looks and I don't think I could have stomached any more, although I know they are not meant that way. You have not done any of that but you have been compassionate and tolerant."

Ella could hear Scarlet move to where she had lay the bundle, she could hear Scarlet holding back her own sobs now.   

A moment later Scarlet came around the screen and to Ella's surprise gave her a hug. Scarlet then straightened up, took the towel from her hair and wiped her face.

"If you are going to do yours I would appreciate if you did mine. What do I need to do to help?"

"Help me wring them out and drape them over the screen for now. When Bo gets here, we can have him take a message to Blackbeard that we won't be going after Carrie tomorrow.  You should be able to ride tomorrow, but wouldn't be comfortable on a long ride."  Ella thought a moment, "What do you say to going fishing with me tomorrow?  That gets us away from the fort for a discreet burial."

"I'd like that," replied Scarlet. "Maybe we'll see the wild horses again."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 22, 2007, 06:08:51 PM
Something was wrong.

He couldn't put his finger on it, but Fritz knew something was wrong.  He'd excused himself from the corral and returned to his tent.  He closed the flap and dropped his shirt on the cot.  Fritz was tired and sore, and was dirty to boot.  Maybe he'd ask Scarlet if he could use the bath house.


Fritz dropped to his knees by his cot, and lowered his head.

"My gracious Lord and Heavenly Father, thank you for this day.  Something is wrong...I know it.  But I trust in you dear Jesus, that all will work out as you see fit.  In your prescious name I pray, Amen."

He laid his head down on the cot.  He felt like crying.  He didn't know why.

In a few moments, he was asleep.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 23, 2007, 05:59:49 PM
He'd once seen a player piano in a saloon in El Paso.  Fritz had been fascinated by it.  It appeared to be a standard upright piano with a glass face.  Behind the glass were a set of large rollers.  The rollers held rolls of perforated paper.  The holes in the paper corresponded to notes of music.  The whole thing was powered by a spring and a hand crank.  When it played, they keys moved.

Fritz's dream felt like that, except that someone had overwound the spring.

He was back home, at the ranch working horses.  Scarlet sat on the porch, playing with a small child.  Their laughter was musical.

Suddenly the child was a young girl, riding Lucky bareback.  Her face was Scarlet's but her eyes were his.

Now she was learning to shoot.  Scarlet insisted she use Travis' guns.  The percussion Colts taught her patience.  The Colts were unusually large for such a small set of hips.  "She'll grow into them," Scarlet said with a smile.

Fritz awoke with a start.  His face was wet.  The tent was dark.  Only it wasn't his was the sweatlodge.  Fritz knew that Grey Eagle sat across from him in the darkness.

"That is not your path, Ni Itzo," he said sadly.  "This is your path, and you must follow it to the end."  Grey Eagle lifted the flap, and...

...he awoke with a start.  His face was wet.  The tent was dark.  He had no idea how long he'd been asleep.  All he knew was his body ached.

He had to talk to her.  He had to know.

Fritz grabbed his shirt and left the tent.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on April 23, 2007, 10:08:24 PM
“Supper” Bo called knocking at the door. “I found you ladies something I thought might appeal to you.” He said with a grin “just don’t ask where I might have found it.” He said coming in the door that had been pulled open.

“Thank you Bo.” Scarlet said handing Ella a pair of unmentionables to hang up.

“Oh should have brought mine.” He said with a chuckle setting the plates on the table.

“Do me a favor Bo and put the chair next to the fire.” Scarlet asked.

Bo pulled the chair over in front of the fire noticing the empty bottle sitting next to the unopened one.

“Anything else I can do?” He asked watching the two women for a moment. They both looked as if something might be wrong. Maybe he had interrupted a “girls” discussion.

“Is everything ok?” It was a question for both of them.

“Everything will be fine tomorrow.” Ella replied. “Oh can you let Black beard know we are going to wait a day or two to go after Carrie.”

“Sure, but why?”

Scarlet went over and curled into the chair. “Remember when you said we’d been working too hard Bo. Well, Ella and I are taking a day off tomorrow.”

Bo chuckled “I guess you just told me.” He walked over and placed his hands on Scarlet’s shoulders. “There is something else? What is it?” He asked.

Scarlet put her hand over his. “One favor Bo.”

He kneeled down next to her. She looked alright except for a little tired and a bit pale except for the color in her cheeks from the whiskey.

She thought about putting her arms around him and asking him to stay. She needed someone to hold her; to keep the dream walkers she was sure were coming away. Scarlet looked at Bo and half smiled. She thought about sending him to get Fritz. Scarlet closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She’d come close to telling him last night, maybe she should have, but the fact was she had not so why burden him now like Ella said.

“Don’t go far tonight.” She finally said.

He kissed her cheek and stood. “I’ll go talk to Black beard then I will be in the parlor if you need anything.”

Bo stopped at the door and looked at Ella who was closing the door behind him. “Is she ok?”

"Scarlet will be fine tomorrow."

Bo hurried to find Black beard.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on April 25, 2007, 07:28:36 PM
Fritz passed by Bo in the darkness.  He heard him say hello, but didn’t acknowledge him.  He’d apologize later.  The sentry stood on the porch, his head resting on his rifle.  On an ordinary day, Fritz would chew his ass...but not today.  He knocked at the door to their quarters.  His hands were shaking.

Ella was braiding her hair. She had already brushed and braided Scarlet's hair as part of soothing Scarlet towards sleep. Ella was wearing a nightgown, and was probably enjoying the sensation of clean flannel against clean skin.

Scarlet was curled in the chair, thinking she wished he was there. She needed him to hold her, but how would he know if she'd never told him? She'd thought of sending Bo to get him but Ella was right, it was done and the trip home or when the fighting was done would be soon enough.

“Scarlet...?  It’s me...Fritz.  May I come in?”

Ella strode forward to bar the door, if necessary.  She’d refuse to let him in, in order to protect Scarlet.  She was used to mens’ anger over miscarried births.  They were hurt, and sometimes had no other way to express it.  She’d deflect the anger if she could, and take it in if necessary.   

When Scarlet heard his voice part of her wanted to let Ella send him away, but the rest of her was overtaken by the part of her that needed him.

"Is he alone?" she asked.

Ella asked, “Are you alone Fritz?”


Ella opened the door a crack and peered out.  "Yes, he is" she replied.

"Let him in Ella." Scarlet said, slowly standing.  She slowly crossed the room towards him.

Fritz came  in, visibly shaken.  "I'm a fool” he said.  “How far along are you?"

Scarlet stammered, “F-four months.”  It was the first time he’d ever heard her stammer.

“Are you all right?”

She could barely look at him.  “No,” she replied.

Scarlet wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his chest.  He felt her trembling as her tears soaked through his shirt.

He began to shake, knowing the truth in Grey Eagle’s vision. 

His voice cracked.  “Did you plan on telling me?”

She misread his question, and began to pull away. “I’m sorry,”she she said through her tears.

A part of him died in that moment.  It was small, almost imperceptible.  But it died nonetheless.

Ella had heard quite enough.  She strode forward, ready to stand between them.  She was angry.

"You made your decision to come back to the 2nd before she had a chance to tell you. From everything she'd been told, she was going to miscarry early. So how could she try to use it to hold you? Did you want her to make you choose between her and your men?"
Fritz hadn’t expected Ella’s attack.  He didn’t know what to say.  "You’re a doctor, Ella.  You know the risks.  How could you let her risk herself by coming here?"
Ella replied "I came with her to reduce the risk. Scarlet needs to be where you are."

Fritz held Scarlet tighter.  His voice was small.  “May I see her?”

Ella was shocked.  How did he know it was a girl? 

Ella brought the bundle over from the table where she had laid it, and open the top so he could see the baby's head.  His tears came now.  It was the face he’d seen in his dream.

Ella said "Sleeping in your husband's arms is the best medicine for you right now, Scarlet. I'll join Bo in the parlor."

Fritz tried to decline, saying, “Ella, I can’t kick you out again...”

"Doctor's orders!" She replied in a mock-stern voice, pulled a coat on over her nightgown, picked up a pillow and blanket, and left.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on April 25, 2007, 07:38:18 PM
Bo wasn't asleep yet when the door to the parlor closed.  The scent of lavender told him that Ella had entered.  He slitted his eyes open, pretending to be asleep.  He noticed how much more quietly she moved without her boots and pockets. 

Ella looked at Bo asleep in his bedroll on the rug.  The sofa had been a little small for her to sleep on, and would have been uncomfortably small for Bo.  It really wasn't that comfortable, anyway.  Whether she slept on the sofa or on the floor wasn't going to make any difference to her reputation. 

She dropped her coat onto the sofa, then settled onto the rug next to Bo with her pillow and blanket and fell asleep while murmuring in Hebrew. 

On the trail, it was normal for her to settle between Scarlet and Bo for the night.  Everyone was fully dressed inside their bedrolls and sleeping that close together was the way of friends who trusted each other with their lives. 

Bo wondered if Ella realized that by sleeping next to him wearing so little clothing she had just promoted him to "brother", and was trusting him with her honor as well as with her life.  He went to sleep smiling.

Later, he was awakened by Ella whimpering in a bad dream.  He reached out to soothe her, the way he would have soothed Scarlet, and she settled with a sigh. 

Much later, Ella woke and squinted at the watch she had left within reach.  4 am, and time for everyone to get back to their proper beds.  She got her coat back on, and went back to her room. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 03, 2007, 10:14:29 PM
Combined effort of Fritz and Scarlet

Scarlet heard Ella shut the door behind her. He felt her take a deep breath. Her body still trembled but much less than before. Fritz had been with her long enough to know she was working on locking her feelings away.

Scarlet wiped her eyes and began to pull away from him. “You can go anytime you like.” She said still avoiding eye contact with him.

Fritz cupped her chin in his hand, and looked into her eyes.  He could see the pain there, as deep as his own.

"Not gonna happen," he said. 

He'd been taught all his life to suppress his emotions.  "Big boys don't cry," dad said.  Hold it all in; be stony.  He'd studied it so long and learned it so well, that he eventually felt nothing.  Even in that Mexican jail, close to death, he felt nothing but anger. Then he’d met her and for the first time in his life he felt passion.  It was better than being dead inside.  She'd saved his life, and he would save hers.

"I Love you Scarlet...and I'm staying."

Scarlet placed her hand on his chest; she could feel the beat of his heart, matching the same rhythm of her own. He had every right to be angry with her, but he wasn’t she could feel that in his touch and see it in his eyes.

For the last few weeks her emotions kept her feeling like she’d been walking on thin ice. Should she tell him? Shouldn’t she tell him? The dreams of how happy she had been when she had told Travis they were going to have a baby had somehow become twisted nightmares leaving her feeling ill and emotionally drained knowing she’d never share the same joy with Fritz.

“You would make a good father and you deserve so much more than what I can give you.” Her voice was soft but she continued before he had a chance to respond to the statement. “I don’t know how you knew I needed you here to protect me tonight but I’m glad you came and are going to stay.”

He looked at her, and then down at himself.

"I don't want to soil your bed, darlin."

Scarlet stepped back and stared at him in disbelief. She could feel her heart begin to pound like a thunder storm in her chest. She was hurt and she’d opened up to him. The first time she’d asked for his protection the entire time they’d been together and he’d responded with he didn’t want to soil her bed? She’d told him he could go and he’d said he loved her and he was going to stay, but he didn’t want to soil her bed? A confused look crossed her face.  Or was it he didn’t….the dream she’d had of him happy with a different family flashed through her mind.

“To hell with that bed.” She hissed as she pulled on her slicker and buckled on her gun belt as she moved away from him. Scarlet picked up the whisky bottle and her boots then stormed out the door slamming it hard enough behind her it rattled the room.

Scarlet stopped long enough in the hall to hastily pull on her boots. She could feel her emotions becoming irrational and spinning out of control again and she hated it. She’d been dealing with that since she got pregnant and now that it was over it seemed worse. Scarlet gritted her teeth, straightened her back and stepped out the door into the cool night air.

She went towards the stables thinking she deserved that for lying to him, probably deserved a lot worse. He’d chosen the army, she should have left him to his choice and not followed him, after all she’d always told him he should always choose what was best for him.

Scarlet felt awful by the time she reached the stables.  She should have stayed in her warm room and insisted if he didn’t want to share her bed he could go back to his own she thought.

Lucky nickered as she entered his stall. Scarlet buried her face in his long mane, she wanted to cry but the tears wouldn’t come. She couldn’t even do that right she thought.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 04, 2007, 08:27:54 AM
“Who is the fool?” She mumbled backing up and petting Lucky’s nose as he turned to look at her. If Lucky would have answered she was sure he would have said “He is the fool for marrying a bigger one.”

Scarlet hurried back to her room hoping Fritz would still be there for some reason. Half way there she had to unbuckle her gun belt and shoulder it. By the time she reached her room she was winded and sore all over again. She put her hand on the knob and waited a moment to catch her breath. She could feel her heart pounding again and doubted it was from her running around. It was more from the fear that one day she’d try to push him away and he would just go. She didn’t know what she’d do if the room was empty.

Scarlet jumped when the door knob turned in her hand and the door slowly swung open.  Fritz looked hurt, angry and confused.

“I am sorry.” She said softly coming in the door making him back up so he couldn’t leave if he wanted to. “Please don’t go.”

Fritz didn’t reply, Scarlet couldn’t tell if he was angry or just figured anything he said was going to set her off again and saying nothing was the smartest thing.

Scarlet tossed her gun belt onto the bed and took his hand in hers. “The only foolish thing you’ve ever done Fritz is awaken feelings in me that I don’t know how handle at times. If you still want to stay there is a bath right around the corner or I’ll let you have the chair I was planning on sleeping in. If you feel you want to go I will not hold that against you either.”

He looked into her eyes and again she broke eye contact with him.

He placed fingers under her chin and tilted her head up so she’d look at him.

"I Love you Scarlet...and I'm staying, show me the bath chamber.”

Ella’s knock came to early on the door.

Scarlet kissed Fritz softly, he pulled her close and held her tight.

She was better this morning, but there was still sadness in her eyes. At least she was holding eye contact with him this morning and her body had stopped shaking sometime during the night. It had seemed to Fritz every time she had relaxed enough to fall asleep she started to have bad dreams and he had to wake her up.

Scarlet caressed his cheek. "Ella and I are going to bury her today." She said sadly. She got out of bed and went to the door.

Ella waited patiently for Fritz to get dressed and the door to open again.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 04, 2007, 11:18:47 PM
Black beard woke earlier than usual; pulling on his clothes he went outside. He spotted Cyrus filling his cup and putting the coffee pot back over the fire.

Bo had seemed upset last night. He’d been short in his conversation with Black beard only saying Scarlet didn’t feel well and they would be delaying going after Carrie.

 Black beard had heard the rumors of what was being said about both Ella and Scarlet and it had left him wondering. Narrowing his eyes he walked over to Cyrus.

“Those soldiers should dance the hempen jig fer what they’re saying about Miss Ella and you…you” Black beard eyed Cyrus with disapproval.

Cyrus looked up at him. The over six foot, dark haired man had the ability to scare the hell out of him at times, especially when he was angry and the more he spoke the angrier he sounded. 

“aught to be introduced to the cat-o’-nine-tails fer what you said about Scarlet. If I was Bo I would have done it right there in the mess hall so others wouldn’t be getting’ the same idea.”

Cyrus backed out of Blackbeard’s reach. “You’re not going to flog me are you?”

“No, and I ain’t gonna hang ya either….unless she were to ask me to.” Black beard replied.

“It was a bad joke; her first husband would have taken it as such. I intend to apologize directly to her.”

“If she will give you the time of day.”

“Scarlet will not hold a grudge like that.” Cyrus said hoping he was right.

“Scarlet canceled our trip. She didn’t even come and tell me direct. I hope she just hasn’t tired of the comments and decided to be finished with the whole lot of us.” Black beard snorted then turned and walked towards where the ladies bunked.

Scarlet had stayed up when Ella came back to their room and taken her time getting ready for the day. They were just sitting down to have breakfast in their room when they heard the voices outside.

“What business do you have here?”

“I’ve come to talk to Scarlet.”

“Who are you?”  The guard said stepping back and bringing his rifle to port arms.

 “Don’t be a fool boy.” Black beard growled.

Recognizing the voice Scarlet pushed away from the small table, stood and walked out.

“Mr. Comstock let him pass.” She said opening the door.

Scarlet saw the look of relief wash over his face as Mr. Comstock glanced over his shoulder at her. “Yes ma’am, I didn’t realize you were expecting company.”

“I wasn’t but he is always welcome.”

“Yes ma’am.” He replied trying to ignore the rumors he had heard, it wasn’t any of his business anyway but one had to wonder just a little if there was any truth to them. Scarlet certainly had a unique taste in men if this one was here to see her, bringing flowers too.

“I’ve come to ask you why you sent Bo to tell me why we aren’t going to look for Carrie today.”

Scarlet looked puzzled. “We sent him so you wouldn’t be ready and not have the rest of us show up.”

“He said you weren’t feeling well.” Black beard said looking at her thinking she looked tired and was somewhat somber.

Scarlet raised an eyebrow “I am not up to a long hard ride today.”

Comstock was trying to ignore the conversation best he could.

“He was short, I wondered if he was angry, if you were angry because of the rude tongue wagging that has been going on.”

“I am irritated, but nothing I haven’t heard before. Most men don’t bother to ask they just like to make up more interesting tales to amuse themselves with at times. I’ve learned to have a thick skin Darlin’.”

Black beard looked down and realized he was still holding the bunch of wild flowers he’d found on his way over.

“We don’t all listen to the tales some of the men make up.” He said then looked at the man on guard. “Do we soldier?”

“No sir.” The man replied with a smile.

“I brought these for you and Ella. I was hoping I wouldn’t find you ladies packing your bags to leave because you’d grown tired of us.”

“You can come in and give them to her. We were just having something to eat, if you’d like to join us.” Scarlet replied.

“I don’t want to impose.” He said noticing she had yet to crack any type of a smile, her eyes were emotionless, that was odd for Scarlet he thought. Her eyes always had something to tell him, happy, angry, or calculating but there was just nothing there today.  “Is there anything I can do for you?” He said handing the flowers to her.

Scarlet looked at them, a weak smile threatened her lips and her eyes softened a little.

“Yes there is.” She said looking up at him. “Ella prescribed rest for me today, which means fishing. I would rather have something besides fish; you don’t suppose you could get a hunting party together and get something that doesn’t come from the river do you?”

The man grinned. “I would be happy to do that for you ladies. Something like we had a few nights ago.”

Scarlet turned to go back inside. “Do not fret Black beard it will take more than a few bloody rumors to get rid of Ella and me. You will have to make us walk the plank at the pointy end of that sword you carry to get rid of us.”

Black beard laughed out loud then said “Good to hear lass, good to hear.”

Scarlet dipped her head and smiled then walked back inside.

“A man full of surprises.” Scarlet said showing the wild flowers to Ella.

A large hunting party was headed out the gates by the time Ella and Scarlet reached the stables.

Bo had finished saddling the horses for both Ella and Scarlet.

 “Black beard said you two would be fishing today.” He said handing Ella her reins. “I’d like to talk to Scarlet alone if you don’t mind.”

Ella looked questioningly over at Scarlet who nodded her approval.

Ella waited patiently outside the stable. When Scarlet and Bo walked out Ella could tell by the sadness in his eyes Scarlet had told him what had happened. Knowing how close the two were she figured Scarlet had told Bo everything including what the door slamming was all about.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 05, 2007, 07:01:23 AM
Something was different about Fritz.  He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew it was true.  Captain Schurmann sipped his morning coffee as he watched his subordinate inspect the troops.  Fritz usually moved with the smooth and easy confidence of the veteran.  Not so today.  His movements were harsh, jerky even.  He’d speak to him after formation. 

Bill imagined it was due to lack of sleep.  Fritz was married to a Longknife after all.  Their passionate way of living life was well-known to him.  He and Johnny might’ve been close friends, had not the war intervened. 

He’d allow Fritz his dalliances, as long as they didn’t affect the performance of his duties.

The inspection over, Fritz released the men to Scott, to carry out the plan of the day.

“Lieutenant King, take the air with me.”

Fritz fell in a step to the left and a step to the rear as they walked.

“Are you all right?  You don’t look well.  Your color…”

Fritz interrupted.  “Just a little trouble sleeping, sir.”

“Falling asleep or staying asleep?”

“Both, sir.”

“Perhaps you’ve been too long in a bed, and not long enough in a military cot?”

Fritz knew where this was going.  “Sir, I will maintain my professionalism and my bearing.”

Bill stopped.  “No doubt you will.  But the moment that I see otherwise, we’ll have to talk again.  Understood?”

“Of course, sir.”

“Now, let’s go see what cookie and Ella have come with for morning chow.”

Bill noticed something else about Fritz.  There was a certain deadness to his eyes.  He'd seen that look before at Cold Harbor.  Fritz was usually as hard as a diamond... it seemed as if he'd shatter like glass.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 05, 2007, 10:26:29 AM
Lucky moved ahead of the group carrying his rider quick and smooth, pinning his ears at people who stepped to close as they passed as if he meant to protect something delicate.

Scarlet’s dreams had been unusually deceptive and very dark. Things that she had slight doubts about had screamed at her all night even though she knew they weren’t true. She was hurt and angry, silence was best until she could get ahold of her thoughts.

Bo watched her, she was emotionally hardest on herself but she’d push those close to her too. She was much like him in that respect. Bo could recall the things he had said to her so many years ago when he had been hurting and she had stood hard and fast. At least she usually didn’t blurt things out in the heat of anger, a lesson he’d had to learn the hard way. He’d been there for her when she had walked in those shoes too but this was somehow different. She was fast trying to convince herself Fritz would be better off with someone who could give him more. When Bo replied he knew what he was getting and he chose you because he loves you. Scarlet had replied calmly “He is with his family and I’ve been reminded I can’t do any better for him.” She was about the hard headiest woman he knew but much stronger than she gave herself credit for.

Bo looked over his shoulder and saw Fritz walking towards the mess tent.

“I’ll catch up.” He said to Ella then spun his horse around.

“Lieutenant King.” Bo said pulling his horse up next to them. “Captain.” He greeted, then turned his attention back to Fritz. “The scouts have gone on a hunting trip; Miss Ella has a taste for fish today. You have fought with us. I think you have earned the men’s respect, know you are welcome to hunt or fish with us also, but we understand your duties may keep you here.”

 He wasn’t sure how else to tell Fritz he was welcome to come with them. Bo’s heart had sunk when Scarlet had told him what had happened, he was sure Fritz felt worse. She’d told Bo Fritz had said nothing when she told him they were going to bury the child today. She knew he was hurting but she didn’t know how to help him. She had then growled something about being useless in comforting him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 06, 2007, 05:39:58 AM
It was an unusual request, but it might be exactly what Fritz needed.  It was Saturday after all.  The men could use a day of rest as well.

"Lieutenant King will escort you outside the perimeter"

Bo nodded.  "Thanks Cap'n."

"Fritz, keep them safe."

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 06, 2007, 10:18:28 AM
Bo waited until they cleared the gates and the ears of the fort.  “I am sorry ‘bout what happened Fritz.” He said.

Fritz figured Bo would find out sooner or later, he knew Scarlet sometimes better than her own mother. “When did she tell you?”

“This morning.” Bo could see Ella and Scarlet in the distance. “She’s hard headed Fritz, I’m sure you know that.”

Fritz glanced over at him. Bo was one of the few people that could make comments about Scarlet that he wouldn’t get irritated by.

“She loves you. Don’t misinterpret her silence as anger towards you, it is more towards herself. I’ve tried to remind her the same thing about you.”

Bo slowed his horse so they would be out of earshot of the girls. He’d probably catch hell for it too somehow Scarlet would know she was the subject of conversation.

“Scarlet made a few comments this morning during our conversation.”

Fritz looked over at him again. Sometimes Bo knew too much and Fritz wondered if he really wanted to hear.

“It’s one thing to be barren but to carry a child long enough so you have some idea of what he or she would looked like. No good man should have to live with that kind of a wife.”

Fritz looked shocked. “I’ve never said.”

Bo raised his hand. “I know Fritz. The only thing you have done is give the woman you love a compliment about she would make a good mother when you see her doing motherly type things. That’s the other thing about her. Someone can say something and she’ll remember it forever.” Bo shook his head. “She also says she has seen you with a family and you looked happy. The woman is blonde and pretty, Scarlet doesn’t know who she is.  Scarlet also said her dreams have been deceptive lately so she doesn't know if there is truth to it or not.”

Fritz didn’t know if he should thank Bo or not for telling him things. “Why did you tell me these things?”

“The mood she’s in Fritz, I don’t know which way it will swing. I know she knows you love her. You tell her so and it’s more than words and she loves you.” Bo half smiled. “She told me that too. Scarlet has a tendency to find that one exposed never and work on it, she does it to herself too I think. Folks that love one another the way you two do should be able to help heal one another’s pain and I figure if you have some idea of what she’s been thinking about you won’t be out flanked if she tries to find that nerve.” Bo raised an eyebrow "I could always keep my mouth shut if you prefer."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 06, 2007, 11:51:16 AM
Ella rode next to Scarlet. "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself," she said, knowing from their recent conversations what kinds of things Scarlet was turning over in her mind.

Scarlet shrugged her shoulders. "I'll work through it."

"Don't be surprised if your moods keep going up and down for a while.  I've had a few patients whose emotions settled right away after childbirth, but most patients continue to feel emotional turmoil for weeks and months, no matter whether the pregnancy ended with a miscarriage or the delivery of a healthy child."

"I suppose it's good to hear it happens to others too. Although I need to get some control over my emotions before I open my mouth and say things I will regret later."

"While you're turning thoughts over in your mind, think about this. In a way, the Army has given Fritz dozens of sons, with none of the fuss and bother of feedings in the middle of the night, diapers, teething, and so on.  But the Army cannot substitute for a wife to love him and give him joy.  Even when there is a brothel nearby, the physical pleasure offered by whores is rarely joyful."

Scarlet started to say something, but Ella overrode her.

"Just because a woman can bear children does NOT mean she brings her husband joy. Think about families you know where there is no joy, and think of the families without children or have lost their children and they still have the joy of one another."

Scarlet suppressed a weak grin. "Maybe you and Bo should open an office to help people through their emotional difficulties."

"I can't be an effective healer if I don't try to help with the emotional problems as well as the physical ones."

Scarlet's eye's meet Ella's. "Thank you for being an effective healer Ella, and thank you more for just being a good friend. I hope that if you need me to stand by you the way you have stood by me I will do as good a job."

Ella smiled and dropped back as Frtiz rode up.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 06, 2007, 01:42:40 PM

Dr. Abramson came up to Alan after worship services, and handed him a letter from Ella.  "Doesn't she know you've moved out?" he asked.

"No," answered Alan, "she's on an assignment and cannot receive mail."  He decided against waiting, and opened the letter.  "She wished me a Happy Birthday, and congratulated me on the lectureship." 

"Won't you please reconsider your decision to leave the partnership?  We did a lot of good work together," pleaded Samuel.

"There's nothing to reconsider.  I'm leaving Boston in July and setting up practice in El Paso."

"Don't throw your career away, man!  Only failures go out west," argued Samuel.  "You've got a brilliant career ahead of you here.  I've heard rumors that important people have been very impressed by your lectures and you might be invited to join the faculty at a medical school.  Or two.  I saw people from Yale at your lectures this week.  Out west, you're not going to get anything interesting in the way of surgery, unless you like extracting bullets and repairing the damage.  All the papers say that life is so rough and violent there."

"If only failures are out there, my services will be more valuable there than here.  While I was in Vienna, I had forgotten how much competition there is for the wealthy patients here.  You have to spend so many of your evenings attending social events to make sure the potential patients remember your name when their rich diet gives them the stone.  I think Ella did more good with her midwife practice among the women and children of this congregation than I did as a surgeon."

"More fool you, then!" exclaimed Samuel, turning away. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 06, 2007, 11:14:29 PM
Bo and Ella rode quietly next to one another for some time. Bo finally stopped watching the trail in front of Scarlet and Fritz long enough to look over at Ella. "Did you sleep alright last night?"

"Yes, why do you ask?" she replied.

"Your bad dreams are quieter than Scarlet's."
"I don't remember any bad dreams from last night.  I normally only remember my dreams if I wake up during them," replied Ella, starting to blush, remembering the dream she woke up from at 4am.   

Bo half smiled, the look in Ella's eyes almost made him blush but he didn't know why then she blushed herself. Maybe she was learning a few of those flirting techniques from Scarlet.

Bo glanced back to the trail then back to Ella. "I can only recall half of mine and it doesn't matter if I wake up or not. The ones I don't remember I could only tell you if they are good or bad. If fall back to sleep quickly sometimes they pick up where they left off." He looked at Scarlet's back, then his eyes automatically scanned their surroundings; it was a habit of someone who was used to riding into dangerous territory. "Scarlet recalls all of her dreams. Grey Eagle calls her a dream walker. Strange thing is I have seen her in my dreams and when we talk the next day she knows everything that has taken place in them. I always remember the ones she talks to me in."

"I sometimes have prophetic dreams.  Even though I don't always remember them in the morning, events later will remind me of the dream, and I will know what to expect.  I've also had bad dreams that kept resuming.  Sometimes those won't let go even when I wake up," Ella sighed, "like my dreams lately about Alan being angry at me for becoming unwomanly."

Bo looked Ella up and down. “I don’t see anything unwomanly about you. If Alan wanted a wife that only knew how to cook and clean I don’t think he would have married a girl who was willing to be up to her elbows in blood.”

"I don't know if what he wants now in a wife is the same as he wanted ten years ago.  Dr. Abramson was a terrible influence on Alan while we were living there, and I don't know how Alan's life in Vienna might have influenced his ideals for home life." Ella shrugged and continued, "and I have to admit that I have changed, too.  I am much less timid than I was, and more outspoken.  I really like the influence Rose has had on me."

"Rose is a great lady; she has the ability to walk next to presidents or walk next to working ladies and hold their attention, enjoy their company and make them feel equally important. I believe you can do the same." Bo looked into Ella’s eyes and smiled. There were enough men interested in Ella that she would not be alone long if Alan was fool enough to leave her, Bo thought to himself. "Somehow I cannot see you keeping house in the city, Ella, but that would be for you to decide. Take the time to get to know Alan again. You both will need time, you've been separated too long. You will either find your love has been strong enough to endure or you will go your separate ways. But don't do the disservice to yourself to stay married to someone you find does not make you happy. Life is too short and too unpredictable to be with someone who doesn't bring that beautiful smile to your face often."

"I hope Alan and I will be able to build a joint practice somewhere in the West.  I can't imagine going back to Boston or any of the Eastern cities and trying to stuff myself back into the acceptable mold of womanly behaviour." Ella sighed, "There's not much point in fretting about it while we're out here.  But I don't think I can bear to just wait in El Paso for Alan to come.  So I'll travel to Boston after we get back to the Starr."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 08, 2007, 06:03:20 AM
“No,” Fritz replied.  “You go right on talking.  I don’t know everything Bo…this is new ground for me.”

“Okay,” Bo replied.  I’ll keep you posted on what I know.  Meanwhile, maybe you should be talking to her instead of me.”

Fritz nodded, and clucked a bit to get Strider moving.  The buckskin grunted in acknowledgement.

Ella heard the hoof beats move up in cadence, and dropped back.  As Fritz passed her, she whispered, “Be nice!”

Fritz touched the brim of his slouch. 

As he approached, Lucky looked back at him.  He looked Fritz in the eye, as if to admonish him.  He thought “not you too?”

He came alongside his wife.  He wanted to reach out and touch her, but wasn’t sure how she’d take it.  She looked at him; her eyes were ice.  She was resurrecting her walls again. 

“Good Morning Darlin,” Fritz said.  “How are you faring?”

She stared at him in silence for a moment, as if trying to find the words.

“Please…talk to me,” he asked.     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 08, 2007, 06:02:01 PM
Scarlet looked forward. “Stop.” she growled.

It took Fritz off guard until he felt Strider swing his neck to avoid Lucky and saw Lucky’s ears laid back.

Her eyes came back to Fritz. There were so many things going through her mind, she didn’t know what to say. She wanted to reach out take his hand and tell him she was glad he was here, but she hesitated.  Part of her knew he wanted to be with her, she could feel it, but part of her wondered just what Bo said in order to get him here.

“Good morning. I will be alright.” She said quietly looking down the trail. 

Scarlet was thinking about her dreams.  Fritz may not even know the woman she saw and if he did she knew there was nothing more than friendship between them right now. Scarlet knew that, but it would have been very easy to start a fight by inquiring who she was or telling him he’d be better off to search her out.

What Ella had said made a lot of sense, there had been no deception in her words like there had been in Scarlet’s dreams.

Scarlet’s eyes came back to Fritz’s. The eyes that looked back at her were the same ones she’d seen so much joy and laughter in because of their time spent together. They held pain and concern today.

Fritz was the one that had given her back a passion for life. The one she had defended against her father and the men that stood behind him. The one who had fought to be with her. The one that held her close at night and the one who had her heart, which she tried to listen to when it came to Fritz.

Scarlet moved Lucky closer to Strider and dropped her hand to her side. She was still thinking about taking his hand, but she didn’t. She was afraid if he rejected her reaching out in any way she would not able to maintain any composure. Last night she had come back to her room, today she didn’t think she’d come back so quickly.

He’d held her tight in the night but his words had been very few. Bo had tried to remind her that was because Fritz’s emotions were probably as tangled as hers. Scarlet wasn’t even sure what he could say to her that would make her feel any better so how could he know, still saying something would have been better than the still darkness.

Fritz had asked her to talk to him; sometimes that was a dangerous request.

“I hurt Fritz.” There was sadness in her voice but she was reserved and factual, she could have been talking about herself or a complete stranger. “not physically, my heart is in knots. I promised you I would make you happy when we got married. Right now I feel as if I have failed miserably at that.” She looked back down the trail.”This is a reminder to me that I cannot give you a family. I cannot be a good mother some day. I can bring you pain, and that is something you don’t deserve.” She took a short breath  “Maybe you were right when you told Ella I shouldn’t have come here.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 10, 2007, 05:37:40 PM
“You’re right where you need to be,” Fritz said, and took her hand.  She looked at him and smiled.  He saw the pain in her eyes, reflected in his own.

“I’ve fought side-by-side with you for over three years now,” Scarlet said.  “It wouldn’t be right for you to go this one alone.”

“Just because I said I couldn’t ask you to come with me,” Fritz replied, “doesn’t mean I don’t want you here.  I love you Scarlet.  I intend to grow old with you.  You watching my back makes that more likely.  Just promise me you won’t get yourself shot in the process.”

“No promises,” she said, “but I’ll do my best.”  Scarlet looked down the trail.  “I want to make you happy.  If having a family makes you happy, that’s something I just can’t do.  Maybe you should find another woman who can do that for you.”

He reined in.  “Nonsense!  I want you.  I need you, and that’s all I need.”

She spoke in a small voice.  “I had a dream about you…with another woman…and a baby.  Is there anyone else…?”

“No,” Fritz replied.  “I met a woman on the trail, who reminded me a lot of you.  She would’ve volunteered, but I made it clear she’s not what I need.  Like I said, I need you.”

“But the baby…?”

“Grey Eagle told me that it was not my path…that I had this path to follow, and I must follow it to the end.  Wherever it leads…”

Scarlet nodded.  “Where do you think it will lead?”

“I don’t know,” Fritz said, “but wherever it leads, I want you there with me.” 


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 11, 2007, 05:17:47 PM
Scarlet gently squeezed his hand, leaned over and softly kissed him. “I want to be there with you.” She said.

The group rode the rest of way in a comfortable silence. The negative charge in the air seemed to be dissipating.

Scarlet pulled Lucky to a stop beneath two trees on a small rise above the river.

“I was here a couple days ago. You can see the sun rise and set, the wild horses travel that trail to the river.” She said pointing to a well worn path.

“This is nice place.” Fritz said with a smile then dismounted.

The rest of the group followed suit.

Ella took the small shovel she had brought from her pack.

“Give that to me.” Bo said holding his hand out. Ella handed the small shovel over.

Once the hole was dug, Scarlet took the small box Ella had emptied medical supplies from and given her, sunk to her knees and put it in the ground.

Bo recognized the Comanche prayer she said and finished it along with her. When she finished the prayer she stood and backed away. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 11, 2007, 08:20:52 PM
Fritz pulled the small bible from his vest pocket.  He removed his slouch, crossed himself, and opened to the Psalms.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..."

A tear fell on the page.  He brushed it off.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name sake.  Even though I walk thorugh the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me.  Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.  You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me, all the days of my life."

He looked up.  "And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Fritz crossed himself and whispered, "Amen."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 11, 2007, 09:06:56 PM
Ella quietly recited a prayer in Hebrew, then quoted,
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

She turned away, and started gathering stones for a cairn. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 12, 2007, 10:03:20 AM
Once all the stones were in place Bo approached Scarlet. He looked into her eyes “You going to be alright?”

She knew what he was thinking. Bo figured she and Fritz would like some time alone here, but he didn’t want to walk away if he thought she would start a fight then ride off.

She looked back at him and smiled softly. “I’ll be alright Bo. Thank you for.”

“I didn’t ask him to come with us Scarlet, I just gave him a graceful exit from the fort.” Bo gave her a tight hug and kissed her cheek.

“Ella and I will be at the river when the two of you decide to join us.” He said loud enough for Ella and Fritz to hear then mounted up.

Scarlet slipped her arms around Fritz’s waist and laid her head on his shoulder. He slipped his arms around her and held her tight. He felt her take a deep breath and finally relax a bit.

“I am glad you came.”  She said softly.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 12, 2007, 11:33:04 AM
Ella mounted up and followed Bo to the river.  He had pulled up to wait for her just out of sight of Scarlet and Fritz. 

They returned to the fishing hole they had used before.  Ella collected bait and put some water in the bucket while Bo fetched poles. 

There were already two fish in the bucket before Scarlet and Fritz joined them. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 15, 2007, 05:38:39 PM
Fritz and Scarlet talked as they walked side by side to the river. Stopping at the edge they watched the water swirl lazily around the rocks. Fritz slipped his hand into hers.

“The first time we sat along a river together I felt a fire in your touch, a feeling I had never felt before and I knew I was falling in love with you. I still feel that electricity in your touch and I know.” He turned to face her. “No matter what happens we were meant to be together Milady.”

Scarlet looked into his eyes, he recognized the fire that burned there, the fire he’d seen start that day on the river. She had tried to fight it at first then gave into it. Most days he could see it burn brightly when she looked at him.

“I fought to be with you then and I will fight to be with you now. Where you go I will go. I will be there to share your pain and your joys because I love you.” She stood on the tips of her toes and gently kissed him.

They continued along the river edge until they reached Ella and Bo. Two poles had been stuck in the ground awaiting their arrival.

The group enjoyed a lazy quiet afternoon filling the buckets with fish and the lunch Ella had packed, the time to head back seemed like it came too soon.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 17, 2007, 09:14:33 AM
"Scarlet, you can decide this evening based on how you feel whether we want to go after Carrie tomorrow or wait another day.  I would normally prescribe a second day of rest, but most of my patients don't take that prescription," said Ella as they prepared to mount up for the return to the fort.  "I would like to be away from the fort tomorrow, on Sunday.  If the men get a rest day, they'll be able to spread and expand gossip even faster than usual.  Maybe if we're out of sight, we'll be out of mind as well.  I would like to ignore the gossip, but it actually could hurt me if it somehow got back to Alan."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 17, 2007, 10:21:15 PM
As much as Scarlet would have liked to spend another day with Fritz she knew Ella was right. “I feel alright Ella. The longer we wait the harder it will be to find her.” Scarlet replied swinging into the saddle.

She rode next to Fritz. “You going to be alright if I leave tomorrow?” She said tracing her fingers along his arm then taking hold of his hand.

“The sooner you go the sooner you return right?”

“Absolutely” She said squeezing his hand before she let go and moved Lucky slightly away from him.

The group of riders could be heard coming down the trail.

“Howdy.” Black beard called out. “was luck with you today?”

“Like you boys, some luck some skill.” Bo replied.

“Lieutenant, good to see you breath air outside the fort. Spect to see you at the cook out.” Black beard said then looked at Scarlet “Looks like Miss Ella’s prescription was right for you today.”

Scarlet smiled “Yes, it was.”

“You sure must enjoy fish ma’am, seems to be what you choose most often.” Chris said with a tip of his hat to Ella.

"Fish is the only meat available here that is really kosher.  Deer and elk are clean animals, but the kosher requirements require  meat animals to be killed without unnecessary suffering.  That's hard to manage with hunting." Ella replied.

“Guess you’re right ma’am.” He responded.

“Come on men, we got some work to do so we can eat later. Ladies, Gentlemen.” Black beard said moving his horse forward followed by the others in his party.

Scarlet raised an eyebrow as the group rode ahead. “Ella, have you noticed a big change in Chris since you sewed up his leg?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 17, 2007, 11:00:26 PM
"Yes, isn't it amazing?" replied Ella.  "It's probably the first time he has ever been wounded in a knife fight that he didn't have three days of fever afterwards.  It's a good thing that the teasing he's getting from the scouts is being good-humored and not belittling,and that it was his comrades who said not to give him chloroform when I cleaned his wound."  Ella paused, then continued, "I do feel embarassed that I caused him so much unnecessary pain.  But I'm not going to discard the charm I made from the bit of his skin that you sliced loose.  I trimmed it off the first time I changed the bandages and modified one of the charms in Grammy's notebooks.  The original used hairs from a horse's mane to tame a difficult horse."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 18, 2007, 08:34:00 AM
"You are a wise and resourceful woman Ella Coatsworth." Scarlet grinned. "Maybe he's never had a woman responsible for his life before either. If he believes that, it can be powerful medicine too. The deal I made for his life was with you. If something happens to you there would be nothing keeping me from taking it, send him with his protector so to speak. Not that I would unless he chooses to fight me again." Scarlet paused a moment then continued. "I will have to ask one of the men if he has said anything about that."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 18, 2007, 08:47:22 AM
"Most of what I had overheard between the men has been relief that he tested your skills so that they don't feel that they have to, and nothing that could be taken as encouragement for him to seek a rematch," said Ella. "Grammy's notebooks contain all kinds of information.  She wrote down what she learned from her parents and husband, what she observed herself, and spells and charms that she heard from patients or travelers passing through.  She doubted that most of the charms could work, and said so, but they are recorded in her notebooks.  One she did believe in, and taught me, was what to do with a bird that flies into the house.  I was skeptical, so when a bird flew into the kitchen while I was baking, I just caught it and wrung its neck before throwing the body outside.  Grammy had a fatal stroke that night.  I don't know if that had anything to do with the bird, but I have followed her instructions about birds in the house ever since.  Your mother fainted once when a bird came into the kitchen while we were baking.  She was relieved that I followed Grammy's instructions."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 20, 2007, 10:27:17 AM
Richard watched Cyrus’s camp. Not a man sat doing nothing. They all seemed to be working together, even Chris, who Richard was sure was going to be trouble was helping one of the women. Richard ran his hands across the stubble of the short beard that was starting to grow. How did his brother do it?! He had some of the best men at the job but they could also be some of the worst tempered, unforgiving, bloodletting men ever to sit horse back. He looked back at his camp.

He had picked up some of the men that had left Cyrus’s group over the years. If they got to drunk they could get out of control. Richard didn’t sleep a lot of nights for fear of his life when he group got to drinkin’ to much. None of them were what he would call crazy while they were sober. He didn’t think he could say the same about the mob Cyrus rode with. The men that had left Cyrus’s camp had told Richard they had been run out by the other riders. From his experience with them he knew his men were not lying. How did Cyrus keep these men from tearing each other apart? He could hear the laughter from where he stood.

Cyrus walked over to where Fritz had been drafted into helping dress out one of the deer and get it started to cook.

“I see you came to see what our little world was like and they let you in.”

“We was curious ta see if you was right about old soldiers.” One of the men said with a grin.

Cyrus looked guilty. “Which part? I say a lot about old soldiers.” He replied as he started to help.

“Ya said they had to be wise ta get old. So far we figured you was right.”

“How’s that?”

“While we spent the day going through the brush chasin’ four legged critters he spent the day fishin’ and sittin’ under a tree with Ella and Scarlet.” The man chuckled.

“That’s only wise if they are in a good mood.” Cyrus replied with a laugh causing the others to laugh along with him.

“We also figure if Ella and Scarlet and Bo tolerate him he’s ok people.” 

“You boys decide you were gonna play nice with the group of men the Lieutenant rides with?” Cyrus asked.

The men looked at Fritz for a moment before one of them replied.

 “He’s the first one ever to bring his soldiers into our group and let us toss ‘em around some.” The man ginned.  “I think we’re gonna be ok Cyrus.”

The other men nodded their heads in agreement.

“Maybe when the Lieutenant is ready to give up the uniform he could have a second career riding with us. He already knows how ta fight dirty.”  Someone said.

 “That’s high praise coming from these men Fritz. As long as you can tolerate their humor.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 21, 2007, 02:19:35 PM
Richard looked at the women in Cyrus's camp and wondered again, "How did Cyrus keep these men from tearing each other apart?" 

A year or so ago, during a spell between assignments, Richard had hired three whores as a treat for his men.  He had paid a pretty penny up front for their time, and then had to pay more to keep them quiet afterwards.  Those two days had been a total disaster.  The men had been impossible to control, even worse than when they had been drinking, and had fought over the women constantly. 

Richard had lost three of his men - two seriously injured in the fighting and one killed trying to break up a fight. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 22, 2007, 08:31:25 AM
Fritz could see his men headed for the mess tent from where he stood. As much as he would have liked to stay he felt he really should be with them. He picked up a rag and wiped the blood from his hands.

“Where ya going, party is just getting started as they say.” Cyrus said looking over at him.

Fritz knew Cyrus would understand. “My men are..”

Cyrus looked over his shoulder. “Yeah you better go catch them and get them over here. We could use some help getting this stuff on the fire or cleaning up the mess.  Just remind them the rules. They are welcome as long as they help and Ella and Scarlet are not here to serve or clean up after ‘em. That is unless they would rather eat in there.” He said gesturing towards the mess tent.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 25, 2007, 07:19:46 AM
It wasn't something he'd considered, but it was a good idea.  These men had learned to fight dirtier together, and no one had been killed.  In a matter of a few weeks, they would be working, fighting, and yes, dying side-by-side.  And Fritz was sure that whatever they were serving in the mess tent, it wasn't near as healthy as what was being served here.

"I'll go get them," Fritz replied.  "And Cyrus...thank you."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 25, 2007, 12:43:54 PM
Samuel and Chris had volunteered to help Ella prepare fish for cooking.  They quickly settled into a rhythm of work.  Chris chopped the head off a fish and opened the body cavity, then passed it to Samuel who cleaned out the innards, then passed it to Ella who tucked wild onions and herbs into the opening and placed it on a grill over one corner of the fire.  One bucket of fish used up the plants Ella had gathered. 

"I would like to smoke the rest of the fish, to preserve them for later eating and to take along tomorrow," said Ella.  "I collected fuel for a good smoking fire.  What have we got to use as a smoker?" 

"We already set up a barrel for smoking venison, to save what we weren't going to eat right away from the last hunting trip," said Samuel.  "I've smoked fish before.  You really need to brine it overnight first if you want to keep it more than a few days.  Maybe you should just take cooked fish and fresh venison along tomorrow, and I'll smoke the fish for you, in exchange for you tanning the elk hide.  You did a real good job on it, better than most of the women in my tribe used to do." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 29, 2007, 09:48:38 PM
Richard couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The scouts and the soldiers were mingling when they didn’t have to and working next to one another when they didn’t have to. The women were doing the same. They weren’t waiting on the men like they should be. Then they all ate together but picked up after themselves.

Once they were done eating it looked as if they sat around the fire telling stories or something. One talked and the others laughed.

Richard couldn’t hear what was being said. They knew he was there watching but it didn’t seem to bother them. He did get glared at by one of the scouts when he tried to move closer so chose to stay were he was at.

A few of the men had instruments and began to play music. The women would dance with who ever asked them, soldiers or scouts. Richard waited for some kind of fight to break out over them, he was disappointed.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 30, 2007, 12:16:36 AM
Between dances, Ella saw Richard hanging around at the edge of the firelight, watching.  She could imagine at least one reason for him to hang around, since his men's camp seemed dark and cheerless.  She was relieved that no one invited him to join the party. 

The intensity of Richard's gaze when he looked at Scarlet or at her was disturbing. 

When the party broke up, at a reasonable hour for those planning to ride out in the morning, Fritz and all of hs soldiers escorted Ella and Scarlet to their quarters.  The men waited outside the building for Fritz to come back out. 

Ella picked up the pitcher in the room, and said "I'll go get some water."  She left Fritz and Scarlet to the minute or two of privacy that was all the time Fritz could delay joining his troops.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 30, 2007, 10:40:05 PM
Fritz held Scarlet’s hands in his, she was smiling. It looked good on her and it made him smile.

“Penny for your thoughts.” He said.

“I’m thinking about what I’m going to miss.” She replied looking into his eyes.

“What would that be?” He asked aware the way she looked at him almost made him blush.

Scarlet caressed his cheek with her fingertips and kissed him. The kiss started soft, sweet and warm and grew into hot and passionate leaving them both nearly breathless.

“What is that you slipped into my breast pocket Milady?” He asked when their lips parted.

She smiled again and placed her hand on his chest so he could not retrieve it. “Something you wait to read until I have gone.”

Fritz raised an eyebrow.

“It will bring that smile to your face I love so much.” She said sweetly. “but for now you should wipe it off your face or those soldiers will be wondering.”

“You make it difficult to care what they are thinking at times.”

“Good, I hope to keep it that way.” Scarlet replied.

Fritz laughed then raised the hand he still held to his lips and kissed it. “Promise you will come back in one piece.”

“I will do my very best Sweetheart.”

Ella came back into the room.

“You both be careful.” Fritz said before joining his men.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 31, 2007, 08:31:23 AM
Combined effort of Ella and Scarlet

Ella escaped from her recurrent nightmare when she heard Scarlet growl, "DO IT."

Scarlet laid still for a moment. Ella closed her eyes again when the sound of Scarlet's voice chilled her, "I've come to send you ta hell where ya belong."

Ella touched her shoulder. "Scarlet."

Scarlet's eyes flew open. Even in the darkness Ella could see the anger that burned there.

"You were dreaming," Ella said.

"I'm sorry I woke you, Ella," Scarlet said.

"That's okay.  I didn't like the dream I was having.  Do you want to talk about it?"

"No, I'd prefer not to."

"It helps to talk about it."

Scarlet looked at her, maybe she was right, maybe not. Scarlet had come to know she could tell Ella just about anything. She also knew that sharing her secrets encouraged Ella to share some of her own at times and the talks helped both of them.

"You're a good healer, Ella, you probably saved our souls tonight," Scarlet said, swinging her legs over the bed.

"Whose?" Ella said, moving next to her.

"The doctor who tended me when I lost my first child."

"How did I save him?"

"I was about to shoot him in the head."


"He told me I never wanted her, the baby. That my negative thoughts killed her." Scarlet looked guilty. "Maybe he is right, Ella," Scarlet sighed. "It never felt right, nothing like the first pregnancy. You know yourself my thoughts were negative. I expected to miscarry.  Perhaps that is what I get for giving thought to the tonic to abort her, but I never expected something like that." Scarlet stood and walked to the stove.  Opening it she put another log on and stared into the flames. "What the hell kind of curse was that?"

"You are not cursed, Scarlet."

"How can you know, Ella?  How can you be so confident that the same thing wouldn't happen again?"

"I've attended a thousand childbeds, handled hundreds of miscarriages, and learned from women who had ten times as much experience.  When I was 11, one of our neighbors had a miscarriage very much like yours.  Grammy told me that some fetuses just don't develop right, but the next pregnancy will be fine. Alan's medical journals say the same thing - that most early miscarriages happen because something accidentally went wrong with the developing fetus, and that few women suffer more than one of that kind of accident.  Grammy had that neighbor wait three months before trying again.  During that time, and for the first three months of the next pregnancy, Grammy gave her a tonic and had her eat extra vegetables.  The next child was a perfect little boy.  I heard later that she had four more children, without any trouble."

Scrlet looked at her again. The look told Ella that her friend was not convinced.

"You did NOT kill her.  She didn't die because your womb failed or because of negative thoughts or because you were tempted to take a tonic.  Your womb ejected her AFTER she had died because of a defect. That particular defect occurs randomly in less than 1 percent of pregnancies.  I believe you somehow knew the fetus wasn't developing right and that is why you had those negative thoughts."

Scarlet was still skeptical.  "If there was a reason for the negative thoughts, and the negative thoughts couldn't hurt the child, why were you trying so hard to get me to think positive thoughts instead?"

"For the sake of your health.  Your sleep was being disturbed too much.  You can't keep going for very long on the amount of sleep you've been getting."

"Neither can you," retorted Scarlet.  "At least I'm eating."

"Coffee and whiskey are not food," Ella replied. "But I do see you slip in dinner when someone goes hunting. You know you need to eat better than that when you can."

Scarlet looked at her, grinned and raised an eyebrow. "Healer heal thyself, too. Bread and water is what they give prisoners. We fish all day and I saw how much you ate of that."

"I ate a whole fish, with wild onions and greens.  Samuel said he would smoke the fish that didn't get eaten.  Oatmeal mush and herbal tea for breakfast keeps me going just fine all day."

"I'll eat better if you do. I hear it helps you sleep better." Scarlet half smiled. "Together we will get through both our problems, Ella. That's what having a sister is about."

Ella smiled back. "Together we will get through."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on May 31, 2007, 08:32:16 AM
Scarlet's smile disappeared. "Usually I do not threaten to shoot the doctor in the head.” Scarlet paused while she thought about the dream. She had indeed intended to take his life this time, normally she just tormented him in dreams.

Her voice held a different tone when she continued. “I figure living with what he's done to me and others is his hell. I cannot tell you how many times I've sat on the hill above his house and watched him through the sights of my rifle before I decided I have to think of my own soul. Devil missed his chance when I was ready to sell it. For now he just has to settle for riding next to me again."

Ella suspected the last part was no dream Scarlet was talking about, but thought that prying would just make Scarlet clam up again.

"I've been taking business away from that so-called doctor.  I doubt he has been called to a childbed or handled any female complaints since your wedding, when Mrs. Whirly started sending me patients.  The midwives I've trained can take care of everything that's likely to come up while we're gone.   If I can get Alan to settle in El Paso, that doctor will probably lose his male patients as well.  He ought to retire anyway, since he hasn't learned anything new for the last 20 years."  Ella sighed, "I am requiring Alan to choose between life with me and a career as a big city surgeon with possible fame and fortune.  During the War, when he was a brand-new medical school graduate, he said he had become a doctor in order to help people.  If that is still his goal, he should be willing to come out west.  If his goal has changed to fame and fortune, then I am better off without him."

"To thine own self be true, Ella. You are the only one who truly knows what makes you happy and sometimes you have to take chances for your own happiness. You're looking at somebody who truly knows that."

"My happiness has just been all tied up with Alan's happiness for so long that I don't know whether I can be happy without him, even if some men around the Starr might like to help me try."  Ella sighed again, "I think one of the reasons I haven't been eating much is that I've been clinging tighter to my religion and being stricter about keeping kosher.  Another reason is that nothing in the mess tent smells good enough to taste test."

Scarlet chuckled at Ella's comment. "I tried to give Lucky one of the biscuits from the mess. He pinned his ears at me."

Ella giggled. "You've always said he's not stupid."

"You've been without Alan for the last three years, Ella." Scarlet started gathering her gear to go after Carrie as she spoke.  "Ask yourself this. If Alan has changed and wants to live in the city and seek fame and fortune, would you be happy being second to him, keeping his house and entertaining his friends, who are probably much like him, or would you come to hate him and the person he makes you into?"

Scarlet looked over at Ella who was starting to cook a pot of oatmeal. "I'm not saying don't give it a try if that's what YOU want, but I've always been a different kind of thinker." Scarlet shrugged "Mom and Dad raised me to be independent. Someone once called me a high-toned woman and I don't believe it was meant as a compliment." She chuckled, "I can visit the city, put on the dress and act proper. I know the rules of how to be a socialite and I am good at them, occasionally enjoy it. I don't know if I could live like that day in and day out." Scarlet considered the situation for a moment "For Fritz I could do it for awhile but I don't think I could settle in the city knowing that would be my life. Again, that is me and I have chosen to be with a man I think is very similar."

Scarlet stopped and looked at Ella, "I knew these two girls a few years ago. One was quiet and kept most of her opinions to herself unless they were helpful in some medical sort of way. The other was quiet and broody and didn't want anybody in her business. The first one was happy to keep a big house. I think that was her area of comfort. Somehow, somewhere those two girls grew together. They learned from one another. The broody one tries real hard to let other folks into her life. The quiet one now - she has all kinds of opinions I would have never thought she'd just say to me. Most of the time I am thankful," Scarlet grinned then continued "It would be easy for me to slip back if it wasn't for the people around me. Would it be for you?"

"I was already feeling smothered before Alan left.  I can't go back to that city life, now that I know what it feels like to breathe freely.  If Alan wants to seek fame and fortune, he is turning into a copy of his partner, who is a man I could easily hate.  I'll run away again before being stuffed back into the expected mold.  After we get back to the Starr, I probably will go to Boston instead of waiting for him to let me know what he intends to do.  I'll set up code words for my letters, so that you will know if I need help getting free.  Locking me up to make me behave wouldn't occur to Alan, but his partner probably would suggest it."

"I've seen white slavery." Scarlet replied.

Ella interrupted, "Not slavery.  An asylum.  Women who don't meet the 'normal' standards of behavior sometimes are declared insane and committed until their spirit breaks.  Then they are declared 'cured' and released." 

"I've been on the wrong side of the law before breakin' folks out of jail. An asylum might be a different kind of a challenge." Scarlet chuckled then became serious again. "If you want someone to go to Boston with you Ella. I would visit the city, maybe mom and I could go with you if you like. You know it wouldn't be proper for you to travel alone. Then if you want us to leave you there I would expect those coded letters."

"You and Rose coming with me to Boston would be a good plan.  You both would enjoy meeting Deborah Erdbeer.  Bring a shopping list!"  Ella looked out the window.  "We seem to have talked the sun up, The oatmeal is ready to eat, and we'll be right on time to meet Black beard."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on May 31, 2007, 05:47:10 PM
Fritz walked back to camp after dismissing his men.  He made his way toward the C.O.'s tent, to find the fire that was surely there.  He wasn't disappointed.  Around the fire sat Bill, Scott, Dave and Johann.  It was almost like the old days.  Fritz started to render a salute.

"Knock that off's only us.  Want a cigar?"

He took the offered smoke and sat down by the fire.  "All we need are Robert and 'Trooer George.'  How is Robert these days?"  Fritz bit the end off his smoke, and pulled a lucifer from his match safe.

"He's the X.O. of G Company, 10th Cavalry, and doing quite well."

"The 10th...the Buffalo Soldiers?"

"Yep.  And they're damn fine cavalrymen, too."

Scott handed a jug over.  "As I recall, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry gave good service during the war.  I expect we'll be serving side-by-side with them one day."

Fritz took a sip.  It burned going down, but he welcomed it.  He looked at the stars.  "It's times like these I remember fondly.  All that we've seen...all the death...isn't it strange that I remeber things like this?"

Johann blew smoke.  "Your mind has a way of blocking out the bad, and making the good shine."

For a few moments no one spoke.  The enjoyed the camaraderie of soldiers.

"Fritz," Bill began, "we've noticed a change in you as of late."

"What the Captain means," Scott said, "is you're acting like a bigger asshole than you usually do."

Fritz smiled.  "Screw you Scott."  It sounded like a compliment.

"In all seriousness," Bill interjected, "you've been acting differently the last few days.  What gives?''

He knew this time would come, and these were his friends, his family.  They deserved the truth.  Fritz drew smoke and composed himself.

"I never expected to survive the war, never mind much after it."

Many of them had the same thoughts at one time or another.  They nodded.

"I never expected to marry or find have a home...or a family."

Fritz pulled the note from his pocket.  He didn't open it.

"I received word while on the trail that my wife was pregnant...I didn't know."

Bill looked straight at him.

"She wrote and told me that she didn't want me to worry.  I guess I should've."

"What is it son?"

Fritz took a deep breath.  "My wife miscarried."

Dave had been silent until now.  "I'm sorry Fritz...I truly am.  JoAnne miscarried on our first.  We were crushed.  But our pastor explained that it was God telling us that this child wasn't right.  He's blessed us again as you know.  Be patient.  And be patient with your wife.  If it's right, and you're ready, God will bless you again."

"Someone once told me that children weren't in my path," Fritz repiled.  "That I have to ride this path to the end."

"And who, besides God, knows your true path?"  Dave drew on his pipe.  The bowl glowed.

Bill asked, "Are you going to be all right?"

"Of course.  I'm among friends."

The jug made the circle again.

"To friendship." 



Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on May 31, 2007, 06:02:52 PM
Tensleep had Buck curried and saddled save the saddlebags and bedroll when Ella and Scarlet walked into the corral.

"Mornin' ladies, ready for an adventure?" He winked as he spoke. "I have some coffee, hardtack an' bacon in my poke, what else might we need?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on May 31, 2007, 06:08:53 PM
"I've got a portable desk and writing materials, if we do take a deposition," replied Ella.  "I've also got oatmeal, and cooked fish and roast venison from last night. If we see any edible plants along the way, I'll probably gather some.  I'm trying to make Scarlet eat more vegetables!" 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on May 31, 2007, 06:16:14 PM
Tensleep laughed. "Probably wouldn't hurt any of us Ella. I don't like all vegetables but I do like some.
That desk is a good idea too."

The marshal lit his pipe. "What about you Scarlet?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 01, 2007, 12:02:01 AM
“I think Ella would have a lot better luck getting me to eat fruit. That is why I have some dried to take along. It’s easier to pack than canned.” She half smiled. “I prefer fresh. I traded for some Buffalo jerky too.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on June 01, 2007, 07:18:45 AM
"Sounds like we are all set." Tensleep stroked Buck's neck.
"I expect Blackbeard will be waiting for us, he saw me ride in last night and told me that he was scouting for us. Get saddled and I'll load the pack mule."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 01, 2007, 12:08:33 PM
"Why do we need a pack mule?" asked Ella.  "We're just going to be out for a few days.  My desk fits in a saddlebag, since I'm not carrying half a hospital in there." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on June 01, 2007, 12:55:28 PM
"Reckon you'd make our prisoner walk back...." Tensleep was stone faced. "I intend to be able to move and move fairly fast if we get her. Faster than ridin' double an' I shore ain't seen no livery stables out on them plains. Remember, she was an' probably is livin' with Indians."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 01, 2007, 01:45:19 PM
"That's an argument for bringing some remounts.  But if we want to be able to move fast, we won't want to deal with a pack saddle.  I don't think we need to carry much stuff with us."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on June 01, 2007, 01:58:23 PM
"I really wasn't plannin' on takin' no kitchen, just want the stuff on somethin' other than Buck. I figger that anything on the pack saddle can be dropped and not missed too bad and easily replaced. If we took a cavvy of remounts for us an' her we would be raisin' dust that could be seen for miles. One pack animal oughta do it." Tensleep finished tightening the girth of the pack saddle on a dun mare that had clean lines and a deep chest.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 01, 2007, 02:39:48 PM
Scarlet looked from Ella to Tensleep. Not saying a word she stepped over to Dancer’s stall opened the gate, grabbed his saddle off the rail and put it on him and tied the lead line to the horn.

“Heel me.” She said turning.

The horse walked behind her as she passed between the two stubborn looks of Tensleep and Ella who both looked at her like they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

“If I got to ride into some Indian camp and take someone against their will I am not going to fool around doing it and I’m gonna have a horse I know what will do and who will stick with me.” She stated swinging onto Lucky.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 01, 2007, 02:43:59 PM
"I'd rather have Dancer along than a pack mule who is likely to be as stubborn as I am," said Ella with a grin. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on June 01, 2007, 04:24:59 PM
"You sayin' I don't know what I'm doin' Deputy?"
Tensleep dropped the reins.

Scarlet raised and eyebrow. "I'm not questioning if you got a good eye for horse flesh. I am questioning what she is going to do when you get someone tied to that saddle that is going to fight us to begin with. Is that horse going to jump on me when someone takes a shot at her? Or if I have to lead her is she going to fight me because she is spooked? How's she gonna act when you got someone screamin and yellin up there?"

"Dunny! Follow!" The dun mare raised her head and took a step everytime Tensleep moved. She stopped when he stopped, her eyes always on him.

"You aren't the only one who teaches horses circus tricks Scarlet. This mare was bred by me for me. Ya think I just rode away from here for no reason? I went to get this mare for a purpose. I still have a band of horses that the Shoshone watch for me. I never put my people in more danger than I can help."

Scarlet swung her leg over Lucky's neck and slid out of the saddle. She walked back to Dancer's stall followed closely by the big bay. She unsaddled him and removed the halter then rubbed his forehead. "Yer a good boy." she said to him.

She closed the gate and walked between Tensleep and Ella again. "Then I trust her like mine she knows a hell of alot more than just circus tricks."

Scarlet swung back into the saddle. "You expect me to look for problems that are not there Tensleep. Keeps your people safe."

"Yep, that's why I keep you women around." Tensleep winked.

"Here we go, mount up and let's ride."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 01, 2007, 05:22:54 PM
During the discussion about the pack mule, Ella was thinking about how men in authority tended to deal with subordinates, especially female subordinates, and realizing how lucky she was to be working for Marshal Ross. 

Of course, his willingness to debate was giving her bad habits for dealing with other male authority figures.  It didn't take any imagination at all to know how Alan's partner would have reacted to her questioning the need for a pack animal!  If she hadn't been so afraid of the asylum he sometimes threatened her with, she could have worked him into a fine rage many a time by politely but stubbornly disagreeing with him. 

The marshal back in Tucson had been unwillling to listen much to other sides of any question.  He was willing enough to hire female deputies, but he expected them to be obedient, not argumentative.  Slapping him for faking his own death had probably been an over-reaction on her part, but she thought he had been wrong to conceal his plan from most of the troop.  That incident had probably been when she started to think about leaving his employ. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on June 01, 2007, 08:28:05 PM
Tensleep never thought about the women that were his deputies without telling himself just how lucky he was... sure Scarlet was hard headed, stubborn was a better word for her. She was also tenacious as a bulldog and tough as most of the men he knew. Damn good shot, good with a knife and not bad with people although her temper did get short fairly quickly.

Patches was tops too before she went back east, great with the telegraph, good with weapons and she rode like she was born to it. She could work cattle almost like a mna.

Then there was Ella. Dear Ella, Doctor Ella, Ella the Healer, Ella the cook, Ella who knew so very much about everything. Shoot 'em then patch 'em up.... that's Ella, never gonna be another Ella.

"I could sure do lots worse." Tensleep looked over his shoulder. "Yep, sure glad I have Scarlet and Ella, they keep me straight, good thing too." The marshal chuckled to himself.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 01, 2007, 11:36:44 PM
Black beard was waiting near the gates when the posse rode up.

“You two take care of Scarlet and Ella.” Bo said to Black beard and Tensleep “Make sure they don’t do too much damage out there.” He winked at the two girls.

“You will be bored with us gone.” Scarlet said.

Bo laughed. “Go easy on those men.”

Scarlet smiled and thought to herself how much she’d miss him as she looked past Bo to Fritz.

“I’ll miss you.” She said.

Bo took her hand and kissed it. “I’ll miss you too.” He said with a wink as her eyes met his.

Bo watched as the group rode out of the gate. He knew she wouldn’t look  back even though she wanted to.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 02, 2007, 12:26:22 AM
Ella wished that Bo was going with them, but he was needed at the fort.  She wondered if either Fritz or Cyrus realized how much Bo was doing to help the soldiers and the scouts understand and appreciate each other. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 04, 2007, 10:10:02 PM
The way the man from Richard Kane’s camp leered at Scarlet and Ella as they towards the gate made the hair on the back of Scarlet’s neck stand up.

“Giddy up.” He mouthed as they rode past.

Lucky pinned his ears towards the man making him back away.

Scarlet wondered how well Ella’s out of sight out of mind theory was going to work.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 05, 2007, 11:54:02 AM
"We've got a long ways to go, so let's move!" called Black beard, leading the party away from the fort at a brisk pace.  Black beard had worked with cavalry troops in the past, and he kept them at close to maximum cavalry speed all morning, alternating walking with galloping with leading the horses.  It was also obvious that he knew the territory, because they only encountered streams while they were walking or leading the horses. 

At midday, he called a halt in a stand of willows.  "This is the last chance for a fire.  We're in hostile territory now, so we won't move as fast this afternoon.  Tonight's camp will be cold."

Ella was glad to get out of the saddle.  Aaron got a few bites of oats and dried apples before being released to graze.  Ella gathered dry wood for a small fire to make a small pot of coffee, and a pan of biscuits to eat with the cold meat she had brought.  She also wanted to cook some oatmeal to eat cold for her breakfast the next morning.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 07, 2007, 12:00:22 PM
Ella decided she didn't have enough wood or enough time to get the fire down to good coals for baking, so she added extra water to her biscuit mix and cooked them as large pancakes.  As each pancake finished cooking, she wrapped it around some of the meat and handed it out.  Once the pancakes were done, she set her oatmeal to cooking and ate her fish sandwich. 

It was a relief to sit and relax a minute.  The others looked tired, too.  Scarlet seemed to be holding up better than Ella was. 

Once everyone had eaten and had a cup of coffee in hand, Ella spoke up, "Is it time to decide exactly what we are planning to do when we find her?  Are we going to collect Carrie?  If we take her back to the fort, Tensleep almost has to head south with her right away (maybe traveling with the supply train), because keeping her safe at the fort might be difficult.  I would rather talk to her, write down her deposition and send it to Bill and Patches with instructions for them to check out the evidence and deliver the deposition to the Judge Scarlet's family knows.  We would leave Carrie where she is, and come back for her after the army finishes its campaign, if the judge tells us Carrie has to come stand trial."

Tensleep thought a moment before responding, "Let's talk to her and see what she has to say.  We can go and get her again if we change our minds."

Ella relaxed from tension she hadn't recognized she was feeling.  "Moore must have been living in a pretty isolated corner of the county.  I thought I had met all of the women of child-bearing age since I started practicing as a midwife again."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on June 07, 2007, 04:43:11 PM
"Carrie Moore lived over in eastern El Paso County, it was a cave type house carved into the side of a wash. The deputy sheriff over there said the place was kept neat but it was covered with blood end to end when he saw it." Tensleep paused. "Moore wasn't a real sociable type person. Closest neighbor was over four miles away."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 07, 2007, 06:27:06 PM
Tensleep had known Ella too long to miss that release of tension.  "Deputy Coatsworth, are you having a problem with going after Carrie?"

Ella replied, "If my imagination showing me too many awful possibilities of what Carrie's life with Moore might have been like is a problem, then yes, I am having a problem with being objective enough to be a good deputy.  The killing of the kids bothers me, but I really doubt that Carrie killed them.  While I was living in Boston, I knew of one mother who killed her children: she killed herself at the same time.  There were several women who deserted their families, but they sent their kids over to a neighbor before they packed up what they needed and walked out.  I can imagine Carrie feeling trapped because she couldn't bear to leave her children in Moore's care, and she couldn't escape with them."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 08, 2007, 08:52:32 PM
Black beard listened to the conversation of the Marshal and his deputies. The killing of innocents always left a bad taste in his mouth.

He looked at Ella and Scarlet. Scarlet was mostly listening to the conversation between Ella and Tensleep.

Black beard leaned over and whispered. “You and Ella look much to young to have seen the things you have seen.”

She glanced over at him. “The times we’ve lived in and the job we do.” She replied.

“Oh?” Black beard said with a raised eyebrow.

Scarlet looked over at him. “I was twelve years old when I killed my first man. Ella was helping her grammy patch folks up before she was twelve.” She said as a matter of fact.

Scarlet saw the surprised look cross his face. No doubt it would be a topic that came up again when he worked up the nerve to ask her about it.
“I figure from what you’ve told me we might start looking for signs from Carrie tomorrow afternoon?”  Scarlet said.

“Sounds about right.” He replied wondering what was in her past.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 10, 2007, 12:23:27 PM
“We should get moving.” Black beard said.

“Yep.” Tensleep replied.

The group gathered their things, mounted up and headed out again.

Black beard rode next to Scarlet. He looked over at her; she was more comfortable in the saddle than most men he knew.

“Were you born there?” He said with half a grin.

She chuckled softly. “Close to it.”

“Can I ask ya something?”

“You can always ask, doesn’t mean I’ll always answer.”

“Fair nuff.” He chuckled. “What reason does a twelve year old girl have to kill a man?”

“When a group of soldiers want more than food, water and horses.” She replied.

“War is hard on everyone it comes in contact with.  Strange you had to do something like that, now you ride with them.” He said referring to Union soldiers.

“Mom told me sometimes pretty isn’t the best ride and dad always says don’t ever make the mistake of judging a man by the clothes he wears or the color of his skin. People say things like that but when it looks you in the face you realize how right they are.” Scarlet said glancing over at him then turning her eyes back to the trail.

“A lot of soldiers took what they needed. Sometimes the men wearing the uniform are not always so upstanding of citizens, especially in war time, and tried to take more.” He replied.

“Perhaps we would have been more on guard had they been Yankee soldiers.” Scarlet said looking over at him again. She didn’t miss the look of shock that crossed his features. 

“I’m surprised your men folk didn’t hunt them down.”

“There was no one left to hunt down Black beard. My father, even to this day, makes sure everyone that lives on the Southern Starr is efficient in at least two ways of killing an enemy.”

He raised an eyebrow “Two?”

“Well most folks can use a gun, but what happens if you don’t have it for some reason. You best have a back up plan.”

“True, never thought of it like that, but it’s a true statement.” He looked over at her “is it safe for me to sleep tonight? You seemed irritated when we rode out of the gate.”

Scarlet chuckled. “I told you, I would fight you if you try to abduct me and take me to your pirate ship, since you haven’t you are safe to close your eyes while I am on guard.”

“I told you I wanted my pirate queen to be willing, no captor. You are too good with that long knife.” He said pointing to the blade Scarlet had carried on her saddle since Fritz had given it to her. “I wouldn’t want to have to defend myself from you one night after I thought you had forgotten about the husband I stole you away from.” He winked at her with a grin.

“I still am surprised a man gives his wife gifts like that, although I like the idea, most women would prefer something more…suited for women then for fighting.” He shook his head for what he thought was the poor way it sounded.”

Scarlet laughed. “But then I am not like most women you know am I?”


“I think along with knowing what I like it was his way of trying to protect me. I told him along time ago he could fight beside me but I would not tolerate him standing in front of me to protect me.”

“We are taught it is the man’s place to protect damsels in distress. It’s very hard to lean otherwise.”

“Well what kind of pirate queen would I make if you had to protect me all the time?” She chuckled.

He grinned again. “This husband of yours is a lucky man to have such a woman as you.” 

There had been questions around the campfire as to who really was Scarlet’s husband. Many of them suspected Bo. The two were very close but the man slept with the other scouts. Maybe it was so the two ladies could share a room as Ella’s husband was not with the group. Ladies liked time to themselves too, no matter how tough they were. Maybe he was foolish for listening to the questions of others and it really didn’t matter any way. If the ladies were not interested in spending private time with the men they didn’t have to say they were married to avoid it, although it probably made it easier so they were not asked daily.

“What is it you call this lucky man of yours?” He asked thinking she’d just reply with something like “You know his name is Bo.”

Scarlet looked sideways at him. “That is a bit of a personal question don’t you think? I will tell you if you swear to your God you will take it to the grave with you.”

He was surprised, maybe the others had been right to question them and she was going to trust him with some information she’d not confirmed or denied.

“I swear, you can run me through yourself if I tell.”

Scarlet moved Lucky so close their legs where sandwiched between each others horses. She leaned over and looked him in the eyes.

“I will to ya know. I will not stand for a man to betray his word.” She whispered.

“Yes ma’am.”

Scarlet thought about it a moment.  “You sure you wouldn’t rather ask me something else that is personal?”

“I’ll stick with this if you really don’t mind answering it.” He said thinking lord who could the man be?

He didn’t miss the mischevious look on her face as she whispered.
“Mr. Frisky.”

Black beard thought for a moment. “There was no Mr. Frisky among any body at the fort. He was not familiar with the name either, no Colonel Frisky he could think of. Then it dawned on him. She had just told him her pet name for her husband.  He slightly blushed then chuckled mostly at himself for the thoughts that had gone through his mind.

“Well you asked.” She said moving Lucky so they weren’t so close.

“That I did. Do you have a sister Scarlet?”

“Not by blood if that’s what you mean. Why?”

“I was hoping you did and she would be half as passionate as you, and single, and you would introduce me.”

“My husband gives me a passion for loving and living Black beard. They say that person shows up when you least expect it. I believe that. You will find your queen some day.”

“Some day I will have to ask your man how to capture the heart of a wild spirit such as yourself.”

Scarlet grinned. “Let me know if he tells you his secret.”

The conversation had made the time go quickly before he knew it the sun was beginning to sink and they were coming into a good place to camp for the night.

“We can camp here” He said pulling his horse to a stop next to the small spring.

Black beard pulled the saddle off of his horse. He looked across his horse’s back at Tensleep.

“I bet your life is never boring with these ladies around.”

"Yer dern right there, add my wife to the mix an' it gets down right exciting at times." Tensleep grinned and dropped his saddle and bedroll to the ground.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 11, 2007, 11:47:27 AM
Most of the time it took to set up a cold camp was spent tending to the horses. 

Ella passed out cold meat and biscuit for supper.  The watch rotation was settled while they ate.  Black beard had been prepared to stand watch half the night, but he wasn't really surprised that Scarlet and Ella were included in the rotation.  The men tried to make things easier for the women by putting Scarlet on first watch and Ella on last watch, so that they would get longer sleep periods.  Ella was accustomed to last watch, and preferred it. Whenever they camped with a fire, being up for the last watch let Ella get coffee and breakfast started while people were stretching and yawning.   

Ella was weary enough that she bedded down while the others were still talking. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 12, 2007, 08:40:33 AM
Black beard enjoyed the conversation with the people around him. He observed how close they were to one another, even more so than the people he rode with. He listed as they talked about things outside of their duties. He noticed how Scarlet’s eyes seemed to light up when they spoke of the foals on the ranch. Tensleep seemed be equally enthused about the conversation.

“How long the two of you been working together?” He asked.

“Round two years.” Tensleep responded.

“Why do you ask?” Scarlet said.

“Observation.” Black beard replied to the questioning looks of the other two.

“The whole lot of you seem to know one another pretty well. Inside and outside of the office, so to speak.”

“We have our moments.” Scarlet said with a wink at Tensleep who chuckled.

“I’ve ridden with some for twice as long as you have and I think you’re beginning to know me better than some of them.” Black beard said looking at Scarlet.

“I’ve long believed in order to truly know a person you must know their interests outside of the office. Spend some days playing with them, crying with them, you don’t have to know a persons most intimate details to be able to be close enough that they can read your thoughts if you’ve spent the kind of time we have together. If I learn to read your thoughts, your actions I am more effective when we fight side by side.” Scarlet replied.

Black beard smiled knowing that’s what she’d been doing with him. She knew how he rode, she knew how he fought, and she knew how his mind worked because they had spent the time together working and playing.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on June 15, 2007, 11:34:34 AM
joint effort of Ella and Scarlet

The slam of a door closing her into a padded cell woke Ella from her nightmare.  The recurring dream hadn't gotten to that point since they had left the Starr.  With her heart still pounding, she opened her eyes and looked at the night sky.  Without her glasses, the stars were a blur.  The moon had already set, so it was after midnight.

As her pulse slowed, she started hearing the night sounds more clearly.  Tensleep and Scarlet both seemed to be asleep, so Black beard must be the one on watch, which meant it was closer to dawn than midnight, and probably close to her turn for watch.  Maybe that was why the dream had gone further this time.  Bo and the others always woke her up.  Maybe being tired from the day of riding had let her get more sleep before the dream started. 

She wasn't going back to sleep, so she put her glasses on and sat up to look around for Black beard.  She got out and walked over to when he was perched on a rock at the edge of the camp.

"I can stand watch already, if you want to get a little extra sleep."

His smile was friendly as he gestured for her to sit on the rock across from him. "Two eyes are better than one for a piece." He seemed to be enjoying the starry night.

She settled onto the rock and looked out into the darkness around the camp.  Starlight was bright enough to make trees look darker gray than rocks.  The faint breeze carried scents of grasses and wildflowers.  Ella had recognized only a few of the plants around the camp, and suspected that some of the others were relatives of the wild plants found around Grammy's house.

"My granddad was a ship's captain, taught me how to read the stars when I was a lad. I love those tall ships. He used to take me out with him for long trips. We lost him to the sea. God rest his soul. I suppose that was about the time I deceided the land was a better option."

"I've learned to tell time by the stars.  What else do the stars tell you tonight?" asked Ella, gently.

"They've been getting brighter the last couple of nights. The clearer the night sky, the brighter the stars, the colder it's going to get. Look!" he said, pointing to a light that shot across the sky. "Make a wish, Ella."

Ella made the same wish she made at every opportunity: that Alan would agree to settle in El Paso.   

After several minutes of silent contemplation of the stars and looking around the camp, Ella asked, "What do you know of Richard Kane?"

"Cyrus's big brother?  Why do you ask?"

"I keep noticing him watching me and watching Scarlet.  He seems dangerous."

The comment about Richard watching Ella and Scarlet seemed to irritate Black beard.

"He can be a real horse's rump." He said. "Cyrus is good at his job and good with the people that ride with him. Not for him. That's one of the differences. Cyrus will tell folks we ride for him, which we do, but he never treats us any worse than we treat each other. Cyrus, on one hand, runs a tight ship, but not without freedoms if you follow the rules. Don't follow the rules, don't ride with us.   Richard is good at his job. Treats his men lesser than equal but has no rules. Half of 'em are drunk slobs and the others would shoot their own mothers to save themselves. Their first rule is watch your own back and it's up to everyone to pull his own rear out of the fire. They could be good men if someone wanted to whip them into shape. All capable, ya know, and when they can pull together, they are good."

Black beard paused for a moment then continued. "Don't underestimate him and don't turn your back on him, Ella. Richard is a jealous lad and I don't doubt some day it will get him killed. Cyrus tries to stay away from him, just bad luck they both ended up at Fetterman.  Do you want some one to talk to him about staying away from the two of ya?"

Ella thought a moment before replying, "He might be more likely to take such a talk as a challenge or a dare than to heed it. He ought to be hesitant about trying Scarlet after hearing of her fight with Chris.  Even the baldest, most accurate accounts should warn him that she is deadly with that big knife, and not reluctant to use it.   I should be okay as long as I continue being careful not to wander off alone."

"Our little family keeps pretty close eye on one another," Black beard smiled at her.

Ella could tell by the smile that the group considered her family and, if she didn't already know it, that they had been watching out for her.

"I was surprised Scarlet would take the chance to sleep in the stall with that stallion." Black beard gestured towards Lucky. "I asked Bo why he didn't worry 'bout some man trying something with her in the stables. He told me to go take a look for myself." Black beard shook his head. "I saw why she feels safe with 'im. We take turns going through the stables at night anyway. We also walk by your quarters. The guards are very aware we go by. Keeps 'em honest. Sides alla o' that, most men know Bo is protective over the both of you. I might be almost as big, but I don't ever want the man gunnin' for my hide. Then there's the Marshal there, who I think is protective of the two of you, too."

"It's nice to be protected by Bo and Tensleep, because they don't think the only way to protect a woman is to wrap her in cotton wool or set her on a pedestal.  I'm trying to be seen as a sister or an aunt by 'our little family', including the soldiers we'll be working with.  It could sure cause trouble if I were seen as 'available'!"

"You were inquired about but we were told you are married, as is Scarlet. Lucky men, if ya ask me. I'm sure if anybody inquired directly, you would set them straight."

"I worry sometimes that my new 'brothers' might take offense if anyone inquired, especially if the question were phrased rudely.  I don't want to be a cause of trouble between our scouts and others at the fort."

More time passed in contemplation of the night sky. 

Ella asked, "Do you fence?  That is exercise I enjoy, and am missing at the fort." 

"Black beard's the name, swords are the game." He chuckled. "Fencing, I've heard that's a gentleman's game. I am no gentleman but I know how to play."

"I thought you would be the most likely sparring partner.  I'm most accustomed to rapiers, but Dr. Bill likes sabers, so he and I spar both ways."

He winked, "I prefer a Cutlass. My granddad gave me the one I carry. I also carry a saber." He grinned. "I told Scarlet we were going to swing from ropes while we sparred. I will give you the option of ground or rope." He chuckled.

Ella grinned at him and said, "I'll choose ground, at least for the first match.  I would need to practice swinging from ropes before I would want to swordfight from that position."  She looked to the east, where the sky was beginning to brighten.  "It'll be dawn soon.  Thank you for keeping me company when it should have been my turn to stand watch."

"My pleasure, Ella," he replied.

Intermission while lucky people go to End of Trail
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on June 30, 2007, 02:02:11 PM
Ella had prepared breakfast while the rest of the group broke camp and saddled the horses. She told them to eat up as the rest of the day would be hardtack and jerky to which Black beard responded he didn’t think they were riding with the Army already causing the group to laugh.

The posse was mounted and moving as the sun bounced gold and pink light off of the fluffy clouds that drifted lazily across the morning sky.

They came to a stop at the river just as the sun reached directly above them, thankful the weather was cooler here than it would have been at home.

The Indian encampment could be seen from the river, mostly women, children and men to old to go on a war party. There was no sign of horses wearing shoes or any white women or children among them. The posse knew anybody able enough to fight had been watching them ride in for the last few minutes.

“Stay close, don’t make any sudden moves.” Tensleep instructed as they rode to the edge of camp.

The Indians seemed to relax as Tensleep explained they were looking for a white woman. Nobody in the tribe had heard of or seen a woman that fit Carrie’s description.

The group traveled along the river guessing that most camps would be found scattered along the water.

After riding a few hours they came across a small Shoshone hunting party. Tensleep rode forward as did a representative from their group. The two were speaking when one of the hunters kicked his horse forward and rode towards Black beard, Ella and Scarlet.

to be continued
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 01, 2007, 12:54:09 PM
It was an act of bravery in the eyes of the hunting party and the posse was wise enough to know it. The young brave rode around Scarlet, looked her up and down then did the same to Ella.

The warrior and the healer, the Comanche spoke highly of them and stories traveled far. These two fit the description and their had been word they were in the area.

The warrior, the blonde woman on the black horse wore no Christian cross, like many white women, instead she wore a turquoise and horn amulet and the silver two headed snake charm. She didn’t dress like most white women he had seen and as he rode close he could see no fear in her eyes. He could tell she would have fought him if he challenged her.

The healer wore her brown hair up in a bun. The glasses gave her a look of intelligence but he could see kindness there. He could not see the medicine bag stories told she wore but guessed the leather thong around her neck held it close to her heart. He also guessed she carried the potions she was said to use somewhere hidden on her person in her skirt along with a weapon. It was said she would fight to defend herself but then would undo the damage she made.

The big man Black beard. He was known in these parts. A man not to anger, he was touched in the head, it was said he ate the brains of his enemies. The warrior would not make eye contact with him. Maybe the healer protected her friends from catching his disease.

He knew of the man that spoke with the leader of the hunting party. One of the neighboring tribes spoke highly of him. The warrior knew the leader was watching as was everybody else.

He stopped in front of Scarlet. If she was the woman the Comanche spoke of she was said to speak the language of her brothers and should be able to understand him well enough.

“I am Spotted Cat.” He said hitting his chest with an open hand. “Son of the great Walks with Thunder brother to Many Bears. Comanche warriors are our enemies.”

The man speaking with Tensleep seemed nervous now. Spotted Cat was young and could be reckless.

Scarlet kicked Lucky forward the two riders nearly touched at the toe. “I am called Wild Ponies, daughter of the man called Longknife and sister to the Comanche Grey Eagle.” She replied in Comanche as she extended her arm for him to see the scar where blood with Grey Eagle was exchanged. “Walks with Thunder is a great warrior, like his son Many Bears they are respected among even their enemies. Today is a good day for hunting, not for battle. I have not come to make enemies with you. We seek another white woman for information.”

Spotted Cat circled his pony around Lucky one more time, the woman was not intimidated but her tone and eyes were not challenging him either. Her father had taught her well.

“What stories will we hear of Spotted Cat? Is he wise like his father and all will speak of him with respect?” Scarlet spoke in English this time.

“Spotted Cat not foolish. Great stories will be told at fire.” He replied in English. “What information do you seek from the woman?” He spoke in Shoshone again.

“Ella” Scarlet continued slowly in Comanche as she gestured towards Ella. “has dreamt about the woman we seek.”

Spotted Cat nodded his head in understanding then rode to Ella. He addressed her in English.

“What you see dreaming on the white woman?” He asked.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 01, 2007, 01:13:14 PM
"My dream showed that she killed the man who had murdered her children.  But she is accused of murdering the children and the man.  We want to talk to her so that we can find out the truth," replied Ella. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 01, 2007, 05:10:38 PM
"You no believe your own visions?" Spoted cat asked.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 01, 2007, 06:07:31 PM
"My visions are not enough to convince the judge who will decide whether she must stand trial," replied Ella. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 01, 2007, 09:41:20 PM
Spotted Cat shook his head in understanding, without another word he turned his pony and went back to the other riders.

Scarlet backed Lucky back and took her place between Ella and Black beard.

The man talking with Tensleep pointed down the river. Tensleep turned and rode back to the group as did the other man.

"He says he has seen a white woman traveling with two warriors. They passed here a few days ago following the river." Tensleep told them.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 01, 2007, 11:42:14 PM
Circling Falcon and his brother had finally found Carrie and escorted her home.  It was a tiring journey, because Carrie always felt she should be watching over her shoulder for the whites to take her back  and lock her up until they would hang her.  The three of them reached the tribe at the end of the argument.  The elders, women and children with some of the warriors went into the reservation lands while the rest of the warriors rode off to join the Sioux who were preparing to fight the whites.  Circling Falcon stayed, but his brother went, as did all of the unmarried men. 

She was working in their tipi when the four whites rode into the village.  She stayed back, but watched them.  The leader seemed to be a big man who was talking to the elders.  His companions were a giant with a black beard and two women.  One of the women dismounted and brought something to the leader, that was given to the elders. 

Circling Falcon had been in the circle around the strangers.  He came to tell her, "It's a lawman from El Paso, looking for you.  He says they just want to talk to you.  Go out the back of the tipi, and we can slip away while the elders keep them talking."

She protested, "We've only been here a week, and they have already caught up with me.  If we run, they will follow and catch me again."

"We can set an ambush, and kill them when they catch up."

"No," she decided, "I have caused enough death."  She walked out of the tipi toward the strangers.

The women saw her coming.  The one who had already dismounted walked to meet her.  With a gentle smile on her face, Ella asked, "Carrie?" 

Carrie nodded.

Ella said, speaking slowly and clearly, "The report of your capture said you understand English but do not speak it.  Is this true?  Do you understand me?"

Carrie nodded.  She winced and sighed in frustration as she struggled to answer in English, "Yes, I hear good, speak not good."   Moore used to tell people she couldn't speak English because she was feeble-minded, and he punished her when she tried to practice and improve her English.

Ella continued, "I am Ella Coatsworth.  She is Scarlet Corbin.  We are Deputy Marshals working for Marshal John Ross.  Our job was to find you and talk to you.  Marshal Ross speaks Cheyenne, and he will interpret for you, if you are willing to answer our questions." 

Carrie nodded again, feeling a trace of hope.  The fact these women Deputies had brought someone who could understand the language she spoke sounded like they were serious about talking to her, and that they hadn't already pronounced her guilty. And as women, they might understand her story. 

They settled down in a circle under a tree, Carrie, Circling Falcon, Tensleep, Scarlet and Ella with her desk on her lap to record the questions and the translated answers.  The elders of the tribe formed a bigger circle around the questioning.  Black beard guarded the horses, while the children dared each other to touch him. 

The first questions covered her identification - that she was the woman called Carrie Moore who had been taken from an Indian tribe four years before, and that she had been living in El Paso County until almost two months ago. 
Scarlet asked the important question, "What happened to your husband and children?"

Carrie's response was passionate, and Tensleep had to stop her and have her repeat parts before he translated.  The man sitting next to her had brushed his hair away from his temple and displayed a scar soon after she started talking.

"Moore clubbed my husband down with the butt of a rifle when my husband tried to rescue me from him.  I thought he was dead. Then Moore raped me in sight of my husband's body before taking me back to the camp with the other captives and white men. Moore claimed me as his wife and took me away from them, but I never agreed to marry him.  On the last day I lived with him, Moore came in from drinking with his friends.  He was angry, calling me a whore and a cheat, and calling my son a bastard.  Moore beat the boy until he coughed up blood and died.  Then Moore took my baby daughter and twisted her neck, saying, 'If you aren't feeding this one, you'll give me a true-born son sooner.'"

"What happened to Moore?"

"I cut him with a knife from the kitchen when Moore came towards me with his belt to beat me again." 

"How many times did you hit him with the knife?"

"Many times, mostly on his arms because he blocked my blows.  It was only a small knife.  It took a long time before he weakened enough for me to cut his throat."

"What did you do after he was dead?"

"I scalped him, then found the key to the chains on my ankles and freed myself.  I went out to take care of his horse, who was difficult to handle because of the blood on me.  It was night, and I looked at the stars to find out which way was North.  After I washed up, I laid my children in their beds, and cut off a lock of hair from each of them.  I slept in the stable until dawn.  Then I took food, water and blankets, and rode his horse towards home.  My husband and his brother found me on the second day. 

"Did you ever try to escape from Moore?"

"Many times until my son was born.  Then, he no longer gave me any chances.  He tied me up before he slept and hobbled me or locked me into his house before he went out."

"Had you resisted his beatings before?"

"Not for a long time.  I was afraid that he would beat my children if he couldn't beat me." 

"Did you try to stop him from beating your son?"

"Yes, but he knocked me down and I passed out.  I only woke up in time to hold my son in my arms while he died."  Carrie broke down in tears during the translation and hid her head in the shoulder of her husband.  He held her gently and murmured until her tears stopped.

Ella raised her hand, to signal Scarlet that Ella wanted to ask questions. 

"Did Moore beat you often?"

"Yes."  This answer Carrie could give in English. 

"Did the beatings leave wounds?"


"May I examine you, to report on your scars?"

Carrie hesitated before agreeing.  She had heard of Doctor Ella, from overhearing women talking when Moore let her come with him to the store.  Moore had delivered her babies without allowing any woman to help. 

"Yes, come," she said, rising and leading Ella to her tipi.  The door flap dropped behind them. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 02, 2007, 10:44:34 PM
Tensleep could tell by the way Scarlet squared her shoulders what she was thinking, he didn’t have to see her face. He lit his pipe and took a long draw on it. “You’ve already decided what you think we should do and if I don’t agree we are going to stand here and debate it aren’t we?”

Scarlet turned and faced him. There was nothing in her eyes to give away her thoughts.

“Scott used to accuse me of being judge, jury and executioner.”

“I know. He told me you followed your own set of rules more than once.”

“Can’t say I agree with some men who think women are no more than objects to own with no rights of their own. Viewed below their horses which again are objects to be owned.”

“You think we should leave her here.” He replied.

“He was respected by his friends; they will have her strung up if she is tried in El Paso by the circuit judge.”

“You sure?”

“No, but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t happen like that. If a man beats his horse and gets kicked they shoot the horse and don’t ask why the horse kicked him. She was nothing more than a brood mare that didn’t produce what he wanted.”

“You have a unique way of putting things Scarlet.”

She half smiled. “That is why you asked…I know you are thinking something similar, you were just curious to see how I would put it.”

“Is that the way you speak to that judge your father knows?”

“We’ve had some heated debates.” She smirked.

“No doubt.” Tensleep chuckled.

“You know I’m not one of those men who view women as objects.” He said in a serious tone.

“Didn’t say you were. I didn’t say all men I said some. Just like I will tell you there are women out there who will take a man for everything she can. I’m not one of them. Takes all types. If either one of us were those types we wouldn’t be here together.”

“I  guess yer right. I think we are much of the same mind. Lets see what Ella finds out before we make a final decision.”

Scarlet smiled in agreement.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 02, 2007, 11:27:02 PM
Tensleep pulled his pipe out and pointed with it at Ella coming from Carrie's tipi.  "Scarlet, have you ever seen Ella that mad?" 

"Once," replied Scarlet.  "She had trouble hitting any targets until the mad wore off." 

Ella stalked over to them and handed Scarlet a sheet of paper, "Here's the results of my examination.  Read it for yourselves.  I'll just get madder again if I read it to you."  Ella walked over to the horses, glaring at Black beard when he started to say something, and started brushing Aaron's coat. 

Physical Examination of Carrie Moore

Her left arm is crippled, due to a broken ulna in the forearm that was allowed to heal without being set.  She claimed that Moore broke her arm the fifth time she tried to run away. 

Her back is covered with scars from her neck to her thighs.  The most recent marks are six lines about two months old, probably made by the prong side of a heavy buckle.  The older scars are consistent with having been made by the same weapon. 

Her ankles are scarred and callused, probably from the manacles of handcuffs.  Her wrists are similarly marked. 

At least 4 ribs had been broken and allowed to heal without medical attention. 

signed, E. W. Coatsworth. 

Note to Doctor W. McDowell on supporting evidence to look for:
Belt with heavy buckle, stained with old blood on the inside of the buckle end. 
Handcuffs with traces of blood
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on July 03, 2007, 06:28:32 PM
Fritz watched as Scott ran men and horses through their paces.  1stSgt Crisp had convinced him that he knew what he was doing, so Fritz had given him a bit more rein.  He’d expected as much as Top Soldier; he just had to stop thinking like one for the moment.  There was a reason for the chain of command.  By accepting the straps again, he’d moved up in that chain. 

Fritz felt the men had benefited from the rather unorthodox training he’d provided, and the real life experiences of Scarlet, Ella and Tensleep.  There was more to learn, if only they had time.  He’d talk to his bride about teaching the men bareback techniques.  He was a bit rusty in that arena himself.  If your mount was killed, you took whatever you could catch.  And not everything on the battlefield wore a saddle. 

He hadn’t read the note she’d given him.  Maybe he’d just let Scarlet tell him herself when she returned.  It was like insurance; if he didn’t read it, he knew she’d come back safely.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on July 04, 2007, 04:34:31 PM
Scarlet read the report to Tensleep. When she finished she glanced over at Ella. “No wonder she is so mad.” She commented before her eyes came back to the Marshal.

“You suppose Moore’s friends and the circuit judge would let Carrie walk out of a court room a free person or do you think they would think like Moore. She was a piece of property and should have obeyed him. For disobeying she got what she deserved and should be executed for his murder.” Scarlet said softly.

Tensleep nodded knowingly then dismounted and walked to where Ella was standing.


"I've delivered four babies in that part of the county, and check in at the store Moore used to get his supplies every few months.  I never asked if there were any more women than the ones who sought me out."

Tensleep said, "There are almost 10,000 people spread out over almost 6000 square miles.  You can't treat everyone, nor can you know all that goes on no matter how much you try. Never blame yourself for what you don't know or can't do anything about."

Tensleep turned to Scarlet and Black Beard. "I say we head back to the fort, I think that we are needed there. We have found that Carrie Moore no longer exisits and my report will say so."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 04, 2007, 05:17:17 PM
"Carrie Moore never did exist," responded Ella.  "It is unsatisfying that Moore will not be blamed for murdering the children, but too many people would consider that they were his property to dispose of as he saw fit.  You are right that it is better to close the story with Carrie left in peace with her family here."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 04, 2007, 09:47:17 PM
The group mounted up and moved out. It was already afternoon and Black beard wanted to make to a safe place to camp before dark.

He looked over at Scarlet who rode next to him. “Do ignorant questions bother you?”

She looked back. “Only ignorant one is the one that goes unasked I been told.”

“Well this is going to be one.” He said almost to embarrassed to ask.

“I’m sure I’ll come up with some for you sometime.” She responded.

“I’ve never met women like you and Ella. I’d hate to see the two of you gang up on Marshal Ross. You speak your mind and are smart enough to make a point hard to argue if need be. Most women are so quiet. What I mean is the only smart ones I have ever met have been teachers, some nurses but many of those take orders from the Drs you don’t realize they really do know much more. Why are women so quiet and let folks think they are not smart.”

A soft smile played on Scarlet’s lips. “Most women are raised to be seen and not heard. Their opinions only matter to most men when they are behind closed doors. My mother is not like that. She didn’t raise me to be that way, although I do know when I should only be there to decorate the surroundings. They are sent to schools and educated, have opinions on many subjects.” Scarlet leaned close to him. “You should meet his wife. Want to talk about an educated woman with opinions she is not afraid to share.”

Black beard chuckled. “I would like that sometime.”

“You’ve never asked a woman her opinion on something?”

“To long riding with a bunch of men Scarlet. My ma had opinions but she was a teacher. She taught me to be respectful to the ladies. Spending so much time in the saddle there are only a few things a man seeks a woman’s attention for, her opinions are not one of them.”

“One of these days maybe you’ll have more time to seek conversation with the ladies.”

“You two ladies intrigue me and I may just do that.”

“Were your marriages prearranged? I ask because of the way you speak of women being viewed as property.”

“No, I married for love and I think I was lucky to find that a second time.”

“You’re father approved though?”

“The first time yes, the second took some convincing but I think he is glad he approved.”

“He didn’t like your second husband?”

“He didn’t think he liked the color of my husband’s uniform.” Scarlet lowered her voice quoting her fathers words. “It’s one thing to ride with them and fight with them but to   
marry one into the family.”

“Miss Scarlet are meaning to tell me a daughter of the south married a Yankee soldier?”

The thought of Fritz made her smile and her eyes seemed to dance.

“Well if the very thought of him brings a smile like that to your face then I can tell you why your father approved.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 05, 2007, 09:36:41 AM
The banter between Black beard and Scarlet was lightening Ella's mood.  By comparison with women in eastern cities, women out here in the West got more respect from men.  Maybe some of that was because a wife's homestead claim could double the size of the ranch, and her labor in the fields and corrals could make the difference between success and failure. 

Ella had heard some of the hands at the Starr talk about other places they had worked.  The quality of the food had come right after the reliability of payday in determining how desirable an employer was to work for.

"Black beard, one problem you might have seeking conversation with the ladies is that one look at you, and every man in the area is going to be hiding his womenfolk away, to protect them from being carried off by a pirate!" called Ella cheerily.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 05, 2007, 09:13:40 PM
“And that they should Lass.” He laughed mischievously. “but apparently rogues who the womenfolk are told to stay away from hold some appeal to the fiery beauties.”   He laughed again.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 05, 2007, 09:53:17 PM
"You should be just as happy that the menfolk can filter out women who would bore you. A woman who obeys a command to stay away from possible danger is not a good candidate for a pirate queen." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 05, 2007, 10:17:56 PM
“Well now” Black Beard said running his hand through his beard. “You make a good point their me beauty. You know I would offer to buy one of ya, or both would be even better, from yer husbands but I overheard the lesson on property. For which you two proud beauties are not so I be guessing you cannot be purchased. I will have to continue to seek one who is available.” He looked back at Ella with a grin that told her he was enjoying the conversation. “I am happy my two sisters are watchin’ out for me and any potential queen of mine will have to be able to pass their approval.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 06, 2007, 08:53:44 AM
"You will have to come visit El Paso," replied Ella, thinking of some rancher daughters, the sister of one rancher's wife, and a couple of the working girls at the Ace.  "I know a few candidates for you."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 07, 2007, 09:05:54 AM
"Ahh another invite to this place called El Paso." He winked. "These candidates are they as pretty and firery as the two of you? You know my name sake was said to have many wives. I don't think I want to many at once. I'm still trying to figure out how the Marshal there survives working with a group of headstrong women and goes home ta one to boot."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 07, 2007, 11:00:29 AM
"Pretty is a matter of opinion.  Some of these candidates may need a little encouragement to shed the shackles of conventional behaviour, but the potential for being fiery is there," replied Ella.  "But you wouldn't want to be married to more than one fiery lady at one time.  You have to pick docile women if you want multiple wives.  No firey lady would accept being second in your affections."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 07, 2007, 11:35:29 PM
“Docile women don’t hold my interest for very long.” He said reining his horse in. “We’ll stay here tonight, cold camp. You mean to tell me you ladies don’t like yer man to share his affections.”  He said teasingly.

A snort escaped Tensleep as he dismounted.

"As willing to be second in a husband's affections as you would be willing to share a wife's attentions with another man." Replied Ella.

"Sharing my husband's affections is not an option." Scarlet retorted.

They all shared a laugh.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on July 08, 2007, 01:30:35 PM
Bill walked into his tent.  Fritz started to stand, but Bill waved him down.

Bill was carrying a bottle...not a good sign.  He sat heavily in the camp stool next to Fritz's field desk.

It was then that Fritz noticed the straps.

"I don't believe it!"

Bill sighed.  "Neither do I.  Most of my career I've been..."

Fritz finished.  "...a long-service Captain!"

They shared a laugh.  Fritz dumped the contents from his tin cup as Bill pulled the cork.

"So you're a Major now.  That'd put you in command of the Regiment, right?"

"Yeah," Bill answered.  "And you know how much I hate politics."

Fritz took a sip.  It was good stuff.  "So, who'll take the Company?"

Bill set his old Captain's straps on the desk.  "You will."

Fritz blinked.  He didn't know what to say.

"Captain...I mean Major...this isn't what I came here for."

"Fritz, I need someone I trust to command I Company.  You've done it before."

"But that was ony because you were wounded," Fritz replied.

"Don't sell yourself short.  You were the right man after the Shenadoah, and you're the right man now."

Reluctantly, Fritz picked up the straps.  They seemed heavier than they really were.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 10, 2007, 08:20:12 AM
After a bit more banter, they settled down for the night. 

Ella was on watch when she heard Scarlet struggling with a dream.  She touched her shoulder and called her name, "Scarlet, wake up."

Scarlet opened her eyes, "I was dreaming about Moore.  Carrie's testimony was kinder to his memory than he deserved!  If she had not kept her spirit and endured his abuse, we might have had to track down a sadistic rapist."

"Oh, yes," agreed Ella, "I asked Carrie some more questions while I was examining her, but she said she didn't want to repeat that testimony in front of her husband or any men.  I wrote it down in case we need it later."  Ella sighed, "The only thing that kept her alive and sane was her love for her children.  I dreamed of a happy future for Carrie, with three more children that she will insist learn to speak and read English."

"Do you want children, Ella?"

"Honestly, I don't know.  I grew up expecting to have some, because producing children is a religious duty for a Jewish couple.  I worried about never getting pregant, but Deborah checked me over and said there was no visible problem preventing it.  I tried all the fertility treatments I had during the second and third year we were married.  Once Alan was working to save money to get to Vienna, I stopped trying so hard."  Ella sighed, "Barrenness, defined as no children after 10 years of marriage, is easy grounds for a divorce.  The cast-off wife is pitied by the congregation."

"How long have you been married?"

"10 years as of last week."

"But how many of those years has Alan been away?"

"Just the last three.   The rabbis probably would take that into account, but they might also decide I had deserted Alan by refusing to come to Boston when he summoned me.  If Alan wants a divorce, I have to expect that the rabbis will grant it."  Ella shrugged, "I don't think my relationship with the congregation in El Paso would change.  They appreciate my healing skills, and the training I have given the other midwives.  Based on records, my presence in El Paso County has significantly reduced the number of mothers and babies lost in childbirth," Ella said proudly.

Scarlet smiled "I would not worry about your standing in the community of El Paso, and you will not have to worry about where you will go or how you will survive if you or Alan wants a divorce.  So what does your church say if it is the husband who is infertile? Is he cast off and pitied by the congregation?"

"I don't think anyone ever thinks that the husband might be the reason for the lack of children.  Only a husband can divorce his wife.  If a wife has good reason to divorce her husband, such as infidelity or cruelty, she can ask the rabbi, maybe asking by way of his wife, to intervene.  The rabbi can then convince the husband to give his wife a divorce.  'Give a divorce' is really how it works.  The rabbis issue a divorce document, but it does not take effect until the husband hands it to his wife."

"No wonder there are women like Carrie out there," Scarlet snorted.

"At least the Jewish marriage laws do provide a mechanism for a wife to escape an abusive or a drunkard or a spendthrift husband.  Carrie would have had to complain to a judge, who could easily take Moore's word over hers, even if she had obvious signs of abuse.  The only real protection a woman has against an abusive husband is being part of a community, so that her word is supported.  And that isn't much protection, as long as so many men and women think a husband has a right to beat a disobedient wife, and that any wife who gets beaten must have done something to deserve the punishment."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 12, 2007, 08:08:48 AM
Scarlet got up and rolled up her bed roll. “Carrie reminds me a lot of Trixie. Hopefully none of Moore’s friends will hunt her like an animal until she finds someone who will protect her. I hope she finds peace here. We all deserve that.”

She noticed Lucky watching something in the distance. His head was raised, one ear was forward while the other rotated back and forth. His nostrils were wide, there was something definitely in the wind.

 “Is that hunting party we talked to out there.” Scarlet asked Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 12, 2007, 11:05:00 AM
"I don't know," replied Ella.  "Tensleep spotted their fire and said they let it go out while he was on watch.  Black beard said he thought they had not noticed us.  But Lucky is acting like someone is moving closer.   I have some of Doctor Bill's illumination shells for my shotgun, if we want to shed some light and make it obvious that we are here and alert.  Let's waken the others." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 14, 2007, 10:28:19 PM
“If they don’t know we are here I wouldn’t want to let them know by shooting off one of those illumination shells. If they are headed in.” Scarlet paused and looked over at Lucky again. He had turned to face a different direction, both ears rotated now. She narrowed her eyes in the direction of Lucky’s. “If they are watching us it might give they an advantage, I’m not sure.”

Lucky swung his head and snorted. Scarlet buckled on her gun belt and picked up her rifle then woke up Tensleep and Blackbeard.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 16, 2007, 01:29:11 PM
Once the others were up and looking to see if they could spot anything, Ella slung her rifle over her back, and started saddling Aaron.  "I don't know if we're going to need to hide, talk, fight or run," she said quietly, "but running is the option that needs the most preparation." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 16, 2007, 09:10:46 PM
Scarlet put Lucky’s saddle on and pulled the cinch snug. The stallion dipped his head and pinned his ears then flipped them forward.

“Hello.” The voice came as the man rode in.

Tensleep and Black beard faded into the background hoping they’d not been seen.

The man looked like he hadn’t seen a bath in some time.

Ella had finished saddling Aaron. Lucky was missing a bridle as were Tensleep and Black beard’s horses.

“What can we do for you?” Ella asked looking the man over. He looked like he’d recently been in a fight but didn’t require any medical attention.

“You have any coffee? Been on the trail for a long time.”

“You alone?” Scarlet asked.

“Yes ma’am” he said removing his hat.

The way Lucky was still watching the distance and rotating his ears Scarlet figured the man for a liar.

“I’m sorry we don’t have anything.” Ella replied.

“You ladies alone?” He asked.

“We don’t have anything mister you might as well keep moving.” Ella responded.

As Scarlet watched the man she wondered if Ella was smelling the same thing she was, most likely what Lucky had been smelling for some time that had made him nervous. It was faint from where she stood but she’d smelled burning human flesh enough to not mistake it for anything else, even a faint smell of it. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 16, 2007, 10:19:21 PM
She and Scarlet must have been talking too loud, and the breeze had carried the sound towards the fire that Tensleep had noticed. 

The smell coming from the man was making Ella feel queasy.  Some people said that human flesh smelled like pork cooking, but they must never have actually encountered a burnt human being. 

Well, it sure wasn't the first time an outlaw had arranged to be reported dead while he changed territories and laid low.  Ella was confident that Scarlet had already identified their visitor as Firehorse Charley.  There weren't any stages out here to rob, but he had found some poor soul to burn alive.  Probably an Indian. 

Ella slipped her left hand into the opening that gave her access to her hidden gun while she put her right hand on the grip of the pistol in the cross draw holster and repeated firmly, "There is nothing here for you.  Move on."

She was trying to keep his attention on her while listening for sign that Scarlet, Black beard and Tensleep had found the others.  Probably only one or two others, she thought.  Having Aaron at her back was a comfort, since it reduced the chance that someone was sneaking up behind her, but it also limited her ability to dodge if he grabbed for her.  If she couldn't dodge, she would have to shoot. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on July 17, 2007, 07:49:55 PM
Bill stuck his head out the tent flap, and motioned for the orderly.

“Find Trumpeter Sergeant Powell, and have him sound ‘Assembly.’”

The young man saluted and was off.  Bill put his slouch on and asked, “Are you ready for this?”

Fritz buckled his prairie belt over his hips.  “If I said no, would it make any difference?”


Bill left the tent.  Fritz fell in a step behind and a step to the left.  As they walked, the familiar sound of ‘Assembly’ played.  Men grabbed carbines and saber belts and ran for the parade deck.  Fritz heard Scott getting the men in line.  By the time the final note fell, the formation was ‘dress right dress.’

Scott stood at attention, centered and six paces in front of the formation.  Fritz approached, and Scott rendered a salute.  “Sir, the Company is formed,” he said.

Fritz returned the salute and replied, “Take your post, First Sergeant.”

Scott stepped off, taking his place behind the formation.  Fritz executed an about face, and waited for Major Schurmann.  The process was repeated, however, this time Fritz boxed the Major, standing once again, one pace to the left, and one to the rear.

“Stand at ease men,” Bill called.  Once the men relaxed, he continued.  “As you can see, the unthinkable has occurred.”  The older men laughed.  The younger ones weren’t sure of what to make of it.

“I’ve been promoted to Major.  As such, the Company will need a new Commanding Officer.  I’ve promoted Lieutenant King to Captain.”  The older men nodded approvingly.  The young men were still lost.

“He commanded the unit in my absence in ’64 and ‘65, and did an outstanding job.  I know he’ll do the same now.  I trust you will give him the same courtesy and respect that you have always given me.  Captain King…front and center!”

Fritz stepped forward and stood before his old friend, rendering a salute.  “Your orders, sir?”

“Take charge of your Company…and get those straps mounted.  You’re out of uniform.”

Fritz nodded.  “Aye, sir.”

Bill dropped his salute and marched away.  Fritz faced about, looking at expectant faces.           
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 17, 2007, 09:36:25 PM
“Maybe you ladies could use an escort.” He responded to Ella.

Ella was doing a good job keeping Charley’s attention.

“Mr. she said you could move on.” Scarlet said.

Charley looked in Scarlet’s direction. He was surprised to see the barrel of a large bore rifle leveled over the horse’s saddle. He shifted in his saddle irritated he’d missed the movement of the woman who stood on the other side of the horse, more irritated he couldn’t get a good look at if she wore a belt like the woman he had been talking to.

“That’s a hell of a gun for a lady.” He said turning his head to see if she had seen one of his partners. “Are there buffalo out there, maybe we’ll have something to eat after all.”

“Mister if that’s yer boy out there you better call him in or ride out of here with him, other wise I’m gonna put a hole through his chest.” Scarlet replied pulling the hammer back.

“How you know there is someone out there and what makes you think he’s with me?”

“I can smell him and the glowing end of that cheap cigar he’s smokin’ makes a perfect head target when he sucks on it. Ever seen what one of these will do to the head of a human. Tell him to keep his hands where I can see ‘em too.”

“He’s not with me.” Charley said.

Scarlet’s eyes narrowed he was irritating her. “Mister, been my experience only people followin’ you would be your partners or the law. That ain’t no law man out there.”

“What makes you think the law would be following me?”

Scarlet saw Black beard’s figure sneak up behind the man who was watching her from the shadow. The cigar fell to the ground and the man was pulled from the horse, the light from the cigar went out.

Scarlet swung the sharps at him. “You’re wanted in seven states Charley, you’ve never been known to ride alone. How many are with you?”

Charley glared at Scarlet then at Ella wondering who they were.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 17, 2007, 11:54:11 PM
The increasing light as dawn approached let Ella see Tensleep signal from behind Charley.  Charley had only brought one fellow with him, but there were more at their camp. 

Time to end the game playing.  Tensleep and Black beard had Charley boxed in. 

"Firehorse Charley, you are under arrest," proclaimed Ella, pointing at Charley the pistol that she had drawn and cocked while he was distracted by Scarlet.  "Dismount now, or I will shoot."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 18, 2007, 08:29:08 AM
Charley thought a moment. You didn’t stay alive as long as he did by being stupid. As far as he knew his partner was still alive and it was two women who had gotten the drop on them. Maybe they traveled with a man who had circled around and gotten Nicky.
He’d seen what a rifle could do to a man at close range, rather enjoyed being the one on the trigger end. He wondered how trigger happy the women were as he swung out of the saddle and how long it would take to turn the tables on them.

“I’ve heard some bad stories bought women bounty hunters. Her.” He gestured towards Scarlet with his head. “She’s got the look in her eyes, but you.” He said looking at Ella. “I wouldn’t figure you for judge, jury and executioner.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 18, 2007, 09:25:04 AM
Ella was almost disappointed that Charley hadn't given her excuse to shoot him, but the look in his eyes said he would probably give her reason later. 

"Sit down on the ground, with your legs straight out in front of you, and your hands grabbing your toes," Ella ordered.  After he complied, she released her left hand from the pistol and pulled manacles out of her pocket.  Scarlet changed position to keep her rifle pointed at Charley as Ella locked the handcuffs around his wrists with her right hand while her left hand pointed the cocked pistol between his legs.  Then she carefully lowered the hammer onto the empty chamber and holstered the pistol before tying rope around his ankles and wrists.  Charley would be able to take only short steps and not raise his hands much past his knees.  Given opportunity, he would be able to untie the rope, but it was only intended as a temporary restraint. 

Finally she relaxed a little, and flipped her lapel to show the Deputy star.  "You have been arrested by Deputies Coatsworth and King from El Paso." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 18, 2007, 11:19:20 PM
Charley grinned smugly thinking what he might do to Deputies Coatsworth and King from El Paso when he got lose.

“You gonna show me yer star to deputy?” He asked Scarlet.

“No” she said flatly.

“Why not?”

“I’m better at being judge, jury and executioner. I’m hoping you’ll make some tiny move to give me a reason to send you back ta hell.”

He cocked his head and looked at her knowing she’d just hold him the honest truth. “I better mind my manners then.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 19, 2007, 01:11:09 AM
Ella decided that a blindfold would make it harder for Charley to get the rope loose.  And keeping him guessing about who else was in the camp couldn't hurt. 

"Cover him while I blindfold him," Ella ordered. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 19, 2007, 08:23:16 AM
Charley glared at Ella. “Blindfold. I haven’t done anything to you.” He didn’t say yet out loud but he thought it as he tried to move away from her.

Scarlet aimed the rifle at his thigh.

Charley’s glare fell on her. “What ya gonna do blow my leg off so I can’t walk no more.”

Scarlet half smiled. “That wasn’t my plan. Kinda figured if I hit you in the right spot you’ll just bleed to death.

“You should try coming over to our side sometime. Bet you’d be good at it.” Charley laughed. The two women were beginning to make him a little nervous. The blonde had chosen a spot to shoot Charlie where she’d miss her partner and wound him, maybe kill him and the brunette was as determined to do her duty as a deputy as he’d ever seen. They would be interesting to observe to see if a man would make it to jail or not. Charley wasn’t going to hang around to see that. His friends would be along soon enough.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 19, 2007, 09:01:43 AM
"I think we've heard enough from you," said Ella. 

"Use his own dirty shirt for a gag," suggested Scarlet.  "But be careful not to get bit while you do it."

"His bite would be poison for sure," agreed Ella.  Charley didn't see where the knife in her hand came from, but she used it to slice the sleeves from his shirt off his arms.  One sleeve would serve as blindfold, the other as gag. 

Charley tried to wriggle to avoid these fetters, but the way she had him hogtied limited his mobility.  Ella leaned on his back until he could not move, then tied the filthy cloth into place. 

Once she was done with Charley, she went to check on the man that Black beard had pulled down.  He was out cold, and tied up securely. 

Black beard had gotten the message that his presence was a secret and grinned at her silently.  Ella grinned back. 

A bird call from Tensleep announced that more were coming. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 19, 2007, 08:25:21 PM
Scarlet heard the pounding of the horse’s hooves. The fool was trying to rush them she thought hearing the horse stumble over some of the rocks that surrounded the campsite.

Scarlet leveled the rifle and waited until she could see the rider clearly. His hand barely touched his pistol she pulled the trigger. The man fell from the saddle and bounced in the rocks. Scarlet could see the blood soaked wound in his back where the bullet passed through.

She drew her own pistol and waited to see what would happen next.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 19, 2007, 09:33:36 PM
Black beard's signal was a seagull cry.  Ella looked where he was facing and saw two men trying to sneak up from the back side of the knoll.  She pulled her rifle around and waited for a clear shot.  There was an open space they would have to cross.  There, the first one was starting across.  She pulled the trigger and saw him fall.  It wasn't an immediately lethal shot, but he was bleeding badly. 

She called down the slope, "If you come out with your hands up, I won't shoot." 

She waited.  Then she saw hands rise above the bush he was using for cover and he moved forward. 

"Can I tend Jimmy?" he asked. 


When he came out to the other man, Ella called down again, "How many other men does Charley have?"

"Nicky went with Charley last night.  Frank stayed with the Injuns we captured last night.  Ted was coming in on the other side of your camp while me and Jimmy came in this side.  That's all." 

"What Indians?"

"These three Indians came right into the camp where we were resting for a spell, all calling 'Ella.  Need Ella.' We captured them easy, then Charley started playing his game with one of 'em.  Right turned my stomach."

"If Charley's games turn your stomach, why are you riding with him?"

"My brother, Jimmy, he's always been a wild one.  He joined Charley for the stagecoach robbin'.  I caught up with them last month, and am tryin' to get Jimmy to leave.  Maybe dyin' is the only way Jimmy will leave that life."  His voice broke with a sob. 

"I'll come down to help Jimmy.  Take off your gunbelt and throw it and Jimmy's guns this way."

He complied, and Ella handed her rifle to Black beard before joining the men.  Her bullet had taken Jimmy in the outer thigh.  The brother had been trying to stop the bleeding, but he made the usual beginner mistake of lifting the bandage to check if the bleeding had stopped yet which started the bleeding up again.  She cleaned the wound, then bound it up well.  With the brother's help, she got Jimmy to the camp while Black beard picked up their guns.

"Scarlet, this one says they only have one man left, guarding some Indian prisoners.  We need to go there now!" 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 20, 2007, 01:52:54 PM
Carrie stepped out of the birthing hut and stretched, frowning at the brightening sky.  She had expected Circle Falcon to be back with Doctor Ella by now.  Maybe they had gone further than expected before stopping for the night.  She would not allow herself to think that Ella might refuse to come. 

The wisewomen had refused to ask Ella to see Desert Rose.  They said that Desert Rose would bear her child with no need of help from white man's medicine. 

But a few hours after sundown, Desert Rose had screamed and pushed, and the baby's hand had appeared.  The wise women tried to turn the baby, but failed.  That was when Carrie remembered one of the conversations she had overheard at the store, and sent Circling Falcon to fetch Ella back with the English words "breech birth".

The wise women had tried several times since then, but every attempt failed.  Desert Rose's screams were getting weaker.  She was sleeping now, exhausted.  If they couldn't turn the baby soon, it would die, and have to be pulled out in pieces or let Desert Rose die as well. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 20, 2007, 03:05:35 PM
Scarlet looked down at the man that was speaking to Ella. “If yer sending us into a trap you better pray they kill us or I’ll be back for you.”

Ella’s voice held to much urgency for Scarlet to take the time to put the bridle on Lucky, she just picked up the lead rope and swung into the saddle.

The man looked up at Scarlet. “Frank was workin’ on a pretty bad black eye, right side, may not be able to see out of it too well if that gives you an upper hand.” He looked over at Ted’s body. “If you can do that again” he said pointing at the body “you might be doing yourself a favor.”

Charley was trying to yell something through his gag. It sounded like “kill you Eddie.”

Scarlet could see the fear in the man’s eyes when he heard Charley’s voice.

Ella and Scarlet rode out of camp as fast as one could while looking for any suspected traps.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 22, 2007, 05:40:45 PM
Once clear of the camp, sense overcame urgency, and they rode slow enough to talk and plan. 

"We will be coming out of the sunrise, once the sun comes up," said Ella.  "That could give us a little cover.  He is expecting his friends to come from that direction, so he will be watching, but two horsemen shouldn't be enough to trigger his alarms."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 22, 2007, 09:59:08 PM
“The sun at our backs and in his eyes will be an advantage.” Scarlet replied.

Lucky pinned his ears and wrinkled his nose. Scarlet wondered what was in the air to cause the reaction. Soon she and Ella both caught the smell that Charley had on his clothes hanging in the air.

Ella pulled a neckerchief from her pocket and tied it around her face, Scarlet soon followed suit.

Scarlet pulled to a stop and pulled her eye glass from the saddle bags. Scanning the distance she found the source of the putrid smell.

Scarlet lowered the glass and took a deep breath.

“What? What is it you see?” Ella asked looking over at Scarlet.

“Evil” Scarlet mumbled.

“No surprise the way it smells here.” Ella said reaching for the glass.

“There’s one guard and two live prisoners. Like Eddie said. The guard is at the base of the first tree. I know you would prefer not to shoot people Ella.” Scarlet said holding her hand up so Ella couldn’t raise the glass. “But after seeing what’s down there maybe that boy was right and maybe you shouldn’t look.”

Ella gave her a stuborn look and raised the glass as she spoke. “You know it wouldn’t be right to just shoot….”

 Ella could see a man on a spit over a burned out camp fire, or the best she could guess it had been a man. The body was charred and one couldn’t tell much beyond that from where they sat. Circling Falcon was tied to a tree, his face badly bruised. Frank stood over the third man who was staked to the ground and was placing hot coals from the fire on the man’s body and watching the results with glee.
Ella put her hand over her mouth. She watched as Frank poked the fire with a stick and looked over at the man on the ground. The way he looked at the captive Ella knew he meant to use the stick on the man’s eyes.

“We must do something now.” She said handing the glass back to Scarlet. “If you shoot from here with him in that position you may hit Circling Falcon, if you miss or the bullet passes through.

“I can circle around.” Scarlet started to say.

“I can go in from the side to get him clear of the prisoner and give you a clear shot.” Ella said moving Aaron forward as not to waist any time in discussion.
Scarlet moved in closer, dismounted and steadied herself against a tree.

Frank drew his gun and moved the minuet he heard someone riding in. “That you Charley.” he said raising his pistol.

Scarlet wasn’t going to give him the chance at Ella she thought as she squeezed the trigger.

Ella could see it was a chest wound, right through the heart. Scarlet wasn’t even going to give her the option to patch the man back up, which didn’t bother her this time. The man had meant to kill anything he came in contact with once he’d had his sick fun with it.

Ella reached the captives before Scarlet and untied Circling Falcon. He was talking way to fast for her to understand anything as he followed Ella to the other man.

“Slow down. I don’t understand.” Ella said frustrated over the fact that she couldn’t understand him.

“He’s saying something baby birthing.” Scarlet said.

Circling Falcon heard the English word “birth” and it jogged his memory. He grabbed Ella’s hand. “Breeeech birth!” he yelled pulling her towards her horse.

Ella looked back at the man who was burned, he was still alive, the woman may not be if Circling Falcon was sent last night and if she was she didn’t have much time.

“I know what to do with burns Ella. Go.” Scarlet said dismounting.

Ella pulled a jar from one of her pockets and tossed it to Scarlet. “That will help.” She said following after Circling Falcon.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 22, 2007, 10:55:15 PM
Ella and Circling Falcon raced back to the village.  Away from the main cluster of tents, Circling Falcon stopped, and pointed Ella at the lone tipi.  She dismounted, and handed Aaron's reins to Circling Falcon, assuming he would make sure her horse was tended.  Outside the entrance to the tipi, she called, "Carrie?"  Immediately, she heard Carrie's reply, "Come in!" followed by several voices arguing. 

Ella pushed past the door curtain, and was confronted by three older women blocking her way.  Carrie, off to one side, said apologetically, "They no want white man's medicine." 

Ella nodded, "Carrie, please translate my words."  Then looking each of the women in turn in the eye, Ella said clearly, "I am Ella Coatsworth.  I was trained by my grandmother, who was trained by her mother and by her grandmother, who came from a long line of Mohican wisewomen.  The women in my line always seek to add to our wisdom.  We have seen white man's medicine and have taken some knowledge from it, but the core of our learning is woman's medicine.  May I please help your patient?" 

Ella continued to look in their eyes while Carrie translated.  The translation seemed to take a long time.  Perhaps Carrie was adding what she had heard about Ella.  Finally, the one in the middle stepped aside and allowed Ella to enter and see a young woman lying moaning on a pile of bedding.  Ella went to her, and touched her distended abdomen.  Then she turned back to the midwives, pulling a packet of black cohosh from her pocket.  "Have you given her this?  And how recently?" 

Carrie translated the question and, after all three had smelled and tasted the root pieces, the reply , "Yes.  At midnight."

Ella pulled two small bottles marked with a bit of red ribbon from her pocket and handed them to the senior midwife.  "Please have her drink these.  This root is the most important ingredient in them.  Other ingredients will help her pain."  The woman took the bottles and poured them into a cup that she helped the patient drink. 

Ella said, "I need a piece of cloth, damp with hot water."  The youngest of the midwives moved to fulfill this request after Carrie translated.  Ella took the cloth, and spread it over the patients abdomen, then started massaging.  The third midwife went to the other side and copied Ella's massage. 

After ten minutes, Ella felt the womb relax its spasm.  "Turn the baby now!" she ordered.  The senior midwife complied.  Then came normal contractions, and the baby's head appeared.  The midwife pulled the baby out, looked at it, then laid it down with a few words. 

Carrie translated, "Right arm crippled.  No life in tribe."

"No!" objected Ella, snatching up the baby boy.  She blew into his mouth, then pulled and rotated his arm to reduce the dislocation of his shoulder.  He wailed to protest this treatment, and waved both arms.  His mother roused at the sound and reached for her son.  Ella gently laid him at her breast, and stepped back. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 23, 2007, 11:15:47 AM
Charley couldn't believe his ears.  Those two dedicated deputies would go racing off to rescue dirty indians and leave their prisoners unguarded?  They hadn't even taken time enough to have tied up Eddie with anything more than a pair of handcuffs.  He snorted, thinking that it just showed that women are too soft-headed and scatter-brained to do man's work while he started feeling for the knots in the rope. 

The gag and the blindfold were annoying enough of themselves, but the way she had tied the cloth across his ears bothered his hearing as well.  His pulse echoed in his ears, making it hard to distinguish the sounds around him.  He thought he heard horses shifting around.  He definitely didn't hear any more voices. 

Black beard signaled Eddie to silence and took him out of the camp.  Once they were a little away, he asked quietly, "Where are your horses?"  Eddie led him to the trees where he and Jimmy had tied their horses.  Black beard and Eddie mounted up and rode back into camp.  Nicky was draped over his horse, and Jimmy over his.  Ted's horse had bolted when Ted fell off, but stopped fairly soon to graze. 

Tensleep put the telescope away after seeing two horses racing back towards the village and finished saddling Buck and the mule.  Once everything was ready to move, then would be time to deal with Charley. 

Charley was getting frustrated.  He could find knots, but couldn't get them to loosen.  They didn't feel like normal knots.  If only he could see what he was working on! 

Suddenly other hands were working on the ropes.  The connection between his hands and his feet fell away and he could sit up straight.  Three hands held him while one cuff of the manacles was unlocked, then his arm was pulled behind his back and the cuff was snapped back on.  Then he was picked up and draped across his own saddle by the smell, and tied into place. 

Finally Charley heard an unfamiliar man's voice, "Let's go." 

The party picked up Ted's horse and draped Ted's body across it, then joined Scarlet.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 23, 2007, 09:32:59 PM
Scarlet was relieved to see Tensleep and Black beard coming down the trail. They stopped short knowing they were being watched, just as relieved to see Scarlet when she stepped out of the rocks.

“Ella do that before she left?” Black beard asked softly so Charley couldn’t hear as he looked over  the Indian who had been treated for the burns.

“No. I’ve had more than my share of experience with burns.” Scarlet replied.

Black beard looked close at the man, who was passed out. “Damn, burned his hands and feet did they?”

Eddie was busy staring at Frank. Scarlet must have shot him through the heart, but Eddie couldn’t help wonder what had happened to his hands. They’d been cut off at the wrists.

Black beard was looking now too.

“Y’all can bury him if you want to but I won’t.” Scarlet said as she dug for some bandages she knew Ella had left on the pack mule.

“It would be the Christian thing to do.” Eddie replied wondering at what point Franks hands had been removed and by whom.

Scarlet had moved back over to the burned Indian.

Eddie watched her. She seemed so gentle as she applied the salve from the jar on the man’s burnt hands then wrapped the gauze loosely and tied it below the marks left from the rope.

Scarlet looked up at him. “Like I said you can if you want. I won’t, but if you do you bury his hands some place else.”

Eddie looked confused but Scarlet didn’t feel the need to explain.

The Indian started to open his eyes.

“You are with friends.” Scarlet said as the man looked around. “What is your name?”

“Ella, need Ella” he said looking desperately at Scarlet.

“Ella has gone to your camp with Circling Falcon.”

The man held his hand up looked at it and lay his head back. Then started to speak in his own tongue.

Eddie was curious but afraid to ask Scarlet looked angry as the man spoke.
“Red Bear wants to know how he is supposed to hold his wife and child with hands like that if they survived the night.”

A chuckle was heard from Charley.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 24, 2007, 12:36:36 PM
Circling Falcon tossed the reins of Ella's horse to some of the children with orders for them to tend it.  Then he gathered all of the able-bodied men to return, prepared with a couple of travois to transport Red Bear and his brother back to the village while the main part would hunt down the other five.  Ella and Scarlet must have encountered some of that band in order to know to come to rescue him, but he hadn't seen the men they traveled with.   

As the men left, they heard a new baby cry. 

Ella settled onto the floor next to Carrie to stay out of the way of the midwives as they finished up.  She leaned her head on her knees to rest.  Carrie tapped her on the shoulder, then led her out of the birthing hut and back to Carrie's tipi.  There, she pointed Ella at the heap of furs and said, "Rest.  I come if you needed." 

Ella said "Thank you" and collapsed onto the bed. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 24, 2007, 09:30:22 PM
Charley’s chuckles annoyed Scarlet. She looked up from where she was kneeling next to Red Bear. “I would cut his tongue out if I didn’t think Circling Falcon would be bringing men back to do it themselves.” She said flatly. “Would one of you shut him up.”

“You’d cut his tongue out?” Eddie realized he’d said the thought out loud and in a disapproving tone.

Scarlet’s cold stare fell on him. “Maybe it would be more fitting if I burned it off.”

Eddie was having a difficult time understanding this one. “That wouldn’t be very Christian like.”

Scarlet’s eyes narrowed and she pressed her lips together. “I don’t discuss my religious beliefs but I will tell you you are preaching to the wrong choir.”

“You would tend a red man so gently and then treat Charley no better than he has treated them?” Eddie said.

Scarlet stood up and stepped over Red Bear. Black beard had seen her irritated and mad before but this had reached a new level.

“Life has taught me not to judge a man by his clothes or the color of his skin or the language he speaks or by his religious background. Live and let live until someone like you comes along. Your type steal, murder and rape.” She hissed as she stopped in front of him. “The Indians call themselves human beings Eddie. They have religion. They have families. They would die for one another, like you have chosen to die with your brother if need be. Charley said I would be good coming over to his side. The only problem with that I have is the torture and slaughter of innocent people. I’ve done things to people like Charley that would most likely turn your stomach too. I never wanted to learn to do it but it was people like you who forced me to do things to survive. You have no right to judge my actions unless you know who you are judging.”

“You make it sound like someone tortured and burned somebody close to you.” He replied.

“The bastards raped her too. Then I had to pull her husband out of a bottle and convince him life was worth living.”

Eddie cast his eyes down. “I’m sorry.” He said softly.

“I won’t say it again. If you want to bury him do it. If not leave his body for Red Bear’s people to deal with.”

Black beard had stepped over to Charley and hit him in the head causing him to pass out while Scarlet had vented on Eddie. He noticed  Tensleep had moved and kept an eye on the confrontation between Scarlet and Eddie. He suspected Tensleep had positioned himself to stop Scarlet from doing something she may be sorry for later.

Scarlet turned, went back to Red Bear and knelt beside him. Her demeanor changed as she started to talk to him telling him what she had put on his burns. She then asked who the third man was that had ridden with Red Bear and Circling Falcon.

Red Bear looked at the man on the spit then spoke. “My brother, Blue Moon. His wife was with mine for the birthing. She did not want the woman you call Carrie Moore to ask for Ella’s help.”

Eddie had dismounted under the watchful eyes of Tensleep and approached Scarlet and Red Bear.

Red Bear looked nervous. Eddie couldn’t understand what they were saying to one another but from the way she looked up at him when she spoke he figured she had told the Indian she would shoot the approaching man before he was able to hurt him again.

“Can I bury his companion?” Eddie asked.

Scarlet looked at Eddie. “His people have their own practices for their dead, but thank you for offering. You could find something to wrap his body in and take him off the stake.” Her voice was calmer and not so agitated.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 26, 2007, 09:28:13 PM
Eddie did as Scarlet asked. At one point he ran past Tensleep and threw up behind a tree but he returned to the task at hand. He still didn’t know what Scarlet and Red Bear were saying but they were watching him.

“You spoke of religion Eddie.” Scarlet said when he looked her way again. “Red Bear wants to know if you are a religious man.”

Eddie figured he knew what was coming next. “I am. Tell him I am sorry for what has happened.” Eddie said looking down as he folded the blanket over the corpse trying not to be sick again. He saw Scarlet raise her eyebrows at Red Bear’s next question.

“He wants to know if you are at war with him, and if you are why did you not let them die with honor.”

Eddie came over and kneeled next to them. “I love my brother. I thought by joining him I could talk him out of riding with Charley. Charley talks about what he likes to do to traitors, anybody who would try to leave. I did what I did because I didn’t know any other way to survive. I never new they were anything more than hold up men until it was to late. Jimmy said all he’d done was a couple of stage robberies and burning some empty places before they stopped by and I joined. It wasn’t until later I learned how Charley lost most of his gang or that he even had a gang. I don’t want to die Deputy King. I didn’t want these men to die and I certainly didn’t want to bring harm to Red Bear and his wife. Haven’t ever gotten into a mess circumstances seemed to throw you in and then not know what to do? I prayed something would happen to help me and Jimmy out.” He said with a sigh.

“If you believe in prayer Eddie I strongly suggest you pray Ella was in time to save his wife and child. If  the delay caused by you capturing these messengers killed either of them, she will count those deaths in the debt that Charley and the rest of you owe."

“I don’t understand.” Eddie said with a confused look. “debts?”

“Ella spared your lives. You and Jimmy, she patched him up. You belong to her.”

“Who does Charley belong to?”

Scarlet looked at Blue Moon. “Red Bear.” She said flatly.

“Do you know what they will do to him?”

“Damn good idea.”

“It doesn’t bother you?”

“Have you heard what Charley likes to do to people just because he enjoys it? He’s not wanted in seven states for nothing.”

“Seven?” Eddie asked surprised.

“May your God help you mister.” She said standing up and retrieving her canteen for Red Bear.

Black beard approached them. “We can’t move Red Bear can we?”

“I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s absolutely necessary. He may be able to sit a horse tomorrow but we have nothing to move him with unless you want to make something. I’m sure his people will come back for him.” Scarlet replied.

“Then we wait. If no one shows in a couple of hours I will go and see what has happened with Ella.” Tensleep said loosening the cinch on his horse.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 27, 2007, 12:26:35 AM
Ella had fallen into a light sleep when she was awakened by a woman's wail.  It was a cry of grief.  She suspected that the wife of the man Charley had killed had just been told, and that an unfamiliar white face would be unwelcome.  She stayed in the tipi until Carrie came back. 

"Who is crying?"

"Summer Rain.  Her man, Blue Moon, was with Circling Falcon." 

Ella bowed her head, "I didn't stop where he died long enough to ask his name.  I gave Scarlet salve to put on the other man's burns while I came with Circling Falcon.  Who is he?"

"Red Bear.  You helped his woman, Desert Rose.  How is he?

"Burned badly, but I think he will live.  I should go back to help him, since everything seems to be going well with Desert Rose and her baby." 

"Circling Falcon gone, bring Red Bear back."

"That's good.  There isn't much more than what Scarlet is doing that I would be able to do for him there."

"Bring Red Bear back, then hunt bad men."

"It won't take much hunting.  They came to attack our camp.  Marshal Ross has them.  Four are captive, two are dead, none are free."

"You teach potion you gave Desert Rose?"

"Yes, to anyone who wants to learn.  But I need the saddlebags from my horse." 

"I bring," said Carrie, leaving the tipi.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 29, 2007, 11:29:26 PM
Jimmy’s movement caught Eddie’s eye. He walked over to where Jimmy had been dumped off his horse onto the ground and had been left tied next to Nicky. Black beard stood guard over them.

“What happened?” Jimmy asked.

“We’ve been arrested by Marshal Ross and his deputies.” Eddie replied.

“I remember being shot by a woman.” Jimmy said trying to rub his face only to find out his hands were bound behind his back.

“She shot you then she helped me patch you up.”

“Where are the others?”

“Ted didn’t make it. Nicky is ok and Charlie is over there.”

Jimmy glanced in the direction Eddie had gestured. Charley was tied with his hands bound around a tree and a rope tied at his neck. Jimmy also noticed he was gagged and blind folded.

“They gonna kill us?” Jimmy asked.

Eddie looked towards Black beard. The man made the hair on his neck stand on end and sent chills down his spine. He  could imagine the big man removing his spine with a hard jerk if he got mad enough.

“Why aren’t you tied up?” Jimmy asked.

“I’ve been cooperating, helping clean up the mess Charley made.”

Jimmy wasn’t sure how to respond. He started to wonder if Eddie could get them free but right now he was thirsty. “I’m thirsty can I have something to drink?”

Eddie looked up at Black Beard. Who looked over to Tensleep.

“They can use one of their own canteens.” Tensleep replied.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on July 30, 2007, 10:51:20 AM
Ella stood when Carrie came back into the tipi with her saddlebags, followed by two of the midwives. 

"Where is the third one?" she asked Carrie.


Ella bowed her head in acknowlegement then gestured for everyone to sit.  Out of the saddlebags she pulled a bottle of pure alcohol, a mortar and pestle, and a wide mouthed jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Out of her pockets came packets of herbs. 

She explained and demonstrated how she made the two components of her potion.  The first was an extraction of black cohosh with alcohol.  After the dried roots were broken up in the mortar and pestle, they were put in the jar and covered with the alcohol to steep for several days.  Because it would be hard for them to get alcohol of enough purity, Ella assured them that the patient could chew the dried root to get the benefit, but said that a water extraction was not as effective.

The second component was a decotion of willow bark and lavender.  The midwives already knew how to brew willow bark for pain relief.  The lavender was unfamiliar to them, but Ella tried to assure them that it was not required for the potion to work. 

The oldest woman asked a question.  Carrie's translation was, "What you do if potion and massage not work?"   Ella thought that Carrie's English was getting better with practice.

Ella answered while pulling another bottle out of her pocket, "Then I would resort to white man's medicine.  This is chloroform.  Breathing enough of it makes you sleep and feel no pain."  She opened the bottle and let them smell the cap. 

"Why you not use that first?"

"Because you cannot use it the next time a baby needs to be turned.  Even if you have a bottle of chloroform, you need to know how much to use, because too much can kill.  Massage, heat pack, black cohosh and willowbark you have and know how to use."

The women talked among themselves, sometimes touching the things spread out before them. 

The oldest woman introduced herself, "I am Singing Lark.  My man is White Elk, our chief.  Blue Moon and Red Bear are my sons.  You said the outlaws are dead or captured by Marshal.  What he do with them?"

"I haven't talked to him about that yet.  He might plan to take them to jail so they can be tried for their crimes.  Most of them are accused of many crimes in many places."

The women looked angry and sounded scornful, "White man's justice.  Put in jail a little time, then let free to murder again." 

"I want to have a trial here, to decide which of them are guilty of murdering Blue Moon and hurting Red Bear.  Those ones should be given to you and Summer Rain and Desert Rose to punish.  The others, we would take."

The women talked among themselves again, then Singing Lark said, "I talk to my man, he talk to Marshal.  Trial here or we take all captives."

"Two are my captives, and it is my responsibility to protect them until they can be given a trial,"  Ella said stubbornly.

"How are they your captives?  Marshal has captives."

"I shot and wounded one brother.  His brother surrendered in order to tend the wound.  Scarlet and I together captured Charley.  Scarlet killed two others.  Black beard captured the last one."

"Charley is your captive too.  You responsible for him?"

"I would rather carry a rattlesnake in my skirt than try to take Charley to jail.  The rattlesnake is less dangerous."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on July 30, 2007, 10:12:17 PM
Eddie looked towards Charley wondering if he should offer him a drink. Charley couldn’t see him and Eddie just as soon stay away from Charley.

“Give ‘em a drink.” Jimmy said almost as if to read Eddie’s mind.

He walked to Charley and reached down to remove the gag.

“Leave it.” He heard her say. Which seemed to anger Charley.

“How can he drink if I don’t remove it?” Eddie asked Scarlet.

“He can drink through the gag.” She said.

Eddie looked at the gag. It was blood, dirt and sweat stained. He frowned at the thought of what it might taste like. “Do you want something to drink?” He asked.

Eddie could make out “No” as the man tried to thrash around. Eddie returned to his brother and sat the canteen down next to him. The wound was slightly seeping through Jimmy’s bandage. Eddie unwrapped it to make sure nothing had been disturbed from the movement.

Jimmy watched him. Then looked to the posse members. They were watching but Jimmy wasn’t sure how closely.

“You think you could get us out of here?” He whispered to his brother.

Eddie wasn’t all that surprised to hear the question. “No.”

“No you don’t think so or no you’re not going to even try?” Jimmy was irritated but kept his voice quiet.

“It is our opportunity to get away from Charley.”

“You’d rather hang than ride with Charley? You do know that’s what they’re gonna do to ya dontcha?”

“I ain’t done anything to hang for. If I stay with Charley I no doubt will be held responsible for some of his actions if it’s not already to late. If I try to escape they will no doubt just shoot me. Ella is not here and she seemed to be the most tolerant one. I would rather be shot by one of them than be stuck being Charley’s dog.”

Jimmy just shook his head thinking it was a hell of a time for Eddie to grow a spine.

Eddie replaced the bandage on Jimmy’s leg then went over to see what Scarlet was doing to some of the burns on Red Bear.

Scarlet had boiled some weed as far as Eddie could tell and was laying the leaves over some of the burns on Red Bear’s body.

“What are you doing?”

“It helps ease the pain. I ran out of the ointment Ella gave me using it on his hands and feet. This is something his people know.”

“And the ointment Ella gave you?”

“His people know that too.”

Eddie was about to ask more questions when the sound of approaching horses interrupted.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on August 01, 2007, 03:03:12 PM
“Men,” he began, “I don’t intend to change anything.  This is still Major Schurmann’s unit.  I’m just going to use it for a little while.”

That got a few chuckles. 

“I have complete faith and confidence in my NCO’s, and will do my level best not to get in their business.  However, I intend to lead from the front.  If that pisses some people off, so be it.  I won’t ask you to do anything I haven’t done myself, or that I’m not willing to do.”

Some faces brightened.  Some were still unsure.

“That being said, I leave you in the capable hands of your First Sergeant.”

As if on cue, Scott started back toward the front.

“Company…Attention!”  Heels snapped together.

“First Sergeant, take charge of your soldiers, and carry out the plan of the day.”

Scott nodded and saluted.  “Aye sir.”

As Fritz marched off, he heard Scott yell over his shoulder, “Tend to your mounts.  Fall out!”

As much as he wanted to go with them, Fritz knew it wasn’t his place to do so.  He returned to his tent to sew on his straps.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 02, 2007, 12:05:57 PM
Eddie tried to shrink into Scarlet's shadow when he saw the dozen or more Indians riding up.  Two boys and an old man dismounted next to Red Bear.  The old man spoke, and Red Bear seemed to relax a little. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the warriors circled around, whooping and hollering.  The sound made Eddie want to run, but there was no way to escape the circle.  He wanted to hide, but there was not really any place to hide, either. 

He looked at the Marshal and the others.  The Marshal was sitting, calmly smoking his pipe as though friendly neighbors had come to call.  Black beard was still watching the tied-up prisoners.  Scarlet was continuing to treat Red Bear's burns. 

Eddie's fear receded a bit as he wondered, "Why weren't they afraid of these savages?"

The Marshal got up, and started talking to the old man while the boys arranged a travois for the blanket-wrapped body.  Eddie was glad that he had wrapped it up carefully.  Seeing it on the stake might have made the Indians angry.

"Time to load up," announced the Marshal. 

Black beard gestured to Eddie, and he ran to obey.  Eddie held the reins of each outlaw's horse as Blackbeard loaded it.  When the first horse was loaded with Ted's body, Black beard signaled, and one of the warriors came close. 

Eddie almost gave into his fear, but he stood his ground and handed the reins to the warrior at Black beard's command.   

The process was repeated.  The warrior who collected Frank's horse asked something.  Scarlet answered, and pointed at the fire pit.  The warrior poked around with the tip of his spear and picked up something black and spidery.  Eddie realized what had happened to Frank's hands.  If there had been anything in Eddie's stomach, he would have lost it. 

Jimmy asked, "Can I sit the horse instead of being slung over it?" 

Black beard let him mount up. 

Eddie tensed up, afraid that his brother was going to try to escape.  An attempt would be suicide with these Indians around, and Eddie did not want to see his brother killed.  Jimmy tugged, but he didn't try very hard to take the reins away from Eddie. 

Eddie recognized the warrior who took Jimmy's reins as the one he and Jimmy had pulled down and subdued.  The warrior seemed to recognize him as well, but just took the reins and left. 

Red Bear had been loaded onto another travois, and the boys and old man had already headed out.
Only Charley was left to be loaded.  Charley struggled when Black beard tried to hoist him onto his horse, and Eddie had to grab the bridle to keep the horse steady while the Marshal and Scarlet came over to help.  Charley got one Indian holding the reins, and three others surrounding the horse. 

Eddie helped Scarlet dump dirt on the fire pit, before they mounted up.  Eddie rode over next to Scarlet, and silently offered her his reins. 

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 03, 2007, 11:35:34 PM
Scarlet looked at the reins Eddie held out. Her first thought was to let one of the warriors have the reins. He leaned over and held them closer to her hand as if to read her thoughts, her eyes traveled up his arm to his face. Scarlet always thought herself a good judge of character as she looked at him. Eddie’s eyes told her he was young, scared and disgusted with his brother and more with himself.

She took the reins. “Have you ever shot at a man Eddie?”

“No.” He looked down as if ashamed of himself, not that he’d not shot at people, at the fact he was even being associated with people the likes of Charley. “I was shooting the ground next to me when Ella shot Jimmy. Why do you ask?” He said looking back at her curiously.

“You don’t act like a man who has seen a lot of death. A man who’s heart has turned cold enough you kill and torture to feel anything at all, like Charley,  mostly you don’t seem to have the stomach for it.”

“When I rode off with Jimmy I could hear ma yellin’ after me I wasn’t like my brother, not to go. I wish I woulda listened to her but I was tired of the boring life of a farmer.”

“There are times I regret not listening to my ma too, but as she would say ‘You’ve made your bed now you must lie in it.’” Scarlet said moving out to follow Tensleep and the others.

They rode in silence for a while; Scarlet could tell Eddie was thinking on something before he finally asked. “What was the point of cutting off Frank’s hands and burning them?

“Frank’s hands were removed because some cultures believe a soul will not pass to the next world unless his body is intact. Without his hands he cannot pass to the next world, and if he somehow manages to he will not be able to do much without hands will he.”

"They wonder why we call them heathens." He said softly.

Scarlet looked over at Eddie. “Red Bear will not have to worry about the evil sprit of Frank coming to harm him or his family again. I burned his hands so they would be useless even if his soul was able to find them.”

Eddie sighed thinking he had probably insulted her again.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 04, 2007, 11:05:17 AM
Charley’s head pounded. Who ever had hit him hit him hard. It was probably King, Eddie couldn’t hit that hard, but he was sure he’d heard other voices. Being tied over the saddle was not helping him concentrate on his problem at hand. He could hear very little, he had to admire Coatsworth for thinking of tying something over his ears. He’d never thought of that one. He could hear the pounding in his head and the steps of the horses. There were many close to him. He was sure he’d heard more people arrive, Indians. Coatsworth had probably brought them back although he’d not heard her voice for some time now. He was sure he’d felt the hands of more than two people when he was thrown over the saddle.

He thought about struggling but he heard voices so he lay quite and listened. It was the voice of the blonde deputy and a man, he’d heard the mans voice before, it wasn’t one of his men. He figured maybe the marshal if the two women were deputies. He’d like to get a look at a man wise enough to put himself in a position of surrounding himself with women, both easy on the eyes. When he got tired of them he probably sent them after some wanted man to get rid of them. Good planning.

Tensleep rode up next to Scarlet. “What’s your take on this situation?”

“You said as far as you were concerned Carrie Moore didn’t exist. As far as I’m concerned Firehorse Charley was shot by some Mexican and died with most of his gang. They’ve already identified him. You showed me the paperwork yourself.” Scarlet replied.

Tensleep raised an eyebrow but her response was really no surprise to him. Their thoughts ran a parallel line when it came to things like this most of the time. It was no wonder the late Marshal Hart had locked horns with her so often. He would have fought to take them all to trial. Hart had been a good marshal but very much by the letter of the law and would have fought to take these men back for trial. Scarlet defiantly had her own views on laws.

“What about these others?”

“Red Bear says Eddie and Jimmy pulled Circling Falcon from his horse. They fought about it. Red Bear says he thinks Jimmy clouds Eddie’s thoughts and makes him follow by pretending to be something he is really not. He feels sorrow for the young brother.”

“Red Bear doesn’t speak much English. You two have said a lot to Red Bear to not speak his language very well.” Tensleep stated.

Scarlet half smiled. “I said I was out of practice. He spoke slow enough, but if you want to confirm what he said I don’t care if you ask him.”

Tensleep chuckled. “I got no need to question what you say Scarlet. You should know that by now. What else did Red Bear say to you?”

“Frank was as bad as Charley and I’m guessing it was Ted who liked beating on them also from what he said. He identified Jimmy as not being as aggressive as the others and Eddie being even less.”

Tensleep shook his head in understanding then rode quietly turning the information over in his mind.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 04, 2007, 05:03:41 PM
A lively discussion about treatments for burns that was stretching Carrie's ability to translate was interrupted by shouts announcing the return of White Elk and the others. Ella followed the other women out of Carrie's tipi, but didn't join them around Red Bear's travois.  She watched the warriors ride in, five of them leading outlaws' horses.  Circling Falcon had Jimmy, who was the only one sitting on a horse instead of slung across it.  Ella remembered that she hadn't taken the bullet out of his wound yet. 

Her friends were near the end of the procession, with Tensleep leading his mule and Scarlet leading Eddie's mount with Eddie astride and still untied.  Ella walked over to them and asked Scarlet in Comanche, "How has Eddie been behaving? I found a little time to review what we had on Charley's band.  There is paper on Jimmy, enough to earn him jail time but not a noose. We didn't have anything on Eddie, which makes sense if he was telling the truth about joining within the past month." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 05, 2007, 11:23:09 PM
“Eddie has been very cooperative. Red Bear told me Eddie and Jimmy fought while they were pulling him from his horse. I don’t think he has the mind or heart to ride with the likes of Charley very long, but he is not without guilt. There’s paper work on Nicky, I remember seeing it at the office. I would expect him to try to escape sooner or later. There is a short rope in his future.” Scarlet replied. “Did you make it in time to help Red Bear’s wife?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 06, 2007, 09:01:30 AM
"Yes, mother and son seem to be doing well.  The chief's wife needed just a little more knowledge," replied Ella.  "She's Red Bear's mother.  She'll probably be able to do as much for his burns as I can, although I should take a look as well.  I think she will invite me to do that, but she distrusts white man's medicine."

Eddie waited as patiently as he could for Scarlet and Ella to finish their conversation in that different language.  He thought they might be talking about him because Ella had looked at him. 

They stopped talking.  Eddie asked, "How are the mother and baby?  Scarlet told me I should pray for their well-being." 

"They seem to be doing well," answered Ella. "Thank you for asking." 

White Elk and a few warriors had come up to talk to Tensleep as soon as he dismounted.  After a few minutes of conversation, Tensleep turned to his deputies, "They want to hold a trial here to decide which of these outlaws we get to take to jail.  Seems that Ella claimed two of the captives as hers, and they appreciate her help with the birth enough to give her a chance to argue for their lives."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 06, 2007, 11:00:54 PM
Scarlet looked at Ella “I told Tensleep Charley was identified as being shot and killed. As far as the courts are concerned he is already dead. As far as I am concerned we’ve only apprehended what was left of his gang. I wouldn’t waste my breath arguing for his life.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 06, 2007, 11:17:46 PM
"Letting the tribe make Charley be physically dead to match the court's belief sounds fine to me.  The two captives I would argue for are Eddie and Jimmy, provided they did nothing to Red Bear or to Blue Moon." 

Circling Falcon came over to the posse to collect Eddie, and to tell them that Carrie had food for them in the tipi. 

Eddie looked to Ella for help, but she didn't try to stop the Indian from taking him. 

"Eddie, they are not planning to hurt you, so please cooperate.  If you struggle, they will subdue you by force.  Remember that they respect courage," said Ella, before she turned away from him to lead the posse to Carrie's tipi. 

Charley hadn't been able to hear the blonde and the man for a while.  The voices around him were speaking some Indian jabber instead of English. He felt the horse stop, and then he was dumped off the horse, dragged a few feet, and tied standing to a post.  The post was set pretty solidly in the ground, which was a good thing since his legs were all pins and needles. 

From the sounds he could make out, the rest of his men were being treated the same way. 

Finally, someone cut loose the gag and the blindfold.  He opened his eyes and saw an Indian with a big knife. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 07, 2007, 11:49:16 PM
Charley’s eyes darted around trying to asses his current situation.

The two women were following an Indian followed closely by two men. One of which he was sure of was one of the voices he’d heard; the big one must have been the one to put him on his horse earlier. The stake to the left of Charley held Ted’s lifeless body.  The stake to the right held Frank's body. From where he stood Charley could see Frank was missing his hands. His eyes fell on the spear next to Frank. Two small charred objects dangling bound together from it.  Charlie wondered who had cut and burned Frank’s hands, most likely one of the Indians.

“So this is what it feels like to be in fear of my life.” Charley thought. It was the same excitable feeling as taking another’s life. “There was always a way out until you were dead.” Charley thought as his eyes fell back on Ella.

“Deputy Coatsworth. No doubt I deserve to hang according to your posters, but won’t you give me the chance at a fair trial. Will you walk away and let them shoot me and cut off my hands?” He called out.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 08, 2007, 01:03:28 AM
Ella stopped when Charley called her and went back to talk to him.  "You are going to get a trial, but not for anything on the wanted posters.  You and your surviving companions will be tried here, today for the murder of Blue Moon and the torture of Red Bear.  We will hear testimony from Red Bear and Circling Falcon, and from any of your men willing to tell the truth."

"But they're just Injuns. Half the time, the government offers a bounty for killing redskins," protested Charley. "It can't be a fair trial, a legal trial, without a jury of white men."

"You've made a mistaken assumption.  The law I serve wasn't made up by white men working as lawyers and politicians.  The law I serve is found in the Old Testament - an eye for an eye, a hand for a hand, a life for a life.  By that law, you can expect to be treated the same way as you have treated others."  Ella's voice was cold. "I really doubt that they will shoot you.  That's much too fast a death.  How long did Blue Moon take to die?  They will try to keep you alive that long, at least."  She turned her back on him and followed the rest of her posse. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 08, 2007, 08:37:02 AM
Charley thought better of yelling after Ella just how long it had taken Blue Moon to die. He would take a different approach when he saw her later. He struggled but the knots were holding tight.

“How’s still alive back there?” He called to the bodies behind him.

“Me, Jimmy and Eddie.” Nicky replied.

“Can you get lose?”

Nicky was working the knots in his rope. “Workin’ it Charley.” He replied.

“Can you see what they’re gonna do to us if we don’t get outta here?”

“Yep.” The reply came from both Jimmy and Nicky.

Eddie remained quiet thinking Ella was right. If the Indians chose beat him to death then so be it. A man was dead because of his help and he couldn’t give that life back to the man’s family.

As the posse walked Singing Lark flanked Scarlet. “My son says you treated his burns. What do you know of burns?” She asked wondering if Scarlet understood her.

“More than any one person should have to.” Scarlet replied to Singing Lark’s surprise. Scarlet looked at the woman. “I am not Ella. Ella has a much better touch with most healing but I’ve been taught the ways of the Elders by my Comanche brothers. My white brother would have died of burns if it had not been for them and what they could teach me. I treated your son like I treated him.”

“How bad was your brother?”

“Shot and left to die in a burning house. His wounds were bad, different places than Red Bear’s.”

Singing Lark shook her head in understanding and went back to her son when the posse entered the tipi. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 08, 2007, 11:59:45 AM
Ella had been hungry, and she knew she needed to eat.  But the conversation with Charley and the thought that her words might be all that stood between her prisoners and death at Indian hands were tying her stomach up in knots.  The food was good, hot roast meat and freshly baked flatbread, but Ella had to force herself to eat more than a few bites. 

She finished her meal, listening to conversation in a mixture of languages.  She had picked up a few words of Cheyenne so far, but hadn't gotten any sense of the grammar or structure of the language yet.  She waited until the others had all eaten before taking a pocket kit out of her saddlebag. Ella stood and announced, "I still need to get the bullet out of Jimmy's leg."

Black beard went with her. 

Jimmy was scornful when she arrived, "What's the point of taking out the bullet if these savages are just going to murder me anyway?"

Ella replied calmly while she worked, in spite of the tension inside, "They aren't savages.  They have a code of law and sense of justice.  They will only kill you if you helped murder Blue Moon and helped torture Red Bear.  If all you did was hit Circling Falcon with an empty hand, then Circling Falcon will hit you with an empty hand.  You will be given a chance to testify, to say what you did and what the others did."

Black beard checked the ropes tying the prisoners while Ella was working.  He called her over to Nicky's stake when she was finished.  Nicky had stopped working but the rope was visibly looser than it should be.  Black beard tightened the ropes and added more knots. 

"I've got another use for his sleeves," she said, using Charley's knife again to cut his sleeves off his arms.  She took the pieces of fabric and wrapped each of Nicky's hands.  "I doubt if he can loosen knots with his fists." 

Charley called out to her, "Don't you care about white people getting to see me go to trial for all the things on the posters? What right have you to deprive them of the satisfaction of seeing me hang?" 

"You were already reported as dead.  The families of your victims are trying to get on with their lives, and won't want to hear that you are still breathing."  Ella paused a moment then continued, "However, the ghosts of your victims knew you were still alive.  They have been waiting for you, and are gathering here.  Can't you hear them whispering around you?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 08, 2007, 03:14:39 PM
“Been my observations families of victims want answers. Why my husband. That sort of thing. Those answers will die with me.” Charley replied then chuckled “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Ella cocked her head in a listening pose, then said, "That's okay.  The ghosts say they believe in you."

Charley snorted, "That's just flies buzzing."

Ella smiled a knowing smile and asked, "Are you sure?"

“I’m sure.” He said.

Black beard stopped next to Ella. “You must have killed a bunch of folks that are waitin’ on your soul. It’s awful cold here.” He said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Charley spat feeling himself getting angry and nervous that they had the upper hand.

“Ain’t you never been around people who are getting ready to pass to the next world? When ghosts are present there is coolness in the air. Some say they can see the ghosts.” Black beard replied.

Scarlet had come out of the tipi she stopped next to Ella and Black beard and stared at Charley for a moment as if someone was talking to her.

“Isaiah Thomas says he is certain your soul will leave it’s earthly form and he has been waiting years to be able to see again.”

“I don’t even know who that is.”

Scarlet watched him for another long moment. “Black man, you slit his stomach open just enough to peel back the skin and but burning embers under it.”

“You’re just trying to spook me. You could have read that in the wanted posters.” Charley said nervously.

Truth was Scarlet had done her homework before she thought of going after Charley and knew a lot about his victims. She wasn’t seeing anything next to him but she could feel the coolness in the air surrounding him.

“You stole his favorite horse and rode him into the ground.” Scarlet said remembering some of the conversation from Isaiah’s son. “You will know the pain suffered by his horse too.”

Charley glared at her. Scarlet shrugged her shoulders. “You don’t have to believe anything I say. I don’t care.” She said before walking off.

Black Beard looked after Scarlet wondering just what she did see.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 08, 2007, 05:08:50 PM
"Your victims were just whoever crossed your path at the wrong moment.  You don't even know names for most of your victims, so how can you have any answers for the families?" said Ella.  "Maybe you just hear flies buzzing.  If they aren't ghosts, why do you have so many more flies around you?  There are more flies around you than there are on the corpses to either side of you.  Jimmy and Eddie don't have any flies at all. Nicky's got a few." 

There always were lots of flies around him.  It was just the fact that he was tied up and couldn't swat at them that made his skin itch so much where fly feet were walking around.  Some of the flies were biting, too. 

Tensleep and the members of the tribe were coming for the trial.  As they settled facing the stakes with the prisoners, it looked like White Elk and Tensleep were going to act jointly as the judge. 

Ella went to where Eddie and Jimmy were tied.  "I claimed you two as my prisoners, so the tribe is allowing me to argue for your lives. Did you ever read 'Julius Caesar' by Shakespeare?"

Eddie answered, "Yes, in school a long time ago."

Jimmy said, "I don't remember.  Never had much use for school."

"One quote from that play that should be remembered is 'Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste death but once.' Indians of all the tribes I've met so far respect courage and despise cowardice.  The surest way to be killed by Indians is to try running away from them.  Today, your best chance of survival will be to answer questions fully and politely, and confess exactly what you did when the three Indians rode into your camp.   Don't worry about what Charley would do to you if you told the truth about what you have seen him do. You won't be expected to say anything about what you have done before since the tribe doesn't care about your crimes against anyone else."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 08, 2007, 05:13:02 PM
"Why do you give a damn about what happens to us?" Jimmy asked.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 08, 2007, 06:23:54 PM
"You, because I patched you up.  Eddie, because he surrendered in order to tend your wound," answered Ella. "And because I do prefer to see justice done. If you didn't do anything to Blue Moon and to Red Bear, you don't deserve to be killed by their family. Delaying the messengers doesn't seem to have caused any permanent damage to Desert Rose and her son. Eddie even delivered part of the message promptly."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 08, 2007, 09:27:48 PM
“I didn’t think you were as cold as your partner there.” Charley said to Ella. “She’s like me. Doesn’t bother her to take another’s life, she’s admitted she plays judge, jury and executioner.” He said referring to Scarlet. “but you U.S. Deputy Marshal Coatsworth. You would save a killer because you merely put a bullet in him then had to dig it out. Maybe I should have let you shoot me too.” Charley was trying to figure out how to get Ella to want to take him back to. It would buy him more time to try to escape.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 08, 2007, 11:41:13 PM
"You did not want me to shoot you.  As soon as I identified you by the stink of burnt flesh, I decided that I would shoot to kill if you gave me reason to shoot you at all. I am glad I didn't shoot you.  It would be a shame to deprive Blue Moon's wife and mother of their just vengence," answered Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 12, 2007, 11:12:31 AM
Charley narrowed his eyes. Ella was a hard woman to figure for Charley. They could do what ever they wanted to him he thought. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing him show fear or pain.

Tensleep and White Elk spoke to one another before White Elk motioned to one of the other men. Charley was gagged so he couldn’t speak any further until they decided they wanted to hear him.

“Let’s get this underway.” Tensleep said motioning for Ella and Scarlet to come over.

Ella reached in one of the pockets of her skirt and pulled out a leather bound book.

White Elk asked Tensleep something while he eyed the book Ella held.

“White Elk wants to see your book and wants to know what it is.” Tensleep said.

Ella walked over and handed it to White Elk.

As White Elk looked at the book Tensleep explained it was Ella’s bible. Her religion was different than some of the other white man’s. White Elk looked at the book a little longer before handing it back to Ella with a nod of understanding.

Ella smiled as she took the book back then walked over to Nicky followed by Black  Beard who untied Nicky’s hands but made sure he could not escape.

 “Raise your right hand.” Ella began.

 He looked at her then the book she held. “I will not promise to tell the truth on that.” He spat as he glared at her.

“You don’t have to; but it would be to your advantage to cooperate here.” Ella replied calmly.

“We didn’t come here to bother any injuns. They rode into our camp. I thought they were supposed to be more cautious than just riding into somebody’s camp like that. They were calling out yer name. Maybe it’s your responsible for their deaths.” Nicky said.

Ella ignored his remark.

“Why did you come here to begin with?” Scarlet asked.

“Following you two.” Nicky replied looking Scarlet up and down then doing the same to Ella. “Damn shame coulda had some high times.” He grinned.

Black Beard had retied Nicky’s hands and taken a position not far behind him.
“No, the damn shame will be when Christine Baker has to identify the rope meat we’re callin’ Nicky Smith as her brother Nicholas Baker. Imagine how she’s gonna feel seein’ you swinging from a tree when she thought she’d buried her hero of a brother over five years ago.”

Scarlet turned to Ella. “Nick Baker died trying to save some farmer and his daughter from outlaws. The house was burned. They found the body of a girl naked and bound to her bed. Her father tied in the same room. Authorities figure it was the gang of Firehorse Charley. They raped the girl while they made her father watch.

Another man was found in the doorway of the house. His face was badly burned but his clothes and the horse outside belonged to a neighbor, Nick Baker.” Scarlet said turning in time to see Nicky’s eyes. They had changed, concern, fear? Scarlet wasn’t sure. What she was sure of was she was on to something that bothered him.   

“I don’t know any Christine Baker.” He growled.

“Good, then it won’t bother her to see your body swinging from the hanging tree in your home town.” Scarlet said with a shrug of her shoulders “and she’ll be glad the murdering rapist that violated her friend has finally been found.

“Thought this show was for the Indians. If I was this Nick Baker I certainly would rather stay here and die by there hands then swing in front of my sister.”

“They’ll leave your face intact and I’ll make sure your body makes it home Nick.” Scarlet replied. “You haven’t changed much from that picture she has of the two of you.”

Nicky was angry now. He struggled to try and get lose but he was tied to tight.

“Be civil, cooperate and you’ll be turned over to the first proper authorities that can give you a trial and hang you proper like. They’ll put you on boot hill and if they mark your grave it will say Nicky Smith.” Scarlet said watching him.

“How do I know? How do I know you’ll keep your word and they won’t send my body home?” He growled as he narrowed his eyes thinking how he’d like to get his hands around her throat.

“I keep my word Nicky. Good or bad I keep my word. One has to dig pretty deep to find Nicky Smith’s birth and then be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. There a few other people that know your little secret.” She replied looking at him waiting for him to talk.

“We were headed for some spot in the Black Hills where Charley has a hide out.” Nicky began “I’ve been there before. Yesterday, we came across a set of tracks that Charley thought looked worth pursuing.  The horses and mule were all wearing shoes. So we figured it to be white folks. I got real interested when we came across signs of what I figured were two different women.”

“Go on.” Scarlet said when Nicky paused.

“We came across an injun hunting party that confirmed there were two women traveling with the horses. Nobody said anything about men. None of us speak injun very well anyhow. We followed the dust trail we saw head away from the injun camp. Charley told us to be careful and not camp on your trail and alert you.”

White Elk leaned over and asked Tensleep why someone would camp on the trail of another. Tensleep explained the expression meant they didn’t follow too closely.

“We stopped to rest.” Nicky continued “Eddie over there.” He nodded in Eddie’s direction. “felt the need to build a fire, even after he was told it was gonna be a cold camp, while Charley and I did some scouting around. We came back and that’s when them injuns rode in. I just captured the injun and the one I captured is still alive.” Nicky finished.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 12, 2007, 09:22:53 PM
Ella next took her position in front of Jimmy while Black beard untied his hands. 

He looked at her book. "What book is that?" he asked. "It looked like you've read it a lot."

"It's the Book of Psalms," she replied. "It seems to be the only part of the Bible available here." 

"I'm willing to swear on it." 

"Raise your right hand," Ella began. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"

"I do," replied Jimmy firmly.  Riding with Charley the past couple years had exciting most of the time, and hard on his stomach other times. Jimmy had thought he wasn't as bad as Nicky, and the idea that Nicky had raped and murdered a neighbor girl, someone he would have known all his life, just proved it. But would he have gotten to be as bad given more time? That thought was almost more disturbing than the idea that he might be going to die here, with the little brother who had always looked up to him watching. If the Indians did let him go, on Ella's word, he was headed for prison, but probably not a hanging tree. It was time to follow Eddie's lead, and break free of Charley.

"What can you add to Nicky's account?" asked Scarlet.

"Charley had been getting twitchy the last couple weeks. Charley said he wanted to roast some red meat, but the groups of Injuns we saw were all too big to tackle. He and Frank kept picking at Eddie, and doing stuff like 'accidentally' dropping hot coals next to Eddie. Spotting your tracks distracted them from whatever the two of them were plotting. Frank kind of encouraged Eddie to build the fire, by talking about how good a cup of hot coffee would taste. When Nicky and Charley came back last night after seeing the fire Eddie had started, I was afraid that Charley was going to start roasting Eddie on the fire. The Injuns riding in saved Eddie from something I wasn't going to be able to." 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 12, 2007, 10:47:38 PM
“What did you do when the Indians rode in?”  Scarlet asked.

“Charley ordered us to get the Indians. I figured…” Jimmy sighed regretting this whole mess and dragging his brother into it. “I figured I didn’t care who Charley and Frank amused themselves with as long as it wasn’t Eddie. He was closest to me.” Jimmy said pointing at Circling Falcon. “So I jumped ‘im. We wrestled, he is strong and almost over took me. I yelled at Eddie to help me otherwise the Indian was going to kill me. We beat on him until he was weak enough for us to tie up.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 13, 2007, 12:36:04 AM
"What did you see happen to the other Indians?" asked Scarlet.

"I couldn't see anything while I was wrestlin' with that one," answered Jimmy. "Afterwards, Eddie and I went walkin' as a perimeter guard while Charley, Frank and Ted 'played' with one of the Injuns. I volunteered us for that to get Eddie away before he did something to get Charley's attention again. Nicky was watchin' the other two Injuns, and gettin' impatient to be off catchin' the women.  Once the first Injun stopped twitchin', Nicky got Charley to go with him to check out the women's camp, since they knew where they were probably camped on that butte. Eddie, Ted and I were supposed to follow after as soon as it was light enough. Charley figgered he and Nicky wouldn't have any trouble, but we could come in as reinforcements. Frank was supposed to stay and guard the other two Injuns.  Charley told Frank and the rest of us not to touch either of them, but Ted and Frank started throwing coals at both of them almost as soon as they couldn't hear hoof beats. Then they took the other one over closer to the fire, and Eddie and I went walkin' again. They've ridden with Charley long enough to dare disobeyin' him."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 13, 2007, 07:40:41 PM
Scarlet eyed Jimmy a moment. "What you and Nicky are saying is the three of you are only responsible for pulling these men from their horses and beating them up?" She said walking to him and looking him in the eyes.

He looked back at her knowing she could see the fear he felt at the possibility being left here. "Yes." He said.

Scarlet turned and walked towards Tensleep and White Elk, stopping half way between them and the prisoners and facing the prisoners again.

"I think the three of you are equally responsible for the death of Blue Moon and the torture of Red Bear. You didn't put him on the stake but you prevented him from escaping or helping his friends, who might still be alive if you hadn't interfeared. Why shouldn't we just leave you here?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 14, 2007, 01:38:49 AM
"Eddie didn't know what was going to happen to anyone Charley captured. He wouldn't have touched 'em if I hadn't asked him to help me. He should not be blamed for any of it," replied Jimmy. "I accept my share of responsibility for catchin' him when I knew what Charley would do.  But I had to protect my brother. Charley would have burned Eddie if no one else had been available."

Jimmy took a deep breath, "I've got Charley's mark on my chest, from the first time I got between him and a victim, and Charley's stain on my soul because that was the last time I tried to interfere during the two years and more I kept ridin' with him.  Maybe you should leave me here, but Eddie deserves to learn from my mistakes and get home again."

Eddie interrupted, "No, if you get left here, I stay here too.  Brothers have to stick together."

Ella interrupted, "Eddie, calm down. Let's hear your testimony now."

Eddie thought a moment and asked, "Could you read the Psalm that prays for protection from deceit?"

Ella nodded and read Psalm 120, 
"In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war."

By this time, Black beard had untied Eddie's hands. Eddie raised his right hand and said firmly, "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God." 

He put his hands back behind him for Black beard to secure again before testifying, "I am not such a mooncalf that I didn't know what kind of person Jimmy was following, but I thought I could ride along just long enough to talk Jimmy into leaving them. Jimmy was Momma's favorite, and it almost broke her heart when he ran off when I was 12. I promised myself that I would follow as soon as I was old enough and bring him home. When Jimmy stopped at home for a short visit last month, I left with him. Momma tried to tell me not to go, that I would be lost, too."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 14, 2007, 10:50:38 PM
Eddie paused thinking about his momma’s words. “There have been moments I wondered if she was right, but I am not lost yet. My every intention was to get Jimmy to leave Charley’s gang. Last night when Frank started to encourage me to build a fire I saw an opportunity to try and warn the other camp there was somebody out there. It never crossed my mind that anybody would ride right into our camp without caution.” Eddie dropped his chin to his chest, closed his eyes and took a long breath before opening his eyes and looking at the group of people before him.

“I will stay or go peacefully where ever Eddie is sent and I will accept what ever punishment you or the Chief sees fit to give me. I would appreciate a Christian burial.” He looked at the spear that held the bound hand bones. “I promise I will not come back and bother anybody.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 14, 2007, 11:45:07 PM
"We should hear from Circling Falcon and from Red Bear before any decisions are made," said Ella.  She stood in front of Circling Falcon and repeated the oath.  Circling Falcon recognized the same words that she had said to Jimmy and that Eddie had said.  He raised his right hand and agreed without waiting for a translation.

His report added that the three of them were hoping to find Ella and companions camped sooner, but they were prepared to go all the way to the butte. It was not likely that Black beard would have taken them any farther before stopping for the night. They thought the fire was the campsite they were looking for. He had not seen how Red Bear and Blue Moon were captured. Jimmy had hit him in the face, and Eddie had tied his hands. They had captured him honorably, and tied him to a tree where he could not see the fire and what happened to Blue Moon.  He had worked his way around the tree enough to watch the torture of Red Bear.

His next words caused a chuckle among the Indians before Tensleep translated. Circling Falcon wanted another try at wrestling Jimmy and Eddie, but separately this time and not from surprise.

Jimmy responded smiling, "I don't think I would do well because of this bullet hole in my leg, but I could arm wrestle."

Eddie nodded, a little startled at the demand. He looked at Ella and whispered, "Should I try to win, or let him win?"

She whispered back, "You should do your best. If you defeat him without the advantage of surprise, he will feel better about having been overcome last night."

Out loud, Ella said, "A wrestling match should wait until we have heard everyone's words." She went over to Red Bear's pallet. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 16, 2007, 11:32:18 PM
Red Bear looked at Ella, but it was too much of an effort to raise his hand. He’d been watching and listening to know what she wanted.

“I swear on the spirits of my ancestors to speak the truth.” Red Bear started knowing it was his turn to talk. “The one who’s hands are missing was in camp when we rode in. He took a long stick from the fire and swung it at my pony spooking him. The one who lies to you had ridden in behind me and jumped from his horse to mine. I fought with all my heart thinking Desert Rose but the two of them overpowered me and tied me up.”

I was able to roll over and see the gagged man and his dead brother were doing to Blue Moon.” Red Bear looked over at Scarlet and asked “What do you call the dead man who was shot in the chest?”

“Ted.” Scarlet replied.

“The one who’s soul will walk forever searching for his hands?”

“Frank. The gagged one is Charley.” She said pointing “and that is Nicky.” Scarlet said as she pointed at him.

Red Bear shook his head in understanding, closed his eyes and waited for some of the pain to pass before going on.

“Frank and Charley lashed Blue Moon to a pole and put him over the fire. They turned the pole like the women do when they are cooking rabbit. When Blue Moon did not scream they became angry and wanted to make the fire bigger. While they gathered wood the one who lies, Nicky, walked to Blue Moon, took a stick near the fire, made it sharp with his knife and stuck Blue Moon then dropped the stick into the fire. Blue Moon still did not scream but his face showed much pain. When Frank and Charley came back they pointed at the blood stain and started to laugh.”

“He is the one that lies, not me.” Nicky protested when he heard Tensleep translate Red Bear’s words.

Scarlet walked over to Nicky and stared into his eyes.

“Stop that.” He spat hating the way she looked at him. It was like she was reaching into his very soul and seeing things he tried to cover up.

“Red Bear does not lie.” Scarlet said.

“How do you know. Yer going to take the word of an Injun over the word of a white man!?”

Scarlet stepped back to avoid being hit by spit as Nicky spoke.

“How could you do me like that?” He said looking towards Ella.

Ella replied looking back at him, "He swore to tell the truth.  You did not. Did you stab Blue Moon?"

“I was doing the Injun a favor. How would you rather die? Frank and Charley would have roasted him for hours, he died quicker because of what I did.” Nicky said.

“Some how I don’t think your motive was sparing Blue Moon pain.” Scarlet said.

“A wound from a sharpened stick on Blue Moon’s body can tell us whether that is true. Where did you stab him?” Ella asked.

“Inside thigh. Charley thought he messed ‘imself.” Nicky said.

“Why a stick?” Ella asked.

“If I used my knife Charley would have known I did it. The stick burned in the fire, no stains on my knife.”

Ella looked at White Elk. “May I examine the body of Blue Moon?”

White Elk considered the question for a moment then answered. “As long as you do no more harm to him.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 17, 2007, 12:19:03 AM
"I will do no more harm to him," promised Ella. Carrie led her to where Blue Moon's body was being prepared.   She murmured a prayer in Hebrew before she touched the body, to look for any lacerations on his legs.

She found a wound on the inner thigh.  She pulled a magnifying glass and her set of scalpels out of her pocket, and selected a blunt probe to use to investigate the wound without enlarging it. After she finished with that wound, she examined the rest of the body.

Ella returned to the area of the trial. Standing in front of White Elk and Tensleep, she raised her right hand while holding her Psalter in her left.  "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, Adonai."

She took a deep breath, and testified, "Yes, Blue Moon does have a wound in his inner thigh.  There are splinters in the wound that came from a wooden stick.  The wound was deep and the weapon nicked the big blood vessel in the leg. The immediate cause of Blue Moon's death was loss of blood."

She turned toward Charley, "The only person we have not yet heard from is Charley."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 18, 2007, 12:33:53 AM
White Elk told one of the men to take the gag off of Charley.

Charley stayed quiet. He had been weighing his options, he had to convince Ella to take him to trial. He didn’t want to be burned to death in an Indian camp and if he went with the Posse he could possibly escape.

Ella stood before Charley wondering if she should bother to ask him if he would swear to tell the truth and if he did could she believe what he said?

“Untie my had so I can raise it.” He said quietly watching her.

Black beard untied one and kept good hold on the other. Charley knew there was a gun pointed at the back of his head at the moment.

He raised his hand and thought about what he might say.

“I swear to tell the truth.” He stated.

Black beard retied his hands.

 “Charley you attacked and tortured Circling Falcon and Red Bear, and you killed Blue Moon.” Scarlet said.

Charley interrupted. “I once had a mother and a father, four sisters and two brothers. My father wanted a better life for us and brought us west. They never made it. I was left for dead by the Indians that attacked and killed them. They took two of my sisters, killed the other two and my mother. I am no more guilty of murder than they are.” Charley said.

“Was it these people who killed your family?” Scarlet asked.

He looked her up and down his eyes feel at her breast.

“Charley was it this tribe who killed your family?” Scarlet repeated irritated that he was just staring at her. She stepped closer and ducked down so he had to look into her eyes.

“If you are claiming the right to revenge who in this group of people is responsible for killing your family?” She said

Charley’s eyes were blank, he was thinking of something but Scarlet wasn’t sure what. “Are you lying about what happened to your family?” She asked.

“No, where do the two of you dig up your information. Take me back to wherever it is and I can tell you exactly where to look.” He said looking towards Ella hoping she would feel pity for his story and help him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 18, 2007, 07:32:43 AM
"Information is available everywhere, especially when you can operate a telegraph.  Sometimes the hard part is filtering out the facts that matter, so you can see the behavior patterns. The Marshal's office in El Paso has one wall covered with our 'most wanted' list. We tack up wanted posters, newspaper clippings, maps, telegram flimsies and other papers for the worst outlaws we are aware of. If any of these outlaws show up in our territory, we use that history to help us catch them. Sometimes, we have been able to send messages to other Marshals that helped them eliminate these threats to society. When we have free time, we work on that wall. I collect rumors and information by telegraph. We interview witnesses and family members and add written reports to the wall. When an outlaw is reported dead, we take his pages down and put them in a file folder. We don't dispose of that folder unless we can confirm the death," responded Ella. "Firehorse Charley, yours was one of the first faces on that wall. We have been collecting information about you for eight years or so. Your family was not killed by Indians. Your family was living in Lawrence, Kansas in August of '63. Your older brothers were already in the Union Army by then. Your father was a prosperous merchant, an outspoken opponent of slavery. Quantrill’s bushwhackers killed him and burned his store. Your father gave his life to buy time for your mother to get the family out of the building and to safety. Your oldest brother John was wounded and other brother George was killed at the battle of Sugar Loaf Hill in February of '65. Your mother died ten years ago, just after you ran away from home at age 16. Your four sisters are married and living in Kansas, and ashamed of you."

The more Charley tried to work on Ella's emotions, the colder and harder towards him she got. Nothing ever done to him could have given him excuse to murder for fun dozens of times. Indians murdering his family was no excuse for him to murder random Indians who crossed his path even if that story were true. 

It was hard to believe that he and John were brothers, but they looked so much alike.  John was 10 years older, but Charley's life style was aging him fast. John had kept in touch with Ella after he recovered from his wounds and went home to Lawrence. She visited him and his wife during her westward journey three years before. They had seen a wanted poster on Charley, and warned her about him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 20, 2007, 08:37:55 AM
Charley was beginning to dislike Ella a whole lot. She had probably given him more information on his family than he’d gotten since he’d left home.

His eyes feel back on Scarlet she was looking into his eyes again. He knew she’d been doing it for some time. Maybe she knew when he was lying although he had a pretty good poker face. There was something about her he recognized.

Scarlet had seen his eyes somewhere before, she knew it but just couldn’t place where from. Their paths had skirted one another at times but never had she looked him in the face. They were the eyes of a killer, cold and dark as midnight, eyes she’d looked into to many times to count. All the coldest ones had similar eyes. When Ella started talking about the most wanted wall and the information on Charley Scarlet remembered where she’d seen his eyes. They were the eyes she had seen in her dreams peeking in a window. The eyes of a man who’s soul had been cursed; leaving him to Red Bear’s people would be a fitting end to him.

When Ella mentioned El Paso Charley had a good idea what was familiar about Scarlet. It was that big ol’ pistol she was wearing on her shoulder. He’d seen it before, cept on a tall, broad shouldered man. The man that had put a bullet in Charley’s shoulder out of that very pistol, he was sure, while he tried to escape one of his first robberies. He wondered why she carried it now. He’d see how his conversation with Ella played out before he worked on Scarlet again.

“Why was I the first to go on your wall? Don’t you want your neighbors to know you brought me back. Tracked down a killer on the most wanted wall halfway ‘cross the country and drug me back to be tried in your home town? You really don’t want to leave me here do you?” He asked Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 20, 2007, 04:51:03 PM
"I really do want to leave you here. Why should I haul you halfway across the country? I am confident you will receive justice here at the hands of those you have wronged. You tortured their kinsmen, and intended to murder them," replied Ella. "Rabbi Hillel's summary of The Law in the Old Testament is 'That which is hateful to you, do not do to another.' The penalty for trangressing against that Law is 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.' Therefore, your life has been forfeit for many years, and it is time that Law catch up with you."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 20, 2007, 09:48:00 PM
Charley glared at Ella as he thought of the things he would be doing to her later.

“Have we heard from everyone? Do you have any more questions?” Tensleep asked Scarlet and Ella, both who replied no.

“Let’s wrap this up then.” Tensleep replied.

Scarlet started as she walked in front of the group of people watching. “Charley is the leader, calls the shots. If it had not been for his orders and actions Blue Moon would still be alive and Red Bear would not have been tortured. Charley was even in charge of what was done to the unsuspecting men who rode in his camp looking for help. He swears to tell the truth and lies anyway. As far as white man’s law is concerned he was killed in the last hold up he is charged for. I say leave the people he has wronged at rest and leave him here to face the laws of the people who know he still lives. Who will feel his pain in the coming months.”

Scarlet walked in front of Nicky. “This man lies for sympathy, lies to his family and friends. He says he stabbed Blue Moon to spare him pain. I think he had his own agenda in mind and Blue Moon was just an obstacle to be disposed of like a used blanket.  There was no concern for his suffering or not. If he goes back with the Marshal he will be hung at best. He will never know the pain he has caused others. As Ella said a life for a life. White man’s law will not do justice for what he did to Blue Moon but Cheyenne justice would fulfill the desire of the circuit judge.”

Scarlet wandered in front of Jimmy. “You are traveling the same path as they are.” She said pointing at Charley and Nicky. “You share the guilt of burning Red Bear’s hands and feet, part of his body. You did nothing to stop the others from doing it. You should be left here feel the pains your ways have caused others.”

She then came to a stop in front of Eddie. “The fates have not smiled upon you. You have been put in the wrong place at the wrong time. Blue Moon’s wife is without a hunter to provide for their home. Red Bear’s home is without a hunter and one to tend his horses. You should be left here to do the chores these men used to do until it is seen fit for you to be dismissed. At that time you should be returned to white man’s law to pay for your wrong doings among your own people.” Scarlet concluded.

The group of Indians spoke among themselves for a moment.

“Let us hear Ella’s remarks.” Tensleep said.

All eyes fell on Ella. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 20, 2007, 11:35:35 PM
Ella went to stand in front of Jimmy. "Are you willing to show the scar Charley gave you?"

Jimmy nodded and said, "It's over my heart." 

Ella unfastened his shirt to show a burn scar shaped like the letter C.  She winced, imagining how that had hurt. 

She then turned to face Tensleep and White Elk.

"The two men who directly hurt Red Bear are already dead, although Scarlet's rifle gave them a far more merciful death than they deserved. If they had been taken to white man's justice, they would have been hung for many years of murders."

She walked over to look at Charley, then continued on to look at Nicky before turning back to the judges again. "This man's future away from here is a hangman's rope or a bullet when he tries to escape his just punishment. I ask only that you bear in mind that he did give mercy, although only as a side effect of his own agenda, and apparently did not burn Blue Moon."

She moved to stand between Jimmy and Eddie, "Scarlet says that Jimmy and Eddie are responsible for the fate of Blue Moon and Red Bear because they captured Circling Falcon. I tell you that responsibility for the fate of Blue Moon and Red Bear also rests on their own shoulders, and those of Circling Falcon, for riding into a night camp. If the three of them had slowed down and looked at the people around the fire before riding in, they could have continued to the butte unmolested."

Ella looked at all of the warriors as she continued, "Imagine: You are resting in the middle of the night, and suddenly three strangers ride into your camp shouting. What do you do? It looks like an attack. Leaving those strangers alone would not be reasonable. Obeying an order to capture instead of kill would be reasonable, maybe even too mild of a response if it were an attack."

She let her gaze meet one warrior's eyes after another while Tensleep translated. 

"Jimmy and Eddie both bear blood guilt because they allowed evil acts to continue, but remember that they were outnumbered four to two by evil men. Jimmy said he had been burned by Charley the first and only time he tried to interfere, and you have seen the scar. Jimmy's guilt is greater because he knew what would happen to the captives and did not act, but Jimmy was afraid for his brother's life, afraid that his brother would be murdered for trying to interfere."

Ella looked again at White Elk, "Scarlet suggests that Eddie should stay here to do the chores that Blue Moon can never do again in his lodge, and the chores that Red Bear will not be able to do until his burns heal. I say that the brothers should stay together. If they are willing, they should both work for Blue Moon's wife and children and for Red Bear, his wife and child, for a period of three months."

Ella turned to look at each of the brothers while Tensleep translated. Jimmy spoke first, "As long as we can stay together and not be killed, I would be willing. I know that I am headed for prison after I leave here, but maybe I can make a fresh start afterwards."

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 21, 2007, 08:34:38 AM
Red Bear motioned Scarlet over. They spoke softly to one another. Nobody could hear what they were saying but both seemed to be as stubborn as the other.

Scarlet finally turned to Ella.

“Red Bear wants to look Jimmy and Eddie in the eyes. He wants to get up to do this. I suggest we bring Eddie and Jimmy to him. He wants to know how he can trust these men doing things in his lodge when he cannot defend it. He wants them to convince him they do not lie since their friends lie so easily.”

Scarlet looked from Ella to Jimmy and Eddie while she continued. “Red Bear says he does not trust you and while he understands the desire for you to remain together he feels that puts his life and the life of his people in more danger. He wants to know why you would stay knowing you are headed to white man’s prison when you could kill him or his wife.” Scarlet paused a moment and looked over at Red Bear then back to Ella and the men who’s lives she was defending. “He wants to know what would keep you from violating the women and girls in this camp after you have killed the men in their sleep.”

 Scarlet looked at Tensleep and White Elk. “Red Bear also wants to know if any of you would sleep with a couple of wild dogs in your lodge.”

She turned back to Ella, Jimmy and Eddie.
“Red Bear is willing for Eddie to stay he says it would be easier to keep an eye on him and feels Eddie’s the one whose soul is not yet tainted. Jimmy on the other hand he does not want and fears the two of them together since Eddie seemed to be a follower.”

Scarlet walked close to Ella. "Red Bear says he should not be the one punished again by saddleing him with both men."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 21, 2007, 01:18:21 PM
Ella turned to Eddie, "Are you willing to stay here without Jimmy? Carrie will be able to help you learn the Cheyenne language, while you help her improve her English."

Eddie nodded again, "As long as you promise to take care of Jimmy.  You've said he's headed for prison. Are you sure he's not going to be hung?"

Scarlet answered, since she remembered better what warrants mentioned Jimmy, "Just jail time."

Eddie nodded again, more firmly, "It should be a lot more interesting than being a famer!"

"The work won't be any easier than farming. You can expect to be exhausted at the end of each and every day," Ella warned him.

"I'm not afraid of hard work. I am good with horses." 

"Are we all agreed now? We will take Jimmy back to white man's justice.  We will leave Nicky and Charley to your justice. We will leave Eddie to be a servant for Red Bear and his family, including his brother's widow and children." Ella asked Tensleep, "Do we need to take any bodies back, or can we leave those here for burial?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Tensleep on August 21, 2007, 02:16:44 PM
"We will leave the bodies where they lay, let nature do it's work. If we take Nicky and Charley back someone might question their condition." Tensleep stood and spoke to White Elk a moment.

"Black Beard, let's load Jimmy on a horse an' git outta here."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on August 21, 2007, 10:40:08 PM
The straps were on now.  He felt their weight; the burden of command.  Fritz was responsible for every man who wore the "2" and the "I."  Their lives, and their deaths, were now in his hands.  More than anything else, he wanted to ride and get some target practice.  His orderly stood at the tentflap.

"Sir, Major Schurmann sends his compliments, and requests you meet him at his tent."

He grabbed his slouch and gunbelt.  "Very well.  I'm on my way."     
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 21, 2007, 11:19:42 PM
Charley’s eyes darted back and forth as he thought about how to get out of this. He was determined NOT to be left in the Indian camp. His eyes feel back on the gun Scarlet wore on her shoulder. He’d wondered the first time he saw it why someone would engrave a Dragoon. The man that had carried them had been good with the pair of them, head and chest shots if Charley remembered right.

"I've been to El Paso, maybe 9 or 10 years ago, but haven't been back since. The women there are just fine, but there are too many crazy Johnny Rebs running around, carrying guns like that one you've got, King." Charley said as Scarlet passed by him.

She ignored him and kept going.

Charley narrowed his eyes. “The big man riding with you, Black Beard, is not the one I remember carrying those particular guns. Did Black Beard kill ‘im and give those to you?”

Scarlet continued to ignore Charley as she saddled Lucky. She tried to not think of the dreams she used to have. There was a time she would have sworn she was seeing what had happened at Bo’s house through his wife’s eyes the night of the murder. Charley had stood on the porch peering through the window watching the entire thing. “You’ll get yer turn with her.” The man holding Maria said just before she raked her fingers down his face. Scarlet hadn’t thought of the dreams for along time until she’d seen Charley. She was glad his end was here.

“Maybe that girl was yer friend. She screamed you know as they took her again and again.” Charley yelled.

Scarlet narrowed her eyes knowing Charley was lying again. Maria had angered the gang enough they killed her before they had a chance to do anything else.

One of the warriors picked up the gag and attempted to put it back on Charley.

“Are you afraid to talk to me King?” He yelled as he swung his head back and forth to keep the gag off. “What I done ain’t nuthin compared to what those Rebs done when they caught up to Adam. What would they say if they knew you had me in the palm of yer hand and didn’t drag me back so they could finish off the gang. How are you connected to the man that wore those guns?”

“Careful what you ask for Charley.” Scarlet replied.

Charley grinned; he’d struck a nerve of some kind with her. “Father, husband, brother, who are they?” He waited but heard no reply. “What would they say Scarlet?! You say you keep your word good or bad are you breaking it now?!”
Scarlet turned and went back to Charley. “Maria cursed your soul Charley. You are bound for hell be careful how you get there.”

The warrior stopped trying to gag Charley when Scarlet came back.

“Your word Scarlet, do you lie like you accuse me?”

“Think of what those men did to Adam and his gang, you should thank the devil himself for getting you free of them. You were a nobody who only held the horses to them. Keep it that way.”

“Did they ask you to kill me, take some external part I am rather fond of and bring it back?”

“No. Let it lye Charley.”

Charley grinned smugly; they had to have asked her to bring him back he thought.

“Then keep your word.”

Scarlet looked at him a moment longer. “Remember you it was your idea. My brother would have been alright with leaving you hear with the Cheyenne.” Scarlet said turning on her heel and going to Red Bear.

She spoke with him briefly before White Elk and Circling Falcon were called over. Scarlet explained to them what was asked of her if she was to ever find anyone who had been part of the death of Maria. Blue Moon’s wife was called over also. She listened to Scarlet smiled and gave her consent to Scarlet’s suggestion.

Scarlet and Circling Falcon approached Charley.

“You really should be careful what you ask for when you don’t know somebody Charley.”

Tensleep, Ella and Black Beard exchanged looks wondering what was going to happen. They all knew Bo was a very patent man but could be very cold and calculating when angered, yet it was not death or external body parts he’d requested.

Circling Falcon dropped to his knees. Scarlet looked Charley in the eyes. “Bo didn’t die in that fire. My brother did not ask for your life, nor any parts you have asked about.”

Charley felt a rope tighten around his feet and tie him securely.

Charley’s smile disappeared as Circling Falcon cut his trousers at the knee.

“My brother asked whoever found you.”

As Scarlet spoke a searing pain shot through Charley

“to remove your kneecaps and leave you, unable to walk, to face whatever came your way.”

Charley screamed as Circling Falcon peeled the skin over his knee back slowly. Taking his knife Circling Falcon poked the edge of it under the knee cap and seesawed the blade back and forth working the knee cap loose, and finally popping it free. It was almost more than Charley could bear but Circling Falcon was careful and patient so Charley didn’t pass out until Circling Falcon moved to the second knee.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 22, 2007, 12:36:49 PM
When Black beard brought Jimmy's horse, Ella went through the saddlebags on it to remove any weapons. He didn't seem to have any extras in there, just a bag of ammunition for the pistol that Black beard had already taken.  Since she had claimed Jimmy as her prisoner, she would be the one to take the reins and lead his horse back to the fort.

Some of the children helped her saddle Aaron. After she reattached her saddlebags, she pulled out the last jar of jam that she had brought from the fort. She took it over to Eddie who had been untied and was standing with Carrie. It looked like the language lessons had already started. 

"Eddie, based on my experience living with an Indian tribe for a few months, you are probably going to miss sweets." Ella handed him the jar of jam, "Use it sparingly, and let it ease the first month of your adjustment here." 

He took the jar, "Thank you, for everything. Take care of Jimmy for me. He used to be just wild, not bad. Ma would be so happy to see him settle."

Ella nodded, "We'll talk to Jimmy on the way back. If he gives as much information as he knows about the past activities of Charley's gang, the judge could be more lenient in sentencing him."

"Are you all going to get into trouble for leaving Charley and Nicky here for Indian justice?"

"Marshal Ross can answer that better. I doubt it. Charley had already been reported dead over a month ago," answered Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 22, 2007, 08:32:48 PM
Blue Moon’s widow watched Circling Falcon then took the pieces of bone, wrapped them in a piece of deer hide and gave them to Scarlet. “Tell your brother he will not leave here among the living and there will be much suffering before his life ends.”

Scarlet nodded in understanding. “I am sorry we could not save your man.” She said.

The woman nodded in understanding as she wiped a tear from her eye.

Scarlet put the bundle in her saddlebags and waited of the others to get ready to leave.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 22, 2007, 11:15:46 PM
Ella looked one more time at Nicky and Charley before mounting up.  Nicky couldn't take his eyes off Charley's knees.  Ella wondered why she wasn't feeling her usual compulsion to heal.  She knew that Charley had earned  pain.  His soul probably deserved to be punished in Gehinnom for close to the full twelve months.  Maybe the pain his body was going to suffer would reduce that time.

Carrie brought over cooked meal and bread wrapped for travel. "Thank you for helping Desert Rose. She is my friend. I feared losing her. Eddie is good boy.  We will make him good man."

"Thank you, Carrie," replied Ella. "Last night, I dreamed of you with three more children. May you have a happy life with Circling Falcon."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 23, 2007, 09:13:03 PM
Black beard handed Ella the reins to Jimmy’s horse, then they moved out.

Jimmy looked back and nodded to his brother hoping they would see one another again soon.

It had been a long day so Black Beard did not push the group hard. After they had ridden for awhile Black beard turned to the group. “Anybody got a problem camping where we did last night?”

“It was a good defensible campsite. If we move a little faster maybe we could have a cooking fire before dark.” Ella replied.

Tensleep and Scarlet moved their horses into a faster pace in answer to the question.

The group reached the campsite with plenty of time to relax and have a fire.

Jimmy watched as everyone pitched in and helped to get things set up for camp. It was a different life than what he’d been recently used to. Charley barked orders and expected others to do most of the work. They didn’t even break it up into traditional work although Ella did seem to run what to do for dinner while Scarlet took care of the horses, Black beard and Tensleep unpacked some of the supplies and gathered wood.” 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 23, 2007, 11:39:41 PM
Jimmy fetched water from the spring. Ella had asked him to do that, instead of telling him to do it. He knew  that he was her prisoner, and he had thought that meant she would be bossing him around. He brought the water still trying to remember the last time he had been asked nicely to do something. One problem at home had been that his older brother George had always been bossing him around and criticizing everything he did.  He had drifted around aimlessly after he left home, not finding anything that suited him better. He had joined a couple cattle drives, until he got tired of eating dust because the crews he joined put the new man on drag. He was good with horses, but hadn't found anything that suited him.  Running with Charley didn't really suit him either, but the only way out of Charley's crew was by dying.

Once everyone was settled down to eat Ella's stew and biscuits, Jimmy asked, "How long have you been running together?"

"Scarlet and I met about two and a half years ago. We started working for Tensleep just over two years ago.  We met Black beard last month," answered Ella. "Why do you ask?"

"You work together like you have known each other forever, and you all work, even though Marshal Ross is your boss. He doesn't act like a boss, and he doesn't seem to expect you two to act like women."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 24, 2007, 08:23:21 AM
Tensleep and Black beard suppressed grins at Jimmy’s last remark. It wasn’t the first time the posse members had heard similar remarks and Black beard had made a similar one not to long ago.

Scarlet was always interested it what different people thought women ought to act like. She had found it depended a lot on which territory you were standing in and what type of person you might be asking. Black beard had his version until he met Ella and Scarlet. She was sure some of the other scouts and soldiers had their own versions also. Scarlet had even heard women were supposed to be the bossy ones telling the men what to do and how to do it when it came to the inside of a home, so she couldn’t resist asking.

“What are women supposed to act like Jimmy?” she said nicely careful not to insult him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 25, 2007, 10:58:31 AM
"Well, I guess I'm used to women taking orders from men," started Jimmy. "My Ma was in charge over everything inside the yard. She ran the kitchen garden, the chicken coop and the barn.  I learned about horses and cows from her. She did the marketing, both buying food supplies and selling extra milk, eggs and cheese. My Da took care of the farm and all dealings outside the family. He dealt with the bank, and the brokers who bought our wheat crop. If they disagreed about what to do, it was always Da who won. Eddie said they had a big fight when I ran off. Ma wanted Da to come after me and bring me back. I wouldn't have let Da bring me back, having been all kinds of fool right then."

Jimmy paused, thinking. "The only other women I've had any dealings with since then were saloon girls and such when a cattle drive I was on got to town, or when Charlie let his gang visit a saloon."

Jimmy paused again, then continued, "Actually, I guess there was one more woman. The last cattle drive I was on, the crew lost a drover who got fired because he turned out to be a woman. Patches was a small man, but knew cattle and horses as well as anyone else, and could work as hard. 'Course, I already knew women can work as hard as men, because Ma and Susie both do. And I grew up on stories of how Ma proved up on her homestead section at the same time as Pa, so that our family could have a bigger farm. I hope Patches is doing okay there in Tucson. She taught me a lot. After the crew lost her, the crew wasn't the same, and I left at the end of the run. Would have been better off to have stayed with the crew longer, instead of meeting Charley."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 26, 2007, 11:35:17 AM
Scarlet smiled to herself thinking of the day she met Patches on the street in Tucson. Patches was a hell of a fighter and in the moments she had defended Scarlet’s back against a small group of cowboys they had become quick friends. Patches had been the first friend Scarlet had bothered to make outside of Becca and the girls at the saloon in a long time.

Looking back Scarlet’s father had been right when he’d said. “You spill blood with a man you either become friends or you spill his blood too.”

Scarlet’s mother had not been so impressed with her dad teaching her some of the rules of what he referred to as a man’s game.

 “How can you sit there and tell your own daughter if she can’t trust a man to keep a secret she better be prepared to kill him to cover her tracks?” Rose had replied.

“Bounty hunting is a hard game. Kill or be killed and if you do something that might come back to bit you in the butt someday you best make sure there are NO witnesses.” Johnny replied. “Think long and hard before you choose your road Scarlet. Then you best have the instincts to know right off who you will be able to trust.”

Her dad had been right. That day in Tucson if Patches hadn’t jumped in there would probably be five dead cowboys instead of one and who knows if the Marshal would have called it self defense. That’s what it had been but nobody smiled about half there crew being cut up or shot. Scarlet wondered what would have happened had fate not placed Patches leaning against that post on the board walk. She would have either continued bounty hunting or hung by the mob of unhappy cowboys. Her life would have been very different that it was now if it hadn’t been for Patches and Ella.

“Jimmy were you there that day Patches helped that other woman fight off those cowboys in the street?”
Jimmy’s head snapped up. He was surprised Scarlet knew about that, although the brawl between the two hellcats and the handful of cowboys had been talked about for days. Stories spread and never had the same ending depending on who told it. Looking at Scarlet Jimmy realized she was the other woman in the street fight. “It was you.” he said as he realized it.

“Yes.” Scarlet replied.

“I never knew what happened after the Marshal took you and Patches to the jail.” He said. “Do you keep in touch with her? How is she?”

“Patches is fine, she is happy. One thing I was wondering I never bothered to ask Patches. Those cowboys that fought us, they seemed to want to shed her blood as bad as they did mine, maybe more so. Were those boys part of the crew the two of you rode with?”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 26, 2007, 12:12:33 PM
"No, they were a different crew, the Star 7. The Rocker Z had had run-ins with them all along the trail, and Patches was involved in stopping most of their tricks. She could hear the quietest man moving, and alert the rest of the crew before their man got into position. They got to town after the Rocker Z left, else there would have been more fights.  The Rocker Z had already moved on before you and Patches were in that fight. I left them at the next stop and came back to Tucson looking for Patches. I was trying to figure out how to help, when a cowboy who was watching and seemed to know both of you said you were doing okay. Then the Marshal stopped the fight and took you two off. I drifted up to Flagstaff then, and tried mining."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 26, 2007, 10:30:11 PM
Scarlet shook her head in understanding. “I thought they might be somebody she’d had a run in or two with. There seemed to be a certain energy between them.” Scarlet looked at Jimmy for a moment. “I am a believer of fate Jimmy. Why fate put you in the path of Firehorse Charley, maybe you are the only one that can answer that. The powers that be have seen fit to give you a second chance. Do your best to follow the right road.” Scarlet stood and picked up her rifle. “Ella gives good advise on such things should you need some help.” Scarlet smiled at Ella then went to take first watch.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 26, 2007, 11:17:15 PM
There were no alarms during the night. Black beard woke Ella for her watch, then returned to his bed roll.

Near the end of her watch, Ella heard Jimmy stirring. After he tended to his business, he came over to sit near where she was watching.

"I've been wondering about a lot of things," he started. "Can I ask you some questions?"

"Yes, of course."

"How did Charley start being a bad man?"

"His oldest brother told me Charley had always been interested in causing pain, and fascinated by fire. He ran away from home when he was 16 or so, and joined up with a gang that robbed and burned isolated houses, until the relatives of one victim tracked down the gang and wiped it out. I don't know how he escaped from that, but he did, and hooked with Firehorse Charley."

"I thought he was Firehorse Charley."

"He was born Charley Wilson. He ran with Firehorse Charley, and they built up a gang that mostly worked on the edges of Indian territory, burning Indian villages and camps, with occasional raids on white settlers as well. You remember that story Charley told, about his family being killed by Indians? That was Firehorse Charley's story. At some point, Firehorse Charley died and Charley took over the name and the gang. The original Firehorse Charley had a scalping scar that stopped being mentioned in descriptions about seven years ago, about the time the gang started attacking stagecoaches."

"Why did you shoot to wound me?"

"You mean instead of shooting to kill?"

"Yes. I don't think you missed where you were aiming to hit. And you don't shoot a rifle like Scarlet's. It doesn't matter much where she hits."

"How long had you been running with Charley?" Ella asked.

"About two years," answered Jimmy, wondering why she was changing the subject.

"Were you there when he robbed the Barlow & Sanderson stage outside Kansas City?"

Jimmy hemmed and hawed a bit before admitting, "Yes."

"Is that when Charley marked you?"

"Yes.  Why do you ask that?"

"I interviewed the surviving passengers. You match the description of the person who saved their lives." Ella started quoting from her summary of those interviews, "The youngest one of the band, who was holding the horses, protested when the leader tried to set the coach on fire with the passengers tied up inside. That distraction allowed one of the passengers to untie himself, get out the window and to the driver's seat, and whip up the horses. The coach made it back to Kansas City before the outlaws could catch up again."

"Charley almost killed me over that. When the coach started rolling away, Charley ordered us to mount up and catch it again. But I let our horses loose. They were already restless because of the fire that Charley had started under the door of the stagecoach. That fire scattered when the rear wheel ran over it, and the horses spooked. The horses didn't scatter very far, but it took long enough to round them up. Charley knocked me out. I came to back at our hideout, tied hand and foot and stripped naked. Charley had a fire going, and a running iron heating. I was ready to sell my soul to the devil before he finished. I guess maybe I sold it to Charley. When I swore to obey him, he marked my chest, and then let the others untie me and treat the burns on my back and legs and buttocks. But the wound on my chest, that he rubbed with salt, to make sure it left a scar."

"I can understand why you avoided getting between him and his victims after that. Eddie said that Charley did not let gang members leave, so you were stuck. By telling the truth to the Cheyenne, you started taking your soul back from Charley. Like Scarlet said, you have been given a second chance. What do you want to do with it?"

"I'm headed for prison now. That will give me time to think about my future. Do you have any idea how long I'm likely to be in prison?"

"You've been an accessory to robbery, murder and arson, which could earn you five to ten years easily. But I think that the Kansas City event would be taken into account by the judge. And if you tell everything you know about Charley's crimes, and help clear up those events, the judge could reduce your sentence even more. You could be out again in as little as six months."

"That's not bad. Even going to prison for as long as I ran with Charley wouldn't be too bad. I was afraid I was looking at life in prison."

"Even in prison, you will have some control over your future. You can get more book learning while you are there, and that will give you more choices after you get out. You can think about joining the Army. The Cavalry always needs men who can handle horses."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 27, 2007, 08:38:46 AM
Bo made his way out of the tent to the campfire. It still smoldered so he tossed some kindling on it and waited for that to catch fire before adding more logs then started a pot of coffee. It was too early for anybody to be stirring in the scouts’ camp but he couldn’t sleep. Something he couldn’t identify had been gnawing at his innards like mice making a hole in the side of a barn for two days now.

The dream had woken him up and now he couldn’t get the smell of burning flesh out of his mind. Bo ran his fingers through his beard, still able to feel the scars the whiskers covered with his fingertips. He hadn’t dreamt about the night he’d lost his wife in many years, but this was the second time in as many nights. The dream hadn’t lost its vividness for the sights, sounds and smells. He could feel Scarlet’s touch as she gently smeared the juice from the aloe plant on his face. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the early morning air to try to clear his head.

The posse wasn’t late getting back yet, they really weren’t due back until sometime today, but the feeling things didn’t go as they should kept poking at him. His instincts screamed there had been blood shed of some kind but he couldn’t figure out who or why. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew the members of the posse were ok but the looming question of what if he was wrong kept echoing through his mind.

Bo retrieved some writing supplies, came back to the fire and poured himself a cup of coffee than sat down. He sat staring at the blank paper for a short time then began to write. Dear Mother. He stopped and looked at the words for a long time. She would not approve of him being here. She’d always disapproved of her boys putting themselves in any kind of danger. She would have preferred more literate types. What they never saw eye to eye on was one could die doing book keeping as well as cowboying or being a soldier…or a wife. Bo crumpled the piece of paper and tossed it into the fire wondering what was happening with the posse.

Cyrus approached the fire and looked down at Bo.

Bo rolled his eyes up. “Coffee’s there, help yerself.” He said thinking Cyrus was up awful early too.

Cyrus poured a cup and sat on a log  across from Bo. “I been dealing with Dick all night.” Cyrus said as if to answer the question Bo had not asked. “That man Scarlet’s horse kicked died. Dick is having fits.”

Bo’s eyes narrowed he was tired and now he was angry. “That man was lucky and the guy who was with him is even luckier.” Bo growled.

Cyrus raised his hand. “I know Bo. Tell me, is Lucky dangerous?”

Bo stood. “If you intend to hurt Scarlet while he’s watchin’ over her you might as well unleash ten tons o' hell Cyrus. If I want to talk to her and she is sleeping in his stall I am very careful. If that horse even pins an ear I won’t go in there. It’s always been that way. Her Comanche friend says Lucky’s soul belongs to someone who was once very close to her. If Lucky had been foaled after my brothers death there would be no question in my mind who’s soul he has if you believe in that sort of thing.” Bo sat on the log. “He is as well behaved otherwise, better than a lot of horses if you ask me. You want for me to go talk to Dick and that other fella?”

“No, that’s the last thing I need.” Cyrus paused wondering if he should tell Bo what else he knew.”

“What aren’t you tellin’ me?” Bo asked.

 “One of the soldiers that stands guard at the officer's quaters where the girls are staying told me the man that got kicked had been over at the quarters trying to bribe him to take a break. Said the man that was with him was trying to talk his friend out of it. When the soldier told them to get lost they wandered over to the stables.”

“What does Sam say happened there?”

Cyrus was surprised. “You know who the survivor is?”

“Black beard and I saw them go in. Black beard asked me if Scarlet was really safe in there with Lucky. I told him we could go check on them. Sam is still alive because he tried to talk his friend out of “having a party with her” and he was smart enough to heed the warnings of a mad horse." Bo paused and looked Cyrus in the eyes. "I make it my business to know what is going on Cyrus. You should know that by now." Bo looked back into the fire. "If I thought Sam had thoughts of doing the same he wouldn’t be breathing air right now.”

Cyrus raised an eyebrow “Hows that?”

Bo looked at him and half smiled. “I was trained well to do a job. Let me do it.”

Cyrus wasn’t sure if Bo was saying just let him do the job he came here to do or if he were to kill somebody he was good at that too.

Cyrus shook his head. “What happened?”

“Carl opened the gate and tried to let Lucky pass. When the horse showed no sign of wanting to go Carl took a stick and poked him. Carl was trying to be quiet as not to wake Scarlet I’m sure. I’m also sure I heard the hammer pull back on one of those guns she carries. Lucky pinned his ears and barred his teeth. Carl tried to get around to the side and hit Lucky on the shoulder with his stick. Lucky picked him up and tossed him out of the stall. Carl could have walked away with a sore arm but he went back. When he stepped inside the stall and raised the stick Lucky turned and kicked him. The other man helped him out of the way and apparently to the infirmary.”

Cyrus looked at Bo.

“Look where I come from Carl could have been up to two things, attacking Scarlet or stealing her horse, neither is a favorable reflection on the man.” Bo replied.

“Sam is saying the same thing. I wanted to know if he was lying about his part in it all or not.” Cyrus said taking a sip of his coffee.

“Cyrus I worry about the girls sleeping in those quarters. What happens when the right bribe passes the right guard?”

Cyrus looked into the fire thinking on Bo’s question.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 27, 2007, 03:04:06 PM
Cyrus looked up at Bo and asked, "I know Scarlet can fight.  Can Ella?"

"Well, she practices hand-to-hand fighting, but she doesn't go full out. She's better at avoiding being grappled than at breaking loose.  She knows how to fall. She knows how to fight with a knife, and does carry at least one, but again, she's better at defending than attacking. The only kind of combat where I'm really comfortable about her skill level is a gunfight. She doesn't shoot fast, but she hits her target, and she is very good about using cover."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 27, 2007, 11:40:16 PM
Cyrus thought for a moment. “It’s never hard to find out who is on guard duty. They’d have to be a fool to let somebody bribe them.”

“That gives me no comfort Cyrus. You know how easy I could take out a guard if I wanted to, no noise, and I am certainly not the only one in this fort that could do it.”

“Dick says havin’ women here is just asking for trouble.” Cyrus commented.

“What do you say?” Bo asked.

Cyrus looked at his friend of many years. “Bo, you should know what I think by now.”

Bo chuckled. “If you thought them being here was trouble you would have asked them to leave or at the very least keep to themselves and not make friends with the rest of the scouts.”

Cyrus sipped his coffee again and looked up at the stars that were beginning to fade in the early morning light. “From where I sit and knowing what I know, Scarlet and Ella are just a different kind of trouble for Dick’s men. If it wasn’t for them I’d be breaking up fights between them and these men. Last time our two groups were in the same vicinity some of his men snuck into camp and tried to cut up some of my men. I don’t have to tell ya what my men did and called it self defense.” 

“The first thing to do is tell Ella and Scarlet about Carl trying to bribe the guard.” Bo said.

“He’s dead, you think someone else might try it?”

“When we ride together there is always someone on guard the group trusts. I don’t trust all the soldiers that stand guard. Once in a while they fall asleep. I’ve seen it. Nobody would forgive themselves if something happened to one of the girls knowing what we know.”

Cyrus shook his head in agreement. “Even in this camp they take turns guarding, as you already know.”

“Yep.” Bo replied having taken his turn keeping watch in camp. “I wonder if Fritz knows if he can trust the guards or not.”

“Only one way to find out.” Cyrus said pouring himself another cup. A silly half grin played on his lips. “Is Lucky house broke?”

Bo looked at him as if he’d asked a foolish question.

Cyrus leaned forward and filled Bo’s cup. “You are kidding me.”

Bo laughed. “He has been in the house, not for long periods of time but he’s been in. Used to spend a lot of time sleeping on the porch outside Scarlet’s room when he was small. You’d have to ask Fritz or Scarlet if he still sleeps out there.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on August 28, 2007, 11:03:00 PM
Cyrus returned the pot to the fire and leaned back. He looked passed Bo but at nothing in particular then back to his friend. “You are very protective of those ladies.” Cyrus stated.

“I think the rest of the men are too. They’ve made themselves a part of this group.” Bo replied.

Cyrus looked into his cup wondering if he should ask or not.

Bo looked at him and cocked his head. “Just spit it out Cyrus, we’re to old to beat ‘round the bush as they say.”

“It’s not unheard of for a widow to marry her brother in law, and that’s what most the men think. Why didn’t you?”

The corners of Bo’s mouth slightly curled up. “Leave it to a Yankee soldier to out maneuver me.” He chuckled.

Cyrus looked surprised not sure if Bo was kidding or not.

“Neither one of us were ready to take the chance at the same time I guess.” Bo continued. “Ya know when we were younger we didn’t seem to fuel the passion in one another. No doubt we would have been happy and comfortable. Who wants that when you can have that rolled up with the fire too?”

“I wouldn’t know.” Cyrus chuckled. “’bout know I would envy happy and comfortable.”

“Well I would miss the fire. The things that are thought when those dark eyes are watching you and the way she makes you feel with a look or a touch, alone or in public.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

Bo smiled at a memory of his own wife. “There are looks Scarlet and I share, even Ella and I have a few private jokes you can share with just a look or one word. But there are looks a woman in love gives the man she loves. There’s something else there. Something that will either bring a smile to his face or make him blush. At times I envy Fritz that. But I am lucky he tolerates me hanging around, sleeping with his wife under the stars.” Bo’s smile turned mischievous as he stood. “Usually I only discuss this kind of stuff with Scarlet or when I’ve had to much to drink. So if you repeat it I will deny it.”

Cyrus chuckled. “Don’t think anybody would believe the two of us would talk like that.”

“I’m off to find Fritz and talk to him.” Bo said.

“Make sure to tell him you are sleeping with his wife under the stars.” Cyrus said raising his cup in a mock toast.

Bo grinned.

Walking among the tents of the Union army was had grown familiar over the years, but it always felt strange. Somehow Bo had to fight the urge to melt into the shadows and pass unseen. Old habits died hard he guessed.

“Mornin’” Bo said to the man that stood in front of Fritz’s tent.

“Sir.” The boy replied.

It always seemed they were getting younger Bo thought, maybe it was him just getting older, he couldn’t remember himself looking like he should still be chasing after his ma though. “Is the Lieutenant up yet?”

The boy smiled. “It’s Captain Sir.”


“Lieutenant King, he’s a Captain now Sir.” The boy said.

“Captain now is he. Every time I come round they’ve promoted him.”

The boy grinned. It was obvious to Bo he was happy about pulling guard duty at the Captain’s quarters. “I’ve not heard any evidence of him being awake yet Sir.”

“It’s Bo son, I ain’t wearin’ no stripes.”

“Yes Sir.”

Bo shook his head and chuckled. “Tell Fritz…Captain King I’d like to talk to him when he has a moment.”

“Yes, Si…Mr. Corbin.”

Bo was surprised the soldier knew his name, he’d not been over here.

“You’re some kind of fighter Mr. Corbin. Some of the others said you’re a real good teacher too. I was hoping next time we got to break into groups for hand to hand I would be in your group.”

“Just ask, and remember to tell the Captain I want to talk to him.”

“Yes Sir.” The soldier paused. "Let me check for you Sir."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on August 30, 2007, 09:17:26 PM
Once the sky started brightening towards dawn, Ella sent Jimmy to fetch more water while she built a fire for making coffee and breakfast.  The aroma of the coffee made the others admit to being awake.  Ella was pretty sure that at least Blackbeard had been awake the whole time while she and Jimmy were talking, and possibly all three. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on August 31, 2007, 11:04:44 PM
Fritz had been going over the details of the mission for several hours.  He'd been impressed with the way Bill had taken to his new position.  Bill was a professional, just as he was.  But Bill on a staff was a scary thought.  About as scary as Fritz being in command again. 

When Captain Schurmann's horse was shot out from under him in the Shenandoah, Fritz hadn't thought...he acted.  He saw Bill in his mind's eye being torn by rounds, tossed about like a rag doll.  Ranger was a young horse back then, and nothing could touch him.  He rode in hard and fast, scooping up the Captain in his left arm.  He'd dislocated his shoulder in that move.  It ached him to this day.  Fritz had taken rounds in the legs during the rescue.  Bill told him, "take care fo the men for me."

He had.  To the best of his ability.  But it didn't last.  He relinquished command when the war was over.  It was a Brevet promotion after all.  He'd revert to his previous rank in peacetime.  "But here we are, ten years later," Fritz thought, "and I'm right back where we left off."

He was also impressed with the General.  George Crook was a fighter; one who understood his enemy.  He'd take the fight to them this time.  His use of muletrains meant no supply lines to fall back on.  They could run lean and fast...almost as fast as the indians they'd pursue.  But the Sioux were born to that life.  His men weren't.  He'd done all that he could.  In his pocket was the order of march.  I Company would ride near the middle of the column, which meant their scouts would be out on the flanks with the vedettes.  Ella would ride with the hospital staff, where she could do the most good. 

He'd been writing at his desk when he fell asleep.  It was a fitfull rest at best. 

There was a storm coming.  He could feel it in the air, and in his old wounds.  The screams of dying men fill the air.  It was hand to hand; a melee.  A Sioux warrior charged him with a fighting hawk held high.  He ripped the short Colt from its holster, cocking it in one swift motion.


The young trooper's eyes bulged out of his head.  Fritz carefully lowered the hammer of his pistol, and returned it to his holster. 

"Son, don't ever sneak up on me.  I've got too many demons chasing me these days."

"Yes sir," came the shaky reply.  "Sir, Mister Corbin is here to see you."

Send him in," Fritz said.  And see if you can scare us up any coffee.  My fire's gone out."                       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 03, 2007, 01:06:08 AM
Bo ducked through the tent flap and looked over his shoulder. “I think you took some years off that boy’s life.”

“I think he just got his first lesson on what happens when you sneak up on an old soldier.” Fritz replied curious why Bo would find his way over at this time of day. Bo was sociable but this was his first visit among the soldiers tents, Bo had kept mostly with the scouts. Fritz also noticed when Bo stepped in he positioned himself so he could watch the door.

“Then he learned how we got to be old.” Bo replied.

Fritz had seen Bo tired before but there was something different about him this morning. Fritz thought about the reasons Bo would be here, he could feel a cold fear creep up his spine. He was afraid to ask but did anyway. “Have you heard any word from the posse? Is everything alright?”

“I’ve not heard from them, as far as I know everything is alright with them.” Bo replied his tone still flat as the uneasy feeling continued to gnaw at his insides.

Fritz motioned for Bo to take a seat. “Your tone tells different.” Fritz said.

Bo half smiled. “I got my own demons to contend with Fritz.” He said taking the seat and positioning it so he could watch the door and most of the room. Fritz even noticed he placed it where Bo’s shadow wouldn’t be cast on the walls.

“You’re always welcome at my fire Bo, you know that, but I find it odd you come here for the first time this early. I know you well enough to know something’s bothering you.”

“That’s just damn rude then and I shall have to correct the situation. Soldiers seem to get nervous when I wander among their tents at night though.”

“Only if they don’t see you.”

Bo chuckled at the comment then became serious.

“One of  Richard Kane’s men died this mornin’ from a horse kick. It took him a fair piece of time to pass on. I suspect some internal damage, probably bled slow inside, but I ain’t no doctor.”

The trooper announced himself at the door way.

Fritz stood and went to the opening .The young trooper handed him a hot pot of coffee and two cups then returned to his post. Fritz came back to the table, put the cups down and filled them then took the seat opposite of Bo.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard of a man dying from a horse kick.” Fritz said.

“Wouldn’t be the first man Lucky killed by kickin’ either.” Bo remarked.

Fritz’s eyes met Bo’s “When? Scarlet didn’t mention it to me.”

“I ‘spect she wouldn’t. She says you gotcher own worries over here and what’s done is  done.”

“Why would Lucky kick somebody?” Fritz asked suspecting he already knew the answer.

“Fool poked at him with a stick trying to get him out of the stall so he could get at Scarlet.  Another man was with him, tried to stop him, I saw it. That’s not what bothers me. Far as I’m concerned the safest place for Scarlet is with that horse. What has me more concerned is the man that was with the one that died told Cyrus before the man went to the stables he stopped at the quarters where Ella and Scarlet stay and tried to bribe the soldier on guard. I’m concerned Dick’s men might find the right price to make a guard turn his head. Cyrus thinks because we could find out easily who was on duty the soldiers wouldn’t take the chance. I’m interested to know what you think.” Bo said.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 06, 2007, 10:34:37 PM
Scarlet had not slept most of the night, when she did her dreams were filled with disturbing images. Some of the past and some of what she feared to be the near future. She kept hearing Grey Eagle’s voice say “The elders say they have seen mother earth run red with blood.” Scarlet didn’t doubt what they saw she just wondered whose death they spoke of. The soldiers at Ft Bliss had been hunting Black Wolf and his tribe for as long as she could remember. Maybe they were seeing their own end, maybe not.

When she managed to shove those thoughts aside uneasy feelings that she was riding into trouble took over. The man Lucky kicked most likely had died. Dick’s men would no doubt be trouble, Scarlet was not looking forward to returning to that. Listening to Ella and Jimmy’s conversation had occupied her mind for a short time. Ella always seemed to manage to find the good in people, if there was any.

The smell of coffee was welcome, it meant she could stop trying to sleep. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on September 09, 2007, 04:16:54 PM
"Well," Fritz began, "the sentries have seen me over at their quarters on a few occasions.  But they might think that Ella and I are involved, rather than Scarlet and I."

Bo grinned, then chuckled.

Fritz asked, "What's so funny?"

"Somehow," Bo said, "I just can't picture it."

Fritz sipped his coffee.  "I could see her with you though."

Bo's head jerked up.  "What do you mean?"

"Come on man," Fritz continued.  "She's a lovely, tough, talented woman who's..."

"Married is the word you're looking for."

Fritz nodded.  "To a man I've heard about, but never met.  A man that so far, hasn't come to the frontier to join his wife.  He belongs back east.  Ella belongs here."

"She sure knows her way 'round doctoring," Bo replied.

"I've seen you look at her Bo.  And you know, I've seen her look at you the same way."

Bo was more than a little uncomforatble.  "Weren't we talking about your troopers?"

"Okay...change of subject.  My men make thirteen dollars a month.  The old soldiers, the ones I rode with, they're all solid men.  The green troops, they might take an offer...but not if they know what's good for them."

"There may be a way to correct the problem," Bo said.  "You could just tell the men Scarlet is your wife."

Now Fritz jerked his head back.  "You're kidding, right?  She'd lose her standing with the scouts!"

"Cyrus and I've been talking.  They're not as dumb as you think." 

"Wait a minute...I never said..."

"Easy, Fritz.  What I'm saying is the men who ride with Cyrus know how to read sign.  And she's proven herself as an equal to any man out there.  And she could sleep with you here.  It's not uncommon for an officer to bring his wife on campaign.  And Scarlet's actually worth something out here."

"Maybe you're right," Fritz replied.  "I'll have to discuss it with her when she returns.  It'll solve one problem.  But it still leaves Ella."

"One guard should be able to guard one frontier doctor."  Bo sipped his coffee.

"Or maybe you could guard her."  Fritz smiled.       
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 09, 2007, 09:10:36 PM
“She wouldn’t be the first married woman who I’ve slept next to.” Bo grinned mischievously then sipped his coffee. “sides if  there was somebody guarding Ella and Scarlet the scouts trust they are safe with they wouldn’t be taking turns wandering around at night. Right now they go past the quarters to make sure the guard is alert then wander through the stables to make sure nothing is going on in there. They would stick closer to camp at night. I know Cyrus is concerned about Dick’s men jumping them.”

“I’ve heard rumors the Kane brothers are not on the best of terms.” Fritz said.

Bo snorted and raised an eyebrow. “They are not. But Dick is no leader and why he is in charge of any one but himself is beyond me. He doesn’t let them out, so they sit around and get drunk and find trouble. Some of them are ones Cyrus won’t ride with which makes his scouts a good target, but they fight back.”

“It’s not a good situation.” Fritz remarked. “From what I see Dick’s men don’t respect him.”

“Then you are seeing the same thing the rest of us see.” Bo replied.

Both men looked towards Dick’s camp as they heard the voices.

“ Sam yer a traitor.”

“Leave me be.”

“He died cuz you didn’t help him.”

“He died because he was up ta no good. I didn’t want no part of it. I  didn’t see any of you tryin’ to talk sense into him.”

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 10, 2007, 02:53:58 PM
Once breakfast was done and the fire buried, Black beard announced, "We've got one more night out here for sure. Let's get moving so we don't have to spend two." He led out at cavalry pace again. During one of the walking segments, Ella fell back next to Tensleep while Jimmy walked next to Scarlet.  He was busy asking questions about Lucky's breeding and training.  He already knew that Lucky was a one-rider horse, having tried to help saddle him, and was being careful to keep his distance.

"What are we doing with Jimmy once we get back to the fort?" Ella asked.

Tensleep wanted to hear whatever she had worked out, so he asked, "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, First off, Patches and Bill were supposed to get back a week or two ago.  Your authority ought to let me use the telegraph at the fort. I could wire Patches and put those two to work on contacting the various places that issued wanted posters on Jimmy to see which of them is interested enough to send someone up here to collect him, unless you were going to take him out with a supply train while Scarlet and I stay with the Army a little longer?"

"Wiring Patches is a good plan. There's no hurry about taking him anywhere."

Ella continued, "I would like to keep him with the scouts instead of locked up in the stockade.  He is responding well to kindness, and showing an appropriate level of remorse.  We can start collecting his information about the gang's membership and activities for the past two years. We might be able to clear up a few incidents where there were no surviving witnesses."

"No, he gets locked up. He's behaving now, when the only alternatives are to be tied up or shot while trying to escape. There's too much opportunity for mischief at the fort. You can visit him in the stockade to interview him." Tensleep's voice was stern, and Ella knew he wasn't going to relent. She also had to admit that he was probably right, even if she was confident about Jimmy's character.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on September 10, 2007, 09:38:35 PM
Fritz and Bo dashed out of the tent, guns drawn.  There were two men on foot near a long extinguished fire.  One had pulled a bowie from its scabbard, and twirled it in his hand.  The other had inched a long Colt halfway from its holster.

Hammers came back; sights were on target.  Fritz yelled "Drop the iron now!!!"

The hand with the Colt froze.  "If I do, he'll stick me!"

"It'll be the last thing he ever does," Bo said coldly.

The mand with the knife stopped twirling.

Fritz hissed, "Last warning."

"Sam...I believe he'll do it."

The pistol and knife fell to the ground.


Scott had been making his rounds, and came in a hurry.  "Yes sir!"

Their pistols never moved.  "Clap these men in irons.  Search them carefully, and lock them up at opposite ends of the corral."

Scott smiled.  "Aye sir.  It'll be a pleasure."

Once the men were secured, Bo and Fritz lowered their hammers and holstered their iron. 

"Bo, go get Cyrus and Dick up here.  On the double, if you please."

Bo nodded.  "Okay."

"And Bo," Fritz added, "I'd like you in on this conversation."   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 10, 2007, 11:00:17 PM
The scouts in Cyrus’s camp were just beginning to become active when Bo got back. Cyrus was still by the fire, he seemed to be enjoying his moment of silence. He looked up when Bo came back.

Cyrus knew something was wrong by the look in Bo’s eyes. “You said something about sleeping under the stars with her he didn’t like huh?”

“Was the blow up we heard from Dick’s camp he didn’t like. He wants to talk to you, me and Dick.” Bo replied.

Cyrus stood “who was fightin’?”

“Sam and I think the other fella’s name is Reuben.”

“Dick’s men fightin’ among themselves again?” Cyrus snorted. “Reuben, short stocky fella, black hair, quick with a knife?”

“Yeah.” Bo replied not surprised Cyrus knew who they all were.

Cyurs cursed softly. “Watch that one Bo. He’d draw and quarter his own mother for the right price. He’d be able to track her well too. Who from this camp was involved?”

“Nobody, just Reuben and Sam this morning.”

Cyrus looked more than slightly irritated as he followed Bo towards Dick’s camp. Bo told him what had happened along the way.

Bo and Cyrus walked into Dick’s camp and to his tent unnoticed by any of his scouts. Cyrus just shook his head in disapproval as he entered his brother’s tent. With one hand Cyrus took Dick’s side arm and the other he dumped the cot over.

Dick jumped to his feet and reached for the missing side arm. “You snake! You dismissed me earlier now yer back. Bring the big one to do your dirty work for you?”

“No, I’m savin’ that pleasure for my own self.” Cyrus replied holding up Dick’s pistol and emptying it. “Rest assured, I won’t shoot you in the back though.” He said tossing the pistol back to him. “Your people are raising enough hell the soldiers can hear them. Now Captain King wants to see me. I swear Dick I’ve had a belly full of problems from you and yours.” 

Dick glared at Cyrus.

“Captain is waitin, get a move on.” Cyrus said standing aside. “You can lead the way to the corral.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 13, 2007, 12:32:36 AM
When the Posse mounted back up Black beard rode next to Scarlet. He looked over at her and grinned.

Scarlet looked back at him, she half smiled thinking his grin meant he was going to tease her about some piece of information he had and had been waiting to do it. Some people suspected the man might be crazy, she knew better. Black beard by her judgment was one of the smarter men she had the privilege of knowing.

“Lawdawg King huh?” He said his grin growing wider.

Scarlet chuckled, and grinned wider. “It’s U.S. Deputy Lawdawg King.” She said touching the brim of her hat.

“The Yankee soldier you married, it would be the same Lieutenant King that has been hanging around our camp? The one you say yer not trying to impress?” He flashed a wicked smile and winked.

“I told you, I wasn’t trying to impress him at that moment. Don’t recall sayin’ anything ‘bout any other time.” She smiled coyly. “but yes is the same Yankee soldier as you put it.” 

 “Does it make a difference now that you know?” She asked.

“No, not now.”


“Wouldn’t have expected it to be him.”


“Lieutenant King seems very disciplined. You seem…Well I just wouldn’t expect his wife to be fighting me with a cutlass saying ‘defend yourself Sea dog.’”

Scarlet suppressed a laugh.

“Why didn’t you use your married name when you came to the fort?” He asked.

“If the Army thought a man needed a wife they would issue one. Fritz has enough to deal with without his men thinking he needs to drag his wife around with him. Besides I don’t think I am really what a soldiers wife is expected to be. She is expected to act and dress a certain way. Certainly not running around with scouts. I just don’t think my actions at times would reflect well on him in the eyes of others. ‘Specially when I’m yelling defend yourself Sea dog.”

Black beard laughed. “I can see your point, one may get the impression if a man can’t control the actions of his wild woman he wouldn’t be able to control his men.”

“Wild woman.” Scarlet laughed again. “It would have made a difference to the scouts too. You would all be to busy calling me ma’am and avoiding me instead of challenging me to a sword fight.”


Black beard moved his horse close as his eyes danced and his smile turned to a impish grin. “Is it Mr. Frisky or Lieutenant Frisky.”

Scarlet’s eyes danced playfully. “It’s Mr. I generally don’t call him that when he’s in uniform. And if you pass that information round I will flog you.”

Black beard laughed touched the brim of his hat and said. “Yes ma’am. I will take it to me grave. I gotta say though, if he can handle livin’ with you he can probably handle just ‘bout anything the army can throw at ‘im.” He chuckled again then his voice became serious “Scarlet if you don’t mind my sayin’ I think Lieutenant King has some kind of wife. She may not act and dress within the expectations of a soldier’s wife but I think she knows how to treat his men and they would admire that. I’ve met a lot of soldier’s wives some of them I’d like to forget along with their husbands, but you, I hope to stay acquainted with for along time.”

Scarlet smiled and slightly blushed at the compliment. “Thank you. I hope after this is over you will not be a stranger to my fire.”

He smiled back. “No lass I will not. Maybe if there were more like you and Ella the Army would issue wives.” He winked.

“Ella maybe, me I’m trouble.” She laughed softly.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 14, 2007, 11:57:02 AM
Ella enjoyed listening to Black beard and Scarlet banter. It sounded like Scarlet didn't mind that Ella had let her last name slip.

"The restrictions on an officer's wife shouldn't be any worse than those on a Boston surgeon's wife. The life of an Army wife would be rougher, with fewer of the luxuries available in the city, like maids and stores," she told them.  "I almost am an officer's wife. Alan had the rank of First Lieutenant while he served during the War. My uncle was a Major."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on September 14, 2007, 10:41:12 PM
You could tell alot about a man by what he carried.  Fritz looked at the small arsenal on his desk.  He'd empited two pistols, a derringer, and pulled the caps off a '49 pocket's cylinder.  There were also more than a few knives in the collection.  Whether for skinning game or men, Fritz didn't know.  Scott had indeed been thorough.  Both men were stripped to union suits and socks.  They weren't happy, but neither was he.

"Captain, Mr. Corbin has returned with those 'gentlemen.'  Shall I let them in sir?"

"Yes Pirvate," Fritz replied.  "But keep your carbine ready."

Bo supressed the urge to laugh.

Dick had seen his men on the way in.  He entered the tent in a foul mood.

"Just what the hell gives you the right..."

Fritz stood and slammed his hands down hard on his field desk.  The pistols jumped.

"THIS!!!  Your men can't control themselves!  Now shut your damned mouth!"

Cyrus shook his head.

Dick shrunk back.  He wasn't used to being told to shut up, but in this crowd, he figured it was the better part of valor.

"So far, I've had no problems with your men, Cyrus.  You're the senior man.  So I'm putting you in charge.  You can keep Dick here as your second if you desire, or you can select anyone you prefer."

Dick glared.

"Bo will be my liaison with the scouts.  If I have a problem, I'll send for him.  Anything he says, assume it comes from me."

Cyrus spoke up.  "I know we're billeted with you, but these men aren't least, not anymore."

"Then you discipline them as you see fit.  But if anyone shows their ass in my presence again, they'll be treated like soldiers."

Bo said, "Is there anything else, Cap'n?"

"No...that's all.  Dismissed, gentlemen...and I use that term loosely in this crowd."

Dick said "I'll take them guns," as he reached forward.

"No," Fritz replied.  They'll get their guns after they've calmed down.  One of your scouts has already died under suspicious circumstances.  I won't have any more deaths.  We've got enemies enough outside the wire."

"Just 'cuz you wear them straps don't make you right."

"No Dick...they just make me in charge.  Cyrus, take your second away before he joins his men in the corral.  Get with me after the noon meal to collect your men, and their property."   


Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 17, 2007, 11:18:47 PM
“Second to his younger brother.” Dick just didn’t like the thought of it. He still couldn’t figure out how Cyrus could have some of the roughest men but he had few problems. There was a number of the men that rode for Cyrus that could easily take him if they chose too, yet he wasn’t afraid of them, he slept soundly in their presence and demanded respect from them.

Dick had never ridden with Cyrus, he’d only heard of his younger brother’s reputation. If he wasn’t so irked by the thought he would have found it a good opportunity to see just how Cyrus ran things. 

Cyrus gritted his teeth together, his upper lip slightly quivering, as they left Fritz’s tent. Being saddled with Dick and his group of polecats left a rotten taste in his mouth. Cyrus had enjoyed being able to pick his ‘family’. He’d left home because of his brother’s jealously but he would be damned if he let Dick ruin his reputation and life he’d chosen.

Cyrus stopped not far from Fritz’s tent and turned to his brother. “Get this straight. I’m not happy about this at all. This is no game Dick. It’s people’s lives yer playing with. You are responsible for the men that ride with you. If they screw up you will be answering for them.”

Dick glared at him. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Cyrus narrowed his eyes back. “It means if the men that ride for you do it you might as well join in because I’m gonna come lookin’ for you as if you did.”

Dick couldn’t believe his little brother was talking to him like this. “You can’t..”

“Don’t press your luck Dick.” Cyrus growled. “I want a list of names of who you have over there. Then we’ll talk about what to do with the two that are cooling their heels.”

Dick wondered if he could really take this as he stalked off.

Cyrus watched him go.

“You and your brother were close weren’t you?” Cyrus commented looking from Dick’s back to Bo.

“Yeah we were when we got older, fought some when we were kids.”

“I think we are beyond kids and I still don’t like him.” Cyrus snorted.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 18, 2007, 10:15:32 PM
“I can never catch a break when he’s around.” Dick thought as he jerked his tent flap back. “Not with his family, not with non family. Where did Captain King get off making him a second to Cyrus…AND IF Cyrus wanted him. Dick highly doubted that would happen. Cyrus was closer to those men he rode with than his own blood kin. Unfortunately making Cyrus disappear would be difficult; those men watched each others backs. King said Cyrus’s men never gave him problems, maybe they should. Maybe if he started rumors about them they would start fighting amongst themselves, once that started they would no doubt fight with anyone. Dick half grinned. In fact he could start some dirty rumor about how those two women were spending time with the Marshal and Black beard on the trail. The grin widened.

Cyrus walked towards the corral where the two men were shackled. He stopped where he could see them but not be heard.


Bo was looking at the two men making a mental note not to make Fritz mad while they were in the fort. “Yeah.”

Cyrus looked at him again. Bo was amused.

“I’m glad yer entertained.”

“Admit it Cyrus. You couldn’t have done better yerself.”

“I’d really like to have Dick out there with them.” Cyrus chuckled. “We’ve never gotten along, but right now I think he’s plotting against me.”

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Bo replied.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 19, 2007, 10:10:28 PM
Cyrus walked to the corral. “Tell me what happened Sam.” He said.

Sam looked at him. “I’m here because I tried to be a decent man. Look what it got me.” He growled. “I told you the truth and the men I ride with brand me as a traitor, try and cut me up and then I am stripped to my long johns and shackled to a fence. I don’t need this. I should have shot ‘im when I had the chance.” Sam pointed at the other man.

“Why didn’t you stand by the others? You sold yer friend up the river.” Cyrus said.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “He wasn’t my friend. If I kept my mouth shut the others in camp would be out hunting that horse for being a killer. They don’t care if there was a reason or not all they want is to raise hell and get paid for it.”

Reuben yelled obscenities from across the corral only to be ignored by Cyrus.

“How’d you end up riding for Dick?”

“He was in a saloon asking for men who had skills scouting and knew this area. I grew up in this country, done some scouting, figured why not…now I know why I shouldn’t have.”

“What’s yer last name Sam?”


Cyrus made a mental note to ask around about this one. He noticed Sam was taking this in stride, keeping his head. He wasn’t happy about it but he wasn’t acting like a trapped animal and cursing like Reuben.

“Mr. Kane, how long we gonna be like this and what is Captain King going to do with us?”

Cyrus looked at him. “Captain King has seen fit to make you my problem.”

“What are you going to do with us then?”

“To start with I will be back to collect you this afternoon, we’ll talk more. Him, I think he’s gonna stay out here a while longer. Maybe telling the truth over in Dick’s camp does you no good but it’s the way you gain respect with me. I’m going to check around about you. Am I gonna find out anything I don’t like?”

“No sir.” Sam replied.

Cyrus turned and left continuing to ignore the yelling from Reuben’s side of the corral.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 20, 2007, 03:39:43 PM
“Maybe I should go back and stuff a gag in Reuben’s mouth.” Bo said falling in next to Cyrus.

Cyrus stopped short of the camp. The men were in a good mood, talking and funnin’ with one another. It looked like Teddy was getting a group ready to go on a hunting trip again. Some of them had even picked up around camp.“Having Ella and Scarlet ride with us has been good for the boys. What are the odds of them stayin’ on with us when this is over?”

Bo could hear the seriousness in Cyrus’s voice.

“Ella is waiting for her husband to return Cyrus. I don’t know what she might do. What I know is she, like Scarlet, are currently riding with people she calls family. Prying them away from the Marshal and the other posse members would be a trick. But one never knows until one asks, and as with everything time changes situations.”

“Speaking of family.” Cyrus continued. “That brother of Scarlet’s, er whatever she calls him.”

“Jimmy. She calls him her brother.” Bo chuckled.

“Yeah Bradbury. He still got that nasty temper and quick knife?”

“Yeah.” Bo chuckled again.

“I wish ya’d brought him along.”

“Yer kidding me.”

“I would have loved turning him lose in Dick’s camp.” Cyrus laughed wickedly. 

“Problem would be collecting him back Cyrus. Be like turnin’ a fox lose in a hen house.”

Bo could tell Cyrus was envisioning the entire thing. “Solve most my problems right there it would. What I kin never figure out is how he does it. Ya never see the man. I swear you could have guards at his tent, he’d welcome them as alibis too, but still something would happen you know he was behind. Just as bad as Scarlet’s father. Her husband is nuts for getting himself involved in that family.” Cyrus shook his head in amusement.

“Ya got to give ‘em this Cyrus. You take on one of them you might as well offer yourself to the whole crazy bunch. Kind of the like what you have with your group except worse, I’m proud to be part of it.” Bo smiled.

“I hate to tell the men we will have to put up with Dick’s crew now. Should make the hand to hand training interesting though. What would Jimmy do about Reuben?”

“Thing that separates you and me from Jimmy is you know what you’d like to do. Jimmy wouldn’t discuss it he’d just do it. Reuben is an enemy and a threat.”

“What about yer brother. What would he have done about Reuben.?”

Bo half smiled. “Depends on if you want him out of the game until we ride out of here or out of the game permanently. I’m thinking an accident of some kind that would keep him in the infirmary a good long time.”

“I’ll have to figure something out ‘fore I put the men in the same camp. They are gonna have to learn to get along but not that one. I wouldn’t sleep at night. Dick’s just to ignorant to know what he’s got over there I think.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 20, 2007, 05:14:23 PM
Bo said, "Ella gave me an assignment if the supply wagon got here before she got back. Looks like I have better go take care of that."

Cyrus laughed, "Probably shopping of some kind. Why do women have to go shopping even in the middle of nowhere?"

Bo laughed with him, then said, "If what she ordered arrived, can I borrow three or four men for carrying?"

"What did she order? And how much? Sure, you can borrow some men." Cyrus raised his voice and called, "Dolph, Hiram, Cole, Davis!"

The four men, who had been contentedly sitting around a game of cards, came on over.

"Go with Bo, and do what he asks."

Bo led them to the supply train, and found the man that Ella had negotiated with.

"Have you got the supplies Mrs. Coatsworth ordered?"

"Almost everything but the tomatoes," Jesse replied. "I think I'll be able to get those on the next run.  There weren't enough cans at the depot to fill the fort quartermaster's order. I couldn't get all the potatoes or carrots she wanted, either, but I got extra turnips for her. Her order is all in the last wagon. If you'll help unload the other orders from that wagon, you can borrow the wagon and team for a little while."

Food was always a good incentive to get the scouts to work. Soon enough, they were riding in the wagon while Bo drove it to Cyrus's camp.  There, everyone who was still in camp pitched in to unload the supplies and get them covered with canvas.

Bo returned the wagon, and paid off Jesse. He wasn't sure why Ella had spent her own money to buy enough supplies for 150 men that the Army was responsible for feeding, but he was always happy to eat whatever she cooked. Maybe she had bought so much as the easiest way to make it possible for her to eat the same food as the others. The religious restrictions on her diet had never made any sense to him, seeming to serve no purpose except to isolate her.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 20, 2007, 09:40:34 PM
“Which life would you prefer Ella?” Black beard asked looking over his shoulder at her.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 20, 2007, 11:19:57 PM
"I am a midwife at heart, and army life would be very short on opportunities to exercise those skills, so I would have to prefer the life of a city doctor's wife. But I wouldn't be happy for long in either of those roles. I like better the life I have in El Paso, part-time deputy for excitement, and midwife-doctor the rest of the time. When Alan joins me, I'll probably stop being a deputy in order to have time for medicine and homemaking." Ella's tone was a little wistful, and Scarlet wondered whether Ella was thinking, "If Alan joins me."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 21, 2007, 09:52:17 PM
It didn’t take Dick to long to compose his list. Next to Carl’s name he put KILLED under suspicious circumstances. He found Cyrus headed for the mess hall. He fell in next to him and handed over the list and fell in next to him.

Cyrus scanned the list and shook his head disapprovingly at some of the names.

“I see you have a few shave tails.” Cyrus said. “I’ve never even heard of  Columbus Foster or Franklin Simmons.”

“Just cuz you’ve never heard of them doesn’t mean they are green Cyrus.”

“True, they may just keep their noses clean. I see you have a hand full of drunks too. What were you thinking?”

Dick scowled. “What makes you such an authority and the ones you ride with so great?” He spat.

“They may be crazy and hard, have bad reputations but I know the men. They drink but they don’t spend all their waking hours swimming in a bottle. I know the ones I have riding well enough to know what to expect from them in a given situation. You had a sign up list in a saloon from what I hear.”  Cyrus replied.  “Hell I’m surprised Maxwell Bennett has been sober enough to realize where he’s at.”

Dick rolled his eyes at the comment. Cyrus found a seat in the mess hall and sat down still looking over the list.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 22, 2007, 10:44:25 AM
Bo made his way to the stables. He had promised to make sure Dancer was not cooped up in a stall all day. Dancer pawed the air and bobbed his head when he saw Bo. Bo’s own horse nickered. He stopped at Thunder’s stall and brushed him then went to Dancer. Scarlet always brushed the horses enough to make their coats shine, so Bo took the time to do the same. When he was finished he figured both the horses would pass Scarlet’s approval. She always said a long ride helped clear your mind and put the world into a better perspective or on a good horse you could just plain out run your thoughts for awhile. He wasn’t sure why he was having the dreams he was. The feeling the posse was in danger had passed for the most part but they wouldn’t be gone until the group was back at the fort. Maybe he would ride out and meet them, they were due back today and it would get Dancer out.

Cyrus looked up from his list to see the dapple bay horse prancing past, it sent a chill down his spine every time he saw Bo on that horse. For not being a twin he sure resembled his older brother, Cyrus was glad the man normally rode the paint. He looked back down at his list wondering how long it would be before Reuben would get into some kind of trouble again after they turned him loose.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 23, 2007, 10:42:18 AM
Cyrus figured he’d have to tell his crew they had new members then go over to Dick’s camp and meet some of these people whose names he didn’t know. He’d be clear to let them know they would be answering to him now too. Cyrus would take Chris and Frank along with him since Teddy and Black beard were both gone right now. They would do well if there was trouble.

Ella and Scarlet had polished what Cyrus referred to as Chris’s rough edges and he was turning out to be one hell of a man to have stand with ya in a fight.

Frank Russell reminded Cyrus of one of those little Spanish fighting bulls he’d seen. Not as big as most of the others but fight like nuthin’ he’d ever seen if he was challenged.

Cyrus sighed, he had a good well rounded crew, different men with different backgrounds and temperaments, different skills but when you put them all together they worked well together.  Now he had to pull in Dick’s mob. Oh well, the men would straighten each other out he guessed, they had before he’d just have to keep a close eye on them.

Cyrus looked up when Fritz approached. Dick wanted to leave he didn’t care for Captain King. He shifted his weight only to feel Cyrus’s boot planted firmly on his. Cyrus shot him an irritated look. “I don’t tolerate deserters and you are in this up to your eyeballs.”
Dick said nothing but didn’t attempt to leave.

Cyrus knew Sam would be easy to deal with. From what he could tell Sam had had enough of Dick’s crew and was ready to leave. He would most likely welcome the fact he was going to be riding with Cyrus’s crew now. Some of his men knew of Sam Meriwether, a couple had even asked why he was shackled in the corral. Which told Cyrus the man was not lying about who he was unless he’d been doing it along time. He’d found out Sam had worked for the army before and he’d done some private work for wagon trains. A quiet man who didn’t like trouble.

Reuben on the other hand he didn’t have to ask around about. Cyrus knew him well enough. He was going to be like unleashing a rabid dog. It wouldn’t matter if they turned him loose now or in two days from now, the result would be the same. He’d go after somebody and either end up in the stockade or the infirmary.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 25, 2007, 09:51:11 PM
Cyrus and Dick followed Fritz back to his quarters and collected the belongings of the two men shackled in the corral. Cyrus turned to Dick and handed him one small skinning knife. “This belong to Reuben?”

“Yeah so does the big one.” Dick said reaching for the bowie.

“Maybe, but he’s gonna have to earn that back on good behavior along with the rest of his stuff. Until then they will be in an undisclosed place.” Cyrus replied.

Dick thought his brother was being awfully bold but said nothing.

“What about Sam?”

“He’s been behaving himself out there. He can have his stuff back. I think I heard some words I don’t even know the meaning of out of Reuben.”

Cyrus and Dick went to the corral by way of Cyrus’s camp, where he turned over Reuben’s weapons to one of his men and quietly told him what to do with it so Dick couldn’t hear.

By the time Dick and Cyrus made it to the corral men from both scout’s camps were milling around, curious as to what was going to happen.

“Turn Reuben loose and give him that skinner back.” Cyrus said handing Dick over the keys to Reuben’s shackles.
Cyrus went into the corral and unlocked Sam’s shackles, and handed over his gear. “You wait for me at my tent.”

Sam looked at him then over at Reuben who was having words with Dick. “Yes Sir.” He said ducking out of the corral.

Cyrus stood with his back towards Reuben. Slowly he began to swing the shackle in a small circle in front of him waiting while he listened.

“Who is he to say?” Reuben’s voice grew louder. “Oh he’s calling the shots now. Well who the hell is he to think he’s good enough to boss us?” Reuben started towards Cyrus. “I want my stuff back Kane.”

“You got to earn it back.” Cyrus called over his shoulder letting the chain slide between his fingers making a larger circle as the shackle swung.

“I’m gonna take it outta yer hide.” Reuben said charging Cyrus’s back.

Cyrus listened to the footfalls and calculated just how close he should let Reuben get with the small pig sticker. Cyrus turned in time to see Reuben intended to cut him just as he had suspected. Cyrus swung the shackle catching Reuben in the jaw. Reuben went down yelling while he rolled around on the ground. Cyrus snatched the knife away from him and put the shackle back on his ankle.

“Don’t you ever try that on me again.” He hissed.

“You tryin’ ta kill me old man?” Reuben growled through gritted teeth, holding his jaw.

Cyrus gave the chain a good jerk. “Either get up and walk to the infirmary or I’ll drag you.”

Reuben rolled over and glared. Cyrus began to pull. Reuben made a move to try to grab Cyrus again only to be hit by the other end of the chain in the ribs.

Watching him stand Cyrus figured he had hit Reuben hard enough in the jaw to keep him in the infirmary until the scouts rode out.

When they reached the infirmary Cyrus choose a bed and shackled Reuben to it so he couldn’t escape. “Give him a bed pan and tell him to behave himself.” He said to the man who was closely following trying to find out what had happened.

“Better men than you have tried. If you try again it WILL get you killed.” He said pointing at Reuben.

In the short time it took Cyrus to get back to the corral more men from both camps had gathered and were talking about what they saw.

“Men have reputations for a reason.” Cyrus growled. “I earned mine. Keep that in mind while yer thinking about if you want to ride with me or not and if I am serious about the rules you’ll be following.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 26, 2007, 09:45:23 PM
Dick turned on his heel and followed after Cyrus. “You dang near took Reuben’s head off. That was an underhanded move.”

“Suppose you would have liked it better if’d he stabbed me in the back.” Cyrus replied.

“You set him up.” Dick responded.

“I only defended myself. I didn’t ask him to try and jump me. You tell those men if they don’t want to ride with me they can pack their gear and get out. I won’t think anything bad if they go, but I will expect a lot if they stay.”

They had reached Cyrus’s tent where Sam was waiting like he was told. Cyrus motioned him inside and dropped the tent flap in Dick’s face.

Dick glared at the tent flap before going back to his own camp.

Some of Cyrus’s crew looked curiously at the tent but knew if it was something they needed to know Cyrus would tell them. They went about their business until Cyrus and Sam came out. He called two of his men over, gave them instructions before Sam, Samuel and Joe headed towards Dick’s camp.

Dick’s men watched curiously as the three came over packed up Sam’s gear and headed back towards Cyrus’s camp without a word to the rest of them. Dick was soon answering questions about the new order of command among the scouts.


Bo had ridden a good part of the day. Scarlet always said she found piece on the back of a good horse and Dancer was good company. Bo had found that same tranquility, she always said ita peaceful ride was good for the soul and she was right. He smiled seeing the dust rising from riders headed towards him. As the rising dust came closer he realized there were too many riders to be the posse. Bo waited until he positively identify the riders then let Dancer move out at a long trot to meet the returning hunting party.

“Any sign of the posse?” Bo asked turning Dancer around and riding next to Teddy.

“Not at all.” Teddy replied looking at Bo. “Something wrong?”

“No. I figured you had ridden out far enough you might see them.”

“We rode out far enough we should have seen them if they planned to make the fort by tonight. Unless they are on a different trail and back now.” Teddy watched Bo for a minute. “Don’t worry Bo. If they don’t come home tomorrow I’m sure Cyrus will let us go out looking.”

Bo chuckled. “Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried. The posse is very capable of their job as I am sure their escort is.”
Teddy laughed. “Black beard is capable of his job to and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t go down with out a hell of a fight. We’d seen sign if something was wrong.”

Bo was disappointed to see the posse had not ridden by them and beaten them back to the fort. He knew something unexpected and bad had happened but he didn’t have the lingering feeling of doom. He figured they would show up sometime the next day.

As the hunting party unloaded what they had brought back Cyrus decided he go to Dick’s camp and tell the scouts if they helped with the work they could enjoy the meal too. It had helped his scouts get along with the soldiers better maybe it would do the same with the scouts from Dick’s camp.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 26, 2007, 11:39:00 PM
"Maybe my men are smarter than they look", thought Dick, watching most of his crew pitch in to help clean and dress the deer, elk and rabbits the hunting party had brought back.  They seemed to be taking seriously what Cyrus had said about helping if they wanted to eat something other than mess tent chow. Drew and Owen especially were making an effort to ingratiate themselves with Cyrus's crew, helping the man skinning the rabbits.

Dick pitched in a bit, although being near the lines where they hung the critters up for skinning gave him goose bumps, while he looked over Cyrus's men deciding on where to start his campaign.  Frank, there, he had a reputation as a ladies man, someone who never lacked for female companionship. It was easy enough to be next to him chopping potatoes to add to the stew kettle.

Frank commented, "It doesn't look like Blackbeard and the girls are getting back today."

Dick couldn't have asked for a better opening and responded, "Maybe they got late starts every morning.  Two men, two women, what do you think they are doing at night?"

Frank stared at him, disbelieving what he had heard, "Might be what you think."

"Maybe the girls just need some privacy to open up." Dick thought this conversation was serving his purposes pretty well.

Frank had heard enough. "You had better stop saying things like that," he warned.

"I'm sure you all think things like that, wondering what it would take to get one of them to do more than dance with you."

"No, we don't. We think of them as our sisters, and are proud they are willing to treat us like their brothers." Frank dropped the chopping knife, and stood up, looming over Dick.

Dick dropped the other chopper and stood to face the shorter man, "More fool you, then, letting Blackbeard mess with your 'sisters'."

Frank roared, and charged. Dick thought he was ready for the impact, having selected one of the smaller men in the crew, but he was bowled over immediately. He soon found himself face down in the dirt with both arms behind his back. He heard jeers from the rest of the scouts, his own men as well as Cyrus's.

Chris's voice was clearest, "You fight like a girl! You couldn't even take Ella down!"

Frank let Dick up again. Dick knew he had to do something to reclaim his dignity. He had seen Ella being taught how to throw knives, but hadn't seen her practice any other fighting skill. "I can take Ella down, no problem. What do you want to bet?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 27, 2007, 09:05:27 PM
Chris caught Cyrus’s sour look. Cyrus never cared if the men fought among themselves for sport as long as no one got seriously hurt, but Dick wasn’t a man he trusted not to seriously hurt someone if he could get away with it, and Ella wasn’t one of his men.

Cyrus looked over at Bo who appeared to be considering the situation. Cyrus’s men were starting to look towards him to see if they should pursue the bet.

“You say Ella and Scarlet have just as much right to be here as any of your men. You let your men fight among themselves.” Dick snorted. “You said I was wrong when I said this was no place for women. You gonna post guards around them when we go out?”

Cyrus’s eyes narrowed if he could have he would have grabbed Chris by the scruff of the neck and drug him off to have words. “Come ‘er” he growled at Chris. Shooting Bo a look Cyrus moved away from the group followed by Bo and Chris.

He turned on Chris when they were away from the rest of the group. “Is there a sign on my back that says cause me pain? First I get the pleasure of having to deal with that group of fools and now this. I expect better of you. I thought you liked Ella.”

“I do boss.” Chris replied with a guilty voice.

“Dammit man.” Cyrus growled at Chris then looked back at Bo. “Can she fight?”

Cyrus was right when he thought Bo was considering the situation that had been proposed. Ella had a lot of good training she’d picked up in the time he’d know her. He could remember a time when he under estimated Scarlet.

“I wouldn’t want to try her.”

“Ain’t what I asked.”

“I think she could if she wanted to. She is not one to look for a fight or cause pain. Scarlet knows pressure points from studying the body and the medical knowledge she has. I would imagine Ella has that same knowledge and then some. I would bet on her.”

“You put me in a bad position.” Cyrus said to Chris. “You go on with your bet but you are responsible for her well being. Something goes south you best fix it. Remember she is what stands between you and Scarlet.”

Cyrus headed back to the group leaving Chris standing with Bo. “I thought Scarlet and I were getting along well. How long does she hold a grudge?”

Bo laughed and walked back towards the group.

Bets were already happening when Chris made it back.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 29, 2007, 10:32:44 AM
The damp cold night had turned into a gray drizzling day. The posse talked about something hot to eat and drink in the comfort of their tents when they returned to the fort.

“Hot bath.” Scarlet had whispered to Ella whose look told Scarlet she couldn’t agree more.

Black beard wanted to sit around the fire in his socks and union suit and not worry about somebody or something coming out of the dark at him. Tensleep thought that sounded like a good idea to him.

The extra days at the Indian village had put them behind schedule so the posse had started early and pushed to make it back to the fort by afternoon.

The scouts and soldiers were at the corral when “Incoming riders” floated through the air.Bo turned to see the riders approaching them. They had someone with them but everybody looked no worse for wear. It was a relief to see them safe since his own dreams had kept him awake at night wondering about what was happening.

One of Dick’s men had just climbed into the corral with Cyrus when the posse rode past. Drew Hardy stood along the fence and Cyrus didn’t miss the way he watched the posse as they rode past.

Cyrus had been checking out each of Dick’s men but hadn’t gotten to Drew yet. The way he watched the posse disturbed Cyrus, more so the way he watched Ella and Scarlet. The man that came into the corral to challenge Cyrus thought he would catch him off guard while he wasn’t paying attention and swung at him only to be surprised by a block.

By the time the posse came returned to the corral Cyrus’s opponent was leaning against the fence trying to wipe the mud off of himself. Scarlet saw Fritz as they approached the group. It looked like he had been practicing with the crowd today. She smiled at him and he smiled back. Her smile grew a bit wider as she thought about going up to him and giving him a big wet kiss but she thought better of it and stopped next to Bo.

Tensleep, Ella and Black beard continued on with Jimmy, followed by Chris and Samuel who wanted to know everything about the trip.

Bo put his arm around her and pulled her close. “I was worried about you.” He said quietly.

Scarlet smiled. “I’m glad you worry about me Darlin’ but you know I was in good company.”

“I see you found something worth dragging back. Ya find Carrie?”

“Yes, I’m gonna clean up then I will tell ya all about it. Got things to tell ya.” Scarlet said and started to turn.

Bo didn’t let go. “You know you can’t say that and walk away.”

“Nuthin’ bad I promise.” She chuckled.

Cyrus had been looking for somebody else to come in the corral but nobody was stepping forward. “Come on ladies are y’all afraid of a half blind old man?”

“We don’t think yer half blind Cyrus, we seen what ya did ta Collins there.” Some one replied followed by laughter from the crowd.

Cyrus caught the way Drew was looking over his shoulder towards Scarlet. He wondered just exactly the man was thinking. Cyrus knew she was tired; the entire posse had to be from being on the trail. He also knew she was aware Drew was looking at her, Bo was too.

Cyrus knew Scarlet had a reputation as being a good fighter, but he’d only ever seen her fight Chris, and not much of it. He’d seen her show the soldiers a few moves during practice but they had been slow showing the soldiers how to do some them. Cyrus decided it was time to test the reputation he’d heard about since nobody else was stepping up. Even if she lost to him at least the men would see she could defend herself. Maybe it was a good thing they would see Ella defend herself too. It may make men like Drew rethink a few things.

Cyrus stepped up to the fence. “How about you.” He said with a grin as he looked pointedly at Scarlet.

Scarlet was surprised at first, wondering why he’d chosen her.

“You’re gonna challenge someone whose been on the trail for a week verses these men that got to sleep in their warm tents last night?”

“Yeah, I been told women don’t belong here with us. No place for ya here. Heard ya got some skills, they say yer the daughter of one of the most ruthless fighters alive, sister to a Comanche warrior and ya been married to one of best knife fighters I had the pleasure of knowin. It’s been said you learned something from them. I wanna know if it’s true.” He grinned enjoying poking at her.

The men were getting excited, another bet maybe if she took his offer. She was tired but he’d just been fighting too. The men began to look from Cyrus to Scarlet and back.

“We’re gonna be long on the trail when we leave here. You gonna be able to stand the long days, sleepless nights and possible enemy attacks. I wanna see what ya got Corbin.”

Cyrus knew there wasn’t a man there that would say anything bad if she’d told him she take him on in the morning, after all none of them had offered to step forward.

“Are you familiar with the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ Cyrus?” Scarlet said letting her saddlebags slip from her shoulder thinking of the comment she’d heard he’d made before they left. Scarlet removed the holsters from her belt then put it back on so she was only carrying the knife.

Cyrus returned to the middle of the corral a big grin on his face. “Yep, sure have.” He called not making the connection to the comment he had made before, that he’d forgotten to apologize for.

One of the men elbowed Bo. “Ya gonna bet on yer girl there?”

Bo looked over at her. She was already plotting what she was gonna do, he could tell by the look she had, calm and dark. “He’s goin’ down.” Bo replied as Scarlet walked towards the corral.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 29, 2007, 11:00:45 AM
The posse had stopped to rest at midday, and let the horses graze.  Ella built a tiny fire for making coffee to wash down the rest of the cold meat and flatbread.

Then it was time to get back on the horses and chew up more miles. They didn't see any other people all day.

They finally stopped for the night as the sun was disappearing below the horizon. The earlier campsites were not defensible enough to satisfy Blackbeard.  It was too dark to risk a fire by the time the horses were cared for and given an extra helping of grain.

Ella was not interested in chewing on the available jerky and hardtack, and headed straight for her bedroll. If she dreamed, she was too tired for any dream to rouse her.  Blackbeard's touch on her shoulder woke her for her turn on watch.

Jimmy had offered to take a turn standing watch, and been declined gently by Tensleep. So he woke up when Ella got up and joined her again. Jimmy was still nervous around Blackbeard and Scarlet, but he had walked next to Tensleep during much of the day and talked with him.

They sat quietly, watching and listening to the night until the eastern sky started to show a hint of color.

"What do you think you want to do with your life, Jimmy?"

"I don't know for sure. I have a list of things I do not want to do, which includes farming, mining, cattle driving and being an outlaw.  I never was good enough at book learning to think that anything like bookkeeper or shopkeeper or reporter would suit me. I cannot see myself trying to be a doctor, either. But Marshal Ross told me that having a prison term in my background would not prevent me from getting a job as a deputy," said Jimmy.

"That is true. There are plenty of tales about men who went from the bad side to the good side of the law. Their time as outlaws probably even made them better at understanding and catching outlaws. But you will need to work on book learning, too, if you want to spend your prison time getting ready to be a deputy."

"That's booklearning with a purpose behind it, not just memorizing plays or poems or lists of kings or battles to recite. What should I study?"

"Arithmetic, for starters. You'll want to be able to divide up a bounty fairly, and budget your travel expenses.  Reading and writing to get all the information out of a witness's account, and to write a good report. You should read all of Shakespeare's plays, and try to figure out why all the characters are doing what they are doing."

By now, there was enough light for Ella to start building a fire to cook breakfast. Jimmy brought her water and wood without waiting to be asked. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on September 29, 2007, 11:12:09 AM
Tensleep did the talking at the stockade and arranged for Jimmy to be locked into a cell with a triple-level bunk bed.  Ella was apologetic about leaving him there, but Jimmy reassured her, "To tell the truth, I wouldn't trust someone with my history either."

"I'll bring you dinner later, and be back in the morning to change the bandage," she promised.

Jimmy tossed his saddlebags onto the top bunk. He and his older brother had slept in bunk beds while they were growing up.  George took the top bunk and never gave Jimmy a turn at it. He expected that Eddie had moved into the bottom bunk after Jimmy left, since it would have been an improvement on the trundle bed. George probably had kept that top bunk until he got married.

Jimmy's leg was sore, but not enough to keep him from climbing up.  His leg wasn't anywhere near as sore as he would have expected for only three days healing. Gus had taken a bullet in the thigh during that last stagecoach job. The wound had hardly bothered him at all once the bleeding stopped, but the next day it started to go bad. By the third day, he was raving with fever, and his leg was swelling and stinking. When he couldn't ride anymore, Charley had cut his throat and abandoned him.

The next stop was the fort's telegraph station.  Tensleep did the talking again, and got Ella access to the key for an hour. The telegraph operator sat in a wheeled chair. He pushed away from the key, and invited Ella to pull up a chair.

Once she was ready to start, Tensleep and Black beard went off on other business. After the initial message, Ella switched to the private code that Patches had specified in her acknowlegement and sent the report that Tensleep had outlined and the assignment regarding Jimmy.

"I hadn't heard of a woman telegraph operator before," commented the fort's operator once she was done. "That wasn't normal code you were sending, either." 

"My handle is ECW, for Ella Coatsworth.  I learned a couple years ago from another woman operator, PMD, who learned in the War, and is another of the Marshal's deputies. She and I have a few private codes we use when we want to keep the Marshal's business private," answered Ella. "She will reply in clear. Should I check back with you daily for replies? That might be easier than you trying to deliver a message to Marshal Ross."

"Sounds good to me," he agreed. "My handle is JMD, for John Morgan Dole."

Once they crossed the invisible border that marked Cyrus's camp, Ella relaxed a little. Except for the room in officers quarters, everywhere else at the fort had to be treated as dangerous territory.  She knew the presence of her escorts would discourage anyone from approaching her too closely, but staying vigilant was important. Ella was still telling Chris and Samuel about the visit to the Cheyenne when suddenly a man's arms wrapped around her chest, pinning her arms to her sides.  His right hand pulled the gun from her crossdraw holster, and dropped it to the ground.

Her first attempt to throw off the grapple failed, and she heard Richard Kane say into her ear, "Come along to my tent, darling."

She replied, "Let go of me!" and tried again to break his hold.  She stomped on his foot with her right boot heel, and was encouraged to feel him flinch.  She bent over suddenly, trying to throw him over her head, but he just lowered his arms to her waist and gave her a little slack.

She used that slack to dig her fingers into his forearms, and then rake her fingernails down his arms.  He released his grip enough for her to pivot on her left foot, ignoring the tug that opened her jacket, and bring her right knee forcibly into his groin.

He let go, and started to bend over, bringing his jaw to meet her left fist with more force than she had put into the uppercut.  His head snapped back, and he collapsed.  She back pedaled to get clear of him, shaking out her left hand.

She knelt beside Richard, and checked his pulse and eyes, then pulled him into a more comfortable recovery position.  He was out cold, and didn't react when she pulled a few hairs from his head. She stood up and pulled her jacket back into place before she looked around.  It looked like almost all of the scouts from both Cyrus's band and Richard's band were standing around the combat, Cyrus's men cheering, Richard's men scowling.  She stood and focussed on one of Richard's men, and said, "Tell him to wash those scratches well with soap and hot water."

Then she mentally gathered her dignity and stalked off.  Chris and Samuel fell in beside her, wearing huge grins. 

"What's so amusing?" she grumbled. 

"We, all of Cyrus's men, just won a big bet," answered Chris.  "I won the secondary bet, too." 

"What bet?" she asked, suspiciously. 

"Well, Dick said some stuff, and Frank took him down. Pretty soon, there was a bet on whether or not Dick could put you in the dust.  All of Cyrus's men bet on you."

"That explains why you two walked me past Richard then just stood back and let him grab me.  He could have really hurt me!"

"We would have stopped him as soon as the bet was settled by him getting you across the line we drew as soon as he grabbed you or by you asking for help.  The bet would also have been settled by you getting loose from him and across the line."

"What was the secondary bet?" she asked, still controlling her temper.

"That you would not put him in the infirmary or kill him.  If you had put him in the infirmary, there was another bet about whether you would treat him or leave him to the fort medic."

Ella had to snort at that.  She didn't know herself whether she would have been willing to treat him. 

"Are you going to set me up like that again?" she demanded.

"No.  There'd be no profit to it.  No one would be willing to bet against you next time.  No one else is going to be willing to try you, either."

Ella snorted again, then laughed.  "I have got to visit the sutlers and get myself some britches.  I need practice; it took me too long to break free. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on September 30, 2007, 10:06:42 AM
Black beard eyed Frank. He was about as impressed as when Cyrus had first heard about the bet.

Frank caught his look. “Ya should have heard what he was sayin’” Frank replied. “Cyrus and Bo both knew about it.”

Black beard’s lip twitched as he walked through the crowd of scouts and soldiers that had turned to watch Ella and Dick fight. Scarlet and Cyrus were on the fence.

“Is Ella ok?” Scarlet asked when Black beard reached her.

“Yeah.” He looked down the fence line at Cyrus. “They set her up Scarlet. They set you up too?”

Scarlet’s eyes met his. “I was goaded into something. He probably knows I wouldn’t walk away, but that’s ok.”

“Ya think you can take the ol’ buzzard?”

Scarlet glanced over at Cyrus. He was strong and fit. She’d learned along time ago age only made ‘em more treacherous and less stupid most of the time.

“There’s been times I’ve brought Bo down and times I’ve lost to someone with skills less than my, but I got a plan today. That is his demise. He should have done me like Dick did Ella.”

Black beard smiled. “If I bet on you?”

“If you bet on me go double or nuthin and make it worth while for Ella and my troubles.”

“Don’t get to cocky Scarlet.”

“ it cold and calculated. One should really be careful what he wishes for at times.”

Most the men had turned back towards the corral and were waiting to see the outcome of the next fight. 

Cyrus had climbed off the fence and gone back to the center of the corral. “I lied I’m not blind. No coaching on the fence.” He called with a laugh.

“If they want cash up front there’s some in my saddlebags.” She whispered to Black beard.

“You got any rules I should know about?” Scarlet said jumping down from the fence and walking towards Cyrus.

“Yeah don’t go any deeper than stitches can fix and don’t cut up my purdy face.” He said with a grin.

“Stitches fixed Chris up real well.” Scarlet said an evil grin crossing her face as she drew her knife.

“Scout’s rules friendly engagement.” He said.

“I’ll not try to geld ya by cuttin’ ya.” She responded circling him.

Cyrus drew his knife and began to circle too. He noticed she moved with ease and confidence. She was the first woman he’d fought and wasn’t sure what to expect.

“Show me what Travis Corbin taught you sweetheart.” He said trying to distract her and break her concentration.

Scarlet was done talking now. He noticed her eyes watched him closely. Every move he took she seemed to counter act quickly. He’d seen her move while dancing with the men and she was following his moves now.

“This is more dangerous than a dance sweetheart.” He said again trying to distract her but there was no reply.

Cyrus was quick and he moved at her swinging the knife low. He was impressed when she blocked the move with her own blade. It was then he noticed the guard on her knife was a bit different than the normal straight guards he was used to seeing. He’d have to ask her to check it out later. His knife glanced off hers and the tip of her blade went across his arm stinging as it went. He moved back and swung his knife wide catching her on the rib just before she moved back.

Cyrus moved away far enough he had time to look at his arm. He had a long scratch across the top of it, just deep enough to sting and draw only enough blood to let him know he’d been hit. He also noticed she was waiting for him. Letting him look and not rushing him, she could have looked at her own scratch but chose not to take her eyes off of him.

“He taught you the rules of friendly engagement well.” Cyrus said but still no response from Scarlet.

He stepped back into her space and swung the blade at her shoulder. She sidestepped him and planted the rounded end of the knife handle into his ribs as she moved.

They were well matched defensively and had gone almost blow for blow. Cyrus was surprised that he couldn’t get her to respond to any remarks he made she seemed to keep her wits about her. Their blades locked again, this time his didn’t glance off. She had hooked his knife with the opposite side of her hers this time, the guard turned slightly upward on that side instead of downward and she was able to gain some control. Cyrus hauled off and punched her in the ribs. It was a fight after all and they wouldn’t go easy on her out there. Her response was hitting him in the groin with a fist while she twisted her knife causing his wrist to twist before they broke free of each other.

They would both have their share of nicks and bruises by the time it was over. She had been taught well Cyrus admired that. “Come on darlin’ show me why you belong out here and not over a cook pot or on your back.” He said softly so only she could hear him.

Scarlet swung her hand low and close to him. He responded by dropping his to the same level and taking a jab but missed. She did that a couple times to him and he couldn’t figure out why. The third time she bent a little lower. His eyes left hers and dropped for a split second. He felt her hands wrap around his wrist, her nails dig into him until he dropped his knife.

“I’m here to make yer wishes come true.” She said surprising him that she’d spoke.

He felt her kick the back of his knee hard and it buckled. He didn’t know what she was doing but she no longer had her knife, just both hands had a death grip on his wrist. He was down on one knee gathering strength to stand back up when she crossed in front of him. He felt her legs wrap around him as he went backwards into the slop.

He giggled as he lay on his back her legs wrapped around him just above the hips like scissors.

He heard her giggle too. “I heard something about you wanting my legs around you until you were out of breath and sweaty.” She said pulling his arm.

Cyrus felt his own arm stretch tight across his neck. Every time he exhaled her legs tightened and he couldn’t inhale as deeply. He could feel his own pulse where his arm went across his neck, his chin was tipped up and his own arm was pressing on his windpipe.  His other arm was pined against his body. He struggled to get loose but Scarlet started to lie back pulling his arm across his throat tighter.

“Eventually the pressure of your own arm will cut off your wind and or your blood flow. This I learned from my Comanche brother.” Scarlet said. “If we were on the field of battle and I was strong enough to hold your arm with one hand I might just cut you unless I enjoyed watching you suffer. Then I’d just lay back and pull a little more.”

Laying there Cyrus realized the last few times she’d swung at him she was trying to set him up just right and he hadn’t realized it.

“Let me up.” He choked out.

“You giving up?”

Cyrus struggled again only to feel her tighten the pressure points more.

“Yes.” He choked out.

“I want yer bottle of good whisky. Ella and I deserve it.”

“Yours.” He coughed again. “I give.” He said loud enough for the crowd to hear.

Some cheers and some hisses echoed through the crowd.

Scarlet let go of his wrist and unlocked her ankles. Cyrus rolled away from her. He lay on his back a minute catching his breath.

Scarlet walked over and offered her hand.

Cyrus smiled and took it noticing how she watched him. “I am not going to start another fight. You won fair and square and I am finished. I will not come up swinging. You have my word.”

She smiled and handed him his knife.

“You got mud….all over.” He laughed.

“You should see the other guy.” She smiled.

“If we were enemies on a battle field…”

Scarlet reached behind her and came up with the knife Cyrus hadn’t seen in years. “I would have tried to geld you instead of just a punch.”

The women were just as hard to fight as the men he thought.

“May I see the other one you used?”

Scarlet handed him the large bowie as they walked towards the fence. Cyrus admired the S shaped guard which explained how she was able to catch his knife or glance it off during the fight. He handed it back.

“Frank, bring Scarlet the good bottle from under my bunk.” He called.

“We look like we’ve gone rounds with a couple cats.” He said looking at one on her ribs. “Sorry bout that one.”

“It’s the chance you take if you accept the challenge.”

Cyrus raised an eyebrow figuring it would be a cold day in hell before he heard either of the women whining about anything. He looked at his wrist. It was marked but nothing as bad as he imagined it could have been.

Ella was at the fence with Bo. “Ella you have something good for the scratches.” Scarlet said looking down at herself then at Cyrus. He was just as accomplished at marking someone up as she was.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 02, 2007, 06:36:40 AM
"Of course," replied Ella. "I'll tend to Cyrus first, then we can go get our baths?" She saw Fritz approaching, and smiled before adding, "We can get our baths after you talk to Lieutenant King."

Ella took her saddlebags back from Samuel, glad he had offered to carry them for her so that they hadn't been dropped when Dick grabbed her, and suspecting that he had offered exactly for that reason. 

"This is going to sting, Cyrus," she warned before swabbing his scratches with the disinfectant.  None of the cuts was deep enough for stitches, so she dusted them with dry poultice and wrapped them with clean linen.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on October 02, 2007, 08:15:39 PM
He’d heard the commotion, and done his level best to stay away.  Cyrus was in charge of the scouts, and he’d let him run them his way.  But Dick’s underhanded grab at Ella was almost too much.  He was happy and surprised that Ella broke free.  Not that she couldn’t, but that she minded the battle and not her modesty.  Most women would’ve done something immediately to cover up.  But Scarlet and Ella weren’t like most women.  They were extraordinary women.

Then Scarlet and Cyrus jumped off the fence and into the ring.  Fritz thought “What’s he doing now?”  When their blades cleared leather, his first thought was to draw his short Colt.  It was a force of will to keep his hands from moving. 

He watched them dance around each other, sizing up one another.  Then came the cuts.  He knew she wasn’t hurt badly, but he still felt the pain.  Fritz recalled the first mission, way down in Mexico.  He’d seen Scarlet fight; a tiger couldn’t be more vicious.  Once she’d scissored Cyrus’ midsection, he knew it was over.

Fritz met her as she left the ring with Cyrus’ whiskey.  He tipped his hat.

“Miss Scarlet, may I have a word with you?”

One hand held the bottle, while the other pressed on her wound.  She looked at him.  There was no smile, but her eyes danced.  She noticed the captain’s bars, and her eyes grew wider still.

“I need to dress this wound, Captain.  How are you at field medicine?”

“I’ve bandaged worse wounds than that in my time.  Do you have your own supplies?”

She pointed to her saddlebags, which Fritz picked up.  She followed him back to his tent.  The orderly stepped aside for the bloodied, blonde scout.  “Ma’am,” he said.  She nodded in reply.

“Private,” Fritz said.  I have to dress this woman’s wounds.  Get me some hot water, double-quick.”

The boy ran off, and Fritz tied the flap closed from the inside.  She was upon him almost before he turned to meet her.  His back met the tent pole.  If it hadn’t they’d have torn the canvas off the A-frame.  Their eyes, lips and bodies met.  Their hunger for each other blossomed.

“I’ve missed you,” Fritz whispered between kisses. 

“And I’ve missed you, CAPTAIN,” Scarlet replied.

A voice outside cleared its voice.  “Ah…sir?  I’ve brought the water.”

Fritz reached below the ties and grabbed the handle of the bucket.  “Thanks.  Do you think you could rustle up a bit of food for the lady?”

“Yes sir.  Anything in particular?”

“No…anything is fine,” Scarlet said.

“Now,” Fritz added, let’s have a look at that wound,” more for the benefit of the boy than anything else.  Fritz turned, and the breath left his lungs.  Scarlet had stripped her blouse away.  Her chest rose and fell in short gasps.

“You need to check all around the wound,” she added, “to be sure no infection sets in. Don't bother to wrap it. I have a date with a hot bath.” She looked him up and down with a grin. "Perhaps after that we can see how well you are at dressing things if the offer is still open." She purred.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 02, 2007, 09:14:20 PM
Ella slung her saddlebags over her shoulder and tucked her right hand into Bo's elbow. "Bo, I think you told Samuel and Chris not to warn me about Dick and the bet," sa?id Ella as they walked away from the corral.

"Now why would I do something like that?"

"Because you wanted me to fight back, and not just defend. I know how many times you've scolded me for not working harder in practice sessions."

"You did very well today."

Ella guided Bo over to sutlers row, and started shopping for britches. She started with a quick survey to identify all the merchants who sold shirts and britches at all. She pulled a string out of her pocket, and selected the right knot for the measurement she needed to match, then started scanning through the stacks for a pair the right size made of sturdy enough fabric. Most soldiers were skinny, and even the bigger and stronger ones were narrower through the hips than Ella, so the sutlers did not have many pairs that were big enough. Finding a shirt and vest was easier. She finally made her selections and started negotiating on price.


"That's two months salary for a soldier! I'll give you $10."

"The soldiers big enough for that pair of britches are all officers. $25"

"Which means you have no market for britches that size. $15"


"Done." Ella reached into her pocket, but Bo handed the sutler the payment before she could get her money out.

"I can't let you buy clothes for me," she protested quietly, while the sutler wrapped her purchases.

"It's your own money. There was $10 left from the supplies you ordered, and I bet it on you. Fritz's soldiers needed someone to take their money."

"Did I get everything I ordered?"

"No tomatoes, and you're short on potatoes and carrots, but you've got extra turnips."

"Venison stew with cornbread for dinner, then." Ella's stomach rumbled in anticipation.

Bo took custody of the parcel and they continued on to Fritz's tent.  It looked like they had delayed enough. The tent was open and a soldier was handing Fritz a tray of food.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 03, 2007, 08:33:32 AM
Fritz stepped close, put his arm around her and pulled her tight to him.

“You’re supposed to be dressing the wounds.” Scarlet said teasingly as she pointed to the scratch on her ribs.

He kissed her tenderly “You are making it difficult to stay focused on the task at hand Milady.” He replied letting her go. He took the supplies from her saddlebags.

“This is going to burn.” He said as he poured the clear liquid from the flask onto the cotton and dabbed it against her skin.

“Just blow on it.” She said softly blowing down the back of his neck.

Fritz took a deep breath; she certainly was skilled at distracting him. When he looked up at her she was innocently looking around his tent as if she’d done nothing. He laughed softly, put his hand behind her neck and kissed her.

Scarlet traced her fingertips along his jaw line as she returned his kiss. 

Fritz stepped back so he could finish tending to the scratches. Scarlet could tell by the look in his eyes he could feel the pain of every little nick. She placed her finger tips under his chin and tilted his head back up.

“You married a fighter Fritz. Cyrus is an honorable opponent. I’ve fought men who have not been so kind on the rules.” She said with a smile.

“I know.” He said smiling back as he wiped some of the mud from her neck.

Scarlet picked up her shirt and slid it back on. She could hear the Private returning. “I should have sent him for something challenging to find.” She chuckled.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on October 03, 2007, 08:53:45 PM
After Scarlet rebuttoned her blouse, Fritz sighed, and took the offered tray.  "Thanks Private.  Why don't you go take a load off for a few minutes?  I'll tell the First Sergeant you deserved a break."

The boy said "Yes sir," and headed off towards the sutlers.

"We do need to talk Milady."

"Ooh!  So serious darlin?  Are those straps weighing you down a bit?"

"I think it's time we told the camp who you really are."

"I don't know if that's such a good idea," Scarlet replied.

"Major Schurmann figured it out by himself.  And I'd bet a few of those scouts you ride with know it too."

Scarlet said nothing.

Fritz approached, and put his hand on her cheek.  "The days are coming fast when we'll be on the move.  No tent, no freedom, no privacy.  The main reason I didn't say anything was to keep your standing with the scouts.  After that row with Cyrus, I'd say you made a damn fine impression."   

Scarlet half smiled.  Fritz could tell by her look she was pleased with herself at the outcome with Cyrus.  “I am not worried about the scouts, Fritz.  The ones that know it makes no difference to, and I doubt they will say anything.  Unless of course they are taking bets, then there are a couple who have inside information.  Although you might get an offer from one of them to try and buy me.”

Fritz raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Just be careful what you bet if you gamble with Black beard.” She chuckled.

“I’ll make note of that.” He replied.

“Fritz, I have not said anything about us because I worry about what the soldiers will say.  My actions are not very fitting of an officer’s wife and I’m afraid they would be a direct reflection on you.”

He took his wife's hand.  "I don't care what they think.  I love you, and I'm proud that you're my wife.  You fight harder than any man, and love greater than any woman I've ever known."

Was that a tear forming in the corner of her eye, or just a trick of the light?

Scarlet whispered, "When this war is over, you're coming home with me."

Fritz smiled.  "Let's get you a bath.  Then we'll get dressed, and go meet the men."

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 03, 2007, 11:58:13 PM
Bo and Ella caught up with Fritz and Scarlet as they left Fritz's tent.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, then Bo spoke up, "You two need to know that the man Lucky kicked had tried to bribe his way past the guard at your quarters before he went to the stables. Neither Fritz nor Cyrus seems to worry much about one of the guards accepting a bribe, but I don't know if you are safe sleeping in there. Guards can be knocked out."

"Scarlet and I have been making friends with that entire guard detail, so I don't think any of them would be willing to let someone at us, on top of the dereliction of duty charge they would face. The guard has a fairly defensible post on the porch there, except for getting shot at, and gunfire would attract attention from the rest of the detail as well as the officers in the building."

"Cyrus's men have been keeping an eye on your quarters at night as well, making sure the sentry stays awake," added Bo.

This was news to Ella. She thought Scarlet probably already knew that. It meant that Scarlet's night walking hadn't been as dangerous as it looked.

"I can move down to the scouts camp tomorrow, but I was really looking forward to spending tonight wearing a nightgown in a real bed," offered Ella. "Scarlet, why don't you and Fritz just go ahead and announce your relationship? I slipped out there and told Blackbeard your married name. I'm almost surprised that I hadn't let it slip earlier."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 04, 2007, 08:19:55 AM
“We were talking about that.” Scarlet replied then eyed Bo. “Are they taking bets on that one too?”

Bo looked around like he hadn’t heard her.

“Who guessed right?”

“Well they wouldn’t let me play.” Bo laughed. “But they started that shortly after we arrived. You know how they love a good mystery. Cyrus and Black beard. They are pretty smart. Chris and a few others think Fritz and Ella are married and Frank put down Scarlet and Tensleep. According to Samuel Ella is a widow but will not say because she doesn’t want anyone approaching her. Bunch of ‘em think Scarlet and I are married.”

“That would explain why Black beard was so happy when he found out.” Scarlet laughed softly and slightly rolled her eyes.

“When did the betting stop?”

“They put dates next to their names and cannot change their answer. They were hoping you would say before we ride for home. Teddy says Ella is married to a Mr. Coatsworth, still living in parts unknown and he thinks you’re married to a Comanche.”

“Ella if there are men trying to bribe the guards I will stay with you tonight. I can move when you do. I don’t think we should take any chances.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 04, 2007, 08:55:01 AM
"And just how many nights have you been able to stay in that room until morning? At least if you openly start the night with Fritz, you are more likely to stay put. You walking to the stables in the middle of the night should be more dangerous than me staying alone in the room," replied Ella. "Bo, could you sleep in the parlour again?"
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 04, 2007, 08:36:27 PM
Scarlet looked over to Ella. She had that stubborn look on her face, it would be a losing battle and waste of breath to try and convince Ella any different. Bo was a better protector the she was anyway. Scarlet thought. She also wondered how likely she was to stay put in Fritz’s tent. True she wouldn’t be sneaking out to see him, but there nights she just plain couldn’t sleep and she left the room to keep from waking Ella, no doubt the same thing would happen. She was already nervous about meeting Fritz’s men, he may not care what they thought but she did.

Bo smiled. “My pleasure Ella. I don’t hear anybody snorin’ in there.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 04, 2007, 09:01:28 PM
When they reached the room Ella and Scarlet shared Ella and Scarlet gathered clean clothes to put on after their bath.

Normally Scarlet was quick about gathering her things together. It took her a little longer than normal today. She went through her things twice looking for something she thought might be appropriate to meet Fritz’s men later, but she knew all she brought was clothes comfortable for the trail or fighting which consisted mostly of button up shirts and trousers. Grabbing clean clothes off the top of her pile Scarlet finally decided if she couldn’t be what she thought was proper she would be herself, after all if the soldiers had not already seen that they would soon enough. She was looking forward to a long hot bath just as much as Ella.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 04, 2007, 09:28:18 PM
Ella left her bundle of new clothes in the room, and took a clean set. There wasn't a lot of decision required: She had brought two sets of divided skirts with matching jackets, three waists that could be worn with either jacket, and three sets of undergarments. She would need to mend the jacket she had on before she could wear it again. She hoped she had enough spare buttons to replace the ones that had gone flying when Dick jerked it open. She was going to be busy sewing once the Sabbath passed.

They went down to the bathing room, and soon were soaking in hot water. Ella didn't dawdle long in her bath, since she wanted to get letters written before sundown brought the Sabbath.

"Scarlet, I'm ready to wash my clothes. Shall I take care of yours at the same time?"

"Yes, thank you. I'll take care of any chores you need done tomorrow, so you can enjoy your day of rest."

Ella collected and washed the clothes, then drained the tub.

She headed for the door, saying, "Shall I send Fritz in to wash your back?"

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 04, 2007, 10:39:22 PM
Scarlet was quiet for a moment. The thought of having Fritz wash her back was very appealing, a few moments to herself to get ahold of her nerves was appealing too. “Give me a few minutes and tell him to knock loud.” Scarlet said sinking down to rinse the soap out of her hair.

Ella looked at her. “I get the feeling you were less nervous about fighting Cyrus than you are about announcing your relationship with Fritz.”

“I’ve always thought you were very perceptive Ella.” Scarlet smiled.

“Be yourself Scarlet. Black beard was right you know how to treat people when you like them.”

“Well don’t go spreading that around.” Scarlet laughed. “Just tell Fritz to knock loud if he wants to join me in here.”

“I will tell him.” Ella peeked under the towel that was on the stool next to the bath. “both guns are under the towel and to make sure you know it’s him before he opens the door.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 04, 2007, 11:19:03 PM
Ella found Fritz and Bo talking to the guard.  She remembered his name was Malcomb Higgins.

"Gentlemen, could you give me a hand, please?"

Bo and Fritz followed her into the building. Once they were out of earshot of Malcomb, she told Fritz, "Scarlet would like your help washing her back, once she finishes washing her hair. So, give her a couple minutes, and knock loudly. There are extra towels in there, if you want to wash off as well. Bo and I will see you later at Cyrus's camp."

She let Bo sit a couple minutes while she hung up the washed clothes in her room. Once done, she picked up her writing desk, and they went out again. "See you later, Mister Higgins. Once you get off duty, you could come join us for dinner at the scout camp. I think we're having venison stew with cornbread." She took Bo's arm and walked down the steps.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on October 05, 2007, 07:34:08 PM
Fritz waited a reasonable amount of time...about two minutes, and then knocked loudly on the door.

"Who is it?"

Fritz grinned.  "I hear your back needs a scrubbin."

"There's only one man alive I'd let touch my back."

"Then I guess today's your lucky day!"

"If you think you're man enough to handle me," Scarlet purred, "come on in."

Fritz opened the door.  She'd stood in the tub, her back to him.  His eyes followed the golden river of hair down to the curve of her hips.  She looked over one shoulder and smiled.  "Hi honey...are you ready for me?"

Fritz closed and bolted the door behind him.  He hung his gunbelt on a hook, but carried the short Colt, and laid it on a table near the tub.

"It seems to me," Fritz replied, "that the best way to clean a woman's backside...I mean, back, is to get close."

Scarlet giggled.  He like the sound of it.

"How close would you like to get?"

Scarlet turned, showing him her all.

"Damn, I'm a lucky man."

She smiled.  "You're about to get luckier still."

He stepped closer.  Scarlet slid one hand behind his neck, and drew him into a passionate kiss.  The other found the way to the buttons on his blouse.   
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 07, 2007, 09:36:43 AM
Scarlet finished buttoning her shirt. Looking up she caught the reflection of Fritz’s smile in the mirror as he watched her.

“I will have to remember to thank Ella for telling you she’d be out of the room most of the day.” He said.

“Me too.” Scarlet replied crossing the room to the corner of the bed where Fritz sat getting ready to pull on his boots.

She leaned down and kissed him. He looked up at her when their lips parted. His eyes sparkled in the light. 

“What are you thinking?” She asked softly.

“I was wondering how you do it.”

Scarlet grinned and her eyes danced. “I thought you knew by now.” She said teasingly causing him to laugh.

Fritz put his arms around her and pulled her down on the bed. “You’ve been in the saddle for a week and sleeping on the ground.” He ran his fingers through her hair which he’d watched her dry over the stove in the corner. “and you look great.”

“What did you expect?”  She said smiling.

“I expected you to be tired…and hungry.” He said recalling she’d eaten little of what the private had brought back. “So I was wondering how you do that.”

He felt her stretch beneath him as she traced her fingers lightly down the back of his neck and along his spine.

“People draw their strength and energy from different things. To ride a fine stallion does not tire me. It’s something I enjoy. He knows what I like and responds well to my touch.” Scarlet purred pulling him into a long passionate kiss.


“It must be true.” Scarlet said turning from the mirror where she was brushing her hair for the second time.

“What’s that Milady?” Fritz said watching her with the smile she loved so much.

“Black beard says I know how to treat people when I like them.”

“I hope you don’t treat all the men you like that well.” He teased.

She grinned and sashayed over to him. “Why Mr. Frisky, you should know there is only one man I treat like that.”

His grin widened. “And why does he get special treatment?” He said standing and wrapping his arms around her.

“Cuz he has my heart Darlin’.” She said with a kiss. “So he gets extra special treatment, because I love him a great deal.” Scarlet ran her fingers along his chest. “You gonna button that before you take me to meet your men?”

“I will button it. But you need to put one on before I take you out to meet them.”

“I had it on and you took it away from me. Got my trousers and gunbelt though.” She giggled as she turned to find her shirt.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 07, 2007, 11:06:25 AM
Cyrus asked, "Why did you spend more money than I am paying you to buy food for everyone?"

Ella looked up from her inventory. "I don't like what the Army calls food, and Scarlet and I are both trying to eat better. It didn't make sense to make the effort of bribing a wagon driver and then order only enough for me and my friends. This is only a couple weeks worth for your scouts and Fritz's men. I didn't get any coffee or bacon. You can get that from the mess tent. I do hope you will invite Fritz's men to eat with the scouts regularly. I'm counting on the scouts to provide the meat to go in the stews and soups, and to do most of the cooking work. I hope you and Fritz can convince the cook into giving us a reasonable allotment of uncooked beans. Cooking is more fun when you have real food to start from."

Paul, who had been helping with the inventory, looked up at Cyrus, "That's for sure. Cooking with hardtack, beans and bacon gets real boring, and eating that mess isn't any more interesting. But when you can add onions, then beans and bacon get to be worth eating."

"I even got the dried chili peppers I asked for," exclaimed Ella, holding up a small cloth sack.  She had been surprised to acquire a taste for chili beans and spicy food back in Tucson.

They finished the inventory, then Paul set a crew to work making a venison stew while Ella wrote her letters.  He used Ella's small Dutch oven as well as his own big one to bake cornbread. Ella sat on one of the log seats around the cook fire with her back to one of the tents. Chris promptly started a dice game behind her.  From the comments she was overhearing, others in Cyrus's crew was anxious to get back from Chris what he had won from them by betting on Scarlet.

She made many starts and stops on the letter to Alan. The important part of the message was that she would be able to receive telegraph messages here. It was hard to tell him how much she missed him and wanted to see him again. It was even harder to express her need to hear from him, to hear whether he still loved her.  She didn't say, couldn't say, that she needed reassurance from him to help her resist the urgings of her dreams.

Whenever she felt herself at a loss for words, she put that letter down and worked on the account of the trip out to visit the Cheyenne that she would send Deborah. She didn't know how much sympathy Alan would have for a raped woman who killed her abuser. It certainly was not a story Alan would be able to share with Dr. Abramson. The story of capturing the end of Firehorse Charley's gang would go into both letters. The story of the fight against Dick would go into neither.

It was an hour before sunset when she addressed the envelopes and sealed the letters. They went into a packet with enough money for the postage and a tip for Jesse.

She set the desk down, stood up and dusted herself off. Looking around, she saw that the dice game was breaking up.  "I've got a couple errands to run," she announced. It was interesting to watch the group decide who was going to escort her. Previously, Chris had been able to claim a position as her escort by being strongest, but today, he seemed to think he was in the doghouse. After a couple rounds of glaring, Frank and Joe stepped forward. The scouts had learned very fast that outright fighting for the duty of escorting her would cause Ella to refuse the services of the winners.

Joe carried the small pot of stew and empty bowls, and Frank carried the packet. The first stop was the stockade to give dinner to Jimmy and the guard. The other stop was the wagon yard, where Jesse was happy to promise to deliver her letters to the nearest post office, the one at Fort Laramie, and send them on their way.

Back at camp, she pretended that the campfire was candles, and said the blessing welcoming the Sabbath while the sun went down.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 11, 2007, 05:29:07 PM
Boston, Friday May 4

A knock at the door interrupted Alan and Deborah's after-dinner conversation.  Deborah came back from answering it and said, "Doctor Coatsworth, I'm sorry to disturb your Sabbath, but I would appreciate it if you could bring your kit and accompany me this evening. A Caesarian delivery may be needed."

"Of course, Mrs. Erdbeer.  Better that I escort you now than be summoned later," he replied, heading for his room to check the contents of his bag and pick it up.

It was a mild evening as they walked with the messenger to the home of one of Deborah's patients.

Once there, Alan headed for the kitchen to start preparing it to use as a surgery while Deborah went to examine her patient. After taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves, he built up the fire in the stove, put his instruments in a pan of water on the stove, then cleared and scrubbed the kitchen table and counters while waiting for the water to boil.

He laid out the rest of the contents of his case that might be needed. He didn't have a portable mister for carbolic acid, but he hadn't seen any problem caused by lack of a carbolic acid spray during previous Caesarians. Deborah had bleached and ironed Alan's apron before wrapping it in waxed linen. She seemed to have the same standards for cleanliness as Ella. Ella had insisted on clean equipment during the War. That had been one of the ways she and her aunt had annoyed older surgeons, whose fancy sets of tools could not be boiled or cleaned thoroughly because of ivory or ebony handles.

Deborah appeared at the door of the kitchen, helping her patient. Alan moved to assist at getting the woman settled and comfortable on the table.  While Deborah administered ether, Alan scrubbed his hands again, then used tongs to pull his instruments out of the boiling water and onto the prepared tray.

"She's ready for you, Doctor."

Alan worked quickly, and soon had pulled twins out of the womb. Deborah took each infant from him. Both babies cried a little weakly at first, but the cries soon gained in strength. He stitched everything closed, then removed the patient's mask. She was starting to stir before he finished dressing the incision.

Deborah presented the mother with her son and daughter, then put the babies in the bassinet waiting for them. Alan helped the father carry his wife to her bed, while Deborah followed with the bassinet. Alan returned to the kitchen to clean up and put his instruments away.

The father came in with a bottle and poured glasses for Alan and himself. "Thank you. Those are the biggest twin babies I have ever seen! I was worried when I found out Hannah was carrying twins, since her sister had died after giving birth to twins a couple years ago. Hannah and I tried to take care of her sister's babies, but they didn't get strong enough to survive their first winter."

"I'm glad I could help," replied Alan, sipping the whiskey. "What are you going to name them?"

"Sarah and Mordecai. Sarah was Hannah's sister. Mordecai was my father."

Deborah came into the kitchen, "Everyone is sleeping now. I'll check back tomorrow."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 14, 2007, 05:37:06 PM
The scouts around her stayed quiet while Ella finished her prayer, then Samuel asked, "Do you recite that every Friday evening?"

"Yes, lighting the Sabbath candles is one of the religious duties for Jewish women. I don't have any candles here, but I can still say the blessing, to mark the beginning of my day of rest."

She settled back down on the log seat, and some of the scouts sat down around her. Dinner was almost ready, and smelled very enticing. "I know that you've all been curious about me and Scarlet. I'll answer some questions about me. Scarlet has to answer for herself."

"Who and where is your husband?" asked Teddy.

"He's Doctor Alan Coatsworth, and he's in Boston now. I'm sort of a California widow, except my husband left me in Boston to go east to Vienna in Europe, to study more medicine, instead of going west to make a fortune in gold fields. Alan finally got back in March, but he is staying in Boston for another six months to share what he had learned in Vienna."

"Why are you here instead of there with him?" asked Joe.

"That's a question I won't answer," replied Ella. "Are there other questions?"

"Why would any one want to live in Boston?" asked Samuel, trying to say it in a way that wouldn't offend Ella.

"It's easier to have a successful medical practice in a city with 250,000 people. You can get as many patients as you want without having to travel more than a few miles for housecalls. I sometimes ride half the day in El Paso County to make one housecall. Alan has a joint surgical practice with his mentor, so almost all of their patients come to the hospital or the doctors' office. There is a medical school there as well, which means lots of other doctors around to share information with. But, Alan has agreed to move to El Paso to get up a joint general practice with me."

"How does anyone have room to breathe in a city with 250,000 people?" asked Chris.

"How do you have room to breathe here? Boston felt less crowded than this fort. Alan and I had the third floor of Doctor Abramson's house to ourselves. The kitchen, library and parlor were on the ground floor, and Doctor Abramson's rooms were on the second floor."

"How far do you have to ride to get out of Boston? We go out of the gates, and the land is open."

"There are open fields and patches of woods probably within 5 miles of the center of Boston on the land side, although all the farms have fences around the fields, usually stone fences. You mostly have to ride on roads.  The other way out of Boston is by ship, since it is on a bay, and actually surrounded by water on three sides."

"Fences? Is that to keep the livestock in or the neighbors out?" someone chuckled.

"Both.  Also as a place to put the stones your plow keeps finding. It's pretty impressive how many big rocks a field throws up during a couple hundred years.  Probably the most important thing about Boston is that white men have been living there since 1630. In the past 50 years, a huge project filled over 500 acres of salt marsh with gravel to make land for people to live on.  "

"What do you prefer, Ella, and why?"

"There are things about living in Boston that I miss, like stores and libraries and museums. I miss the social networks I had in Boston. With only 5 or 6 thousand people in the whole county, El Paso might be too small for more than one medical practice to make enough money to live on. It is certainly too small to support medical specialists, like a doctor who only does surgery. But I would prefer fewer people than Boston has. 20,000 people might be best. That should be big enough to support shopping and services. It has to be in the west, so I won't have to deal with eastern attitudes towards woman's proper place."

"You mean 'on her back'?" asked Chris.

"Most eastern men wouldn't say it out loud that way, but they act like they think it."

One of Dick's men approached her once Cyrus's scouts started getting their dinner. "Ma'am? I found your buttons," he said, holding out three buttons from her jacket.

"Thank you," she replied, taking the buttons. "What's your name?"

"Drew." He turned away and headed back to Dick's camp.

There was something familiar about him, but the daylight was fading, so she hadn't gotten a good look at his face. It might just be that she had seen him in the ring around her fight with Dick, but an alarm bell was sounding in her head.

"Cyrus, what do you know about Drew in Dick's crew?"

"He has a reputation for doing a good job. Did he say something wrong?"

"No, he just returned some buttons I lost. Something about him bothers me."

"I know what you mean. He never says or does anything out of line, but something is off."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on October 14, 2007, 06:35:56 PM
They walked slowly, purposely.  They wanted people to see them, and they wanted to be seen.  They had cleaned up pretty well.  Scarlet’s golden locks spilled across her shoulders and down her back.  Around her neck she wore his yellow hat cords.  He wore her scarlet neckerchief, the one she’d made for him.  They walked arm in arm.  They’d be at home walking on any boardwalk in any town…except for all the guns of course.  Every head turned as they passed. 

Bill, Scott and the others were sitting around the campfire, smoking cigars and drinking bourbon.  They hadn’t noticed the couple walk up.  Johann noticed first; he cleared his throat, took off his slouch and stood. 

Bill asked, “Johann, what's they matter with you?”  Then he turned his head.  Fritz snapped to and saluted.

“May we join you sir?”

Bill returned the salute.  “Of course Fritz, we don’t stand on ceremony here.  And good evening to you, Miss Corbin.”

Scarlet nodded.  "Nice to see you again, Major.  And the name’s King…Scarlet Angelina King.”

Some of the men looked surprised.  Most weren’t. 

“Well, it’s nice to finally meet you, Mrs. King.  I’ve heard so much about you.  Won’t you join us?”

Two more camp chairs were pulled up to the fire.  Fritz took the jug that was offered and took a pull.  As usual, it was the good stuff.  He immediately handed it to his wife.  Scott said, “You might want to take it easy on…”

Scarlet threw her head back and took a long pull.  She enjoyed what she drank.  “Not bad…a little smoother than I’m used to, but not bad.”

The men laughed.  She imagined them sitting around in their union suits, and laughed as well.

Scott asked, "So, tell us about yourself Mrs. King."

"Well," Scarlet began, "I hail from Texas originally."

One man replied, "they sure do make 'em bigger down in Texas."  Johann gave him a quick jab to the ribs.  "That's the Captain's WIFE you're talking about."

She continued.  "My family owns property down there.  Perhaps you've heard of them...the Longknives?"

The older men drew a breath.  The younger ones didn't get it.

Scott looked hard at Scarlet.  "Yes...I see it.  Damn, it's been a long time since I've heard that name.  Is he still alive.?"

"Alive and kicking," Scarlet replied.  "He taught me all I know.  How to hunt, fish, shoot, ride, and speak the truth."

Bill spoke up.  "Why did you marry old Fritz here?  And more importantly, how is it your dad let him live?"

Fritz laughed.  "I'm still trying to figure that one out myself."

"He was able to see beyond the uniform, and see the heart of the I did."  Scarlet kissed Fritz's cheek.  It was warm. 
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 15, 2007, 11:25:54 PM
“Did your father teach you about combat Mrs. King?” One of the men asked.

“Scarlet please.” She said. “My father taught me about combat and my mother taught me about charm.”

The men smiled at her comment.

“This will be no picnic.” Another commented.

“I don’t recall any conflict being a picnic.” Scarlet replied. 
“Seems I remember your father had a reputation on the battlefield.” Scott remarked. “How much like your father are you if you don’t mind my asking.”

Scarlet considered the statement and the question for a minute. “I don’t mind your asking. How much am I like my father would be a matter of opinion and it would depend on the situation at hand. Like my father I assure you I am good at my job.”

“Are you as good?” One of the older men asked.

“No.” Scarlet grinned.

“No?” he said surprised.

“He has experience on me. I would be a fool to think I am as good, maybe when I am his age perhaps.”

The man smiled thinking he liked the fact she was honest and a little humble.

The bottle was being passed around for the third time when Scarlet declined the offer.

“Sneaks up on you doesn’t it.” Scott said.

Scarlet smiled at him “I learned along time ago to limit it on an empty stomach. It’s been a pleasure gentleman but if you don’t mind I think I will excuse myself and find something to eat. ” She said standing. “I am headed towards the scout’s camp. You are welcome to join me if you like.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on October 17, 2007, 09:44:48 PM
"That's my cue gentlemen," Fritz replied.  "I'm going to join my wife.  You're wlecome in the scout's camp.  With your permission, sir?"

Bill nodded.  "We'll be along shortly."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 22, 2007, 11:40:12 PM
Scarlet smiled up at Fritz as she slid her hand into his. “What have you been telling them about me?”

Fritz just grinned making Scarlet laugh.

The scouts looked curious as the couple walked into camp. The fact that they walked so close didn’t go unnoticed. 

“Come to join the party?” Chris said.

“What are we celebrating?” Scarlet asked.

“Do we need a reason?” Black beard laughed.

“The successful return of the posse. The return of you and Ella. We get tired of lookin at each other you know.” Someone else called out.

“Some of us did good on a few bets” Chris said that caused a few cheers.

Scarlet looked at Fritz and grinned. “We have something else to celebrate.”

“What’s that?” Someone asked.

“My husband’s promotion to Captain.” She said just before she kissed Fritz on the cheek.

There was a short silence before someone yelled out. “Is that how you congratulate him?”

“In front of you yes.” Scarlet replied.

The men laughed and raised their drinks as they called out congratulations.

Scarlet and Fritz helped themselves to the stew and took a seat around the fire.

“You a bettin’ man.” Black beard asked Fritz.

Fritz couldn’t help but laugh. “Scarlet warned me about you.”

“Tell us what it is like to be married to a woman who rides for a marshal.” Black beard said.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 28, 2007, 09:36:46 PM
The scouts and soldiers had a good time during and after dinner. A few of Dick's men joined the fun, but only those who had friends in Cyrus's camp.

Only the fact that none of the scouts had ever seen her drink liquor let Ella turn down the drinks that bet winners wanted to give her. The scouts were willing to settle for a dance, since they really did not want to offend her.

Eventually, Bo escorted Ella to her quarters and the long day was done.

Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 28, 2007, 09:38:16 PM
Ella was suddenly awake, not knowing what had disturbed her. She heard the doorknob rattle. Scarlet didn't normally come back before morning, and she or Bo would knock before trying to open the door.

As the door started to open, Ella put her glasses on. The chair in front of the door scraped across the floor for a moment, until someone reached his arm in enough to lift it and move it aside. That gave her time enough to slip over the side of the bed farther from the door, taking the pistol and knife from under her pillow with her. The lamplight from the hallway showed two pairs of legs entering.

She hated to shoot without warning, but there was no reason for them to be here without announcing themselves. She closed her eyes as she pulled the trigger, to avoid being blinded by the muzzle flash.

She heard a muffled curse from one, and "Get out of here before any brass comes out." from the other. They left, leaving the door open. It sounded like one set of footsteps might be limping.

She got up and grabbed her coat and pockets, worrying. How had they gotten past Bo?

She went to the parlor and found his bedroll neatly laid out. His boots were gone, and there were no signs of struggle or blood. It looked like he had left to answer a call of nature. The men must have been waiting for a chance like that.

She went back to her room, closed the door, and put the chair back. Then she lit the lamp,  replaced the spent cartridge in her pistol and got dressed, answering the guard when he checked on her. She wiped up the blood, and found her bullet in the door jamb.

When the reaction hit, she sat on the floor in front of the door, and pulled her knees to her chest. Once she stopped shaking, she packed her bedroll and a pillow from the bed. She would still use the room for changing, and use the bathing chamber a few times a week. She had enjoyed the comfortable bed and the privacy that allowed her to sleep in a flannel nightgown, but the only way she could sleep here again would be with Bo in the room. That solution was appealing, dangerously appealing.

She curled up in the chair in front of the door to wait.

Bo was almost back from the latrine when he heard the gunshot.  Recognizing the sound of Ella's pistol, he began to run. Two men rushed out the door of the building. The guard caught the sleeve of one, but the fabric tore and the man continued down the stairs. Bo almost caught them at the bottom of the stairs. They separated, trying to go around him. One tripped and fell. The guard had followed them down, and pounced on the fallen one, while Bo pursued the other one.

The man ran like the devil was on his tail, but Bo was too fast for him. Bo tackled him. The man rolled over only for his face to meet Bo’s hand, causing everything to go black. For one fleeting moment Bo wished he was not the “cool headed one.” He wanted to hurt the man; the only thing that saved him was worry about Ella. Bo hauled the man back to the quarters building. The guard already had the other one tied up and stashed in the corner of the porch.

"She said through the door that she is okay. This one was bleeding, so I tied his bandana over the wound," reported the guard.

Bo acknowledged what the guard said, left the second one to the guard's attention and went to Ella's room.

When Bo knocked and asked, "Ella, are you all right?", she moved the chair away and opened the door.

She answered, a little shakily, "Yes, I'm fine. I'm ready to go to the scout camp now." They stopped to collect Bo's bedroll from the parlor.

She saw the two captives on the porch, but just said to the guard, "Good night, Mister Comstock."

She hugged her bedroll and pillow to her chest while she walked with Bo. After a couple minutes, she took a deep breath and relaxed enough to tuck her right hand into his elbow. He was tense, too, and relaxed a little at her touch. He kept thinking she had trusted him to watch over her and he had failed her.

"I don't believe Comstock let them in," she said quietly.

"I know he didn't. Either an earlier guard let them in, or they didn't enter through the main door."

"I didn't warn them before I shot."

"The warning shot was more effective. You didn't want to give them time to rush you."

"Scarlet wouldn't have hidden behind the bed. Hiding wasn't any use. They knew I had to be in the room because of the chair blocking the door."

"You weren't hiding, you were just using cover. You are better at that than Scarlet is. Scarlet wouldn't have given them a warning shot, either."

When they got to the camp, one of Cyrus's sentries went to wake Cyrus while Bo took Ella into the tent he and Tensleep occupied and helped her spread out her bedroll between theirs. Once she was settled, he left her in Tensleep's care and went out to talk to Cyrus.

After assuring Tensleep that she was fine, Ella pretended to go to sleep so that Tensleep would be willing to rest, but she was thinking about her options. After Tensleep fell asleep, the familiar sound of his snoring lulled Ella to sleep. Her dreams were based on memories of the war, and being too stubborn to quit.

"What happened? How is she?"

"A couple of Dick's men tried to enter her room. She's trying not to show anything, but she is upset and angry at them. She ought to be mad at me for leaving her unprotected," he said softly.

Cyrus could detect the anger in his voice. "Was she scared?"

"Not enough to affect her aim.  She shot one of the men who entered her room."

"Will he survive?"

"We're talking about Ella, not Scarlet. He's got a minor leg wound. She cleaned up the blood in her room, though," answered Bo with a small smile.

"What is she going to want to do? Will she leave?"

"I don't know. Probably she doesn't know yet, either." Bo stood again. "I'd better get back over there if I want to talk to them before they get thrown in the stockade for breaking into officers quarters."

"I'll go with you." Cyrus signaled to a couple of his men, and the four of them headed back to the quarters building.

The two men looked at the four coming. They recognized Cyrus and his men. “Two men being torn apart on your watch wouldn’t look good,” one of them said.

Comstock narrowed his eyes. "Lucky for you, you are right. What you did doesn’t look good on my watch either."

Bo grabbed the one he had knocked out by the jaw and pulled him to his feet. "What were you doing in there?" he said coldly.

"We were only gonna to scare her. Didn’t mean no harm."

"Liar," Bo growled, shoving the man back to the ground when three more guards came out of the building.

"We found the room they were hiding in and some of the officers are missing their sipping whisky, which we found in the room, but nothing else. We’ll take them to the stockade and notify the CO in the morning," one of the guards replied.

Comstock neatly saluted.

Bo stepped off the porch and headed for Dick’s camp, followed closely by Cyrus and the other two.

"Remember who you are, Bo Corbin," Cyrus said.

Bo stopped short. "That is hard for me to forget. People used to mistake me for my brother all the time. Just once I would like to act on instinct like he would have, not analyze all the possibilities. The only thing stopping me right now is the fact I don’t think Ella would approve."
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: 1stSgt Fritz King on October 28, 2007, 10:01:26 PM
Both of them sat up at the sound of the shot.  "Ella's pistol," they said in tandem.  They nearly upended the cot getting up.  Fritz didn't bother with a shirt, strapping his gunbelt on.  Scarlet made herself barely decent with his blue vest, buckling on her gunbelt as well.  They were out the tent and headed for the officer's quarters.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 29, 2007, 10:41:22 PM
Jimmy was awakened by the cell door opening and two men being pushed into the cell. He kept an eye on them while they got settled into the bunks below him, then closed his eyes to go back to sleep.

Once the guards left the immediate area of the cell, the men started talking quietly.

"... only carries a pistol for show, that she wouldn't be able to hit anything." One of them was whining.

Jimmy realized they were talking either about Scarlet or Ella, and started paying closer attention. They were keeping their voices down, but he could hear most of what they said.

".. half-blind without those glasses. Every glasses wearer I've ever seen takes them off to sleep, and hunts for them in the morning."

Ella for sure, thought Jimmy. They weren't paying any attention to his presence, so he pretended to be asleep.

"Well, she didn't seem to have any trouble getting her glasses and pistol in the middle of the night. That chair in front of the door gave her too much warning."

"Yeah. Wonder why she put it there? The guard at the front door and Corbin in the parlor should have seemed like plenty of defense. Maybe it was protection from Corbin, but she seems easy enough with him in public."

"Once Corbin left the building seemed like the best time to grab her."

"There are tales about him. Anything less than a dozen men might not be enough to take him down."

"A shot in the back can take care of anyone."

"Guns make too much noise, but I don't want to meet his fist again. The bitch owes me for that."

"And for my leg," agreed the other.

"She's not going to trust the two who usually escort her around anymore, not after they stood back and let Dick grab hold of her."

"No, that's sure. And those two are some of the best in Cyrus's band, except for the crazy pirate."

"Next time we take more help, and grab her when she's out of the fort.  Maybe when she goes fishing. Make it look like an Injun attack."

"Take all our friends and have our party out there. Dump leftovers in the river once we're done."

"I hope she lasts long enough to give everyone a good time."

Jimmy stayed awake a long time after the two started snoring. The voices had sounded familiar, maybe  friends of Nicky. They sounded like they belonged on wanted posters, casually planning rape and murder that way. In daylight, he might recognize them.  Unfortunately, they might also recognize him. He needed to play the desperado Charley had expected him to become if he was going to survive that recognition.

Ella had said she would change his bandage in the morning. He had to warn her!  If she came into the cell, he wouldn't be able to talk to her.

He finally fell asleep, but his dreams were uncomfortable, reliving the months after Charley burned him.
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Scarlet Angel on October 30, 2007, 09:57:36 PM
“What happened Mr. Comstock?” Scarlet said skipping the steps onto the porch as she eyed the two men tied there.

He looked surprised to see her dressed in a military vest and red pantaloons when his eyes reached the guns hung on her hips they shot back up to meet hers.

“These two tried to get into Ella’s room.” Mr. Comstock said continuing to tell her what he knew.

“Is she ok?”

“They didn’t get at her. She took a shot at one of ‘em and Mr. Corbin got ahold of that one.” He said pointing to the man with the bloody face and broken nose.

Scarlet looked at him.

“Two men being torn apart on your watch wouldn’t look good,” He said nervously to the guard.

Scarlet turned as Bo stepped past her. He was angrier than she’d seen him in a long time. Scarlet could see it in his eyes as Bo eyed the man then yanked him to his feet. Bo’s voice sent a chill down her spine as he growled “Liar”.

Scarlet watched Bo step off the porch followed by Cyrus. Cyrus nearly ran into him when he stopped short. After Bo growled at Cyrus he glared at the two scouts that were with him then turned and continued on his way leaving them standing watching after him.

Cyrus turned back to the steps where Scarlet stood. “How well do you know him?” He asked.

Scarlet’s eyes went from Bo’s back to meet Cyrus’.

He came up the stares to stand face to face with her. “Who will die tonight?”

“He’s not stupid. Angry, but you know yourself he will not choose a time or a place where somebody can tie a death to him.” Scarlet said softly. “My best advise is to stay out of his way until he cools off.”

Cyrus eyed her like he couldn’t believe she was saying that to him. “What about you? Can you talk to him?”

“Am I the best one to be talking to him Cyrus? Far as I’m concerned they both should have been shot in the head when they tried to get in Ella’s room.”

“Yeah well they didn’t and yer not stupid either. I suspect if those men turn up injured the two of you will have an alibi.”

The conversation was interrupted by Dick coming towards them. “Cyrus!”

“Now what?”

Dick spotted Scarlet. “I don’t know what set him off but yer man is taking my camp apart, nearly took my head off when I tried to stop him.”

Scarlet put her fingers on Dick’s chin and tilted his head so she could see the bruise in the lamp light. “He barley touched you. You got in his way didn’t you?” Scarlet looked back at Cyrus. “Don’t poke an angry bear.” She said stepping past the men headed towards the camp.

The men followed after her. When they reached Dick’s camp one of the tents had a slice in the side where Bo went in and broken poles and a tear where the men went out. The inside was torn apart.

“Who was in here?” Scarlet asked.

“Four men shared it.” Dick answered. 

“Two of them were the ones that attacked Ella.” Cyrus replied.

“Corbin tried to kill us.” One of the men came up and said.

“Did he touch you?” Scarlet asked.

“Well no, we didn’t give him a chance.” He replied.

Scarlet shot a look at Cyrus. He knew she figured if he meant to hurt somebody he would have but he’d done a hell of a job putting fear into them.

Scarlet looked into the darkness. She could see Bo’s form headed back to his own tent.

“Go back to bed Cyrus. It’s over for now.” She said.

“It’s over. He takes this place apart and you say it’s over.”

“Hand to hand is not the only kind of warfare we were trained in. The mind is a powerful thing. Look at them.” She replied her eyes glancing towards the men that stood looking at the tent. “They will not try to scare anybody who Bo cares anything about. That goes for you, me, Ella, your scouts. At least not for awhile and I suspect the rest of them to turn on ones who give it some thought.”
Title: Re: The Last Patrol
Post by: Elegant Ella on October 30, 2007, 11:58:48 PM
Ella was confused briefly when she woke up to see canvas overhead, but then she remembered where she was and why. She looked over to her left and saw Bo sleeping. The weight of her gaze seemed to waken him. 

She said softly, "It's not your fault that they tried to get in. You caught them so they won't be able to try again. If I want to be safe all the time, I have to stay at the Starr."

"Or in Boston."

"Boston is more dangerous than here. We lived in a good neighborhood that was relatively safe, but I didn't dare go out alone after sunset. Maybe the best protection you and the rest of the posse can possibly have given me is training in how to defend myself, and in how to watch out for danger."

She got out of her bed roll, put on her boots and tied her pockets around her waist.  She would put them under her skirt later. Bo went out with her, and made sure the latrine was empty for her to use while the early risers among the scouts waited patiently.

There was a murmur of talk around her as those who had been awake when she arrived explained to the sounder sleepers what had happened. There was a mix of emotions expressed in the sound, both anger at the invaders, and pride that she had sent them running away. She wondered if they betting on whether she was going to treat the bullet wound.  She wondered if they were betting on whether she was going to stay.

Leaving would be so easy. Now that Scarlet and Fritz had exposed their relationship, Scarlet would be protected by the entire 2nd as well as by Cyrus's scouts. Scarlet didn't need Ella's special skills anymore.  Ella could go with Tensleep and Jimmy on the next supply train out, and deliver Jimmy to the legal system. Then she could go to Boston to settle with Alan, if she would be willing to leave the safety of the Starr once she got there. Letting fear make her a prisoner would be easy, too.

She walked with Bo to the cook fire to get some breakfast. Paul was tending the fire and had already put a pan of water on to boil for her tea and oatmeal. She was touched that he had remembered her choice of breakfast from the trip here. By the time she finished eating, Cyrus was there to get a cup of coffee.

"Cyrus, tell me honestly. Am I a source of conflict between your men and Dick's?"

"You are no more to blame for problems between the two bands than the sun or the moon. You and Scarlet have actually reduced the problems, because my men don't get bored and go looking for trouble with you two around. I asked Bo the other day if there would be any chance of getting either or both of you to stay after this is over."

Ella nodded, "If I were a source of trouble, I should leave." She looked at the men gathered around. "I would rather stay."

There were some cheers at her words.

"I want to talk to Dick and his men.  How many escorts should go with me?"

"Not as many as are volunteering, that's for sure," answered Cyrus, looking around at his men.

"Too many would look like I'm scared, but too few would be foolhardy. I want you, Chris and Tensleep. Is that enough?"

"Should be. Especially as the rest of the crew is probably going to be as close as I allow."

They headed over to the other camp. The sentry didn't even try to stop them, but said, "Dick hasn't come out of his tent yet."

"That's all right. It's mostly the men I want to talk to, anyway," replied Ella. Standing near Dick's tent, she took a deep breath and started her speech. She was normally soft-spoken, but she could make herself heard when needed.

"It's past time for me to introduce myself to you. I am Mrs. Coatsworth, Ella Coatsworth. I am a Deputy Marshal, working for Marshal Ross. I am a doctor, and can honestly claim to be a very good doctor. I worked in Union hospitals and prison camps during the War. Cyrus Kane and Captain King saw me there."

She paused for breath, and Cyrus interjected, "I am here today only because she treated me."

"I am not a washerwoman to wash and mend your clothes.  I am not a whore to entertain you or warm your blankets.  The only services I offer are tending wounds and treating disease. My actions can make the difference between living and dying after being wounded, or the difference between keeping and  losing an arm or leg. Pay me respect, and I will treat you promptly and gently. I won't deny treatment to anyone, but I will choose who to treat first, and how to treat."

She paused again, and Chris interjected this time, "It is right unc