Within four seconds the whole deal was done and the three men lay on the ground, Sim Abner’s left arm layin’ in the fire. I walked over and kicked his arm away from the flames, rollin’ him over with my foot to see if he was still breathin’, only to find wounds from my two slugs in his chest and the right side of his head gone. Two Quivers had shot Alcott, then fired a shot at Abner, hittin’ him in the left ear, the bullet exitin’ behind his right.
About that time, The Boys all walked into the camp. I walked over to Yodell, who was starin’ up at me, frothy blood comin’ from his mouth.
“I told ‘em you’d be a daisy. You’d not a-took Windy Jim, less’n ya’s mighty handy,” he said, his breath comin’ in chokin’ gasps.
“Huh...I never reckoned to get it from a brother Johnny Reb,” he coughed out.
“I fit fer the Blue.”
“Well...,” he choked out, “no time to worry ‘bout that now.”
Then he took a couple of haggard breaths and died, me squattin’ yonder next to him. I’d killed many a man durin’ the war, but I’d never had to sit next to one whilst him a-dyin’.
“Let’s tidy up the dead, here boys,” I says. “We’ll find a place aways from here to bury ‘em.”
Two Quivers responded immediately, sayin’, “I know place to the west...a dirt bank that hangs over. I find it today.”
Well, he’d been thinkin’ like me all along, only sayin’ nothin’, so it wouldn’t look like he was sidin’ against Little Wolf. He was a quiet feller and had more savvy than I’d given him credit for.
Steve Ritchie Westerns
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“You come a-huntin’ me, Yodell. If ya hadn’t come to me this wouldn’ta happ’ned. Ya can’t blame nobody but yourself.”
He winced with pain. “A feller what I know was in the express office, when ya come in with gold. We reckoned ya had a strike located and figured to foller ya to it. I never knowed yore name.” He laid quiet for a few seconds, then with a labored breath asked,
“Alright then, let’s get ‘em on their horses,” and with that, we saddled their mounts, draped them across their saddles and tied them down.
Whilst me and Two Quivers was loadin’ Alcott, I saw he’d been shot through the body, the bullet enterin’ just left of the spine below the shoulder blade...right where it counted most. Yes sir, there was a lot more to Two Quivers than met the eye.
The moon was near full and the sky clear, so there was more than enough light to see by. With Two Quivers leadin’ the way, we pulled up along a dirt bank that had plenty of small rocks layin’ all around. We took them from their saddles, stripped them of their guns and belongings, then laid them along the base of the bank, pilin’ their saddles on top of the bodies.
Usin’ sticks, we caved the overhangin’ dirt bank over them. Finally, after layin’ rocks atop the dirt, we made more dirt to fall, so the place would look more natural, hopin’ not to attract attention to it, should somebody pass close by this way.
The bodies bein’ covered, I says, “Grandpaw always said pray after, so I reckon I will.” Takin’ off my hat, in Cheyenne I offered,
“Lord, we can only thank ya fer seein’ us through our recent skirmish. I ask your fergiveness fer takin’ these men’s lives, although they come a-huntin’ us. I never knowed ‘em and only talked with Yodell here fer a few minutes, so’s I can’t say much on their b’half. Well...I reckon you got ‘em now. Amen.”
I’d dropped the Henry, when I jumped from my horse, so I hauled out that ole knife of mine, then me and that feller went tooth and claw for a few minutes. Finally, I’s able to make a good swipe with my knife and cut him deep across the arm that wielded his blade. I cut him dang near to the bone of that forearm and he wasn’t able to hold onto his knife any longer.
Now, him bein’ unarmed, I waded in slashin’ with my knife and sluggin’ him with my fist, when I missed with that blade.
Finally, I’s able to get him turned around and wrapped my arm around his neck, and was about the finish the job, when Pap called out to me.
“NO ZACH! SON!” he screamed. “Ehesta’e! Taaxa’e evo’estaneheve!” he added in Cheyenne, then again in English, “He’s wounded! Let him live!”
Well sir, I had me a right smart mad on, for that was my family these knotheads were shootin’ at. Right then that feller was as close to joinin’ his ancestors as I reckon he could have been, without actually dyin’.
I screamed in Cheyenne to the feller I had by the throat, “You better hope none of them folks is hurt. If they is, I’ll stake ya out on the closest ant hill...I swear it!”
Then I asked Pap, who’d ridden on down to where I was, “Is anybody hurt over yonder?”
“No Son, we’s ready fer ‘em. I promise ya, everbody’s okay. Now turn that feller loose.”
I’s still so mad tears were streamin’ down my face and I just couldn’t turn him loose without me markin’ him a bit more. So I cut him deep along the cheek and shoved him down hard onto the ground, me standin’ over him, blood on my shirt and britches, with that knife still held like I’s gonna do some more carvin’.