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Sagas of the Wild West
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This was not a trip Byron had really wanted to make. They were leaving Kalispell for good and really that was the only home he knew. He had friends in school, he had had to leave behind his dog and his father's horse. Well, Ma had sold the horse and the dog got given away to another farmer. Still, he'd never see either of them again. His mother said he needed to see this as a big adventure and she promised he would learn to like their new home. When they made one.

 

But sitting up with the lady driver and the big bearded man was a whole lot more fun than being down in the passenger cabin. Oh he had been curious about the pretty young woman passenger but his mother said it was best not to talk with strangers unless spoken to.  He wasn't stupid, he could tell his mother seemed just a bit nervous about that lady. No matter, girls were kinda boring.

 

"So....you ever been held up by robbers?" he now asked, just like what happened in those penny westerns.

 

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Ross chuckled, "Well, not sure about Addy here but I was robbed once. Not on a stage though but in a back alley in Helena. I mighta had a few too many drinks though cuz I didn't even remember their faces."

 

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"Oh yeah? How many of em?" the boy was fascinated.

 

"About thirty I think," Ross replied in a straight face, not sure just gullible the kid might be.

 

Byron gave him a look, "Now you're fibbin'."

 

"Yeah, son, supposin' I am. But hey, you want a true story of adventure, Addy here 'll tell ya one. She once killed a huge bear that had the whole territory scared. And she just did it with her knife. Tell the boy, Addy," Ross was grinning.

 

@Bongo

 

 

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Meanwhile, while the stage coach followed the winding road, unknown to those on it they were being watched. Up on the crest of a wooded ridgeline, a party of mounted men had a grandstand view of down below and they had spotted the stage clattering along.

 

There were almost a dozen of them, an Arapaho war party. They were fresh from a successful ambush of another white mans' wagon. They had struck hard and fast, kiling it's occupants, two wasi'chu*   wearing the blue coats. It brought them a pair of scalps but more importantly two more rifles and revolvers. One of the warriors had decided to keep a blue coat and was now wearing that ignoring the blood on it.

 

Teestou (Strikes on Top) was the warrior who had organized this war party, a warrior of some renown in his village, he had strongly disagreed with the elders' decision not to join some of the other Arapahos who now fought alongside Sitting Bull and the Sioux. Even the great victory of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and others over the wasi'chu Yellow Hair at the Little Big Horn had not convinced the elders. So Teestou decided to go to war without their blessings and convinced the other members of the warband, a mix of men in their prime and a few older boys, to accompany him.

 

Teestou was a bitter man, his sqaw and his two children had been killed by the wasi'chu last hunting season and he had burned for vengeance ever since. Now he would make them pay and bring glory to his name and all who rode with him.

 

Indianforsagas.jpg

@Bongo

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"Was a shotgun, ya ol' rascal!"  Addy laughed.  "But I did kill me a bear after he kilt one'a my horses.  Look't him right in th' eyes an' sent him ta his maker.  Give his carcass t' th' local Utes, that bear was big enough ta feed that tribe fer a week, an' his hide'd give some warmth come Winter!"

 

This part of the trail took a bit more concentration, there were numerous turns, and hills both up and down, so that the horses had to break stride and change pace, but Addy enjoyed the challenge, and the team was up to the task.

 

"I been robbed a time'er two," she continued, "but come ta no harm, an' had nothin' worth stealin'."  Not very exciting, but life seldom measured up to expectations.

 

@Wayfarer

 

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Unfortunately for those on the stage coach, their lives were about to change for the worse. After winding their way thru the hill country, it approached yet another curve, this one fairly sharp. The stage drivers knew it as a place where they had to slow down considerably or take the risk of tipping the vehicle. No sooner had Addy eased the horses around the curve when ahead of them, stretched across the entire strip of dirt road was a large tree branch. If it toppled naturally, it certainly managed to completely block further progress until it could be removed.

 

What none of them did see though were the warriors who watched them behind cover, ready to spring the trap, rifles and bows at the ready. Teestou was not going to signal the attack until the coach was stopped and the whites would begin to dismount to see what could be done about that limb. They had little other choice, the team of horses could not back up hitched to the big stage.

 

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"Well, tarnation an' tangled turkey toes!"  Of course, things had been going too smoothly up to now, but no such luck it would stay that way!

 

Pulling the horses to a stop, Addy glanced at Ross and sighed.  "Ya think Mother Nature had some help here?"  Regardless, the limb had to be moved, and that was going to take a bit of time.

 

"Got a hand saw in th' boot, reckon I'll get to it, an' you can keep an eye."  Even if this was purely the act of nature, it was still wise for one of them to keep watch for any trouble.

 

"Gonna be a few  minutes, folks!" she called as she climbed from the box, "git out an' stretch yer legs, but don't wander far."

 

@Wayfarer

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Several sets of hostile eyes watched every movement of the unsuspecting stagecoach crew and passengers. The Indian plan of ambush was working perfectly, Teestou waited just a bit longer then stood up and shouted his fierce war whoop, a signal to the rest of the Arapahoes to attack. Those with line of sight to targets opened up with both rifles and bows, other raced on out from their hiding places straight for the coach, filling the air with their war cries.

 

Ross heard the initial shout but had no real time to react before the first bullet hit  in the upper right side of his back. Staggering forward in pain and shock, a second shot ripped thru his throat  and he collapsed after two tottering steps. Only barely aware of what was happening to him, he slipped into unconsciousness.

 

The boy, Byron had not even clambered off the stage yet, he had enjoyed the ride from on top, and even then was not inclined to come down unless his mother insisted.  A part of him wondered if he should have volunteered to help but the common sense in him argued the adults would never let him wield an axe. Even if he did on occasion help back with the firewood. 

 

Then came the infernal cries from seemingly all around them, the horses spooked in their trails but the tree trunk blocked any panicky flight plus the driver had set the brake. Byron blinked in disbelief as the first of a pack of savages closed in and just then he shuddered as something struck him, his hands went up instinctively to this shaft of wood now sticking deep within him just below his sternum.  He only uttered a simple plaintive, "Ma!" then pitched right off the roof and landed with a hard thud onto the roadside.

 

His mother had already stepped down from the passenger cabin, her thoughts on checking to see if how her boy was faring up on top with the stage driver and guard.  Caroline had already clambered out to stretch her legs as Addy had advised.  Both heard the guttural cries immediately followed by shots, freezing them in place for just a few precious seconds. A trio of Indians rushed out from the brush straight at them brandishing war clubs and knives.

 

A rifle slug hudded into the side of the stage, Caroline both flinching and ducking far too late. The first Indian was on her way too fast for her to even extract her small hidden gun from inside her dress. The warrior  had a tomahawk and could have used it on her but that was not his desire. Instead he lunged with his free hand to grab a handful of blonde hair and slammed her up against the coach.

 

Rebecca also froze in stunned disbelief and she too was seized by the remaining two Indians. Even with all that she could only think of her boy.

 

"Byron! Byron!"

 

There was no answer.

 

***

In the rear of the vehicle, Addy was almost the victim of another arrow whistling right at her. It was just a bit too high though, fortunately for her, but the shaft took her hat right off and pinned to the back of the stage. Those braves witnessing this as they closed in suddenly realized this white man was not a man at all but a woman!

@Bongo

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In a heartbeat, things had gone from relatively serene to intensely chaotic, catching Addy off-guard, and before she could even turn an arrow took off her hat, grazing her scalp as it did.

 

Dropping into a crouch, she pulled her pistol, looking around quickly to try to take in the situation and decide what to do.  Ross was in the dirt, and the lad beside him, but this wasn't the time to mourn, or even really think about that -- there was little to be done for them at the moment.

 

But the ladies...

 

The boy's mother, she was struggling, more to get to Byron than to fight the man holding her, but she was in the way of any shot Addy might try, but Caroline...

 

The young woman was fighting back as well, but there was a clear shot for Addy, and she took it.  But there wasn't time to see if she'd hit her target, the panicked team started to back, pushing the coach into her and throwing her off-balance, causing her to drop her pistol as she fell to the dirt and rolled away from the wheels.

 

By the time she was able to reach for her pistol there was a savage on her, and her focus turned to the struggle with him, and he'd find that an old Tennessee mule skinner was not an easy mark!

 

@Wayfarer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Addy's shot had been in haste coupled with the risk of hitting of her friend but it did hit - sort of. The Indian yipped as the bullet ripped the man's upper left arm. It was certainly not fatal or even that serious but it hurt like hell and warrior let go of his victim. That gave Caroline her chance to bring her leg up and knee the fellow right in his groin.

 

Very fleeting victories for the women though. There were more warriors now and they were angry at this resistance. Caroline could not even truly break away from the first brave's loosened grip before another Indian struck her with a rifle butt. Down she went in a heap.

 

Meanwhile Bodawei (Firemaker to the whites) had reached the waischu who had fired that shot and was determined she was not going to get her hands on that gun to fire anymore. The plan was for the war party to seize the females not kill them. They could be very useful captives. But though, Addy did not realize it, had she killed one of the war party she too would have not been spared. Bodawei had a big knife in it's sheath but again he would not need it.

 

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The woman had spirit, he had to give her that much, she fought like any cornered Arapaho woman was expected to, but he was an experienced warrior in his prime. She got in a punch or two but finally he had enough of this and slugged her hard right in face.

 

@Bongo

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Growing up with a passel of brothers not only taught Addy how to fight back, but it also taught her to be tough and resilient, not to stop until she was stopped.

 

Of course, sometimes, just curling up and giving in might be the more reasonable option, and spare her a good deal of pain, but where was the fun in that?

 

Claws out, teeth bared, she gave all she had, until the brute slugged her hard enough to take the salt out of her.  Going limp, she blinked rapidly a few times, then muttered, "Gol dang!  That weren't nice..."

 

@Wayfarer

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That was two of the women down leaving one last one who was screaming hysterically  as she collapsed to her knees by her stricken boy.  Even with that arrow shaft stuck in his chest and taking that fall from the stage, the lad was still breathing though with difficulty and blood bubbled out of one corner of his mouth while his mother cradled him in her arms and wailed in protest.

 

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Ni' itou  (Hits Good) approached , walking right past the corpse of the bearded waischu on the ground. Yet  another warrior was in the act of  slicing a scalp. He too had unsheathed a gleaming blade as he then towered over the grief stricken woman commanding her to get up. Of course he had spoke Arapaho and the white woman had not understood any of it. 

 

No matter, he reached down and grabbed at her hair to pull her away. She struggled to resist and clawed him down half the length of one of his forearms. Regardless of Teetou's original admonition to take the women alive, the warrior's temper got the best of him. He very calmly and deliberately proceeded to cut her throat only letting go of her hair as she fell back blood spurting down her dress. He did not even wait for her to bleed out before he then just as matter of factly plunged the knife into the dying waischu boy deliberately disemboweling him. It was the Plains Indians' way to mutilate the dead so they could not go into the next life in one piece. Shocked whites often found the corpses horribly cut up, eyes gouged out, limbs slashed down to the bone, and organs spilled out.

 

Truth was the whites too collected scalps, murdered unarmed women and children in this pitiless war against the Indians. It was two cultures in a life and death struggle that neither side had much to be proud of.

 

As for Caroline, she was forced to stand, her hands bound with strips of buffalo hide then thrown over a horse like a human saddle bag.  Addy  too found herself slung over another horse beside the semi-conscious saloon gal.  After cutting loose the horse team from the wagon and looting anything of value especially guns and ammunition, the war party departed the scene leaving three mangled bodies behind.  Another successful raid!

 

 

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