Harve Bodine, in the 1800's. Written by Harve Bodine, 2004.
These stories were written by Joe Smith, who used to be known as Harve Bodine. We know Joe as one of our favorite dowsers. One of our favorite pendulums, for years, has been the "Joe Smith Dancing Pendulum", and for some time we have had a page on our web site devote specifically to Joe at: JOE SMITH. See photos of Joe and Marta at the top and at the bottom of this page, then and now.
The story about this novel started in Dallas when Sandee Mac did a past life regression on me. It seems that I rode with the Quantrell Raiders. My name was Harve Bodine. Some time after that reading when my wife (Marta) and I were driving through New Mexico we stopped at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron. to get a cup of coffee and a sweet roll. We had heard they were as big as a cow pie. When I walked into the hotel I had the strong feeling of Deja Vu. I felt like I had been there before. It turns out that 26 men had died in that hotel in the 1800's. It was full of entities. Something started me writing these stories and they seemed to have a life of their own. I sit down and start a chapter after working all day and at 11:00 I'm still writing --- it is kinda habit forming. You know --- where are they going today, what are they up to. Things happen in the story that I had no idea that was the way it was going. It writes itself. A lot of the area in the stories I knew about. The 4th episode takes place about 20 years later. Robert (Bob) McKusick liked my stories so well he told me of his past life. Seems he was a train robber around 1880. He actually found a Robert McKusick in history that was a train robber in that time and place as he remembered it. He sent me all the history on it and I wrote the "Arizona is Hot" story about that history. A lot of it is fact --- it was taken from the known history of train robberies. I just made it fit my story. And Bob (or Robert) was in it. Most of the characters in the stories are taken from people I have known, their character is imbedded in the story. I try to show real emotion that people have in a certain situation. Some times while writing, I get tears in my eyes. I put a lot of feeling in the stories. I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. - Joe Smith
Harve and Conchita, then and now
Chapter 1: BODINE
Harve Bodine was born down south around the 1800 era. He and his family moved to the SE Kansas area just before the civil war broke out. He was a loner mostly but made friends with a schoolteacher around Lawrence, Kansas. They both liked guns and did a lot of target practice when they had time.
Harve was about 20 at the time. This fellow from Lawrence was named Quantrell. When the war broke out, he and several of his friends joined Quantrell and “fought for the south”. More like murder and mayhem. Harve and some others didn’t like what Quantrell was doing so they pick up stakes one night and left him. They rode straight west just to get out of the fighting and getting killed in the process.
Harve and his friends were not cowards but couldn’t live with the way Quantrell worked both sides. He was only happy as long as he was killing someone. After traveling several days they reached the panhandle of Oklahoma. There they rested the horses and spent some time trying to figure out what to do next. All were good with a gun. That was no problem; there were 6 of them. They decided to split up and 4 went back north.
Harve and his friend Toby stayed together because they wanted no part of what the other four had planned. Robbing trains and banks wasn’t there way of doing things; they drifted on west toward Colorado. They stopped in Boise City and bought a packhorse and some supplies. Nobody seemed to be worried about them. The war was not talked about out there hardly at all, like it was another world.
That suited Harve and Toby; they had had enough of the shooting for a while. They asked around about some big ranches that might be hiring. They were told of a couple in Colorado that might need hands. So off they went. It was spring and the weather was nice. They saw some good cattle but not a lot. There were a few rattlesnakes that they sent on to their maker, who ever it was.
The grass was greening up nicely. They rode up to this big ranch house just east of the mountains. They were still carrying their pistols and rifles at the time so no one had bothered them as they looked like a rough pair. They in reality weren’t that mean unless they felt threatened. Just a couple of nice guys who got led down the wrong path.
The Ranch foreman came out and sized them up. He wasn’t sure he liked what he saw. They looked like a couple of cattle rustlers that had been stealing cattle in the area. Harve was a good talker and he convinced him they weren’t cattle thieves and asked if they were hiring.
The foreman, Bill, told him they were short handed and could use a couple of good hands right now, as spring roundup was just about to start. Bill showed them to the bunkhouse and asked them if they had eaten. Toby told him they had a good breakfast of cottontail and gravy. Toby was good cook and a good shot. .
They got settled in a couple of empty bunks and walked out to roll a light. Bill showed up about that time and showed them where to put their saddles and feed their horses. The packhorse was a big old bay, Toby’s was paint and Harve’s was a roan. All good, well taken care of, horses. Bill said that was why he hired them, because their horses were in such good shape.
These two were not gunslingers but wouldn’t back down from a fight if they couldn’t talk their way out. More than one fellow found that out.
He told them they were short of good broke horses for the round up, because the rustlers had taken part of them. They did have a herd of mares and colts though. So for the next couple of weeks they broke horses. The rest of the crew came in a few at a time to report on their areas of the ranch.
They stayed out at small cabins close to the cattle to help ward off any rustlers. After a re-supply of food and shells, they went back out to the line cabins. It was fairly quiet right now so the boss was happy. Harve and Toby had been there 3 weeks and hadn’t even seen the boss. Little did they know that the boss was a woman?
ST. JAMES HOTEL
CHAPTER 2: THE BOSS
On the 4th of May while the crew was finishing up breaking the horses, shoeing them and getting ready for the roundup, a wagon loaded with supplies drove up with a lady driving the rig.
The foreman told us that the boss was back. Harve and Toby weren’t sure if it was a man or woman. Stocky built, pistol on her hip and a Winchester in her hands as she came up to the crew.
“Hi boys, get this wagon unloaded, we got work to do.”
The crew hopped right to it. Most of it was groceries that went to the storeroom and some ammunitions for the guns that everybody carried.
Both Harve and Toby left theirs in the bedroll. You don’t need a pistol while riding a bronco. And for the last 3 weeks that is all they had been doing. They had gone through about 20 horses and made good horses out of most.
One big black, named Midnight was a little tougher. He was a long 4 year old and they, (The ranch crew) had tried every year to break him, to no avail. Harve wasn’t about to give up on him.
The Boss lady, Maude was her name, came out to the corral and saw Harve working with Midnight. She told him it was a waste of time.
Harve told her he was making progress but slow. She said, “If you want that damned horse you can have him, but break him in on your on time, he has busted up too many of my hands already” and turned around and went to the house.
Harve was thinking, “Man she is something else”. Toby and Harve cornered the foreman and asked what the deal was with Maude the boss.
Bill said that rustlers killed her husband last year and she wasn’t about to quit till she found them and put them 6 ft under.
Harve and Toby looked at each other and wondered what they had walked into? This was going to be interesting to say the least. They had been away from the shooting and fighting for a month or two and kinda missed all the excitement of it.
The foreman told them just hang to on for a while and it was about to get interesting. The rustlers had been quiet over the winter but now that it was nice weather they were going to be coming around again and Maude was ready. That was why the foreman hired the two. They looked like they could handle a gun.
The taking care of their horses was just a second reason and he wanted to see how they worked out. Maude called the crew that was still on the ranch together and gave them a speech if that’s what you want to call it.
“Boys, we’re going to be ready this time when the rustlers hit. I want at least 2 men at each line post and at 6 am every morning fire 1 shot to let us know you are all right. 2 Shots if you’re not or have seen trouble. Now if you are up at the right time, the line camps are close enough that you can hear that shot. John you’re down in a draw, and sound doesn’t carry there too well. So you ride up on the west ridge each morning at that time. Have your breakfast over and your horses saddled before 6 am. Each of you ride out toward the closest camp in opposite directions. Meet the other cowboy and then check cows on the way back, watch for signs of cattle moving in a group. Watch for horse tracks where there should be none. Now about half of you are here so go out and tell the others what I said. On the 15th of the month we well start bring in all the cattle to the headquarters. We have saved that range just for this. I want these cattle close so we can watch them. Pick up your supplies and ammunition. We are going to have a fight. If any of you have cold feet, now is the time to draw your wages and mosey on down the road.”
She never even stopped to take a breath. As Harve and Toby stated to leave she ask them to stay, she wanted to talk to them some more. After all had left except Bill the foreman. She started to talk again in a much quieter voice. Tears coming down her old leathery face. “Boys. Bill tells me you have done a good job with the horses. We have 60 saddle horses thanks to you and I’m putting you two in charge of the horses, you are now the wranglers for this ranch. (The SS, the double S). It will be dangerous and there will be some fighting. That is where you 2 are our ace in the hole. I know by looking, shooting people isn’t new to either of you, but working cows might be, time will tell. For now get the horses ready to go by the 12th of the month and we will have you follow the chuck wagon. Bill will stick close to the area of the chuck wagon also just in case. These rustlers like to hit the chuck wagon just for the hell of it. Very demoralizing to the cowboys. Any questions?”
“No maam we understand” Harve told her. The foreman and the boss were looking for signs of any cowardliness but didn’t see any. They figured the two came from the war and had deserted for some reason. So really they were being watched for that reason. Little did they know that both had been on numerous raids with the infamous Quantrell. Harve and Toby hadn’t said a word about it.
On his days off which, were few, Harve had a chance to ride the black horse and started using him to work the other horses. Midnight liked being in the top spot and did a good job. Once in a while he would come unglued and try to drop his rider. He soon found out that was a waste of time.
So they decided to be partners. Nobody else could ride him though; he didn’t want any body else to touch him.
Each rider had a string of horses that he rode and they rotated him or her to keep them fresh. As a rule the wranglers were youngsters, but because of the danger, the boss put a couple of fellows she hoped she could trust.
CHAPTER 3: FRIENDS
Harve Bodine and Tobias Dooley had been friends for several years and had ridden together during all of the fights they had, both didn’t like what was going on with Quantrell. Quantrell had got wind of his lieutenants not being too happy with the way he was doing things. Jesse and his brother and a couple more decided to leave it with him. On the way to the horses they ran into Harve and Toby, Rather than shoot them and wake up everybody, they told them “Your coming with us.” Hey, that suited Harve and Toby. It wasn’t long till the others found out that Harve and Toby were on their way down to the horses too. You know like when the ship is sinking bail out swim for shore. Quantrell was a no good S.O.B. and they had had enough of him. He wasn’t fighting for anybody but himself. They high tailed it west and rode at night so as not to be seen till they got to the panhandle where they split up. Tobias was from New York of all places; you would think he would be a Yankee instead of a Reb. He was young and was just in it for the fight and to ride with Quantrell was an adventure to him. He knew horses and a little about cows and was good with firearms. As a kid he always wanted to be a cowboy so he came out west to Kansas to learn the cowboy ways. Harve on the other hand, was born in the south, and had Reb in his blood, plus he liked adventure. Harve was also part Cherokee Indian. That’s how his parents got to the area; the government sent them from the Cherokee Nation in Georgia on the Trail of Tears. Harves’ mother was full blood Cherokee. They settled in Arkansas first, then on to N E Oklahoma. Harve followed them, as he was not classed as an Indian. So he had a chip on his shoulder also, to take up with the “Yanks”. This is how the two fellows became friends, both joined Quantrell Raiders. Harve because he was a Reb and Toby just for excitement.
Now that they were on the Double S ranch, things were looking up. Nobody ever asked any thing about their history and they dam sure would not have told them. The crew kinda shied away from them for some reason, so they didn’t have to many talks with any of them. They talked to the cook and helped him out with the wagon and found wood for him. Once in a while they would shoot a mule deer or an antelope to help on the monotony of sowbelly and beans. There wasn’t that much wood around for the fire so it was a job in itself. The young boys took a smaller wagon out and found wood. Once they got the cattle in the headquarters pasture the job of wrangling and cooking became easier.
They had started the spring works and the cattle had started moving toward the big pasture near the headquarters. All was going smoothly, no sign of any trouble. This would take several days. The ranch was big, laying east of the mountains and south of the Arkansas River. Probably around 2500 sections. There were very few fences at that time, just big open ranges. The different ranches would send some men over to help out when they gathered all the cattle, several thousand. Together they would help cut out their cattle; known by the brand they wore. There were a lot of young calves that had to be paired up with their mothers. It was a big time consuming job and you really had to know cattle. After they were all separated and the other ranchers would start back home with their cattle. It was time for the branding. Harve was, believe it or not, good with the rope and would rope the calves by the heels and drag them up to the fire. This was called heeling, while one cowboy grabbed the tail and the other fell on the shoulder and grabbed the front leg as the calf was dragged to the fire. The work began; they were branded and castrated if they were bull calves. The fellow doing that work carried a bucket for the nuts and they saved them for breakfast each morning. Mountain Oysters they called them. Some just laid them on a slab of rock near the fire and when they would split open from the heat of the fire, they would eat them.
Things went smoothly until the round up was over. The cowboys all went to town to celebrate the fact they saw no rustlers. Harve and Toby stayed away from town, afraid some one might recognize them as one of the Quantrell Raiders. While most were in town the Rustlers raided and tried to run off a bunch of horses. Bill heard the shots and woke the crew up and told them about what was going on. Old Cookie grabbed his pants, boots and gun and started out the door before they could get their pants on. They were right behind him when they hit the barn. Harve roped Cookie’s horse and one for the other two, Bill and Toby, and then he roped the black for himself.
They didn’t have very many in the lot, just a few, They saddled up, got their rifles stuck in the scabbards, pistols on and took off in a dead run following Bill as he knew about where they had to go to get the horses away from the ranch. After about a fast 30 minutes Harve began to wonder where they were going. They stopped at a saddle in the hill and Bill, said “Spread out around the hill here, I think they will have to come out here to get out with the herd. Be quiet, Cookie take the horses over the hill and tie them good. I don’t want to walk home.”
Cookie took the horses over the hill and came back just about the time the herd started coming up the draw. It was plenty dark but you could make out some riders following the horses. They were back far enough from the draw that they didn’t spook the horses and they let them cross. Here came the riders so they cut down on them, no warning or any thing, just started shooting. Three went down the first round and the fourth was wounded and turned his horse and started to run the other way but Toby dropped him. There was a couple more farther off that got away. One was carrying a slug that Toby put in his thigh. Cookie got the horses and Toby and Harve took out to return the herd to the ranch. Bill and Cookie went down very carefully to check the riders. Three were dead and the other one wished he was and didn’t put up a fight. Cookie caught a couple of their horses and they loaded the dead ones on one and the wounded one on the other one.
They started back to the headquarters with the rustlers in tow. Maude was waiting at the corral. They put the dead ones in the wagon to take in town the next day, since they probably had a poster on them. Money was short and the Ranch could use all it could get. Maude had Bill brought the wounded fellow into the house where she proceeded to patch him up some. He had a bullet in his right arm and one in his thigh. Maude was an old hand in retrieving bullets. She and her husband had been out there on the ranch for 30 years.
She got him fixed up and gave him a pint of whiskey before she started asking him questions. Like who was he riding for, where was their hideout and how many were there of the rustlers. He didn’t want to answer any of the questions. But Bill was sitting there listening to all the questions also.
Bill said “Young fellow If I were you I would be answering those questions and do it quick. We do have a big cottonwood tree out front and you wouldn't be the first rustler to hang from the branches.” He gulped a couple of times as the whiskey took effect and mumbled something about they would kill him if they knew he told them any thing.
Maude said, “Tell you what. That right arm ain’t gonna be any good for shooting any more, you might have to get a job instead. That thigh will pain you something fierce straddling a horse, so that let cowboying out. You’re just gonna have to get a job somewhere a long way from here.”
“You mean you're going to turn me loose?” “Only if you tell us what you know and do it now, my patience is running short.”
Maude took the bottle from him and had a big swig of it and handed it back. “Now” she said, so he started talking.
There were about twenty before tonight. They had a camp northeast of Springer, New Mexico, in the rocks. They just returned from a spree in Mexico. That was why they hadn’t hit them earlier. He wasn’t with them when they shot her husband a while back. The camp was about a mile from the Santa Fe Trail and they did rob small wagon trains, when they needed money. Nobody ever thought they would be that close to the trail.
Maude had Bill take the rustler with his wings clipped out to the bunkhouse and bed him down for the night on the floor. Bill told him he was damm lucky Maude hadn’t shot him right there.
He lay on the floor with his hands and feet tied, wondering what was to happen tomorrow.
CHAPTER 4; MAUDE’S REVENGE
Maude stepped out of the house in her go to work clothes, boots and all. Had her pistol strapped on her hip and her Winchester in her hand. Bill and all the crew except Cookie were saddled and ready to go. This a couple of hours before sunup. There were 19 of them as the sheriff came along also. They headed for New Mexico, about a 80-mile trip, to try to find the rustlers nest. If the information was true, and they thought it was, there would be bloodshed in the next couple of days. They covered close to 70 miles the first day and stopped by a small creek before dark and picketed the horses out to graze and then they fixed a cold supper. No fires because of smoke. They didn’t want anybody to know they were coming. Surprise was very important. Maude came over to Harve and Toby and sat down on a big rock, She looked tired. Of course she was no spring chicken any more. She was crowding 55 now. She lowered her voice and told them of her plans. She asked them what they thought about it. “Well they had other ideas about it. Harve told her” Maam, we have done a lot of this type of fighting and know what to do, If you want us to, we will slip over there and see if they are even around. If we’re spotted, we will just play dumb and ask to join the group. Nobody has seen us around; we haven’t been to town Maude agreed it was worth a try. The main group would follow at a safe distance and stay out of sight. This little bunch of rocks wasn't 4 mile across and it was on an open plain The rustlers were holed up in a small bunch of rocky hills on the west side. They probably had a lookout and they did have a way out, or so they thought. They had to find their escape route first. Toby suggested that he and Harve go over before daylight and find both places as the wounded rustler had told them.
Harve and Toby were saddled and gone long before anybody else had gotten up. As they neared the east side of this big out cropping they got off and checked for signs at each little draw coming out of the area. At the third one they checked they saw old sign of horses traveling through. They found a cedar tree at the mouth of the draw and tied a red bandana or the tree so it could be seen from a distance. They slipped out of there quietly and went on around to the west side of the area but did not stop or slow down, they just trotted right across the area just at daybreak. They acted like they were just traveling through. They did see fresh signs of horses traveling up one of the draws. But did not look up there, just rode right on by. When they were clear out of site they circled back to the east side and headed back toward camp. About that time the rest of the bunch came up to them. Bill asked what they had seen. They told them of the get away draw and where the hide out was. They didn’t see any thing but felt sure they had been seen as they rode by. So now it was up to Bill, the sheriff and Maude. Maude told them. " I'll take Harve, Toby, Jim and Bob. That will be five of us and we can be on the east side and catch them as they make a run for it if they are in there. The rest can sneak up on the other side, but be quiet. It would be better if you tied your horses a ways from the area to keep them from nickering to the other horses. " Well, that didn't leave much doubt about who was running the show. The Sheriff agreed to it and fourteen cowboys started around the hill. Maude and her bunch spread out and laid in wait at the head of the escape route, for the crew to flush them out.
Bill's bunch tied their horses and left one man there with them on lookout. They slipped around the hill just as the sun was coming up. The guard that the rustlers had out was fast asleep behind a tree. Bill slipped up and cold cocked him with his pistol. As the rest of them came up and spread out the camp came alive. A rustler came out of his bedroll to start the coffee, He happened to see movement of one of the cowboys. At first he thought it was the night guard. Then something spooked him and he hollered for the others to come a running. About that time, the Sheriff being a lawful type person told them to lay down their guns and surrender. That didn’t set too well as they started shooting at any and every thing. There were trying to get boots on and find their hardware all at once. The cowboys started shooting back. All of a sudden shots started coming from somewhere else. Part of the rustlers were sleeping in another area up the canyon. It got pretty hot for a minute or two and the cow boys had to find cover for a little while, till they figured out what was going on. The rustlers took advantage of the lull and got their stuff and headed up the canyon to their horses. This was a narrow canyon so the sheriff and a couple of cowboys started up the side so they could see. What they saw was a group of men all trying to get their mounts saddled and get out of Dodge. He hollered back to Bill and told him, so Bill and some cowboys started up after them, They dodged a couple of bullets but took care of that one and went up far enough to see the rustlers leaving. They got several of them before they had a chance to get out of site. It looked like there were about 11 left. They dropped one more just as they went around the last bend. The sheriff and his group headed back to get the horses. Now on the other side of the mountain, Maude and her group was all bedded down waiting for the rustlers to get there. They heard the shooting and knew what was going to happen. It was about thee miles straight over the mountain and it didn't take long to hear horses running on the rocky ground. The only problem was they were strung out too far. They weren't in a big group. Now what?? The other cowboys would be following them and maybe come around to help. Maude held up her hand as to tell them to wait to the last minute. They were almost past when she dropped her hand and started firing as fast as she could. The other four were doing the same. All were good shots and rustlers, horses, and all were rolling in the canyon. The ones back behind the others were looking for a place to go but there wasn't any. So they just dismounted and started firing back. Toby and Harve motioned to each other and started up the draw and moving higher all the time. By doing this they were higher than the rustlers in the draw. The rustlers were in a bad spot. They knew it would be just a matter of time before the sheriff and his "posse" would be showing up right after them.
Then they would have no way out There were still about eight of them that could ride and so they found a little side draw, mounted back up, and started up it. That was on Toby's side of the draw and he was moving as fast as he could to head them off. Harve was doing the same. These old Henry rifles they had wouldn’t carry much over a hundred and fifty yards and still be accurate. Harve got to a place he could see them and raised his sights as high as he could get them and shot at the leader of the group. Must of hit the horse, because he started bucking and lost his rider as he turned and bucked right though the other horses. It didn't slow them up much as the rider just hopped up behind the next guy and went on up the small trail. Toby was ready and laying in wait as the topped out of the small draw. He started firing at the group. They immediately turned around and went back out of sight and dismounted. Toby had done his job and disappeared among the rocks. This fight had taken about fifteen minutes and that was enough time for the other crew to be in hot pursuit. The rustlers did not have any idea how many men were up on top waiting. So they got off their horses and started up the hill. Maude and Jim had drifted up to help Toby and Bob had gone up the bottom of the draw. . Toby wasn’t sure where the others were except Harve who was on the other side of the draw. So he just set tight for a couple minutes to see what was going on. About that time he heard a movement off to his left. One of the rustlers was sneaking up the hill on foot. He let him come. He was just about to cut down on him when he heard that old 44-70 cut loose, Maude nailed the poor fellow and sent him backward about 10 ft down the hill. Then another one showed up on the right and Toby shot him. Then Jim saw one and he cut loose with his old rifle, a sharps buffalo gun. The rocks were rolling down the hill all around. Then Harve and Bob started in from the other side. The crew from the other side showed up about that time and looked the situation over. They spread out across the draw and soon had the rest of the bad guys with their hands in the air. After it was all done, no cowboys had died, a couple had gunshots but could still ride. Six of the rustlers had survived, while 8 had died in the battle. It took till noon to get everybody and all the horses rounded up. The rustlers were all tied on the saddles and the horses were tied together. The dead rustlers were tied on their horses. They started out for the little railroad town of Des Moines. It was thirty miles away. The sheriff said there was a jail there and probably a US Marshall, anyway a telegraph. It was late that night when they got into Des Moines. There was a jail and they put all the 6 men in the jail and took the two wounded cowboys to the doctor's office. Harve and Toby drifted behind the rest of the crew and stayed outside of town, as they didn't want to see any US Marshall. Maude saw them dropping back and waited for them to come up to her. They told her they were not wanted anywhere but didn't want to take a chance any way. Maude told them to head toward the headquarters and they would catch up in a day or two.
CHAPTER 5: WHERE TO NOW
After the fight, Maude asked Bob and Jim to stay behind, pick up their pack horses they left at the first night camp and then scour the hide out and area for any thing left. Jim and Bob were brothers and looked it. Both were stocky build and around 30 years old. They were the son's of one of the owners of the Double S ranch. The other owner was Maude’s husband. These fellows were brothers. The rustlers killed them in a ambush. Only Bill knew of the connection between them. After retrieving the pack horse from the night camp they went over to the battle site first, caught one more horse that wandered in, picked up some guns that the sheriff had missed and then went on over to the hideout by the escape route. There they found a couple more horses tethered out by a water hole. They tied them all together and proceeded down to the camp with guns drawn. Kinda spooky scene there, Stuff was thrown all around from the hasty retreat. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. They saw a small cave so with drawn guns they started inside. A big coon came running out between their legs and almost gave them heart failure. There were several crates of rifles and ammo with US Army stamped on them. Bob bent over and opened the lid on one of them. There were several old rifles and a still a bunch of brand new Winchester repeaters. The other crate was unopened. Back behind that there were some packsaddles with the same insignia on them. Jim said “that’s gonna help a lot. We have horses and packs; lets get this stuff loaded and get the hell out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”
So they got the horses up there and put the packs on them. They loaded all the guns, ammo, and some supplies on the four packhorses. They had two already and two new ones. Plus one extra they piled a couple of saddles on and cinched them down well. By late that evening while the rest were headed to Des Moines, Jim and Bob headed back to the ranch and stayed out of site. Maude had picked them for the fight on the escape route because they were kin and she knew they wouldn’t run. She felt good about Harve and Toby but still wanted to keep an eye on them. So that is why she wanted those four with her. Two she trusted and two she wanted to trust.
All the rifles the rustlers had were the latest center fire Winchesters. While most of their guns were of the older rim fire. The new guns were a lot more accurate and the bullets would travel farther. When the sheriff had the boys round up all the guns they could find from the rustlers, there showed up some old rifles in the bunch. A couple of Henrys and a Sharps were in the group. He just smiled and didn’t say a word. Maude kinda chuckled a little. That was when she decided to send Bob and Jim to look a little more. OK now that they had the guns, what next?
It took Harve and Toby a couple of days to return and two more day for the rest to show up. Cookie was glad to see all of them, even if he had to nurse a couple of them who they brought in a wagon.
Maude and Bill called the brothers up to the house and tried to figure out what to do with the guns and other stuff. One bag of Mexican silver pesos was in the loot. They decided to turn most of it back to the Government, not all though. They kept the open box of rifles and the ones that were" traded" for on the fight scene. The money they split up between the boys that went on the “posse”. Twasn’t totally legal but nothing was out where they were. The rustlers, they left in the sheriff's care were brought to trial and convicted of several robberies and cattle stealing. Didn’t take long, the district Judge passed out swift sentences.
After things got back to normal there wasn't much to keep Harve and Toby busy. Then one day the Sheriff, US Marshall and a couple of older fellows rode up and talked to Maude. They all went to the house and went inside. After about an hour. Bill came out where Toby and Harve were training horses. He asked them to come to these; there were some fellows who wanted to talk to them
CHAPTER 6: THE LAW
As Harve and Toby were headed for the house; their thoughts were really wondering what next? It was too late too cut and run, wouldn’t do any good any way and Bill showed no apprehension or worry. So they stepped up on the porch, took off their hats, cleaned their boots and Bill showed them in the house. The law and the other two official looking men sat around the kitchen table drinking coffee. Maude was pouring a couple more cups for Harve and Toby. A real peaceful scene, they hoped. They took the coffee and sat down in the empty chairs. Maude could see a little worry in their faces. She said. “Let me introduce you to these people. This fellow you know, the Sheriff Tom, Harold Sims here is the US Marshall for the district. These two gentlemen are from the Cattlemen’s Organization, Jack Price and Hi Jones. They want to speak to you about a possible job. Both Harve and Toby let out a silent sigh. The Marshall spoke up and started the conversation.”
“You boys did a real good job in helping round up that crew of rustlers over in New Mexico. Maude said you knew your way around when it comes to this type of work. We don’t know and don’t want to know where you came from and don’t care. Your past is of no interest to us. Now that is out of the way, we would like to hire you away from Maude for the purpose of finding cattle thieves. We don’t mean the homesteader that shoots one for his family once in a while. We mean the ones that are stealing a couple of hundred at a time.” It was quiet for a little while Harve and Toby thought that over. Toby nodded to Harve, so Harve spoke up and ask. “What would be the salary and where would we be working?”
“Then you might accept our offer?” “Maybe” Harve said. The cattleman Hi spoke up and said, “Salary can be set to what ever you feel is right, and you would be working in the territories of Colorado and New Mexico, all east of the Rockies, We have a good man in the south and one in the north area so you two would be in between and under cover. Nobody would know what you are. You will have no identification on you. In case of emergence you are on your own. But you will have contacts you can give your information to. Do you want the Job? It will be hard.” “Mr. Bodine, you look enough like an Indian half breed with the long black hair and high cheek bones nobody will ever think of you as a detective.” Harve spoke up and said, “That is because I’m half Cherokee.” Hi said, “That would explain it wouldn’t it” and laughed. Then he turned to Toby and said, “Mr. Dooley, with your mop of curly light brown hair, nobody will take you serious. That is good, you will fit right in with the bad boys.” Toby was wondering about that remark, he asked them to explain that. Hi spoke up and said, “we thought that you might like to be the inside man, or even both of you could join the thieves and learn all about their operation. But really it is up to you how you do it, just get it done.” Toby looked at Harve and smiled a little. Harve said to the gentlemen, “This sounds real dangerous, they shoot people for doing that real fast.” “that is why we are going to give you a GOOD salary, you name your price.” He said.
The two left the house and went out to the corral. Leaning against the poles of the gate, smoking a roll your own, neither said any thing for a while. Finally Toby asked Harve what he thought about this plan? Harve took a long drag on the smoke, He finally said. “Ahh'Hell it sounds like fun, lets do it.” “OK but it is really going to take some thinking, I ain’t used to doing to much of that,” Toby piped up. It was decided then.
They had four horses now the roan the paint, the black Maude gave to Harve and the Bay pack horse. They would need at least one more. About that time Maude showed up by herself and was wondering what the boys decided. They told her and then she said for Toby to pick out another horse for his string as a gift. Toby said “That is awful nice of you, could I have that stocking legged little bay?” “I’ll check with Bill, but I'm sure it will be OK. You see I’m about out of work for you fellows and I hoped you would accept this job. Why don’t you come back in and we will talk about it some more with the fellows and have some dinner Cookie made for us.” Harve looked at Toby, smiling he said. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” Toby just smiled and went on in the house for dinner. When somebody else cooked it that was a treat. May be the last of that for a while.
CHAPTER 7: School Time
After agreeing to take the job as detectives for Detective S of the Cattleman's Association., the Marshall told Harve and Toby they would be paid $50 each a month to start plus expenses. For every rustler they brought in or were responsible for their capture they would receive a bonus of $100. The rustlers that were put on trial in Des Moines gave the Marshall some good info about some more groups in the area. The Marshall also told the two that they would need about a week of training so they knew what to do in case they had to arrest someone. This school would be in Walsenburg, Colorado, about 75 miles west of the ranch. So, after getting all the instructions they left for Walsenburg. They were to meet a fellow at the Sundown Saloon in a couple of days at straight up noon when there wouldn't be too many people around.
On the specified day and time and place they met this man, a short stocky fellow with a pair of pistols on his hips and a long mustache. He went by the name of Carl. He saw them when they came in. There was no one else in the place except the bartender who was sweeping up the place. He motioned them to a back room. They all entered and sat down and he introduced himself as a state under cover policeman.
Carl asked if the boys were thirsty? They said sure, so he left and returned with a couple of warm beers for them and a cup of coffee for himself. Carl said he talked to the Marshall and was to teach them the how to's and what for's in a short five day period. The best place to do that was out at his place, up the canyon a few (5) miles. They were told how to get there, and not to be followed. He would slip out the back way and they could sit around a while and drink a beer or two if they wanted, just be out there in a couple of hr. Around 5 pm the bar starts to fill up and that wasn't good to be seen just yet. Harve and Toby didn’t stay long in the bar they rode out to the edge of town and took the saddles off their mounts and changed them to the fresh ones. They set the pack off the packhorse and lead them all down to water and let them graze for a while. They laid in the shade of a big oak tree for about an hour and then stepped on their horses after reloading the packhorse and went on out to Carl's place. It wasn't hard to find it was right off the road about a half-mile to the south in a little protected Rincon with a few pines and cedars around. They saw Carl out by the barn and went on down there. Carl told them to put their gear in the saddle room and turn the horses out in the trap with his horses. Harve told him the black was very intolerant of other horses till he was around them for a while. Carl said “that’s OK, we will leave him in the corral and feed him some hay. So that is how it was left, the other four horses went into the trap of maybe 100 acres and the black stayed at the corral, happy as a clam with fresh hay and some oats to eat. The three men went to the house and went inside. For over four full days and part of the fifth day they were taught all Carl could teach them about right and wrong in the work they were about to enter. Neither of the young men had had much schooling so that was part of it also, they had to learn to read better, to write, and to sign their name on papers. It was crash course for sure. One they never knew was coming when they took the job. But it did both of them good. They felt better about themselves. They never thought Carl of all people could teach them all that stuff. They had respect for him after that. Then he showed them how to do the fast draw and fire where you were looking. With out aiming down the barrel, which took time you may not have. Another amazing feat they would have never thought he could do. After a day or two they improved vastly in the pistol work. Didn’t even shoot themselves in the foot. Then the rifle. Carl was also a dead shot with the rifle, either on or off the horse. They had a time getting their horses to let them shoot off them. They did their best to unload them in a pile. They finally would permit the ride and shoot, they never were that good when they were ridding for Quantrell. They thought that would be the easy part. The roan and the paint were ok but the new mounts like the black and the stocking legged horse that Maude gave Toby didn’t want any part of it at first. But with a little TLC they came around. Now they were ready to go looking for rustlers. They would do this by pretending they wanted to join the groups. “ Boy this is getting deep fast,” Toby told Harve.
Carl said he would go with them to show them the country they were to work. Early the next morning they left out headed south, with six saddle horses and one packhorse. They traveled for a couple of days till the came to a place called Wagon Mound. Big good ranch country. Nice creeks and plenty of grass. They spent the night away from town. Carl went into town and came back after dark with a fellow. He was a tall drink of water, slim as a beanpole. Carl introduced everybody to each other. They had a small fire and a coffee pot on. And offered him a cup. His name was George; he was one of the big ranchers there in that area. He was to be their contact if we couldn’t send a wire on the telegraph. He was the first beside Carl in this net of people that could be trusted. They hoped. He turned out to be a real friendly fellow after he got used to the two outlaw looking men. Over the next several days we learned where they were to work and who they could contact about rustlers. After a week of this Carl shook their hands and wished them good luck. The five days of school turned into a couple of weeks. That was all right, nobody was shooting at them, yet.
The plan was made up between them that Harve would try to get a job there as a swamper and bar keep. They were given PO box numbers to check for messages or leave messages in several places. One was in the town of Cimarron, a hot bed of outlaw activity. It seemed to center around the town hotel. All types of mayhem and things of that order were taking place there. It was called the “Saint James.” This is where Harve and Toby were to make contacts. They found a small place at the edge of town that had a corral and a small pasture along the creek. Barbed wire had been around for a while and it was useful in small pastures situations. Toby rented from the owner an acted like Harve was his hired man. It gave them a place to keep their horses; the owner was getting on in years and still lived on the place so he would watch the stock and their Stuff. Harve didn't say a word. This was to be their line for a while. The rustler and his helper. Toby was supplied with enough money so he could put on a good show playing poker and drinking. Harve did get a job cleaning up the place and working the bar during the daytime. He very seldom said any thing, adding to the mystic about his half-breed looks. Harve would hear things at the bar because no one paid any attention to him. Till one day a drunk patron shoved him out of the way and called him a dam breed. Then they saw the swift action of the “breed.” The drunk found himself on the floor with a knife at his throat. Harve told him that it had been a while since he had taken a scalp and would the fellow want to be the next? White as a sheet the drunk got up and left. Harve went back to sweeping up the bar. After that the patrons of the bar stopped with the names, except Toby, he still called him “His Breed”, but not in a bad way, Nobody knew his name and he didn't offer it. After that incident he was called several times to quiet down problems. He would just walk over there and look at them with those black eyes. That was usually all it took. During the time they were staying at the hotel several people had been shot. Most died on the spot. They had been there for a while when Toby told Harve he was going out for a couple of weeks to appropriate some cattle. Two weeks grew into three and Harve was getting worried. He dropped a note to the Cattleman’s group. The note came back that the herd that Toby was with was being followed thanks to Toby's good work. Another week went by and Toby showed up with several more fellows. Later that night they met at the corrals where Harve slept in the barn. Toby explained that the cattle were being followed all the way to their destination by the cattlemen and the Marshals. There were no problems yet; as all he could find out was that some one high up in politics was behind all this rustling. He didn’t know who yet. The next day a fellow came up to Harve and asked him if he wanted a job on a ranch. Harve could see Toby out the corner of his eye and saw him nod ever so slightly. Harve said he might, but what was the pay and where would it be? The fellow told him “$25 a month and all he could eat and a place to sleep.” Harve asked him if there was any shooting involved, if so $25 wasn't going to get him interested too much. And walked off to the bar where he was restocking the booze cabinet. The fellow went back to the table with a strange look on his face. Toby asked him if “His Breed” wanted to go with them. He said, “I’m not sure what to think, you know him don’t you?” Toby said that yes a little; he helped him with some “stock” now and then. He was wondering how Harve knew what was coming? He thought it over for a while talked to the others and came back over to the bar. “What would it take to get you to join the crew?” he said. Harve looked him straight in the eye and said, “I’ve been shot at and have shot back more than once. I know what it is, I listen real well and know that there is a lot of rustling going on in the state here, and if that is what my job is going to be it will cost you.” “OK, how about a share in the take?” the fellow said. Harve wasn’t jumping at the chance like they thought he would. It would take a little more to convince him to tag along with them. They begin to see him in a different light, not the breed that cleaned up the bar but a dangerous man to respect. They finally got together and Harve was hired. He told this fellow that he needed a little time so the hotel owner could find some one to take his place, a couple of days. During that two days Toby and Harve needed to talk and make plans. This was coming to a head this round.
CHAPTER 8: NOW WE EARN OUR KEEP
We left you as the two were fixing to go to work with a rustler crew. They have set it up with the Marshal’s office and it is a go. Now the Rustlers know that these two have worked together and don’t seem worried about it. They met the rest of the crew in a canyon that had only one way in or out. There was a sizable herd already there and some new rustlers that neither had seen. One came up as they were dismounting and asked them where they got the horses with the Double S brand, the stocking legged and the black. Toby spoke up and said. “We were traveling in Colorado a month or so ago and heard a bunch of shooting one night and kinda got out of sight. There was horses and everything running by us so we stayed out of sight. Before sunup we started to leave and saw these two horse running by themselves. We just roped them and kept on going. It was dark almost and we didn’t even notice the brands till we were a long ways from there. So we just kept them. That black was a handful to break, the stocking legged was broke already. Probably some friendly rustlers way of getting some new horses and some one caught them.” The new fellow said, “Yeah I heard about that. That bunch lost five men that night. Some old lady runs that ranch She ain’t a push over like they thought.” He seemed satisfied and turned and walked away. They put their horses out to graze. Two of them they put on the picket line. The boss of this crew came in and rode over. “Hey you made it” Toby said they just got here and took care of their horses. The boss’s name was Lee Corn. A fireplug of an old fellow. He said. Come over to the tent after while and I will fill you in as to your jobs. After they got a place to bed down they went over to Lee’s tent. The only one there. Lee handed them a cup of coffee and they sat down to listen to what he had to say. “You two come highly recommended.” Lee said. “Especially the ‘breed’ here, he had everybody scared of him and never even pulled down on anybody” Harve just nodded and smiled a little. Toby on the other hand said, “he don't pull it unless he aims to use it. Somebody would gets hurt real bad if he does.” Lee smiled and said “Hope I didn’t hurt your feeling calling you a breed, you look like you have Indian blood in you. No offense meant. Harve just nodded his head. “He don't talk much does he” Lee said. “No he lets me do all the talking for him, been that way for a couple of years now” Toby said. Where was he from if I might ask? Toby said, “Georgia, he is of Cherokee blood.” “Can he work well at night and can he use that pig sticker he has.” Lee asked Toby. “I would hate to see him demonstrate it.” “I’ll take your word for it, I heard what he did to that big old boy at the St. James.” Lee said. Harve just sat there playing the wooden Indian part. “Now what we have to do is just wait a couple more days till they bring some more cattle in. We are changing some brands, the ones we can so there will be some work to do. You won’t be setting around. We start working the cattle tomorrow. Tonight we will have a meeting and get to know each other. Most know you, Toby and will get to know Harve soon, if he would just talk a little” he said with a toothless smile.
Later that night they all got together and passed a bottle around for all to get a swig of it. Harve passed on it and not a word was said. They had been forewarned. Lee got up and introduced the others to the new men they had, first names only. All Harve would do is nod his head a little. Very mystic about the whole thing. They visited a little and then Lee said he had something important to say to them. “It has been rumored that there are some law messing around the area. If any of you hear or see anything out of the ordinary just let me know and I will take care of it. We have to get these cattle over the mountain and onto the Rio Grande below Taos and do it quietly. No shooting unless it is a big emergency. We will have about 500 head and there will be around 15 of us. We will take them right up a canyon south of Cimarron, where that big rock butte is.” Lee said. All seemed to know what to do so the next morning Harve and Toby did the head and heeling routine on all the big stuff and the brands were altered. Lee was amazed at how good the two were with the ropes. After about two days more cattle came in and they did the same for them. The fellow using the running iron was a master at changing brands. They had a good working corral in the canyon and running water in the creek and plenty of grass for a while. They had somebody on guard all the time, even at night. Lee came over to Harve and started to ask him something, turned to Toby and asked him if Harve minded taking guard duty to night. Toby looked at Harve and said, “the boss wants to know if you want guard duty to night.” Harve just nodded his head in agreement. The boss just smiled and turned and left them.
That night just before dark Harve saddled up the black and started out. He made the first round before dark so he would know about where he was. The signal if any body was following him would be the chopping of wood with an axe. About midnight he heard the axe one time, then one more time. Hmm two of them checking him out. OK, now for some fun. Harve dropped off his horse and put on his moccasins, tied his boots on the horse and slipped back into the trees. In just a little while, he saw one fellow slipping up through the trees. He slipped up behind him dropped him with the butt of his pistol and tied him to a tree with a handkerchief in his mouth. He slipped on by and on the other side here came another one of them. Why they were slipping up on him was a mystery to Harve. But he did the same thing to the other fellow. Then he went back to riding his rounds with his boots back on. Around 3 am the other guard came on duty and relieved him. Marvel went back to camp without saying a word to any body. The next morning Lee wanted to know where the two Jones brothers were. Nobody knew, finally one of them spoke up and said. “They went out last night to see if our guard was asleep.” Lee asked Toby if Harve saw any thing last night, Toby looked at Harve and asked, “Did you see any thing last night?” Harve nodded his head in a yes motion. “Do you know where they are now?” Harve motioned up on the hill with his hand. Man, the crew took off up there not knowing what to expect, just to find two guys tied to trees with knots on their heads, and very embarrassed. They had no idea who or what had hit them. There were no boot tracts. After that no body questioned Harve or Toby again. The next day Lee rode out by himself and was gone about two hours. He needs to get the final instructions from the big boss. Toby figured that the big boss was close, maybe ten miles away. Lee left in a southeast direction. That was worth remembering for the Marshals. When he returned he started making plans to break camp. The coast was clear to start moving the cattle in the morning.
CHAPTER 9; THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS
The next morning the started the cattle moving west. They had an old steer that they kept for that Job. He had been through this before. Three of the riders went on ahead to scout the trail. They moved any cattle out of the way and watched for any riders or Indians. They couldn’t afford to get any body teed off by running off some of their cattle in the mountains even though the whole herd was stolen that they were driving. The cattle moved well, they were well rested after spending a week in the canyon. They went right out the end of the canyon where they had cut a path through the timber for the cattle and the wagon. About evening the chuck wagon had gone on ahead to a nice mountain meadow and made camp. Lee and his group brought the cattle up and got them bedded down for the night. There were some storm clouds in the west that evening. They have mountain showers every day or two in the high meadows. This one kept building and started to get louder. Lee put several cowboys out to watch the cattle. He told them if they broke to run, head them west and keep them bunched as much as possible. Late that night it hit with a vengeance. Lightning you would have to see to believe’, thunder booming so loud it was spooking every one, even the cowboys. Harve and Toby were saddled and had their slickers on. About that time a bolt of lighting hit a big pine, knocking it over with a loud crash. That was enough to get the herd to stampede. The other cowboys jumped up and started to get ready to go. What a mess, wet bedrolls and all. The cows were on the move. Harve and Toby and the Jones brothers were trying to turn the cattle due west. Even shooting their pistols. The cattle didn’t like running into the rain, which was coming down in sheets. All they could do was turn them to the south and try to keep them together. Cattle won’t drive into a hard rain at all. The only light they had was the lightning strikes. Toby’s horse fell while jumping over a downed tree and threw Toby hard. The crew finally got the cattle stopped and started moving in the right direction, beings the rain had let up some. Harve couldn’t find Toby anywhere, about that time the paint showed up without him. Harve caught the horse and told the nearest cowboy that he was going to look for Toby. After about 30 minutes he found him setting on a log grumbling a lot. Harve said. “You Ok?” Toby said, “I think I got a broke leg. Would you check it out?" Harve got off and tied the two spooky horses up so they couldn’t break loose. Then he went over and checked Toby's leg for breaks. He told Toby, “Yep it is broke, now what did you go and do that for?” Harve took out his knife and cut a couple of limbs for a splint and split them in half so they would be a little more comfortable. It had stopped raining so he took Toby's slicker and made bandages with it. He set the leg like any good Indian should do and tied it tight so it wouldn’t move around. About that time Lee showed up. “How bad is he hurt?” Harve just nodded and Toby said, “Broke leg, you might have to shoot me.” Lee asked? “Can you ride?” Toby said “Probably with a little help getting on.” Harve finally found his hat and his pistol he lost when he took his tumble. They helped him on the horse with not too much cussing. Lee told Harve to take him back to the wagon and have the cook make room for him in the wagon. “It is 20 miles to a doctor and I don’t think he can ride that far now. Maybe in a day or two we can get him to a doctor near the Rio Grande.” Lee said. Harve took him back and helped the old cook to put him in the wagon. You would think seeing the crew go through the country that they were just driving cattle. They had a chuck wagon, a big crew of men and extra horses. Rustlers don’t usually operate this way. The cook was breaking camp and had the team hooked up. Harve told him where the cattle had drifted to, he thought. They got Toby bedded down on several bedrolls so the bouncing wouldn’t be to bad. Early the next morning they caught up with the herd, and made camp. Just as the sun came up there were a group of Indians that showed upon their horses. They just sat there watching the crew come back to eat breakfast. Lee rode up about that time looking real tired. He saw the Indians and just shook his head. “What now?” he told the others. They looked like Apaches. There were on Indian land it seemed. One of the Indians came down to talk to the crew. Held up his hand in a peace gesture. He spoke no English, except for a word or two. Lee called to Harve to come over there and interrupt for him. Harve went over and talked the universal hand language all tribes use, then tried a little Cherokee, as he didn’t know the Apache language. They began to talk to each other and soon were doing well. It seems that the Indians wanted a toll for crossing their land. The storm last night put the herd far enough south they entered their land. They asked for 50 head. Harve told Lee what was going on. Now Lee had close to as many men as the Indians had right here and a few more out with the cattle. Lee thought it over for a while, didn't want to start a Indian war right then, and told Harve to offer them 10 head if they would protect them till they got off of Indian land, no hits from the other Indians. Harve got the message across to the leader; he turned and rode back to the others. Soon he was back and with his hands told Harve it would take 20 head. Lee understood that. He turned to the others and asked the brothers how many they lost last night. They said as best they could count this morning there were about 20 missing. Lee spoke to Harve again, “Tell them there are 20 head that they lost last night and that if they could find them they could have them and that he would send Harve with them to see that that they did receive their 20 head” Harve relayed the message. The Indian looked at Harve and said in English. “Saddle up, we go” turned and went back to the others. Lee stood there with a dumb look on his face; the Indian could speak English after all. It was no loss to the herd any way they didn’t have the time to look for the others. Lee turned to Harve and asked him if he would do that. Harve nodded that He would, and stepped up on his horse, the big black. Lee said the herd would be on the Rio Grande to night and he could catch up then. Harve went by the wagon and told Toby what was going on. Then turned and went with the Indians.
Times were hard and they took any job that was offered to them, on either side of the law. For the most part all of these group of rustlers were not really rustlers at all just out of work cowboys trying to make a living. They hadn’t stolen the cows; they were just moving them across the mountains to the next group of cowboys that would take them on. The Rio Grande would be as far as this crew goes. There will be another group to take over, the driving of the cattle. This way nobody knows too much about the operation. This why the law was biding their time until they could find out who was behind it. Who ever it was had a lot of connections somewhere.
CHAPTER 10: THE INDIANS
The crew, except the ones left with the herd came back to the camp just at sunrise. On the hill east of the camp sat a group of Indians, maybe ten. Lee asked Harve if he would ride up and see what they wanted, Harve rode up there and one younger Indian rode out to meet him. The Indian and Harve looked at each other and then the Indian spoke in Apache. Harve could just figure it out with all the hand signals all Indians use. Harve motioned him to follow him down to where Lee was waiting. Harve told Lee that they wanted 50 head for passing through their land. Lee knew they could kill this bunch but thought better of it for fear of losing some of the cowboys also. He told them 10 head; the leader went back to the group and told them. He came back and told him 20 head. Lee went to the Jones brothers and asked them if they got a count on the herd this morning. . They said maybe we lost 15, 20 head, but we can round them up. Lee was pressed for time and couldn't risk any cowboy Indian fights with all those cattle that need to be delivered. He walked back to Harve and told him “Tell them we have about 20 head of cattle just east of here and they can have them.” Harve turned and told the Indian leader what Lee had said. The leader nodded but wanted Harve to go with them until they found them. Lee didn’t like that but he asked Harve if he would go with them. Harve said he would. The leader looked at Harve and said in English, “Come on, lets go.” Harve looked at Lee who was standing there with his mouth open. Lee finally came to and told Harve he could catch up at the river. So Harve rode off with the Indians.
As they rode out of sight another group of Indian warriors came up along side. The leader held up his hand and spoke to them in their language. He told them to find the cattle and bring them to the Indian camp, So they rode off leaving the leader and Harve sitting there on their horses. He turned to Harve and told him. “My name is Little Bear and Carl sent me to contact you. Come they are waiting on us” He turned and broke into lope with his horse. Harve, still trying to figure out what the hell was going on, started after him. In about an hour of steady traveling the came up on a small cabin with several horse tied up and a guard standing out side. They tied their horse and the guard opened the door for them. It took a short while till Havre’s eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room. He soon recognized Carl, his teacher and another fellow he didn’t know. Carl handed both cup of hot coffee and asked them to sit down. Carl introduced the other man as a Marshall named Joe Smith. They asked Harve how it was going down there. He told them of Toby’s accident and that they lost some cattle last night. He told them about the storm and the stampede. He told them of how Little Bear got him out of there, Carl asked Little Bear about that. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “My people are hungry, and I had no other way to contact him after the storm.” Carl said OK then asked Harve if he knew any more about the bosses of this out fit. Harve told him, “Lees was gone only an hour or two the day before they left. So his connection was close to the base camp. One of the Jones brothers questioned us about the SS brand we had on two of our horses when we rode in. I think we covered that all right.” Carl told him “The Indian, Little Bear would be his contact from now on. Try to get on with the next crew if you can, that takes the cattle on, as we don’t have any idea where they will take them.” After about an hour all the talk was settled, Carl said he would check on Toby as soon as he could. Little Bear told Harve that they had a ways to go so they left back down the mountain to find the group of Indians with the cattle. They hadn’t gone far when they spotted a cloud of dust and heard the bawling cattle “Rained last night and dust today” Harve remarked to Little Bear. “How did you get tied up with the law up here any way?” Little Bear said, “I was a army scout and got tired of it so I went to work for the Cattleman’s Group, out of Denver, and they sent me down here.” About that time the group came with the cattle, they did have seventeen head in front of them. Little Bear asked, “Was that all there were or all you found?” “No” one fellow spoke and said “There were three more but very wild so they shot them and are butchering them right where they fell, they will be along in a while.” Most of this group was older but all carried rifles. Soon they entered the camp and the dogs barked and the children were running a round, finally the Chief came out and quieted them all down so the riders could get the cattle in the horse corral. After all that Little Bear introduced Harve to a real Apache Chief. He was short and old but stood proud, black eyes and all. About that time the squaws brought some food and drink for the success of the “Raid.” About an hour before sundown Little Bear said, “We better go, I’ll ride with you till we see the camp, you might get lost.” They got with in sight of the camp by the river and Little Bear told Harve, “I will be close, three fast shots and I will come. I will contact you on your night watch .You won’t see me but you can hear me. So be careful out there. “Harve was ahead in the trail just a little and turned around to say thanks and he was gone. He rode in and stopped at Lee’s tent. Lee came out and told him “Toby was gone to the Doctor and the new crew will be there tomorrow.” Harve told him the Indians had another group just over the rise. Lee said “Boy that was close; I had a bad feeling about that.” Harve went to the bedroll after he put his horse out to graze on the hobbles he had for him. “Dam the bedroll is still wet.”
CHAPTER 11: PAY DIRT
It was before daylight, still dark and Lee came over to where Harve was sleeping and spoke softly to him. “Harve, the fellow who is taking over the herd and moving it on told me he lost several men in a bar fight the other night, They threw them in jail for a couple of weeks. He was wondering if any of you cowboys would like to help him out?” Harve rolled up to a sitting position and said. “Let me get my chores done and my pants on and I will be over there in a minute or two.” That was the most Lee ever heard him say at one time. “OK, The boss ain’t going to like it but that’s tough, he needs at least three of you, those Jones brothers, strange pair, want to go also for some reason.” Harve checked on the horses and got dressed, pistol and all. As he walked into Lee’s tent, there were four people in there. Lee, the two Jones boys and a Mexican cowboy. Lee introduced the Mexican as Chappo, no last name. He was blocky like Lee but a lot younger, black eyes and long hair. Not expecting that, Harve was very tentative in saying anything. The Jones boys spoke up and said to Chappo, “don’t worry about this breed, he can take care of himself, we found out the hard way” Chappo said, “all right amigos when your crew brings the cattle down to the river, you three just stay with the cattle and keep them moving down the side of the river, my crew will catch up with you very soon. As soon as I go back and roust them out.” Harve asked Chappo about the pay and back pay from Lee. Lee said “It will be the same as you are drawing now, with a bonus when the cattle are delivered” Harve asked about his and Toby’s stuff and extra horses and Toby’s pay. He didn’t want to seem too anxious to take the job. Lee said “I will take all of the horses back to Cimarron and put them and your stuff in the shed west of town, (Harve wondered how he knew about that place?) But the black and the roan of Harve’s. Toby should be ready to travel in a week. He is in Rancho de Taos; we rented a room there for him. You can pick him up after the cattle are delivered.” Harve said, “All right, I have to wait for him anyway” So it was settled, the three would go with the new bunch. Soon after that the Mexican left and the cook started some chow for the crew. The night crew came in as the sun came up and said everything was OK. Lee asked them if they felt like helping start the cattle southwest towards the river. They knew that was to be the end of it so they agreed. So after all had a bite of chow, such as it was, they all saddled up and started the cattle moving. About noon they reached the river and let the cattle water. The Jones brothers told the others they could go back now that the three of them could handle the job as the other crew as on the way. So all left but The three of them. For over 400 head that was or could be a job. But the cattle were getting used to traveling each day. They stopped a little before dark each day so the cattle could graze a little. They settled down better with a full belly. They got the cattle moving again down the side of the river. The going was fairly good. However in a while it got a little steep and they had to go up hill to get them around the rough place. About four in the afternoon, here came a crew of Mexican vaqueros, big hats and all. Riding sidestepping horses and using rawhide ropes. Quite a sight the strange thing was, they knew the Jones brothers, said hello and all. “This is getting stranger all the time,” Harve thought to himself. “Kinda puts another light on it.” That night Harve and one of the Mexicans were called to do first watch. His name was Keco; He was friendly but didn’t talk much English. Harve didn’t tell him he spoke fluent Spanish, and he didn’t ask. So they started to circle the herd. After a while they fell back a little ways from the cattle and circled the cattle some more. Finally Harve told Keco “I need to go to the bathroom.” Not in those words but he got the message. Harve rode up to the first rise where he could see around and did His duty. About that time he heard a stick snap. Little Bear said “Didn’t want to sneak up to close, you might shoot me so I snapped a twig.” Harve let out a sigh and said. “That is why I came up here I knew you were here.” “What is new that you know, where are you headed?” Little Bear asked. Have said, “Don’t know yet but the Mexican crew knew the Jones brothers, and they seemed anxious to get on with this crew.” Ok, that may be our tie in to the higher up fellow. We are checking into the kinfolks of Hi Jones, the cattleman. There seems to be some kind of connection, what?? We don't know yet. Carl is looking into it. Better go you been gone long enough.” Little bear was gone that quick and that quietly. Harve went back to the herd and there was Keco asleep in the saddle. As Harve rode up, Keco’s horse turned around and he woke up. “Beeg drunk las nite, too much tequila” he said. Harve just grinned and started checking the cattle. About two in the morning two more Mexicans came riding up. They took over the rest of the night. Keco and Harve went back to camp and poured a cup of coffee. Then they hit the hay. All Harve had was one old blanket and a bedroll cover. He had slept on less many a night, rolled his slicker and jacket up for a pillow. About sunup everybody started to move around and fix a little bite to eat. They didn’t have a cook or any food at all. Each one had to carry his own. Harve had none so he just had a cup of coffee. Keco walked up and said, “Hey amigo, you no eat?? Ahh, you have no food. Come on over to my fire, we feed you.” Harve drifted over to the fire and they handed him a cup of something and a spoon. He started eating the stuff and noticed they were all watching him. About that time the Jalapenos took a hold and burned all the way down. He just took a swig of coffee and kept eating. Hoping he didn’t run out of coffee too soon. His whole mouth was numb but he wasn't going to let on like it. Then they started laughing and he grinned. They handed him some fresh tortillas to help the with sting. He passed that test. Keco handed him some tortillas and meat rolled together for his midday meal. . He grinned and said in broken English, “No hot”. It was wrapped in a cloth, which Harve put in his bedroll as he tied it behind the saddle. The crew had a few extra horses and one boy to look after them. Harve felt sorry for him, as the old horse he was riding was skin and bones. So he told Keco to let him ride the Roan, as he was gentle. The boy’s eyes lit up and he had a big smile. That way Harve knew that the roan would be there when and if he needed him. They were about 20 miles from Espanola by noon the next day, still traveling in broad daylight. Nobody seemed to worry about it so he didn’t. They crossed the river just after noon and headed straight west. The going was good. Kinda in-between mountains here. Harve heard several of the Mexicans talking about the ranch. Seemed to be about three days drive from here. Also heard something about watching for banditos. Banditos??? Harve thought that was what they were. Harve and Keco hit it off and became friends. Harve ask him about the “Banditos” Keco told him in his broken English, “They bad guy, like steal at nite, have shoot pendahoes.”(Idiots) There were some river Mexicans that stole from wagon trains and cattle herds now and then and the herd was about to get in their area. “Little bear didn’t tell me this,” he said to himself. When they camped that night Chappo came around and spoke to all of the men. “Get your guns oiled good, tonight we might need them.” The Mexican vaqueros already knew this and were ready. Harve and Keco took first watch and Chappo sent one of the brothers out also. The rest of the men slept with their clothes on and their horses saddled. They were ready to fight or chase cattle, which ever. The three nightriders split up and Harve took the high ground. He was sitting there watching when the twig snapped again, then “Harve” Little Bear said it real quietly. Harve never looked around just talked back softly. “You scare the hell out of me doing that. What do you see out there? There is supposed to be a raid tonight sometime.” Little bear said, “There are six of them camped over the hill to the west. They will come about midnight.” “You knew this and didn’t say any thing last night?” “Just saw what was going down this evening,” He said. “Here comes your buddy”, and he was gone. Keco rode up and Harve told him to go down and warn the boss that they would come from the west and that he was going to pick up Jones and drift over that way. Keco said. “You wait, me be back pronto” as he rode off Harve told him “I’ll meet you over there.” In Mexican. Harve went around till he found Jones and told him what was up, Jones said, “How did you know that?” Harve said, “Because I'm half Indian.” They started real slow and quiet down the slope, to give Keco time to return. About that time here he came in a high trot. Now they had three guns and surprise on their side. As they went down the hill they smelled cedar smoke, just a little. Harve told the other two to dismount and tie their horse tight so when the shooting starts they wouldn’t run off. So on foot, they went down the hill, There was just a little moon out and the skies were clear. They got up to where they could see the camp and the fellows sitting around the small fire drinking rum, liquid courage. There were five of them, so they had some one out on watch. Harve hoped Little Bear was out their somewhere and had the look out spotted. Jones said, “Lets go in with guns a blazing, we can get them all.” Harve said, “No, we do it my way. Slip up on them and follow my lead. Don’t shoot unless you have to.” They slipped right up on the camp and no look out, Little Bear had taken care of that. Harve stood up, and with guns drawn; all three stepped into the light of the fire. Harve said in Spanish. Raise your hands now, we have your camp surrounded and you lookout is under wraps. They jumped up and made a play for their guns, which were laying over on the saddles. Only a couple had side arms and they just raised their hands straight up. One well-placed shot, knocking a rifle out of one of their hands and the others decided it wouldn’t be worth it. One shot was all it took to get them in line. About that time Chappo and several more Vaqueros came riding up to the fire. The Banditos were soon taken care of and things got back to normal. These Banditos were carted of to Jail in Espanola. They would be out in a day or two as they were all kin to each other, but they might think twice before they tried that again. The look out came riding in to camp tied over the saddle before Chappo left the camp and he asked Harve, “How did and when did you manage that.” Harve just grinned and told him an Indian did it. They did not get the meaning of that remark. But it was true. He didn’t say what Indian did it. Well he went back to night herding. Keco followed him. Where Jones went nobody knew, but maybe Little Bear?
CHAPTER 12: JUST ABOUT THERE
The cattle traveled well the next day and covered near 30 miles. Water holes were a little farther apart now. The Mexicans knew just where they were located. After the run in with the would be rustlers, one of the Jones brothers was gone most of the day. Late in the evening he caught up with the herd and rode right up to Chappo. They rode along together for a while and then came over to Harve as he was bringing up the drags. Chappo said. “Lets talk a little” so Harve went back out of the dust of the herd and got off his horse, wondering what now? “Chappo wanted to find out just how he knew the rustler band was just over the hill to the west.” Harve looked him straight and told him, he smelled smoke on one of his round and the wind was out of the west that he figured it out as he went over to the south side of the herd. Chappo, looked at Jones and said, “Sounds good to me.” Jones just shook his head. Then Chappo asked Harve just where he came from, how did he happen to be in Cimarron working at the hotel? Harve looked all around to see if any one else was listening, saw no one close and said. “Toby and I are deserters from the Confederate Army, We rode with Quantrell, didn’t like him and his ways so we pulled stakes and came west, did a little cattle rustling on the way through Kansas. Jesse and Frank and a couple more came with us part of the way, but they turned north toward Nebraska. We ended up at the St. Francis because we heard it was a good place to get a job. That is the reason we were so good at night work that was the only time Quantrell hit any body. We thought we were far enough away from the war that they couldn’t catch us. Hope this doesn’t get any farther.” Jones was shaking his head; he said, “Well My brother and I found that night work stuff the hard way. We never knew what hit us, no tracks or any thing. Sorry about the questions but there is some law around and we can’t be too sure. I know Toby worked a couple weeks for our group up north and they liked him and he worked good here. We just couldn’t figure out how you did all those things.” Harve said. “Like going into the camp and not shooting a soul? If you had your way we would have shot it out with them and a lot of people would have gotten shot, maybe even you. These guys could have been any body. We didn’t see them steal any thing, better my way.” Chappo looked at Jones and said, “You were going in with guns blazing? We would probably had another stampede on our hands and some dead men too.” Jones just ducked his head and didn’t say a word after that.
The next couple of days went good and they neared the mountains again. Water was easier to find and better grass. They let the cattle graze more the last day as they dropped down into a beautiful big valley, Grass as far as you could see and lots of cattle dotting the area. The ranch house was a couple of miles down from where they were, The Vaqueros were all singing away in Mexican music. They were home to their families, those that had families. This was the headquarters of the main ranch. They scattered the cattle and rode toward the ranch house. There were a couple of people standing on the porch. Harve needed to get a good look at them if he could. He hadn’t seen or talked to Little Bear for several days, not since the skirmish with the Mexicans. Jones brothers rode right up and shook one fellows hand like a long lost friend. Chappo motioned Harve over to the bunkhouse. As Harve stepped down from his horse he noticed a lot of fine horses in the corral. Chappo called him in and they sat down to a cup of hot coffee. Chappo told him he really appreciated his work and would make it right with him. “Those dam Jones boys ain’t got a lick of common sense, how they ever got in with this bunch is a wonder to me. Kinfolks I think. Any way it is to late too start back today and it will be a hard two-day ride to the Taos area. Get your horses some feed and put them in the barn. The kid was tickled to death to ride such a fine horse. Thanks for letting him ride him. He grew a foot this trip. That is my nephew. He will show you where the feed is and help you rub your horses down.” Harve went out to the barn and the roan shone like a new dollar. Harve took the black in there and took the saddle off him and rubbed him down. The boy, Pedro asked if he wanted him to rub the black down but Harve said, “Thanks son but he is a little mean and he might kick you. But you sure did a good job on the roan. Thanks a lot.” He talked their language to them.
Back at the main house the boss was going over the pay roll and was paying all the vaqueros their pay. Harve walked up there and watched them. The Boss motioned him over there where he and Chappo were standing. All the men had been paid but him. Harve walked up there and the boss shook his hand, “Chappo tells me you are hell in a fight, have it over before it can start. How would you like to come to work for me?” Harve said, “Right now I have to take care of my partner and get back to Cimarron, that was where all our stuff is, but thanks anyway. I will keep it in mind.” The boss paid him all that Chappo told him to, then threw in another $50 for his work. If he only knew. Harve told them he would leave first thing in the morning. With both horses. As he needed one extra for Toby to ride on down to Cimarron. Harve did wash clothes and got ready to leave the next morning, About dark a young Mexican boy came up to him and said in broken English. “Keco wan you com for eat, now.” Harve grinned and said to him in Spanish, “Por comeda, no?” “Si si” the boy said and started back to some shacks out back of the barns. Harve came in the door following the boy and their Keco was with his wife and sons. They had a nice meal of meat cut up with tomatoes and fresh onions, and a stack of fresh tortillas. They drank a mild rum for their drink. It was the best meal he had had in several weeks. His ribs were starting to show. Harve gave his thanks for the fine meal and excused himself so he could get some sleep. Before dawn the next day he was up and saddling the roan to give the Black some rest. Keco walked into the barn with a burlap bag full of food for him on the way back, tortillas and dried meat, some fruit and a big jug of Tequila. Keco said. “Har, you good man” and turned and walked back home. So in just a little while he was on the way headed northeast, guns loaded and oiled. Hoping not to run into any trouble out here he was ready for any thing. This was still a wild country and he didn’t know just where to cut across the mountain at to come out at Rancho De Taos. He rode till time to eat a bite of supper and then change horses and rode till it was to dark too see any more. The moon hadn’t come up yet. So he made a dry camp and tied up the horses and dosed off for a while, just to be woke up by the horses. Something out there. He got up and quieted them down and listened. Then the twig snapped again. “Harve” Little bear said. “Your hell to catch up with, I’ve been on your tail for 30 miles, thought you would never stop.” Harve said “Come on in and sit a while we will have swig of this ‘tequila’ Keco gave me. You know how wild Indians get with a little booze in them.” Little bear walked into the clearing and dropped the reins on his horse and both men took a drag off the bottle. “He will ground tie real well, Until they start shooting to close.” Harve said, “So does the roan but the black is still young and has a mind of his own. OK fill me in on what you know” Little Bear said, that there was a loose connection to the Hi Jones bunch but they think it was just things that they picked up. His brother in a bad boy, been in prison several times for different things. This fellow that owns this ranch is part of it, just how we don’t know. The feds are planning to raid both ranches, the one near Walsenburg and this one here. I forgot to tell you that the one brother went in with the bunch you caught and got the Telegraph man out of bed. He sent a wire to an Uncle of his who is the brother of Hi Jones the vice president of the Cattleman’s Group. That is why the brothers wanted to come on out with Chappo and his crew. The message was about you and Toby. But nobody knew any thing about either of you except that Toby had worked with one of the crews. I saw them questioning you down there that day. I was waiting for the fireworks to start. I had a bead drawn on Jones, if it was necessary. You must have satisfied them.” Harve told him what he said and that they now knew he was a Confederate deserter as that was the only way he could explain why he was in Cimarron. Little Bear said, “That’s funny, so am I for the other side. I got tired of it real fast. Oh well, it is winding down now any way. Quantrell is in hiding in Kentucky and Grant has started down the Mississippi toward New Orleans, Jesse James is robbing trains up north. I don’t think they are going to miss us a lot. If you rode for Quantrell, you got out at the right time.” They both rolled out into their bedrolls and went to sleep.
CHAPTER 13: HELLO TOBY
Harve woke up at first light, must have been real tired. Little Bear was up and making some breakfast. Little Bear said “Good afternoon, Harve, breakfast is ready.” Harve grumbled a little and rolled out of his bedroll, went out and did his chores, came back and sat down. “Must have been the Tequila, man I slept good.” Little Bear said, “It has been a long hard trip and you just finally relaxed a little.” “Well that could be. What really bothers me is the fact that there are a lot of just good old Cowboys and Vaqueros out there that will get hurt here when the law closes in.” Little Bear said, “That bothers me too, but it will all work out. The law will take all that into their judgment, and besides, the Mexicans will scatter like a bunch of quail. After a bite to eat, they saddled up and started out. Their goal was to find a stream to water the horses as they had a dry camp the night before. Soon they found water on a good-sized stream that was running west. Harve said to Little Bear, “Lets just follow this stream out to the pass. That should put us real close to Rancho De Taos.” They topped out of the pass about noon. They could see the Rio Grande winding in the distance. They stopped and let the horse’s blow a little and ate a bit of the food that Keco had sent with him. While they were sitting there Little Bear got serious and told Harve, “My real name is John, I had a white father and an Indian mother, just like you. I was taught in a church school in Montana. I was a scout for the army while they fought the Indians. It didn’t take me long to get enough of that. So that is why I deserted too.”
They resumed the ride and it was easy going now, all down hill. They reached the valley and wondered which way to go, up or down. About that time a wagonload of lumber showed up, coming up the road. There was a fat Mexican driving the team of mules. The mules saw them a long time before the driver did, but he stopped and visited a little. Harve asked him where he was headed? He said “To Taos, about 40 miles north.” Harve asked how far it was to Rancho De Taos? He said with a wave of his hand, “Just a couple of mile” indicating they should go north, up river. It was about evening so they rode on up to the small town. It was mostly a Mexican town, like a lot of the towns in New Mexico. The found the small hotel and as they rode up, Toby was sitting on the porch smoking a roll your own. Harve said. “Hello Toby, how are you coming along?” Toby said, “Where you been anyway?” Harve ignored that and said. “Meet Little Bear, or John when he is dressed in gringo clothes, he is another one of those breeds like me. Got a place where we can talk?” Toby said Sure, glad to know you John, put your horses in the corral out back and I’ll go in and get you guys a room. " Toby went inside with his crutch and made arrangements for the room. As he came out of the hotel the other two came around the corner. Toby said, “Lets go across the street to the cafe.” they went inside and found a table in the back corner. They were the only ones in there except for a fat older woman who was the cook. She waddled over there and spoke in Mexican and told them what she had to eat. They ordered and sat back to drink the coffee she brought over for them. Harve told Toby about all that took place while he was taking his ‘vacation’. And he told him where John fit in all of this. Harve asked Toby if he thought he could ride. Toby said, “Try to keep me from it. Where are we going now?” Harve said, “First we go back to Cimarron and get all our stuff, You're a long ways from going back to work yet so we will just have to see what our bosses have planned for us.” “That is a hard two day ride” John said, “Maybe three in your shape.” They talked about the gang and what might happen. It seemed that they were in the clear if they were needed again and couldn’t be tied to the clean up operation. They would remain undercover. John said that really they need to be out of the country when it all goes down, out of sight out of mind. He said, “We have made plans for you, Toby. Maude has offered to take you out there at the ranch along with the other two she is nursing back to health after the gunshots they got on the raid. Better there than in Denver.” Toby said, “Let’s see how I feel when we get to Cimarron.” John said, “OK but you need some more time to heal. Harve will go with me to Denver for the next assignment for both of us. You both will receive your pay for this job when we reach Cimarron.” The two made out like bandits, got paid for two jobs all at the same time. They ate and retired back to the hotel. It ended up that the “rooms” were just one big room with several beds in it. So that ended the talk about the rustlers because of others there also. They left for Cimarron early the next morning. Toby’s leg was wrapped and protected with splints. He couldn’t use the stirrup so that took trotting out of the travel plans, but he could stand a lope for a while, as the roan was easy riding and had a smooth running walk also. So they made good time, but it still took three days and Toby was in pain when they got him to the St. Francis hotel where they got him in a bed. Harve and John rode out to the barn where they kept the horses and slept there after the turned they horses out in the small trap. The next morning they asked around for a buggy to rent or buy. They found one down at the Livery Stable. The big Bay would do just fine as a horse for the buggy. The stable man did have a small buggy for sale. They bought it and hooked up the bay with no problems, he must have been used for this before; he was a big old gentle horse. Harve drove it around for a while just to make sure the Bay would be OK. Then John went down to the St. Francis and got Toby ready to go. He was sore as he could be and decided it might be a good idea to give it some more time to heal. By that time Harve got back with all the horses in tow and all their gear strapped down and covered with a NEW tarp, the old one was shot. Toby got in the seat and John took the other three horses in tow they started out to the Double S Ranch, a three-day ride. The buggy made it much easier on Toby. They reached the Ranch and Bill was out there to meet them, Maude was up on the porch and welcomed the boys with a big smile. After a good nights sleep and a lot of good food, Harve and John started for Denver and a new job with the Cattleman’s Group. Toby told them that they hadn’t seen the last of him though.
What happened in the final round of the story? Well the rancher in New Mexico was not at fault. He had no knowledge the cattle he was buying were stolen. As he just came out to New Mexico from the east and knew very little about the cattle business. To say the least he was led astray. He hadn’t paid for the cattle yet when the law moved in. The brand inspectors did a good job of figuring out whose cattle were whose and he offered to settle up with the owners. Which was expected, for the most part. That took care of that end of the deal. Some of the Vaqueros were taken to jail but most were just doing a job with no knowledge of the rustled cattle. A couple of the ones like Chappo did know what was going on so they had to pay for that.
The Jones connection was just what it seemed to be. Loose tongue at the wrong time. Hi’s brother, Al, was the headman and his sons were the ones that stayed with the cattle all the way through. Al had a ranch near Walsenburg and one south of Cimarron. That is where Lee contacted him as to when to drive the cattle. Lee and his men, the ones they found, were held in jail as well as the 3 Jones. Hi Jones was soon in trouble for loose lips. He apologized a lot at the Cattleman’s Group meeting. But all and all it turned out fairly well. The Cattle were mostly paid for except the lost ones, which the Indians took good care of. It took a little time but things settled down and all went back to a semblance of order. Of course the lawyers came out the best.
HARVE BODINE AND HIS HORSE (JOE SMITH, 1950's)
One More Round
Harve Bodine and Toby Dooley were deserters from the civil war. They had ridden for Quantrell, didn’t like him one bit and left with some others. They ended up in SE Colorado working on a ranch. That led to a job with the Cattleman Group. They were undercover agents to find out who were stealing cattle. This was done and in the process Toby hurt himself. Ended up with a broken leg. Another member of the group came on the scene. His name was John Little Bear. Both he and Harve were ½ Indian. As this story starts, Toby is staying at Maude’s ranch to let his leg heal and Harve and John are on their way to Denver for a new assignment.
Chapter 1: DENVER
It took the two of them a little over a day to ride to Denver and locate the place they were to meet Jack Price, the president of the Cattleman Group. The town was as large as they had ever seen. They left their horses west of town in a stable and rode a trolly down town to the hotel. As they entered the lobby at the hotel, they had every body staring at them. They looked rough, long hair, and all. The Indian blood showed very strong. People were giving them lots of room. A bellhop showed them where the office of the Cattleman’s Group was. Once in the room where Jack was it was much better. The people there had been forewarned as what to expect. The good work they had done was well documented. So now all they needed was a new assignment and they could get the hell out of there.
Jack told them of some rustling going on in Wyoming. That was to be their next job. It was mid summer and a nice time to go to Wyoming. This was getting close to home for John. Jack offered to put them up in the hotel but both declined and said they would rather get on out of town. They were supplied with money and a list of contacts they could trust. They were to go to the town of Laramie and meet up with another fellow to fill them in on what was going on. They had about three days to get there. This was mountainous country part of the way. They had two horses apiece and a pack horse. Harve had his black and his roan; John had a couple of Appaloosa horses. They were all nice horses.
Off they went to start another job. They camped the first night just north of Denver near a creek. They hobbled the horses, all except one they kept close just in case. They caught some trout out of the stream and had that for supper. Nice, fat fish always taste good just caught.
They cleaned up the mess and pulled out the bottle of Tequila they had. There was some left, as a little goes a long ways. They swapped stories of their childhood and war experiences. They fought for different sides then. Now they depended on each other. It was quite a turn around for both of them, and a welcome one. Just to be clear of the damm war was a blessing.
The next day they made good time and covered a lot of ground. They would make Laramie by noon the next day. Late that evening they hobbled the horses so they could graze near a stream. Horses don’t get too far away from camp as they depend on the cowboys as much as the cowboys depend on them. It is all new country to them as well. So they stick close to camp. Especially if they kept one tied at camp. That night John shot a Prairie Chicken for supper. They didn’t stop for dinner as it took too much time. They had some deer jerky and ate that. They also kept their canteens full of creek water as in new country you didn’t know where the water holes were.
They started off the next day early because they were not sure of where they were. Easy to get lost in the mountains and they were not following any roads.
As they went north they ran across a well traveled road figuring it must go to Laramie. So they headed west off the road. They did see a couple of wagons hauling supplies. One was stopped to work on a wheel that was bad. John and Harve went down to help the fellow who promptly aimed a rifle at them. Harve asked him if he needed some help with the wagon. He asked where they were headed. They told him Laramie. He eased up a little but kept the rifle handy. He told him he could use a little help. They spent about an hour helping him fix the wheel. He told them of the distance to Laramie, which he said was about ten miles west. They inquired about jobs on ranches around the area. He wasn’t sure, but he thought they might get a job at the Sundown Saloon. They kept a list of ranchers there to help find hands for them. Anyway they would know of what was needed. He offered the fact that there had been some rustlers around and that was why he was suspicious of them.
The Sundown was where they were to meet their contact this evening. They said goodbye and headed for Laramie. Just out side of town they found an old shack that was vacant and a corral. They put the horses in the corral and found some hay in the loft of the little barn. There was an old mirror in the shack, so they cleaned up and cut their hair a lot to get rid of the “Breed “ look. They changed horses and rode on into town and right up to the saloon. It was getting close to sundown and a few people were in the bar part of the Saloon. They sat down and ordered a shot of whiskey. They asked the bartender if there were any jobs open on the ranches around there. He wasn’t sure but there would be some ranchers in later. The fellow they were to meet was tall and slim. He wore a gun on his left side and none on the right. This was all they knew about him.
It wasn’t long till he did show up. The bartender told him of the two cowboys looking for a job. He poured his drink and headed over to their table. He sat down and introduced himself. His name was Slim Baker. The cowboys introduced them selves as John and Harve, no last name. Slim understood that as that was to be his signal that they were the ones Denver sent to help. He was a little taken back at the apparent Indian blood in the two. The hair cut they had helped a lot. Slim told them that yes he could hire at least one of them, maybe both. If not he had a friend that was looking for some one to help him. He asked them where they left their gear. They told him of the little corral out side of town and of their other horses. He gave them instructions to reach his ranch and they could come out in the morning and he would show them around.
To anybody watching the exchange they would feel that it was just a rancher hiring a couple of down and out drifters. That was good so they could work under cover. They stayed in town a while and relaxed a little. Nobody bothered them, as they still looked a little rough. The drifted on over to the mercantile store and bought some new work clothes and a couple pairs of work gloves and a little grub. Just like any cowboy would do just starting a new job. They had plenty of ammo. They went back out to the shack and rolled out their bedrolls and got a good night’s sleep. The next morning they ate breakfast of bacon and eggs they bought the night before in town. Then they saddled up the horses and the packhorse and started to Slim’s place. It was about 20 miles north of town.
The country was open and not too many trees, good grass and a few cattle on it. They passed one small ranch that was back up a small draw. Then they found Slim’s place on up the road a ways. They rode up to the house as Slim came out to meet them. “ Come on in the house the wife has some goodies for us,” Slim said. They dismounted and tied the horses up to the hitching rail. As they entered the house there was a shorter woman there to welcome them, big smile and all. She had coffee and rolls for them.
They sat down and Slim filled them in on what he thought was going on. He was a small rancher and the fellow back down the road was also. He told them of the small rancher down the road as an older man that had been there forever and a day. He was in his late 70tys. It seemed the rustlers like to pray on small ranchers like the old man and even himself. It was just a few here and a few there but it did add up. No big jobs around here. ”If you two would agree on it we might split you up and let one of you work for the old man. He doesn’t have to know you are undercover men. He might not like that as he doesn’t trust government at all. We are only a couple of miles apart and we can work together on this. He trusts me, I’ve helped him out several times. His wife died several years ago.
His name is Robert but every one calls him Rob. We will stop by later today when we look the ranch over so you will know where you are. The lay of the land kinda marks the Ranch boundaries. The high ridge on the western side is the west boundary; the river on the East is the eastern boundary. There is a drift fence on the north and one on the south , next to the old man. I only have about 50 sections here and just fatten calves in the warm months, from March to November and then take them to market. The old man does the same. He rides every day and I’ll bet he saw you go by. He carries a pair of field glasses and a good rifle. The rifle he has a scope on it and will shoot several hundred yards with good accuracy. That is why he is still there. They do respect him as he has dropped a couple of the rustlers before. They got away but with something to remember the old man. Lets get the horses taken care of before dinner and then we can look things over.” They put the horse in the lot and fed them some oats. Slim had a real nice spread here and was proud of it, as he should be.
“These rustlers were just a few hard cases that needed taken care of”, he thought. The big ranchers were trying to buy the little fellows out but a dime on the dollar. Something didn’t smell right to either Harve or John. Wouldn’t that be a twist, the big ranchers were helping the rustlers steal from the small ranchers? They work for the Cattleman Group, mainly big ranchers. Harve and John wondered why they sent them out here to take care of this. Harve decided that he needed to send a wire to headquarters and see what was going on. Now how he was going to do that was a question. They were to use Slim as their go between. Harve and John decided to just ask Slim about it. He probably never even thought about the big ranchers doing something so under handed. Maybe they weren’t but it sure made you wonder. The big ranchers didn’t have any problems with rustlers yet, just the small ones. After a swell meal they went out with the horses and Slim showed them around. Later that day they all rode down to the ranch of Rob’s. As they rode up the road to the place Slim said, ”Ride real slow till he knows whom it is. He does have an itchy finger”.
As they reached the gate, Slim hollered out a” Hello”. The old man came out from behind a tree across the draw from the gate. He was cradling his rifle. He could have plugged them if he had felt like it. He came down and shook hands with every one. He invited them in for a shot of his coffee. It was strong to say the least. Slim told him that they came out looking for a job punching cattle and wondered if he could use one of them for a while. They could all work together. Rob, checked the two over and noticed the guns and the rode hard and put up wet look about the two. Besides they certainly looked like they had Indian blood. But he had had no luck hiring any one to work for him as of late, since the big ranchers came in the country. Rob said, “Tell you what, we can give it a try as long as the one that wants to stay here can cook. My wife died several years ago and I damm near starved to death for a while. Harve looked at John and said. “Neither of us is too good but we ain’t dead yet. I guess I can stay here with you”.
CHAPTER 2: THE OLD MAN
The old man was glad to have company. After Harve agreed to stay with him the 3 of them went back to Slim’s place and Harve got his gear and his extra horse. On the way back he brought up the idea about the rustlers not hitting the big ranchers and wondered why the Cattleman Group sent them out, as most were big ranchers to protect the small ranchers. That thought hadn’t occurred to Slim. He rode along, kinda quiet and then he said. “ You might have something there, Harve”. Maybe I should contact Denver and see what they think about that. Harve said, “I was hoping you would send them a wire”. They worked out a plan where the four of them would check the perimeter each day or so.
Harve returned to the old man's place in the afternoon. Rob was out cutting some firewood, of course the rifle was close by. He put the horses in the corral and feed them some hay, then he went up and carried in some firewood for the cook stove. Rob showed him where he could sleep in a little bunkhouse, off to one side of the ranch house. He offered to let him sleep in the big house, there was plenty of room but Harve thought for safety reasons it might be better to be separated at night, just in case. Harve got his bedroll laid on the bed in the room and swept it up some. Been a long time since any body had been there and it showed.
After that he went inside for supper he was supposed to cook. Rob had some steaks frying and it sure smelled good. He said, “ I was just funning you boys about the cooking, I’ll cook for us.” They sat down to hot potatoes and venison steaks and fried onions, and a fresh pot of coffee. After the dishes were done, Harve started to go back to the bunkhouse. Rob said ”Just a minute young man, we got talking to do and some Dominos to play. We can talk while we play. Ain’t had no one to play Dominos with me for years.” So they played Dominos and talked about the next day. Harve wanted Rob to show him the ranch and the cattle. Rob said, “In that case we better have an early breakfast and get an early start. There are some mighty interesting signs out there”.
Early the next morning before daylight Harve heard a tapping on the door, then Rob said ”What are you going to do sleep all day?” Harve just laughed and said ”OK, I’m getting up”. He dressed and went in the kitchen and there was a plate of salt pork and eggs and some fresh coffee. After they cleaned up the dishes, they saddled their horses and were clear to the backside of the ranch when the sun came up. They rode the outside of the ranch looking for sign of any cattle or horses. The got clear over to the east side of the ranch along the river before they found a fresh set of horse tracks. This one had a broken shoe on the left rear hoof. That would be easy to follow later. Rob said, “ The SOB was probably watching yesterday when you guys rode up. There shows to have been a dew on the tracks so they were made yesterday.” Harve asked whose ranch that was on the other side of the river. Rob told him a group out of New York came out here a couple of years ago and tried to buy the whole country. Slim and he didn’t want to sell out. That is when the cattle rustling started just after that. Rob said ”Aint that strange, the big ranchers never lose any cattle”. Harve just nodded his head.
They made it around to most of the cattle and they were nice big steers. They were not even too wild. They got back to the ranch about an hour before sundown. Harve took the horses and unsaddled them and rubbed them down good, fed them and turned them out in the trap they kept the horses in. The black was getting better about being around other horses now. He grabbed an armload of wood and put it in the wood box. As he walked in the back door he got a glimpse of a reflection on the ridge south of the house. When he got inside he told Rob about it. Rob took his binoculars and looked out a window on that side of the house. “Yep I see him. He thinks he is hid but he ain’t. We must have their curiosity up. I don’t think they will try any thing till they see you face to face. Tomorrow there will be one of them ride by and chat a little. Just you wait and see.”
Harve said,” Looks like you used to have a dog. What happened to him?” Rob said,” He is just visiting his girl friend down the road a ways. He will be back in a day or two. He is a damm good watch dog when he is here. He might stay around now that you are here. He likes to play roughhouse. He is a good cow dog too. If he was here he would have seen that guy on the hill and let me know.” After supper they played some more Dominos. The old man was winning most of them. Harve figured the old man was really lonely since his wife died.
The next morning when Harve got up, he heard the dog out there checking things out. Rob just called him Dog, no name, just Dog and he came to that name. He made up to Harve real quick as he smelled the old man around him. Harve poured him some water and went in the kitchen. Rob was still in bed so he started the fire and made coffee. Found some flour and stuff to make some pancakes with, plus some sorghum syrup. About that time Rob wandered into the kitchen. Harve said, “Good afternoon “ and grinned a little, payback time. The old man was tired from the long hrs in the saddle yesterday. Harve handed him a cup of coffee and fixed him a plate of pancakes. After breakfast was over and cleaned up, Harve fed the scraps to the dog. Rob says,” I see Romeo came home, he will probably sleep all day now.” Harve asked Rob what his plans were for today. Rob told him that he should ride up to Slims and tell him about their visitors and see what he thinks. “They could be watching his place also”. Harve saddled the roan, as he was easy riding and it wasn’t far. This would really give the guys keeping an eye on them a lot to think about. Harve said that sounded good and he would be back by noon he thought. He knew the old man needed a little rest this morning. Just for the fun of it Harve struck a lope and got out of sight of the house and then circled around to the place where he saw the rider last evening. He was gone but there were the same tracks of the broken shoe on the left rear hoof. He thought to himself that guy uses the same horse every day. That meant one thing. The fellow didn’t have far to go and he let his horse graze, hobbled while he watched the ranch. John would be the one to follow him the next time he showed up.
Harve rode back to the road by an out of sight way and then on to Slim’s ranch. About the time he got within sight of the ranch he saw Slim and John leave the ranch horseback. He struck a lope again and caught up with them. After telling them of what he found out, he heard about what the Denver Boys had to say in the wire. Slim had wired them and got the answer yesterday. It read. “A crook is a crook, nail their ass”. So that sums it up pretty well. They probably had a good idea what was going on when they sent John and Harve up there.
So it was decided that John would play Indian this evening and slip over and trail this guy and see just where he ended up. John was the best at that, none better. Harve went on back feeling much better about the whole thing. He got back just in time to see a couple of riders coming up the road to the ranch. He had come in the back way. Rob was nowhere to be seen so he walked on down to the gate to see what these fellows wanted. They asked where Mr. Robert was? Harve said he was out checking cattle somewhere. They asked who he was and he told them,” Me, I’m just a out of work cowboy helping an old man, why do you ask?” He said he was the foreman of the ranch east of here and he was just checking on the old man to see if he was all right. Harve told him he was ok this morning when he left to check cattle. The foreman asked Harve how long he was going to be around. Harve said” As long as it takes”. The two separated some and looked like they wanted to impress Harve a little . It didn’t work. The foreman said, “What kind of an answer is that?” Harve said as he swung his light jacket off his pistol butt, “ The only one that you need”. It got awful quiet around there for a little bit while the two sized him up. The foreman said as he tried to smile. ” Ok just wondered any way, we usually help him in the fall with his cattle.” They said goodbye and turned to leave.
The fellow that was with the foreman wheeled his horse and tried to catch Harve off guard, but instead found his gun shot out of his hand. The horse was bucking and Harve had his eye on the foreman who was just sitting there real quiet. The other guy got his horse quieted down and rode back up and holding his hand asked Harve to please hand him his pistol. Harve reached down and took the pistol and stuck it in his own belt and said, “ You’re lucky I didn’t kill you and you have enough nerve to ask me to give you your pistol back? I don’t think so.” Harve looked at the foreman and told him, “ That guy shows up around here any more and I’ll bury him, he just thinks he is good with a pistol.” They rode off and Harve went back up toward the house.
About that time the old man stepped out from behind a tree about 100 ft away. “Good job son, couldn’t have done any better myself, but the next time they show up there will be more than two. But we will be ready. I have a son that lives not to far from here and he has several men that help on round up. The ranch will be his in a couple of years and he doesn’t want to lose it. I’ll send word to come a running. There is an old man that drives a wagon to deliver groceries out here once a week. I’ll send word with him.” Harve said” That is a good idea, by the way I checked on our visitor this morning before I left and it was the same guy, same horse. My friend John will be over later today to trail him back to his nest.
John is half Indian and can’t be beat when it comes to sneaky work, so don’t shoot him. He will be riding an App. The visitor was already gone when I got up there. Where is Dog at why didn’t he bark?” Rob said “When I leave with the rifle he doesn’t let out a peep” Harve went by the house and got a dipper of cold water and then went back down and climbed on the roan and started out to trail the pair that just left there. The tracks weren’t the ones on the hill or by the river. But he got a good look at them and trailed them till they crossed the river. They didn’t stop but rode straight to the river and straight across. It was still early so he made a little loop near the river to check for more sign. When he got back to the road he met Slim riding toward town. Harve told Slim what had happened. Slim said, ”The foreman won’t fight but hires men that love to fight, at least in the bar with a little whiskey in them.” Slim said that John was on the job already and that he might come down later and tell you what he found out. He was on the way to town to maybe find some help from some more small ranchers. They waved so long, and each went their own way.
It was still early in the day so Harve went to the barn and found an old boot top that had been sewed on the bottom and had a heavy pair of fencing pliers and some staples in it. He hung the top on his saddle horn and rode out to check the drift fences. Something told him to do that. Dog decided to go with him, trotting behind the horse, looking for a rabbit to jump up. The north fence was bordering Slim’s ranch. He wasn’t too worried about that one, so he wanted to check the south one. As he rode down the line he did find a couple of places where the fence had been laid down and cattle had been driven across. He made a map of the area in his mind and on the tablet he was carrying. He noted that it had been quite a while back when cattle had crossed.
CHAPTER 3: LITTLE BEAR
John got ready to go down to Rob’s place, He was dressed as an Indian clear down to the moccasins , headband and all. As he left the bunkhouse, Slim had to look twice to tell who it was. John slipped up on his App bareback with just a set of Indian reins on the pony. It was still light when he headed out. As he neared the hill where the spotter was watching he came in from the blind side. There he was about a mile in front of him. John was trying to figure out why the guy was watching the ranch house. Nothing was going on. Harve had just rode in with Dog right behind him. There was smoke coming from the stovepipe. Looked like the old man was cooking supper. Why watch that?
Down at the ranch, Dog came up the back door and scratched on it. Rob said.” Dog’s way of letting me know somebody is around that shouldn’t be, probably our friend on the hill. When he comes back in a little while he will let us know how many” “ Just how will he do that?” Harve asked. “ Just wait, you’ll see.” About 15 minutes later Dog came back and woofed 2 times. “ Yep there are 2 of them out there.” Rob said. “ You’re not kidding are you?” Harve asked. “ Nope if there were more he would tell us , and if they start for the house he will let out a low growl.” “Man he is handy to have around. What else does he do?” Harve asked. Rob said he was a good companion for him , kept him from getting so lonely. So now they knew that there were at least 2 men out there. One of which would be Little Bear. Good, he was on the job. They could eat the supper that the old man cooked and play some more Dominos. Harve was starting to catch on how the old man was beating him and was holding his own now.
Little bear was on foot now as he didn’t want the other fellows horse to nicker to his horse. That would be a dead give away. Little bear was on the down wind side and getting closer to the man hunkered down in the brush, watching the ranch house. It was getting dark and the fellow got up and walked down to catch his horse which was hobbled in a little hollow farther south, out of sight. He swung up on the Bay and started south away from the ranch house. Little bear slipped back and got his App and followed the other fellow at a safe distance. He could still make him out and he was down wind so the other horse wouldn’t spook the rider. When the fellow turned east and headed for the river, Little bear had a good idea where he was headed so he backed off a little so not to let him know he was being followed. He could hear the fellow cross the river. Little bear crossed the river a little below where the other fellow did and found his tracks again as it was the same trail he used several times. It was easy to spot in the very dim light of the stars.
Little Bear just followed the trail about a mile and came up on a line shack back in the trees. There was a small corral behind where the horse was kept. There was a light in the shack from a kerosene lantern. Little bear tied the App up a long ways away from the shack and slipped up there to take a peek at the fellow. There was no sign of dogs so he did get a look at him through the little window. He was a chunky fellow with a bunch of teeth missing maybe around 40 years old. He didn’t look like he was too dangerous. Little bear went back to the horse and rode up to a ridge above the shack where he could watch who, what and when things went on. He slept lightly and woke up with first light. Rode down to the river and got a drink of water and built a small fire and cooked some thing to eat. Then back to the lookout spot, out of sight.
Later that morning 2 men rode up and one had a bandage on his right hand. That could be the one Harve winged a couple of days before. The chunky old boy came out and they talked for a while and then the two rode off again. “OK” Little Bear thought,” I’ll just follow them and see where they will end up.” He followed at a safe distance, which was hard because there wasn’t too much cover. They ended up about 10 miles away at a big set of Ranch buildings. Little Bear drew himself a map in his mind, as he had nothing to write with or any thing to write it down on. He slipped back on the App and headed back to the river and over to Rob’s place.
It was near noon when he rode up in the road headed for the ranch house. Dog didn’t know what to make of this Indian fellow riding up the road toward the house. He started yipping . Harve came out of the bunkhouse and told Dog it was all right. His old tail started wagging. Harve said,” Come down to the barn so you will be out of site. They put the App in the stall to keep him out of sight, and went back to the main house. As they stepped into the kitchen, the old man had dinner ready. He said, ”Good thing Harve told me about you, or you would have never made it up the road.” Little Bear just laughed. As they ate lunch Little Bear brought them up to date as to what he found out. “ Yep, that is the main headquarters of that New Yorker fellow. What is going on and why they are the watching the place?” Little Bear said, “ I’m not sure unless it is to see if you are getting some help to take care of the rustling? This fellow watching the place is just that, he doesn’t even carry a rifle. So don’t worry about him, use it to your advantage. Do your work early in the day as he doesn’t show up till evening and leaves just after dark.” Rob said, “The grocery man will be here tomorrow and he could get word to my son and his crew and for them to come in early in the morning or after dark.” Harve spoke up and told them of the places where cattle had been driven out toward the south. Maybe we ought to follow the tracks and see where they went. Little Bear said “That would be good. I had better be headed back to Slims place and see if he found some help, and change clothes, time to become John again.”
Little Bear left for Slims just after dinner and stayed out of sight as only he knew how. When he got back to the Ranch there were several horses there at the hitching rail. Little Bear slipped around the back way and got his clothes changed and became John again before knocking at the door of the kitchen. Slim let him in with a look of wonder, the last he saw of him he was an Indian, now just a another cow hand
. They had the coffee going and Slims wife poured him a cup. He asked Slim to come outside for a minute and they went out. He asked about these men, could they be trusted and how much can he tell them. Slim said, “ I think we can trust them, they are missing some cattle too. Not too many but just a few all along as we are, They are willing to get this thing brought to a head , the sooner the better. They have had a few suspicions about the big ranch also.” They went back in and Slim introduced John as a Cattleman’s representative. This raised some eyebrows, but Slim explained the wire he got the other day saying, ”a crook is a crook, nail them”. After a few questions they were ready to hear the plan, but John didn’t have one yet as it was all in the making form
He told them that each one should follow any cattle tracks leaving their place and see where they went. Then they could make plans. It was decided to meet back there in 3 days with what they found out. John asked them to try real hard NOT to be seen, and be careful. Nobody had been hurt bad yet but it might get hairy in a little while. They all agreed to meet back there in 3 days and NOT speak of this to any one. There were four of the ranchers, and they all had hands working for them.
Slim bid each a farewell and came back into the kitchen with a question. “ Just how do you slip in and out so quietly? And when did you change clothes, I was wondering how I was going to explain the Indian I had working for me. John just smiled, no explanation. They now had 3 days to bring this group together and hope they were right in what they were thinking. Now they needed some proof, the cattle that could be found or the rustlers themselves. It had been several weeks since they had hit so it was about time. There was about four hours daylight yet, so they saddled up some horses and checked the north fence. There they did find some sign of cattle being run over a down fence about a couple of weeks ago at least. They crossed the fence and started following the trail of the cattle. It swung to the east and headed toward the river. The trail ended there.
They probably went up or down the river, so they followed the river one on each side. About 2 mile up the river the cattle came out at a small draw. They followed it about 3 miles back into a small bunch of timber. There they found a corral and a small shack. No one was around as the cattle had been shipped on somewhere after they had changed the brand. They found signs of a branding fire and some running irons in the shack. It was perfect rustler’s camp, water and all. Now if they could just catch them at it. It was getting late so they left everything just like they found it and headed back to the ranch.
They made the ranch about dark and went in for supper. The wife said that the fellow that brings groceries, would be out tomorrow. That John already knew from Rob. They decided to bring most of the cattle up close to the headquarters , but leave 15 or 20 out on the north side for bait and check them every day. Slim said he would ride down to Rob’s in the morning and suggest they do the same thing, set a trap for the rustlers. If they were lucky, they might catch a big fish. John would start moving the cattle a little closer to home, all but the ones on the north side.
For a couple of days the investigations were going on very quietly. On the third day they all met at Slim’s place except Harve. He stayed at the ranch just in case. The other ranchers found signs of cattle being moved and liked the idea of a trap being set for the rustlers. One other camp had been found south of Rob’s place. Harve found that one the next day after John was there. It too was vacant at the time. Now they needed to have someone watching the camps for activity. John said he had an Indian friend that could watch the north camp each day to see if any activity was there. Slim just smiled. Now all they had to do was wait and see what happens.
CHAPTER 5: THE BAIT
The ranchers and the two undercover fellows had their plans made, now all it was going to take was the rustlers taking the bait. Harve and John were checking the hideouts every day to see if there was any activity. So far nothing, all quiet. Then one of the other ranchers missed some cattle. Slim and John went to check it out. The ranch was about 10 miles up the river from Slim’s ranch. The rancher and his hired man, plus a couple more were waiting when they got there. They all started in a long lope to the place where the cattle were driven over the fence, There seemed like maybe 15 head missing. John crossed the fence and told the others to follow the tracks but be careful. He would go ahead of them to scout out where the cattle were and watch for anybody watching the back trail,. He took off in a hard run and the little App could lay them down. The rest of the group started following the trail in a trot to give John a chance to get ahead and scout for them. One of the ranchers asked, “ Where did he come from, seems to have been around this work before? Slim explained that he used to be an Army scout. John was moving right along with both eyes open just in case they left anybody behind to guard the trail. As he got near the river the timber started showing up and he had a little cover. He crossed the river away from where the cattle crossed. Careful not to make any noise, he circled back around to where the cattle crossed and did see a horse tied to a tree. Somewhere down there was a lookout. John got off the App and slipped his moccasins on. The pony stayed right there as he would ground tie.
John got his rifle, the new Winchester he borrowed off Toby and slipped down through the trees. He found the lookout sleeping against a tree. He very quietly slipped up behind him, tapped him on the head ever so gently and he went out like a light. John tied him up to the tree and stuck a sock in his mouth. Then he went back to the rustler’s horse and checked the brand he was wearing. It was the same as the big ranch uses, “ Now ain’t that funny?” he asked himself. About that time he saw the others coming across the river. He waved to them and they came up where he and the other cowboy with the headache were. He told the others about the brand on the horse. They left one man there to take the rustler back to the ranch. They had a hobble rope and they put him on the saddle and tied his hands together behind his back. The rancher started back, leading the rustler’s horse with the rustler, and the others started up the trail to find the cattle. Again John took the lead with the others following at a safe distance. John moved like a shadow, as he was gone and nobody saw him leave. Slim just shook his head. They rode on in a trot kinda spread out so as not to make a good target. About an hour into the ride they saw John up ahead. He was motioning them to go slow and be quiet.
They rode up and he told them the cattle were over the next ridge and the men were using the running brand on them at a small corral. They were just about done. The plan was to ride in and catch them with the goods. John was a legal lawman, so it had to be done right. The group of rustlers was only 4 cowboys. One man would slip around to the horses and wait there if they tried to make a break. The others would ride in a large circle with their guns drawn. No shooting unless shot at first. The one cowboy took off to find their horses. The others spread out as there were 4 of them plus the one at the horses. John rode in the center of the group, which were about 20 ft apart . The crew was just finishing up the branding when the horses they had in the corral announced their arrival. The men looked up and most had left their guns out side the corral as it is hard to work cattle carrying a side arm. John said, “ put your hands in the air now, I am the law.
They knew they were beat and didn’t have a chance. In about an hour they were headed back to the ranch with all the rustlers. The cattle they left in the corral to pick up later when they could get the marshal out here to take a look at the work with the running iron. Slim was happy as a clam but knew it wasn’t over. They now had 5 prisoners to take to jail. When they got back to the ranch they loaded all the rustlers in the wagon and tied them together so no one could jump out as it was 20 miles to Laramie. A good 4-5 hour drive and it was nearing dark. Meanwhile back at Rob’s ranch all hell was breaking loose. The rustlers had hit there and made off with about 20 head of big steers. The old man was about to blow a fuse. Harve had trailed them down to the river and went on to the other side where they left nobody watching. Instead of going to the camp they drove them straight to the headquarters. Harve turned back around and headed to Slim’s place to get some help just to find that they were after some rustlers up north. So he went back to Rob’s and told him what was going on.
The old man had sent word for his son to help and they had just ridden up, and the marshal was with them. He was afraid they were after the wrong men so he came along just in case. Well the 6 of them left a note for Slim and started out. It was near dark before they got across the river. Harve said he would ride point so they wouldn’t ride into a trap. The marshal wanted to see Harves badge. Harve told him it was in his stuff back at the bunkhouse. So he and the marshal rode out together in the lead. It was about20 miles over to the headquarters. They should catch up with the cattle about the time they got to the headquarters. They rode silently listening for any sound. There was starting to be some timber here and there.
About midnight the moon started up and they could see the cattle tracks ahead of them. In an hour more Harve and the marshal came back and told them that the cattle were in a corral near the ranch. There could be some lookouts around so they needed to let Harve and the Marshal check it out. It was less than a mile away. So the old man, his son and his hired men stayed out of sight in some trees, also to watch for Slim and his group with John. Harve said “ wish we had John along tonight” “Why” the marshal asked.” He was an Indian scout and is really good at this night work, plumb spooky. But so am I, but not that good.” The marshal and Harve started out slowly, easing their way toward the headquarters. Harve saw a fellow that just lit up a cigarette. He told the marshal he would take care of him. He handed the reins to the marshal and slipped off his horse. In about 15 minutes he was back with the lookout tied over his horse. They took him back to the others about the time he came to.
The old man told him he was going to hang for sure if he didn’t tell them what he knew. The cowboy believed him. So he told him there was another lookout on the south side of the corrals, and there were about 10 cowboys in all at the ranch now, most were in the bunkhouse sleeping. Only 4 of them had gone to rustle the cattle. They asked him about the old fat boy. He just kept a look out for a big group of cowboys because they knew the old man was just about ready to call the law. So they picked tonight to steal them before anybody showed up to help beside that one breed he had hired. The old man told him, “ That’s the guy that conked you on the head.” Harve and the marshal went around to the south side to find the other lookout, but couldn’t find him. They slipped back to the men, “ Can’t find him, maybe inside drinking some coffee.’ About that time John came riding in. Harve said “ About time you showed up where are the rest of them.”” They will be here in an hour or two. Slim had to round up a couple more” John said, “What is the lay out, I see you got one of them.“ Harve said, there is one more on the south side of the corrals but we couldn’t find him, you want to try? There are about 10 in all. Most are in the bunkhouse. I don’t know who is at the big house down the road.” “ OK I’ll see what I can find” John said as he turned his horse and rode off toward the corrals. The marshal asked “ Just how did he know how to find us?” Harve said,” He is half Indian and he was raised as an Indian. He was an army scout and knows his way around especially at night.” The marshal said, “A lot of us old boys have some Indian blood in us. You look like you might be half Indian also. “ They spread out so as not to be in one bunch . They muffled the cowboy they had and tied him to a tree. In about 30 minutes here came John with the other look out tied behind his saddle. He said, “ He didn’t have a horse. He was so close to the bunkhouse, he must have just walked out there. It will be daylight in an other hour so we better be there when they wake up and come outside to do their chores.
“ Harve said, ”That is an idea, lets catch a couple of them at the out house with their pants down they won’t have their side arms on. That will narrow the odds down some more.”” Sounds good to me” the marshal said.” By waiting till just before sunup the rest of the boys might be here”. So they waited. One fellow would have to stay with the 2 prisoners. So that left 6 men against 8. Not bad odds beings they had surprise on their side.
While they were sitting there, John told them about the raid they had earlier and the capture of some of the rustlers, and that they were headed to Laramie in a wagon, all 5 of them alive. The marshal was impressed. ”Not one shot fired?” he asked. John said, “ Just the one Harve fired the other day”. “What was that about? “ the marshal asked. Harve told him about it and that they would find one of these guys with a wrapped up hand. “ Where did John go?” the marshal asked. “Ohh, he probably heard some thing on the trail. He will be back in a minute or two,” Harve said. About that time they heard horses coming from the west. Slim and a couple more ranchers came riding up with John following them afoot. Slim said “ I see you have Two of them, where are the rest? “The marshal spoke up and told him they were in the bunkhouse. And suggested a couple of the boys go on down to the big house so if the shooting starts we can keep an eye on them also. The old man and his boy said they would take care of that. So they stepped up on their horses and headed up to the main house. The plans were made now, with luck it would be over soon.
CHAPTER 6: CLOSE TO THE END, MAYBE
The crew of men slipped up to the bunkhouse and 1 man staked out the outhouse as the horizon was getting pink. Wouldn’t be long now till they started out to take care of their daily duty. After getting out of sight all hunkered down, they had a short wait One fellow came out of the bunkhouse in his long underwear and his boots and hat on. Cowboys go nowhere without their hat and boots. One of Slim’s men was down at the outhouse and as the fellow stepped out of the outhouse he took him prisoner, tied him up in the barn and returned to the outhouse. Soon another one came out and went down to the outhouse, kinda looking around for the other fellow. He knocked on the door and then opened it and stepped inside still wondering where the other guy went? As he stepped out, he too was wrapped up and taken to the barn, gag and all.
The marshal signaled the others and they went up to the door and kicked it open and stepped inside with guns drawn. The marshal said, “ Don’t even think about touching those guns boys , we have a bead on you all.” The men jumped up and grabbed for their guns but after a couple of fast shots they raised their hands. The shots woke the people up at the big house and several came running out pulling their pants on and putting their gun belts on. The old man dropped a couple of slugs at their feet and they raised their hands. The two of them went up to the men and asked them how many more were in the house? One fellow said, “Just the foreman and his wife” the old man asked where the owner was. He said “ I don’t know , never saw him. The foreman is the only one I ever saw” The old man said. “ Now we have all of the cowboys from the bunkhouse and some more from up north. So drop your gun and go in the house and get the foreman and his wife. We are not going to hurt her. And if you show up with a gun you are going to be 6’ under today. The fellow turned dropped his gun belt, buttoned his pants, straightened his hair and went up to the main door and knocked.
The foreman came out and talked with him and then held up his hand to signal he would be there in a minute. The fellow came back down and told the old man and his boy that he would be out as soon as his wife could dress. The sun was just peeking over the horizon as the man and his wife appeared at the door. She really looked scared. About that time the marshal came riding up and introduced himself. The foreman told the Marshal, “ I knew that this was not a good way to do this, but the boss said no one would get hurt and no one would find out who was stealing the cattle”. The marshal asked where the owner was and what was his name. The foreman said ,” it is several people out of New York , a group of rich people trying to buy up all the country around here. The ones that wouldn’t sell were the targets for the stealing just to hope they would get tired of it and sell”. The marshal asked “Who gives you the orders and pays the cowboys? “The foreman said his name is James Dugan, a lawyer living in Laramie, comes out every couple of weeks and checks on things.” The marshal asked where they were taking the cattle. The foreman said , “To the reservation for the Indian agency. The lawyer made the deal and collects the money, we just work for wages, plus a bonus for the cattle we get. “ “ How soon are you to take more up there?”, the Marshal asked.
The wheels were just starting to turn as a way to catch this lawyer with the goods. Right now all he would do is claim the cowboys were doing it on their own. It would be hard to prove as the Indian agent was probably in on it. The foreman said, “ If you would trust me I would help you catch this guy, he is a smart ass any way” The marshal spoke to the lady and told her not to worry, things would work out all right. She looked relieved. She said,” Thanks, my husband didn’t want any thing to do with it but had no choice. He was the foreman for the rancher before they sold out and just stayed. We do have a couple of kids staying in town with their aunt to go to school.” The rest of the crew came up to the main house and brought the cowboys with them. The Marshal asked about who was rustling the cattle? Finally 4 men came forward.
They told the marshal they were hired by the lawyer right out of jail , He would get them out and tell them if they didn’t want to return back to jail they would have to steal just a few cattle along to help pay their lawyer fee. They didn’t like him either. The Lady said,” While you men folks talk this over I’m going to make a big batch of pancakes for all of you.” The Marshal asked Slim and the old man what they thought? Slim said “I would like to get the top brass on this whom ever it is. The way it sounds now I’m not sure just who it is. What do you think Rob?” Rob said he felt the same way, It could either be the lawyer or the group out of New York. Myself, I don’t trust a lawyer as far as I can throw him. But I would like to figure out a way to catch him with his hand in the cookie jar, and the Indian agent to boot.”
“ What do you other ranchers think we should do, hang all these boys or catch the big boy or big boys?” the marshal asked. As they talked it over John got Harve to one side and said, ”Hey, we might get to go to my old stomping grounds if we play our cards right”. It wasn’t but a minute till the lady called the crew in and fed them all, hot coffee and pancakes and slab bacon The ranch crew all sat at one end of the long table and the posse sat at the other and all was pleasant as it could be under those circumstances. The marshal had to make up his mind but also had to talk it over with the 2 Cattleman’s detectives, John and Harve.
They went out side with Rob, Slim and a couple of the other ranchers. It was decided that the Marshal would take the 4 cowboys in that did the rustling and keep them out of sight and away from anybody. Harve, Rob’s son, and John would go with 4 other cowboys and drive these cattle on up to the reservation and sell them to the Indian agent and see where the trail led to. They found out that the Lawyer usually showed up there to get the check from the agent. They wanted to do it as natural as possible. The Marshal would put a tail on the lawyer and be ready when he went to the agency to get his check It was a good 2 days ride from Laramie, so he had to have some prior notice of the cattle being sent. They went back in the big kitchen and asked the foreman how the lawyer knew when the cattle would be headed out. His wife said, “ I would go in to get groceries and tell him they were on the way, and if you would trust me, I would do it again. I felt dirty doing that for that guy.”
The marshal believed she was serious, her kitchen was spotless and the cowboys all treated her with respect so he said, “ Ok, as soon as we get ready”. Slim asked, “What about that other bunch we caught up north? Who were they working for? “ The foreman said he knew there was another foreman on the upper ranch but hadn’t met him yet as he was new to the area. But some of the men had helped him a little the other day. “ Tom, did you meet the new foreman up on the upper ranch when you went up there the other day”? Tom , one of the cowboys said” Yes sir I did, he told me the lawyer hired him and he had been in jail also and the lawyer got him out. He said he was trying to stay clean, he didn’t like jails. I didn’t see any thing out of the ordinary, just took that team of mules up there and came back here” The Marshall said,” Well, it looks as though it probably is about the same thing as here. When I get back to town I’ll drift on out there after I hide these 4 boys away somewhere. I may take several more fellows with me, as they probably know we caught the 5 guys up there the other day. Do you have a group of cattle close by that we can take up to the agency instead of Rob’s? “The foreman said there were about 3000 head between here and the end of the ranch , How many do you want? The marshal asked how many they usually take at a time. The foreman said about 50 in all. .” Ok then I don’t want any of you cowboys even thinking about leaving here. Just go on about your jobs and 4 of you go with the 2 lawmen here to deliver the cattle. First thing is to return Rob’s cattle this morning and if you happen to pick up a few more that wouldn’t be noticed. I think he has lost over 40 head. Harve you and John go with them and pick up your horses and gear for a week or two ride.“
He turned to the foreman and told him” Now I’m taking a big chance, but if it goes well you guys will be off the hook, even maybe these 4 I’m taking with me. Where is the guy that that got winged the other day?” The foreman said,” I fired the dummy and sent him packing, he headed east toward Nebraska.” Everybody had his jobs to do so now it was get just after it.
CHAPTER 7:: LET'S GO FISHING
The marshal told Harve and John he was going to deputize them as a deputy US Marshal on their trip to the agency so everything would be legal and stand up in court. He had a couple of badges with him just for that purpose. This he did when they reached Rob’s ranch with the cattle, with Rob, Slim and a couple more as witnesses. There would be one cowboy take the foreman’s wife in town to get the groceries, and tell the Lawyer they were about ready to send some more cattle The marshal took his 4 prisoners into town and put them in a back cell out of sight. He didn’t want the Lawyer to get wind of it. The 4 rustlers were eager to get out of the way and maybe have a chance to go free as state witnesses. The marshal didn’t even have them tied or anything, they were just riding along with him good as gold. Not the way you would think it would be.
Harve and John got their stuff together and Rob loaned John a second horse , and gave his son a couple to use while he was there. That evening they made it back to the big ranch headquarters. Everything looked in order, The Foreman’s name was Jim, and he came down to the bunkhouse to visit with the crew before they took off the next morning. He told them to take some of the older stock and leave the young stuff. He was just a rancher through and through. While the crew was getting their stuff loaded on the wagon. Harve had a chance to visit with Jim, the foreman. He found out that the owners had never even seen the ranch. The Lawyer was their sole contact. He didn’t know what would take place about his job now but he said, ”What ever happens we will make out some how, I know I did wrong and I want to apologize to you about it. Maybe it will work out. The marshal will have a lot to say about that.” Harve agreed about that and they shook hands and parted friends.
The next morning 4 of the ranch hands and the 3 of them started north, plus the fat boy who was driving the wagon and would be the camp cook for them, as it might be a four day drive. The foreman had gone over and got him yesterday and brought him up on the current situation. They made good time till noon and the ranch hands said.” We had better pick up some cattle, it is not too much farther to the line fence of the ranch. They spread out and rounded up a big bunch and then cut out the younger stock and ran them back on the ranch. That left about 45 head of older cows and a couple of older bulls. The cattle handled well, better than a bunch of younger ones would. The fat boy went on ahead with the extra horses in tow and the camp makings. He found a good spot to bed the cattle down by a small stream and good grass. Supper was cooking when the crew got there. They took turns watching the cattle. They were not spooky at all. Everybody got some sleep and all was going well. The next morning they started out early, about 20 miles a day is about they could can figure on.. The cattle had a little age on them. There seemed to be a road of some sort here to follow. A couple of the cowboys rode up ahead to move any stock out of the way so as not to get them mixed up with this bunch. The ranch hands were good at their job and liked the life of a cowboy. Just over the next hill, came riding a couple of cowboys with one of theirs. When they rode up, Harve rode out to talk to them. They worked on the ranch that the cattle were on then.
They said they would go ahead and clear their cattle out of the way and told them a good place to camp for the night. They asked if they had picked up any of their cattle. Harve said, “ I didn’t see any, but your welcome to check the herd if you want.” No they said that was all right and turned around and trotted back over the hill to clear out any cattle in front of them. Harve went over to the wagon and told the fat boy what the 2 had said about a campsite up the road a ways. He said ok, he would drift on up there in a little while. He had all the extra horses on a rope system all tied together and they were trailing well. They balked a few time at first but soon found out it did no good so they just trotted along with the team and the wagon. Fat boy would make camp and then water the horses and let them graze for a while before supper
Every body had a job to do and they were all doing it just fine. One of the hands had been on this trip a couple of times. He said, “ This is only the third bunch we have sent up here. It is a long 3 day, or a short 4 day drive. It is about 80 miles to the agency corrals in all and we’re about halfway. . We should see some Indians tomorrow, as they would be on the reservation. They come out to check the cattle. They don’t like the agent here, as they think he is a crook. “ Harve said, ”Maybe they are right, time will tell.” They soon got the cattle to the campsite a little early but that was ok as they could let them graze some before dark. The cowboys took turns swimming in the creek. It didn’t take long as the water was cold. But it felt good to get that trail dust off. Harve and John waited till the others were through and then they took a bath in the cold water also. John was getting a little apprehensive about meeting the Indians a round here, Hoping they had forgotten he was an army scout or wouldn’t recognize him in his cowboy clothes.
The next day started off just fine, the cattle got lined out and were traveling well. Harve told John he was going on ahead and check things out. He had a feeling things were going too good. They had 47 head and of older cattle, so things were a lot better than if they had had young stuff. Harve struck a lope and headed down the trail ahead of the cattle. He was about 2 miles ahead of the cows when he saw some Indians riding toward him, about 3 of them. He rode on down the road to where they were. They seemed to be waiting for him. He stopped and put his hand up in a peace gesture. One talked a little English and was a Pawnee Indian, the other two were a little different. They wanted to know what he was doing on the reservation. He told them that they were bringing some cattle for the agency. The Pawnee said in broken English, That is good, do you need help? Harve said, “ Maybe when we get them close to the corrals. Will there be a lot of people around that might spook the cattle?” The Pawnee said he would take care of that, but wanted to know how much Harve was going to pay them for helping. Harve thought about that for a little while. “ I have 2 big old bulls that would feed a bunch of your friends for a long time.” He said “ What if I cut them out before we get there and you can take them for yourselves?’ The 3 of them talked a little while, not knowing that Harve understood most of what they were saying. They wanted more, they thought. Harve spoke to them in Cherokee and their eyes about popped out. They caught most of it and were glad to settle for 2 bulls. He was no longer a white eyes. So the little group went back toward the agency to clear a road for the cattle, he hoped. Harve followed them for while and then thought what the hell and went on back to the herd.
It was quite a ways north for a Pawnee, they were mainly in Kansas. Right now they were 15 miles from the South Dakota line. The agency was just over the line. So by mid afternoon they should be there. He got back to the herd and all was going well. He rode up to the ranch hand that had been here before and asked him how hard it was from here, including putting the cattle in the corral. His name was Billy. Billy said, ” It wasn’t bad if the Indians would just stay out of the way. The young ones try to help and that doesn’t work.” Harve told him of the 3 that came out to meet them and what he said he would do. Billy said, "That might do the trick , the agency doesn’t like old bulls but the Indians do." They run them like Buffalo and shoot them like they were hunting. That is why I put those in the herd. Just for that reason. I should have told you about that and was going to when we ran across some Indians. But you beat me to it.” Harve said, “ I hope it works out alright. We came too far to have something go wrong now.” About 2 in the afternoon they could see the corrals and a half a dozen Indians horseback, sitting quietly on some Indian ponies. There were more Indians around but a ways off out of the way. Looked good so far, the gates were open . Harve slipped in the herd and cut out the two old bulls, as they were in the rear any way, He drove them off the side, near a bunch of pines. They laid down in the shade and were happy as clams to be off the drive. It didn’t take long to get the cattle in the corral and the Indians were of some help.
When they had the gate shut Harve spoke to the Pawnee,” I left your bulls out by the pines, don’t make them suffer, just kill them fast, the meat will be much better if you don’t run them”. The Pawnee had a couple of older Indians with him and they shook their heads in agreement to that. So they trotted off and shot the two bulls right off. It didn’t take long till there several squaws out there with a wagon helping the men do the work. Harve and Billy rode over to the office of the agent. There inside was the Lawyer and the agent. The lawyer recognized Billy as the one that had helped before and ignored Harve, that was fine for now. Billy said there were 45 cows, nothing was said about the bulls. The agent said he needed to ride down and look at the cows, the lawyer just decided to wait there and drink another cup of coffee. In about 30 minutes the agent came back and told the lawyer that 45 was right, all in fair shape. A little age on them but OK. He wrote out a check for the cattle and handed it to the Lawyer. Harve didn’t say a thing. The lawyer turned to Billy and asked him when the next bunch was to be there. Billy said he wasn’t sure.
So the Lawyer walked outside while Harve ask the agent, who the check was made out to. The agent said, “ That is none of your business.” Harve pulled out his US marshal badge and said. “It is now, don’t make me mad, who was the check made out to?” The agent looked a little scared and said of course it was made to the lawyer, just like all the rest of them were. Harve said, “Write that down on a agency paper and sign it NOW.” He did and Harve grabbed an envelope from the desk and put the letter in the envelope and put it in his pocket. He and Billy stepped out side to see John frisking the Lawyer just as he started to step in his buggy. John found a double barrel derringer on him and decided to handcuff him for the ride home to Laramie. Boy was that lawyer mad.
They all went back into the office and Harve asked the agent if he had a wire connection to the outside. He said yes he did. Harve wired the marshal and Denver both and told them what they came up with. In about an Hour there came a wire for Harve and John. It said,” Well done, take him back to Laramie and the Marshal will take care of him Take a couple of weeks getting back here as we have some more work for both of you and your partner is about ready to go also. Toby is chomping the bit ready to go ‘ he says’ but I think in a couple of weeks he will be ready. Take your time coming to Denver.” I’ll explain the whole mess you uncovered when you get back,” Signed Jack. Harve and John smiled a little and went out to the chuck wagon that fat boy was driving and got their gear and extra horses and tied them to the Lawyer’s nice buggy, one of those easy riding rigs. The rest of the crew was turned loose on their own to make it back to the home ranch. Harve thanked them all for the fine job of cowboy work they did.
Yep, Mr. James Dugan had run afoul of the law. Wait till they throw him in with the other rustlers, He might be ready to talk in a hurry. In three and a half days they pulled into Laramie and the marshal’s office. Harve and John took turns driving the buggy and the other one would take care of the 4 horses. Night camp was real strange, the Lawyer wouldn’t even say a word for two days. Finally he opened up a little and talked some, but not much. He was trying to figure out where he went wrong and how come they were sent out to look into it. Harve and John didn’t give him a clue as to what they suspected. Nor did they tell him he just sold with out permission some of the ranches own cattle. Good thing he didn’t go down to the corral and see the brands of the cattle. The agent? Harve and John let him go for the time being but would tell the Denver bunch what they figured was happening and his part in it. The Government would be very interested in the way he was handling things out there.
When they rode into town, everybody was watching a couple of ½ breeds bringing in the great James Dugan and stopping at the Marshal’s jail. He was handcuffed to John in the front seat of the buggy. Harve was leading the other 3 horses. When they stepped inside the Marshal said, “Nice to see you boys, I see you have brought me some company. I have a nice cell ready for him right between 9 of his friends??? They have been waiting just to talk to him, well really they would like to have some time alone with him. So I decided it better we put him in a different cell. His clients are on each side of him. There will be a few more join them in a little while. They all seem very willing to talk.” James, the lawyer just let out a gulp and hung his head, not saying a word yet. Later he asked the Marshall about a bond hearing, to which he would look into for him and asked him if he needed a lawyer and James declined, saying he would handle his own defense.
The marshal said to Harve and John that Slim and that bunch out on the ranches north of town expected them to come out and get their stuff the next day and they wanted to thank them for all their work. Harve and John went down the livery and put their horses in a stall. They took the buggy down there also. The law could figure out what to do with it. They went to the hotel and got a room, took a bath and cleaned up some before they went down to the dinning room. They were still wearing their US marshal badges, and people looked at them a little different now, with some respect. Harve said to John, “ Ain’t it funny how things change when you’re wearing a tin star.” John replied, “ Yep, the other day we were a couple of breeds, tonight they think we are heroes or something. Oh well, it will all come out in the wash, lets eat, I’m hungry.” So the two of them had a big steak on the government expense account plus a few drinks of good whiskey. A few people had stopped to visit with them as the news was all over town of what they had done. They seemed a little uncomfortable about it, as they still looked a little rough since all their clothes were still out at the ranches north of town. Later the Marshal came in and sat down with them and had a drink. He said, “ Boys you did a real good job and didn’t hurt anybody bad, a knot on the head and a shot up hand, but that was minor to what it could have been. What made you so gun-shy of shooting people. John spoke up first,” I have seen too many people die for no good reason, women and children and that made a big impression on me. I don’t want to kill any body unless there is no other route to take. That lawyer forced most of these rustlers into this, so they did not have their heart in it. You could tell it was just a job to them.” Then Harve spoke up “ I was in the war and saw a lot of killing and I probably did some also. That was enough for me. It gets to be like a disease, kill for the fun of it. This is why I try my best not to kill unless it is they or I. I left the war before it was over for those reasons. I’m glad to hear it is about over, what a senseless thing any war is.” The marshal spoke up and told them it was an honor to work with them and, “By the way I got a wire a minute ago telling me that the owners of the ranch will be in Laramie some time tomorrow with plans to prosecute the lawyer, on several charges. He did all this rustling on his own, the owners heard about it from an old rancher that had sold out to them. He told them what was going on. They in turn got a hold of the Denver bunch, the Cattleman’s Group who sent you two up here to see what was going on. They hired an accountant to go over the books on the ranch and found out plenty for charges. The judge declined a bond for the lawyer so he is still in jail, trying to talk his way out of this with the rest of them.”
The next morning bright and early the two went for breakfast. They went right to the livery and saddled up their horses and rode out to Rob and Slim’s places. They stopped at Robs and no one was home so they went on to Slim’s place. There were horses and buggies everywhere. John looked at Harve and asked. “Do we really want to go down there?” Harve said, “Hell yes it might be fun, besides all our stuff is down there.” They rode down and tied the horses up in the barn and knocked on the back door. Slim’s wife let them in with her big smile and told them,” We are going to have a party and you two are the special guests.” They went in with their hats in their hands and kinda blushed a little. Back in those days you took your hat off when you came inside, and made sure your feet were clean. They did have a big thank you party with dancing, food, drink and all.
Even the foreman, Jim and his wife were there. He looked like a big load was off his back. Harve told him of what he had heard about the owners coming in later that day into Laramie. In fact later that evening before the party was over they showed up at the ranch of Slim’s. They asked to speak to all the ranchers that were there, Slim got the attention of the bunch and had them introduce them selves to the whole bunch. They started with one speaker,” First of all we want you all to know that our company had no knowledge of what James Dugan was up to till one of the ranchers that we bought out, from the area notified us of the matter. We in turn contacted the Cattleman’s Group in Denver and they sent these two fine law men out here to get to the bottom of it. Our company will make it right with any one of you that lost cattle.” That brought some cheers and a lot of handshakes. The owners shook Harve and Johns hands and really thanked them for all their help, Harve asked them if they had been introduced to their own foreman Jim. They said no they hadn’t, Harve told them he was a good man and had a good woman also. Then he went over and introduced the bunch to their foreman. Jim didn’t know just what to say. They told him they would be out to the ranch tomorrow and he could show them around and help them make some plans for the ranch as he would be in charge from now on. My, that brought a smile to his face. The dance went on till late 30 and everyone started drifting off to there own places, The Owners headed back to Laramie in their hired buggy with a paid driver that knew his way around.
After all had left the 4 of them sat down and visited some more. Slim was really thankful he met these two breeds and he told them so. They went to the bunkhouse and went to sleep right off. Tomorrow they had to get the packhorse and all their stuff and head back to Laramie for a hearing on all of this rustling ring. The judge was in town and was ready to get on with it. On the way, they stopped at Rob’s place and said goodbye to the old man and to Dog who was glad to see them. Rob shook their hands and was really glad he had met them and thanked them for all the help they gave the ranchers around there. They picked up the rest of Harve’s things out of the bunkhouse, waved goodbye and headed to Laramie.
CHAPTER 8: THE TRIAL
They put their horses all in the livery for some oats and rest before they took off to Denver in a short while, then onto the Marshal’s office. They asked the marshal if he wanted the deputy badges back. He said” Boys those are yours to keep, as we might need to call on you again. I checked with my boss and this is what he told me, ‘ Let them keep them ‘ so they are yours as long as you take care of them. The court will convene at 1 pm this afternoon. The judge will call you both to the stand. Just tell it like it went down and it will be just fine. I think all the cowboys in this bunch plus the ones I got yesterday from the other end of the ranch will all walk with some parole time and strict supervision, just a guess but he is leaning that way. They all went for dinner as the trial was soon to start.
John and Harve went over to the mercantile store and bought all new clothes for the trial right after eating. They went back to their room at the hotel and changed clothes. They looked much more official as lawmen now. They shaved and trimmed their hair except for the ponytails. They got to the court about 30 minutes after it had started, and sat down with the marshal and he had to look twice to see who it was. The courtroom was packed. It didn’t take long for the judge to get things going. The Lawyer was protesting all the way to no avail. The judge told him to sit down and be still till he was called on to defend himself. The judge asked what the charges were and so on for the whole group. The district attorney read them all out, each one, about 20 of them. The judge said.’ We will take up the case of James Dugan first, the rest of you just sit there until you are called to testify” James looked surprised at that, these crooks he got out of jail are going to testify against him. He objected to that. The judge asked on what grounds are you objecting. James just stuttered around for a while and finally sat back down. It was a swift trial and the Lawyer was found guilty on all counts of embezzling , cattle theft and a few more. He was sentenced to 30 years hard labor at the state pen. The other cowboys were, all but one let off on parole and supervision. That one had some prior crimes that he hadn’t answered to yet. That whole trial took less than 4 hrs.
Harve and John went out on the street, and all the cowboys that got turned loose came over in a bunch and said, ”We really want to thank you for getting us out of that mess, the owners hired us back on to cowboy for them, those that didn’t think it was time to leave. Let us buy you a drink, if you will loan us some money, we are broke.” Harve and John went with them to the bar and told the bartender to set‘em up for all the cowboys 1 stiff drink of whiskey and that was all. About that time one of the owners came in the bar and saw what was going on and he said,” Let me pay the bill, these men now work for me, except these fine good looking lawmen and I will buy them one too. The old saying “It’s all well that ends well” fits this to a tee. Now all John and Harve had to do was take about two weeks to get to Denver that is a three-day ride. Harve looked at John and said” that good looking girl over there is trying to get your attention, I saw her wink at you.” John said “Really? Your not just kidding are you? Oh my, you weren’t were you. This could get interesting”. About that time, two of the fine young ladies came over and asked the two if this wished to dance. Harve said, “Your right this could get interesting.”
CONCHITA (MARTA SMITH, 1950's)
CHAPTER 1: BODINE, THIRD ROUND
In the last story we left the two “breeds” in a saloon in Cheyenne, Wyoming, checking out some girls that worked there. They had been given 2 weeks to get back to Denver for another assignment and it only took about three days to ride it. Needless to say they spent some time in Cheyenne to unwind. The war was about over. Just time was all that was needed to declare the Union the winner if you could call it that. Nobody wins in a war. After several days the two of them, Harve Bodine and John Little Bear, loaded up their stuff on the packhorse and started back toward Denver. They stopped at several streams and fished on the way. They ran across a tribe of Indians that didn’t look all that friendly. The Leader rode up to get a closer look at the two longhaired cowboys. In short order he found out they could speak his language. John could speak it well and Harve had picked up enough from John that he could converse a little. The group of Indians and the two of them sat down and had a powwow, built a fire and ate a little dried buffalo meat. They parted ways and all was good. After they had gone John told Harve that that leader was the son of Black Kettle, the Cheyenne chief, a real mean dude. His dad was killed in the Sand Creek Massacre Best they make tracks out of there as soon as they were out of sight. As soon as they topped the next ridge they turned in an easterly direction and rode hard for several miles right down the top of the ridge. It was mostly rock, so tracks would be hard to find if anybody was trying to trail them, then they followed a stream down the mountain till dark. They did without a fire that night, as they were still in Indian country. The mountains were really pretty in the late summer.
Once down in the lower mountains they ran across a ranch headquarters. They stopped and visited with the rancher. He told them of a few cattle missing up in the higher meadows and by the tracks it was Indians that took them. John told him of their encounter with the Cheyenne Indians. The rancher was not aware that that bunch was around. It was good that he knew it so he could be on the lookout for them and not ride up there alone. He told the two that they were welcome to stay around if they wanted. He said he would show them some real fishing if they would stay. Harve looked at John and they both agreed to spend a day or two with the rancher. He and his wife had a small ranch and were trying to get started in the cattle business. He had a couple of hands that worked for him but they were over helping a neighbor build some fence. That made room for the two of them in the bunkhouse. They had lots of time to reach Denver anyway so they stayed and rested their horses a little.
The ranchers name was Bob Coleman and his wife was Vera. That evening she cooked some venison stew for the four of them and they sat around and talked about the war and all that was going on. Harve told the rancher they were Deputy Marshals and were headed to Denver for another assignment with the Cattleman Group. Bob said” Well I have done my share of that kind of work till I met Vera. She kinda changed my mind about a few things. We want to start a family soon so I thought I better start behaving a little more , no more gunfights , no more bar room brawls. The group I ran with got plum wild. If I had stayed with them I would be pushing up daisies about now. I was on the wrong side of the law back then. I’ve been keeping my nose clean for the last several years. The law has been cracking down on all the outlaw stuff.“ Harve told him,” That makes life a lot easier that way, not having to watch out over your shoulder all the time, wondering where the next bullet was coming from, sleeping out in a cold bedroll and no place to call home. You made a wise decision to get out while you could. I heard about a fellow named Bob Cole several years ago, was that you?” Bob said,” It could have been.“ After supper they sat out on the front porch and talked about what they wanted out of life . John said he wanted to go back to Montana and see his family if they were still around. Harve said he wanted to get a stake big enough so that when he found that ranch that he wanted he could just get it and settle down. It kind of surprised John to hear this from Harve, Life for a halfbreed was not that easy as of yet. They could change their looks enough to pass as gringos if they wanted to just like they did in Cheyenne. John was thinking along the same lines but not yet. He still had some living to do and lots of miles to travel. Harve told him.” I’m not near ready to quit the job we have now, so don’t worry about me yet”. Bob said,” It is getting dark and we need to get an early start so we can get up to those lakes in the morning and catch some BIG ones.” They turned in and slept good that night, bellies full and very content to have met such a nice couple.
The next morning Harve took his roan and John took one of his Apps. They took what fishing gear they had with them, as they had bought some before leaving Cheyenne. Bob called them up to the house for some breakfast of steak and eggs and biscuits. Then they started back up the mountain they just came off of, but soon veered off to the south some on an easier trail. They were still climbing and stopped several times to let the horses blow a little. Wasn’t long till they topped out at a high mountain lake. They let the horses graze, as all were real good about staying close. It wasn’t long till they had a gunnysack full of big Rainbows. They were about to load the fish on the horses and head back down the mountain when the Indian chief, Little Kettle rode up alone. He showed the raised hand in a sign of peace. John spoke with him and brought him over to the nervous Bob. Little Kettle could speak a little English and Bob could speak a little Cheyenne. It wasn’t long till Harve had a fire going and started cooking some of the trout. They all sat down and had a good visit and ate with one another. This was a good thing to get Bob and the Cheyenne on friendlier terms. Little Kettle told John that he would take no more cattle than he needed for his small tribe and would watch out for any other Indians that might bother him. Bob did not like to lose the cattle but understood that Little Kettle was on the run and needed some beef once in a while so they could survive. Bob told him he also had been on the run before and could understand. They all parted as friends.
On the way back down the mountain Bob couldn’t get over the easy way that the two had handled the situation. Bob said, “Wait till Vera hears about this. Man have I got a story to tell my grandkids someday” They got down the mountain just before sundown and took care of the horses. Vera hollered that supper was ready. She had a big garden and lots of vegetables, a flock of hens, a milk cow and a few goats. They were well set up for food as they were a long ways from anywhere.. Vera was amazed at the story that Bob was telling her about the chief coming down and eating with them. After supper and all the dishes were done Bob brought out the Dominoes. Bob and Harve played dominoes and Vera and John visited about their ranch, She told him about the barn they needed for their stock in the winter if they were going to stay there. They had all the poles cut but they were about 2 miles from the ranch. John said,” That’s no problem, we will just go get them tomorrow. Our packhorse is good for things like that. It wasn’t long till the two were ready for bed. John told Harve what was on for tomorrow, work, and “Do you remember what that is?” Harve said,” I’ll still be going when you are sitting in the shade. “ Vera told Bob what John said about helping them. Bob felt a little guilty letting them help but if the truth was known he really needed it. His two hired men were working for a neighbor because Bob couldn’t pay them till fall when he sold cattle. Times were hard right now. Tomorrow was a good day to start on the barn.
CHAPTER 2: THE BARN
Morning came early the next day, as Harve and Toby decided to help Bob with his barn building. Vera made them all a big breakfast and they went to work, dragging Lodge pole pine to the ranch to be the poles for the barn. Bob had already trimmed them of all the limbs and had them ready to move to the ranch. So they took the bay and Harve’s big black to do most of the pulling of the logs. But as they got started they found out that the logs pulled easy so all of them pulled logs. It was mostly down hill anyway. By noon they had brought all the poles down to the site. Bob had already dug all the holes for the poles. The old bay would just follow them with his load all by himself. The Black didn’t think too much of the deal at first, but soon settled down and made a good horse for this work. Vera waved them in to eat dinner. After dinner they got the poles lined up at each hole and preceded to set them up and tamp the dirt in around the poles. It wasn’t long till they had them all in straight rows. Now what to use for the trusses? Bob said that he had a bunch of logs cut into lumber at the sawmill last month and it should be enough to do the job.
That evening Bob asked Harve and John if they wanted to ride into town in the wagon and pick up the lumber the next day. They agreed, but suggested that they go on in that evening. It stayed daylight till late in the summer anyway. So they took off for town and made it there about good dark. They put the team in the stable and fed them good, then went to the hotel to get a room. After getting their room, they went to the saloon to have a beer, Bob met several of his friends and they asked what he was up to. He told them that they were starting a barn and already had the poles set. After a couple of beers they were ready to turn in. Early the next morning they went to the café to get breakfast and there was a big group of Bob’s friends there. They didn’t say any thing much, just hello and so-forth. After they ate they went to the mill and started loading the lumber. Turned out it was way too much for one wagon.
About that time Bob’s friends pulled up with some more wagons. They had been waiting for him to start the barn so they could help. They knew he was having the lumber cut for the barn. By the time they started out for the ranch there were about twenty men, wagons and all. Gonna have a barn raising. The women showed up later with food and drinks for everybody. By noon they had the rafters started and everybody had a job and were getting it done. By evening the barn was all roughed in. The roofing and sides would come later. But the main part of the barn was put up in 2 days. The finishing of the roof was to be later when Bob could buy the material. The women had a big supper and the men had a jug or two.
Wasn’t long before the fiddles and mouth harp were going full blast and everybody was having a big time. Several lamps were put up and a fire was started in the center for light and a little heat, as this was in the mountains, and it got cold at night there. About midnight things started slowing down and people started bedding down anywhere they could. The women all slept at the house on the floors, as they all brought bedrolls. They had this set up to do for several weeks and were just waiting for Bob to come and get the lumber from the mill. It was a little slower the next morning, but not much, as the bell for breakfast rang about 6:30 and the women served the men in shifts. Later that morning they all started back to town with a good feeling that they had helped someone who really needed help.
Through all of this time, Bob forgot to introduce the two new friends. Harve said,” It was really better, this way you don’t have to explain the Marshall business. You have a lot of good friends here, you are lucky to be so well liked.” John said about the same thing, remarking that that was the first barn raising he had ever been at and didn’t think it could be done that fast, but it was. Bob told them how much they appreciated the help that Harve and John had given them and wanted to pay them something. Harve said,” Just show up when I put my barn up which won’t be all that long” John said, “This was fun, work, but fun and educational also. I think I’ll stick to building teepees if I can find the right squaw lady. The two of them helped Bob the rest of the day and then started to get ready to leave to Denver the next morning. Bob told them it was just over a hard days ride to Denver and told them the best way to go. They shook hands and said their goodbyes that evening after a game of dominoes that Bob and Harve had to have one more time. Denver maybe tomorrow.
The next morning they rose way before daylight and saddled up and were walking their horses out of the barn when Vera showed up and insisted they come in for breakfast before they left. OK, they said they would. Vera had fixed some of those nice rainbow trout for breakfast. First time they ever had trout for breakfast, but they were sure good. She had fixed them a lunch to take along with them. Harve said, “Maam, you’re going to spoil us so bad the bunch at Denver will fire us on the spot. Thanks a lot for all you have done for us, just the family life you two have was worth watching. Makes me think some day both of us might be as lucky.” With that they stepped up in the saddle and rode off toward the pink glow in the east. John was thinking along the same lines as Harve. That Indian lady he left behind several years ago, wonder if she was still waiting for him. Time would tell.
The trip on down to Denver went well. They got close to town and they pulled up to a shaded spot along the South Platte River. They made camp and caught a couple nice trout for supper. Nice fat German Browns. Now this was living, just taking their time and relaxing, doing a little fishing and really getting to like it. It would soon come to a stop. Tomorrow they would report back in to the boss and take on new work. It would be nice to see Toby again Harve was thinking. They trimmed each other’s hair and cleaned up and even shaved. They got out their good clothes that they bought in Cheyenne for the ride into town.
HARVE BODINE ON A BRONC (JOE SMITH 1950's)
CHAPTER 3: DENVER
The next morning they rode into town, found a stable to keep the horses and gear. They caught a horse drawn trolley down town to the hotel where the Cattleman’s Group was located. When they walked in the lobby, Toby was sitting there watching the street. He was deep in thought and didn’t see them walk up behind him. Harve said softly,” Hey Johnny Reb, you’re in the wrong country” Toby jumped up and had a grin a mile wide. He said, “Boy it is good to see you guys, I was getting worried about you, they said you left Cheyenne 10 days ago. Where the heck you been? There is Indian trouble right where you guys came across the mountain. Did you see any Indians? “ Harve and John looked at each other, smiled and said, “Oh, a few besides each other.” They both laughed at that. Toby said, ” The boss was waiting for you both as he didn’t know when to expect you for sure. He mentioned you had two weeks to get here” John said, “ well that would be tomorrow wouldn’t it Harve?” Then they laughed again at Toby’s expense.
They went on up to the headquarters and checked in. Jack Price was glad to see them and wanted to know what they did on their time off. John and Harve told them of the meet with the Indians and staying with Bob and Vera Coleman. Jack seemed pleased that the two of them helped with the barn raising. Jack said that he had their assignments all worked out but wanted to get the bookwork done first. The three were responsible for a lot of rustlers being caught and the deal was $100 a head. Jack had it all figured. It came to a lot of money for each. Besides the money per month and expense account, it was more money than either had ever had. Jack asked how they wanted to get paid? Harve told Jack that he didn’t need any of it right now, Toby said the same thing. John was a little different. He said that he would like half of his money in a money order so he could send it to his Mother in Montana. Jack said,” OK, what ever you guys want as you have really done a good job and we do appreciate it. You don’t go in with guns blazing and really hold down the people that get shot. The last two jobs I didn’t hear of anybody getting shot but you still got the job done and put a lot of bad guys out of business.”
“Now for your next trip, John, we have a special job for you in Montana that you can handle with help from one of our men up there. You have been with us about a year and it is time you had a chance to check on your family. Is that alright with you?” Jack asked. John looked surprised and said, “Yes sir, that would be nice, they have been on my mind lately” Jack said, “OK, that is what you will do then. You can ride the train or take your horses, fact is you can ride the train and take your horses. How about that? Do you still want that money order? We can give you a bank draft you can cash in bank up there. You’re a very good man John. Now for these two cowboys here. How about New Mexico territory? Won’t be long and it will be a state and towns are being settled. Cattle are being driven up the Goodnight Trail to the Reservations. A couple of ranchers from Texas are running the show. But how honest they are, is up to you to find out. There have been reports that they might pick up a few extra head here and there. They come out of the plains of Texas and drive the cattle up the Pecos River valley into the mountains to sell them to the Government for the reservations. Some come all the way north to the Colorado area. “ Harve said that sounded good to him, he had liked New Mexico. Toby didn’t care as long as he was working again.
So now they would be splitting up and going different directions. One going north and two going south. It would be different for sure. Montana is cool in the summer and eastern New Mexico is hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof in late July. Harve said,” At least we won’t freeze to death” Toby said,” When do we start?” “I think you both can start tomorrow. There is no train connection to New Mexico yet, soon but not yet, so Harve and Toby will have to ride horseback”, Jack said. That evening the three of them made plans to meet before the year was through. They had a real friendship between them. The next morning Toby and Harve loaded up their horses and supplies and headed for New Mexico, John made arrangements for the train to haul his two Apps to Montana. Harve had the names of several people he could contact if they needed anything. They were to ride east of the mountains toward a town called Clayton, and go straight south from there to find the herds moving towards the north. They would get jobs with the crew and work for them to observe any problems. If everything was on the up and up, quit as soon as they could and find some more herds to work with. They were on their own as Jack was working on rumors alone on this trip.
They left Denver early the next morning and headed south and east. That evening they made camp and realized they were on Double S ranch land. Harve asked Toby if he wanted to drop by and say Hello to Bill and Maude. “I just left there a couple of days ago but I don’t mind. It won’t be out of the way at all, they will be glad to see you and that black horse she gave you. She might even know some contacts for us in New Mexico,” Toby said. So the next morning they hightailed it for the Double S. About mid morning they rode in and Bill was out by the corrals working a young team of mules. He was glad to see them again as it had been several weeks since Harve had left there. Maude saw them riding in and came down to the corral to talk with them. They had a good visit and Maude gave them some names of people they could contact around the Clovis area. If anybody knew anything that was going on these people would. They ate lunch with them and started down the road. They rode till late that night, as it was easier at night than in the middle of the day. They stayed shy of any towns and camped out by water holes. It took several days before they reached the ranch of Maude’s friend.
They got there about 6 in the evening and introduced themselves to the rancher. He asked them in for supper and let them put the horses in the corral with some feed and water. His name was Shorty Marley, nice guy. He ran a ranch for some people out of Amarillo Texas. The ranch was called the White Lakes Ranch. Shorty was as tough as nails but honest as the day is long. He did enjoy a little too much whiskey now and then, but still was a real good cowboy. Shorty and his wife Faye were good people. Shorty told Harve and Toby what he had heard about the rumor of cattle being picked up by the cattle drives. Seems that there were a couple of Texans driving cattle out of west Texas and didn’t care if they picked up a few extra head here and there. They were due in the Lovington area in a few days. Harve and Toby asked how far that was from Shorty’s ranch. Shorty said,” Maybe a short 2 days. It might be better if you leave your extra mounts here, I’ll take care of them. It wouldn’t look good if you asked for work with all those horses and gear.” Harve and Toby talked it over and decided it wasn’t a bad idea. So after a good night sleep and a good breakfast they took their two best horses and went on south towards Lovington.
Their luck was holding, as the middle of the second day they could see the dust of the herd rising in the air and soon could hear the cattle bawling. They followed them till they settled down for the night and rode up to the camp. The cook asked them to squat a while and eat a bowl of beans with them. They did, and it wasn’t long till the foreman came over and asked them where they were headed. Harve said, “ We are looking for work, we just got off a job in Colorado breaking horses for a lady on the Double S. That paint Toby has and my black were part of our back pay. Things are rough up there. The foreman said, “Yeah, rough all over, maybe we can use you if you work out. We will give you a chance anyway. How long have you been around these parts?” Toby said, “ Never in this part of the state, we were in Kansas for a while and then in Colorado and then spent a month in Northern New Mexico near Cimarron. Got a little hot up there for us for a while and we pulled out. The foreman’s name was Jim Brown. He had worked for this cattleman for years around north Texas, driving cattle into Dodge City Kansas across the Red River. That market had dried up, so now they were driving cattle to the mountains for the Government. The reservations needed cattle for the Indians. They couldn’t hunt buffalo any more so they had to be fed. The owners of this herd were actually two men in partnership, Goodnight and Loving. They bought cattle in Texas and drove them west towards New Mexico. Right now the herd numbered over 2500. A small herd by cattle drive standards, but they were still short some men to handle the herd. This herd was headed northwest at this time toward the upper Pecos.
The next morning the cook got up early and started breakfast. It was still plenty warm. The crew was kinda small to handle even this group if they ran into trouble. There were 7 cowboys the foreman and the cook, plus a wrangler that kept track of the horses for the drive. Harve’s black had been around other horses so he would behave himself. The Foreman told Harve that they weren’t too long on horses and asked if they knew where they might get a couple more mounts to change off on. Toby said, ”I think we might come up with a couple in a day or two. We passed a ranch back a ways that had some extra horses, the rancher might let us have a couple. We have a little money left so we will see if we can make a deal with him.” Good, “ Jim, the foreman said. They got the cattle moving and Harve was to work the drags, the slower cattle. That is where all the dust is. Harve put a bandana over his face and went right to work. Toby was to help get the herd together and start them in the right direction. Both men pitched in and made a hand. They drove the cattle till midday and then let them cool down. It was crowding 100 degrees out there and the cattle were getting hot. Not good.
The foreman was out ahead looking for the water hole that they needed in a hurry. There was a small stream about 4 miles farther northwest of their present location. They had had a dry camp last night and the cattle were dry and needed water. Jim rode up about 2 in the afternoon and told them where to head the cattle. They started the herd one more time, slowly, just letting them take their time. In about 2 hrs the cattle got a smell of the water and started trotting, and bawling. They covered the last mile in good time. The cattle scattered out along the stream, wading out in it to cool off and drink their fill. In about an hour the cattle started moving out of the stream area. The foreman came by and told the cowboys to move them slow with a full belly of water. So they drove them until late that evening.
They stopped in a small draw area and the wagon was already there with their supper of beans again and some black coffee. The Cook was of Mexican descent and did have a stack of fresh tortillas. His name was Juan. It really isn’t easy to cook meals on the trail, to carry enough stuff for a long drive. Stores are few and far between. Juan said that he shot an Antelope and butchered him out for the meals the next day. Chili stew here we come. It doesn’t take long for eleven men to go through a lot of food. Jim came around and asked Harve and Toby if they would take first watch tonight. Toby said, “ Sure.” So the two of them saddled up and took their turn riding the herd. Later that night they were relieved and they got a little sleep. There were Rattlesnakes all over this part of the range and you had to be careful where you threw your bedroll. Some cowboys always laid a lariat rope around their bedroll. It was believed that the snakes wouldn’t cross the rough rope. True or not, they still did it. Made them feel better anyway.
The next morning Jim asked Toby if he thought he could find that rancher that had those extra horses. Toby said, “ I think I can, probably take all day but I’ll do the best I can.” So Toby took off to find the ranch where they left their horses. Harve went back to bringing up the drags. All the new hands got that job as it was the dirty part of driving cattle. Harve understood and didn’t complain. The rest of the crew were slowly warming up to the both of them and were visiting a little more. They started real early while it was cool and moved the cattle a long ways before noon. Then they stopped again in the heat of the day. The cattle and the cowboys took it easy for a while. There was water about 10 miles farther. Jim had ridden ahead to check it out. This time he took a couple of cowboys with him. Harve wondered about that. Three men to find water? The herd was strung out over a mile in all. That night, at the water hole, the herd seemed larger and the cattle were bawling more and moving around more. Late in the evening Toby made it back with their own two unbranded horses and all their stuff including the packhorse. Jim saw him come in and came over to check them out. “What did the rancher say?” he asked Toby. Toby said, “He wasn’t home, so I just borrowed a couple of nice ones and this old bay,” and smiled. The foreman just nodded and walked away.
This small herd was just looking for a route for a new trail into upper New Mexico and Colorado. It was their first drive up this way. So everything was new to them as far as water holes and grass. The herd came out of west Texas and was now fairly tame. The drover in this case was Jim; he had enough horses for the crew but not enough for the two he just hired. It was supposed to take 4-5 horses for each cowboy, as it was hard work on the horses. The next morning early they had a quick breakfast and started moving the cattle before the heat got up. The foreman had already scouted it out the evening before. 15 miles a day was good. The chuck wagon took off to go to the place located for the herd to bed down. Juan was a good cook. His young helper had a pony to ride some, and so he was learning to be a cowboy. Must have been at least 10, probably Juan’s grandson. There was another young fellow as one of the cowboys. He smelled like trouble. He was also from New York like Toby was but was very arrogant and fancied himself a gunslinger. His name was William Bonny. He was kind of a loner.
All the other cowboys stayed away from him as much as possible. Toby struck up a conversation with him several times. He was not that intelligent. Toby and he were working one side of the herd, as Toby was the only one that didn’t mind working with him. Bonny stopped to relieve himself and almost sat on a rattlesnake fixing to strike. Toby rode by about that time and drew his pistol and shot the snake from the horse so fast, Bonny didn’t know what was going on. He jumped up and pulled up his pants and proceeded to draw his pistol and point it at Toby. Toby just laughed and pointed to the dead rattler right behind him. Scared Bonny half to death. He didn’t know what to say. Toby just rode on off to check the herd. That took a lot of the swagger out of the young cowboy. Harve was checking for cattle that didn’t have the trail brand, which was used to establish ownership of the cattle. He found several even back at the rear of the herd. He was careful so nobody noticed what he was doing. Harve was called for nighthawk duty that night and before dark he had a chance to get a tally on the cattle. If they started with 2500 as the foreman said they had gained at least 40-50 head. By Harve’s count there were 2550 head. To tally, you count by fives, using all the fingers on one hand while riding by. They were still in close enough range of the ranch that lost the cattle that the rancher could come by and ask to check for his brand. And the foreman would have to let him remove them, but so many times the herd is way down the trail before the rancher figures out he is missing some cattle. These were more or less open ranges, no fences.
They were getting close to a small town near the Caprock. Jim sent Harve over with an order of food for the crew. Jim gave him some money and a list of things to get if he could. Harve took off in the direction he thought the town was and soon saw some trees and a few buildings. He rode up to the General Store and went inside. They had most of the supplies, so Harve paid for them and loaded them in a couple of heavy sacks Jim had given him. The town or settlement was called Melrose; there were just a few settlers around there. He stopped at the saloon and bought several bottles of Whiskey that Jim had wanted, for snakebites he said. He went straight back to the drive as there was no telegraph in town, so he couldn’t check in with his boss. Maybe later he would have a chance. Once back to the herd he rode on ahead to the chuck wagon. He was far enough away from the herd that a shot wouldn’t spook the herd and he spotted a big buck deer. A muley buck is much bigger than the Whitetail buck. He gutted it out and couldn’t put it on the Black as he had the supplies tied there. He finally just tied a rope on the horns and drug the deer on into camp. The cook was glad to get the supplies and especially the deer meat. The buck would weigh near 180 lbs. Harve helped him butcher out the deer and then it was time to help the crew get the cattle bedded down for the night.
Tomorrow they would drop off the cap and down the valley near Tucumcari Mountain. Water was beginning to be a problem. Jim couldn’t find any water holes in that direction. They were making headway, slow but sure. The hands were drawing about $40 a month, room and board. Some room, out under the stars with the coyotes and rattlesnakes. It was an experience for sure. Toby and Harve had seen a little crooked stuff so far but it would be hard to prove. Some of the crew was telling them of earlier drives that came out of south Texas near Brownsville. Seems they had some Mexican cattle in there too. Maybe rustled over the border. They didn’t rustle too many on the way up to the Red river as the Ranchers watched them like a hawk. But the other ranchers could put their cattle with the herd and were paid for them when they got sold. This was the Chisum Trail. Some of the cattle went to Dodge City and Abilene and other stops along the way. Real good young stuff made it all the way to Nebraska. From now on the hard part would be to find water.
CHAPTER 4: CHANGE OF DIRECTION
After the cattle settled down and the nighthawks were out checking the herd, Jim came over to the place where the crew was relaxing. Jim said,” Boys. This trail is not going to work. We have to find a better route. This was the reason they brought such a small herd; it was to find a new trail. This is not it. Tomorrow we will take a western direction to find the Pecos River. Once we get there then we will travel up stream slowly till the other herd is located. It will be coming up the Pecos. We were to find a shorter way across the plains. It won’t work, as there are not enough water holes. So I guess we found out what we wanted to know. We are about 3-4 days away from the river. Once we get there, the trail is well marked but not as much grazing for the cattle. These Shorthorn- Long horn cross cattle need more time to graze than the old longhorn. So tomorrow we turn due west towards a town of Puerto De Luna. That is a small Mexican town, right on the Pecos River. If we make 10-15 miles a day with this small herd it will be good. Be on the look out for Indians, as there are some around. The closer we get to the River the more likely we will see some of them. Any questions?” Jim looked around and no one had any questions so he went back to his bedroll. Harve and Toby were to take over the nighthawk job about midnight. That was just a guess as no one had a timepiece; they just watched the stars and the moon. While they were out on herd watch they had a chance to talk about what was next. Harve said, “ Things look almost honest here, we need to contact the boss and see what he wants us to do now. “Toby said, “Just how are we going to do that, unless we find a telegraph some where. Maybe there will be one in Puerto De Luna? At least a lawman that can get word to Jack Price. Time will tell.“ The next 4 days were uneventful and they made it to the river.
Jim let the men have turns going into the little village. He let Harve and Toby go in last, as they had been watching the cattle along with William Bonny. Jim would have just as soon William didn’t even go into the town, as he was a troublemaker. He wasn’t much over 18. Billy, as he would be known later, had a big chip on his shoulder. Toby kinda had him wondering just how fast he was on the draw. Billy fancied himself hell on horseback so to speak, but that deal with the rattlesnake had him wondering if maybe Toby might be a bit faster and for now he didn’t want to find out. As some of the men showed up to watch the herd Jim called Harve over and told him,” Take the rest of the night, but keep an eye on Billy. I notice he doesn’t try to push you guys around.” Harve said, “ OK we will kinda set on him a little if we can” So off they went to the little village of Puerto De Luna, (door of the moon). There wasn’t much to it but they did have a cantina.
Toby and Billy went inside, as Harve said he was going over to the store. As he entered the small store a fellow behind the counter came up and said to him.”Are you with the herd?” Harve said, ”Yes I am, why?” The fellow said that he was the local policia, judge and so-forth, and they didn’t want any trouble here with the men. Harve asked him if there was a telegraph around? He replied, ”Yes there was one here in the store. Harve asked if he could send a wire? The fellow said, “Yes if you have the money,” So Harve sent a wire to Denver for Jack Price. The fellow sending the wire asked Harve if he was a lawman. Harve reached in his pocket and pulled out the Deputy US Marshall badge. This impressed the fellow who saw very few lawmen around the area as New Mexico was till in the starting stages. Harve knew that he couldn’t wait for a return message so he told the fellow, whose name was Juan Hernando, that he would pay him right now to deliver this message out to the herd but do it on the sly. He told him to deliver some groceries out to the chuck wagon, like a sack of flour that he could be out of. Juan said,”OK I can do that. Maybe you would order some medicine that you need, then I would have to give it to you personally” Harve said that would be fine and then he bought a sack of fruit and things to take back for the cook.
Harve returned to the cantina to see Billy having just a little too much fun at some one else’s expense. There was a young Mexican cowboy there that was drinking too much also. Toby was having a glass of Rum and motioned him over to the table. Harve sat down and waved to the old bartender to bring him a glass of the Rum also. The rum went down very well, warmed him clear to his toes. Toby said, ” Billy was sure wanting to get in a fight bad. Maybe we had better head back soon.” Harve said, “ I got a message sent telling Jack what we knew so far and asked for his comments as to where to now? The storekeeper is the law and the judge, and every thing and he does not want any trouble with any one of the cattle crew. He knows I’m a U.S.Marshall so he will return the answer as soon as he gets it. I hope he can keep his mouth shut.”
They sat there and enjoyed the warm feeling of the Rum for a while till Billy got louder. Toby could see that trouble was brewing so he went over to where Billy and this young cowboy were sitting. Toby told Billy it was time to go, Billy had his mouth open, just ready to mouth off when he noticed that Toby had his Pistol with the strap off and ready to go. Then he looked at Harve who was standing just off to one side. Billy said, “Take two of you? “. Harve said, ” No, Toby can handle you if he needs to, He is fast but not as fast as me.” Toby smiled and said, “ I hate to admit it but he is right. The boss sent us here with you to keep you out of trouble, and from the sound of it I think it is time to go back don’t you, Billy?” Billy thought that over for a while, smiled, shook his shoulders and grabbed his hat and started out the door. The Mexican cowboy asked Harve, who was the last to leave, if that was Billy the Kid. Harve said,” Beats the hell out of me. Just a wild kid as far as I know. Who the hell is this Billy the Kid anyway”? The cowboy said,” He was a bad hombre, he kill several men already.”. Harve just shook his head and walked out of the cantina. Toby and Billy had already settled down and were talking about one of the girls that were there. They started back and visited all the way back as if there was no problem at all.
They made it back to the herd and settled in for the rest of the night. Harve had taken the sack of fruit over to the cook. Jim came over to the chuck wagon and asked Harve how it went with Billy. Harve said” Who the hell is this nut anyway?” Jim said, “He was a cowboy that worked for John Chisum and he sent him along to see what a cattle drive was. He works good if he doesn’t get to town. Can’t seem to hold his booze.” Harve said, “ He has the makings of a bad dude, the kind that might shoot you in the back if he didn’t think he could take you head on.” Jim thought about that for a while and said, “Just watch him for me will you. You and Toby are the only ones that he doesn’t try to rub the wrong way.” Harve said they would watch him and went back to the bedrolls. Harve was thinking to himself, “ Now we have to be nursemaid to an idiot.”
The next day Juan the storekeeper rode out with some more groceries and gave Harve the message from the boss, Jack. It read, “Stay with the herd, you might find out more soon as they have a bigger herd right behind you. Check it for cattle that don’t have the trail brand. You should be getting close to Wagon Mound soon; you have a contact there. Jack”. Harve thanked the fellow and again warned him about saying anything to anybody as it could cost somebody his life. They hadn’t started the cattle north yet as there was another herd not too far below them coming up the river on the old trail. They waited another day or two and then started up the river slowly and let the cattle graze as they went. On the 4th day out a rider rode up to Jim and talked to him, then turned and went back the way he came from, down river. That evening around the chuck wagon, Jim told the crew that they would be joining the other trail herd tomorrow so all they had to do was hold the cattle right here as the other herd was right behind them. Late in the evening the next day the larger herd arrived with one of the owners of the herd with it. Charles Goodnight was running the crew.
There were over 6000 head in this herd and they had another crew of 8 cowboys, wrangler and a cook and chuck wagon. So now they had two chuck wagons and a lot of cowboys and horses also. That evening, after the herds were bedded down, Goodnight rode in and met with Jim and his crew. Mr. Goodnight explained that he wouldn’t need all the cowboys, if any of them wanted to leave, they would be paid. He had a couple that needed to get back and check out their own ranches back in Texas and so they would still have about three cowboys too many. He wandered if any of this crew would like to return home. There were about three of the older cowboys that said they would leave if they didn’t need them, as they had families at home. Goodnight asked Jim who the 2 new boys were. He told them that they rode in over close to the eastern side of New Mexico and had been good hands. Jim asked again if anybody else wanted to drop out of the drive. Goodnight said, “ That is close enough, as we know that the mountains will be rougher any way. You three that want to go home come by the camp and I will see that you are paid and we will furnish you two horses to get back home on, You can get them back to us later. There is a couple of my boys that really wanted to go home also so that would make five in all. The ones from our bunch can go with you as a group, as most are going through west Texas any way.” It was settled then, the crew was downsizing some.
Jim rode out with Goodnight and told him about Billy being a pain in the rear. Goodnight said. “ That wasn’t unexpected as Chisum was hoping that he might settle down some, or get himself killed. Has he caused any trouble with the men?” Jim said, ”No not much since these two new guys showed up. I think they are tough as nails but well behaved” Goodnight said, ”That Indian looking one looks like he could be a little on the rough side if he needed to be.” Jim told them about the trip to town the other night and that they brought him back without any trouble. Goodnight asked if he knew where they came from? Jim said,” They did some horse breaking for the Double S in Colorado and also drove some cattle around Cimarron till it got a little hot for them they said” Goodnight said, “I heard of some rustling going on up there and a few got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Maybe these two were part of the crew?” Jim said, “If they were, they are being good cowboys here and nobody has seen anything that would change my mind on them as of yet”.
“You know we couldn’t stand to have a brand inspector ride either herd, right? It would be hard to explain how we have 20% more cattle than we started with, with no trail brand. Before we get to Denver we have to get some of these cattle branded with the trail brand. I have at least 100 in my group as we haven’t had much chance to pick up very many. How many are in your herd that have no trail brand?” Goodnight said, “ About 1000 head. Maybe we had better have that branding in a day or two. There is a town on the river up here called Colonias; as soon as we pass there we turn more northeast to skirt the mountains. We can do it when we get to open range and good grass. Do you have the irons with you in the chuck wagon?” Jim said, “ Yes, and we have damm good cowboys to hold the cows without spooking the whole herd ”The plans were made then and the extra cowboys were on their way home. In several days they passed the small village of Colonias and turned northeast to the good grass of the high plains. The two crews had gone together and both chuck wagons were used to feed the crews. The nighthawks were on duty throughout the night because of Indian dangers.
CHAPTER 5: THE BRANDING GROUNDS
They found a protected area to hold the cattle and the branding started. The two cowboys handling the ropes were Harve and Toby. This was a perfect chance to count the extra cattle and write it down. Goodnight gave each a tally book to write down each cow or calf that they brought to the fire. The crew kept the cattle close and several of them were cutting the unbranded ones out and bringing them toward the fire. In a group of cattle you can, if you ride slow, ride right up to the side of the cow you want and catch both rear feet and drag them out of the herd, the header would them drop a rope on their horns and stretch them out flat for the crew to brand them with the trail brand. It took more than a couple of days for all this to be done but it was over 1100 head also. Now Harve and Toby had the exact count of stolen cattle and their real brands down in black and white. That was a lot of luck. Their reputation as possible rustlers was a good thing for this job. It was good that they got out of the Cimarron situation before the law moved in to keep their name clear. It was hard work, but it went well. The good horses that Toby and Harve had worked well together. During the last day a couple of other cowboys helped with the cattle roping, but Harve and Toby still kept the tally books. At night they would copy into another little book that Harve carried. Both of their horses were getting wore out, as that was a lot of work for a horse to drag all those cattle to the fire. The second day the branding crew found a metal barrel and fixed it so they could move the fire easy from one place to another. That.saved the horses a lot. They finished that job and started the drive again. They were about 5 days from the Wagon Mound area and the contact man. Toby and Harve had to ride some company horses so theirs could rest up. Jim had let them have a couple of horsss each to rest their horses.
There was a little Indian trouble and they got off with several head of cattle. There were only about 5 of them and they ran in and ran off several head. The crew was warned not to shoot at them for fear of stampeding the rest of the cattle. Jim said he would take care of it. That evening he came into the camp where Harve was. Toby was on nighthawk duty. He asked Harve if he wanted to find the Indians, and talk to them and tell them not to do that again or the whole crew would track them down and eliminate them. Harve said he could try, it might take him a day or two but he would need at least one good man with him for backup. Jim suggested he take Toby, as they worked well together.
So the next morning the two of them started out on their own horses. It didn’t take long to find the trail of the small group and their cattle. By noon they came on the small camp in the mountains west of the main group of cattle. Harve just rode right into camp Toby was on the ridge watching out of sight. An Indian warrior was surprised to see Harve just ride right in. Harve showed the peace sign with his right hand raised. These Indians were a small group of Cheyenne that were hiding in the hills after the Massacre at Sand Creek. Col. Covington had attacked their village and killed almost all the people there. This bunch was on a hunt at the time and weren’t there at the time of the attack. They were tired and hungry. Harve told them what Jim had said. They listened to what Harve had to say. There were only 5 men and several women in the group. Harve also told them of meeting Little Kettle in Colorado. They knew him well. The Leader said that there were more of the Indians west of their camp. That is where they took the cattle. They were bad off, sick and hungry, as they had been hiding for months, many had died. They had one old rifle between all of them, and not many shells. Harve said he would talk to the owner of the herd and see if they could drop off a couple more head and some shells for their rifle. They did the Indian handshake and Harve got back on his black and rode out of camp. He and Toby rode down to the herd and found Jim and Goodnight riding together. They told them what the situation was. Jim didn’t say any thing, just nodded his head. Goodnight said, ”You just rode right into the camp? Just like you owned it?” Harve said, “ They were not going to shoot me. The Indians respect courage and crazy people, don’t know where I fit in there, but we checked out the camp first and decided it was best this way. Anyway I told them that you might drop off a couple more head for them and maybe some shells for their one and only rifle. It is an old Spencer 50 caliber. Do you have any shells for it?” Jim spoke up and said he didn’t think so but they had an old Winchester that was wore out. Goodnight thought it over for a minute and said, “ I think we have a couple of cripples that are slowing the herd down any way. Boy, I hate to start this type of thing but it might be the best thing to do because we will be back by here. That would be cheap insurance. Damm the government anyway, they need to need to hang that son of a bitch Covington, to the highest tree around and let the Indians pepper him with arrows, starting at the feet first. OK. I’ll have my foreman to cut out a couple of cripples and you and Toby can take them and the rifle back up to them.”
The cripples were near the back of the herd anyway so it was easy to cut them out. Harve and Toby got the old Winchester and a big box of shells in a sack tied on the saddle horn and started back to the camp with the cripples. They hadn’t gone far when the Indians showed up with a big grin on their faces. Harve told them, “ The herd would be back every year and the owner would appreciate it if the Indians would refrain for hassling the crew and the cattle. These cowboys have short fuse sometimes. The Indians got off their ponies and sat down in a semicircle. Toby stayed on his horse to watch the cattle. Harve got off his horse and sat down with them. One of them brought out a peace pipe and filled it with tobacco and lit the pipe with some matches he had from somewhere. They all had a drag off the old peace pipe and passed it on, Harve had his drag and passed it on to the leader. His name was Shiloh. He said, ”You new friend, good friend, help the Indians instead of shoot us, we remember friends” they sat around and smoked a little more and then Toby said it was time to get back as it was getting dark. So Harve and Toby rode off toward the herd and the Indians rode back to their camp with a couple of cripples and a new to them, rifle and shells. There was a glimmer of hope in their eyes now, they had a chance. They could get some deer now, maybe an elk or two.
Harve and Toby made it back to the chuck wagon about dark and had some beans and cornbread to eat, plus some coffee, Harve had a good feeling about the day and how they got things settled with out firing a shot. He was thinking, what now? This Goodnight fellow has a heart and is still stealing some cattle. How are we going to handle this problem? It wouldn’t be long till he was contacted by his Wagon Mound contact. George was his name, a long tall drink of water in his fifties at least. Carried a long barrel pistol on his left hip. He probably knew how to use it too. Well, in a couple of days it would come to a head maybe, maybe not. Anyway it was something to think about. The next couple of days came and went with out any trouble that wasn’t expected, like a cowboy getting thrown from his horse when the horse just about stepped on a big rattler. Nothing but pride was hurt. The cowboy killed the snake with his rope after he caught his horse. To kill a snake with a rope they just doubled the rope and came down hard on the snake, but didn’t jerk the rope back fast, they might jerk the snake into their lap.
As they neared Wagon Mound the cook told the foreman that he needed supplies and wanted to go through the town on the way to the next camp site, Jim said “ Juan, maybe you had better take Harve with you. Just to see that you don’t get stuck in a cantina. He can handle any thing that you can get into.” “Si, Si senor, it is probably better that way, can I get a bottle of Tequila any way? I’m sure dry, this has been a long trip.” Jim said, “ I’ll have Harve get some snake bite medicine for our crew and some Tequila for you.” Jim rode up to Harve still riding drag and really not caring one way or the other. Jim said,” Harve will you go into town with Juan and get some supplies for our crew? You really have to watch the old man, as he really likes his booze. Take a couple of sacks with you and bring some whiskey and a gallon of Tequila back for the crew. Don’t break the bottles on the way back.” Harve said he would do that and wondered if he had time to lookup an old friend while he was there. Jim said, “Wait till you get Juan headed to the new site and then double back, How long do you need?” Harve said, ”Not long, as he might be in town any way but I would see to it that Juan was back on the road first” So, this would give Harve a chance to find George without raising any suspicions. This bothered Harve as Jim trusted him from the start and he was, with Toby, working under cover. Maybe George could help on this matter.
The next morning after the herd was started, Harve and Juan started for town, in the wagon with Harve’s roan tied on behind. They made town in good time and Juan was loading the wagon with supplies. Harve went over to the saloon and bought the snakebite medicine and a gallon of Tequila for Juan. They packed the booze in the sack with lots of old newspapers to keep it from breaking. Harve paid for it with the money Jim had given him. He asked the bartender where he might find George. The bartender said, “ If you turn around you will see him as he just walked in the room.” Harve turned and sure as shooting there stood George with a big grin on his face. George said, “ Hello, how have you been, where is your partner?” Harve motioned for him to come out side with him. After they got out of hearing from anybody else. Harve told him of his dilemma. He brought him up to date on the whole deal. Juan was just about to get through with the wagon, so Harve told George to contact Jack to see what he wanted to do about the situation. George said he would and would contact him as soon as he could. How? He said he could find a way. Harve went back to the store and helped Juan load the last of the load. They both climbed back in the wagon and stared back to the new campsite. They were 3 or 4 miles ahead of the cattle, so Juan asked Harve to find another deer to kill for some real chili, as he bought some green chilies at the store. The shot wouldn’t scare the cattle this far off. They stopped the wagon and Harve got on the roan, with the booze tied on the saddle horn, as he didn’t trust Juan with it in the wagon. It wasn’t long before Harve got a nice buck with one shot. The buck’s horns were in the velvet and not fully made. Juan heard the shot and drove the team over toward the spot where Harve was gutting the deer out. They quickly skinned it and laid the meat on the flesh side of the hide. Ahh, chili tonight. Beats the hell out of beans every meal.
They got to the site and Harve helped Juan set up camp and get a fire started for the kettle. Big crew tonight, Juan was going to feed the whole crew, as they all were about to break open the snakebite medicine. Jim and Goodnight rode in about the time they had the fire and the meat cooking away. Jim was amazed at the way Harve just did things with out being told. He said “Damm that venison smelled good, where did you shoot him at?” Harve said, “About a mile back.” Juan peeled a bunch of potatoes threw them in with it. As the chili was cooking, he and his grandson started making fresh tortillas. Harve handed Jim the sack of booze that he had bought, Jim asked Harve if he found his friend. Harve said “Just saw him just a minute and he was in a hell of a hurry and said he would catch up with us later and visit a little when he had time, probably in a day or two.” Goodnight said,” I hoped the crew will behave tonight. Especially that Bonny kid. He was not known for holding his booze.” Jim said, “He won’t cause any trouble with Toby and Harve here, they have his number. How did we ever get saddled up with him any way?” Goodnight said” As a favor to John Chisum, I said we would take him and see how he worked. He is doing better than I thought he would though. Maybe our luck will hold. He likes John so he will probably behave as long as he is with us.” It wasn’t long before the crew was there the with the cattle.
They had close to 8000 head now and they strung out for a long ways. The crew split up and half came in at a time to eat and clean up a little. Man did they chow down on that Chili and venison stew and all those fresh tortillas. Jim broke out the whisky and Tequila and passed them around for the crew. They all enjoyed the break. Part of them went back for nighthawk duty so the rest could come in and eat and clean up some, as there was water here at this camp. There was a stream near by. The two cooks parked both wagons close together and settled down for a night of drinking. Billy came in with this bunch and was very moody. Toby came in with him, as Toby was his unofficial keeper. After the two had eaten and had a couple of drinks they mellowed out and laughed and enjoyed the break they were getting. A trail drive is hard work. They got by with not even a cross word. Goodnight couldn’t believe he was seeing this. Toby was kinda like a relief valve for this wild kid that was so unpredictable. The other hands were hard to get to know, as Toby and Harve came in late in the drive, but they were starting to be friendlier. Anybody that is doing something a little illegal seems to be suspicious of everyone. If they only knew. That was going to be the hard part of this trip, staying undercover. Maybe Jack could come up with some ideas. The drive just kept on moving, some days 10 miles, others they got more. Over 8,000 head leave a lot of tramped down grass. Harve was still on the drags of the herd. The wind was out of the South so he wasn’t in the dust near as bad as most days. But with a bandana tied over his face it wasn’t bad. Really needed to wash his face every night though. Eyes were full of dirt most of the time. Jim came up and asked him if he didn’t want someone to spell him off back there. Harve said no.
About midmorning a lone rider came up behind Harve and greeted him with a hello. It was George, his contact. Harve kept right on working the cattle and George was helping him. During this time they did get to talk about the problem. George said, “Jack said he would take care of it and leave you two out of it. He didn’t want to lose the undercover status that you have developed. Up the trail there will be some brand inspectors come riding in. So far they haven’t done anything illegal yet, wrong yes, illegal no, until they sell the cattle. So the hint will be that they make damm sure that all the brands get their money for their cattle. Goodnight is a big man in the cattle world, but he needs to be woke up a little. Give them a chance to turn completely honest. That is how it will go down. The closer they get to the state line the more chance of the inspectors dropping in to visit. So you don’t have to do anything, as I already have the tally book you gave me the other day. There has been a complaint already from Texas and one from eastern New Mexico. I better get on back, tell Toby hello for me.” Harve said, “Thanks, that really takes a load off my mind.” Because of the dust of the herd no one even noticed George talking with Harve. The next several days went smoothly and the cattle were getting enough grazing so they weren’t losing weight. The state line was within 3 days drive now so the inspectors could show up any time.
CHAPTER 6: THE BRAND INSPECTORS
As the cattle neared the state line the Brand Inspectors rode up and asked who was in charge. One of them was the teacher that had taught them about being a lawman. He was the short blocky fellow named Carl. He recognized Harve but didn’t let it be known. Harve pointed out the foreman Jim to Carl and the other two fellows. They all were packing side arms and if they were like Carl they knew how to use them. They rode up to Jim and stopped and talked to him. It wasn’t long before Goodnight came over to see what was going on. Carl told him of the complaints they had and suggested that they be very careful when he sold the cattle. Goodnight looked surprised. He said, “ Oh, don’t worry we have a good tally on all the cattle we have in the herd. There were some that got mixed up with the herd but we will see that the owners get their money, isn’t that right Jim?” Jim looked surprised at the question, he said, “ Yes sir we do have a tally, It’s right here in my pocket”. Carl said, “May I see it?” Jim handed the tally book over to Carl. Carl studied it for a while, took some notes, and handed it back. Carl said, “ OK, we will be at Denver when you show up and hope you follow through with what you have said.” They then turned their horses and rode out of the way of the herd and headed back north.
Jim and Goodnight just sat there and watched them leave. Jim said, “That was close, too close, ”Goodnight said, Well it is better this way I don’t like to steal cattle any way, but we will deduct some money for driving them to market for them, you can bet on that.”
Harve and Toby were off the hook now and had a better feeling about what was going on. The next week placed them on the west side of the Double S Ranch. They couldn’t stop and visit, so they just went on by. And stayed kinda out of sight as they didn’t want to be seen by any of the Double S cowboys. They were about 4 days out of Denver and things were going good.
Billy Bonny was getting restless and wanted to quit. He had decided that he wanted to go back to the Chisum Ranch north of Dallas. The Chisum Ranch was on Clear creek, half way between Dallas and the Red River. Jim paid him off and loaned him a couple of horses. Nobody was sad to see him go, as he didn’t work that well around other men. Seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. Before he left he wanted to see just how fast Toby was on the draw. Jim set up a contest between the two of them and he would be the judge. He made both remove the shells from the guns, because the shooting might cause a stampede. They lined up together and Jim would give the word and they would draw. It was close but Toby was faster. So Billy said he wanted to see how fast Harve was. Harve removed the shells from his gun and lined up with Billy. Jim gave the word and Harve was twice as fast as Billy. Billy stood there with his mouth open as well as the rest of the crew that was watching. Jim said, “Well Billy, does that answer your question? Billy just smiled and said, “Maybe I better practice some more when I get back to the ranch.” That was the last they would see of the fellow the called “Billy the Kid.” He took his pay and a couple of horses and headed southeast.
Several more days put them near the cattle pens and they started putting them in the pens as fast as the men there could tally and weigh the cattle. Each brand was recorded as the inspectors were there, doing their job. Goodnight saved face by leaving the money in escrow for the cattle that had “wandered” into the herd. The inspectors and everybody were happy, as they hit a good market, since this was the first herd of the year. Most herds hit in October. The grass was good all the way and for the most part they had enough water to take care of them. They had very little trouble with the Indians, so all and all it worked out well. Harve and Toby got paid and said their goodbyes to the crew. Jim asked them if they needed a job now. Harve said maybe later they might, right now they needed a little time off as it had been a long 40 days. Goodnight came over and thanked them for keeping tabs on Billy for them and helping with the Indians back down the trail. He told them that any time they need a job, look him up, as he had just bought a big ranch in the Texas panhandle and might need some good hands. Both thanked him for the offer and said they might look him up later.
Harve and Toby took their horse and gear and left the crew before they went to town to celebrate. The rode out west of town and found the same stable they used about 6 weeks ago, left their gear and horses there, and rode the trolley down town and went in the hotel where the office was and Jim was staying. First thing they did was ask for a room, The fellow at the desk wasn’t sure about these rough looking cowboys. He stood way back, they were kinda ripe smelling. Then Harve asked what room Jack was in and the man said, “Oh, You’re the two I was to look for. Your room is ready, as Jack has already taken care of it. It is room 304. Harve and Toby went to their room and both took a hot bath and lay on the bed and went sound asleep. They had never seen bathrooms in a room or even inside a house before. All they had been used to was a long path and a tub of water heated on the wood stove. Things were looking up.
It was early evening when they laid down and sunup when they awoke, starved to death. Somebody was knocking on the door. Harve got up and put his pants on and answered the door. There was a man there with a whole table on wheels, full of food. He said, “Mr. Jack took the liberty of ordering your breakfast for you. He rolled the cart in and set it between the beds and turned around and left, shutting the door behind him. Toby woke up and said, “What the hell is going on anyway.” Harve said, ”Beats me but it sure smells good, let’s eat before they find out they got the wrong room.” “ Hey, there is note in the tray with the food,” Toby said. Harve picked it up and read it, “ It says that Jack wishes we would stay in our rooms today and he would see that all the food and drink is brought up to us. It seems Mr. Goodnight and Jim were called into the Cattleman’s Group’s headquarters for a warning. Jack says he will be up and fill us in later.
In the office of the group Jack Price had Goodnight and Jim in the meeting with the leaders of the group. Goodnight didn’t have much to say. He planned to send the money back to the owners of the cattle. Jack said, “What if the ranchers were just building their herds and this didn’t help them at all? One of the ranchers claimed that he lost his seed stock that he had been breeding for several years. You need to make it right with him. I know it is almost impossible to drive that many cattle across the country without picking up some strays but not as many as you ended up with. We are not going to charge you this time with rustling. But just please be a little more careful on your next drive. You do a good service for a lot of people so don’t screw it up.” Goodnight finally said, “I will be more careful next time and thanks for the chance to do better. I realize that you didn’t have to give us that chance and we do appreciate that.“ Jim just nodded his head wondering just how they had them pegged so close then he remembered the tally book he let Carl look at. Neither of them ever knew that Harve and Toby were undercover detectives. Jim said, “You might get a complaint about some horses that could have been stolen, but we had nothing to do with it. A couple of cowboys we hired came up with some in eastern New Mexico” Jack said, “ I think we can handle that. If we get a complaint we have good idea who to look for, those two cowboys were suspects in some more rustling around Springer. We know where they are right now. They work alright for you? “ Jim said, “Damm good hands and no complaints, we had one would be bad boy with us and they rode herd on him. Also took care of some Indian trouble we had with out firing a shot. Rode right into the camp and braced the Indians right face to face, more guts than brains, but it turned out well. “ “ Well, gentlemen you are free to go as no charges will be brought on you. Just be careful and bring us some more cattle.” Jack told them. They all shook hands and parted friends. Hi Jones was there and also shook hands with the pair. He told them they were not the only ones who made a mistake. He personally could attest to that. So off they went and Jack followed them out the door and down to the lobby. They checked out of the hotel and went on their way. Jack went up to room 304 and knocked on the door.
Toby answered the door and let him in. Jack came in and sat down and smiled, he said, ”You old horse thieves, how did you manage to get them to think you stole your own horses?” Toby explained that they left there stuff at Shorty Marley’s place and went on with a single horse and then Jim said he didn’t have enough horses for them, Toby went back and got their horses and told the foreman that nobody was home so he just took them. Which was true except he didn’t steal them. That is what Jim had figured wrong and they didn’t say any thing to dispute his thinking. Jack said, “ I knew you left here with 5 horses and wondered how he thought you stole them, that explains it. Just to be on the safe side I had Hi keep an eye on the 2 fellows we had here to visit with. I think they got the message. As soon as he comes back we will go out for supper in the hotel dining room. Do you need more clothes? They have a nice western store right here in the hotel. Why don’t you two go down and get what you need and put it on the hotel bill. It is about 2 hrs before supper so we will meet you down in the dining room. You guys deserve a big steak.”
Harve and Toby looked at each other after Jack left and smiled. Harve said, ”Now this is living I guess. We have been in the wrong business all along.” “ Not for me, too damm many people.” Toby came up with. They went down to the barbershop and got a real haircut, first one Harve had ever had in a barber chair. Then went over to the western store and wandered around and looked at things. A young man came over and offered to help them pick out a nice western suit. So they went with him and looked at several and also the price. That was more than they made in a month. They did end up buying a couple nice shirts and putting it on the bill plus a couple pair of boots, nice shiny black ones They were not comfortable charging the suits to the Group though. They both had some good pants and with their new boots on they were not bad looking fellows. They didn’t want to wander around too much though. They were afraid they might run into the pair that just left there.
They got to ride an elevator, first time in their life. They weren’t sure about that cage that went up and down, gave them a real queasy feeling. The guy running it took them all the way to the top and let them out so they could look out over Denver before dark, which wasn’t long off. He was really getting a kick out of these two hicks from the sticks. It was like kid in a candy store. As they looked over the edge their knees got an adrenalin rush and they stepped back real fast They went down the stairs to their floor when the got through looking over the town. They wouldn’t get too close to the edge as it made them queasy, kinda hit them in the back of the knees. They had never been in a building that far up in the air. They made it back to their rooms and laid down on the bed and talked about the changes that had taken place since they left Quantrell back in Missouri. They were on the right side of the law and had a good job. A lot had happened since that night. One of the best decisions they ever made. They had made lots of good friends on both sides of the law and it looked like they were still employed, what else were they trying to butter them up for???? Now that you mention it, they both wondered the same thing? They went on down to the dining room at the time set for dinner. They thought they saw Carl and George, surely not, what would they be doing here? They passed it off as someone else. People get a change of clothes and you can’t recognize them. You’re not used to seeing them in that set of clothes. The waiter asked them whom they were meeting. Harve said, “Jack Price and Hi Jones” “Yes sir just follow me,” he said. He led them back to a private dining room where several people were already there. They were standing in groups talking. When Jack saw them come in he said,” Gentlemen, our honored guests are here so lets sit down and have dinner.’ Carl was there, George was there Bill and Maude were there and low and behold Little John was even there. In all there were eight people there, besides the two of them. About now Harve was getting a little worried, what was going on, when was the other shoe going to drop? Jack had every body introduce themselves all the way around. The gentleman that they didn’t know was a federal man. They would find out soon what the other shoe was all about.
The waiters brought the big steaks in with all the trimmings and fresh black coffee. That was a meal for sure. The first time either had had steak in a big café like this one, in a private room and all. Jack leaned over and asked Harve where their new suits were. Have told him, “ They were too high for them and besides when would they ever have chance to use them again out on the range” Jack said, “Well you’re probably right. Welcome to our little group of undercover boys, you know all but this gentleman, Tom Harvey. He is interested in hiring you two away from us for a special job in Arizona. Seems there are getting to be too many train robberies out there. He says you would both have a chance to infiltrate the bunch doing the robbing and that way they might have a chance to catch them. What do you two think about that? It would mean a good bonus. You have a good sum of money here in the bank now and that would just add to it.” Toby looked at Harve and said, “ We don’t have anything else to do, why not” Harve wanted to hear a little more about it before he made up his mind. He asked Tom Harvey just what they were to do and how dangerous was it. Tom said, “Your right, that it was dangerous but I thought they, as a pair could handle just about any thing. From what I have been hearing about you two are a real cool pair.” Little John spoke up about that time and agreed that they could handle almost anything if they were left alone to do it their way. Harve spoke up and asked if there was some way John could be used on the job, as he was a hell of a backup when you needed one. Tom said, “ I already hired him on the condition you two went also.” So that was why John was down here,” Harve said, “How did it come out with the lady up in Montana John?” John said,” She isn’t there any more. She is here in Denver as my wife. You will get to meet her soon.” The whole group visited for the whole evening and had a few drinks, All were real glad that Harve and Toby seemed to solve all their problems without shooting anyone since they helped Maude out with her rustlers. They both received credit for several rustlers on this trip as far as the money was concerned, even though they did not arrest any one. Maude and Bill were still doing well and Bill had finally proposed to her and they were up here on their honeymoon. Made a good pair they did. Seemed everybody was getting the itch to get married. Tom said he would talk to them more in the morning. He would buy their breakfast here in the hotel. Everyone shook hands and a few hugs were going around also. Things were looking up
The next morning the two of them went down to the hotel cafe to eat breakfast on Tom Harvey. He was already down there drinking his coffee. He motioned for them to sit. They sat down and looked at the menu, surprised that they even had a choice to order what they wanted. Harve said, “This could spoil a person real fast”. Tom just smiled. Toby was trying to figure out what to order as his reading abilities were not that good.
Harve said, “I’ll order for you, what do you want, Eggs and ham? Or something else, they have French toast what ever that is.” Toby says, ”Yeah that sounds interesting, let’s order some of that.” Tom just sat there grinning; two country boys came to the big city. He knew they were uncomfortable enough without him saying anything. After they ordered they started talking about the job he wanted them for. Arizona had just been taken out of the New Mexico land and made a territory of its own. Things were wild down there and settlers were coming in at a good pace. It was near September now and still hot in most of the area. The plan was to ship them down on the railroad and have them get out at Flagstaff in the northern part of the state. From there they could start looking for a chance to get in with the train robbers, maybe take a job in the area.” Little John will be coming later, as soon as you make contact. He said something about getting acquainted with his new bride. There will be no contacts at all. You will be on your own. The contact will have to wait. Little John will be your only contact and he will contact you somewhere and somehow. You will receive a $500 dollar bonus each to start with and a good reward from the railroad when the job is done. You will start out at $100 a month plus expenses, if you take the job”. Harve said, “ It is ok with me but this sounds like we might have to shoot some body for sure before it is over. What do we carry as ID?” Tom said, “You will have no ID at all for fear you might be found out. The Law down there doesn’t know anything about you either, you are really on your own. I will be there when and if you get in trouble with the law, just at the last minute. You may have to get in trouble with the law just a little for the gang to believe you are real and not a plant”. Toby looked up from his French toast and said, ”Sounds like fun, Harve lets do it, you reckon they got any more of this stuff?” Tom waved the waiter over and told him the boys were still hungry. “OK then you will take the job, it will be no picnic I can assure you, that you will earn every penny of it.” Harve said, “ We will take the job, just put our bonus in the bank herewith the rest of our money, if Toby will agree to that.” Toby between bites said “Yep”
About that time John Little Bear showed up with his wife. Tom asked them to sit down and have breakfast with them. John said thanks, but they had already eaten, but might have a cup of coffee. Tom ordered them a cup and John introduced his new wife, “This is Mary Little Bear Her maiden name was Mary Little Horse, now just Little Bear. Mary said, “Oh it is so nice to meet the two of you and of course you Tom. I have heard so much about all of you from John. John forgot to tell you that we bought a small place out west of town where we can keep your horses and gear till you get through with this job. Harve said, “That was my next question, where were we supposed to keep our horses and gear and how much should we take”? Tom answered, “ I have made a deal with John to rent a pasture from him and a room for all your gear. It is only a few miles out of town, near the mountains. As far as the gear to take, we want you to go light, as you are supposed to be on the run. There will be wanted posters out on you before long. As soon as we can print them up, just a small reward. We don’t want any one shooting you. Just to give you the appearance of a couple of drifters trying to stay out of the grasp of the law.” Toby pipes up and says, “ We been there and done that”. Tom says, “Then that part should be easy, try to be a little more nasty than usual. Sometime today get together with John and make plans to move out to their place. I will get the train booked for you and I will see you tomorrow and make final plans.” So they are about to start on another chapter of their life. The next story will be “Arizona is hot, more ways than one.”
Cimarron, New Mexico
Arizona Is Hot, More Ways Than One
CHAPTER 1: THE RIDE DOWN THERE
About noon on the last day of August, Harve and Toby had all their stuff taken care of and the horses turned out to the green grass. Mary had cooked them some food to take on the trip as it would be an all night ride and then some. John took them in to the railroad station in a buggy he had. Tom Harvey was there with last minute instructions, as well as to answer any questions they might have. The train was almost ready to pull out of the station. John hollered out that he would find them in about two weeks and to keep their heads down. Toby smiled and laughed some. Harve answered back,” We will be there some where and check the jail first, might save time.”
This was going to be different to say the least. The train had a hell of a climb ahead of it as they had to cross several mountain passes. It was slow work going up the grades. They got first hand knowledge of how it was possible for someone to rob a train. Going up steep grades the trains traveled slowly. Once on the other side they could make good time. And over the valleys it was smooth going. It was early the next morning when they pulled into a station. The conductor said, ”Durango, Colorado, We will be here one hour for water and fuel. They have food inside the station” Harve and Toby stood up and could hardly move they were so stiff. After stretching the kinks out, they stepped out of the train car and went in the small station house. It was cold outside as they were probably over 6000 ft. elevation. Now they understood why John told them to carry their jackets with them instead of packing them in their bags. He must have found that out while on his trip to Montana.
After eating some food, which was not too good but it filled the hollow place in their stomachs, they felt a little better. The coffee was black and strong. Harve told Toby, “Dam I sure wouldn’t want to be on this thing in the winter time.” Toby said, “This was just the 4th run of this train and they had a lot of kinks to work out.” “Gee that makes me feel good, maybe we should have rode our horses,” Harve said. This trip did give them a chance to see how a train worked and how it would be possible to rob it. It was daylight now so when they got back on the train they asked the conductor if he would mind showing them the rest of the train. He said he would be glad to as soon as they started moving again. Before long after several people got on the train and it was loaded with water and fuel, the whistle blew and the train pulled out of the station. The going was a little better now. The conductor came by and motioned the two of them to follow him. They went as far forward as they could through all the cars. He showed them the fuel car, as it was loaded clear to the top with logs.
There were only 6 passenger cars in all but also several other cars on the tail end of the train. Several freight cars and one mail and baggage car, which was right behind the coaches. The conductor stepped across the area between the cars and knocked on the door. The mail guard asked who was there. After a minute he opened the door and invited them in. There were two men in there’ and they had guns on. Harve and Toby weren’t carrying theirs as they were in their bags. If they had had their guns on the conductor probably wouldn’t have shown them around the train. Harve and Toby visited with the two men for a long time asking about the train robberies that they had heard about. The conductor said he would return later and take them back to their coach. Harve and Toby asked a lot of questions about how this was possible that trains got robbed. The mailmen said that there were several ways to stop a train. One being, waving a red flare after dropping a large tree in the tracks. If the grade was steep enough they would grease the rails with axle grease, as the train started to spin out the robbers would jump on the engine and take control of the train that way. Harve and Toby filed all the info away and when the conductor came back they were ready to go back to the coach. The jumping from one car to the other was a little nerve wracking for these two cowboys. With the help of the nice conductor they made it. So now they were beginning to understand how trains got robbed. Beings this was a new line and not yet on a schedule of any kind, there was not much freight and just a token of mail, as the route was just opening. The big shipments would come later. The conductor said that this line hadn’t had any robberies yet as there wasn’t much on it. The line farther south was the one that had been hit several times. This line tied into the south line farther down the way.
With this info Toby and Harve were wondering why they sent them to Flagstaff. Harve said, “ There has to be a reason so that’s where we will start out anyway” It was late that night before they pulled into Flagstaff. The got their bags and got off the train. Felt good to the feel the ground again. They asked a porter if there was a hotel in town. He said, “Yessuh , it is about two blocks from here aroun de corner” His bright smile was a sight to see. His name was Sam and he offered to carry the bags and show the boys where the hotel was. Beings they got lost in any town, they agreed. He grabbed their bags and started down the street. They struck up a conversation with him. He talked very good English. Seems he was a free born Negro, born in New York, Harve ask him why the down south talk when they first met him. Sam said,” That is what people expect of a black man so I give it to them,” Sam was a wealth of information He knew who and where and why and would tell you if he liked you. He seemed to like both Toby and Harve, even after Harve told him he was from the south. Harve didn’t tell him that he had fought with the south. Sam told the boys that he lived here in Flagstaff and was porter for the station, easy job so far. He told them that he would be glad to talk to them any time.
Both of them looked nice as they had just had a haircut and new clothes and boots. They needed to come up with some story that was plausible. They found the little hotel and woke up the clerk, who was sitting in chair sawing wood. He signed them into a room with two beds. The town seemed dead at that time of night. They went to their room and bedded down. The sun was up a long ways before they rose and cleaned up. While they were washing up the subject of the excuse for being here came up again. Harve said, “If anybody asks we will tell them we are looking for a ranch to buy. How does that sound?” Toby said, “ That is not a bad idea anyway, we will have time while we check out the area.” First thing to do is rent a couple of horses or a buggy, that might be better. They finally wandered down to breakfast in a café across the street from the hotel. It was near 8 in the morning and there were still a few people in the café, the waitress came over and asked for their order. Of course Toby asked if they had any of the French stuff. She asks, “ You mean French toast?”
Toby says, “Yeah that’s it, you have some?” She said, “I think we can find some around some where, how about you sir?” as she turned to Harve. Harve was getting a kick out of all of this conversation with Toby. He said, “I’ll have the same with some ham too, and coffee for both of us please.” The waitress smiled and went back to the kitchen. It wasn’t long till she was back with the coffee. She must have liked the looks of Toby with his curly hair and big smile. In a couple of minutes here came the food, steaming hot and lots of it. Even Toby got some ham. Yep, seems she was sweet on the boy. Her name was Nadine, about 30 years old and not bad looking for the wild west such as this place. Little remarks she made seemed to add to that belief. Toby was not aware of her advances, he was stuffing food down too fast to pay any attention. She brought some more coffee after the boys were through eating and beings the place had emptied out, she sat down and started talking. She was from back east and came out here with her family several years ago. She asked the boys what brought them to town. Harve said, “We are looking for some ranch country to buy. How is the rainfall around here?” Nadine said, “North of here, not bad, but the farther south you go the dryer it gets, not too good for raising cattle. The closer you get to the mountains the better the chances for rain” Harve thought about that for a while and asked her, “How come you know so much about the ranch land?” Nadine said she lived on a ranch for the 15 years till they lost it because of the big ranchers and drought. Their ranch was down south of town. Her folks got jobs in town, so she did too. She has worked in this café for 5 years and hasn’t met Mr. Right yet. That went right over Toby’s head, he missed the point completely.. Harve just winked at her as she smiled at him. It now was a game as to how long it would take before Toby caught on that she was making a play for him. Finally she came out and asked Toby if he danced. He said, “some.” Then Nadine said that there was a dance this Saturday night and would he take her to it. Toby stuttered a little and then said, “Why sure young lady, I would be honored, if we are here” Nadine blushed just perfect as she now felt she might have him hooked. Harve was just taking it all in and smiling, nice to have some time on the lighter side too.
About that time a tall older man came in and said hello to Nadine. She said, “Hello Joe, you’re a little late today.” Joe said, “I was out showing a ranch to some prospective buyers, but they didn’t like the area so it didn’t take long. Probably didn’t have the money any way.” Nadine spoke up and said. “These two fellows are looking for some ranch property.” Joe looked up and saw Toby and Harve were sitting there finishing their coffee. He said, “Do you mind if I sit down with you and visit a while.” Harve said, “ No, not at all, maybe Nadine would bring us a little more coffee when she brings yours.” Here she came with Joe’s coffee and the pot to fill up the boy’s cups.
Joe Massey was his full name. He bought and sold ranches and also sold them for others. He asked just what the boys were looking for. Harve told him that now they were just looking and weren’t ready to buy anything just yet, but would like to see what was available and the price. Joe said, “Sure, I understand, you’re `both young and are just looking around. I don’t blame you. I’ve nothing to do this morning and we will just do that as soon as I finish my coffee. Nadine, do you have one of those big sweet rolls?” Nadine slipped her arm around his shoulder and said, “For you, Joe, you bet, coming right up. I guess you want it warmed too?” And headed for the kitchen. In just a minute she was back with a cow pie sized sweet roll. After some more talk about the country Joe paid out and so did Harve, he had the money on him. They left and Joe said he had a buggy at the office all hooked up and ready to go. He hadn’t taken it back to the stable yet. He said he needed to go in the office a minute but would be right back. Harve took this break to cross the street to the telegraph office. He wrote out the message to Tom. It read, “We are here, what now? Down south is where the action is, Harve.”
Harve got out to the buggy before Joe made it back from his office. Good timing. Joe climbed up in the buggy and said, “Lets go by the café and pick up our lunch, Nadine will have it ready.” So off they went, a gallon jug of water wrapped in a gunny sac to keep it cool, and some food for lunch. They checked out several ranches in the area. Northeast of town there were several old volcanoes and lava spills. It was very interesting to see the different ranches. Most of them had no desire to sell any way. Joe was just enjoying showing this pair around. They actually learned just what it would take to buy a ranch and how to go about paying for it. Most of the land belong to the Government anyway, just a few deeded acres and then a lease from the government.
Harve and Toby were anxious to get back to town and see what Tom had to say. Of course they couldn’t let Joe know that so they went right on with him. About 5 in the evening they made it back to town. Toby helped Joe take the horses and buggy back and take care of the horses. Harve excused himself and checked on the wire he was expecting at the telegraph office. The wire came and Harve put it in his pocket and went back outside, sat on a bench and read what it said,” That is good question. The action is in the Tucson area. Catch stage to Tucson. Then go to Bowie. Needed time to get posters out on you. Check back when you get there, you will get another surprise.” Harve was still wondering what they had planned for them, posters? Toby wanted to see Nadine some more, He found her at her house and she invited him in for a cup of coffee. She told him she got off work about 4 in the evening. They visited for a while. Toby told her that they had to leave in the morning but he had enjoyed their time together, short as it was. Nadine looked a little sad but understood. I think she liked the boy. As he excused himself so they could eat supper and get some rest, she walked him to the door. Just as he was about to step off the porch she turned him around and placed a big wet kiss smack on his lips. Toby was stuttering. He just stood there for a little bit, not knowing what to say. She jerked him back inside and shut the door. “You sweet guy, can’t you see I want you and I mean now,” as she kissed him again, He was beginning to get the idea as physical things were starting to happen, hormones were in high gear. He put his arms around her and gave her a warm kiss. It wasn’t long till they were in bed together. Toby wasn’t sure what was happening but he liked it. In about an hour he said, “I better go before Harve comes looking for me.” She kissed him long and sweet again. “Dam, don’t do that I will never be able to leave.” Nadine said, “Alright but you come back and see me, will you?” Toby put on his clothes and headed back to the hotel where he hoped to find Harve and get some supper. ”Dam, what brought all that on??” he was thinking to himself. He found Harve at the café, sitting there with a cup of coffee and smiling ear to ear. He said. ”Better wipe that lipstick off your face before anybody else sees it.” Toby grabbed his hanky and made a swipe or two at his face. He kinda blushed a little and sat down. Harve said, “Guess you found her anyway.” Toby said, “Boy you can say that again”
CHAPTER 2: THE STAGE RIDE
The next morning they checked out the stage lines and found one at noon, leaving to Tucson. They got all their bags and gear. They wore their pistols and carried their rifles with them. They wore their work clothes. The trip took a couple of days just to get to Tucson. They spent the night there. The next morning they went down to the rail station and got on the east bound freight train, headed towards Bowie. All was going smooth so far. There were a couple of passenger cars on the train and they climbed aboard with all their hardware, they looked like they were getting ready for a Mexican war. There were several people on board already. They took their seats and soon the train was on the way. Fort Bowie was close to 100 miles down the track. That seemed to be the center of the train robberies so far. Later in the afternoon the train pulled up in the station. It was the Southern Pacific Railroad they were on. That station was a center for other lines coming in to it also, small lines that were springing up everywhere. When they got off the train and picked up their bags the marshal was standing there, watching them. He walked up to them and asked them to please raise their hands. Toby had a funny look on his face, as did Harve and he said, “What did you say?” “Raise your hands and stand real still while I take your guns.” the marshal said.
Harve laid his rifle on the dock and raised his hands, Toby did the same. The marshal took the pistols from the two, stuck them in his belt and then picked up the rifles with his left hand, and then he said, “ You two have a warrant out for questioning about a train robbery in Colorado, so come with me.” The two of them started down the ramp and headed for town, such as it was. There was a small jail building in the center of town and they went straight for it. Harve thought to himself, “What now?” The marshal opened the door for them and had them come in the office and sit down. He laid all the hardware on a table on the other side of the room. Then he sat down at the desk and spoke, “ Sorry about the show out there, I talked to Tom this morning and he said to arrest you and take you to jail so the people around town would think you might be bad guys. He told me you were working for the law under cover.” Harve said, “ He told us we would be on our own and the law wouldn’t know that we were under cover people.” “Tom had a change of plans because he is my brother in-law and he thinks he can trust me. He felt you needed one law friend while you are here. Nobody else will know anything about this.” Harve said, “What if we had resisted? “ The marshal said, “ I would have crossed that bridge when I needed to. Anyway we got the message around to the right people that you might be train robbers.” Harve thought about this for a while and finally smiled a little. Toby was still wondering what the hell was going on. The marshal told them of a robbery that happened at Alfalfa, just east of El Paso where the mail clerk had shot two robbers. They turned out to be a couple of boys from the Chicago area. Then he told them of a group in town that was suspected of robbing the trains, “Jim Barrack was the leaders name and he ran around with a fellow named Bob McCusick and a fellow named Bill Swim. Marshal Meade had arrested them the week before right here in Bowie. That is when he left me here to watch the area. They turned them loose just yesterday. They should be back in town soon. Tom wants you two thrown in jail for a day or two and a railroad detective will come and question you about the ‘robbery’ in Colorado. So you two make yourselves at home back in the jail. Shut the door so if anybody comes in they know you are bad guys and are in Jail. Tom said to act a little nastier once in a while, you’re too nice. We will set it up so you get fed.” I’m going out to pick up another suspect in the robberies and will throw him in with you, maybe he will talk to you and give you a chance to get with the gang, whoever they are. Harve asked, “Do you have any dominoes around? I need to teach Toby how to play dominoes?” The marshal gave him a set of dominoes and followed them back to the cell. Harve grabbed a small table on the way. The marshal, whose name was Hank Hacker, shut the door and decided to lock it in case someone else came in. Harve didn’t seem to mind. Hank told them that come suppertime he would let them out and put irons on them to impress the locals and take them across the street to the café. Toby wasn’t sure about all of this, he had been in a jail in New York, and when he escaped he headed for the western states to get lost. He was in for killing a man in a fight. To hear him tell it, it was an ambush and he was the target. The gang of hoods up there wanted him bad for some reason. He killed the leader and the law was in on it too. So he had to break out and head to new territory. Some labor dispute near the docks. This was news to Harve, he hadn’t known about this before today. Toby told him that Toby wasn’t his real name, so he was safe on that account. Now Harve understood why Toby was so quiet around towns. He didn’t want to get into a position where they might have a warrant on him from back east. He got a letter from an aunt when he was back in Kansas before the war and she said they were not looking for him, as they had the sheriff in jail for being crooked. But he was still a little shy about being locked up.
Hank went out, and in about an hour, he showed up with a large man that looked like he had been in a fight. He brought him back to the cell and opened the door and told him to get in. The man sauntered in and sat down on a cot. The marshal introduced him as Jim Barrack, the King of the Hog Ranch. Harve stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Harve and this fellow is Toby”. Jim didn’t take the hand just shook his head a little. Harve and Toby went back to their game and paid no attention the big fellow. Later Hank came to the cell and told Harve and Toby to step out one at a time so he could put chains on them. He put cuffs and leg irons both on them. Them he turned to Jim and said, “When I get these two fed I’ll come and get you” Off they went over to the café. As they entered there were several people who stared at them and said nothing, as the marshal didn’t put up with any bull from anybody. They sat and ate their supper and drank their coffee as they were hungry . It had been a long day. The marshal was at the counter talking with some fellows, but he kept an eye on them also. When they finished they motioned to him and he came over and they went back to the jail.
As they entered there was another fellow back talking to Jim. Hank told him in no uncertain terms to get the hell out of there unless he wanted to join him. The guys name was Bill Swim, one of the group that had just returned from Tucson after they turned them loose for lack of evidence. Bill turned and said, “Sorry about that Hank, I ain’t even carrying a gun, I guess I should have waited tell you got back. What you got these two hombres in for?” Hank said,” Ain’t none of your business anyway. How is McCusick getting along since Jim beat the hell out of him?“ Bill said, ‘He will live but he won’t make that mistake again. He had a little too much whiskey and Jim slapped the hell out of him. When can I come in and talk to Jim? I need to find out what to do out at the ranch, McCusick was doing chores and now he is laid up so, I have to do them.” Hank said, “Yeah things are rough all over. Come back in the morning and we will see what the judge says. Go talk to McCusick, he can tell you about the chores, if he wants to.” Bill left and Hank took the chains off the two friends and put them back in the cell with Jim. He told Jim to step out and put his hands on the wall and move his feet back. Jim did that and Hank patted him down for hidden weapons. Then he handcuffed him to another cell door. He opened Harve and Toby’s cell and told them to stand up in the corner and don’t move an inch. They did just that and Hank came in and searched the cell for any weapons. He found nothing. Harve wondered how bad of a dude this Jim was? Oh well, Harve had handled bigger men than him. He learned wrestling from the Cherokee and they could take a big man down in a hurry.
Hank took Jim over and got him fed and them brought him back and put him in the next cell. Jim was not prone to much talking and the two of them only talked to each other. He did ask them what they were in for. Harve said, “ Beats me, the marshal has a warrant out for us from Colorado about some train robberies, we didn’t do. He met us at the station when we got off the train. Why are you here?” Jim said, “I beat the hell out of one of my partners because he was drunk and shooting off his mouth over at the Hog Ranch Saloon. I own it and these two guys, Swim and McCusick, work for me. I guess I did get carried away a little. The judge will probably lay it on me tomorrow, he don’t like me anyway.“ Harve said, “Maybe we will find out what the hell they got us in here for” Toby hadn’t opened his mouth yet, very quiet for him. It was near dark and the two decided to get some sleep as they had no idea what was coming tomorrow. Life was full of surprises. Jim had said nothing about the train robberies and neither had Harve and Toby, Toby was shook about all this jail thing, even though he knew it was fake and that they would get out in a day or two. It was too close to home for him. It was a weeknight and the town was somewhat quite. The judge came on Fridays so he would be here the next day.
Early the next morning, Hank had all their breakfasts brought over from the café. He thought it would be lot faster, as the judge was to be here early that morning. About that time a fellow walked in to the office and talked to the marshal.. He went back out and Hank came into the cells. He told Jim that his lawyer was here and was going to post bail at the hearing at 10 am. If needed. Jim nodded and sat back down after asking Hank for some more coffee. Hank asked Harve and Toby if they wanted more coffee also. Harve said, “Sure why not.” Hank brought the pot of steaming hot coffee in and filled their cups through the bars. It wasn’t long till another fellow walked into the marshal’s office. This fellow just looked law clear through. Hank brought him back and told Harve and Toby that it was the Southern Pacific Detective that wanted to talk to each of them one at a time. In the meantime Jim was taken over to the courthouse by a deputy marshal that just came on duty. He worked the days the judge was here and any other time Hank needed him, as he was an older man, in his sixties. After Jim left, Hank came and got Harve and took him to the office. The detective asked him a lot of questions about the robberies in Colorado. Harve told him it was mistaken identity that they had nothing to do with it. Then he got Toby up there and Toby told him the same thing but Toby acted like he was covering up something and the detective couldn’t put his finger on it. He had no idea of why Toby was so nervous. He didn’t know that the posters were all a setup just to get them in with the train robbers. He told the marshal that he wanted these two to stick around for a while or else they would have another warrant out on them. He didn’t have enough to hold them for anything but told them to stay in the area so he could talk to them again.
The judge fined Jim $200 for fighting and let him out on a work release program. When Jim came back from court he looked relieved that it wasn’t worse. The Marshal had him sign some release papers and gave him back his weapons. He told him that he wouldn’t put up with a man his size whipping a man half his size, “Pick on someone your own size or you will get a bullet in the back some day by one of your targets. You know a bullet brings men down to the right size,” Jim said, “You might be right, I’ll try to control my temper and I’ll go over to the doc’s office and see Bob McCusick and apologize right now. Thanks marshal.”
CHAPTER 3: ON THE LOOSE AGAIN
The Marshal came back to the cells after Jim had left and opened up the door. And told them to come on up front. Harve picked up the dominoes and they followed him to the office. Hank motioned them to grab a chair and sit down. Hank said, “ looks like the railroad man thinks you guys are for real. That is good. He has a big mouth and everybody in town will know it before long. It ought to set you up with whoever is doing this robbery. So get a room close and lets see what happens, Tom has set me up as your contact here and that will be easy, as I’m to keep an eye on you anyway, according to the detective. You are free to go, there are your guns in the corner and the personal stuff is here in the drawer, Oh yeah, I need to have you sign out just like everybody else for now.”
Harve and Toby strapped their guns on and put their personal stuff back in their pockets, grabbed their rifles and walked out the door into the bright sunlight. The marshal had already sent their bags over to the hotel with the old deputy. So with his instructions they made their way to the hotel. It was small but clean. They got a room and went up to put their stuff away. The clerk was very nice to them for some reason, beings they just walked out of jail. Harve hoped that the deputy didn’t know about the deal they had with the marshal. They cleaned up a little and went down to the lobby, asked the clerk where and what was the hog ranch? The clerk smiled and told them, “The Hog Ranch is a saloon and bordello. Lots of cute Mexican girls and a few white gals too. They also have gambling there. It is right on the north side of the tracks. A fellow named Jim Barrack owns it. Just watch out , they are a rough crowd.” Harve thanked him and the two started out the door. The old deputy stopped them just outside. He told them that Hank wanted to see them one more time before they went anywhere. Harve let out a few cuss words and started for the marshal’s office. He did that for the people within hearing distance, including the deputy.
As they walked in the office they saw the detective standing there. Harve and Toby went on in and looked around for Hank who wasn’t in the room yet. The deputy went to the cell area and returned with Hank. “Boy, that was quick, I just sent him over there, didn’t know the old fart could move that fast,” Hank said, “ This fellow is still worried about you guys leaving the country before he can check on your alibi. Do you have anything he can check on real fast to check it out?” Toby said, “ Yes there is, I was supposed to take a gal to the dance tonight if I was in town, She works at the café in Flagstaff, her name is Nadine, And there is a real estate man there by the name of Joe Massey, we were with him all day a couple of days ago. So how were we supposed to rob a train in eastern Colorado a couple of days before that?” The detective said, “Just stay right there, I want to check this out” Harve said, “Are you arresting us?” He said, “No, not yet,” then Harve told him they would be at the saloon if he wanted to arrest them. The two of them turned around and walked out the door. Hank was smiling just a little. The deputy stepped out of their way. The detective just stood there with his mouth open, and watched them leave. They walked down to the saloon and went inside.
Took a while before their eyes adjusted to the darkness inside. It was quiet at this time of day, mid afternoon. There was a table back in the corner and they headed for it, sat down and waited for the waitress to take their order. Here she came, a big busted gal that was proud of what she had, short dress and all.” What will you have darling.” as she looked straight at Toby, wrote his order of beer down and turned to Harve, “and you sweetheart, what will you have?” Harve looked her up and down , took his time and said, “Tequila will do for start. The kind with the worm.” She smiled and went to the bar and gave the order to the bartender. It was just a minute before she returned with their drinks. They paid her and she went back to work, as there were more people coming in. About that time Jim came through the door , cleaned up and new clothes on, or clean any way. He saw the two over in the corner and came over. He said, “I guess they had to turn you loose, huh. I heard that the detective still has you pegged for that train robbery in eastern Colorado, suspicious bastard anyway. Glad to see you out, I hate the sight of a jail.” Harve said, “He knows where we are. If he wants us he can come over here and arrest us here, piss on him. He just thinks he is something.” Jim said, “ He is good with a gun but slow, you’re right, he does think he is something on a stick. Well I got to see if the place is still here since they threw me in jail. Have a good time, if you want to see a girl let me know, I know just the ones for you.”
After he left, Toby said, ”My, what a change in him, wouldn’t say 2 words in the jail. Maybe if we play it cool we might get a little closer to him.” Harve was sipping on the tequila and feeling the warm glow moving down his belly. He said, “Dam that feels good going down. Doesn’t take much of that for a half-breed such as me. I hate to say it but I bet if we are to get anywhere with Jim we are going to have to see one of his girls, maybe both of us. They get all the information about the person they are with and tell him, more than likely. We need to get something to put some of this booze in so we don’t have to drink it all.” Toby said, “That’s no problem I can see the dirt, through a hole in the floor right near where I’m sitting. There is getting to be more people around so they won’t notice us pouring most of our drinks in the hole.” Harve said, “ Try it out and see if it will work.“. Toby carefully poured the drink into the hole without spilling much at all. “Hey that will work just fine, order us another round will you? Dam that is waste of good booze.“ Harve waved his arm at the waitress and here she came with another round of drinks. She said, “ Jim said to give you boys the good stuff, you’re lucky” She wasn’t kidding, the tequila was beautiful amber and went down so smooth. Harve hated to give it up, but after a while they were getting a little louder and ordered another round. It wasn’t long till they were “acting” drunk as a couple of skunks. Jim came by and smiled, “ Ready to see a couple of sweet ladies?” Harve said,” Won’t be long, better hurry while we can still walk.”
About that time the band started playing and here came a couple of sweet looking young ladies out to their table. They sat down pushing the two over a little, smiling all the time. In Mexican they asked the two if they wanted to dance. Toby said sure and got up to dance with the redheaded one. Harve ordered them a drink and asked the one with the chocolate eyes if she would like to dance. She smiled and took his hand and led him to the floor. They danced and danced. The boys were hungry for female companionship. After what they had been through, this is what they needed. After a little while the girls excused themselves to ‘powder their nose’, and Toby had a chance to get rid of a couple of the drinks down the hole. When the girls came back they were ready to take the boys back into their rooms for a little private time. After about an hour they came back out and had another drink, danced a while and the girls had to go to work so they lost them. Harve said, “Boy that felt good, the dancing I’m talking about,” as Toby was smiling and about to make a remark. Harve stood up and started to leave the place. A big drunk ran right into him. The drunk was very obnoxious, called Harve a dam breed and so on. He was getting loud and about that time the brown-eyed girl came over and the drunk cussed her and pushed her down for dancing with a breed. As he turned back toward Harve he met a hard fist, right in the nose area. The blood spouted. That really got him mad and he made a rush for Harve. Harve sidestepped him and kicked his legs out from under him. He slammed into the table and rolled on the floor. As he was getting back on his knees Harve kicked him right in the groin, doubling him up again. The fire was coming out of his eyes . Harve let him get up then kicked him right on the side of the head and down he went again. This time Harve asked him if he wanted more of the same. He said, “Stand and fight you bastard” as he rose. Harve stepped back to give him some room to get up as they were kinda in a corner there anyway. Some of the drunk’s friends came over to see what was going on, as this drunk was able to whip almost anyone. He swung a hard right toward Harve only to miss as Harve gave him a big upper cut right to his beer belly. Down he went again, moaning and groaning. He didn’t want to get up this time. Harve reached down and grabbed his hair, raised his head and asked him what he called him. The drunk mumbled something just as Harve hit him square on the side of the chin. It was like a sledgehammer hit him. He was out like a light. This drunk was through. Jim walked up about that time and told the drunk’s buddies to drag the guy out of there, he was stinking up the place.
He turned to Harve, who barely had a mark on him and smiled. “ Boy, remind me to not tangle with you, you take it serious. You might be a handful to handle. Where did you learn to fight like that?” Jim said. Ignoring the remark, Harve said, “I have been called a breed for the last time” as he looked the crowd over. “Anybody wants to take up where the last fellow left off? Now is the time. “ No one said a word. Jim said, “Now take it easy, let me buy you another drink in my office, you too Toby”. They got up and followed Jim into the office. Everybody got out of the way. Harve stopped on the way to check on the brown-eyed girl to see if she was all right, She smiled and thanked him. When they got in the office Harve was still near a boiling point. Toby just sat back and didn’t open his mouth. He had never seen Harve this mad. He dropped a drunk in Cimarron but nothing like this. This was almost brutal. Toby was looking at Harve in a new light with a lot of respect to his fighting abilities. Jim could see that he was still boiling mad. Jim went out and brought a bottle of his best Tequila and fresh beer for Toby. Harve sat down and his hands were shaking. In just a minute he settled down and sipped the tequila. He really needed that one. Nobody said anything till he cooled off. Finally Jim said. “If the Marshal comes over I will back you up that the drunk started it, as will everybody else? That guy has beaten everybody up in town but me. You are half his size and you really cleaned his plow. I never saw anything like it, poetry in motion, dam that was nice”. Toby piped up finally and said, “Good thing he didn’t draw on Harve, you would have seen lightning in action. I’m dam fast but he is a lot faster than me.” Harve said, “He is just spreading it a little thick.” Toby said, “Try him if you don’t believe me.” Jim said, “I’ll take your word for it. What are you boys doing in this God forsaken country any way” Harve just smiled a little and said, ”That remains to be seen as we are foot loose and fancy free, but have to stick around for a day or two till that “detective “ gets an answer from Flagstaff.” Jim said, “How would you like a job working for me for a while. I usually do the bouncing for my own club, nobody argues with me, so it is not a hard job. Would you be interested in that till this thing cools down, maybe a week or two? But now the judge said he would throw the book at me if I got in another fight unless the guy was my size So you see I have a problem, I don’t think anybody will give you any trouble after you stomped Al, that was the big guys name. And for Toby I’ll think up something. I really have a ranch up in the edge of the mountains and he could help out there for a couple of weeks if the marshal would OK it.. We have a few other ideas also maybe later.”
Harve said, “Tonight I’m headed for supper and the bed. I’ll be back tomorrow morning and see what you really want. Thanks for the drinks.” He downed the Tequila in one swig and turned and left Toby just sitting there. Toby finished his beer and turned to leave. Jim said, “Tell Harve that I might have something real interesting if he is interested.” Toby just nodded and said, ”Thanks for the drinks and the special girls. They were sweet, really enjoyed the dancing, been a long time since I held a girl in my arms and danced,” he turned and walked out looking for Harve. Harve had already left the building. As Toby walked out in the street there were several men that had Harve stopped in the street, the drunk and his buddies. Their intentions were not good. Harve backed up a little so as not to let them get behind him. Toby walked slowly up beside him and said, “ You call it, I’ll get 3 on the right and you take the 3 on the left, how’s that sound? Harve said, “Sounds like fun to me, you ready boys? Is this your version of a fair fight? “ The drunk still had sparks flying out of his eyes and said, “ I don’t need any help from my friends I can take you easy, you dam breed. Harve said, “Any time anywhere, how about right now?” The drunk said, “Yeah” as he tried to draw with a hand that had a hole in it as Harve had placed a hole right in the middle of his right hand before he even got it to the pistol handle. Toby was standing there with his gun leveled at the other men. The drunk was screaming and jumping up and down. Oh, he was mad. Harve had his gun back in the holster before anybody saw him draw; they thought someone else had shot the guy.
The others backed up about that time and decided they didn’t want any part of this pair. Just then the marshal came on the scene, “What the hell is going on here anyway”. One guy said, one of them shot our friend in the hand for no reason. The marshal said, “You’re a bunch of lying son a bitches, I saw the whole thing” He looked at Harve and asked him why he didn’t kill the fool, he had every right to kill the whole bunch. Harve said, “If he hadn’t been drunk I would have obliged him or any of the rest of them, Whiskey makes fools out of men real easy. You fellows watch this” There was a pigeon flying toward them at a fast rate of speed. Harve drew and shot him twice before he hit the ground. Placed the pistol back in the holster. Hank said, “You see how lucky you boys were today I think you better think twice about bracing this pair again. Take that boy over to the Docs and get him patched up and then bring him to the jail. Don’t make me come looking for any of you, you hear!!!. Several of the group suddenly had remembered things that they needed to do but a couple stayed and took the drunk over to the Doctor’s place. Jim from the saloon heard the shot and came out just in time to see the law walk up. He cornered one of the drunk’s friend and asked him what happened. The fellow said, “ It happened so fast I wasn’t sure. They had braced the breed with intentions of beating the hell out of him, but it didn’t turn out that way. His friend came up and stood with him and they are a couple of bad boys; I don’t think I want anything to do with them, period” Jim just smiled. He watched as the two walked to the hotel. Harve said nothing as they walked along; it was getting late so Toby said, “Hey, how about I buy you a big steak dinner if you give me some of that expense money? We’re supposed to be spending it like we stole it anyway?” Harve finally smiled and said, “Sounds good to me, thanks for the help back there, they might have been a little more aggressive if you hadn’t showed up when you did.”
So they headed to the cafe across the street from the hotel. The food was good and after the booze they had earlier they figured to get to bed early. As they entered the hotel, Hank was talking to the clerk. They walked by and Toby asked “ What brings you up town, Hank?” Hank said, “I came to see you two gunslingers, this is official business.” and smiled. Harve said, “Come on up to the room and have a sit. What’s cooking?” They went up to their room and sat at a table. Hank looked kinda serious and said, “Boy you guys just take it as it comes, First the drunk tries to put your lights out and you kick the hell out of him and then draw on him so fast nobody saw what happened. What else have you done I should know about, I don’t mean about the girls, I already know about that.” Toby said, “ We had a nice steak dinner if that is what you mean.” “ OK”, Hank said, “I was just kidding, any way people will know you are around. That detective got his report back from Flagstaff and grudging said you two were in the clear on that one.” Toby heard something and opened the door and checked outside for anybody listening to their conversation. He saw no one out there. The Marshall said, “That was a good idea, things get around this town. Maybe we should meet at a more secluded place where we don’t have so many ears. If you need to contact me, rent a couple of horses and go for a ride. I’ll know about it and I will follow you out of town. The guy at the livery has been told that if you rent a horse to let me know, Tom’s idea. Just go along with me he said quietly”. They just nodded as he raised his voice. ”You boys are causing to much trouble in town, you had better settle down or I’ll throw you back in the jail. You hear me?” Toby and Harve just smiled and said, “OK marshal we will behave” Hank stomped out, slammed the door, and went down the stairs, nodded to the clerk and went back to the office. Harve and Toby just went to bed. It had been a long trying day especially for Harve. He was wondering what tomorrow was to bring, couldn’t be any worse than today. Harve enjoyed most of the day till the drunk challenged him. He didn’t really didn’t like those situations where someone could get killed. He had seen enough killings in his short life. This job was just getting started too.
CHAPTER 5: JIM'S PLANS
The next morning the two got up and went down to the café after cleaning up a little and had breakfast. As they left the restaurant the detective came up to them and said. ” I checked out your alibis and they seemed to check out as far as it went, just don’t leave town without telling the Marshal where you will be.” Harve Looked him right in the eye and said, “You know you are starting to bug me a lot, Get off our back. You’re wasting your time and ours. When we break the law you will be the first to know, now get lost.”
The detective didn’t know just what to say, just stepped out of the way as the two walked on by, headed for the Saloon across the tracks. It was early and the saloon was in the cleanup stage after the night before. The mops and the brooms were in full swing as they walked back toward the office. The bartender who was restocking the bar said, “He is not there yet but will be here in a hour. He checks the ranch in the mornings and then shows up here midmorning or a little earlier.’ Harve said, “Thanks a lot, we will sit down and have a cup of coffee if you have any made” “Sure help you self, the cups are on the shelf,” The bartender said. Toby and Harve went over to the stove and got a couple cups and filled them with coffee and started back to the table in the corner. The bartender came up and told them, “ Damn we are glad you took that fellow down a notch or two yesterday. He busted up a lot of good men in his day, a regular bully. He is very unpredictable. Jim has thrown him out several times. He works for the railroad, as do his friends you met outside Just be careful and watch your back, there have been a couple of murders in town and they think he had something to do with it.” Harve said, “Things happen and I was probably lucky anyway.” Toby just chuckled a little and said, “I think maybe he was the lucky one because you didn’t kill the bastard.” They went over to the table and sat down and drank their coffee. Harve said to Toby quietly, “That drunk must work for Jim somehow or he would run him off along time ago. He works for the railroad, and Jim is supposed to be robbing trains. It might be where Jim gets his information as to what train is loaded with money and the best places to stop it.” Toby thought about that a while and sipped on the hot coffee .He said, “That does make sense , why else would he put up with him. I’ll ask the bartender what the guys name is, and we can have the marshal check him out.” Toby waved to the bartender and when he came over he asked him the name of the drunk. The bartender said, “ His name is Al Woods, ‘Mean Al’ is his nickname.“ Toby thanked him and they drank the rest of their coffee and got up to leave, thinking about finding Hank somewhere and tell him what they were thinking about.
Jim showed up about that time and stopped to talk to the bartender, then glanced over toward the two fixing to leave. He waved at them to hold up a minute. They waited till he came over to them. Jim said, “Come on in the office, we need to talk”. They followed him in the office. Jim asked them to have a seat and relax for a minute while he took care of some business. He stepped out the back door, and Harve and Toby heard some loud talking but couldn’t hear what it was about. Harve could see out the window a little toward the alley. He saw Mean Al with his bandaged hand walk off about the time Jim came back in the room. Jim said sorry about that, “That drunk wanted to talk with me . He does some work for me time to time. He is a good worker if he is sober. That hand is going to be sore for a long time. Your shot didn’t break any bones but he will be laid off the railroad job for a while. Oh yeah I forgot to tell you, he did work for the railroad. They fired him yesterday that is why he was drunk. When he is sober he is not too bad to get along with. The railroad will hire him back, they always do ” Harve asked if he had cooled off any since yesterday. Jim said, “ Oh yeah he knows how lucky he was not to be laid out in the morgue instead of walking around. He said he holds no grudge, he got what he deserved. I don’t think you will have any problems with him any more or his friends, they are still in shock at the invisible draw you made. They still think somebody else shot old Al. I didn’t see it, just heard the shot. But I’ll take your word for it. I heard a rumor the other day about you two. Seemed you were on a cattle drive in New Mexico and were nursemaids for this William Bonny kid. Is that true. Harve said, “ Could be, the one we knew was just a wanna be bad boy. Had a lot to learn. He was John Chisums hired man. That the one you’re talking a bout?” Jim said, ”Yep that is him, he did turn bad, killed a bunch of men since you saw him. He is bad clear through now. Enough about them, how would you to like to do a little something illegal like rob a train? You would have to work with Mean Al a little, he is the connection with the railroad and he knows where and when the trains will be ready for picking. He and a couple of his crew are the inside men on this work. They know what switches to pull and where the law is at all times. Some of the trains have undercover Wells Fargo agents on board. His connections know all that.“ Harve said, “As long as you can trust him, I guess we can too. What is the split anyway, looks like you have a lot of fingers in the pie now.”
Jim said, “The heat was on my crew right now so this one would be all on you, you would have to split with Mean Al and his 2 guys. I will be right here in the saloon having a drink with the marshal when it goes down. It won’t be easy working with Al, but I think he is afraid of you now. I’ll get you three together tonight here in the office where nobody can see either one of you together. It will be hard for the law to place you three together on a robbery, they know the bad blood between you. How does that sound to you guys? Toby said, “You don’t want any of the cut?” “ No not this one till the heat is off me and my boys, Bill and Bob are out at the ranch looking out after the cattle we have out there. The law has been on our tail for a month and dam near had us. But they couldn’t prove a thing. Bob got so rattled I thought he was going to spill the whole thing, then he got drunk and started shooting off his mouth and I had to slap him around a little to keep us all out of jail. He is alright now.” Harve said, “Then this one is just to get the heat off of you and get them off your back? Is that right?” Jim shook his head in agreement. Harve said, “We will have to think about this for a while if that is alright with you.” Jim said, “I need to know soon so we can make plans. This all has to be planned down to the last detail, escape routes, and all and a way to get you back in town without being seen or anyone knowing that you left. Horses have to be lined up and really there is a lot to it. You don’t just go out there and stick up a train like you do a stage coach.” Harve said they would let him know after dinner. Ant the two left to ponder the situation.
Harve and Toby went back out in the saloon just in time to see the working girls coming in to clean up their part of the saloon. They were responsible for the rooms they used and the little lobby they had. There were four of them that wait tables and ‘other things’ plus the clean up crew and the bartender. Harve said, “Hello” to the girls and they of course had to giggle. The red head and the one with chocolate eyes just smiled and smiled and said, “Come and see us some time.” Toby kinda got red in the face and said, “We might just do that some day” They went on out and walked down to the livery. They rented a couple of horses and started out of town to the north, toward the mountains. The sun was bearing down hard as it was just into September a little. 100 degrees isn’t out of the question. They took their time, and noticed the deputy sitting on the bench, get up and head for the marshal’s office. Toby said, “Looks like the plan is working, the marshal will be along soon. Harve said, “As soon as he catches up would you mind circling back to watch our back trail? We don’t need any company.” “ Sure,” Toby said.
It wasn’t 30 minutes that later Harve noticed dust coming toward them. Toby peeled off and circled around to watch the back trail. Here came Hank in a long trot. That dun could travel well in a long trot, and cover a lot of ground. Hank rode up and asked where Toby was. Harve motioned to him that Toby was behind him. Hank turned around and looked back down the trail and there he was sitting in the shade of a tree, watching for anybody coming up the trail. Hank said, “I’m impressed, I wouldn’t have thought about that. What is up any way?” Harve told him of the proposition that Jim made to them and their thoughts on them, wondering if it was just a way to get rid of them and clear Jim’s bunch. They walked on down the trail and talked things over. Hank said he was a little worried about Mean Al maybe trying to get even.” When do you have to tell him your answer?” Harve said, “ Probably this afternoon some time. I’m supposed to meet with the other 3 this evening late. Al and his two friends, they are the inside men. They know what is on the trains and what switch to pull and the whole thing, but someone will have to be on watch and the train crew would recognize them unless it is after dark. What do you think?” Hank rode along for a while in deep thought and considered all of it and the lack of proof that Jim and his crew had any thing to do with it, He finally said, “I better send a wire to Tom and see what he says. This is not turning out like we thought it would, there is a good chance it is a set up. When I get back to town I’ll wire Tom and I will get word to you on what Tom says.” With that Hank turned the dun around and stated back to town a different way.
After Hank left, Toby came up and asked, “What did Hank think about the deal?” Harve said, “He is as confused as us, he is going to contact Tom by wire in a little while. Then he will get a message to us some how. We still got some time till dinner so lets ride up that canyon, Maybe Hank will know something by the time we get back if we take our time. Too dam hot to be in a hurry anyway, Keep a eye out on the back trail, something is making me nervous.” Toby said, “There is a sharp bend in the canyon up there, as soon as we get past that point lets duck into the trees and wait. If anybody is following us we have a good chance finding out who it is and why he or she is following us. I didn’t see anyone back down the trail when you and Hank were talking.” Harve slid off the trail and Toby slowed way down. It wasn’t long till a fellow came in a high trot following Toby. After he went passed the spot Harve was at , Harve pulled in behind him and followed him .
The fellow caught up with Toby and stopped him by saying, “Hello there”. Toby turned around and waited for him. Harve was coming up behind the fellow. The fellow turned out to be Bob Mckusick, the one that got beat up the other night. He still wore the bandages and bruises. Toby said “Hello,” back and waited for the fellow. As he pulled up beside Toby he noticed Harve coming up from his rear. He said’ “You boys are all right, on the ball, that was smart thinking, splitting up like that” Harve came up along side of Bob and asked him who he was and what he had on his mind. Bob said, “If you are the Toby and Harve that took old Al to the cleaners, we need to talk. My name is Bob Mckusick, and I’m here to save you a lot of trouble. I know about the train holdup that is planned. It could be a double cross, That Al hates your guts, and Jim thinks he has forgot about it but that is not the case. The 3 of them plan to take you out at the train and claim the reward.” “That sounds interesting doesn’t it Toby?” Harve said. Toby said, “ Sounds like a lot of fun, just how were they planning this and does Jim know about it?” Bob said, ”I’m not sure on that part, either way it takes the heat off of us three, Jim, Swim and me.” Harve said, “Just how come you followed us out of town to tell us that?” “Really I haven’t been to town yet, I was on my way and saw you about a mile back and from your description, I thought that it might be you. Jim lost me as a friend the other day, when he beat the hell out of me. Maybe I had it coming but he got carried away with it and couldn’t quit. I saw Al and his friends at the bar down the road at another little town, called Wilcox. They were bragging about how they were going to take you down from the back. Nobody likes a back shooter. Those 3 are just that kinda fellows. Al is the leader of the pack. They didn’t even see me there, I was sitting way back in the corner and slipped out unnoticed. I was headed in to tell Jim but realized he might be in on it. So when I thought I saw you I took a chance of doing something right for a change. Why I ever got tied up in this mess, I’ll never know. Anyway I told you and now I’m leaving the country, I walked off and left a wife and some kids back in New Mexico near Lordsburg. I’m going to try to find them and make it right.” Harve said, “That is not too far away, they could still find you if they tried.” Bob said, “I will be there just long enough to find my family if they will take me back, then get the hell out of there.”
Toby was taking all this in and finally said, “Well, we wish you luck and thanks for the warning, How far is Wilcox from here?” Bob said, “ Head back down the trail and watch for a fork in the road, the one that turns west is the way and it is about 5 miles farther, Why?” “Oh we might wander over there and see how bad they want to take us out, what do you think, Harve?” Harve said, ”Sounds like fun to me. You think they will still be there?” Bob said, “Sure they don’t have to be back to Bowie before dark, and that is a long ways off. It is not noon yet. Hey if you guys don’t mind I would like to go with you, that bastard held me while Jim thumped on me.” Toby asked Bob if he was good with a gun, as he didn’t have one on his belt. Bob said,” Just this sawed off shotgun I have here” and he it pulled out of his scabbard. Toby said, “Well, 10 gauges seem to make a lot of noise and kick like a mule but they are convincing. You got me convinced. How about you Harve, do we take him with us or not?” Harve said, “We can handle it with out you but it is up to you, if you want to come with us.” “OK, I’m going with you, I know some shortcuts too.” So in a high trot they took off towards Wilcox. Both Harve and Toby put the sixth shell in their pistols, as there was to be a showdown soon. Bob shoved 2 new 10-gauge shells in the short shotgun, and put several more in his shirt pocket. It wasn’t long till Wilcox was in sight. They rode into the town and went straight to the bar. He turned to Bob and told him to wait outside and see that nobody slipped in behind them. He wanted to go in with them but Harve felt like he would be more valuable if any body came out the back and tried to come in from their blind side. “After the fight starts, if there is one, watch through the door or the window, and see if anyone leaves out the back and be ready in case. These 3 won’t be any trouble, but there might be more than these 3.” All three tied their horses across from the bar, out of sight. Harve and Toby took the straps off their pistols and were as ready as they could get.
CHAPTER 6: WILCOX BAR
As they entered the bar, there were a half a dozen men lined up at the bar listening to Al brag about what he was going to do to Harve and Toby. They didn’t hear the two come in to the bar. Harve and Toby lined up right behind them just as one of them noticed them in the mirror of the bar. The bartender ducked down and hauled ass out of there in to the back room. Harve nodded to Bob who was standing near the door. Al and his two buddies turned real slow and said, “What the hell are you doing here?” “Listening to a loudmouth trying to get enough nerve to shoot someone in the back, ain’t that right boys” Al swallowed hard and said. ”We wouldn’t do that would we boys?” One fellow said, “Al you said you weren’t afraid of these two pipsqueaks and would shoot them on sight, well now is you chance, they are standing right in front of you”. The fellows on the ends of the 6 men just slipped away leaving the 3 standing there. Harve said, “In here or outside, choice is yours’ Al was stuttering a little and said, “ Outside” Harve turned and started out the door, Toby just waited till Harve had made it to the door and then he walked out, not saying a word. Al and his group started walking out behind them. Bob was off to one side with the sawed off cradled in his arms. It looked like a cannon. They hadn’t even seen Bob yet, he was staying in the shadows watching the back room. As Harve and Toby went out into the street and the 3 men started out the door the bartender was sneaking up by the bar with a shotgun . He also was unaware of Bob. As the 3 lined up across from Harve and Toby the bartender took a bead on Harve and Toby from the swingingdoors of the bar, as he was about to pull the trigger, Bob cut loose with the 10 gauge, just one barrel. The bartender rolled out in the street, deader than a mackerel.
The three decided it was a good time to draw with all the commotion going on and it was their last thought as they all would die right there with a bullet in their heart. Al lived long enough to tell Harve that yes; he and Jim planned the train robberies. Harve had a couple of the other men come over and hear that confession. Al didn’t last long after that The other 3 fellows, were watching the whole thing, and one said, “Been along time coming, that needed doing, They been shooting off their mouth all day about what they had planned for you, guess now they won’t get the chance, too bad. They do have a few friends around so I would watch each other’s back, if I were you.” Bob walked around the corner about that time and said, “You were right about the someone else, and I never liked that sneaky son of a bitch anyway.” Harve turned to Toby and said, “ See if they have any law here, with all this shooting he should be out here.” The fellow that spoke up a minute ago said, “ He is out of town today but should be back soon.” Harve said, “ If it won’t be long just let them lay, they are all dead anyway. Will you tell him just what happened and about the bartender, and tell it right just the way it happened, I don’t want to have to look any of you up again.” The fellow said, you can bank on it, I won’t lie for any man especially bums like them.” Harve said, “We will be over at Bowie if he wants to find us.” The three of them got on their horses and rode out of town towards Bowie. About two miles down the road they rode up on the law for Wilcox, leading a prisoner back to town. They stopped and told him what had taken place and that they would be in Bowie if needed, The lawman looked at Bob, because he knew him and asked him if that was the way it went down. Bob said, “That is just the way it went down, they drew first, right after I shot the bartender, as he was about to lower the boom on Harve and Toby, There are other witnesses also”. There should be some train robbery evidence on or in their homes. You might want to check it out. Al confessed to being in on the robbery.” OK, I don’t like it but I can’t mess with you now, I’ll send a wire to Hank over there if I need you,” the lawman said.
It was about late evening when the men got back in to Bowie. Bob told Harve and Toby about the train robbery and that he wanted no part in it but had to help with the horses. Bob said, “I sure wish you boys wouldn’t go in to the train robbing business.” Harve said, “We are kinda having second thoughts about it now. What are your plans now, Bob?” ”I really have to leave the country now for sure. I’m going by and tell Jim what happened and that Al implicated him in the robberies, and that I’m leaving for good.” Bob said. As they rode into the livery barn they saw Hank standing by the office door talking to the old man that ran the place. Harve and Toby unsaddled their mounts and rubbed them down, put them in a stall just as the old man showed up with some oats. The old man says, “Sounds like you boys have had a busy day according to Hank. T’wasn’t no loss. All three of the bastards weren’t worth the powder to blow ‘em to hell. You guys take off the marshal wants to talk to you, I’ll take care of the horses”. Bob said, “Would you mind keeping my horse over night for me I’m leaving either tonight or first thing in the morning, I’ll pay you now.” The old man said he would be glad to keep him and feed him some oats.
Harve and Toby wandered over to where Hank was standing, he motioned them to follow him. As they entered the marshal’s office he broke into a big smile. “ You guys are hell on every thing, I got two wires today about you too. First, Tom wrote back and said not to take a chance, he would find another way to get it done, he was afraid that you might walk into a trap, then I get a wire from the Wilcox Sheriff telling me of the shootout over there. How in the hell did all of this take place any way? How did you wind up in Wilcox any way?” Toby said, “That’s easy to explain if you have the time. First, after you headed back to town we rode on up the trail and felt some one was following us. So we set a little trap for him and we caught him. Actually it was Bob McCusick trying to catch us so he could talk to us. He told us that All and his crew were over at Wilcox in the bar shooting off their mouths about how they were going to back shoot Harve and me while we robbed the train. We walked in and Bob stayed out of sight as we braced the group. Only 3 of them wanted any piece of the action. They wanted it outdoors and so we very carefully went out and lined up out side when the bartender wanted a piece of the action and Bob gave him one barrel of the 10 gauge he uses. That turned the others loose to draw and start shooting. We were lucky and they were the only ones that got hit, pure accident I’m sure. Then Big Mean Al wasn’t quite dead yet and he confessed to the train robbery and implicated Jim.” Hank said, “Is that all I hope?” Harve broke out laughing.
Hank said, “Now how are we going to handle this? Jim is guilty but has been turned loose for lack of evidence. Al and the other two are dead, so, what have we got?” Harve said, “ Let’s get Tom on the wire and tell him what took place and ask him where do we go from here.” The marshal nodded his head and started out the door to go to the telegraph office and send a wire. Harve and Toby went over to the café for supper. They were just about through when Bob walked in and sat down. Harve asked him how it went with Jim? Bob said, “Better than I expected, he was calm and claimed that the back shooting deal was all Al’s Idea. He didn’t know anything about it. I kinda believe him on that. He paid me what he owed me and we shook hands and I came over here. He did wonder about you too, if you would even talk to him after that deal. He said he would take his chances with the law, he wasn’t running anywhere. Man I’m hungry and sick at my stomach at the same time; just thinking about that fellow I shot. That was the first man I ever shot, but it was him or let him shoot you two.” Harve waved at the waitress and she brought some coffee over and took Bob’s order. Harve and Toby sat there with Bob and visited about his family and his hopes to find them. Bob really looked like a big weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
After they ate and finally said goodnight to Bob, they went back to the Marshal’s office. Hank was sitting there reading the long wire he got back from Tom. Hank handed it to Harve. It read, ”Hank I told those two to get nasty but not that nasty. Sounds like they pretty well stopped that end of the train robberies, however, have them hang loose there is another bunch starting in. I’ll send some more on that bunch tomorrow. Glad the boys are all right. Jim? That is up to you. Looks like he will behave now, but watch him”. That was all of the wire. They didn’t know much more now than before the wire.
The three of them sat around a little while, finally Hank asked Harve what he was going to do about Jim? Harve said, “I really needed to at least talk to him and get an idea about whether he planned the back shooting or not” I think Toby and I should wander down there and see what is going on. You might check in if you want. Jim still doesn’t know we are the law. I would like to keep it that way if we can. What are you going to tell the railroad man when he finds out what happened?” Hank said, “That’s one of those bridges you cross when you have to.“
Harve and Toby headed down to the saloon. As they walked in all eyes were on them, everybody heard what happened to Al and his crew. They went over to the corner booth and sat down. The big-busted gal came over with one cold beer and the best tequila of the house. She said, ”It is on the house tonight, all the drinks you can hold”. Toby said, “How come?” She said that they did the whole area a fine deed by snuffing out that crew. It was almost time for the band to start playing, and they were enjoying their drinks. The music started after a little while and Harve was feeling the relaxing effects of the warm tequila moving down his tired body. He was really relaxing, hating the thought of having to go in and talk to Jim. Toby was watching several patrons dancing with some girls when he saw the red head heading his way. She grabbed his hand and pulled him out on the floor. Right behind her was the gal with the chocolate eyes, She grabbed Harve by the hand and he shook his head and motioned for her to sit down. He ordered her a drink and told her he wasn’t very good company tonight as he had just shot a couple of men and it bothered him to have to kill anybody. This conversation was all in Spanish. She squeezed his hand and leaned over, took his chin in her hand, and kissed him right on the mouth. She told him she understood but would really like to at least dance with him. He said he would and they got up and danced, and danced some more. After several songs they sat down and then she got up and went over to talk to the bandleader, He smiled and started a Mexican love song and the brown-eyed girl came over and sang the song to Harve. He almost had tears coming down his face, when she was through she pulled him up and gave him a big hug, everybody was clapping but Toby, he was nowhere to be seen. Harve had a pretty good idea where he was. They danced another dance or two and then she said, “Come with me,” as she took his hand.
When the two guys got back together it was getting late and Harve hadn’t even seen Jim yet. They were supposed to tell Jim if they wanted the deal or not but that was moot at this time, the whole deal was busted. They had one more round before leaving, and Hank walked in and looked around, He talked to the bartender and then left. They got up and followed him out of the saloon. When they were out of sight of the saloon, Hank stopped, and told Harve that Jim was out at the ranch as Bob had left and he needed to do the chores. That was what the bartender had said. Harve said, “We didn’t think he was there, we never saw him, I was glad of that, I hated to have to talk to him.” “ The detective came by a minute ago as soon as he got off the train. He heard about the Wilcox shooting. I filled him in on some of it, not all. I also told him to lay off of you two if he knew what was good for him. I think he got the point. He is on his way to another train robbery.” See you in the morning.” Harve and Toby went on up to the hotel. Both took a bath in the room as the clerk brought up some hot water and towels. Then laid on the bed and went out like a light. It was a long day, 4 men lost their lives and it could have been worse. They say alls well that ends well so maybe they were right.
This group of train robbers was out of business now and Harve and Toby were waiting orders for the next job. The night was young so why not have a drink? They drifted down to the saloon to see what turned up. Jim happened to be there and motioned them into the office. They followed him in and they all sat down. Jim said, “ Boys I hate to tell you this but you have been found out. The deputy let the cat out of the bag last night. He read one of the wires from your boss. Then last night he had a few too many. Whiskey make the tongue get looser” Harve said, “ So what now?” Jim said, “Nothing, only I’m dam glad you didn’t take me down like you did Al. This boss of yours is dam smart, I’m glad I’ve changed my ways. Getting where it is not to healthy to rob trains any more.” Toby asked, “Where does that leave the two of us as far as your concerned?” Jim answered, “Well, I hope as friends, you were doing your job and I respect that, and a dam good job I might say. I want you to know that that deal with Al, I had nothing to do with that. You did a big favor for me, and the town when you took him out. Far as I’m concerned your welcome here any time.
There are a couple of love struck girls out there that think the same way. Rosie, the red head and Conchita, the one with the big chocolate eyes. Harve said, “Then there are no hard feeling, even though you were our main target? The boss said for the marshal to watch you any way?” “Naw, some body has always been after my behind, I don’t take it personally. Nobody knew about this but me so your cover is safe for now anyway. Where are you guys off to now, if you can tell me?” “Well, we don’t even know yet, only that there are some more train robberies,” Toby said. “Before you two leave say goodbye to the girls. They would be happy just to go with you. They are new here at the saloon and really not cut out for this work, too nice.” Toby kinda smiled at the thought of taking the girls with them but he knew that would never work out. Jim waved at the bartender through the door and here he came with drinks for all of them plus a couple more. The bartender showed up with the two girls about that time and Jim invited them in. Harve and Toby jumped up and took off their hats and offered them a seat, even pulled out the chairs for them. Rosie smiled at Toby and winked at him just to see him turn red in the face blushing. Conchita just smiled a little at Harve and sat down . Jim said, “I have something to do I’ll see you guys later.” So there they sat in Jim’s office and Jim ups and leaves like he had it planned this way. The girls stared asking about when they were leaving and so on, when they would be back, when will we see you again??? One question after another, non-stop. Harve said “Wait a minute ladies, one question at a time would be better. Yes we will have to leave soon, but to where, we don’t know. Will we get back here? I hope we do. We both would miss seeing you both. You have filled a big hole in our hearts. I really mean that. So if there is any way we can swing, it we will be back.” Toby said, “He means what he says, he don’t kid around. You girls behave yoursevesf and we will see you later.” Rosie looked up with tears in her eyes and said, “No way Jose, You no go till we say you can. The first thing is some dancing, that right Conchita? Tears running out of Conchita’s eyes and she said, ”This is true, you no go till we say so, dance first, then we make love. We tell you when you can go.” Harve just sat there sipping his tequila, Toby had his mouth open ready to say something then thought better of it and drank his beer. The girls threw their drinks down in one swallow and grabbed the boys by the hand and pulled them up and out the door. The band was playing and they started dancing. Harve told Conchita that he wasn’t who she thought he was, neither was Toby. She said, “Hush and dance, hold me tight, I love you, don’t you know that? I don’t care who you are”” Harve said, “ I really do like you too, more than any one I know or ever knew. But there are some things you need to know about the two of us.” All of this conversation was in Mexican. Toby was having about as much trouble as Harve was. This life with the girls was all new to each of them and they weren’t sure how to handle it.
About that time as the steam was rising off both of the boys, Hank walked in to the saloon and motioned to Harve. Harve told Conchita that he needed to talk to the lawman and pointed to Hank. She ducked her head a little and said, “ Alright but just for a minute”. He walked over and said, “What is up Hank?” Hank told him about the deputy seeing the wire from Tom and telling Jim about it. Harve said, “ I knew it already, Jim told us about it, and it didn’t seem to bother him at all. He almost felt relieved that it was over and now he could go straight.” Hank said, “ You two amaze me no end” he smiled, and waved goodbye and left. Harve went back to the table where Conchita was waiting. “Hey, aren’t we going to dance?” he said as he pulled her into his arms and they swung around the floor in a fast Mexican piece. Harve was really a good dancer. Where he learned was a mystery. Toby was good at something else, they had disappeared again. Conchita tugged on his arm in the direction of the back rooms. Harve asked, “Is this what you really want? Make sure, don’t do it just for me.” Conchita said, “Hush now, and come on, you talk too much.” So off they went for some private time. It was really hard on Harve to know how she felt about him and how Rosie felt about Toby and they not realizing that the two were actually Lawmen. They talked about where each had come from and why they were here. Harve told her was half Cherokee Indian. She said, “So? All Mexicans are half Indian, I see nothing wrong with that”. She told him she was born in Casa Grande, as was Rosie. They just came up here through Nogales a couple of weeks before. They needed a job and Jim hired them to working the bar because they were very good looking young girls. He had been very nice to them. Harve asked what their plans were, were they going to stay at the saloon or try some other job? She said, “ Until we learn English and get a place to stay we have to work somewhere. The School marm has been giving us English lessons each morning as we don’t come to work till after noon except on cleaning days.” Harve said, “What if I could get you a place to stay and a job, would you quit the saloon?” “I talk to Rosie and see what she say, we stick together,” Conchita said. They went back out to the tables and Toby was already there with Rosie. Toby said to Harve,” I wish there was some way to get these girls out of here and get them a job.” Harve said, “Well we can work on it tomorrow, but first we need to see where we are going to be and for how long”. They kissed the girls goodbye and started out the door. Jim walked back in about that time and said, “You guys are really sweet on these gals aren’t you?” Harve nodded his head as well as Toby. “ Maybe we can find them something else to do to make a living for a while till you guys are ready to settle down some where. Let me work on it for while, I’ll think of something to get them off the floor if they really want to get out of this business.” Harve shook his hand and told him he was the nicest train robber he ever met. They both smiled and walked out feeling a little better.
The next morning they went to the Marshal’s office to find out where they had to go from here. The old deputy was in the office and really looked sheepish at them, He ducked his head and started to mumble something and Harve just patted him on the back gently and told him it was alright. He just nodded and said, “Thanks for understanding an old man. The marshal went over to get a wire, probably for you two. He told me that you two were actually lawmen or detectives or something anyway, after I screwed up and told big Jim about it” “ Hey, it worked out OK don’t worry about it. What is there around here for young ladies to do besides work the floor at the saloon?” Harve asked the deputy. “I would have to think on that for a while, I know the café needs a good cook, maybe a waitress also, let me think about it for a while. There are a couple of big ranches up north of here that might need a couple hard workers. You mean the good looking gals over at Jim’s place?” Harve just nodded. About that time in walked the marshal with a wire in his hand. He had a big smile on his face. “ What now?” Toby asked. “You guys are going legal and working out of this office for this job. Tom told me you were deputy marshals. He asked me to swear you in, in the territory of Arizona as full fledged marshals, badges and all. I can’t do that but the judge can and he will be here tomorrow. So you have one more night here before we put you to work. There was a train robbery at a little town near here called San Simon. It is just east of here about 50 miles. Half of your work has already been done by the screwed up detective you liked so much. You remember, the one with the big mouth He and a bunch went charging over the Mexican line after the crooks and ended up in Jail in Nogales. Lost their horses and guns and the whole works. Now, your job is the go down there and do it legal, by the book. That is the reasons for the badges. The Mexicans like people who respect their border. But you have to wait till the district judge shows up tomorrow morning. These robbers aren’t going anywhere soon. Besides that, a buddy of your is coming in on the morning train, John Little Bear”. Harve said, “Aren’t you out of breath by now? We can’t be crooks any more? Dam that was lot of fun don’t you think, Toby?” “I would much rather be on the law side, I don’t like to be locked up at all,” Toby said.
Toby asked the Marshal about jobs for the two young ladies they were sweet on. The marshal said he would ask around some of the bigger ranches. “They didn’t pay too much, but it would give them food and a place to stay, if they wanted to get out of the saloon, now would be the time. The longer they stay there the harder it is to leave. Just to find some one that would sort of watch out for them would be a job in itself.” Harve asked what they were to do for horses. The marshal said, “Dam I knew there was something else I was to tell you, Little Bear is bringing 6 horses on the train with him. I made a place for them out at my little ranch at the edge of town. I have a barn for your stuff, OH yeah he has your gear also. He had to come around through Dodge City to get here. He said something about that dam black was a pain in the ass. Tried to throw him twice.” “Yep that’s my black, kind of a one man horse. It will feel good to get back on him again. I might even let him buck a little.” Harve said. Toby popped in and said, ”Just how in the hell did Tom know two weeks ago we were going to need these horses?” Hank said, “That is why he is the boss and we are just peons. He has a lot of connection that we don’t have. Knows a lot of people.” Sounds like these boys are going to be saddle sore soon.
CHAPTER 7: MEXICO BOUND, BUT NOT YET
The Robbery happened about 2 weeks before near a small town of San Simon. At least four men did the hold up, plus maybe an inside man. There was a strong suspension that one of the train crew was working with the gang. The switch was thrown in the same spot as the first train robbery in the area, the methods of stopping the train were the same. After the engineer slammed on the airbrakes, he hit the open switch and turned the engine on its side. Both he and the fireman jumped to safety and hid out till the robbers left. They were calling the engineers name. They wanted to shoot him. The baggage car door was blown and the messenger was pulled out and pistol-whipped till he opened the safe. This bunch did not rob the passengers, just the train. Then they took off on foot up the canyon. The train crew got together after they left and remembered that there was a hand car up the track a ways so they found it and went on to the station. The Marshal there got a posse and headed out to the site. It was still dark, but first light wasn’t long off. They had a Indian tracker with them and they trailed the robbers to a cave near a spring that they had used to split the money in and then they split themselves, They were long gone. Then to make it worse it came a big rain and washed all the tracks out, making it near impossible to follow them. This crew went back to town and contacted the army at Fort Bowie. They sent a squad of men on horses( the Cavalry) to help in the search, In all they had several lawmen a train detective and about 20 bounty hunters , as there was a big reward by now. They all took out for the Mexican border, as they had a tip that someone saw the gang cross the line headed south. Rumor had it that they had about $10,000 in loot.
“The detective that was with them was the same one that gave Harve and Toby so much grief, kinda of stuck on how important’ HE’ was. As it turned out, as they crossed the line with this small army, half of the group said ,” No way”, and went back to town. The rest followed the cold tracks for a while and then thought better of it, and decided to tell the Federalles that they were down here and why. That went over like a lead balloon. The Feds promptly arrested them, took their guns and their horses, saddles and all. It was a wonder they didn’t take their boots. So as soon as Tom makes connection with the Mexicans in Nogales, you are headed that way, just the three of you,” Hank said. Harve and Toby just looked at each other and finally Toby said,” Hell, I always wanted to go to Mexico. I’m ready. Soon as John gets our mounts here.” “Just a minute there, young fellow, give your horses a day to rest after that long ride. They aren’t even here yet. Don’t be chomping at the bit yet,” the marshal said. Harve and the old deputy were about to roll on the floor laughing so much.
About 9 that morning the train came chugging into town. They dropped the car with the horses in it over at the cow pens with the unloading chute. John stepped out of the Pullman car carrying his bag of clothes and probably his guns. Toby and Harve stepped up on the platform and said their hello’s and how are you’s. Then they set the bags down and started for the pens to unload the horses. John’s two Apps and Harve’s black and roan horses. Then came Toby’s two, the stocking legged one and his paint. Harve’s black was the first one out, snorting all the way. He had rollers in his nose, just full of devilishness. Harve said, “This is going to be fun, I can see that” He turned to John and asked him where the saddles were and the rest of the gear. “Hell I don’t know, here comes the conductor ask him.” John said. As the conductor walked up he said. “ Your gear will be in on tomorrows train, we had to much of a load and left one car at Lordsburg last night. We will get it here in the morning. Just leave your horses here tonight and we will feed them for you. It was our fault.”
Harve said, “Well I guess that’s what we will have to do, I dam sure ain’t climbing on him without a saddle. He has sparks coming out of both eyes. John just laughed and swung up on his App and rode him around in the corral with out a bridle or saddle. “See how easy it is,” John said. Harve said, “ Try the Black, I’m sure he won’t mind.” About that time the Marshal came up and introduced himself to John. He said, “The judge just came into town early so he can see you fellows right now” They all started for the marshal’s office. The judge was waiting at the office and promptly swore all three of them in as full marshals. He didn’t even ask them one question. All he said was, “Tom said you were all good lawmen material and I believe him after what I’ve heard so far. You two don’t mess around, just get the job done. That is what we need around here. Hold up your right hands and repeat after me. I duly swear to uphold the laws of the United States of America and all that other stuff. Hell I can’t remember all that lingo. Here are your badges, pin them on, Hank. OK you are now U,S. Marshals. Try to stay out of trouble. That means easy on the booze and no fighting, unless it is the last resort. You now represent the law, so act like a lawman, all of you.”
With that the judge turned to Hank and told him to bring his prisoner over to the courthouse and they would have a hearing this morning. I need to get out to the ranch this afternoon and find another cook and housekeeper. My wife fired the last two yesterday. Harve said, “ Sir, there are a couple of nice girls right here in town that would fit that bill real well” The judge said, “Have them meet me at the café at noon or shortly after if they are interested and I’ll talk to them.” “Yes sir” Harve said with a big smile on his face. Toby was standing there with blank stare on his face and said after the judge left, “Did I hear what I thought I just heard? Where is this ranch of the judge’s?” Hank said, “It is about 25 miles north in the edge of the mountains, big spread, about 300 sections. He raises a new breed of cattle called Herefords. They are nice cattle, with a white face. They tame down much better than the old longhorns. He sells breeding stock. I don’t know why I didn’t think of him. I knew he was having trouble with his house crew. Maybe you boys had better head down to the saloon and see if you can round the girls up. Have them dress a little less pretty.
Harve, John and Toby headed down to the hotel first to get a room for John, and take his bag down too. After that they headed to the Saloon wearing the bright new stars. Caused a few people to wonder what the hell was going on. On the way down, Toby told John that the girls thought they were outlaws. So he wasn’t sure how this was going to go across, the badges and all. Might be a shock for all the people down there at the saloon except Jim. John just nodded and kept on walking. He wasn’t worried in the least. Neither was Harve, they just smiled at Toby and went on in the door first, right up to the bar and asked the bartender where their two friends were, the red head and Conchita? The bartender did a double take at the three new badges and kinda stuttered. “They are cleaning Jim’s office right now since they quit the floor work, Jim found some more work for them till something else comes up. They are not in trouble are they?” The bartender asked.
Harve said, “ No, not that I know of, we just need to talk to them for a minute, can you get them for us?” The bartender nodded and started for the office. Soon he was back with the two young ladies in tow. They really did a double take when they saw 3 lawmen waiting for them. Conchita said, “Harve! What in the world is going on?” He just smiled and took her by the hand and led them to the corner table, looked at the bartender and asked him for a pot of coffee, which he promptly came with and a handfull of cups. Harve introduced John to the girls and them to him. Then they all sat down and Harve explained the whole deal from the beginning. He told the girls that this was what was bothering him all along not being able to tell them he was working under cover. They looked at each other and then broke out laughing. Harve said, “What are you laughing at?” Rosie said, “Oh we knew that all along, I found the deputy badge in Toby’s pants a week ago, the first night we were together.” “And you didn’t tell any body?” Toby said kinda embarrassed. Rosie said, “No, not a single person, not even Conchita, isn’t that right.” “ I’m your best friend and you wouldn’t even tell me?” Conchita asked. Harve said, “ That is alright but just don’t tell any body else that you knew this a week ago. Now for the reason we wanted to talk to you. The district judge has a ranch near the mountains north of here and he might need a couple of hard working girls as his wife just fired the last two yesterday. Are you interested in the job?” The girls looked at each other and let out a squeal like a couple of kids. They started jumping up and down in the seat. John was getting quite a kick out of this, first seeing his friends serious about a couple of sweet gals.
Noon came around and the two girls were cleaned up and sitting in the café with Toby and Harve. John was checking on the horses, Kinda of a three is a crowd type deal so he backed off and left them with the ladies. The Judge came in with Hank and sat down at the same table with Harve, Toby and the young ladies. He asked Harve if these nice looking young ladies were the ones they were talking about. Harve introduced them and then said, “ We will leave you here with them to talk and see what happens” He and Toby excused themselves and went on out the door and set on the porch. In about 20 minutes the girls came out all smiles. Conchita said, “We got the job on a trial basis for two weeks. He will send a wagon for us this afternoon later, maybe about 6. He seemed like a real nice fellow. There is a small house for us to stay in, or we can stay at the big house. He knows we are in love with you guys.” Toby said, “How did he know that?” Rosie piped up and said, “He is no dummy and he has two good eyes, beside that I told him, so there,” Harve just smiled at Conchita and she smiled back. “ Hey,” Toby said, “We haven’t had dinner yet, can we get that on the expense account?” Harve said, “Not this time, it is on you for letting Rosie see your badge.” So they went back in and ordered dinner. John showed up about that time to eat also.
Later that afternoon the judge sent in a wagon to get the girls and all their stuff. The boys said their goodbyes and told them to behave or the “Law” would get them, they all laughed and then the wagon with the ladies started off toward the ranch. There was still about 3 hrs sunlight and they should be there before dark. Harve said, “Boy that is a load off my mind for a while any way. I’m getting to where I think maybe they are right, we are in love, what ever that is. Scary ain’t it Toby?” “ You got that right, cowboy,” Toby said. John just smiled and walked back to the hotel, with Harve following and Toby watching the wagon till it was out of sight. John said, ”The boys been hit by Cupids arrows me thinks.”
Harve said, “Tomorrow we can get headed to Nogales and earn our pay, Tom will be wondering what the hell we been doing anyway. Hope Hank told him about the train delay with all our gear”. John said, “Don’t worry about it, those crooks will still be there for a day or two. What is funny is that there is bunch of our guys down there in jail and they lost all their stuff. Just how are we going to do what they couldn’t?” “I haven’t the slightest idea, but I’ll bet you a bottle of the best tequila they make that we do it “Harve said.” I hope your right, I won’t bet you but I will buy you a bottle if we make it back without being thrown in a Mexican Jail,” John said, “Anyway it is really nice to see you again, you and Toby.
CHAPTER 8: NOW, MEXICO, I THINK
(These young ladies really threw a monkey wrench in the plans of this story. But hell every body needs a little love in their life. I guess they deserve it too. It might even add a little color to a dull story, who knows? Now I think if the train comes in this morning we can get them back on the job as lawmen.)
The train came in a little early and they did have the car that had all the boy’s gear on it. They saddled all their horses and took all their extra stuff out to the marshal’s place and left it in his barn, plus the extra horses. The black kinda crow hopped around a little for a while but really never got serious, so things were back to normal. Three lawmen with full armament headed to Mexico They looked like a rough crew, two half breeds and a curly headed cowboy, what a crew. Their rifles were in their scabbards and their pistols on their hips. It was near dark when they came close to the border so they had a dry camp with no fire. It was still above 80 after dark and dark didn’t come before 9:30. They bedded down and took turns on watch. Any time you were near the border you needed to be real careful. They were up at first light and rode on into Nogales and stopped at the border crossing.
The US side wasn’t even open yet so they rode on over to the Mexican side where there were a couple of Border guards snoozing in the chairs out front. They jumped up at the sight of these 3 lawmen and woke up real fast. Harve said in perfect Mexican, “Where is your boss, we need to talk to him.” One of them took off in a dead run to a house down the street and knocked on the door. After about 10 minutes a short fellow came to the door, mad as an old wet hen. The guard pointed toward the 3 men sitting on their horses and then the Commandant went back inside and the guard came back and told Harve that the Commandant would be here soon. It wasn’t long till this short blocky fellow with 2 guns, wearing a big cowboy hat, came up and asked, “So what can we do for you fine looking fellows, I see you are all wearing badges, come on in the office. You must be the fellows Tom wired me about. Get us some coffee, Pedro. Jose, take good care of the officers horses will you.” Harve said, “I’ll come in but these fellows will stay with our mounts” as he dismounted and handed the reins to Toby. The Commandant just smiled at that and went on in to the office with Harve following him. He held out his hand and said, in Mexican, “My name is Tito Herrera. I am the commandant here on the border and am in charge of 50 men” Harve said, “My name is Harve Bodine and I’m lucky to be in charge of my self sometimes.” They shook hands and Tito broke out laughing, He said, “Boy, I can tell I really impress you, I like that, you are a good man. What can we do for you?”
Harve told him what he would like to do if it was all right with the commandant, There is a group of train robbers down in your country near here, by our information, maybe two days ride no more. We would like your help and the help of your men. We would go along just in case you need help in capturing these men. They are Killers, Probably 4 of them, maybe 5. That is if you don’t mind us riding with you” Tito smiled and puffed up just a little and hollered at Pedro, “Where is that coffee Pedro and bring some rolls, I’m hungry? “ Pedro came trotting in with coffee and some sweet rolls. Harve drank his coffee and listened to Tito give orders to Jose to wake up the men, they were going on a manhunt, and to bring lots of ammo. Jose took off in a dead run towards the barracks of the men. Of course there were only about 15 of them there. The others?? Tito claimed he would have to shoot several of them when he got back. But within an hour they were on their way 21 men in all. Tito left no one on guard at the station. But he did leave a note for his second in charge who was out getting drunk with some gal. The paper was smoking it was so hot.. Old Tito was mad as a hornet in a nest that just got knocked down. He rode a big bay horse, someone had to help him on and off, he was so short. As they rode out of town Harve looked behind them and saw dust rising. He turned to Tito and asked him what was following them. He told him that was extra ammo and food, maybe a girl or two. They rode till mid-afternoon and found some shade for an hour siesta, cooked some lunch, as the wagons had caught up with the group. Tito came over to the marshals and asked them to join him for lunch. They did. Actually he hollered over to Harve, “Hey, you Mexican talking gringos, how about some lunch?”
The cooks had made a quick lunch but it was good and had a big stack of fresh tortillas. After lunch and a short rest they saddled up their horses and started on the trail again. They had an Indian tracker, and he was good. He had already found out where the gang was holed up a couple of weeks ago. They went straight toward the place, hoping that the crooks hadn’t left yet, went straight to the place they were holed up. The tracker was the one hired by the first group that came down. He was on the trail and didn’t know that the Federalles had arrested them all. Fact was they were still in Jail. They made camp in a small arroyo, with some grass and fresh water. The wagon was right with them and the cooks help make camp. After a hot supper and the horses were staked out they all gathered around a small campfire. Several of the bunch pulled out some instruments and started playing ‘Mariachi’ music. The gals that came to cook, got out and danced for the men. “These Federalles really know how to go on a man hunt, first class,” Toby said. “I guess they were just waiting for the US to make a move” John said. One of the gals came over and grabbed Toby and made him get up and do the Mexican hat dance with her. There was a lot of laughter with that and the group was really laid back. Before long the Commandant held up his hand and gave a signal that was enough. So they all hit the hay. Early the next morning, Tito came over where the marshals were getting dressed and told them it wasn’t far now. If they were still there, it would be only about an hour ride. The group was more serious this morning and checked their guns and saddled their horses right after a bite of breakfast. They did visit with the three lawmen on the last leg of the trip. Tito came up to where they were and told them how it would go down. He said, “We will surround the house and give them a chance to surrender, which they probably won’t. Nobody likes our jails. Then we see what happens. You, Mr. Bodine, will have to make the arrest to make it legal. If they surrender they might have a chance to go back to the states, but a small chance.” Harve said, “You mean two chances, slim and none, is that about it?” Tito just laughed and then said, “You got it amigo”
In a little over an hour the Tracker came up to Tito and told him there were three men there and they were all asleep as far as he could tell. He said the horses were out back in a barn. Tito called his men around and told them the plan, “Three men slip around to the barn first, in case they try to make a break for the horses. Then we will circle the house afoot and demand their surrender, Bodine here will do that, as he is the US Marshall in charge.”
The three troopers went around to the barn and got ready, then about six men went to each side of the house and kinda hid. The Robbers were unaware yet of anything going on. Harve, John and Toby went with Tito up to the front of the house, but not too close. Harve Helloed the house with a statement of why they were here, “ Hello inside, we have the place surrounded, come out with your hands up now. I’m a U.S. Marshal working with the Federalles. If you surrender, I will do my best to get you back to the states. If not, I can’t guarantee just what you have in store for you”. About that time a window was broken out and a rifle was stuck out towards the small group in front of the house. Harve and John and Toby fired almost the same time and the rifle disappeared back inside the house. Harve and the rest took cover and waited for developments. It wasn’t long before the men inside started shooting at the troopers. The first shot killed one of them. Tito drew both guns and started firing at the windows of the house, as did all the other men. Wasn’t long before one of the robbers ran out the door with his pistols firing non-stop and he was cut down in short order. Tito gave word that the house was to be set on fire, but before they did another one came out blasting away, ending up to the same fate. He had so many holes in him you could have used him for a minnow seine. Talk about a Mexican war, these guys weren’t messing around. They loved the chance to shoot the hell out of some one. Then the shooting stopped and the troopers went inside to look for the other man. He was laying by the window badly wounded but still alive. Harve knelt down and talked to him, “Where did the forth man go? And where is all the money.” He told Harve that the forth man shot himself in the foot accidentally before they crossed the line and he went to a country Doctor over in Arizona. The money is in the kitchen cabinets. Then he passed over to the other side with several holes in him from the three marshals. Tito and his men swarmed in looking for the money and anything else they could find. Guns and clothes, ammo, what have you. They worked on a victor take his spoils type of deal. The marshals just stepped back out of the way. They got the horses of the men and claimed them so they could take the bodies back to the states, and prepare the bodies for the ride back to the states. This didn’t go over too good with the troopers but Tito told them that was necessary for the marshals to do. So that’s what they started to do. At least 3 days ride home. Tito rode up on his big bay and told Harve, “ It would be easier to bury them here I will write out a letter and what ever is necessary for you to get the reward money. We got ours here.” Harve turned to the other two and asked them what they thought. John said, “I would leave them here, just get all there ID and a statement from Tito. That should be good enough for the Marshall at Bowie and the railroad. But I think the tracker is entitled to a big share of this reward money. Without him it wouldn’t have been this easy.” Tito said, “Then is it settled? If so I will have the men bury the three men and give the horses to the wife of the trooper that was shot if that is OK, plus his share of the loot.” Harve was impressed with that speech and agreed to let them bury them in Mexico. This was accomplished in short order. There was priest in the little town, and he came over and gave final rights to the three men and the trooper. The troopers would take his body back with them to Nogales for burial there. This part of the job was through now. The group did the burial and loaded up and started back. Now, for part two.
CHAPTER 9: THE RESCUE
The Railroad officials and the Mexican government had talked about releasing the group they had in jail. But they wouldn’t let them have their horses or guns back unless they signed a paper that said they got good treatment. That, they wouldn’t do. So it was at a standstill. Tito explained it to Harve and the other two Marshals. The group was held at a jail not too far away from where they were. Harve had orders to try to bring them all back Tito remarked that Harve and his friends were very easy to get along with while the other group were ass-holes, especially that rail road detective. The same one that had hassled the boys. Harve asked Tito how soon they might be released. Tito said, “As soon as you want them.” Harve was wondering just how he was going to get them back to Ft. Bowie, with out horses and he mentioned that to Tito. Tito said, ”For you and you only we will let them have their horses back as long as you are in charge of the group. We keep the guns and the saddles but will give them bridles and that is all.” Toby said, “That will go over big, but lets do it.” Tito sent a squad of men to get the prisoners and their horses. It wasn’t long till the group came walking up the street with guards on each side of them. Back behind the custom office there was a corral, with their mounts. They were all herded into the Commandants office where Harve and the other two marshals were standing. When the walked in and saw Harve and Toby, with U.S. Marshal badges on, they about died right there. Tito said, “I’m releasing you to these Marshals, for them to return you back to Ft. Bowie. He talked me into giving your horses back, but that is all. You will have to ride Indian style, bare back. Anybody that doesn’t like that will be our guests for a while longer.” The mouthy one started to say something and one of the marshals kicked him in the shin and told him to shut up. Tito just grinned and said. “Mr.Bodine, they are all yours. Harve turned to the group and said, “Just follow me and don’t be mouthing off and we will get you home. There is just so much I can do for you if you start raising hell about any thing. These boys would love just to throw away the keys after they lock you up again. So we will get on those horses and ride out without your saddles and guns, they are long gone. We can make the first town in Arizona by nightfall and get some food for you fellows. Is that understood?” The marshal of the group said, “Yes Sir, well put and easy to understand.
They walked out the backdoor and caught their horses and put the bridles on them. Most just swung up and had no trouble. A few of the ponies had never been ridden with out a saddle and there were a few wrecks, but nobody said a word. They just got back on and tried again. Wasn’t long till they were headed out of Nogales and toward Arizona. About 10 miles up the road Harve called a halt at a small stream so they all could get a drink and water their horses. Of course they needed to stretch their legs a little. They weren’t used to riding bareback. There was one older Marshal that was in pain and John rode over and put his saddle on the horse the Marshal was riding, John didn’t say a word, just swung up on his App and started back down the road. The old marshal was dumb struck but stepped up in the saddle and gave out a big sigh. They made it to a small town about dark and the men were really sore and tired. It was still warm out so they could just bed down on the grass and hope the rattlers would stay away. Harve and Toby went into town and got some food for them and some canteens full of water to carry the next day. One more long day and they would be there.
The railroad detectives were really sore, as it had been years since they had been on a horse. They all got together after they rested a while and Harve told them of the shootout they had been in. The mouthy detective started to use his mouth and the older Marshal told him to shut his trap, that it was his big mouth that got them in this mess any way. He still was wondering about the Marshal badges and nobody explained to him. Harve and Toby just smiled at him, which really had him wondering what the hell was going on. Early the next Morning they all straddled their horses even though it hurt like hell. They got off on the road after a quick bite of food and some coffee that they brought from town for them. Harve didn’t bother to tell them there was a hotel in town. Oh well. They made it ok. As they rode down the road the older marshal named Bob rode up along John and Toby. He said, “I really want to thank you guys for getting us out of there. That was hell, and for the use of your saddle. That bareback ridding was killing me. You seem to be at home with or without a saddle.” John said, “ That is because the Indians in Montana raised me. We had no saddles. I’m half Indian, as is Harve. Toby here is straight Gringo. Can’t even speak much Mexican lingo.” Bob said, “How did you get on this job down here in Mexico?” John said,” That’s a long story for later.”
About noon Harve stopped at a small stream and let the men rest, and cool off. They were getting used to the bareback stuff and didn’t complain as bad. They had a little lunch and then took off for Ft. Bowie. A little after 4 in the afternoon Harve led the group right down the streets of Bowie and then on to the Fort. The officer in charge came out to see what was coming. Harve rode right up and told him that he was turning these men over to him, as the Mexican Government instructed him. There was a lot of talking breaking out all down the line of men. The old marshal rode up and explained it to the officer and then rode back to where John was sitting on his horse, He said, “Lets go to the marshal’s office and I’ll give you your saddle back” Hank was standing out front when the rag tag group went by. When John and Bob came back to the office they tied up the horses as Toby and Harve rode up. They went inside and Hank just smiled and handed Bob a bottle of whiskey. Bob said, “Water will do for now,” as he gave the whiskey back. “Where did you come up with these three boys at? They are worth their weight in gold.” Hank said, they are imports from a friend of mine in Colorado by the name of Tom. He is the main reason you got out of that jail in 2 weeks. It could have been a lot worse. What caused them to throw you guys in jail any way?” Bob said, “We won’t go into that now. I’m just glad it is over, my ass is killing me, and if it weren’t for John here I wouldn’t have made it. “
Harve came in with Toby and they gave all the ID’S and letters from Tito to Hank. He mentioned that if it weren’t for the Indian tracker it would have been a lot harder to do. So if and when the reward is paid, be sure he gets his share. Hank said, ”That you can be sure of, I’ll take care of it and I will have all of it here in a week or two. By the way, your lady friends are happy as clams out there on the ranch, except they miss you lugs. My, my looks like another episode coming up later.
TO BE CONTINUED . . . . .
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