Dead Hanging Tree
Army Scout Tom - TheContinuation
I heard my Nightingale floor sing. Tom was back to finish his story.
"After Boney and I found the campsite where the Arapahos and the women were spending the night, we spooked the Indians' horses. Braves ran after them as they are necessary and without them, the men lose face in their village. We knew they would keep searching until they found them. We also knew they would be looking for the five broncs we stole. The men would think they had run off with the rest.
"Boney led the way as we slid quietly down the hill to the women.
"'Look! Look, they're coming back. They'll kill us for sure,' said one of the women. 'The rest was crying and whimpering.
"'Hey! Be quiet. We're here to help you. Sh-sh-sh!
"Boney kept a lookout while I went to the captives. Their hands were tied and each had an arm and a leg tied to another woman. Pulling my knife from its sheath buckled to my leg, I cut the leather thongs that were so tight they bit into the skin. I whispered, 'Don't leave any of the ties behind. When they come back they may think you are running away, tied together. They will think you did not get far and will narrow their search.
"'Follow me and be quiet,' said Boney under his breath.
"Boney began climbing up the hill. The women, in bare feet that were cut and bruised, followed and I brought up the rear.
"At the horses, I asked, 'Can any of you ride bareback?' Two women said they could as they rode farm horses when they were girls. 'This will be different than riding a plow horse, but you have some idea so Boney will help you get on two of the Indian ponies. You three haven't ridden a horse?'
Shaking their heads they each said, 'No.'
"'Two of you will ride Boney's horse and mine as they have saddles. Boney and I can ride bareback and the last pony will be for you,'I pointed to a cowering, little gal, maybe 16 years old, 'you are lightweight so you can ride the last Indian pony. Boney and I will ride on each side of you to help you stay on.'
"We got each woman on a horse and the little one had to stuff part of her torn dress into her mouth to muffle her sobs as she couldn't stop crying and shaking.
"Boney tied each horse to the one in front of it and with Boney, and I, hanging onto the girl led the way. Cloud cover blocked the moon as it drifted by.
"I dropped back after we started. I cut some sagebrush and using my rope, I dragged it over the hoof prints. I caught up with the group and we walked the horses for several minutes.
"'Can't we go faster? They will know we are gone and come after us,' said a woman.
"'The horses will make too much noise if they gallop, and you ladies may fall off, and we will be more delayed.
"After an hour, Boney dropped back to check on whether the Arapahos were following us.
I put the horses into a slow gallop and watched the women as they hung tightly to the manes.
Clouds skidded over the moon at times and we stayed close to the cliffs to hide our shadows. Near a large outcropping, we stopped to rest the horses and the women. The ladies slid off into heaps on the gritty dirt. The youngest one had stopped crying.
"Before daylight, we started again. I or Boney kept dropping back to see if we were followed. We stayed in the shadows whenever possible. Before noon we stopped by a creek with several trees.
We rested for two hours and watered the horses and ourselves. The exhausted and suffering females sat on the edge of the creek with their feet in the refreshing stream as they cupped their hands to bring the water to their face to drink and wash.
"Boney and I had a tough time getting the women to get back on their mounts. They wanted to get to the fort but they felt too weak. I threatened them. 'If you gals don't get on the horses, Boney and I will have no choice but to leave you here for the Arapahos. We don't want them to get us.' I guess they believed I meant what I said, and they struggled up and we got them on their horses. Truth is Boney may have left them, that I don't know, but I wouldn't. I was given a job to do and I do it whether I like it or not.
"Just before sundown, we arrived at the fort. Inside the gate, all five of the widows slid off and collapsed on the ground. The fort surgeon rushed out to them and had them taken to the small dispensary.
"Boney and I stabled our horses. It was then I saw my extra saddle blanket was missing from the stall. I searched the barn, turning over every crate and barrel. I walked out onto the parade grounds and there was my saddle blanket on a roan with a trooper riding in drill formation.
I ran over and pulled the man down. I beat him as hard as I had time to do before I was pulled off of him. He lay in a crumpled heap. His nose was bleeding, and he was clutching his stomach as he moaned.
"'What are you doing? What's in your craw?' asked a sergeant.
"'He took my extra saddle blanket.'
"'Maybe he didn't know it was yours. He's a nice guy.'
"'Don't matter. No one takes anything from me. Never.' I tore the saddle off the mount and dumped it on the ground. I took the blanket."
I interrupted Tom and asked, "Did you get punished?"
"Why? I was in the right. Everyone knew it was mine. Can't get punished for getting back what is yours."
I heard my Nightingale floors sing and I knew Tom had left. Tom, the women, the Arapahos, and Boney are gone now, but they did live in the Yellowstone area at one time. There is more to his life story that will be in my upcoming book Dead Hanging Tree. I may to Tom's story to make it more interesting to the reader. I don't think he will mind. If he does he can't do anything about it as he died June 5, 1909.
Remember, May 20th, all subscribers will get a true story of Joe Stinson in the army and his encounter with a rattlesnake. If you know of someone who hasn't subscribed let them know time is running out. They can go to my Facebook page Patricia Stinson and find the black box to click on and subscribe. Everything is free. In June there will be a contest and the winner or winners will get a $5.00 gift card