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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

RANCHO REYES Chapter 19 A Task for the Mescalero Apaches

Indians would Help them Retrieve their Cattle

When John and company arrived back at the Hacienda there was a lot of excitement.  

John asked what was going on and one of the peons said Senior was getting ready to go after the rustlers.  John told Raul to settle the ranch hands down and cool out until he found out what Senior had in mind.

He found Senior and asked what was going on.  Senior said he was getting ready to go after the rustlers for they had rounded up several of his best studs and mares along with about a hundred head of cattle.  They were getting ready to head south into Mexico where it would be next to impossible to retrieve them.

John said for Senior to calm down and let him handle it.  It took about an hour to convince Senior that he had no business getting involved in what could escalate into a small war with the Mexican army.  

All the time John was convincing Senior to settle down he had Raul and Pablo to pick a few riders to go with him.  All the ranch hands wanted to go but were told they had to stay and guard the ranch.  This satisfied them somewhat for they didn’t want the ranch to be unguarded.

John gave instructions on how they were going to handle the rustlers.  They would only leave a narrow passageway for them to head for the border, while he would head for the mountains where the Mescalero’s camped.

They surrounded him when he passed into their lands and were threatening to do him harm until a couple of the braves recognized him.  They took him to the Chief who was glad to see him which was unusual for a Mescalero.

John made a deal where the Chief and an overwhelming show of force by the Indians would approach the rustlers and cause them to flee.  Then part of the Indians would chase them until they were far into Mexico.

John said the Chief could have half of the cattle and in the future he would supply them with more if needed.

Things went as John had planned and they cut out half of the herd for the Chief.  Raul questioned John’s giving the Chief the cattle and the promise of more if needed.  

John said it was better for us not to get into a shooting war with the Mescalero’s and the cattle was a cheap price to pay for no one getting shot or killed.

Now as to giving them more if they needed them he said if they needed more they would just take them anyway so this way we are acting like friends which they will respect.  This is the price of living on the Border.  

When Senior saw John and Raul return with the horses and many of the cattle he wondered how they did it.

No one was wounded as you might expect so he called Raul in and asked for an explanation.  After Raul explained everything Senior said you and the men did well.

John headed for bed for he wasn’t used to being the saddle for these many hours.  

As John lay on the bed with most of his body aching he had a moment of reminiscing where he found himself back on his father’s hacienda.  His father and mother were there and he was a young man.  He was riding among the many Arabian horses - - he didn’t remember going to sleep or when Mae came to bed.

The next morning Mae woke him mid morning and laughed as he tried to get out of bed.  She said, “Some lover you are.  I waited for you to return and when you did…” he cut her off and said, “Stop, I’m in misery.  What I need is comfort and sympathy.”

She said, “Turn over and I’ll try to loosen you up you poor specimen of a man.”  

She was glad to have him back in one piece but didn’t let on how worried she had been.  The empty feeling she felt while he was gone still was with her and she wasn’t as gentle as she could have been while massaging his sore muscles.  She didn’t want him to ever go off and endanger himself again but she didn’t dare express her feelings for it would show a weakness that he wouldn’t welcome so she never let on how she worried.

It was lunch time before his muscles would allow him to move freely but he tried to act as if he was feeling great.  When he got back to his room he put his guns on, something he always did when at the ranch but this morning he had failed to do.  He stretched his arms for a while and then tried a couple of quick draws and found himself to be a lot slower than he normally was.

The thought came to him; I sure hope this isn’t a permanent condition.  He told Mae he was going riding and try to work out some of his soreness.  She laughed and said, “Now don’t you go and hurt yourself for I have big plans for you.”

He picked out a frisky half mustang to ride for his horse was tired from the long ride they had been on the last few days.  The horse he picked out was a great cow pony but took some settling down before he got down to business.

He led him out of the corral and as soon as he was seated the horse went skyward almost unseating John.  When the horse hit the ground every nerve in John’s body ached.  Then as quick as the horse acted up he settled and was as calm as could be.  All the ranch hands had gathered round to see what would happen when John forked that beast.

They had all pretended to be busy but now were howling with laughter.  John wondered what day it was for he wanted to remember it as the worst day of pain in his life.  After the horse settled down he laughed along with the hands for they had set him up.

He remembered saying that he wanted an easy riding animal and they said this horse was one of the gentlest.

He had to admit they were right after the first ten seconds.  He thought if he was working cattle or horses he would love to use the horse for he was one of the best he had ever used.

Out of earshot of the Hacienda he practiced pulling his guns and after his wrists were freed up he shot and killed some cactus and one unfortunate copperhead that happened to be along the way.  
He came to the river and decided to take a bath and swim to aid his recovery.  While splashing around the water the mustang let out a loud whinny, and John quickly swam over to his guns which he strapped on his naked body.  He just stood there in the water as a couple of Indians came up and stared at him.  They looked at him and at each other then one spoke in Apache.  

They said they were hunting for deer and had seen a man hiding along the trail waiting with a rifle.  They went around him for they didn’t want to get in a shooting match with him.  John remembered seeing them in the Mescalero camp when he was there so he bid them goodbye in their language.  

By the time John was out of the water they had disappeared.  After putting his clothes on he decided to find out what this bushwhacker wanted for that was what he must be.
From what the Indians had told him he spotted where the man was.  He got off his horse and managed to come up behind the man.

By the time the man realized someone was behind him John was right on him.  Before he could raise his rifle John put three shots between his legs and the man dropped his rifle immediately.  

John covered the few feet between them in a couple seconds and grabbed someone who was small in stature.  As he shook him his hat came off and from what he felt and saw he realized it wasn’t a man.  

He quit shaking her and she collapsed in his arms.  She was completely out of it.  He picked her up and threw her over his shoulder.  Then he picked up her rifle and carried her to the river and tried to revive her.  Outside of a moan or two she didn’t respond.

She wasn’t that heavy so he threw her over the saddle and mounted behind her.  He went at a slow gallop and was thinking this is the second time I have ended up with a young female that was in desperate trouble.  He was back at the Hacienda in a half hour.

Mae was in the center of the courtyard when John came in and she took the girl as he released her.  They took her in the house and put her to bed.  After sending the men out of the room Mae and one of Senior’s daughters removed her clothes and began to treat her cuts and remove thorns that were stuck in her.  
After an hour they had her pretty well cleaned up and her wounds treated.  She had a fever so they took turns sitting up with her and kept cold cloths on her head during the night.

Mae wanted to know how John came upon her and he told her what he knew and how it came about.

The next day the young woman came to and the next few days they nursed her back to health.  As it turned out she was about fourteen years old and apparently hadn’t ever been with a man which they established by inspection while she was out.  

This was about all they ever got out of her for she couldn’t remember anything about anything.  Mae took to her and decided to take her with them back to Santa Fe when she and John returned to their new house.

To be Continued     


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