Phyllis is an enthusiastic researcher, reader, and writer of history. Historical fiction based on actual facts is her expertise.
Part five continued from Jimmy Evans: Back on the Trail
Jimmy Needs me now
David and Mat rode in and stopped in front of Johnny. "Did you find Jimmy? Charley rode in and told us Jimmy was missing." When Johnny shook his head, David wanted to leave right away.
"Hold up, David," Johnny looked as worried as David and Mat. "It will be too dark soon. Let's wait till first light then go."
David looked up at the sky. "It's going to be a clear night and a full moon will be rising," he looked back at Johnny. "My boy is out there and I'm going to find him. Wait till morning if you like. Jimmy needs me now."
"I'm going with him. Jimmy is his wife's brother. He won't wait for anything. Get a
wagon ready in case I come back for it. I got a feeling we will need it." Mat followed David.
Gabe went out back to the stables. Several minutes later he came back with the wagon and two horses harnessed to it. On instinct, Gabe threw a lot of blankets in the wagon. He told Johnny, "I gotta feeling Mat is right so I'll follow them. Indians don't attack at night, but you fellas stay alert anyway."
David and Mat rode at a slow pace. They were used to tracking at night and knew what signs to look for. The moon was already rising and cast long shadows. Their eyes had become adjusted to the night and the moon seemed to be guiding them with its soft light. Gabe followed close behind in the wagon.
Search for Jimmy
They were out for about two hours when David and Mat stopped. The full moon was now almost directly above them and illuminated the area brightly. David signaled a halt to Gabe and motioned for him to get out his rifle, as both he and Mat pulled out their own.
After dismounting they walked their horses to the wagon and tied them to the back. David looked tense and worried. Voices carried a long way out in the desert, so he whispered to Gabe.
"There are six ponies just around the bend. Looks like the Indians must have gone up to some large rocks where Jimmy might have run to for cover. You stay here and keep out of sight as you watch for trouble. Mat and I will go see what's up there."
Gabe nodded his head and put his hand down on David's shoulder. A silent message of support and care passed between the two men. With an aching lump in his throat, David nodded and left.
Sense of Death
No campfire and no murmur of voices could be heard above. The erie silence was like an omen and the sense of death was strong. David could feel the aura of death as if it were a creature skulking and creeping around the area. His heart was pounding and he wanted to rush ahead to find Jimmy. He had to know now if his new son was alive or dead. It took all his emotional strength to carefully proceed and be ready for danger.
Near the top of the trail were two dead bodies. Both were Indians. With six ponies below there were still four Indians somewhere. David motioned for Mat to go to the left of the large boulder just ahead and David went to the right. When they reached a clearing, there were three more bodies.
David and Mat shouldered their rifles then drew pistols. They checked the bodies which were Indians and all were dead. Jimmy was no where in sight and one Indian was missing. Many thoughts rushed through their minds as to Jimmy's fate.
As they were about to search the area David stopped and motioned to a few smaller boulders and sagebrush to the left. He touched his ear and gave Mat a questioning look. Mat shook his head - he did not hear anything. David put both hands around his mouth and mimicked the pygmy owl sound.
There was only silence so he tried again. This time a few weak notes of the owl call came back then the sound of small rocks being disturbed.
David Heard Something
The Last Indian
With trepidation and guns ready the two men went up behind the boulders and saw Jimmy lying on the ground. He had been shot with three arrows, two in his right thigh and one in his left shoulder.
The effort to get David's attention with the owl call and kicking some pebbles had caused severe pain, leaving Jimmy unconscious. The last Indian was dead and laying just a few feet from Jimmy.
Jimmy's pistol was still in his right hand. A large knife was laying on the ground next to the Indian's hand.
David quickly bent down to Jimmy as Mat checked to make sure the Indian was dead - he was shot at close range through the heart. David checked Jimmy for life signs. Mat reached in his shirt and pulled out a small medicine kit. "Is he alive, David?"
"Yes, but very weak pulse," David removed his kerchief and soaked it in water from his canteen. He moistened Jimmy's lips and forehead while Mat worked fast to remove the arrows and treat the wounds.
Jimmy was still unconscious when Mat finished. "That's the best I can do for him now, David. Let's get him down to the wagon and wrap him in blankets. There is a danger of infection and fever," Mat looked worried. "I can do more when we get him to the station."
They got Jimmy down the hillside and into the wagon but it was not easy. Jimmy was regaining consciousness and feeling pain. David sat in the wagon to hold Jimmy as still as he could to protect him from bumps and the long rough ride ahead. "Can you give him something for pain, Mat?" David was doing his best to comfort Jimmy.
"It won't do much good now, David. Any pain medication will not work too well during the ride back to the station. It is going to be hard on him because the trail is not an easy one. Besides, it might be good if Jimmy comes to enough to sip some water once in a while. And you have to watch for signs of fever. The more alert he becomes the better, so he knows where he is and knows he is safe now. I'll give him a shot of morphine when we get him into his bed then check all his wounds for more cleaning and better bandaging."
David kept talking softly to Jimmy, hoping the boy would hear and understand. "It's okay, Jimmy. You are safe. We will take good care of you. And yes, I will be your Pa."
We Can't Outrun Them
Mat untied his horse from the wagon and mounted. "Okay, Gabe, do the best you can on getting us back safe." Gabe nodded and started out.
The ride was going slow because of the uneven trail. David did the best he could to keep Jimmy from feeling the bumps, but Jimmy was moaning a lot and becoming more conscious.
"It won't be long, David, that we will be on a smoother trail then we can speed up a bit," Gabe called out. "Sorry, it is so rough now."
"You're doing fine, Gabe," David checked Jimmy's legs to make sure the blanket padding was still tight.
Then Mat yelled, "Riders coming up behind us! Lots of them. Stop the wagon, Gabe, we gotta hold and defend cause we can't outrun them."
Gabe stopped the horses, secured the reins, set the break, then pulled out his rifle. He jumped into the back of the wagon to help David get Jimmy into a safe position laying down. They both knelt in front of Jimmy, their rifles ready and aimed for whatever was coming around the bend. Mat had already tied both his horse and David's to the front of the wagon and got in the back.
All three men knelt with their rifles ready and aimed towards where the attack was coming from. They all had the same thoughts on their minds. Will they be able to hold their own and come out alive?
Maybe Their Last Battle
They were ready to shoot and maybe fight their last battle. Then the first pony came around the bend followed by five more. They were riderless, they were the Indian ponies. The men lowered their rifles and watched as the ponies slowed down and stopped behind the wagon. David almost laughed he was so relieved.
"Attack of the ponies. Well, I never ...," Gabe chuckled. "Poor fellas must be lonesome."
"Guess we can get on back to the station," David said. "Looks like you'll have some extra ponies to care for, Gabe."
"Yup. Till Numaga and some warriors come lookin' for em," Gabe climbed back up on the driver's seat. Mat got his and David's horse and tied them to the back of the wagon. Slowly they made their way back to the station. Jimmy was shivering with chills so Mat and David wrapped more blankets around him.
"We have to keep him as warm as we can. He may break out in a fever soon," Mat handed David a canteen. "He's regaining consciousness. Help him to sip water often."
Gabe left the Indian ponies out in the corral. He was right about Numaga paying them a visit. Two days later the war chief showed up with four warriors.
To be Continued
© 2020 Phyllis Doyle Burns