right thing to do. Coldiron and I will be all right, as long as we keep our senses about us, and our eyes and ears open. You shouldnât have to worry about any danger to yourself. This close to the fort, that war party is obviously headed north as fast as they can go, and you should reach Fort Ellis by noon. Canât be more than about fifteen miles from here. Am I right, Coldiron?â
âThatâs about right,â Coldiron replied. âYouâve come about full circle from my place on the Gallatin.â
âCome to think of it,â Bret continued, âfor that distance, you could take the horses back with you. Might be best to load the dead on their horses and take them back to Fort Ellis to bury.â
âSir,â McCoy protested, not at all happy with the idea, âI donât think one man can handleââ That was as far as he got before Bret stopped him.
âYou have your orders, soldier,â Bret snapped, confident that he himself could lead the horses back, and if he could, then McCoy should be able to manage it. âIâll take Sergeant Duncanâs horse with me. If weâre successful in rescuing those women, weâll need another horse. Thatâll give you one less to mind. Now letâs get those bodies loaded. Weâre losing time here.â
âYes, sir,â McCoy replied obediently while fuming inside.
Coldiron smirked at the complaining soldier and said, âThat beats havinâ to dig graves for all of âem.â
McCoy didnât respond vocally, but he told himself heâd gladly dig a grave for him and the lieutenant.
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
Private Tom Weaver climbed to the top of a deep ravine and anxiously looked back over the way he had come. It was two hours past dawn now and he had been walking since about ten thirty the night just passed. His eyes squinted, straining against the rising sun in an effort to see any sign of anyone following him. After a few long moments of peering back toward the valley, he sat down, relieved to be able to rest before starting out again. If anyone had seen him slink out of the camp, they would surely have caught up with him by this time. Taking another look back to the east just to be certain, he removed his right boot to examine his foot. Cavalry boots were not the best for walking and he feared he was getting a blister on the knuckle behind his big toe.
âDamn,â he swore softly when he found the skin broken. He took his handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped it around the injured foot, then pulled his sock over it. âBest I can do,â he said. Thinking back to where he had just come, he added, âHelluva lot betterân gettinâ scalped like the rest of the boys.â The thought brought a smirk to his face, certain he had escaped a massacre. âMy hair wouldnât look good on some wild Injunâs lance.
âI reckon olâ Lieutenant Fancy Pants would like to say it was my fault those damn savages snuck up on us,â he continued to himself. âI hope that bastard is dead.â He applauded himself for having the good sense to escape when he had the chance. âSame thing any of the other boys woulda done in my shoes.â
He pulled his boot on as carefully as he could, grimacing when the extra cloth under his sock made the boot tight. He got to his feet again and trudged back down the side of the ravine. He had no idea how far it was from the bend in the Yellowstone to Fort Ellis, but what little he did know about the location of the fort told him that it couldnât be far. He had left the river a couple of hours back; maybe he would make the fort by that afternoon.
As he walked, he thought about the chaotic moment when he was suddenly snatched from a solid sleep to discover screaming savages sweeping over his comrades, hacking and slicing like wild animals. He had his carbine, fully loaded, but it had
Roland Green, John F. Carr
R.L. Stine - (ebook by Undead)