Conzuela, Chapter 14 of Lee A. Wood s Novel, Fero

Copyrite `95.

SafeSurf Rated Adults Only


A novel

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Chapter Fourteen

Mountie in Red Serge
Author's note: Picture, courtesy of `WIKIPEDIA'


Trevor finished writing his report, sprinkled sand across the paper, gave it time to absorb the excess ink, then blew it off. Folding the papers, he handed them to `He Who Sleeps With Papoose'.

Trevor couldn't see the point in going all the way back to the fort and then, after spending a week mucking out stables, trek all the way back to the mountains again. And since this small band of Blood Indians was heading towards the fort.

He knew that once `He Who Sleeps With Papoose' said he would deliver the papers to the fort, it would be done. Not necessarily this summer. And when they did arrive, the papers might be quite unreadable due to sweat, rain, sun, etc. But at least he could say he did write them and did send them.

Trevor waited inside his tent until he heard the last of the natives leave, then peeked out.

Since his partner, a greenhorn, fresh out of Greece, had been gored by a bison, Trevor had kept a low profile, not wanting the natives to know he was alone, the rest of the troop having left a few days previously to escort some American Blackfeet back to the Montana, an Indian word that means `mountainous', Territories.

It would be a struggle to break camp. The folding of the tent was normally a two man proposition. He also didn't want the natives to see where he buried the tent. He was damned if he was going to pack the stupid thing around with him all summer. But, he would be damned, if he didn't return with it in the fall.

The rest of the day was spent digging holes and burying the tent, desk, and other accoutrements that the force required him to take on his outings. Trappings of civilization to impress the natives. By the time he had disguised his diggings it was time to make camp for the evening, a small fire, a skillet, and a bedroll under the stars.

Dawn came early and the light breeze that came down out of the nearby mountains was a little cool but Trevor could see the heat haze building on the horizon to the East. Spring was at an end and the day would be warm.

Keeping his uniform handy, on top of his bedroll, behind his saddle, he stored his underwear in his pack. Wearing only a loin cloth, he made breakfast and then broke camp.

North, he had been before. West, was the tall rugged Rockies. He turned South. He wasn't sure how far it was to the boundary between the North West Territories and the Montana Territories but in this unsettled wilderness it really didn't matter.

His job was to secure the country in the name of law and order and it really didn't matter which side of the boundary he was on. Especially since he was unlikely to encounter anyone who really knew where it was. And the rapscallions who he was looking for wouldn't respect it anyway.

Not that he was expecting to encounter too many owl hoots this far West. The buffalo herds didn't seem to come this close to the mountains which meant the buffalo hunters, Indians, and the whiskey traders, were generally further East. And that was the way he liked it.

In `73 the Yanks had shipped some fifty thousand buffalo robes out of Canada and with the price up to six and ten dollars a robe in `74, this year was bound to be worse.

Trevor had seen and killed enough buffalo hunters and whiskey peddlers to do him a life time. It seemed that that was all he and his troop mates had done, winter and summer, since they had arrived in the territories.

The only good thing he had seen come out of all the Yankees was the repeating rifles he had retrieved when he had rescued Liliya. They were far better than the single shot 577 Snider- Enfield Mk. III's issued by the Force.

Liliya, he wondered where she was, and cursed the officers for having sent her South, before he got back from patrol. He agreed with them, that she was probably a lady of breeding and wouldn't have taken to life on the frontier, but he would still have liked to said goodbye.

But he had been over that ground before. Patrols in the wilderness didn't occupy a lot of his mind and his mind often turned to the women of the past. It certainly couldn't turn to the women of the present, as there weren't any.

All he had seen out here were Indians.

Not that some of them weren't starting to look good, but most of them were starving, and if any of them were half way attractive they already had a man.

And he was definitely sticking to his policy of not messing with married women. The last thing he needed was trouble with the locals.

He and the rest of the force had enough trouble with them as it was. Between trying to feed them in the winter and keep them sober in the summer. That and trying to settle land disputes.

Both the Blood and the Sarcee claimed all the area he was in now. Plus the Blackfoot claimed the whole shebang. And to make matters worse the government was making noises of limiting the number of buffalo killed and controlling the way they were killed.

No, for the next while Trevor planned to take a bit of a holiday. He certainly couldn't get drunk in the local tavern, because there wasn't one.

And he couldn't go to the next town and chase women because the next town was several weeks ride in any direction. But now that he didn't have a partner to tell tales, he could conveniently get lost in the hills. Do a little mapping, a lot of napping, and maybe some fishing.

And so, he ambled along, roughly sketching lines on the crude map he had been issued. Dropping his line, or his body, into the clear streams that ran down out of the hills.

More often the former than the latter as the water was fed by glaciers high in the Rockies to the West. Not the warm idyllic streams that he remembered from Africa.

One thing Trevor had learned in his short life was that man was forever curious. There is not a place on this planet that he hasn't set foot. Another thing Trevor knew for certain is that man is the lowliest and most vile of all God's creations. For wherever man goes he will commit atrocities.

Had the fire happened weeks ago Trevor would have paid no mind but there were still wisps of smoke arising from some of the charred logs.

The small cabin had been built, in a small clearing, beside a small stream. The crystal clear water gurgled along a snake like path through the clearing before its banks became lined with willow and it disappeared into the pine trees. Brook trout could clearly be seen cavorting in the pools.

Trevor would have liked to take the time to tease a couple with a string, and hook, but duty called. Putting on his boots, to save his moccasins, he probed through the ashes.

Little remained of the cabin walls, or the roof. The structure had been a couple of years old and the logs were dry enough to burn rapidly.

The owner had been near the door and the roof had collapsed on him. Only bits of a gun belt suggested the person had been male.

A rock chimney stood at one end and some of the roof poles still leaned against it, slowly smouldering under a layer of sod that had formed part of the roof.

A black trail showed where a clothesline had fallen, the fire following it from the cabin to a tree. Luckily the grass had been damp enough that it hadn't caught and spread to the forest.

A garden suggested that their had been a woman of the house. Trevor surmised that she was probably somewhere under the remains of the roof.

A well built corral, with an open gate, and hoof prints, showed that here had been horses. A small barn, and bucket, indicated that there had been a milk cow. Chickens pecked lazily at the ground, undisturbed by Trevor's presence.

Trevor followed the tracks of the horses to a trail that disappeared into the trees. The trail was made wide by the addition of several hoof prints from cattle. From a field, probably close by, the Indians had rounded up the livestock.

Trevor stood back and surveyed the scene. The cattle had come in from the forest and joined the horses and the riders and headed into the trees, to the West.

Plains Indians wouldn't travel West into the Rockies. And there were no other kinds of Indians in this area, at least that he had ever heard of.

Trevor returned to the cabin and took a closer look at the arrows that were scattered about. Though not an expert, by any means, Trevor felt that there was something not right about the manufacture of the shafts and the quills. As well there was some boot heels amongst the moccasin prints that didn't ring true.

Then he found the trail, spots of blood, two naked heels, being dragged, from the cabin to the hay pile. And there he found the remains of a dress.

Definitely the work of savages, white savages. Shedding his loin cloth, Trevor donned his uniform and checked his weapons.

When it was too dark to follow the trail Trevor camped for the night and started out again as soon as it was light. Near noon he found the naked body of a young lady. A bullet through her abdomen had been the cause of the bleeding.

The killers hadn't tried to put a bandage on, not that it would have done any good.

The bullet had entered the baby inside and that bleeding could not be controlled. They had used her until she had bled to death and then left her body in the trees.

There were signs of animals in the bush around her, but cougars preferred fresh kill and neither they nor bears care for the smell of humans. Only the crows and the flies had come to dine.

Near dusk Trevor was deep into the mountains and again he made a cold camp. By now the trail was easy to follow and it was plain that this was not the first time the killers had taken cattle through this area. Trevor expected, that up ahead, lay a rustlers hideaway.

Trevor rolled out of his blankets in the cold predawn. A quick wash in the cold creek removed any fog left in his brain.

The trail he had been following had become the middle of the creek.

From where he had camped the walls of the canyon closed in and there was no bank or trees on either side. Just sheer rock walls, towering hundreds of feet above him.

Above, the sky was reduced to a narrow band of ever lightening blue. Darkness still prevailed amongst the boulders that the water rushed around. Beneath the steady stream the cattle had pulverized the creek bed and Trevor's horse found it easy going.

As the sun rose higher, it's rays, skimming the top of the forest behind him, reflected off the canyon walls and began to light the bottom of the gorge. Ahead Trevor could make out a wide spot with trees growing near the waters edge.

This was the first possible place that a sentry could be posted so Trevor approached with caution. As luck would have it, Trevor had started early enough in the morning that the man on watch was still rolled in his blankets, otherwise no one could have approached this little oasis unseen.

Trevor slipped from his horse and slowly slid his feet through the water. Just as slowly, and quietly, he approached the sleeping form.

The man rolled, trying to hide from the cool mountain air, trying to snuggle into the blankets that Trevor had removed. For some reason he couldn't grasp the blankets.

Slowly, through his sleep fogged mind, he began to realize that his hands and feet were tied.

Totally bewildered his eyes sprung open to see an apparition in red holding the point of a polished sabre at his throat. The morning sun reflected from the shiny blade.

Trevor had no quarrel with taking prisoners when he had troop mates to back him up. Being alone however presented a different situation and leaving an enemy, even one tied up, behind, was tantamount to committing suicide.

After extracting as much information as he believed he could get, which was little as the man was obstinate, despite being frightened. Unwilling to be preoccupied while an enemy might be creeping up on him, Trevor, with one swift stroke, decapitated the outlaw.

The outlaw had camped in a small pocket in the side of the canyon. The canyon walls closed in again as Trevor moved upstream but shortly began to move further apart. As well the rise of the creek bed began to become more noticeable. Twice Trevor climbed through the middle of small cascades of water and then came to the pool the outlaw had told him about.

In the upstream end of the pool was the end of a log ramp that enabled men and horses to ascend the small waterfall that would have otherwise been insurmountable by four legged animals.

In the trees above the waterfall would be the man's horse. As well the next sentry would be on guard. Trevor knew he wouldn't catch the man sleeping this late in the day. To walk up the ramp would leave himself wide open, but there was no way around it.

Leaving his pack horses at the mouth of the pool he rode through the pool and dismounted at the foot of the ramp. If he crawled up the ramp he could probably spot the guard and shoot him but the echo would carry through the canyon walls and announce his arrival to the entire gang. Somehow he had to take this man quietly.

His horse didn't like the feel of the ramp under foot and was very hesitant about following Trevor. It took a lot of coaching and sweet talking on Trevor's part but, standing beside the ramp, waist deep in the frigid water, he finally got his horse to traverse the rest of the ramp on his own.

The only possible hiding place was under the ramp, in the cascade of water.

Not that the small stream of water was sufficient to hide him but he snuggled under the rock overhang so he couldn't been seen from above which meant that he was subjected to a glacial shower.

Instantly he was frozen to the bone, reminding him of the patrol they had made, in the early spring, when he was chasing a whiskey peddler across a small pond, jumping from one small ice flow to the next. He had jumped onto one that wasn't big enough to hold his weight and found himself under the surface of the frigid water.

The shock had taken his breath away and before he had had time to realize what he was doing he had opened his mouth to yell and had quickly swallowed half the pond. Choking and coughing he had battled his way to the surface and then, boots sinking in the soft floor of the pond, had struggled to shore.

While he had stood, dripping, allowing the early spring sunshine to dry him out, he had vowed to stay away from any combination of ice and water. Which of course was where he was now, water, direct from a glacier, pouring down on his head.

Luckily, the sentry above did not take too long to start down the ramp.

After Trevor's horse had walked up to him he had come to the ramp and started down, with Trevor's pack horses holding his attention.

The man must have sensed Trevor's movement. He turned as Trevor slipped out from under the ramp. The bayonet, mounted on the end of his rifle, was aimed at his back but glanced off a rib. The man howled in pain and, as he twisted, he lost his footing and fell, rolling down the ramp. The rushing water turned red as it rolled the man into the pool.

Trevor rushed forward before the man could yell again. As the man tried to rise Trevor bashed him in the head with the butt of his rifle. Then, reversing his weapon, he used the bayonet to finish the job.

Trevor could only hope that the man's first yell would dissipate amongst the cliffs and not carry back to his comrades.

The smell of the blood, floating on the water, was reaching the pack horses and Trevor waded across the shallow pool to calm them. Try as he might he could not get them to skirt the body of the outlaw and walk up the ramp.

Trevor dragged the body, by the booted feet, around the side of the pool and back behind the horses. Still they were very reluctant to climb the ramp.

Trevor was tempted to leave them where they were but he didn't know how long he would be and didn't want to leave them standing in the cold water.

After much coaxing, patting, sweet talking, and nudging, he, finally, got the first horse to start up the ramp. Reluctantly, the others followed.

At the top of the ramp the canyon opened out and the banks of the creek were lined with trees. Here he found his horse along with two others.

If his pack horses weren't glad to get their feet out of the water and onto dry ground, Trevor sure was. As an added bonus the guard had had a small fire going and on the edge was a pot of coffee.

Trevor didn't normally like the vile tasting American beverage but at times like this, anything warm, was more than welcome. Right now he would have welcomed a shot of Whoop-Up Wallop. Then he noticed a jug of it beside the outlaws saddle. Not only did the Yankees peddle it to the Indians they drank it themselves. Pouring a generous portion of the vile liquor, a mixture of whiskey, chewing tobacco, red pepper, Jamaica ginger, molasses, and water, into a tin mug, he topped it off with the contents of the coffee pot. Between sips of the hot, black tar, he removed his boots and, after dumping the water out, placed them by the fire to dry out.

From a pack he extracted dry socks, moccasins, and an empty sack. Placing his wet stockings beside his boots, he dried his feet and put on the clean socks and dry moccasins. Then with the sack he proceeded to rub the legs of the horses.

It was while he was drying the legs of the last horse that he noticed two riders approaching. All sound was obliterated by the burble of the water rushing into the gorge. He could see their mouths moving but not hear the words they were saying. Their meaning was obviously clear as they were lifting and pointing weapons at him. If it hadn't been for the scarlet tunic he may have been able to pose as their partner, until they got closer, but as it was he barely had time to move aside before he got shot.

Rolling backwards from his squatting position he opened the flap on his holster and withdrew his pistol. Although the Deane and Adams was a good weapon for close range the advancing duo were still too far away for effective shooting. His Martini- Henry was by the fire and his sharps buffalo rifle was on his pack horse, neither of which was close at hand. He did however have two horses between him and his attackers and taking advantage of the cover, he scooted into the trees.

Now he had the advantage. As the outlaws were trying to push their way through the milling horses, they were distracted long enough for Trevor to hide behind a tree and, bracing his hand against the sturdy trunk, take aim.

He didn't know if there were still more outlaws but he knew that if there were they would be alerted by the shots. However at this juncture he wasn't inclined to take time to search for other options.

His first shot missed but as the noise of the shot reverberated off the canyon walls the outlaw brought his horse to a stop and looked up in astonishment. The moment that his body was still was more than enough time for Trevor to take aim. Now he was steadier and the bullet from the heavy calibre pistol entered the man's chest and opened his back, literally lifting him out of the saddle.

The time it took for this action was more than enough time for the second man to leave his saddle voluntarily and disappear amongst the frightened horses and the stately trees.

Now it was a game of stalking. Trevor didn't know how well versed his opponent was at this game but he had confidence in himself.

He had played this game more than once and had learned the skills of it in the jungles of Africa, where some of the contestants, though not necessarily more deadly, were certainly more frightening, than man.

The noise of the creek, unless the outlaw was really close, negated his sense of hearing. The loss of hearing was of no real consequence to Trevor. In Africa his adversaries made no sound as they moved. Neither had his mentor, despite his injured leg.

Olandipo, who Trevor was sure had been thrown overboard, by the slavers, to drown, in the Atlantic Ocean, would have been proud of him. Despite the weight of the gun his arm never moved, though it cried to do so. Only his head turned, ever so slowly, watching for any sign of movement with his peripheral vision.

Finally his opponent moved. The man's buttocks appeared, slightly, above a log as he slithered from tree to tree. Although moving in the wrong direction, he was moving slightly closer to Trevor.

Gaining the protection of the next tree the man waited for a long time and then at a crouch moved to the next tree. After a much shorter wait he moved again.

As he left the screen of the tree a heavy forty-five calibre slug tore across his shoulders, severing his spine, and throwing him sideways.

Cautiously Trevor approached, and after determining the man was dead, just as cautiously left the trees in case others had arrived at the campsite.

So far Trevor had accounted for four owl hoots, but he had counted five sets of tracks. At least five men had escorted the cattle and horses into the canyon. Trevor had no way of knowing how many men were already in the canyon hideout before their arrival.

Surveying the field that stretched beyond the small area of trees that ran along the base of the canyon wall Trevor could see no sign of humans or buildings. He could see other cattle and more horses in the distance but he could not see the far edge of the canyon floor.

The skyline showed that the valley was nearly completely surrounded by canyon walls.

If there was another opening in the rock walls, other than the one through which he had entered, Trevor could not see it from where he stood. Nor could he see any sign of anyone else approaching.

It may be that the two who had tried to kill him had only been the morning relief for the two sentries he had killed.

Somewhere, in the direction from which they had arrived would be a camp or a cabin with one or more men. However there was no cover other than grass between here and there.

Determining that there was no one else nearby, Trevor mounted his horse, after tying a rope around the feet of the two dead outlaws near the fire then dragged them a long distance from the fire. Although he was pretty sure there would be no animals in this small canyon that would feast on the bodies he still did not bury them.

He could understand that in heavily populated places you couldn't have bodies lying about willy nilly. However, in remote areas, where people weren't all that likely to happen upon the corpses, before predators devoured the remains, what did it matter. Besides which, he was too lazy to expend the energy.

Back at the campsite, Trevor unloaded his pack horses and then cooked up something to eat. Though still early in the afternoon, while he was eating, the sun began to disappear. The small box canyon, though it covered many acres of rich fertile soil, was curtained off from the early morning, and late afternoon, sun. Nights would be long and dark.

By the time Trevor had finished eating, cleaning up the camp, and collecting any tools or weapons from the dead, that might be of future use, it was pitch dark. Though fairly early, Trevor spread his blankets and called it a day.

Trevor awoke, why, he was not sure. Looking about, all he could see was the black outline of trees. He had camped away from the small fire which had gone out some time ago. The only light came from a partial moon that would soon be beyond his limited horizon. He could only assume that outlaws had used that moonlight to approach the campsite looking for their comrades.

He couldn't see or hear anyone but it was probably their presence that had awakened him. Slowly he slid his hand, under the blanket, and extracted his revolver from its holster.

As he had done the day before, he waited for the others to make the first move. They would have found his horses, if not the bodies of their henchmen, and would be seeking him. Keeping his gun under the blanket so it wouldn't reflect any light he lay still except for a slow rotation of his head.

Eventually his patience won out over the stealth of his opponents. A black form moved slowly away from the trunk of a tree then stood still. If Trevor hadn't seen the movement one would think it was a tree, possible broken off by lightning.

Slowly, keeping his hand under the blanket he brought his weapon to bear. Creating a hole in the blanket as well as setting the dry wool on fire, he fired his pistol.

At the same time that the man screamed and fell to the ground, writhing in agony, Trevor rolled out from under his blanket.

As the moon disappeared beyond the limited horizon a voice called through the gathering darkness, "Did you get `em Rufus?" The only reply was a moan of pain from the wounded outlaw.

"Rufus? Is that you Rufus?" The plaintive voice cried out as footsteps fumbled through the brush on the ground.

The only light in the valley was that cast from Trevor's burning blanket and it reflected off the ragged clothes of an unkempt ruffian as he stumbled through the trees. His call for his partner died on his lips as Trevor's next shot, well aimed by the light of the small flame, killed the man instantly.

For some time Trevor, after a quick roll from his last position, lay still. Eventually the stirrings and moanings of the dying Rufus became fewer and quieter until silence, again, reigned.

The fire of the blanket had soon engulfed the blanket Trevor had been lying on and for a short time the immediate area was well lit.

A nearby bush caught a drifting spark and temporarily burst into a brilliant torch then just as quickly died, luckily, without spreading to any nearby trees.

After Trevor's eyes had become accustomed to the darkness and the sounds of the crackling bush had ended he continued to remain still for a long time before eventually sliding across the ground like a snake.

Moving well to his left, away from his burnt blankets and his recent kills, he slowly approached the tree line where he, just as slowly, slid up the trunk of a tree. Ever so slowly, with his back against the trunk he circled the tree. Trying to penetrate the stygian blackness with his ears, as well as his eyes, he surveyed his surroundings.

No sound, no moving shadows. Stars twinkling in a velvet sky. Far out in the meadow a bell tinkled, probably a milk cow grazing.

Cautiously moving back to his bed site, he collected his rifle and fixed the bayonet. Moving back to the field he found a long narrow stick.

Knowing that he would need the cover of darkness to explore the rest of the canyon, Trevor, staying within the tree line, proceeded, at a crouch, back towards the creek where he began to search for a trail.

Using the stick, much like a blind man would use his cane, he kept himself back from the edge of the creek. With his other arm he held the bayonet out in front of him as a probe less he bump into an unseen outlaw. With his feet, through the thin moccasins, he read the hoof prints of the animals.

At the mouth of the canyon, where the cattle had come up the ramp they had spread out and the ground in that area was well packed, leaving no main track. However by following the little creek, in the direction from which the two riders of yesterday had come, and casting about, Trevor found a path, well travelled by horses.

Moving ever so slowly and pausing often to listen, though even the low mooing of the cattle was partially drowned out by the steady rustle of the small creek, he had traversed the entire width of the canyon before daylight.

Although the sky overhead had been getting light for some time it took much longer for the darkness to begin to shrink into shadows on the valley floor.

Looking behind him, the faint silver threads of light on water showed Trevor that he had been following a gentle curve, the trail bordering the creek which in turn followed the canyon wall.

Ahead the wall seemed to make a sharp corner and the creek disappeared into the adjoining wall beneath what appeared to be a large pile of rock.

As Trevor crept closer, and the light began to grow, he could discern that the pile was not rock but a crude building built against the canyon wall with the creek actually flowing through the doorway.

Not wanting to be caught out in the open he stepped to the side and nearly bumped into another structure which proved to be a small corral.

Silently moving between the two structures he flattened himself against the canyon wall and waited until it was light enough to see that there was no window on the side of the rough log wall which was build out from the cliff face for about four feet.

Pressing his ear against the wall, which had not been chinked, he could hear a low moaning. Perhaps one of the outlaws had been wounded.

He was sure there was at least one inside as he could see one horse in the corral.

He was tempted to peek through the door but knew that that would be a foolhardy move as he would be outlined against the ever brightening sky and his eyesight would not be able to penetrate the dark interior.

Squatting on his heels, his rifle pointed towards the corner of the cabin, his ear resting against the cabin wall, he listened to the never ending moan from within.

After what seemed like hours, he heard some movement and a, sleep drugged, voice, "Stop that infernal caterwaulin', ya little bitch," followed by a slap of a hand against flesh.

The moaning neither ceased nor changed volume, "How the hell's a man supposed ta get any sleep around here."

A few moments later, the same voice, clearer, and much louder, with a pause between each name, came from the front of the cabin, "Richard, Rufus, Wilbur, Charlie, Harold." Slightly quieter, "Those layabouts are never around when they are needed. I truly don't believe they are a product of my loins. Now I will have to make my own breakfast." The volume of his voice rose to its highest decibel, "Tommy, you hear that Holstein bellowing. You better be out there milking it."

To Trevor's surprise a stomach proceeded, by a stream of urine, appeared around the corner of the cabin. The penis, unseen, was hidden beneath a stomach that was larger than Trevor could have ever imagined.

Too shocked to notice the pain in his thighs from having squatted so long, Trevor stood as the stomach continued to appear past the corner. Finally the enormous body that held the protuberance appeared and turned the corner.

Instinctively Trevor drew back his weapon. As it past his body the butt hit the canyon wall behind him, bringing the weapon to a stop with the bayonet extending some three feet in front of him, leaving insufficient room, for it and the stomach, between the corner, of the shack, and the canyon wall.

The man, though not as tall as the wall Trevor had run into in New York, was of massive proportions. At the same time the man's face registered surprise at seeing Trevor, his lower stomach impaled itself on the bayonet.

Blood and urine sprayed everywhere as the man twisted about in agony. The bayonet was twisted out of his stomach, by his contortions, at the same time the rifle was twisted out of Trevor's hands, as his grasp relaxed in astonishment at the sights and sounds before him.

Recovering his balance, Trevor stepped sideways along the canyon wall, trying to avoid the spray from the opening in the man's stomach.

Trevor, looking about to see if the man's agonizing screams were attracting anyone else, unholstered his side arm and dispatched the father of the rustlers with one well placed shot to the side of his head.

One short side step put Trevor in a position to view the front of the cabin. Seeing no further sign of life he stepped to the doorway and peered around the edge. As he knew would be the case, he was unable to see inside as the interior was dark and he was standing in bright sunlight.

Listening, he could hear nothing but a steady moaning inside and the thrashing of the dead man's legs in the grass outside. Taking a chance Trevor quickly stepped into the cabin and to one side of the door, out of the light.

As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he could make out a bed against the far wall, a wood burning range behind him, and a table, with three chairs, beyond the stove.

The back of the cabin was a large natural cave. About three feet above the floor was a two foot diameter hole from which flowed a steady stream of water.

Over thousands of years the water had worn a creek bed into the floor of the cave. The doorway of the cabin had been build over the creek.

Above the steady babble of the water a continuous moaning emanated from the bed against the far wall. Lighting a candle that he found on the table, Trevor carried it across the small cabin and examined a hideous abomination.

The remains of an extremely young girl rocked back and forth in the middle of the bed. Her small, undeveloped, body was covered with filth, and blood. Her eyes were clouded and failed to notice the light of the candle. In two places, on one leg, her skin was broken, by protruding bone.

When Trevor placed his palm on her forehead, her incessant moaning became a tortured wail. Though not a doctor Trevor knew that the little form was beyond repair. With proper care and nourishment she might live for a few more days but would eventually die a slow agonizing death.

Gingerly he held one hand over the small battered mouth. With the thumb and finger of his other hand he squeezed her nostrils closed.

Animal instinct kicked in and the small form struggled against his hands but the girl was too weak to even lift her arms. Within seconds the weak struggles subsided and she slipped into unconsciousness. Trevor maintained his grip for several minutes more until all bodily functions ceased forever.

For the first time Trevor actually felt like burying a body but there was no shovel to be found.

Wrapping the remains of the little girl in a blanket from the bed, he carried her along the canyon's edge, well away from the cabin and laid her to rest beneath a tree.

He was not a great believer in the Almighty, but he took a few moments to say a couple of words for the young thing, feeling that if anyone ever deserved to be comforted by the Lord, she did.

Taking the saddle from the top rail of the corral he saddled the horse within and, tying a rope about the ankles of the fat pervert, he towed the carcass to the far side of the canyon, well away from the body of the little girl.

As he traversed the little canyon ranch he passed the Holstein that was bellowing loudly. After untying the rope from the dead rustler he returned to the cow.

The cow's udder was so full her teats were dragging on the ground. She obviously hadn't been milked for a couple of days and was in great pain. Trevor wasn't a great hand at milking, having only done it once in his life but he figured he could probably get the job done, however, it would take him a long time and would be painful for the cow.

Of course he had no intention of being here tomorrow so who would milk her then. Getting her back down the ramp and herding her out through the creek would be a chore and there was no farms to take her to outside.

Dismounting Trevor, not familiar with the horse he was riding, held it by the reins, unlimbered his pistol, and shot the cow through the neck. The animal fell silent but it didn't fall. The neck bones broken, the head slumped down, but the legs were locked at the knees and the animal stood firm.

Which just proved Trevor's theory that cows, next to humans, were the stupidest animals that God ever created. Even dead, it didn't have enough sense to fall down.

Trevor's thoughts were diverted from the cow by the sudden encroachment of night. Still early in the afternoon, the shadows from the canyon wall were racing across the valley floor. Mounting the horse, Trevor rode for the campsite by the canyons entrance. Gathering firewood in the gathering gloom, he piled some kindling on the ashes of the outlaw's fire and by the time darkness had totally engulfed the small domain he had a fire going.

By the light of the fire Trevor gathered the packs from his horses and put together a meal. Too early to be tired and too dark to make the trip down the creek, Trevor decided to explore the cabin.

Inside the cave cabin the candle, that he had lit earlier, was still burning on the table where he had left it. There wasn't much to see in the room.

The crude bed was covered with old grass that was filthy, and blood stained, as was the one blanket. These Trevor gathered and took outside where he put them in a little pile along with some clothing and other garbage he found.

Lighting the pile on fire he watched, for a little while, to be sure the fire didn't spread to the surrounding grass and then went back inside and scrubbed down the stove and the table.

By the light of the fire he discovered a scythe on the outer wall and using this he gathered some grass. He fed some to the horse and used the rest to remake the bed.

Returning to the campsite he extinguished the little fire, after gathering his belongings, then went back to the cabin. After being sure the fire was completely out he spread his spare blankets on the bed and crawled in.

To the murmur of the little creek flowing beside his bed he went to sleep, promising himself not to get out of bed suddenly and step in the creek. He knew that if he did forget, the water was cold enough that he wouldn't forget a second time.

Well before daylight, Trevor, although having slept in, was hard at work chinking the little cabin with straw mixed with mud.

The walls themselves seemed solid enough and the roof looked well constructed and solidly covered with a thick layer of sod. He doubted that the rustlers had been industrious enough to have constructed it and wondered who they had killed to get it.

By the time the sun was overhead Trevor, having stopped once to whip up a breakfast on the stove, had completed his chores and the little cabin was ready for winter. Not that Trevor would be here more than another day but, possibly, in the not too distant future, he may just quit the Force and take up farming.

After all he now had a nice cabin and the start of a herd of cattle and a few head of horses.

He certainly had no desire to take up farming near the fort. The only thing you could raise in that part of the country was dust.

Here in the cool of the mountains it was a bit damp but there was little wind and no dust. In the fort they were afraid to dust the furniture in case they found that it wasn't furniture but a pile of dust shaped like a table, or a desk.

Over the next few days Trevor cleaned his little farm by dragging the bodies of the outlaws down the creek to the outside world where predators would devour the remains. In the soft sandy soil of the little island where he had killed the first sentry he buried the mutilated body of the little girl.

Cutting and dragging, to the cabin, some small saplings, he constructed a small grating to lay over the creek within the cabin.

As idyllic as his little ranch was, there was little to do after three days and still summer left to continue his patrol. Trevor gathered what supplies he would need for his journey and left behind anything that wouldn't spoil. Taking only a couple of horses to pack his supplies he left the rest to mingle with the cattle.

As he left the canyon, he figured out the combination of ropes that ran, from the ramp, up into the surrounding trees.

By tying them, one at a time to his saddle horn, he was able to raise the ramp against the side of the canyon wall so that the cattle couldn't get out and wolves couldn't get in.

Back out on the foothills, the summer days were hot and dry. Again he would be able to store his uniform and wear only a loin cloth, in which he was more comfortable.

Trevor found a quite pool in the creek where the water backed up and became warm. Here he was able to wash himself and his uniform. Finally ridding himself of the remains and the smell of the fat outlaw. Just the memory of the first sight of that gargantuan abdomen was enough to make his stomach churn.

* * * * * * * * * *

Conzuela was of mixed blood. Her father was more Mexican than Spanish, her mother was more Arapaho than Mexican. Her mother, like most of her family, and most of the workers of her villa, had been killed by the Yankees.

What her father called his land had been fought over for years. The Arapaho had fought the Cheyenne and the Spanish had conquered the natives.

Then the English, calling themselves Americans, claimed the land, taking by force, the fields and ranges that had been handed down to her father by his father, and his father before him.

The cursed Yankee's with their modern guns and typically English belief that anyone without white skin was inferior.

Conzuela was sent South to live with an aunt, to avoid the bloodshed, as her father spent the last of the family fortune hiring Comancheros to help beat back the ever persistent Yankees.

Occasionally, Conzuela had received letters from her father, telling of his battles, his gradual losses, the destruction of the villas, the loss of his loyal followers. Finally out of desperation he had taken to the hills.

Her father had turned to prospecting, seeking gold with which he could hire more men, buy more guns, and take back the land that was his. After her aunt died, Conzuela took the few coins that were left to her and travelled North.

Following the trail, of letters, and rumours, that she picked up in her travels, she was eventually reunited with her father in a little town called Helena, in the Montana Territories, where he had stopped to pick up supplies.

The two, happy to be reunited, set out to seek their fortune. For several weeks they poked along, testing waters and breaking rocks.

Conzuela's father, like many a prospector, was able to find a bit of colour, just enough to stay alive, and just enough to believe that, eventually, he would find the Mother Lode. A nugget here, a couple of flakes there. Spying out the land to discern, which hills would hold a vein, or which creek had washed a vein into which corner of a creek bed.

Conzuela was thigh deep in cold water. With her pan she was digging sand out of the bottom of a pool where the water gurgled around a bend. She had disturbed several brook trout that were hiding from the hot summer sun but that was the only colour she had found.

Something behind her, dragged her attention away from the contents of her pan. Turning, she was frightened out of her wits by an apparition out of hell.

A huge man, with a hairless, pale face, the skin stretched tight across his features, was reaching for her with large arms that were hairy on the sides, but not on the front. There too, the skin was stretched and shiny.

Before Conzuela could discern more he slapped her, hard, sending her mind reeling. Instinctively she held her gold pan in front of her face, blotting out the vision of one empty eye socket.

The man reached past the pan and grabbed her hair which, tied with a ribbon hung down her back like a long rope. Pulling her off her feet, the man dragged her through the water, back to the shore.

Excruciating pain ran through her mind, blinding her senses, as she was lifted to her feet by her hair. While her mind was reeling she felt the pan taken from her hand. Dimly she heard it strike a rock and splash into the creek.

She felt the man's hand ripping the shirt from her shoulders, the buttons on the front popping as the fabric strained.

The man let go of her hair, to use both hands, to undo her belt. She tried to turn and flee but he tripped her.

She felt herself falling and her hands landed on something wet and soft. At first she thought she had fallen in the creek. As the man lifted her by the back of the belt, her head came off the ground and she saw that her hands were dripping red.

Looking, for the source of the blood, she saw the body of her father, lying half on the beach and half in the water. His neck, where her hands had landed, when she fell, was slit open. She screamed.

The man, turning her, slapped her across the face, "What's the matter dolly? Ain't ya never seen a dead man before?"

Conzuela's reply was to scream louder.

Finally getting Conzuela's belt undone he ripped open the flies on the men's pants she was wearing and dropped her on the ground. The sudden shock knocked the breath from her and she stopped screaming.

"That's better, me love. All that screaming could get on a man's nerves and throw him off. And ya wouldna' want me to miss and hit the wrong hole now would ya,? Course if you're good we'll do both holes." He laughed a hard chuckle as he grabbed her boots and pulled them off.

Regaining her senses, Conzuela rolled over and tried to crawl away. The man grabbed her pant cuffs and, lifting high into the air, dropped her out of her pants.

"Now there's a lovely sight. You just stay like that while I get my britches open and we'll start in that position."

While the man fumbled with his flies Conzuela got to her knees and sprinted towards the trees. The man, however, was quicker than Conzuela and before she had gone two feet he had her by the hair and, giving it a sudden jerk, sent her crashing, and screaming, backwards, to the ground.

Conzuela landed with a squishy thunk and instantly ceased all noise, and motion.

"Now what? Are ya playing possum?" he asked, as he kicked her in the buttocks. The question and the kick were rhetorical and half hearted. The man was not unfamiliar with sudden death and he could see the rock sticking out of the sand and the blood oozing from the gash on the side of her head.

"You bloody bitch," he exclaimed, as he kicked her again, "God damn you. First woman I seen in months." Frustrated, the man kicked her again as he repeated himself, "God damn you, you bloody bitch. Now what am I supposed to do with this?" he asked the silent female, as he pulled his member out of his pants.

Dropping to his knees he straddled her. With one hand pulling at his member, and his other hand caressing her, still warm, breast, he sprayed his fluid across her face, "Now see what ya missed. If ya hadn't been so damn stubborn ya could have had that inside ya," Silently, he slapped her face.

Then using both hands, repeatedly, slapped her breasts several times before finally rising. Closing his pants, he buttoned his flies, and then kicked Conzuela again.

He proceeded to the horses which were frightened by the smell of blood. He impatiently jerked on their halters, and yelled at them, which only resulted in frightening them more. However, they were well tied and unable to get away.

Gathering the prospectors supplies he packed the horses. Then, giving Conzuela one last kick, he mounted his own horse and rode off, through the creek.

Trevor had heard the screams, more a hoarse holler. He was unable to tell if they were animal or human but rightly assumed they were downstream from his position.

Slipping off his horse, he tied the lead rope of his pack horses to a tree.

Climbing back in the saddle he urged his horse out of the cool water to cut across the land, saving the windings of the creek and thusly shortening the distance.

As he approached the area, from where he had thought the screams had come, he moved back into the water, so he would be screened by the willows that grew along the bank. Slowly, he rounded a bend and saw the last two of a string of horses leaving the creek and disappearing into the brush.

Cautiously approaching, lest others were following, he marked, in his mind, where the horses had broken through the willows. Out on the treeless prairie, Trevor could make out a string of horses, with one rider, on the lead horse.

Moving slowly downstream Trevor immediately saw the carnage that the man had left behind. Leaving his horse standing in the water, he slipped from the saddle and approached the little campsite.

Eyes wide open in surprise, and staring into space, an old Mexican, nearly decapitated, lay on his back. His life's essence seeping into the sandy soil.

Past him, towards the trees, a young maiden, with voluptuous curves, lay on her back. Her young firm breasts pointed towards the open sky. Her profuse pubic hair, covering a large area of her lower abdomen, was as black and shiny as the hair that spread like a halo around her head.

A steady trickle of red from the side of her head coated a rock that separated the thick mane. Trevor was stunned into immobility. Of all the women he had ever known, none had had such a profusion of hair, in either location.

The girl's face was not beautiful but strikingly handsome. A flat stomach, separating mountainous mammae from long sculptured legs, offered Trevor a vista that few men ever get to view.

After several long moments Trevor forced himself into motion. Pushing her hair aside he knelt beside her head and examined the wound. The gash didn't look too long, or too deep, and the blood flowed slowly in small surges.

Slowly Trevor rolled the girl over and explored her body for other wounds. Finding no other injuries, he gently let her roll back into the position in which he had found her. Remounting his horse he rode back up the creek to his pack horses.

Back at the little campsite Trevor picketed his horses and unloaded his supplies. From one of his packs he extracted material to be used for a bandage.

Feeling it was easier to take the girl to the water than bring the water to her he lifted her and carried her to the creek. Sitting in the water and holding the girl in his lap he gently bathed the wound and washed the blood from her hair.

Trevor held the side of the girls head under water, until the cool liquid eventually clotted the blood and sealed the wound.

Trying to separate her locks, he wrapped a strip of cloth around her head and used it to hold a pad over the wound, then tied it in place.

As he started to pick her up, to take her back to the beach, she regained consciousness and started to struggle. Holding her tight he held her mouth against his chest when she started to scream.

She was still weak and her struggles were ineffective against Trevor's strong arms. Gently he whispered in her ear, "Shhhh. It's OK. It's not him. I'm a police officer. It's OK. You're safe now."

After several minutes of gently calming her, while he held her tight, she finally gave up her struggles and he relaxed his hold on her. She lay back in the water. With frightened eyes, she looked at his face.

A calm voice continued to reassure her. "You're OK now. I washed your hair and put on a bandage."

Her hand moved to the side of her head where she felt a steady pounding.

His hand gently stopped her, "Gently now. You have a nasty bump. You fell on a rock."

She felt dizzy and weak. Strangely she wondered if she had died and gone to heaven. Somehow she had always pictured angles as being female. She had never thought of them as being male, and had certainly never considered that they might have bright red hair.

Conzuela felt herself blushing and, through her returning faculties, realized where she was and, that the water was cascading over her body which meant, that she was naked. At first she tensed, embarrassed that this handsome stranger should see her naked and wondered why he had undressed her and why she had let him.

Then the memories returned and she knew why she was naked.

Violently she threw her head back to look for her father. The stranger seemed to sense what she sought and held her firm, crushing her to his solid chest.

"Shhhh, Shhhh," he whispered in her ear. "Not yet. Just relax."

She buried her face against his neck, wrapping her arms around him. She didn't have to look for her father. The last image of him was indelibly inscribed in her mind. With her eyes closed tightly she could see him stretched out on the sand.

Her fingers dug into the man's back as his body started to topple over and she was afraid of losing him. However he only fell backwards in the water.

As he lay back, she slid on top of him. Strangely she felt her breasts change shape, and size, as she moved. In all her years she had never noticed that before. Also they seemed strangely warm until she noticed the heat was emanating from his chest. A heat that made her nipples tingle. For a moment she wondered why these thoughts had taken her mind from her father. And, as she again thought of her father, she began to weep.

Unable to help herself she clung to this stranger while she sobbed uncontrollably. For some time her body was racked with sobs until the sand on the bottom of the creek began to irritate her knee.

Sliding up from the sand she slid across his body until she was on top of him. As she did so she was aware of her leg brushing against him. She had never felt a man before but instinctively she knew what it was and idly wondered why she would take notice of such a thing.

At first she was worried that it was now between her legs and then she realized that she was on top and such things only took place with the man on top.

The man beneath her shifted too, until her legs fell apart and his were between her's. She must have been squishing his thing because he reached between them and adjusted it so it was not tangled in her hair but sticking up between her legs.

His hand came out from between them. As he began to stroke her back she could feel his manhood throbbing against her womanhood. Each time it touched her it would send a small shock through her. When it pulled away the water would cool her, making his thing feel even warmer, when it returned.

Her tortured mind returned to her father and she began to cry again. Moving her arms behind his head she held him tight and cried her grief into his ear.

For a long time she lay against him while his arms held her tight. As her wailing turned to blubbers his hands began to stroke her back. One hand moved to her hair and tried to lift it out of the water. His fingers tried to comb through her tangled tresses.

She shifted slightly and as she did so she noticed that his manhood was not as large as it was before. It seemed to be lying sideways against her leg instead of standing straight. Out of curiosity she reached beneath herself and took it in her hand.

To her amazement, as she grasped it, it twitched, and grew larger, and harder.

With absolutely no understanding of what she was doing, or why she was doing it, she pushed it against herself. Feeling the warmth of it, she pushed it harder until she parted and it partially slipped inside.

Not understanding the heat, or the strange feelings, she released it and, with her fingers, opened herself, spreading her lips around it, easing it in further.

Instinctively she brought her knees along side of his hips and planting them in the sandy creek bottom she raised her buttocks, then slid herself down his shaft until it was completely engulfed. Placing her hands on his shoulders she partially raised herself and began to rock to and fro.

Her mind was concentrating on their joining, the heat inside her burning her to the very core. Vaguely she was aware of his head rising from the sand, of the beach, and his mouth engulfing a nipple. The sensation of his tongue on her breast was exquisite but was barely noticed as she pumped her hips furiously. If the world had been chaos earlier her mind was now in complete turmoil.

Wave after wave passed through her hips, and up her spine, until her nerves were stretched to breaking. And then they broke, her body torn apart, as though by an explosion. She screamed a terrible screech which reminded her of the screams she had emitted earlier in the day and she fell back against this red headed Adonis and again buried her face in his neck, her body racked with sobs, the gentle waves of the creek washing the tears off his shoulder.

For a long time they lay together, locked at the hips, in the water. Her sobs easing, his hand stroking her back.

He lifted her head and began to lick the tears from her face. At first she wanted to giggle but then began to enjoy the administrations of his mouth.

Gently his mouth covered hers and his tongue slipped inside, her lips parting of their own volition. Hungrily she devoured him.

Holding her tightly he moved his legs outside of hers and rolled them over. Easing his weight from her he brushed the hair away from her face and then began to kiss her again while his legs separated hers.

She felt him enter her deeper and then withdraw. The cool water tickling her inner lips as they unfolded with his withdrawal. Then they curled in again, wrapping themselves around him as he probed deeply, again and again the sensations repeated themselves, over and over, faster and faster, hotter and hotter, until her screams echoed through the trees and he fell on top of her, crushing the breath out of her.

She clung to him, wrapping her arms around him, her nails digging into his flesh, not wanting to let him go as he tried to pull away from her, eventually slipping sideways, allowing her chest to gather fresh air, the gentle current turning to steam as the water bathed her overheated breasts.

They lay together for a while, tears rolling down her cheeks, thoughts racing through her mind. Guilt for having committed an act that should only be performed after marriage. Guilt at having enjoyed what had just occurred, only feet from her fathers body, and only minutes after his death.

The man shifted his weight. She threw her arms around him, afraid that he was leaving, afraid to be alone, afraid to have him withdraw from her. She clung to him, her muscles squeezing him, drawing him in.

Her tongue repeated his earlier actions, licking his chin, licking his eyes, his lips. Her mouth devouring him. Her hips, with a mind of their own, churning the water. Together their cries scared the crows searching the campsite.

Totally spent she slept. Later, when she awoke, she found herself lying beside a small fire, her still naked body covered by a blanket. His naked body crouched over the small fire, a skillet in his hand.

He sensed that she was awake. Setting the pan by the fire, he withdrew a second pot from the flames, then came to her, sitting beside her, stroking her hair.

Brazenly she threw the blanket aside and urged him to lie beside her, his arms wrapping around her, making her feel safe again. Again she initiated the action. Unable to get enough of this new sensation, her body demanding physical comfort to erase the mental discomfort in her mind.

This time, she arose first. Wondering why she didn't have a desire to find some clothing, she continued the cooking that he had started.

After supper he showed her the grave where he had buried her father while she had been asleep. He left her alone while she said her prayers, wishing she had the rosary her mother had left her but she was sure that the Lord would understand and forgive her.

She also prayed that He, and her father, would forgive her for the carnal sins that she had committed this afternoon, and she had to confess, that she would commit again tonight. She knew it was a sin but she couldn't bear the thought of sleeping alone.

The morning dawned clear and bright. The man had been awake for some time. Conzuela watched him as he moved about the campsite arranging food stuff from his packs. Hanging meat from tree branches so animals couldn't get at it. It looked like he was planning to stay here for awhile.

He noticed that she was watching and he came to her and kissed each of her eyes. Washing away her dried tears with his mouth. She opened the blanket to invite him in but he pushed it back and tucked it in around her.

From behind him, from the ground, he picked up some strange clothing. She watched in horror as he donned a strange uniform. She noticed that his horse was already saddled, complete with bedroll and saddle bags. At first she wrapped herself tightly in the blankets, fear running through her.

Her whole life had been centered around war and death. Now her guardian angle was only another soldier, about to march off to war, about to get killed.

Desperately she flung the blanket aside and ran to him. Holding him, pleading with him. But he was stronger than her and he forced her back to the blankets. Wrapping her up, he kissed her and whispered sweet nothings in her ear. None of which calmed her, because she knew he was going to search for her father's killer, and she knew he would not come back.

She turned her back on him, refusing to watch him depart, soaking the blanket with her tears.

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AHEAD - To the Top of Chapter XV

BACK - To the Top of Chapter XIII

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