Yankton Book 3 Chapter 50 Another Manhunt
Early the next morning, Tom and Martin showed up at the stable along with Caleb who, surprisingly wasn't all that interested in going on my man hunt. I strongly suspected that our previous adventure had been enough for him…at least for awhile. We had a nice little paint Caleb thought Martin could handle. Since I didn't want to drag a pack horse along on this trip Tom and I used a pair of enlarged saddlebags R.K. made for us while he was here. I also wore a modern military surplus daypack, along with an aid bag secured to my bedroll behind my saddle. On this trip, I was forgoing my Remington sniper rifle but was taking my M1A1, as well as my CZ pistol, and 1887 Mares leg shotgun. Tom, once again settled for his '03 Springfield along with his trusty army Colt. I'd been promising him a more modern Colt but none of the gun auctions had anything at the moment.
As we were getting ready, Martin noticed my M1A, and Tom's Springfield,
"You guys use modern guns?"
"Damn straight," I replied, "I'm bringing modern thermal and night vision gear as well; it's always given me that extra edge that's saved my life." He approved of the ACOG sight on my rifle as well.
"I've been giving it a lot of thought Marty, and I've got a Marlin 1895 GBL you can use. Don't have a scope for it yet you'll have to go with the iron sights, but it won't create a whole lot of interest. Got 40 rounds of high power ammo and twenty cowboy rounds if you want to practice with it later on." We finished packing slickers then mounted up. I stopped by the saloon to give Montana a goodbye kiss and a hug.
"You be careful," she warned,
"Aren't I always," I replied as I gave her another kiss.
Spearfish or Belle Fourche, where would it be first? The more I thought about it another possibility popped into my mind, St. Onge where I had found the guy that had Killed Miss Monfort's fiancé. As we rode, I watched Marty who appeared to be a decent enough rider, but I knew enough time in the saddle out here would make him a whole lot better one.
"Where we going?" He asked.
"A little shithole called St. Onge, a while back; I tracked the guy that killed Miss Monfort's fiancé. Which reminds me. Bullock is real keen to see this guy brought in alive, and I intend to do everything I can to do so. However, chances are pretty good you're going to see a bunch of guys get shot. It's why you really need to stay on your toes all the time because it can happen at any time. When we camp for the night, we always take turns on guard; no one is allowed to enter camp."
"Gotcha," he replied.
We rode towards Sturgis, and then basically followed the future path of state route 34, near the future site of Whitewood, Tom alerted me to a large group of riders heading east.
"Army patrol," I replied, "Let's move a little south; I really don't want to deal with them today." The patrol was still well to our north and showed no signs of us so we continued on our way. Nothing appeared to have changed much since my last visit, but not wishing any trouble, I sent Tom inside. Ten minutes later, he came back out simply saying,
"Not here, no one's seen him." Out of curiosity, I rode towards the back of the place as we started for Belle Fourche. Sure enough, there were two crude wooden markers back there.
There seemed to be more traffic on the trail which was actually a poorly maintained road that improved slightly as we got nearer to town. As we rode, I told no one in particular that sheriff Bullock owned land around here.
"Apparently he's buying up homestead properties as he wants a railroad coming through here."
"Say, don't that Prescott fellow have a ranch around here?" Exclaimed Tom
"George?" I replied, "Yeah, I think it's off that way a couple three miles."
"Maybe we ought to stop and see him," suggested Tom.
"We'll see how the time goes, and what direction we go," I replied. Truth be told I wasn't a big fan of Mr. George Prescott, but if our journey took us anywhere near his place I'd stop by. Riding into town I located the sheriff's office stopping out in front.
"Looking for the sheriff?"
"Ain't here," replied an old man sitting behind a desk
"Know when he'll get back?"
"Nope," I then showed the old man the wanted poster,
"He wouldn't be off chasing this guy would he?"
Clearly I would get no help here, the only alternative being one of the saloons in town. However that was dangerous, and I didn't want to get involved in a firefight. In TV westerns, the protagonist generally goes into a bar where a gunfight almost always occurs. I chose to check at the two livery stables and three general mercantile stores. The stables came up dry but the first mercantile, "Shay's Hardware and Dry Goods" which was directly across from "Gault's Saloon," brought up pay dirt. Especially when I bought a very nice Hopkins & Allen number 8 army revolver chambered for .44 caliber. After buying some coffee and hardtack along with the pistol the clerk revealed that Saylor and another man had been in the store just yesterday.
"Yes sir, they bought five pounds of coffee, a side of bacon, five pounds of flour, a sack of beans and tobacco, also a couple blankets. I also heard the man's partner say something about Billings." That clinched it these guys were headed up into Montana. Suddenly, a thought occurred to me,
"Sir, do you carry any sort of trade goods, like beads knives, cloth, and tobacco?"
"Gonna do some trading with the Indians?" Asked the clerk. Looking grim, I nodded,
'Might have to." So along with my other purchases, I came out of there with four tobacco twists, four trade knives, blue black and red beads, and a red blanket. I stuffed everything in a flour sack the man gave me and found a place on Marty's saddle to strap it down.
"What's all that?" He asked. Sighing, I replied,
"Marty, you're Sioux right?
"Yeah, Oglala, is that a problem?"
"I'll say, and it's my fault. Once we get into Montana we'll be in Crow country, at this point in time, they are you're bitter enemies. I bought those trade goods in the hope that if we get in a pinch we can talk our way out. This isn't like modern times; they might shoot you just to look at you and us as well."
"Well I guess I can ride back," he replied.
"No in for a penny, in for a pound, this is exactly the thing you're going to have to deal with."
"I'm pretty friendly with the Crow," added Tom, "But you might have to take a lot of ribbing." and insults."
"He's right," I added, "If we run into a situation like that, just stay cool."
As we started out of town I explained to Marty that we would be crossing a lot of rivers, the Missouri, Box Elder, Powder Pumpkin Creek and the Tongue. I also told him about sheriff Amos Gibbon in Broadus with whom we would also check in with. We continued to push on as I wanted to try and gain a little mileage. Arriving at the Missouri river around dusk, we were forced to stop as the ferry across the river had stopped running for the night. We camped at a place that others had used. Each of us had one of those one man pop-up type military tents. Certainly not nineteenth century by any stretch if the imagination but kept the ran off you and the snakes from crawling into bed with you. I always had to help Tom set his up, and he never seemed to get the hang of zippers but he did appreciate not getting wet.
Although each of us had a supply of freeze-dried food and MRE's we hit the classic real life stuff first. That night, with the sound of the Missouri river to our backs we sat around the campfire and talked. Tom about his army days, Martin, about his life on the rez, and the hard choice he made to get away from it. I told him more about what to expect, and who we might run into. Tom took the first watch, I the second, and Marty the dog watch. The night came and went; there was a light sprinkle but nothing more. By six-thirty in the morning we were mounted and ready to ride. The ferry operator kept giving Marty the stink eye but since he was in the company of two white men he kept his mouth shut other than to admit that a man fitting Mr. Saylor's description, along with a partner had crossed around yesterday around four in the afternoon.
We basically followed the future route of US 212. I carried a modern Montana state highway map to help stay on course, both Montana and Wyoming having enough detail to allow me to do that.
We made Broadus by mid afternoon; the sheriff's office was at the far end of town so that meant we had a lot of eyes on us as we road through town. Sheriff Gibbon was sitting in a chair watching us approach. As we stopped in front of his office, he lazily called out,
"Mr. Yankton, it's been awhile."
"It has been a long time Amos, howya been?"
"What brings you up this way again?" The three of us walked onto the wooden walk and squatted down.
"I'm after a fellow named Harlan Saylor on behalf of sheriff Bullock. Seems he killed a good friend of Judge Kuykendall's who dearly wants him back for trial." Taking out the poster from my pocket I showed it to him. Gibbon studied the picture for a moment then handed it back. Rising out of his chair, he nodded across the street.
"If they have come through town chances are pretty good they stopped into Ott's across the street, let's go find out shall we?"
Together we all walked across the street, before entering, the sheriff looked at Marty,
"Might want to stay out here, might be trouble." Tom opted to remain outside as well. The sheriff and I went in walking up to the bar. Looking around I saw three card games in progress, along with four cowboys standing at the bar. The place was on the dumpy end, certainly no where near the standards maintained at Purgatory. Slapping the wanted poster on the bar he exclaimed,
"Harvey, ever see this gentleman?" The bartender studied the poster then looked at me, then at the sheriff.
"Yeah, he and another fellow was in here the other evening around six, had a couple drinks and left, however I heard one of them mention something about looking up someone in Lame Deer." Amos tipped his hat and thanked the man. As we walked back across the street, I asked the sheriff about Lame Deer.
"Only been there a couple of times, not much to the place, I think there's an Indian agency there."
"Well thanks a bunch sheriff, guess we'll be pushing on,"
"Well you and your friends there take care."
"One more thing sheriff," I added, "Been any Indian trouble around here lately?"
"No, things have been pretty quiet lately."
"Glad to hear that."
We then quickly headed out of town; hopefully Saylor would stop in Lame Deer before pushing on to Billings. Stopping at the Tongue River to water the horses and take a quick break we soon pushed on to Lame Deer. By this time Marty was starting to hurt from this much riding but determined not to slow us down. I gave him some ointment to apply to his butt to prevent saddle sores as we pushed on. Arriving in town around seven in the evening I had Tom check out the two saloons. We struck pay dirt on the first try. Tom went in bought a drink then left.
"He's in there Brian, how do you want to do this?"
"Let's see if there's a sheriff in this shithole first." A quick check revealed that there was none so we were on our own.
"So how many others are in there ?" I asked Tom.
"That Saylor fellow is sitting at a table playing cards with three other men, there's another three at the bar plus the bartender." This wasn't good either way we cut it,
What's Saylor dressed like?"
"Brown hat, black wool vest, blue striped shirt. Fella that appears to be his partner is wearin a grey hat, brown leather vest kind of like yours grey striped trousers," said Tom. I thought some more then said,
"Let's loosen the cinch straps on the horses out front first, I've got an idea.
Carefully we crept up to the horses and loosened the belly bands just enough so that if Saylor and his buddy tried to escape they would go right down on the ground. It wouldn't be fair to the others but since I had no idea what Saylor's horse looked like, it couldn't be helped. I handed Marty my Mare's leg, as I warned him.
"Here's where the shit gets real Marty, if someone pulls a gun on you, Tom or me, shoot, don't hesitate. I'll do my best to try and take Saylor alive, but I can't count on it. This is the kind of situation where things can go south real fast so stay sharp.
When we were ready, Tom went back into the saloon and announced that some guy was trying to steal the horses out front. Since Saylor and the other men at the table were closer to the door, they were up and out first. Tom drew his revolver and forced the men at the bar to remain where they were. The moment Saylor came through the bat-wing doors, I butt-stroked him with my rifle, then drew my pistol on his partner while Marty kept the Mares leg on the others.
"Listen up, no one is trying to steal your horses, I'm an agent of the law and I'm only after these two men. The rest of you back inside…NOW!" They did as I requested, and while Marty held the shotgun on Saylor's partner I stepped behind him and placed tie-wrap handcuffs firmly around his wrists, before doing the same with Saylor.
"Hey whadda ya doin that for, I ain't done nuthin!" exclaimed the man.
"Shut-up, whether you did or didn't do anything is up to sheriff Bullock." Saylor was starting to come around, then started to struggle when he realized his hands were cuffed behind his back. I had already taken the holsters and guns off the two men as I helped Saylor stand up. Meanwhile things were starting to get rowdy inside, so I stepped to the door.
"Everyone settle down in here, all I came here for is Harlan Saylor and his partner, and that's all I taking, you men who were playing poker, do what you will with the pot, the rest of you enjoy a drink on Mr. Saylor. Also check your cinch straps before you ride out of here. Now, everyone just remain inside until we are gone. Anyone tries to follow will be shot. Good evening gentlemen." I covered Tom as he eased out the door. Harlan's partner told us his name was Cole Blackmond as well as indicating their horses. I wanted to get away from this place as fast as possible, so I tied a rope around each mans waist and to the wailing of their protests led them out of town.
About a mile out we stopped, and I mounted my thermal enhancer scope on my rifle.
"Any of those men gonna come after you?" I asked.
"Go to hell!" was Saylor's reply. Marty put on my night vision goggles. We moved to a position off the trail where I tied the two men to a tree and posted Tom. I asked both Saylor and Blackmond once more but getting only swearing in response. Not long after, the answer came when we caught the images of three horses and riders. There was no moon out just ambient light from the stars, I knew the men could probably see the trail but little else.
"If you men are coming for Saylor turn around right now!" I called out. One of the men then called out,
"Harlan! We're here!" That's all it took, I was in a sitting position and Marty was kneeling. I truly doubted they could see me, but both Marty and I could clearly see them.
"Open fire," I exclaimed. With me firing twenty .308 ball rounds down range, and Marty firing his .45-70 cannon, death certainly came calling that night. The men had no chance at all, as all three were knocked out of their saddles. Naturally, their horses ran off, so I sent Marty back to help Tom while I went to check on them. Out of the three, I collected close to 80 dollars, and three pistols with holsters, and two hunting knives. I left the bodies where they lay, and walked back to where we had tied the men.
"Your pals are all dead Saylor, which is what anyone else who tries to come after you will end up as. Now, here's the deal, you and Mr. Blackmond here are going to walk for at least another hour, then we will make camp. During this walk you two will have time to decide how you want to play this, when we start again, you two will ride, tied to your saddles, no piss stops, if you gotta go you're gonna just have to piss your pants. We will take one break in the afternoon allowing you to take a shit then we move on. NOW…If you behave, and do what you are told during all of this you will be allowed to continue riding. However, if you get out of line, try to get loose or do anything I consider trying to escape its back to walking or tied over a horse. Sheriff Bullock told me I had to bring you alive, so that's what I intend to do. I know you will try to get loose and escape, it's what I would do were I in your situation but we are going to be watching you very closely, I see that you or your friend here trying to escape it's shank's mare all the way back to Deadwood, and believe me, I will do it, by the time we get to Deadwood you will still be alive, but every ounce of piss and vinegar will be drained from your bodies. NOW, are we all on the same page here?"
Both Saylor and Blackmond glared at me but promised to behave. I knew I couldn't trust them as far as I could throw them but this would have to do for now.