Run Away
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2016 by Dual Writer

Daddy sent me to town with a list of items to bring home in our wagon that was pulled by a pair of mules in July of 1862. All our work animals had names, and these two were named as Benny and Henny. It was supposed to be a joke, but it stuck.

The nearest town was Selmer which probably had a population of nearly three hundred people. They had a big general store and a couple of saloons with upstairs visitation areas that Dad explained to me. The town had three churches. The downtown area had raised wooden sidewalks so that women could walk from store to store without getting muddy. The people in town were always trying to be as fancy as Memphis.

I usually wasn’t allowed to go into town since the war began earlier in the year, as Dad was always afraid that I would be conscripted and sent off to fight. I wasn’t very smart about anything, but Mom had taught me to read and write, which was about as much as the local school would do. I could read books that Mom had and read them to Dad at night. I think we bonded more during that time than any other.

Dad had taught me how to act as if I was addled so that I would act confused and fearful until they would let me be if one of the military men harassed me to join up. I needed to be at home with the family to help keep us in food.

My little brother was too small to be taken and it was early in the war, so the soldiers still respected my mom and sister. We were very close to the main road, so we saw a lot of traffic.

Tennessee seceded in July 1861 and Eastern Tennessee was considered a major objective of the union by November 1861 through the attacks in January 1862. The union had not moved west toward the Mississippi yet.

I told Dad how there was so many soldiers in Selmer and they were being very abusive to all who were there. I had been able to fill the list we needed, but the stores would soon be empty if the soldiers kept taking without paying. There was also news that union forces were moving across Tennessee.

Dad sat down with me one night a few weeks later, and said, “Son, you’re sixteen, almost seventeen, and you need to decide if you’re going to fight in the war or go west to get away from all this. I think you’re going to be either conscripted or shot for being a shirker if you stay. You’re smart enough to feed yourself and to find your way west. That’s the thing to do. Go west as far as you can to get out of this. Write us a letter and post it when you get far away. We’ll want to know how you are doing. Tell us when you land somewhere so your mom can write back to you.”

I threw a blanket and saddle over Benny the mule the next morning, leaving Dad with Henny and Kenny. I had a poke full of food to eat for a while, and four dollars’ worth of coins that Dad was able to give me. I had one of the three Springfield Muskets that Dad had traded for around 1860. He taught me to shoot and hit a squirrel at fifty to sixty yards. My proudest moment was downing a deer at almost a hundred yards. I think Dad was prouder than me.

Benny and I went west and did what Dad said by traveling off the road until we could get across the Mississippi. I bought passage across the river for my mule and me for forty cents. It worked out because the man who ran the ferry paid me a dollar to clean up all the animal poop from the horses, mules, oxen, and beef that were on the big ferry. It wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to. It took almost all day to cross the big river, but it was done. I didn’t get too far from all the people and wagon trains staging on the other side of the river and was able to hobble Benny and sleep on my stuff.

No one bothered me all night, so I was up early eating some of the last of my jerky and biscuits. I only had a few dollars to use and figured I might buy some jerky and biscuits from one of the wagon people. I needed enough for the leg between there and Tulsa in the Indian Nations. I learned it was about three hundred miles, which would take about three weeks. That’s twenty-one days of food. There was another way to do this and that was to sign on with a wagon train going that way. I could be valuable taking care of stock, driving a wagon, or doing about anything necessary. I knew I could get fed during that time so I hunted up the wagon master to talk to him.

I explained to the man, “I’m traveling alone and need to spend some of my poke on some food to last me until Tulsa. I could work for you cheap and do a variety of jobs. I know how to take care of stock, I can drive a wagon, and if you need a hunter, I can do that too.”

The wagon master appraisingly looked me over, and said, “I see you’re riding a mule. Can you herd the stock on him?”

“He handles well, Sir, but truthfully I’ve never done that with him.”

The man rubbed his stubbly chin and said, “How about I try you with that to see how you do. There are a couple of wagons that could use drivers, but I can pay you a dollar a day plus some grain for your animal if you can herd stock. I think drivers get paid about half that, but they eat better.”

“I’ll do what you need me to do, Sir. I’m excited to get a paying job with food.”

He smiled at me and asked, “What’s your name, Son? I need to write it in the ledger.”

“I’m Andrew Jefferson Davis, from near Selmer, Tennessee. Some called me Andrew or Andy, and some along with my Dad called me Jeff. I’ll answer to almost anything.”

The wagon master laughed, “I’m Milton Cassidy, and am like you, I will answer to Milton, Milt, Cassidy, or hey you. We should get along fine. My wagon is right here if you want to put your stuff in it. Use one of those boxed off areas. It may be difficult to get to when the wagon is full, but just rearrange things to get at what you need.”

“What do you want me to do now, Sir?”

The man said, “Since you don’t seem to want to spend your last dollar in the saloons or with the bar girls, go out and say hello to that man sitting his horse with the stock. He’ll teach you what you don’t know about animals.”

I walked Benny out to where the man was watching the animals. I pulled up and sat my mule next to his horse and said, “Mr. Cassidy hired me to help watch the animals and said you could teach me what to do.”

The man with long hair tied back under a hat turned to me, revealing a very weathered face. A raspy voice, while using his hands to make sign, asked, “What’s name?”

I smiled and said also signing, “Andrew Jefferson Davis out of near Selmer, Tennessee.”

The man nodded and almost smiled as he slapped his chest, and said, “Me Hawk.”

Nothing more was said for almost a half hour and then he said, “Hawk, go eat, use river. Animals quiet and like your mule. Move through them and talk to them. They like that.”

I watched as Hawk slowly walked his horse out of the mix of animals, and galloped toward the river at a lower level than the camp when free.

What do you say to a bunch of mules, horses, oxen, and cattle to make them feel good? I moved through the stock and kept up a constant soft chatter. “You are so beautiful and I’m sure you are a special animal, good at pulling that big wagon. I said to a horse, ‘Look at you; I’ll bet that you’ll be strutting around for who rides you tomorrow. Look at you, you big ox. I’ll bet you can pull a train down the trail by yourself’. I kept on until I felt someone come up next to me.

Hawk was smiling and said, “Now you spoil the animals and they will expect more grain for supper.”

Hawk said, “You make the animals feel good. There are times it is difficult, but you seem to know what will calm them. Go for something to bring back to eat so we’ll be ready when the men come from the town. You’re new and some of them may think you’re sparkin’ their women. They get liquored up and believe all kinds of things, especially if they have been shining on the bar girls.”

I didn’t know how much trouble this was going to be so I wrapped a bunch of biscuits and about five pounds of jerky in my leather pouch. This could keep me for over a week. I didn’t want to get caught out without food. All my stuff was still in my saddle bags, so I was going to be free if it came out that way.

Hawk was smart and kept me on the far side of the herd of stock. He greeted the groups that came and settled down next to their wagons. I thought I would be okay until a rider came up near me, and hollered, “Who are you to be in with our animals? Have you been using our women while we were in town? Come on out here so I can get a look at you. Look at you, I’ll bet you’re sparkin’ most of the women in the camp. Well, I’m not havin’ it and I’m gonna fix ya so yous can’t do no more sparkin’.”

The man actually shot at me. I felt the breeze as the bullet passed by me. I saw him aim his pistol again and leaned down to attempt to ride away. The man shot two more times but wasn’t close but I didn’t need this and rode away. I stopped at one of the switchbacks of the fast running creek and let Ben drink his fill.

Knowing that staying with that wagon train was going to be a problem, I decided to head to Tulsa in the Oklahoma territory on my own.

Ben and I traveled all night under a full moon that lit up the road for us. We traveled all night and then most of the next day. We were still following the creek that went back toward the Mississippi. There was a big stand of trees and brush next to the creek so I moved into there and hobbled my mule so he could eat, drink, and rest. Knowing how slow a wagon train moved, I figured I had traveled at least forty miles so I was a long way ahead of them.

I decided I needed to clean up so I stripped and used the lye soap I had to wash my clothes. I washed my body too and felt great with clean hair and skin. I used some of my dry clothes to dry off a little, and hung my freshly washed clothes up on the brush. I snuggled under my bedroll blanket and had a great night’s sleep.

There was always danger when you’re out alone like I was, but you couldn’t hide forever. I was soon packed up and traveling west toward Tulsa. I kept about a quarter mile off the main road and tried to keep low so that I wouldn’t stand out on the horizon. I had seen a stagecoach run past me once, and then saw another that had six teams instead of four. This coach was running fast.

A minute later I heard multiple shots fired from pistols, rifles, and shotguns. I moved Ben up a little faster and peaked over the hill to see what was going on. The stagecoach was stopped with the first team down. There were four saddled horses standing near the stagecoach with four riders on the ground.

I walked Ben up to the mess and saw two guards and a drummer inside the coach that were all dead. The driver and two boot guards were all dead, as were the four men around the horses that were standing there. The two horses that were the lead pair that were down were both beyond help, so I used one of the probable outlaws’ handguns and put both horses out of their misery.

I brought all the outlaws’ horses behind the coach and tethered them to the rear so they could follow without being pulled too hard. It was an effort to get each of the outlaws from the ground into the coach.

The harness connecting the front horses wasn’t that difficult to get from the downed horses so I put that on top of the coach along with the dead driver and the boot guards.

Each of the outlaws had nice pistols and one had a very nice Henry rifle that took cartridges. I took his scabbard and put it on Ben. The drummer had a sample case that looked interesting, so I opened it up and almost had a seizure. The case was filled with magnificently decorated handguns. I pulled the shirts off the outlaws and wrapped the guns in them and then packed them into my good bags on Benny.

Knowing that most stagecoaches never had but a single guard, I climbed up to the driver’s box and pulled one of the two boxes from the boot.

There were very large locks on the boxes that told of something special inside. The boxes were marked as being from one of the mints back east. I didn’t have anything to break the lock or hasp with, so I dropped one of the boxes to the ground and shot the lock and hasp off with one of the handguns. It took three rounds to get the lock to burst open. I wasn’t ready for what was under the lid. The chest was full of twenty-dollar gold pieces. There was more money there than the whole country had.

I dragged the chest off to the side of the road and into a clump of trees. There was a small short-handled shovel on the stage, so I dug a decent hole and buried the chest. I took one last look in the chest and pulled five of the double eagles from it. Wow, a hundred dollars. Probably more money than my daddy had ever seen at one time. I was going to change that.

I used Benny to drag the two dead horses off the road so that people wouldn’t be driving around them further widening the road. I took the other chest down from the stagecoach at the next group of trees and brush, and buried it deep in the grove of trees.

That was done, so I drove the remaining teams to the next town to advise them of what I had found. There wasn’t a lawman around, but the relay station said that I could keep the horses and gear I found on the dead men.

These people were like professional scavengers. They went through every man’s pockets and they found almost fifty dollars when they went through the drummer’s pockets and money belt. They split that with me and then there was the tack. One of the horses was a very nice looking large roan that seemed to have a good disposition. The saddle on him was beautiful, so I decided that I would keep the horse and tack. I ended up keeping the pistols and holsters of the four outlaws. I kept all the rifles and ammunition they had. I wrapped the rifles in one of their blankets and used their saddle bags for their pistol belts, holsters, and handguns.

My lace-up boots were just about worn out, with holes in the toes and the leather soles worn through. I looked at all the men’s clothes and boots to see if there were some I could use. One man had a good pair of boots that fit nicely. He was my size and had some canvas pants on that looked very tough. I stripped him and held the pants up to myself. They looked like they would fit, but I wanted to wash them first, since when the man was killed his bowels and bladder voided, as usual. I was able to find a couple of good shirts with all the buttons. There were several hats that looked good and one that was a light brown fit perfectly. It had a neck string on it to keep it from blowing away in heavy winds.

I put the horses on a string tied to Benny and headed on toward Tulsa. I found some dense trees next to a fast running creek and stopped there for the night. The first thing I did was to wash the two pair of canvas pants and the heavy shirts.

I wanted to look at the pistols I had collected and got them out. There was three .36 caliber and one .44 caliber Navy Colt. I looked through the saddle bags and found a lot of paper cartridges, along with over a hundred molded conical bullets. There were some balls for each size as well. The last pistol I looked at was the LeMatt, but it was scary with the shotgun barrel under the pistol barrel. The gun was heavy but I could see that it would be good to have in some cases with the nine shots it held. I didn’t want to be shooting this close to the road so I didn’t try to practice with any of the guns. I found that I had used the .44 Navy Colt to shoot the two horses from the stage.

I went to sleep with the horses and Benny hobbled near me. I knew that the animals would make enough noise to awaken me if anyone came around.

I woke before dawn and dressed in a pair of the new used canvas pants. They fit well and the leather pants braces or suspenders the man had fit me perfectly. I felt a little spooky wearing a dead man’s clothes, but it was nice to have good boots and a nice hat. I didn’t have any way to carry the saddles of the extra horses, so I saddled them all, including Benny. I tried to balance the loads between all the horses. I had a talk with the big roan. He was almost a buckskin color but had a bit of a white belly and a totally black mane and tail. He seemed to like me and didn’t dance around as I was adjusting the stirrups for my longer legs.

I traveled some long days passing outside a few communities and then decided to get rid of my extra animals in Russellville, Arkansas. The livery there was eager to buy the mounts along with all the tack. I sold two of the horses and kept a good looking bay along with my roan. I kept the decent looking saddle that was on the bay, although I really didn’t need it. I traded my old saddle from Ben for a pack frame and some double leather bags. I bought enough oil to seal the bags and the saddle I was using. This saddle was very comfortable, allowing me to ride for some longer days.

A gunsmith in Russellville was interested in anything I wanted to sell. I sold the man two .36 caliber Navy Colts and the other rifles I had. I wanted to have a second Henry using the cartridges, so I showed the man the pistols that had been in the case and he went crazy wanting to have them. I sort of wanted to keep at least one, but the man convinced me to sell them all. I did get a brand new Henry for my other scabbard.

I bought a couple hundred Henry cartridges and a bunch of the .36 caliber paper cartridges. The man didn’t have but fifty of the .44 paper cartridges with the conical bullets, but relented while we were dickering over the fancy guns to letting me have them. I got him to throw in a tin box that could hold all the paper cartridges, because they could go bad just from a few muggy days. I took some boot wax and smeared it around the box where the lid went on, because Dad had told me that would make for a good seal to keep out the moisture, unless the box fell in a creek or something.

My next concern was to buy enough food to last me these next two hundred miles to Tulsa. I bought some cooking gear, a metal plate, a fork, spoon, and a couple of good knives. I bought a small coffee pot, and a cast iron cooking pot, along with some smoked pork, dried beans, ground coffee beans, and some flour to make hard tack biscuits.

I was going to go around the next bigger town, but decided that I might enjoy people for a change. There were Union soldiers everywhere when I rode into town. I rode right on through and continued toward Tulsa, trying not to look back to see if anyone had noticed me.

I rode through the night and all the next day, probably covering fifty miles. I stopped at a stream with a good stand of trees around a bend. This was over a quarter mile off the road, so I should be out of sight and not noticeable. To be sure of being alone, I went to some high ground and watched out over the open prairie to see if I could see any campfires or people traveling.

I made some beans with hard tack biscuits, although I didn’t get to cook them long enough so they made me have gas all the next day. I saved the beans in a leather pouch and had them the second day and enjoyed them with the smoked pork I had.

I had the hair on my neck rising the third day out, because I felt like someone was watching me. There was a herd of antelope that weren’t spooked by me slowly riding through, so I thought a little fresh meat would be good. I let the roan wander up near the antelope, sighted in with the Henry, and dropped one of the beasts from less than fifty yards. It didn’t take but a couple of minutes to skin and dress the animal and to have the carcass ready to be cooked and made into jerky. I was going to look for a stand of trees so that I would have a place to cook the jerky and enjoy some fresh meat.

I was a single rider with a horse and mule on a tether, so I would be easy pickings if someone wanted to attack. I went to the top of the next rise I came to and stood between my horse and mule to look out in all directions to see if I could find what was making me uneasy.

With my hat on my roan’s saddle horn, I stared out in each direction and turned in a circular direction to make sure of my situation. It was on the third turn that I found what I was looking for. There was a single person on the ground moving toward me, but not rising above a crawl on his belly.

I made the circle a few more times to be sure that was the only movement, and then walked the horses to a wooded campsite with a creek. I didn’t strip the animals because I didn’t know what I would have to do. I hobbled Benny, the bay, and the roan to let them eat the grass around the creek. I used the tall brush to circle out and watch as the individual person crawled in closer and closer.

The person crawling toward me came into better focus, and I realized that it was an Indian not covered in war paint. I hadn’t seen a lot of Indians in my life, and they had all been Cherokee. One of the common things with those that I had seen was that the front of their leather shirts had rows of beads. The women wore more beads than the men, and this person crawling my way had a lot of beads on the front of their shirt.

While holding a pistol in front of me, I softly said, “Why are you hunting me?” when the person was within ten feet of me.

That shocked the stalker and caused him/her to freeze and reach for a hatchet with the handle in its breech cloth. It saw the pistol and stayed still. I figured we didn’t talk the same language, so I put the pistol on my lap and signed to the person asking why he was hunting me.

I think the stalker was taken aback because I could sign to him. He signed back that he wanted food and it looked like I had some.

I signed, “Where are your tools, your bow, and your knife?”

He had to repeat his sign a couple of time until I understood that his horse stumbled in the big river and was swept away and drowned. He lost all except his hatchet.

I asked in sign, “Will you not try to kill me if I feed you?”

The person eagerly agreed. It could have been a ploy to wait until I wasn’t watching. That wouldn’t happen because I wouldn’t go to sleep with this person around me. I started a fire and sliced a couple of big chunks of antelope meat off. I put those on the high points of the tripod where I was going to make coffee.

The Indian was pointing at the antelope hide, so I handed it to him. He soaked the hide in the creek and then scraped until all the sinew was off the leather. The person found small trees to bend in order to stretch the hide. I was slicing pieces of meat off to smoke on the side of the fire, and was joined by the Indian who signed to be given a knife to help cut the meat. The antelope was soon stripped of its meat, with it all being cooked by the fire. I had some coffee and had soaked some more beans. We had an abundance of wood, so I put the beans on to cook knowing that they wouldn’t be good until tomorrow.

The two of us ate our large chunks of antelope, grunting and moaning our pleasure. We were sitting cross-legged across the fire from each other when we had each eaten a hard tack biscuit and the Indian had tried some coffee. The Indian signed, “I am not a brave.”

That was confusing, so I signed, “Not a brave, what are you?”

The person looked confused, and then said over and over a couple of times, “Hgehya, hgehya.” It sounded more like “Geya”.

That didn’t register right away but I had known several Cherokee that were native to Tennessee and remembered the word meant woman.

I sat there staring, not accepting that this person who had been stalking me was a female. This person finally raised her breech cloth that covered the open front of her pants and pointed. Yep, it was female with a hairy center.

I signed to this Geya, “What are you doing out here alone? Why are you not with your brave?”

The woman had a sad look on her face when she signed, “My man was killed in fight with northern tribe. Other tepees don’t want me to be a part of them. Men want maiden. I go to live alone, but lost my horse, bow, and knife. I will die of hunger.”

I signed, “I will not let you die. You can eat with me. You can ride with me on my horse. I am lucky to have food for many days. You must dress as white man if you are not going to live with others of your tribe. You need to learn to speak white man tongue.”

Each proclamation brought a frown for a minute, and then she softened in agreement. When I had signed that she needed to speak in white man tongue she snorted as if to say ‘not a chance’.

I patted myself on the chest, and said, “Jeff.” I did this several times, and then she patted herself on her chest and said, “Tia.”

I knew that word, but it took me a while to realize it was the word for blue jay. I signed back that I knew the word meant bird. I said, “Tia” so she would know what it meant. I said, “Tia, blue jay, Tia, blue jay.” The woman smiled and enthusiastically nodded as she softly said, “Blue jay.”

That’s progress but it will take a while.

I signed that I needed to sleep, but was worried she might not want to stay and would take food, an animal, and run. She signed in return that she was also tired and felt that she was safer with me than stalking me. I took the equipment from the horses and left them hobbled so they could continue to eat and drink from the creek. I made two places for us to sleep using the saddles as pillows. We used the saddle blankets for the ground and pulled regular blankets over us.

Tia watched my every move and watched as I put my scrounged pistol by my head. She lay down facing me and I watched as she closed her eyes and seemingly went to sleep. I knew Benny would make noise if anyone but me would be moving around him, so that let me go to sleep.

I woke before dawn and could see Tia still sleeping under her blanket. I needed to get some more blankets if I was going to have someone with me. I got up and watered the bushes. I dipped some water from the creek and put some dead dry limbs on the smoldering coals. The beans were still cooking, so they would probably be edible by now. I made some more biscuits and put the two other pieces of meat on the top of the triangle over the fire.

I brushed the three animals, giving Benny the heavy brushing he enjoyed so much, while the coffee was perking, and the beans and meat were cooking. I think the horses liked Benny and wanted to be around him.

Tia was up and had gathered some greens and roots to put with the beans. We sat and ate when the chunks of antelope were cooked, knowing that we had plenty of jerky that had dried out while sitting next to the fire.

I only made a tall mug of coffee and shared some with Tia. She didn’t care for the coffee much, but sipped some. She signed that she would find good roots to make with hot water.

We ate some of the beans and then put the bulk of them into a double leather pouch to warm for tonight’s meal. It didn’t take long to saddle the horses and mount the pack frame on Benny. With all our goods on the animals, I helped Tia onto the tall horse and shortened the stirrups to fit her. She needed to be able to stand in the stirrups to straighten her legs every once in a while or when we were trotting the horses. I had to make sure she didn’t get her foot through the stirrup in case she fell off. She needed boots with a heel.

Tia kept signing that I should take the saddle off the horse because she wasn’t used to it. I told her she would get used to it and like it better than bareback.

We kept up a good pace and stayed off the road far enough that we wouldn’t be noticed. We had to use the road at some creek and little river crossings, but we mainly stayed away. We stopped at a creek for lunch and ate some jerky and soda biscuits. I made mine with a little extra water so that they would be softer. I also normally made up enough to last a couple of days, but I didn’t gauge correctly for two people. I was making a bigger batch for supper.

We had found a stand of trees about a mile off the road so we felt far enough out of the way to be out of sight. The creek at this location wasn’t much more than a trickle, but there were some pools below where we were for the animals to drink from.

I put the beans in the pan with some water and made the biscuits up to cook in another pan. Tia wanted hot water for her drink and had dug up several roots to add to the beans and for her tea. I had been thinking of what to do with Tia all day as we rode along. I wasn’t ready for a companion, and didn’t feel as if I was old enough for a wife. I also knew that an Indian wife was often frowned upon by other white people.

I knew that we would be at Fort Smith where I could get someone to talk to Tia tomorrow, but it could also mean some hard times for her. People weren’t nice to those they didn’t understand. We had a German family that lived near us back home and they were treated very badly until they began speaking better English.

I sat across from Tia that night, and signed, “Do you want to go back to your tribe?”

She answered that she couldn’t because she couldn’t live without food, and no one wanted a second woman. She kept telling me that she looked like a hungry coyote and didn’t look like many women. I kept saying I didn’t understand and she grabbed her chest to show me there wasn’t a lot of extra flesh there. I asked her, “What should I do with you?”

This made Tia angry, and she signed, “I belong to you now. You can do what you want with me.” She repeated that she belonged to me several times, and gave me some of her tea which was surprisingly good.

We had now spent three days and two nights together and I had to make up my mind how to handle having an Indian lady accompanying me. Tia was learning English words such as horse, food, jerky, biscuit, beans, coffee, and water. Her diction wasn’t all that good, but I understood. She was teaching me her words for these same things although she didn’t have a word for coffee or biscuit.

We had begun the short ride to Fort Smith when Tia kept motioning toward where the Arkansas River was. I let her lead me to the river and we stopped within a heavy wooded area. I didn’t understand, but Tia had me get down and sit across from her.

The woman looked worried and signed to me that she had a Geya something. For the first time since we had been together Tia was jabbering about something. She kept signing a woman, Geya, thing, pointing to her belly and then signing that she was unclean.

Tia got up and went to our saddlebags, pulled one of my old shirts out and came back to put the wadded up shirt between her legs under her breechcloth. She signed again that she was unclean and talking the entire time.

It finally dawned on me. My dad had explained to me how women would go through a time of bleeding for about three or four days once a month. I signed to Tia that I understood. This might be a good thing if I were to go into Fort Smith and get those supplies I wanted.

I took the saddle bags on Tia’s bay horse down and brought one of the Navy Colts that was a .36 caliber out. I showed Tia how to cock the hammer, point the pistol, and then pull the trigger. I had her on an empty chamber and had her repeat this until I felt good about leaving her alone. I showed her how to reload and to also grab the other pistol and use it too if she had to. She told me several things that I should get.

There are no signs for salt or sugar, but we were able to converse enough to get it across. Tia wanted cornmeal flour as well as regular flour. We needed another metal plate and another cup. I wanted to get her canvas pants and shirts like mine, and a pair of boots to keep her feet in the stirrups if I could find them. Tia admitted that a good saddle was better than bareback for riding all day.

I made sure the campsite was secure and rode out, constantly turning in the saddle to see if I could see activity there.

Fort Smith was about the size of Selmer, so it wasn’t that intimidating. There was a big fort with logs standing up for a wall around the military personnel.

The town stores were friendly, and I was able to find the canvas pants I wanted but kept having trouble finding some small enough. The storekeeper brought his young daughter down to use as a comparison, and that helped. She was a little taller than Tia, but she was slim like my Indian. The shirts were easy so I bought two of those. Her feet looked to be about the same, so I bought that size boot. They had bars of soap that were much milder than the lye soap I was using. There was also a stack of small and large towels, so I bought six small towels and two large ones. I bought another plate, cup, fork, and spoon. They had a jar of hard candy, so I spent another two cents for a couple of pieces of candy. I almost left the store without the sugar, salt, flour and corn flour we needed. I counted the money out from the cash I had from the men at the stagecoach.

I hung the cloth bags over the saddle and began riding out of town. A couple of riders came up on both sides of me, and said that they wanted to ride out of town with me. The one man had his hand on his pistol while the other was constantly looking around to make sure we weren’t drawing attention.

The roan I was riding was a little touchy on his ribs so I pulled my feet back and jabbed him with the toes of my boots. The roan did exactly what I wanted and reared up on his back feet. The man to my left pulled his gun while the man to my right was trying to handle his horse who became excited because mine reared up.

The man to my left shot at me but hit his partner, knocking him off his horse. The man wheeled his horse around to get a shot at me but I was now ready with my pistol in my hand. As the man came around to aim at me, I shot him in the chest which knocked him off his horse.

I calmed my horse and holstered my gun as I settled him and reached out to gather the reins of the two horses. Seeing both men on the ground being still, I dismounted and tied all three horses to a nearby hitching post.

A man with a shotgun and another man with a rifle came running up to where I was standing over the two men. I didn’t get a chance to tell what had happened because a young man began jabbering to the two men who had come up. He had seen it close up as he had been on the walkway.

Another man confirmed what the young man said. I could see a star when one of the men turned to me. He was the town Marshal and the other man was his Deputy. The Deputy said to the Marshal, “These are the two I was telling you about who seem to follow travelers out of town. We don’t see the travelers again, but that wouldn’t be unusual.”

The Marshal looked at me and said, “You are really good or you’re really lucky. The one shot his partner and you finished the man before he could shoot you. It’s self-defense, so you’re free to go. You might want to visit one of the saloons for something to steady the nerves.”

I told they Marshal, “I’m not a drinker after having watched too many men make fools of themselves.”

I saw a store at the end of the business district with buckskin shirts and pants hung out to show what they offered as I was walking my horse out of town. I stopped to see if this was something I might want to investigate. The store had two older women working on a buckskin shirt by putting beads on it. The two were happy I stopped in and said that they could fit me with what they had. I asked for the price after they showed me shirts and pants, as I was interested. The woman gave me their prices that I didn’t think were very high. I told them that I would bring a woman in to be fitted tomorrow. I would also get some buckskins.

I bought a shirt that was plain, but felt amazingly soft. I found a small-sized shirt that would probably fit Tia and bought that too. I left the two women as they sat back at their sewing tables.

Approaching the campsite was a slow process, as I wanted to come at it slowly to make sure that Tia was still okay. Everything was as it should be with Tia feeling a little under the weather. I brought the store bought items out and built the fire up to have some coffee. Tia immediately wanted to make some corn flour cakes. She had a surprise for me as she had trapped a rabbit that we were going to eat with our beans. I showed her the can of tomatoes, telling her how good they were with food or just out of the can.

That’s when I showed Tia her new pants and shirts that were like mine. She immediately tried the pants and shirts on and found them a perfect fit. She tried the boots on and that’s when I realized that I didn’t buy her any socks. That’s easy to fix. Then I showed her the buckskin shirt I bought her. She was very excited when I signed and said they probably had pants that would fit her.

Tia was very excited when I pulled my buckskin shirt out, and she jabbered continuously until I grabbed her and hugged her. She became rigid in fear at first, then she relaxed and looked up at me in a funny way. I brought the soap out and signed for us to bathe. The Arkansas River was still cool but not terrible, so we were able to scrub ourselves clean with the nice soap and wash our clothes with the lye soap. We played and splashed each other with water for the first time since we had been together. We dried off with our new towels.

The bath allowed me to see how thin Tia was and why she felt inadequate about her female form. She had all the female components but just not any that stood out. Her butt was fairly flat and her chest was definitely flat. She reminded me of my ten year old sister, but I’m sure Sis was beginning to bloom by now.

We had a good supper and spent the time signing about what I was planning to do. My buying Tia clothes made her believe that I was going to keep her and she would be my companion now.

We discovered that I hadn’t considered that Tia needed braces to hold her new pants up the next morning. I think we needed to wash them and let them shrink up a little. I knew how to do it with some hot water. I figured our pot was big enough to shrink up one pair of pants at a time. She would still need braces. Tia wouldn’t be comfortable riding her horse if the pants were too tight.

Our nights were still spent under our individual blankets but I think we were both gravitating toward sleeping together. Tia wasn’t a maiden, but from what I could understand, she hadn’t been joined as a couple but for a couple of weeks.

I suggested we pack up and ride into town to see about the buckskins that were available. Tia also needed braces and socks. The store with buckskins was on the outer edge of town. We stopped there first and Tia discovered two people who spoke her language. They jabbered away with the two women eyeing me as Tia talked.

Tia would turn to me and signed to me as she continued talking. I had been doing the same with her, hoping that I could pick up more of the language. Tia was fitted with another shirt and two pair of buckskin pants. Tia said she had to put the pants on and sit in the river to make the pants fit correctly. They fitted me with two pair of pants that I would have to do the same as Tia. Tia was able to get a second shirt and I was also able to get another shirt. Tia slipped her bib of beads off and put it over her new buckskin shirt.

Tia asked the ladies for something, and they brought out some moccasins that had a firmer sole. Tia’s smile told the world that they were comfortable. The ladies brought me a pair of moccasins and had me try them on. They fit perfectly, but I said I couldn’t wear them while riding my horse. The women said for me to change into the moccasins so I would be more relaxed at night.

I used one of my double eagles and some other pocket change. The ladies were very happy to have us as customers. The one woman said that we were learning to live with each other and for us to continue to learn from each other.

We rode to the general store and bought the pants braces or suspenders and socks we needed. Tia also picked out a wide brimmed hat similar to mine. She signed and talked that it would keep the sun from her face. All the patrons in the store were intimidated by Tia, but she wasn’t trying to look stern. There was no reason for anyone to be worried as small as she was.

I led Tia out of the store where we mounted our horses. I led Benny on a long tether rope but I think he would have followed without it. We stopped by the livery where I bought a sack of mixed grain for the horses and Benny. I thought some supplement to the grass that had been plentiful so far would be good.

My original thought was to go back to our place by the river, but then decided to push on toward Tulsa. That was our goal at this time, so we headed west.

We caught up to a wagon train a few miles down the road. We stayed wide of the wagons so as not to act like we wanted to be a part of them. Our pace was faster than the train and we were soon ahead of the fifty wagon parade. I knew this area was inhabited by Indians that were mostly friendly, but roaming bands of young bucks often liked to harass wagon trains. Tia and I saw some men on horseback in the distance, but they were heading east and not toward us.

We pushed hard, heading straight west while not staying near the road. I knew that a very long day would put us at what was the northern crossing of the Arkansas River. It was long after dark, but under a full moon by the time we reached the river bank. We were quick to strip our animals and hobble them in the lush grass along the river bank. Tia laid out our sleeping area while I tended to the animals. When I returned I was surprised to find one larger area instead of two separate sleeping areas. As I looked at the bedding, Tia signed to me, first we eat some jerky and biscuit, then sleep together like brave and geya. Her word was udali. I had no idea what that meant.

We didn’t make a fire for her tea or my coffee, and just had some water to drink with the biscuits I had made for breakfast.

I was about to go to bed, but Tia stopped me and began taking my clothes off. She wouldn’t look me in the eye as she kept removing my clothes until I was bare. She stripped equally as fast, but kept some wrapping around her center and pulled me to the bigger bed. We lay down with us touching each other with all our bodies. I was embarrassed as my interest immediately showed. Tia didn’t seem to notice or care, and lay her head on my shoulder and threw a leg over me. We were warm under both our blankets and sharing our body heat.

I have to admit that I slept very soundly. I don’t think either of us moved all night long. We woke up after the sun was just barely up. Tia was very happy this morning, grabbed our soap, and went toward the river. We scrubbed and washed our hair, and then washed our clothes. Tia got out of the river, put a pair of her new buckskin pants on, and then went back into the water. She signed that I should do the same. I knew she had more experience with buckskins than I did, so I did the same thing. We stayed in the river long enough to thoroughly soak the pants.

We made a fire, and I made some pork and doughy biscuits for us to eat after that. I gave each of the three animals a little grain while the meat was cooking. You would have thought that it was candy by the way the horses went after the grain.

Tia and I were both wearing our buckskin shirts which were very comfortable. The sun was drying our pants, and the leather was perfectly fitting our body and movements by us wearing them.

My plan was to possibly stop in Tulsa but wanted to stay far south while going west. I knew there was another river and down this way farther west and thought that might be an area to consider getting ready for winter.

I signed to Tia that I wanted to cross this river today and stay on the other side tonight. She agreed and motioned for me to lead on. We came to a wide section of the river that didn’t appear to be very deep. I put all the items that shouldn’t get wet on top of Benny’s pack and I led him out into the river. Benny followed, trusting me to keep him safe. Tia followed Benny, but with some apprehension. I only got down to where my feet got wet, but I had put my moccasins on so I wasn’t upset. We made it all the way across the river without any of our pack getting wet.

We traveled back down river a ways until we found a perfect campsite. I figured the wagon train would go north of us to cross where the river was considerably narrower. I had no idea how far north the road was from where we were.

I decided to see if I could catch a fish, so I made a little brush dam that would attract fish to swim up to it. The small fish went to the eddy, out of the current, and bigger fish followed for a meal. I waited with a long sharpened sapling until a bigger fish was almost against the brush dam and stabbed. I got him. I pulled a large fish from the water and let him flop around on the bank. I went back to the dam and waited until a large fish was trying to get at a smaller one, and stabbed a big fish once again.

Tia was very excited to have fish. She had already cleaned the first one I caught and immediately grabbed the second one to clean it too. I made a fire, and used a piece of the pork we had to get some grease to cook the fish in. I put a pot of beans on to cook that Tia put in some of her dug up roots and pods of spices that she picked.

Tia took her clothes off as it grew later, and indicated for me to do the same. We took another bath, but didn’t get our hair wet this time. This woman seemed to enjoy rubbing her soapy hands all over my body. She wasn’t put off by the way my interest was protruding toward her.

I used the soap to wash her and she directed my hands to her tiny nipples and her furry center. Tia signed over and over to me that she wanted me to be her man and she would be my woman when we were dry and sitting on our larger bed. She said that we needed to join in our blankets so that we could feel our souls mix together.

This was new to me. I knew what sex was, but I had never had sex with a woman. Tia didn’t let that bother her and showed me how to please her until I was between her small thighs with her thrusting up at me as I enjoyed plunging into her. The inevitable happened and our souls mixed together inside her.

Tia wouldn’t let me pull out and rolled us over to continue sliding up and down on me until we repeated mixing our souls. The little woman was smiling so broadly that you would think she was the happiest woman in the world. She rolled us to our sides, pulled our blankets up and we both fell asleep with our arms around each other.

Primary Editing by Pepère
Helicopter and Legal Guru, Rotorhead

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