Chapter 1



Man! If John didn't come up with something pretty soon, the whole troop was going to go nuts. They had sat around in one saloon or another for 4 weeks waiting for a job to show up, but nothing, so far. There's only just so much beer you can drink before you can't stand the taste of the horse piss sold around here called beer. About the only consolation was that Abigail and Abe had found a house they could move into; the original owner had been killed by some Indians about a year ago; and nobody had claimed it. John and Mary had also found a house, but Cassius and Cissiee and their 3 kids were having a problem finding a place big enough.

Even though California was a free state, nobody wanted niggers living next door. They were living in a shed behind John's house until they could find a regular house, somewhere. As it was, John had to speak sharply to one neighbor about his friends and to threaten to shoot another neighbor if he didn't stop harassing Cassius' family. Things had settled down after that, but there still was some tenseness in the neighborhood.

The rest of the troop were all bunking together in an abandoned barn and seemed to be reasonably happy with that. However, the whole group was mighty restless, they just were not used to being idle. Furthermore, their money would run out pretty soon the way things were so expensive in California. It was scandalous that even that piss they sold as beer cost 7 cents a mug. San Diego was not what you would call a thriving metropolis, but they were surprised at how hard it was to find work. Some of the men even wondered if they may as well have stayed in Texas. Oh, well, something was sure to come up.

John entered the saloon they were using as a meeting place one afternoon and said, "OK, boys, we got a job!" He waved down the cheers and said, "You may not be so happy when ya hear what it is. John Simpson's 15 year old daughter was kidnapped by Yaquis yesterday, and he wants her back. It means that we'll have ta go inta Mexico after 'em, an' we may wind up fighting both Mexicans and Yaquis afore we gits back. Do ya still want ta take the job?"

A chorus of yeses was the answer he was looking for, so they started planning their trip. It was too late to leave that afternoon, but they would leave with the sunrise the next morning. Cissiee and the 3 children would move in with Mary while the troop was gone, so the two women would have some moral support during the absence of their men. Mary was very early in her pregnancy, but Cissiee would still be a help.

The next day, everybody met before sunrise at John's house, and they ate breakfast there. Actually, it was a little before daylight when they left for the Simpson ranch to pick up the trail of the Yaquis. An Indian of a local tribe had found the tracks and would lead them after the Yaquis for the first day, but they would be on their own after that. There were 12 Yaquis in the band they were chasing; they probably would not be moving very fast because they were on foot. Plus, it took a finite amount of time for 12 men to rape 1 girl. Abigail figured that they would each take a turn at the girl when they got up in the morning before breakfast and, again, after supper. That meant that they would lose over an hour of travel time in the morning, plus the girl would be so sore that she couldn't move fast, no matter how much the men tried to rush her. They probably planned to sell her to a Mexican brothel, so they would do their best to keep her alive.

The tracker was very good, so he was able to trail the escaping party at a steady jog. He announced that he would be leaving them in the morning, so he showed them what to look for as they followed the Yaquis and their captive. The girl was wearing riding boots which had a high heel, about 1½ inches long. This heel dug into the sand as the girl walked and it accomplished two things: it slowed down the girl's walking, and it left an easily identified mark for them to follow. The Indian figured that they would catch up to the Yaquis within 48 hours, unless something very unusual happened.

They made camp for the night, and the Indian was gone when they got up the next morning. They rushed through breakfast and were on their way within 30 minutes. They had jerky and hot coffee for breakfast and would have jerky and cold coffee for lunch. For supper, Abigail would fix a regular hot meal, and all the men looked forward to that.

Abe was their best tracker under these circumstances, so he rode point with Abigail along to keep an eye out for trouble. The rest kept close behind, so saying that he rode point was almost a ridiculous statement, they all were so close together. Late that afternoon, Abigail spotted some motion on the distant horizon, so she stopped them before they could attract attention. They followed the Yaquis slowly, since they didn't want to give themselves away. John's intention was for them to surprise the Yaquis that night during the evening rape session.

The Yaquis were surprisingly overconfident—they did not have any watch posted during supper or the rape session that followed. The girl was tied, spreadeagled, on the ground to four stakes. She was naked, except for her boots. She appeared to be sunburned, so she probably had been naked all day. The men were standing around, naked, laughing and talking as each man took his turn with the girl. She appeared to have given up and was taking the rapes stoically, which was good, since she could not do anything about the situation.

John didn't rush the attack, since they had to eliminate the Yaquis as quickly and efficiently as possible, once they started their attack. They expected that the Indians would try to kill the girl if it looked like the rescue would be successful. There were 12 Indians and 7 rescuers, so John assigned 2 Indians to each rifleman, and he would reserve his fire to be the backup, if he was needed. The plan was for the first shot to be a volley and the second shot to follow the first as quickly as possible. When everybody was ready, John would shout "FIRE," and they would all shoot.

"FIRE!" Six rifles crashed as one, 6 dead and dying Indians fell to the ground. A second series of shots rang out, but these were not quite so successful in hitting their targets. The second set of 6 Yaquis reacted as soon as they heard the shots and dove for cover. In three cases, the bullets missed because the Indians were able to react so quickly and decisively.

By now, it was too dark to try to follow the Indians who had escaped the shooting, so John concentrated on the girl. He sent Abigail to cut her loose and to do what she could for the girl. The men were set to gathering all of the Indians' possessions into a pile for burning. They found clothing, moccasins, weapons, blankets, and other things which they piled up and set afire. The knives were salvaged because they would not burn. Before they left, Abigail did her usual cropping and stuffing; she thought the girl would appreciate that.

Two blankets were reserved to be used for a travois to transport the girl. They found enough wood to make an adequate travois which they cushioned with the blankets. The girl was laid on the blankets and covered by a third one. Two men dragged the travois back to their horses, and they fastened the travois to one of the pack animals. Just in case the Yaquis planned some devilment for that night, John had them leave the area and travel about 4 hours before stopping to make camp.

They were too tired for a full meal, so they ate jerky and the remainder of the cold coffee from breakfast. Man, life as an Indian fighter could be hell! However, the next morning, Abigail fixed their usual trail breakfast, so everybody, including the girl, had a full belly. Ruth Simpson was still too sore to do any riding; she couldn't stand any pressure on her crotch. The Indians, of course, had not been concerned about getting Ruth wet inside before raping her, so she was pretty torn up. However, she should recover with enough rest. Ruth's emotions were given a big boost when Abigail told her what had been done to the dead rapists.

They took it slow, getting Ruth home. They were on the trail 4 days getting back, trying to make the trip as easy on Ruth as possible. Her parents were overjoyed at seeing the girl, and they insisted that John and his people stay for a celebration. Simpson even threw in a bonus, so the Troop left happy.

Unfortunately, they were now unemployed, again. John went to the local Rancher's Association to see if they could be put on retainer to patrol the neighborhood and try to prevent any more Indian raids. He got the cold shoulder on this, but a week later, there was another Yaqui raid which left 6 dead, including the rancher's wife and son. Shiply's Troop was now back in business!

The Troop was assigned to patrol the border and keep the Indians, primarily Yaqui, from crossing and causing trouble around San Diego. They pretty much adopted the routine they had followed in Texas of looping along their patrol route and returning home every few days. Mary thought that if Abigail could accompany Abe, she should be able to go with John, but she found that the trip was a lot rougher than she thought, so she made only one short trip with them. Besides, she didn't want anything to mess up her pregnancy.

Cissiee made a semipermanent move to Mary's house; the place was big enough for the two adults and three children. John bowed to the inevitable and made plans to enlarge the house to accommodate his growing family. There was still some noise about niggers in the neighborhood, but none where John could hear it.

The second trip around the patrol circuit resulted in an encounter with a Yaqui raiding party. In fact, it was more of an ambush. Ten Yaquis had hidden in a particularly advantageous location on the patrol route and attacked when the Troop rode in. They had done such a good job of hiding themselves that Abigail had no clue that the Troop was headed for trouble. None of the Troop were seriously wounded by the flying arrows, but 2 horses were killed.

They made a run for some rocks they could use as a makeshift breastwork, but John could see that they were in trouble. The Indians knew where the Anglos were hiding, so they knew where to shoot their arrows. The bow and arrow has one distinct advantage over the gun: indirect fire! With a gun, you had to be able to see your target if you expected to hit it, but not so with an arrow. The Indians could stay down behind their rock shelter and fire arrows into the air so that they would fall among the Anglos; this was not accurate shooting, but it was damned effective as harassing fire!

The only practical solution to the current dilemma was to disperse the troops. John knew that he would never be able to separate Abe and Abigail, so he didn't even try. He did order everybody to move to new hiding places without being seen. Hopefully, they could get at least one person behind the Yaquis. So far, the only injuries to John's people had been a few very minor wounds from arrows and a few bumps and bruises from hitting the ground too hard, so they were not hindered in their efforts to put up a good fight. But this could change quickly if they didn't get a move on!

Three people moved to the right, three moved to the left, and John dropped straight back. Oops! Some of the Yaqui had the same idea. Cassius was one of those who had moved to the left, and he was lucky enough to see a foot just disappear behind rock as he found a new place to shelter. He made sure that his rifle was fully loaded and began to stalk the other man. He never moved faster than a slow crawl as he worked his way closer to the hiding place he had identified a few minutes ago.

Cassius was getting a little antsy, since the Indian could have moved by this time. Should he continue to assume that the Yaqui was still in the last place that he had seen the Indian, or should he assume that the Indian had moved. It seemed safer to assume that the Indian had moved, Cassius certainly would have. Therefore, Cassius swung a little more to his right, since that was the direction the Indian had been headed.

There he was! Cassius could see a moccasin-clad foot and part of a leg just visible behind a large rock. Cassius was always the opportunist, so he took careful aim at the visible foot and fired. His was the first gunshot heard since the Anglos had dispersed, so it seemed unusually loud in the silence pervading the current battlefield. Immediately after the sound of the shot, there was a scream of pain, and Cassius could see blood spatter a goodly portion of the scenery. With a wound like that, this was one Indian out of the fight, even though he wasn't dead.

Cassius knew that his shot was going to attract unwelcome attention, so he looked for a better place to fort up while he waited for the situation to stabilize. Just as he spotted a good place, he heard another shot. This shot came from well to his right, and was far enough away that it must have come from one of those who had moved in that direction. Indeed, it had.

Abigail and Abe had moved off together, but they had prudently separated a little bit so that they could cover each other. In the process, they managed to encounter 3 Yaquis who were trying to get behind the Anglos. One of them was a bit careless, perhaps he was in his first war party? Whatever, he raised himself a bit too much and exposed his position to Abe. Abigail was admittedly the better shot, but Abe was no slouch. He exposed enough of his body that Abe was able to fire a shot which caught the young Indian in the side and penetrated his ribs into his lungs. He collapsed without a sound. This was the shot that Cassius had heard.

Unfortunately, Abe was forced to show enough of his own body that one of the other two Yaquis got off a quick bow shot in his direction. The arrow ran along his left forearm, cutting a significant gash, but missing any life-threatening body parts, such as arteries. Nevertheless, there was a hell of a lot of blood gushing from the wound, and it was painful enough that Abe had dropped his rifle when he was shot. His grunt of pain brought an immediate reaction from Abigail. She said, quietly, but urgently, "Abe, Honey, are you OK?"

"No, dammit. I been hit in the left arm and I'm gushing so much blood that I can't stop it."

"Get yerself under cover. I'm on my way."

In only moments, Abigail had reached Abe and cut off his left sleeve. She was able to use it to staunch the flow of blood and bind the wound with a temporary dressing. She said, "Ya're out of the fight fer now. Keep yer head down an' I'll be back as soon as I kin."

"OK, but be careful. I need ya alive and kickin', Honey."

Abigail kissed Abe's cheek and slipped away before he could think up a reason for her to stay by his side. Abigail was so well armed that it was almost a wonder that she could walk! She had her repeating rifle, her Navy Colt in a holster at her thigh, her Dragoon Colt stuffed into her belt on her left side, and her Navy Colt hideout pistol under her shirt below her left breast. Thus, she had 24 bullets available, and she rarely missed, so the Indians were in real trouble, they just didn't know it yet. Of course, she was carrying her bowie knife, too, but that hardly counted, under the circumstances, since any Indian warrior worthy of the name could probably beat her in a straight out knife fight; strength counted for too much, then.

Abigail dropped to her hands and knees as she left Abe. She planned on slipping up on the Indians if she could. Her first target was the Yaqui who had shot Abe. She knew his last location, so she would start her stalk from there. Of course, he was gone by the time Abigail reached his former location, but her sharp eye had no trouble picking out his route. For this kind of hunting, her rifle just got in the way; she wished that she had left it with Abe. She hid the rifle where she thought no Indian was likely to find it and resumed her stalk.

This Indian must have been somewhat contemptuous of the skills of Anglos, because he did not expend any effort to hide his trail. Abigail had no trouble following him as he led her to a clump of rocks. She had to assume that he was hiding among the rocks, hoping to ambush anyone who came too close. Well, Abigail intended to get "too close," but she planned to make it a problem for the Indian. She crept up to the rocks and peered between two to see the Indian looking between two rocks facing the opposite way. The first that he knew that he had a visitor was when he heard the click of Abigail's Navy Colt move into full cock. He jerked around just as she fired. The result was that she caught him in the side, in the ribs, instead of the spine where she had been aiming. It really made no difference; the bullet eventually entered his heart and snuffed out his life. Abigail didn't care that she had missed her original target. She wasn't a perfectionist when it came to killing Indians—all she cared about was that they were dead!

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Story tagged with:
Historical / Humor / Torture / Violent /