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The Lone Ranger and the Riders of Justice-Chapters 8 and 9

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Chapter Eight

 

 

Tonto’s News

 

Tonto had ridden hard back to the campsite after the evening conversation he had overheard. He had much to tell the Lone Ranger. The miles flew by quickly as lives hung in the balance. Arriving breathless a the fireside he dismounted Scout and tied him to the nearest willow. The Ranger sat up and moved over to Tonto.

“Did you learn much Tonto?” the masked man asked.

Tonto rubbed scout down and began to talk.

“Yes Kemo Sabe-me learn much. Lyle Talbot ride up to Blindmans Plateau. Meet masked man and man named Snake. “ he said between strokes. “Men talk for some time. Tonto hear words ‘Ambush’, ‘railroad’, and all 3 men part of bigger plan to buy railroad land.”.

The Lone Ranger listened intently to Tonto’s narrative. His powers of observation and keen hearing missed little.

“They plan more raids before railroad man come to town” Tonto added.

“Did they say anything about when this would happen?” the Ranger asked.

“Next week, maybe two weeks. They not know when.” Tonto replied finishing Scouts rub-down.

The Lone Ranger looked solemnly up at Tonto.

“Did they say anything else?”

“Masked man tell man named Snake to send man into town tomorrow.   He supposed to apply for Deputy Job, he get job. Plenty bad for town people.” Tonto replied.

“So Tonto, the very man Kievers Creek looks to for help, is one of the man they live in fear of!” the Ranger summarized.

A few minutes passed.

“What do we do next Kemo Sabe?” Tonto asked.

The Ranger moved back to the fire and stirred the faggots, the flames danced higher as sparks flew to the heavens. Tonto sat down, the Ranger handed him a coffee.

“Thank you” he said.

The fire licks made strange shadows around the seated pair. The warmth of the burning logs took miles of saddle aches away, and fatigue soon set in. Tonto’s handsome face was silhouetted in the flickering light as he listened to his wise companion.

“Tonto, it’s time to act. This is what I propose…” the Ranger and Tonto talked at length and planned the next days activities. Their plans made, sleep soon overtook the pair.

The rising sun found Tonto and the Lone Ranger readying themselves for the day. Frying bacon and boiling coffee provided both men with needed nourishment. Cleaning their dishes took a few minutes as Tonto prepared the horses for a long day of riding. He fed them from their feed stores and led Scout and Silver over to the cool creek for a good drink of water. With Scout and Silver both fresh and well rested, few horses in the West could match their endurance or speed.

Emerging from the trees, the masked rider of the plains and Tonto, cantered towards the rock Snake Larson had reclined on. Dismounting Silver the Ranger walked to the spot Tonto pointed at.

“Kemo Sabe, the men stand here. These prints here, are the masked leaders, these” he said pointing to a deeper set of prints “ are Snake’s, and these here are Lyle Tablots.” he added, kneeling down beside the Ranger.

Pressed down grass surrounded the rock, dew soaked prints revealed much to the trained eyes of the Ranger and Tonto. Turning back his minds eye to the prints he saw after following the tracks to the wooded knoll, he saw the same irregular heels once more. Snake Larson had raided Jim and Margaret Autry’s wagon. Justice would soon follow him to his doom!

“Tonto, the prints are hard to see. They did a lot of pacing didn’t they?” the Ranger commented.

“Tonto, Snake Larson stood here?” the Ranger asked.

“Yes Kemo Sabe” Tonto replied.

“And the leader here, and Lyle here?” he verified .

“Yes, you recognize footprints” Tonto asked.

The masked man looked more closely.

“I think so Tonto, Snake Larson’s I saw when the man with shiny boots surprised me. The Others, Lyles’, I’m not sure but if he’s in league with the sheriff and Larson they probably are his”

Rising to his full height, the Ranger brushed the dust from his knees. Walking towards the horses, the pair talked further.

The Lone Ranger looked solemnly at Tonto.

“Tonto, did you overhear how many men are in the gang?” the Ranger asked.

“They no say kemo sabe” Tonto replied.

“We’ll have to assume they have at least six men, the ones that Jim and Margaret saw. Two of those men, we know were Snake, and possibly Lyle. Tonto, Snakes tracks are still fresh, let’s track them if we can.” he said.

Tonto mounted Scout and reined him towards Snake Larsons horse tracks. Proceeding slowly, the pair alternated picking the imprints. Much to their disappointment, the trail led to prairie scrub brush, then disappeared.

Taking the lost trail in stride the Lone Ranger and Tonto turned back to town more confident in their suspicions. They pushed Silver and Scout to their limit to get back to Kievers Creek early in the day. By noon, unless the Ranger and Tonto got to town, one of Snake Larsons men would be Deputy. With the law fully behind them, nothing could stop their tyranny!

Stopping at their campsite, the Ranger dismounted Silver and proceeded to effect a disguise. Removing a small kit from his saddle bag, he extracted two vials of pigment. Covering his hands with dark brown he rubbed his face, hands, and skin. Removing his mask and shirt he continued to colour his skin. Opening the second vial, he applied the contents to his hair, turning a deep rich black to a medium brown. Returning the vials to his saddle bag, he pulled some faded clothes out, and put them on. Replacing his familiar blue pants and shirt, he turned to Tonto.

“Will this do amigo?” he asked in a thick Mexican accent.

“That do plenty good kemo sabe” Tonto replied.

“Tonto-let’s ride!” he said as he strapped on a tattered gun belt to complete the disguise.

Arriving in town almost breathless from the strenuous ride, the pair of Frontier Avengers reined their horses in front of the Hodgsons General Store. They tied them to the railing and walked toward the sheriffs office. Tonto, stopped in front of the store window, and wrapped a blanket around himself. The Ranger kept on walking and stopped at the notice board. His eyes found the Deputy Wanted sign. Reading it quickly, he moved further on and walked into the Sheriffs office.

“Howdy Sheriff” the Ranger/Manuel said.

Sheriff Stockton looked up from his paper.

“Howdy stranger-what can I do for you?” Bill asked.

“I’d like to apply for the deputy job senior. My name is Manuel” the Ranger said.

The Sheriff quickly gauged the Lone Ranger up.

“Any tracking experience Manuel?” Bill asked.

“Si senior, many years of finding lost horses on my fathers ranchero in Mexico.”

Manuel answered.

“Are you good with a gun?” Bill said.

Manuel, drew his battered gun from his holster in one fluid motion, spun it round his finger and smoothly returned it to the worn leather belt. He smiled, black teeth showed.

“A man named Snake sent me” Manuel added.

Bill Stockton stood a little straighter.

“Do you have any references, other than Snake?” he asked.

“Tom Steele, I was there last as his lead horse trainer, before his killing.”

“In that case Manuel, where can I get hold of you if you’re hired?” he replied.

Manuel stood back confidently.

“At the saloon.” he answered.

“I’ll let you know later, I have to think about it.” he said, a little hesitancy in his voice.

Manuel turned to leave.

“Thanks for coming in Manuel. I’ll know later today.” Bill said.

Manuel left the office and walked over to Tonto. Standing beside him and conversing quietly in as few words as possible, they spoke.

“Tonto, watch the office. He didn’t hire me on the spot. They must have arranged a signal or code. I’m going over to the saloon, as I said I would.” Manuel said quietly.

Tonto, not looking up from his blanket, nodded.

“Yes Kemo Sabe.”

The Lone Ranger left Tonto and continued over to Barcroft’s Saloon. Sitting down on the well worn bench in front he observed Tonto on his far right and the Sheriff’s office slightly to the left.   So far, the Sheriff had acted as suspected

Some time passed as the people of Kievers Creek lived the rhythm of their daily lives. Mothers left Hodgson’s store with groceries and children in tow; the stage coach rumbled through main street leaving dust in the air; Business men swept their wooden walks, and greeted passers by with a smile and a wave; carpenters and farmers left the hardware store arms laden with supplies; and children ran from corner to corner, and from home to school.   The sounds of life echoed through the streets-laughter and the occasional loud discussion floated out of the saloons double doors. Moving as they always had, the people of Kievers Creek had no idea of the villainy afoot in the office of the sheriff.

Watching the sheriffs office closely from his bench, the Lone Ranger saw no-one enter the office. Soon though, a tall lean stranger entered. Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, and finally thirty minutes passed.

The Ranger stood up, then walked over to the store where Tonto sat.

A burly gentlemen approached the office, opened the door. Tonto looked up at the Ranger.

“Tall man in plenty long time Kemo Sabe” Tonto said.

The Ranger nodded in agreement.

“Maybe man member of Snake’s gang?” he suggested.

“Could be Tonto. Have to find out somehow” the Ranger replied.

The Ranger/Manuel gazed intently at the sheriffs office. Roy Rogers stood in the doorway for a moment, then turned and left. The swarthy gunslinger stood beside the sheriff just inside the door with a scowl on his face. Conversing intently, a worried look came over the sheriff’s face. The other man gesticulated madly, then the door was closed.

The Ranger/Manuel looked down at Tonto, a nod of understanding passed between them. The Mexican came out a few minutes later and quickly mounted his horse. Locking his office door, the sheriff left a couple of minutes later. Trouble, it seems, was on it’s way.

Tonto got up from the wooded sidewalk and moved towards Scout. He and the Ranger reined their horses around and galloped out after the Mexican outlaw. With Tonto’s superior tracking skill, he was not far enough ahead to lose them. At best, a cloud of dust showed them the way Ace Parker went.   Following behind at a safe distance, the pair galloped in silence, each lost in thought.

Ace Parker, still visibly upset, hurried towards their hideout in the hills. There were plans to be made, and Snake Larson had to know about the newest wrinkle in the plans. Passing by Blindmans Plateau, he carried on pushing his horse to it’s limit. Arriving at the hideout’s secret entrance he pushed through the covering shrub and sought Snake Larson out.

The Ranger and Tonto, arriving at the entrance paused. They had no knowledge of what lay beyond the veil of secrecy! Tonto went first, leaning against the wall with his six guns raised high. He forced his way through the slim opening. Making no sound, he quickly surveyed the area. A vast valley met his gaze. THE RUSTLERS HIDEOUT HAD BEEN FOUND!!                      Motioning the Ranger forward, Tonto and the masked man explored the entrance, learning any possible escape route should it be needed.

The pair looked in amazement at the scene before them, hundreds of cattle grazed on the sweet grass of the hidden valley.   Ranging for almost a mile either way, and surrounded by steep hills and dense bush and trees, the valley was a perfect place to hide. A creek ran through the north side, disappearing into the rocks, supplying water to the valley’s inhabitants. Surely, the familiar brands of Kievers Creek’s cattlemen would be amongst the content animals.

Hypnotized by the scene before them, the Ranger and Tonto were snapped to alertness by the cracking of a twig. Someone was near! Every sense fully aware, the pair moved stealthily through the low bush. Peering left and right, the sight of the Mexican Ace Parker met their eyes.   He, too was searching. The Ranger and Tonto must have made too much noise. Straining his ears to catch any further noise, he heard nothing more as the Masked Man and Tonto stood still. Moving back towards the cabin one hundred yards distant, Ace Parker ambled along slowly at first, then he picked his pace up as he recognized the outlaws standing outside.

Waiting in the bushes in the edge of the clearing, the Ranger and Tonto moved after Ace and his partners went inside the cabin. They moved efficiently until they stopped behind a wagon at the edge of the bushes. Their heads poked above the top of the buckboard, perfect targets if anyone were looking. Motioning Tonto with his silver pistol, the pair of men snuck towards the cabin. Flattening themselves against the rough hewn wall, they inched forward until they came to an open window. Carefully looking inside the room, the Ranger motioned Tonto ahead to the other side of the broken window. They listened, and learned.

Ace Parker, Snake Larson, Lyle Talbot, and several other men sat around a large oak table. A bottle of whiskey stood on either end, dirty cups and plates littered the edges, and several half smoked cigars balanced precariously on the sides. The dozen unmade cots which lined the walls, and the sooty pot-bellied stove in the middle of the room boiling a well used coffee pot evidenced the outlaws long presence.

“I tell you Snake, by the time I got to the Sheriffs office, he already hired this Roy Rogers guy. Sheriff Stockton told me he had no choice, letters of recommendation from one of his old lawman friends, from the US army, and he’s an expert tracker as well. If Bill had refused his services, and word had got back to Don Barry, or Rex Allen, trouble would really be brewing.” Ace said defensively.

“So, what was your impression of Roy Rogers Ace?” Snake asked.

Ace Parker took a shot of whiskey, and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

“He’s like a snake, coiled. If we’re going to get rid of him, it has to be soon before he learns too much. Bill suggested an ambush on the trail. Apparently he’s going over to Allen’s later” Ace related.

“Well, that’s what it is then. Around sunset we’ll…” Snake Larson planned.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto, motioning toward the hidden valleys entrance listened for the end of the conversation, then turned to leave. Tonto’s foot caught on a stone, and down he went. He looked down, and stood up quickly. The sound of his fall carried through the hidden valley like a gunshot! The Ranger, peered inside and saw the outlaws run to the window.   Realizing that speed was of the essence now, the pair of avengers abandoned stealth.

Snake Larson, still talking, heard the sound and ran to the window.

“It’s a mexican, and an Indian! They must have heard our plan! Get them!” he commanded, running for the door.

The men poured out from the cabin and ran towards the fleeing pair. A couple of men mounted their horses and galloped ahead. Gunshot flew around the Ranger and Tonto as their brains worked feverishly to plan their escape.

Returning the gunfire, the Ranger and Tonto sped towards freedom. A mounted pair of gunmen blocked their path. Never willingly taking a life, the Ranger shot the gunmen’s weapon out of their hands. Their hands stinging with pain, the twosome charged the fleeing duo.        The gang behind Tonto and the Ranger fired indiscriminately. So intent on killing the mexican and Tonto, Snake Larsons wildly aimed bullet took the life of one of the approaching outlaws! He fell to the ground, the horse galloping past the Ranger barely missing him by inches. The other, seeing his partner fall, started to yell, but he too took a wild bullet. His arm stung with the deadly projectile, he lost his balance, and fell to the ground. The path to freedom was clear! The Ranger and Tonto ran a zig zag pattern to avoid the gunfire.

“Silver” the Ranger shouted. “Here Boy!”

“Scout! Come Scout” Tonto echoed.

Tension grew as the entrance loomed closer. Snake Larson and his gangs bullets careened wildly around the fleeing pair. Firing back at their pursuers, silver bullets found their mark sending pistols flying through the air.

Just then, the mighty steeds, Silver and Scout crashed their way through the arboreal barrier. Caught by surprise, Snake Larson and his gang hesitated for a moment. But that’s all it took for the Ranger and Tonto to mount their horses, rein around and leave!

“Hi Yo Silver Away” the Ranger shouted in triumph!

The mounted pair crashed through the barrier sending branches scattering.

Still in shock at the last few moments, Snake Larson came to the realization that the Lone Ranger and Tonto had been in their grasp.   And now they were gone!

Motioning his men to their mounts, the outlaws gave chase. Leaving Hidden Valley in a full gallop they pursued the fleeing pair, a full three minutes ahead. The outlaws horses, even pushed to their limits, were no match for the magnificent steeds Silver and Scout. Firing a last volley of shots towards the Ranger and Tonto in frustration, they slowed down and turned around looking back to see the disappearing horsemen on the horizon!

“Whoa Boys, let’s go back. There’s lots to do before tonight!” Snake yelled. “With the Masked man around here, we’ve got to be pretty careful.”

The Ranger and Tonto sped towards the Flying A Ranch. Rex had to be told about the newest developments!

Roy Roger had gone back to Dale’s place to tell her he wasn’t going to be there for supper. Riding Trigger gently, they arrived as ‘George’ was leaving.

George was a white whiskered, cantankerous prospector type.   Wearing brown dungarees, and a bright red flannel shirt, he beamed curiosity. He pulled his dusty hat off his head and stopped Roy short of the door.

“You be the new deputy?” he asked in a growly voice.

Roy Rogers replied.

“I’m the new deputy, name’s Roy Rogers, and you are?” he asked.

“George Gabby Hayes at yer disposal. How can I help you young’un?” he said.

Roy laughed.

“Is Dale in right now?” he asked.

“Na’aw, she’s off at the store. Care to leave a message?” he said protectively.

Roy thought for a moment.

“I’ll write a note.” he replied.

They went in and found a paper and a pencil.   Roy wrote his note and left it on the table. Gabby, naturally curious, looked over Roy’s shoulder as he wrote. As Roy wrote, Gabby’s eyes widened. Roy looked up, and Gabby quickly turned away.   Roy turned to finish the note, and Gabby looked strained to look again.   Putting the pencil down, Roy turned around.

“Do you want me to read the note to you or can you read it fine from there?” Roy asked.

“Fine from here young’un. Thanks” Gabby replied.

Roy grinned and finished the note.

“Dale’ll find it here.” Roy said as he put the note on the table.

Roy and Gabby left Dale’s place.

“Young’un” Gabby began.

“Call me Roy” Roy asked.

“You can call me Gabby-everyone else does” Gabby responded.

“Okay Gabby” Roy said. “What do you know about the raids and ambushes around here?”

Gabby sat down on the porch bench and Roy followed.

“Well, Roy, it’s might suspicious these raids. You know, I’ve been on every posse except time ‘cept the last one.”

“You don’t say?” Roy responded.

Gabby looked at Roy, a hint of indignance in his eyes.

“You don’t believe me, do you Roy?”

“Gabby, of course I do. If you have as much experience as you appear to have. There’s not much you could say that I wouldn’t believe” Roy replied.

Gabby smiled.

“Now, that’s better. One thing about the young’uns of today. No respect for their elders. Now, where was I?” Gabby asked.

“Have you noticed anything strange about any of the posses?” Roy asked?

Gabby rubbed his chin, cocked his head left then looked at Roy.

“Well, a few times I’ve seen some tracks that should’ve been followed. But for some strange reason, we went the other direction. Couldn’t figure out why though. Course, being an unofficial deputy, I couldn’t say anything. Bill is quite a tracker you know. He and I tracked a black bear near twenty miles, most of it almost pitch dark. Had to stop though, our supply of chewing tebaccky ran out. “ Gabby continued on.

“You mean Bill is an excellent tracker?” Roy asked quizzically.

Gabby smacked his lips.

“One of the best Roy, one of the best. Of course, I taught him all I knew. Known him since he was knee high to a grasshopper.”

“Has he been acting strange lately?” Roy asked.

“Well, now that you mention it. He has been a little different. Stopped coming to church socials as a matter of fact. He’s stopped doing anything but working the last few months.” Gabby observed.

“Have you ever seen him with anyone else recently?” Roy inquired.

Gabby thought for a minute while the wind blew across the deck.

“It does seem that he’s taken up with a couple of strangers. One comes in, and they leave. Come back a couple of hours later, don’t know where they go though, ain’t bothered figuring it out neither” Gabby replied.

Roy stood up.

“Thanks Gabby, you’ve been a big help. I’m off to Rex Allen’s ranch, so I’ll talk to you later” Roy said as he mounted Trigger and reined towards the east. He hadn’t gone far when..

“Where’re you going Roy? Rex lives in t’other direction” Gabby yelled.

Roy pulled Trigger back, and cantered towards Gabby.

“You’d better show me the way then, the sheriffs map is all wrong.” Roy said as he put the map in his shirt pocket.

Gabby nearly jumped for joy.

“Weeell, I never thought you’d ask Roy. I’ll saddle Emma up, give me a couple of minutes. Just when you thought your day was going no-where, action! Yee Haa” Gabby said excitedly.

Hobbling to get his horse from Dale’s stable, Gabby threw his well worn saddle on Emma, a charcoal mare with bright eyes. Like Gabby, trouble didn’t seem too far beneath her pleasant exterior.

As mid-afternoon passed onto early evening, two pairs of riders galloped towards destiny: Roy and Gabby were going to meet Rex, from one direction, and the Ranger and Tonto were coming from the other. Before the week was out, the world that was Bill Stocktons villainy was going to pass into obscurity!

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

Information on Angels Wings

The Lone Ranger and Tonto galloped towards the Flying A ranch. As the miles flew by Silver and Scouts hooves, the pair of riders saw acres of beautiful land and thousands of cattle. Working cowboys moved their animals and waved to the pair as they passed by.

Roy and Gabby approached Rex’s ranch as the sun reached 3:00 high. The sprawling hacienda, even basked in the mid-day sun, radiated a sense of solidarity and confidence in the future. Roy dismounted Trigger, looped his reins over the deck railing. Gabby, still complaining bitterly about Emma’s comfort, happily left his perch.

“Nice Layout” Roy remarked to Gabby.

Gabby smacked his lips and answered.

“Yep, helped Rex build this place. I’ve know’d him since he was oh, yeah tall. Seen him start from a few cattle, to this” Gabby swept his hands from east to west.

“I suppose you taught him all you knew about cattle too” Roy jibed.

“Almost, except he added a little and a lot of cattle too!” Gabby replied.

Roy and Gabby knocked on the ranch door. Gale let them in.

“Gale, this here is Roy Rogers” Gabby said.

“Pleased to meet you Mr Rogers. Hello Gabby, been telling Roy how you helped build this place?” Gale asked, a mocking smile on her face. She laughed.

“Mr Allen is this way” Gale replied leading Roy and Gabby into the hacienda. “Please sit down. Can I get you something? Iced tea, lemonade?”

Rex Allen was standing beside his tall backed chair.   A smile crossed his lips.

“Rex, this here is Roy Rogers, the new deputy” Gabby said.

Rex offered his hand to Roy.

“The Sheriff worked fast, didn’t he Gabby? Pleased to meet you Roy, I’m Rex Allen, chief wrangler on this here range, when Gabby isn’t around that is. Welcome to my home” he said offering Roy his hand.

“Mighty glad to be here Rex. Nice spread you have here.” Roy firmly shaking Rex’s offered hand. A look of respect passed between them.

“Please” he said waving the two toward the couch.

“Gabby here” Roy said “ is quite a genial host, would’ve got lost coming out here if he wasn’t along with me. Reminds me of my old dad in some ways.”

 

Hoppy and Gabby

Gabby looked away shyly.

“Shucks Roy, just trying to help that’s all.”

Rex nodded in agreement.

“Gabby’s just like one of the family.”

Gale entered the room carrying the cool drinks, she handed Roy, Rex, and Gabby their teas, and left.

“Thanks” Roy offered.

“Thanks Gale” Rex said.

 

Roy took a sip of his drink, then set it down on the oak table.

 

“So where do you hail from Roy?” Rex asked.

“I was born and raised in Duck Run, Ohio. Spent the last few years with the army as a tracker, and the last couple with Sheriff Don Barry.   He sort of sent me” Roy answered.

“Don Barry sent you?” Rex asked.

“Yes, a couple of days ago he got wind from an anonymous source telling

him that there was trouble down here. So, he told me to come down and help Bill Stockton out. I guess Don owed Bill a favour.” Roy said.

“Don’s a good man. Hope he’s doing well.”

“He’s doing fine. He’s a grandfather now, got two wind’em up tight grandsons that keep he and April busy” Roy replied.

Rex took a sip of his iced tea.

“So Roy, how are you going to start out?” he asked.

“Well, Bill gave me his files on the raids thus far. I brought them with me. You know where the ranches are, so hopefully I can go visit the families over the next few days. I’ll go get them” Roy began. He went out to Trigger, opened his saddlebags and brought the package of files in. Laying them on the table, he and Rex began to read.

As Roy read the files, he noticed Rex’s wall hanging. Some years earlier, the Cattlemen’s Association had a hanging map done as a thank you for years of service. Showing landmarks, homesteads, land grants, and of course the insignia of Kievers Creek County, it added a distinctive touch to the Allen household.

“Nice wall map Rex” Roy said.

Rex stood up and walked over to the hanging.

“Thanks, mighty proud of it I am.” Rex replied.

Gabby chimed in.

“Dale outdid herself, didn’t she Roy?”

“She made that?” Roy asked.

“She sure did Roy” Gabby replied.

“ I wonder if we could use this and plot where the raids, ambushes, and rustlings happened?” Roy asked with a spark in his eye.

Rex nodded in agreement.

“Great idea Roy! Gail, can you come here?” Rex asked.

Gail came into the living room wiping her hands on her rose covered apron.

“Yes Mr Allen?” she responded.

“Gail, could you bring coloured ribbon, scissors, and some stick pins please?”

he asked.

She turned around and left the room. A few minutes later she returned, pins, ribbon, and scissors in hand. Somehow she managed to hold the pitcher of iced tea in one hand.

Handing the items to Rex, she refilled the glasses, and left the room.

“Thanks Gail” Roy and Rex said.

Gabby quietly stood up and followed Gail.

Roy and Rex. absorbed in conversation, turned to the stack of papers on the table. Rex, standing beside the map held a red pin in his hand.

“Okay Roy, the first file we read was …” Rex prompted.

As Roy read, Rex plotted. Red marked raid, blue ribbon meant ambush, and green ribbon rustling. The map was soon dotted with red, blue and green. Broken down into manageable bits of information, patterns soon emerged. The red pins formed a rough line with Kievers Creek in the middle, the blue and green pins were more random, yet seemed centred around some mysterious point.

“Curious Roy isn’t it?” Rex commented.

Roy rubbed his chin.

“Yes, the only information we can gather is that the raids occurred in a straight line sort of. You say there were effects of these raids as well.”

Rex answered.

“Well, about ten families canceled their homesteading plans after the raids started.

Three families left after they were raided. Some strangers bought them out real fast, lock stock, and barrel. The banks got a couple of parcels of land, and the cattlemen absorbed the losses as well as we could.. All in all, things could be much worse. “

Rex sat down beside Roy, and re read the reports. His face showed emotion as he remembered each of the ‘files’ in turn. Faces of friends, now departed came to mind as he read the cold heartless details. Tragedies, easily dismissed on paper, came back to life to Rex, who lived beside many of the people mentioned.

“Roy, these reports seem accurate enough. But for all the possess we’ve set up, no clues were found, until now. Why would there be a straight line from east to west?” Rex asked.

Roy nodded.

“Could be almost anything from land syndicates to fencing lines. By the way, how many cattle have been lost in the raids?”

Rex answered.

“The cattlemen’s Association figure around five hundred to seven hundred cattle have been stolen, run off, or killed. Haven’t found many though. They just vanished. It’s not the loss of cattle or buildings that concern us though. Cattle can be replaced, buildings can be rebuilt. But good friends, families and hope for the future can never be replaced. We lost good men in some of the raids, fathers lost sons, and wives lost husbands. God willing the rustlers will make one slip, just one small fatal slip. Then, and only then will peace return to Kievers Creek County.” Rex said emotion thick in his voice.

Roy, caught up in Rex’s speech, stood there quietly. He had to do something.

“I promise I’ll do my best. For Kievers Creek, for the families that have lost much, for the future. Could Jim show me where he was ambushed the other day? Maybe seeing the area will jog his memory a little bit. I was thinking around noon.”

Rex walked Roy to the door.

“I’m sure Jim would be glad to show you where he was attacked. He and Margaret are feeling much better now.”

Roy closed the door behind him and walked up to Trigger. Patting his golden stallion affectionately, he got into his stirrups and reined Trigger around.

Gabby rushed out of Rex’s hacienda, his short legs pumping wildly. Almost spitting with excitement he yelled at Roy.

“Hey Roy! Don’t forget about me. I’m coming.”

Roy stopped Trigger.

“Where were you Gabby?” Roy asked.

“I was testing Gail’s cooking, you know, to make sure that it was satisfactory.

I just had a spoon to my mouth when Rex came into the kitchen an’ told me you just left.”            Roy waited atop Trigger, his hands now gloved with fine leather. Trigger sensing Roy’s unease, whinnied.

“Easy boy, we’ll be off as soon as Gabby is ready.”

Gabby untied Emma’s reins and jumped on.

“Are you talking to that horse?”

Trigger nodded his head.

“We sort of understand each other. By the way, Trigger wants you to hurry. You wouldn’t want to get him upset. He’s likely to leave you behind.” Roy said chidingly.

Gabby turned Emma around, and galloped off out of the Flying A’s gates. Roy waited a few feet ahead for Gabby then adjusted Triggers speed to match Emma’s.

The Lone Ranger headed towards their campsite. Arriving as the afternoon sun passed four o’ clock, he dismounted Silver and quickly opened up his saddlebags. Finding the stain remover, the Ranger applied it to his hands and rubbed them together. Applying the cream to his face, the dark stain disappeared quickly revealing a smooth handsome face. After washing his upper body down with a little water, he went to his clothing roll and found his familiar uniform.   Turning towards Silver, the Ranger adjusted his mask and picked his hat off the willow branch. The Ranger would soon be in action!

Watering Silver for a few minutes, the Ranger chewed on a simple meal of beef jerky. The flight from the outlaws took much from the Rangers and Tontos seemingly endless reserves. Feeling much refreshed, the masked rider of the plains mounted Silver, reined around and galloped towards Rex’s ranch. Much news and important plans had to be shared if tyranny was to be thwarted.

The Ranger and Silver covered ground rapidly, the urgency of their mission driving them on.   Arriving at the Flying A breathless, the ranger dismounted Silver, tied his reins to the post and knocked on Rex’s door. Gail answered.

“Come in Mr Ranger” she said “ Rex is…”

Rex appeared from around the corner.

“Right here” he said, graveness in his voice.

The Ranger relaxed somewhat.

“Rex, Tonto and I have discovered who is behind the raids around here!” he stated calmly.

Rex looked surprised.

“Where is Tonto anyway?” Rex asked.

The Lone Ranger replied.

“Tonto rode out to Harry’s to warn him. They were going to tell the other ranchers about the raid and assemble a counter attack.”

“Don’t like sitting down when there’s work to do, do you Ranger?” Rex commented.

“When lives hang in the balance Rex, nothing is more important!” he replied stoically.

Rex motioned the Ranger to the kitchen.

“Can I offer you a coffee while you tell me what you’ve discovered?” Rex asked.

“Please” he replied.

The Ranger took a sip of the hot steaming liquid, then placed the mug down on the hand made place mat.

“You could sure use some moisture around here Rex, trails pretty dusty.”

the masked man commented taking his doe skin gloves off. He placed them on the table.

Rex sat across from the Ranger at the breakfast table, coffee mug in hand.

“Rex. . last night Tonto trailed Lyle Talbot after he left the meeting here to a flat around five miles from here.   I gather it’s called Blindmans Plateau. He found out that Lyle is in league with the Sheriff and a man named Snake Larson.” he offered.

“Do you mean Sheriff Bill Stockton masked man?” Rex exclaimed. Surprise registered on his face, then he quickly schooled his thoughts and his expression became one of interest. His eyebrows angled down and his attention was focused again on the Rangers words.

“Yes Rex, it seems Bill Stockton is in league with the raiders!! He may very well be the boss. But as far as we can tell, Snake Larson holds that authority. What’s more, a railroad is coming through Kievers Creek.   Sometime soon, the land agent will be in town, that’s why the raids have been done, to get control of the proposed land” the masked man revealed.

Rex’s face lit up.

“You know masked man.   Roy Rogers, the new deputy, and Gabby were just here.” he stated.

The Ranger wrinkled his brow.

“Roy Rogers?” the Ranger queried.

Rex turned his head to look at the Ranger as he got up from the table. They headed towards the living room.

“Gabby and the new deputy Bill hired were here today, I’d like to show you what we discovered as we looked at the reports Bill had made. Bill may have made the biggest mistake of his life, hiring Roy! He’s dynamite Lone Ranger, dynamite!”

Gail brought fresh cups of coffee to the coffee table and put them down in front of the two men. They looked at the map on the wall. Different coloured pins traced partial patterns, now made clear by the masked mans information.

Rex pointed to the pins.

“See the pins, each colour denotes a different activity. Each pin is the location of either a ranch or ambush. The ambushes are not as ordered as the raids, and rustlings. But, we should have thought of the railroad angle earlier today. It makes sense, the railroad going through” Rex talked as he drew an imaginary line from east to west, right through Kievers Creek, and each of the attack sites. Yep, we should have seen it before. We heard it might be

coming, but no-one knew when…” he mumbled slightly.

Rex looked at the map.

“If Bill was here now” he said angrily wrenching an imaginary neck in mid air. “All of those lives, gone.”

The Ranger listened quietly.

“We also followed the man who didn’t get the deputy’s job to a box valley.” he said “ right about here” pointing to a blank spot on the map. “There’s nothing on the map Rex. What is it?” he asked.

Rex looked carefully at the spot on the map. He shook his head in confusion.       “You know, I’ve always wondered what was missing from this map, now I know what it was-Republic Valley!” Rex exclaimed s he realized the importance of the masked mans discovery.

“There was at least five hundred cattle in there. Some may have been the rustled ones, we really couldn’t tell. There wasn’t much time to examine the brands. Our goal was to listen to the conversation in the cabin.” the Ranger narrated. He took a drink from his coffee.

“Snake Larson was in the cabin along with the man Tonto and I followed from town. They were talking about the new deputy, Roy I guess. They are under the impression that he’s dangerous.”

Rex nodded in agreement.

“I’d say so, he’s right on top of things.   In one day he’s done more than anyone expected. But if Bill is the leader, Roy is in danger, especially if he tells Bill what he suspects.” Rex exclaimed.

“Yes, Rex, he is. The gang plans to raid Harry Carey’s ranch tomorrow night to set a trap for Roy, they mean to kill him! Harry, Tonto and I have already planned a counter trap. This is what we have in mind…” the Ranger concluded.

And the Ranger filled Rex in with the details. Soon Rex was nodding in agreement, and a grim look overtook his face.

“My only worry Masked Man, is getting the co-operation of the cattlemen, without Lyle finding out!.”

The Ranger agreed.

“Rex, we’ll have to take that chance-the lives of so many people are at stake now. The element of surprise, if our plan works, can make up for many tired horses. Adios Rex.” The Lone Ranger turned around and left. Mounting Silver, he reared him up and started off towards camp.

Rex Allen stood at his door step and watched the Ranger gallop off into the distance. As he turned into a speck on the horizon, Rex looked for his foreman, Pierce.

“Yeah, I knew the masked man would change things. I have a good feeling about this. It’s going to be an eventful couple of days” Rex said to himself as he searched the yard for

Pierce Lyden, his foreman.

“Pierce, come here!” he yelled.

Pierce walked over from the corral. His tall, gaunt frame easily traversed the hundred yards from corral to hacienda hitching post. Experience showed in Pierce’s face, hard lines evidenced hard winters of work, tough callused hands echoed years of punishing physical labour. Pierces brown eyes, twinkled as he neared Rex Allen. A smile covered his face letting his genuine affection and respect for Rex show through.

Rex mused as Pierce ambled towards him.

“Soon, all of these troubles will be over. We have to rely on all my men, and my neighbours men. I can trust Pierce and my men, but what about some of the drifters…”

Pierce reached Rex, and stopped. He leaned over the hitching post and picked a sprig of grass.

“Yeah boss, what can I do for you?”

“Pierce, I want you to tell the boys to come ready for a meeting after supper tonight. “ he asked.

Pierce nodded.

“Sure thing Rex, anything wrong?” he asked concerned.

Rex put his hands in his pocket and looked up the sky.

“No” he said looking at Pierce. “ Far from it, things are finally going to be allright

before the sun sets tomorrow.   I’ll tell you after supper.”

Pierce sauntered off to finish the fence he was mending. Whistling as he walked, he yelled over to a couple of hands to come over to him.

Rex Allen turned and entered his house. It had been an eventful twenty four hours. Justice comes swift when the Lone Ranger and Tonto blow into town!

Tonto and Harry finished riding out to the ranchers by sundown. They rode back to Harry’s spread and hungrily devoured a hearty meal of steak, potatoes, and freshly baked buns.

As through the western states, neighbours easily volunteered for the counter-attack. The prospect of revenge suited some more than others, Lyle Talbot, once trusted, was now an object of derision and distrust.

Tim Lasiuta is a Red Deer writer, entrepreneur and communicator. He has interests in history and the future for our country.

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Sailing the Nile – Parts 1 and 2

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Sailing the Nile

This is the second in a two-part series “Sailing the Nile”.

There were only 15 guests on board the Malouka: nine polite Americans and our group of six raucous Canadians. We were on a six-day sail up the Nile River. The vessel was a traditional double-masted dahabiya, part of the Nour el Nil fleet https://www.nourelnil.com/

Dahabiyas have been plying the waters of the Nile for millennia. But this was a cleverly-constructed, modern, luxurious craft for us clever, modern, luxuriant folk.

Egypt: Sailing the Nile Part 1 by Gerry Feehan

 

In addition to the crew – who outnumbered the guests – we were graced with the presence of Jean-Pierre, a gentle man with a charming Parisian accent whose only responsibility aboard ship (from what we could glean) was to hop from boat to boat, entertaining the guests with his relaxed septuagenarian spirit – and to act as self-appointed ‘bodyguard’ to Eleanor, one of the fleet’s owners. Eleanor, an elegant French lady, maintained her sumptuous quarters on the Malouka’s sister ship, the Meroe.

Every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, was served in style, on deck, in the open air. The food was amazing. We were waited on like Pharaohs and Queens: fresh-netted Nile perch, crisp fried falafel and baba ghanouj; straight-from–the-oven flatbread to scoop up the tahini, hummus and yogurt sauces. Each afternoon, we were offered the refreshing juice of some exotic fruit. After dinner, often just a simple desert of dates and figs.

After feeding the guests, the crew enjoys lunch on the lower deck

We quickly bonded with the crew. Where English/Arabic language issues arose, the occasional knowing nod, some common courtesy and a mutual admiration for the beauty of the Nile, sufficed. The Egyptian crew was polite and attentive. And even the most hardened of these river seamen displayed a boyish sense of humour.

Each time we neared shore to dock for an excursion, the captain – whom the staff had inexplicably nicknamed Humpty Dumpty – commenced a routine of alarmed shouts directed at the bow crew—while simultaneously engaging in a frantic arm-waving ceremony toward the helmsman. As we neared Edfu, and before he could start this inevitable daily performance, I jumped into his station at the bow and began gesticulating and yelling in my best pidgin Arabic.

Humpty looked at me in astonishment. The crew was momentarily dumfounded. Then one-by-one they burst into hysterical laughter. The cook, abandoning the galley, fell to the floor, pounding his fists on the deck with unrestrained glee.

I looked at the captain apologetically and said, “Asif.” But I wasn’t really sorry—and Humpty was laughing just as hard as the others.

The sun began to redden over the Nile. The barge passed fertile fields of cotton and sugar cane; lush orchards of pomegranates and figs. Galabiya-clad shepherds looked up from their flocks. Women washed clothes in the fading light. Children leapt into the clear warm water. A startled grey heron squawked. A young boy astride a thin donkey waived hello. Everything was fun and games. Then the squall hit.

The sudden gale propelled the dahabiya sideways. We were headed for an inevitable collision with shore. All hands were on deck as the bow slowly crushed into a thick grove of papyrus. I looked at the captain. He was not laughing. Orders were shouted. Two crewmen jumped overboard with tie-lines in hand, frantically swimming through the thick reeds. On shore they pounded grounding stakes into the hard bank. Then the entire team, from first mate to cook, hauled fast the lines.

When you are a ship’s captain you are on duty 24/7 and can never break, even if your name is Humpty.

As quickly as it started the squall ebbed and all was well again.

Humpty at the helm

This motley crew was not much help during the squall

After the calm we resumed our drift. Near the Temple of Horemheb we tied up for the night, went ashore and visited a small village. We popped in for shai (tea) at what can only be described as the neighbourhood pub, although no alcohol was served. The place smelled of desert grime seasoned with stale tobacco smoke. In the dim murky light an animated group of men were huddled around a table, taking turns smashing domino tiles down upon the battered old piece of furniture. They offered us shai and thick, sweet Turkish coffee, then invited us to join the game and share shisha—a water pipe. The local tobacco is flavoured with fruit and the taste is very mild. Even a deep inhale doesn’t burn the lungs. Or so I’m told.

It was evident that the people here were desperately poor. And yet they welcomed us politely, with expressions of sincere gratitude for our visit to their country. Proffered payment for the shai, coffee, shisha—and our domino debts—were all firmly refused.

Young and old, Nile folk were friendly and welcoming

Egypt needs visitors. Tourism has been hard hit by an unfortunate series of events: 9/11, middle-east concerns, terrorist threats – both real and imagined. The 2010 ‘Arab Spring’ democratic uprising was, ironically, particularly devastating. Tourist numbers plummeted to near zero, but are now recovering. Still, only about 150 of the 350 tour boats that formerly plied this section of the Nile are operating.

We left the village and climbed to a high vantage point overlooking the mighty river. It began to rain. Soon we were all soaked to the skin. Sawi, Alberto and Mahmoud (our on-board waiters and off-board protectors) danced gleefully in the desert downpour. This part of Egypt had not seen rain for four years.

In the morning, docked below the high dam at Aswan, we enjoyed a solemn breakfast while watching a last sunrise over the Nile. Our toast was served with marmalade and melancholy. Our time aboard the Melouka was over. Jean-Pierre and Eleanor came to bid us adieu. All of the crew were emotional. Mahmoud’s eyes were glued to the floor. You know I hate to see a grown man cry… so I avoided looking in the mirror.

We walked the gangplank off the dahabiya. A van awaited us dockside. There we were introduced to Sayed Mansour, from Exodus Travel, who would be our guide for the rest of our Egyptian adventure. He hurried us into the van. A plane awaited us. We were bound for the ancient temple of Abu Simbel on Lake Nasser.

Exodus Travel skillfully handled every detail of our Egypt adventure: www.exodustravels.com/‎

Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. He lives in Kimberley, BC.

Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. He and his wife Florence now live in Kimberley, BC!

Thanks to Kennedy Wealth Management and Ing and McKee Insurance for sponsoring this series.  Click on their ads and learn more about these long-term local businesses.

Click to read more travel stories.

 

8 miles off the coast of Ireland Gerry Feehan’s “Buddy-Hike” discovers the Skellig Islands

 

 

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Egypt: Sailing the Nile Part 1 by Gerry Feehan

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Sure, there’s no travel now, but one day, when the world opens up, we will travel again. In the meantime, enjoy the first in a two-part series “Sailing the Nile”

The Nile River is a mind-boggling 6853 km long. It is the longest river in the world. Mind you we were only sailing about 200 km of it, from Luxor to Aswan, on an Egyptian dahabiya. But since we were relying on the prevailing north wind to carry us upstream—to the south—even that took nearly a week.

Dahabiyas are shallow-bottomed, barge-like vessels. These two-masted craft have been plying the waters of the Nile, in one form or another, for thousands of years. We were on the Malouka, a 45-meter long beauty, part of the four-boat Nour el Nil fleet. For the entire voyage, all four boats sailed together in a colourful flotilla. https://www.nourelnil.com/

Our captain was Humpty Dumpty (the crew had given each other very entertaining nicknames). Humpty was a musical fellow. When he wasn’t shouting orders he was humming quietly to himself. As my travels have repeatedly confirmed, music is the world’s great unifier. Thus, on our second evening aboard, I uncased my ever-present ukulele and began strumming a few tunes. Soon, the captain and a few other crewmembers wandered up from below deck, listening appreciatively, attentively—and patiently.

Abandoning our eggs, we all scrambled from the table and donned bathing attire.

Then it was their turn. In moments the entire crew had gathered on deck, instruments in hand. They began clapping as the captain sang out an Arabic folk song. The loud thumping of the cook’s doumbec filled the Nile valley with contagious percussion. The floorboards reverberated as every soul on board bounced wildly in unison. Our quiet jam session on a soft Egyptian night had quickly evolved into a raucous international jamboree. It was magical.

In the morning we were enjoying a reflective, leisurely breakfast when someone shouted, ‘There’s a woman floating in the river!’ The lady casually waved as she drifted by. It was Eleanor, one of Nour el Nil’s owners. Eleanor’s cabin was on the Malouka’s sister ship, the Meroe. We were invited to join Eleanor in the water. I had no idea that swimming in the Nile was safe—or part of the agenda.

Abandoning our eggs, we all scrambled from the table and donned bathing attire. The procedure was simple: walk a few hundred meters upstream, jump in and simply go with the flow. Drift down to the dahabiya, swim to shore and… repeat. This unexpected treat—and respite from the hot Egyptian sun—quickly became a daily ritual. Surprisingly, the Nile River is not overly wide. But it has a subtle incessant strength. A dip in this great watercourse reveals its unmistakable power. Each of us tried futilely to buck the current and swim upstream. None made any headway, all eventually succumbing to the Nile’s deep, relentless, perpetual force.

Ancient Egyptians relied on this coincidence of opposing wind and current to build the greatest civilization the world had ever known. It is what enabled the construction of the pyramids 4500 years ago. Vast blocks of granite and sandstone were quarried and, during the annual flood, floated downstream and unloaded. Then the barges were sailed back upstream and loaded anew. The Great Pyramid of Cheops near Cairo contains over two million blocks, each weighing in excess of a tonne, every stone stacked in place by hand. That’s a lot of barging—not to mention the heavy lifting.

There is no more luxurious—or relaxing way—to see Egypt and appreciate its spectacular ancient tombs and temples, than to embark on a quiet sail up the Nile on a dahabiya. Muslim rulers in the middle ages ostentatiously gilded these barges the colour of the sun. The name is thus derived from the Arabic word for gold.

Each day we moved a little further south. We’d dock, disembark and, after enduring a gauntlet of incessant, tenacious, persistent street hawkers, we’d be in the portal of one of ancient Egypt’s incredible monuments. All these sites are located just a short walk from shore, above the high-water mark of the historical Nile flood. First we visited Esna, then Al-Kab, then Edfu and Horemheb. Our final stop was Kom-Ombo and its Crocodile Museum, where 3000 year-old mummified reptiles stared at us, teeth bared, looking malevolently alive. The Pharaohs venerated these beasts, preserving them for their mutual journey to the afterlife.

Temple guard

Kom-Ombo

At each stop we were met on shore by Adele, a young Egyptologist, who guided us through the complex history of these wonders. He patiently explained the ancient hieroglyphs that adorned the sandstone walls—but only after our group gave him our complete attention. Any noisy transgressors received a stony stare until they were embarrassed into silence. Then in a quiet but commanding baritone the lesson would begin. And god forbid you were caught snapping a photo of a frieze from the middle kingdom during one of his talks. Another cold glare would ensue, together with the admonition, “Time for pictures later.”

Adele explaining a cartouche

On the hike to Al-Kab, I noticed Adele fidgeting with something in his hands. “Why the worry beads?” I asked. “Prayer beads,” he corrected. He didn’t look like the devout type. “I’m trying to quit smoking,” he explained sheepishly.

Inside the tomb, Adele was showing us how to read a 30-century-old cartouche carved into the stone, pointing out a few of the multitude of gods worshiped by the early Egyptians. Osiris, god of the dead, Horus, with his falcon head and Isis, Horus’s mother. We all stood, obediently quiet in the dim sweltering closeness of the crypt. Then with a flashlight he pointed out some additional markings in the rock: ‘John Edwards 1819.’ We looked closer and saw many other similar autographs. British soldiers had clumsily scratched graffiti into these magnificent ancient works 200 years ago.

Kilroy, it seems, has been just about everywhere.

Next time: Part 2: Sailing the Nile on a Dahabiya.

Exodus Travel skillfully handled every detail of our Egypt adventure: www.exodustravels.com/

Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. He and his wife Florence now live in Kimberley, BC!

Thanks to Kennedy Wealth Management and Ing and McKee Insurance for sponsoring this series.  Click on their ads and learn more about these long-term local businesses.

Click to read more travel stories.

We will travel again but in the meantime, enjoy Gerry’s ‘Buddy Trip to Ireland’

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