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Secret of Shaw Valley

Secret of Shaw Valley

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Secret of Shaw Valley

Longueur:
306 pages
3 heures
Sortie:
May 10, 2016
ISBN:
9781311307989
Format:
Livre

Description

Rations are being withheld illegally from a Sioux reservation. Chief Copper Kettle is preparing to attack the Indian Agency that will start a war. General Sheridan, sends Brad Shaw, to solve the problem. When the former army major is forced to take shelter in a canyon to escape attacking Pawnees, he finds a wounded Sioux warrior with an arrow in his leg. Shaw removed the arrow but the man needs urgent care on he will die. Brad risked his life when he took Paha, the injured warrior, to Chief Copper Kettle’s village. He promised food for the village in one week if the chief delayed attacking the Agency. While in the village he saw a beautiful woman. After they meet Brad wants her to be his wife.

First, Brad must find the man in Washington creating problems with the Indians. When Brad finds the powerful official, he must defend against the influential man’s attempt to destroy him.

Brad Shaw becomes a marked man when he opens a bank account with bags of gold. Fritz Blackburn and his gang of cut-throats target to kill Brad, but the veteran is no stranger to the smell of gun powder—and he has a secret to settle old scores.

Sortie:
May 10, 2016
ISBN:
9781311307989
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Vernon E. Beall entertained grade school classmates with harrowing tales of air duels with the Red Baron, wrote short plays for radio broadcast in high school, was an Army correspondent for the 29th Division, and wrote original musical productions in college. His stories are somewhat different today, but he still enjoys the thrill of bringing new characters to life. Mr. Beall served with the 3rd Army in Germany during WWII, created the credit department for a national bank, and served as the bank’s vice president. He also served as credit manager for Westinghouse Credit Corporation and Motorola in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a graduate of Potomac State College, University of West Virginia, and University of Virginia. He resides with his wife on a lake in Wisconsin where he continues to write.

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Secret of Shaw Valley - Vernon E. Beall

Prologue

Rations are being withheld illegally from a Sioux reservation. Chief Copper Kettle is preparing to attack the Indian Agency that will start a war. General Sheridan, sends Brad Shaw, to solve the problem.

When the former army major is forced to take shelter in a canyon to escape attacking Pawnees, he finds a wounded Sioux warrior with an arrow in his leg. Shaw removed the arrow but the man needs urgent care on he will die. Brad risked his life when he took Paha, the injured warrior, to Chief Copper Kettle’s village. He promised food for the village in one week if the chief delayed attacking the Agency. While in the village he saw a beautiful woman. After they meet Brad wants her to be his wife.

First Brad must find the man in Washington creating problems with the Indians. When Brad finds the powerful official, he must defend against the influential man’s attempt to destroy him.

Brad Shaw becomes a marked man when he opens a bank account with bags of gold. Fritz Blackburn and his gang of cut-throats target to kill Brad, but the veteran is no stranger to the smell of gun powder—and he has a secret to settle old scores.

Secret of Shaw Valley

By Vernon E. Beall

There was no breeze. A blazing sun stood unfiltered in a cloudless sky. Only prickly cactus grew in the vast arid land. A few mesquite trees with bare limbs stood like abandoned orphans on arid ground. Brad Shaw sat quietly on a broad chested gray looking out over the barren land. He gave a long look behind, covering a hostile trail he had just crossed but there was no sign of Indians. Low hilly country offered a view of twenty miles to where ten thousand foot snow-capped mountains rose above a desert floor. He patted the horse’s neck knowing he was safe for the moment.

Sun had deepened Shaw’s face like polished leather. A cotton shirt and calfskin vest covered wide square shoulders. Faded officer’s pants were tucked in worn cavalry boots. He was six-feet two and a trim two hundred pounds. A wide-brim Stetson hat shaded deep blue eyes but failed to cover shocks of blonde hair. Rolling hills of buffalo grass ran as far as the eye could see. An abandoned pioneers’ wagon trail could still be traced over desolate land of sand and tumbleweeds.

Brad rested while his eyes searched the wide-open range for any sign of hostile Indians. Attacks on small ranches were being reported in this region. He and his horse were both thirsty but a canteen had less than a cup of hot, putrid smelling water. He was wiping his face with a cloth when Fog lifted his head, his eyes fixed on a small hill.

Six painted warriors came riding from behind a low treeless ridge. Riding alone across an open prairie should have made Brad an easy prize for a Pawnee warrior’s trophy. The warning was enough to give Fog a head start. The attack was sudden but not entirely unexpected. Fog was a special horse bred for speed and stamina at the Shaw Ranch in Maryland. The horse easily gained distance from the Indian ponies.

Brad found shelter in a washed-out gully. A repeating Winchester rifle and a box of shells were removed from a saddle. Fog and Brad waited, hidden in their temporary safety. Another lucky break came as he realized the attackers would be facing a blinding sun.

Brad climbed a sandy bank and lay down facing the direction of the impending attack. With his rifle resting on the gully’s hot sandy edge, Brad hesitated. The riders came at full gallop shouting loudly.

The warriors were less than a hundred feet from where Brad waited when two warriors dropped from their horse. Brad jacked another shell into his rifle’s breech and another painted warrior’s yells ended. The warriors, too eager for an easy kill, had blundered into an ambush!

They realized the hunted had become the hunted. Facing the glare of a burning sun, they had failed to see the white man until it was too late. Brad saw the third rider jerk and slump forward when his next shot was fired. Three warriors were able to ride away, one carrying a .44 bullet. His scalp would not be a trophy today for these warriors.

Brad watched the trio ride hard for safety towards a small hill, but allowed them to escape. He wanted only to survive, not kill needlessly.

With the danger over for the moment Brad slid down the hot bank and brushed sand from his clothes.

Looks like they decided they made a mistake, Fog.

The horse shook his head, but it could have been to chase a fly.

With his rifle reloaded, Brad and Fog rested fifteen minutes. He wanted to make certain the warriors were not part of a larger war party before leaving his shelter. Brad thought again of water. Fog’s body was coated with a grayish, sticky sweat. A second canteen was checked. There was water for Brad to wet his mouth; a cup was given to Fog.

The exhausted rider figured he was still twenty miles from the Indian Agency. The gray stallion shook his head and chewed at the metal bit in its mouth.

Easy, boy. We both could use a rest. I’m sorry I can’t offer you a cool bucket of water. You got the last of the canteen.

He risked resting his horse a moment longer, searching open land for the chance of another attack. The small band of Pawnee warriors was out of sight. Today, four had paid a high price. He patted Fog’s neck. Fortunately, the horse had sensed the Indians in winds blowing out from a small, bare hill. The warning was enough.

Fog was still not rested but Brad gently kneed the horse, moving him to a gentle gallop. A thousand-foot mountain rose less than five miles before him.

A smile cracked his sweating face as he surveyed the opening of a small canyon in the hill. Ahead he saw refuge in an opening in a ravine. As he came closer, he saw it was a pocket eroded by nature, big enough to shelter a dozen horses with ease.

Sun reflected on cliffs of multi-colored rock. Winds of ageless sand storms had polished tops of ridges until they glistened like varnished gems. Brad nudged Fog toward an opening. For any other horse the distance might be impossible—but not for the tall gray!

Brad knew to demand much more from his horse could kill it, but if he didn’t make it to safety soon, they both could be dead. The four-year old stallion was tall, with a broad chest bred for stamina. Fog knew only one master. Brad helped deliver the foal and broke it to a saddle with patience. Brad thought of the horse as a trusted friend that seemed to anticipate his every need. When his latest orders sent him west, Brad brought Fog along from his home in Maryland.

Inside the canyon, Brad saw several openings branching off from the main entrance. The floods and erosion over thousands of years had eroded deep valleys at the base of the mountain. He rode into the second opening that branched farther back into the mountain.

High cliffs bordered another ravine. Brad decided to take that option and rode another four hundred feet. High walls sent dark shadows across a dirt floor. Both rider and horse reacted to the coolness,

It’s the best I can do for now, Fog. We both could use rest and a drink of water.

Fog reached around and nuzzled Brad’s leg with its nose.

Brad dismounted and began to loosen the saddle’s cinch to allow Fog to breathe easier. That act could mean he was on foot if the Indians found his hiding place. Brad Shaw, former officer during the Civil War, was no novice staying alive in a hostile land. His cardinal rule was never run a horse except in an emergency. Then, if one occurred, the horse was not too worn out to run. Today that theory helped Fog quickly put distance between him and the Indian horses.

Fog’s ears twitched as Brad walked his horse farther back into the ravine’s coolness. Brad eased Fog to a stop, unsure if he had heard sounds. Hearing nothing, he let Fog follow around a sharp turn. Upon entering the opening Brad grabbed for the .44 pistol in a leg holster.

An Indian lay on the ground, his dark eyes centered on Brad. The two adversaries viewed one another; neither man made a hostile advance. Brad quickly noticed the Indian lay in an awkward position. Upon closer inspection, he saw an arrow was imbedded in his naked leg. Blood oozed from the wound. The Indian seemed to be having a problem focusing his eyes.

Brad advanced closer and the wounded man made an effort to grab a tomahawk at his side.

Brad’s foot stepped on the weapon holding it firm. The Indian showed weakness from loss of blood. Brad easily picked up the ax and tossed in out of the man’s reach. He stood towering over the injured warrior, pondering his next move. It was then Brad noticed a small stream of water flowing out of the canyon’s shale wall.

Fog crowded forward and began to drink in a small pool of clear water. The Indian showed surprise when Brad spoke to him in his native language.

You need help. Where is your village?

His question was met with silence.

You need more help than I can give you. How far is your village?

Before the man could speak sounds of an approaching horse were heard.

Brad eased a pistol into his hand. A horse came forward and stopped beside the man lying on the ground. It lowered its head to nozzle the Indian’s chest. The wounded man reached a hand and rubbed the animal’s neck.

Brad gave the horse a gentle pat. The action brought a smile to the suffering man’s face. Brad knelt and inspected the wound. A seven inch broken arrow shaft stuck out from a festering wound. Flesh had turned blue, swollen with infection around the arrow. The two men’s eyes met in quiet understanding.

I am not a doctor—medicine man, but that arrow has got to be removed.

The Indian nodded.

First, Brad filled both canteens and hung them on his saddle. He removed a bottle of whiskey from a saddlebag and handed it to the man. After two large drinks Brad took the bottle and replaced the cap before setting it on the ground.

Several pieces of tree branches that had fallen into the gorge were gathered and placed in a pile. A stone was selected and Brad began to sharpen a knife with a six-inch blade. When a fire was burning, the knife was heated to a glowing red.

Brad handed the bottle back to the suffering Indian and allowed him several more swallows.

In a few minutes the man showed effects of the alcohol. A small amount of whiskey was poured around the discolored flesh. The Indian picked a small stick from the pile and placed it between his teeth. He gave Brad a nod.

The knifepoint made a total of four cuts around the arrow. Fresh blood and fluid flowed down the leg. A firm pull removed the arrow and whiskey was poured into the wound. The knife blade was heated until it again glowed red. The Indian bit down on the stick when the open wound was seared. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air. Brad saw his patient had fainted.

The knife was cleaned and replaced in a belt case. Shadows crept into the narrow valley. Brad began preparing to spend the night. Additional wood was gathered. After the horses were given a small portion of oats, Brad returned a small feed sack on his saddle

Two pieces of dried beef on the end of a stick were placed close to the fire. A blanket from the Indian’s horse was placed over the sleeping man. Brad used his saddle for a backrest and began to chew a piece of warmed meat. Soon stars appeared brightly above the high cliff walls as Brad drifted off to sleep.

Brad awakened to sounds of crows chattering high overhead. Dawn already lighted the narrow valley. The Indian was awake and sitting up.

I see you made it through the night. How do you feel?

Leg on fire!

Brad laughed out loud hearing the man’s first words.

So you speak white man’s talk?

About like you speak words of the Sioux. I thank you.

The Indian accepted a piece of jerky and began to chew. They shared a canteen of water.

Paha

Brad turned to face his companion who put a hand to his chest.

Paha.

Brad smiled and said, Brad Shaw.

Sssswahh."

Shaw.

Shaaw."

Close.

When they finished eating Brad placed the tomahawk beside Paha, and then picked up the bow and quiver of arrows.

You need fresh meat. There are still two warriors looking for me. A gunshot could bring them.

Pointing at the bow Paha laughed and said, We both will starve.

Brad smiled and said, I killed my first rabbit with a bow when I was seven.

Brad placed a bridle over Fog’s head and then handed Paha his pistol.

You could get company. Don’t shoot yourself—it’s loaded.

Paha watched Brad ride bareback out of the secluded corridor. He slowly shook his head; his belly felt empty and he ached all over.

An hour later both men sat watching a rabbit brown over a fire. Dry limbs made a hot, almost smokeless fire.

Paha said, There is no smoke to be seen but even if we burned green grass no one could find us. This canyon is like a white man’s house with many rooms. Only a few warriors from my village know this place. The water has magic power.

It has a good taste. I will fill the canteens before we leave.

It was three days after the arrow had been removed before Paha sat on his horse. Brad had wrapped the injured leg with strips from a new white shirt. He was concerned about a dark color around the wound. Following Paha’s directions to the village, Brad kept the pace slow to prevent the wound from opening.

They stopped in shade of trees growing at the foot of a mountain. Paha was growing weak. The injured man was helped to a flat rock where he sat down.

How do you feel?

Like your damn knife in my leg.

Brad touched his belt and said, The knife is safe on my belt.

A canteen’s water was shared. Brad rolled a cigarette then lighted it. He handed the cigarette to Paha who inhaled deeply.

White man’s tobacco sweeter.

Paha finished smoking and snuffed out the butt and covered it with dirt.

You have squaw?

Brad remained still. Finally, he said, My wife and daughter died with a sickness.

Paha nodded and said, Gringo’s sickness kills our people. It is not safe for you to go more with me. My people are preparing for war against all gringos.

Brad said, Paha, I want to know more about what you told me yesterday concerning the Agency.

Loomis bad man! Starving our people. He sells food meant for our tribe.

Can you prove that?

Paha spat on the ground before saying, How? In white man’s court?

How long has this gone on?

Paha thought before answering. It began slow last year. At first, only small portions of our monthly rations were short. Now what little we get is spoiled. Worms are in the grain. Rats are in bags when they are opened. Our people eat only what warriors can provide.

Unfortunately some of that food comes from settlers your warriors kill and burn their homes.

Yes, we fight for survival. Your people steal from us, we steal it back.

Paha thought his companion was about to speak, but Brad seemed to be in deep thought.

At last Brad said, You said soldiers kill your women and children? Where do the soldiers come from?

Paha pointed and said, The soldier fort. Soldier chief Hassel feeds vultures with people that cannot defend themselves.

Brad nodded. He knew Major Hassel, commander at Fort Collins. He knew the man’s reputation—especially with women."

Brad extended a hand to Paha.

Time to get moving. I’ll take my chances with your warriors.

Paha rode in silence afraid he would not be able to defend his new friend.

Chapter 2

Sullen people followed close when Brad led Paha’s horse through a large Sioux village. Men carried weapons and looked like they wanted to use them. Brad saw a man with braids of long black hair come out from a tent near the center of the village.

The Indian looked to be in prime health and middle age. Brad rode on and stopped before the man he suspected to be the chief.

The man spoke first.

You are a fool to come here! You may not leave alive. You can pray to your god to take your spirit at punishment our warriors know.

Brad slid off his horse and reached a hand to Paha without speaking.

A woman appeared from out of the crowd and hugged Paha. Brad could not hear all that she said but he recognized her happiness.

When an angry warrior grabbed Brad’s arm, Brad’s gloved fist dropped the man. The audience stood startled at the action until men surged forward. They stopped when the chief spoke.

I do not know all I see. Paha, like a son, comes wounded brought by a white man. You did not kill Paha but brought him to his people. You are the first white man in our camp not shooting my people. For this you are free to go if you leave now!

Brad did not get back on Fog but walked direct to the chief.

My life is not worth the many of your people who will die if we do not talk. You prepare to lead your warriors to battle against white men—and to their death. This I can say with certainty as the sun will rise in the morning and the stars will shine in the night.

The chief studied Brad closely before saying, You know much for a stranger to our people. You may not know what the wise owl calls truth. My warriors have killed many white soldiers.

—And women and children. I too have killed red men, maybe your warriors, but I do not kill children. I speak now not of killing but saving your fighters and also your women and babies. If I ride away this village will soon dry up and disappear like withered leaves.

The chief gave a motion with a hand and a few selected men walked forward. The crowd moved back, no longer threatening Brad. A moment later, Brad was ushered into a large teepee. Men sat in a circle around a smoldering fire that had burned mostly to white ashes.

Only the chief spoke.

White man talks like a mountain stream. Tell this Council how you can save our people.

An angry murmur rose from the men.

My name is Brad Shaw. I come from Washington. My chief hears bad things are happening here. He sent me to make things right.

The chief’s angry words could be heard outside and he struck his leg hard with a hand.

"Do not make joke when you talk of safety to my people! You are one man! We have many warriors but our words are lost in winds. Bones of our warriors

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