The Algona Republican from Algona, Iowa on January 8, 1896 · Page 7
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The Algona Republican from Algona, Iowa · Page 7

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Algona, Iowa
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Wednesday, January 8, 1896
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ALOOftA iOWA, WEDNESDAY jAHtTAfcf 8, 1896. (Copyright, 1894, by tho Author.) SK t4 lt Will be daybreak soon," he said, "and I wattt you, Turner, to push out on the trail of those beggars attd run them to earth if a possible thing. Raymond will remain with me. They must belong to some bigger band hereabouts. God grant it isn't along the Saady-^ now." Involuntarily as he spoke he turned and looked to the West. There stood old Signal Butter-dark and silent still. No sign of beacon fire there. There lay the dim and distant ruins of the •old post, down In the depths of the .shadowy valley. No sign of danger or excitement. Yet if the Apaches dare stalk the sentries of a big command as these had done, what would they not -dare with so small a detachment as Crane's? And then those unprotected women and children at Kelly's ranch! Thornton had seen exciting times during the war of the rebellion, but women and children never entered into those calculations. It was after three when Raymond's men returned, from their fruitless quest. Turner's troop had gone out to the stables, and not a word had come from Foster, not a sign from the Sandy valley to tell that Leon had safely reached the post. Nervously the major paced up and down his broad veranda now, every little while pausing to address some query or instruction to officers or men hastening by. Lights were flitting about in every set of quarters and on every side. Everybody .was astir, even the children. Over at the east the stars were beginning to pale in the faint, pallid light of the coming morn, and little by little the jagged outline of the Mogollon range grew sharp and clear against the reddening sky. Over at the west the peaks began to warm and glow in answer, while at their base the valley of the Sandy still lay dark and unrevealed. Nearly four o'clock—no f ur- ' ther word from Foster. Could he have sent couriers from the,- springs, who, riding carelessly; confidently homeward, had met poor Ruckel's fate? Certainly by three o'clock ho should have been heard froin, and here it was almost daylight. In ten minutes, just as soon as coffee could be served, Turner, with'•:his troop, would push away on his scout, and then, all on a sudden, the old anxiety flashed again upon the major. Nearly four-o'clock and Leon's signal had not been fired. Great,heay-' ens! were theApaches on the westward road, then, after all? Was that brave little life, another sacrifice? Taking Raymond and his adjutant with him, the major once more tramped out to the westward. There over the tumbling sea of rock and gorge and beetling cliff the gleaming tip of old San Pedro peered.at them, his rugged flanks robed in royal purple, but even Signal Butte in the lower, valley' lay shrouded in glooni.. In l° w tone the sentry on No. ' 4 challenged at their approach. He recognized the voices of .his officers, but orders compelled him to demand further token, "Friends with the countersign," answered the adjutant, half impatiently, as though to say: "Wo weren't coming oa or across your post," yet refraining from other words because he knew the sentry's right. "Halt, friends! Advance'one with •the countersign," ordered the soldier, , :ln the same low, firm tone, and, obediently, Thornton and Raymond waited •while the junior officer went quickly •forward and whispered the mystic word •over the lowered bayonet of the in. fantry guard, Permitted then to hold conversation with his visitor, Private <3raham answered the first anxious .question of the major; "No, sir; not a sign of a fire anywhere in the valley {'v£ been watching particular,' 1 And just at that moment the call of four 'o'clock began, Only two calls had gone the rounds since the discovery of , Ruckel's fate, ;'• and once more now, still dim and indis- , 'tinct, the post of NO, '5, down in the , low. ground to the north was unoov „ "ered at the frpnt, for Raymond's troop f had 1 returned, < Instinctively the offl* C cere turned away from N.p, 4 • and, back nearer-the northward 1 the soldier watch ory came pn , to Up, They eoijid Just feint*' Jy distinguish the >form of, the sentry " to the westward of the rpad, -well of range—sjnaii blame to him-^of so stunted brush h'e&p and the' pint where poor R.uc?Helba4 been done death less tb»n two, hours before Jljeha,d halted ft mjcwent as, though' ; tff 'ifeieotp the roU aa'M< panie to bto, ; — J and Went leaping like a 'Colt along nis post to the point where it was crossed by the Prescott road, and instead of the prolonged and melodious call of the hour, when it came his turn, it was the sentry's challenge—sharp, clear and imperative—that split the morning air. There was something tterve tingling, something that smacked of swift coming alarm in the very tone, and its only answer at the front was the quick, rising thud of galloping horse's hoofs. Again rang the challenge—all three Words jumbling this time Into one— "Whocomcflhere?"—then "Haiti" "Halt, or I'll fire!" and then Raymond's powerful tones rang out through the breathless air. "Hold your fire, sentry. That horse has no rider!" But the only answer was the loud bang of the Springfield and the leaden bullet went whistling away toward the polo star. That sentry had heard enough of the perils of post No. 6 for one night, and preferred to take no chances. "Sure, 1 didn't hear the captain," he explained, a few minutes later. He heard only tho rapid coming of horse's hoofs, and despite the fact that horses were things the mountain Apaches uevcr thought of using except when hungry, Private Hanrahan believed all tho Tonto tribe were coming and let drive accordingly. It was only a troop horse, blown and bleeding, only another evidence of the devilish cunning of the savage foe, for the moment Corporal Dunn could reach them on the jump, he cried, with a sob in his voice: "It's Tralee, of G troop, sir. Jim Rafferty's horse." And so at last here was Foster's courier from Raton Springs—but where were the dispatches? Where, alas, was Jim? Tralee's heaving flanks and distended nostrils and eyeballs told his story of peril and homeward flight, even as the long welt in his broad haunch and the gash through the high pommel of the McClellan tree were eloquent of its cause. Like Ruckel, the sentry, poor Rafferty, homeward speeding with his captain's midnight dispatch, had been ambushed at the roadside. Another thrill to the chorus of 'excitement that had throbbed the long night through, and yet not the last. There were still, left a few minutes to darkness, and the devil of mischief seemed afloat in the u very, air. "Go and tell Mrs. Foster the truth tho best way you can," said the major, "miserably, to his adjutant. . "There she is von the veranda now. I'll go round the west side of the office. You can join me there. Yes. Turner, mount and start at once if your men have had their coffee. Now sweep that road clean from here to the Sandy, and don't leave an Indian to tell the story. Look for Foster or his men and try to find Rafferty." And so saying he turned him to the west and pushed slowly up th-e slope, a heavy-heai-ted man. Almost the last thing he heard as he reached the end of officers'row was Nellie Foster's weeping. If stout, soldierlike Irish Jim could be so swiftly, surely massacred by unseen foes what must have been Leon's fate? Little black-eyed Leon riding alone, unarmed, with Mrs. Downey's sorely needed medicine, through the dark depths of this Indian-haunted night? But now the-mountain tops were all shimmering with the glow of coming day, and even into the valley depths the faint light seemed to peer, and still there waked no sign of life from the distant outpost, no reassuring flame to warm his heart with tidiug-s of the boy's safe coming— but something new and weird, and strange was bulging Signal Butte all "out of shape and the sentry on No. 4 stood halted* In fascination and amaze. The purple fringe of the familiar pine crest seemed to be soaring slowly np- ward, drawn out into a floating writ rose-tinted at the top where it met the blush of dawn, deep hued below where left the black base, then all on a suvj- den it burst into lurid glare, red, yellow, banishing tho rose and' flaming over the' valley for many a mile. No welcome signal that, telling of the wanderer's safe return, no message of or, • oprnfort, but 'most dreaded Q| all. It was the cry for help from the Sasdy valley, the appeal of terrified en, an4 0hU&' en "^be token,.that rej war ,h&4 bupgt about the walls of frentier" |ort, and even its littte garrison w a a novf in peril, • /It M#j. Thornton was• in CT&VQ &%* .tress bejoj-e, he w aAi» ,the depww of fle« ' FW hours he had streak a'fter Capt. Turner. He ean't be across the lowlands vet. Tell him to return at once.". Foster's strong? enough to take care of himself," reasoned the major. "Poor Rafferty's done for, and anybody who's fool enough to bo riding the Prescott road this morning must take his own chances. My first duty is to save these people to the west." Already the sentry's cry had summoned the corporal. The guard. was springing to ranks at 1.1 is Urlivuj's that I/be beacon was blazing on Signal Butte. There was no need of sounding "To arms," since the whole command was practically alert and belted nowi-no need to sound reveille since the entire post was up and astir* The sunbeams were gilding tho west-' ward peaks and the tipper billows of the clouds of dtist, in which Turner's troop came trotting back and, met half way by instructions) never entering the post, turned "column half right" midway across the sandy swale and went cantering westward into the dim valley, spurring sxviftly to the rescue —Thornton and his adjutant with them, leaving Raymond in command at Retribution. . And as the sun climbed higher and blazed slanting down upon tho mesa and the soaring dust clottd faded out of sight, men, and women, too, gathered on that westward bluff to watch for further sign of weal or woe. "Oh! that wo had kept Leon with usl" was Mrs. Foster's plaint. "It breaks my heart to think of him." Indeed, Leon and Leon's fate seemed uppermost in the hearts of all. Rare, indeed, were the occasions and strong their numbers when Apa'ches had dared to face a whole troop in the field, and Capt Raymond strove to soothe tho fears of those who trembled at the thought of peril to Foster' and Turner and their men. "Apaches have raided the ranches most probably," was his theory. "Crane cannot protect them and the old post, too He has probably been penned at the corral and could hardly look out for even Kelly's homestead. The Apaches are possibly there all around them, but Turner will brush them off like so many flies. Kelly's people are safe in the cellars, I haven't a doubt, and the old'tnan, with the assistance he has, can easily stand off tho prowlers until they see Turner coming; then they'll all skip for the range, perhaps run slap into* Foster, and. between the two there won't be much left of the Tontos."' All this was very buoyant and reas> Buring, but women can see so many 'TWO KILLED OUTBIGHT. possibilities of peril to loved ones at such a time. Somebody was sure to be killed and several wounded—no matter how the Indians were driven. It always happened so. The troops might win the fight and hoj.d the ground and drive the warriors belter skelter through the hills, but who suffered most? Who got the worst of the fight itself? was the thing which wives and children, mothers and daughters, most considered, and !n almost every case it must be owned that the preponderance of dead and wounded lay with the droops, "Already two of our best are gone,' 1 sobbed an Irish laundress, "and what have we got to show for it?" "Two killed outright." cried Mrs. Foster, "and one of them our Rafferty, and now where is Leon?" Alas! who could say? Leaving Raymond, his weeping women and anger- Ing men, let us spur on after Turner .and the sorrel troop, by this time nearly half way to the Sandy Even on fleetest of American horses we cannot hope to overtake them until they are almost within pistol range of the wij« < lows in tho.bottom, and when we do the first platoon is dispersed in wide gldrmish line, the men rising five yar4*j apart, The other is in reserve, ready to strike wherever the, foe may fee developed Only a mile away lie the pld rwins'sorpsa >the Sandy, Only a mile an<J.a half \ip there alongths fal&a. to the northwest, are the brown &4obe busings oi Kelly's little ranch, Jjereaway to the uorthi pearly opposite the, - gateway of - Apache, ^canyon, through which the Sa»dy eomeg brawl- tegr, -towers the Wa$i; pyrapa$ qf Sjg^alputite, a tWa f»oHe gtttl float* teg skyward frpnj its iTjmmik A »§»J9* tbS re.&ervje, have. night's experience I sniff an Indian in every twig." Turner only nods grimly in reply. All along- the skirmish line the carbines are advanced, the men peering eagerly into the thickets ahead of them. The road itself winds through the low bottom and enters the Stream at a gravelly bend opposite the walls of the old quartermaster's corral, but that is a couple of hundred yards further to the south now. Turner is aiming to reach tho open ground midway bHween TCollv'fi find the post, and thereby be enabled most promptly to lefad aid to either. If the Tontos are in strong force and lurking in tho timber to give him a hot welcome, then the fight will bo hand to hand, and that's What he wants. If, on the contrary, they are too weak to match him, then there is little hope of metinj? punishment, for in his own hands the Apache can only bo thrashed when thoroughly surprised, and one might almost as well hope to catch a weasel asleep. One hundred yards only to the timber now, attd not a sign from anywhere. More slowly, cautiously, the line advances, expecting any instant to hear the crack of the Indian rifle among the trees. The suppressed excitement of tho men communicates itself through muscles, that pardonably quiver a bit, to the mettlesome horses, and these are sniffing the hot air suspiciously, with wide eye and nostrils, and erect, twitching ears shrinking from the possible ambush ahead. Then comos ;i sudden shout from the reserve: "Look! Look at Kelly's!" And half a dozen horses cower and ahy, and, such is the nervous strain of the moment, a score of human hearts bound in young troopers' breasts. Som:j one —they can't dissever who — is W.L-. :•:«• a shawl or blanket from Kelly's door.viy. Some one else can be diu.ly soon lunging out from behind the ranch and fiercely gesticulating and pointing toward the range to the north. "It's the old man himself," cries a sergeant. "They're all right." The next minute, too, waving his hat, a . trooper comes spurring through the willows at the front and rides briskly out toward the advancing line. Men breathe freer at the sight. ' 'What's gone wrong? Where are the rest, corporal?" queries Turner, riding eagerly to meet the coming trooper. ''Patchies, sir— ran off Kelly's mules and killed his herder and tackled the ranch at dawn. They skipped away up the canyon, and the lieutenant's after them with ten men. He said he knew the captain would be coming as soon as the signal was seen. They fired on us, too, sir, but didn't harm anybody. Six of us were left to look after the women and children. It's lucky Downey's people had come or they'd all been killed." "Are the women all safe?'' "All safe, sir, but pretty badly scared. They must have had a close call at Kelly's. The old man wouldn't leave it last night and Mrs. Kelly wouldn't leave him, but—" "Then if you're all safe at the post we'll" "go right on to Kelly's," said Ttirner, impatiently. "Assemble on the right skirmisher!" ho shouted to the fighting line. "Sound tho trot, trumpeter!" and away he went with his orderly and a few men at his heels to the point where the right of the line had just reached the timber. But Tfiornton lingered. "How's Mrs. Downey? Did she got her medicine?" he asked, uneasily. "Mrs. Downey's better since the Indians skipped, sir; but I don't know of her getting any other medicine." "Didn't Leon get back?" "Not here, sir. He may be up at Kelly's. We didn't suppose he'd attempt to come back after Ferguson and the other fellers got in here last night- chasing old Muncey. They must have run foul of this very band, sir, Muncey rode in all by himself, he said, to warn us and Kelly's people, and was then going—" "Nevermind him, I hope the Apaches have got him, You are sure Leon never got back." "Sure, sir. We never knew he'd left you." And then Thornton turaed and rode hard to the ranch, There stood the old sergeant, mopping his red face and modestly receiving Turner's congratulations on the plucky fight he made in defense of his home; but the light went out of Kelly's eyes when the major burst forth with! "Sergeant, is Leon with you? Did he reach yon in time?" "Leon, sir? I haven't seen or heard of him since yesterday, I thought he was with ths women and children down yonder,"' and the sergeant pointed to the old post, his face paling with grief and apprehension. "I wish to Heaven he werel" said Thornton, sadly, "Mrs. powney was pufferijig great pain, and the boy rode all the'svay to us for the. doctor and-iu* pasted 9B going back with the medicine., We ne,v^F dreamed*-at least I didn't*here. God grant they 1 didn't know it until 1 heard a rumor of it to-night." Evidently it wouldn't do for Mr. Muncey to tell that lie, as it would soon "be known how they had been talking but a few hours before of Leon's return. "How'd you come to 1C*, him go? 11 he queried, turning about again and apparently forgetting his urgent mission to Kelly's. "Well, he never Stopped tb ask me," said Mr. Crane, which was very true. "But 1 can't understand how you missed each other if you kept the road. However, go ahead and warn Kelly, and then come back here and we'll talk about Leon." And Muncey had gone on to Kelly's, but that was the last seen of him, despite the fact that he gave Kelly to understand that he must hurry over to Crane again at once. Ferguson and his frlet ts came galloping in to old Retribution and stirring up the guard, and they could tell of Leon's safe arrival within easy range of the new post, and of their Warning him to stay there, but they, too, had pushed on over to Kelly's, and thence, scoffing at Kelly's story of Muncey's return to the outpost, and telling him the man was a liar, which Kelly already knew, and a horse thief, which he more than suspected, they liad ridden straight back past the lower gate of the canyon and made for the trail to Raton Spriags, Whether they had met or had escaped the Indians no one could tell. The fate of Muncey and his pursuers became for the time being a secondary consideration. Thornton's first effort was to ascertain what had become of Leon. With any luck at all the boy should have got back to the old post by three or a quarter past three in the morning. Crane and his little guard, Mrs. Downey and her sympathizing 1 friends, however, had reasoned that he would not be allowed to attempt to return, and so had ceased to look for him. Crane conveyed to tho woman the tidings brought by Ferguson, for up to that moment he lad disbelieved Muncey's wild tale. Then, doubling his sentries, but telling the rest of his party to lie down and rest, he coolly sprawled himself on his blankets and went to sleep. The next thing he knew it was nearly dawn, and the sentries had roused the guard. Springing to his feet, Crane demanded the cause of the alarm, and was told tnere was firing up by Kelly's ranch. It was still dark, though the eastern sky was beginning to flush as the little detachment quickly, noiselessly assembled in the starlight in front of the old guard house. Two veteran war soldiers, Tracey and Collins, were on post at the time, and both declared that there had been a rapid fusillade— at least a dozen shots. It could have come from nowhere but Kelly's, said they, though from their stations they could not see the farm buildings. Corporal Foot, on duty, wais inside the corral wall when the distant firing began, and ran for the gateway at once, but it had ceased by the time he got-to a point whence Kelly's ranch was visible. Then for a moment the lieutenant was in a quandary. His orders required him to send to and fire the beacon at the butte if the Apaches appeared in the valley, but this might not have been Apaches at all. It might have well been a skirmish between the horse thief and his puraiers, who had tracked him to some refuge near Kelly's. That was a matter in which military interference could hardly have been tolerated. Settlers and frontiersmen, though eager enough to have the army look after tho Indians, much prefer to dispose of their own reprobates In 'heir OWE way If an atto.ck had hurt, yet a tfifle demoralised, horse nor man had & scratchy body had heard the fusillade—Mx I* eight rapid shots almost bunched. U I neter knew Apaches to fire go mafty^ shots before." said he, "and miSS. You're sure they weren't more'n teft yards away?" "Certain &ure," said the ftorpor&U "Certain sure," said his followers, twd good looking young troopers. Theft after a moment's pondering Downey said he boli°ved he could get to tlife butte in safety, and he'd go and flrettid pile, whereat the women began to wail again and the lieutenant to protest, ottd right in the midst of the discussion, somebody shouted "Hurrah!" and a column of smoke, speedily bursting ititt) flame, shot upward toward the zenith from the summit of the old butte, and everybody thought how plucky a thing it was in Kelly to creep out there attd climb that jagged bowlder strewn cone in the dim morning light, set fire to the ever ready stack of v,-ood and steal back to his lair. They were talking of ii when broad daylight and Kelly came in together. "The blackguards ran off my mules," he said, with a fierce oath, "and killed poor Bustamente. There can't be more'n six all told. Can't the lieutenant spare me a few men to go after them? They've all skipped off for the Bocorro." But Crane said he'd go himself with a dozen men if need be, for he had been chafing at the idea of having done nothing at all and was eager to retrieve himself ere relief could reach them and the chance be gone. "The bottom must bo clear if you came across from the butte," he said, "and very likely they'll run for all they are worth." "Yes, the bottom's clear enough, sir,. though I haven't been near the butte ,* "You haven't? Then who fired the beacon?" "I'm sure I don't know, sir. 1 thought, of course, some of this-party had boon sent over to do so." And then men began looking into each other's faces, bewildered. If not by some one at Kelly's or here at the post who could have scaled the butte TUBNEB ANP BODE J3A#P TO But jipt then there rode up from, the directional the canyon §ergt. Obari» ton, with sorrow i» hte wahurn^d t%<®, "I'm afr&sl they have, major," §ai<J he, been made by Apaches it was speedily over, for not another s'bund was heard* Within the corral the women and cbtt* dre$, however, had been aroused by the suppressed excitement, and Kelly's daughters were RPW clamorwg to be allowed, to go 'to see if all was well witli father a n 4 mother, and Crane ordered. a corporal asd'twa men, to mp\m.t, ri4e thither ».nd ascertain what fcad 'happened," -B» ten mi^tes they rpde away, and m tea minutes more wer§' had* again, driven in by a»4 -Pttdden volley from ' five up stream, The;p Jvsg a§ te rp.ad "jw* "»?fi £**jwe, *, jwr?"** w .,*" ;|i ,11^ jp8ft-»: • ft^s/mgtoff . T.nA nnntrrmla nrnT.ft.rh A* atmllnW raft j In* '/!•*• ' « T> >' —rf *v ? ' T *'. j t •.*, f- r«* i « '* ' SJ1A. tl .jtoe imwfc. mtftfth*' mfXtor $& • to XI. A £3 A f ^i._i.^^iii11« «.Vn*.A'4,V n 4»Mn41 -tSlSUYlACl t 1 1 "THEN WHO FIBBD THE BEACON?" and started the signal fire? Already a lookout, peering eastward through the lieutenant's binocular, reported a dust cloud far up the rise toward tho new post—the coming of the reinforcements —and if Crane meant to do anything at all now. was the time. "I'll leave you to find out who did it, sergeant," he said. "We'll go on after the mules. Perhaps the Apaches did it themselves as a joke." "Apaches don't joke," growled the old man, with gloomy face, as the detachment trotted away. "There's been no joke from one end of this night to the other, but there's been some stupid blundering on somebody's part, or I'm a recruit." And then, turning to one of his daughters, who stood silently by, he said, briefly: "Fetch me the pony, Kate. I'll ride back to your mother." "Sure, didn't you know yet, father? 'Twas Leon took it to ride to the fort for medicine for Mrs. Downey," And thus for the first time was the veteran trooper made aware that his little friend and foundling had dared that midnight ride. Fiercely he broke ,, forth: , x ''' "And was there no man among ye?" "-, he turned to the silent group of soldiers, • left behind, "No man among ye fit to ,J do a man's work that ye should, let a'., boy baby ride into the teeth of them- Indian divils? Whore werrt you, Pbft- H Downey, that you should $end a-,lsidl' like that for yer wife's poppy sauce?"; .< "Where was I but tending to my ow» " business, as you were, Sergt, Kelly," V answered the other veteran, stoutly,, for between the two ex-dragoons »n$,< rival ranchmen little love was wasted. "Of course, if I'd been here, 'ti or anybody elsewouW hay? gone medicine but.me, as ygu eijjgbt _tq<J sense enough to' to be i lows''

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