Esther May Stopped The Fight
Esther May dropped the branch she used to club the Apache. “I didn’t kill him, did I?” She hugged herself as she tilted her head to match the angle of the unconscious man’s.
C.J. had been stretched out in the dirt almost nose-to-nose with the Indian in a losing wrestling match when Esther May ended it. He rose to his feet and dusted off. “He’s still breathing. You got that hobble rope? We gotta tie his hands before he wakes up.”
Esther May studied their adversary. “How do you suppose he keeps his hair so shiny, living in the dirt like he does?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care. Will you get that rope? Where’s that dang Tennessee Toothpick he was using?”
C.J. scanned the scuffed ground where the fight took place, found his hat and slammed it twice against his leg for dusting. He spied the knife. “Ah, there it is. Will you look at that thing? He meant to do some harm with it.”
“He has high cheekbones and full lips—a strong face.”
“Esther May will you quit admiring the killer and get the rope before he tries to murder us again?”
“He has a little blood coming from his ears. One ear, anyway.”
Where Did You Come From?
“The boy’s right. Without me, you’d need the rope.”
C.J. jerked at the sound of the voice. The utterance, surprisingly deep, came from the reed-thin throat of the newcomer, a white man. He held a rifle, and, like the Apache, had a large knife scabbard on his belt. Most of his bulk was in height, not width, like a slightly built scarecrow.
Esther May broke the moment. “Who are you? A trapper?”
The man’s tongue poked his cheeks and his mouth flexed. After collecting a tobacco wad, he spat with a slight turn of his head, his eyes never leaving the Apache. “I was. I reckon you can say I still am. Game’s different now.” He swung the rifle’s lever down then snapped it back in place, chambering a round.
C.J. moved to place himself in front of Esther May. She stepped around him. “Who are you?”
“Name’s Stinger. Clyde Stinger at your service.” He pointed at the Indian. “He’s about to rejoin the fight. Is that what you want?”
Esther May darted a glance at the supine warrior’s sluggish movements. “He’s hurt. He won’t bother anyone for a spell.” She narrowed her eyes at Clyde. “Leave him alone.”
“Oh, he’ll bother you all right. They all do. They don’t think like you.”
A Life Lesson
C.J. liked the looks and self-assurance of the rangy trapper who seemed to know Apaches. “What do you mean, they don’t think like us?”
Clyde spit some tobacco remains toward the Indian. “It goes to the very center of their being,” he said. “They think the Creator Of All Things made ’em as a piece of the world—to live in harmony with it. You Christians think the All Mighty made everything for you as a gift, to do with it what you want. Don’t matter to me either which way, but the two of you will never get along.”
“If it doesn’t matter to you,” Esther May said, “why do you look like you want to kill him?”
“Scalp. The bounty pays more than fur.” Clyde shot the Apache through the heart.
C.J. and Esther May are exposed to the brutal side of frontier life. How will it change them? Leave a comment now.
Were bounties really offered for scalps? Yes, they were. Read about it here.
To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
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