Cody liked to ride; it gave him time to think, to pray, and to memorize. Today it gave him time to talk with God about how to handle this situation. He knew the way to the fort so he let his horse follow the path, while he talked to God–but at the same time he was always alert, always scanning the horizon, often looking back on his trail.
God again brought to Cody’s mind Heavenly Wisdom and its seven aspects. Cody thought about how he could best implement each of those.
After two hour’s ride he paused for a break; it was important for him not to ride his horse too hard in this heat; it always had to be ready in case he had to run for it.
Again, he took the time to look all around, especially on his back trail. He noticed a small dust cloud back where he’d come from, meaning someone was riding towards him. He quickly led his horse into the brush and hid himself where he could easily watch the trail.
It didn’t take long for the riders to come into view, three men, armed with six-shooters and rifles. No, one was a woman riding side saddle. They were moving right along, and he let them pass, recognizing the men immediately as some of Dodge’s cow hands. But who was the woman?
“Hmmm,” he said to himself. “Looks like they’re heading to the fort, too. I wonder why?” He decided to keep an eye on them and see what he could learn.
After they had passed, he waited a bit, then quietly mounted up and left his hiding place, riding carefully along the side of the trail where he raised no dust.
He found a good place to camp, shielded by cotton woods, and there was a small seep that collected water in a little pool. After watering his horse, Cody refilled his canteen; important to always be ready. He unsaddled his horse, rubbed it down with some rough grass and picketed in near the green grass growing along the seep.
He did not light a fire, as he wanted to keep his presence a secret from the two cowhands he was trailing. If they knew he was here, one might go back and inform Dodge, who then might make another attack on John and his family.
He laid out his ground cloth and blanket and stretched out, trusting his horse to stand guard. Not much could slip by its notice, and it would snort or nicker when it sensed someone around.
Cody woke before dawn when there was just a slight white line on the eastern horizon. He put on his boots after shaking them out, making sure nothing had sought refuge there in the night, and buckled on his guns, checking them.
He walked over to the horse, which reached out to nuzzle him. “Good morning, good fellow,” Cody whispered. “Ready for the day?”
He saddled up, checked his rifle and swung into the stirrups. Pulling some jerky from his saddle bag, he chewed on it as he guided his horse out of the camp site.
He hadn’t gone far when he saw the remains of a campfire and he knew he’d come upon where Dodge’s men and the woman had spent the night. Good thing he hadn’t had a fire which could have betrayed his presence.
He quietly rode by and set off at a brisk pace. “I should be at the fort by early afternoon, and we’ll see what these fellows are up to,” he thought to himself. “And that woman, I wonder who she is.”
The day was hot as the sun beat down on the desert country. He was glad for the breeze that came up once in a while, cooling his sweat-soaked shirt. His horse moved along at a good pace and Cody kept him to the side of the trail, so no dust would alert Indians or others of his presence.
At about 3 pm he pulled up at the top of a ridge and looked down on the fort spread out on the plain before him. Like a lot of western forts, it didn’t actually have a wall around it, but had buildings placed around a perimeter.
There was the military headquarters, where he was headed. On either side were offices, the land office, a lawyer, a doctor and a surveyor. Further on was a store with several horses and a buckboard tied to the rail in front of it. But the most crowded place was the saloon on the backside of the quadrangle.
“Men just gravitate to the dark side,” Cody said to himself. He would also go there, but not to drink or gamble or look for a girl. He would go to sit and listen, to gather information. Men were always ready to talk to anyone who would listen, and it was amazing what a body could learn there.
First, however, he had to see the Captain and the land office, and maybe the lawyer. He nudged his horse and they moved down the hill and across the open space to the buildings. He pulled up in front of the army office, tied his horse and dusted himself off before going up the steps.
Picture from the internet: buildings at the fort.