At the fort Cody pulled up in front of the army office, tied his horse and dusted himself off before going up the steps.
The soldier on guard duty stopped him, “Your business?” he asked.
“I want to talk with the Captain about some trouble brewing over to the east. I need his advice and maybe help,” Cody replied. He knew that is was good to be in a position of weakness, of need when dealing with those who think themselves strong.
“Sergeant,” the soldier called, “this man wants to see the
Captain, can he?”
The sergeant came to the door, a short stocky man, looked Irish, meaning he was a no-nonsense, tough man, not to be trifled with.
Cody studied him with care, “Certainly need to use Heavenly Wisdom here,” he said to himself.
“Your name and business,” said the sergeant.
“I’m Cody Smith and I’m here to talk about some trouble a settler to the east has run into. I need advice and maybe some help.”
“Wait here,” the sergeant said and disappeared inside. Soon he returned and said, “Follow me.” He led the way to an office in the back of the building. As he stepped in, Cody noted that the windows over looked the plain so the Captain could watch what was going on. And also, that the windows had heavy shutters with rifle holes in them. They were ready if trouble came.
“Hello Captain,” Cody offered.
“Sit down Mr. Smith. What can I do for you?”
Cody explained about John’s homestead and the threat from Dodge. “John has a legitimate claim on three hundred acres of land, which includes a spring. Dodge has twenty-five hundred square miles to graze his cattle on and a dozen watering places. He doesn’t need these three hundred acres.
“However, I know he’s thinking about others who will come, maybe enough to populate his entire grazing area. He wants to nip this in the bud, even if it means burning out a family and maybe killing a man, his wife and son.”
The Captain leaned back in his chair. “So, this John has his paperwork from the land office here?”
“Yes, he showed it to me, and we could check with the office over there if there’s any question about it.”
“Actually, I’d like to see the documents myself so I can know I am on solid footing,” said the Captain. “Let’s go over there right now and check it out.”
As they stepped out of the door and turned toward the land office, Dodge’s two cowhands and the woman came out of the land office door. Cody noted that she was a not actually a woman, but a girl of about eighteen; he also noted that she was quite attractive, maybe very attractive. Then he brought his attention back to the cowboys.
“Hmmm,” Cody said to himself, turning his attention to the men, “so that’s why they came here.”
Cody and the Captain entered the low building, hot under the sun. The clerk was working at a desk in the back but looked up when they entered.
He came to the counter and said, “Well, it’s a busy afternoon here today. What can I do for you?”
The Captain leaned on the counter, “We’d like to see the land claim of John Dickson.”
“That’s interesting,” said the clerk, “the last two fellows also wanted to see the same thing.”
Cody leaned toward the Captain, “They were Dodge’s men,” he said quietly. The Captain nodded.
“So, show us the papers,” he said. The clerk already had the file on his desk and brought it right over.
“Here’s the map of the area with the boundary and landmarks. It says right here ‘three hundred acres claimed by John Dickson.’ That’s followed by a description of it, and how it includes a spring. It’s his all right. Those other gents were not happy to see this.”
“Thank you for the information,” said the Captain as he turned and led the way out the door.
As they walked back to the army headquarters, Cory said,
“You know, Captain, I like to live by Heavenly Wisdom.”
“What’s that?” the Captain asked.
“It’s what’s described in the book of James in the Bible, in the New Testament.”
“What is it?
“Well, it gives a list of seven qualities. I’ll give you the first three. ‘Wisdom is first of all pure, peace loving and sweetly reasonable.’ Now purity starts in our motives, so I want to tell you what my motives are in getting involved here.”
The Captain nodded.
“First, this family is in danger and needs protection. Second, I would like to see things worked out for the best for both parties. Dodge is used to being the one in charge, the law out there; he does not want to change, but change is coming upon him. I would like to see his life continue as much as possible as a cattleman, and I would like to see John able to stay on his place unharmed.
“Both sides could win if they apply the second and third qualities of Heavenly Wisdom, that is, speak peaceably with each other and are reasonable. One possible solution is for Dodge to come in and take out a claim on a large portion of his present range; then he would have the legal right to protect it from other settlers who come. At the same time, John must be allowed to stay without threats or trouble. I think that this is possible.”
“So, what do you want from me?” asked the Captain.
“Since Dodge thinks he’s the law, a bit of a show illustrating the law of the state would be good. If you could ride with me out there with a contingent of soldiers and pay a visit to Dodge, talk to him about this, it would be good.
“This situation could lead to the fourth quality of Heavenly Wisdom: being approachable and submissive. We can be approachable because, as the Bible tells us, people like Dodge aren’t our real enemy.
Our real enemy is Satan and his forces. So we need to fight him rather than people. This understanding helps us listen to those around us and accept sound advice given, then we will be a lot better off than just going with his own thoughts. If we have good motives, are peace loving and sweetly reasonable, it can open the way for Dodge to be approachable.
“If Dodge refuses to listen, he will be fulfilling the description of the verses before the list of Heavenly Wisdom, that is, of earthly wisdom. It says, ‘But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts,’–these are wrong motives that lead to trouble–‘do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.’–that’s strong language, but true—’For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.’ Like killing people to get your way. That’s what we want to avoid.
“So, what I’d like to do is to have a show of force, clarify the law and encourage Dodge to come to a good settlement.”
“Why don’t you just do this yourself?” the Captain asked.
“What chance would two men, a woman and a boy have against up to thirty gunmen? I can’t give the show of force that would bring Dodge to the table.”
“I see,” said the Captain. “Let me think on this until tomorrow morning. You can find a place to stay in that primitive hotel, or there is the stable. Take your pick.”
Cody gathered up the reins of his horse and headed for the stable.
internet picture: scene from the fort.