REAPING GOODNESS SOWED
Cody reined in his horse and held up his hand, signaling to Sam. He looked around him, especially back over his trail, ever cautious, ever aware that danger could be around the corner.
He also carefully looked down, checking for tracks, and what he saw disturbed him. “look here Sam, what do you make of this?” Sam edged his horse up for a better look. There were tracks of a number of unshod horses that had passed this way not long ago.
“Looks like Indians,” said Sam.
“You’re right,” replied Cody. “We need to be careful.”
The conflict between Indians and settlers had nearly ended, but there were always hotheaded young ones who wanted glory, scalps and horses. For the Indian, fighting was a way of life. He was a warrior first, everything came after that.
Long before the white man came, the tribes had fought each other, raiding for horses and women, goods and glory.
When the white men came, the Indians knew their way of life was threatened and sought to chase out the white settlers, ranchers and soldiers. They were similar to Dodge in that they wanted no change.
The Indians were superb fighters, able to live off the land, to sneak up on unsuspecting invaders and to strike with fury. They were brave in their search of coups and scalps and honor.
But they could never defeat the white man, for they were not united, and their Indian idea of a war was one battle and then they’d go home. They had no supplies or plans for a campaign, so they were unprepared for the soldiers who would follow them and attack again and again.
The Indians hadn’t changed much, even though they’d been repeatedly defeated, so Cody rode carefully. He turned off the path and moved through some cottonwoods growing along the trail.
“Better not to be in the open,” he said. They rode towards a rise to get a better look around, careful not the make a silhouette, staying in the cover of trees.
There they were, a dozen Indians, trotting across the plain. There were no women or children with them, so they were hunting, but the question was, what were they hunting? Scalps and horses, or deer and antelopes, as Cody was?
Cody turned his horse in the opposite direction and Sam followed. “Keep looking back to see if you’re followed, and look all around to make sure you’re alone,” Cody said to Sam. “No need to fear, but a great need to be cautious.”
On one of their stops, Cody got out his field glasses for a wider look and spotted a small herd of antelope, pointing them out to Sam. “This way,” he said.
“But we are going away from them,” objected Sam.
“Antelopes have very good eyesight; if they see you, they’re immediately gone. So, we have to move downwind from them and come up on them from around a hill so we can get a shot.”
They worked their way around to the south side of the herd, keeping to the many dips in the plain. When they finally again caught site of the antelopes, they were only about 200 yards off.
Cody lifted his rifle, carefully sighted and squeezed the trigger. Then he quickly lifted his rifle a bit and fired again.
“Did you miss?’ asked Sam.
“No, I wanted to get two, and did,” replied Cody. “I suspect we will need the second one. The Indians probably heard my shots and will come.
They rode over to the two antelopes lying on the plain and dismounted. Cody showed Sam how to skin and butcher the animals, all the while frequently looking around.
A bit later he said quietly to Sam. “The Indians are here. Let’s load up our meat.”
“How do you know,” asked Sam, looking around and seeing nothing.
“I feel that we are being watched; they are behind a hill observing us.”
Picture from the internet: Indians scouting