Doc Ch. 22

bykingkey©

CHAPTER 22

As we rode into Hill City, we caused quite a stir. The men started gathering around as we pulled up in front of the courthouse. There seemed to be a lot more weapons showing than normal from what I could see.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one man starting to level a shotgun toward us. I quickly palmed my cross-draw pistol and fired. I hit the stock of the shotgun, sending splinters into the man's arm and face. It seemed to be quite an amazing shot to everyone, so I kept quiet that I'd been trying for his arm.

I yelled out to everyone to stand down, that the Indians were not a threat. They were, in fact, working for me. The next person to try to harm them would answer to me.

While all this was going on, Judge Mitchell came out of the courthouse to see what all the commotion was. Seeing me, he came up and asked what was going on.

"Judge! I was just coming to see you. A messenger came to our ranch this morning, and said that the Reverend Smith and party was ambushed outside Deadwood, and it looked like Indians had done it. I was talking with Red Cloud at the time, and he suggested I take some Indian trackers with me to help me catch the guilty parties. Since you are the federal judge of this territory, and it's officially Indian lands, I would like you to swear in these Braves as my deputies."

"I don't know, Clay, this could really stir-up a lot of trouble. Having an Indian as a lawman might really rub some of these people the wrong way. That older Indian looks like Spotted Owl, one of Red Cloud's main war chiefs. He has led a lot of war parties through this area over the years. Are you sure he can be trusted not to start the next Indian war?"

"You're right, that is Spotted Owl. Red Cloud sent him along to help keep tabs on the others. I was unaware that he was a sub chief, although I know he can be trusted. You see, besides being a sub chief he is also my father-in-law. He is Running Deer and Little Doe's father."

"Are you sure you want them sworn in as permanent deputies? You could swear the men yourself as temporary deputies without causing so much fuss."

"I'm sure. Uncle Henry rode as a US marshal in the Oklahoma territory for years, with five Osage deputies. It worked quite well for him, it being officially Indian land. I think that since the treaties signed in Fort Laramie deed the Black Hills to the Lakota it is only right to have some of the Lakota help in keeping law and order on their land.

"Since you and I represent the federal law for the area, these Lakota working for me in upholding the law will be answering to us. However, with these young braves helping us to track outlaws and renegades. It will also show Red Cloud we are upholding justice no matter the outlaws' race, whether white or red. This may help stop any further uprisings."

"Okay, if you're sure. Oh, and that shot I heard just before I came out here?"

"One of your heroic townsfolk was going to try shooting the Indians with a shotgun, most likely hitting us, too. He would probably have wounded half of the men in the town with a blast from that shotgun. I fired and shattered the stock. It looks like we're done, here.

"It's going to take me about an hour to remove all the splinters from the idiot. Then I plan on arresting in him as a public nuisance. If he had fired, he would have probably started a new Indian war that none of us wants."

"You can do that but there's not a lot I can do to him besides a large fine and a lecture about what he almost caused."

"You do that. I plan on giving him a piece of my mind to while removing those splinters... which must be stinging like hell by now. You might also remind him of the penalties for pointing a weapon at a federal officer. If you can, scare the hell out of him."

The judge got a thoughtful look on his face, then chuckled as he said, "That I can do. I'll make sure he and his friends think twice about doing something like that, again."

"Judge, I just thought of something else the larger towns and cities need. This new thing will lessen jail time for a lot of minor crimes. They've come up with a new punishment. They call it 'community service'. I know a lot of people we end up locking up really haven't broken any major laws. A lot of them are just minor infractions.

"Instead of putting them in jail, just give them so many days of work to do, to help improve their communities... such as digging a well, or painting something, or even just picking up trash. Sometimes that's a lot more beneficial to the community than giving someone jail time."

"I can see your point, there. It will also save having to feed them and will get a lot of the minor jobs around town done. This is something I need to think about! I can see that it wouldn't work with any of the major criminals, without posting a heavy guard on them; but for minor infractions, it should work quite well."

"I'd better go and get those splinters removed. I'll bring you your first candidate for the community service. Maybe you could fine him, and sentence him to a couple of days work for stupidity and being a public nuisance."

After taking him to the first cabin behind the general store and removing about a dozen splinters that were embedded in the man's arm and cheek, I turned him over to the judge. We continued towards Deadwood, arriving a few hours later.

Upon arriving, we were greeted much the same as in Hill city with hostile looks and a lot of well armed citizens until I pulled my gun and fired into the air to get everyone's attention.

I said, "All right, quiet down, everyone. These men are here to help me track down the killers who ambushed Reverend Smith."

"How do we know you're not just going through the motions? We all know that Reverend Smith and you did not get along," one miner yelled out.

"You're right I didn't like Reverend Smith. I thought he was a blowhard and a troublemaker. However, I was sworn to do my duty. I thought I had proven that to you people during the smallpox epidemic. However, if this is how you feel, then we'll say we have caught these killers.

"I'll just cross Deadwood off my list of towns to visit, unless it's legal business I have here. Hell, it's almost winter, anyway. I won't be able to make my rounds much longer."

"Now wait just a minute, Doc! That asshole doesn't speak for all of us! We know how hard you and your wife worked to keep so many alive during the smallpox outbreak. Without you, it would have been much worse. We need you to keep coming through our town! In fact, we were worried about the winter and what we will do for medical care during it. Would you consider moving to Deadwood?"

"No, I don't think so. So far I've had nothing but trouble most times I visited your town. I don't think I'd want to live here. I already spend too much time just traveling a circuit through the towns of the area. I'll tell you what, find someone that wants to learn something about medicine and send them to our ranch and send word to the other camps and towns in the area to see if they have anyone they would like to send. We only have about two and a half months until winter really sets in. When that happens, no one will be traveling until spring, unless it's an emergency. This will also free up a lot of my time, so I'm not constantly traveling."

"Would you consider teaching women, too, Doc?" one lady in the back yelled out.

Recognizing her as one of the women who helped during the smallpox outbreak I said, "Yes! Helen, it's good to see you again. Anyone that wants to learn is welcome, but only if they want to learn. I don't have any extra time for someone who isn't that interested in learning, like the late Reverend."

"Well, I'm interested! When you want me to be there?" she replied.

"As soon as we catch these killers I'll be heading back toward home. I don't how long that'll take, probably a couple of days to a week. If you'd like, I can come back through here and you can ride back with us. Just make sure that the other camps and towns are informed, so that they can send representatives, too."

Once that was taken care of, I said, "We need someone to show us where Reverend Smith and his party were attacked, so that we can find the trail of whoever did it."

That same miner said, "We all know how you felt about Reverend Smith, and how well you think of the Indians. How do we know that you won't be just going through the motions?"

"Look, asshole, I gave my word to uphold the law no matter what I thought about Reverend Smith or how I treat the Indians. I will do my duty. If any of you are afraid that justice won't be served, you're more than welcome to ride along. However, you will follow my orders, or you will be arrested for obstructing justice. Now, I need someone to show me the site where the ambush took place. I will deputize as temporary US marshals any that want to come along. Pay is one dollar a day and found."

I soon had a half a dozen men volunteering to ride along, including the loudmouth miner.

Pointing to him I said, "Not, you. I can tell right now you would be more of a hindrance than a help. This could be trouble enough, without you causing more."

About an hour later we were at the ambush site. Spotted Owl started our trackers searching the area. Soon they came to me and said that they found the trail. It looked as if about ten men, both Indians and white men had done the ambush. We started trailing them and about an hour later we saw where the outlaws met up with about twenty others, and headed the same direction.

I saw that this was more than our small group could handle easily. By the tracks, it looked as if the majority were Indians.

I turned to Spotted Owl and said, "It looks as though we have a group of renegades and whites trying to stir up a war. Can you send two of the men back to Red Cloud's camp for reinforcements and I'll have two of the others go to the nearest town, I guess that would be Silver City. I'll try and get us some reinforcements from there, also. I'll stress that they are to keep the peace and avoid conflicts as much as possible. The rest of us will continue to trail them, and try to find where their camp is."

As we continued following their trail, I worried about the men from the nearby towns. They would be working with a Lakota war party, to bring justice to a bunch of outlaws and renegade Indians. It would be either a blessing, or the start of a new Indian war.

*

Edited by Old Fart

Final Edit By TeNderLoin

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