The tea worked. Rolph became drowsy soon enough, and I helped him to a nice spot on the floor. He wouldn’t a made it to the bed. I tried not to pay attention to what Cezary was doing, als I know is that there was lots of blood.
Well he showed me where his bed was, said he wouldn’t be needing it for a while yet anyhow. It was a good bed, but I didn’t feel comfortable. I couldn’t fall asleep so I drank some of the tea. That right did it.
Woke up the next morning, Rolph was already up and so was the sun. There were sounds in the adjacent kitchen so I went to investigate. Somein smelled real good, though the kitchen was so small and so much was happenin I couldn’t tell heads from tails. Steam rose from the stove and the fires crackled with heat just on the verge of being threatening. Cezary stood in the center of the commotion like a train conductor. He swiveled this way and that in a sing song sorta way.
“You been up all night Cezary?” I asked staying out of his way.
“All night?” Cezary looked out the window and squinted. “Ah… the sun is… Yes I suppose I have.”
“Aren’t you tired?”
“I figured since you two went through all the trouble of coming here I might as well provide some hospitality. I’m making buffalo meat. Oh your father is outside.”
“He ain’t my father.”
“Is that so. I’m quickly learning you are the most helpful of the two.” he flashed a smile.
“Put that weapon down. What is this a robbery?” asked the man now revealed to be wearing brown slacks held up with suspenders and a plain white shirt. Seemed one of the nicest dressed people I’d seen yet.
“Robbery?” scoffed Rolph. “You’re the grave robber who broke into the Meadows aren’t ya?”
“Oh, is this about that? Listen if he is your relative I gladly return him in order to get another specimen, but please can it wait till sun up? And truly I would be in your debt if you put that weapon down.” The man spoke slowly as if not in full control of the language he was uttering. His voice was high and strange sounding. Not like any others out in the west. I mighta heard something like his voice back east.
“I’ll put down this weapon when I know what the hell is going on,” replied Rolph.
“Now please let not bring the bible into this. Please Mr. you and your daughter can sit down over in the living room. Why don’t I brew some tea? I just picked some flowers out by the brooke. I’m sure you saw it on the way in. It’s a nice little thing, perfect place to put down shop. Knew when I saw it.” Read More…
The site of the massacre was worse than I imagined. Life seemed lessened here. Tree’s green leaves were duller and the dirt was powdery and loose.
Dull quasi-grey mounds covered bodies commemorating a terrible tragedy.
“What happened here Rolph?” I asked as we unpacked the horse.
“Far as I can remember some travelers were passing through when they were ambushed by indians and some Mormon marauders. No one’s quite sure what happened. Mormon’s claim their Brigham Young had nothing to do with it. I aint so sure.”
“So no one knows why they did it?”
“Well, the people here been treated bad before. When people get treated like scum they tend to act like it. It’s the sad truth of our world.”
Rolph tied the horse to a tree and left the pack their. He pulled out a canteen and a 6 shooter. Stuck the canteen in his pants and the gun in his holster.
“Rolph when you gona teach me how to do that?”
“Tie up a horse?”
“No, you know what I mean… I mean the gun. I figure maybe I should know more.”
“Maybe your right, but I don’t want to have to teach ya if you don’t need to know. When we find the cure you won’t need to know anymore.”
“Why? Ain’t like I can go home till after the war or nothing. Won’t I have to stay with you.”
“No you won’t be staying with me. I’ll find some place for you ’til the wars over.”
We were walking through the site checking mounds to see if they were weak. Looking the place over for little hidey spots.
“But I want to stay with you!”
“No. I’m the whole reason your in this mess. The last thing I want is for you to end up another casualty.”
“So teach me.”
“Alright, alright I’ll teach you. First we got to look over this site, nice and thorough.”
We looked it over real closely but it just seemed like a meadow to me. Nothing strange happened, it certainly weren’t haunted. Maybe this was a dead end.
Rolph decided we had better start digging through these graves in case the cure was buried with them. I got tired of digging, but Rolph was determined. I decided to wander off and see what else this place had to offer.
I was walking, thinking about home. Wondering what it would be like if Rolph came to live with us. I supposed he wouldn’t be home much. Maybe he’d take me out hunting with him. Daddy’d cook us dinner and we’d all talk about the exiting things we did that day. Carlson would be there too. Carlson’s smart maybe he’d work for one of them big schools in the area. Then we’d all go out to the lake together and fish. Just the four of us sitting out on the rocks with the cool morning mist on our skin. The silent splashes of the water and the low fog on the lake making everything mysterious. If somebody else show’d up they’d probably turn and run when they saw we had all them guns.
Rolph might see a duck and he’d hand me the gun and we’d shoot it together his hand holding me steady. That’d be the most wonderful dinner we’d ever had.
Course I remembered it was all only a dream when my foot fell through the earth. I screamed and pushed my way out. Rolph came running but I wasn’t in any danger. Looks like I’d fallen into a grave, cept there was no body inside.
“Looks like we aren’t the first ones to be digging around here.” said Rolph. He looked around the site. “Whoever did this, it wasn’t too long ago. There’s still tracks.”
He was right some hoof prints remained. Whoever did this knew what they were looking for.
“It might not of been the cure though right?” I asked.
“True, but whatever it was it was important. Only thing I don’t understand is why they would take the body too.”
“We going to go follow these?”
“You got a better plan miss?”
I shook my head and we made our way back to the horse. We packed up and Rolph lead the way. He showed the horse the trail, had him stick his nose in the tracks and everything. Then Rolph took out some more of his herbs and rubbed them on our horses nose. The horse snorted and kicked back a bit. Rolph spent some time calming him down, then we were off following that trail through the night.
Rolph said we couldn’t stop cause we might lose the trail. Then we’d be back where we started. The trail lead through a vast forest. Down a cliffside and along a river. I slept through some of the trip, but Rolph woke me when we arrived.
The trail seemed to lead to this log cabin surrounded by the woods and a brook. There were no lights showing. Rolph tied up the horse away from the house where it wasn’t visible. Again he took his gun, and this time a satchel. He gave me one of his knives and told me to be careful with it.
The knife was long, bout the size of my forearm. The handle was hand carved with some ancient language inlaid. The knife looked nasty, both sides were serrated, so it looked like teeth. It was heavy in my hand, and so I held it with both arms.
We crept toward the house, Rolph reminding me to be quiet. Rolph opened the front door after he had decided no one was awake inside. It creaked open. My eyes had to adjust to the dark. Rolph dipped his left hand into his pack and it came out covered in some sticky wax like substance. He whispered a word and it lit up with white flame. His other hand pulled out his gun. The house seemed plain enough. Their was a desk with a book open, and a fireplace in the corner. This room lead into a kitchen and a second open room wherein we noticed the dead body hanging from a hook on the ceiling.
It looked too whole. If this was the dead body that had been dug up shouldn’t it have been a pile of bones by now? But no it was a full, corpse swinging softly back and forth. It didn’t smell either. Always look on the bright side my Daddy’d said.
Rolph lead me away from that room and through the kitchen which aside from the bloody knives looked like any other kitchen. That room lead into the room I was too frightened to enter. The soft light from Rolph’s hand illuminated a figure siting away from us in an armchair.
“Get up and turn around,” said Rolph raising his gun.
There was no response.
“Get up!” yelled Rolph.
The figure slowly stirred as if awoken from a trance. I saw a gleam of black on his head. The figure rose turned, and lifted an arm as if shielding itself.
“Where’s the cure!” shouted Rolph.
“What time is it? By god put down that torturous tool!” said the figure in a brisk accented voice.
“Carlson you can barely walk. I won’t have you coming with us,” said Rolph.
“I won’t let you just leave me here,” he replied. He lowered his voice, “I don’t feel at ease here. Please.”
“Come on Rolph, let him come,” I said.
Rolph sighed, “You don’t understand Anne, he’d slow us down. We need to find the cure, and fast. We’ve already lost time… Listen stay with your Uncle while I go talk to the chieftains. Say your goodbye. We’re leaving when I return.”
Rolph strode off leaving me by Carlson’s side. He was sitting up now at least. The bullet hole in his leg seemed to be healing but he still couldn’t put weight on it without pain.
We didn’t stop to rest until we’d reached the Goshute village. It seemed smaller than the last time we were here. The people seemed more downtrodden, and there were no children out playing in the dirt as I remembered.
Rolph and John carried Carlson like a log to a smoking tent near the middle of the camp. I followed nearly huggin Rolph’s leg. This place was not welcoming as it was before. Inside the tent it was hot and the black smoke swirling with cadence burnt my eyes and throat.
Four men sat around the fire producing the vile smoke. They each had to have been old, older than fifty I’d reckon. Their eyes didn’t look right, like the smoke that swirled around them swirled in their eyes as well giving them a dreamlike quality. They wore loose fitting robes that seemed to part endlessly behind their movements.
“Can you help this man?” asked Rolph not one to delay the matter.
I was beginning to suspect Carlson needed a real doctor. Or maybe he just needed some real food. We’d been sharing the jerky I found, but even rationing it, it got eaten quickly. I found a stream nearby that I could collect water from.
It’d been 2 days since we were out on that boat. I still didn’t know how we’d get back to town with Carlson being the way he is. He still couldn’t walk, or really do much of anything sides drink the water I give him.
My legs were raw as a turkey before thanksgiven day, but I knew I had to be watchful in case anyone happened to pass by. I climbed in the tree that Carlson rested up against so I could keep an eye on him as well. I didn’t think I’d be able to climb down again without falling – my legs were on fire. So far no luck seeing anyone. To pass the time I began reading the diary I had found in the grave site I had dug up the day before.
Miss the beginning? Start with part 1.
I was gainin on them. The caravan people that is. I counted fifteen. They were all walking along with their oxen, and horses. There was a boy in a blue shirt too big for him on horseback, a covered wagon with a few moving shapes inside and the rest were all on foot keeping each other company.
My feet hurt from running, and from having no shoes. I’d taken them off back at the lake for they were soggy and ruined. I felt lucky though, I hadn’t stepped on anything sharp. I’d been out of breath the past few minutes and my mouth was sticky and dry, but I couldn’t stop. Not now. Carlson was dying and these people could help, besides I was starting to get hungry and these people could help me. Course I knew I was taken a chance, strangers aren’t to be trusted till you know something about um, my daddy said. Well seemed to me I had no choice.
Miss the beginning? Start with part 1.
It was a bit scary, but I knew Rolphs plan wouldn’t fail. All I had to do was stay on the boat and Rolph would breath through me. I don’t know how it worked any more than I did the iron horse but I’d learned to stop questioning these things.
I watched Rolph dive down into the lake’s depths I was reminded that he was doing this all for me. Whatever Rolph’s purpose for being here was, saving me certainly wasn’t it, but here we were just the same.
Me n’ Carlson looked at each other from opposite sides of the boat. I could tell we were both afraid to talk. He pulled out a piece a parchment and started sketching something. He’d look up occasionally from his paper at the lake, or me. I just thought about breathing, which you never thought would be hard till it’s all you can think about.
Still I don’t consider it a good thing that it took a gunshot to get me to realize my surroundings. Carlson pushed me down hard onto the boats rough hull, and we lay there silently, his eyes directly across from mine.
Miss the beginning? Start with part 1.
I asked Rolph who that man Carriage was, but Rolph wouldn’t talk much. We ended up finding a cheap broad bellied boat with a couple of rotting oars. It’s all we could afford.
We didn’t stay in town much longer. Rolph said something dangerous was going down here. He didn’t want to be here when the spark lit.
He said the plan hadn’t changed. We were still going to the lake. Finding a cure for me, was more important than anything else now. Truth is, I didn’t feel bad, or weak or, scared. I was too preoccupied to be feelin bad. How did Rolph know general Grant? Did that mean he’d met the president too? I wondered, what else was there to know about Rolph.
Miss the beginning? Start with part 1.
My “best big and tucker”, was a yellow dress with a white outline and a few modest frills. I tried a bow in my hair, but Rolph said it would be better to keep my hair down. Best to not attract attention to my face I guess. Though if anybody asked I was sposed to say I fell off my horse, and that it’d clean up nice and well in a weeks time. God knows when I’d actually be rid of it, or it of me.
Rolph wore a dirty suit, that didn’t seem to fit him all that well. It was all crinkled, looked like it hadn’t been worn in a lifetime, and it sort of scrunched up around his shoulders. Still it was the nicest thing I’d ever seen him wear.
We’d changed after we entered the city. Rolph had to convince one of the guards that we were here on Army business. I mean technically it wasn’t a lie. Rolph gave me one of them womanly umbrellas, though it was green, and hardly went with the dress. Said I should try and keep my face from been’ seen with it.