Chapter Thirteen—Reactions

Saturday, May 14, Arkmore, the day after the killing of Cotton and Matilda Doughty and the day before Odas Schafer’s attack on the Big Horn Indian Village…
           Marshal Boomer Gulf had reported the Doughty deaths to Sheriff Dan Harmon, and the latter knew, immediately, what he had to do, though he didn’t especially relish the thought.  Another trip to Fort Pearson, he thought with a sigh.
           When he voiced that intention to Gulf, the marshal replied, “Do you think this third incident will finally get his lazy carcass moving?”
           “I don’t know, Boomer, and we can’t count on it.  We’re going to have to step up our efforts here.  While I’m gone to Fort Pearson, I want you to contact Fred Harrison over at Kinsey and Pick Handsome at Sugarloaf.  Let’s all meet here, say, next Friday at noon.  I want us to coordinate some night watches.  Get the men of the town riding around the area at night, looking for anything suspicious.  Maybe if we can get enough volunteers for that, nobody will have to pull more than one or two nights a week.  Until this thing is solved, we lawmen will need to pull a lot of night duty ourselves."
           Booner nodded and shook his head at the same time.  “It’s a big county, Dan.”
           “I know, Boomer, that’s why we need all the help we can get.  But our citizens need to see us on those night watches.  We can’t ask them to do something we aren’t willing to do ourselves.”
           “That’s true.  I’ll get on it and contact Fred and Pick as soon as you leave.  Maybe we can get our town fathers to temporarily deputize us a couple of extra men to help out.”
           Before Harmon could anwer, the two lawmen heard an angry buzz from the street.  They looked out the window and saw about a dozen men approaching the sheriff’s office.
           Harmon said to Gulf, “They look none-too-friendly and I can imagine why.  Have you told anybody else about the Doughty murders?”
           “Nobody,” Gulf said, shaking his head.
           “Then, how would they know?”
           The Tin Cup marshal grunted.  “You know how fast news travels out here, Dan.  The wind carried it…”
           It was Harmon’s turn to grunt.  “Yeah.  Well, let’s go see what these gents want,” and he and Gulf walked outside.
           Lange Little was leading the pack, which had swelled to almost 20 by the time the sheriff and marshal got to the edge of the sidewalk.  “Sheriff,” Little said—and he was looking more at Boomer Gulf than he was as Harmon—“what’s this we hear about another Injun massacre over to Tin Cup?”
           Harmon looked at Little, who was a middle-aged rancher, though he looked over 60.  His greasy grey hair strung out under a greasy grey hat, but he had some gumption and other men respected him.  Harmon did, too.  Little wasn’t a troublemaker but he was formidable.
           “Well, there was another killing, Lange, yes.  Cotton and Matilda Doughty—“
           “Did they kill Molly, too?”  That question came from somebody at the back of the crowd, Harmon couldn’t tell who.
           “Injuns again, huh,” Brock Restine said before Harmon could answer the question about Molly.
           And then a third query was fired at him.  “What are you going to do about it, Harmon?”
           Dan opened his mouth and Little sneered, “Well, I know what I’m going to do.  I’m going to protect my family and I figure I know just how to do it.”  The implications of his statement were obvious.
           “You’re not going to do anything, Little, until I say so.  I’ve already warned you men about taking the law into your own hands.”  Harmon looked at the crowd.  “To answer your questions.  Molly wasn’t harmed; she escaped.  There was Indian sign found at the scene again, but no other witnesses besides the girl—“
           “What did Molly see, Marshal Gulf?” somebody asked.
           Boomer hesitated before answering.  “Indians,” is all he replied.
           Harmon spoke again to the men who had gathered in front of his office.  “Gentlemen, if you’ll get out of my way and not delay me, I’m headed to Fort Pearson again. Immediately.  I think, this time, Colonel Einarsen will have to do something.”
           Lange Little took a couple of steps forward and Harmon saw no friendliness in his eyes.  “He’d better do something, Sheriff Harmon, or we will.  This is number three.  Three families, good families, the kind of folk needed here in this territory.  Apparently them heathen savages down on that reservation ain’t learnt their lesson yet.  The army’s done a poor job o’ teachin’ ‘em.  Well, me an’ the boys here ain’t gonna stand for it any longer.  Killin’ the Britz’ was bad enough.  Then that young couple over to Kinsey.  We all give you and the other lawmen around here a chance.  An’ now there’s been a third killin’.  You ain’t done yer job, Harmon.  But we’re law-abidin’ folk here.  You git on down to the fort and tell that fat, worthless blue belly there that if’n he don’t stop them raids—right now—there’s a mess a’ men in this territory that will.”  Little looked at Boomer Gulf.  “I suspect there’s a few folks over to Tin Cup that feel the same way.  Right, Marshal?”
           Gulf slowly nodded his head.  “I suspect you’re right, Mr. Little.”
           Lange Little shifted his gaze back to the Arkmore sheriff.  “Dan, you’s a good man an’ we respect you.  But them redskin savages started it and this is too big for three or four lawmen.  And if the army ain’t gonna do nuthin’…do I have t’ spell it out for you?”
           Harmon shook his head.  He didn’t see any sense in arguing the matter.  Besides, Little was right.  If the army didn’t do anything, well, the situation was too big for he and the area marshals.  There was simply too much territory to cover.  If only Allie Summer would get here…  “Just promise me, Lange, that you boys won’t do anything until I talk to Einarsen.  I can be at the fort tomorrow.”
           Little nodded.  “Fair enough.  We’ll give you a week.”  And, without ado, he turned and walked away, the other men following him.
           Harmon and Gulf watched them go.  “A week,” Boomer Gulf said.  “And then what?”
           Harmon half-chuckled.  “And then I resign…”

           The sheriff had to make a couple of stops before he could leave for the fort.  First, he went by Deputy Fence McComb’s house to tell him that he would be indisposed for a few days, and then he went to his own place to pick up a few things for his trip.  He figured—or suspected—or hoped—that Einarsen would want to make another trip to the reservation.  As he was packing some extra clothes in a saddlebag, Harmon thoughtfully shook his head.  Besides the night watch groups, I don’t rightly know what to do.  Maybe Einarsen will finally act.  I guess army patrols, troops stationed on the reservation…how do you keep this from happening, short of killing every Indian within 500 miles of here?  The message he got from Lange Little was that there were some men prepared to do just that—kill every Indian—if the raids didn’t stop.
           Just as he finished packing, Dan heard a knock on his front door.  When he opened it, he saw banker Faye Fontenot.
           “Hi, Faye,” Dan said.  “I was just fixing to leave.  I suppose you’ve heard the latest.”
           Fontenot’s expression wasn’t very pleasant, in fact, it was downright ugly.  “Yes, I have, Sheriff.  The news is all over town and people are pretty upset about it.”
           “I know.  Lange Little brought a bunch of men to the sheriff’s office this morning—“
           The banker cut him off with a wave of his hand.  “I know what Lange Little is doing.  You weren’t at Fuzzy’s Café this morning listening to the talk.  I was.  The people around here are getting scared, Harmon.  Some of them are talking about leaving.  Nobody wants to get their hair lifted.  Do you know what will happen if these raids continue?”
           Yeah, you’ll have to close down your bank and won’t be able to charge those exorbitant interest rates you get on your loans…”I’m well aware that something needs to be done, Faye, and I’m preparing—“
           Once again, Fontenot interrupted.  He came up very close to Harmon and poked a finger in the sheriff’s chest while he talked.  Dan noted that his eyes seemed a little wild.  “I’m telling you, right now, Harmon, if there is another attack, you’re finished.  You got that?  I’m on the town council, pretty powerful member of it, and Clay, Conrad, and Yancey and I have been talking.”  Richard Clay, Conrad Assiniboine, and Springfield Yancey were the other three men on the council.  “We’ve already decided.  More deaths, and you can find another job.”  With that, Fontenot turned and walked away.
           Harmon watched him go, frowning.  Something was a little out of kilter here.  He certainly wasn’t trying to minimize the situation, but there had only been three raids and six people killed.  It’s not like the whole territory was on fire.  Dan didn’t think it was time to panic yet.  This is the west.  It’s still dangerous out here and these Indians are far from civilized.  You take your chances…He shook his head.  Fontenot’s not even thinking straight…  The town council had nothing to do with Dan being sheriff; it was an elected position by the people of Arkmore and he was so popular that he had run unopposed in the last election.  Still, Fontenot could make life difficult for him. 
           With a sigh, Harmon finished gathering what he would need for his trip.  Let’s see how big of an aggravation Einarsen and Wilcox are going to be this time…

The next day, Sunday, May 15
             “I hope you aren’t here for what I fear you are here for.”
           It took Sheriff Dan Harmon a moment to untangle that statement from Colonel Timothy Einarsen, but once he had, he simply smiled wryly.  “I hate to confirm your fears, but I fear I must,” Dan said, trying to be equally obscure.
           He was standing in front of Einarsen’s desk and, not surprisingly, the colonel had a sour expression on his face.  But, trying to be cordial, the army man waved at a seat and said, “Tell me about it.”
           Dan sat down and leaned back.  Lieutenant Rogers, Einarsen’s West Point adjutant, brought in a cup of coffee and set it in front of the sheriff, for which Harmon thanked him.  Rogers left the room and closed the door.  Dan looked at Einarsen. 
           “Another of the same, Colonel Einarsen.  Somebody—and there’s Indian sign all over the place again—attacked another ranch and killed two people.  Near Tin Cup this time.”
           Einarsen sighed.  “When?”
           “Friday night.”
           “Same modus operandi?”
           “Everything looked the same, but there were a couple of peculiarities.  The marshal there who did the investigating—“
           “You didn’t go yourself and check on it?” Einarsen said, his eyes narrowing.
           “I trust the man there, Colonel Einarsen.  But you can go and take a look if you want.  I’ll wait.”
           The colonel harrumphed at that.  “Continue.”
           “Well, Marshal Gulf said that a girl escaped.  The couple who were killed, Cotton and Matilda Doughty, had a 12 year old daughter who the Indians didn’t kill.”
           “Why not?”
           “You’ll have to ask them that, but Marshal Gulf talked to Molly, the girl.  She said that, as soon as the attack was apparent, her father told her to run.  Which she did.  She was afraid the Indians—her term—would come after her, but they didn’t.  She ran to a nearby house for protection and is staying with the people there.”
           “So we have an eyewitness?” Einarsen asked.  “A 12 year old girl?”  Then he snorted.  “Hardly credible.”
           “I don’t know the girl but Marshal Gulf says she’s a smart kid.  Anyway, she said that, before the attack, she heard some drums and then some music.  Someone singing.  It sounded like ‘an Indian song’.   Her words.  And she says the attackers were definitely Indians.”
           “She’s seen Indians before?”
           Harmon gave Einarsen a rather sardonic look.  “Well, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure she’s seen white people before.”
           Einarsen didn’t appear to appreciate the sarcasm, but he let it pass.  “Indian sign all around again?  Did the marshal find an arrow?”
           “No, that was another peculiarity.  They burned the house down.”
           Harmon didn’t bother answering a question that he obviously couldn’t.  “Marshal Gulf searched through the burnt out house and found the ashes of two bodies.  He found an arrowhead in one of them.”
           “What about the other body?”
           Harmon shook his head.  “Boomer didn’t say, except that he saw the ashes.  Some strips of clothing, bones that hadn’t completely burned, that sort of thing.”
           Einarsen leaned back with a “hmmmm,” and a thoughtful expression on his face.  “The evidence does appear to be overwhelming, doesn’t it, Sheriff Harmon, especially now that we have an eyewitness.  Of course, this doesn’t prove that Indians on the Big Horn reservation did the killing, but that is the obvious location.  We’ve had absolutely no reports in the last few years of wandering Indians of other tribes being seen off the reservation.”  He looked at Harmon.  “What is your impression of Wylie Wilcox, the Indian agent on the reservation?”
           “A snot-nosed bureaucrat who couldn’t find his butt with both hands if you gave him directions.”
           A wry grin crossed Einarsen’s lips, but didn’t touch his eyes.  He scratched his beard.  “Yes, that is a pretty fair description.  So you are convinced that Indians from the Big Horn are the perpetrators of these murders?”
           “Colonel Einarsen, I am a lawman.  I can investigate what happened and get as much information as I can.  100% of the evidence we have—and that now includes an eyewitness—says that Indians are doing this.  It wouldn’t be terribly surprising that there are still natives who are upset over what the white man did to them and are getting their revenge in the only way they know how.  What they hope to accomplish, I don’t know, but I do know that people are starting to get scared.  My banker told me, in no uncertain terms, that this has to stop or people will start leaving the area.  And if word gets around that these raids are taking place, and continuing, nobody will move here.  That would, obviously, be disastrous for the economy of the region.”
           “Yes, I can see why a banker would be concerned.”
           “I can, too, but it’s deeper than that, to me.  Innocent human beings are being violently murdered.  That’s the worst thing.  That has to stop, and everything else will take care of itself.”
           Einarsen narrowed his brown eyes at the sheriff.  “So what have you done, Sheriff Harmon, to halt these attacks?  Have you any plan of action, plan of defense?”
           Harmon stared back at Einarsen, a bit of an anger rising inside him.  “I’ve done three things, Colonel Einarsen.  Number one, I recently took a trip to Port Station to talk to Captain W. T. McConnell of the territorial Rangers, asking him if he had some people he could spare to help us.  Four or five lawmen, who have towns to protect, cannot roam around this large of a territory, every night, searching for marauding Indians.”
           “Is McConnell going to help?  I doubt it,” Einarsen sneered.
           It was obvious to Dan that there was no love lost between Einarsen and McConnell, but the sheriff had gotten that impression when talking to the Ranger.  “He’s going to send Allie Summer as soon as she’s available.  Which, hopefully, will be within a few weeks.”
           Einarsen nodded.  “Allie Summer.  Heard of him.  McConnell’s best, they say.”  Then, he looked at Harmon queerly.  “You said ‘she…’”
           “Allie Summer is a woman.”
           Einarsen’s face went blank.  “You’re kidding, of course.”
           “No, I’m not, and believe me, Colonel Einarsen, you do not want to meet her if she is mad at you.  I’ve seen her in action, briefly, and she’s uncanny.  Toyed with four men your size and bigger, and had them all running for their lives.”
           Einarsen, who was a fairly big man, looked nonplussed, which Harmon found amusing, but he figured Allie Summer had created that look from a lot of people.  “Allie Summer…a woman…?”  He seemed to be digesting the thought.
           “Yes.  Anyway, the second thing I’ve done is discuss with Marshal Gulf the possibility of getting together some teams of men for guard duty.  Me and the other lawmen, as I’ve told you repeatedly, cannot be everywhere in this county and so we are going to solicit some help from the men of area towns, volunteers who will go on watch at night, riding around the region, watching out for anything suspicious.  I’ve left that, for the moment, with Marshal Gulf but I will pursue it further when I return to Arkmore.”
           Einarsen snorted.  “They’ll never see an Indian,” he said.
           “I’m glad you finally agree, Colonel Einarsen, that we are dealing with Indians.  Perhaps you are right, but perhaps the Indians will see them, and that will have a deterring effect on anybody with murder on their mind.”
           Einarsen made a “well, it’s better than nothing” gesture.  He said, “You said you were doing three things.  That’s two.  What’s the third?”
           This time, Harmon stood up, leaned his hands on the colonel’s desk and bent towards Einarsen.  Staring the army man straight in the eyes, he said, “This is my third trip to this fort, trying to get you off your fat carcass.  Now, are you going to do something this time because, if you’re not, I’m going to wire the army department in Washington, tell them what’s happening, and tell them that we can get no assistance from you.”
           Einarsen’s face clouded over.  “Don’t threaten me, mister.”
           “I’m not threatening you, Colonel Einarsen, I’m just telling you what I’m going to do.  You can sit there and make all the excuses you want, but bottom line is, the United States Army exists to protect the citizens of this country.  This matter is no longer an issue of a single raid.  We have six deaths now, and there is absolutely no indication that these attacks are going to stop.  And all the evidence points to Indians who are under your jurisdiction being involved.  Do something, Colonel Einarsen, or I’ll do everything in my power to have you replaced with somebody who will.”
           If Einarsen was scared or intimidated, he didn’t show it.  He sneered at Harmon.  “What do you propose, Sheriff Harmon?  An all-out attack on the Big Horn village?  Wipe out every Indian there?  The only good Indian is a dead Indian?  That would certainly solve the problem, wouldn’t it.”
           “I came here, this time, Colonel Einarsen, to discuss with you a plan of action involving military and civilian personnel.  I certainly am not proposing an attack on the Indian village.”  Here Dan sat back down and looked at the colonel.  “But, I’ll tell you this.  The people of Arkmore and the surrounding towns have had enough.  If you don’t want an attack on that village by white men with guns, then you’d better do something to help stop these murders.”
           “Vigilante action will not be tolerated, Sheriff Harmon.”
           “I will do everything in my power to stop it.  Including visiting Fort Pearson and asking the commanding officer there for his assistance.  Especially since said vigilante action would be aimed at people under his protection and jurisdiction.”
           To Harmon’s surprise, Einarsen turned reasonable.  The colonel leaned back and sighed.  “I don’t like being threatened, Sheriff Harmon, but I can see your position.  But please try to understand mine.  I have had to move slowly on this matter because the official policy handed down from God—I mean, higher than that—Washington, D. C.—is peace with the Indians.  The army is to involve itself only in certain cases of Indian violence, and only as a last resort.  We don’t want any more Indians conflicts.  Do you understand that?”
           Harmon nodded.  “I do.”
           The sheriff saw the colonel’s eyes flare.  “I hate those savages,” Einarsen said, with some degree of viciousness, “but I will follow my orders and try to live at peace with them.  I do not know, yet, what must be done.  Give me the day to think the matter over.  And then, if it is agreeable to you, tomorrow let’s you and I ride down to the village again.  We will talk with Wilcox again and see if we get the same story from him.”  He stood up.  “I’ll have Lieutenant Rogers assign you some quarters.  The army will do something this time, Sheriff Harmon, but I do not yet know what I can promise you.”
           Harmon stood up as well.  “Fair enough.  But something beyond talk is going to be necessary, Colonel.  Talk has only gotten more people killed.”
           Einarsen nodded his head and waved a dismissal.  “We will ride at sunup tomorrow.  And hope that we find everything in order at the Big Horn village.”
           But, everything was not “in order” on the reservation for, as we have seen, it was that very night that Odas Schafer and his merry band of miscreants ransacked the village.