WHILE I was watching the
trail that day I saw a detachment of cavalry gallop past toward
Anadarko. Likely they purposed heading us off should we appear there.
When the sun went down
and we were ready to start, we were so stiff, footsore, weak and hungry,
we could hardly walk. The month of confinement in the guardhouse had
told on our physical condition. Gee Whiz tied his ragged socks on his
sore feet, and after we hobbled along for a while we limbered up and
made good progress.
It was not yet midnight,
but dark as pitch, when we came to the outskirts of Anadarko on the
In the woods we ran onto
a party of cavalrymen— the same, we were sure, that had passed us during
We crept around the camp,
and waded across the river to the Agency.
There was a light in the
store. I walked in boldly and bought a can of meat. The clerk I knew. He
did not recognise me. But I was on the alert when I left the place.
About a mile on the road
to Fort Sill we sat down by the trail and feasted. Gee Whiz was
complaining of his sore feet when he suddenly forgot them.
Came the clickety-click
of shod hoofs and the noise of wheels on the hard-beaten road.
We knew it was time for
the mail from Reno to Fort Sill.
Close enough for us to
see in the dim starlight, we made out the familiar buckboard. We saw
also that the driver was alone.
When the rig was within a
few steps of us, my comrade jumped up.
“Hold up thar!” he
The frightened driver
jerked the mules to a standstill, dropped the lines, and reached up
toward the stars.
“All right, boys, all
right"’ he quavered. “Here it is right behind me. Don’t shoot!”
“Put your hands down. We
don’t want the mail-pouch,” my comrade assured him. “We don’t want
nothin’ but a ride.”
The driver grabbed the
lines and steadied the shying mules. Then, on his very hearty
invitation, we got into the buckboard.
We were glad of the
chance to ride, yet uneasy in the knowledge that the mail-carrier had
come from Fort Reno. He was certain to know all about our escape and
therefore certain to report it. With the whole garrison awake to it, our
chances in avoiding arrest would be slim.
We rode for a while in
silence. The driver broke it.
“Travellin’ some?” he
“Down to Sill,” I
replied. “Had a little hard luck. Horses pulled their picket-pins. But
we’ll find some o’ th’ outfit at Sill. Punchin’ cattle f’r old
Goodnight,” I lied. “Yeh know his ranch—out at Paladora Canyon.”
I knew the ranch. Years
before, it will be remembered, I had spent some time there when for a
season I had left Zakatoh.
The driver abruptly
changed the subject.
“Thar was partic’lar hell
t’ pay at Reno last night,” he said.
His passengers paid
“Yep,” he went on, “two
gin’ral pris’ners made their git-away. Th’ most darin’ d’livery that any
set o’ convicts ever made in these parts. One of ’em had a squaw wife,
en’ he is hidin’ around th’ camp thar somewhar I think. They found th’
squaw on a sand-bar in th’ river though. Got drownded. Th’ whole
garrison’s scoutin’ after ’em, en’ if they git away, they’ll have to go
Our host was loquacious
and apparently friendly. Whatever suspicions he might have entertained
concerning us seemed allayed.
He went on to say that
the negro sergeant was under arrest in the guardhouse, and that old
“Pussy Foot” was in trouble because of the escape.
Old “Pussy Foot” was the
other man whom I hoped to see suffer.
This news was a source of
no little satisfaction to me.
It was near sunup when we
arrived at the crossing of Medicine Bluff Creek above Fort Sill. We left
the buckboard, thanked the carrier for the ride, and struck off into the
We made for Cache Creek
and soon reached it.
On the bank, just back of
the officers’ quarters, stood several large water tanks, unused and £mpty.
Gee Whiz thought one of
them would make a good hiding-place.
We chose one and climbed
in. It was within forty yards of the back door of an officer’s house.
Soldiers passed and repassed all day long. They were so close we could
easily hear their conversation. We probably could not have chosen a
At dusk we crawled out,
went down to the post gardens and bought food and clothing of the man in
Up to this time my attire
had consisted of a shirt, a pair of overalls and moccasins. I had no
Gee Whiz was not only
hatless and bootless, but also sockless by this time. He had so often
tied and retied his stockings on his sore and swollen feet, that they
had become frazzled beyond use.
I was greatly tempted to
seize a government horse and hit the trail for the west where I was sure
of falling in with some wild tribe. But Gee Whiz kept picturing the
wonderful things of the white man’s country in glowing terms, so I
stayed with him. That night we set out for Caddo—the nearest railroad
station— one hundred and sixty-five miles away.
It was daylight when we
arrived at Rush Springs.
From time immemorial this
had been a camping place, so we looked for soldiers here. We found a
body of cavalry camped on one side of the spring and a wagon-train of
freighters on the other.
We hid in the grass until
the former started toward Fort Sill, and lingered with the latter long
enough to learn that both soldiers and Indians were scouring the country
We left the bullwhackers
and the trail, but still headed for Caddo.
During the day, as we
made our way along a wooded stream, a posse of marshals suddenly dashed
out of the timber and surrounded us.
It was all up, then.
Not yet. The marshals
were looking for a gang of train robbers. Our descriptions tallied with
none of them, and as Gee Whiz lied so earnestly and so well about having
lost our horses, the men let us go.
We took the train at
Caddo for Denison, Texas. As we left the train I lost Gee Whiz in the
crowd, and out of my life.
I went out of town.
Ten days and nights had
passed since my escape from the guardhouse, and I was utterly worn out.
I lay down in a fence corner and slept.
When I awoke, the stars
were fading out of the eastern sky. I had slept all day and nearly all