Bard of the South, September Tour

After visiting my mother in Kemp, Oklahoma for a few days to help her with chores and doctor visits, I and my guitar set up with the MacDuff Clan at the Tulsa Scotfest Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 17-18. I sold out of my Scottish ABC books and sold most of my Irish ABC book. This was a great festival and we were blessed with good weather.






14364738_10155284193839148_2700806365809486576_nSaturday night, I visited the Hex House, Tulsa’s most famous haunted attraction. Based on a true, creepy events it was not as good as House of Shock in New Orleans, but it was worth the admission. Like House of Shock, it is not an experience for the timid.
On Sunday, I drove from Tulsa to Kansas City MO for presentations at four branches of the Mid-Continent Library System. I believe they have about thirty branches. This is the most efficient and best organized library systems I’ve ever been booked for. Every presentation was packed with folks who signed up to attend a week before the event! Here’s a flier of my schedule.




On Wednesday, Sept. 21, I visited the National World War I Museum in Kansas City MO. This was an overwhelming experience. The ticket is for two days and believe me, it would take two days at least to fully explore it. Amazingly, what they have on display is only 10% o14433021_10155295912924148_3478504597030785256_nf what the museum owns. There wasn’t too much emphasis on the Eastern Front, but the relics, documents and uniforms and history presented were extremely interesting.



From Kansas City, I drove back to Monroe, arriving about 10:00 p.m.

My Hometown Lyrics by Bo Depeña

Another song by one of my favorite Texas musicians! I (and I think he does to) plays it in C in G position using capo.

“My Hometown” by Bo Depeña

I never dreamt of missing Laredo
I never thought I’d be so down
But I sit here and pray for tomorrow
When I wake up in my own hometown

I never dreamt of hating this city
Where once you’re lost, you’re never found,
Well I don’t think I remember the sunrise
The way it rose in my hometown.

I never dreamt of missing my brother
He and I don’t get along
But before I reach the point of regretting,
Gonna meet him in my hometown.

Well I never dreamt I’d lay here beside you
Talking about this place we’ve found
Well we don’t belong on dirty old sidewalks,
We belong in our hometown.

Repeat V. 1:

There’s no way out of here.
There’s no way out of here
There’s no way out of here.
Anymore, anymore.
There’s no way out of here

Adios, America! by Ann Coulter: A Short Review

adios americaI had always thought and felt that our nation’s policy on illegal immigration was out of balance, but when I read Ann Coulter’s book, Adios America!: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, I was completely convinced of how my suspicions were correct,  and I was horrified by how warped our immigration policies were and are.

Don’t get me wrong. Though I live in North Louisiana, I I work almost every month in the Rio Grande Valley in schools, museums, festivals, and other special events. I have MANY friends who have immigrated from Mexico legally, and I have known many others who HAD to move their families or businesses across the river for safety’s sake, but these are not the issue of Coulter’s book. The Rio Grande Valley where I work is beautiful, safe, and not overwhelmed like some locations are.

Now, here’s what I learned, believed, observed from Coulter’s book, You will need to read Coulter’s book to see what I affirm here:

  1. We do need a moratorium (at least temporary)  on all immigration.
  2. The mainstream media and our politicians have deliberately withheld information about the harm the hordes of  illegal Immigrants do to America.
  3. The entire world  outside of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, etc. are in humanitarian crises.
  4. Americans do not want America to become Mexico. If Mexico is so great, why do so many want to leave?
  5. Immigrants are costing Americans taxes in birthing babies,welfare, crime, and welfare. We cannot sustain this expense.
  6. The media and liberals seek for and attack crimes (mostly imagined) of whites while ignoring the crimes of illegal immigrants. Obvious hypocrisy.
  7. A wall on the border will work to help stem illegal immigration from Mexico.  Examples of walls that have worked: Fences around rich folks homes, the Wall between China and North Korea, between Israel and Palestine, the Great Wall of China, and other borders.
  8. Democrats are using the hordes of immigrants and the promised amnesty to recruit Democratic voters. Yet, these immigrants will be a source of terrorists for us.
  9. Illegal immigrants are the cause of much crime–rape, theft, and murder. Any immigrant convicted of crime should be deported. Any illegal immigrant should be  sent back and allowed to apply for citizenship by legal means.

Read Coulter’s book. The numerous documented examples are depressing and overwhelming, but those examples should spur Americans to action on the issue of illegal immigrants.


“Hello, Webb County” by Bo Depeña

I subscribe to Texas Music Magazine and on this summer’s CD there was a song I really liked and as I couldn’t find the lyrics posted anywhere on the Web, I decided to share them on my blog. The song is “Hello, Webb County,” by Bo Depeña. As I work so much in the Rio Grande Valley, from Laredo to Brownsville, and hoping soon to expand to the upper Rio Grande Valley, I love to discover songs about South Texas and the border country.  I hope to add this song to my show, Songs & Stories of the Rio Grande Valley. Bo Depeña’s website is HERE:
Here are the lyrics for this great song:

“Hello, Webb County” by Bo Depeña

V. 1 I was born in San Anton,
But I never did pay it no mind.
Cause my parents moved down to a border town,
Where they ran into some troubled times,
Though I couldn’t call it paradise,
It surely was one of a kind,
Down in the Valley where the whitetail run
On the US Mexico line.

Hello, Webb County
I’m coming home to you,
Though it may be far from heaven,
It’s the best that I can do.

V. 2 I met me a girl in Austin,
And I followed her to New Orleans,
I ended up in New York City
With nothing but a pair of jeans,
Then I made my way to the mountains west,
To the Rockies and the evergreens,
But I couldn’t shake these homesick blues
With the Rio flowing in my veins.


V. 3 When the winters get cold and lonely,
It takes me to another time.
Before the bust, before the war,
When everyone was getting by,
It’ll never quite feel like home again,
But I’ll love it till the day I die,
When the sun goes down on the border town
On the US Mexico line.

Click on the image below to see Pittman’s newest book, Rio Grande Valley ABC.

small cover

Ann Coulter on the French Revolution

Ann Coulter on the French Revolution

UnknownI have to confess–my first thoughtful reading touching the French Revolution, the time when I really understood the horror of period in French history, was when I taught my gifted reading students, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Like Anne Frank in the 1959 movie script, I thought it the saddest book I’ve ever read. I’ve never forgotten that first reading and today I still consider it one of Dickens’ best novels. Now, many years later, I came into possession of Ann Coulter’s Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America. Two chapters in that fine read deal specifically with the French Revolution, and one chapter contrasts our own American Revolution with the French.

Coulter’s two chapters dealing with the French Revolution were so powerful and affected me so deeply that I had to read them twice. They were disturbing, not only because of the vivid horror of the French Revolution she portrays so well, but also because the comparison to our own country frightened me by showing the abuses I knew could easily occur today. The seed of the mindset that created the French Revolution has been scattered throughout our own society. Here’s a few observations I drew from the chapters:

  1. There was no logic to the chronology of the French Revolution. Coulter argues this is because it was a mob event, and mobs do not operate by logic. Mobs are irrational.
  2. The mobs of the French Revolution were fueled by rumors and gossip.
  3. The French Revolution mobs were anti-secular. Churches and spiritual leaders were attacked. The State became the official religion.
  4. Lawful authorities (law enforcement of the French society) were targeted. The mob had no fear of punishment, so the mobs ran wild.
  5. Beautiful and priceless monuments, statues, and art were destroyed because they offended those in the mobs.
  6. Even the leaders of this revolution were not safe as other leaders and the mobs turned on them. Mobs can love someone one minute and hate the person the next.
  7. Anyone who questioned the excesses and course of events was deemed unpatriotic and paid the price.
  8. The French Revolution was nothing like ours. It set the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution, Ma’s Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s slaughter, and America’s mindless mobs vandalizing and attacking the innocent.
  9. If you are interested in the French Revolution, in understanding why there’s so many riots and mob occurrences troubling our land, I encourage you to obtain Coulter’s Demonic.

Chapter Seventeen: The Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Seventeen – Micah Returns Ruthie

Ramon led them to the O’Connor farm. Like most farm and ranch houses in Jack Country, there was a fence around the yard made of juniper and bois d’arc posts. The house was still solid with only a few signs of disrepair. As they approached the fence Ramon said, “They’ve done fairly well with the place, considering how many men are gone. Women have had to handle everything—the crops, the livestock, repairs, the children. Let us hope the savages leave them alone.”

An old man in a rocking chair sat on the porch. He was smoking a long-stemmed clay pipe.   When they stopped their horses in front of him, he said, “Ramon Chavez. I haven’t seen you in a spell. I heard you became a Ranger again and signed up with that same unit Frederick’s brother went out with. He didn’t get himself kilt, did he?”

“Yes, it is the same unit. No, Henry is well, but he lost his horse to the Comanches. He should return on foot soon.”

“Get off your horses and I’ll make you and your secessionist friend there some coffee.” His eyes moved to the girl and his smile vanished. “Lord’s sake! Jenny, you best come out here. Ramon Chavez has found your cousin. Good Lord, we feared she was dead.”

“We followed the Kiowas who took her,” Ramon said.

Jenny stepped outside and covered her mouth with her hand. “Ruthie! Oh, Jesus! Ruthie!”

Ruthie stared blankly at her. Jenny ran to Ramon who lifted Ruthie from his horse and passed her down to her.

She smothered the girl in an embrace and kisses. “Ruthie, I was so worried, I thought I’d never seen you again! Thank you, Ramon! Thank you so much! And I thank your friend too.” She looked closer at Micah. “Well, if it’s not Micah Evans. You finally returned to Jack County. I thank you too, sir.”

“Micah’s what you always called me before, Jenny. And I never wanted to be a sir, especially with old friends. Sounds too much like I am—was an officer.”

“Well, seems like a strange notion to worry about.” She clutched Ruthie to herself. “Ruthie, are you well, darlin’?”

Ruthie muttered a few incoherent words, and then groaned in anger. She pulled in a deep breath, then spoke the first words Micah had heard her speak. “It has been terrible, Jenny. Mama and Papa are dead! So is little Jimmy. These two men saved me, and they killed the stinking Indians that took me. Jenny, they did horrible things to me. They hurt me. I wanted to die. I prayed that I would die!” She buried her face in her cousin’s shoulder.

“Shhhh, Ruthie. Don’t talk about it. It doesn’t matter what happened, as long as you are back.” Jenny was crying now, and she placed her arm around Ruthie and led her toward the house. She turned her head. “You men, give us a few minutes so I can tend to her wounds and put some decent clothes on her, and then I’ll fix us a fine supper.” Her eyes fixed on Micah’s briefly, then she looked down. “It’s the least I can do to thank you. Tie up your horses and talk with Papa Charlie. And Papa Charlie, don’t you don’t cause no trouble.”

“War’s over, Jenny. I ain’t gonna mistreat no one who brought home your cousin.” He grinned. “Even if he was a disloyal son of the Union. But I reckon since he is a friend of Chavez, I can put up with him. You are Augdon Evan’s son, ain’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“My goodness. My goodness. You can just call me Papa Charlie. I knew your father. He thought a lot of Sam Houston. How did he feel about you joining up with the Confederacy?”

“He didn’t cotton to it much, Papa Charlie. We had some words over it.”

“You as good as man as your father was, boy?”

“I don’t rightly know, Papa Charlie. I reckon he was a better man than I could ever be.”

Papa Charlie looked at Chavez. “What do you think, Chavez?” He pitched Ramon a small sack of tobacco. “Corn husk is inside the pouch if you want to roll yourself a cigarette. I know you don’t cotton to pipes none. It’s good tobacco. Growed it myself.”

Ramon carefully pinched out some tobacco and placed it in the cut square sheet of husk, licked the edge, and then rolled it. Papa Charlie popped a Lucifer match with his finger and held the flame out to him. Ramon lit the cigarette, inhaled deeply, then exhaled. “Thank you, Papa Charlie.” Ramon led his horse to the watering trough and finished his cigarette. “He’s as good a man as Augdon. A natural Comanche killer. He is fearless.”

“Sometimes fearless ain’t a good quality for a man to have. Fearless man takes too many chances and he don’t know when to let something go.”

Ramon passed Micah the pouch of tobacco. “I need to tend to these horses. The Indian ponies belong to Micah, the other two were stolen from Ruthie’s family. I’ll put them in the corral for now.”

Micah remained on the porch and rolled a cigarette for himself. He lit it off Ramon’s cigarette, and while he, Ramon, and Papa Charlie smoked, he could only think of the two bright blue eyes of Erin O’Connor.

*          *          *

That night, Micah and Ramon sat at the O’Connor table and shared the supper of cornbread, pinto beans, canned tomatoes, and coffee that Jenny had prepared.

“I am sorry we don’t have meat tonight,” Jenny said.

“It’s better fare than we’ve been eatin’,” Micah said. “I’m much obliged. I heard you married.”

“I did. Did you know my husband, Micah Evans?”

“No, ma’am, not well anyway. But I did meet Frederick not long after he moved here. He weren’t too friendly at the time.”

“Well, it’s been so long since I heard from him. I fear the worst. I guess I will be another Texas widow. I didn’t want him to get involved in this ignorant war. The store was doing well. He was never real good at taking care of himself, and I just knew some heathen rebel soldier would shoot him down.”

She set down her cup of coffee. “I’m sorry, that sounded harsh.   I don’t want to judge you for fighting with the Confederates. Our men here had to choose, and each had to follow his own conscience. I know the war is near over now, but Jack County lost too many men to it, on both sides, and I don’t know what I should be thinking.”

“I can’t rightly remember why I went myself,” Micah said. “Ramon and my father both tried to convince me not to go.   They said the county was too divided for any sane man to take a stand.   It all seems to have been for nothin’ anyway. I guess standin’ up for an ideal you believe in ain’t enough to win a war, specially when you have men running armies who weren’t cut out for the job. General Smith was a good enough commander, so was Kirby, but some of the others, seem to have been a bit addled. So I take it you are a Unionist like your husband?”

“It’s a touchy issue between my husband and me. My brother moved to New Orleans and joined the 6th Louisiana. One of Lee’s Tigers. He died at Sharpsburg.”

“I’m indeed sorry to hear that.”

“Well, I have such a busy day tomorrow.” Jenny stood behind Micah and refilled his coffee cup, and laid a hand on Micah’s shoulder. “I must go to Jacksboro for some more supplies. So now, I am going to wash the dishes, then prepare a bed for you men on the floor.”

The touch of her hand was light, but it jolted him. “That’s mighty nice of you Miss Jenny,” Micah said. He saw Ramon shake his head slightly.

“Aren’t you the gentleman now, Micah. We grew up together. It sounds strange to hear you address me in such a proper manner.”

“Micah and I can sleep outside, Miss O’Connor,” Ramon said. “The weather is mild, and I feel that you need to be alone with Ruthie. It will be no bother for us.”

“Well, I will give you some extra blankets so you can sleep in comfort, and prepare you a breakfast tomorrow before you leave.”

“We are grateful for your kindness, Miss Jenny,” Ramon said.

Micah found he couldn’t think of anything to say at all. Erin had withdrawn her hand from his shoulder, but he could still feel her hand’s warmth, and something like pre-battle jitters in his stomach.

That night, after they had spread their blankets on the O’Connor porch, Ramon said, “Micah, I am going to say the same thing I know your father would say to you.”

“What’s that, Ramon?”

“I know you took a furlough, but you shouldn’t go back. Your family needs you here.”

“I don’t intend to go back, Ramon. I do have to check on the captain’s family though. Now, quit jawing and let’s get some sleep. Soon Ramon began to snore.

Later, Micah could hear Ruthie whimpering inside. “Damn it, Ramon, how can they sleep with that girl carrying on so?” He didn’t know how to put the thought into words. He had seen hard things in the war, but never something like this. Do you think they . . .”

Ramon turned over on his stomach and raised up on his elbows. The waning moon still gave enough illumination to make out the rim of hills to the west and the cottonwood trees along the O’Connor’s creek. He sighed, “Yes, they did. I’ve never known of Comanches or Kiowas not violating a woman they take. The Comanches and Kiowa have a story they tell. A war party of fifty warriors captured a white woman. The one who captured her took a fancy to her and wanted to keep her as his wife. The others came to him and said, ‘You are not a war chief. You must share the woman with us equally before you can claim her as your wife.’

Well, they all raped her, all fifty of them. When they were finished, one said, ‘Now, you can claim her as your own property.’ The warrior who had taken the woman said, ‘I do not want her now that you have all had her.’ So, they left her to die on the prairie.”

“That story don’t make no sense to me at all, Ramon.”

“Of course not, but it would if you were a Comanche.”


Chapter Sixteen: The Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Sixteen: Takes White Horses

Takes White Horses, the Kiowa leading the war party, stopped his horse and looked back on their trail, searching for the presence he felt.  His eyes followed the trail of their horses’ hoof prints until the sign faded.  They had left an obvious trail for the man or men following.  In his heart he could hear the hoof-beats of another rider’s horse.  Who was this hunter, this hunter of men?  Why is he following?  Is he alone?

            He touched the amulet around his neck and quirted his horse forward.  He understood such men.  He felt it had to be someone whose destiny was connected to the woman.  While the others had already taken her, he could not—could not because she wore the face of death.  But whose? Her own?  His?  The two drunken ones riding with him? All of them?

            He knew that the hunter on their trail would wear the ghost face too.  He knew instinctively that he would be the kind of man who even in the spirit world remains a hunter and returns to the world when it is dark as a malevolent or vengeful spirit.  Such men never rest.  Not in this world, nor in the next.  He thought about abandoning the two with him and riding west, to leave the woman with the two and leave them all to their fate.  He cursed himself for letting them take the bottles of the white man’s fool-water.  They had already drunk two jugs, and there was no sign of the empty bottles. Evidently they had cast them aside on their trail, just as certainly their own bodies would be discarded if this hunter finds them.  He slowed and watched them as they leered at the girl. They were already talking of stopping and taking her again.  They would not understand his insight into the hunter following them.   Even as they rode, they tormented and abused the girl, laughing at her cries. Both were too drunk to listen to him.  They would not be able to travel the whole night as they should if they wanted to reach the Arbuckles and the safety of the tribe, but if they did not stop soon, the two would be falling off their horses.  They would have to stop and he would have to watch as these two warriors spent their strength on the girl and more liquor.

Again frustration ate into him. He had planned to take a long journey to Mexico, to kill, plunder, and return home a rich man, but after the message from the holder of the taime, the warriors he had wanted refused to go with him. The Kiowa priest with the taime had warned him to not come on this trip.  He said a ghost-man would search for him.   This ghost was not yet in the spirit world, when sinews no longer knit flesh and bones together, but his soul was already in the ghost world. Though Takes Whites’ Horses feared the spirit-man following them, he also hated him for being proof of the taime’s words.  Takes Whites Horses had sought guidance by chewing seni, peyote, and danced for six days before leaving, sharing the favors of the women, making a vow to go on a raid.  He had cut the flesh on his own breast to demonstrate to the others his courage and toughness. His hand touched the scar the cut had left.

Looking at the two with him, he regretted allowing his pride get the best of him. There would have been no shame in postponing his path of war until a more fortuitous time.  These two were willing to go with him under his leadership, but he could plainly see they lacked the judgment and discipline warriors need.  Tonight, he had suggested they raid other ranches, but they both wanted to return to the tribe with the girl and the three scalps and two horses and guns they had taken from the one ranch.

The girl wobbled on the horse like she was falling asleep.  He struck her bare back with his quirt.  He sharply warned her to not fall from her horse.

“Frederick, can we stop?” she said. The girl looked blankly at him.

Takes Horses looked at her.

He lashed her back again and repeated himself in Spanish. “No dormir.”

One of the other riders laughed. “The girl is crazy now, Takes Whites Horses.”

“I’m going to tell Erin you hit me again.” She laughed, leaned down and wrapped her arms around the horse’s neck.  “Can’t we stop and make a fire? I’m cold.”

Takes Horses realized he had made a mistake in bringing her this far. Her mind had already cracked. Texan women were beautiful, but they were fragile and weak.  They lacked the toughness and will of Kiowa women, and even that of the Mexicans. She had not been treated that roughly. Not in comparison with some.  This woman would not even make a fit slave. He thought of dumping her to the ground and letting those following have her.  They would likely give up their pursuit.  He decided to carry her on and give her to the camp upon his return as a trophy.  The Kiowa women could use her as they willed, to revenge themselves upon the whites for the members of the tribe lost to their diseases and guns.  The other members of the band had no doubt reached the camp in the Wichita Mountains with the other booty, and the camp would be preparing a celebration for his return.

            He guided the war party toward the harder ground.  We will see, he thought, if the spirit-man can read small sign. He resolved to wait outside the camp tonight for the spirit-man hunting them.  In the dark, where spirits meet and fight. The taime was wrong.  Takes White Horses feared no ghost man, and his hate for the white man was greater than his fear that the taime’s words were truth.  The war party had scalps, a captive, and two horses laden with goods they had taken from the white family.  It had been a good raid.  Tonight they would cross the river the white Texans would not cross.

*          *          *

With his rifle scope, Micah made out the Indians as they crossed the Red River.   The naked Garrison girl sat on a horse led by one of the warriors, her hands tied in front of her. “Well, there they are.  The girl is naked. Looks like she’s had a hard time of it.  What do you want to do, Ramon?  I can pick off the one in front if you want.”  Micah was half-afraid Chavez would tell him to shoot the girl.

“No.  They’ll kill the girl if we try to do anything now.  Let’s go to the edge of the Red, make sure they see us, and turn around.   The moon is full tonight. We’ll circle back and get them later.”

They paused at the edge of the banks of the Red River.  When they turned their horses around, the Kiowas began to whoop and taunt them.

“What are they saying, Ramon?”

“I don’t know.  I speak Comanche, but not Kiowa.  Their tongue is a lot like Apache, but I am certain that they insult us.”

They rode until they were sure they were out of sight, then they circled around and crossed the river downstream from where Ramon thought they would be camped. Micah picketed the horses in a thicket of blackjack oaks, and dumped all the grain they had left on the ground so the horses could forage.  They crept slowly along the banks of the river until they were close enough to hear the girl’s cries and the slaps and rutting that occasioned her grief. Another Kiowa was puking from the liquor, and in the moonlight Micah could see him on his hands and knees.  Micah started to move forward. 

Ramon touched his arm and whispered, “I only hear two, where’s the third one?  He could be already passed out, or he could be watching for us. Keep your eyes open and listen.”

            They eased closer until they could make out the shadow forms of two of the Kiowas.  Micah could see the white skin of the young girl on the ground.  Her moans were delirious and incoherent.   Micah counted the horses. Five.  Three small Indian ponies and two from the Garrison place.  That meant the third Indian was still with the group somewhere.  It troubled him that he could not detect him. He hoped they would find him drunk asleep on the ground. 

            Ramon leaned and whispered into his ear, “You stay here. Watch for the third one.”

Ramon walked into their fireless camp, a revolver in each hand, a Nagas-like demon who had come to claim souls and bathe in bloody moonlight.  One Kiowa was still kneeling and retching, the other was on the girl.  He shot the puking Kiowa twice in the face, and Micah heard skin and blood splatter the girl and the other Kiowa.  The other rose shakily to his feet and stumbled toward his weapons, but Ramon shot him three times in the back before he could reach them.  Ramon holstered the empty pistol and swapped his second one to his right hand as he backed into the shadow of a hickory.  “Micah, where is the third one?”

A shadow streaked past Micah, striking him on his shoulder with a war club.   The shadow whooped and ran on.  Micah fell to the ground.  He felt the muscles of his arm convulse and tighten.  The shadow had reached the horses.  With his left hand Micah raised his shotgun and fired each barrel, but he knew as soon as he had fired that he had missed, and the whooping Kiowa mounted a horse and rode off into the darkness.

Ramon knelt over the girl.  He raised her and wrapped her in one of the Kiowa’s blankets. “Come, niña. We must go home. Can you ride?”

The girl didn’t answer, but pointed at one of the dead Kiowas.

“I know, niña. I know.”

Micah walked over to them. “Sorry, Ramon, I missed him.  He clubbed me afore I could see him.”

“Well, two of them are dead anyway. Are you alright? Nothing broken?”

“My arm will be stove up a while, but I’m alright. How’s the girl?”

“She will be fine, I think.” Ramon broke open his pistol and loaded another cylinder.  “Let’s gather up the horses and girl and get away from here.  The Indian horses have halters, and the Garrison horses still have their bridles in their mouths.  One of them has a lariat we can use to tie the horses together.”

“What about the other Kiowa?”

“He’s long gone.  If he goes back to his camp, he’ll make up some story to explain himself.  My guess is that he will try to hook up with another band somewhere, bragging about he made coup on some armed white man in the dark.”

When they reached their own horses, Ramon used their lariats to connect the halters of the captured and recovered horses.  “Are we going to take the girl into Jacksboro?”

“No.  I think most of her family moved to Forth Worth when the Indian raids started, but she has a cousin who lives along the Trinity, right outside of Jacksboro. She married Frederick O’Connor.  Not long after you left, Frederick went up to Kansas and signed on with the Yankee Cavalry where his brother was.  He hasn’t returned yet.  Maybe you or one of your friends killed him.”

“If he was a Yankee, and I pointed my gun at him, I killed him. But he ain’t dead. I saw him in Camp Ford. He was a prisoner. ” 

Ramon pulled a shirt from his saddlebag and pitched it to Micah. “You better put this on her if she’ll put it on.”

He held the shirt out to Ruthie.  “Okay, Ruthie, you want to put this on?”

She shrunk away and tightened up into a ball. “No.  No.  No.”

“I ain’t gonna hurt you, girl. Put on the damn shirt.  She ain’t making no sense, Ramon.  She don’t want to put on the shirt, and I don’t feel right sitting looking at her like this.”

“She’s probably lost her mind over what she’s been through. Calm her as you would a horse.”

“I ain’t never been good with horses like you were.  Now you hold still, crazy girl.” Micah took one of her arms and inserted it into the sleeve of the shirt.  He did the same with the other, then poked her head through the opening.  Grasping her by the wrists, he lifted her arms so that Ramon’s huge shirt slipped down her body.  The shirt seemed to have a calming influence on her.

Micah hoisted her up to Ramon.  “She’s too crazy for me to ride with, and I don’t think she can ride on her own. You tote her on your horse till we’re sure she will be all right.  I’ll try to herd these no-good Kiowa horses along.”

The sun rose just as they crossed the Red River.  Ruthie rode between Chavez and Micah.  She stopped her horse. Micah drew alongside side of her. “What’s wrong, Ruthie?”

“I got blood on my face.” She laughed. “You do too. Injun blood.  See?”

Micah looked down into the water at his own bloody reflection.

Chapter Fifteen: the Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Fifteen: Ruthie Taken

As the Ranger caravan plodded slowly back to Jacksboro, they saw a plume of black smoke in the near distance.
“Smoke signals?” one ranger asked.
“No. It’s a house burning, “ Ramon said. “The Garrisons have a place along the Brazos. My guess is that it’s theirs.   Captain, we should make sure they are safe.”
“Let’s go there and check on them. Maybe they’re just burning brush. We need water anyway.”
“They ain’t burning brush this time of year, fool!” Micah said. “The Garrison’s are related to Erin.”
As the unit changed directions, using the smoke of the burning Garrison house as a mark, Ramon said, “There will be no one alive when we get there.”
“Why’s that?” Captain Howard asked.
“We call the Brazos the deadline for good reason. ”
“Let’s hope you are wrong.”
When the Rangers reached the Garrison farm, they found three charred bodies in the smoking cabin—a man, his wife, and one teenage boy.
“Anyone missing?” Captain Howard asked.
“They have a daughter too, Ruthie. She’s a little older than the brother.”
“Where is she? Is she hiding nearby?”
“I am sure they took her captive,” Ramon said.
“Aw, hell,” one Ranger said. “Always a step behind the damn Indians and a dollar short.”
“We need to go and fetch her back,” Micah said.
“We can’t pursue them with these wounded. We need to get them to a doctor before infection sets in and we lose one,” one of the walking Rangers said.
“I think someone should go and get her before she comes to harm,” Micah said.
“Well, why don’t you just hop on your horse and skedaddle after them.”
“Maybe I can get you a horse while I’m at it. Or maybe Jacob will loan you his and you can ride with me.
“He ain’t about to take my horse,” Jacob said. “He done traded his off to the Comanches.”
Ramon knelt and studied the ground. “This is not the same war party. There’s only three sets of footprints and the prints are wrong for Comanches—their feet aren’t as stubby as a Comanche’s would be. They put the girl on a horse, and it looks like they took a couple of the Garrison horses. They left early last evening. I think they’re headed toward the Red River. Means they’re probably Kiowa who came down the corridor.”
“Any volunteers want to go after them?” Captain Howard asked.
“Ramon and I will go,” Micah said. “Ain’t quite got Indian killing out of my system yet.”
“Ramon?” the captain asked.
“Yes, I will go. This boy is as crazy as his father was. I must stay with him.”
“I can kill the lot of them by myself once I find them. I only wanted you along so I wouldn’t lose their trail, Ramon.”
Captain Howard gathered a few haversacks from the men. “You can take whatever rations we have left. We can limp on back to Jacksboro. After I get these wounded men in and replenish our supplies, we’ll catch up with you.”
“We’ll likely be back by then,” Micah said.
“Stop at the Red River. We don’t have authority to follow them into Indian
Micah spat. “No one’s going to care where these Indians die.”
“Do you want to take the Tonkawas?” Captain Howard asked.
Micah, said, “Naw, I don’t reckon we’ll be eating any of these Kiowas anyways.”
Micah and Ramon followed the tracks and soon they were going directly north. Further on, they found an empty jug, one of them had thrown to the ground, then a torn blue calico dress.
“I reckon they’re drunk,” Micah said.
Ramon said, “If they found whiskey, they are. It’s either going to make them careless or real mean.”
“Why’d they throw down her dress?” Micah asked.
“They stripped her to humiliate her. It is what they do to female captives.” Ramon dismounted and studied the tracks. “One keeps doubling back. I think they know they’re being followed. We will need to kill him first if we can. He is their eyes and probably the leader. We’ll see if they pick up pace or head to harder ground. If they do, that’s a sign they know we’re coming up behind them.” He removed his felt hat and ran his hand through his black hair while he contemplated the terrain. “If they’re as drunk as I think, I’d guess they’ll lay up on the other side of the Red. We need to make up some time so we can catch them when they lay up.”