|Chapter 4: The
Englishman and the Bandits
While we were at Pete King Ranger Station a large Englishman by name of Todhunter appeared upon the scene from up the Locksaw River where a trail was being built for the first time.
The fellow was excitement personified, and told of some bandits who had fled up this trail to escape capture and who would leave no man alive to expose their whereabouts. He stayed with us overnight and lit out for home the next morning, saying that he had news of his father's sickness.
Knowing that there had been no mail since his arrival, we investigated, and discovered the following story.
This burly Englishman stood well over six feet, was well built and announced himself upon all occasions as being from Washington State College, better known as W.S.C. He was patronizing, loud mouthed and not a little tiresome. He probably had held sway in the trail camp, chiefly on account of his size. One morning he came into the cook shack, and gave a surly answer to the cheery "Good morning" offered by a little Indian. The latter resented this insult and struck him in the face, ordering him outside to fight it out. The Englishman was cowed and showed yellow.
The news spread at once about the camp. A campaign was started at once to play on the yellow streak. The cook announced that, while washing dishes at the creek, a gun was pressed against the back of his neck and he had been forced to surrender all the food he had baked. Also all ammunition. Said the bandits threatened to kill them all if there was evidence of failure to deliver all cartridges to them. One fellow had a large-caliber rifle which he defiantly shot (one eye on the now white-faced Englishman). The ranger insisted upon sleeping in the door of the shack to forestall an ambush at night. Two men stole out of the tent and allowed their cigarettes to glow where the party of the first part could discover them.
The next morning, our burly friend sold his pack horse to the little Indian for a song. He himself told how he spurred his horse to a lather, losing his cooking equipment and other items on the way, and had not paused to rest or eat until he reached our camp at sundown.
Thus had the mighty fallen. I should like to hear him tell this story to his now possible grandchildren, for probably by now his heroism has been recuperated and the scares have grown to a luxurious splendor. The above, however, is the accurate story, as far as I am aware, and I witnessed his own version.
While there at Pete King, I had to drive a cayuse seven miles up the Locksaw River to deliver a harness. I just about had to drag the beast those seven miles. Being very tender footed, I did not realize that the horse would go home willingly. Before I knew it the imp of Satan trotted home, leaving me to hoof it back again.
The residents up these river trails go to the trail for their news. They are well acquainted with the tracks of every horse or man that passes. No bandit who knew his onions would ever seek privacy in that country, day or night. They would tell the speed he was going, the time of day, his weight, age and brand of tobacco juice.