"Although some have supposed that there were no trees in Utah, that was not the case."Larry S. Sagers, Utah's Heritage Trees.
Very early the next morning, the watch was disturbed by a strange cry. At dawn, we investigated, and found that an entire Indian village had been wiped out during the night.
When I say an entire Indian village, I do not mean that every inhabitant was killed, but rather that the devastation was extreme. I will not go into details here - the very memory makes me weak.
And, of course, there are always survivors from this sort of calamity. Although this time they seemed to be precious few. In fact, just one. We found a young Indian 'squaw' (as they are termed) hiding in the bushes. When we tempted her out, and took her under our wing, so to speak, we found out that she called herself "Seizing the Dark". Many of the natives have such poetical names. Their lilting, allogorical sound makes a strange contrast to their savage, ruddy faces.
I must admit that at first I thought her name was "Season the Dark". My, didn't I have a hearty chuckle when I discovered my misunderstanding.
We regrouped at the ruined coach, waiting for our faithful driver, "Wrong Way", to return with succor and assistance. However, it seemed that there had been some miscommunication. My companions were not sure if our rescue was to be affected today or tomorrow. Indeed, our native companion was quite sure that we would never be rescued at all!
This did have one advantage, in that it gave us more chance to determine the cause of last night's savage attack. It seemed that my initial surmise - that it was the result of a battle for surpremacy between the men of the tribe - was not going to stand up to scrutiny.
In fact, at first it was not clear what had caused all this distruction. Seizing the Dark had a confused story about stabbing a huge man, or a creature. There were some slashes which might have been weapons, or perhaps claws. It wasn't clear until we examined the tracks. Then the story was writ large, for all to see.
The only tracks of significance were those of a large bear and some horses. Following them a little way, it became clear that a huge bear had attacked the camp, and some of the Indians had made their escape on horseback. We decided to follow the bear. After all, it was probably wounded, and could go rogue if we didn't put it down.
However, we were soon to discover that we were not tracking a bear at all. After some time, the bear tracks suddenly became human tracks. My companions are a superstitious lot, and do not have the advantage of a scientific, rational process for investigating such mysteries. While they were panicing and coming up with fanciful solutions, I drew out that handy implement, the razorblade of William of Occam.
The assailant had been a man, but had confused us by representing himself as a bear. I suspect that he had a pair of bear's paws on sticks, which he had been carefully placing on the ground to hide his own tracks. Once he was away from the scene of his darstardly crime, he forsook such subterfuge, prefering speed.
Indeed, his tracks soon led to a cave, where we came across evidence of recent habitation. Unfortunately, we had just missed him - the cave was bare (if you will pardon the pun). In exploring the cave, however, my companions were rather frighted by a snake, which appeared to have slithered into a crack at the back of the cave. I was able to put their fears at risk by applying a little old world hunting know-how. Both barrels of my trusty fowling piece were soon discharged into the crack. I assured my companions that such an onslaught, if it hadn't destroyed the wyrm completely, would assuredly discourage it from returning.
While our ears were still ringing from that excitement, Hank was attacked by our villian. I didn't see the attack, but Hank swore that he had been attacked by a man, who had then turned into an eagle and flown away. He had shot the eagle, but (of course) there was no evidence to be found.
I believe that the strain of the events in El Paso have been too much for poor Hank. In a desperate attempt to assuage his conscience, he had inflicted this grevious wound on himself, and made up this story. As we settled down for the night, I resolved to keep a 'suicide watch' on Hank. I fear for his sanity, and his safety.
Of course, it was during the night that we were really attacked. The native life, and the native, prefer the cover of darkness. It was, indeed, a huge bear that attacked us. My memory flew back to that night last November, when we had also been attacked by a savage grizzly bear. Displaying the same sort of heroism that had done on that previous occasion, I marched directly up to the beast, stuck my barrel against its gut and fired.
And, once again, it did not fall! This ferocious creature had recieved a tomahawk to the skull, a shotgun blast to the gut and been peppered with handgun bullets. Yet, like the previous bear, it kept moving. In fact, it kept moving long enough to nearly rip my arm off as it flung me to one side.
Finally, though, it did fall. And then our mystery was revealed. It was not a bear at all, but an old Indian, dressed in the bear's skin. Cunning devil, he had used this ruse to confuse us when we were following his trail, and then used it again to strike fear into our hearts and protect himself from our blows. The bear pelt must afford some natural protection to gunshot, I suspect. When I am recovered, I must investigate this further.