Three cowboys making their way across country run into trouble.
|"Ya know, Kilkenny, a fella once tole me Sam Platte was the best man with a gun he ever see'd." He took a swallow of his coffee and looked across the campsite to where Platte stood, brushing his mount down, patting the animal's side affectionately. Platte was talking to the horse, but was too far away for Cherry to make it out. He looked back at Kilkenney and shook his head. "Never tole me he was a nigger though."
"Fast is fast," Kilkenney, shrugged. "And a bullet don't care what color you are. That in mind," he motioned to the horses, "you might want to watch your mouth."
Cherry made a face, "For what? Aw hell, I ain't mean nuthin by it. Shit, I was raised 'round niggers. Played with'em, chopped cotton, cracked corn and worked the fields with'em side by side. Shoot, the first gal I ever had was this little piece of chocolate pie all us boys helped ourselves to from time to time," he smiled at the memory then spat into the fire. "He can't hear me from over here no how."
"I hear ya," Sam said over his shoulder, still brushing his mount. "I'm bettin' them Kiowas been doggin' our trail all day can hear you too."
Cherry started, sitting up and scanning the darkness around them, his eyes darting back and forth. Killkenney did the same only slower before getting up and walking casually over to Sam, hands in his pockets, making a point of not looking around or appearing agitated.
"You sure them's Kiowas Sam?" he asked, rubbing the neck of his bay. "I mean, isn't this Cheyenne country?"
Sam nodded. "It is, but I seent them and recognize the paint on their horses. Heard'em too. Couple of them bird call's is Kiowas."
"You sure?" The fear in Cherry's voice was plain. "How you know who it is? Could be Cheyenne, Sioux or Pawnee for all you know. Hell, it could just be birds."
"You ever track or been tracked by Sioux or Pawnee?" Sam asked.
Cherry shook his head, "No."
"How 'bout Cheyenne?"
Cherry shook his head again.
Sam resumed his brushing, "Well, I have and I know the difference. Them's Kiowas and they followin' us."
Kilkenney stretched, taking the opportunity to look into the darkness around the campsite. "How do you think we ought to play this Sam?" he rubbed the bay's muzzle, the horse nickering at his touch. "Too dark for us to make a run for it."
Sam nodded, "Pro'bly break our necks if we did anyway." He sighed. "Since they haven't introduced theyselves yet, I'm thinkin' they got a mind to just take our horses and supplies. Figured we'd take turns standin' watch. Hobble the horses and hope they don't want'em bad enough to make a fight of it."
Cherry called over, "I thought they'd don't attack at night."
Sam snorted, "Who tole you that?"
Cherry shrugged, "Everybody I know knows anything about injuns."
Sam shrugged, "You willing to bet your scalp on that?"
Cherry didn't respond.
Sam looked at Kilkenney, "Keep your guns close. I already put a lil' sumthin for'em in my scatter gun and I'll finish seein' to the horses and take the first watch."
"Hell, I ain't goin' to sleep," Cherry mumbled. "Not now."
"In that case, you take the first watch," Sam said. "More likely than not, if they plan on doin' sumthin' it'll be at dawn. Best rest up 'til then."
"What if you're wrong Sam?" Kilkenney asked.
Sam smiled, even white teeth showing, "Well then, it's been nice knowin' you."