Risking life to save that of a stranger

(NOTE: This is the seventh part in a serial-type story about the origin of the Lone Ranger. In the last part, Tonto was recalling how he first met John Reid when they were boys.)

Tonto (continued)
“Wait! Stop!” John Reid shouted at his brother, Dan, and friend, Butch Cavendish.
The two either didn’t hear or else they ignored him as they pursued the fleeing Indians into the woods. John took off after them, pushing his horse hard and shouting for his brother and friend to stop. He finally caught up to them in a clearing where they had a man and his son cornered by an impassable thicket of brush. The Indian was brandishing a large knife and shouting something at the white men. He held his son behind him. Both had a look of fear and rage about them.
Dan and Butch got off their mounts and cocked their guns as they closed in on their captives.
“Dan, Butch, NO!” John shouted. “They’re not the ones. They didn’t do it!”
Dan stopped and turned his head to look at his brother. It was a near fatal mistake. The Indian charged him with his knife and Butch shot him in the chest, stopping him just short of Dan. The son let out a loud cry and began to charge at Butch.
Cavendish cocked his pistol and pointed it at the boy, who appeared to be only a year or two older than he was. He pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. That caused the boy to hesitate and Butch tried two more times to fire the gun, but it didn’t go off.
Dan was about to fire, but John arrived in time to pull back his arm and point the firearm into the air.
“What did you do that for?” demanded Dan.
At that moment, Butch bent over and picked up the knife the dead Indian had dropped. He and the Indian boy went after each other. John threw himself between the two, knocking the unarmed Indian back and taking Butch’s blade in his side. The wound was superficial. It was enough, however, to get Dan and Butch to turn their attention to him and leave the boy to escape back into the woods. As Dan patched his little brother’s wound, Butch apologized profusely and then got on John’s case for getting in the way and letting the Indian escape.
Several days later, John rode his horse back to the place where the encounter happened. This time he was alone. What was left of the small band had moved on. As he stroll through the clearing, recalling the events of the day, a movement in the trees caught his eye. He stood there and watched as the same Indian boy emerged from the woods and approached him.
“I had hoped you would come back,” he said to John. “I wanted to know why you saved my life after you attacked us.”
“The attack was a mistake. It shouldn’t have happened,” John said. “Our homes were attacked by Indians and we were seeking revenge when we found your tribe. My brother and friend attacked, but I realized your people were not the ones we were after. I tried to stop them. I’m sorry I was too late.”
The two spoke for a while, coming to terms and trying to understand one another. Finally, as it came time to part, John extended his hand.
“My name is John Reid and I am proud to be your friend,” he said.
The Indian took the hand and they shook.
“I am called Tonto,” he said.
Tonto took off one of his necklaces and placed it around John’s neck. It was a simple leather string with an intricately carved amulet on it.
“You are ‘Kemosabe’ and with this I will always know you,” he said.
“Kemosabe?” John said. “What does that mean?”
“It means ‘trusty scout.’ You are my trusted friend and this will help protect you on your trail in life,” Tonto said.
John turned to his horse and came back with a sheathed hunting knife. He handed it to Tonto.
“This is for you. I pray that you never have to use it against another human being,” he said.
Over the years the boys would encounter each other several more times. Dan and John eventually joined the Texas Rangers. Dan did so to become an Indian fighter. John was more interested in preserving justice and peace between the whites and Indians. It was that balance that made them a formidable team. Butch struggled to take on the man’s role in his family and saw his childhood come to an abrupt end when his father and brother died.
In the present time, Tonto looked up from the canyon floor and watched as the Lone Ranger and Butch Cavendish fought on almost the exact same spot where the ambush occurred 13 years earlier.
Stay tuned next week for the deadly conclusion of this Lone Ranger story.
(Copyright 2010, Joe Southern)


Tonto comes to the Lone Ranger's rescue

(NOTE: This is the sixth part in a serial-type story about the origin of the Lone Ranger. In the last part, Butch Cavendish and his gang had just ambushed the Texas Rangers.)

Three men rode into the canyon known as Bryant’s Gap. At least, that is what the white men called it. These men, however, were not white, but native. As they entered the canyon on a scouting expedition for game, they heard shots being fired a distance into the canyon. They dismounted upon hearing the shots and moved to the safety of a small grove of trees.
The youngest of the men scrambled up the gentle slope of the canyon near the grove to see what was happening. He returned about the time the gunfire ended.
“What do you see?” asked the oldest of the three.
“Many white men shooting guns into the canyon. I could not see what they were shooting,” the man answered.
A look of concern crossed the faces of his companions.
“I do not like it,” the older one said. “When white men shoot their guns, there is always trouble. We should leave before they find us.”
The third man finally spoke up.
“Ta-ha-ho-nee, I am not afraid of the white men. I think we should go see what they are shooting. Maybe they have killed some buffalo that we can take for food,” he said.
“No, Tonto. Where there are white men and guns there is trouble. I want no part of it,” Ta-ha-ho-nee said.
“What about you, Nay-yawa? Will you come with me or leave like Ta-ha-ho-nee?”
Nay-yawa was still unsettled by what he had seen. He clearly had no interest in getting closer to the white men and chose to go with Ta-ha-ho-nee.
“I will go and see what I can find,” Tonto said. “You should go and look elsewhere for food. I will see you back at the village.”
The men split up and Tonto rode cautiously into the canyon. By the time he reached the scene, the shooters were gone. All that was left in a sea of blood were the bodies of horses and men. Realizing the killers could return at any time, he set about quickly scavenging the bodies for anything of value, especially guns and ammunition. As he came up on the body of one of the men, he noticed the man was still breathing, but just barely.
Tonto drew his knife and held it to the neck wound intending to mercifully end the man’s misery. Just before he thrust his blade, he noticed the man’s necklace and a very familiar amulet attached to it.
“Kemosabe?” he said, looking closer at the man’s face.
He didn’t recognize the face behind the blood and bushy beard, but he did recognize the amulet. He had given it to a young white man several years ago as a gift for saving his life.
For the next several hours Tonto busied himself tending to the man’s wounds. As he worked, he thought back to the last time they had met. An Indian war party had attacked the Cavendish and Reid ranches. In addition to taking off with livestock and horses, they killed Mike Cavendish, along with his oldest son, Hank. James and Martha Reid were also killed. Their sons, Dan and John, were off hunting with Butch Cavendish and didn’t know about the raid until they returned to their homes that evening.
Butch found his mother weeping inconsolably over her husband’s body. The Reid brothers ran a gamut of emotion as they found the bodies of their parents and most of their animals gone. The next morning the three boys, now in their late teens, banded together and went in pursuit of the Indian raiders.
As they followed the trail, they came across a few stray cows and a couple of their horses. They lost time rounding up the animals and eventually the trail went cold. Heading in the general direction the raiders had gone, the boys came up on a small encampment of Indians.
Without hesitation, they galloped their mounts into the camp, charging in with guns blazing. Within the first 30 seconds, seven Indians were dead, including three women and two children. The tribe scattered and Butch and Dan rode after them. John stopped, slid off his horse, and picked up a quiver of arrows dropped by one of the dead men. He looked at the arrows and compared them to one that he had pulled from his father’s body. They were very different. These were not the killers.
(Copyright 2010, Joe Southern)


The Lone Ranger finally unmasked

(NOTE: This is the fifth part in a serial-type story about the origin of the Lone Ranger. In the last part, Butch Cavendish overheard the Reid brothers talking about their discovery of silver in an old cave.)

The Lone Ranger slowly climbed to his feet. He instinctively felt for his guns, forgetting that he lost them in the struggle with Butch Cavendish. One had fallen over the cliff and the other was several feet behind his nemesis, well out of reach.
Cavendish, who was unaware of the gun’s location and having lost his own sidearm, drew a knife from his boot.
“I don’t know who you are mister, or why you have it out for me, but you’re surely gonna pay for wreckin’ my life and sending me to rot behind bars. If it weren’t for you, I’d be living a dream. Now you’re gonna pay with your life,” sneered Cavendish.
“Wrecked YOUR life!” the Lone Ranger shouted with incredulity. “You killed my brother and my friends. I should have killed you when I had the chance, but I’m not like you. I value human life. I believe every man deserves a fair chance in life. You led that cowardly ambush on the Rangers. It was you who attacked us for no reason!”
Cavendish paused, the Ranger’s words echoing in his mind. “Brother? Us?” he thought. “What is he talking about? There’s no way anyone could know what happened down in the canyon below unless …”
“Who ARE you!” demanded Cavendish. “How do you know about the the Rangers?”
“I was there, Butch. I survived.”
At that the Lone Ranger reached up and untied the red scarf around his neck. Pulling it away, he revealed a nasty scar on his neck. The dim light of recognition began to form on Cavendish’s face.
Then the Lone Ranger reached behind his head and untied the strings to his mask, slowly pulling it off his face. Across the bridge of his nose was a scarred gouge.
“You did this to me 13 years ago,” he said.
“Reid!” Cavendish blurted. “It ain’t possible! You’re dead. I killed you myself.”
Both men could clearly envision the events that played out 13 years earlier in the canyon below. A group of six Texas Rangers, led by Capt. Dan Reid, trailed an outlaw by the name of Collins into the narrow canyon at Bryant’s Gap. Once the men were inside the narrow canyon, a hoard of outlaws appeared on the ridge and began shooting at the Rangers like so many fish in a barrel. Men and horses tumbled. A few of the Rangers were able to return fire, but their efforts were futile.
When all movement stopped on the canyon floor, Cavendish called a halt to the assault and led his men down into the heart of the carnage. The coppery smell of blood was overwhelming. Dead men and horses littered the ground. Collins came riding back and met up with the others as they surveyed the damage.
“Looks like you got ’em, boss,” Collins said. “Ain’t a one of ’em left alive, not even their mounts.”
Cavendish strode over to where two familiar figures lay. Even through the blood he could make out the faces of the brothers he used to call friends. All the Rangers had long, scruffy beards, as was the style and tradition of the lawmen. But what stood out the most was the mole on the bridge of John Reid’s nose. The mole always bothered Cavendish, but he never said anything about it. It made for immediate identification when he came upon the bodies.
“They’re not all dead,” Cavendish said as he eyed the rise and fall of John Reid’s chest.
Reid’s eyelids fluttered open and he gazed hazily at Cavendish. He tried to say the words, “Butch, why?” but nothing came out.
Taking careful aim with his rifle, Cavendish took a clean shot at the mole on Reid’s nose.
“Let’s see him breath through that,” he said as blood oozed from the new wound and the eyes closed.
Reid’s breathing became shallower, but did not stop.
“I’ll be danged if he ain’t still hangin’ in there,” said one of Cavendish’s men after a few moments of watching Reid’s bullet-riddled body.
“This’ll do it,” Cavendish said as he once again pointed his rifle at the dying Ranger.
He squeezed the trigger and a bullet tore through the beard and grazed across Reid’s throat.
“That’ll finish him,” he said.
Someone noticed a lone figure riding into the canyon from the far end. Before the rider could get close, Cavendish and his men made a hasty retreat before they could be recognized.
(Copyright 2010, Joe Southern)


The secret behind the silver mine

(NOTE: This is the fourth part in a serial-type story about the origin of the Lone Ranger. In the last part, Butch Cavendish was recalling his motivations for wanting to kill the Lone Ranger.)

The motive (continued)
As young Butch Cavendish walked along the side of the Reid’s barn in search of his friends, Johnny and Danny, he stopped, hidden in the shadows, as he overheard the two brothers talking. It was the evening of the day after their father had reluctantly purchased a portion of the Cavendish ranch, a portion that contained the “bear cave” the lads liked to play in. The sale of the land gave the struggling Cavendish family enough money to see them through a tough time.
“You know what’s in there, don’t ya Johnny?” Danny asked his younger brother.
“In the cave?” Johnny said. “There ain’t nothin’ in there ’cept a bunch of old rocks.”
“It’s more than just rocks. Haven’t you wondered what that gray stuff is in the walls?” Danny asked.
“It’s just mica. The stuff’s all over the place,” Johnny said.
Butch was about to come around the corner, but paused to listen some more.
“That ain’t mica, little brother,” Danny said. “I’m pretty sure it’s silver.”
“SIL…” Johnny started to blurt out before Danny’s hand clasped his mouth.
“Shh!” he admonished him. “Keep it quiet. No one can know, not even dad.”
“But why, Danny? Why do we have to keep it a secret? If that’s silver in there, then we’ll all be rich,” Johnny said.
“Think about it,” Danny said. “If I’m right and that is silver in there, then dad will just give the land back to the Cavendish’s. We won’t get any of it.”
“But isn’t that the right thing to do?” Johnny asked.
“Look, I know as well as anyone that Butch’s family really needs the money. But so does our family. If this drought continues another season, we’ll be as bad off as they are or worse. Besides, it’s Mr. Cavendish’s fault for not inspecting the land closer before selling it. I know that section is worthless for farming and ranching, but he should still know what he’s got. It’s his fault for being so careless,” Danny said.
“I see. Like always, you’re right, Danny,” Johnny said.
“Then it’s settled. This will be our secret. It will be our secret silver mine,” Danny said, offering his hand to Johnny in a solemn handshake.
As the bothers shook hands, Butch quietly slunk off away to be alone with his thoughts.
Years later, the brothers went on to be ranchers and part-time Texas Rangers. Cavendish, having carefully crafted his revenge for nearly a decade, had the band of six Rangers, including the two brothers, lured into the canyon known as Bryant’s Gap. There, he and his men ambushed and killed them all.
That left the land in the hands of the sole heirs, Linda and her young son Dan Jr. It also made Linda available once more for Cavendish with her husband, Dan Sr., dead in the desolate canyon. All Butch Cavendish had to do was woo the grieving widow to the alter and the woman of his dreams and the land of immense wealth would all be his.
That’s exactly the plan he had in motion when this masked cowboy and his Indian friend began hunting down Butch and his friends. He had no idea who they were and why they were hunting him and his pals down like dogs, but eventually everyone involved in the murders of the Ranger wound up in jail. Butch was the last one out when he decided to quit running and to take the offensive.
He set a trap and the Indian fell for it. With the masked man’s friend bound and gagged, the trap for the stranger was set with the Indian as bait. But the masked man didn’t bite. Instead of freeing his friend, the stranger sneaked up on Butch and the two engaged in a brief tussle before Butch broke free and took off riding hard on his horse.
Right on his tail, however, came the masked man riding on a huge, white horse. It didn’t take long before he overtook Butch and tackled him off his mount onto the hard, dusty ground. The two men fought, but the determined man in the mask seemed to fighting with an incredible strength, like a man possessed.
Badly beaten, the man captured Cavendish and hauled him to jail. That was the last time he saw the man. At his trial, his captor was nowhere to be seen. But enough hard evidence mysteriously surfaced to see that Butch and his cronies were convicted of the murders of the Rangers.
The case was strong, but the jury seemed to have enough doubt to not give the death penalty and to send the men to a life of hard labor in a state penitentiary. For 13 years Cavendish did hard labor, plotting revenge against the man who stole his hopes and dreams.
As motivated as Cavendish was, the man in the mask had an even greater motivation. Stay tuned next week to find out what it was.
(Copyright 2010, Joe Southern)