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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Finished Product--Aaron's Pony Express Story

Today I woke up at six o’clock. John was making breakfast in the fireplace. I’ve lived here ever since I joined the Pony Express and each day is the same: eat breakfast, saddle a pony, grab the mochilla, and I’m on my way to the next station fifteen miles away. But my work is never boring. No way! Some of the time I have to outrun bands of Indians and sometime I get stuck in a blizzard. The wind howling around feels like a knife on my face. That is much easier to bear than out running the Indians. Our grain-fed ponies are supposed to be faster than their grass-fed ones.

Anyway to get back to the story, John, my partner, was making breakfast. “Good mornin’, Will,” he said cheerfully. “ Ready to ride again?” he asked.

“I guess so,” I said. It was my fourth week there and I was finally getting used to it.

After breakfast I went to the corral and chose a brown sorrel. John brought out the mochilla, the leather pouches that hold the mail, and put it on the saddle.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Will,” he said. “It’s fifteen miles to the next station,” he stated, handing me my colt revolver.

“ Don’t worry,” I said. “ I’ve done this before.”

“Yes,” John broke in, “ but today you are passing through Blackfoot territory.”

“ I know,” I said, trying to hide the fear in my voice, “but you yourself said that if I looked around, rode fast, and shot straight I would be all right.”

“Yes, I know,” said John, “ but I just wanted to remind you.”

“Okay,” I said and galloped away. I rode for about thirty minutes when I heard a deafening war cry. I looked behind me and saw a sight that sickened me. A band of Blackfeet Indians were riding at top speed. Each of them were painted with war paint and had a spear in his hand. I didn’t take time to notice anything else. I dug my heels in the horse’s sides and ran off.

As I was running I checked to see that my revolver was loaded and ready to shoot. Looking up I could see the Indians gaining on me. I thought my horse could out- run any Indian horse! What could the problem be? I soon discovered that my horse was missing a shoe.

I did the only thing I could do. I led my horse over to a large rock and hid him behind it. I climbed up the rock and steadied myself, took my revolver out of my belt and took aim. The shot rang out. An Indian fell off his horse, obviously dead. The attackers still came on. I took aim again and shot. Another fell to the ground but he appeared to be only wounded.

They were very close now. I began to shoot rapidly. Three more fell to the ground before I was surrounded. Nothing could save me now. They forced me to climb down the rock. Two Blackfeet warriors shoved me to the ground. They bound my hands behind my back with a piece of rope. The warrior that I had wounded staggered forward holding his leg. Yelling furiously, he picked up a heavy stick and before anyone could stop him, he raised it above his head and brought it down fast. That is all I remember.

When I came out of my unconsciousness I realized that I was in a tepee. I was tied to a pole. My head was aching terribly and hurt every time I moved it. The buffalo skin hanging over the doorway was lifted and two warriors came in. They untied me and shoved me out of the teepee.

There was an angry crowd of people outside. The warriors took me behind the tepee where we met another crowd of warriors and braves. They all stood in two rows and they were all holding clubs. I could only guess what they were about to do.

I was going to run the gauntlet! I knew enough about it to be very scared. I had to run between two lines of men while they reached out and hit me with the clubs. The chief came forward and spoke to the crowd and pointed to me. An uproar went up from the crowd as two men pushed me to the front of the line. There was nothing for me to do except run through and hope for the best.

Taking a deep breath, I ran forward as fast as I could go. The heavy blows from the clubs were too much to bear. I collapsed to the ground, but after a few seconds got up knowing I would surely die if I stayed there. The pain increased as I ran
along. The savages were hitting with all their might. It seemed as if the line of Indians would never end. It felt like every bone in my body was broken.

At last I burst out of the long line, falling to the ground. I had survived within an inch of my life. The chief came forward and motioned for the braves to lift me up. He stared at me for awhile as if wondering what to do with me. Finally, he grunted and released me. They gave me my horse back while I made sure they had left the mochilla on. Everything was in good condition. Except me.

Painfully, I swung up in my saddle and went on my way. I still had to get the mail to the next express station.

When I finally arrived, the station master took me in and made me lie down on a cot. “I’ll bring a doctor right away,” he said.

When the doctor walked in he felt of me to see if I had any broken bones. It turned out that I had two broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, and a dislocated hip. He asked me what had happened. I told him the whole story. He said he didn’t know how I survived. He put splints and bandages on my wounds and said with a couple of days rest I would feel better, but it would be a long time before I would fully recover.

Likely, I wouldn’t be riding in the Pony Express any more, but I was grateful I was able to ride at all. I would be leaving for home soon in California. I will always remember riding for the Pony Express.

2 comments:

Raising Olives said...

What a great story. Do you use IEW?

Anita,

I wanted to let you know that I've moved my blog to raisingolives.com, that way you can change your link if you want.

Thanks,
Kimberly

Anita said...

Hi, Kimberly. We don't use IEW. I have considered purchasing it, but would need all levels. We have decided just to write!

I think I changed your blog address over last night or either this morning. I will check to make sure the change went through. Some of the IT guys that work with my husband think I need to switch to my own domain, but I just got this figured out. Don't know that I want to learn something else right now!!! Your blog is looking good and you are sharing great stuff!!

Anita

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