The Scout

                          Aviva Smith

 

 

It was getting too hot for them in Wyoming and Colorado so Heyes had suggested that they branch out for a while until things cooled down. They hit different towns in different states for several months.  They had had a good run and Heyes had picked one last big bank to rob before they headed back home.  Heyes had picked the First National Bank of Carthage to be their last hit in Utah.  Everything had gone well, Kid, having cased the bank earlier, planned and executed the take over of the bank so well that not a single shot was fired.  There was a minimum of customers and those that were there, after seeing Kid draw his gun, obeyed his exact instructions without so much as a grumble.  Heyes had opened the Brooker 202 in less then 50 minutes and the take was well over thirty thousand dollars. They had a good couple of hours head start before the town was able to round up a posse. 

 

Everyone was very pleased and the gang decided to split up, take different routes before meeting up back at the Hole. Kid and Heyes started off together but after realizing that the majority of the posse had decided to follow them, they decided that it would be best for them to split up and meet again later when they were free of the posse. Kid headed North and Heyes went South.

 

 Heyes was able to shake the posse pretty quickly but just to be safe, he stayed off the trail for the next few days until he was just a few miles from Spring Hill, the agreed upon meeting place.  Spring Hill was a nice quiet little town and the folks were pretty friendly.  He booked a room at the hotel, had a bath, shave and then a meal and then he went to the saloon to play a little poker while he waited for Kid. Kid in the mean time was having a terrible time.  He just couldn’t get away from that posse. No matter what he did, where he went, no matter how many times he backed tracked, went in circles or brushed away his tracks, he just could not get rid of them. He was tired, frustrated and very hungry.

 

While Heyes was winning at poker, not too much to scare off the other players but enough to keep his interest, he got to talking with some of the other players.  For a cover, he told them that his name was Rob Brooker and that he was a scout for a wagon train and that he had just finished a trip to California and was now on his way back to St. Louis where he would pick up another group but first he was going to visit with his married sister who was over in Colorado.  Heyes kept the other players at the table by telling them tale after tale of his exploits on the trail and had them rolling on the floor with stories of the greenhorns.

 

It was his third day in Spring Hill and Heyes was not concerned that Kid had not shown up yet.  He was at what had become his usual table with a large group of players, none of them minding losing, they felt it was fair enough that they paid a bit for being entertained so well, when all of a sudden, the Sheriff and deputy ran in with a couple of trail dirty and exhausted men.  Apparently these men had been part of the posse trailing that notorious gang that had been robbing the banks in their area.  The tired men sat down and drinks were brought to them, everyone gathered around as the told of how they had been tracking this one outlaw and though they kept getting very close they were never able to catch him. They described him as being unnaturally wily.  They said that they and the rest of their group were completely exhausted and they had come to Spring Hill to get more men who were fresh to help them get this tricky varmint.  They knew that they were close and he had to be as tired as they were so it should be fairly easy. 

 

All the men in the saloon were excited and eager to join the posse and get that no good bandit, everyone that is but Heyes. He was heartsick to hear that his friend and partner was being hunted so persistantly and was having such a hard time.  He was feeling guilty that he was so well rested and with a full belly.  He was planning to sneak out after the posse left, get some supplies, find Kid and help him get away.  That was his plan, but his new friends would have none of that.  They told the Sheriff how lucky they were that they had this experienced scout with them.  They told him that good ole Rob Brooker could find anything anywhere, anytime and that he would be able to lead them and with Rob in charge, that outlaw was as good as found!  There was no way that Heyes could back out. He cursed himself for telling all those stories and he cursed himself for not being able to come up with a good excuse for the Sheriff as to why he couldn’t join the posse.

 

The men headed out to the stables and started getting the horses ready.  The men from the original posse gave Heyes and the Sheriff directions to where the rest of the posse was.  There was no chance for Heyes to escape.  They headed out and after several hours met up with the old posse.  Those men were totally exhausted but felt that they were just about to close in on their prey.  They pointed out to a narrow canyon where they were sure he was hiding.

 

  In truth, Kid was in the canyon, hidden in a tight little crevice, barely big enough for him and his horse.  He was so exhausted, miserable and hungry that at this point he was making a stand. He could not go any further. He had boxed himself in between two huge boulders He hoped that the posse would not be able to find him but if they did, he was either going to shoot it out with them or was going to turn himself in. He hadn’t completely decided that yet.  He figured he would make that decision when he had to.  At least if they caught him he would get some food and rest.  He could not believe how persistent the posse had been.  It was as if they had anticipated his every move. He only hoped that Heyes had been able to lose the group that was following him and that he was all right.  Kid knew that if he was caught, and the chances of that happening were getting better by the minute, Heyes and the boys would be able to free him.

 

Meanwhile, back with the posse, Heyes had been doing some thinking.  He knew that Kid was in the canyon, the posse was good and the canyon would have been Kid’s only choice.  Kid might have had a chance before against the few tired men but now with so many more men who were fresh and well fed, Kid would not stand a chance.  Heyes immediately took charge, started rallying the men together and leading them down the back trails into the canyon away from where he thought Kid would have gone.  He kept pointing out broken branches and scratches on the rocks, going into long explanations of how they had occurred by the outlaw brushing against that branch while walking his horse and how “ya see that chipped rock?  Well that’s from the outlaws horse stepping hard on a stone and it shooting out and hitting this here rock and there by chipping it so we are definitely hot on that outlaws trail”!  Heyes kept up that incessant chatter while leading the group deeper and deeper into the canyon.

 

Kid, who had been peering out a crack between the boulders, saw the posse moving away from him.  As he continued to watch he saw that it was Heyes at the lead.  As exhausted as he was, Kid broke out in a huge grin and laughed out loud.  He continued to watch his friend lead the group of men farther and farther away from him and as soon as he had the chance he led his horse out of the crevice out of the canyon and was soon on his way to Morganford which was the other town they had agreed to meet at if the either of them had had any problems getting to Spring Hill.

 

As the posse roamed aimlessly throughout the canyon with Rob Brookers’ constant encouragement’s “any minuet now boys, we just about got him, see the way those rocks are laying there looking totally undisturbed?  We are dealing with a master of deceit here, tricky devil, he laid them that way so’s that we would think he didn’t come this way, but we know better, we almost have him ” and other such nonsense, they came upon some cougar tracks.  The group of men had started to get discouraged, not that they doubted Rob’s expertise or anything, oh no, not at all, but they had been roaming around the canyon for hours under the blazing hot sun and not one of them had been able to pick up on any of the obvious signs that the outlaw had been leaving them and they were feeling pretty useless.   So when they saw the cougar tracks they felt their confidence pick up.  They knew that a cougar had been attacking some of the outlying homes, killing livestock and any children or pets that were unfortunate enough to be out unprotected.  The homesteaders had become virtually prisoners for months. No one had been able to catch it.  The men of the posse were able to persuade Brooker of the importance of catching the cougar so that the homesteaders would be free again and that they could go after one little old bank robber who hadn’t actually hurt anyone later.   Rob Brooker reluctantly agreed and the men started off after the cougar, which they were able to trap and kill before nightfall.  The men returned to town victorious, the cougar corpse slung across Brookers’ horse.

 

In the morning, the men from the original posse were completely disgusted when they found out that the towns’ people had given up on the outlaw to go after a cougar instead.  They knew that there absolutely no way that they would ever be able to pick up the outlaws trail and catch him so they saddled up and rode off cussing and spitting and grumbling as they left.   The people of Spring Hill paid them no mind, they were thrilled that the cougar had been caught and was no longer terrifying everyone.  They were so thankful to Rob Brooker that they proclaimed him to be “The Champion Tracker of All Southern Utah” and gave him the bounty on the cougar.  They tried to get him to stay and were very sorry when he said that he had to leave town that day as he was already late and his poor sister would be worrying about him but he thanked them kindly and tipped his hat and winked at the ladies as he rode off to meet his partner.