Monday, May 31, 2021

The "List"

I'm hoping you have heeded Sarge's "guidance" and are having a peaceful and reflective Memorial Day..  It will not surprise me to find that this is so with our readers. 

I found it interesting at Mass yesterday as the Deacon is leading us in the Prayer of the Faithful, his voice started wavering as he offered up a prayer "for those who moved into your care while serving in the Armed Forces".  Took him a few tries to get through it.  Looked around and there were quite a few people wiping their eyes.

All Veterans.

Mrs J and I were among them.  We all know people who didn't get the opportunity to retire.

So, here's my list.

1. Joe.   Was my Flight Commander in ROTC and graduated a year ahead of me.  Graduated from UPT and was assigned to an F-111. Guidance system in his jet failed one night and flew him and his WSO into a mountain in New Mexico.

2. Rocket.  When I was Flight Commander in F-15s, he was one of my guys .  Died in a freak mid-air collision with another F-15. That one still leaves a mark.

3. Marty.  Army LTC.  My point of contact on the Army Staff at the Pentagon when I was on the Joint Staff.  Good guy, Funny, quick with a joke, but always came through with what he said he could do.  (Not a common trait in the Pentagon.)  Dropped dead of a Heart Attack at his desk.

4. Harry. USMC LtCol.  He'd been my advisor in SAMS for my thesis.  The subject was "Proper employment of Tactical Airpower".  Suffice it to say, he didn't always agree with my recommendations on using Marine air in conflicts.  He listened well, fought hard, countered well and agreed when needed.  The document was infinitely improved by his inputs.  Left Leavenworth and took command of a Battalion  at Camp Pendleton.  Drowned while trying to rescue one of his Marines caught in a flash flood.  

5.  Ross.  One of my students in the IP upgrade program at Holloman.  He'd been an A-10 pilot and had a bit of a rough time learning how to teach air to air.  Not surprisingly, he was quite skilled at teaching strafing.  Made it through the upgrade program and was assigned to one of the other squadrons.  Lived with his new bride across the street from me.  Killed in a mid-air when the solo student in the other aircraft lost sight pulling lead for a gunshot and didn't inform Ross of that fact.  Both students and Ross were lost.

None were lost in combat.  I have three more on my list that were. Many of you also will know some that have and will remember them.  As it should be.  The ones I'm remembering today were lost either training for combat or supporting that training.  Since the best way to minimize losses in Combat is to train as hard as possible for it forcing the folks looking for trouble to think twice before engaging us, IMHO, that justifies remembering them.

Enjoy your barbecue and beer today.  They would have and that's as it should be.

But remember, it's a whole hell of a lot more than a "...long weekend."


Sunday, May 30, 2021



They were people, just like you and me.

They had hopes, they had dreams, they had people who loved them.

One day they went out to do their duty...

And never came home.

Remember them, say their names...

I remember these fine men, always, but particularly at this time of year.

I knew some, I miss them all.

Captain Carroll F. LeFon, Jr.
United States Navy
Lance Corporal Kurt E. Dechen
United States Marine Corps
Major Taj Sareen
United States Marine Corps
Lieutenant Nathan T. Poloski
United States Navy
Private Robert Bain
Royal Scots Fusiliers
(No photo available)

Private First Class Albert J. Dentino,
United States Army

Photo courtesy of Kris in New England

When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Their Tomorrow, 
We gave Our Today

- John Maxwell Edmonds 

Saturday, May 29, 2021


A 17-year cicada, Magicicada, Robert Evans Snodgrass, 1930

Brood X.

Holy crap they are loud.

I remember cicadas from one humid summer in Korea.

Nothing like this.

The noise is a constant hum in the distance, then the ones close in start up. Racket doesn't quite describe it.

Discarded exoskeletons everywhere.

Holy cow!

Makes your head ache it does.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Down South


Blogging may be light the next cuppla...

I'm not far from that lovely scene depicted above, enjoying time with The Nuke, Tuttle, and their kids, my grandkids (who really need callsigns).

Holiday traffic was, as expected, not great. Instead of a six and a halfish hour drive, it was like eight. Groan. But Blue handled it like a champ, for a big vehicle she gets great mpg, close to 29 if I don't drive like a maniac. 27 if I do. Got 27 on the way down. 😁

But I'm here, time to kick back and enjoy life.

The tale of pre-Revolutionary times will continue - when I get the urge. The Muse is talking about blue crab and the like.

Guess she doesn't feel like working either.

Enjoy the weekend.

Remember, when Monday rolls around, why we get that day off.

I will.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Storm


Molly Henderson sighed with relief when they came to the river. She could tell by it's expanse that it was the Cannitticutt and not some tributary of New England's largest river. She wondered what the Indian would do next.

He had tried to convey his name to her, it sounded something like "Awasosis¹." She managed to convey her own name back to him, which he pronounced with an emphasis on the second syllable, "Ma-LEE." Her reasoning for telling him her name was that if he saw her as a person, a fellow human, then perhaps she might yet survive this 'adventure.'

Short Bear surveyed the river for a moment, then he gestured for Molly to hide herself in the brush. By now she knew to listen to him so she got under cover and made herself as comfortable as she could, she might have to wait quite some time. As usual he slipped away with no more sound than a gentle breeze might make in the long grass.

Short Bear was looking for something to cross the river with, a canoe, even an older one, would be just the thing, but he doubted he would be that lucky. A log would work just as well, the current here was placid, the yellow hair girl, Ma-LEE he grinned, could hold onto the log while he swam them across. It might be dangerous but remaining on the western bank of the Great River was dangerous in and of itself. He had seen more sign of a large party headed east.

He wondered where they might cross, or would they sweep up river along the bank and destroy any Abenaki villages they found? Short Bear was convinced that the war party was Mohican.

Long Cat of the Mohican paused and sniffed the air, the wind was from the north, he could swear that he smelled wood smoke. A village? Maybe a small forest fire, but there had not been any of the great lightning storms for over a week now, so he suspected a village.

"Red Bear, Otter Who Can't Swim, go north for a half day, no more, we shall camp here. I sense a nearby village, find it if it is there. The sachems have promised our English brothers many scalps, the Abenaki and their Wyandot allies want war. We shall give them war."

The two warriors loped off, they could cover twenty miles in a half day, if there was a village it would be near water, either the Great River itself or one of its tributaries. It should be easy to find the village. The trick was not to allow the villagers to find them!

Short Bear returned to Molly and motioned for her to follow him. He didn't speak much at all, she knew that he had a few words in French, as did she, but when she thought to tell him the English words for things, he paid no attention. For her this was something of an adventure, though one fraught with peril. She didn't realize that for him it was a matter of life and death.

He led her to where there was a partially submerged log on the river bank. She knew right away what he had in mind, and she was terrified. She couldn't swim a stroke, what if she fell in? She feared that she would die in the big river flowing past them.

Still, she helped him get the log fully into the river, he showed her how to lay on the log so that she wouldn't fall off. She thought about the log rolling and throwing her into the river. What if this Awasosis couldn't swim either?

Short Bear saw her trembling and thought for a moment. He set his weapons down on the bank then slid into the river. With powerful strokes he swam quite a ways out into the river, then back. Then he pointed at the log again and said, "Très facile, oui?²"

Comforted by the knowledge that he could indeed swim, she managed to climb onto the log, lying down carefully, she grasped two broken stubs of branch and closed her eyes. She was trembling as she did so. She nearly fainted when she felt his hands on her back. She nearly jumped off, then she realized that he was placing his bow and his sheath of arrows on her back. She realized that he needed to keep those dry, so she relaxed. somewhat.

Pushing the log out into the river, Short Bear began to push the log across, propelling it with just his legs. The current was pushing them downriver, but he had anticipated that, he was aiming for a part of the bank diagonally from where they had entered the river.

Towards the center of the river the current was a bit stronger, he didn't panic, he simply adjusted his aim toward the far bank, they would come ashore further downriver but the bank was still easy.

Red Bear came into the open, very near the Great River, Otter Who Can't Swim right behind him. Otter 
Who Can't Swim grunted and pointed, unslinging his bow as he did so. Red Bear looked in that direction, there, climbing out of the river was an Indian, accompanied by a woman of the whites. Her yellow hair gave her away.

As Otter Who Can't Swim notched an arrow, Red Bear placed a hand on his arm. "It is too far brother, you won't hit them, only alert them."

Otter Who Can't Swim again grunted, then said, "Let's continue, maybe someday we'll see that yellow hair woman again. Her scalp would look good on my lodge pole. My woman would be impressed I think."

"Brother, your woman is easily impressed, after all, she settled for you as her man." Red Bear grinned as he said that.

Otter Who Can't Swim chuckled and said, "Well, there is that. Maybe she is not as smart as I like to believe."

Laughing softly, the two Mohican warriors continued on their scouting mission. Red Bear could smell the wood smoke now, they were very close.

From a bare ridgetop, Captain Samuel Jenkins could see the Cannitticutt River in the distance, they were perhaps a day's march from their destination. "Sergeant Major!"


"Have the men take a break, remain on their feet, stay alert. The river is in sight." He pointed it out for his Sergeant Major.

Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs stared for a long moment, his eyesight wasn't as good as it used to be, then he saw it as a ray of sunlight sparkled on the distant water. He also saw darkness to the north.

"Looks like a storm brewing Cap'n. They can be very nasty in this river valley. Lots of lightning, lots of rain. We need to get down off this ridge top, Sir, soon as we can. These storms move very fast as well."

Captain Jenkins thought for a few long moments, when he looked again, the storm was closer. The sergeant major was right, they should get moving. "Right then Sarn't Major, get the lads moving."

"Very good Sir."

The wind came up suddenly, Short Bear and Ma-LEE were crossing a meadow bordered by tall pines and a few scattered elm trees. As the wind rose, Ma-LEE was watching the top of one of the elms. The branches first bent one way, then back to the other. Without warning the top of the tree suddenly, and violently, snapped off and crashed to the ground.

Moments later the rain swept in, drenching the two people.

Short Bear pulled Ma-LEE down behind a dead tree, no doubt toppled in a similar storm in past years. Just as he did so there was a dazzling flash of light followed instantly by a loud crashing boom which seemed to press them into the ground with its force.

Short Bear could feel Ma-LEE trembling so he did the one thing that his mother did for him when the big summer storms came when he was a child, he held her tightly and whispered "Shh, shh, shh. Shh, shh, shh." While gently patting her on the back, it seemed to calm her.

Molly had been caught out in such storms before, but never far from the shelter of a house or barn. Now there was nowhere to turn. She had been shocked when Awasosis held her close and began murmuring to her. She struggled briefly in his grasp until the lightning had flashed once more and the thunder had again boomed directly overhead.

She closed her eyes and eventually began to relax. She was still terrified, and she was soaked to the bone, but she no longer felt helpless.

The storm passed downriver nearly as quickly as it had arrived. The two people sat up and then stood, trying to brush and squeeze as much of the rainwater from their clothing as they could. Short Bear was better off, being half naked as he was, breechcloth and leggings were his only clothing apart from his moccasins.

Molly though was drenched. After she'd gotten as much water out of her clothing as she could, without disrobing, she looked at Awasosis. "Thank you, er, merci."

Awasosis nodded, then pointed to the opposite side of the clearing and spoke one of his few words, "Allons!³"

They moved off, Molly's clothes began to steam as the sun broke through the dissipating storm clouds. She wondered again, where were they going?

But now she felt only a little fearful of the Indian. Perhaps she was judging him as she might judge an Englishman, she knew little of the people of this land. But damme (her late mother would have objected strongly to such language), weren't they just as human as the English, different customs yes, but human nevertheless.

But this man was of the same tribe which had butchered her family and her village, the same people who had cut down young Joshua Hawkins for being clumsy and unable to keep up. She had seen the casual way which the warrior had killed the boy, not even batting an eye.

She must keep her wits about her, she couldn't trust these people completely, not even with Awasosis' kindness towards her. Would he strike her down if she faltered?

She couldn't possibly know. So she would keep up, she would persevere.

¹ The Abenaki word for Little Bear. His name is actually "Short Bear" but close enough.
² Very easy, yes?
³ Let's go.

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Hell in the Forest



Molly Henderson awoke to find herself alone. Looking around she couldn't see any sign of her captor. It struck her as odd that she hoped he would be returning. Not through any affection for the man, but she had no idea where she was and how far from civilization she might be.

She had tried to pay attention to the direction of their travels, she thought they had gone west for quite some time, but then their path had trended north, then east. As they had not re-crossed the Cannitticutt River, they were still to the west of that river. Safety and home were to the east, but how far?

She looked up when she heard the soft tread of a foot nearby, her captor had returned. It amazed her how quietly the Indian moved. As she watched him, she realized that he looked nervous, almost afraid. Which she found alarming, if he was scared, what was he scared of?

Short Bear was indeed nervous, he had traveled too far to the west. When out on his morning scout he had seen signs of a party of men traveling to the east, they had passed not far from where he and the yellow haired girl were camped. From the sign he deduced that they were moving fast, too fast for hunters. A war party perhaps? But whose? Abenaki or Mohican?

He decided then and there to move north for a day, then back to the east. While he wanted to keep the girl, he wasn't sure of how he was going to do that. If he could return to his own village, there was a chance. Otherwise, he resolved to sell her if he had no other choice. She fascinated him, but not to the extent that keeping her might cost him his own life.

Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs was up early. The night had been full of alarums, sentries firing their muskets at vague shapes in the dark, men calling out in fear at strange sounds from the forest. While Jacobs suspected that many of the sounds had been natural, there were some that sounded human made. It was obvious to him that the Indians were trying to unnerve them, keep them from sleeping. It had worked to a certain extent.

"Sergeant Major!"

Jacobs turned to see Captain Samuel Jenkins approaching.


"Have the men fall in, I want a circle of platoons facing outward."


Bull Elk waited a large part of the morning for the English to begin moving, but still they stood in their ordered groups, facing towards the forest in a circle. It looked to him like the English were waiting for something, but what?

He was a patient man, they had food, a supply of water, the English had only what they carried. As he sat and waited for whatever the English intended, he heard a commotion on the other side of the English camp.

Bull Elk stood and watched, a party of warriors, young warriors, burst from the woods, screaming their war cries and brandishing their weapons. Bull Elk shook his head, the impatience of youth. He nodded to the men standing nearby, if the attack by the young hotheads succeeded or failed, the rest must go in as well.

Lieutenant Robert Cooke stood next to his platoon, he had no idea what to make of these savages rushing at them from the trees. He also completely forgot his training, fortunately, his corporal did not.

"Poise your firelocks!¹" Corporal Josiah Smythe bellowed.

"Cock your firelocks!"


The Indians were within fifteen paces of the line, Corporal Smythe wondered if perhaps he'd left it too late, but his training governed his every action, he could not deviate from it.


Twenty flintlock muskets all barked nearly at once. The leading warriors actually suffered burns from the discharge of the soldiers pieces. But their suffering lasted only a moment.

"Half cock your firelocks!" Smythe continued the drill, he would keep his men firing until there was no threat or an officer commanded him to stop.

Bull Elk watched in shock as the warriors were cut down like so many maize stalks after the harvest. It was as if a woman's harvesting knife swept them all to the ground. He had never seen a volley of musketry before, the amount of smoke was surprising. He watched as the English reloaded, each man moving with assurance and precision through the loading process.

Bull Elk raised his arm, then pointed at the camp. the impatient young warriors had sprung the trap too early, before the English had entered the ravine. But his men still held the advantage, in numbers at least.

A half hour into the fight the position had become a living Hell. Packed close together, nearly back to back, his men were holding their own. Barely.

Jenkins moaned as he saw Lieutenant Cooke hit in the face by an arrow. Cooke dropped to his knees, instinctively trying to pull the arrow out, screaming as he did so. A warrior emerged from the powder smoke and brought his tomahawk down on Cooke's head, cleaving it nearly in half.

That warrior was struck down himself by Corporal Smythe's bayonet. As the Corporal wrenched the bayonet from the Indian's corpse, he continued to bellow out his firing commands.

While the Indian dead and wounded continued to pile up around the camp, his own men were suffering. Out of a strength of ninety-seven men, he could see at least twelve men down near his position.

Jenkins had his pistol out and held his sword ready. To his front he saw a warrior dash from the nearby brush, tomahawk aloft and screaming like a banshee. Sergeant Major Jacobs had his back to the man, adding his own musket fire to that of the platoons, all the while closing the ranks where men had fallen. He had no idea of the danger he was in.

Jenkins fired and saw the warrior stumble and fall forward, from the amount of blood  spraying from the man Jenkins knew that his shot had connected.

Jacobs nearly fell as the dying Indian fell onto the back of his legs. Managing to stay on his feet he turned to see the dying warrior lying at his feet, weakly trying to strike with his tomahawk. With no more thought than what he would give to swatting an insect, he used the butt of his firelock to finish the man. Then he had a party of five men pivot to face in the direction the warrior had come from, he saw Jenkins re-loading his pistol.

"Well done Sir, bravo!" Jacobs cried out.

Jenkins, in the chaos which surrounded him, managed a grin, "Carry on Sergeant Major!"

"Sachem, we are killing the English, but we are losing too many warriors!" one of his sub-chiefs, Lame Crow, called out to him. Bull Elk could see that the man was hurt, blood was coming from a wound on his upper arm.

Bull Elk turned to Sleeping Panther, his oldest son, and said, "Give the signal. We have hurt the English enough for now."

Sergeant Donoghue heard the hideous call of a mountain lion from close by, he had nearly wet himself when he had heard that sound for the first time. He nearly did so again.

Donoghue was in pain from an arrow buried in the muscle of his thigh. He knew better than to pull it out, in the heat of loading and firing, and keeping his platoon alert and firing, he had managed to tolerate the pain. Now he could barely keep his feet.

"Sarn't! I think they're leaving!" Private Robertson had seen movement away from the field when a small breeze caused the powder smoke to clear to his front.

One of the men saw that and cried out, "They're running boys! Huzzah!"

"Stop that noise!" Jenkins was concerned that the cessation of hostilities could be an enemy ruse. Make them relax and then charge them again.

Sergeant Major Jacobs, hat missing and bleeding from a cut over his right ear, joined him.

"I think the lads are right Sir. Looks like they're moving off. Could come right back though, I'll see to the ranks. You there, THAT MAN, back in ranks!!" He bellowed at a man who had stepped forward to retrieve his hat. That's when he realized that his own hat was missing. Ah well, he thought, plenty enough to choose from.

Some of the warriors were angry, they had sensed the English beginning to waver, which might be true, or not. All Bull Elk saw was the lessening of his own numbers. By his reckoning, they had lost far too many men, perhaps as many as forty-five. The English had not blundered into the ravine as he had expected them to, these men were far better warriors than some of the white soldiers that he had seen in the past.

It was time to come up with a better plan. The English were still a long ways from the Great River. There was still time to destroy them.

"What now Sir? Back to Rumford?" Sergeant Major Jacobs had taken the roll, in addition to Lieutenant Cooke, seventeen men were dead or badly wounded. Eight men were hurt, but could continue on their own feet.

The butcher, Private Miles Hartford, had successfully extracted the arrow from Sergeant Donoghue's thigh. Donoghue had vomited when Hartford had pushed the arrow through his leg, rather than try to pull it out.

"Ye're lucky Sarn't, the arrow didn't hit the bone, otherwise it would still be in ye and ye'd be dead in a day or so from infection." Hartford cackled and continued, "Ye still might die of infection, but not today!" He continued to cackle as he finished binding Donoghue's wound. "There ye go Sarn't, right as rain ye'll be."

Captain Jenkins had a difficult decision to make, his company was down to seventy-two relatively healthy men. Some, like the sergeant major, had nasty cuts, but remained quite capable of continuing to perform their duties.

Returning to Rumford would be the easy choice, but that would leave the men under Ensign Mayberry at the mercy of the savages. Not to mention the settlements which relied on those men to protect them.

"Sergeant Major!"


"Form the men up. Fix bayonets, we're going through this bloody ravine this instant while the savages are withdrawing, they won't expect it."

"Sir, what about the wounded? Many of them will die..."

"Without medical help? Where do you expect to find medical help out here? I know it's a harsh thing Sarn't Major, but we've no choice. We lose some, or we lose all. Sergeant Donoghue!"

Donoghue was nearby and limped over. "Sir?"

"How's the leg?"

"Hurts, but I can get around well enough I suppose. Sir."

"I want you and the other wounded to head back to Rumford. I doubt the savages will harass you, they've suffered grievously." As Jenkins said that he swept his hand around the campsite. Indeed, the Indian dead were numerous, those who weren't quite dead were being bayoneted even as Jenkins watched. No choice really, in truth it might be a mercy to help their own badly wounded along, but he knew the men would mutiny if he ordered that.

Donoghue thought for a long moment, then nodded, "Very good Sir. We'll try to help the badly wounded out, improvise litters or something. When is the company moving out?"

"Right now Sergeant."

Donoghue looked around, saw the healthier men forming up, bayonets fixed. "Very good Sir. You'd best be off then, we'll make do Sir, somehow."

As the tail end of the column disappeared into the ravine, Donoghue turned to the other walking wounded. "Right lads, let's be off."

"Aren't we going to bury the dead Sergeant?"

"If you want to, go right ahead Harrington. The rest of us will be heading that way." Donoghue said, pointing to the east.

"Right Sergeant, understood. I feel bad about that, but you're right."

"Glad you approve Private, now bloody well fall in with the rest. Right lads, about turn, at the quick march and we're off!"

When the column arrived on the western side of the ravine, Jenkins heaved a sigh of relief. He realized that had they gone in there, the whole company would have been butchered. Little did he know how close things had been. The first attack by the Indians had occurred just as he was about to order the men forward.

He checked the rudimentary map he had been given by the Governor, if the thing was anywhere near accurate, and he doubted that, they still had thirty miles to go. Thirty miles of very rugged country.

Their odyssey was nowhere near over. But his duty to the settlers on the frontier was clear, he must press on.

And so they did.

¹ From the 1764 Manual of Arms.

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Ravine


Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs made his way through the men struggling along the narrow forest road. He was wondering what had happened to the scouts they had sent out, had they reported back or not. He was beginning to think that the officers weren't really in control of things. Neither the captain nor the lieutenant had mentioned anything to him of the scouts having returned.

"Begging your pardon Sir, but have the scouts returned?" Jacobs asked Lieutenant Robert Cooke.

Cooke stopped for a moment and stood by the side of the trail, watching the men file past. He looked at the Sergeant Major and asked, "The scouts haven't returned?" The lieutenant looked slightly confused.

"Bollocks! Begging your pardon Sir, I need to speak with the Captain straightaway!" Jacobs abruptly headed towards the head of the column, leaving the lieutenant staring at his back.

Captain Samuel Jenkins was limping badly, he had stepped on a hidden tree root next to the path and twisted his ankle. That, plus the almost complete lack of sleep the night before, had put him in a foul mood. As the heat and humidity continued to rise, his head began to throb most horribly as well.

When Sergeant Major Jacobs came up to him and started asking questions about the scouts, he nearly barked at the man, then he stopped. Oh Dear God, he had completely forgotten about the two men he had sent out ahead on the day before.

Raising a hand, Jenkins halted the column.

"They've not returned, have they?" Jenkins said, looking at his sergeant major, not only the oldest soldier in the company but the most experienced.

"No Sir, I should have brought this to your attention earlier, sorry Sir."

"No Sarn't Major, my responsibility. Should we send a party ahead to look for them?"

"Let me take two men and..."

"No Jacobs, we can't afford to lose you, pick an experienced corporal and one other man, have them go out a hundred paces ahead of the column. I fear the earlier scouts may have fallen afoul of the savages."

Corporal Donald Lester and Private James Knowlton were only fifty paces ahead of the main column when they found what they were looking for. Knowlton took one look and began to vomit.

The bodies of Abraham Parker and Jedediah Maxwell had been stripped, scalped, and disemboweled. After a day in the summer heat, they looked hideous. The smell was overpowering. Corporal Lester had seen such things on the frontier before, these men were left as a warning.

"Knowlton, pull yourself together, the column is coming up." Lester looked at the two corpses then back to the column, he could see the captain and the sergeant major at the front. If it were up to him, he would about face the column and march back to Portsmouth. The frontier could burn for all he cared.

Molly Henderson was on her last legs. The Indian who had captured her seemed tireless, needing only brief rests while continuing to move forward, mile after endless mile. The only time he stopped for longer than a few minutes was at night, after the moon had set.

Her clothing was filthy and torn, the man was never out of sight for more than a few minutes. She had had difficulty relieving herself during the first day of her captivity, now the idea of the man watching her no longer bothered her as much. Her dead mother would no doubt be shocked at her behavior.

Still and all, though Molly was still trying to keep pace, she hoped that they would arrive at whatever destination the man had in mind. She was quite sure that she couldn't bear much more of this.

Bull Elk had his warriors in position. It was difficult getting them to sit and wait for the English column to arrive, the men were young and for many this would be their first time in battle. They were excited and ready for war.

Bull Elk had sent Grey Raven and his band on a long path around to the rear of the English column. Once the English entered the ravine, Bull Elk's men would begin to shoot at the English, when Grey Raven heard the sound of firelocks, he would strike at the rear of the English.

Bull Elk anticipated that many scalps would be taken this day.

Captain Jenkins was frustrated, it had been a very long day for the young militia officer.

"Are you sure this is the only way through?" He said that as he surveyed the terrain to their front. A fairly deep ravine which the path went down into, which was choked with tangled deadfall and trees from an old flood. The path was clear, but if they had to get off of that path, there was absolutely no room at all to deploy the men.

"Yes Sir, this is it, it's only a half-mile or so to the other side, shouldn't be a problem." William Taylor was familiar with the area, before joining the militia he had been a trader. He had traveled this way many times.

"We could proceed north for a couple of days, but that would put us in some very rugged country. This is the quickest way." Taylor, though he knew the Indians well, was nervous. He was beginning to regret joining the militia.

"We camp here for the night. Give the men a chance to rest. In the morning we'll push on, I want to get through this mess as fast as possible. Lieutenant!" He called to Lieutenant Cooke, who had been commanding the rear guard but had come forward to report a problem with one of the oxen.

"Sir, one of the oxen..."

"Not now Cooke, we're camping here for the night. I want a strong picket all around. Sergeant Major, assist the Lieutenant."

"Sir!" Jacobs set off to get the first sentinels out.

"Now what's this about an ox?"

"One of the animals had gone lame Sir. What should we..."

"Butcher it, at least the men can have fresh meat tonight. Private Harrow knows what to do, he was a butcher back in England. Now step lively laddie boy, we only have a few hours of daylight left!"

Bull Elk looked thoughtful for a moment, then he looked again at the messenger. "Grey Raven is sure they have stopped for the night?"

The messenger explained how they had nearly blundered into the tail of the English column. They had stopped in time and while waiting for the English to begin moving again, they had seen the English butcher one of their animals and begin preparing it for a meal. They had laid out a campsite and had sent sentries out around that campsite. Grey Raven was sure.

"They must want to spend the night resting before crossing the ravine. A wise move. It also gives us time to rest. Return to Grey Raven and tell him to wait on the English, watch them but do not attack. Harass them but do not take unnecessary chances. We want them to be wary and sleepless this night."

As the messenger loped off to return to Grey Raven's war band, Bull Elk again looked thoughtful, "This Englishman may not be such a fool after all. But we shall see what the night brings."

The harvest of scalps would have to wait.

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Monday, May 24, 2021


What a week!

 So, Mass is wrapping up last Sunday (May 16), the Priest has given the final blessings and is getting ready to march down the aisle exiting the church.

It usually looks a lot like this.

But instead of cuing the trumpeters, he asks everyone to be seated.  There's a collective groan as he has been known to offer up a second homily occasionally at this point.  In any case, being the good flock that we are, we are seated.

He proceeds to read a letter from the Bishop, which was interesting in itself, as he's the #2 guy in the Archdiocese.  In it, he said that given the current circumstances, if parishioners were fully vaccinated against the Wu-Flu, mask wearing would no longer be required during Mass.  If they were not fully vaccinated, they would still be asked to wear a mask. 

There were a few sotto voce comments of "about time" made (before Mrs J elbowed me in the ribs), but generally, there were smiling faces.  At that point, the Priest nodded to the trumpeters and marched down the aisle.

This Sunday (May 23), Mrs J and I walked in at our normal time (early, the congregation has a group that prays the Rosary before Mass, I like to participate, as a precaution, of course).  I glance around.  

Ain't nobody wearing a mask!  By the time Mass started, there were about 25 people wearing masks out of close to 400.  I recognized most of these people.  I don't think they were members of the "I wear a mask so I'm not thought to be Republican" genre,   I think they were of the mindset of "I didn't get vaccinated (for whatever reason), so I'm going to abide by the guidance."  The folks I recognized, I know would fall into that thought process.


Then, last Tuesday (May 18), the Governor dropped another bombshell. On March 2nd he had completely lifted the Mask Mandate  and any capacity restrictions. In this new Executive Order, he prohibited any local government entity or Public School System from mandating wearing of masks.  Many cities and counties had instituted Mandates of their own when he'd issued the March 2nd order. 

Because, what good is power, if you don't abuse it?

 This new order includes a fine for any governmental body/person that violates the new order.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Finally, Someone gets it.

 I plan to visit the Central Office of my old school district today.  Since all the Wu-Flu crap started right about the time I retired, I haven't been back to say hello to a few people there I still care about.

No...I won't be wearing a mask.

On a separate note, Mrs J and I will be leaving in the morning to visit Palo Duro Canyon for a few days.  Expect next week's post to be a travel log... with pictures.

Peace out, y'all!