“Fine place for a trap…”
He chuckles and winds down a narrow path. Suddenly, a large jack-rabbit shoots off up the hill. Andrew’s horse jumps and bolts. Because he was sitting loosely in the saddle, leaned back and relaxed, Andrew flies from his horse. As he lands, his head comes into contact with a largish rock. He rolls over a couple times, coming to rest at the bottom of the crevice…then he lies still.
Carrie and Benjamin are on horseback in the yard. Philip stands holding his daughter’s bridle.
Benjamin tells his father, “I'm going to show Carrie where Bartholomew and I caught up with that buck. It was such a pretty place that I thought she’d like to see it.”
Philip smiles at his two eldest, “That’s a good piece over there, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Papa…but it’s easy riding.” Benjamin is eager to get off.
Carrie, also anticipating the adventure, breaks in, “Mama said she thought it would do me good…after having been down with that terrible cold for two weeks.”
Philip laughs, “I’m not arguing with the idea you two…I just wanted to know where you were headed off to. Benjamin, you’ve been doing a fine job helping me and it’s about time you had a little fun. Go on, now! Have a good time!”
Carrie, “We will! Thank-you, Papa!”
They wave as they canter off. Philip smiles and shakes his head with amusement as he turns back to his work.
Bartholomew comes loping across to meet up with the James children. They all pull up to exchange greetings.
“Howdy, Miss Carrie! Feelin’ better?”
Carrie smiles, “Hello, Bartholomew. Very much, thank-you.”
Bartholomew turns to his friends, asking a cyrptic question, “Meadow?”
Benjamin laughs, “That’s right…you coming?”
Carrie looks from one to another with curiosity, “What’s going on?”
The boys exchange glances and laugh.
Bartholomew answers, “Oh, I’ve just been helping Ben with a surprise for you, that’s all."
Carrie sounds a little disappointed, “We aren’t going to the place you shot the buck then?”
The boys grin again.
“Of course we are!" Benjamin laughs, "That’s the surprise—you’ve never seen anything like it—the flowers are everywhere and it’s got a picturesque little stream running along with some old sycamores…just wait…it’ll be worth it!”
Carrie’s face lights up and the boys burst into laughter again.
Bartholomew orders, “Come on!”
As he kicks his horse into a run, he lifts his hand like a cavalry commander. The other two young people laugh and race after him.
Carrie, Benjamin, and Bartholomew are riding along at a walk. The boys are crowded together and appear to be deep in discussion about something off to the left. Carrie rides a little bit ahead. A crevice appears to the right.
Suddenly, Carrie stops. She appears startled.
Turning in her saddle, and pointing forward, she calls back, “Isn’t that Andrew’s horse?”
Bartholomew's eyes follows her finger.
"Yes…but where’s Andrew?” He sounds a little worried.
“Andrew!!" He shouts, then pauses, "ANDREW!!”
“I’ll go get the horse.” Benjamin trots off toward the grazing steed.
Bartholomew strains his vocal chords, “Andy!! ANNN-DREWWW!!!!!!”
Silence greeted his repeated efforts.
Carrie rides forward slowly. Suddenly, she turns her horses’ head and starts down into the crevice. She has seen the cow and Andrew's hat.
“Bartholomew….down here.” She calls over her shoulder, worry in her voice.
Bartholomew takes a sweeping glace around and starts to follow her down. Over his shoulder, he yells at Benjamin, “Bring his horse down here!”
Carrie dismounts and kneels over Andrew’s prostrate form. The back and side of his head are covered in blood—it stains his collar. She reaches out and puts her hand on his face. Bartholomew squats down and feels his wrist.
“He’s alive…thank-God. Benjamin! Bring that horse over here!”
Carrie grabs the canteen off the horse, saying, “Benjamin, let me have your bandana.”
Benjamin obligingly takes it off and Carrie soaks it and applies it to Andrew’s face. He grunts a little and attempts to move his head, then groans even louder. His hand comes up and he places it gently on the top of his head.
Bartholomew states matter of factly, “Concussion. He needs a doctor…but I’d like to go ahead and get him home. See if ya’ll can help me get him on my horse. I’ll ride behind him. Then Benjamin, if you’d go for the doctor, I’d appreciate it. Carrie, would you bring his horse?”
“Of course.” Carrie didn't need to be asked a second time.
They start to lift him when out of nowhere a bullet whizzes past. They hit the ground instinctively, then Bartholomew bounces up and makes a run for his shotgun. Carrie remains crouched over Andrew, while Benjamin crawls to his feet, his elbow skinned.
Bartholomew dashes back and hands his shotgun to Benjamin, before grabbing his brother by the shoulders, and hauling him behind a decent sized rock. Meanwhile, Benjamin has opened fire as more bullets strike around them.
Panting, Bartholomew looks Carrie straight in the eye, “Carrie…you stay with Andrew—no matter what. Here’s his gun. I’ll see if I can make a break for it.”
He hands Andrew’s revolver to her as he speaks, then sprints over to Benjmain, who is crouched behind another rock. Carrie, on her knees, leans over Andrew, who is pawing around, his eyes squeezed shut, breathing heavily.
“It’ll be alright, Andrew." She tries to speak calmly, as though she were not frightened. As she grabs one of his exploring hands she says, "I’m here…”
Suddenly, he relaxes. His eyes open a little and he whispers, "Carrie?" in a bewildered way.
Meanwhile, Bartholomew slides in next to Benjamin. He lays for a moment, panting, “I’m gonna make a break for it, Ben…hold ‘em off as long as you can.”
“Who are they?” Benjamin demands, as he breaks open the double-barreled shotgun and flicks out the empty shells.
Bartholomew lifts his head for a moment before ducking down again. “I’d wager Hadley’s…you know several of them escaped after our Rocky Plateau escapade…looks like they set up a camp over there..." here he points to a secluded area, "and on Burke land, no less!”
Disgust is evident in the boy's tone.
Benjamin nods, “Well, I’ll do my best. Be careful, Bart.”
Bartholomew grins over at him, as he was wont to do, even in sticky situations, and slaps him on the shoulder. “Cover me," is all he says. Then he’s gone…he takes a flying leap, lands on his horse, and urges it up the crevice. Benjamin takes aim as a head appears on the ridge.
The man falls back dead.
Benjamin groans, “Oh, I wish I had my rifle…" Then he turns to look at his sister, "Carrie, you doing okay over there?”
She responds, “Yes…Andrew’s coming to a bit more.”
“Well, keep him down…I don’t care how, just keep him down!”
As Bart crests the edge of the crevice, a rider comes down on him from his right. Unarmed now, Bartholomew digs his spurs into his horse. Minutes later, the horse is shot from under him. Urgency in his every movement, Bartholomew clamps down on his rage. He crawls out from under the horse and pushes forward on foot, ducking around clumps of tall grass and a spare tree or two. He drops to his belly and crawls a-ways before hopping up and running zig-zag. Then he drops down again and repeats the processes. His destination is a clump of trees. The horseman continues to gain on him.
Carrie turns her attention to Andrew who is struggling to move. She begs, “Andrew, lie still…you must!”
Andrew retorts irritably, “Where’s my gun? What’s going on? Who’s shooting? What happened? Let me up, Carrie!”
Carrie grabs him by both shoulders and applies pressure, while trying to keep her own head down.
“Stop it, Andrew, stop it!”
Slightly out of his head, Andrew snaps, “Get off me! Let me up, I tell you!”
He pushes off the ground with his elbows, lifting Carrie with him, for the petite girl was not strong enough to hold the irritated cowboy down. A bullet whistles by and rock flies just inches away from her head. Her fear is evident in her face.
Andrew gasps in pain and falls back, knocking Carrie off balance. Her left hand slips off his shoulder and her head ends up on it instead.
The pain having in a sense cleared his head, Andrew’s eyes are clear now. As Carrie cries in fear and relief, he suddenly reaches up with his left hand and places it on the back of her head, at the same time putting his right arm around her waist. He shoves her up against the rock, rolls over, and gets on his knees. He sits for a moment like that, head leaning on the rock, gasping. He sees his revolver laying on the ground and picks it up.
“Carrie…" When she doesn't respond, he says her name again, more urgently, "Carrie!”
She looks up at him.
He smiles just a little bit, “It’s alright…I need your help. Steady me…”
With his arm around her shoulders, he lifts himself up and fires…then they both hunker down again. Andrew grins at her shakily, “All right?”
Carrie nods, a very trembly smile on her lips, “All right.”
Bartholomew makes the trees--just barely. He lies behind a log out of breath. The rider enters the little patch of woods, peering around as he does so. Bartholomew holds his breath and pushes his cheek into the dirt—watching the man as he rides slowly by. After he passes, Bartholomew gets to his feet and trails him.
“Wonder where he went…” the man speaks aloud.
In answer to the query, Bartholomew leaps from behind and grabs the man’s gun. Surprised, he is pulled off his horse. All his pent up rage giving him more than a burly fifteen-year-old's share of strength, Bartholomew pummels the man senseless before tying his hands and feet with straps cut of the saddle. Leaving the man where he lies, Bartholomew jumps on the horse and gallops off.
Down in the crevice, Andrew leans against the rock, staring at his gun.
“I’m out of cartridges, Carrie…not much more we can do now.”
A few minutes later, Benjamin reaches into Bartholomew's ammo bag and paws around. His face gets very worried. He pulls out one shell.
After staring at it for a minute, he remarks steadily, “The last shot…”
He places it in the chamber and cocks the weapon…however, he doesn’t fire.
Andrew and Carrie look over at him. The firing from above lets up and everything is still.
Benjamin sees them looking at him. He raises one finger, points to the gun, then shakes his head.
Andrew breathes, “He has one shot left.”
Fearfully, Carrie whispers, “And then?”
Andrew places his hand over hers…she has them clenched together in her lap.
“Steady…Bart will be back...I hope.” He mutters the last two words under his breath. Carrie looks at him quickly, not reassured by his shaky smile.
The bandits start coming down into the crevice. Benjamin tenses, but continues holds his fire. The tiniest hint of a smile lurks behind his drawn face.
One of the outlaws orders, “The pip-squeak with the shotgun is behind that rock…You four go take care of him…we’ll get the other two.
As they get closer, Benjamin sights down the barrel. It recoils and all four bandits—who were quite close by this time—get slung backwards. Benjamin leaps up yelling, with the shotgun clubbed, ready to rush on the remaining three, when shots start ringing out.
Up at the top of the crevice, George, Philip, and Bartholomew are shooting down on the bandits. They had arrived just in the nick of time.
Soon, all the outlaws lay on the ground. The rescuers come down the crevice. Off to one side, unseen by the Jameses and Burkes, a lone-rider gallops off.
Philip leaps from his horse to grab Carrie in his arms as she runs to him and buries her face in his shirt. George and Bartholomew haul Andrew up and he stand between them, swaying a bit.
“You sure got here just in time!” he blurts, greatly relieved.
Benjamin stands holding Bartholomew's shotgun, his father’s arm around his shoulder. Suddenly, Andrew looks from the dead and wounded bandits to Benjamin.
“Say, Benjamin…you said you only had one shell left—how’d you do that?”
Benjamin smiles sheepishly, then explains: