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Heavenly Libations – an excerpt



The Everglades style air boat that Two Birds had ordered through Amazon, paying extra for expedited shipment, arrived the following morning. They maneuvered the boat into the murky waters of the swamp. NASCAR Bob pushed his way to the driver’s station and announced, “I’m driving,” and then in his best Ricky Bobby’s voice, “Gotta go fast.”

“I love that movie,” said Joey excitedly, “ooh, ooh, can I be your sidekick? I’ll be Bake and you can be Shake.”

“I hate to interject some salient information here,” said Two Birds sounding much more intelligent than usual, “but, we need to get to that hangar in a stealthy manner. Now, through my very expensive binoculars I found a good place for us to beach the air boat.”

“Wrong,” interrupted NASCAR Bob, “it is not ‘the air boat’, its name is The SS Shake&Bake.”

“And, I’m navigating,” Joey added, “That’s the sidekick’s job.”

“How can you be the navigator?” replied Two Birds, “I’m the one who lives here and has spent countless hours looking at this swamp. You don’t know where to go, I do.”

Joey started shaking his head, “No, no, no, I’ll be the one telling Commodore Bob where to go.  I am Bake, he is Shake. You’re just a passenger on the SS Shake&Bake.”

Two Birds, his patience having been tested to the limit, threw his hands in the air in defeat and said, “Okay, I’ll tell you and you tell the Commodore.  Is that good enough?”

With that settled, Commodore Bob started up the Chevrolet 350 engine, “Whoowee, will you listen to that baby purr?” as he revved it up even louder.

“What?” screamed both Two Birds and Joey as they were climbing into the passenger seats in the bow of the Shake&Bake.

“Tell the Commodore to go past that line of large cypress trees to starboard,” Two Birds yelled to Joey.

Joey strained to hear Two Birds and turned to the Commodore and shouted, “Two Birds said to go fast.”

The swamp came alive, the sound of the SS Shake&Bake’s roaring engine sending flocks of waterfowl racing for the heavens. Two Birds turned in his seat and started to yell for Commodore Bob to “Slow down”, but as the boat plowed forward those in the bow seats were drenched by a sudden wave splashing the occupants. Commodore Bob was laughing, the exhilaration of going fast taking hold. It was when he noticed that they were headed into a copse of large cypress trees that he realized he didn’t know where they were going. “Hey Bake,” he yelled down to Joey as he slowed the boat to a stop, “Which way do we go?”

“Tell the Commodore to follow the tree line for eight-tenths of a mile,” said Two Birds to Joey, “we’ll see a landing area just a few hundred yards to starboard once we get past the trees. There’s a pipeline that empties into the swamp. I don’t know what is coming out of it, but the usually lush, green vegetation in that spot is a not so lush grayish-brown.”

Commodore Bob glanced to his left as they came to the end of the cypress trees, and with a gleam in his eyes, and without warning, turned the boat hard to port, sending Joey crashing into Two Birds knocking him over the port side rail, his head now in the murky water. Joey reacted quickly and pulled Two Birds back on board.  Two Birds looked up at the joy filled Commodore and started to scream but instead of “Commodore you idiot”, a gargled, sputtering sound came out with a stream of murky water and a small turtle.

Commodore Bob slowed the boat to a stop. Up ahead was a beautiful expanse of open water dotted with groves of lily pads, many of them being used as deck chairs for frogs. A great blue heron stalked among one such grove, striking down and skewering a sun bathing amphibian. A large gator, aroused from his shoreline nap, slid into the water and started swimming toward the SS Shake&Bake. “Anyone want to play buzz the gator?” Commodore Bob asked.


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Thoughts and prayers

Thoughts and prayers…thoughts and prayers…every disaster that strikes, we are inundated with ‘thoughts and prayers’.  Well, this last man made atrocity in Sutherland, TX where over 20 people were killed in church, has me wondering why those people weren’t already inundated with thoughts and prayers given their location.  If thoughts and prayers don’t help in a house of worship, then I think it may be time to look for another way to help the unfortunate.  Of course, it may be too soon, or not appropriate to talk about government officials living off of the largess of the NRA, or that maybe mentally disturbed individuals shouldn’t be allowed to buy weapons of any sort, or that maybe automatic weapons in the hands of the ordinary citizenry might be a bad idea, or maybe taking another look at the Second Amendment and the completely bastardized interpretation it has been given.  Nah, wouldn’t be right to look into those things.  We need a few more mass atrocities, I guess.  Thoughts and prayers to all those who put their greed before their humanity.

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Father Figure?

I saw a meme the other day thanking God for that man in the White House stating that he was the Father figure this country needs. I thought about what attributes a good father figure might have and have tried to apply them to you know who. I can only come up with questions as to what qualities the followers of this “father figure” admire in him. Is it the fact that he has been married three times and brags about grabbing pu%%y? Is it that he has fascist tendencies? Is it that he has started the process of deregulating banks and Wall St so his friends in WealthyWhiteManistan can accrue more wealth? Is it that he has effectively removed the Joint Chiefs of Staff and replaced them with a white supremacist who has no government/foreign relations/military experience? Is it that he has two spokespersons who continually lie, calling them “alternative facts”? Is it that he wants to take healthcare away from millions with no plan in place to replace it? Is it that he is so enamored of himself that he has to lash out at those who oppose him with mindless tweets(so-called judge????). Is it that he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth and hasn’t worked a day in his life, scrounging to make life better for his family; clueless as to how hard it is for those making minimum wage to make ends meet? And this is only a partial list of qualities he possesses. I’m sorry, but I find him extremely lacking in father figure attributes and I’m sorry for the followers of this un-fatherly figure as they come to realize that he is not their friend; never was-never will be.

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Clash of Empires excerpt Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The Raid

Abigail accepted a sip of cool water from the now noticeably pregnant Orenda as she rested from the last contraction.  Liza wiped the sweat from her mother’s forehead saying, ‘One more push and I think we’ll have that new baby.’  Abigail smiled at her daughter, ‘I hope so.  I am running out of energy.  Maybe 42 years is too old to have a child.  It was certainly easier when you were born.  Oh dear Lord, it is time.’  Orenda went to the foot of the bed and after a few seconds said, ‘I can see the baby’s head.  One big push Abigail and we’ll have a new life to celebrate.’  With all of her remaining strength Abigail pushed and Orenda soon had a squalling newborn in her hands.   ‘It’s a girl, mama!’ cried Liza as she placed the little one in her mother’s arms.  Abigail took one look at that tiny face and said, ‘It is only by God’s grace that she arrived safely.  Tell your father that his new daughter, Grace is waiting to meet him.’

Thomas lifted the child, tears in his eyes, ‘I am not a godly man but at times like these I can be.  Grace is a most wondrous gift and I thank God for her safe arrival and for the health of my beloved wife.’  He kissed the child on the forehead and handed her back to Abigail.  ‘Now it is time for a little celebration I think.  Liam, Daniel, get those ale casks out.  I feel a mighty thirst coming on.’  So the trading post took on a party atmosphere with plenty of singing, laughter and dancing.  The traders who happened to be there joined in the festivities, two of them producing fiddles, and with Phil Burke playing a banjo, Irish jigs and reels soon filled the night air.

From the top of the hill overlooking the post and in the cover of the woods, two Shawnee braves looked down on the proceedings below.  ‘It is time to teach these English a lesson,’ said Huritt, ‘Our French brothers would be very happy for this place to be destroyed.  Let’s attack tonight.  The English are in no position to defend.’  Chogan smiled at his friend, ‘That is what I would like to do but look again Huritt.  The white man called Snake Slayer is alert.  His bow is ever at his side and the other Mohawks with him are also watching.  No, we cannot attack tonight.  We have more warriors coming to join us in two days that is when we will attack and destroy this place.’  Chogan then turned and with Huritt jogged off back into the woods and to their camp three miles away.

Two days later with hangovers now forgotten, Liam, Joseph and Henry left the post to go hunting while Trent, Donehogawa, Dadgayadoh, Deganawidah and Wahta left on a separate mission.  They had heard from a trader who arrived that morning of a party of Shawnees heading south out of Fort Duquesne and were anxious to get more firsthand information.  Pierre and Liza were heading across the river by canoe to a meadow that teemed with plants Pierre used for their healing properties.  In the back of the main building in the room Thomas and Abigail lived Orenda was rocking Grace to sleep and feeling the movement of the child within her while Abigail took a deserved nap.  Thomas was in the front talking to Rob Carter and Rafe Stump Nose Emerson, two traders about the load of furs they brought in yesterday.  Those furs were stored under the canvas canopy of one of the freight wagons and were now being examined by Phil Burke, who could not believe the quality, knowing that he had come to the right place at the right time.

Chogan, certain that he knew where everyone was turned to the seven warriors with him and said, ‘Remember, I want the white woman and her child alive.  Kill the rest,’ he then added with a hint of disgust, ‘but leave the Mohawk woman to me.’  Silently the two Huron and 6 Shawnee jogged down the hill the rising sun behind them making them almost invisible as well.  The two Huron, Pajackok and Taregan headed to the southern end of the encampment in order to keep watch on Pierre across the river.  Keme, Kesegowiase and Nixamich raced to the front door of the main building while Chogan, Huritt and Etchemin veered off to the side door.  Unnoticed and forgotten, Phil glanced out of the wagon and saw the raiding party going into the building.  Climbing over the pile of furs he exited the rear of the wagon and ran to his tent to get his musket.

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First draft – complete Clash of Empires

Approximately a year and a half later at 18:00 EST on March 3, 2015 I wrote the final words of the first draft of Clash of Empires.  My editorial staff(well some friends and other fellow travelers) are hard at work giving it the once over.  As they report in I am editing the draft accordingly….or not, depending on how strongly I feel about the change they are suggesting.  I’ve never been one who likes to change things once he has written it down…a foible I may have to rein in a little bit but….the way I look at it is that if one of my editors says I should change something and another editor says they like that part then I will most likely leave that part alone…  :-)..

This is all new to me…this process of editing and so forth.  Next I will have the 2nd draft copy edited and then the real fun begins….getting it out so the unwashed masses can enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Oh and I will also begin book 2 of the series…have already jotted down some notes and ideas…heck I already have thoughts on book 3.  Book 2 will encompass the Revolutionary War period…book 3 will be the war of 1812 and years preceding the Civil War.  Book 4 will be the Civil War years, followed by the western expansion years in book 5.  Ambitious, yes, but what the heck, I wanna retire in style.  🙂

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from the epilogue of Clash of Empires

As he lay in the snow he drifted in and out of consciousness and so afterward he wasn’t sure if he was awake or asleep when he had another visit from his brother the buffalo.  This time there was also a woman; Orenda was standing beside the buffalo holding a baby in her arms and smiling at Liam.  Then in a lilting, ethereal voice she said, ‘Otetiani my love, do not overly grieve for us any longer.  Remember us, yes, but do so in the happiness that we shared together.  Let go of the rage that eats at your heart and turns you into a man you are not.  Cherish us in your heart not the hatred.’  A mist then rose around them and from what seemed like a great distance Liam heard Orenda say, ‘farewell my love, we are always with you.’  Liam found that he was now sitting up and had tears streaming down his face.  He raised his left arm to wipe his eyes forgetting for a moment of the wound in his shoulder.  The pain brought him back to reality and he saw through his tears a buffalo calf standing where Orenda and the old bull had been in the dream.  In a playful gallop it came over to Liam, licked his hand and then scampered back to the herd.  The pain from his wounds increased when he stood up and it took a moment before he was able to start walking.  He turned and was surprised to see just Huritt’s gored body lying on the ground; the buffalo was gone.  Liam looked at the body of the enemy he had pursued for so long and for so many miles; the rage and the hatred he carried in his mind, those twin qualities of destruction that ate away at his soul, the driving force of his life seemed to melt from his mind.  The bleating sound of the calf drew Liam’s attention and he watched it walk away, occasionally going into a leaping, zig-zagging trot as if it had not a care in the world.  Liam’s face lit up into a smile, ‘farewell for now, my brother,’ he called out and then began the hike back to the camp.

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an excerpt from Clash of Empires

A look at the surrender of Fort William Henry…this piece stars a Colonel Gordon Doherty and a Sgt. Glyn Mulhern…take a bow gentlemen   🙂

Colonel Doherty watched the second day of exchanged artillery fire from his post in the militia encampment.  The cannon and howitzers of Munro’s force were giving back as much as they were taking from the French but it was just a matter of time thought Doherty before the walls were breeched and the real slaughter began.  Realizing that something had to be done to turn the tide he headed to the fort for yet another confrontation with Colonel Munro.  He entered headquarters to find Munro hunched over casualty reports when a tremendous explosion rocked the building knocking candles out of their sconces and shaking the windows.  ‘That was not an enemy shell,’ exclaimed Doherty as he extinguished a burning candle that had fallen to the floor, ‘sounded more like an exploded cannon.’  He ran to the door and saw that one of the 12 pounders had indeed exploded while firing, killing three soldiers and wounding four others.  ‘That’s the fourth one plus one howitzer.  We’re killing our own more efficiently than the French are, ‘he said as he sat opposite Colonel Munro.  ‘Sir, this fort is going to fall and sooner rather than later.  The walls cannot take much more pounding and our counter artillery is rapidly falling apart.  We need to do something to save the men from being mercilessly slaughtered.  The French can talk all they want about keeping their allies in check but they won’t have the will to do it.’  ‘What do you propose, my dear Colonel Doherty, ‘replied Munro, ‘that we attack the French?’  ‘Yes, but not the force besieging the fort and not conventionally,’ said Doherty, his excitement mounting with every breath as he laid out his plan, ‘we attack the force guarding the road to Fort Edward.  That is our objective, getting as many of these troops to General Webb as we can rather than waiting on the General to send troops to us; troops that would have to fight their way in and for what, saving a doomed fort?  We send in the militia just before dawn catching them by surprise and as the sun comes up, you lead the regulars in and from the road deliver a few massed volleys.  That should do the trick and will buy us enough time to march the 20 miles to Fort Edward.’

‘An interesting thought, Colonel, but I have no intention on leading a doomed to fail attack. Your idea of having the irregulars execute a raid in semi-darkness is not only foolish but is not the way I will prosecute this war. We are outnumbered.  We will wait for the reinforcements that I’m sure will be here in two or three days.  If they are not, I am fully confident in the French commander and his honorable word.’

‘We may not have two or three days, Colonel.  We need to…’

‘That is enough Colonel Doherty,’ interrupted Munro, ‘I will hear no more about it.  You are dismissed.’

Colonel Gordon Doherty prided himself on being a good soldier and it is only that pride that stayed his voice and allowed him to give a rather slipshod salute just before he slammed the door.  He was heading to his own tent when he heard an incoming bombardment thud into the wall.  So far in this siege the French ceased their artillery firing once the sun went down.  ‘Not so tonight it seems,’ Doherty thought, ‘the end is near.’  When he reached his tent he sent his orderly to find Sgt. Mulhern, Timothy and Markus.  He sat down at his camp desk and began writing out an order for the three of them.  When they entered he motioned them to sit.  He looked them each in the eyes before he read out their new orders.  ‘The three of you are hereby ordered to vacate this camp in the event of surrender and report at best possible speed to General Webb at Fort Edward.  You are too valuable to be captured or killed.  This order will nullify any chance of desertion or cowardice charges ever being discussed.  That takes care of the legality of your disappearance; I would ask one more thing.  If I am taken captive and appear certain to be tortured or burned do what you can to end it.’

Timothy and Markus shook Doherty’s hand, ‘I really didn’t want to give up my new musket anyway,’ said Markus, ‘been getting pretty good with it too,’ he continued looking the colonel in the eyes, ‘I can hit what I aim at.’

Sergeant Glyn Mulhern reached inside his shirt and pulled out his flask, ‘A wee bit of comfort and fortifying colonel darling.’  He handed the brandy to Doherty who raised it up and toasted, ‘To all the campaigns we fought, to all the glory we sought, to all the regiments we led, to all the privations we endured, to the friendship we forged.  To you my Irish bog trotting friend.’  After taking a drink he handed it back to Mulhern who could only manage to reply through his tears, ‘Colonel darling.’   He took a drink, saluted and followed Timothy and Markus back to camp.

The artillery barrage the following morning went on relentless for three hours, twenty pieces in a constant bombardment of the walls.  After a tremendous double salvo the firing ceased and a French officer headed across the open meadow under a white flag.  He was met by a company of grenadiers, blindfolded and led to Colonel Munro.  He handed the colonel two letters, one from Montcalm detailing surrender terms and the other the message from General Webb stating he would not send reinforcements. ‘Thank the Major-General for his generosity and concern.  He will have our answer shortly,’ said a noticeably shaken Munro. The French aide returned to Montcalm and relayed Munro’s answer and then asked, ‘What about our allies?  They are not going to like losing out on trophies and the like.  You know that that damnable Shawnee Huritt will be stirring up trouble.’  Montcalm paced back and forth, ‘I will speak with the chiefs in the morning but not with Huritt.  The other chiefs will have to keep him and the other hotheads in check.  Once the British surrender we will supply the normal honor guard; make sure they know that they are to keep the British safe as they leave the fort.’

Huritt stormed into the Shawnee encampment eyes spitting fire, hands clenched tightly on his war lance.  He had been to the French camp and heard the rumor that the British were going to surrender and that they were getting safe passage out of the fort.  The chances for scalps, captives and other prizes of war not to mention the basic thrill of battle were all being taken away by these craven French.  Huritt knew Montcalm would approach the chiefs and tell them to not make trouble but he would not listen to the French or the chiefs.  He would make his own plans; gather those of a like mind from across the tribes assembled and then dare the French to stop him.

The next morning Colonel Munro addressed his officers,’ Gentlemen we are faced with a hopeless situation.  Our munitions and supplies are dangerously low, our morale is low, and we can expect no help from General Webb, an act of deplorable negligence on his part.  Major-General Montcalm has offered us full honors; officers may keep their side arms and our baggage will not be molested nor will we be.  All other weapons will be stacked up in the fort.  I will not wait any longer.  I will walk out and surrender the fort.  Colonel Doherty will accompany me.’

An hour later the sun just now cresting the hills to the east, Colonel Munro and Colonel Doherty with an honor guard bearing a white flag trotted out of the gate.  Major-General Montcalm expecting such a move was already mounted when word came that the British were riding out.  The two parties met in the meadow just west of the fort; Doherty was scanning the group of French cavalry attending the Major-General when his eyes were drawn to a lone Shawnee brave standing on a hilltop.  ‘That bloody chap does not have the look of acquiescence about him,’ Doherty muttered under his breath.  He was partially drawn back to Colonel Munro who was officially surrendering the fort but he couldn’t escape the look of that Shawnee.  ‘I see my death in his eyes.’  ‘What was that?’ asked Colonel Munro.  ‘It is nothing sir, just a moment of private reflection.’  Montcalm saluted Munro turned and headed back to his camp.  Colonel Doherty finally turned away from Huritt’s stare and rode back to the fort, his gaze now falling upon the three men on horseback leaving the militia encampment.

The rest of the day was spent in stacking of arms under the supervision of a troop of French Marines and in the moving of the troops from the fort to the larger militia camp.  Timothy, Markus and Sgt. Mulhern were camped in a small valley between the hills to the east of the camp.  They agreed on taking turns watching the militia camp.  Markus had the first watch but had seen nothing noteworthy; his ears perked up as he heard Timothy climbing the hill to relieve him.  ‘Nothing going on down there.  I ‘spect it’ll be quiet until morning,’ Markus told Timothy as he headed to a well needed sleep.  Timothy found it hard to stay awake through the long and quiet night and so was startled when Sgt. Mulhern tapped him on the shoulder.  ‘I’d kick you six shades of shite if you was regular army; napping on guard duty,’ chuckled Mulhern, ‘I presume all is quiet?  Oh well now what have we here?’  Mulhern pointed down to the foothills below them where a large force of Shawnee, Ottawa, Huron and Ojibway warriors were spreading out on either side of the road out of the camp, keeping to the depressions between the hills so as to not be spotted.  ‘Go and help Markus saddle our horses.  I have a feeling down the back of my neck that we will need to follow the colonel very shortly.’

Colonel Munro led the contingent of regulars out of the gate and was followed by Colonel Doherty and the militia.  The baggage and civilians made up the rear as they marched out to the fanfare of drums and military band of the French.  They had barely cleared the gate when they heard the cries of Indians as they began killing the wounded that had been under French care in the fort.  The already somber mood of the British became noticeably tenser with eyes darting back and forth expecting to see a horde of blood thirsty savages descending upon them.  Colonel Doherty being on horseback saw them first.  When they had gone about 500 yards there was a loud war whoop and then the hillside was alive with tomahawk brandishing warriors.  Some of the warriors headed to the baggage train and began looting it finding among the valuables a sizable quantity of rum.  Others went straight into the British ranks indiscriminately killing and scalping or grabbing men out of the line to be taken back as captives.  Soon the 2500 unarmed men and women were in a panic and began running, some trampling on the bodies of the fallen and the dead.  The sight of brain matter, the coppery smell of blood and the loosened bowels had many bent over retching.  The French were quick to react but were ineffective in quelling the slaughter.  They did manage to put a protective cordon around Colonel Munro but were too late to help Colonel Doherty.  Doherty had pulled out his saber and was using it to club and slash at the hands trying to pull him down off of his mount.  He had just succeeded in repelling an Ojibway by cutting off two of his fingers when he locked eyes on Huritt who was leaping onto the back of the horse bringing the pipe end of his tomahawk down on Doherty’s skull knocking him unconscious.  Huritt grabbed onto him to keep him from falling and took the reins from his hands.  With a victory scream he galloped away with his prize heading north to a Shawnee village on the east shore of Lake George.

Colonel Doherty awoke to a sharp pain in his head and found that he was sitting against a tree trunk bound to it around his waist.  His feet were bound together as were his hands.  He grimaced through the pain and tried to focus on his surroundings but his eyes were blurry from the blow to his head.  Soon Huritt came over to him, set down a bowl of food and untied his hands.  ‘Eat, colonel. You will need your strength to run a gauntlet in the morning.’  While eating he reached his hand up to his head and felt the stickiness of caked blood and an indentation in his skull.  The touch had him almost screaming but he had made up his mind that he was not going to give Huritt the satisfaction of hearing him suffer; he would go to his death silently.  When he had finished the food Huritt came over to re-tie his hands and said nothing but just stared into his eyes trying to intimidate Doherty.  Doherty was staring back and was about to look away when the sound of a curlew reached his ears.

Sergeant Mulhern began imitating the songs and cries of the birds of his homeland when he was a boy and through the years with Colonel Doherty they had always used the curlew as a means of communicating in the field.  They had taken a position in the hills east of the lake and had a good view of the Shawnee camp and of Colonel Doherty.  The possibility of rescue, after much debate and with much sadness was deemed impossible.  The Shawnee camp was a getting larger as the night wore on as more and more warriors came into the camp with their captives or with their many scalps.  The constant activity and the fact that the captives, including Doherty were being kept in the middle of the camp made any rescue attempt a suicide mission.  When Doherty heard Mulhern’s bird call, his resolve strengthened and with a grin he said to Huritt, ‘You think to gather my warrior spirit and courage by killing me; God’s bollocks you will.  You will get nothing from me but this advice; you are doomed, Snake Slayer will avenge his family and me.  If I were you I’d head west of the Father of Rivers and perhaps sleep with your eyes open.  He will find you and you will die.’  Huritt snarled and stood up, giving Doherty a slap to the back of his head causing him to spasm with fresh waves of pain.  Still he did not scream but he did vomit most of his just eaten dinner on Huritt’s feet and lower legs.

The Shawnee camp, being a temporary one used only during the siege and battle for Fort William Henry, did not contain many women or the older men and women of the tribe.  This meant that the gauntlet run was lined on both sides by mostly young men and warriors.  They each held some sort of club or a cluster of thorn covered boughs.  Huritt led Colonel Doherty to the beginning of the line and said, ‘Now we see if you live or die,’ and gave him a shove in the back to start him running.

Timothy watched as the colonel stumbled into a slow jog and was met with a hail of blows to his back, buttocks and legs.  ‘Come on colonel.  Make it to the end and you might live through this,’ he exhorted.  ‘I don’t reckon them Shawnee are gonna let him finish,’ replied Markus, ‘do you see the size of the bastard at the end of the line.  If the colonel makes it that far without falling or losing consciousness that beast will stop him.’

Doherty moved as quickly as he could but could not avoid some of the more vicious hits and soon was only able to walk slowly, almost shuffling his feet as he progressed down the line.  His mind was now numb as fresh bouts of pain took their toll.  He was about three-quarters through the gauntlet and only with great effort did he move one foot in front of the other.  A glancing blow to his head sent him reeling but he caught himself before he hit the ground.  A young Shawnee boy then lashed at him with a thorn laden branch, scrapping it down his back and creating several rivulets of blood to stream down his back and legs as he struggled to right himself.  Somehow the blow of the thorns digging into his back and sides triggered him into action and with a roar he grabbed the boy and using him as a shield moved closer to the end finally throwing him into the body of one of the last warriors in line.  He glanced up at the only one left and with a cry of rage and with an instinct for survival he launched himself at the large warrior.  Huritt, who was now standing behind the muscle bound brave, watched with an amused look on his face as the warrior raised one of his ham sized fists and brought it down on the back of Doherty’s head right where the tomahawk had done its initial damage.  The colonel went down, unconscious before he hit the ground.

When Colonel Doherty awoke he found himself tethered to a pole by a noose around his neck.  His hands were tied but his legs were free from restraint allowing him to move in a circle around the pole.  He pushed back the throbbing pain in his head and willed himself to focus his sight on his surroundings.  A pile of brush and firewood was stacked around the pole; there being about a five foot clearing where the condemned could shuffle about in a vain attempt to avoid the heat and flames.  He looked out at the gathering warriors and saw the many empty rum barrels scattered throughout the camp.  He vaguely remembered hearing while he was coming to consciousness the whoops of drunken men and the beating of drums but now it was eerily quiet as they all waited for Huritt to light the fire.  To compose himself before his fiery death, Doherty thought back to his last conversation with Sgt. Mulhern and fervently prayed that his friends were nearby.  He looked up to the hills and he realized that the morning was without even a breath of wind and he smiled.  His grin grew when he heard the distinctive trilling of a curlew.

Markus had used the pre-dawn darkness to creep down the hillside until he found a covered position behind some boulders.  He estimated that he was about 225 yards from the execution site and was pleased to note the absence of any wind.  Timothy and Sgt. Mulhern remained at the top of the hill; their muskets loaded and the horses saddled.

Growing impatient at the wait, one of the more inebriated Shawnee grabbed the unlit end of a smoldering, white hot piece of firewood from the camp fire and entered the ring intending to inflict more pain on the prisoner.  Doherty backed up as far as he could until his back was against the pole and waited for his tormentor to get close.  With a reserve of strength he did not know he had he leaped up and delivered a two footed kick to the Shawnee catching him in the groin sending him sprawling into the brush and logs where he proceeded to moan in pain to the sounds of laughter from his fellow warriors.  Huritt picked him up and shoved him out of the way and lit the bonfire.

Huritt stood back from the growing conflagration as the brush ignited all around the condemned colonel.  He was looking for the fear and listening for the begging screams but Colonel Doherty just stared back at him with an emotionless face. When the heat grew too fierce, Huritt backed away more and joined his warriors who were screaming their approval and their hate.  Doherty felt the hair on his legs begin to curl and singe, his feet began to throw off smoke as he retreated as far as he could.  Then some of the Shawnee with long poles began pushing the burning wood closer to the cut-ta-ho-tha; the condemned one.  No longer able to hold out, Doherty screamed out, ‘For God and Saint George, for King and Britain.  MULHERN!’

Markus knew it was time when he heard the colonel cry out.  He raised the musket, said a quick prayer for accuracy and squeezed the trigger.

Huritt was beginning to feel good about the proceedings and had even allowed himself a long drink from a rum cask.  His eyes, however, never veered off of his victim.  Just when it appeared that the flames would engulf the pole and the man on it, Huritt saw the colonel’s head recoil as if from a blow and saw a fresh spray of blood, skin and hair.  He threw down the rum and looked back to the hillside and saw a white man scrambling back up from the boulders.  Bellowing at the top of his voice because he had been cheated out of the death of his enemy, he looked around but realized he would not be able to catch the shooter.  Too many empty rum barrels meant too many warriors unable to take up the chase.

Sergeant Glyn Mulhern saw Markus raise the musket to his shoulder, heard the shot and watched as his friend died cheating the Shawnee out of some of their glory, honor and barbaric notion of courage and strength.  ‘Farewell, Colonel Darling, you sheep shagging Scottish bastard.  The Good Lord and Saint George will take care of you now.’  He nodded to Markus as he joined him and Timothy and handed him the reins to his horse.  With unabashed tears and without looking back, the three then rode away.

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