Jim Bridger (old Gabe), spinner of tall tales, teller of great yarns!
Old Gabe setting Indian style rolled onto his hip, unwound his legs and very slowly stood up, straightened his lean weathered body and groaned. His back still ached from an arrow years ago and sitting wasn’t what he did best. But these greenhorns from the wagon train wanted to hear about his adventures and ol' Gabe wasn’t about to disappoint anyone when it came to story tellin'. Bridger drew deeply from his long stemmed pipe closed his eyes, as if lost in thought, stretched his arms high over his head, groaned again then sat back down. This time Bridger sat on a large cottonwood log and leaned back against its ancient trunk as he continued his story.
“I member it like it were last week, me and ol' Milton Sublett were trapping up on the Yellowstone that fall. Now the Yellowstone is Blackfoot territory and them Blackfoot can be some ornery. We spent a lot of our daylights holed up and did our work on the trap line early and late. We knowed them killin' Red Devils was still about but I wasn’t in any hurry to get another arrow in my back just to prove it. One evening we had just commenced to check our traps when the both of us heard men and horses, lots of men and lots of horses. Well sir, we hardly got ourselves cleared of the stream and we saw them a coming out of the trees, and they was coming out like ants from a hill, Blackfoot, painted for war. There must have been seventy or eighty of them, all warriors, bows and arrows ready, and itching for a good fight. Now ol’ Milt and Me we didn’t seem to have that same itch being the odds seemed a might on their side.”
“We jumped our ponies and rode like hell fire through the trees trying to get our selves rid of them skins. But we couldn’t shake um! After ridding but a few hundred miles we stopped in some downed timber and commenced to fight, and fight we did. All night and most of the next day. But it weren’t going our way and we needed to high tale it out of there. Now ol’ Milt and me we had seen a lot of territory in our days but where we were now we didn’t know. We hopped our ponies, now well rested, ya see, and headed into the settin' sun, so as to make it hard for those injuns ta see us. We hadn’t rode but a few miles, probably not more un thirty, and we come upon a sheer rock wall and no where to go. Now we was in some predicament and we knowed no way out.”
“At daybreak the next day we tried to make our escape, but the Indians was a waiting for us as we tried to walk our ponies out around them. We got chased back to the foot of the cliff where we fought on till nightfall. There we was ol’ Milt and me backed up against a two hundred foot tall rock cliff, with no more ammunition and the Indians a moving in on us with these funny little smirkey looks on their faces. And them red faces told us they knew we were plumb sure done for and scared. Now they were less than twenty feet away and there was nothing we could do.”
“With that Bridger abruptly got up and walked away. The startled greenhorns who had been entranced with his stories for the past several hours shouted for him to come back and finish the story. With a reluctant look on his face ol’ Gabe walked over nearer the fire, crossed his hands behind him and asked, “Now what was it that you was a needing from me”.
“The end to your story, shouted a young man of about twenty, “how’d you get away? What happened?”
“Oh that, it’s really not much of an ending,” Bridger said, as a wry smile turned up the corners of his mouth.
“Bless your heart there child but we didn’t get away, they killed us”.
Bridger walked away smoking his pipe, chuckling to himself.