|'Proud Justice' (Ch. 34 the Obbligato)
By JdSchooley on 12/24/2016
Beneath the canvas tent Josh could see the fellow who was know as Miller speaking his part. He knew some Dakota from his years on the land and was know by many of his people as honest and good hunter. When his voice began there were many who would not listen, they said that his words came from the bottle. Now he stood steady and his voice rang clear. Josh Paduta heard that what he said was good and he had hope that he would now speak for the Dakota. But soon the man with the wooden hammer spoke sharply to Miller and hit the table loudly with his hammer to call Miller to be silent. Josh walked closer to hear better but stood away from the crowd.
There were others who spoke. A few did claim that Lott was seen to have left with a wagon of goods and that his stepson did go with him. None here had seen him after those days when word came about the killings, and had asked of the young children kept by two families upon the death of his young wife, Jamimah two years past. There was a question about his time near those cabins where these young now were being kept.
The Major explained that he had sent a party of five men who tracked the wagon to the Missouri river where it crossed on ice now gone out. They reported the tracks then continued west toward Cutler's Park where they must have escaped into open Nebraska, out of lawful territory.
Now Miller was back to his feet and making accusations against the trespassers who moved in on the Dakota lands in order avoid paying for land fees to the new state. Then suddenly he forced the rifle away from a man there who had rode up from Pea's Point, lifted it high and shouted loudly.
"Ve have here the very gun of Sintominadutah, the boy here vill agree." he turned to show the gun to Josh who nodded to the posetive. Miller then shouted to the young farmer, "now tell me young sir, whence did you trade this rifle from Henry Lott, the very rascal we seek here today?" He fumed at the young settler with a fiery glare his hair dripping of the sobering bucket water Jasper had applied so recently.
"Consider yourself unwelcome at these proceedings" Granville shouted above the ruckus "Jasper, if you expect to keep your friend from lock and gag, I advise you to remove him immediately."
With great difficulty, Jasper and the Major pushed the old Frenchman from the tent and seemed to have him calmed down for the present. Once Granville thought he had his meeting back and working Miller returned to put a fist in his face.
"I vill gladly be locked and gagged vith the truth on my lips" adding that "no drink could change vat tis zee truth." He spun around and pointed at those in attendance. "You vish ze guilty ver hanging from ze ropes vin the Dakota's come back!" Granville smacked the table and motioned for the constable to seize Miller, but he continued unaware. "Lott and his half-wit stepson have beat ze Dutch and left us to smart like a steel trap on ze foot!" The German lad was trying to pull him from the meeting while he shouted all the louder. Granville insisted that all his words be stricken from the record saying, "the air of his breath does not show that he could be known to speak the truth when spirits give way to lies and nonsense."
For awhile there was pandemonium as Granville barked orderes for Miller to taken off by the constable. But he was not up to the task and soon found his feet up in the air and the old trapper began again.
"Tis the boarder ruffians like Lott who have played the Dakota like a gin mill, and now ze freckles have vanished vis no trace, leaving us to kiss Ole Sal." At this moment the German lad rose up and took Miller from behind. Placing a lock on his neck that proved effective. With a short struggle he had the whiskered old trapper backing out the side of the tent, and with a rapid hammering, Granville brought silence back to the proceedings.
"The testimony of Mr. Miller, I fear, will have to be taken with great reservations," Granville announced to the assembled, "as I fear he may have a tile loose!" That got a hearty laugh and delivered the attention away from the lively witness back to the main table. "A particular aspect to these testimonies must be credibility of the witness." Granville was silent only a moment while taking note of the transcriptions when another unrecognized voice broke in.
"All those about can testify that these two had been at daggers drawn for some time now," interjected the English gent. Standing tall and angular from the center of those seated he knocked the smoldering contents from his worn pipe. "Seems apparent to me, these dastardly villains have rode off with the spoils and left us with the bitters." He stepped out from between the rows of seats heading for the street. "Take what testimony you like, I can tell you I will be sleeping with a Bull-Dog for a while. Likely as not, I should think relocating to inside Fort Dodge would be the safer decision." Then he was gone amidst the rumblings of worried and angered settlers.
Granville spoke loudly to try to regain the focus of the inquest. "You sir, do you deny the accusation that a long gun was sold to you by Henry Lott, and that it is this item we see now before the court?" Granville pulled the gun to his chest and stood solidly before the sodbuster.
"That is my gun and it is not on trial here." He said and held his hands out expecting to receive the rifle.
"And you can prove the origin of this weapon?" The lawyer questioned the stranger asking, "from where do you hale?" There came a silence from the man. "Your speech belies you to be a corn cracker but this rifle seems not to be from Kentucky. Did you acquire a French Musket with Dakota markings from back east?" Here the lawyer had him pinned and he squirmed uncomfortable on the plank seat.
"I can tell you I am no expert on firearms, but this rifle came not from the East! There are markings in French and the ramrod fits it not. Notice the rod is fashioned from Sumac, was this your adaptation?" Granville smirked at the young man while he studied the marks, then showed the stock so all could see the Dakota symbols there.
"I will not be shystered by the likes of a bean eater like you!" The young farmer countered, he stood and placed his hand on the mid section of the gun and showed no sign of letting go.
"I can see that the citizens of your town, it is Pea's Point, is it not, are characterized by individuals of questionable values. Probably just a bunch of smelly squatters and rounders!" He let loose and turned his back to a flurry of cuss words.
"Bastards like you would take a man's reputation and trade. Suppose I did take that rifle off of ole baldy? Do not size up on our town, there are no rounders there abouts, all that is plowed and cleared has good title to it!" He blasted back at Granville, his spittle glistened on the back of Granville's head.
"And who said Henry Lott was old and bald?" Granville turned toward the Major as calmly he wiped his hair with a hanky tossing it to the table. "Williams, see if your notes can translate a question to the Dakota boy." Then staring straight at the sodbuster he insisted, "ask him to describe his attackers."
Williams passed over his notes for the right phrase. Meanwhile Jasper slipped close to see better and watched out a flap where the constable had found a piece of rope to hold Miller to a stout hickory just far enough that his shouts were making it into the meeting still.
"You zee zat zey are still here? You can keep the chief's head but you will hide with zee women! But sleep vill be scarce I think!" Then he fell silent as the constable pushed a bunch of cloth into his open mouth. That acomplished he waved to Granville to show his success. Granville motioned for him to remain with the Frenchman and the inquest resumed.
"Well I possibly have a good phrase." Said the Major, as he got the young braves attention he began the question. "Takpa wyaka aka tawa ite?" Then he waited for the reply.
"What did you ask?" Granville interacted anxiously.
"I asked him to describe the face of his attacker." The brave answered as the Major jotted down his words with a short pencil and some paper.
"Ptecala sica ya hiya hi cikala ist cepe onna un mini waka." In a few moments the Major has examined his written version of the boy's words and read them back loudly to those about.
"Short, hairless head, little eyes, and big in the belly, smells of the whiskey, and fool of a son."
A bit of mirth spread about from Josh Paduta's words but those nearby saw that he did not regard any humor in the recollections and Granville cut short the laughter with his grim reply. "You all have drawn the same conclusion as I. Henry Lott and his son are the apparent persons that Josh Paduta has described. I demand under the edict of the Governor of the state of Iowa that you bear your witness of the events about the two who sold you this rifle, as well any other property you that changed hands between you and the Lott's."
Now the young farmer began fearfully to describe the evening when the pair stopped in Pea's Point and how furs, pots, and other crude objects from the wagon were picked over for a few coins. "He would not hear of bank notes and made each of us swear silence." The fellow wrenched his dirty hat and looked down to avoid the eyes of those about. Wind picked up his stringy hair, as he spoke, the rifle never left his sight. "We were no big heap! do not seize up on our place, there are no rounders bout. Tis bully, we all paid the bones the baldy called for, and then took looks at the little ones that he had sent to stay with local folk a pair of years early on. We may be a cracker town but we ain't no loafers. The little ones being good cared for." He paused, sighed and then began again. "So I had no idea what those two were about, well I guess you can take that French whistle if you have to give it back to the boy there. But that little shy one, you will have a considerable fight with my childless Biddy on that shore nuff!" He looked about and blushed with the attention he had acquired. There was stress in his tired eyes and his long dirty fingers showed many hard hours of each days work he suffered on his patch of dirt.
"There is no need to confiscate a thing from you if we have the truth." Granville handed the musket to the man. "But you would do well to return this gun of your own accord."
"Oh I can do that, swear, I suppose old Ebenezer may have my hide on the trip back, but that tyke stays put. She is cutter-n a pooch and I would rather take my chances with the bear than my Biddy on that one."
"Oh I feel the child is home now, and that is fair. Her sibling is close by?" Asked Granville, he walked back behind the table and worked on a fresh cigar, the smoke tangled about his head and strained the watering eyes of the busy clerk.
The sodbuster cradled the rifle and looked down at Josh Paduta. The boy sat stoically and wondered what was being said, but when presented with the gun Josh grinned and accepted it with pride.
"There now," he said to the young brave, "I am being straight. That is yours fair and square. And I can say more if it is the truth you want." He came out from the group and faced those now silent listeners. "Well they came by all hungry and half froze. Being penny-less we fixed em up with a box of turnips and two and a half bushel of last crops green peanuts. That was my trade for what they took, plus one dollar and a half for what I got was the Injun gun. One night on the floor, food and shed for the animals, gone by first light. Caught that dim wit boy of his puttin the mustard shine on their boots, early morn so I guessed they intended to skunk some hounds. Then I knew they were on the slope from some where."
"That is where I lost their trail," replied the Major to Granville, "from there I expect they headed for the river and crossed into Nebraska. It snowed over the tracks so we were guessing on some part of the trail."
"Well that is about all, since I heard nothing since they left over the frozen river that morn." The sodbuster took to the side of the tent and bent his head to await his sentence. "I dare say I must have broke some laws." Then he hesitated for Granville to say his piece.
"We appreciate your candor today. The information you have rendered is your relief from any punishment. You may go when ever it entreats you to do so." Granville repayed his focus on the papers before him, failing to look up.
"I am much appreciated of that too. Never considered life to render much more than pits and gristle for me and I can tell you that as I stand here I had not been disappointed with those expectations. Now, with the prospects I see before me, this place is an amazement to behold." He turned out of the canvas flap and was gone.
"Most touching, from a cracker." Granville stated blandly. I shall render my decision, at this time." Then he stood and read from a page that he had clearly prepared prior to the hearing. "As I have the duty of Ex parte, (proceedings brought by one person in the absence of another) and what I am bound to conclude is a situation of Fatetur facinus qui judicium fugit. (he who flees confesses his guilt) Therefore, in consideration of Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, (the burden of proof lies with he who affirms not he who denies) we, the court, conclude that without Suggestio falsi, (the suggestion of something untrue) I am prepared to render my conclusion to these proceedings." Then reaching into the basket where all knew was the head of the chief, he produced a long object. "I do exhibit here the probable cause of death." He tossed onto the table a blood stained tomahawk. "This weapon was removed from the skull of Sintominadutah." He turned and drew the head by the remaning scalp to reveal the back side and drew a hand to point at a spot on the back of his own head. "Here in the back of the head, a well observed cleft was most probably the fatal blow, I conclude. It was not likely the result of a brawl, but an ambush and cold blooded murder." Josh looked at the scalped head, saw his father's tomahawk there lying on the table, and knew it to be what killed him that cold winter night among the woods where evil had left him to die in the cold.
"The court must therefore conclude a clear matter of Fatura faunus qui judicium fugit" (one who flees judgment confesses his guilt) he stood smuggly ignoring the confused faces about the tent. "A decision of guilt is therefore rendered in the absence of Henry Lott to be a fugitive of the law. His stepson, named here-in one Julian, umm, Huntington I do believe is also declared to be guilty of the crime of one or more murders committed by one or both in the same, on Sintominadutah and members of his family, numbering eight in total. An order to apprehend Henry Lott and his stepson is hereby ordered by the state of Iowa, to stand before a court of peers on charges of cold blooded murder." He turned to pour from the water pitcher, and procedded to gulp one very large drink, the cleark distinctly noting the smell of a spirit as the glass slammed back onto the table.
There rose a cry of lynching from the crowd. A few declared that without a reward, none would chance the danger of searching out the murderous pair. But Granville quieted the rabble and insisted that this logic.
"We have to consider the impact of placing a bounty on a pair of whites, where so likely a native war party would be encouraged to hunt down and legally hang a pair of white men."
Suddenly a sharp gust of wind raced through the tent and tore the papers from the head table. Shouts of despair rose up in the crowd and a shower of rain flew in on the occupants. The entire lot was sent for permanent shelter in the little church a short distance away. As the rain and the wind brought down the big tent, the wet crowd looked out on the mayhem as the locals tried to gather the remains of their produce. Then it was obvious to all that looked out, a band of Dakotas could to be seen above the town, a dance seemed to be happening around a large fire. When the Major reached Fort Dodge he reported he was not able to see any sign of the little band, and wrote this to Granville, that he could find no sigh of Inkapaduta and his men, and that there should be a watch set up night and day, so long as he intended to retain the head of the slain chief. Granville promptly nailed the head to the side of his house where all that passed could see it clearly.
The Repurposed Male
? By JdSchooley On 12/24/2016 8:09:15 PM