Salute the Soldier Briefly episode #23

Jas was out of a job and was hoping to find one soon. While traveling he came across a sign which read Colossus Mining Company. He thought he'd check to see if they were doing any hiring.

When he got there he could hear voices coming from an old shack. He tied his horse to an old broken down wagon wheel and walked over and knocked on the door of the shack. As Jas stepped off the front porch and headed to take a look in the window of the shack, a man by the name of Sample came out holding a shotgun on Jas. You could hear someone yelling from the background who was out there. Sample told him that it wasn't anything he couldn't handle.

Jas told the man that there was nothing for him to handle and that he was looking for a job with a mining outfit and asked him if he did the hiring. He was a very unfriendly cuss and with that he raised his shotgun and said....."Just the firing, which I am on doing if you don't get on that animal and ride on out of here," as he held the shotgun on Jas. Both men just stood there looking at each other. Jas then slowly turned and headed for his horse. The man then turned quickly and went inside. Seems like whatever was going on in there was mighty important to him.

Inside the miner's shack there was a miner's court going on. It seems that Charles Briswell has been accused of stealing a musical pocket watch and killing its owner. They accused him of breaking the old man's neck just to get his music. Briswell called this trial a mockery of justice. "You haven't listened to one word of my defense. I have a right to a fair trial!"
"I demand a fair trial!" Yelled Briswell. "This is nothing but a kangaroo court!" You have no authority to try me!" "In the first place your evidence is purely circumstantial!"

Jas could hear everything that was being said. As he slowly started to walk towards the shack, words from his trial started through his head. "Gentleman.....the evidence against me is circumstantial; I am not guilty as charged."

He then could hear Briswell saying....."Yes I have the watch. The old man's dead and I'm alive! But that doesn't make me guilty!" Exclaimed Briswell loudly.

Again words started to go through Jas's mind about his trial. "Yes all the others died. I was the only one to come out alive. But the fact that I am alive does not make me guilty."

Jas then entered the shack and Sample held his shotgun on him. "I thought I told you to ride out of here," stated Sample. "I still need that job," said Jas. Sample then turned to Wheeler. "What kind of a job?" Asked Wheeler. "I'm a mining engineer, thought maybe you could use one," said Jas. "Sure is a big one Wheeler.....I bet he could make a picky poke fly," said Slate. Wheeler looked Jas over and asked him if they had worked some other place before. "No.....not that I can remember," said Jas.  "Well we're long on brains and short of hands around here," said Wheeler. "We lost a man yesterday. Fancy Dan here busted his neck." Wheeler was referring to Briswell as he walked towards him." "Now we're gonna bust his neck, after we hold miner's court," laughed Wheeler.

"I didn't kill him.....I was just passing by." "The old man suggested a card game.....I cleaned him out and rode away," said Briswell. "Ah he's flat out guilty," claimed Wheeler. Wheeler then turned to Jas and asked him if he wanted to hire his muscles or not? Jas told him that it didn't look like much of a future with their outfit. "In that case you better get out!" Stated Wheeler. Wheeler then turned to Briswell and said....."We have a legal matter to attend to!" Jas unexpectedly grabbed a hold of Sample's shotgun and drew his pistol. "This will keep it legal," said Jas. Jas then told Sample to let go of the shotgun.

"Now.....let's hear from Mr. .....Said Jas. "Charles Briswell," said Briswell. "What does Mr. Briswell have to say," said Jas. "Well.....they said that I broke old Jenkins neck," said Briswell. "Well.....that's the way we found him." "His watch was missing," said Wheeler. "Let him finish his story," said Jas. "I won those things from the old boy playing poker; he thought he had a pat hand. I raised him.....I won it all with a straight flush and then he left." "No point in hanging around after he was wiped out." Somebody else must have come along later and killed him, it wasn't me." stated Briswell. "Well if he was wiped out.....why did somebody kill him?" Asked Slate. "How should I know.....maybe it was were always fighting, you wanted money," said Briswell. Wheeler looked at Briswell and then looked at Jas. "Now I got you placed!" said Wheeler. "Your Jason McCord.....the coward of Bitter Creek!" You should have seem the look on Sample and Slate's faces when Wheeler knew who Jas was. "Well you're a fine one to be preaching fair play to us," said Slate. Briswell interrupted....."He knows what it like to be accused of something he didn't do and no one to prove otherwise." "He's more fortunate then I am.....he has a witness!" Jas was surprised by this statement. "Witness? What are you talking about?" Asked Jas. "Me! I saw the whole battle from a butte I was prospecting," said Briswell. Wheeler wanted to know why Briswell didn't know Jas from the beginning. "I did.....he wasn't advertising his name, so I didn't!" Briswell looked at Jas and said....."You were handed a rotten deal. The army would have given you a metal if they had seen what I saw," said Briswell.
"Well you ain't gonna see nothing else because we're gonna hang you!" Yelled Wheeler. Wheeler then looked over at Jas and said....."And you might have some company!" All the while laughing. Jas then cocked his gun and stuck it in Wheeler's face and said....."Your not gonna hang anybody." He then demanded that Briswell loose be cut loose. Wheeler told Slate to go ahead and cut Briswell loose. "Nice deal!" "You scratch my cowardly back & I'll scratch your cowardly hide," said Slate as he cut the ropes around Briswell's hands. Jas then threw the shotgun to Briswell and told him to get their guns. Jas then smashed open a barrel of whiskey and threw all their guns into it and told Briswell to get on the horse outside. Jas then lit a match and dropped it into the barrel. Wheeler said that it would go off in a minute, but Jas reassured them sooner if it was descent whiskey that was in the barrel. Jas then ran out and he and Briswell rode off together. The four men rushed to get out of the shack just as the bullets started to go off. "If that McCord's a coward.....I never wanna run into anyone with guts!" Yelled Wheeler.

Jas & Briswell rode for quite a ways before stopping. They stopped to look back, but no sign of them. Briswell said he was on his way to Yucca City. Jas felt different; there was no Army Garrison at Yucca City. "What do you want with an Army Garrison?" Asked Briswell. As long as there's a saloon, a poker game and some women that was all Briswell was interested in. "You can get to that later. Right now I'd like to know what you saw at Bitter Creek." "You said you were prospecting there, you don't look or act like a prospector," said Jas. Briswell told Jas that he was a geologist, Magna CumLaude, Oxford. "I spent years following the Elusive Yellow from India, South America, finally here." Jas told Briswell that he would like him to tell his story to an Army officer that was if they could find one. Briswell said he would tell it to Jas and Jas could tell it to the Army. "They listened to my story once.....I don't think they would appreciate a new version coming from me," said Jas. "I see your point," said Briswell. "Good.....then we'll head for Fort Hobson, alright?" Said Jas. "If that's what you want," said Briswell. They started on their way towards Fort Hobson.

They traveled for quite a ways when they saw something in the distance that looked suspicious. Jas said he would go ahead on foot and see what was going on. There was an Army camp that was ransacked by an Indian. There was a soldier hanging from a tree and an Indian by the campfire. With his saber in hand Jas slowly snuck into the camp, and surprised the Indian. As Jas and the Indian started in hand to hand combat a shot rang out. Briswell had shot the Indian.
There happened to be a Cavalry troop nearby and when they heard the shot they rushed to see if there was a problem with their soldier that were on look out. Just as the Cavalry arrived Jas & Briswell was cutting down the soldier from the tree. "We cut him down as soon as we could Lieutenant, he stepped on a few renegades by mistake," said Jas.
Lt. Shanley recognized Jas right away. They shook hands. Both men were glad to see each other. "They worked my corporal over pretty good, Apache style," said the Lieutenant. "Obviously you two know each other," said Briswell. "I served with the Captain at Shiloh, Fredericksburg and in the Comanche wars," said the Lieutenant. "Unfortunately, not at Bitter Creek," said Briswell. The men all glanced at each other with Jas saying to the Lieutenant....."If I remember, you lost two good friends at Bitter Creek." "As I lost thirty," said the Lieutenant with a smile. "That's not much of an accommodation Lieutenant, but it's the best I've had in a long while, thanks!" Smiled Jas. "Are you taking the corporal to Fort Hobson?" Ask Jas. The Lieutenant told him no and that they were bivouacked not far from there and there was a medical corpsman with them. The Lieutenant asked Jas why. Jas told him the story of Briswell seeing what had happened at Bitter Creek. He asked the Lieutenant if he could record Briswell testimony and send it on to headquarters, in hopes of his case being reopened. The Lieutenant said he would be glad to in hopes that Jas would be cleared.
"I saw McCord shoot down five Apaches and when he ran out of bullets I saw him use his saber. Two more Apaches were sliced lengthwise like bloody melon," said Briswell. "Those details aren't necessary," said Jas to Briswell. "You never know what small detail will help," Said Briswell. "He hacked down three more Apaches," the Lieutenant interrupted....."You said two." "I did? They were falling all around like leaves." "Suddenly one of them cam up from behind McCord and laid him out with the butt end of a carbine, directly beside the body of General Reed." "I figured McCord was dead and so did the Apache. The Army dead were lying all around and no one was moving." The Lieutenant asked if McCord ran out. "Who could run out on the dead?" Asked Briswell. He thought it was a complete massacre and it made him feel squeamish and that he had left immediately. The Lieutenant completed his report and had the Sergeant sign it, then Briswell. The Lieutenant asked Briswell why he didn't come forward and tell this story at the time Captain McCord was on trial. Briswell told the Lieutenant that he was in India for a time and had heard about the trial when he returned. The Lieutenant told the men that this report would be relayed to the proper level at once and that headquarters may want more information from him later. Briswell wanted to head out and do more prospecting. The Lieutenant asked him if he could wait a week to ten days. Jas told Briswell that he could put up with him at the hotel in Yucca City. Briswell said he had to work for a living. The Lieutenant assured him the Army would compensate him. Briswell said that was fair enough. The Lieutenant then walked over to Jas and said....."I know it's not official yet.....but welcome back!"
Jas & Briswell headed towards Yucca City. It was quite a ride and the horses were getting tired. Jas stopped and told Briswell that they should camp there for the night and let the horses rest. Briswell wanted no part of camping there for the night. He wanted to get to Yucca City and the saloon. Jas was suspicious of Briswell, he seemed anxious to split from Jas. Briswell said not and that he'd meet him in town. Jas wasn't so sure. Briswell told Jas that they were even, they both bailed each other out of a sticky situation. Jas confronted him about his story; it was pretty skimpy, he was sure the Army would want more, including him. Jas was so anxious to get his story on record that he didn't stop to examine it closely enough. "That tree that you said you were hiding behind up on the hill.....was it a Juniper?" Asked Jas. "And that first Indian you shot.....did he have two feathers in his hair or three?" Asked Briswell. Jas studied him for a bit and then said....."I see what you mean." "I was watching a massacre, I wasn't classifying trees." "We'll still camp here and ride into town tomorrow," said Jas. Briswell agreed.
They dismounted and tied their horse to a tree. Jas then walked over to Briswell and said....."I'm still curious about one thing Briswell." "You say you saw me fall beside General do you know it was Reed?" "Did you see his uniform by the light of the camp fire from way up on that hill?" Briswell told Jas that he was trying to trick him. Jas told him that's exactly what the Army brass would do. Briswell said he can try & trick him all he wants, but everybody know Apaches don't fight at night. "That's what everybody thinks haven't been in this country long enough for you to know.....Apaches fight when they are in the night." "Are you calling me a liar McCord?" "Thirty dead troopers at Bitter Creek are calling you a liar." "That massacre happened at night." "Is that a fact?" Asked Briswell. " I lied." "I saved your hide because you sounded innocent, not because I wanted you to lie for me," said Jas. "The Lieutenant believed my story.....why do you hold the Army in such high lie wipes out another." Jas told him....."There is something more important then convincing the Army.....I wanted to know the truth, for myself!" "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth McCord." "Do you want to go back to being branded now that the slate is clean?" "You want to dirty your name again?" This just angered Jas. He grabbed a hold of Briswell and said....."My name may be dirty to others.....but now you've made it dirty to me!" Jas then shoved him to the ground. Jas looked at him and said....."Saddle up.....we're going back to the Army camp." Briswell walked over to his horse. He caught Jas unaware when he pulled a derringer out of his saddlebags. "I could have killed you before.....I had a dozen chances," said Briswell. "Those miner's were right about you weren't they? You did kill that old man." "Yes I killed him.....I meant to choke him but he was just too brittle," said Briswell. "One more thing I would like to know....." With that Jas took his jacket and flung it at Briswell making Briswell drop his gun. Jas then charged at Briswell. Jas hit him hard. Briswell rushed over to Jas's saddle bag and took out Jas's saber and threw it at him. Just missing him. Again they started fighting. Jas getting the best of him. Jas hit him again. Jas grabbed him and said....."You'll get another trial Briswell.....but not by a kangaroo court!"
Jas took Briswell and headed back to the Army camp. Lt. Shanley asked Jas what he was doing there. Jas said he would like to see his journal again. The Lieutenant agreed and asked the Sergeant to get him the journal. Jas then took the journal and ripped out the page with Briswell's statement & signature and crumbled it up. "I found out a little too late that Briswell was lying. He wasn't anywhere near Bitter Creek." Jas then asked the Lieutenant to forget what had happened earlier. Jas then mounted his horse. The Lieutenant walked over to Jas and looked up and him & said....."You didn't have to tell me ya' know." "Yes I know," said Jas. The Lieutenant then saluted Jas. As he started to walk away Jas called to him....." Lieutenant according to regulations a soldier salutes the uniform.....not the man." I just broke a me.....Captain!" said the Lieutenant.  

Salute the Soldier Briefly ― Cast

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