Hot off the trail Beeman took the load off of his horse then off of himself. He'd been riding hard for six days a week for six hard months now. He'd go for seven except there was a few lines that even Roy Beeman wouldn't cross and resting on the Sabbath was a golden rule as far as he was concerned. His grandmother taught him that it was best if a hard working man rested one day a week, after all the Good Lord did! Besides, things always seemed to go better that way.
Roy made camp under a rock ledge along the west wall of the canyon, the east wall was not nearly as tall and that way the sun would hit him early. Not much will chill your bones like the early dawn in the canyons of the high desert of southern California. Roy was on the trail of a real bad one this time. "Not that any of the other case before this one was an afternoon fishing trip." This time Roy is not after a man he is after a legend, an unknown mystery at that.
It all started two summers ago when the military desert outpost raided the near by Indian village, killing every living thing except one lone young squaw that was thought to be about the age of 14. The company commander had orders to deliver one young Indian girl to a well to do officer in town. A home with the strictest of politically correct values, a home where the Indian girl could be transformed into a
"proper white woman." I guess you could say they wanted to hold her up as a sort of prize or trophy.
She was placed in the home of retired Union General Coleman Shore and his wife Liz, (Elizabeth.) They live in a house in the center of town that is so large that you can see the property from a half mile out of town easy! They have servants and guards that all seem to be on duty from sun up to sun up. Coleman and Liz never could have children and as some rumors go, it's a problem that General Shore has in being able to fulfill his manly duties in the marital chambers if you know what I mean. Of course there are more prominent rumors that are based on the General's unusual, occasional nightlife, if you know what I mean.
Soon after the raid, a young white girl of about the same age as the Indian girl, mysteriously disappeared. To some who claimed to have seen the incident, the mystery was not in the fact that the girl disappeared but in the fact of who or what took her. It's told around that she was took by a thing that was neither man nor beast, rather some sort of combination of both looking mostly like a wolf except it walked upright and larger than a wolf. For a while everyone figured it had to be an old grizzly that come down out of the high country and found a good meal in the girl. No one really had ever seen a grizzly around here. A grizz here would be as much a rumor as any other story. Though a bear is the only thing that anyone was able to make any sense from; they can walk upright and are surely strong enough to carry a woman and terrorize a man. The only problem is why? Why would a bear carry a person off instead of just tearing them to pieces right where they found them. There was no sign of a struggle, no blood and not even the smallest thing was out of place in that girl's room.
Well, after a year or so folks gave up on the thought of a bear, as most of the men spent most of that time looking for one to no avail. General Shore's wife, feeling bad for the girl's family, offered a $5.00 bounty for every bear brought in and the person that killed the bear could keep the pelt for tanning and trading as they would. I can't say that in all the bounty that was ever collected during the time, not the first man woman or child ever even seen the first grizzly bear. There are a few wolves, coyotes, black bear, mountain lions and other critters around but none that could be accused of runnin off with a full-grown person, at least not without a struggle and a lot of noise, blood and effort.
Ole Beeman never took any of it serious except the one fact that the girl was missing without any real clues and now he is out to solve it once and for-all. No one knows for sure just who hired him, if anyone at all. Maybe this time it's personal. No matter as it would be good for everyone if the girl was found and after all, if there was any clues to be known Roy would come up with them. Roy spent twenty years as the best snoop dog the U.S. Marshals ever had, even unto this day. If there were a crime, if there's a clue somewhere, Roy would follow the smell of that thing until he could stick his nose right in it. In other words, and excuse my english, he aint never not got hold of what he was lookin for.
Roy had a hunch a while back and just took off and when he goes on a hunch he's going to ride it till he could ride no more, if that's what it would take. Roy is not a big built man on the outside but there is something mighty big on the inside. When a big strong man wears out to the point of shear exhaustion Roy just keeps on a goin as fresh as when he started. Something inside would just spark up like one of those Chinese fire sticks.
However this time Roy is at the end of his ambitious quest. That's how I see it at least. I mean looking at him sleeping there under that ledge off of a trail that leads smack into a known box canyon. That was my thoughts as I road up to his camp just before sun-up this day. I come to my final conclusion on this matter as soon as I laid my eyes on him lying there sound asleep like a worn out pup. You see, there's never been a time when Beeman was on the hunt and someone could set an eye on him that he didn't already know they was there. Normally, a man would be shot or at least warned long before he got this close to Roy Beeman. Usually when he was sleep'n like this it is with one open and one ear to the wind. He for sure knows better than to be caught cornered in a box canyon like this one with no way out that is! Heck, at first I thought maybe he was dead, till he moved just a bit. I got off of my horse and walked over to the ledge where he was. I was none too quiet about it and he didn't as much as miss a beat in his snor'in. I sparked up a little fire so I could brew some fresh mud water, thinking that the smell of the coffee at sun-up would surely send a fella's thinking self a wake-up message.
I spent that whole day wet-nursing a bigger than life legend that was stricken by some kind of fever that had for the time turned him into a helpless pitiful thing. He would start moan'n and sweat'n and I would keep a wet rag laid on his brow, it's all I new to do to nurse along a fever ya know! Next he would start shivering and a shak'n like it was the dead of winter and I had to cover him up with every stitched thing I could find. It is nearly dusk and he isn't any better and I just realized that this is the very canyon where those Indians were killed a couple of years ago. As a matter of fact, if I reckon right, this might well be close to the anniversary of that day. Something seems to be add'n up here, but it ain't by any ciphering that I ever learned! It's getting dark and I'm getting nervous about being here on this night.