Mancos Valley - 1868

April 10th, 1886

William Lee Huddison finds a pass to the Arkansas River and makes a primitive map useful only to himself. On the way home he finds ample bear sign and makes note for a future hunt. He also happens upon a corpse of a man who has died from exhaustion and exposure. Huddison gives the man a makeshift burial with stones and helps himself to the dead man’s boots, pistol, and a bag containing two letters bound for Dixon City.
Meanwhile, John Block gains insight into Brazos’ motives at George Mankins’ barber shop. Block’s shave is interupted with disturbing news. Ningun, the drunkard son of a the local Comanche chief Getido, comes to town to indulge a vice, putting every one on edge. An incident involving this man could threaten the entire town. Block diffuses the situation by shepharding the insensiate young Comanche from Marshall Faucett’s saloon to the blacksmith shop on Gold St to sleep it off.
The next day, Huddison returns to camp to report his discovery to his backer Block, only to find Ningun sleeping up in the hay loft. Block and Huddison arrange for an interview with Brazos in the sheriff’s office. Block presents news of the new pass and the obvious benefits to the camp. Brazos is supportive if not effusive.
Huddison takes a moment alone to inspect the two letters he has found. He clumsily tears open the envelopes. Both letters are addressed to individuals in Dixon City. The first is a letter to Mr. David Griffin and is a prosaic update of family members back in Missouri. The second is business corrispondence from the Lincoln and Banes Shipping Ltd of Chicago, Illinois. The letter is in reply to a proposal sent by a Mr. John H. Behan of Dixon City. In the letter the Chicago firm confirms its intentions to send representitives in early August for face to face discussions. The substance of the proposal is not detailed.
The son of a chief later awakes and asks for the horse that he sold the day before in exchange for a binge. A quick search by Block and Huddison reveal that the horse has been spirited out of town that morning. Driven by shame and contempt for Block’s clumsy offer of day labor, Ningun hastily marches out of town without supply or weapons to return to his people . Huddison begins to stalk him through the wilderness.
John Block later finds it necessary call his wayward apprentice, Tommy Watkins, to heel. Block calls accross the thoroughfare for Watkins to leave off talking with Eilish Daly. The boy returns to the workshop but is defiant when Block scolds him. Watkins storms out and his whereabouts are unknown.
Intrepid corrispondent Mike Sandson arrives at the workshop to present the fruits of his writing. The resulting workload from the absence of an apprentice is tying down Block. The blacksmith asks Sandson to go out and pursuade Watkins to return to work. The task proves harder than Sandson imagined. Instead of the truant, he collects one rumor and is apruptly summoned to the town office.
The rumor in Janestown is that a modest contigent of Mexican soldiers have arrived in Dixon City escourting some kind of official.
Sandson is brought before a virtually silent Sheriff Brazos and Mayor Ashmont. The combined force of the two town fathers extract a commitment from Sandson to write promotional journalism to be delivered to Texas publications exclusively.
Meanwhile, Huddison has skillfully convinced Nigun to allow him to join him in a perilous journey to meet the Comanche chief Getido. Huddison hopes to obtain the Comanche’s consent for frieght to be moved through the newly discovered Huddison Pass. He may pay with his life.

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