white wolf - part 20

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Chapter 19

As soon as he passed through the ranch gates, John was hit by a terrible feeling of guilt and sorrow. He hardly even noticed the house but somewhere in his brain it registered the ruined building had been repaired. John walked straight over to his family's graves and knelt beside the three mounds. Tears of anguish flowed freely from his eyes and he stayed quietly sitting there. It was the wolf who brought him back to reality as it brushed against his legs and stretched out beside him. He stroked the thick fur then stood up and went to see the house. Obviously Hans had been back to repair the damaged house because it looked as good as new. Some furniture was gone but he realised it was probably burnt in the fire. A few beams were scorched but it added to the aged look.

 He didn't think he would be able to sleep inside tonight so he checked out the cottage. Someone had been here as there was no dust and everything was tidy. He even found some tins of food in the cupboard and fresh sheets on the bed.

The next morning he explored the ranch and found about 50 head of cattle grazing happily in far fields. There were no horses on the property but they would be kept in a safer place, he was sure. Later in the day he rode into Helena. His first stop was Hans' house where he found the old German busy cutting timber in the shed. They embraced and Han's told him that he, Dave and some others spent a weekend at the ranch, repairing the damaged house. It was the least they could do and he asked how the tracking of the Blackfeet had gone. John as was his way downplayed the events but Hans was sure his good friend would have taken a heavy toll on the Blackfeet. "So John I see ya still have all your hair so it must have gone well," said Hans. John simply nodded quite content to not discuss the matter any further.

As the two of them entered the White Wolf Transport Company office, Dave spotted his friends and came rushing over to see how John was. "I'm alright," replied John but then Hans butted in, adding "he is better than alright because he kept his hair and showed those murderin injuns a thing or two." The trio ventured across the street to the bar and Hans and Dave attempted to ply John with alcohol. John was having none of it though and after a few drinks was happy to just sit and talk. He told them a condensed and sanitised version of his attack on the Blackfeet camp, omitting the most gruesome parts but still conveying the message he'd caused terrible destruction to the Indians.

A man sitting on a nearby table overheard much of the conversation and came over to join them. He was a reporter for the town's only newspaper and thus was very interested to hear first hand all about John's story. John was reluctant to say much but his friends, mainly Hans relayed the tale and took great delight in embellishing the parts he didn't know. John got up to leave but the reporter asked a final direct question. "Mr White how many of the bastards did you kill?" John didn't really want to answer but Hans again jumped in and said"at least 17". This was good enough for the reporter who could envisage a great headline in the next edition of the weekly paper.

The Helena Tribune ran the headline a few days later, it read ' Local hero takes revenge on renegade Indians.' The article attracted a lot of attention, not only in the town but also right across the country. Major newspapers in the cities took up the story and published their own versions. Many reporters also came to the town in search of the now famous White Wolf, it seems people all over the nation were wanting to learn more of the legendary White Wolf.

All of the attention was too much for John who arranged to sell all of his cattle and most of the horses then simply vanished back into the wilderness. He told his closest friends he was going back to stay a while with the Cheyenne and then possibly head up to Canada. He had no idea how long he'd be gone but was more than happy for Dave to continue running the successful business and for Hans to organise someone to live as a caretaker, free of charge at the ranch.

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