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The Colonel\'s Wife

Part 3





The Colonel’s Wife

Part III



Another day passed. The Apache men came and went, sometimes bringing in small game. Shortly after noon of the next day Anselmo came in with one of the braves. He gathered the band around him, speaking quickly and forcefully. Martha didn’t know what the Apache leader had said, but from the actions of the group she could guess it had something to do with the soldiers. For the moment she was forgotten as both the young men and the women went quietly and efficiently, but with an almost palpable sense of urgency,  about their tasks.


Anselmo and one of the young warriors came to Martha, leading a horse. Wordlessly they pulled Martha to her feet and untied the leather thong from around her neck. Then they boosted her up onto the horse’s back. Again they tied her ankles together beneath the horse’s belly but left her wrists free so she could better grasp the horse’s mane. The young warrior held the horse while Anselmo went to bring down two more horses. They then mounted and, the young man leading Martha’s horse, walked slowly out of the camp and up the canyon.


They traveled for what seemed hours, though Martha knew it must have been a much shorter time. In actual distance they couldn’t have gone very far, for they moved slowly, cautiously, and by a very circuitous route. First they went up the canyon, following the stream. Then they scrambled over a low, rocky divide into another canyon. They worked down the canyon, then up another side canyon.


Finally they came out on an exposed ridge line. Here they stopped. A pine tree had managed to gain a foothold in the gravely soil and had grown to good size. Without the competition of surrounding trees it had retained many of its lower branches and several of these were quite thick and strong.


Anselmo untied Martha and helped her off the horse while the young warrior selected one branch, seven or eight feet off the ground, and threw two ropes over it. Anselmo brought Martha over to the tree. A rope was tied to each wrist, either Anselmo or the warrior keeping a strong grip on Martha’s arms at all times. Only when her wrists were firmly secured did they let her go, but that was only so that they could each take the free end of one of the ropes and begin pulling.


Martha was quickly jerked off the ground. They raised her up until her hands could almost touch the branch overhead. Then they tied off the ropes. Two more ropes were fastened to her ankles. One was tied off to the tree trunk, the other taken off to a stout bush and tied, leaving Martha’s legs spread luridly wide.


Anselmo went to the saddlebags on his horse and removed a small telescope. He then positioned himself behind a rock with just head and shoulders peering over the top. He braced the telescope on top the rock and scanned the canyon below them. The warrior busied himself selecting a whippy branch, breaking it off and trimming it of small twigs.


After long minutes Anselmo said something in Apache to the warrior. With no other warning than the whishing sound it of the branch moving through the air the warrior delivered a vicious, cutting blow across Martha’s buttocks. She screamed, partly from the pain but more from the surprise. A few seconds later the first blow was followed by a second, even harder. Again Martha screamed. Anselmo grunted something to the warrior. Though it was unintelligible to Martha it seemed to convey satisfaction with what had been accomplished so far. At any rate, a third blow did not come.


Anselmo spoke again. The warrior went to his horse and pulled an army carbine out of its scabbard. He pointed it into the air and fired. He reloaded and fired again. Anselmo grunted something. The warrior put down the carbine, picked up his switch and gave Martha several more hard whacks, causing her to cry out again.


Anselmo continued to watch the canyon for long minutes. Martha watched too, but without the aid of the telescope she couldn’t be sure what was down there. Sometimes she thought she saw movement, but it was too far and too quick to make out.


Anselmo again spoke to the warrior. The warrior moved up to stand beside Martha, facing down the canyon. He gestured and called out. Then he reached over and grabbed Martha’s right breast. He squeezed it viciously, twisting and digging in with his ragged fingernails. He reached between her legs and stroked her private parts. She looked away, utterly humiliated, for she knew it must mean that soldiers were coming up the canyon. Soldiers must be close enough they could see what the savage as doing to her, a white woman. Their colonel’s wife. She wished she could die right then so they could no longer use her as bait to draw the soldiers up the canyon. Because she now understood what Anselmo needed her for. She was bait to lure the cavalry, and her husband, into the canyons to be ambushed.


The warrior stepped away. He gestured some more, yelled words that could only be obscenities to the approaching rescuers. Then he picked up the switch again. Between savage yells he delivered one, two, three strokes across Martha’s breasts. Her screams mingled with his cries of animal delight.


He moved to stand in front of her. He grabbed her breasts and started thrusting his hips at her in a mock sex act, Looking over his shoulder and calling insults to the unseen watchers in the canyon below. He went to his horse and returned with another gun, the double barreled shotgun taken from the stagecoach guard. He stood behind her, stuck the gun between her legs and lifted it up so that it pressed against her private parts. She flinched when he fired it and the barrel bucked up against her. Then he rubbed the warm metal against her slit.


The warrior came withdrew the shotgun. He came to stand beside her, brandishing the weapon in the air and yelling at the top of his lungs. He knelt down at Martha’s side and thrust the muzzle of the shotgun against her pudenda, pumping it up and down. He yelled something to the unseen watchers in the canyon and cocked the hammer.  Martha screamed when he pulled the hammer, not realizing it was falling on an empty chamber.


Anselmo, still looking through the telescope, said something to the warrior. He collapsed the telescope and stood up. Then they were untying her legs, only to tie her ankles together. She was lowered too quickly from the branch and fell in a heap on the ground. The warrior was binding her wrists while Anselmo brought her horse. She was unceremoniously dumped over the horse’s back, like a sack of wheat, then the horse was led quickly away.


Martha allowed herself to hope that the Apache had misjudged the soldiers. Randall had explained a little of military tactics to her, how they would try to get around the enemy in what he called a flanking move. She prayed that some of the blue coated soldiers were even now flanking her tormentors. But that hope died as they drew further up and further up the canyon with no sign of rescuers closing in.


They came out on another ridge top. Martha was lowered to the ground and untied. They stood her up and tied ropes to each wrist. The ends of the ropes were tied to the tails of two of the horses. The horses were led in different direction, stretching Martha between them. Martha began to panic at the thought of what they intended. Anselmo drew a revolver from his belt, pointed it in the air and fired. The horses jerked on the ropes and Martha screamed in fear of being pulled apart.


Anselmo was peering intently down the canyon. He said something to the warrior and he untied Martha from the horses. Again she was tied hand and foot and thrown over the back of the horse, a rope passing under the horse from her wrists to her ankles. Anselmo and the warrior mounted their horses and Anselmo led the way down into the canyon, the warrior leading Martha’s horse.


They wound their way through the maze of canyons and ravine for an hour or more before stopping in a dense grove of willow and cottonwood at the bottom of the canyon. Martha was taken down from the horse and tied, seated, at the base of a thick cottonwood. Anselmo led the horses away while the warrior watched her. Where the campsite was, or even if they were anywhere near it, Martha had no way of knowing, but within another hour a warrior and the two Apache women came up along the streambed.


The new warrior and the one who had been watching Martha exchanged a few unintelligible words. Martha was untied from the tree. Her wrists were bound before her but her legs were left untied. With one warrior leading and the women in front of and behind Martha the entire group went on foot up the stream, then turned up a side canyon. After fifteen minutes they came to a sheltered hollow, quite a bit higher than the floor of the canyon. Here there was an undercut rock face, a shallow cave, and in front of it a large cottonwood with thick, projecting branches.


Martha was bound to the tree. The women began collecting small twigs and branches and piling them in the hollow under the rock. The two warriors slipped off into the gathering darkness.


Once it was sufficiently dark that the smoke wouldn’t be seen the two women kindled a small fire behind the rocky outcrop. It barely lit the small, tree sheltered hollow and certainly couldn’t be seen at any distance. They huddled on either side, slowly feeding small sticks into it, while Martha remained trussed at the base of the cottonwood. How they marked the passing of time, or if they were even working to a time schedule Martha couldn’t tell. But suddenly they both rose and came over to her.


The ropes binding Martha to the tree were undone. She was lifted up. The two women positioned her under a large overhanging branch. A rope was thrown over the branch, then her arms unbound. One end of the rope was tied around a wrist and the wrist raised up until she was almost touching the branch. The rope was looped over the branch again and Martha’s other wrist raised and bound to the rope.


Then the women bent over and seized Martha’s ankles in their strong, calloused hands. Her legs were pulled out from beneath her and pulled back until they could be tied one on either side of the tree trunk. Martha was left hanging face down, her body describing an arc from tree trunk to branch. Her legs were partially spread and her breasts dangled vulnerably. The Apache women seemed to be amused by the position they had put her in.


Martha remembered with a shiver something she’d overheard Randall telling the other men, when he thought there were no women or children around to hear.


“The odd thing is, as bad as the Apache braves are at torture, their womenfolk are even more cruel.”


To Be Continued….


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Review This Story || Author: von Hentzau
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