The LAST DEPUTY
Chapter 1: Indian Territory, Oklahoma
Arthur Moore King arrived in the Oklahoma Territory during the summer of 1898. He was fifteen years old, blond with blue eyes, and big for his age. People assumed him to be at least nineteen or twenty years old because, even though young and he had a baby face, he carried himself like an adult and acted mature.
He was a farm boy, from a large family―one of eleven―that hailed from the township of Boneyfiddle located near the Ohio River. He was a natural crack shot, doing most of the hunting for the family, but he was tired of farm life and wanted something more. To find his destiny he ran off leaving a note for his family telling them not to worry, that he would write soon.
Since he wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted, he ran off without a plan, trusting that he would figure things out. Oklahoma seemed like a good place to begin a new life; he wound up at Fort Gibson located near three rivers: the Arkansas, the Verdigris, and the Grand. Gibson, the village, had sprung up next to the Fort around 1824 in the eastern part of Oklahoma on Cherokee Land. Its early settlers were composed of military families, Indians seeking protection, and free African Americans. By the time Arthur arrived, the village had taken on the name of Fort Gibson, though the army post had been declared obsolete and abandoned.
As one of the oldest non-Indian settlements in the Territory, Fort Gibson was the first to have many of the luxuries of civilization: the first telephone, the first school for the blind, the first steamboat landing, and the first highway to Fort Smith. It even boasted of having the first post office, a weekly newspaper, and a drama theater. An up and coming town, thought Arthur, a good place to settle into for now.
Yes, the Territory was the place to be; the land was free and they had opened parts of it up two years prior. Luckily, it was summer and Arthur could live, for the time being, under a large and colorful redbud tree not far from the Village, beside the Grand River banks. He managed to put together a lean-to and hung what food he had from a tree branch: some bread, a few apples, and fresh squirrel meat.
For protection and for hunting Arthur had commandeered the family’s old flintlock. His horse, a sprite gelding, given to him when he turned twelve, would eat the grass and leaves of nearby plants.
Having settled in, Arthur, who was no slouch, decided it was time to find work. To this end, he went to each and every business in the village: saloons, General stores, stables, hotels and eateries, as well as the rail station. Arthur even swallowed his
pride asking farmers as they came into town for work. Unfortunately there was no work―not for an outsider.
Hell, thought Arthur, we are all outsiders. This land belongs to the Creek and the Cherokee tribes who through extradition were outsiders forced to live on this land. What to do, he asked himself. What to do?
After two weeks of asking and re-asking for work, with money running low, Arthur sat down to figure things out. All right, thought Arthur, What do I know, what can I do, what do I like? He liked to fish and hunt, but he disliked farming. Oh, and he liked girls―a lot. But he realized that he couldn’t get paid talking to girls and farming wasn’t it, because not only didn’t he like it, but farmers had big families and didn’t need any help. It looked like hunting and fishing were his best bets.
So Arthur devised a plan to hunt and sell the meat to the town folk, until he found good work. Quail was plentiful; he could sell twelve quails for four-bits. Rabbit and other small game also abounded. Arthur hunted every day and he fished the river as well, as he could get two-bits for four fish of small to medium size. He had no problem finding people willing to buy his goods and soon he had enough money to buy, among other things, new boots, a good hat, and a used Colt .40 revolver.
Despite the fact that he could afford better accommodations, Arthur remained living under that old tree to save money, at least until winter set in. When winter came he lived in town but he went back to his tree during spring and summer.
For a while life was grand until a problem came about in the name of U.S. Marshal Grimes. Much shorter than Arthur, around five feet seven inches, Grimes was nevertheless a man not to be reckoned with, lean but strong and all muscle. Like Grimes, Arthur was of slight built and muscular. But unlike Grimes, Arthur was tall. At sixteen, Arthur was already six foot tall; he would be six-two when fully grown.
While Arthur hunted game, Marshal Grimes hunted men. His weapon of choice, a Colt Peace Maker with a five-inch barrel, hung at his waist. On his horse, in its sheath, hung his Winchester 1876 rifle. One day while peddling his morning kill going from door to door, Arthur was exiting Turner’s General Store when a hand grabbed him roughly by the back of his neck. The hand belonged to Grimes.
“Got Yaw!” the marshal exclaimed in a sharp tone. “Sir?” said Arthur as he struggled to break away but could not.
“How long you been here at Three Forks?” asked Marshal Grimes. “Sir?” repeated Arthur.
…….Two pages, from here you will discover Arthur Moore King’s life it is just beginning.
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