"Rache, lass uns ein Mädchen bewegen!"
After getting supplies from Fort Richardson, German Jack Fordern spurred his horse Rache and led his men out into the wild emptiness that had become their home in the Texas Panhandle. He was the Chief U.S. Marshal for Texas, with son Joaquin Fordern riding along as his chief deputy. Sage Jackson, Crick Youngblood, and Bear Boudreaux still worked with them when they needed a posse, but they mainly came together for the buffalo hunts.
The formal name of their enterprise was Fordern Horsemen Supply Co., centrally located a two day ride from both Fort Richardson and Gumption Junction. They supplied bison meat and hide for folks all over the area. This gave them ample opportunity to interact with their longtime associate Chief Whitehorn Buffalo, as well. The old chief was trying to prepare his own son, whom they called Shorthorn Buffalo, to become a medicine man and future chief.
Bessie Fordern would often swap poultices with Shorthorn. In addition to her teaching at the Stonewall Jack School in Gumption Junction, Bessie was still the closest the town would come to having a doctor. She continued to deliver babies, as well as to comfort folks at the end of their lives. She did all this with the Bible verse Proverbs 17:22 in mind. German Jack even burnt the reference into a buffalo apron they made for her to use while seeing patients.
German Jack and his men would often get 20 buffalo each when they went out. Joaquin always took part in the shooting with them. Boudreaux did most all the skinning and butchering. The others would work to collect and tan the hides. Many times, Clem Samuels would come along to document the event. One time, he even shot a buffalo hisself for the experience of it all.
Word eventually got around the Panhandle that the Fordern Horsemen were having success hunting buffalo. Other men were too, but none had the same success. Of course, none had the same experience in life that these men had either.
One day, German Jack stayed in town to take care of some official marshal service business. After dictating several telegraphs for Mae Retta to send at the Gumption Gazette, he was going by his office en route to the Knight Hotel. He planned to meet everyone there for supper. The meal would likely include meat provided after one of their recent hunts.
As he filed the papers in his office, German Jack saw the soldiers riding into town. He was used to seeing soldiers passing through town from time to time. This time, they came to his office. The colonel extended his hand to introduce hisself with the words, “My name is Col. Ranald Mackenzie. I need your help, Major Fordern.”
German Jack responded, “Don’t you mean Col. Fordern?”
Col. Mackenzie replied, “Lt. Col. Fordern,” as he released Jack’s hand.
Mackenzie told Jack that trouble was stirring. Buffalo Whitehorn had passed away under mysterious circumstances in recent weeks. Even though the chief was getting on in years, Jack seemed to recall he was in good health when last they crossed paths a few months earlier.
Their meeting came to an abrupt end with a commotion in the street. Jack ran out to see some Indians riding out of town. Mae Retta Galena lay in the street, with an arrow in her chest. She had been left for dead in Gumption Junction.