Mike came back into the kitchen from giving out the daily assignments for today, after telling the hands he had called to work with him for the day, to go ahead and get ready to ride.
Kelly Lowery was cleaning off plates, into the slop bucket for the hogs, rinsing out cups and glasses, in preparation for washing them in the sink.
Mike said, “Miss Lowery, when you've finished here, I'd like to see you in my office for a while before we head out for the inventory of some things that weren't on the property manifest I received. I need to discuss how I'd like to proceed with that data. It won't take long.”
“Sure, Mr. Mitchel. I'll be done in a few minutes. I'll be right in.” Kelly said, still washing dishes.
Mike went to his office and was preparing for his trip to the supposedly, lost supply cashe'. He was getting out blank ledger pages from a package, in his filing cabinet. He put the pages in a manila folder that he had laid on the desk for them. Mike was just putting them in the folder when a light but firm knock at his door got his attention. Mike recognized the light but firm knock and said, “Come on in, Miss Lowery and close the door behind you.”
“Yes, Sir.” Kelly said as she entered, carrying a stenographer's pad and gently closed the door.
“Have a seat, Miss Lowery. First order of business. I just demoted PFC. Bolty, for insubordination. His record should reflect that he was field demoted as of this date to Private, by myself. His pay should be adjusted to reflect that, as of today. Also, make a notation that I, personally, would like him transferred to the coldest and most difficult duty station that can be found for him. Pending, Captain Bradford's approval, of course.” Lt. Mitchel said as calmly as he was able, sounding extremely angry.
“On a lighter note, I want to discuss the inventorying I have planned.” Mike said in a friendly way, which was a little odd for his formerly infuriated demeanor. Kelly paid the change in attitude no mind, sat in the chair across from the desk from Mike, took out a pen and made a notation on her stenographer's pad.
“You said that you wanted my help in your inventorying today, Sir. I haven't been assigned a mount yet, Sir. I brought my saddle and other gear, but I don't know which horse you want me to ride, or if I even need one, Sir.” Kelly informed the Foreman, sounding a little confused.
“Your pre-military record, states that you were raised on a ranch, Miss Lowery. You do know how to handle a wagon and team, do you not?” Lt. Mitchel asked, seriously.
“I do, Sir.” Private Lowery answered formerly.
“Good. At least, HQ has provided accurate records in that, about you.” Lt. Mitchel said and continued, still sounding mildly frustrated. “Your military record says that, not only are you an expert rifleman, you are quite good as a clerk, with a good head for numbers. Is that accurate?”
“I graduated at the top of my class in High School, Sir. And I am told that I'm good at my assigned, military occupational position, Sir.” Pvt. Kelley informed and continued.
“As far as my ability with firearms, Sir. On a ranch in New Mexico, if you can't shoot accurately, you might starve to death or die from an animal attack, Sir.” Kelly informed her superior and asked, “Is there a discrepancy in my books, Sir?” Kelly was concerned, thinking that she may have inadvertently made some horrendous, book keeping error.
“No, no errors that I can see in your records, Miss Lowery. There is a major discrepancy in the manifest of this secret post, however. Some Desk Jockey, up in HQ, was too damned lazy to actually verify, that an important and hidden supply cashe' was actually lost.” Lt. Mitchel said, sounding a bit angry.
Then Lt. Mitchel continued, sounding disappointed in the government's men, “Well, there was one, Miss Lowery, and it wasn't lost. I found it. They had put it on this land, back in the 40s, when times were really hard for this country. It was put here, so that members of our National Guard would have some supplies, in the event of an attack or disaster, or if some other need for them, ever arose.”
“And you want to inventory those lost supplies, Sir. So, that you can shove it under the noses of those government men, right Sir?” Pvt. Kelly asked, thinking that she had understood his plan.
Lt. Mitchel chuckled and said, “Close, Miss Lowery. But, you're only half right. I do want to inventory those supplies. But, I have no intention of letting the government know, about emergency supplies that they've written off as lost, due to their incompetence.”
“Most of that secret supply cashe' is of the edible variety, Miss Lowery. There are a lot of the old style, canned in glass jars food, which have surely gone bad after over 50 or 60 years and it will have to be thrown out, I'm sure. There is also a lot of metal canned food too, some of it might actually still be good, although I doubt it, any that don't show signs of botulism could be fed to the hogs, I suppose. I hate wasting provisions. And there is quite a bit of sacked grain, flower, seed and other sacked goods there, much of which is raw sugar.” Mike informed, then continued.
“It's not the food that I care about, Miss Lowery. And that is what I wanted to talk to you about, in particular. But, before I go any further, I want to ask you something.” Lt. Mitchel paused, judging Pvt. Lowery's reaction.
“Oh. What is it that you wish to ask, Sir?” Pvt. Lowery asked, intensely curious.
Lt. Mitchel watched Pvt. Lowery closely, trying to figure out what she might be thinking under these circumstances. He couldn't fathom what was going on behind that lovely face and those hypnotic blue eyes. Lt. Mitchel, gave up after he realized that he was staring and just asked, “Would you be willing not to inform HQ about this find of a lost military supply cashe', Miss Lowery?”
“Well, Sir, if you tell me not to, I won't. Besides, they don't know it's even still there, because of their own incompetence, from what you say, Sir. My folks didn't care for, or trust the politicians in Washington. I inherited that attitude, Sir.” Sgt. Lowery said seriously.
“Well, Miss Lowery, that's good enough for me. Now, for the rest of what I wanted to talk to you about. The entire storage facility and it's location is to remain secret and lost. Not because of the food stored there. Because, food isn't all that is stored there.”
“There are weapons and ammunition for those weapons, stored there as well. They were packed in oiled paper wrapping and sealed in wooden crates. The weapons are older models, of course. But, there are some automatic weapons, old automatic weapons but, good, old, Thompson Sub Machine Guns, the .45 caliber Thompsons. One hell of a weapon, that. There might even be grenades or other, more powerful weapons there.” Lt. Mitchel said sounding mildly excited.
“My goodness, Sir. How large is this secret facility? It sounds very large, Sir.” Pvt. Lowery said questioning about the size of the facility.
“It is Miss Lowery. Picture a football field sized, aircraft hanger, under ground, filled with shelves, full of provisions. There are also, relatively small rooms, filled with weapons and munitions that are all, sealed in mostly wooden containers. There is also an office of sorts, with filing cabinets and an old styled metal desk.” Lt. Mitchel said, sounding a bit awed, by the visage he was describing.
Pvt. Lowery gulped and said, “That doesn't sound large, Sir. It sounds huge, Sir.”
“That is the Army way, Pvt. Lowery. The Army doesn't do things in a small way, Pvt. Lowery.” Lt. Mitchel said, proudly.
“I've had PVT. Bolty and Mr Sims, harness the team to our wagon for you. You'll be taking it out to the supply cashe', so you can bring back anything that can be used to feed the hogs. We may also want to bring sacks of food, grains and seed, for planting. The Seed can be used to supplement our purchase for planting. You'll decide what to bring back, Pvt. Lowery. Now, if there is nothing else you'd like to ask or say, concerning Army business. We'd better get started.” Lt. Mitchel said, as he rose and prepared to leave.