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The Witness Recap

Trapper Aaron Yewcic rides into Hammond, Texas, dismounts, and goes to the general store. Inside, owner George Barrett is talking to farmer Ned Case. Ned asks for credit to buy the supplies that he needs to stay alive. Aaron comes in and says that his old .44's spring is jamming. George tells him to come back in the morning, but Aaron says that he's not staying on and is heading to Fort Hall to help a man, Payette, manages his business. As Aaron and George go to the workshop, two shots ring out and George falls back dead.

Ned is held for George' murder, and his friend Hoby rides to Hammond to find out what's going on. It's raining outside, and Ned talks about how it's too late. Ned thanks Hoby for coming, and insists that he didn't kill a man. He admits that half the people in town hated George because he squeezed them, but Ned was the only one who talked about it. Ned insists that Aaron was there but he's disappeared. Payette wrote back to say that he never heard of Aaron, and Bed insists that Payette lied. Ned insists that Aaron killed George and in six weeks, he'll hang. He admits that there's nothing else.

Hoby talks to the store's new owner, George's brother Ward. They both agree that Ned killed George, and Hoby says that he's riding to Fort Hall to find Aaron. Once Hoby buys supplies from Tim, he goes to Fort Hall, home base for the Calebra Mountain Fur Company. The Ranger meets Payette, and explains that he's looking for Aaron. He shows Payette the letter he sent saying that he'd never heard of Aaron, and Payette says that Aaron isn't in his employ. Hoby suggests that he might be mistaken, and Payette refuses to let Hoby look around. The Ranger warns Payette that if he's shielding the real killer, he'll have to live with it.

Payette glances over at the crucifix on the wall, and then tells Hoby that he's known Aaron for years, and he works for the company. Aaron was respected by all until that year, when he became sullen and defensive and kept to himself. Three days after Aaron left, the letter came and Payette figured that explained it. He shielded Aaron because they stand up against outsiders. Payette isn't sure if he's doing the right thing, and says that he doesn't think Aaron is a killer. He warns Hoby that Aaron is a king in the wilderness. Payette shows Hoby the region that Aaron occupies.

Hoby rides out to the back country and Aaron fires a warning shot. The Ranger takes cover and calls to Aaron, telling him to put his gun down. Aaron keeps firing, and Hoby circles around and comes up behind Aaron in his lean-to. Once he drops his gun and knife, Aaron limps over and then collapses. Hoby comes over and confirms that Aaron is unconscious and feverish. He discovers that Aaron's leg is injured, and Aaron says that he walked into one of his own traps for two days. The trapper admits that he lost his eye sight, and the blindness has been coming on for months. Aaron went to Texas to see a doctor, but the doctor said there was no change of recovery. The trapper refused to accept it, and went to he came back to the woods to die. Hoby suggests that he ran from murder, and lets Aaron feels his Ranger badge. Aaron says that he was there and he and George went to the back of the store together. Someone shot George from the shadows, and Aaron struggled with him but the killer shot him in the shoulder and ran out the back door. However, he realized that the killer only had three fingers.

Ward goes to the fort, and Payette's assistant Tolla tells him that Payette left to get supplies When Tolla says that Hoby was in, Ward demands to know where Hoby is and the Indian says that Hoby went to find Aaron.

Aaron tells Hoby that he thought he was the killer. The trapper talks about how he came back thinking that he could survive in the woods. But it's worse, and he figures that they've found the killer and Hoby will lead him out. Hoby explains that they're going to kill Ned for a crime he didn't commit. Aaron wonders who will protect him against the killer and his friends, and Hoby says that he'll leave him unless he comes with him. Terrified, the trapper tries to get up but falls. He begs Hoby for help, and Hoby tells him to help himself.

That night, Hoby makes a fire and tosses Aaron a dead rabbit. He tells the trapper to gut it himself, and Aaron says that he's not going to save Ned's face even if he has to kill Hoby. Hoby figures that treating Aaron with kindness would feed his fear. A storm comes up and puts out the fire, and Hoby tells Aaron to eat his food raw. Aaron throws his knife at Hoby and just misses, and says that he's getting his strength back fast.

The next day, Hoby puts Aaron on a horse and leads him to Fort Hall. Three days later, they make camp and Hoby tells Aaron that he's come a long way in three days. Aaron ducks down and tells Hoby that he hears someone out in the dark. Hoby doesn't hear anyone, but Aaron insists that it's more than just the horses and runs into the woods. Ward fires at Hoby, forcing him to take cover, and Aaron flanks the killer. They struggle and Hoby runs over. Aaron feels Ward's missing two fingers and insists that he has to kill him, but Hoby pulls him off and warns that if he kills Ward, then Aaron will never know if he could become the man he once was. Aaron finally stops and Hoby figures that Ward resented his brother enough to kill him.

Back at Fort Hall, Payette tells Aaron that he wants to hire him to negotiate with his buyers. He doesn't care about Aaron's sight, but his instincts. Payette assures Aaron that he means it, and Aaron says that he'll come back once they clear Ned's name.

Written by Gadfly on Jul 29, 2017

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