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As the cloud drew nearer, I urged my pony forwar a at gallop until I was well in front of the wagon, all the while keeping a close eye on the cloud of dust. As I approached the spot where I had determined to make a stand the cloud of dust turned into a herd of antelope being chased by several coyotee, with a sigh of relieve I circled my pony back around to my spot of vigilance,,,this time with less staring at the wagon....besides, Hawk was near, and I had caught a sight of the cook woman hiding in the wagon,,,as they approached the town, I made a camp...I would wait there..

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As I made camp just within sight of the town, my thoughts went to the latest attack by the comanches, and the dark rider. The sight of the Fair One firing her pistols as fast and deadly as any man I'd ever seen was scarred into my mind like the brand on a steer. I had seen the cook squaw with her rifle before at the water hole, when I happen to get more than a glimpse of the Fair One, she hadn't fired it there, but I could tell she new it well, she nearly turned that brave inside out when she shot him several times. The black haired one with that scattergun, two quick booms, then her hands opened it, loaded two more shells and closing it again to fire again, it was like watching a dog down a t-bone, you couldn't tell what was happening, but you knew it was.....I was certainly happy that they knew that I wasn't a threat to any one of the three of them.


something about the dark rider had me worried though. Why would he risk riding into the middle of the camp like that?


One thing I was assured of though, my Sharps would respond to anything I would ask of it. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of those scatterguns tho,,,maybe one of those rifles like Sam had carried and that the cook squaw had,,,maybe a pair of them pistols too,,,,a man would be an army of one with those.... first shoot the sharps at long range targets, lay it down while picking up that yellow rifle, then lay it down while picking up that scattergun till it would get too hot to hold anymore, put it down and draw those fire belching pistols with 12 rounds in emmm. a brave could almost defend a whole village, alone..

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It dust cloud turned out to be Arapahoe warriors ! I could not believe my eyes. I had only seen one as a boy and my Father told me stories about Chief Little Raven had negotiated peace between the Arapahoe, the Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Comanche, and the Apaches in 1840, and I would sit and listen to him talk all night long, or at least till the whiskey he was putting in my coffee got the best of me !


But there they where, Arapahoe Warriors, each one wearing their own war paint, and looked mean as all hell ! There horses where sweat covered and the dust from their hard ride covered them and stuck to their riders leggins. The Sand Creek Massacre had happened on 29 November, 1864......that was three years ago, and these braves where still in war paint. Armed with Henry Repeaters, much like the one I had, they looked over our crowd and said, "We search for the one named Silverhawk. Word has reached our camp as to his kindness toward us !"


I stepped forward saying, "I am the brave you seek !" Taking my hat off I said, "I am Sliverhawk !"


"You must come ! Little Raven wishes to thank you himself ! Come !" they said to me with great regency in their voices.


"Ride wif us fer a short distance.....till I git dis wimmen back to whar dey belong !" I said and the Warriors nodded they would and began whispering something I did not understand. As we rode along I said to the ladies...."Put dim guns away rat now ! Lessin' ya what ta git all us an da cattle kilt ! Whiskey git dis wagon put where it need be. And Gloria ....git supper a workin' boys must be maitey hungery be now ! Whiskey you run tell Bucky what's gonna on. Tell him I'll be back in a few days. Calico....fore dis wagon stops I want ya saddled up an by my side, understand ?"


"Me.......me......ME ! Ya want me to go along with you Hawk ? For what ? !" she asked.


"Ta tell me what dis fine fellers here are a sayin' dat's all ! An mite as well tell ya Buick fellar, ya know, dat one feller dat dresses like a dandy...git him ta tag along too. Da wat y'all been makein' eyes at one bother, don't tank he'll stay behind. NOW GIT TA MOVIN" GAL !" Before the wagon had made it al the way into the herd, Calico was off, out running the team as they plotted along, throughout the flat country of the Indian Nations. I made the route cut just across the narrowest tip, so not to up set the tribes that lived there nor the damned yankee army.


The Arapahoe warriors said "We go now Silverhawk !" and I nodded that we would. And go like the wind we did. All day long we rode hard, and i had only the sun and the raising moon to guide me. I'm thankful my pony was from the Comanche war party that had jumped us a few weeks ago, for it could keep up with out much effort with the Arapahoe. Calico and Buick's mounts had some trouble trying to keep up and when the Arapahoe wanted to leave them behind I put me foot down to that, right then and there !


We arrived at this starved village not all that far from where the herd was gonna be tomorrow afternoon, if I had things figured right. The people we saw was thin and shivering from the cold, even though it was almost 60 outside. Their faces where sunken in and eyes was bugging out to a point. Hands where thin and boney as well. We rode into this and stopped outside a Cheif's Tipi and dis mounted. Quickly the warriors took Calico's pistols and Buick's too and was gonna tie they hands behind their backs when their Chief came out. He had long dull black hair, his buffalo rode, dull and so was his feathers in his hair.


The Cheif spoke something harshly to the warriors and they did not tie calico or Buick hands. But left me alone ! I still had my guns and that worried me a bit. There is an old Apache custom, that when a white man is captured or a slave runs away and is re-captured, after all the trails they must live through, they are giving one gun with one bullet in it, and surrounded by more than 100 Apache Braves. The captives can do one of two things....shoot one of the Apaches or shoot himself. If he shoots himself , he will be left for the coyotes . But if he shoot one of the Apaches, the captive will be honored, just like the Apache Braves he shoots ! That is what I thought was happening here, till Calico spoke up......and she started rattling off in a tongue I nor Buick could understand.


We where invited into his Tipi, along with his Holy Man and two guards. Then Little Raven started talking and Calico listened intently to each word he was saying. Then a bowl arrived with some fried stuff in it that I had eaten before, so I took the biggest one I could find, which please everyone there and Buick took a little one.


"What the hell are these things Hawk ?" Buick asked me in a nervous voice.


"Fryed Grasshoppers ,....eat'em and smile as big as ya can !" I answered.


Buick looked at the fried mass and said, "I aint eattin' no bugs !" and threw it back into the bowl . And that really upset the Arapahoe. They maybe starving, but there not nasty and touching food and throwing back was nasty to them. I reached in and picked it back up and gave it to him saying,


"Put dat bug in yur mouth an chew, cuz ifin' ya don't , dey gut me, you , Calico an da bosses wif a dull deer antler ! Now chew Dandy !" as my bug crunched aloud. Every one smiled and then looked at Buick. After a few trys, he got the grasshopper in his mouth and as he chewed, he noticed just how sweet tasting they are and helped himself !


Calico motioned for me to sit by her and I did so, much to the un-delight of Buick. Calico lead into me saying "This is Little Raven, Cheif of the Arapahoe. The whites have made treaty with us and broke it, forced us from our homes in what you call Colorado Territory." Calico said and then wanted for him to speak more. "The whites fight whites, then in 1864 Chivington attacked the unarmed village at Sand Creek, killing all there. I and this band of warriors and women escaped by camping far away. "


"What does he say now Calico ?" Buick asked chewing on another grasshopper. Calico cut him a look that would have killed him dead for sure. Then she said, "You have shown kindness to our Arapahoe scouting party who was after the renegade Comanches who attacked you later. You're kindness will be repaid , in full. But as you can see, when have nothing. No clothes, food, tools, but many guns and many bullets to make war if we wish. I do not wish that ! I wish for you're help Silverhawk !" Ask him what he wants from dis breed ?" pointing to me and bowing my head. He lifted it up and with one tear on his face and in more perfect english than I ever could muster said, "I must ask you for some beef ! My people are starving. We have many Warriors with many guns and bullets for them and could easily kill you and take the animals. I will not do that ! I also will not beg, as you are an Apache, are you not ?"


"Half breed Little Raven. Mother was white, father was Apache." I said.


"He raised you well ! Now, all I asked is that you give my people the same chance as you had ! I will say no more !" Little Raven said, and then went quiet.


I thought for a second, looking him in his old eyes said, "I will give you all the beef ya need, Little Raven. As long as the herd and the men pushing it north and west can pass through unharmed. "


Calico and Buick 's face shown the surprise on them, as did mine most likely. I had no idea who I was gonna swing this deal, but had plenty of time to think about that on the ride back to where the herd show be by tomorrow.


"They may pass as often as they wish and not be harmed, Silverhawk ! This is my word !" Little Raven said.


He pulled out his peace pipe and instead of putting dried buffalo chips in it, I pulled out my bag of rolling tobacco and handed it to him. "Calico, tell him that burns fast and not to draw on it to hard or much !" Little Raven stuffed the pipe full of tobacco and we smoked and smoked some more till the whole pouch was empty . Little Raven spoke again to Calico and she said, "We will spend the night here.Night is upon us and now's the time to rest !" I reached out and took his hand and placed it to my forehead, am Apache sign of great respect. It must have pleased Little Raven because he put his hand on my head and told Calico something which she could not repeat to me.


"Now, aint that a hell of a note !" I thought to myself as we where lead to an empty Tipi. "This is wear you will sleep !" a brave said in Arapahoe to Calico and she nodded.


As I went in Buick looked in and said, "I aint been sleepin' in da same bed with no women that aint no whore !"


"Well, ya are now !" Calico said and put Buick in with her boot !


As I stepped out to figure just how I as gonna swing this deal, I as Little raven welcome, He who walks two Paths. He pointed to me and the tipi we all shared. Just after sun down, He who walks two Paths started playing his flute just out our Tipi.

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When the Arapaho braves surrounded us, I could tell Whiskey and Gloria were more than a little nervous, but I didn't think there was anything to be worried about. If they were going to attack, they wouldn't have stopped to talk. I was kind of surprised they knew Hawk's name, but that could prove to be a blessing. Hawk agreed to return to their village with them, then insisted that I go along. At first I didn't understand why, then he pointed out that he didn't speak Arapaho, and they probably didn't speak much more English than what they had already said. He could have communicated with sign, but having an interpreter would make things a lot easier. Then Hawk insisted I bring Buick as well....just what did that man have up his sleeve by doing that?


We rode long and hard until we got to the village, and I saw immediatly that things weren't going well for them. So many buffalo had been slaughtered by the white men that it was getting harder and harder for the plains tribes to hunt enough food to survive. Right away the braves took mine and Buick's guns, which I was expecting, but I knew Buick was none too happy about. I was kind of shocked that they let Hawk keep his, that was unusual. All of a sudden, the Chief came out of his tipi, and I knew right then that we would be fine. I knew this man, very well in fact, my pa had been good friends with him for years. In fact, this Chief, his name was Hosa (or Little Raven in English) had helped my pa teach me how to hunt, many years ago. I hadn't seen him for many moons, but could tell he recognized me. I told him who Hawk and Buick were, and how we had come to be where his braves had found us. He then invited us inside to share a meal with him, and I knew we would be treated as honored guests.


Right away I knew that Buick didn't know much about indian customs, but Hawk managed to smooth things over. Little Raven started talking to Hawk, and I did my best to translate his words to Hawk. Turned out that Hawk had done them a favor before, giving them the gift of some beef, and Little Raven was hoping he would be willing to again, as the village was starving. Hawk wasn't going to let them go hungry, but did manage to get a guarantee in return for safe passage through their lands. A good deal all around, and we would have one less tribe to worry about!


After we ate, Little Raven brought out his pipe, and Hawk pulled out his tobacco pouch, and we all passed the pipe around. It was a pleasant evening, one I'd remember for a long time. Buick finally started to relax, I guess he realized we weren't in any danger as long as Little Raven was there. When the evening was over, he told one of his braves to show us where we could sleep, then Hawk grabbed his hand and put it to his forehead, which I knew was a sign of respect among the Apache. Then Little Raven told me "This is a good man, and your father would have liked him. You must obey his words, and show him the same respect you would to me."


The brave showed us to an empty tipi, but Buick got very upset for some reason....he said he didn't want to share it with me. I was a little hurt, after all his efforts to spend time with me, then he wouldn't spend the night in the same tipi? They didn't have enough to spare for all three of us to have our own, and it's not like anything was going to happen, not with Hawk there too....


Hawk stepped back outside for some fresh air, and I heard him greet He Who Walks Two Paths, what was he doing here? Then Hawk came back inside and started settling down to sleep. Next thing I knew, I heard a flute being played right outside the tipi, so I peeked out, and sure enough it was He Who Walks Two Paths. Immediately I felt my checks getting warm, as it was now completely obvious that he was courting me, and I didn't know what to think! What was I going to do, I liked both men just fine, and didn't want to hurt either one...


I fell asleep listening to the beautiful music I knew was being played just for me. I don't know if the Cheyenne also slept in our tipi, if he did he woke up before me and went outside. When I went outside, one of the women came over and said that Little Raven wished to speak to me in private before we left, so I went to find him. Then the two of us walked out of the village for a ways, and he started to speak.


"Nook Bih'ih (White Deer, the name he had always called me), you have many decisions to make. Your destiny does not lie with the people with whom you travel. Nor does it lie with my people, even though we will always remember the friendship you and your father have always shown to us. Your home is to the west, and it is there you need to return to. My people are no longer welcome there, but you will be. You must go there as soon as you can, and start rebuilding your home, and make peace with the other whites there. That is where your destiny lies, but do not forget me or all that I have taught you, it will help you in your future. May the Great Spirit bless your journey."


Then he turned and walked back to the village, and I slowly followed. He was a wise man, and I knew he was right. When I got back to the others, Buick's and my guns were returned to us, and our horses were brought to where we were standing. Little Raven looked at Hawk, and said "Go now, and do not forget our agreement." Hawk nodded, then told the rest of us "Let's ride, we need to get back to that herd!"

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As I waited for the wagon to leave the town a small party of Arapaho, that had been running their ponies very hard, caught sight of me their alone and cautiously approached. They quickly recogniized me as cheyenne and slid off their ponies before me. I was saddened to see how thin they were, their eyes seemed hollow in their faces. They told me that they had heard that one named Silverhawk was somewhere in the area and were sent by their Hosa to find him and to take him to see Hosa at their village. I told them to wait there with me until the wagon left town headed back to the herd. Once the wagon was well out of sight of the town, the braves mounted their ponies and at full gallop raced for the wagon. I wished I had brought the comache ponies with me to replace the arapahos ponies, for they were nearly run out. Once they caught up to the wagon, the wagon stopped for a short time then continued on toward the herd. Then, as soon as the wagon arrived at the herd, Hawk, The Fair One, and her shadow headed out with the Arapaho braves, at a fast gallop. Hawk was able to keep pace with the herd, but the Fair One's shadow from the herd couldn't keep pace, and I could see The Fair One holding back the autumn pony so that he wouldn't be left behind.


I was welcome to ride with the Arapaho but I felt more at ease riding alone and kept well off to the side as the group rode for the village. I was glad I had rounded up 3 of the ponies from the latest comanche raid when the wagon had returned to the herd. I was sure that they would be of good use on the trip to the village.


I rode thru a wash much of the way, finding the shade I could find there refreshing. I knew there was antelope in the area as I had seen them earlier in the day. I was able to put an arrow into one near a pool of water, but that was all I was able to take. Normally, I would have been rather pleased, but knowing the hardships at the village I knew that this lone antelope wouldn't go far. I threw it on one of the ponies and forced the ponies to catch up with the others.


Long before reaching the village, braves stopped me. They already knew I was a friend as they had been watching me for a short time. I gave the three ponies to them, along with the antelope and told them that the ponies were for Hosa and that the meat should go to the children first. Their smiles told me of their happiness and I watched as they quickly disappeared into the village. Know no Fear, a sub chief under Hosa found me and led me to a fire where we sat and spoke for a time.

He told me that Hosa was meeting with the others and that my time with Hosa was near. Soon he led me to Hosa as the others were being shown their Tipi. Hosa greeted me and then nodded towards Hawk, we greeted one another. Hosa and spoke briefly as Hawk joined the others in the tipi. I was shown I was to sleep in the tipi as well, but with great gentleness I declined, my spot would be at the entrance. I pulled my flute from my pouch and played the music of my heart.

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As I played the music from my heart I noticed several pairs of eyes watching me. I soon learned how the Fair One had felt when her eyes met mine as she bathed in the pool of water a few moons ago. I felt a strange sense of warmness enter my face. It wasn't long before I heard what sounded like the snarling of two bears coming from the tipi.


I continued with my flute until He Who Knows No Fear came to me and signaled me to follow him. He led me to the fire where Hosa was sitting. Hosa motioned me to sit and join him. He spoke softly saying, Hawk told me you are called He Who Walks Two Roads. I can see that you are of cheyenne blood and the blood of the white man. Yes, I replied, my white father is a rancher at the base of the great mountains and my mother is a cheyenne whose village was ravaged with the illness the white man calls cholera. He brought her back to health and took her as his woman. He called me cheyenne, to make sure I would never forget my mother's people. Hosa spoke again saying, Cheyenne, that is an honorable name, you had a wise and kind father, and by the gift that you gave to the children of my people, I see the kindness of your heart as well. But, he continued, I heard the sound of your flute, your heart aches of loneliness and the need of your own woman. I could see the young squaws watching you as you played your flute, as well as my daughters, you may have your pick of them to fill your heart with joyfulness. I looked down at my flute in my lap, and knowing that I had to chose my words wisely, I spoke. You are a great and wise chief, your generousity overwhelms me, but, I have made an oath to the Great Spirit. I gave my word to the Great Spirit to protect The Fair One from all danger until the Great Spirit tells me that I am no longer needed. Hosa spoke, saying, ahhh yes, White Deer, I know of her pain well, her father and family were true friends of the Arapaho. We were told of a young Cheyenne brave and two others who avenged the death by killing 4 of the white men who had killed her family. I am told the the man who escaped may be in the town where Hawk and the White Deer visited today. It is said that he is an evil man whose heart is dark, so dark that he most often rides alone. I understand why you hesitated at my gift of a woman, however, when your oath is done you are welcome in my village, and to take any of my daughters to make your woman.


We continued to talk a while but as the fires grew low we departed and I returned to the entrance of the tipi, My mind would be filled with thoughts tonight, as full as the sky was with stars,,,, could the dark rider still be alive? but how??

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We mounted up and started off in the direction we knew the herd should be later that day. I noticed that He Who Walks Two Paths had mounted up as well, but was choosing to ride slightly apart from the rest of us. As we rode out of the village, I was shocked to see that Buick had moved his horse so that Hawk was in the middle, rather than riding next to me. A couple of times I tried to lean forward and talk to him past Hawk, who graciously dropped back just ever so slightly, but Buick refused to say more than a few words to me, and wouldn't even look at me. That was strange, considering how up until now he'd hardly left me alone! I couldn't figure out what was wrong, our visit to the village had worked out just fine....


What in the world could he be so mad about? After all, didn't Buick realize that when He Who Walks Two Paths was playing for me, and I didn't go outside to talk to him, that I was turning him down? I had thought I was making myself clear, that I was picking Buick, but maybe he just didn't understand the custom. But that didn't explain why all of a sudden Buick was ignoring me, maybe I had just made a huge mistake. He Who Walks Two Paths was a good man, and I certainly appreciated everything he had done for me, I just couldn't see him being happy stuck on a ranch in a place he wouldn't be entirely welcome. He deserved better than that, but if Buick had lost interest, maybe I needed to rethink my decision.

We rode on in silence for quite a while, then it occurred to me, now was as good a time as any to ask Hawk a few questions that had been on my mind. "Ya know, Hawk, there's somethin' I been wondering about, ifn' ya don't mind, just why is it that Black Dawg is following us? Do you have any idea what he's up to? I can't figure it out...."


Hawk turned and looked at me hard for a minute before replying, "Ya really don't know, gal? In that case, I ain't gonna tell ya, ya be better off tha way! Whut did Little Raven wanna talk to ya bout all private like dis mornin?"


Oh wonderful, he was gonna play that game, now was he? Well, I could do that just as easily! "How you gonna tell Bucky and Whiskey that you just gave a bunch of their cows to the Arapaho? They ain't gonna like that too much!"


Hawk just glared at me for a few seconds, then burst out laughing. "Dunno, Calico, I ain't figgered tha out yet! I'z just gonna make sure Whiskey ain't got her scattergun on her when I do, safer tha way!"


I laughed too, and we rode on some more in silence. Finally I spoke back up, "Hawk, I was hopin' to get your advice on sumthin, though. After this is all over, and I go back to Colorado, I'm gonna need some hands. Jesse and Pete both said they'd go wit me, which is fine with me even though I think they should stay with Bucky and Whiskey. But I'll need a foreman, and I ain't ever hired nobody fer nothin' before, is there anythin' you can tell me bout what I should be lookin' for? Someone who know horses, I know that much, but how do I tell if a man can be trusted right up front?"


"Well gal, dat's not sumtin I can 'splain real easy, ya gotta jus have a feel for it. Don' ya be worryin' bout it none, I'z gonna see to it ya got someone ya can trust! Ya really tink I'd let ya go off on yer own wit out one?"


"Thanks Hawk, that means a lot to me!" I hadn't been paying too much attention to the road ahead while I was talking to Hawk, and I don't think he was that much either. All of a sudden it occurred to me that there seemed to be an awful lot of dust in the air up ahead of us. Hawk must of noticed it too, cuz he screamed "Stampede!" and spurred his horse forward as fast as it could go. I wasn't far behind, then I looked over my shoulder at Buick. He was also urging his horse to go a little faster, but didn't seem all that concerned with keeping up with me and Hawk....

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As the sun began it's rise, He Who Knows No Fear awakend me and led me to Hosa. Hosa was standing in front of his tipi with his three daughters on one side of him and his woman on the other side. As my eyes caught each one's eyes I could sense an urgency in each one's heart. As I looked toward their mother, she raised her eyebrows and with a smile nodded in the direction of her daughters. I sheepishly returned her smile and then spoke, I have an oath to the Great Spirit, after it is finished if He leads me back you will see me again and I will be most happy to recieve your gracious gift. Hosa, had been watching intently, turned around and took a long leather sleeve covered with colorful braiding, Hosa turned to me and handed the sleeve to me. It was heavy, Hosa read my face and said, reach inside and recieve this gift that I give you. It didn't take long for me to see that it was a yellow rifle that I had seen in the cook squaw's hands. Hose saw my quick smile, put his hand on my shoulder and said, go, finish your oath. If the Great Spirit wishes I will welcome you again.


As I mounted my pony to join the others my heart was heavy and my mind was cluttered with the happenings of the last sun and moon. The dark rider was yet alive, and possible nearby. Was he involved in the deaths of the Fair One's family? My heart yearned for the Fair One, yet she had not responded to the music of my heart, the daughter's of Hosa,,,


I saw my pony's ears perk up,,,I searched the horizon all around me,,,nothing,,,then my pony began put a prance to his step. I searched more, there it was, dust, an ever growing cloud of dust. It was coming from the direction of where the herd should be. My thoughts quickly returned to the days of my youth on ranch with my father, I knew what that dust meant,, STAMPEDE!! I pushed my pony hard towards the dust, with the thoughts of the training my father had drilled into me, the danger involved, how to turn a herd, how to quiet.....my pony's feet hardly seemed to touch the ground, I leaned down and hugged my pony's neck, closer, closer to the herd......

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I saw the raising dust cloud and felt the thundering under my feet long before the others.


"STAMPEDE ...HEADIN' DIS WAY ! SADDLE UP ! I shouted to Calico and Buick. They where slow to saddle but I didn't need one. I spurred my horse and leaned down to hug it's neck, and the horse seemed to fly across the plains ! "Gotta turn 'em ....find da head an turn 'em !" I thought to my self. Then I saw He who walks two Paths had the same idea as me. We both rode, side by side for the first time and acted like a team, finding the head cows and turning them back toward the herd. We were whopping and hollering, waving our arms, anything to turn the head steers !


Then something caught my eye. There was the dandy, Buick...out in front of the charging herd, waving his arms and shouting to be the band....ON FOOT ! No horse, as his was gored by a passing steer ! I thought that man's gonna get himself killed so I rode as fast as my horse would carry me and held out my arm....."GRAB IT !" I shouted, which Buick did and I dropped him off at cover and went back to work.


"Jesse.....push 'em toward the west ! Pete....Push 'em to whar the chuck used ta be ! Toby ..you an Jim help da friendly Cheyenne turn 'em ! I'll help ya too ! Roy....don't let 'em passed ya ! " I shouted over the thunderous herd. I then spurred my horsed into action. We turned the herd but like I had figured, they were still running hard and scared. Jesse slowly pushed them westward while me , Toby and He who walks two Paths set about turning the herd and at long last we got the cattle turned and the stampede was starting to wind down. Pete was pushing the herd toward the spot where the chuck wagon had been before it was rapidly driven southward, out of harms way. And when the cattle reached Roy, they where just about played out and Roy was able to stop them until all of us got there to help him. Finally, the cattle settled down and where tried to boot. The horses, however did not stampede but where excited non the less.


I had all my crew with me and said, "Pete, Jesse, Toby, and Jim......pick ya out a fresh hoss, saddle up an commence to look fer strays.... bring 'em back here to da rear of da herd. Most likely dey is da ones to git spooked first ! Me an da friendly Cheyenne here is gonna find out who or what spooked 'em......now move !" We both spurred our horses and rode out to where Calico and Buick is. When we got there, I saw Calico was just finishing up saddling her jumpy horse.....buck was waiting for the herd to calm down then go fetch his saddle from his dead horse.,


" Ifin' ya ever pull a stunt like dat agin, I' ll send da both of ya pick 'em.....wif no wages ! Ya risked both our lives foolishly an I don't care fer it,not one little bit ! I said very angry.


"What the hell did I do Hawk ?" Calico asked. "I was gonna help ya ! she said wiht her hand on her hip. I slide off my horse and said to her in a ruff tone....


"Ya broke cover ! Ya didn't follow orders ! Da herd could have come dis way, ya damned fool ! "


Calico put her hands on her pistols and I saw that right away, looking her straight in her eyes, and then she took her hands off her guns and said, "I was only trying to help out Hawk !"


"Buick, dat horse is comin' out yur wages ! An ya aint no good shot, so each miss will cost ya 2 centavos ! Ya hear ? Now...git yur saddle and walk back to da herd ! I walked back to my horse and swung up in one swift move, looked at Buick and Calico, thinking they would make a good pair, if they lived long enough and rode off with He who walks two Paths.


We rode a few miles out on the plains.....no tracks but Buffalo, so we turned into the trees. And found cow tracks heading west. As I kept finding strays and returning them to the herd, I noticed He who walks two Paths was motioning to me. I reached him and he pointed to the soft ground.


"Pony tracks....going away from herd fast !" He said to me. I saw the tracks too but I wondered why they where there. Who ever spoked the cattle, rode west fast and hard...dangerous thing to do in the tress with all the limbs hanging low.....and he has to know we would pick them up soon. "I will follow......Please keep the Fair One safe until my return Brother Hawk ! I nodded and rode back to the chuck wagon where the hands had gathered .


"Make camp here....let the cattle settle down, graze some. Whars Bucky and Whiskey ?" I asked, and they came riding up a few minutes later. As the hands went about making camp, I went to talk to Whiskey and Bucky.


"Need ta speak at cha Boss !.. I made a promise to a injun Chief and I plan to keep it. " I said.


Whiskey said to me, "What was the promise Hawk ?"

I took a deep breath and said, "I promised Chief Hosa of the Arapahoe who are serval miles from here, that I would supply dim wif all da beef dey need to make through da winter ! Dey be starvin' an look bad...almost like walkin' dead. !"


Whiskey shallowed her coffee hard and Bucky got chocked on his whiskey. "You did what Hawk ? ! " he asked me.


"Made a promise I intend on keepin, Boss ! I'll buy 'em ifin dat's what ya want. Sure Calico won't mind ifin I use her money.....she grew up wif 'em ! I rustle 'em ifin' dat's what I gotta go, but I'm gonna keep dat promise I made ta Chief Hosa !" I said. I had made the promise and I was gonna stick to it, no matter what, then Whiskey asks.......


"Say we do give him enough beef to make in through the up coming winter.....what do we get in return ?" And I smiled.


"Whiskey ...all dat is workin' dis herd will have free and un bridled passin' thu da Arapahoe lands....Chief Hosa made a solem promise to me, an I made a solem promise to him, which I intend on keepin"


Whiskey and Bucky started talking and said, "Go back and get Calico , Hawk. " I nodded and walked off. Didn't care what I had to do, I wasn't gonna let my people starve to death.....I am a half breed....the injun inside me was not gonna let these people starve to death !

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As I turned my pony to follow the tracks I searched the horizon for sign of the rider and it's pony that had spooked the herd. I had ridden some distance when I spied this a rider grazing his pony. As I neared him he didn't seem the least bit concerned but I wasn't about to be bushwacked by not being ready. I had an arrow at the ready as I pulled up in front of this little round man dressed in a most interesting way, wearing lots of green, and a lil green top hat as well. He spoke first sayun, my names Dave, and Imma hungree as a grizzly,,,,can't find nuthun but graze fer my horse, you wouldn't know whar I cud find some grub would you? I knew right soon that this wasn't the rider I was looking for so I pointed him in the direction of the herd and said, that way, you may have to work for it, but you find grub there.


I rode off, letting my pony pick it's pace, the rider could run, but there wasn't any place for him to hide.

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I got a chuckle out of the lil round feller I had met, for the life of me I couldn't figure out where he came from, where he was going, or for that matter what he was, but he seemed like a nice sort and figured Hawk would have sore sides for a while after he got done laughing.


I rode on pushing my pony a little harder cresting a small hill, as I did, I caught sight of the rider and pony I was after. It didn't take long for me to realize that I had followed this rider before. It may have been many moons ago, but I was sure it was the rider that got away from me once before. It was one of the men that had burnt the Fair One's home and murdered her family. He and four others were chasing the Fair One after she had discovered the fire and the loss of her family. She was the last of her family and these men wanted her gone. The two young braves and I had shown our wrath on four of the men chasing her, but this rider had managed to escape us. As I got closer and closer to him the more confident I was that this indeed was the man. I could see him looking back at me as his pony grew more and more tired. He abruptly slid off his pony with his rifle in his hand, took quick aim and fired. I felt the bullet slice through the outer flesh of my arm. I grabbed my sharps as I pulled the same manuver that he had just done. I heard another bullet whistle close by as my sharps came to my shoulder, just as I squeezed the trigger he jumped to the right, I could see the puff of dust from my bullet hit off in the distance. HAA HAA he laughed, now what are you going to do, I've got 12 more shots and yours is empty, you best prepare for the happy hunting ground that I am going to send you to! I dropped the sharps and reached for the sleeve that held the yellow rifle that Hosa had given me. I could hear the rider laughing and I could see him moving closer for a better shot, the yellow rifle slipped with ease from the sleeve and found it's way to my shoulder, my hand found the lever and moved it to put a round into the chamber, I felt another bullet slice through the meat in my legg, the sights found his chest and the yellow rifle barked, the rider fell backwards as the bullet found his chest, he tried to stand as I levered and sent another round that found his heart. He fell back motionless. As I walked up I had a strange feeling, a dark feeling. I studied this man lying there. The hatred that I had had for many moons erupted from my heart. I drew my knife to scalp him, when I noticed his hand, a long scar led from the knuckles up past his wrist,, Black Dawg! I let his head drop to the ground and with my knife sliced his arm off in one lightning quick move.


I threw his saddle off his pony, it could rot into the ground with him, what would be left after the buzzards and coyotes got done with him. I took his saddlebags with the many papers in them, his guns, and his pony and started back to the herd. This black hearted man would no longer darken anyones life again. As I rode back to the herd I tried to figure out what this would all mean. As I reached the herd it the moon had risen high, I was having a hard time staying on my pony. I let out the screech of the hawk as I neared. The Fair One and the others were gathered around the fire....I slowily rode up among them and threw the arm I had taken from Black Dawg near the fire. It is finished, I said quietly, slidding off my pony onto the ground, the earth seemed to welcome me as I felt it rise up to greet me..

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I was riding nighthawk, too wound up to sleep and the need for massive amounts of whiskey was just to much to unwind, so I was riding nighthawk, just to get myself together. Now, in the war, I had seen men killed by yankee musket fire, and had seen men blown away from cannon balls exploding in the air above, or a man's head blown clean off his shoulders from a yankee sniper and I never got to me. But this did. Not the stampede. It's a good thing there haven't been more and most likely there will be, but how I yelled at Calico. She did and then did not did deserve that. Buick, the dandy, did however ! I would have to work on him to keep that from happening again. Then Roy came riding up to me.


"Boss....that Cheyenne Injun, he just rode inta camp...but shot up pretty bad too !" Roy said.


I wheeled my horse around and said, "Roy, take over ...don't let the cattle get spooked !"


"We'll do Boss !" Roy replied and a rode off toward the wagon.


At the wagon, they had He who walks two Paths on the supply wagon after making space for him. I saw him and knew he would make it but there are things I had to do first.


"Gloria, here...take my scalpin' knife..put it in the fire and keep the fire going. Jesse...put some water on ta boil.... Calico, get a grip on yourself now an tear some badges. And Jesse when that water starts to boil, bring it over here and git some needle an thread ready to sew him up with." I said.


Pete looked at Calico and asked, Calico....is the Boss a always take charge kinda kind ?"


Calico answered as she tore bandages, "Always has been since I've known him, and before you ask Pete, yup it has been quite a few years back !"


I worked on He who walks two Paths for little more than 2 hours and finally come out of the supply wagon with my blood covered hands saying to Calico....."He'll be alrat soon nuff. But he'll need rest and some real doctorin'. As soon as we git ta a town, we git him some."


I came out and I poured some whiskey into my tin cup and drink lt like a man dieing of thrust. I think poured another one. I called Gloria over to where I was sitting and said, "Gloria...ya gonna have ta sleep out here night. Don't mind sleepin under da stars, do ya ?"


"Senor ....I did that long time when I had two barrows ! No problem !" I nodded my approval. "Git some sleep now. Daylight's gonna come early and after breakfast and clean up, check in on him time to time."


"Si ! This I do Senor !" Gloria said.


Jesse came down and handed my scalping knife back, which he had cleaned for me. I took a small amount of lard and greased the blade good so it would not rust and Jesse asked me,
"Boss, where did you learn how to do that ? In the war ?"


I nodded , "Yup and Rangerin' too. When a body is hit an yur 50 miles or more from a homestead and even more to a town, muchless one that has a sawbones in it, a man's gotta learn dim life savin' skills." I put my scalping knife back in it's sheath .


"Think ya could teach me how Boss ? Never know when I may need it.....sides, I'm a fast learner !" Jesse asked. I lite up a cigar and handed it off to Jesse. Then I lit one up too.


"Be mitey proud ta teach ya a thing or two boy...Ifin' I aint too busy ! Now smoke up...dat's how us Apache seal a deal !" I said.


Calico came down to where I sat and said, "He's resting now Hawk. Didn't know you could sew like that ? Why, you're a regular seamstress, you are ! Speaking of sewing, I'd like to go with you when we reach the next town....needing to buy some fabric so i can make a new dress."


"Grab yurself a cup Calico !" I said and picked up the whiskey bottle and poured more into my empty tin cup.


"No thanks Hawk.....I don't drink that often." she said.


"Well, ya do now ! Ya aint tellin' yur boss no, now are ya ?" Calico saw the reasoning in my request and I poured her some whiskey. "Be comin' to a town in tree or four days...go inta town wif me an He who walks two Paths. Ya can tell Buick, ifin he can keep a hoss under him, he will go too !"


I sipped my whiskey and leaned back asginst my saddle and looked up at the stars. I saw how they danced and streaked across the sky. And I thought how the Creator had kept me safe thus far and I prayed he would from here on out.

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After Hawk was done fixin' up He Who Walks Two Paths, we all sat around the fire talking, and Hawk insisted I have some of his whiskey. This time I really needed to go easy on that stuff! But it had been a rough day, and we all needed to relax a bit. After a while, Hawk leaned over and told me "That Buick feller still ain't none too happy, feel kinda bad bout havin' to yell at him, even tho he needed yellin' at, why don't you go talk to him?"


"Oh, he don't wanna talk to me, Hawk, he was mad at me even before the stampede!"


"He ain't mad at ya, gal, he just embarrassed about the other night...." Hawk told me. "But nothing happened!" I protested, "What's there to be embarrassed about?" "Ya need ta go ask him that" Hawk insisted, "Now git!"


I wandered over to where Buick was sitting, off by himself, and asked if I could sit a spell. "I'm afraid I won't be very good company tonight, Miss, " he replied, shaking his head.


I sat down anyway, and told him "Hawk is gettin' over being mad at us, if that's what's bothering you. He gets mad real easy, but don't stay mad long. And he knows you ain't got much experience with cows, it ain't as easy as it looks sometimes. Heck, I ain't ever had to deal with a stampede like that before neither, pa didn't have anywhere near this many of em, and when the ones he did have would start runnin', he'd just let em run and go round em up after they got tired. But I get the feelin' that you're mad at me too, and I'd like to know why..."


"I'm not mad at you, I'm just afraid that you won't think I respect you, now that we...well, that we had to share that tipi like that.... Plus I don't want you thinking less of me just because I don't know much about indians, I've never spent much time around them. And I also get the feeling that you kind of like that Cheyenne fella, and I'm afraid you'd rather be with him," Buick let out a big sigh and just stared at the ground. "I'm really starting to care about you, but I have to admit, I don't know the first thing about running a ranch. I don't know what I can offer you that would make you happy....."


I took another sip of Hawk's whiskey (dang that stuff was good) and tried to hide my embarrassment. So he did like me after all! I was starting to get that funny feeling in my stomach again, but this time I didn't think the whiskey had anything to do with it. "Well, if you're still interested in heading for Colorado with me after we get these cows sold off, I would like that very much." My cheeks were definitely getting warm then. "And don't worry none about not knowing much about cows, my pa's main business was horses, and that's what I intend to raise. And if you don't know much about horses, well, considering your former occupation, you must know something about handling money, and I'll have need of that as well. I sure don't know much about that part!"


With that I excused myself, checked on He Who Walks Two Paths one more time, then got some sleep. I had to be up early to relieve Roy. When I got out to the herd, and Roy gratefully went back to camp, I noticed some movement up ahead of me. "What in the heck, I hope we ain't being attacked again" I thought to myself, and slowly walked my pony forward to get a better look at what was moving around. The sun was just below the horizon, but I did have enough light to see that it was just a couple of coyotes, sneaking up on a calf. I had to stop them, but didn't want to shoot, as the herd was still a little jumpy after the stampede. I reached behind me and grabbed the gift Chief Hosa had given me, a bow and arrows just like the ones he and Chief Niwot had taught me to use many years ago. "I hope I still remember how to do this!" I told myself as I let the first arrow fly....

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where did this great poeso come from, his great teeth sank into my arm, I wrestled away from him, but then he went after my leg. ooohhh so his fangs went much deeper this time. The pain was much more than anything I had ever felt before........


Here he came again, the painnnnn, I opened my eyes to try to locate the great cat that was attacking me,,where was he??!! But the pain,,,slowly I came to grips with what was happening. I grabbed at the pain in my arm, it was covered with bandages, the pain in my leg felt like someone had run a hot coal deep inside it.. Each time the wagon hit a bump, it felt like a fresh bite from the fangs...


The sun was high when I awoke again, the cook squaw was beside my wiping my brow with a cool wet cloth... WHA.... I started to say while trying to rise up,,she put her hand on my shoulder to keep me down while putting a finger to her mouth saying, shhhhh, be still....I'll take care of you..... I was brought to thoughts of my mother as I once again fell back into the night.......

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When I awoke again the sun had set and the moon was just beging to rise, there was a cool breeze that felt good across my fevered brow. They had moved me from the wagon and had made a place for me near the cook fire. As I began to stir I noticed the Fair One, the black haired one, and then men sitting around the fire all around me, I could feel their stares as I managed to sit up. My sight was a bit blurred as my eyes followed the cook sqauw around the circle serving up food for the men from a large pot. I lowered my eyes and noticed all of my things had been put beside me in a most careful way, my sharps, bow and quiver full of arrows, the sleeve holding the yellow rifle Hosa had given me, the rifle and pistols from Black Dawg, his saddlebags and something else that had been wrapped in grasses.


I could feel Hawk's eyes upon me as he rose and picked up the item wrapped in the grasses. You know, he spoke, I thought I knew the Cheyenne's customs, I've seen them scalp a hated enemy, but,as he unwrapped the grasses, an ARM?


I smiled and pointed to the hand, the scar, a spoke softly, the scar. I continued, he was the one that led the men that killed the Fair One's family and burnt their ranch.


I lifted the saddlebags filled with papers, up, and spoke, the Fair One should see these....


I drifted back of into darkness as I saw the Fair One cover her mouth and reached for the saddlebags

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When I wasn't with the herd, I spent as much time as possible tending to He Who Walks Two Paths. I think Buick got a little jealous, but hey, I owed the man that much at least. He was doing as well as could be expected, Hawk had done a good job doctoring him. All the same, he needed to be seen by a real doctor, and as soon as possible, the fever he was running was starting to worry me....


When he started doing a little better, we moved him outside, the fresh air would do him some good, it was awfully stuffy inside the wagon. When he woke up, he grabbed the saddlebags that had been recovered from Black Dawg, and said I needed to see what was in them. I opened the saddlebags, looked at the papers inside, and quickly closed them back up and left the fire. I didn't want anyone else to see what was in there just yet....


Hawk followed me, and when we were out of earshot of the others, asked me what was in the bags. I told him "It ain't anyone's business, Hawk, just drop it!"


Hawk wouldn't take no for an answer "Dang it gal, whatever's in there has got to be important, tell me!"


I just shook my head. "It's a bunch of papers, has something to do with my pa's ranch, but I'm not sure what."


"Don' ya trust me by now? Just tell me!" he demanded.


"I can't Hawk, I can tell they're about the ranch, but I can't read well enough to understand them!!" Humiliated by having to make that admission, I grabbed my pony, threw the saddlebags across him, jumped up in the saddle, and took off to be alone fer a while....

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He who walks two Paths , I owed him much, for, it was he that showed me much of the tribal ways I had learnt as a boy but forgot as I grew. Like wood would make a great bow....the arrows, long and straight hardwood. The father's to be made of hawk's feathers. "It is he, the messenger of both good and evil, that makes the arrows fly straight and true." my Father would tell me as he fastened them on. Arrowheads made from the best stone, bow string made from seinew from a fresh kill mule deer. It id the only way to gwt the bow stringed up. Once dryer, put some bee's wax on the arrows to make them glide past the bow. Beaver or bear grease on the bow string to keep in supple, an rush reeds over the bow to keep it smooth, yet not to shine it up.


I remembered this and went to the supply wagon and after some searching I found a box crudely labeled, "Hawk's" on the top. And I remembered what was in the and quickly opened it.....my bow....a large quiver full of arrows in it....all marked with my sign, the colors, gray, black and red. I got them out and when He who walks two Paths came too again, I think him for reminding me that I was part indian and not just part white. I put it with my gear, patted it warmly and poured some whiskey in my tin cup and thought that there are somethings that the whites are good for !


The smell of fresh made biscuits and coffee cooking on the grill and the sounds of bacon frying and pancakes cooking too. I had slepted much to long as the hands where walking up before me and the horses where saddled for the most part. I walked over and ducked my head into the horse watering bucket and the cold water brought my mind back to the here and now. I pulled on my pants and boots and went over to Gloria and asked, how is He who walks two Paths .


"He sleeps much Señor ....like you !" Gloria said, giggling. So as she walked by I gave her a swat on the backside and she just giggled more ! I felt more alive now than I have sense I was a boy and I was hungry !


After breakfast and we all where saddling up I purposely sought out Buick, which he saw me coming toward him and met head...head on !


"Boss....if you are going to fire me, I'll take my littles wages and left now !" he said. I was surprised by this move and thought it mighty gusty and I said,....


"What da hell ya talking bout Dandy ! I was gonna ask ya to ride with me today an ifin' ya want ride into town in the next day or so. "But then I put my hands up as if I was being robbed saying .."But ifin' ya don't wanta dandy, dat'll be up ta ya !" I looked at Calico and could see her face light up bright as the new day !


We all had our assignments and then we rode out making sure the chuck wagon with He who walks two Paths was resting as comfortably as possible, was moving first then we all rode around it, pushing the cattle as we went. We had heard about a very large band of Comancheros...renegades...people who will attack and kill their own families was up head of us about two weeks head and we have been seeing plenty of seen, at least I have and Whiskey too, for that matter.


Whiskey came riding up with a frown on her face asking me, "Hawk...you see what I am seeing ?" I assured her I was. "Then why are we going the same way ?"


"Well ma'am....da way I see it....a man don't spend much time back trackin' or backin' up fer dat matter. We'll just stay a good pace off der's an see what happens. Sides....I tank we can't take many more head losses....so...we'll ride dat way, ma'am." Whiskey looked at the ground as though she was still tracking, but she wiped away a tear, thinking I didn't see.


Switching sides Whiskey asked, "How long we been friends Hawk....7, 8 10 years or so ?"


Riding long and looking ahead and scanning the horizon for movement I answer .." Ever since we kilt off dim yankee solders, an ya know dat ! What cha driving at...ma'am ?" She reined up suddenly and knowing what was ahead I rode on a little and then rode back to her, waiting for a reply.


"Damn you're thick hide Hawk......you're gonna make me it aint cha ?" Whiskey was fuming and about to bust a gut so I did the only thing a gentleman would do.....I let her go bust !


"Don't have a ieader what yur talking bout ma'am ." I said a big broad grin on my face. I was going to enjoy this !


"Damn it to all hell Hawk.....why do I put up with you ?" Whiskey screamed out.


I just shifted in my saddle, picked my teeth and waited, then said, "Cuz Ma'am...I'm bout da best cattleman an best hoss man as ya will ever see ! "


"You're right, at least this far north and that I know of......ok then, you're still my friend ! Am I you'res as well ?" Whiskey said and put out her hand. I put out my hand for her to shake and then pulled her near and we hugged. "Bucky's been wanting us to stop this fighting. "


"Yup...aint rat fer kin to fight more din a month ! " I said, laughing while she hit me across my shoulder. "Lookie here...." I said and pulled out a map.


"Der is some tall grass yonder ....an best I can remember der is a town called Rolla not far from der. Not more din a camp, last time I passed through. Ifin' it's still der, will let da cattle fatten up on dat tall grass, din I'll ride inta town of Rolla wif Bucky and Buick, wif Calico drivin' da supply wagon." I said.


"Didn't you just go into the last town for supplies Hawk ? And why do you need Bucky , Buick and Calico ? Say.....What are you planning anyway ?" Whiskey asked.


I just laughed and said "A Gentleman don't kiss an tell !" And Whiskey let out a belly laugh saying....


"Well, no body never accursed you of being that Hawk !" and rode off in a trot.


We all worked hard all day and didn't stop for dinner but did make an early camp. All the horses in the remuteata where tired and almost played out, soI had Jesse set trot line and Pete make a rope corral, then set about setting out nighthawks and pickett lines.....just in case those renegades decide to double back. We all did the grass dance indian people have been doing for years and years. It invokes the practice of stomping the grasses flat. It was/is mostly performed by indian women (not squaws!) but we was a mite short of the women part. He who walks two Paths was moved to a tear or two thinking we where all doing for him. I would have hated to have to tell him other wise.


We all had a plenty of wild game bird and a wild hawg that just happened along it's trail of rooted up grass balls. Gravy made with the drippings and biscuits with some coffee, as always. Jim picked up his harmonica and started to play when I saw called back to Whiskey's and Bucky's tent. It had been set up back aways, but still in the stomped down grass. Bucky met me at the porch and shook my hand and poured me some of their home made finest whiskey ever ! I pushed a bit and motioned for one of Bucky's cigars and he didn't seem to mind.


"Tell him you're plan Hawk." Whiskey said to me and I filled Bucky in on it. But Bucky was a bit hesitant ,


He asked "Why ya want to take that dandy with you Hawk ? Thought ya didn't like him ."


I responded, "It's not dat I don't like him, but he's a dandy....just rubbs me da wrong way, I recon. What ta see ifin' der's more to it din dat !"


Bucky ran his finger over his moth ...."Hummm I see I think. But what about Calico...Ya know those two been makin' eyes at one nother most this week."


I smiled and stuck out mu tin cup for a refill and said, "More din a week Bucky....Sides, I tank Calico sweet on him an I plan on takin' her to town an buy some fabric fer a new dress. See what happens. And now Bucky, ya picked dis old brain, I'm agonna pick turn...."


Bucky smiled at spread out his map on the table and sat a lantern on it. "We are here , in this tall grass right ? Got word from a source in Dodge City....rail person most likely. That a new railhead is built ....and a stockyard. And if we play this right, we'll push the first herd of long horns in there ! Most stockyards are paying 3 to 4 dollars....we maybe able to get 5 dollars with we get those cows in there first !"

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I woke as the wagon started out again, each bounce of the wagon caused a shot of pain to course thru my leg. I thought about my dreams since I had returned. I kept dreaming of a sweet fragrance that would awaken me, but each time no one was there. I kept seeing Hosa's wife lifting her eyebrow at me and nodding towards her three daughters. I thought a spell, no more dreams of the dark rider, Black Hawk! Did this mean my oath to the Great Spirit to protect the Fair One was finished? I hadn't felt a release, I wasn't in much condition to do much now anyway.


Then I remembered the signs I had seen while chasing Black Dawg, I wasn't sure, but I didn't like the looks of them. It was a little different from the comanche sign that I had seen moons ago. didn't like it one bit.


Ouch! that one hurt, my pony was tied behind the wagon and I decided it sure couldn't hurt any worse to ride it. As I tried to move, the wagon came to a stop, the cook woman, hollered, "oh no you don't" and sprang to the ground and quickly appeared at the rear of the wagon. With a long finger pointed in my direction she sternly told me, " you in no shape to ride that pony of yours, you want to bleed to death?" No ma'm, I said, she stepped back and said, "what did you call me? my name is Gloria, not ma'm!" you mean G l o r i a ? I said, spelling it out? "Yes" she reply, "and don't you forget it!" Then she sang it out G L O R I A, Gloria!"

She reached a cup of water to me and told me to drink. Oh boy did that taste good! She hit my foot as she turned and said, "you stay right where you're at, we've got miles to go before we sleep".


As the wagon rolled on I noticed all my things had been stuffed into the wagon with me. I picked up and Sharps, I loaded it and but it back into it's pouch. My bow and it's quiver full of arrows were in good shape. I pulled the yellow rifle from it's beaded sleeve, what a beautiful rifle. I pulled the box of shells, that Hosa had given me, and managed to put two more cartridges into it's tube. I carefully slid it back into it's sleeve. Then I saw Black Dawg's guns laying there too. I picked up his yellow rifle, I knew where this would go. It would replace Gloria's rifle that was damaged by Black Dawg. I picked up his pistols,,I had seen the Fair One use ones like these...maybe she would teach me how to use them.


Just before I drifted back off, I checked the wound in my leg. It didn't look so good, I dug out the salve from my mother and worked it into the wound. I could feel my eyes trying to close as I sealed the salve......

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As I was getting on my pony to take my place for the day's ride, I made sure those saddlebags were secured on the back of my saddle. I still hadn't been able to figure out what all those papers meant. I recognized my pa's name, Mathew Meier, and a few other words, but not enough to make any sense of it all. Sooner or later, I was going to have to have someone help me read them, I just wasn't sure who. The papers had to be something important, otherwise Black Dawg wouldn't have carried them this far. But since I didn't know what they said, I wasn't sure who I could trust to share them with. I knew most of the other hands didn't know much about reading either, and I doubted Hawk was much better. Buick, maybe, but could I really trust him yet? Just because I was attracted to him didn't change the fact that he was a gambler. It would likely have to be Bucky and Whiskey, but for now they had enough to worry about. Even though Hawk hadn't said anything to the hands, I knew he was well aware of the signs of an indian war party around, I had seen them myself, and knew those signs weren't of Little Raven and his village.


Maybe it was time I started figuring out how to get some more book learning myself. Ma had been a teacher before she married Pa, and had started teaching Margaret and Theresa how to read before she died. I had been too young at the time, but Margaret had tried to teach me when I got old enough. But she could only teach me so much, the only books we had were a first reader and the family Bible, and none of us could read well enough to understand the Bible. Pa did try to teach us as many of the stories in it that he could remember, Ma had read it to him as often as she could. Pa did have a lot of faith in God, even if he couldn't read His word. I had also learned of the Great Spirit from our indian friends, and always wondered if there was any connection.


Well, now wasn't the best time to worry about the answer to that question. I needed to concentrate on my work, and not do anything to get myself yelled at by Hawk again! I was going to need his help in the near future, and wanted to stay on his good side, if he even had one. As I swung up into the saddle, I sent a prayer to Whoever was listening to help He Who Walks Two Paths recover from his wounds....and to help me figure out what to do about those papers.


But for now, the cows needed tending....

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The sun was high when I awoke again, the salve from my mother was still in my lap as I managed to sweep the cobwebs from my mind. As I put the salve in my pouch I noticed the small book my mother, Lives Again, had given me as I left the ranch. She had told me that it had in it the way to know the Great Spirit. Before I opened it I once again checked on the wound in my leg. I looked at it and thought, that looks like Hawk sounds at times, I tried to smile at that thought but I knew this was no laughing matter.


I opened the book and began to read,,,hmmm, I was glad that my father had brought a teacher onto the ranch to teach me and the families of his hands to read and such. My nose began sniffing, as if it had a mind of it's own,,,,that sweet odor that had awakened me so many times. I would stay awake this time,,,I saw the autumn pony's face come around the edge of the back of the wagan. The Fair One peered into the wagon and spoke, "Well, I'm glad to see you're finally awake." Her eyebrows lowered a bit as she continued, "what's that? what are you doing with a book?

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As I rode along, I scanned the sky line and I looked toward the timber line. As I rode on, I could see that there was more and more sign on the ground, I rode slowly to the tree line and saw sign there as well. I then rode to a rock outcropping and Whiskey followed, still more sign.


"Holy Crow Hawk....do ya see the same as me ?" Whiskey asked. I had taught her well.


I signed and sat up straight and tall in my saddle and said, "Yup Whiskey.....I do ! I don't wanta fight with dim ifin' dey don't care ifin a good tracker can find 'em !"


"Why not Hawk........Aint seen ya run from a fight before !" Whiskey said. She sounded concerned, and not mean sounding.


I pointed to the ground...."Da sign runs from here, to da tree line waaaay over der. Must be 300 hundred or more ! An at least 6 wagons an da same carts. All hosses are shod..........not a barefoot pony amgonst'em. Dis means most are white men......right now we are both not nuff and two many !"


Whiskey didn't say a word , just turn her horse around with mine and rode back to the herd, very slowly, not to spook the cattle or the hired hands. They where doing a hell of a job keeping the herd together an now to have to fight 300 or so men ? They got their hands full now and fighting renegades is not one of the things they signed on for. But working for Whiskey and Bucky was and I was the ramrod, the Boss as they call me.


I rode with Whiskey and Buck at the chuck wagon and we had a little meeting. Whiskey filled Bucky in on what we had seen and how many they are. Bucky looked straight at me, with a stone cold face and said, "My Gawd Hawk, we can't fight that many renegades ! Don't got near that much man power ! If they attack us it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. " Then Bucky paused saying, "Best slow up the herd....make early camp a few days to let'em ride on. Might even head into town ......He who walks two Paths needs a Sawbones and I think that one is large enough to have one. Yup....that's what we'll do.....make early camp and stay here a few days. Rotate the men so that at least two are in town living it up at a time. What do you hunk, Hawk ?"


"Sound wisdom , Bucky ! At least, dey got a undertaker, case he don't make it !" I said. Just then He who walks two Paths raised up from the chuck wagon and said, "Boss.........I fight too !" And held up his Big Boy rifle in defiance. I looked at him and smiled.


I found Calico tending the herd and asked her if she needed the supply wagon or would a pack horse work just as good. She assured me that the pack horse would work just fine and that's when I noticed she had her saddle bags latched down real good. "What cha got der, Calico ? Care if I take a look ?" She quickly grabbed her saddle bags as if they where going to fall off and said, "NO !" And I replied, "Ok ! Just asked.....I can read , ya know !" and rode off to get the dandy .


I found him with the herd, doing a fine job of tending the herd, if I do say so myself. "BUICK !..." I shouted and flagged him over. "Git yur stuff tagether.....ya are goin' inta town wif me an Calico."


"I'm ready right now Boss !" Buick said. I nodded and we rode toward Calico and then we rode to town together. We saw a big mason at the end of town and wondered who lived in it, but that thought left our minds as we walked into the Saloon, even Calico came in. I think we I gave her those two drinks a ways back got her juices flowing for me. So through the batwinged doors we went. And ordered whiskeys all round. We through them back and ordered another, all but Calico, she was sipping her whiskey till some drunk grabbed her ass from behind. Suddenly, Calico jumped , the whiskey went down her throat ! Buick made a move and I put out my arm to stop him. This was Calico's fight . Let her handle it.


"Honey, how much ta git cha out dim skin tight buck skins ?" a drink card player asked her and grabbed some agin. Cat like quick, Calico jerked her pistol clear of leather and cold cocked the drunk with the side of her pistol,...his buddy jumped up from the table and Calico had a bead on him and the hammer cocked. "You aint man nuf to have some !......Now....pick up yur buddy here and leave !

She watched him slowly walk over to his buddy , pick him up and as he had his friend over his shoulder said , ..."This aint over lady !" She put her pistol into his face and said, "Yes.....Yes it is !" and watched as the guy with the drunk over his shoulder walked out the batwinged doors. Calico then reached over to the bottle and poured three more drinks.


"Damn !" Buick said. "She tough !"


I smiled and said, "As leather, Dandy.........As leather !"

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When we stopped to make camp for the night, first thing I did was stop by the wagon to check on He Who Walks Two Paths. I knew Gloria was taking good care of him, but I was still worried. As I peeked into the wagon, I saw he had a book in his hands, it looked a lot like Ma's Bible had, and he was reading it! I asked him "What's that? What are you doing with a book?"


He looked me straight in the eye and simply said "Reading it." All of a sudden it dawned on me how he knew to give those papers to me, he had read them and knew what they said. Oh wonderful, he knew and I didn't, and it was going to be humiliating to have to admit it! I was going to have to figure out a way to find out what was in there before he realized that I didn't know....


After making sure he was ok, and asking if he needed anything, I went over to help Gloria, not that I was ever that much help, but she appreciated the company. After dinner, we all sat around the fire for a while talking, but I didn't have much to say, there was too much on my mind. When we finally turned in for the night, I had a real hard time sleeping, too many bad dreams...


The next day, I saw Hawk and Whiskey ride off up ahead of the herd, and realized they were checking those signs I had noticed, there was a large group of men up ahead of us, and I knew Hawk was concerned. I doubt any of the other hands had noticed, but it wasn't my place to tell them, when Hawk thought they needed to know, he'd handle that himself. After a while the two of them came back, and headed for the chuck wagon to talk to Bucky. Next thing I knew, Hawk came riding up to tell me that we were stopping the herd and making camp early, and that I would be going into town with him. Then he tried to grab the saddlebags I had, asking what was in there. I snatched them away, saying "NO!" I still wasn't sure who I could trust, I wasn't going to risk losing that ranch again. He told me "I can read, ya know" and rode off to find Buick. Oh great, both the half breeds knew how to read, and I didn't??


After stopping to get one of the pack horses, Hawk, Buick, and I rode off into town. The first place Hawk stopped was the saloon, of course! I had seen plenty of them, but had never been in one, Pa wouldn't have approved. But since Hawk was treating me just like all the other hands, well, I might as well act like one. Hawk got a bottle of whiskey and three glasses, and we sat down and started drinking. I took a quick look around, and noticed that all the other women in the place were dressed all fancy, with really low cut dresses that showed....well...showed a lot of skin. I saw that Buick and Hawk noticed it too, in fact Buick had a big ole grin on his face, I sure hoped he didn't think I was gonna dress like that!


Next thing I knew, some drunken fool was grabbing me, and I wasn't gonna stand for that. I wasn't no saloon girl! I hit him over the head with one of my pistols, and he hit the floor hard. His friend wanted to get involved, but I quickly changed his mind, and convinced him to take himself and his unconscious friend elsewhere. The three of us had another drink or two (maybe three, I lost track), then I asked "Can we please look for a dry goods store now? Before any more drunken idiots try to start something?" I was not having a good day, and I had the funny feeling it was gonna get worse before it got any better.....

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As the men gathered around the fire I knew something wasn't right. I had heard snipits of the conversations between Hawk, Buck, and the Black Haired One. One of the things I did hear was, comancheria. That sent a chill down my spine to the tips of my mocaosins. Then I heard, 300, the chill that had just gone out of my foot re-entered and ran back up my spine. While I had never had any contacts with those devils, the darkness of their hearts was known throughout the plains and over the great mountains to the west. They were the very darkest hearted of not only the indian tribes, but also of the whites.


Gloria had helped me out of the wagon so that I could sleep under the stars. I had a hard time getting settled, but it wasn't my wounds that bothered me, it was thoughts of the comancheria, and 300 of them. Had I been on my fathers ranch I knew where the fort was with the soldiers, and I knew where the villages were. I knew that different tribes would put away ill feelings toward one another to come together against a common ememy. This wouldn't be like raiding a village for wapum to prove your bravery. This would be a fight to the death and bravery was vital, but far more was at stake than one's pride. As I lay there, Gloria went to the wagon and got the bible my mother had given me. She handed it to me and said, "you read." I opened it at random and came to Psalms 23 and began reading, "the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." I could feel my spirit start to calm and after reading a few more verses I felt sleep start to overcome me...


I awoke when Gloria nudged me and put a pan of food in my hands. At first I thought I was home with my mother. I looked up at Gloria, smiled and said "thank you." She pointed at the bible in my lab and said, "it soothes the savage heart". I could see the faces of the men as Gloria said that, I could see in their eyes that they had no idea of what was going to happen next. I just smiled and nodded at Gloria, as I did I could sense the men relax.


After we had eaten, two of the men came over and helped me back into the wagon. I could sense that they were begining to trust me, if only a small bit. Soon the wagon started moving again. As it did I took out my mother's salve and opened it. It's odor brought back the memories of my mother making it. It was an old cheyenne remedy. She would take fat from a bear or beaver and beat it until it became smooth, she would then add the oils from fresh caught fish and mix that into the fat, the last thing she would add was yeast. She had used this on the ranch to heal cuts, burns, rashes, just about anything. I often thought of how rich she could be if she would sell it from a wagon in town. As I smiled, I opened the bandage on my leg, it wasn't quite as angry as it had been. As I rubbed the salve into the wound I could tell that the soreness wasn't as great as it had been. For good measure I rubbed some into the wound on my arm.


The wagon stopped with the sun still high and I began to hear voices. I could sense aprehension in their voices but also a calmness. Good, nothing was happening now. As the men gathered I heard Hawk telling them that there was a group of no-a-counts ahead of us and that they would rest the herd here for a couple days. I could hear him say something about a sawbones and an undertaker, UNDERTAKER? WHO WAS THAT SICK? WASN'T ME! I held my shiny yellow rifle up and yelled to Hawk, "I can fight!" Then I heard the autumn pony's steps just before I saw his face and The Fair One upon his back. "Can I get you anything?" she asked. I shook my head and said "No thanks". She quickly disappeard and I heard several ponies ride off.



What was going on now? I sure didn't like being stuck in this wagon, and I could tell my pony didn't like trailing it either. He would peer at me and whinny several times throughout each day. It was like he was saying to me,,come on, get up, you ain't hurt!


Gloria came and helped me out of the wagon,,,hmmm, good time to test my leg,,,ewhhh, still very sore and weak,,but no seering pain,,,my mother's salve was working.. I could see Gloria's face as she began sniffing....."I know that smell" she said, you could she her mind working..."sperti" she shouted. "I haven't smelled that for a very long time. My father would bring it back to mexico from the tribes of the north...no wonder your leg is doing so much better!" I just smiled as she helped me sit on a stool that one of the men had brought for me.


As Gloria began setting up camp, I soon was lost in thought....we've only got a small band of men, I didn't discount the wimmen because I had seen them fight already, but against 300 or so comancheria,,, where had The Fair One and Hawk gone? I didn't see that Dandy feller either.. Buck and the Black Haired One that Hawk called Whiskey, were off among the herd.. The Arapaho weren't too far away, I knew we could count on them for help,,if they knew we needed it, and we still needed to get the steers to them that Hawk had promised.... my pony nudged my shoulder, as I looked into his eyes, I quietly said,, "I Know,,, soon, soon".

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I went over to the general store with Calico, while Buick stayed in the Saloon. He had seen a faro game and was waiting for an opening to sit down at the table. As Calico talked to the store owner's wife about a bolt of fabric, I went to looking throughout out the store....boots, spurs, and the like. Shovels, pick axes and lanterns for miners ....plows, hammers and seed for the farmers , all in town or near by. But seeing how we where smack dab in the middle of the plains, the miners equipment didn't seem to make much sense. Guess some came through here.


Got to looking at the big bore lever gun hanging on the wall behind the store owner's wife. "Ma'am....when ya git finished der....I'd like ta see dat rifle."


"Of course !" was the women's response and not long after that the owner came out. "Can I help you, sir ?" he said.


"Kinda...want to see rifle hangin on da wall behind ya ? Is da a lever action 45-70 ?" I asked.


"Yes sir it is. Came a little late for the war, but it's here now. Special order, she is.....dust cover opens as the action is worked. Cleaning kit comes standard with it. Asking $ 150.00, Gold coin." He said rather proudly .


I said "Wheeeeew ! Mite steep fer dis old cowpoke !.... But I will take couple boxes of 44-40's,please, sir. And a box of 45's too ."


The store owner got them and I noticed a noise from across the street at the Saloon, but payed it no mind . I was thinking, that if we get back to the herd alive, I'll give this one box to He who walks two Paths for his rifle. Calico got her fabric and I came out the store with the shells and put them in the packs and went back in the Saloon. I went to the bar, ordered at drink, and then I noticed that the Dandy was gone. I slowly looked toward the faro game that he was playing and he wasn't there . I then walked over with my whiskey and and looked around and there on the floor was some fresh blood stain.


I walked back to the table and said...."Da dandy aint here........fresh blood stain on da floor. Let's go,..fore the same happens to us !" and Calico looked awful worried. And the way I figured it, she had a right to be....Calico was starting to love that dandy ! "Follow me." I said and we walked out of the Saloon. Once outside, I told Calico....."Stay calm......let's go over to da Sheriff's office...see what he knows. Take ya horse and walk wif me.....keep yur eyes peeled."


We walked very carefully to the Sheriff's office and tied off. We walked in through the open door. I thought it strange that on a chilly morn, he would have the door open wide for any one to walk in. I loosened both Dragoons in their leather and walked into the office. "Sheriff.....I be the trail boss fer da herd just outside town here,......I be lookin fer a slightly tall feller, dressed finer din cowpokes an tank he may have came to physical harm. Long black hair.....fair skinned....slow on the draw.....loves faro.......know a soul da fits da description , Sheriff ?"


I sat his chair down on all four of it's legs and produced a 12 gauge shotgun and laid it on his desk."Just so happens, I do ! He's over there in a cell.........I didn't recall you're name, Mister ."


I looked at the dandy.......It was Buick and he was a mess ! Beat and stomped on many times.......a bloody mess ! "I did not give it Sheriff ! What's dis man charged with ? !" I demanded to know.


"I can't remember them all.....disturbing the peace of a Saloon, causing mass trouble with whiskey and cards involved......for starters !" I knew just what this Sheriff was up to now beyond a doubt....he WAS bought and payed for ! But by whom was the question, which I had the answer to in a matter of moments.


A big shadow filled the doorway and walked to the Sheriff which, jumped right out of his chair for this big man. He lit a cigar, slid one to us and said, "Ranger Hawk......I have heard many things about you ! You have caused me some grief and some pleasure. This you're man the good Sheriff has arrested ?" and he draw along draw off the cigar. I saw this as a challenge and took his two cigar offers, I lit once, put the other in my shirt pocket.


"Yup.....he is !" I said, blowing cigar smoke right back into his face.


"What's the fine for all he's charged with, Sheriff ?" the big man asked him and he said......"Bout $600.00 will cover it ."


"Tell you what I am willing to do, Texas Ranger Hawk ! I'm willing to pay those fines for 3/4's of that fine herd you've been grazing and making fat off my fine grass ! That's what it will take or pay $600.00 dollars. Which will it be ?" the big man said.


I reached into my pocket and pulled out $700.00 which I payed the $600.0 fine with. Then I leaned on the desk in the face of the big man. Looking him in the eye, I said......."Ya know me Otis....and ya know what I'll do ! Ya aint gittin' one head of beef and we will stay right where we're at ! Free grazin' is still free in dis country ! Even ifin' ya own everthin' buildin' in dis town, and ya own him......free grazin' is still free ! Calico.....I payed the fine.....got fetch him rat now !" and she ran to the cell door.


"Texas Ranger is known all cross this country for their bravery and resourcefulness .......I will have those cattle and I doubt you and this Saloon trash will be able to stop me !" Otis said, laughing. Calico had what was left of Buick onto her horse and I backed out of the door, and Otis just laughed even more. Outside of town , I took Buick onto my horse while Calico took the lead rope of the pack horse.


Once back at the herd, Bucky saw Buick was in a bad way and helped him off my horse as I stepped down, Calico put out Buick's bed roll and Bucky laided Buick on his bedroll and Calico started her doctoring on him. She looked up worried at me...."He's got busted ribs and arm....got a awful high fever too Hawk ! How they hell did he know you ?! How the hell do you know him ?!"


Calico had angry tears flowing down her pretty face when she asked me that and I just could not take it. I loaded for bear and changed my shirt from my saddle bag. Whiskey came over and waited to know what's going on. I put my rifle back into it's scarboard and took out my Henry, and loaded it full. Then I took to checking my Dragoons, while Whiskey got a tin cup, shoved it into my hand, filled it with whiskey and had a lit cigarette and shoved it into my lips. "Now calm down and tell me what the hell is going on ?"


I told Whiskey and Bucky what was said, by whom, and what happened to Buick. I saw Whiskey pull out her peacemakers, checked them and then her carbine, looking at me, she asked....."Got yur scattergun with you ?"


I replied, "On my hoss......why ? Ya comin' with me ?"


And Whiskey said........."That's what kin are for !" and Calico looked shocked to say the least !

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Hawk and Whiskey loaded their weapons, jumped in their saddles, and took off towards town like the devil himself was after them. Maybe he was....but I didn't have time to care, I was too busy trying to find out the extent of Buick's injuries. Whoever had beat him had done a good job of it, there didn't seem to be an inch on him that wasn't bruised, battered, or broken, obviously there had been more than one attacker. I wasn't too sure how much damage those broken ribs had caused, but I did know that that arm would need to be set, and that was beyond my skills to do. He was gonna need a doctor, and soon. I also still wanted a doctor to look at He Who Walks Two Paths, it was high time to see if that town had a sawbones. And to see if the sawbones was on that big man's payroll too....


From what I had seen of the town, those two were going to need help, as they would be badly outnumbered. I told Gloria "Take over for me, I'm going with them!" I checked my pistols to make sure they were fully loaded, and yelled to Bucky "Hey, you got a spare rifle I could use?" He tried to talk me out of going, saying that it would be better to send a couple of the hands. "They don't have as much experience fightin' as I do, and I'm going!" I told him, not willing to be left behind. Hawk and Whiskey needed help fast, and Buick needed a doctor immediately if not sooner!


I grabbed the rifle Bucky offered me, jumped on my pony, and headed him towards town. A few minutes later I heard hoof beats behind me, and turned to look. It was He Who Walks Two Paths on his pony, with all of his guns as well. I shook my head at him, and tried to point back to camp. He was still in no condition for this, and I didn't want him getting hurt worse.

"I go with you, that's final!" he told me, and I could tell it would do me no good to argue....

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This was a tough day for me. I knew that I wasn't going back into that wagon again, that was one thing I was sure of. I had spoken with Buck about cutting out 5 steers and heading for Little Raven's village. They needed the meat, and though it wouldn't be enough it was a start, plus I told Buck that I knew that he would be more than willing to help against the comancheria, if help was indeed needed. But then too, if the comancheria raided the village while the braves were gone? That's why it had been a tough day.


When I saw The Fair One, Hawk and the dandy return to camp it didn't take long to realize something was bad wrong. The dandy looked like he had been drug behind a horse. Hawk immediately began getting all his guns together along with Whiskey. This wasn't good at all. The Fair One and Gloria were tending to the dandy as Hawk and Whiskey rode out at full gallop. The Fair One rose with a shout, "Imma going too!" She quickly checked her pistols and swung upon the autumn pony bareback. As she did I knew she would catch the others quickly that way. Her pony was built for speed and without the saddle it would help with endurance. I already had my pony at the ready as I wanted to be ready for whatever the day brought. I quickly dug the salve out of my things and passed it to Gloria as I went by. I pushed my pony hard to catch up with The Fair One, as I did her pony responded by matching my speed as we raced on towards Hawk and Whiskey. Our two ponies ran as if on cloouds, it was painful and yet so exhillerating as the ponies ran full out. We set a path that would bring us even with Hawk and Whiskey well off to their side, that way they would easily see us without having to slow to turn to see who was coming up behind them.


As we neared them I reached down deep inside my gut and let out the screech of the hawk, I swear I could see the smiles on their faces as they turned to see us. The Fair One and I pushed our ponies towards them while slowing a little to keep pace with them. I was becoming more aware of the pain, but then it was bearable. We rode on waiting for Hawk's signal to stop, I hoped that it would come soon because I was unsure of just what we were getting ourselves into, but I was sure that this was where I was meant to be.


As we continued on I made a quick check of the weapons that I had brought with me. My Sharps, loaded, my new yellow rifle from Hosa, loaded and ready. The two six guns that I had taken from Black Dawg, I knew I still had them as they were digging into my hips as I rode, my bow and quiver full of arrows on my back, and my two knifes. I didn't know the plan yet, but I felt confident that we would be ready.

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As we rode into town, we headed right for livery. There we found an older man ......40 ish and he was willing to stable our mounts for free if we where going to get those men who beat that stranger .


"Seen him take a beating !" He said. "Boy did not stand a change. Caught the faro dealer cheatin' and called him on it. Found a Ace in his sleeve and got beat up an thrown in jail for his trouble. " he said.


Stepping down I asked, "Do Otis Meyer own everything in dis town ?"


"He tryed to buy me out........" He said. "But I aint fer sale ! Paw built dis place an sold it ta me fer $1.00 cash ! I aint fer sell ! " he said.


"Ya got a name ?" I asked and he nodded.


"Graham.......Graham Stevens.........Ifin ya gonna go up agin Otis and his men, I'll stable and feed yur horses fer free ! Dey aint no love lost tweex us !"


We stepped down and pulled two rifles and one scattergun 12 gauge. The 10 gauge barrel blew up on the early start of this drive when I over loaded it in a drunken state. Damn near killed me ! We walked down the board walk, and all eyes where on us...we where heavily armed and all where looking as we entered the cafe, and set at the counter. The Sheriff sat at the far end of the counter and had to see Whiskey and me walk in. Every one in there knew trouble was brewing, yet no one moved.


"Sam....steak, taters, beans, coffee.....just like always. the Sheriff say . I expect he would rather deal with us on a full gut.


"The skinny man behind the counter said to the Sheriff, "That will be 3 bits. "


The Sheriff looks shocked. "Come on Sam, put it on my tab !"


"Yur tab aint worth the paper it's rite on ! Sheriff....3 bits or leave now !" the little man said. The Sheriff could have easily taken him on and I admired his spunk. We ordered the same and waited.


"What we wanting for Hawk ? Let's get this thing over !" Whiskey said.


I kept eating and drinking the coffee and without looking up said,....."Calico and He who Walks Two Paths are coming with us. Should be walking through that door any time how. And about 15 minutes later they hobbled thought the door. The Sheriff didn't know those two , who sat in the first table at the door.


"We payed for our meal and stood up and I said, "Sheriff.....I am callin' ya out ! Ya know me some what.....met dis mornin'."


"Well, Texas Ranger Hawk......gonna have to arrest you and you're sweet looking friend for having side arms inside the city limits. You gonna come quietly or am I gonna have to kill ya ?" the Sheriff asked.


I smiled and replied, "Dat 'll be da day ! Folks, don't want no one ta git hurt, but too late fer dat. Der's a young feller what works for me...what's damn near death's door cuz of yur Sheriff and his so called Deputies. Now Sheriff....we aim to bring him and a Cheyenne half breed here to yur Sawbones. Ya want to try an stop us, ya gotta start here and now !" I handed my scattergun off to Whiskey ...Calico and He Who Walks Two Paths stood behind the Sheriff. If he drew on me it would mean instant death to him.


"No need to to this here Ranger......there's time still. I'll make sure you don't go no where !" the Sheriff said with a smug on his face.


I smiled that wicked smile and " You should try Sheriff.........ya should try !"

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Soon after the Fair One and I had caught up with Hawk and Whiskey, Hawk signaled for us to all stop. He didn't waste any time telling us his plan. "Whiskey and I will ride into town, once there we'll stable our horses and head for the saloon. I figure that's where we'll find at least some of them.. You two wait about 15 minutes till yoiu come in, that'll work two ways for us, it will give our ponies time to rest, and it will give Whiskey and I time to figure out who's where. I aim to kill the sheriff and the man that owns most of the town, by the name of Otis.


As the Fair One and I rested our ponies there outside of town I tried to keep my leg with the wound away from her. It had started bleeding again and I could see it coming through my buckskins. I starting thinking of the verse I had read last night, "I will fear no evil, for thy rod and thy staff they comfort me". I was needing some comfort about now, not knowing much of what was going on. Then a story my mother had taught me as a child came to mind, a story bout a man, that had killed a giant with a sling, she made me practice for hours with a sling, I could actually kill small game with it. About that time I saw some smooth stones, hmm "never know", I said to myself as I slid off my pony to pick them up. That's when the Fair One saw the fresh blood. "I told you" she started, I put my finger to my lips and shushed her, I had a feeling I was going to pay for that later.


We rode into town and found the livery, the man there was waiting for us. As we slid off of our ponies he pointed where Hawk and Whiskey had gone. I grabbed the yellow rifle from it's sleeve as the Fair One checked her pistols one more time. As we began our walk to the saloon we were both aware of the stares that we were getting. We must have been quite a sight, a fair long haired beauty and a shot up Cheyenne half-breed. I guess I would have been staring too.

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We stayed on the far side of the street from the saloon, walking cautiously, eyes peeled but trying not to be too obvious. An alley entered the street across from the saloon, just as we we about to step into the alley the Fair One grabbed my arm and pulled me back a step. "There's someone on the other side of the alley with a rifle pointed right at the saloon", she whispered in my ear.


I handed her my rifle and reached into my pocket and pulled out the stones I had picked up as we waited outside of town.


The look on the Fair One's face was worth many words, she leaned over to me again and whispered, "whatca gonna do, throw those at him?"

Once again I shushed her, oh this better work I thought or she'll have my scalp, and took the soft leather sling from my pocket. I slipped the stone into the sling and started spinning it quickly above my head. As it spun faster and faster it started to make a high pitched sound. I stepped into the alley and just as the man with the rifle looked to see what the sound was, I let the stone fly. The Fair One stepped forward just in time to see the stone find it's way into the man's forehead. I think he hit the ground before the stone did.


"Well, I'll be a" was all that could come out to the Fair One's mouth as she handed my yellow rifle back to me. We quickly stepped over to the man and pulled his pistol from it's holster and poured sand into it's barrel, a trick my father had taught me. I took his rifle and did the same to it. If the man awoke and tried to use either one he'd be the one with the surprise. Just as I was about to rise, something caught my eye further back in the allie,,it was a woman with a black hat with a feather sticking out of it and wearing dark glasses, standing there with her arms crossed and a stern look on her face. "This is my Allie" she said, "and I don't wanna see you here no Mo" she hissed.


The Fair One and I looked at each other and exchanged a quick smile while stepping out into the main street and started making our way to the saloon.. yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,,,,,not even from some evil dogooder.....

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The Sheriff backed down, showing me his weakness for fighting, and said to me........"You aint going no where ! That herd is happy right where it is.....eating and breeding with Otis's cattle ! Take more than the hands you got there now to get 'em movein' so ya aint going no where !


"Sheriff.....yur as no account as Otis is.....an I'd just as soon kill ya rat here and be done wif it ! It's gonna come ta dat right here an now ifin' ya don't move an let us pass ! " I said and suddenly he saw Calico and He who Walks Two Paths behind him, guns at the ready. Then he smiled and moved aside, as I asked. "Folks I didn't mean none of dis ta happen ! Free Grazzin' is still allowed by law and Otis means ta take all we got and leave up dead or diein' or worse. I aim ta keep what's ours...ta do what ever dat calls fer ! I know y'all wood do da same." and I covered for all to back out the door and 3/4's way across the street to the Saloon.


We walked into the Saloon and what a sight to behold ! This place was full tonight. Pie-an-a player just a pounding on those keys, smoke heavy in the air, whores showing more skin than most places allow and the men laughing, drinking, going off with them and men gambling on all types of card games and games of chance. Into this sea of humanity, all four of us walked. At the bar I ordered a bottle, and four glasses, putting down a $5.00 gold coin. The barkeep picked up the coin, gave us a half full bottle and two glasses.


"What da hell is dis barkeep ! Take dis gut rot away an bring what I paid fer.......NOW !" I said and pulled out my Dragoon to slow that I was serious. The suddenly ...............BOOM ! Whiskey had fired off both barrels at the mirror that was behind the barkeep, shards of glass cut him up too.


"My Ram Rod ordered a bottle of you're finest and by Gawd, he will have it, or you will get it ! Whiskey said. She had reloaded in the smoke and glass and had that scattergun leveled at the bar keep. He brought a fresh bottle of the top shelve stuff and I as nice as I could muster said, and two more glasses ! He brought the glasses to me , I holstered my Dragoon and told him thank you and grabed a hand full of his dirty hair and slammed the side of his head up against the bar, telling me he could now use his good ear to heard folks as that one don't work no more.


We all walked over and sat down . Calico poured us all a drink and I sipped mine real slow and I rolled a cigarette. Before I lit it, I sparkled tobacco all around my chair thanking the Creator for providing this tobacco to me. He Who Walks Two Paths smiled, as he knew what I was doing. He knew me, and yet was surprised as I sipped my whiskey , while every one threw the first drink back.


I asked him. "See the man who is real drinking that liquid courage back ? He intends ta do me bodily harm . I aint worried bout him, it's his tree friends over next to him, I'm worried about. "


"Got one " Calico said.


"Got two !" Whiskey said.


"Got the last, Hawk ." He Who Walks Two Paths said.


I drew my Dragoon, turned my chair and just stared at him, my eyes never breaking from his. Then he stood quickly to he feet and went for his gun, I lifted my Dragoon and fired before he could clear leather. The drunk man let his pistol tangle in his hand and grabbed his belly and let out a moan, then fell down and died on the floor, his three friends did not make a move for fear of the same happening to them. And the Sheriff never showed up.


We all walked out, I had the bottle of whiskey in my hands for it was much better than I thought it would be. It be a damn crying shame to let got whiskey go bad. We walked in the dry goods store and their was the store and his wife I had seen in the cafe.


"Is it true........the things you said Otis had ordered done ?" she asked.


"Yes it is !" Whiskey said. "He is planning to take my herd, and I aint gonna let him ! Does he own everything in this town ?"


"Almost !" the store owner said. "He don't own our store and he doesn't own the livery stable. But he owns everything else in this town !"


"We'll gear up for battle now Ma'am. We'll take all the 44-40's, 45's, ya got ! An Sir......how's my credit toward buyin dat lever action 45-70, special order ?" I asked.


"Mister, if it will help get shed of Otis....you're credit is good with me ! I'll even throw in 4 boxes of shells for that gun too !" said the store owner.


"Got any dynamite laying around ?" Calico asked. "Been seeing miner's gear over at the General store so I was thinking you may just be carring the dynamite ." The store owner smiled and went into the back.


" We used to be such a good town........before that Otis bastard built that mansion up the hill just outside town. Then he brought in all his riff raft into town. Self appointed all the main jobs....the Sheriff, Mayor, Judges, yes we got two of those . They are as crocked as a vine !" she said, wringing her hands. "I do hope you all can help us !"


"Aint here ta help y'all Ma'am. Here to kill dim men dat almost beat to death one of our hands. Done killed one all ready ! Naw.., ifin' killing Otis Mackenzie helps y'all , I be all fer dat......ifin' it don't.....I'm all fer dat two ! Can ya add a fist full of dim fine ceegars in too ? I'd be much a obliged ."


We got the stuff we asked fore including 6 dynamite sticks and went to the livery stable. I thought come sun up or der a bouts , I finally get the change to do what the law didn't abide by.

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As we crossed back across the main street The Fair One noticed the man that had been trying to bushwack Hack and Whiskey sitting in the dirt rubbing the egg sized knot on his forehead. She pulled Hawk's arm and pointed to the man as he was trying to stand and gather up his guns. She reached down, grabbed a stone from the street, tossed it to me, and said "Get im, David". As I acted like I was reaching into my pocket for my sling, the man threw down his gear and said, "please, no more, my name sure taint Goliath" and with that he ran down the street like a rabbit with a coyote nipping at his tail. It was almost to much for The Fair One to bear as she nearly doubled over laughing. She hit my good arm and said, "Dnag it all, I think I pulled a muscle or something."


Hawk and Whiskey just stood there staring at us like we were loco as we watched the man run down the street.


"What's the matter with you two, come on let's go, we can't stand out here in the middle of the street!" Hawk yelled at us.


As we turned our attention to making it the rest of the way across the street, the Fair One was just about beside herself...."you should've seen it, David there put that knot on that fellers head with a rock!" I could feel a warm rush enter my face, I wasn't used to someone making a fuss over me like that.


As we entered the store my eyes met with the shopkeepers wife's eyes, the one in the allie that had said she didn't want to see The Fair One and I no MO! As Hawk spoke with her husband you could see her spirit start to relax. I thought to myself, her name will be Allie Mo! Short for don't mess with me!


As we were leaving, The Fair One turned back to Allie Mo and asked her, "You got a handfull of 68 caliber round balls?" The shopkeeper reached into a bucket, pulled out a handul and gave them to the Fair One, saying "We don't have much call for these anymore, what are you gonna use em for?" Just as he finished his question his wife tugged at his sleeve and started stuttering,,,"You,, you, should have seen it" She was still muttering as The Fair One handed the round balls to me as we gathered our things to leave the store.


As we walked back to the livery I came to grips with just how serious Hawk was. My father had used dynamite on his ranch at the base of the great mountains. This was going to get veery interesting I thought as we entered the livery. Just as I entered the livery, I peered back up the street, one of the men we had held at bay in the saloon, was picking up the guns that the bushwacker had left there. To my supreme delight he didn't bother to check them at all, he just slid the pistol into his waist band and just carried the rifle away. Peering around the door, I repeated "Interesting, veeeery interestink!"



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I closed the livery door behind me and looking first at the Fair One, and then Hawk, I told Hawk, "we gotta go get that sawbones, I saw a sign earlier that said, Okie Sawbones, I kin fix wut ails ya." I could see a glimmer in the Fair One's eyes as I continued, "That Dandy feller is needing more care than even Gloria can give him, I'm sure if we pointed him in the right direction he could find the herd."


With that, I slipped back out the door and headed back up the street to find that Okie feller....

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I closed the livery door behind me and looking first at the Fair One, and then Hawk, I told Hawk, "we gotta go get that sawbones, I saw a sign earlier that said, Okie Sawbones, I kin fix wut ails ya." I could see a glimmer in the Fair One's eyes as I continued, "That Dandy feller is needing more care than even Gloria can give him, I'm sure if we pointed him in the right direction he could find the herd."


With that, I slipped back out the door and headied back up the street to find that Okie feller....


I went right out after He Who Walks Two Paths and caught up with him just before he got to the Sawbones Office. I told him......"Git yurself doctored up an din lead him back to da herd. Got a feelin' we' re gonna need dat Sharps of yurn !" With that I walked out the door.


We where inside the livery stable making our plans and the owner came running up with a rifle in his hand.


"Got four of 'em walkin' up the street.....bold as brass !" he said and jacked a round into the chamber .


"Son....Ya best just stay out of dis now. We do what needs doin' !" I said.


He shook his head and said , "No Sir ....Can't do that ! He bad mouthed Mama till the day she died ! Now I aim to shut his open fer good ! Or at least help y'all."


I sighed heavly and said , "Alrat son.....stay here...let us know where an how many. When da shootin' starts, keep 'em away from here ! Whiskey......take dis scattergun and when the time comes , walk over toward dat far shed cross da street. When dey make der move, give 'em both barrels an throw it toward dat shed, din head fer it fer cover. Calico, here......take my 66 and a box of shells, ....lever that thing as fast as ya can, din take cover over there, near the board walk. I'll fire and fall back to dis livery. " I sighed again and said, "Ok....all out together !" And the livery boy came out with us !


"Damn Boy,...I said........"


"3rd Arkansas, Sir.......ifin' ya know anything , ya know I can fight !"


"Too damned late now ! " I nodded in the direction as four of them walked down the main street toward up. They where smart as they made sure the sun was straight up above both ours heads. "Don't want no trouble....." I said. They stopped walking when I said something....just like I hoped they would do. About 4 or 5 steps away. "Just want to let my man heal up and take our cattle and ride out."


This strange man spoke up....."Aint what ya said in the cafe back der.....said you was gonna kill the man who wopped that dandy's butt !" and he laughed as did all the men there in the street. I shifted my Henry from my strong side to my not so strong side and closed the distance on him. When I was face to face with this somebitch I asked......."Ya da one what wopped up on him.....damn near killed him ?"


Laughing , he then turned and looked right at me and said ,......"Yup......I did it !" That's all it took. My dragoon was firing in a flash and he hit the ground, eyes where tingling as there was no back of his head to hold them him. Whiskey fired both barrels, throw the scattergun down, jerked her peacemakers, sending hot lead into the cattle baron's hand and the others standing there. But now , people where ducking and waving all in the street !


Calico was levering that rifle like it was a Gatling gun, and she hit the base of the board walk with a thud. And the kid from the livery was picking and choosing his targets as he fell back to the barn. I was letting my Dragoons speak loud and clear each time they fired, sending death and hell downward toward those hired guns. "Calico...How ya be ?"


"Shut up and fire !" was the response !


Whiskey had retreated into the shed to load and while inside she saw one of them trying to sneak around and git Calico caught in a cross fire. She slowly cocked the double hammers at one time, leveled the barrels at the man and fired through the wall ! Shot, and splinters from the wall had knocked the hired gun across the alley , him twitching as he was dead before he bounced off the dry goods store wall. "Uhpf ! Never try dat agin !" and she re loaded.


Calico was busy reloading the 66 I gave her, with a pistol laying close to her on the ground. When a figure would fire at her, she would return fire. But the hired guns had her figured out and fired, waited for her to return fire. THey fired again and still no return fire, then they rushed her....she gunned down two, using this new gunfight style shooting.


Some how both sides needed to regroup and we was able to get behind a wagon. We started reloading again and then we rested.....we where going to let them make the first move. I handed out all the fine cigars I had and I lit mine up. And started tying dynamite bundles.......two sticks per arrow. The shop owner snuck out and said to us......."We can fight too ! Got more ammo if y'all can get to me store !" I ws too buzzy tying up the bundles to respond so Whiskey spoke up.


"Any way we could get to you're store from here ?"


"Yes !" said the owner........"Follow me !"


I laid the three arrows out in the dirt and started looking around. There where a lot of places to hide between me and the Big House at the end of town, but I knew that I had to pick and choose my arrow placement just right and not to make my fuzes to short. I had been known to do that before.


"Come on Hawk !" Whiskey said.


"Naw.....gonna stay here.....see ifin' I can livein up dis fight.......Y'all keep down and kill anythin' dat moves from dis point down ......Now go !" I said to her. She knew I was right so she went, got into the store and started loading up as many Henrys and model 66's as possible.


I spied a hot shot and a another rifle behind him and I smiled, but before I could touch the fuze to my cigar, I saw a shadow move above me ! "Damn Spier !" I thought. But almost no sooner than I had thought that than the figure making to the shadow made a thumping sound and fell dead in front of me. I never heard the shot and I smiled cause He Who Walks Two Paths had gotten his big bore Sharps into action !


I touched my cigar to the fuze, drew back the bow and let fly one arrow. Those hired guns saw it but before they could move they where blown to hell....a few more wounded if not caught by the rifle fire coming from the store front.....the one place they didn't expect them to be ! I smiled to myself , touched another fuze to my cigar and let my arrow fly. This time, it exploded on impact, killing three more hired guns for sure. "Damn it !" I thought to myself...."Cut da fuze short !" I was having fun with this when I heard the sounds of reinforcements coming down the street towards us. I looked at the fuse and only could hope for they would be on Whiskey and Calico in more time as they where coming up un their blind side.


I sighed and asked the Creator to let my shot be true, when I saw another man in the rear fall from that Sharps speaking. I aimed at an angle, lit the fuze and let the arrow fly. Just then I shot rang out and I felt a tug on my buckskin sleeve . The arrow struck the street in front on of the on coming men and exploded with an earth shaking, ear ringing noise. There was a lull in the fighting.....I could see all those men, laying dead in the street.

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I walked, well, more like hobbled up the street towards where I had seen the sign for the sawbones. I looked at the door and my heart sank as I read the sign hanging there. "Gone to France, won't be back til, til I get bak" it read.


As I stood there staring at the sign the door opened to expose this beautiful woman, she took a quick look at me and her face just about exploded. "Get in here quick you poor thing" then she called to behind the curtain, "Okie, git out here, NOW!"


A man came from behind the curtain holding a bottle of wine in his hands, nearly dropping it when he saw me. I didn't know what alarmed him the most, a cheyenne standing in his office, or all the dried blood on my arm and leg. "What happened to you?" he managed to finally get out, "you been messing with Otis's boys?" "You the one that put that knot on Ole Tom's forehead?" He struck out his hand to shake mine, "anybody that would do that to one of his boys is a friend of ours!"


Okie started to try to look at my leg, but I pulled back, "I can wait Doc, there's a feller back at the herd that Otis's boy banged up real bad, arm ain't hanging right and looks to have some broken ribs." Before I could begin to ask him if he would ride out to the herd to check on the dandy, he called into the back of his shop, "T-bone, hitch up my surrey, quick like." With that he grabbed his bag, and a slew of other things, blew a kiss to his wife. "Don't know when I'll be back, see what you can do for this boy". With that he was gone in a flash.


BOY? BOY? Even my father hadn't called me that for at least two years now.....


His wife, stepped toward me saying, "My name is Wildcat, but don't you mind,,,I don't bite". She looked at my arm first, as she opened the bandage to get a better look, a smile came across her face, then she sniffed the salve that I had put on it. "I recognize that salve" she said as she put a new bandage on it. As she looked at my leg, the smile disappeared as she spoke again,,"looks like an apache took a knife to you!"


"Well sorta, I took a bullet there and my friend, had to dig it out with his knife."


"The salve worked there to, theres no infection, but you gotta be careful, that's deep, you get that bleeding and you could bleed to death." She wrapped my leg up, and said, "now git, you don't owe us a thing, I reckon we're going to be getting plenty of business after what I heard your friend did to Ornery Bob in the saloon."


I slowly opened the door and took a good look before I headed back for the livery.

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