February, 2022

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Issue #149

Welcome, Western Fans!

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
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Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

The Perfumed Bandana
by J.R. Underdown
Just an average cowboy with another big job, but one enchanting night with a mysterious dancer could undo everything the Winchester Kid had ever worked for.

* * *

The Day God Rode the Bozeman Trail
by James A. Tweedie
Michael and Robert were on the trail to Bozeman. Michael said he was a Mennonite, a pacifist, and he would not kill another man. When two Sioux threatened, would Michael hold to his beliefs?

* * *

by Michael W. Clark
They call me Jumper. I guess it's better than coward. I am fast, but not with the pistol draw. I'm sort of a bounty hunter, but not really. Do odd jobs mostly. If I happen to take down a wanted guy, I will collect.

* * *

by Phillip R. Eaton
Rebecca leaves her home to live with relatives in Kansas and immediately has to ward off a stagecoach attack by natives. But the robbers are not what they appear to be and seek revenge by kidnapping her. Then, with the help of a good Samaritan, she gets the final word.

* * *

The Beast of Talbot County
by K. M. Hayes
Captain David "Dave" Cantwell is a believer in karma. He often wonders how that beast of an incident with his bethrothed will come back to haunt him. He is ready for it to be over, but can he bear the costs?

* * *

The Man With No Name
by Craig Sholl
A man is found lying half-dead on the open ground without any memory of who he was. He is indentured to a church, but when Sheriff Barnaby Townsend arrives one night, it turns the out the man has a much starker past than expected.

* * *

Want all of this month's Western stories at once? Click here –

All the Tales

by Phillip R. Eaton

With the crack of the whip and the driver's ear-piercing whistle, the team of horses launched into a full gallop, sending the passengers bouncing from their seats. Dust began to billow through the canvas flaps, engulfing the insides of the stagecoach. The sound of gunshots and blood curdling war-cries grew increasingly louder.

"We're being attacked!" screamed old Mrs. Nelson, who hid her face in her hands.

Mr. Glendale, in his neatly pressed three-piece suit, was across from Rebecca. As he repositioned himself back on his seat, she noticed that he was wearing a gun belt.

"You know how to use that thing?" she screamed over the commotion.

"I'm not a very good shot." He yelled back.

"Hand it to me."

He looked at her from head to toe and just stared; a frown fell over his face.

Again, she screamed, "You want to get out of this alive? Give me your goddamned gun, NOW."

One more good bounce of the coach jolted Rebecca onto his lap. She retrieved his pistol from its holster and fell to her knees by the window. She pulled the canvas flap back, took aim at their assailants and pulled the trigger several times. With her returned fire, the Indians retreated into the hills. Rebecca shot off the last chambered bullet as they rode off.

The stagecoach continued at full speed, and Rebecca leaned out the window to yell to the driver just as she saw him fall from his seat. The horses were running wild. The coach continued to bounce, thrashing the passengers into each other. If they weren't slowed soon, in all likelihood, they were going to crash.

"Somebody has to climb up and stop the horses." She yelled, looking right at Mr. Glendale.

The other passengers all sat and stared at her. Her traveling companions included: Mr. Glendale, whose gun she had taken, and looked as though was about ready to pass out, tiny Mrs. Nelson, the old lady sitting next to him, and a young mother and child next to her.

"Come on, mister, man up. You've got to stop this thing before we all die."

There he sat, frozen with fear, and just stared at her. Rebecca looked down at him; he was as pale as a ghost, and had wet himself.

The old lady piped up, "You have to save us, Rebecca."

Rebecca turned to the young woman next to her, "Help me out of my dress, hurry."


"Just do it."

With her dress stripped off, Rebecca, wearing only her pantaloons and corset cover, opened the stagecoach door and climbed to the top. She crawled onto the driver's seat, grabbed the reins and pulled back on them as hard as she could. She then twisted on the seat and put both feet on the brake lever, and pushed with all her might. As she screamed "Whoa!" at the top of her lungs, the speeding stagecoach slowly came to a halt. A huge cloud of dust encircled the ragged passengers as they eagerly exited and planted two feet back on solid soil.

"You, my dear, are our God-given savior." The old lady exclaimed, coughing back the dust. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now, let's get your dress back on you. You don't want to be seen in public in just your bloomers. Turn your head now Mr. Glendale, you shouldn't be looking."

"I'm not real worried about that, but, thanks. We need to get to town and send help back for the driver." Rebecca then looked over at Mr. Glendale, "Do you think you can drive this stagecoach the rest of the way into town? I'd have a difficult time climbing back up there with this dress on."

"I'm, I'm really sorry about . . . " He stammered.

"About what?"

The other two ladies smiled and gave him a few words of encouragement, patted the dust off his shoulders, and helped give him a boost up to the driver's seat. The rest of the group reloaded themselves onto the stagecoach, and with Mr. Glendale' slight crack of the whip, the four horses continued on their journey to town.

Word spread fast as the stage approached, and the sheriff was at the hotel to greet them when they arrived.

"Where's Stumpy?" the sheriff asked, looking up into the blinding sun at Mr. Glendale.

"We were attacked by Indians about three miles back." Glendale said. "The driver was hit and fell, by the time we got the stage stopped, we were closer to town, so we continued on."

"But that doesn't make any sense." The sheriff said as he motioned to his deputy to ride out and check on Stumpy. "Indians don't attack stage lines."

"Sheriff, if I may, I don't think they were Indians." Rebecca butted in.

"What makes you think that?"

"The riders had boots on."

"But they were dressed like Indians." Mr. Glendale chimed in.

"I got a good look at them, Sheriff." Rebecca said. "They were indeed dressed the part, but, they had boots on, and it almost looked as though their horses had saddles under their blankets. I might have winged one of them too. I got off six shots."


"Yes sir."

"You must've seen them pretty good then?"

"Yes, sir."

"Okay, y'all get yourselves settled. I'll take your statements later. Come see me in my office when you're ready."

* * *

"Welcome. Rebecca is it? Please have a seat. Your fellow passengers have told quite the tale of your exploits on the way in. Care to elaborate?"

"Don't know what you've been told Sheriff, just did the best I could, under the circumstances. How is the driver? Stumpy?"

"Stumpy will be fine. It'll take more than one bullet to finish him off."

Rebecca relayed her story to the sheriff once again, describing how she really believed they weren't attacked by Indians, but by men masquerading as them. He told her that when his deputy went to get Stumpy, he noticed that all of the tracks in the area were by shoed horses, verifying her story, that it wasn't an Indian attack. He also assured her that he would get to the bottom of it, and hunt them down.

"What brings you to Kansas?" He asked.

"Came out to live with my aunt and uncle, the Hudsons. You know them?"

"Well, we are a pretty small community. Around here, everybody knows everybody else. When's the last you heard word from them?"

"It's been a while. Things got pretty bad back home after the war, they sent word that I should come west with them."

"Well, I'm sorry to tell you, but they had a rough time with the dust storm last year. Wiped out all their crops. Packed up and moved to California with the wagon train. Said for you to come join them, if and when you showed up."

"When does the next wagon train leave?"

"Oh, not till next spring, now."

"Now what do I do?"

"Their farm is still there, just outside of town. Planting season is over, too late to get any crops this year. If you're plannin' on staying, you might want to check with Mr. Sullivan at the saloon. Pretty little thing like yourself could probably work as a dance hall girl. Make you enough money to get by till spring."

Rebecca was a little put off by the suggestion that her only way to get by, was by her looks and dealing with a bunch of drunken cowboys.

"How do I get to the farm?"

"Go on over to the stables, Mr. Hopkins might be able to help you out. If you don't have a room at the hotel, I can let you spend the night in a cell, and take you out to the farm tomorrow."

"Thanks, I'll go see Mr. Hopkins."

* * *

Mr. Hopkins was nice enough to loan her a buckboard, and Rebecca made her way to the Hudson farm. Much to her surprise, there was a beautiful garden planted, brimming with vegetables, and a woman weeding in the hot sun.

Mrs. Miller turned her attention away from her gardening and towards the sound of the buckboard.

She approached Rebecca, wiping her hands on her apron. "Who might you be young lady?"

"Is this the Hudson farm?"

"Yes. I'll ask you again, who might you be?"

"My name is Rebecca. I am Mrs. Hudson's niece. The sheriff said I could stay here while I wait for the wagon train to California in the spring." Her eyes gazed at the manicured garden. "He also told me it was abandoned."

"I'm Mrs. Miller. We own the next ranch over. After the Hudson's left, we thought it was a shame for this land to just sit vacant. After the disaster we all suffered through last year, we planted extra crops here this year. I suppose this is yours now?"

"I can't go back east, so, I guess I'm staying at least until the next wagon train to California."

"Well, I suppose, since we planted our crops on property that rightfully belongs to you, how about if we share some of the proceeds we get from the fall harvest. That'll help get you through the winter."

"That's very kind of you. I didn't ask for that."

"That's what we do around here. When someone needs help, we step up. You'll also need help cleaning the inside of the cabin. We ain't been in there, but it sure was one hell of a storm last year. You'll most likely need to use shovels to rid yourself of the dust. I'll send one of my boys over in the morning, after his chores are done, to help."

"Thank you so much. Tell him I'll see him around mid-morning."

"His name's Timmy. He's a good boy."

* * *

Mr. Tolliver, who owned the General Store, gave Rebecca a line of credit based on what she should get from the fall harvest, so that she could stock her pantry. Mr. Hopkins, at the stables, let her have the buckboard, provided she purchase a horse from him to pull it.

"Let me pay you for the buckboard." She said.

"No. To be truthful, that old buckboard belonged to your uncle. They couldn't take it with them, so he asked me to find it a good home. Looks like I did. That old nag, Lulu, that I sold you real cheap by the way, is used to being cinched to a wagon. Was a stagecoach horse, once upon a time."

"Thank you, I'm sure Lulu will do just fine."

* * *

Mrs. Miller's son Timmy was already there when Rebecca got to the farm. The doors and windows were wide open, with streams of dust escaping through them. She could hear loud coughing coming from inside.

She tied Lulu to the hitching post and yelled in, "Timmy, is that you, come out here."

The figure of a man emerged from a dust cloud. Sweat streaked down his forehead. Standing almost six-feet tall and wearing only a pair of bibbed overhauls, Rebecca couldn't help but stare at his muscular build.

"Are you Timmy?"

"Yes, ma'am." He said between coughs.

"I'm sorry. I don't mean to stare, but when your mother called you Timmy, I expected a young boy."

"I was once." He said with a smile. "I grew up, but the name stuck."

The two of them made quick work of the small cabin and it was soon clean enough to be habitable.

"I can come back tomorrow, and we can tackle the barn if you like." He offered.

"That'll be just fine. See you then."

Rebecca unhitched Lulu and led her to the barn. She was surprised to find the barn in excellent condition. It was full of hay and straw; it even had a bag of oats laying near the door. She put Lulu in a stall and returned to the cabin to fix herself some dinner.

* * *

The sound of horses startled her. She opened her eyes and realized that she had fallen asleep sitting at the table, worn out by the day-long cleaning. It was now pitch black out. She peered through the curtain in time to see several men mulling around the barn. She sat quiet, waiting to see if they would venture towards the cabin. Two of them emerged from the barn with their guns drawn, they were dressed like Indians. They waved to the others to come out, mounted their horses and rode off. Rebecca ran to the barn to check on Lulu.

A little before daybreak, Rebecca was awakened once more, by the sound of the returning horses. Again, she watched from her window. This time, the Indians went into the barn, and left in regular clothes.

* * *

"The bank got robbed in the middle of the night, last night. Someone said they saw Indians ride out this way. I'm checking in with all of the farmers in this neck of the woods. You notice anything?" Asked the sheriff as he led his horse to the water trough.

"Funny you should ask, follow me."

Rebecca swung open the barn door and showed him the Indian clothing that she had found, hidden behind a pile of straw in the corner.

"I'll just take these with me." He said.

"Sheriff, wouldn't it be better if you left them there? Maybe you could wait for them to come back again, and catch them."

"You just leave the sheriffing to me. I'll handle this." He bound the clothing to his saddle bags and without another word, rode off back towards town.

Like a swinging bar room door, one rider left and another one arrived.

"Was that the sheriff?" asked Timmy, while he watched the horse kick up dust as it ran away.

"Yeah, you're not going to believe this, come over here and sit down." Rebecca told Timmy all about the happenings overnight, with the barn, and the Indians, and the visit from the sheriff.

"You think they'll come back?" He asked.

"I suppose so. They don't know that the sheriff has their stuff. They'll be back sooner or later, right?"

"Maybe I should stay with you tonight. Just in case, I mean."

"That might not be a bad idea. You really wouldn't mind? I have an extra bedroom I could fixup for you. But, what about your folks? What would they say about you being here, alone with me?"

"I can sleep in the loft in the barn." He said, bashfully.

"That might be alright." Rebecca answered with a smile.

* * *

At the end of the day, Timmy headed home to let his parents know what was going on and what his game plan was. It was a little past sunset by the time he returned to the Hudson farm. Rebecca had cooked up a rabbit stew. Timmy lit the oil lamp, and the two of them ate and chatted about what cleanup they would do the next day.

Timmy excused himself and left for the barn, while Rebecca cleaned up the supper dishes. He had just opened the barn door when he heard riders approaching.

Four men, riding hard, kicked up a cloud of dust as they approached the barn.

"Yo, Bart, there's a light on in the cabin. Nobody's supposed to be here."

All four of the riders drew their guns, and Bart, looking around, said, "Chet, go check out the cabin, Rex, go in the barn and get our gear, we'll take it with us. Junior, mind the horses."

Rex came running out of the barn yelling, "Our stuff's gone."

Chet peeked in the cabin window and saw Rebecca loading a shotgun at the table. He burst through the door, almost knocking it off the hinges and yelled, "Put it down, lady, now, nice and easy, on the table, that's it. Now, come with me." And he grabbed her by the arm and forced her outside.

"Hey, lighten up. You're hurting me." She squealed as she tried to escape from his grip.

"What are we going to do with her?" Chet asked, as he holstered his gun so he could use both hands to restrain Rebecca, who was trying her best to wrestle herself away.

Timmy, hearing Rebecca's voice, bolted from the barn, yelled, "You leave her be."

Junior dropped the reins of the horses, raced towards Timmy, and hit him over the head with the butt of his gun. Timmy dropped in a heap to the ground.

"Nooo!" Rebecca screamed.

"Tie her up. We'll take her with us, and figure out what to do with her later."

* * *

The rooster called out his wakeup serenade as the sun glistened on the dew of the morning.

"Tommy, hitch up the buckboard. I want you to take me over to the Hudson's and check on your brother. I don't like the idea of him spending the night over there. That Rebecca, she's got no husband you know, and I'm not sure if I should trust her alone with your brother." Mrs. Miller said, hurrying to get herself ready.

"Ma, you don't have to worry about Timmy. Ain't no girl wants to be with him. I, am the one you got to fret about."

Tommy got the old 'mother's evil eye', which he took quick notice of, and said, "I'm going, I'm going."

* * *

The horse trotted down the laneway, Tommy snapped the reins hard on its rump. "Git up there, c'mon." He barked.

"Slow down, Tommy."

"Ma, someone's on the ground up ahead. Looks like it might be Timmy."

As he pulled the buckboard to a stop in front of the barn, Tommy leaped from his seat and ran to Timmy.

"You alright? What the hell happened?"

Timmy moaned and groaned, and held his head in his hands. "He gun-butted me."


"One of the guys in the gang who've been doing all the robberies dressed like Indians."

"Where's Rebecca?" Mrs. Miller asked.

"I think they took her with them." Timmy said as he sat up, rubbing the back of his head.

"Tommy, unhitch the horse and ride as fast as you can over to the Owens' place and fetch Seth."

* * *

Seth Owens was tending to his morning chores, when hearing the pounding of hoofbeats, he looked up and saw Tommy racing past the hedgerow towards him.

Tommy blurted out everything that he knew about what had transpired over the course of the last few days, and asked Seth if he could help, but he was talking so fast, it was hard to understand everything he was saying.

"Slow down Tommy. I'm a little familiar with the stories about the robberies by the Indians. I can tell you right now, they're not Indians. They wouldn't do that. But, I'm confused, who is this Rebecca, and what's she got to do with this?"

"Please, Seth, Ma needs you. You gotta come with me, she'll tell you all that."

* * *

Mrs. Miller was happy to see Seth and Tommy return so quickly. Timmy had a goose egg on his head, but otherwise he was alright. She explained to Seth what Tommy had excitedly tried to tell him, and how they were worried about Rebecca.

"Please, Seth, I hate to burden you with this," she said, "but I didn't know who else to turn to. I'm not sure about that new sheriff in town. Something doesn't seem right with him, and Mr. Miller won't be back for another three days. He had to go to Dodge City for some part for something."

"I'll do what I can. It shouldn't be hard to track them, it's not like they tried to hide their trail. I'll go back and get some things together and start out right away."

"I want to go with you." Timmy said. "It's my fault they took her."

Seth shook his head, no. "It'll be better for me to go alone. I'll try to locate them and make sure she's alright. If I need help, I'll come back for you."

* * *

Seth grabbed enough supplies to last a couple of days, since he had no idea of what he was about to get into. Their tracks away from the Hudson farm led directly to Brooks Canyon. It was an obvious place to set up camp, due to all of the nooks and crannies to hide in.

Seth would need to proceed cautiously, there was a good chance that they would be able to spot him first. He tied up his horse, who always got spooked by the echoes in the canyon, and proceeded on foot. The gang had passed through recently, judging on the splash marks still visible on the creek bed rocks. Seth figured they might be camped out at the landing at the big bend in the creek. That place would give them protection, and sight lines in two directions.

As he slowed his pace, Seth could hear a step, a half of a second behind his. He turned quickly to see someone duck behind a rock formation. With his gun drawn, he backtracked his steps, and snuck around the rock. To no surprise, there was Tommy.

Seth covered Tommy's mouth, "What did I say about coming alone?"

"I know, I know. But if I didn't come, Timmy was going to, and he sure wasn't going to be of any help to you."

"Alright you're here now. Be quiet and do exactly what I say, got it?" Tommy nodded his head. "It's gonna get dark soon. We'll wait till then."

The sun sets early in the canyon. It was dark, but the sky was still light enough above the canyon walls that they could see the path ahead. Around the next bend, Seth could see a flickering light reflecting on the canyon wall. It must be from a camp fire.

Voices bounced off the walls making them sound louder than they really were. As Seth and Tommy approached, they heard the clanking of pots and pans. Seth peeked around the corner. They were in luck. The gang had just sat down around the campfire for a meal, and no one was standing guard. Seth could see the outline of a girl off in the shadows. Now was their chance to sneak in and steal her away, and hope they weren't detected.

"Wait," Seth put his hand out, pushing Tommy back against the wall, "I hear a horse coming."

The two of them hid in the darkness as the large steed passed by.

"We're in luck." Tommy whispered, "It's the sheriff."

"Shh, let's wait and see how this thing plays out. I'm not so sure which way our luck is gonna go."

The scraping of the hooves on the rocks got the gang's attention, and they all turned and drew their guns at once, zeroing in on the sheriff's chest.

"That badge sure makes a nice target, sheriff." Smirked Bart.

"Put your guns down and relax. Where's the girl?"

The guys all holstered there revolvers and went back to eating. Bart stood up and walked over to the creek where the sheriff was perched high up on his horse.

"She's tied up, over in the shadows. She's got to get past us to get out of here. What are we going to do with her?"

The sheriff tipped his hat back from his forehead, crossed his arms, leaned on the saddle horn, and said, "Just what the hell did you expect to do with her? Why'd you bring her out here?"

"She was on to us. She stole our gear. What was I supposed to do?"

"You stupid jerk. I've got your costumes. She saw you and found your stuff. When she told me, what was I supposed to do? I am the god damned sheriff you know."

"So, now what?"

"Well, Bart, you haven't stolen enough money yet for all of us to retire to Mexico. If you want me to be able to keep covering for you, you had better find away to make her disappear. Permanently."

"You want me to . . . "

"Figure it out stupid. You need me to do all of your thinking for you?"

While Bart and the sheriff were talking, the rest of the guys let their guard down and continued with their fine dining. Seth and Tommy took advantage of their distraction to climb on top of the rocks overlooking where Rebecca was, and lowered a rope down to her.

Seth tried to get Rebecca's attention with a loud whisper, "Psst, Rebecca, grab the rope. We're going to get you out of here."

It was so dark, with nothing but stars in the sky, Rebecca had no idea who was trying to get her attention, but whoever it was, had to be better than the situation she was in now. Her hands and feet were bound, but she was able to loop the rope around her, and Seth and Tommy lifted her to the top.

"Who are you?"

"Shh. Never mind that now. We gotta get outta here." And Tommy pulled out his trusty pocket knife and cut her bindings, and they made their way back to Seth's horse.

"My horse can't carry three people. Tommy, you and Rebecca ride on outta here. I'll figure something out."

"I left my horse by the mouth of the canyon. I can run there faster than the two of you can ride out." And Tommy took off running like he was being chased by a ghost.

"Come on, we gotta go, NOW!" Seth got adjusted in the saddle and pulled Rebecca up behind him. She wrapped her arms around Seth's waist and squeezed.

"Git up, boy, come on." And he snapped the reins on the horse's backside.

"What the hell was that? Sounded like someone in the canyon." Bart said, drawing his pistol.

"That sound is going away, not coming in." The sheriff responded.

"Junior, stay with the girl, you other two saddle up." Bart commanded.

"Bart, she's gone." Yelled Junior.

"What'ya mean gone? She can't be." Bart answered. Then he looked up at the sheriff, "You just gonna sit there? Go after them."

Seth had a good enough head start that it was going to be difficult for anyone to follow them in the dark. "Tommy, go to my place, they'll never think to look for her there." He yelled.

* * *

They passed the hedgerow and headed straight to Seth's barn. "We gotta get the horses cooled down. Tommy, get some buckets of water."

"I can do that." Rebecca said, grabbing the buckets out of Tommy's hands. "But first, who are you? You look a lot like Timmy, who's been helping me on my farm."

"Brother." Tommy said.

"How is he? Is he alright? They hit him pretty good, you know."

"Big goose egg, but he'll live."

"You should probably go home and let your mother know that we are all safe. She'll be worried."

Tommy looked to Seth, who nodded in agreement. "Probably not a bad idea," Seth said. "just remember to cool down your horse when you get there."

"I should probably get home. I don't want to be a bother to you any more than I already am. I thank you for what you did."

"That's what we do around here."

"Yeah, I've been told that."

"Why don't you stay the night? It'll be safer to head home at daybreak. You can sleep in the house. I'll bunk out here in the barn."

Rebecca hesitated for a moment, but she realized he was right.

"Before I turn in," She said, "you got to tell me who you are."

"Name is Seth Owens. Nothin' much more to tell."


"No, just me, and old Blue."

"Who's Blue."

"Oh, you'll find out when you go in the house. But, you might want to let him out, he'll want to be with me." Seth said with a little chuckle.

Rebecca opened the door just a crack and was met by a slobbering old hound dog, who pushed his way past her and made a beeline for the barn, and Seth.

* * *

A crowing rooster and a bright stream of sunshine awoke Rebecca from a sound sleep. She walked to the window and noticed that Seth was already up and working, out by the barn. She splashed some water on her face and went out to great him.

"Good morning." She said.

"Good morning. Sleep alright?"

"Like a rock. You have a very nice bed. Thank you. What can I do to repay you? Can I fix you breakfast? I don't know where anything is, but I'm sure I can make do."

Seth stopped, and stood perfectly still, listening. Off in the distance he could hear the sound of hoofbeats, and they were getting louder.

"Quick, get into the barn." He pushed Rebecca towards the barn door.

"Here boy, here Blue." He whistled loudly, and blue came running from the field.

As the horses approached, Seth recognized the men from the canyon, and grabbed his rifle.

"You got another one of those?" Rebecca asked.

Seth went to his cabinet, grabbed another Winchester and tossed it to her.

The men pulled up about ten yards from the barn, with their guns drawn, and yelled in, "Give us the girl. We know you're in there."

"Get off my property, NOW!" Seth yelled back.

"Send her out, or we're coming in after her. If that happens, it ain't gonna end well for you."

"Come get her."

"There's four of us, only one of you."

Seth fired a warning shot, knocking off one of their hats. "Next one will be in your shirt pocket."

The men scrambled for cover, firing several shots at the barn.

Seth asked Rebecca, "You see them?"

"Yeah, one's behind the water trough, one is at the corner of the cabin, and the other two ran into the hedgerow."

"You good with a rifle?" He asked.

"Want me to show you?"

"Think you can hit the one by the house?"

"Oh, yeah. He should be easy. As soon as he steps out to take a shot, he's mine."

"Okay, I would rather they were just wounded, but, kill 'em if ya have to. Get him, then concentrate on the guy by the water. I'll take care of the other two."

"In the bushes?"

"Don't you worry your little head. They are both mine. They just don't know it yet." Seth snickered.

The thicket moved and Seth squeezed the trigger. Junior fell forward.

"You're done now, mister." Yelled Bart, and the other three began to fire volley after volley of bullets in the direction of the barn, breaking the glass windows and piercing holes in the walls.

Seth and Rebecca dove to the floor, taking cover. Seth pointed and yelled, "Rebecca, the doggie door."

Rebecca crawled on her belly to a hole in the wall that Seth had made for Blue. She found that she had the perfect sight line to the house, and with one well timed shot, hit Chet in the shoulder of his shooting arm. It was time for Rex. She watched as he bounced up from behind the trough every time he took a shot. She timed him. He was pretty steady. She took aim. Up he came, and he took a shot. Down he went. Up he came, she took a shot. Down he went. He didn't come back up.

In the meantime, Seth laid down his gun and ran up to the loft, where he uncovered his father's long single-shot rifle. It was time to play sniper. Twenty yards was almost too close for the scope. He'd have to eyeball this one. Bart was well hidden in the bushes, but Seth could see his boots, plain as day, and took aim. He held his breath and gave a little tug to the trigger, sending a shell straight through Bart's ankle.

A blood curdling scream came from his direction. Bart was giving up.

Seth and Rebecca cautiously exited the barn.

"Check on your two, see if they're alive and get their guns.

Seth came out of the woods, following Bart, who was barely hobbling on one leg. Junior was dead.

Rebecca walked back from the cabin with her rifle in Chet's back. He was bleeding really bad from his shoulder.

"What about the other one?" Seth inquired.

"Sorry, he now has a third eye in the middle of his forehead. I missed."

"You missed?"

"Yeah, my timing was off. I was aiming for his chest." She said, laughing.

As Seth loaded the two wounded and two dead bodies onto his buckboard, he turned to Rebecca and asked, "So, where did you learn to shoot like that?"

"Protecting the homestead during the war. Daddy and my brothers were all gone serving in the army. Someone had to keep the poachers out. I got pretty good."

"I'll say. Let's get these guys to town."

"What about the sheriff?"

"You let me worry about that."

* * *

Seth did a slow roll into town, trying not to attract too much attention.

"Rebecca, go to the telegraph office and send a wire to Dodge City. Tell the U. S. Marshall we need him right away."

Rebecca got down from the wagon and hurried off to find the office.

The sheriff met Seth as he pulled up.

"What do we have here?" He asked.

"I think you know Sheriff. Now, how about you dropping your gun belt, and accompany these men into a cell?"

A crowd began to gather, around the commotion.

Deputy Barnes was standing in the doorway listening, as Seth relayed to the sheriff, the whole story as he knew it.

Rebecca returned from the telegraph office just in time to watch Barnes take the sheriff's pistol from his holster and escort him, and the two living prisoners, to a jail cell.

Rebecca turned to Seth and asked, "What now?"

He thought for a moment, scratched his head, and asked, "Is it too late for breakfast?"

The End

Phillip R. Eaton is a graduate of Lockport Senior High School and Niagara County Community College. He is retired and living in Western New York State. His interests include photography, painting, local history and genealogy. He began writing upon his retirement and has published a book, Col. Frank N. Wicker, From Lockport to Alaska and Beyond.

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