The Colour Family

By Suzy

Copyright 1998

Chapter One

The young Indian reigned in his sleek black horse on the top of the hill and looked at the sleepy western town in the valley below him. It had only been three months since he had left the Way station and the town, but he was unsure of the town's reaction to his return. While the town had never done him any favours because of his Indian heritage, they had never completely ostracized him either.

He had returned to his Kiowa tribe and his brother Red Bear, but although he had tried he had not fitted in there. His Indian brothers had not trusted him, and try as he might to fit in, the other warriors would not accept him as one of their own. So, frustrated with the treatment he had received, he had fare welled his only true ally in the tribe and returned to Rock Creek to find if his white brothers would accept him, or if he would have to move on to find his own place.

Riding slowly down the hill, he gradually pushed his horse into a gallop, covering the distance into town quickly, anxious to be back amongst his friends. Slowing his horse at the edge of town, his horse trotted through. He smiled and tipped his hat at the townspeople who stared as he rode towards the way station and the bunkhouse he had not so long ago called home. His mount slowed to a walk as he approached, looking carefully, he thought that both buildings seemed to be deserted, and was surprised to see another building being built not far from the main house. Dismounting, he looped the reins around the hitching post and turned to climb the bunkhouse stairs.

'Buck, You came back' a tiny woman ran down the porch stairs. Smiling, and laughing huskily she ran full tilt into his chest almost knocking him down. Laughing, he embraced her and spun her around, as she threw her arms around his neck.

'Lou, I didn't know you cared.' he placed her on the ground and took in her appearance. Dressed in a blue floral skirt and a white long sleeve blouse, Lou had blossomed from the male appearance she had always adopted to enable her express rides to continue to a beautiful young woman. All the riders had occasionally seen Lou in dresses, each time they had seen it, the wind had been knocked from their sails, he still wasn't sure he could adjust to seeing her like this every day. It was almost like she was a different person.

'Of course I care' she playfully punched him on the shoulder. 'C'mon I'll fix you a coffee.' he trailed her into the bunkhouse and sat at the table where Louise presented him with a mug of steaming coffee and a plate of cookies.

'What's this?' he looked stunned at her smiling face 'You cook now.' she nodded smiling impishly as he smiled back at her

'You should have married Kid earlier. Then we may not have had to try to eat Jimmy's cooking' he still could not believe the change in Lou, from when he had last seen her.

'There is so much we have to tell you.' She murmured as she sat opposite him

'I've only been gone three months' he already felt happier than he had since his departure

'You know Cody signed up' at his nod she continued 'He's still here, they have given him some furlough time until the express winds down, what with illness and a delay with their orders, they won't be moving out for about another month. I quit the express two months after you left. Kid and I have moved into the main house. Rose Mary couldn't cope with the guilt she felt about Noah's death' she paused sadly 'she shot herself almost two weeks after you left. Jimmy blamed Kid, I think he still does, but at least now they don't try to kill each other every time they are in the same room. Jesse left with Frank, nobody has heard from them since they left. Sam and Emma have come back to settle, Sam refused to fight against the Kiowa and quit his job as territorial marshal, that is their house that is being built behind the main house.' she paused for breath and he spoke.

'I can't leave you guys alone at all can I' he smiled but then his expression faltered 'Why did you quit?'

'It was too hard on Kid, he was a nervous wreck whenever I went out on a run, but we are going to have a baby.' she caressed her slight belly lovingly and smiled 'I thought it was better that I didn't do anything to harm that. But I haven't told Kid yet, or he wouldn't let me do anything' she blushed 'But there is more news still.' she confessed.

'What more could there be?' he was still stunned at the news that his friends were going to be parents

'Teaspoon and Rachel were married yesterday. They have gone to Texas for a short honeymoon. He's left Kid and I in charge.' she finished 'So do you want your job back?' she smiled

'If there's still a job for me?' he asked 'When does the express finish up?' 'Word from St Joe is that the Telegraph lines will be finished in about three weeks. It's the damnedest thing, they just can't seem to get the lines strung. We finish up when the first telegraph comes through'

Footsteps resounded on the porch, and Jimmy burst through the door 'Lou is that Buck's horse out front?'

'Sure enough is Jimmy' Buck rose warily hugging his good friend 'Where's Kid?' he asked

'He's on a run to St Joe to pick up supplies. He should be back by sundown.' Lou again hugged Buck, happy to have the whole family back together.'

'Have you told him yet?' Jimmy whispered as she walked past him

'Told me what?' Buck was immediately suspicious, nobody had known he was coming so how could they have news for him

Lou looked at her old friend and spoke calmly to him. 'Buck I need to go out for a while, would you like to take me.' Buck looked at Jimmy confused.

'Lou hasn't ridden for the last couple of months' Jimmy answered seeing his confusion, Buck immediately knew the reason and was not surprised that Jimmy knew Lou's secret before Kid.

Lou waited for Jimmy and Buck to hitch the buckboard and then she loaded two baskets filled with food into the back. Jimmy lifted her onto the seat next to Buck and they were on their way.

'Where are we going Miss Louise?' he asked a small smile on his face

'Mrs Jensen was pregnant when she lost her husband in an Indian raid, last month and she gave birth three days ago. I'm just helping her out a little.' Lou smiled. They traveled in comfortable silence for a short distance. 'Buck you know I love you dearly, but you went back to your people, we thought we'd never see you again, what happened?'

'They aren't my people Lou, I was treated like a captive, I was not even trusted to leave the camp alone. I slept with their eyes on my back. They couldn't or wouldn't trust me Red Bear tried, but the rest of them treated me no better than the townsfolk treated me because of my Indian blood. I may as well have no Indian blood for the way they treated me. You and the boys are my people Lou. I've come back to make a life with you all, I will never forget my Indian beliefs and cultures, but I can't live happily in that world.' He paused his black eyes liquid 'just like the whites they see the colour of my skin, not the colour of my spirit. You and the boys are the only ones who have ever seen my soul, not my colour.'

Lou hugged him tight her eyes brimming with tears. 'You know you will always have a home with us. Kid will be glad to have someone else to keep Jimmy and Cody in line'

Buck tipped his hat back on his head seeing his chance 'What was Jimmy talking about?'

'About four weeks ago, there was a visitor at the way station for you. Do you remember when you rescued some white captives from a Lakota tribe?' Lou asked gently

'Eagle Feather has come back?' he asked quickly. Jenny Tomkins had held a special place in his memories, but he had realized that she deserved more than a half breed, who couldn't find his own place in society.

Buck remained almost silent, his mind busy with the memories of Jenny Tomkins, as Lou delivered the food and visited with her friend, then drove her back into town. He escorted her into the house and then returned to the barn to unhitch the wagon. Jimmy was waiting for Lou when she walked through the door.

'Did you tell him?' he spoke from beside the windows.

'Lords sake Jimmy don't frighten me like that!' she exclaimed as she walked to his side and hugged him, looking out the window towards the corral

'Yes I told him, and he's hardly spoken yet.' her eyes sparkled with mischief 'He doesn't know what she came here for.'

'Why didn't you tell him that she came looking for a husband?' Jimmy smiled.

'No, I thought he could find that out for himself' Lou murmured as she watched her troubled friend working his horse in the corral.

Chapter Two

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