|Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction based on characters created by Ed Spielman and owned by Ogiens/Kane Productions. Neither the author nor the webmistress claim any ownership or any profit from the creation of this work. This story may not be posted elsewhere except with the express permission of the author.|
Buck spurred his horse harder. The mount ran harder against the heavy sheets of rain. Visability was difficult. The way station was two miles ahead, and Buck couldn't wait for a hot meal, and a cup of Rachel's coffee. It was his last run for a few days, and he anxiously awaited rest. Suddenly the horse lost it's footing, and fell. Buck was thrown. Sharp pain struck every muscle in his body. Luckliy, the mochila coushioned his head from the fall.
Buck slowly got up, and picked up the mochila. His horse struggled to get up. Finally, it stood up and limped toward it's rider."Easy boy. We are almost there. Your gonna get a good rub down, and plenty of rest." Buck ran his hand down the horse's injured leg. He reached for the reins, noticing that one of them was missing I hate days like this…he thought as he lead the horse the rest of the way.
Teaspoon walked out onto the porch, and looked in the direction that a rider would be approaching."Buck should have been back by now." He said with worry in his voice.
"The weather may have slowed him down," Rachel said as she cleared the dinner dishes from the table. It was getting dark, and the riders were in the bunkhouse.
Cody, Jimmy, Kid, and Lou were playing cards. Ike was tucked in his bunk, reading a book. He kept glancing up at the door, looking for Buck to walk in.
"I can't concentrate. I am too worried about Buck." Jimmy said as he placed his cards on the table.
"Well, I can't either," Cody said rubbing his tired eyes.
Lou got up and walked over to the window. "It's not like him to be this late," she said softly.
Ike closed the book he was reading, and tossed the covers aside. He got up and walked out of the bunkhouse. He saw Teaspoon sitting on the front porch. He looked in Ike's direction. "What's the matter son? Can't sleep?" Ike walked over to Teaspoon and sat next to him. Teaspoon looked up at the stars in the night sky."I'm worried too son. You boys and Lou are like my own kids. We're all one big family."Only the sound of crickets filled the night air.
Buck saw a cabin a few feet ahead. There was smoke coming out of the chimney, a sign that someone was home. He was too tired to continue on to the way station. His horse was limping worse than before. A little hospitality would be appreciated. He walked up to the door, and knocked."Hello? Is anyone home?"
He slowly opened the door, and peeked in."Hello?" He looked around the cabin. There's gotta be somebody here…He thought.
Suddenly, he felt a solid cold pistol, pointed at his back."Get in!" The voice ordered. Buck raised his arms above his head, and walked forward.
Buck sat at the table, and looked at the gunman. Another gunman walked into the cabin, holding the mochila."He's a pony express rider," the gunman said, as he threw the mochila on the table. "What are we gonna do with him?"
The gunman holding the pistol at Buck removed the bandana that covered his face, and then removed his hat. Long, silky black hair fell on the gunman's shoulders. Piercing green eyes glared at Buck. To his surprise the gunman was a woman.
"You seem surprised to find out that I'm a woman." Buck sat speechless."Oh come on now. I know you can talk…so speak!" The lady gunman walked closer to Buck."What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" She rubbed the pistol against the side of Buck's face.
"Leave him alone!" the other gunman ordered.
The lady harrasing Buck, cast a stern toward her partner."You don't tell me what to do! You better remember who's in charge here. It ain't you!" She looked at Buck and smiled."My name's Sally, and that there is Millie. What's your name?"
He looked at both of the women, and answered."My name's Buck Cross, and yes, I ride for the pony express."
Sally picked up some rope, and walked behind the chair where Buck sat."Nice to meet you Buck. I've gotta tie you up for a while. Millie and I have some business to tend to in Sweetwater
Millie and Sally rode into town. They stopped in front of Tompkins general store, and tethered their horses. The store was busy. Kid and Cody were asking Tompkins if he had seen Buck the past several days.
"You pony express riders can't keep up with yourseleves?" Tompkins sneered.
"You suppose they're looking for the fella we tied up at the cabin?" Millie whispered.
Sally placed her dirt stained hand over Millie's mouth."Shh…they probably are. Don't act suspicious."
Lou, Ike, Jimmy, and Teaspoon walked into the store. Rachel followed behind.
"Find out anything?" Lou asked Kid.
"Nothing!" Kid sighed.
"Well, some of us will have to ride out and search. Kid, Jimmy, come with me. The rest of ya'll take care of the station." Teaspoon said. His voice heavy with distress."Rachel," Teaspoon said.
"I'll send word if we find out anything." With that Teaspoon. Kid, and Jimmy left the store. Millie and Sally watched as each of the riders left the store. They both breathed a sign of relief.
Buck tried unsuccessfully to loosen the rope that held his hands together. He heard the sound of riders approaching. It was Sally and Millie. The two women seemed to be arguing about something as ususal.
"Just what are we gonna do with him? He doesn't seem to be a threat. He just happened to wander onto our property. That's all," Millie shouted.
"Like hell if we let him go now! Do you remember your dreams for a big ranch with lots of prized horses?" Sally asked.
"No buts about it Millie! It takes money to make those dreams a reality. Now…where do you think we are gonna get that kind of money?"
"The bank in Sweetwater?" Millie asked as she unsaddled her horse.
Sally lead her horse into the corral. She turned around to face Millie. With her hands on her hips, and a slight grin, she said,"Where else? Now let's get these supplies in the house. I am gonna make a nice meal for the three of us."
Sally busied herself preparing dinner. The fragrance of baked bread, and apple pie filled the room. Millie sat scross the table from Buck. She kept a watchful eye on him. As she peeled the potatoes, she gave Buck a flirtacious smile. She had taken a liking to the pony express rider.
"Millie," Sally called out over her shoulder."Millie! Can you hear?!" Startled by the shouting, Millie quickly turned around to face Sally. "Where is your mind lately? Didn't you hear me call you? Hurry up with the potatoes. We need to get them started," Sally ordered.
She walked over to where Buck was sitting. She untied the rope that held his hands together."I'm keeping your legs tied, just in case you try to make a run for it. I'm sure your hungry by now." She threw the rope across the room. She then leaned in closer to Buck."Seems like my partner has taken a liking to you." Her facial expression hardened. "Don't get any ideas!"
The next morning, Millie got up early, and quietly walked out to the corral, to get her horse. She was going into town to buy the dress she saw in Tompkins' store the other day. It looked like the right size, and the prettiest shade of colonial blue. On her way into town, she decided to do away with the male clothing that she wore. She wanted to look more like a lady. Maybe that pony express rider, back at the cabin, will take a liking to her.
"May I help you ma'mam?" Tompkins noticed Millie staring at the dress."Ma'mam?"
Millie turned around and walked to the counter."Sir…I would like to try on that dress please."
Tompkins walked over to the dress. "All right. You can change in the back room there behind the counter. You'll find a full length mirror in there too." He handed the dress to Millie.
She noticed a bottle of perfume on the counter."I'd like to purchase this too," she said holding up the perfume bottle.
"Fine," Tompkins said. He walked behind the counter, and opened the door to the back room. Cody walked into the store."Did you find your indian friend?" Tompkins asked.
Cody sighed. "Tompkins, his name is Buck. No we haven't found him yet."
The door to the back room opened, and Millie walked out. Both Cody and Tompkins stood there speechless. Millie was a vision of beauty. Her long red hair fell below her shoulders. The dress fit perfectly, and the color brought out her blue eyes.
"Ma'mam, I do believe that dress was made for you," Tompkins said with a grin.
"Hello Ma'mam, my name's Cody." He extended his hand toward her.
Millie blushed as she took his hand, and shook it."Thank you. My name's Millie."
Cody couldn't keep his eyes off of her. Millie took the money out of her pouch, and handed it to Tompkins. As she was about to walk out of the store Cody said,"Miss Millie, would you accompany me to the barn dance this Friday night?"
Millie blushed, and felt flattered that a nice looking young man would take an interest in her."Why yes! I'll meet you at the dance. Is that okay?" She was nervous about letting out any information about where she was living; afterall, she and Sally were considered outlaws.
"The dance it is!" Cody smiled.
Millie left the store, and mounted her horse. It was a little difficult to ride in a skirt, but she managed. Now she had to figure out how to get to the dance without Sally knowing. The dress was another thing to explain to Sally about. Oh, and that Mr Cody…He sure does look familiar…
Millie hid behind the barn, and changed into her old male clothing. She hid the dress under a bale of hay. She walked around the barn, leading her horse to the corral.
"Just where have you been?" Sally was standing on the porch, waiting for an answer.
"I had to go into town for awhile," Millie said as she hurried into the cabin.
Sally her head in wonder. She shouted, "Next time you tell me where your going! I'm on my way into town now." She walked over to the corral to get her horse. After saddeling the old gray gelding, she rode into the direction of town.
Buck looked up as Millie entered the cabin."Oh…I didn't mean to startle you." Millie said in a shy manner. She had trouble looking Buck in the eye. She was afraid that if she blushed too hard, she might faint."Was Sally upset about my leaving?" She kept her eyes focused on the fireplace.
Buck grinned. "Yeah. She threw a fit." He could sense the hesitation in her voice, as she struggled to speak.
"Buck…can you dance?" She felt herself redden with embarrasment.
"Dance?" Buck arched his brow.
"Yeah dance. You know…with a…woman." She closed her eyes. She couldn't believe she was asking these questions.
"Sure. I have danced before," Buck said in a gentle voice."With a woman," He added.
"Would you…would you do me a favor?" Millie asked. She walked to where Buck was sitting, and knelt next to him.
"What is it?" Buck grinned, as he looked at this sweet, fragile woman. He couldn't understand why she would ever want to be labeled an outlaw. Running with the wrong person. Another outlaw by the name of Sally.
Millie sighed. She looked Buck in the eye, and slowly asked, "Will you teach me how to dance?"
Buck smiled at her request. She stood up and walked to the kitchen window."Sure, but I can't dance with my hands and legs tied…can I?"
She turned around with a look of surprise. "You will?" She walked over to Buck, and gave him a hug."Here let me untie these ropes. I'm sure you'll want to stretch your legs a bit." As Buck stood up, he grabbed his side, and groaned in pain."Are you all right?" Millie asked with concern.
"Uh…yeah. It's from the fall I took the other day. The horse stumbled, and we both landed on the ground pretty hard. Okay," Buck cleared his throat, "stand in front of me, and put your left hand on my shoulder…now let me have your other hand…I'll hold it in mine."
Millie felt her face redden. Her heart was beating faster too."Now what?" she asked softly.
Buck looked at Millie and grinned. "Uh…well, we move or sway to the music…you know…like this." Buck and Millie swayed together in rhythm. They looked like the perfect dance partners."I thought you didn't know how to dance?" Buck had a look of surprise in his eyes.
"I really don't," she said with a giggle. "Maybe, I just have a knack for this?"
Buck stopped abruptly, and grabbed his side. "I better sit down. This pain is worse than I thought." As he sat back down, he asked, "Who's been watching over my horse?"
Millie smiled. "I have."
"Thanks." Giving her a look of couriosity, Buck asked, "Why would a nice lady like yourself, want a life as an outlaw?"
Millie hesitated for a moment. After gathering her thoughts, she
glanced at Buck. He sat silent waiting for an answer."I…I never wanted
to be an outlaw. It just happened. I was engaged to be married to a man
I never met. I was what you called a mail-order bride. I was stuck in a
town where I knew no one…didn't have any money to go back home. That's
when I met Sally. She gave me a roof over my head, and a hot meal."
Buck shook his head with understanding. He sensed her sencerity, and the
confusion in her voice."I think we were both looking for a true friend,"
Tompkins was busy hammering a poster, at the store's entrance. He nodded in Sally's direction, as she rode toward the store."There's a dance this Friday night, ma'mam," he said pointing at the poster.
Riding her horse in front of the hitching post, she dismounted and tethered the gray gelding."Can't go to a dance, if I haven't anything to wear." Sally said with a smirk.
"I've got just the dress for you," Tompkins hurried into the store.
"No thanks. I'm here for supplies," she said as she entered the store. A young man wearing wire rimmed glasses, looked up from the five cent novel he was reading. Sally walked to the counter. "I need some flour and sugar."
"Will that be all ma'mam? Tompkins asked. "That dress in that shade of burgandy would look mighty fine on a lady like you."
"That's all. Thank you." She dug her money out of her pocket, and placed it on the counter.
As she left the store, the man wearing wire rimmed glasses watched her. He reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out a piece of paper. He unfolded it and it read:
The man following Sally, hid behind a shade tree, and watched as she entered the cabin. His eyes scanned the surroundings.
Buck was placing several logs together in the fireplace. Sally walked in and drew her gun."What are you doing untied?"
Startled by Sally's reaction, Buck almost fell over backwards. Regaining his balance, he raised his hands above his head."I'm unarmed…there's no need for the gun."
"Where's Millie?" she ordered. Keeping her eyes on Buck, she slowly walked over to the kitchen window. ""Millie where are you?" she shouted. Millie walked into the cabin."Where have you been, and what is he doing untied?" Sally asked still keeping the gun pointed at Buck's direction.
"Sally…put the gun down. He's not a threat. If he wanted to escape, wouldn't he be gone by now?"
"Millie what's got into you?" Sally looked at her friend. "We've got to move on. Soon others will find this place. I just don't know what to do about him." She gestered with her pistol, casting Buck a cold stare.
Millie pleaded with her friend. "Just let him go…even if someone comes looking for us, we will be long gone by then."
"Look, I've got chores to do before it gets dark….you keep a keen
eye on him!" Sally ordered as she walked out to the barn. Walking
around the barn, to where the hay bales were stacked,she lifted one of
the bales."What's this?" she whispered. She noticed the colonial
blue dress, tucked neatly under the hay bale. Picking up the dress, she
smiled. Must be Millie's, she thought. She deserves a life
better than this. Putting the dress back in it's spot, she carried
the bale of hay to the corral.
To be continued….