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I had been riding across the prairie for the last five days. My horse was tiring fast and so was I. The bitter cold of late winter was starting to concern me. If this kept up and I didn’t find shelter soon I was finished for sure, and that would really piss me off. I was approaching the foot hills of the mountains that I had to cross to reach my destination.
It had been snowing for the last three days and each day it had gotten worse and I had been unable to travel very far. If this storm didn’t let up both my horse and me were surely going to freeze to death. Shelter In the trees wasn’t going to be enough to save us. I was willing to accept my own fate, but Red was a good horse, a really good horse, able to travel for days at a time on minimal food and water. He wasn’t real big, but had a heart that allowed him to out distance horses of much better breeding and build. We had been together for over two years.
Won, well you could say I sort of won, Red in a crooked card game in OK City when the sleazy dealer was shot by one of the other players when he caught him cheating. Shot the fucker right between the eyes. He was dead before he hit the floor. The shooter and the other two players split up the dealers winnings, the shooter told me to take the dealers horse and lite out of there before the law came. As a young cowhand between jobs with a lame horse, I thought the shooters offer of the horse and advice to head out were both good and that’s what I did.
When I first hit the trail with Red I wanted to get as for from there as fast as I could. With virtually no supplies and no cash I didn’t know how far or how fast I could get away from there. Red and I rode out in late afternoon and headed northwest.
Figured I head up toward Colorado or Wyoming to try and find permanent work as a hand. Maybe pickup some short time work along the way. We rode all night and into the next day’s afternoon before we stopped.
Found a stream with a small clearing next to it with lush grass and surrounded by trees. Unsaddled Red, hobbled him and let him feed and drink while I chewed on some jerked bison and a two-day-old biscuit then took a short nap.
We hadn’t gotten far enough away from OK City for me to feel comfortable yet. Figured they wouldn’t be after me, but didn’t want to wait around to find out. Better to just be away from there. The law and me hadn’t always gotten along in the past, and it wasn’t my intention to let the law get the upper hand if I could help it.
After a couple of hours, I saddled up Red and we headed out again. We rode steady, not real hard, but a good strong steady pace for the next five days. Stopping only to let Red feed and water down a little. Sometimes those stops were pretty far apart. This little two-year-old chestnut just didn’t seem to tire out. He just kept on going. We covered about half again the distance in those five days that I had ever traveled on any other horse in the past. He was an amazing horse.
The only bad habit I found that he had was that about once a week when I’d saddle up and first mount he’d take to bucking like he didn’t know me. Not real bad, but enough that if I weren’t a decent hand with a horse I would have found my self on the ground. He did buck me off once. Got up, dusted myself off, got back on and he was OK. Never could figure out why he did that, He just did it. After he’d buck about a half a dozen times he’d settle down and would be Ok for another week give or take a day or two. Made it to Colorado in pretty quick order with Red under me, but that’s another story.
My present situation was pretty serious. The weather was closing in, no shelter, short supplies. This was not good. On top of every thing else I wasn’t real sure just where I was or how far it was to the nearest town or whatever. At this point our only choice was to keep going. Shortly I smelt something in the air, smoke.
We were riding along a small stream that was almost frozen over up through a little valley. The further we rode along the stronger the smoke smell got. Didn’t think that this could be a big fire, at least not in this snowstorm, so it had to be someone’s camp of some sort. It seemed like our best bet, so we kept riding toward it. After a while the valley seemed to widen out into a large flat open meadow.
There stood a small cabin, near the stream. A short distance from the house stood a low out building with a lean-to on the side and a corral that held about 4 horses and a milk cow. A short distance further off I could barely make out a small herd of cattle bunched together against the weather. I approached the house with caution. “Hello the house! Hello The House!” I shouted, to let them know that I was there and not surprise the occupants. “Hello the House!”
The door opened a crack and the muzzle of a Winchester poked out a few inches. “Who be you?” A voice asked from within the house.
“Names Jason, Got some trouble with this storm, be obliged if my horse and me could hold up in your barn till it blows over. Be no trouble, maybe do a day or bursa escort two of work for you to pay,” hoping their hospitality would allow me to stay.
“Put you horse in the corral and your rig in the shed. Then come on back to the house. There is grain in the feeder under the lean-to for your horse.”
Took Red to the corral, unsaddled him and put him in the corral. He found the grain in short order. Red had a good nose too. Put my rig in the shed and started back to the house. Damn it was cold out here. Knocked on the door, which was opened by a young man about 20, slight build about 5’8″, 140 lbs. He beckoned me inside and shut the door behind. In the center of the room stood an older man Maybe 45 or 50, also about 5’8″ and 150 lbs. An older version of the one who opened the door for me.
Still holding the Winchester at waist level. “Take off your Macanaw and drop your gun belt. Have a seat on that stool by the fire. We’ll talk while you warm up a bit,” he told me.
I removed my duster and hung it on a peg in the wall next to the door. Unbuckled my gun belt which held a .45 Colt single action 30 rounds of ammo and a 10″ bowie knife. My prized possessions. Items I did not normally easily give up. But I figured he wasn’t going to shoot me and it was too damn cold outside not to do as he asked. Set my cold ass on the stool and started to warm myself at the fire.
“My name is Jed Ransom and this here is my son Tom. And this is my daughter Teri.” Out from behind the old man stepped a treasure that shocked me to the core.
At age 29 I had been around quite a bit. On my own since age 15, no virgin by any means, mostly whores when I could afford one. No relationship with a regular girl. What I beheld before me looked like an angel. She was maybe about 20 or 22 years old, slight of build, about 100 lbs. The cotton dress she wore hide much of her figure, but the snug fitting bodice revealed a lean upper body, small waist and breasts about the size of half a grapefruit. A long neck that supported and most beautiful face. High cheek bones, large limpid brown eyes and a mouth that seem to always smile. Her light brown hair was pulled back and tied in a pony tail. My heart almost stopped at the sight of this angelic creature. Tom directed her to fetch me a cup of coffee while he and his son set down on two stools opposite me, mind you still holding the Winchester. He seemed pretty attached to it. Under the circumstances can’t say that I blamed him. Just wished that it wasn’t pointed at me.
Teri got me a cup of coffee and also took a stool between her brother and father, but somewhat behind them. The old man told me that they had settled there about five years ago. His wife had died of pneumonia about four years ago and he and his two kids were trying to make their small ranch work. It had been tough. They had about 50 head of cattle right now and hoped that they didn’t lose too many this winter. The nearest town, if you could call it that was a place called Tolock about 50 miles west.
I told them that I was head about 200 miles west and north to a ranch a friend of mine had told me about that was a big spread that was looking for good cow hands and was usually hiring and a decent place to work. We made small talk as I drank the coffee and as he became more at ease with me the Winchester slowly lowered.
The coffee and the fire warmed me. All three seemed glad for the company as they talked about their small ranch and what they had gone through to make it. They still had a lot of hard work ahead of them, but were enthusiastic about the future.
The cabin was not large, about 20′ square, a wall partitioned the space in half with two bedroom across the back. The main room had a fire place at one end where we were sitting and a stove at the other end and a rough hewn table and four chairs at the other. The cabin was cozy, warm and well built. The walls were sealed with no cracks in the chinks.
I was invited to stay as long as needed before hitting the trail again. Teri rose and went to the kitchen area and began preparing a meal. Shortly we all moved to the table to eat what she had made. Much to my relief the Winchester was put away.
The meal was simple, but good. A venison roast, potatoes, gravy, and more good coffee. We didn’t talk much through dinner. Especially me, as hunger as I was. After dinner Tom gathered up some bedding and I arranged a bed between the door and the fireplace.
After saying good night the two men retired to one bedroom while Teri went to the other. Nothing eventful happened for the next two days while we rode out the storm. On the third day the storm passed and we awoke to the sun shining outside and 4′ of fresh snow. It was beautiful, but sure made it difficult to get around. I helped them check their stock and feed the horses. We cleared a better path through the snow to the outhouse and carried more firewood into the house.
Red was rested, fed and ready to go. That horse loved the trail and being penned up in a corral was not his favorite place. I was bursa escort bayan enjoying my stay, the company was pleasant and the view of Teri was really good. She was somewhat shy around me, but she seemed to be warming up to me as my stay continued.
The storm had dropped enough snow that it was going to be difficult for me to move on toward my destination. It would have been pretty tough on Red traveling though that much snow. Three days after the storm subsided three riders approached the house. I was in the shed getting some grain for the horses. Jed had come to the door with his Winchester. Before he could react one of the riders had drawn his hand gun and fired, hitting Jed full in the chest. I turned and grabbed my Winchester form its scabbard on my saddle, my Colt .45 still hanging on the peg on the wall in the house. I heard two more shots before I got back to the door of the shed. When I reached the shed door I could see Tom also lying on the front porch of the house. All three riders were still mounted with their guns drawn.
I cocked and raised the Winchester to my shoulder and cranked of a round at the first rider. I could see it hit him in the chest and knocked him off his horse. The other two riders turned their horses toward the shed to get a shot at me, My second shot took out the rider on the big black horse before he could completely react. The third rider got off two shots in my direction, both missing me and striking the doorframe next to me.
My third shot hit the rider’s horse in the shoulder and he went down. I took aim at the third rider again and squeezed of another round hitting him in the leg. He returned fire as I moved behind the doorframe for cover. When I moved back around the doorframe to fire again I saw the third rider limping off into the trees. No clear shot. I was pretty sure that I had got him in the leg, and if so he wasn’t going to be going very far very fast.
I ran toward the house. The two riders on the ground were both dead. So was the third riders horse. Too bad about the horse, didn’t really intend to do that. On the porch both Jed and his son were also dead. Neither had gotten off a shot.
I ran into the house calling Teri’s name. I heard her in her bedroom. I swung the door open and found her cowered and crying in the corner, seemingly unhurt. I turned back to the main room and retrived my gun belt, put it on, reloaded the Winchester and headed outside. I had definitely hit the third rider as he had left a blood trail that was going to be easy to follow.
I tracked him into the trees about a half mile before I got sight of him. Too many trees for a clear shot, I needed to get closer. After another 100 yards the trees thinned out and I had my opportunity for a shot at the bastard. As I raised the Winchester to shoot, he cranked off two rounds from his Colt. I had him dead in my sights and took the shot. Hit him in the chest and he went down.
I approached him cautiously. Rolled him over, Unshaven, dirty and obviously on the trail for some time. I unbuckled his gun belt, holstered his Colt and went through his pockets. Nothing unusual, plug of tobacco, three dollars, and a pocket knife. Left him lying in the snow and returned to the cabin.
Teri was in hysterics standing in the door way looking at her father and brother both dead on the front porch. I forced her inside, closed the door held her in my arms trying to calm her. She cried for quite a while before she started to settle down. I took her into her bedroom and put her in the bed and covered her. She curled up under the covers weeping. I went back outside too clean up the mess. No need for her to see all this again. Went through Tom and Jed’s pockets and took the contents inside and put them on the table. Went back outside and removed the gun belts from the dead riders and the contents of their pockets and put those things in the house. Used one of the riders horses to move the bodies about 50 yards from the cabin. Took the saddle and saddle bags of the dead black horse and drug him off too. I covered all the bodies with snow as it wasn’t possible to bury them in the frozen ground. That would just have to wait until it thawed out.
Took the horses to the shed and unsaddled them. Put the gear in the shed and the horses in the corral. Went back into the shed and went through the saddlebags of the dead riders. Nothing unusual until I got to the saddle bags from the third riders horse. There was a bag of gold coins and a couple of stacks of greenbacks. I took these into the house and put them on the table.
I went into Teri’s bedroom to check on her. She was the same as when I had left her. I went back to the kitchen and got a cup of coffee from the pot on the stove. I sat down at the table to count the money. There was almost $5000 in gold and paper. A small fortune. I put the coins and the paper green backs in the bag and took it out to the shed. I dug down to the bottom of the grain box and hid the money. I then went back into the house. Wow! How things had changed.
I wanted escort bursa to take the money, saddle Red and get the hell out of there and never look back. Teri might survive, but it would be tough for her. I couldn’t do that. I decided to hang on for a while until the trail was passable and then take her to Tolock where she would be OK.
At least that was my plan. The sun was going down and it was turning cold. I threw a couple of logs on the fire and took a cup of hot coffee into Teri to check on her. She wasn’t crying now, more just dumb struck. Having difficulty comprehending what had just taken place. We set on the bed, her drinking the coffee and me with my arm around her for comfort. We talked for a while, about nothing in particular, just that her family was gone and she was now alone.
She didn’t have any idea what she was going to do. I told her not to worry about it now, we would figure that out in a few days. I rose to leave her room and go to my bed by the fireplace. She held my arm and asked me not to leave. She was frightened and hurt and wanted me to stay. She asked that I turn around to give her some privacy and she removed her clothing and put on her cotton night gown and got into bed. She called my name and beckoned me into her bed. I removed my boots, gun belt, shirt and pants and slipped into bed with her. It seemed a very natural thing to do.
“Jason, just hold me close, I don’t want to be alone.” I put my arms around her and held her to my chest as she softy wept.
The next morning I woke early and rose and got dressed. Boiled water to wash up and put the coffee on. I had started breakfast when she came in to the main room. She didn’t say anything. She washed up with the water that I had heated and returned to the bedroom.
When she came back into the main room she had dressed and we sat and ate in silence. After breakfast she rose and cleared the table and started washing the dishes.
I went out to feed the horses. I saddled Red and rode out to check the cattle. It felt good be back on Red. He was a good horse. The cattle were ok, so I headed back to the house. Put Red back in the corral and went into the house. Teri was sitting in the rocker near the fire reading. Seeing that she was ok I went outside to fed the horses and then to the woodpile and cut firewood for the rest of the day. When I went back in she was still reading by the light of the fire. Later she got up to fix dinner. We ate in silence.
She cleared the table and did the dishes. I helped her dry and put them away. She went into her bedroom and prepared for bed. I got undressed and was getting ready to get back into my bed by the fireplace when she appeared at her bedroom door and beckoned to me to come. I rose and went into her bed room and got into bed with her and held her as we went to sleep.
This was pretty much our routine for the next couple of weeks.week. I don’t think we said more than a few words to each other. She was sullen, silent and pensive. I was still trying to decide what I was going to do and when I was going to do it. The snow had started to melt and it was easier to get around, but still not safe enough to travel. It still froze at night, thawing some in the daytime.
The only change that occurred during this time was with me. I found my self looking at Teri more and admiring her beauty. And a beauty she was. She was petite with a beautiful figure and a face that would melt your heart. I decided that she was the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen or would ever see. Along with this revelation, it was becoming difficult for me to sleep with her without becoming aroused.
Spooning with her at night in her bed was driving me crazy. I had to hold my self apart from her to avoid her feeling my erection which was hard and constant. Occasionally I would accidentally brush it against her and become embarrassed that she had felt it. She never said a word or indicated that she had noticed.
By this time it had thawed out enough that I thought it time to get to the burying. I rode Red out and took another horse to retrieve the third rider that I had shot. Brought him back with the others. It took me two days with pick and shovel to dig the graves. The one for the horse was the hardest. You have to dig a really big hole to bury a horse. Got all of them buried and put a marker on Tom and Jed’s graves. Went in to fetch Teri. She brought her bible and said some words over them. I wished Tom and Jed well on their journey and wished the other three to Hell for eternity. Teri smiled at that. That night Teri sobbed herself to sleep in my arms. I suppose accepting the finality of what had happened.
The next evening after supper she came over to me. I was lying on my bed by the fireplace. She set in the rocker across from me.
“Jason, we need to talk. I want to know what you are going to do. I can’t stay here. I suppose that I will have to give up my father’s dream to own his own ranch, because there isn’t anyway that I can do this by myself. We settled a section of land (180 acres) and have access to almost unlimited free government grazing land. But I can’t do it by my self. My only thought was that I might be able to sell it and move to town. I don’t really want to do that either. I love this land too much.
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