Rusty and Tall Elk galloped into the mouth of the blind canyon, whooping and twirling their ropes. They hazed 12 cattle into the canyon and drove them toward the brush corral. Silver Quail appeared out of nowhere with a rifle and sprinted to the mouth of the corral. She dropped the logs and stepped back as the cattle stampeded inside. Tall Elk slid from the saddle of his blaze faced chestnut and helped her return the three logs to their place.
“A good day’s work,” Tall Elk smiled, wiping the sweat from his face. One bull began bucking like a stallion. It shook it’s head and looked at the humans, before following the scent of water to the small stream. Cattle of all sizes and descriptions milled around in the small, desolate valley. The walls of the valley were actually climbable for a determined cow or horse, but cattle were naturally lazy and would remain in the bowl of the valley unless terrified into stampeding.
“Are they branded?” Silver Quail asked, looking at the new cattle while resting her chin on the top bar of the railing.
“Every last one of them,” Rusty called, sliding from his dark bay horse. “That makes 127 of them by my count.”
“When did you learn to count?” Tall Elk scoffed.
“The day I drew my first paycheck. Which you’ve never done, by the way.”
“Aw, white man’s money, who needs it?” Tall Elk scoffed again.
“In your case that’s true,” Rusty laughed, “but I could use a little. I’ve been broke for the better part of a year.”
“Let’s fill out the herd to a full 150, then drive them home,” Tall Elk turned and put his back against the railing. “Maybe we can turn the extra fifty head into working money and get you paid.”
“There you go,” Rusty pointed at Tall Elk’s chest with a smile.
“We might have trouble,” Silver Quail turned serious. “I was watching from the tower up above and I smelled dust. Your dust came from the south. This dust drifted on an easterly wind,” she pointed behind them. “I watched your dust all the way here. If I saw it, they saw it.”
Tall Elk looked up at the ship-like pile of stones on the hill. “How many?” Tall Elk hid his concern.
“More than five and less than fifteen. If they are dragging pack horses, I would estimate four men.”
“You smelled that on the wind?” Rusty jeered.
“Of course. Can’t you?” Tall Elk squinted at Rusty.
“Oh, come on,” Rusty shook his head, then looked uncertainly from one to the other. Tall Elk knelt in front of them.
“An animal places it’s foot on the ground, and then lifts it,” Tall Elk pressed his hand to the ground and lifted it, leaving an impression in the sand. “An animal never raises dust unless it is being pushed, or was frightened into running. A white man’s horse wears metal shoes and carries a heavy weight upon it’s back; a saddle, man, bedroll, canteen, firearms, and camping equipment, nearly doubling the weight of the horse. It leaves a deeper impression and throws up dirt with the metal shoe,” he tossed dirt aside with his fingers, causing dust to drift in the wind. “That horse will raise more dust going uphill or down, and the least amount on flat ground. By sampling the air for several minutes you can get an estimate of how many horses are in that herd, and how many riders. Most riders need food when they are so far from civilization, so they drag a pack horse along behind them.”
“And you can tell how many men by the smell?” Rusty raised an eyebrow.
“You can if your life depends upon it. Our lives have depended on such information since the day we were born.”
“So what do we do?” Rusty asked, his eyes going to the hills around them.
“We practice with our guns while Silver Quail watches, then we eat and sleep as usual.”
“Should we stand watches tonight?”
“No, we are wary. Indians can watch in their sleep.”
Silver Quail had made a light stew for dinner. She combined cactus fruit, amaranth, pig weed, chives, and two unlucky rattlesnakes, cooking it low and slow until it was absolutely delicious. After eating, Tall Elk and Rusty did their daily pistol practice. Rusty had gotten so adept at drawing and dry firing his pistol that he was almost as fast, and as accurate as Tall Elk. The idea of the fast draw was unheard of at the time, and very different from what they were doing. A fast draw could be completed in one hundredth of a second. They pulled their pistols in about half a second. The true fast draw would not be perfected for nearly fifty years. But getting a gun out fast was just plain common sense and had been around since the day men first made guns.
Normally the two men fired off a few shots to check their accuracy. But with white men around, that was impossible. Tall Elk gave Rusty lessons in knife throwing instead. Rusty was becoming very good at that as well. Truth be told, Rusty was turning into a very good, untried warrior.
Under Rusty’s tutelage, Tall Elk was becoming a top hand. He could rope and brand with the best of them, and grew aware of the habits and thoughts of cattle. It was important to know what cattle where thinking. Generally cattle were smart, not the dumb critters people believed them to be. But cattle had their ways and Tall Elk learned them as fast as everything else he had learned. It was just one more step in his animal lore.
“I think we could draw faster if we filed off the front sights,” Rusty said as he rolled into his blankets and watched Tall Elk and Silver Quail get ready for bed. He propped his face on one hand, resting on his elbow. “The guns hang up sometimes.”
“Only if you shove the gun down hard in the holster. The sights hold the gun in the place when the going gets rough. Filing off the sight would be great if you live in town, but out here we need to make sure the gun stays in the holster,” Tall Elk said as he settled down.
“The strap could do that.”
“A strapped gun is useless to us. It might as well be in a saddle bag.”
“Yeah,” Rusty agreed. He rolled over on his back and looked up at the stars. “One more day,” he sighed. “I miss the ranch.”
“I’m sure she misses you too,” Silver Quail said with a smile. Rusty chuckled. They both knew whom he meant.
The object of his affections was sitting across the table from Nancy, back on the ranch. They sipped coffee beside the dying fire of the cook stove. The tiny flames shimmered from the open stove door and flicked on the walls. White Fawn set her cup on the checkered table cloth and ran her hands across its glossy surface. A whippoorwill cried from the cove of trees, down by the river. A blackbird made it halfhearted warbling cry to the setting sun in the west. The smell of dust was strong in the air, as a stallion pursued a mare in the nearby corral.
“You have such wonderful stuff,” White Fawn sighed.
“Me, I’m poor. I have almost nothing.”
“And Indian would never say that. Imagine if you had to pack all your stuff out on two horses. Imagine what you would have to leave behind.”
“I couldn’t begin to pack everything out on two horses or two wagons,” Nancy laughed.
“Because you are rich,” White Fawn nodded.
“I guess I am, if you look at it that way,” Nancy took another sip. “But I have the troubles which go with it.”
“You had no troubles today. There were none yesterday. Don’t let a little trouble last week, ruin all the days which follow. Indians live a life while constantly at war. Each day is special to us. You have everything you need in life to make a person happy, all around you here,” White Fawn motioned at the house.
“Not quite everything,” Nancy said bitterly.
“What are you missing?”
“Love. A man. A really good friend,” she said, staring at the fire.
“Oh, you have all of those,” White Fawn scoffed.
“It doesn’t appear like it, when I have to go to bed alone at night.”
“You do so by choice. Rusty has been here, unpaid for a year. You think he’s here for your cooking?”
“I have nothing to cook,” Nancy smiled, then drank again.
“Exactly. But still he stays, a grown man hanging onto your every word, obeying your every command. Isn’t that love and friendship?”
“I suppose,” she said thoughtfully.
“If you don’t like going to bed alone, do something about it. I’m willing to join you until Rusty returns.”
“I thought you and Rusty . . . ” she stopped in confusion. White Fawn shook her head with a twinkle in her eyes.
“You get milk from a cow, and a cow needs to be milked, but that doesn’t make you husband and wife,” White Fawn giggled.
Nancy snorted and placed a hand over White Fawn’s. White Fawn turned her hand up and held Nancy’s in an intimate fashion. “You are so much like your mother,” Nancy sighed.
“I know. If I survive, I might turn into a good wife some day,” White Fawn laughed.
“And a good friend,” Nancy squeezed White Fawn’s hand. Nancy locked the front door and set the rifle beside it. She turned and pulled White Fawn into her bedroom.
The fire died down and Rusty turned to face the opposite direction. They knew he was not sleeping. He was just being polite. Silver Quail pulled her dress off beneath the blankets. Tall Elk ran his hands over Silver Quail’s soft, slender body. He was always amazed by the difference between a woman’s skin and a man’s. Women were so soft and supple. As a hunter he knew it was because a female carried more fat than a male. As a lover, he was simply amazed and intrigued by the difference.
Silver Quail’s hands went to Tall Elk’s penis. She massaged it gently until it reached its full hardness. She straddled his body and eased herself down on his cock. She sighed as the full length slid up inside her body. She felt the tip of his cock touching her cervix deep inside her body, just behind her pubic hair. That was one reason she liked being on top. It gave her the maximum penetration possible. She rested there for a moment while her lubricants began flowing, then lifted her body gently until his cock nearly fell out. She stopped and settled again, until she rested against his abdomen. Tall Elk gritted his teeth with his eyes tightly closed. Silver Quail repeated this three more times, then gently increased the tempo. Her body undulated above him. He grabbed her small breasts and began tweaking the nipples. She closed her eyes and smiled in appreciation. Moving her hands to his shoulders, she began riding faster. Tall Elk’s hands slid down to her tiny ass and squeezed it. Of all her magnificent assets, Tall Elk believed her small shapely ass might be the best. It was hard to judge, because in most men’s eyes, Silver Quail would be considered the perfect woman. She certainly looked like one as she rode heavily on his impaling cock. Her face grew sweaty as she intensified her lovemaking. Rising and falling on her bent legs, his cock was flashing in and out of her wet pussy with blinding swiftness.
It wasn’t long before Tall Elk began feeling fire in the roots of his cock. His balls began churning. The slick hot pussy flesh clenching his penis was tight and wonderful. He never failed to appreciate Silver Quail’s talents. Even though her pussy had produced their wonderful daughter, it was still almost as tight as the first day they made love. He could tell, as her pussy began milking his stiffened flesh, that Silver Quail was having an orgasm. He simply relaxed and allowed his own body to explode. As Silver Quail stopped, his throbbing cock began filling her tiny pussy with hot cream. She felt the hot fluid squirting into her quivering pussy and bit her lip to keep from moaning out loud. That squirting fluid was the final thrill for a woman. Hot and wet it filled her emptiness and left a warm spot which lasted for minutes. She pulled off his cock with a hiss, and fell to the blankets beside him.
Silver Quail nuzzled Tall Elk’s neck as they rested and their breathing returned to normal. They both grew aware of the sound of moving cloth, and the subtle grunts of their camping partner. Rusty was trying to masturbate in silence.
“He will attract ants,” Tall Elk chuckled.
“He doesn’t have a wife?” Silver Quail whispered. With a grunt of surprise, Tall Elk slid back and studied her face. He remained silent, deep in thought, until he finally nodded his acceptance.
“Very well, but only using that new trick you learned. I want nobody inside you but me.”
“Exactly what I was thinking,” she smiled. Her naked body disappeared into the dankness.
“Huh? What? Oh my god,” Rusty’s surprised voice came from the darkness. Tall Elk smiled and rolled over to sleep.
Silver Quail began trekking up the hill with the rifle and a canteen. Tall Elk and Rusty saddled their horses and pulled the cinches tight. The air was cool and moist with a heavy dew. The sun would be up in 30 minutes. Their cooking fire left a tendril of smoke against the orange colored sky on the horizon. There was still a sprinkling of stars directly overhead.
“Hey, thanks for last night,” Rusty said over the saddle of his horse.
“For what?” Tall Elk was mystified.
“You know, sending your wife over,” Rusty said in embarrassment. “That was really nice of you. Not many men would do that.”
“Did you shit last night, Rusty?” Tall Elk asked with a smile.
“What?” Rusty was shocked and sickened by the question.
“Did you shit?”
“Yeah, of course I did.”
“Did you thank anybody for it?”
“Now what kind of a fool question is that?” Rusty was disgusted. He knew he was about to get another batch of Sioux wisdom, but Tall Elk simply pulled the cinch tight and mounded up. He laughed as he rode away and Rusty scrambled to catch up.
Nancy stretched and smiled, then opened her eyes and found White Fawn looking down at her from her place on the other pillow.
“Last night was wonderful,” Nancy said, kissing White Fawn impulsively. “You really are a lot like your mother.”
“Thanks,” White Fawn smiled and snuggling closer to Nancy’s warm, naked body.
“I love waking up to feel warm flesh pressed against my body. I think it’s the greatest thrill in life.”
“I agree,” White Fawn nodded. She traced an imaginary circle around Nancy’s right breast with her finger. Nancy shivered and grabbed her hand. They both lay in each other’s arms and relaxed, looking up at the ceiling.
The moist morning dew was coming in through the open bedroom window. A rooster crowed and a frightened chicken cackled. White Fawn listened to the hundreds of bird calls, trying to identify each one. Her features stiffened as all sounds near the house simply stopped. She rose and looked out the window, in time to see her view blocked by a large body in a white shirt and brown vest.
“What in the hell is going on here?” a male voice sneered. Nobody saw White Fawn’s hand blur over to the night stand and grab the dagger-like letter opener. Nancy only saw the back of White Fawn’s hand as it blurred forward and her letter opener magically appeared in the man’s throat. Nancy pointed and gasped, as the man struggled and fell. Boots crunched in the front room warning them, just moments before three men burst in through the bedroom door.
The two women had completely different reactions. Nancy screamed and tried to cover her nakedness with the blanket. White Fawn sprinted to the window and vaulted out, doing a complete flip and landing straddle of the dead man’s body. She yanked the pistol from the dead man’s belt, before sprinting around the corner and streaking for the barn. Only one man had a good view of White Fawn as she ran away, but he was too busy gawking at her unexpected nakedness to try for a shot.
“Where’d she go?” a heavyset man with a deformed face ran into the room, looking around.
“In the barn.”
“And you let her go?”
“Would you shoot that?” the other man asked sarcastically. The leader acted as if he would pistol whip the man, but found himself covered by the other man’s pistol. He shrugged and pushed his pistol into the holster.
“Get her,” the leader commanded.
“You get her,” the second man said. “I’m looking over that white woman.”
“You’ll take my orders or you won’t get paid,” the deformed leader scowled.
“I’ll get paid off your dead body,” the second man threatened.
“What kind of a man are you?” the leader whined.
“The kind who knows that a naked Indian girl just ran into the barn with a pistol. By now she’s probably not naked, and she sure as hell knows how to use that pistol. If you want to get shot, you go,” the man said, turning away.
“I might as well be alone,” the leader growled. The second man turned, again sickened by the man’s deformed face. He looked like he’d been kicked in the face by a mule. It was flat.
“If you weren’t such a coward, you would be alone,” the man said before disappearing into the bedroom.
Tall Elk found 20 more cattle in a compact herd. By gently pushing them into a wash, they soon had a rope corral up and a branding fire going. It took three hours to rope and throw the 20 cattle. With the XLP brands on their hips, the cattle were sore, thirsty, and willing to be driven anywhere for a drink.
Rusty and Tall Elk hazed the cattle into the canyon as usual, but this time Silver Quail did not appear to open the gate. The cattle milled around in a circle and had to be run back into the canyon a second time.
“Rusty,” Tall Elk said in a horse whisper. “Open the corral gate while I drive them inside. When I’m done I will stay on my horse and cover you, while you close the gate. Close it and get out of sight.”
“Oh don’t tell me,” Rusty growled.
“Yeah, we have company,” Tall Elk nodded.
“Son of a bitch. Just when things were going so well,” Rusty slid from his horse and hit the ground running. A man stood up from behind a rock with a drawn gun. He started to shout a threat, but he was already dead. He fell forward, dropping his pistol from lifeless fingers, while Tall Elk’s gun echoed off the canyon walls. The cattle surged inside the corral and Rusty threw up one pole, before diving behind the wall of brush.
Tall Elk backed his horse toward Rusty, while keeping his eyes on the rocks. He saw the glint of metal, just as a rifle roared behind him. A bearded man in a torn, floppy hat stood up and fell sideways.
“How many more, wife?” Tall Elk asked without looking around.
“The dust up by that square rock is a third man leaving. But I still believe there were four of them. Only three showed up.”
“They’re in the next canyon,” Tall Elk swung his horse around. He galloped from the canyon and turned east. His eyes found the horse tracks long before he entered the canyon. He surprised a man on a black horse, tied between three others. The man tried to pull his rifle from the boot, but Tall Elk’s gun had him covered. The man raised his hands and sat waiting atop his nervous horse.
“Where’s the other one?” Tall Elk asked.
“What other one?” the man sneered. Tall Elk simply sat with his drawn gun covering the dirty man. The man finally glanced toward a wash to Tall Elk’s left. By the sound, Tall Elk knew it was Rusty riding up behind him. He looked the man over and gestured with his gun.
“Drop the rifle and canteen,” Tall Elk commanded.
“Yeah, I’ll drop them, but this ain’t over,” the man growled.
“Why?” Tall Elk asked casually.
“Cause I’ll be back with help. I’ll track you down wherever you go.”
“I believe you,” Tall Elk said, thumbing back the hammer. The man’s eyes widened as Tall Elk’s gun blossomed fire.
“What the hell did you do that for?” Rusty gasped.
“Because I believed him,” Tall Elk said, riding into the wash.
Upon seeing a pair of boots, Tall Elk holstered his gun and slid from his horse. He found an Indian girl tied and gagged, wearing white men’s clothes. Her frightened eyes went from Tall Elk to Rusty, riding up behind him. Tall Elk pulled his knife and knelt, cutting the ropes from her hands and ankles.
“What tribe?” Tall Elk asked in Spanish.
“Ute,” the girl said, barely moving her lips. Tall Elk realized she had been bound for quite some time. He took water off one of the nearby pack horses and tossed it to the girl. His eyes and hands went over the pack horses in wonder. There was enough food to last for a month. He turned to Rusty with a smile. Rusty was glaring at him.
“What’s the matter with you?” Tall Elk asked.
“You killed him in cold blood.”
“You would let him go so he could return with more help and kill us in our sleep?”
“Well no, I’d . . . I wouldn’t shoot him,” Rusty said lamely.
“Then you’re an idiot. Grab two pack horses and let’s go home.”
“Me?” the girl asked.
“There are four horses, one is a black horse with a rifle on it,” he pointed toward the mouth of the wash. “Ride them where you will.”
“And if I follow?”
“You will work,” Tall Elk turned and rode out of the wash towing two pack horses.
“Is her tribe friendly to yours?” Rusty galloped to catch up.
“No, we are deadly enemies, mostly because they kill everyone they meet.”
“But you’re turning your back on her. She’s armed.”
“So is Silver Quail,” Tall Elk shrugged with a smile, glancing up toward the hill.
“Uh, uh, oh lord,” Nancy wailed as the man fucked her from behind. They were both on hands and knees in the middle of her bed. A second man entered the room and unbuttoned his pants. He took his penis out of his longjohns and offered it to Nancy. She took it in one hand and eagerly slid it into her mouth. She sucked and moaned as the slap of flesh against flesh intensified behind her. The flat faced man entered the room and growled in disgust. He returned to the kitchen and started the cook stove burning.
The man behind Nancy grew tired and rolled Nancy over on her side. He fell to the bed behind her and began fucking her in the new position. Nancy gasped in relief. She sucked the second man’s cock into her mouth and flailed her hand on it’s base. The man held the back of her head with his right hand and grimaced in pleasure. Nancy was the best looking woman he had ever seen, outside of books. She had a perfect figure and a good clean pussy, something rare in a western community where few people bathed. She was sexy and willing to be fucked. But even as she sucked his dick, his mind went over that tiny little tanned ass which ran for the barn. What a fuck that little girl would be.
“Oh hell,” Nancy moaned, putting one hand on her lover’s ass and pulling him into her willing pussy. The man groaned in astonished pleasure. This woman really wanted to be fucked. She appeared to be very hard up. What in the world was such a beautiful woman doing out on a ranch alone? She needed a man. She needed him.
He groaned as his cock began burning with a familiar liquid fire. He felt the muscles in his loins clenching. He slapped his pelvis against her luscious ass three more times, then stiffened with a whine. He shuddered. His throbbing cock emptied its contents into her inviting pussy. He felt the wall of her pussy milking his cock and he strained to provide more sperm, but he was spent. He fell panting, while he watched Jeremy getting his dick sucked.
“Fuck me,” Nancy begged around Jeremy’s cock. He nodded agreeably and pulled his cock out of her mouth. He pushed the other man aside and took his place. Her pussy was very hot and wet as he slid inside her. He shuddered and moaned, as the incredible heat enfolded his manhood. He began pumping his cock inside her, knowing she would have to cum fast, or he too would cum without her. Within five minutes he stiffened and whined. Nancy pushed back against his impaling cock and rotated her pussy until she too had an orgasm. They both lay panting on the bed and relaxed. The first man chuckled and ran his hands over Nancy’s luscious body.
“What a woman!” he crowed.
“You’re not just a kidding,” Jeremy drawled.
“You two get in here,” the leader yelled from the kitchen.
“Now what?” Jeremy asked. “I’d just as soon shoot that flat-faced bastard.”
“There’s time,” the second man said, buttoning his pants.
Nancy watched both men leave and looked at the open window. She knelt and grabbed her dress, then silently slid through the window. She ran on bare feet to the river, quickly washed, then turned left and sprinted along the muddy bank until she reached an area behind the barn. With the barn covering her advance, she crept forward and she listened at the barn, then opened the door. White Fawn smiled at her from the haymow. She had been looking at the house through the tiny haymow door with the pistol in her hand. She wore a cut burlap bag as a loincloth.
“It took you long enough.”
“I was having sex,” Nancy laughed, pulling on her dress.
“Aren’t you afraid of getting some disease? Oops,” White Fawn said, flipping up the gun and firing. The fire and smoke filled the doorway momentarily, then drifted away on the breeze.
“Not from them. I bet the two of them hasn’t had sex more than three times in their entire lives.”
“It’ll be even harder for one of them, he only has one arm now.”
“Ouch,” Nancy said as she straightened her dress. She froze as she saw the horses filling the bottom of her barn. Her hands went over the horses in wonder, then she found the full saddle bags and unused rifles.
“We have their horses and their food,” Nancy said with a smile.
“And they have an empty house with nothing to eat,” White Fawn giggled.
“Shall we deal?”
“Go ahead,” White Fawn nodded.
Nancy stepped to the door. “Hey assholes,” she yelled.
Willow Bud was no rancher, but she was an excellent horseman. It was no problem at all for the four of them to herd the cattle into the valley within a week. Tall Elk glanced at the stump where they had practiced roping. That seemed like a very long time ago. They saw the river first and the cattle broke and ran. They were thirsty. Willow Bud held the horses steady at the end of their ropes. They paused and watered the horses, then went on toward the ranch. The cattle would not move, now that they had found food and water.
A shot rang out and Tall Elk slapped his horse into a gallop. Rusty was right on his heels. They rode for the barn below and galloped around it. White Fawn and Nancy stood looking at them in surprise. Nancy had a pistol in her hands. White Fawn had been speaking over her shoulder, pointing at a fence post.
“Oh hi, daddy,” she called brightly.
“Practicing?” Tall Elk asked casually.
“Nancy is. We had some trouble last week and she wanted to know how to use a gun. Did you have fun?”
“We sure did,” Rusty said enthusiastically. “We got 147 cattle, eight horses and a woman. How about you?”