Outlaw Tales of Old Wyoming
A Short Story by T. H. Bear
‘Marse Lee Once Removed’
been killed during the war with the Spanish, so she had no young’uns of her own and he figured she was now much too old to be
bearing children, and he reckoned that was why she became the school marm. However even Harlan Fegler had to agree that she
was a handsome woman, but that did not deter his dislike for her. She was the school marm and all boys disliked the school
marm, it was the thing to do, all his friends did and so did he, and on this day he disliked her even more than usual because she
had made him stand before the whole class and read aloud. Harlan hated to read aloud, he hated to do anything he did not do well
and he did not read aloud well. He did not read well period but he especially was bad at it when he had to do it out loud. When
reading to himself, if he came upon a word that he did not know he could skip over it and most likely he would come to recognize
it after reading the whole sentence or perhaps the whole paragraph, but when reading aloud one could not skip over a word, one
was punished with clouds of embarrassment for failing to know all the words. When he mispronounced a word Esther Crane
would always correct him and her friends would giggle and he would then have to fight with all his might not to loose his bladder
right there in front of the whole school. It was bad enough for Mrs. Lee to correct him but it was a hundred times more dreadful
when that skinny Esther Crane did it. Today while he was reading about General Custer being massacred by the Sioux Indians up
in Montana he had said caves instead of calves and she quickly corrected him and Kathy Hull and Judy Curkendal had immediately
giggled and he felt his bladder suddenly about to burst and he was sure it would have too had not the tall Texican come in
disrupting the class.
when she recognized him, now as they were once more sliding into their respective seats he was still there and Harlan could see
the well worn walnut handle of his revolver protruding from the deep holster. ‘It is a Colt.’ he figured and from the looks and
condition of the leather housing it, he would guess it had been riding there on the man’s left hip for many a year, right there just a
inch above those big batwing chaps, ‘I wonder if he got that sombrero in San Antonio?’
“Children, this is Mr. Robert Marse Lee.” The teacher began, “He is the older brother of my late husband and has just
arrived here from Texas . It is very fortunate that he has come at this precise time in our studies of American History because he
has personal experiences with some of the events that we have so recently been studying.” She paused a moment to let what she
had said sink into our heads and then she continued, “Is there anyone here who can tell us who in history is remembered as
A quite fell over the little one room school and almost every boy and girl there looked around to see if anyone was about to
speak, suddenly he felt a sickness forming in his stomach, for he could see the confidence of her gaze and he knew in his heart
Esther Crane was about to raise her hand.
“Yes Esther?” Mrs. Lee spoke.
“Yes ma’am, I believe that was the affectionate name given to General Lee by his men in Virginia during the War Between
“You are so right Esther.”
‘Damn Sam, Son-of -a -bitch, why must I go to school here?’ he wondered, ‘If I could attend in Lander I wouldn’t have to
put up with her, in Lander they have a three room school and she would not be in the same room as me, but no I have to go to
Riverton cause my Pa settled on this side of the river.’
“Aren’t we lucky to have such a bright student here with us?” Mrs. Lee added, “Now the reason our Mr. Lee has that name
is because he is the cousin once removed to the famous general but what is important to us now is he was a scout for General
Terry at the time of the Little Big Horn Massacre.” Again she paused and this gave Harlan a moment to feel some better, ‘At least
I knew he was a Texican.’ He thought.
“I remember when the news came out about the death of General Custer, however I was only a child at the time, not even
as old as some of you here, but it was such big news I will never forget it. That year was a great year for our country, it was
Harlan Fegler immediately raised his hand, ‘This is a cinch, I got her on this one.’ He thought.
“It were 1876.”
“Yes it was, but what I want to hear is what is the year 1876 known as.”
“It was the Centennial Year of our nation.”
“Very good Esther.”
‘Damn Sam, Son-of-a-bitch.’
“Now let us hear from Mr. Lee about his experiences at the Little Big Horn battlefield.”
“Hello.” he began and immediately Harlan wondered at his smooth mannerism and the flow of his speech, ‘He don’t sound
like no Texican I ever heard before.’
“Hello.” Most of the twenty eight students replied.
“Well now, I didn’t come here to give a speech, but since your teacher has asked, and I don’t know how I could refuse her
anything, I will try and give you a brief account of what I know.” He paused and moving his large brimmed hat around in his
hands as he stood there beside the smaller teacher he began, “Yes I was a scout for General Terry back in 1876 and was with the
detail that located the remains of Colonel Custer and his men of the Seventh Cavalry there in The Valley of The Greasy Grass, as
the Indians call it. They were scattered over the ridge and some even down in the river. They all had been stripped of everything
the savages could possibly use and many were mutilated, we think by the squaws after the warriors had left the field. There were
a total of 257 men killed with Custer that hot June day and it was a ghostly sight, a sight I will never forget.”
“Thank you Mr. Lee, now do any of you have a question for our distinguish guest?”
“You called him Colonel, but I know he was a General.”
“You are both right and wrong.” Mr. Lee answered, “He was a Brevet Major General during the War, but can anyone tell me
what Brevet means?”
“Yes Esther?” Mrs. Lee called out.
“It means temporary, or acting.”
“You are absolute correct little girl, my how smart you are.” The man replied, “You see Custer was in reality a Lieutenant
Colonel, not even a full Colonel, and it is that rank he was known as in the Seventh Cavalry, and to which I knew him.
‘Damn Sam, Son-of-a-bitch.’
“Were the wives of these dead men ever allowed to see their husbands?”
“Some of the wives were at Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck in Dakota Territory , but none came to the scene, to my
“Wus Gen___ err, Colonel Custer scalped?”
“No, he was one of the few who were not. The Indians place a great deal of value on bravery and perhaps the Chief’s
would not allow him to be scalped as a tribute to his bravery.”
“Yes Charles.” She called out.
“Did Chief Sitting Bull kill Custer?”
“No, Sitting Bull in reality was not a Chief at all, he was the top Medicine Man
of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux and from what we learned much later he did not
partake in the battle at all. Gall, who was the War Chief of the Hunkpapa, said
Sitting Bull never left his tepee all that day.”
“That there Colt you got, did you use it against the Sioux Indians?”
“Well, not this one, but rather one very much like it. I had to turn in the one issued to me, when I left the service of the
“I bet you shot a lot of them redskins though.” Harlan added.
“Well, I shot a lot more rabbits than I did Indians with it.”
“What part of Texas are you from?”
“I have lived in Paris for the last few years but I am originally from Virginia .”
‘Well, I knew he talked funny for a Texican.’ Harlan thought.
“Are you a cowboy?” suddenly several of the boys laughed,
“Of course he’s a cowboy.” Harlan burst out which was followed by laughter from some of the boys present.
“Well, I am not really a cowboy, although I admire them greatly, mainly I make my living looking for cowboys and others, I
am a Deputy United States Marshal.”
“Gosh!” Troy Stevens exclaimed.
“Damn.” Harlan whispered so quite only he heard his statement.
“Marshal, did you ever shoot the wrong man?”
“Not that I recall.” The tall man replied but then as if an afterthought swept over him he added, “A long time ago I made a
pack with myself that every time I have to make an important decision, if I have time to think, I ask myself, “What would The
General do?” And to this day every time I did what I thought General Lee would have done, I made the right decision.”
“Well, we will end on that wonderful advice. Mrs. Lee said, “We still must complete our arithmetic before class lets out.
Maybe we can convince the Marshal to come back and talk to us again.”
“Yeah.” Several of the boys said, Harlan Fegler was not one of them.
That afternoon after they had been dismissed and all the children were gone or leaving Harlan remembered he had failed to
get his coat from the cloakroom and as he entered the front door he over heard Mrs. Lee ask the Marshal if he would come by
for supper that night. Harlan saw him place his hand over hers when he answered and this surprised him.
Later, when he told Johnny Hamilton about it they made a pack to sneak over to Mrs. Lee’s home, which was located at the
rear of the schoolhouse, after supper and spy on them.
The night was very dark early on as the moon did not rise until well past nine and had it not been for the sharp bend ‘The
Little Wind’ made half a mile above the school they may have not even rendezvoused each other. The going across the dark
prairie was not without incident either; Johnny, leading up the slight hill, jammed his big toe into a prickly pear and screamed out.
It was immediately answered by a distant coyote. Harlan was thankful to the wild dog as he thought, ‘Were it not for this, Marse
Lee would most likely have given attention to Johnny’s cry.’
When they finally reached the big old cottonwood growing in the little cut beside Mrs. Lee’s home he heard voices coming
from the veranda in the front of the cottage and it was there the two boys slowly crawled until they were under the porch.
“Do you have any idea where he’s hold up?” a strange man’s voice asked.
“I believe he’s being hid by some relatives up on the Shoshone Reservation. He has a sister who married one of them. They
have a small spread west of Fort Washakie .”
“How old is he now?” the stranger asked.
“I don’t rightly know, he robbed the Lander stage back in the fall of ‘77 and from the description of the messenger I
would guess he was twenty or less, I reckon he’s about the same age as me.”
“He spent time in jail didn’t he?”
“Yeah, in Casper back in ’91, but he broke loose before they transferred him to Laramie , so there was no real good
description ever recorded.”
“Besides this killing, which ain’t no federal offense, what has he done to warrant a U. S. Marshal to be on his trail?”
“Well, I’ll tell you Sheriff, the man he killed in this holdup, which ain’t his first murder, was a very good friend of mine.”
“That still ain’t no Federal Offense.”
“No, but that Lander Stage, back in ’77, was carrying the mail and he took the sack.”
“So you are going after him on a crime that took place some twenty five plus year ago?”
“I’m going after him because he killed Tom Peitpren, but my authority is the robbery that took place twenty-seven years
“That’s stretching it a might.”
“Mebe, mebe not. I convinced Marshal Tillman and that’s all it takes as far as I’m concerned, now can I rely on your
cooperation on this or not?”
“I’ll help you as best as I can, he is after all a fugitive believed to be in my county and I don’t want that, but I got other
responsibilities too, you that keep in mind.”
“That’s fair enough.” Lee said.
“Alright, tell me all you know.”
“Well, it all began back in the summer of ’76.” The Marshal began. “Pick Keene and a fellow that went by John Ludwick were
mustanging in the Red Desert when they came upon a small band of Arapahoe moving along the Gros Ventre, mostly old men and
a few squaws. The two laid in ambush until the bunch was below and well within rifle range and then they opened up on them
with Winchesters. Other than one or two of the old men, who were riding poor nags, the remainder of the horses were hauling
travois so they had no way of escaping. The two showed up in Green River with twelve scalps claiming the reward. The result
of these murders started a lot of trouble in these parts and more than one white suffered the consequences.”
The Marshal stopped when Mrs. Lee came out with a tray on which was a steaming pot of Arbuckles and three birdseye
“Thank you Laura.” The Marshal said as she poured the coffee.
“Of course, it isn’t every night a school marm has two such distinguished gentlemen on her veranda at the same time.”
“You're are too kind Mrs. Lee.”
“Not at all Sheriff Johnson, I’m honored.”
The aroma of the hot brew drifted slowly away infesting the cool night air until it found the boys lying below the poplar
“As a result of these retaliation raids,” the Marshal continued, “most whites in the area shunned these two and they had a
hard time keeping food in their bellies. Ludwick was found down by the UP trestle at Bitter Creek with a bullet hole in his
forehead, but there was no sign of Keene . Some say they had been playing poker in Green River a couple a’ nights before and
had left after a big argument, I’m not sure if they were arguing with each other or someone else,
but nothing ever came of the shooting. I reckon most thought Wyoming was better off with Ludwick
dead.” He stopped long enough to take a sip from the now hot cup.
“The next time I know of him, he was seen boarding the east bound in Rawlins two days later.
Before that train made it to Laramie it was held up by two masked men who appeared from nowhere
and disappeared just as mysteriously. One of the robbers was wearing a red-checkered neckerchief as
few weeks later but she had been paid so many times by so many men between the time of the stick up
and when the loot showed up, no one questioned her honesty when she said she had no idea who had
left the bills with her. I never believed it, still don’t, but that was then and I wasn’t doing the questioning.”
‘Kay Taylor Becomes a Coyote’
sister’s home on the reservation. He had arrived there two weeks before and even though he had brought Edward Coyote one of
the rifles that shot the new smokeless powder, his welcome was wearing thin with his brother-in-law. Pick was a bragger and
Edward had never liked him, and if it wasn’t for the fact Pick was Kay’s brother he would have added his scalp to the others he
kept on an old lance hidden in the root cellar. Edward was not angry about the women and old men Pick had slaughtered so long
ago, after all they were Arapahoe and he himself would have done the same, if he thought he could have placed the blame on a
white man. Neither did he think for one minute that Pick had killed them because they were Arapaho. Edward knew he had killed
them because they were indians and there was a bounty paid for indian scalps in those days, by some. Had they been Shoshone,
Pick would have done the same and claimed they were Arapahoe or Cheyenne or some other hostile tribe. However Kay loved her
no account brother so Edward put up with him.
Kay was the younger sister of Pick Keene by six years and although she had not seen very much of him since he was a young
teen he had always seemed so full of life and rich in tall tales of his experiences she had unknowingly become a hero worshiper of
her brother Pickard.
When she was fifteen she married a soldier who was soon assigned to Camp Brown and it was while she lived there she
met Laughing Dog a young Shoshone brave who immediately took interest in the tall girl with hair the color of corn silk. After her
husband was killed in a fight with some marauding Arapaho she stayed on at the fort and worked in the trading post for the
remainder of the winter but soon it became apparent to Colonel Bell that having a single woman, widow or no, at an Army Post so
far from civilization was causing a problem among the enlisted men, to say nothing of his officers. By April every single man
there and a few of the married ones were trying to induce Kay into late evening favors and after a sergeant struck a shave tail
in an argument over her, Colonel Bell ordered Kay to leave on the next Casper-Rongis Stage. She had no choice but to return to
her family in Nebraska, which was exactly what she did not want. Her marriage to Bill Taylor had been an avenue of escape
from Lincoln County the very year Lancaster became a village. At age six she learned her father had lost his life fighting the
Kansas Redlegs near Higginsville Missouri and thereafter she saw her mother slowly being drawn into a life she would
never have chosen, had she another means to support her three children, a life Kay was determined
not to become hers. The very day the Lander Stage was to take her away Laughing Dog walked
boldly past several of the soldiers, who had come to see the lovely Widow Taylor off, and asked her to
marry him. She had for nearly a year been attracted to the well built brave but he had not shown her
more than strong looks and she was totally taken back by his proposal, however she found it far more
appealing than the life Nebraska offered and she immediately took him by the arm and led him
straight to the Robert’s Mission and had a Christian ceremony performed before Colonel Bell could
forbid the inter-racial marriage.
To say their life was without trials would be an understatement, especially where the single soldiers were concerned. The
idea an indian had stolen the most beautiful and eligible woman from under their very noses was a sour spot that often festered,
especially when he came around the camp. The fact that it was Colonel Bell who had truly robbed them of her, never seemed to
entered their minds.
One day while the two were at the Mission, Father Roberts, who happened to be infatuated with name origins suggested to
them, “Should Laughing Dog take on an American name it might go a little smoother for them around the post. Kay thought it
was a good idea but Laughing Dog was not so sure. Chief Washakie had chosen his name after he had returned from the prairie
with seventeen dead coyotes tied to his pony. It had been a great honor to have so great a Chief give him a name and he was not
eager to change it. Father Roberts assured him he would find a name suitable to his stature in the tribe but he shook his head and
stomped out. Kay looked over at the Minister and nodded her head, “You find him a good white name and I will bring him
After much thought Father Roberts approached Chief Washakie, and expressed his concern about the trouble that existed
between Laughing Dog and the white soldiers and then explained his idea. “In the old world the name Edward meant one of many
blessing or many riches, a man of greatness, not unlike a man who could kill many of the wiry desert dogs in the dead of winter.”
The wise old Chief listened but said nothing as to his agreement or otherwise, however at the tribal meeting, which occurred
on the next new moon; he announced to all present that from that day on Laughing Dog would be known as Edward Coyote.
Edward, who resented being called Ed, was very proud of his white name and often spoke of it to people who already knew
he had been renamed.
It wasn’t long after Edward and Kay set up house keeping that she convinced him to build a small log home a few miles west of
Camp Brown at the foot of a mountain and it was at the time he was just finishing the roof that her older brother showed up.
At this peculiar moment Pick was telling about the Aspen Coal Mine payroll.
“I got wind of a large payroll being transported from Salt Lake to the mine on a freight outfit.”
“Now why on earth would they do that when the UP runs right by there?” his sister asked.
“ ‘Cause I put out the word that we wus planning on hitting that train and they come up with this idée’ to smuggle it out
amongst the Murphy’s.” I had a few men I could trust and we waited up amongst the rocks there in the pass and jumped them
as they came lumbering along at three miles an hour.” He said. “That’s where I got you that new rifle, one of ‘em teamsters had it
stuck up thar’ under his spring seat.” Pick said looking over at his brother-in-law. “It were like shooting ducks on the North
Platte, they just began tumbling off ‘em big ole wagons and from the mules too, puts me to mind of that stage back in ’76 when I
shot the teamster and the slug hit him high in the face. He stood and dropped the ribbons as he grabbed at his forehead with both
hands and screamed so loud I could hear ‘im nigh on a hundred fifty yards away. Then he fell forward onto the rumps of the
trailing horses and this caused ‘em to go nuts, a buckin’ and a kickin’ and pretty soon the hole blame team went wild and started
off running like crazy down that canyon road until it plundered off the side into a ravine and just busted into a hundred parts. I
seen the look on the messenger’s face as he went flying past me and he looked like he done shit his pants. The two passengers
went flying out the door about the second time it tumbled over. Man oh man was that something to see.”
“Freight wagon fall in arroyo too?”
“No, but the teamster stood up when I shot ‘im, and then he fell on the
mules back, just like that stage driver.”
Edward did not answer other than nod his head to Picks explanation.
“Yes si’ree bobtail, that wus some sight back then. Right after that, wus when I met Sheila Meggs down to Rawlins.”
“Now that was some woman, she had tits the size of a’ Jersey cow, worked out of The Elk Mountain saloon.”
Edward just nodded his head as if he knew what a Jersey cow was.
“I took her with me down to Denver for a month or so and she turned most all ‘em red backs from the train job into coin
that couldn’t be traced and then we hot footed it back to Rawlins. I shor’ did like that whore.”
Kay walked out where the men were sitting with a pot of coffee in her hand. “My brother been telling you of all his
“Um, him tell plenty.”
“Well, he sure lives a’ exciting life I reckon.” She said smiling at Pick.
Suddenly she saw a strange expression come over her brother and as he began speaking again she knew he was no longer
with them, rather he was back in another time and another place. A place stored carefully somewhere deep in his mind.
‘My Pal Dade’
“I rode with a fellow that went by the name a’ Dade. I don’t reckon it were his real name, sucks most a us back in them days
had two or three names but that don’t matter none, Dade wus what we called him, so Dade it wus. I always figured Dade was on
the backside a' the law more by accident than on purpose. He never had what it takes to last in the line a’ work we wus doing
back then. I mean he was as handy with a six-gun or Winchester as any I reckon but he was always hesitant to use them, like he
really didn’t want to harm nobody. Later I heard it said and it figures, Dade was a wheelwright back in Arkansas sommers. A
regular church going fellow with a nice girl and all, only Dade had this kid brother, so the story goes, what wus as wild as a boy
at his age could be, I reckon, anyways this brother got to gambling a lot and usually turned up on the loosing side of the table. I
suppose that wus because he were a runt of a fellow and couldn’t hold his liquor too good. Well, this night Dade heard his kid
brother wus all liquored up down to this saloon and loosing his month’s wages in a stacked up game a’ stud, so he went down
there to get the boy before he lost everything. Well, they say a fight just broke out as Dade walked in and these two big fellows
were pounding a plenty on the kid so Dade pulled his hogleg and shot up in the air to get their attention. Well, he got it alright, and
sure enough he got his kid brother out of there, only thing was that shot he fired went upstairs and kilt a whore what was just
getting up from plying her trade. That weren’t bad enough, it were a law-dog what had just taken his pleasure with ‘er and he got
splattered all over with ‘er blood. The next thing you know, there’s a warrant out fur Dade and his kid brother. Well, they caught
the boy, and hung him sure enough, but Dade got away and hit the Owl Hoot Trail. I run into him when he were working fur the
Denver Stage Line over to Cheyenne . We kind ‘a hit it off and ‘afor you knew it ole Dade was ridding with me and this bunch a
fellows I hung with in ’77. We hit Dade’s former employee a couple a’ times right there on the Colorado boarder. He figured they
owed him some on account his pusher had shorted him his wages more than once claiming the Denver Office made a mistake
and would make it up, only they never did, so Dade and me made it up ourselves.
Dade carried a brace a’ them Smith & Wesson 44’s and he were right good with ‘em too only this one time when we had
the stage stopped up near Deer Creek and there wus this passenger, a big fellow, riding inside and when we got them out he went
fur a revolver in a belt holster. Dade got the drop on him soon enough and should have shot him dead right then but he didn’t, like
I said I don’t think Dade was cut out for this line a’ work, and all he did was have ‘im throw the gun down and step back. Well,
this fellow had a hideout and when Dade was turned he shot him in the back and then he dropped down for his belt gun but Cary
plugged him before he got a good grip on it.
Dade suffered for nigh on a week on account of that 41 in his back and then one morning when I took him his coffee I
found him cold as an ice sickle, he done went under in the night. I liked ole Dade.”
Then turning he said, “Hey Kay, you got anything stronger to brace up this mud?”
“Sure Honey, Edward keeps a jug hid in the root cellar, I’ll get it fur you.” By the time she was back with the burlap covered
clay jug her brother was well into another tale of his younger days.
‘Jailed in Casper ’
“It was when Cary , Pale Drifter Wales, Snake Canyon, and me of course, wus up to Casper back a year or two, maybe more.
That is the same Cary what saved Dade’s neck several years back well saved it fur awhile. Anyway, Pale Drifter got word a big
shipment of Army greenbacks wus coming in on the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad, and on account of the storm
shutting down the road to Cheyenne and would be kept there in ole man Cunningham’s new safe at the Casper National Bank until
the Cavalry could get in from Fort Washakie. It were the dead a’ winter and there wus a snow storm that rivaled the big one back
in the fall a’ 87. The cut at Lamont Station was nigh on six feet under and no one could see Muddy Gap a’ tall.
Pale Drifter wus a big fellow, stout as a grizzly and sharp eyed as a’ Eagle and was deadly with that ole Henry he carried, but he
was stubborn about his handguns, always carried his old 36 Navy’s and would have no part of a new Colt or Remington cartridge
gun. I warned him about them puny little pistols but he was a stubborn man. Did I say that before?” Pick asked and then
continued with his tale before his brother-in-law could reply, even if he had had a notion to reply. “I told him they would get him
in trouble someday, and I ain’t never wrong. Well, Cary and me rode up Center Street big as could be, leading two more saddled
mounts, and tied up in front of Cunningham’s bank and just walked in like we wus respectable folk. Pale Drifter and his kid
brother had come by way of a high sided two horse wagon which they parked in the alley between the bank and Steele’s Store.
The kid, Snake Canyon , stayed in the buckboard and kept watch. He wus to warn us if’n trouble wus brewing outside. We
planed to relieve Cunningham of that Army payroll, and as we rode away we were going to drop the loot in the wagon and then
head south towards the mountain, so as if’n any of us wus caught we would not have none of the money on us. The kid wus to
drive the team out a’ the alley passing right in front of the bank and then north on Center Street cross the river and right on out of
town, taking the Deer Creek Road, where we planned to intercept ‘im some distance from Casper. We figured nobody would
suspect a sranny boy no more than fourteen years old of no bank robbery. It were a good plan and would ‘a worked had not Pale
Drifter been carrying ‘em ole Navy’s.
He wus already inside acting like Mr. Good and Proper when Cary and me come rushing in through the front door all masked up,
with our revolvers out, and a screaming like wild injuns that it were a holdup. One of the ladies looked directly into my face and
fainted straight off. I almost lost my concentration on the business at hand on account I wanted to laugh so at her.” He stopped
and chuckled at the memory, but then his expression drew rather straight when he thought of what he had to say next,“I suppose
one might say we really picked a bad time to rob that bank ‘cause it just happened to be our luck that Phillip Combs, the town
marshal, wus in the back room trying to get a loan from Mr. Cunningham at the very moment we wus pulling off the heist. Cary
had jumped over the counter and wus cleaning out the drawers and I moved around to the clerk’s desk and tapped him lightly on
head with the under barrel of my 7 inch Remington, them a Colt fur that.
My notion wus to get Cunningham out where he could open that big
tall safe he had bragged so about, but when I opened the door to his office I ran
head on into Combs’ Bulldog 44 which he stuck straight in my gut. Now I ain’t a’
feared a’ no man, especially no law-dog but a 44 slug in the gut is a sure sign a
fellow is on the short trail to meet Lucifer and being gut shot makes it a mighty
rocky trail too, so I quickly raised my hands and backed out where my cohorts
could see the predicament I wus in. About that time Mr. Cunningham relieved me
of my two pistols and pointed them at Cary who wus caught off guard. He never
expected no resistance coming from behind him ‘cause I wus there, so he had laid
his Colt on the counter while he wus emptying the drawers. Combs pushed us
both out from behind the counter and had just told someone there to go get
Sheriff Ritter when Pale Drifter pulled one a’ his Navy’s and sent a ball straight into
Combs’ side which caused him to twist around and when he fired that little Bulldog, the shot only burned my side some as it
passed through my shirt, but in this sudden change of events what with the sound of them two revolvers going off in that small
space and with the smoke and all, Cunningham fired off my Remington and killed Cary with a 44 to the back of his head. I don’t
think he even meant to shoot at all, just jumped and jerked the trigger at the same time. Pale Drifter then turned on him and pulled
his own trigger before Cunningham could recock my pistol but his old navy only snapped. The thunder of that hammer striking
that naked nipple seemed louder than the explosion of the real thing had a second before. He looked down in disbelief and saw a
percussion cap had come off the nipple and was resting between the cylinder and the frame, when he tried to cock it for a second
try at the next primer, that damn cap jammed tight under the cylinder and locked up that pistol as tight as had it been welded.
Cunningham now had my Colt pointed at me and my now cocked Remington pointed at Wales with the barrels of them guns
shacking so I wus a feared he might touch one off by accident again, so I offered no resistance and seeing the futility of it all Pale
Drifter did likewise.” Pick paused and made a depressed sigh before continuing.
“I looked over at the shocked face of Snake Canyon when we wus being marched down the street past the alley where he wus
They locked us up and set the trial right away, but the Army got involved on account it were a federal payroll what we wus trying
to steal, so this put a delay on everything as we waited fur the Federal Judge to come from Cheyenne which weren’t gon’a be
soon on account of the heavy snow drifting over the roads between the two towns. The Casper big wigs wus gon’a fight that on
account of them wanting to try us on the murder of their Town Marshal, which was dumb ‘cause he weren’t even dead yet.
While we wus there they hung Charlie Woodard cause of a killing he did and we watched it from the window. Everyone said we
would soon suffer the same fate ‘cause Doc. Lathrop didn’t give Marshal Combs much of a chance on recovering from his being
shot by Pale Drifter. It were gloomy alright.
Even Sheila Meggs come to town and tried to slip in a little derringer what she hid in her big bosom, but they caught her and
wouldn’t let her in to see me after that. I always wondered who it wus what found that little gun.
We sure were down and out there fur a while but finally Combs started getting better so the county decided there weren’t going
to be a murder trail and it would be cheaper for them if they just let the Government take us back to Cheyenne after all.
Around the third week a’ March a Chinook come blasting out of the southwest and melted everything and we wus expecting to
be transported any day when one night Deputy Laing come in dragging what looked like a wet over sized doll and throwed it in
the cell across from us. As soon as he left that doll just stood up grinning like a ‘possum that just found his way in the chicken
house and we saw it were Pale Drifter’s little brother Snake Canyon . He had stole a bottle a rye off a drunk what had passed out
and had poured it all over himself, then he staggered down the street until he saw P. J. Sullivan the former Mayor of Casper and
his wife walking out of Tygart’s Store and he then bumped straight into Mrs. Sullivan knocking her down in the muddy street and
when Mayor Sullivan tried to help her up the little rascal cold cocked the Mayor right in the side of his pompous cheek with a left
boilermaker. The next thing you know up comes the Deputy and throws him in the cell that used to be Charlie Woodard’s, on
account he didn’t need it no more.
Well, Pale Drifter wus sure sore at the kid fur getting himself throwed in jail until the boy began unlacing his tall boots and there
by producing two short barreled 31 Colts that had the grip frames removed so he could hid them. Wales soon stopped his tongue
lasing and I thought he would ‘a kissed the lad if he could ‘a reached him.
Now this kid was skinny as a fence post and he could almost slip between the iron straps that made up the cells, but he couldn’t
quite make it though until we showed him one that Charlie Woodard had been working on and had it loose at the bottom. Old
Charlie wus convinced he would get the top rivet out in time to cheat the hangman but he didn’t quite make it, however he had
done enough work that that skinny little brother of Pale Drifter wus able to slid through and out into the open area. He handed one
a’ them little Colts to his brother who immediately checked to make sure all the caps were on good and tight and then the boy
plastered himself against the wall behind where the door would open and then we began a hollerin’ and raising all kind of hell.
We might a’ picked the wrong time to pull that stick up but we couldn’t a’ planned it better on the break ‘cause Laing wus gone
to get Mr. Sullivan and his wife to sign a complaint on Snake and the only one in the jail was Gordon Ashley, an old man who had
been shot up pretty bad during the war and Sheriff Ritter let him sleep in the jail in exchange for keeping the place swept out and
such. When Ashley came back to see what all the ruckus wus about he saw Pale Drifter with a pistol and he got so scared he
turned to run, but when he did Snake Canyon blocked his way. Poor ole Gordon wus trapped but we never hurt him none on
account he had been good to us and stole us some extra biscuits on occasion. We locked him in our cell and told him to keep
quite until Deputy Laing got back and he done it too. By the time they found out we wus missing we wus across the North Platte
headed fur the Rattlesnakes on borrowed nags from the Livery down the street.
‘Tom and Sundance’
Pick took a long draw from the jug his sister had brought and then let out a deep sigh expressing his satisfaction of the strong
brew, he then wiped his bearded mouth with the backside of his dirty buckskin shirtsleeve before he said, “That’s mighty good
firewater you got there Chief.”
Kay scolded with a hard slap on the shoulder of her brother; she knew he was fully aware her husband didn’t like to be
called Chief. The title was one of earned respect not a common name as the white man often expressed it. She also knew Pick did
it as a putdown to his indian brother-in-law and she didn’t like that at all, still he was her big brother who had done so many
exciting things in his live and lived and paled around with some of the most famous men in Wyoming so she had no intention of
creating an argument with him, instead she made a suggestion, “Tell us about riding with the Wild Bunch and Tom Horn,
“Well, I can tell you one thing flat out Tom Horn never killed little Willie Nickell, you know, the kid what they hung him fur.
It were the Millers who shot him and made it out to be Tom. And it weren’t over no rustling of no beeves neither. That Nickell
bunch were sheepers not cowmen. Sheepin’ may be alright in some places but their problem wus they were sheepers in cowman’
s country.” He stopped and shock his head and looked out over the sage, “Naw 'twern’t Tom, word on the trail is the law put
‘em Miller boys up to killing Nickell, but they shot the boy by mistake. The whole blame thing wus put up to frame Tom. Hellfire,
that old 45-60 Tom carried wouldn’t ‘a made that shot in a coon’s age.” Again he stopped and took a long draw from the jug
before he set it back down on the plank floor of the porch, never once offering it to Edward. “Tom was as good a rifle shot as I
ever saw but he weren’t that good. Now don’t get me wrong I ain’t sorry to know Tom Horn is pushing up daisies down in
Colorado sommers but they hung him fur the wrong shooting. The last time I was over to the Bassett Ranch Queen Ann herself
wus talking about the same subject. Now that is one fine looking piece of female flesh if I ever saw one. She got legs that go all
the way up to her; well if my baby sister weren’t here I’d tell ya where they went. Anyways, Ann said she had been over to
Laramie and heard Jim Miller bragging about putting the rock under the kid’s head to make it look like Tom had done it. You
know that wus Tom’s signature when he kilt a body so the big ranchers would pay him his $600.00 blood money. Well,” Pick
continued not waiting for anyone to answer, “Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t sorry fur him, he kilt more than one friend of mine, I
just say he never kilt that kid that’s all.”
“Tell me about Sundance, I hear he’s right handsome.”
“He thinks he is, that’s fur sure. He always had a woman hanging around, but once Etta got her claws in him he done quit
most of his wide looping. I never thought much ‘a Sundance, he is mighty handy with a sixgun but he is too much of a dandy fur
Pick stopped and looked sharply out a distance as several sage hens suddenly burst up into the dry air of the golden sunset
and took off in difference directions. “What caused that?” he exclaimed, “Them Prairie Chickens don’t fly this near dark unless
By now the outlaw was on his feet and headed for the rifle booted in his rig that hung on the corral fence some thirty yards away.
Concerned Kay asked “What do you think Edward?”
“Fox.” Was the only reply she got.
“Are you sure, it could be the law.”
“Fox.” Again was her husband’s explanation of the disturbance.
“I hope you are right.”
“Brother talk so much; scare himself.” Edward said and then he reached for the jug and took a long draw himself. “Good
After a few minutes Pick returned to the porch only this time he kept his rifle with him along with a belt of cartridges that he
had slung over his head so it could rest over one shoulder. Before he stood the long barreled gun against the wall next to the front
door he flipped the safety over and then studying what he had just done until he was satisfied, where upon he nodded his head
and leaned it up.
“Got ‘a be careful with them new type guns.” He said justifying his action.
“Kay, where’d that jug go?”
“It’s right here Pick.” She replied reaching where her husband had placed it hoping his brother-in-law would not see it and
forget about it before it was all gone. “You ever been to Hole-In-The-Wall, Pick?” she asked.
“Shor’, been thar many times.” he lied.
“Gee, I wish I could go.” Kay added thinking of all the wonderful times that must take place at a major hideout like it was
reported to be.
“Naw, you ain’t never going there, no women allowed, except maybe Etta or Della Rose and they can’t go ‘less they
“How come, taken by who?”
“ ‘cause that’s the way it is.”
“I asked you, taken by who?”
“Well, everybody knows Etta is who got the string in Sundance’s nose and Della Rose only gets to go there ‘acause she and
Will Carver are hitched up.”
“If they are hitched how come she ain’t Della Carver?”
“Hell Fire woman, you are worse than a passel of no count injuns with your questions.” He shot back and then suddenly
thought about where he was and whom he was sitting with, where upon he added, “No offense.”
“Well, I still don’t see why you couldn’t take me and Edward if you know them so well.”
“Well, I can’t. That’s all.” Her brother replied wondering now why he had even said he knew Sundance in the first place.
“Here let me show you how you load that new rifle I brung ya.” He said reaching for his own still leaning against the wall
behind him. “You see this here door on the side, well you just flip it open like this and drop the rounds in and then slam ‘er shut.
Then you pull the bolt back like this and slam ‘er home and she’s ready to go. This here is a safety. Turn it here and the trigger
won’t work. Turn it here and the magazine is shut off, but turn it here and it’s ready to fire and what’s so good is it don’t make
no smoke so the law-dogs can’t see where you are when you shoot at them.”
Pick, grateful of the chance to change the subject from the Wild Bunch handed his rifle to his brother-in-law. “See if you can
do it, the one I brung you is the same as mine here.”
Edward Coyote took the rifle that was almost shoved into his hands and opened and closed the side door a couple of times
and then he worked the bolt before he put it to his shoulder and aimed it out into the prairie and squeezed the trigger. The report
was thunderous in the dry air of the high desert but before he had recovered from the recoil the 220 grain bullet bore straight
through the red fox he had been watching for some time as the vixen scurried around looking for the tiny mice that are frequently
found in the sage brush country. The little dog jumped high in the evening air and fell silently back to the earth.
Pick was surprised at the sound of the rifle. He had no idea his brother-in-law was actually going to fire the weapon and he
jumped almost as high as the animal but then he saw the target fly up he realized that truly it had been a fox that disturbed the
grouse and not a man as he had suspected.
“Get her, she make good supper.” Edward said to his wife and immediately Kay left the porch with a leap only a youthful
person could make and ran as a child out to where the fox lay.
“Hell, that thing a’ll be shot to hell, won’t be nothing left but the tail, the guts ‘a be strung every whar.” Pick said.
“No. I aim, hit head.”
‘im in this light.”
In less than a minute his wife was back holding the fox by the long full red tail. “Good shot, Edward you hit her right in the
head. She truly will make fine vittles, and the pelt is still good enough to save too.”
“Well, I ain’t eatin’ no dog.”
“You will eat.” Edward said.
“Yes, you will and you will like it too, but not tonight. Edward killed a Big Horn last week and I done made a fine roast of
one of the rumps and with some wild onions and we got a few potatoes down in the root cellar, I’ll have us a good supper in no
time. Won’t I honey?”
The Shoshone handed the rifle back to Pick and said. ”She good cook,” nodding his head, “I taught her.” Then almost as an
after thought he added, “Gun shoot high.”
“Shoots high! Hell fire you hit the blame thing right where you said.”
“I aim low, at small stone, no meant to kill mouse catcher, only scare.”
Pick took his rifle with a jerk and a scowl on his face and, leaving the company of his sister and her husband, walked over to
where his saddle was thrown loosely over the corral fence and shoved the gun back into the leather scabbard that was tied under
the fender. At first he intended to leave it there but thought better of it and then threw the whole rig over his shoulder and turned
and walked back to the new house. “Better put this inside.” He said as he passed Edward, seeing his sister was already busying
herself in the kitchen.
Two hours later Pick took a bit from a biscuit and followed it with a spoon of stew, “This here Big Horn is mighty fine, I
never knew a Ram would cook up so tender.”
Kay looked at her husband and saw he had not changed the expression on his face at all and obviously had no intention to do
so or to reply to her brother’s comment; she then looked back at Pick just in time to see him once again shove a spoon full of
vixen stew in his mouth. Her smile was slight outwardly but huge inside knowing she had pulled a good one on her older brother.
After they had finished eating Pick dug around in his saddle bags and fetched out a long cigar, he ran it beneath his nose
breathing in its strong aroma and then he broke it with his hands and handed a half to Edward. The indian too smelled the tobacco
before reaching for his short pipe. He then tore off just enough to fill the bowl and reached over to the fire and took a thin piece
of the limb of a cottonwood tree and lit it and then used this to light his pipe before handing the twig to Pick. The outlaw puffed
several times on the fat weed before he got the cigar lit to his satisfaction and then he set back in the wooden chair and relaxed as
he drew the poison deep into his lungs, he coughed twice but continued with his smoke. “I ever tell you about Robbing the
‘Varina Queen’ up on the Missouri ?”
Before anyone could say one way or the other he began his tail. “Well, there I wus in Lewistown Montana back around 89 or
90, I can’t remember which and I met this whore that went by the name of Montana Belle, she wus a big redhead. Stood almost
as high as me and she sang in Charlie Dees “Ash Creek Saloon” when she weren’t pushing Charlie’s watered down rye or plying
her other trade. Well, she saw me and right off took a liking to me and in only a few days she was asking me to take her with me
when I left. I told her I would, but the truth wus I wus a little low on funds at the time and shor as hell didn’t need a woman on
my hands when I left. I had been eyeing the bank there and wus figuring on relieving it of some of its funds when I left, so, you
see what I mean.” Pick stopped long enough to cough strongly and deeply and Kay took notice of it, hoping her brother had not
caught the consumption. She knew often times men of his trade did that very thing, although she had no idea why it was
predominate among outlaws. “All I needed wus another fellow to help me out on the bank but I didn’t know no one there except
Charlie and Belle and Charlie sure as hell weren’t going to rob the bank of his own money.”
Pick looked around and not seeing what he wanted he called out. ”Kay, you bring in that jug?”
“I was going to put it back in the cellar.”
“Yeah, well you can do that right after I have a little snort, would you get it fur me. I need to wash down that Big Horn stew
you did so good.”
Kay probably wouldn’t have gotten the whisky had he not said that, she figured he’d had enough as at times Pick would get
a little rowdy when he was drunk but she couldn’t help feeling good about preparing the dog stew so tasty that he thought it was
the Ram so she dropped setting the dough for morning long enough to get the jug off the front porch and offering it to her
husband who shock his head and then she handed it to her older brother.
After a long draw Pick returned to his story, “Finally one night after Belle and me had had a fun-tussle and I wus laying there
having a smoke, I asked her if she knew any fellows what could be trusted to help with a job. It didn’t take her long to figure out
what kind of job I wus talking about and she laughed at me. “What’s so damn funny?” I asked her and she said that I wus talking
about the little money, that if’n I wanted to rob something I should hit the “Varina Queen”.
“The Varina Queen? What the hell’s that another saloon?” I asked her.
“No silly, it’s a riverboat, comes all the way up from Saint Louis and what’s more its got a first class safe.”
“Yah, well Belle ya know it’s kind ’a hard to ride away from a riverboat midstream with a full head a’ steam, and getting
away is one a’ the first things I like to plan out.”
“I know, but I already thought of that.” She answered back. “It stops and picks up wood that fellows leave stacked along
the banks here and there, we just got to find one of them places and hid out a couple of fast horses, besides I know what is in
that safe and not many does.”
“What makes it so special?” I asked her.
“You think Charlie Dees owns The Ash Creek don’t you?”
“Well he does, he’s owned it fur years, I remember when he built it.”
“No he don’t, he sold it three years back to some big wigs back east. Charlie only runs it for them. He gets one third of the
profit and sends the rest back to Saint Louis , and you want to know how he sends it?”
“Not just by Riverboat, by “The Varina Queen” on account she is owned by the same big wigs.” Bella replied and then
strutted around in front of me like a hen in front of a cock a cacklin’.” Pick said smiling as he remembered the incident.
“I reached up and pulled her into my lap and squeezed her tight at the thought of hitting a really good prize and she planted
one on me that got me a stirring.” Pick said and then cleared his throat.
Bell and I worked on it fur nigh on three weeks, she wus able to learn that the Queen takes on cash from six or eight saloons
as she comes up the Missouri to Fort Union and then down the Yellowstone as far as Coulson where she turns around and goes
back to Fort Union and then heads on west to Great Falls. There she picks up the last of her cargo as well as the last of the
saloon dough. I figured if we hit her some whars after she was on her way back she would be ripe and plump fur the takings.
Belle and I took the train east and boarded the Queen at Fort Abraham Lincoln so we could get an idea how many saloons she
wus pickin’ up from. After we got on her, Belle immediately got a job working in the casino. We had us a nice stateroom too, as
long as I wasn’t there when she needed it. The Captain took half of her earnings for the set up but it were forth it ‘cause no one
paid us no mind. We planned to hit the safe at one of the wood stacks where we had the two horses hid out. Everything looked
good until we stopped in Miles City and took on passengers to Coulson and then things began to change.
I wus down in the casino, that’s what the riverboats call their saloon and gambling house, well it wus there I heard a voice I
recognized right off and I looked up and danged if I didn’t see Long D. Palmer.” Pick stopped his tale long enough to whisper
where only Edward could hear, “We used to kid him about what the Long D stood fur and he’d get all miffed up swearing the D
wus fur Dennis. Anyway I liked ole Long D even if he was from Alabama or Georgia or one of ‘em Secess states. He could tell
you a yarn that ‘ad make you slap your mother ‘cause you wus laughing so hard. He had this deep drawl like ‘em folks do what
come from down thar and he’d get to telling a tale and a putting emphases on things like nobody can and it would tear you up.
And here he wus on the “Varina Queen.”
“As soon as Long D was through with his yarn I walked up behind him and eased forward a little and kind 'a sneaked my hand
around to where the bulge wus under his frock and rested my palm on the stock ‘a his revolver and then I whispered in his ear,
bold as could be, “I gotcha’ Long D. You’re under arrest.” Immediately I felt his hand on top of mine as he went fur that little
hideout but when he felt my hand wus already there he sort ‘a went limp figuring he was caught good and proper and he slowly
turned around with this defeated expression on his face. That is until he see’d my smiling face and then I thought there fur a
second or so he wus gone ’a up and kiss me.”
Pick again stopped long enough to laugh out loud before he took another drag from his host’s jug. “You got good whisky
fur an injun.” He said without looking at Edward then he returned to his story.
“I got him off to the side and began a’ talking to him about what he wus doing here and all, you know how old friends do when
they see one another after a spell, only I wus really after finding out if’n he wus here fur the same reason I wus.
Come to find out he wasn’t. He were there to kill a man, a lawman too. It seems he got wind of Marshall Lloyd was suppose to
come aboard at Coulson and ole Long D planed on killing him and dropping ‘im over the side one dark night.
The idea seemed plausible only if there were a murder of a law-dog on board that might be the cause of a lot of law coming
aboard and I shor as hell didn’t want that, get my drift?
Well, I got to talking to Long D and finally convinced him a share a’ gold wus better than a wet tin star and then we let him
in on the plan.
After I see’d Long D. we changed the plan some. It ended up that Belle would find out all the dope we needed and then she would
stay clear of the actually robbery and continue on “The Queen” until it reached Bismarck again, where she would quit her job and
we would all get together fur an equal split of the take, half fur me and the other half split between Belle and Long D.”
Pick stopped to cough deeply again and as soon as he was finished he looked at the cigar stub he still held in his hands and cursed
it roughly before he threw it as hard as he could over towards the corner of the room.
“Hey.” His sister yelled, “You ain’t in no outlaw camp Pickard Keene. Don’t you go throwing your cigar stubs on my clean floor.”
The attack surprised him and he sat up straight and took the tongue lashing as she hurried over and swept his butt into the
fireplace. “I’m sorry Kay honey, I furgot plum whar I wus.”
“That damn whisky forgot where you was, is what did the forgetting and you better not forget again or you can just hit the Owl
Hoot Trail and get your sorry hide out of here.”
“I won’t Kay Honey, I promise I won’t.” he said but she knew he would forget and she also knew she could never put him out.
After all he was her older brother that had done so many exciting things.
As soon as she returned to the kitchen he continued his story, “We had planned to hit ‘The Queen’ on her way back some whar
between Great Falls and Fort Asinniboine so we planted the two horses there, but Belle was doing business with a man one
night and she learned he was meeting a whole passel of Marshals who were boarding at Great Falls fur some law-dog get together
some whars down river. Well, we never planed on taking on a passel a’ marshals so some rethinking wus in order. Finally we
decided to hit her before she got to Great Falls and take what we could and not worry about that what wus picked up there on
account of all them Marshals. This of course required a little shift in whar we would make our get away, but nothing more. The
night wus good with only a sliver of a moon and that didn’t come up until after midnight. Captain Barns weren’t much fur trying
to navigate the Missouri in the blind on account of all them sandbars a shifting all the time so just after dusk I see’d we were
pulling up to shore. They took on wood for nigh on an hour and then the steam wus blown and he shut her down fur the night.
The only problem wus it weren’t the right place and there weren’t no horses there like we planned.” He paused for a moment and
took another swig from the jug and then set it back on the floor hard. His sister came in and picked up the jug and slarshed it
around as she listened and then shock her head and took it away. Pick probably would have protested had she not jumped him
earlier about his cigar butt so this time he just snarled a little to himself but otherwise made no outward protest. He didn’t think
she would set him out but he knew a woman was not a creature one can trust to do things in a common way. ‘She shor got her
dander up over a little ole butt.’ He remembered. “I reckon I have had enough, ‘till breakfast anyway.’ He decided and then
started on with his tale. “Finally I saw the horses a coming right at full dark and wus some kind a’ relieved.”
“How horses get from one place to other?”
“Oh, I forgot to mention, I had paid a half-breed five dollars and a jug to have them ready and when he seen the boat not stopping
whar we had planned he followed with the horses on account I never give him the jug until we got the horses. He wus a half Cree
they called Charlie Redbird, you might know him.”
“No.” was all the reply he got from his brother-in-law.
“Oh well, I just thought maybe beings you both are injuns. Well, I told ya about Ole Long D being about the best at spinning a
yarn as they come but he had his short comings and they showed up at some of the worst times. He wus about the worse gun
trader I ever saw. I remember once he had this Old Evans that carried twenty or more shells only they wus so puny they wouldn’
t kill nooo-body, I mean a kid’s rabbit rifle’s got more punch. Some years back we shamed him into trading that ole Evans in on a
Winchester but no, he traded the Evans fur a Kennedy, now the west is full a’ Winchesters and everybody knows a Winchester is
the best thar are, but no Long D takes the Evans in a hardware store in Sedalia to get him a Winchester and the store keep talks
him into coming out with the Kennedy. I reckon he had it there for ten years and nobody else would buy it but he see’d Long D
coming and he sprung it on him. It were at least a 45-60 but it were a Kennedy and pretty soon here we were with this posy
bearing down on us and Long D agreed to lay back in some pretty good size boulders and slow them down some and the very
first shot he made the blame cartridge tube shot out from under that barrel and went flying away. I don’t know whether it scared
them law-dogs or they laughed themselves silly ‘cause I gabbed Long D and pushed him to his horse and after sending a couple
a’ 44 from a good and reliable Winchester I followed him out a’ there. We shor had a good laugh at his expense that night.
Twern’t much better there on ‘The Queen’. When we got to Fort Union we went ashore to make the deal on the horses with the
Cree. I took care of the horse deal and sent Long D to the Trading Post to buy us a seedsower. I told him to get a Winchester or
Remington or maybe a W. W. Greener if there wus one, but what he came back with wus a Greener and Sons which looked like
it were made in some blacksmith’s shop in Chihuahua or sommers and if that weren’t bad enough while there Long D, who had a
plenty good Remington 44 just like mine only it was silver and shinny and I had kidded him about it being shinny, so he up and
trades it off fur a Colt Lightin’ in 38, now Colt is a mighty fine gun in 44 or 45 but ‘em little 38’s is about like that blame Evans,
if’n you wus to shot a body with one he’d get plenty mad and might beat you to death before he knows he’s a bleedin’. I wus so
mad I wanted to hit him but I needed him so I just turned and stomped off.
Finally when the time arrived Belle watched until the Captain left the pilothouse and went to bed. When it were a little after
midnight and the moon wus just coming up and flickering down stream, we hit the Captain’s door with both our shoulders and it
flew open, the old man had fallen asleep sitting in a chair at his little table what had some charts rolled out and being held down by
a coal oil lamp and a short bottle of brandy. You should ‘a seen the look on his face when we come bustin’ in like that. Belle wus
outside and she quickly closed the door behind us in case som’on’s heard the commotion and come to investigate.
Captain Barns just sit thar for a few seconds with his mouth open. I reckon trying to figure out if we wus real or a
nightmare, and before he could close his mouth I shoved my Remington right in there. “The safe.” I said from behind my mask
and he just sat there, I still remember his eyes watching the cylinder turning as I cocked the pistol and then he nodded his head.
I was just about finished cleaning out the safe when there comes a slight knock on the cabin door, and Long D went over
and opened it slightly. It wus Belle whispering to him that somebody wus coming and he shut the door as she fled around the
“Hurry up.” Long D said and I started really stuffin’ the loot in that old crooker sack when all of a sudden he cut loose with both
barrels at the approaching men. I looked over at Captain Barns and figured since he had cooperated with us I wouldn’t kill him so
I just popped him on the forehead with my pistol butt and down he went. As I turned I saw Long D working the thumb lever on
the scattergun and when he opened it to reload the blame barrels both fell off. He turned and gave me the most frustrated look and
I just shook my head and said, “Come on.” And I headed out with my Remington spitting fire into the dark night.
Just as we wus about to get to the gangplank several shots rang out behind us and I hollered we had better get a quick step. I
heard footsteps behind me but didn’t look back no more until I got to the horses, then when I turned I saw it wus Belle there
carrying the Cree’s jug what I had forgot in the spray of lead back there and I looked at her surprised. “Long D ain’t coming.”
Wus all she said so I didn’t ask no more nor did we wait around fur them riverboat men to get closer. The injun rode off with us
but after a couple a’ miles I looked over and he wus gone, I guess he figured he had earned his five dollars and the jug and
wanted no more a’ us. That wus fine with me and Belle too. We rode on a good hour and then found a lonesome tree sitting just
north of a little hill. I reckon the snow drifts there a plenty in the winter and creates a real damp spot so the lone cottonwood seed
wus able to take root some years back. Anyway we stopped there and made camp. It were a fine spot, we could look back
towards the river just in case som’on’s wus followin’ but there weren’t none. Me and Belle had us one fine night there with just
the two a’ us and nigh on fourteen thousand in folding money and a sack full a’ coins.”
“Boy that sure must have been exciting, Pick.” His sister said, “I wish I could have been with you on some of theses adventures.”
“No place fur a lady like you.”
The statement was obviously meant as a compliment but she took it as a cut down, “I am as good with a gun as most men and I
bet I could a helped you out just as good as Belle or that Sheila woman.” She shot back.
“No little sister, ‘em women were whores, and you ain’t.”
Kay thought about that for a few seconds before she replied, “You’re right and I ain’t never gon’a be one neither.”
“Your friend get his cut?” Edward asked.
“Naw, where he wus headed he didn’t need no money.”
“Come on, it’s late and the cows need milking a might early.” Kay said as she pulled on her husband’s arm urging him to get out
of his chair.
They walked off into the bedroom past the blanket that hung in the doorway separating the two rooms. Pick just leaned back in
the chair he had been sitting in for the past two hours and turned his attention to the flickering of the blue and orange flames in
the fireplace a couple yards beyond his bootless feet. Slowly the combination of a stillness, rithmetic crackling of the fire, a
relaxed body, a full stomach, and an over abundance of the liquid depressant overcame the old outlaw’s consciousness and he fell
into deep slumber, while outside the vixen’s mate searched diligently for his partner on the cold prairie of the Wind River Basin in
Not long after Sheriff Johnson left, Johnny Hamilton, being unable to stand the pain of the thorn embedded deep in his
barefoot any longer, whispered he was going home. Harlan Fegler reluctantly agreed and they slipped out from under the porch
and now that the moon was up and bathing the rolling plains with a silver glow, they headed at a fast run to the big cottonwood.
There in its shadows, Harlan turned and looked back at the house just in time to see the Marshal take Mrs. Lee in his arms and
kiss her passionately on the lips.
“Oh Marse, it’s been so long.” She said and Harlan’s mouth fell open. He tried to motion for his friend to stop and look at the
scene but Johnny was hopping away, already some fifty feet down the slope. Harlan turned back just in time to see the two go
inside and then the glow from the coal oil lamp go down to almost nothing, and he stood there a long time with his mouth open.
Their mutual feeling towards one another soon led them both to realize they had loved one another for many years only the
circumstances of their lives had denied them to openly say so to anyone, including each other. However before Marse Lee would
entertain the idea of taking on a woman he had to finish a job, the very job that had brought him to Riverton in the first place,
capturing Pick Keene.
It was near midnight when he heard the hoof beats of horses and he rose slowly so as not to make any noise if possible and
quickly dressed. Upon stepping out he nodded his head to the three men who were still astride their mounts waiting. “Morning.”
Was all he offered. “Morning.” was all he got in return.
“Let’s go then.” Lee said and Johnson nodded his head in the moonlight.
She heard the sounds of the horses as they trotted away and a cold chill swept through her body, “Will he come back?” she asked
herself barely above a whisper.
Five miles west the four horsemen stopped and watered their horses in The Little Wind. Sheriff Johnson cleared his throat and
spit off to his left side. “We know where he’s at, at least where he was last night at sundown. If he ain’t moved we should have
him.” It was the first words spoken between them since their earlier greeting.
“Good information?” Lee asked.
“Yeah, I consider it to be. Sergeant George Washington Moses, one of the soldiers at Fort Washakie was leading a small patrol
back from Bull Lake and the trail passes close to Edward Coyote’s cabin, just about dusk last night they heard a shot and moving
closer they saw Coyote’s squaw pick up an animal that apparently they had just shot and carry it back to the cabin.”
Johnson stopped and again cleared his throat and spit. “The Sergeant said Coyote and a big white man were on the porch when
she came back with the game.”
“That’s probably him alright but I would like to get a better look see before I go to shooting.”
“You try and get a look see and he’ll get away, just like he’s done a half a dozen times in the past when we were close.”
“Mebe.” Lee replied, before he looked over at the man who had moved his pinto in beside him. “My name is Lee.”
“I’m Jeremiah Johnny.” The short man said.
“Jeremiah and Slim both work for me at times when I need extra help, both good men.” Johnson said.
“Jeremiah is a good tracker, he is a quarter Creek from down Oklahoma way. That tall pine there is Slim Moore, he was hired by
the army to work timber in these mountains but he quit a couple years back. Slim knows these hills as good as anyone.”
“Howdy.” Lee said extending his hand. “Why ‘ja quit the army?”
“Couldn’t get along with them Buffalo Soldiers.”
“Makes sense to me.” Lee replied and then he pulled on his reins and turned his horse once more west.
Four hours later they sat atop a small rise and looked at the dimly lit homestead before them. The moon was only a few degrees
above the mountains that stretched as far as the eye could see to their right and left and offered a dim vision of the spread.
The Coyote spread consisted of the newly built log cabin, directly in the rear some
thirty yards, was a water closet immediately to the west of this was a four pole
corral and then on past this was a good size barn. To the east of the cabin was what
appeared to be a chicken coop. The whole spread was located on a flat piece of
land on the side of the nearest mountain with everything facing the beauty of the
Rockies ahead. The lawmen were looking in the backdoor of everything.
“How do you figure it?” Johnson asked.
“I’d like to split up, one of your men get in the barn so he can’t get to his horse. One get to the right yonder, it looks like there is
a shallow arroyo just north of the barn. I’d like to be where I could see both the front door and the back so I’m heading yonder.”
He said pointing toward several large boulders that were a hundred or more yards to the south of the cabin. “If one a’ you will get
up the slope in front of the cabin, maybe in that little stand of aspens, in case he makes for the mountain, we should have him.”
Lee suggested, “But we need to get on the move, that moon ain’t going to be up much longer and we will need some light to get
settled proper in case he’s an early riser. It’s already getting purple to the east so first light will be here in less than an hour.”
“Sounds good to me.” Johnson agreed, “Jeremiah, you take the barn, Slim go to the north side yonder, and I will get in front of
“Don’t shoot unless you have to.”
The men moved away from Lee as he sat atop his favorite dapple gray he called Creole. He waited until all three were out of sight
and then he turned Creole towards the boulders he had pointed out. He knew everything depended on Johnson getting in position
before anyone in the cabin looked out at the beauty the morning gave to the mountains.
The eastern sun had settled in on the mountain but everything was still rather dim down the slope where the small ranch was
located, each man had their eyes strained looking for the slightest movement. On they waited with each becoming more and more
itchy as the time seemed to drag by. Jeremiah had located himself in the loft lying on his belly with his Winchester in hand. He
had removed his hat and was using it to rest the forearm of his rifle on.
Slim likewise had his carbine in hand as he watched from the dry ditch bank sixty yards from the small back porch of the cabin.
Marse dismounted Creole and drop reined him behind the boulders so he would be protected from any stray rounds and then he
moved as close as he dared without exposing himself. A thin trail of black smoke was just beginning to rise from the chimney as
he settled in when both satisfaction and anxiety of the upcoming battle, that was sure to come, washed over him as a great wave
might do along the eastern shore of the ocean. ‘Someone is up, soon they all will be.’ He thought as he checked his rifle for the
third time making sure a round had been chambered.
Sheriff Joe Johnson had the greatest distance to go and was the last to arrive at his appointed position, and after tying his horse
much higher up the slope he slid carefully back to the very bottom of the little forest. Immediately he wished he had chosen a
different location. The morning sun was shining directly in his eyes and he had not seen the smoking chimney, in fact he could
not see anything save when he shielded his eyes with his hand which of course he couldn’t do and aim a rifle too. Just as he
started to move he heard the unmistakable sound of a door slamming. Immediately his hand shot up as he squinted into the sun.
Kay Coyote had been the first to rise, as she was everyday. She rekindled the fire for the duel purpose of fighting off the cold the
night had brought as well as to begin the squaw bread her husband wanted every morning with his eggs. When satisfied the fire
was going to stay lit she went out the back door to the hand pump that was located on the back porch. There she used the handle
of her butcher knife to break the thin layer of ice that had covered the priming water that was in the pan before she poured it in
and began working the handle, a few pumps later the sound of the suction assured her water was soon on its way. Edward had
chosen this spot to build his cabin because he knew there was an underground stream that passed along here headed to a pintsize
water fall over a mile to the northeast. When they began to drill for the well he hit water only eighteen feet down which surprised
everyone around, but not him. As soon as she had the water she needed Kay turned and headed for the hen house to gather a
mess of eggs hoping the cool night had not stopped the hens from laying.
Jeremiah, Slim, and Morse watched as she returned to the back porch and left her basket before she headed for the barn.
Jeremiah dropped his head and looked straight at the straw he was laying on. “Oh Lord, don’t let her see me.” He prayed.
During the time he was hidden in the barn a slim dark skinned man also came out the back door and headed straight for the water
closet. Five minutes later he returned to the back porch where he washed his hands and face, he made no attempt at shaving or
making any other gesture before he opened the door and disappeared into the cabin.
Each man wondered if the sharp eyed Indian had spotted them, if he had, he made no indication of it or that anything was wrong
at all, still one wonders when dealing with Indians.
Kay was just coming out of the barn with an open bucket of milk when the backdoor opened again, “Good morning Pick, you
If he answered Marse didn’t hear him, but neither did he care. There before him was the man he was after. There was the man
who had murdered Tom Peitpren, his old friend, so long ago. There was the scumbag who had eluded lawmen for more than
thirty years and Marse planned to end his carrier this very morning. Bringing up his ‘86 Winchester he took deliberate aim at the
big man as he stood there on the porch, but just before he called out,
Pick stepped down and began walking towards his sister.
“Here let me help you with that.” He said. For a short time Lee lost
clear sight of him because he was passing across the yard where a few small trees had taken hold, but as he cleared them once
more Lee brought up the heavy rifle and swung the buckhorn sights on the dirty buckskin shirt. As he moved his finger forward
from the lever towards the trigger Keene shouted and went for his revolver. A shot suddenly rang out and Marse Lee saw the
unmistakable blue smoke at the hay door of the barn. Jeremiah’s 200 grain lead slug had caught the outlaw in the upper left
shoulder passing between the collarbone and the ligament above it.
Pick knew he had been hit, the pain was sharp but not intense and it worried him little, there was much greater danger still ahead.
Before he could take aim at the man in the loft his flat hat was shot from his head and he turned and saw another ambusher at the
ditch bank to his left. He started for the barn hoping to get inside but the man in the loft hit him in the boot taking off the big toe
on his right foot, again a painful but not disabling wound.
‘The barn is too far, I’ll never make it before that jasper hits me good and solid.’ He thought, so he turned for the corral hoping to
get some cover behind the water trough there, but suddenly a heavy rifle fired from the backside of the house busting the top off
a corral post. He was showered with splinters and he heard the slug as it passed within inches of his head, but thankfully it had
been deflected by the heavy corner post.
“Give it up Pick, you are surrounded.” Came a voice from the rocks to the east.
Pick Keene looked back and forth several times, he was caught out in the open with no place to hide, too far to run to cover and
there were at least three riflemen shooting at him. He stopped and let his gun hand fall to his side. It looked hopeless to everyone
there and Jeremiah now stood in the open door of the loft. He was no longer aiming at the man but his rifle was up and ready, it
would only take a split second for her to come up and fire off a deadly round.
The cabin door opened slowly however no one, including Pick, noticed it. Then the man came out onto the back porch with the
long rifle in hand and Marse Lee suddenly swung his Winchester from Pick Keene to Edward Coyote. He realized the Indian was
in perfect position to drop either Slim or Jeremiah without either of them realizing he was a threat.
At the same moment Pick swung his revolver and sent a 44 into Jeremiah’s leg and the short man dropped immediately but he
was not out and he send a rifle ball through Pick’s shirt tail as the outlaw charged ahead.
Marse Lee watched in horror as the Indian now raised his rifle and took aim. The Marshal was just about to squeeze his trigger
which would have sent a 405 grain lead slug through the man who stood there with his back to him, but the woman’s scream
stopped his squeeze. and he looked over to where Kay stood.
Pick seeing no other avenue of escaping suddenly ran to his sister and slipping an arm under her left armpit and across her breast
he pulled her close to him. The shield he could not find before was now there protecting him from the law-dogs.
Marse knew it would be impossible for him to shoot the crook without his 45 Government bullet passing through him and also
killing the woman.
Pick, using his powerful upper body strength lifted his sister as if she was still a child and swung her back and forth making it
impossible for any of them to get in a shot without the possibility of hitting her. It was a good defense for a desperate man to use
in a desperate situation and he was definitely in such a situation, however Kay didn’t like being a human shield, in fact she was
outraged he had even thought of such a thing and she dropped the milk bucket and began struggling with her brother to get free.
When she clawed him with her nails across the face he brought up his old Remington and tapped her on the head as he had done
so many others over the years. The blow silenced her but did not completely knock her out, however the fight was out of her for
Pick now stuck the barrel under her chin pressing its muzzle against her inner jawbone.
Marse looked closely but at that distance he couldn’t see if the revolver was cocked or not. Without that knowledge a shot would
“Drop your guns or I’ll kill her, so help me.” Pick screamed.
It was the last thing he said before meeting Lucifer.
Marse Lee jumped suddenly at the report and he wondered who had taken the shot,
but there was no gunsmoke from either the barn or the ditch. ‘Maybe Sheriff Johnson
eject the spent cartridge onto the yellow clay that surrounded the rear of his cabin.
He then leaned the rifle against the wall and walked out, picked up his wife, and
smoothed the blond hair away from the cut on her head and then he kissed her wound
before lifting her and carrying her back inside. Neither one of them looked at the
dead man who lay so close by.
Later when he was questioning the couple Marse realized she did not know her
husband had killed her brother and he decided it would be best if that were not told. Edward Coyote would have to be the one to
tell her, if she ever knew.
The following Monday when he arrived at school everybody was talking about how Marshal Lee had located and killed the robber
Pick Keene out on the reservation, but the big surprise came when Mrs. Lee announced she and the Marshal were getting married
and she would be moving to Paris, Texas soon.
“I just don’t see why he is going to marry her.” Harlan said, “I mean she’s a’ old woman and he is such a big man, he could
have his pick of plenty a’ women.”
“Yeah.” Troy Stevens agreed.
“Yeah you’re right;” Charlie Poke added. “I overheard my Ma saying to Pa that Mrs. Lee was thirty six years old.”
“See, I told you she was too old to be a marrying a big man like Marshal Lee.” Harlan said again.
“Yeah.” Troy agreed once more. “but she sure is pretty for a’ old woman.”
“That don’t mean nothing. Hellfire, that damn Esther Crain is pretty but that don’t mean no man is gon’a marry her.” Harlan
“Yeah.” Troy agreed.
“I also heard Mr. Bates was coming in after Christmas to be our new teacher.” Charlie said.
“I never heard a’ him.” Harlan said.
“Oh, I have.” Johnny Hamilton spoke up, “He used to teach over to Lander. My brother Nathan had him a couple a’ years
and he flunked both years. He said Old Man Bates was nigh on fifty and was the strictest teacher in the whole Wind River Valley .
He has this big long hickory stick that he wallops you on the head with if you miss pronounce a single word.”
“Yeah.” Troy said.
“Damn Sam, Son-of-a-bitch.” Was Harlan’s only comment.
 Stage Messenger: Generally known today as the man riding Shotgun on the coach
 Travwah: Local pronunciation of travois, a sled pulled by a horse.
 UP: Union Pacific Railroad
 Camp Brown : Original name of Fort Washakie
 Shave tail: Common but uncomplimentary nickname of a new Second Lieutenant
 Redlegs: A Kansas guerrilla outfit that supported the Union cause by burning, pilfering and killing throughout
Missouri before and during the War Between the States.
 Murphy’s: A huge wagon made in Missouri for hauling freight, usually requiring fifteen to twenty mules to pull.
 Rattlesnakes: A series of rolling hills west of Casper known as the Rattle Snake Mountains
 Strong Brew: Just having whisky on the Indian Reservation was a federal felony.
 Tom Horn: Range Detective who was hanged on his birthday in Cheyenne November 20th 1903 and buried in
Boulder Colorado .
 Etta: Etta Place girlfriend of The Sundance Kid
 Della Rose:
 Fort Asinniboine : An army post on the Missouri River near present day Havre Montana
 Water Closet: Western name for outhouse.