The Next Step,,,
Chapter 105 - Rough and
Written by Deanne Bertram
Lucas and Mark didn’t stray far
from their homestead, giving themselves time to heal from the hurts each had
caused the other over their return to Enid; side by side father and son
worked the ranch and continued to talk. Most folks who knew the McCain’s
thought their bond couldn’t be any stronger, but they would have been wrong,
over the course of the week, Lucas and Mark came to understand and respect
the other more; laughter and ease returned to their homes.
When they finally decided to head
into town with their families, Lucas was disappointed to find out that
Lariat Jones had left while they were gone.
“Now Lucas, you know how he was one
with the wind,” Micah teased as he leaned against the wheel of the
buckboard, watching Lucas load the supplies. “However, I feel this time it
didn’t have so much to do with the wind, but had more to do with Ruth
“What happened to Ruth?” asked
Milly as she came from the General Store carrying packages.
“Nothing, except her having her
sights set on visiting San Francisco. She was originally heading there when
she stopped in North Fork earlier this year, and you know Oat, he tried real
hard to keep her at the ranch, hoping she’d settle down. Lariat promised
Oat he’d keep a watchful eye over his sister.”
“I’m gonna miss seeing him around
town,” commented Lucas as he looked towards Sweeney’, hoping that Micah was
jesting and he’d see Lariat stroll out the doors.
“He said he’d send a wire when they
settled,” answered Micah. “Them two are two kindred spirits, I don’t think
either will settle down.”
North Fork had survived
their Independence Day celebration they day before. Monday dawned to a
rider coming into town, excitedly racing his horse up and down the main
street, declaring, several times, “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of
Rough Riders from the World are Coming!” as he fired his pistol. Johnny
Drako ran from the Marshal’s Office in an attempt to restore order to his
“Easy there!” Johnny
declared has he stopped in the middle of the road, his arms held out to the
“Marshal, the rough
riders are coming!” the rider yelled in pure excitement, ignoring the fact
that his horse was lathered in sweat and blowing from the effort of running,
his flanks heaving heavily.
“So you said. Right now
you’ll holster your gun and stop racing your horse up and down our main
street, endangering people’s lives,” ordered Johnny. “Besides, if you
don’t’ stop, your horse might just collapse out from underneath you.”
The rider started to
argue with Drako, but chose to bite his tongue as he witnessed the citizens
standing along the boardwalk, clutching to their children. “Guess I
shouldn’t have been quite so excited, but it’s my job! My apologies,” he
called to Drako, but then yelled, “My apologies to all I alarmed. I shall
make my announcement in a more civilized manner.” The rider stood up on the
haunches of his horse and called out, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,
I’m here to tell you that none other than Buffalo Bill Cody is bringing the
wild west to your fair town! Start saving up your money so you’ll be able
to purchase a ticket!” As he finished his announcement, the rider slid down
from his horse and landed on both feet giving a large flourish as he bowed
to everyone who was still staring at him.
“Better,” Drako commented
as he pushed his hat back on his head, allowing the sun to strike at his
steely, cold eyes.
“I have some posters that
need to be hung,” the rider stated, his demeanor changed to one who
understood he had been wrong and needed to walk as if on thin ice.
“Oh no ye don’t!” Lou
declared as she stormed from the front of the hotel. “Ye’ll not be robbing
my hotel safe nor any other safe for that matter. Johnny, run him out of
town this instant!”
“Hold on there, Lou,”
Johnny dared answer his wife.
“Ma’am, I mean no
disrespect and have no intensions of robbing anybody. I earn good wages
from Mr. Cody himself.”
“So said the last drummer
who came through here, declaring the circus was coming to town!” retorted
“Ma’am, I’m not working
for any circus. Our Wild West is more than any circus!” boasted the young
man, taking a deep breath and pushing his chest forward. “Why Annie Oakley
and Frank Butler are a part of our show, no circus can boast of them. And
Geronimo, Chief Joseph, and Sitting Bull have all graced us with their
presence at one time or another.”
“I don’t care who ye say,
I don’t trust ye!”
“Lou, he’s just a
drummer, let him do his job.”
“Then ye do yours;
Marshal. Warn all the merchants of North Fork to keep a close eye on their
safes.” Lou humf’d as she folded her arms and dared her husband to say
“Johnny,” Micah called as
he came from the leather shop, “Lou’s right about the past. The last time a
drummer came through here, Lucas ended up shooting him when he tried to rob
Lou’s safe. It put Lucas and Mark at odds with each other when the drummer
said that he saw someone else run from the lobby. Lucas knew the drummer to
be a thief and Mark believed him to be honest.”
“What you’re both talking
about is in the past and has nothing to do with the young man who’s standing
in front of us. We have people, strangers, coming through here day after
day and we don’t issue any warnings about them, so why should I issue a
warning today?” Johnny cocked an eyebrow as he looked directly at his wife.
“Well?!” Lou turned to
walk away, her Irish temper flared. Her body posture indicating she was not
yet through with this discussion, but the conclusion would wait until they
were in private.
“Marshal, I’ll be staying
here for a while. Mr. Cody told me when I got to North Fork to wait for the
“You have a name, son?”
Johnny Drako asked.
“Sure, Pony Rawleston, my
friends call me Pony,” stated the rider as he held his hand out to Johnny.
“Pleased to meet you.
I’m Marshal Johnny Drako and welcome to North Fork.”
“You’re really him?”
asked Pony, eyes wide in astonishment.
“The gunfighter… Johnny
“Son, it’s been too many
years since I was considered a gunfighter.”
“But you are Johnny
“Then you have to be one
of the reasons why Mr. Cody is coming here, he said something about some
others that he’d heard about in this territory. You’re famous!”
“Oh no…” cringed Micah.
“Marshal, if you don’t
mind, I’ll take care of my horse and put him up over at the livery and I
really need to get these posters up. Mr. Cody will have my hide when he
arrives and I’ve not done my job.”
“When does he expect to
get here?” Drako asked.
“By Friday, he’s made all
the arrangements to move his show from the train into wagons. The train
itself will be on sidetracks about ten miles east of town; we’ll probably
establish our settlement a couple miles outside of town. Some towns take
exception when we’re too close, but I’m sure Mr. Cody will be in to see you
prior to unpacking the first crate.”
“Do you job, but check in
with me when you’re done,” Drako suggested as he tipped his hat.
“Yes, sir. Thank you
sir. Guess I should ask the livery owner if he minds my sleeping with my
horse seeing as how I don’t think that gal who owns the hotel will let me
“You leave the hotel
owner to me, you’ll get a room, meals, and a hot shower,” Johnny replied as
he pulled his hat lower over his eyes.
“Smell that bad, do I?
Maybe I should visit the barber shop, get a shave and a bath before I start
walking around your town.”
“Maybe a bath and then a
shave,” Johnny smiled and shook his head as he returned to the Marshal’s
Pony ran his left hand
across his smooth face, “Yes sir.”
Micah and Johnny sat
outside the office, talking more about the last drummer who came to North
“So how was it that Mark
came to stand up for this drummer against Lucas?” Drako asked.
“Mark was always eager to
get his first rifle, and that was the day Lucas agreed to buy him his
twenty-two. That drummer, I think his name was… Marty, anyway, you know how
our young Mark trusted everyone at face value; Marty took to teaching Mark
how to shoot his rifle and I knew that didn’t settle well with Lucas.”
“No, I can’t imagine it
would have. But how did they get at odds?”
“Lucas spent the evening
with Lou, and when he dropped her off at the hotel, Lou thought she had a
prowler in the lobby and yelled for Lucas, he came running into the lobby
and barely missed being struck by a bullet, he returned fire, striking the
lad through the doorway. Marty told them he’d seen someone else running
from the lobby, heard the shots fired, and was struck. Anyway, you know
Lucas, he’s like a she bear with cubs when it comes to Mark, unfortunately
neither could get the other to understand, or accept, why they felt the way
they did. Ultimately, Lucas came up with a plan to prove which one of them
was right, I was to wire to the circus inquiring if Marty was really in
“And, what happened when
you received the return wire?”
“We didn’t, Mark was to
let Marty know that I was sending the wire, if nothing happened, we’d know
he was telling the truth. Turns out, he tried sneaking out of town in the
middle of the night right after Mark told him what we were doing. Lucas and
Mark were waiting in the barn, each hoping the other was wrong, but dreading
the fact they might be right. Marty entered the livery to get his horse and
took a pot shot at Lucas, that’s all there was too it.”
“Bet Mark didn’t like
being proven wrong by Lucas,” commented Johnny.
“No… The way I remember
it, Mark was more hurt by Marty breaking the trust he had placed in him.
Mark looked up Marty because he wasn’t that much older than Mark, and he was
able to come and go as he pleased; I’m sure the fact that he was skilled
with a gun also had something to do with it. No, Mark didn’t mind Lucas
proving him was wrong, he stood up like a man and apologized to Lucas for
thinking opposite of him.”
“Well, we always knew
Mark was something special.” Johnny narrowed his eyes as he saw Lou peeking
out the front window of the hotel, still brooding. “Guess I better go
un-rile my wife.”
“Have fun!” Micah called
as Johnny walked away.
Johnny Drako, Seth Lane,
and Micah Torrance sat outside the Marshal’s Office allowing the evening
breeze to cool them from the heat of the afternoon. They stopped talking as
two men stopped their horses in front of the hitching rails.
called the one wearing a fringed buckskin jacket over military pants, blue
with a yellow stripe down the seam. “Allow me to introduce myself…”
“You don’t need to
introduce yourself Mr. Cody, you boy, Pony already did that,” Micah answered
as the three stood and waited for the two men to step from their horses.
“Well, you have me at a
distinct disadvantage, but allow me to introduce my show manager Johnny
“Mr. Cody, you’re here!”
Pony yelled as he ran from the livery.
“Of course I’m here.
Told you we wouldn’t be here any later than tomorrow. I decided to come
into town and find out where we should set up.”
“Mr. Cody, this here is
Marshal Johnny Drako, Deputy Seth Lane, and Deputy Micah Torrance,” Pony
handshakes, Drako stated, “Pony said you usually set up a mile or so out of
town. There’s a gentle valley, east of town, with plenty of grassland for
grazing your stock and a creek that runs through it and has a large pond
area before continuing on.”
“Glad to see we think
alike, Johnny and I saw that valley when we were riding in,” Cody answered.
“We hope to have everything set up so our first performance will be Saturday
“That quickly?” Micah
“Your questioning a
former cavalry scout, Micah,” Seth offered as an explanation.
roustabouts, that we’ll have most everything set up by late afternoon
tomorrow. Our outfit is extremely self sufficient.”
“That and you’ve done
this quite a few times,” Drako offered. “Just remind your ‘roustabouts’
that this here is a quiet town. They’re welcome as long as they mind
“Thank you. Baker,
you’ll pass the word along?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Cody.”
Mark and his family sat
mesmerized through the first performance of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West
and Congress of Rough Riders from the World; upon hearing the news that the
show would be on the outskirts of North Fork, Mark organized a family outing
to celebrate the twins sixth birthday, yet left their daughters with Seth
and Lilah. The boys were thrilled to see all the riders, U.S. Cavalry and
scouts, Cossacks, Turks, Gauchos, Arabs, Mongols, and Georgians and their
horses, not to mention riders of the Pony Express and Native Indians;
cowboys and Texas Longhorns, each group dressed in traditional attire. Mark
answered his young sons’ questions, as best his could over the noise of the
crowd and the action happening in the arena. Towards the end of the
performance, Buffalo Bill Cody rode into the middle of the arena sitting
upon a large, pure white horse with a long flowing mane and even longer
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
Boys and Girls, I present to you fierce warriors who once were our foe, but,
I am now proud to call my friend. Watch and be amazed at their prowess in
riding their trusted ponies! Be amazed with the accuracy of their arrows
and knives, the knives of an enemy that took many scalps and not just those
of white men! See the vibrant colors of their clothes, and allow yourselves
to be drawn into their world. Watch the intricacies of the dance as they
pray to their Gods. Ladies and Gentlemen! I present to you, Lakota!!
Pawnee!! Sioux!! And Kiowa!! Indians of the Nations!!”
Only a few minutes into the
performance, from the corner of his eye Mark saw Hope stand and plead,
“Excuse me” as she tried to pass the other spectators who were sitting in
the same row. Knowing he couldn’t leave his sons alone, Mark could only sit
and wait, and wonder.
Still hearing the sounds from the
arena, Hope ran while trying to avoid the multitude of performers and
support personnel making their way to and from the show grounds. Leaning
against a traveling wagon, Hope could no longer stop the tears from falling
from her eyes; her emotions wrought with hatred, embarrassment, and
“Ma’am, are you okay?” Hope heard;
she tried to compose herself as she opened her eyes.
“No!” Hope yelled and tried to run
away, but the Indian brave who had asked put out a restraining hand, “I mean
you no harm. Our tribe is friends with the white man.”
“How could you!” Hope dared yelled
as she stomped her foot and clinched her hands.
“How could I? Your question is
strange,” answered the brave.
“You make a mockery of… of…”
“Moc-ker-y, this word is not known
“Participating in that show!” Hope
yelled as she pointed back to the arena. “You are proud and noble and now…
what the audience saw was staged and so unreal!”
“What would a white woman know of
our way of life, other than what she has read in books?” the brave asked.
“I lived your life! I lived among
you! Grey Heart, you and Iron Heart and the others…”
“You know my name?” Grey Heart
“And why should I not!” a defiant
“Ma’am?” Confusion painted the
“I am not a ma’am, I am Dawn Fire!”
Hope’s eyes daring Grey Heart to take up her challenge as she re-clinched
“Dawn Fire…” With a softening of
his expression, Grey Heart asked, “Can it really be you?”
“I am Dawn Fire! And what I saw
out there was not the tribe that raised me!” Again Hope pointed towards the
“No, what you saw was a show for
those who come to see. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“Grey Heart, you need to get ready
for the finale,” said a woman dressed in traditional Indian attire, who came
to stand next to Grey Heart.
Hope looked at the woman and saw
the age in her face and the streaks of grey in her hair.
“Silver Moon, I will go, but
please, keep my sister safe.”
Grey Heart turned to leave and
jogged to where another brave held his horse. He grabbed the mane of his
horse and swung up upon the animal’s back, grabbed his lance, raised it over
his head and cried out. As one, every rider followed Grey Heart’s lead into
“Dawn Fire?” inquired Silver Moon.
“Yes, it is I,” answered Hope as
she lowered her eyes, unable to look at the woman who stood before her, the
woman who had offered her comfort those first few days after her Aunt Susan
and her family had been murdered; the woman who became a mother to her.
“Dawn Fire, come child. We have
much to talk.”
Silver Moon placed her hand to
Hope’s back and escorted her into their camp. As they walked farther and
farther from the arena and the sideshow attractions, Hope came to realize
that much of what she now saw was the truth, the way she remember living
when she was, Kiowa. The teepee where Iron Heart and family lived was
central to the entire camp. Throughout the camp, young children helped with
chores, while women prepared meals… And those in between being considered a
child or a brave, took care of the herds. The young maidens of the camp
were at their elders’ sides.
Silver Moon pulled aside the flap
of the teepee and offered for Hope to enter first; Silver Moon allowed the
flap to close as she joined Hope within.
“It is good to see you again
daughter. Many times, I pray to the Great One that you are happy. I pray
that your life is good?”
“It is, Silver Moon. The others?”
A smile broke across the woman’s
face when she answered, “I am a grandmother many times over because of Grey
Heart, Iron Talon, and Running Fox. When my husband and eldest sons
returned without you, I mourned your loss. Iron Heart was proud when he
received word that you were to marry and your father asked us to come. Yet,
again, I mourned your loss upon our return home. I missed having my
daughter sit in front of me, allowing me to brush her hair, talking woman’s
words… baking bread or skinning hides…”
“I missed you too. It was
difficult, but… the people of North Fork welcomed me as you did. I love my
husband and his family…”
“Has the Great One blessed you
with..” Silver Moon stopped talking.
Hope looked toward the flap upon
hearing the voices of many braves cry out their victory. The voices outside
abruptly quieted and the flap to the teepee opened, allowing the interior to
be flooded with the sun, before it closed again.
“Dawn Fire, Grey Heart said you
returned to us,” Iron Heart spoke to welcome the one who had been his
Hope stood to the side of the
cooking area within the teepee, staring at Iron Heart, dressed in his full
war bonnet and breastplate, holding his lance perpendicular to the ground.
“The teepee of Iron Heart has not
been the same since you left,” Iron Heart offered as a way to entice Hope
“Iron Heart and his family have
been missed in my heart, too,” Hope answered.
“From what Grey Heart said and from
what I see in your eyes, you do not approve of how we live.”
Thinking before she spoke, Hope
finally answered, “I know I have no right to judge you and the tribe; I am
no longer a member.”
Grey Heart took the lance Iron
Heart held out to him. Iron Heart walked towards Hope, his arms held open,
inviting her into an embrace. Hope cried again as Iron Heart wrapped his
arms around her and spoke soothingly. In time, Hope regained control over
her emotions and Iron Heart stepped to stand next to Silver Moon, placing
his left hand on the right shoulder of his wife.
"Do not be angered by what you see
outside. Cody calls us ‘actors’.” Iron Heart paused as he looked to Hope
standing stoically in front of him. “Some day, I see the white man ‘acting’
their own great battles, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, and
Appomattox, before crowds of people. Dawn Fire, what you saw today is only
a show, a show of the white man, but there are times when we are the
“But the white man sees you as
savage because of what you do!”
“Little Big Horn is the history of
both the white and the red man…” Iron Heart softly spoke.
“But the Kiowa were NOT there!”
“No, the Kiowa were not there, but
the white man does not see the difference between the tribes, to them we are
Indian. Though the white man comes from many countries, they do not see
that we are different.”
“Then you must teach them the
difference, the same as the difference between an American and someone from
Ireland or England.”
“But from your history books,
Americans are descendants from England, and other countries,” Grey Heart
“You use my words against me.
Why? Why have you given up your way of life to do this?” demanded Hope.
“We do this so we may live a life
off a reservation. Should we deny our young the chance to learn? When the
white man’s children go to school; our children sit beside them to learn.
Those who teach the young, teach of all the cultures in this settlement.
The white man has taught us more of their words. Do you not hear how well
we use the white man’s words? Have you not listened to hear that the white
man uses our words when in conversation with us?” Iron Heart patiently
Hope continued to stand and listen
to the words of Iron Heart, she turned to look at those who she had called
brothers were nodding their heads in agreement.
Iron Heart continued, “What you
have not seen is after, when the sun is chased from the sky; people from the
towns we visit come to our village... Here, they see we are not the savages
they read of... They freely walk among us, without fear. Men come and
trade for our furs. Women trade for baskets, and beads, and ask questions…
Should we be too proud to not use this as a way to teach our way of life to
those who are willing to learn?”
“My eyes are as blind as those who
only believe what is written,” Hope sorrowfully admitted.
“Dawn Fire, many moons ago, I knew
our way would come to an end... We are proud, but by doing this, our way of
life still lives and we are free."
“Free? You do not follow the great
buffalo herds… How can you say you are free?” Hope pleaded to understand.
“There are not many buffalo herds
that roam the land, but we are allowed to be who we are and Mr. Cody
understands our way of life and when the iron horse passes through a valley
with a herd, he will stop the iron horse and we hunt. Red man and white
man, side by side. He provides rifles so we may hunt at a distance so no
brave has to get close to the beast and risk his life. He even asked me to
teach him to hunt with a bow and arrow, as well as with the lance. The
women, of all skin colors, white, red, black, brown, work side by side to
skin the buffalo to provide food to sustain us and hides for clothing and
“I understand what you are saying,
but to see you on display…”
“The white men are on display too.
Do not forget they have a part to play out there.”
“The white man has wronged the
Indian in so many ways…” Hope answered.
“It was after the white man’s great
war that I first encountered a scout, a fierce fighter, for the white man’s
army. If I can put aside my past hatred of Mr. Cody, can you not put aside
“Hope, that is the name you are
called, Hope?” Iron Heart asked.
“Yes, my name is Hope.”
“Your eyes show your hatred for how
you think we have been treated. Mr. Cody treats us with respect and honor.
He shares food in this teepee on many occasions, as do others. And Silver
Moon and I have broken bread with Mr. Cody in the carriage of his iron
From outside the tent, those within
heard, “Iron Heart, a moment of your time?”
Iron Heart stepped to the flap and
exited the teepee only to return a short time later with another man, the
one who had sat upon the large white horse.
“Glad to have found you, I’m
“I didn’t need finding,” Hope
“One of my managers saw you running
from the arena, and a lone woman can cause quite a commotion around here.
Myself and a few of my Rough Riders have scoured the entire settlement in
search of you, in an effort to avoid any real life re-enactment of any of
“You need not worry about that, I
have no fear of being scalped.”
“Scalped? Little lady, these
Indians are my friends, why they’d no more try to scalp you than they would
me,” boasted Buffalo Bill Cody.
“They may not, but I might…” Hope
“I see by the ring on your left
hand you are a married woman and I really must insist that you return to
join those you came with. If you’ll come with me? Don’t need no woman
getting all hysterical and raising unnecessary alarm...”
“Hysterical! I’ll have you know, I
am not a hysterical woman. I’ll stand up to any brave or rough rider you
“Dawn Fire!” scolded Silver Moon.
“I’ll not have him belittle you or
me!” Hope declared.
“Dawn Fire?” repeated Cody.
“Mr. Cody, the one who stands
before you is as a daughter to us, she once lived with us, and was called
Dawn Fire,” Silver Moon answered.
“I did not mean to belittle you nor
do I demean my friendship with Iron Heart and his people. I know of you,
Iron Heart spoke fondly of you when we shared a piece pipe when he first
joined our show.”
“You did more than share a piece
pipe,” stated Silver Moon as she remembered how drunk the two became on that
“We won’t go into that part of the
story. Ma’am, I think it would be best if you were to come with me and I do
not ask for your own good, but for the protection of our friends. There are
those who would take your disappearance as an excuse to cause trouble for
Iron Heart or any of the tribes. I wish to avoid this at all costs.
Please… will you come with me?”
Cody extended his arm and waited
for Hope to make up her mind. Soon, she nodded and accepted Buffalo Bill
Before they left the teepee, Iron
Heart spoke in Kiowa, “It was good to see you.”
“I hope we may see each other
again,” Hope answered in Kiowa. In English, she continued, “Maybe you
can teach me to see with open eyes and an open heart.” Hope gave a brief
smile before she turned and left.
“So, where should I see
you to?” Cody asked as they stepped from the teepee.
“Probably your ticket
gate, I presume my husband would be waiting for me there,” answered Hope.
Buffalo Bill escorted
Hope during their walk towards the entrance to the settlement, as they
approached they heard the rumblings of a rather unfriendly crowd. Dropping
Hope’s hand from his arm, Cody ran to see what was causing the trouble.
“People! People! Quiet
down!” Cody demanded as he jumped up on a table.
“They can’t get away with
kidnapping a white woman,” a man in the crowd yelled.
“She wasn’t kidnapped!”
another man called out in an attempt to disburse the crowd. “Everyone,
please, just go back to your homes!”
“I saw her run off!
Scared to death she was! Saw a filthy injun grab her by the arm!” the man
yelled again. “Burn them all! That will teach ‘em!”
Buffalo Bill heard the
one man declare, “Trumble, stop drumming up trouble! You don’t know what
you’re talking about!”
“I know what I saw, them
injuns have a white woman captive! If you’re not man enough… Come one
Without waiting any
longer, Cody pulled his handgun and fired into the air causing an immediate
silence to settle around the crowd.
“People! We can handle
this without your interference!” Cody heard the young man yell.
“Just who is supposed to
be missing?!” Hope dared yell as she walked up to face the crowd. “Have you
nothing better to do than let whiskey do your talking?! If you were real
men, everyone here would be ashamed for their actions!”
“Is that her?” someone in
the crowd yelled.
“That’s her!” another
“Folks, as you can see,
there has been no harm done to this young woman and as such, it is getting
late and the show grounds are closed. Now please, go back to your homes!”
Buffalo Bill Cody declared.
Through mumbled words,
the crowd quieted and slowly disbursed, while Buffalo Bill stepped down from
the table. Taking his hat in one hand, he pulled a bandanna from his pocket
to wipe his brow.
Cody watched as one man
broke away from the other two, the young one who had tried to calm the
crowd, and wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. Cody smiled
when he saw her somewhat relax into the man’s arms.
“Gentlemen, no harm was
done to the young woman. She just got curious and wandered off. One of my
men saw her and came to get me to rescue her.”
Pushing herself back,
Hope declared to Buffalo Bill, “I say again, I did nothing to need
rescuing.” Turning back to Mark, “Iron Heart is here.”
“Here, where?” an
incredulous Mark asked.
“In the settlement, I
recognized him when the performance started… that’s why I ran. I’m ashamed
for what I accused. Mr. Cody, with your permission, I’d like to return
tomorrow. My husband and I, oh, this is my husband, Marshal Mark McCain, my
father, Deputy Seth Lane, and Marshal Johnny Drako.”
“Ma’am, I met your
marshal and your father when we first arrived. Mr. McCain, pleased to meet
you. I guess we all kind of jumped to conclusions today. Little Lady, we
only have a mid-afternoon performance tomorrow; I’d be honored to host all
you and your family after your church services.”
Cody tipped his hat and
walked back into the settlement, he halted his stride, shook his head,
before he continued walking to his quarters.
“Hope what did you
accuse?” Seth asked.
“I accused Iron Heart of
betraying who he was,” Hope cast her eyes down as she answered her father.
“I have a lot to learn and to apologize for. Where are the boys?”
“Johnny and I came to
check on how the roustabouts were behaving and saw Mark looking rather,
anxious. We took them back to town and left them with Lilah before
returning. We just go back when Cody fired his gun,” Seth answered.
Next Step —