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The Message

 

The MESSAGE.  JEHOVAH sent it in a STORM.

 

Storm.jpg.885adf2c9cf5966ede896dd509441d1f.jpg

 

And LIGHTNING flashed it across the sky!

 

1284944966_Lightningflasheditacrossthesky.jpg.121f47c9e797590ab7710c048bbab99a.jpg

 

 

Mighty THUNDER read it

And clapped it savagely in reply!

 

1940841348_Thunderreading.jpg.5cd5ab6245a69b44f919c20e68cd0ec5.jpg

 

 

 

The WIND roared it through the trees

 

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And the TREES whispered it back to the rain.

 

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The RAIN splattered it to the ground

 

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And pounded it against my window pane.

 

142951317_rainonwindowpane.gif.fe37c2ece078a2054a34477f62a0134c.gif 

 

Then...calm

 

1901341166_Calmafterthestorm.jpg.ea66de958776e59f98a6898dbe21093f.jpg

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91594289_calmaterthestorm2.jpg.9073e6769c6a99c4b413da91dbee93d5.jpg

 

As the MESSAGE went unanswered.

 

Author’s Note:

I wrote this back when I was in my early teens and did not know the Creator's name.  In my early twenties, I learned the Truth and I was elated to be able to put Jehovah, in place of just God.

 

 

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Butter Flies

 

Butter flies. I know it does.

 

Cuz something flew out of my fridge

 

when I opened the door

 

And I'm sure that's what it was

 

that went flying across the floor.

 

Yes, butter flies and I wish I knew

 

Just where it was that mine flew to.

 

Cuz I can't get to town where the stuff is sold

 

And my toast is getting cold.

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Job 37:14 "...Stop and consider carefully the wonderful works of God."

 

Careful Consideration

 

I gazed out my window through exquisite artwork made by the frost in fun

 

Frost.jpg.66f8b7e11648668cb29b21fd98035953.jpg

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The roof, capped with snow, held a palisade of icicles, glistening in the sun.

 

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The lawn was covered with a myriad of diamond-sparkling flakes

 

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And the trees were iced with frosting, the kind Jehovah makes.

 

1766946595_Treeswereicedinfrosting.jpg.389e2ab0ce4775e143fd2f936a5d476a.jpg

1701664892_Treeswereicedinfrosting2.jpg.6246bdbc9374cb26b7c5377a6727831c.jpg

 

 

Job 37:10  "By the breadth of God, the ice is produced."

 

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In The Twilight

 

The grass is damp.  Dark forms are still.

 

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I hear the distant call of a whippoorwill.

 

Whippoorwill.jpg.b68d61bec86747af6158f20a9e509b54.jpg

 

The air is cooling, a sign of night,

 

1038913509_Sunsettrees.jpg.72a6c7afd0af9b4aa0f1c8d2a38f04be.jpg

 

As I go walking in the twilight.

 

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The river path narrows, covered with fog.

 

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I hear the distant croak of a big bullfrog.

 

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A star twinkles, a sign of night,

 

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As I go walking in the twilight.

 

1945434941_Nightsky.jpg.791e715833bd561b514ede2c3fad0f1b.jpg

 

1677382558_Nightsky2.jpg.b78eeb8d9946f88f2098bc23a04612b6.jpg

 

The golden fields of wheat are grey.

 

1811054269_Goldenfieldsofwheataregrey.jpg.e1982d7aca95a779c9e6f6ee3b3c6181.jpg

 

I hear the distant howl of a wolf at bay.

 

853407860_Wolfatbay.jpg.0a4f5d06443860dbad7d26581ef230ad.jpg

 

The silhouette of a tree, a sign of night,

 

1347600802_Silhouetteofatree.jpg.53d0cf37d656e9f5a7b03560f69b0a0c.jpg

 

As I go walking in the twilight.

 

297033969_silhouetteofatree2.jpg.5847e5fd982ff894f4fe3c8d70d3d82f.jpg

 

1311301482_Aircooling.jpg.b29b101611fbe01a9b1830298b9f1ec1.jpg

 

 

 

1159340936_Twilightmist.jpg.22fe2134a2c70fe9812e13c3d59e17bf.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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74386215_BarredOwl.jpg.b2946e846d91fcf46d5d26c73d812d44.jpg

 

Callin' in the Owls

 

On a remote lakeshore in the middle of the night

Your sense a' hearin' is keener than your sense a' sight.

 

An' if you're inta close encounters with fauna an' fowl,

Try callin' in a great Barred Owl.

 

Jes' cup your hands together an' start a' hootin' and a hollerin'.

The Barreds'll come flockin' in fer miles ta check out all the squawlerin'.

 

One by one they'll come swoopin' silently down ta settle in the nearby trees.

An', once a group of 'em have gathered, they commence a' jabberin' like a bunch a' circus monkeys.

 

The Barred Owl Chorus may even be joined by some lonesome loon or coot.

So, when you're out in the tall an' uncut in the middle a' some dark night,

Try callin' in the owls...I tell yah, it's a hoot!

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Reflections of a Feisty Feline

 

He matches my sparring—blow for blow.

 

My every move—how can he know?

 

A courageous opponent I can’t stare down.

 

He’s always gone when I race around.

 

Unless he slows down some I fear

 

I’ll never catch that kitten in the mirror.

 

 

58b1c7b64ad85_KittenTWO.JPG.a1ea3cd2932e047fd9b1528827025d09.JPG  

 58b1c7ba3aacf_KittenTHREE.jpg.8481feb7cc83fc18c36848721d09a66e.jpg

 

 

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I was bored one day, so I decided to write a Western story.

I was really bored, so I decided to write the entire story in verse.

Here is the result...

For better or for worse. ^_^

59348d6f43edc_CimarronStripGIF.gif.5b733d0047919a42d85c5fedc84a4228.gif

59348d5203d46_CastofCimarronStrip.jpg.00c0ed828c8c3fbe69dfe26bbc681e8f.jpg 

 

"One Crown For A King's Ransom"

 

Based on characters created by Christopher Knopf,

 

for the CBS Television Show CIMARRON STRIP

 

Disclaimer:  Cimarron Strip is the sole property of Stuart Whitman, Inc.

 

The characters have been borrowed strictly for fun and not for fortune.

 

 

"One Crown For A King's Ransom"

 

By Ross

 

 

 

Part I.

 

 

 

T'was the night before the big Army payroll shipment

 

And, all through the town

 

Francis was searchin'

 

For our Marshal Crown.

 

 

 

The outlaws had to be thwarted!

 

There were plans to be made,

 

If all those Blue Boys

 

Were to get paid.

 

 

 

And, where was MacGregor?

 

Francis was also looking for him.

 

Surely, the two of them together

 

Would be able to find Jim.

 

 

 

The searcher was headin' down the boardwalk

 

Past the Lazy J Saloon

 

When he heard a familiar brogue

 

Belting out a Scottish tune.

 

 

 

Through the swinging doors he passed

 

And tapped the crooner on the back.

 

"C'mon! The Marshal's missin'.

 

I need your help to find him, Mac'."

 

 

 

MacGregor polished off his beer

 

And slammed his mug down on the bar.

 

"Cimarron is no' that big a town.

 

The man can no' have gotten far."

 

 

 

But, three hours of unsuccessful searching later

 

The Marshal's Deputies finally gave voice to their growing fear.

 

"I'm beginning to suspect foul play, Mac'."

 

"Aye! Jim did no' just disappear."

 

 

 

Foul play, indeed!

 

The Marshal was currently in one heck of a mess!

 

Our hapless hero had been lured into a dark, back-alley

 

By the cries of some phony damsel in distress.

 

 

 

The lawman fought off the woman's would-be rapists,

 

And gallantly rescued the little lady in red.

 

But, the ungrateful girl then grabbed a board

 

And broke it over his turned head.

 

 

 

The Marshal—and his crumpled Stetson—dropped to the ground

 

The Colt slipped silently from his limp hand.

 

And, just like that, Tricky Jim was in the clutches

 

Of a ruthless outlaw band.

 

 

 

Part II.

 

 

 

Someone jerked Jim's head up

 

And, in his soggy, groggy brain

 

Things began to register

 

Things besides just pain.

 

 

 

His head felt like it was splitting.

 

The rest of him was feeling pretty punk.

 

His back was pressed into a tree.

 

He was handcuffed to its trunk.

 

 

 

Suddenly, his face was underwater.

 

His thoughts were in disarray.

 

The cold caught his attention

 

And took his breath away.

 

 

 

Crown was still confused.

 

How could he be drowned

 

While hanging, handcuffed to a tree  

 

And standing on dry ground?

 

 

 

Another icy dunking

 

The cobwebs—and his fuzzy vision—began to clear.

 

And, by a flickering fire's light

 

Five figures did appear.

 

 

 

The Marshal recognized three of the men from the alley

 

And the girl in the torn, and tattered dress

 

The one that had brained him with a board

 

And lured him into this mess.

 

 

 

The fourth fellow must have been the group's leader

 

For, as he stepped forward, the thug with the bucket stepped aside.

 

The head outlaw's eyes were filled with hatred.

 

His snarling face was filled with pride.

 

 

 

"I told you it was easy to catch a Federal Marshal," he bragged.

 

Then went on to relate,

 

"You just need to fish in the right spot.

 

And use the right bait."

 

 

 

The taunted lawman did not say a word.

 

In fleeting glory he allowed the outlaws to bask.

 

Catching Jim was one thing.

 

Keeping him would prove a much tougher task.

 

 

 

Their captive remained perfectly calm.

 

Of any sign of worry there was not the slightest trace.

 

For, his boots were still upon his feet

 

And his empty holster was still in place.

 

 

 

"Tomorrow, we trade...One Peace Officer...for the payroll,"

 

The baddy did beam.

 

Then, he proudly laid out

 

The rest of his scheme.

 

 

 

Mistaking the Marshal's look of absolute amazement for amusement,

 

The plan-crafter's face filled with rage.

 

"You think it's funny?!!!" he bellowed,

 

Before burying his fist in their captive's ribcage.

 

 

 

Crown gasped in agony.

 

But, not from the frontal attack.

 

The blow rammed him into the tree

 

And he got a broken branch in the back.

 

 

 

"Your plan is fatally flawed...

 

Not funny.

 

Expecting to exchange a lawman...

 

For money?

 

 

 

I'm afraid you place too much value on my hide.

 

And, that's where you're wrong.

 

The Army doesn't give a damn about me.

 

They'll never play along."

 

 

 

"You'd better hope that they do!"

 

Was all his captor had to say.

 

"Now, let's all get some sleep.

 

Tomorrow's a big day."

 

 

 

"What's your name?" the prisoner asked

 

Of the pretty Miss who stayed behind.

 

The lady didn't reply. But it was obvious

 

She had something on her mind.

 

 

 

"What's your name?"

 

Crown quietly inquired of the girl again,

 

"And, how did someone as lovely as you

 

Ever get mixed up with these men?"

 

 

 

The woman stepped up to her questioner,

 

In front of him to stand.

 

She pulled a match from the prisoner's vest pocket

 

And lit the torch in her left hand.

 

 

 

"When I was sixteen, my Pa came home drunk

 

And began to beat my Mother.

 

Well, I tried to stop 'im an'

 

One thing led to another..."

 

 

 

She lifted the light to eye level

 

To show her beauty had been marred.

 

The entire left side of her face

 

Had been horri-bl-y scarred.

 

 

 

"Worse part is, it was all for naught.

 

I couldn't save her life.

 

This was from a broken booze bottle.

 

On her, he used a knife.

 

 

 

It was like he was two different persons.

 

Sober, he was loving and kind.

 

It was only when he drank whiskey

 

That he would lose his mind.

 

 

 

They hung him for her murder.

 

Leavin' me on my own.

 

Seems nobody had much use

 

For an ugly girl, half-grown."

 

 

 

"It's not the visible scars

 

That make people ugly and mean.

 

It's the scars upon their minds and hearts

 

The ones that go UNseen.

 

 

 

When I look at you, I don't see a scar. I see a badge of honor.

 

I see a courageous young girl, willing to sacrifice her life to save her mother.

 

The Good Book says there's no greater gift

 

That we can give another."

 

 

 

"If you're tryin' to make me out a saint,

 

I'm afraid I miss the mark.

 

When I turned seventeen, Madam Louisa took me in

 

And taught me how to trade sexual favors in the dark.

 

 

 

My home was a brothel, up until a week ago, when Billy came along.

 

He told me that he loved me...said he saw something more

 

Than just a scarred cheek

 

On some two-bit whore."

 

 

 

"I ain't so sure that Billy thinks of you

 

As a prospective mate.

 

I heard him say he was using you.

 

I believe he called you bait."

 

 

 

The girl gave the lawman a sharp slap in the face,

 

"If you think that, you're a fool!

 

And, if you really must know...

 

My na-ame is Jewel!"

 

 

 

"Leave, Jewel! Get just as far away from this place as you possibly can—and don't look back!

 

Stayin' here would be a huge mistake.

 

Sounds like, the only crime you're guilty of--so far,

 

Is causin' me a bad headache."

 

 

 

"What the heck is goin' on here?!!!" Billy suddenly demanded,

 

Giving his be-love-ed's shoulders a savage shake, "Just what are you up to?

 

The Marshal here, is much too good

 

For the likes a' you-ou!"

 

 

 

The outlaw's gouging fingers inflicted pain.

 

But, his words cut like a knife!

 

Jewel's eyes watered. So, what the lawman had said was true.

 

Billy would never take the likes a' her for his wife.

 

 

 

The prisoner pulled at his restraints. "Let the girl go!" he pleaded.

 

Then, his body he did brace,

 

As the bully turned all his anger—and attention—towards tenderizing his ribcage

 

And rearranging his face.

 

 

 

The brutality of the beating brought back painful memories.

 

Who was the real fool?

 

At least Jewel's father had needed

 

Liquor to be cruel!

 

 

 

"Stop it, Billy!

 

Please?...Just come to bed.

 

I promise, I'll make it up to you.

 

'Sides, the Marshal's no use to us dead."

 

 

 

At the prospects of a roll in the hay,

 

The outlaw's fist froze in mid-blow.

 

"I'll deal with you in the morning," he vowed,

 

Then grabbed the girl and turned to go.

 

 

 

The lawman's bleeding lips parted, "My name's Jim...Jim Crown.

 

Hope we meet again sometime...under more pleasant circumstances."

 

Jewel winced and jerked Billy off towards their shack. Sheesh! Jim Crown had more courage than brains!

 

Cuz' he sure liked takin' chances.

 

 

 

'No greater gift...' A tear ran down the hurting hostage's bruised cheek. Slowly, he lifted his hanging head

 

And watched the pair depart.

 

Crown realized the girl was sacrificing her body—and her dignity—to save him.

 

The thought of what she was about to endure in his behalf simply broke his heart.

 

 

 

Jewel was not the least bit upset. Truth be told, she was elated.

 

For, this time, her timely intervention had succeeded!!!

 

Besides, she'd gotten the Marshal INto this mess. It was only fair that she should get him OUT.

 

And, to accomplish her mission, the girl would gladly do whatever that was needed!

 

 

 

Part III.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, back in Cimarron...

 

Plans for transferring the payroll were in full swing.

 

The Marshal's men were confident

 

They'd thought of everything.

 

 

 

Well, until Dulcey came strolling in. "Francis...MacGregor...

 

Have either of you seen Jim?

 

It's getting late and I'd really like

 

To say goodnight to him."

 

 

 

The Marshal's Deputies turned to one another

 

And exchanged grave glances.

 

The unsavory task of explaining the situation

 

Unfortunately, fell to Francis.

 

 

 

"Jim's not here," he simply said.

 

The pretty girl remained quite puzzled. Mac' urged him to say more.

 

"The Marshal's been kidnapped," Francis further explained and handed her the

 

Ransom note that had been slid under the office's front door.

 

 

 

Dulcey stared down at the message

 

That had been penned with a feminine hand.

 

The girl then gasped and stammered,

 

"B-But...I don't understand.

 

 

 

There must be some mistake!

 

Surely, this must be some sick joke!

 

Jim doesn't have this kind of money!

 

And all of his friends are broke!"

 

 

 

"A rather large shipment of government gold will be arriving on the morning trrrain.

 

However, I am afraid

 

The powers that be will never agree

 

To ever make the trrrade."

 

 

 

"It really doesn't matter

 

Whether we pay or do not pay.

 

The Marshal is a dead man.

 

They'll kill him—either way."

 

 

 

Dulcey's eyes flashed with anger,

 

"I realize that all the Army cares about is its precious sacks of gold!

 

But, Jim Crown is your friend, Francis!

 

How can you possibly be so cold?"

 

 

 

"A search party has already been organized, Lass.

 

But, we can no' trrrack at night.

 

Francis, and the other fellows, will be riding to Jim's rescue

 

Just before first light."

 

 

 

"I'm sorry I lashed out like that. Please...forgive me?" Dulcey begged.

 

Then she exhaled an exasperated gasp and hung her pretty head, in shame.

 

"All's forgiven," the youngest deputy declared, wrapping a supportive arm around the remorseful girl,

 

"I should never have put things so bluntly. So, I share some of the blame."

 

 

 

Mac gripped the girl's other shoulder. "Do no' fear, Lass. Even the smartest of outlaws

 

Is no match for our Marshal Crown. That I firmly believe.

 

Why, Jim will probably escape and come riding in here--at any moment.

 

His Honor always has a trick or two up his sleeve."

(End of Part I)

Part IV.

 

 

 

Back at the outlaws' camp, the prisoner waited patiently to make his move.

 

The lawman's life depended on

 

Whether or not he could slip away unseen

 

And by sunrise be long gone.

 

 

 

Gradually, the unfed fire burnt itself out. Under the cover of darkness,

 

He slithered down the tree trunk, dropping to one knee.

 

From an inside flap in his right boot,

 

Crown then carefully extracted a specially-crafted double key.

 

 

 

The larger of the key's two ends enabled the Marshal

 

To unlock a jail cell's door.

 

The smaller end opened handcuffs, manacles and leg irons. You see, the Peace Officer

 

Had been a 'prisoner of his own devices' a couple a' times before.

 

 

 

Moving slowly and deliberately, (he couldn't afford to drop the key)

 

Even if it meant the task might take him half the night,

 

He worked at freeing his left wrist,

 

Since his stronger and steadier hand was his right.

 

 

 

Eventually, Crown heard a quiet 'cli-ick'. His aching arms fell from behind his back.

 

The Marshal gasped in relief. He was no longer treed.

 

The pain in his shoulders was excruciating, however, and he nearly cried aloud,

 

As his tortured limbs rebelled at being so sud-den-l-y freed.

 

 

 

Next, the lawman liberated his right wrist.

 

And, after re-concealing his handy skeleton key,

 

His hand began reaching for the bump on the back of his cracked skull,

 

Almost instinctively.

 

 

 

Along with a sizable lump, his probing fingers found an open wound.

 

Jim winced when he felt the three-inch gash that was there.

 

On the upside, at least all that soaking had managed

 

To wash most of the dried blood from his hair.

 

 

 

Crown was cold...and stiff...and oh, soooo tired.

 

His head felt like it wanted to explode. His ribs, they were half stove in.

 

Through the trees' canopies, and drooping eyes, he saw a star-filled sky.

 

The view reminded him of his race with dawn—a race he had to win!

 

 

 

The Marshal knew he must keep moving

 

In spite of feeling cold and tired and beat.

 

So he braced his back against the tree

 

And struggled to his feet.

 

 

 

The lawman crept up to the edge of the clearing. 'Ben Stivitz's old place', Jim thought,

 

As he recognized the run-down shack.

 

That would put him about eight miles into the Outlet, due West a' Cimarron.

 

Which meant that, unless he stole a horse, he'd be in for a real long walk back.

 

 

 

Crown, however, was in no condition to walk.

 

He wouldn't make it a mile.

 

Even on horseback, with his sore ribs and head, he was sure the journey

 

Would prove to be a real trial.

 

 

 

He started crawling towards the corral.

 

But then halted when

 

He spotted someone moving about. A diversion would be needed,

 

If he hoped to sneak a horse out of that pen.

 

 

 

He returned to the woods.

 

And with a stick, in the fire, he poked a couple a' holes.

 

Beneath the thick layer of white ash, red-hot embers glowed.

 

The lawman slipped some bullets from his gunbelt and placed them on the coals.

 

 

 

He was halfway back to the horses when, suddenly, from the bushes behind him, instead of exploding shells,

 

There came an ominous 'cli-ick' ing sound.

 

Sure enough! Crown found himself staring down the barrel of his own Colt

 

When he spun around.

 

 

 

Against the night sky, there appeared the outline of a man. And, for a few moments,

 

The Marshal feared the worst.

 

But then, the shadowy figure carefully released the cocked hammer

 

And handed Jim his gun—butt first.

 

 

 

Jewel also released her held breath and then exclaimed,

 

In an excited whisper, "Good lord!

 

You startled me! How'd you ever manage to get yourself free of that tree?"

 

"I keep a spare key. How'd you ever make it past the guard?" "I broke another board..."

 

 

 

Crown winced. Then he grabbed the girl's hand, "Things are about to heat up around here!

 

C'mon! We'd better go!"

 

"No! This way!" the woman insisted.

 

The lawman relented and allowed her to take him in tow.

 

 

 

"The horses were already saddled. So, I took the liberty of ste--borrowing us two.

 

I picked the fastest pair and scattered the others."

 

It went against the Marshal's grain to flee.

 

He'd a' rather chose fight over flight, if he'd a' had his druthers.

 

 

 

The bullets began going off just as they reached their hidden mounts.

 

Quickly, they freed the horses from the bushes they'd been busy eating.

 

Jewel handed the lawman his hat and then apologized,

 

"Sorry...'bout the board...and the beating."

 

 

 

The Marshal flashed the female a forgiving smile and stashed his Stetson on.

 

He then removed it, with a grimace, and hung it on his saddle's horn.

 

Until his split skull mended some,

 

The hat would have to be carried and not worn.

 

 

 

"Sorry 'bout Billy and..." the lawman let his words trail off.

 

Some things were simply too painful to say.

 

"You scared the heck outta me, too yah know!" Crown confessed,

 

"I wasn't expectin' to see you dressed that way."

 

 

 

The pair then vaulted into their saddles and

 

High-tailed it away from that place.

 

Now, thanks to Jewel, the Peace Officer was feeling pretty confident

 

That he would win that little 'life or death' race.

 

 

 

Part V.

 

 

 

They rode on at a fairly fast pace for about an hour

 

Before finally stopping to give their horses a break.

 

"Billy can go plumb straight to hell!" the girl gasped, picking their conversation up where it'd left off.

 

"I'm glad to be rid of that low-down lyin' snake!

 

 

 

As for how I'm dressed...The hat is Dirk's. The shirt belongs to Lou.

 

The boots an' blue jeans are compliments a' Billy.

 

An', I kin imagine that--right about now

 

They all must be lookin'--an' feelin'--migh-ty silly.

 

 

 

Cuz, clothes ain't all

 

That those hombres are lackin'.

 

I stashed their gunbelts into our saddlebags and strapped their rifles onto the backs

 

Of those nags that I sent packin'."

 

 

 

In spite of his splitting headache, the lawman had to laugh

 

At what the girl had said.

 

So, he sat there, chuckling softly,

 

With one hand holding onto his throb-bing forehead.

 

 

 

"Jewel, you're quite a gal!

 

It's gonna be real interesting havin' you aroun'."

 

"I don't feel comfortable bein' around folks in broad daylight.

 

I'd really really rather not ride back into town.

 

 

 

Other women will pity me. Men will look away--in disgust.

 

And, their children will all stare.

 

So, you see why I cannot possibly,

 

By the light of day, be seen there."

 

 

 

The Marshal's heart was broken

 

For the second time that night.

 

One so young should never have to experience so much pain.  

 

It just wasn't right!

 

 

 

The thought of what the outlaw had just done to the girl

 

Also filled Jim with disgust.

 

Billy had broken, not only her heart,

 

The young man had broken her trust.

 

 

 

At least Crown could be thankful

 

For one amazing fact.

 

Through it all, Jewel's indomitable spirit

 

Still remained intact.

 

 

 

Part VI.

 

 

 

They forded the Cimarron at the old Fort Dodge Supply Trail crossing

 

And then began following the river downstream.

 

As the couple rode on, the orange glow on the horizon continued to brighten.

 

Until, eventually, there burst forth the first sunbeam.

 

 

 

Almost immediately, birds began singing

 

And their surroundings were transformed.

 

The heat from earth's star took the chill out of the air

 

And their stiff, cold bodies were slowly warmed.

 

 

 

The weary travelers' path soon intersected the old Rimrock Trail.

 

Crown reluctantly took a right.

 

Directly ahead, lay the Settlement, located two miles south a' town.

 

Behind them was—Jim quickly hauled his horse's reins in tight.

 

 

 

They were only about six miles or so

 

From Old Grimey's place!

 

An idea suddenly formed in the lawman's hurting head.

 

A sly smile flashed across his bruised and bloodied face.

 

 

 

"Back at that shack, you said you picked the fastest pair.

 

How do you know so much about stock?"

 

"I spent sixteen years on a workin' ranch.

 

I could ride before I could walk."

 

 

 

The Peace Officer's wry smile reappeared.

 

He had devised the perfect plan!

 

One that would provide Jewel with the seclusion she so desperately desired,

 

While restoring confidence in herself—and her fellow man.

 

 

 

"Where yah goin'?" the girl wondered, as the Marshal spun his mount around.

 

"Cimarron is that-a-way..."

 

"You don't wanna go to Cimarron. Remember?"

 

Was all the girl's now grinning guide would say.

 


Edited by Friends just call me Ross
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Part VII.

 

 

 

It was awhile, before the lawman spoke again. "When I fers' took this job,

 

A wise, old gentleman kindly pointed out

 

Something that has saved my life many many times.

 

Of that, I have no doubt.

 

 

 

Miguel said my bright and shiny Marshal's badge

 

Was the only thing folks saw.

 

When they seen me comin'--from any distance

 

They could tell I was the Law.

 

 

 

To the honest-hearted, this star was a good sign.

 

It put their minds at rest.

 

To the wicked, it spelled trouble, and made for an easy target

 

In the center of my chest.

 

 

 

He told me I needed somethin' else upon which

 

An outlaw could focus his attention.

 

Perhaps, some silver conchos for my pant cuffs? Or a band of silver for my hat?

 

Miguel's a silversmith, by trade. A fact I forgot to mention."

 

 

 

Jewel flashed the wryly grinning fellow with the silver conchos on his slacks

 

And the silver band on his black hat

 

A lovely smile, "An' you must a' been his best customer.

 

I kin sure see that!"

 

 

 

"I still am a good customer. An' Miguel is still a good friend.

 

An' that's exactly what I mean!

 

That lovely smile a' yours...

 

You have one a' the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen!

 

 

 

An', stashed up under that hat

 

Is a gorgeous mane a' golden hair.

 

Pull all those pins out an' let it fall to your shoulders.

 

People could appreciate it more, if you were to wear it there."

 

 

 

Jewel did just as Jim suggested. And, as her long, blonde locks tumbled down,

 

They framed her face and partially concealed some of the scar from sight.

 

The Marshal couldn't help but admire the way

 

The girl's golden hair actually glistened in the now full-bright sunlight.

 

 

 

"There...Yah see! That scar ain't the only outstanding

 

Physical feature you own.

 

Don't you think that it's about time

 

Some of your finer ones were shown?"

 

 

 

"Hair and smiles won't conceal this scar, anymore than those silver trinkets conceal your badge,"

 

The girl grumbled, almost beneath her breath.

 

"Maybe not. But, there were plenty a' times when they bought me precious seconds.

 

An', in this business, seconds can often mean the difference between life...an' death.

 

 

 

The reason people stare at that scar

 

Upon your cheek may be

 

Because, when you look at yourself

 

That is all you see.

 

 

 

Folks may have a certain view of you

 

Because it's the only one you're showin'.

 

It's time you 'turned the other cheek'.

 

Cuz' there's a whole 'nother side a' you worth knowin'!

 

 

 

You don't want that scar to be the only thing people see?

 

Then, you're gonna hafta give 'em somethin' else to look at.

 

That lovely smile could be your silver conchos.

 

An' that golden hair could be the silver band upon your hat."

 

 

 

The girl didn't say a thing.

 

She seemed to be lost in thought.

 

Jim had no way a' knowin'

 

If he had proved his point, or not.

 

 

 

Part VIII.

 

 

 

"Excuse me, Marshal..." Jewel finally spoke up, about an hour or so later

 

"I'd just like to know...

 

This mysterious place you're takin' me to?

 

Exactly how much further do we gotta go?"

 

 

 

"We're almost there. The distance we got left

 

Is less than a quarter of a mile.

 

So, get rid a' the hat. It hides your hair.

 

And, don't forget to smi-ile..."

 

 

 

The girl gave Jim an annoyed glare.

 

And, he realized the deep trouble he'd a' been in

 

If his bossy words hadn't a' been delivered

 

With a wink and another wry grin.

 

 

 

Sure enough! It wasn't too much

 

Further down the trail

 

They came upon a wooden post and a hand-painted sign

 

Hanging by one nail.

 

 

 

"G&M LIVESTOCK CO. HORSES BOUGHT SOLD OR TRADED,"

 

The girl read aloud, as they rode on by.

 

"Well...Now I know where you're takin' me.

 

Would yah mind tellin' me why?"

 

 

 

"I intend to ask a couple a' old friends a' mine

 

To give you a job," the lawman simply replied.

 

"Oh! I just love horses! And, I don't mind shovelin' sh--manure!"

 

Jewel rather jubilantly cried.

 

 

 

Jim grinned—again. The pair rode past some well-kept corrals and barns...

 

Past a large building project, in progress...and up to an old line shack.

 

They reined their doggy horses in. The lawman dismounted and hitched his to a rail.

 

"You jes' stay put," he advised. "I'll be right back.

 

 

 

Hello, Kid..." he greeted the young man who answered his knock upon the door.

 

"Mornin', Marshal. What brings you all the way out here this early in the day?"

 

The tantalizing aroma of coffee boiling caught Crown's attention.

 

Speaking of attention...none to his riding companion did the Kid seem to pay.

 

 

 

Grimey came around the corner just then, carting an armload of firewood. "Sheeesh! You look like hell!

 

In fact, if you're a' feelin' as poorly as you're a' lookin',

 

You bes' c'mon inside and rest a spell.

 

An' stoke up on some a' my good home cookin'!"

 

 

 

"You two still lookin' ta take on some extra help aroun' here?

 

Cuz, I've got just the 'man', if you are!"

 

"B-But..." the Kid finally realized the person the Peace Officer was pointing to was a female,

 

"He's a girl!" the flabbergasted young man informed the now wryly grinning fellow with the star.

 

 

 

"Jewel here, is not just any girl!

 

She knows horses like the back of her hand!

 

An' she ain't afraid a' work. No, sir!

 

Why, she kin roll an' rope an' brand!

 

 

 

Jewel, I'd like yah ta meet some friends a' mine. Mister Malachi Grimes...

 

An' Mister Bud Mahoney...Partners in the G&M Livestock Company.

 

Boys, this is Miss Jewel--"

 

"--Cartwright," the girl replied, as she dismounted--and smiled...obligingly.

 

 

 

"Mi-iss..." both gentlemen acknowledged. "Bud, why don't you show the new hand around the place

 

An' see if she really knows her stuff."

 

His junior partner nodded and departed. "This wood ain't a' gettin' any lighter, yah know!"

 

Grimey then hinted to the lawman, who was standin' in the open doorway, and lookin' so rough.

 

 

 

"C'mon!" the old horse trader invited, as Crown quickly stepped aside,

 

"There's a cup a' coffee in here with yore name on it.

 

Oh...An' there's a pitcher an' basin over by that bunk," he further hinted,

 

"In case yah wanna clean yerself up a bit...

 

 

 

Was she one a' yore kidnappers?" he calmly inquired,

 

Once the door was closed and the youngsters were long gone.

 

He caught the lawman's look of utter astonishment and added,

 

"A search party rode past here lookin' for you--shortly after dawn.

 

 

 

So-o...What's that young filly's story?"

 

"Ah-ah...That poor girl has been rode hard an' put up wet..."

 

"Yeah? Well, a little patience an' kindness kin overcome a lot of ill-treatment."

 

"It might also take some time. She's got a lot she needs to forget..."

 

 

 

The lawman then went on to relate Jewel's entire tragic past.

 

"As Senior partner around here, I have the final say.

 

The girl will have a job here,

 

For just as long as she wants ta stay."

 

 

 

The Marshal flashed him a grateful grin. It amazed Grimey

 

That Jim Crown could remain so tender-hearted.

 

Bein' a lawman was a miserable line a' work, that could cause a man's heart to harden.

 

His guest began getting himself cleaned up a bit and he set about getting breakfast started.

 

 

 

Part IX.

 

 

 

Bud led the prospective employee up to one of the corrals.

 

"Okay...What's your pick for best horse a' the bunch?"

 

Jewel slipped between the rails and shoo'ed the animals around. "That bay mare, right there."

 

"Any particular reason you picked her? Or, was that just a hunch?"

 

 

 

"Why? Which one would you have picked?"

 

The woman wondered, as she came climbing out.

 

"The blue roan is the best 'looker'."

 

"True," the girl agreed. Of that fact, there could be no doubt.

 

 

 

"But, you can't just judge a horse

 

By its 'looks' alone.

 

He's got a little lameness in his left hind foot.

 

Prob'ly just picked up a stone."

 

 

 

The young man climbed into the corral and stepped up to the animal in question.

 

Sure enough! With his trained eye,

 

Bud could see that the horse was, indeed, favoring its left hind foot.

 

He used his knife and--out of that hoof--a small stone he did pry.

 

 

 

"You haven't asked how I got this scar..."

 

"You haven't asked about mine, either. Besides, it ain't any a' my business."

 

"I figure you got a right ta know. An', as ta how you got yores?

 

I think that I kin guess."

 

 

 

The Kid had obviously been kicked in the face.

 

The encounter had left a horseshoe shape permanently imprinted on his right cheek.

 

For a long while, there was silence.

 

Finally, Jewel found the courage to speak.

 

 

 

"For this scar, I have

 

My Pa ta thank.

 

Yah see, he got real ornery

 

When he drank."

 

 

 

"Two rank broncs got into a fight.

 

I made the mistake a' gettin' in between.

 

I ain't sure what happened after that cuz,

 

Stars were all I seen."

 

 

 

"I helped some outlaws kidnap the Marshal," Jewel quietly confessed.

 

Her youngest boss didn't seem the least bit surprised.

 

"I helped Sam Darcey's gang steal an Army payroll.

 

We seem to have an awful lot in common, don't we..." Bud calmly realized.

 

 

 

The girl was just about to mention her six-month stint

 

In Madam Louisa's house of ill repute...

 

"Look, as long as yore past don't interfere with yore work here,

 

We really don't give a hoot."

 

 

 

And, about the young girl's past

 

Bud really didn't care.

 

Because, Jewel had 'good bone', as Grimey liked to put it.

 

Not to mention, the loveliest of smiles and, the prettiest blonde head a' hair.

 

 

 

Jewel flashed the young fellow a grateful grin.

 

He had the kindest, most incredibly blue eyes.

 

Not to mention, the sweetest and shyest of smiles.

 

Maybe—just maybe—Bud Mahoney wasn't like all those 'other' guys.

(Slim Pickens played the part of Malachi Grimes ‘Old Grimey’)

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Part X. 

 

 

 

Back at the shack...The battered lawman's hospitable host had insisted

 

On administering some basic first-aid:

 

A soothing salve for his cuts...a smelly liniment for his bruises.

 

Some ingredients were store-bought...others were home-made.

 

 

 

"Outlaws'll smell me comin' from miles away!" Crown complained,

 

As he carefully rebuttoned his shirt.

 

"That's prob'ly one a' the secrets a' why it works so well.

 

The smell takes yore mind off the hurt."

 

 

 

He re-donned his vest and badge, emptied the basin a' blood-stained water into a slop bucket

 

And then raked a hand through his hair.

 

The cleaned up lawman then sat down. As was his custom, Crown assumed his seat in reverse,

 

And draped his arms across the back of his chair.

 

 

 

Jim rested his still-throbbing head upon his folded arms.

 

His tired eyes began drooping shut.

 

"When yah get back ta Cimarron, you bes' have the Doc'

 

Take a look at that cut."

 

 

 

Grimey paused to shoot his washed up guest an anxious glance.

 

"You don't look like you kin make it another mile.

 

The stage'll be pullin' in here in a' couple a' hours. Maybe you should jes' wait til it gits here

 

And ride back ta town in style?"

 

 

 

"Yah know...That's not a bad idea," Jim Crown had to agree.

 

And--hopefully--along the way, there wouldn't be a hold-up!

 

"Now that that's all settled...Didn' I hear you mention

 

Somethin' about my name bein' on some cup?"

 

 

 

"Comin' right up, Marshal!" the busy cook vowed.

 

But didn't reach for the pot of coffee.

 

Instead, he dropped a handful of 'something' into a cup of boiling water,

 

As though he were making tea.

 

 

 

"Here...Drink this..." Grimey urged his thirsty guest

 

Who was now nearly sleepin'.

 

The lawman took a look at the cup's contents. "That's some pretty weak coffee!"

 

"Drink it up! It'll do yah a world a' good! It's some willow bark I been a' steepin'..."

 

 

 

The horse doctor's victim--er, patient reluctantly took a swallow or two.

 

Cough! Sputter! "This stuff is downright nasty!" griped Jim Crown.

 

"So's a bad headache! Now, go on...

 

See if you kin git the rest of it down!"

 

 

 

The Marshal was pretty impressed. For, he had mentioned

 

Neither his sore ribs...nor his bad headache.

 

The old horsetrader's powers of perception were astute, indeed!

 

Of that fact, there could be no mistake!

 

 

 

Jim obligingly polished off the remainder of the unpalatable potion.

 

"You're doctorin' me like I was a horse!"

 

"Don't you worry none," Grimey grumbled right back,

 

"My remedies'll work on mule-headed Marshals, too, a' course!"

 

 

 

The sound of the mule-headed Marshal's soft, easy laughter

 

Was like music to the old rancher's ears.

 

His injured guest 'seemed' okay. But, Grimey was still concerned.

 

"You'll be a' joinin' us for breakfast then, it appears...

 

 

 

That's good. Cuz' a man shouldn't a' oughtta travel on an empty stomach.

 

He's gotta git somethin' down 'im. Even if it's just a little."

 

The cook crossed back over to his stove.

 

"Well, we got plenty a' bacon fryin' here...an' loads a' flapjacks on the griddle!

 

 

 

Oh...an' real coffee," he added lightly, and finally handed Jim his cup.

 

The lawman raised it to his lips and took a few cautious sips...the coffee was real...strong...and hot!

 

Crown flashed his gracious host a grateful grin.

 

"Thanks, Grimey! This really hits the spot!"

 

 

 

"You're welcome!" Jim's host assured him.

 

Ten minutes later, the youngsters returned.

 

The Marshal's bad headache was history and--miraculously

 

Breakfast was both ready and unburned.

 

 

 

The famished Federal Official directed his attention away from the enticing smells of

 

Sourdough pancakes and bacon, sizzlin' in a pan.

 

"Well? How'd it go?" Crown inquired.

 

"Yeah," Grimey pondered of his junior partner, "What do yah think a' our new hired man?"

 

 

 

"You were right, Marshal! She sure knows her horses!"

 

"You any good at buildin' houses?" his senior partner pondered, looking quite pleased.

 

"I've helped out some at a few barn raisings," the female confidently came back.

 

"Oh...Jewel's real good with lumber!" the 'brained' lawman teased.

 

 

 

The girl looked guilty as charged.

 

She and the Marshal exchanged knowing grins.

 

It was amazing how a little genuine remorse

 

Could cover over such a multitude of sins.

 

 

 

Part XI.

 

 

 

A couple a' hours a' stimulatin' conversation--an' one hearty, home-cooked meal later

 

The noon stage arrived at the Way Station, to change teams.

 

Jewel took the opportunity to speak with the departing Peace Officer--privately.

 

"Guess this is goodbye...for no-ow." "So it seems.

 

 

 

You really are quite a gal, Jewel!

 

Jes' give folks the chance ta see of what you're really made.

 

I guarantee, the inner scars will heal...in time.

 

An' this outer scar will fade..."

 

 

 

"I'll try," Jewel promised the gentle man

 

Whose hand had just tenderly touched her left cheek.

 

"Goo-ood! Cuz I got someone I'd like you to meet.

 

I'll be bringin' her out here for a buggy ride, later on this week.

 

 

 

Dulcey's jest about yore age an' size.

 

Maybe she kin even bring you out some clothes.

 

I figure, after a few days with these fellahs, you might be in the mood for some female companionship.

 

Why, the two a' you might even become the best a' friends...Who knows?"

 

 

 

"Speakin' a' the best a' friends..." Jewel blinked her blurring vision clear,

 

"That ransom weren't nowheres near what you are worth!

 

Your price could never ever be met!

 

There jes' ain't enough money--on this whole entire earth!"

 

 

 

Jim Crown was deeply touched by the young lady's soft-spoken words.

 

And, as she placed on his left cheek a light kiss,

 

The 'invaluable' Marshal became a bit misty-eyed, himself.

 

He gave the girl a grateful smile and nod, "Why-y, thank you, Miss!"

 

 

 

Bud and Grimey finished harnessing the fresh horses.

 

All four friends said their goodbyes.

 

Jewel handed Jim his hat--again. She and the lawman exchanged parting glances

 

Through two sets of damp eyes.

 

 

 

"Marshal?!...You comin'?!" the stage driver called out

 

And held the coach door open wide.

 

"Yeah, Jake...I'm comin'," Crown told him.

 

"But, I ain't ridin' INside.

 

 

 

I'm afraid I reek a' horse liniment.

 

An', it jes' wouldn' be fair

 

To the other passengers,

 

If I was ta ride in there.

 

 

 

Besides, the view's a whole lot better from up on top

 

An' the ride's a lot more fun."

 

So, the lawman assumed his seat, beside the driver,

 

And made it back to Cimarron ridin' shotgun.

 

 

 

Part XII.

 

 

 

Speakin' a' Cimarron...Charley Adams stepped up to Jim Crown's Chief Deputy.

 

"You won't believe who just stepped off the stage when it pulled up!

 

With hat in hand...lookin' like he could barely stand..."

 

"The Marshal?!" "Eh-yup!"

 

 

 

"How is he?! Where is he no-ow?!" "I helped him over to Doc' Khilgren's.

 

The Doc's sewing up the back of his head.

 

Then, I think from there, he said

 

He was gonna be headin' straight to bed."

 

 

 

Part XIII.

 

 

 

Speakin' a' Doc' Khilgren..."Do you realize how many times I've had to sew you up?

 

Why, if I had a dollar for every single stitch..."

 

The doctor paused, "I don't think I can count that high!

 

But, suffice it to say, I'd be rich!"

 

 

 

"I'd be a wealthy man too, Doc'

 

If I jes' had a dime

 

For all yore lectures on takin' better care a' myself.

 

Seems I get one every time..."

 

 

 

Crown finished and flashed his feisty physician one of his infamous wry grins.

 

Jim's surgeon just had to chuckle. "Glad this little lump hasn't caused you to lose your sense of hu-mor!"

 

The lawman would be needin' it. Cuz'--suddenly

 

Everyone in town seemed to be beatin' a path to the good doctor's door!

 

 

 

Since Mrs. Khilgren was already assisting her husband,

 

Walking Man was enlisted to handle crowd control.

 

But, an hysterical young lady blew right on by him. Miss Coopersmith looked completely overwrought.

 

A sleepless night of worry and tears had really taken its toll.

 

 

 

"Thank God you're all right! Charley said you were all right!

 

Are you all right?! Is he all right?!"

 

The pretty Miss pondered, upon seeing the needle and thread...and the pain in the Peace Officer's eyes

 

And all the cuts and bruises. Her dear friend had obviously been in a serious fight.

 

 

 

Jim wanted to jump to his feet and pull the poor girl into a comforting embrace.

 

But, his doctor kept a hand clamped firmly to his left shoulder.

 

The captive lawman had to settle for latching onto the girl's hand

 

And giving it a reassuring squeeze. "I'm gonna be jes' fine!" he told her.

 

 

 

MacGregor--and an Army Sergeant

 

Were the next visitors to arrive.

 

Mac' looked immensely relieved

 

To finally find his missing boss--alive!

 

 

 

The Marshal seemed equally relieved to see his Chief Deputy. "The posse still out?"

 

"They're riding in right now. Some of the men have doubled-up. So, they may have some company..."

 

"Sorry, Doc--" the Peace Officer apologized, on his way over to the window,

 

"--But, this is somethin' I jes' gotta see!"

 

 

 

Francis--and his posse--paraded their prisoners past him

 

And on through the center of town.

 

Some of the deputies had doubled-up, to provide the criminals with mounts.

 

With his bare feet sticking out and a bright pink blanket wrapped around his waist, their leader looked like a clown!

 

 

 

The lawman flashed his assailant an icy glare.

 

Jim wished Jewel could've been there to see Billy,

 

With his head hanging in shame. The girl sure was right

 

About the half-clad outlaw lookin' 'migh-ty silly'!

 

 

 

"Come on..." Doc' Khilgren urged, and guided his patient back into his surgery,

 

"The sooner I get you sewn up, the sooner you can get to bed!"

 

"Be-ed?! But, what about the payroll?!" the Sergeant shouted, looking and sounding alarmed.

 

"Don't worry, Sergeant. The gold mus' be safely in the bank, by no-ow..." the Marshal simply said.

 

 

 

"Yes. But, I just received a wire from Fort Dawes. The escort detail has been delayed..."

 

"Of course it has!" Crown sarcastically commented. "The Army is always a little late!

 

As long as the payroll remains in the vault,

 

There's really nothin' left ta do but sit tight...an' wait."

 

 

 

"B-But--" the soldier began--again.

 

"Relax, Sa-arge!

 

I'll be available--if needed.

 

An' I'm leavin' my two best men in charge.

 

 

 

I'm confident that they've got everything covered!

 

It's really not that hard

 

To take on ten extra men--with rifles

 

An' place them all on guard!"

 

 

 

"RRRight!" MacGregor readily agreed,

 

"So...Yah see? You need no' fear.

 

We've done exactly what the Marshal would've done,

 

If he were here!"

 

 

 

"Speaking of the Marshal...The man has concussion from a powerful blow to the back of his head.

 

He also has a three-inch gash in his scalp,

 

Which I am currently trying to close!

 

And, I would appreciate your help!

 

 

 

Thank you..." the doctor told all who readily offered their assistance.

 

"But, I believe

 

The best help would be

 

For you all to leave!"

 

 

 

The Marshal's physician's stern look vanished

 

And he smiled--from ear to ear,

 

As first, his surgery...and then, the outer waiting area

 

Gradually began to clear.

 

 

 

"Oh...Before I forget..." Crown called out.

 

His Chief Deputy glanced back.

 

"Thanks for takin' such good care a' things for me.

 

You an' Francis did a fine job, Mac!"

 

 

 

The Scotsman appeared both proud

 

And pleased.

 

MacGregor flashed Jim Crown a grateful grin,

 

"You did no' do too shabbily, yerself!" he teased.

 

 

 

His boss returned his smile. Upon seeing her pitiful pout, Jim snatched Dulcey's hand back up.

 

"It's all right, Biscuit...You kin stay."

 

The pretty Miss' frown turned upside-down. The surgeon began his needlework.

 

His patient winced in pain. The girl gripped her hurting friend's hand reassuringly and quickly looked away.

 

 

 

Part XIV.

 

 

 

"Hi, Mac!" Francis greeted MacGregor, as he entered the Marshal's Office a few minutes later.

 

"You seen Jim? How's he doin'? Is he okay?"

 

"Aye! He rode in on the stage. He's down at the doctor's, getting the back of his thick skull sewn up."

 

The younger man heaved a huge sigh of relief. "Man! Am I glad you were right about him getting away!

 

 

 

Any new orders?" "He's leaving the two of us in charge. Seems all his honor wants right now

 

Is a little well-deserved sleep.

 

Any problem with the prisoners?" "Nope! They were already UNarmed when we found them.

 

We jes' had ta round 'em up...like sheep.

 

 

 

Jim didn't happen ta bring one a' his kidnappers back here with him, did he?"

 

MacGregor glanced at the reporter, with a rather puzzled look upon his face.

 

"It's just that...We found two sets a' tracks

 

Leading away from the place.

 

 

 

They had him handcuffed to a tree. How does a lone lawman escape from--and disarm

 

An entire gang of outlaws...when he doesn't even have his gun?!

 

I tell yah, the man jes' never ceases to amaze me, Mac!

 

I can't wait to read his official report on this one!

 

 

 

Jim Crown sure makes one heck of a Marshal!"

 

"Aye! And, he's an even better frrriend!"

 

And with Mac's little revelation,

 

Our story/poem has finally reached—

 

THE END


Edited by Friends just call me Ross
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  • 2 weeks later...

Trees

 

I stand tall all day and steady all night

Taking the brunt of storms with all my might.

I offer protection to the flocks of the sky,

Food and a refuge, a place to stay dry.

My breathing is strong; steady and sure

And with  each breath I take, I make the air pure

The sun shines above me as I soak in it's light,

As I cover those keeping from its glaring sight.

I'll sway back and forth; spreading out seed

Or rock baby birds to sleep or whatever the need.

I work hard each season until I am spent,

Then start all over with blossoms of scent.

My creator made me, I'm content as can be,

I'm living a full life, the life of a tree.

 

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