Author: imaginedarkness PM
Grace Ross runs away and finds herself thrust into the Wild West.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Western - Words: 3,072 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-12-12 - id: 3013090
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Patience was a virtue she did not possess, among other things. Grace did her best to wait patiently, not wanting to draw any attention to herself. Though as she glanced around the bustling train station she knew she had nothing to fear. He would not even realize she was missing until at the very least lunch, which was when she usually graced Charles with her presence. If only to show him that she was, very much indeed, still amongst the living.
Grace found a shaded bench on the outside platform and took a few moments to gather herself. The train was late and she was beginning to fret. It was quite possible they would notice her absence and come looking. It was if he would think to search the station that worried her the most. She was old enough that people could believe she was traveling alone but young enough that they would question why.
Out of nowhere, a gray shaggy dog jumped up onto the platform and made his way to its only female occupant. Grace ignored the mutt but it was not dissuaded from vying for her attention. The creature plopped down at her feet, placing his drool-covered snout into her lap.
"You mongrel!" Grace shouted as she jumped to her feet, shooing the canine away. "Go on! Get!" The dog however was quite pleased with her company and refused to leave her side. "Why you stubborn, little..." Grace stopped insulting the animal long enough to notice its emaciation. Through its coarse hair she could make out ribs. "You poor..." She started before the high-pitched whistle of the incoming train interrupted her.
The dog followed her to the edge of the platform and watched as she leaned over the tracks to get a clear view of the oncoming train. Thick white smoke jetted out from the undercarriage as the engine pulled into the station. The cars slowly rocked to a complete stop, and Grace waited patiently for the cars to empty. As soon as she had the chance she picked up her two bags and boarded the train, not caring that it would be a half hour before it went anywhere.
Slowly the car filled and Grace kept her eyes glued to the platform, searching for anyone familiar. Soon the train began to pull out of the station and no one came to force her back home. She would be safe from the people she had once trusted and would be able to begin her new life. Somewhere. Somehow.
A low growl surfaced when the conductor came around. Grace glanced at her feet only to find that she had a new furry companion. She hushed the dog quickly, covering it with the train of her dress. When the conductor asked for her ticket she handed it to him hastily and let out a sigh of relief when he continued without a second thought.
After sacrificing the few snacks she brought for herself by giving them to her companion, Grace slept. She slept more peacefully than she had in months. She had not even felt particularly tired, but once she closed her eyes she drifted away from the world. It was not until the train suddenly braked, that Grace jolted forward from her seat, and she abruptly awoke.
The passengers around her panicked. They knew as well as she there was no way they had reached their destination. People rushed to the windows and a babe began to cry as its mother tried desperately to shush it.
There was a scream from the car in front and then silence. The air went still as the passengers held their breath. The door flung open and in the shadows stood two men, their faces covered in dark neckerchiefs and both armed with guns. Grace sat still as one man, closer to the front of the car tried confronting the men. The first of the two thieves struck him across the face with the butt of his gun.
A woman screamed and jumped to her husband's side. She too was soon lying on the ground with a gaping head wound. No one else moved. The second man shifted his weight uncomfortably. He wanted nothing to do with violence that much was obvious. He kept his shotgun at his side as he swiftly made his way to the rear of the train car.
The man could not help but glance at Grace as he walked by. He could not avoid her looking back at him. Something about her caught his eye but he quickly shook the feeling. He had a job to do.
When Tyeeg came into the car the tension escalated. It was as if everyone took in a deep breath and held it. Cooper shifted his weight once again, waiting for the orders he did not need. The sweat coalescing in his palms caused him to tighten his grip around the handle of his shotgun. Tyeeg scanned the car, his eyes falling upon the same young woman who had captivated his attention. But Tyeeg did not move towards her. He only nodded to Andy and they began the collecting.
Cooper went down the left side while Andy went up the right side, like normal. What was not expected was Tyeeg watching them like a buzzard circling a kill. As if he was waiting for them to slip up. Money and jewelry were all they were along for and for some folks that was everything. But Tyeeg had a way of picking the high-class trains. Ones that he knew were going to have a good haul. Where people had more than their fair share.
As Cooper made his way to the woman, their eyes locked onto each other. Her starry blue eyes barely concealed the fire that was contained behind them. People tended to avoid eye contact with them when they were being robbed but this woman seemed to be looking for a fight. He held out the bag for her to place her money in, but she didn't budge. Cooper shook the bag, hoping to reinforce his intentions. The treasures at the bottom he had already gathered jangled loudly, yet her eyes never left his.
"Do we have a problem here?" Tyeeg asked, walking over to him. The young woman's eyes flashed between the two men but they landed back on Cooper. And he had a sudden feeling of guilt, as if she were judging him. "Miss, we would be most obliged if you would remove your jewelry and hand over any money you might be carrying."
"What for?" Cooper felt Andy lean up against him. Rarely did somebody stand up to Tyeeg and never was that somebody a woman.
"Why so you can go on living your pretty little life." Tyeeg leaned down next to her, pushing the brim of his hat away from his face. The woman swallowed hard but did not blink.
"What if I have no money?"
"Then your jewelry shall suffice." He straightened himself and turned to Cooper and Andy. "Finish with the others." He commanded, and Cooper hesitated. "Is there a problem?"
Grace watched the two men in front of her carefully. She had not meant to speak up. It had just happened. It was either give up every penny she had made after selling Charles' engagement ring or give up her mother's locket. She was sure the men would be happy with either so long as they did not know the other existed.
The first man, the tall one with a shotgun who would not stop staring at her, left without saying a word. But the second one, he leaned towards her once more and leered at her body with his shifty eyes.
"What's this?" He asked with the smell of whiskey sliding off his breath. When he reached towards her Grace jumped back but he caught the gold chain at her neck and pulled the locket out from between her bosom. "This is quite pretty." She was glad when as he ripped the chain off of her neck, her furry companion lunged at the man. In a quick motion, she grabbed her purse and the locket and headed for the back door.
Though reaching the door was deemed impossible as she was suddenly lifted into the air. Grace turned to beat her assailant but the tall man quickly held her wrists back. He stared into her with his large violet eyes like two windows on the evening sky. Something about him seemed familiar.
"If yure smart, lady, you'll stop fightin'." He said low enough so only she could hear.
"I will not." He nodded as if he understood. The wider yet shorter man snatched her away and she fell to the ground when his hand made contact with her cheek. Never had she felt her skin burn so fiercely. Why would no one help her she wondered as the tall man brought her to her feet. The second man seemed to have satisfied his anger with her but that did not stop him from kicking the dog as he passed it.
The poor creature wailed. It had been nowhere near being able to fight and yet it had anyway. Much like Grace. The tall man dropped her at her seat and saw the locket she gripped in her hand. If a lock of her hair had not fallen out-of-place, Grace could have sworn the tall man smiled at her. She felt her stomach jump. At first she thought it was out of fear but when she felt herself smiling she knew it was nothing of the sort.
The engineer wasted no time starting the train again once the bandits were out of sight. The passengers had found something to converse about for the next few hours. A doctor, from the first car, was looking after the couple that had been knocked down. Grace had tried to join the conversations around, many times but every time her attention was drawn to the windows, where the entire world seemed to be waiting outside.
The land stretched on for miles without a building in sight. The sun was harsh but the plant life did not seem to mind for it grew abundantly. There were not many trees on the flat land but the small hills in the distance were speckled with green. It was the west. The untamed, beautiful west.
Though disappointed she had missed the crossing of the Mississippi, Grace was pleased that the train had made such progress in such a short time. They would be in California in no time. She had no clue what she would find there, but if that was as far as she could get from New York then that was where she would be.
The train stopped longer than normal in North Platte, Nebraska. The passengers were not the only ones who found themselves with less money than when they started. The Wilson-Jones Banking Company was who the thieves had really been robbing while they were distracting the travelers. They had managed to crack the safe without blowing it up, which was not an easy feat. At least that was some of the gossip being spread through the station like wildfire.
Others included a train jumping the tracks in the Colorado territory, killing everyone onboard. And Cheyenne attacking chuck wagon trains in the Wyoming territory. Not to mention the Sioux were slaughtering innocent families left and right. With such news the majority of the passengers decided to stay put, until they could be guaranteed safe passage through the Rockies.
Grace did not like the idea of traveling on a nearly empty train, but decided to ride it to Ogallala, where there would be more room. She was in desperate need of a bath and bed and did not want to have to compete with a family who needed the same.
The men rode their horses hard until they reached the dugout. It was not much of a structure but served its purpose and was under a day's ride from Owl Creek, a little town that had more than enough supplies for them. It was about thirty feet by fifty feet with more than two thirds of it covered by the hill it was apart of. There were no windows and the front door was held on by no more than a few strips of leather.
As was expected Tyeeg gave Cooper the job of putting up the horses. They had been working together for six months and still Tyeeg did not trust him as far as he could throw him. Not that Cooper blamed him. He knew he would not trust himself if they had just met. Most of the time people who did not know about his past were eager to befriend him.
A rider was coming in from the east when Cooper was heading back to the dugout. He called to the men inside and they grabbed their guns. It was not until the rider was close enough that they realized he was one of them. Henry had split from the group to go gather a few provisions in town. They had not expected him back until the morning.
"What is going on Henry?" One of the men asked.
"There is to be a hanging down in Ogallala." The man was out of breath.
"What has that got to do with us?" Tyeeg questioned. He did not like to have his time wasted.
"They say it is James." The men froze.
"Why would they want to hang him?"
"The paper says he killed a family down there. Here, I brought one with me." Henry pulled a newspaper out of his saddlebag and handed it to Tyeeg who read it eagerly. The government was in too much of a hurry to get Samuel Tyeeg behind bars. They would do anything, including wrongly accusing his younger brother to bring him out of hiding.
Tyeeg had been pacing the room for a good thirty minutes. It was how he planned his attacks but it did not seem to be helping him much. Cooper watched him cautiously. Tyeeg was the type of man who if he thought too much his head might explode.
"It don't make no sense why we can't just go get him tonight." Andy finally spoke up. He had been quiet most of the afternoon, just waiting to put in his two cents.
"I already told you! That is just what they would expect! If we are gonna do it, it will have to be while they are bringing him to the noose." Tyeeg paced some more and the gang stayed quiet. If Cooper ever wanted a chance this would be it.
"Why don't I ride into town and see how everything is?" Tyeeg snapped his head towards Cooper and he continued, "I will check on things then meet up with everyone in the morning and…" Tyeeg held up a hand to stop him and seriously considered his plan. He turned away from Cooper.
"Kid. I want you to rid up to Ogallala and see what you can find out. Well meet up with ya in the morning and figure the rest out from there. Andy, you go with him."
"Yea boss." Plans were settled on and the two men gathered their things. They would be there by nightfall while the others practiced their shot. It was out in the corral that Cooper finally caught up with them.
"Who's James?" Kid asked Cooper as he saddled his horse. He was not more than twenty so far as Cooper could figure, but he was worth his salt. He was less green than a desert and did every thing he could to prove it. His whore mother was not able to name him before she died so he was only known as Kid. Cooper had grown fond of him. They had joined with Tyeeg at about the same time and one quickly found a friend in the other.
"He is Tyeeg's brother. And the way it is told James saved his life when they were younger, so he's indebted to him in more than a brotherly manner."
"Do you figure your plan will work?"
"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't think so." Kid's mood did not seem to lighten in any way so Cooper tried again. "Andy will keep an eye on you, don't you worry."
"I still wish you were coming all the same."
"The boss has made up his mind." Kid mounted his ride and waited for Andy to do the same. Andy was a decent man who could talk a man out of shooting him, even if he was stealing something. The two of them rode off at full speed.
"See you at Dogwood Creek!" Kid shouted out to Cooper as he and his horse disappeared over the ridge. Cooper waved back then headed for the dugout.
Inside Tyeeg and the men were waiting with their guns at the ready. All seven of them had killed men, some women and children too. Cooper was handy with a gun but he was far past being outnumbered.
"What is all this about?" He asked, keeping his place by the door.
"What Henry forgot to mention early was he brought the post as well." Cooper shifted his weight. "It seems that story you told us about that family you robbed was bullshit. And as it turns out, you be working for the law." When Tyeeg was angry he did not raise his voice, instead his grammar worsened.
"And you are gonna to trust this fool's word over my own?"
"It don't matter if I trust him or not. The proofs in the paper."
"So you plan on killing me? Is that what this is about?" Tyeeg nodded and cocked his pistol. Cooper was feeling a bit intimidated, but did not let it faze him. "Well then why don't we do this like men? Just the two of us, outside."
"You think you can clear leather faster then me?"
"I won't know unless I get the chance." Tyeeg's toothy smile shined in the darkness. He spat some tobacco juice onto the ground at his feet.
"Alright. Well make it fair and everything."