Prologue
July 18, 1860
Junction, Kansas

It was July. Hot. Hot and sticky.

I was sitting in the town square, my knees pulled up to my chest, watching as the gang of bank robbers were being led back to the jail. They had just been tried and found guilty. A gallows would be constructed, starting tomorrow.

"Wouldn't it be nice to be like that?" a girl about my age sat down next to me. I had never seen her before.

"What? Locked up?" I asked.

"No, I mean how they were before they got caught. Free."

"Free," I agreed. "No skirts." My own pink dress and petticoats were sticking to my legs and the sun beat down. My long hair was hanging down my back, offering no relief to my neck. There was no breeze to speak of, anyway. I hated being a girl.

The girl laughed. "Agreed. I'm Kate, by the way. I live in Portstown. It's aways down the road, but my father and brothers didn't want to miss the trial. We'll probably be back for the hanging."

"I'm Sarah."

"Pleased to meet you." Switching her attention back to the outlaws, Kate said, "I'm gonna run away some day, start my own gang. I'll be a hero, just like in the dime novels."

The determination in her voice filled me with admiration. "When you do, stop here for me, I'll be waiting."

Kate turned her big grey eyes on me. "I'll come for you, I promise."