Patch, Chapter 1 of Lee A. Wood s Novel, Fero

Copyrite `95.

FERO

A novel
by
LEE A. WOOD

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DEDICATION

To my fourth wife, Huang, Bin (aka; Lin, Xiao Mao), for her love, patience, and understanding.

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SafeSurf Rated Adults Only

Chapter One

Bison walking across prairie
Author's note: Picture, courtesy of `WILDLIFE ALASKA'

* PATCH 1876 *

The man sat by a small, dying fire. He was a patient man and had been sitting in one position for a long time. His legs, encased in denim pants, were stretched out in front of him. His rifle: a; smooth-bore, hexagon barrel, 50 calibre, Sharps, rested across his lap.

The man was leaning back against a well-worn, western style, saddle. An old, battered, tin cup, half filled with lukewarm coffee, rested on the butt of a fairly new, and shiny clean, 45/70 rifle which lay on the ground beside him. His thick fingers were covered with oil from having recently cleaned his rifles and his pistol.

The pistol, a 44-Remington, rested loosely in a holster on his hip. The holster, too, had been oiled, and from his sitting position he had practiced his draw. He was fairly fast but he concentrated more on accuracy than on speed. Though neither weapon had been fired in the last two days he had cleaned the dust out of them and had them ready, as he always did.

Beside the burly man, on one side of him, next to the rifle, sat the iron skillet and tin fork that had cooked and served his breakfast.

He had rolled out of his blanket when the sun had climbed over the horizon and added a couple of sticks to the small fire that he had kept going all night. The fire and the blanket had kept the night chill away, but still, he had not been able to sleep.

This man was not a coward but he was surrounded by the possibility of death.

The noise had abated during the hours of darkness and its absence had been the more frightening because he couldn't see the source of it, yet he knew the source was still there. Now that the sun had illuminated the source, though the noise had grown in volume, he felt easier, but was still unable to relax.

He had killed men, and women too, for that matter. He had been in knife fights, and drunken shoot outs, and fought off Indian attacks, but he knew that in this instance neither his fists nor his knife could save him. His guns would not save him. The use of them would probably hasten his demise.

Not an educated man in the terms of schooling but knowledgeable in the ways of the wild he knew that only by sitting patiently could he hope to survive.

And so he sat, watching, and listening, to the tide that had swept around the hill he had ridden up, late, the day before. If he could have seen the other side of the hill, before he reached the summit, and known that the tide was there, on the other side, he could have stayed back and waited for it to ebb before he had tempted to cross this area.

He was a fool. He had vainly hoped that the tide would not be on the other side of the hill and he had let the memories of what was behind him urge him into making a wrong decision. Now he was trapped with no way to advance and no way to retreat.

So, he waited and found things to do that could be done quietly. Things he had been putting off, like mending the hole in his britches, sewing a button on his shirt, relacing bindings on some of the cross saddles for the pack horses, particularly the ones that he had taken from the old prospector. The old man was a typical prospector, unknowing in the ways of care and his bindings were in poor condition.

Thoughts of the old man he had killed brought back thoughts of the daughter. Such long silken hair, the blue-black of a raven's back. Large breasts, slim hips, and long legs. Legs that should have been wrapped around him. Wrapped around him now, to help him while away the time on this hill that was surrounded by the brown tide.

Instead of stitching harness he could be stitching her. If she hadn't fought so hard he wouldn't have had to kill her, at least not for a couple of days.

Remembering, how he had almost taken her, made him feel randy. If only she had been more cooperative. Damn virgins anyway. Damn women. "Damn.", He caught himself just in time. He was about to curse out loud and that would not do. Any loud noise could result in his death.

He looked, from the top of the little hillock, surrounded by the surging tide. His shoulders twisting so that his vision covered more of a circle. He froze, when he was looking due West, then quickly remembered to keep turning and watch with his peripheral vision.

He noted the exact direction of what had caught his attention and then perfunctorily completed his sweep of the horizon.

The horizon was many miles from him in every direction. A horizon of light gold as it reflected the morning sun. A horizon that surrounded the sea of brown that surrounded him. The rapidly rising sun was highlighting the waves in the sea around him. A vast undulating tide surging around his little island.

He looked where he had seen other islands yesterday. They had been lower than the one he was on and unoccupied. Now they were buried beneath the brown waves and he noticed the area that he occupied was smaller than the last time he had inspected it.

When he saw nothing else that required his immediate attention he turned back to the small red speck that he had seen on the far edge of the brown tide. He looked where he had seen it and thinking he had lost it, turned his head and picked it up again with his peripheral vision. He watched it for a long while as it zig zagged back and forth and slowly got larger. Whatever it was, it was getting closer.

When he had first noticed the spot it had been bright red but the colour had dimmed until now it was a darkness. Though it was larger now that it was closer he would not have spotted it now that it was darker. He realized that the reason it was dark was that it was no longer reflecting the sun. The sun had passed its zenith and the bobbing object was a shadow among shadows.

He had been so intent on watching this strange apparition that he had not noticed how hot it had become, nor that he was hungry. He had also forgotten to scan the rest of the horizon. He turned to this task now, not seeing any change anywhere else. Moving very slowly he lay the sharps beside the 45/70.

Rising, he walked to a row of several packs that were designed to be carried by horse or mule. From one of these leather containers he withdrew a couple of meadow muffins and pieces of wood that he had gathered as he had been riding.

Since he had lots of pack animals, and lots of time, whenever he found dry fuel he would stop to pick it up. He was a man who liked to cook his meals. He had cold meals only when he had no fuel or if he were on the run and had no time.

Gathering a handful of dry grass, he rekindled the hot coals of his fire. The frying pan was still uncleaned since breakfast but he used it to fry some bacon and beans.

He congratulated himself on having taken the time to reload the prospector's horses before he stole them. The old man had been on the outward leg of his journey and his packs were still full.

Because the old geezer had had his daughter with him he had provisioned well, taking more supplies and pack horses than a prospector would normally carry.

From one of several water kegs the man filled a pot. Adding some coffee beans he put the already blackened pot in the middle of his smokeless fire.

From another pack he extracted the makings of Sourdough bread and mixing it up he stirred it around in the skillet.

As he ate the stolen food, directly from the frying pan, he scanned the horizon and turned again to the place where he had seen the dot. The dot was larger now and close enough to confirm his earlier suspicions. It was definitely a man on horse back.

The rider was wearing some kind of hat but was still too far away to make out any other details. The man was walking his horse slowly back and forth, parallel to the hill and now and then would make it side step in the direction of the hill.

From this distance only the top of the horse could be seen and it looked like the man in red was sitting on a board riding between the crests of brown waves. As the rider drew closer the man on the hill could see how the man in red would walk his horse forward between a couple of the great shaggy beasts who's humped backs gave the impression of brown waves.

When the animal on the nearer side of him would stop to graze the rider would urge his horse in front of the animal and if there was room he would side step it between the one that had stopped and the one in front of it.

Sometimes he would have to make his horse walk backwards and sometimes he would have to walk it for some distance before he got an opening. Slowly but surely he was making a side wards path through the sea of Bison.

The man by the fire put his hand on the pistol at his side, he loosened it in its holster then he pushed it back in. For a moment he looked at the rifle lying by the fire but then turned to look again at the horseman foolishly trying to swim through a sea of migrating buffalo.

The killer knew that if by some weird string of chance that the man on the horse was following him, and why else would he be so foolhardy as to try to pass amongst a forest of four thousand pound animals, and should succeed in reaching this oasis in the sea of beasts, he could not use his guns to kill.

The sound of a gunshot, any loud, sudden noise, could startle these momentarily placid animals and turn the calm sea into a raging storm of maddened beef. A living tidal wave that would engulf the top of his dry hillock and swallow him and his pack horses like straws in a hurricane.

No, if this approaching stranger should make it through the bison, and was intent on his demise, he would have to use a silent defence.

He moved to one of the packs and removed a wet stone. Taking up a position by the dying fire he spent the better part of the afternoon watching the approach of the rider and sharpening his Bowie knife.

The same knife that had killed the prospector would kill the rider. Kill while making no sound that would cause the buffalo to stampede.

Not that Buffalo really needed an excuse to stampede. At any moment they could decide they wanted to go somewhere in a hurry and run right over his little camp without him having any say in the matter. As he thought this he looked around him, as he had many times in the last twenty-eight, sleepless, hours. Everywhere he looked, as far as the eye could see, was a sea of shaggy brown, undulating across the prairies.

The Prairie or North American Bison, commonly called buffalo, are bigger and heavier than domesticated cattle. Like cattle they can be easily spooked, like a wave crashing against a beach, they will sweep across the land in what is called a stampede.

Although he had never seen a Buffalo stampede he recalled, vividly, the stories of the Buffalo hunters who had asked him to join their expedition.

The thought that the hunters or Indians may at this moment be behind the herd of Buffalo was not a comforting thought.

Hunters would start killing and the buffalos would try to run away. Indians would start the Buffalo running so that in their frenzy they would run off a cliff and be killed.

It was the frenzy part that drove cold fear into the man by the fire. If these huge shaggy beasts got into a frenzy they would sweep over his little hillock like a tidal wave over a South Seas island. That he had experienced.

Off the West coast of Africa his ship had set upon a German slaver battling with canoes full of natives. The German guns had destroyed the masts of his ship. He and his few remaining shipmates were adrift at the mercy of the seas. Days later the winds had driven the ship against the rocks.

Natives had found him amongst the wreckage and treated him royally. They fed him, bathed him, and supplied him with small, brown-skinned virgins. He lived like a God in Paradise. At times he had wondered if they weren't just preparing him to be a sacrifice to some God.

While sitting on the beach one day, surrounded by naked females, the sea rose up in front of him.

When he had last looked the water was flat and calm for as far as the eye could see.

He heard yelling, in the native tongue, and looked up to see a wall of water rising higher and higher until it blocked out the sky. Too stunned to move, he stared in awe as some of the girls pulled at his arms and tried to get him to join the fleeing natives. The top of the Tsunami broke and the roar of the water overwhelmed his senses.

As the top of the wave came earthward he finally turned to run, only to be driven face forward into the sand. The front of his body was shaved, like a carpenter using sandpaper on wood, and ever since had grown no hair, from his forehead to his toes.

The next few minutes were like hours, time seemed to last forever. Finally able to breath he regained his senses, floating on a sea, as placid as a lake, with no land in sight in any direction.

The next day he was spotted by a passing ship which took him to America.

A stampede of Buffalo would be as horrible as that tidal wave with no chance of survival. The rock like hooves of the animals would pound his broken body into the soil of the prairies and he would become fertilizer for the grass which the buffalo would feed on, the next time they passed.

When the sun was in the western sky he quit watching the approaching rider. Getting up from his place by the dead fire he went to the water keg. Filling a wooden bucket, he walked down the North slope of the hill to the horses.

The man had picketed the horses in a `V' shaped line several feet down the steeper pitch of the hill.

It was this line of nervous animals that was causing the Buffalo to separate and pass around his little kingdom.

So as to keep the horses from seeing the oncoming waves of brown wool he had tied the horses facing up-hill. To keep them from turning around he had tied their tails to a rope and blindfolded the horses on each end of the picket line.

It took him several trips from the water kegs to the horses. Now that the heat of the day was past he let each horse drink its fill. Not normally a kind man he took the time to reassure his horses with a kind word and a soft touch.

From one of the many packs he took a bag of oats and poured a small pile in front of each horse. The ground was baked hard from the relentless prairie sun and the scant grass that had been growing there had been eaten by the horses within the first hours of their stay. He would have liked to move them up the hill a few feet to some more grass but this would cause too much commotion. Instead he used his small supply of precious grain.

He made sure to move slow and keep himself out of sight, in front of the horses. Several times one of the big shaggy bulls had smelled the water and started towards the horses but had then turned and ambled after its fellow beasts.

He checked to be sure his picket stakes were in the ground solid, solid enough to hold the frightened horses in line through a second night.

Taking some more dried Buffalo patties and wood from a pack he returned to his campsite and rekindled his fire.

Expecting company for supper he prepared a feast. He placed two potatoes in the coals and opened a can of peaches. In the frying pan he made some sourdough bread and when it was ready, set it aside on a cloth.

In the pan he placed two rations of salt pork and a can of beans to which he added a good helping of black strap molasses. He set this to one side of the fire to let it simmer slowly, gauging the time of its being ready to the arrival time of his guest.

Fresh water went in the coffee pot along with some whole coffee beans. He would have liked to crush them but he was afraid of the noise that that would create. Replacing the lid he placed the pot in the middle of the fire.

From a pack he extracted a tin plate and a fork which he set beside him. He squatted on his heels by the fire to tend the cooking and await the arrival of his company.

The man on horseback was now a blot of dark against the setting sun and it hurt to look in that direction. He was close now, only three or four shaggy beasts away from the area that was above the high water mark.

There were no breaks between the animals on the uphill side of the rider and he let his horse amble forward for some distance changing the angle of the sun so that it illuminated his back.

The horse was a strong Bay with clean lines and carried a bedroll behind a military type saddle.

The man sat ramrod straight. Above grey riding britches he wore a red tunic crossed by a brown Sam Browne. The butt of a pistol protruded from a leather holster. A formerly white lanyard ran from the butt of the pistol to his neck. His short hair was topped by a black pill box hat.

It took nearly a half hour for the rider to find breaks in the herd of buffalo and work his way through. When he was finally in line with the little island of calm he slowly walked his horse backwards until he was on the uneaten prairie grass.

Slowly the man in the uniform slid from the saddle. He stood on trembling legs, hanging onto the saddle horn for several minutes before he could turn and lead his horse up the hill. He walked slowly and stumbled several times.

The horse was as weak as the man. Weak from the fatigue and strain of being cautious and quite without a break or a pause for the past many hours.

When the man dropped the reins near the top of the hill the bay stood straddle legged and hung his head. He never moved while the rider, with the last of his strength removed the saddle. Unable to carry it he let it drop beside his horse.

Leaving the Bay ground reined, he slowly walked the rest of the way up the hill. The horse's bit, bridle chain and studs, like the buttons on the man's coat, were all brass but it was impossible to see that the metal was well polished because the horse and the man were covered by a layer of brown dust

Taking a handkerchief from his pocket the soldier mopped the sweat from his forehead and his neck then swatted at the dust. His efforts did little to dislodge the fine dirt and the wiping required too much energy so he returned the handkerchief to his pocket.

As he approached the fire he made no motion towards the weapon holstered on his hip. With a slight Irish accent he spoke to the man by the fire, "I've no wish to be impertinent or impolite but I've been sitting in that saddle for a long time and if that be fresh coffee brewing in that pot I sure would appreciate a cup."

The man by the fire didn't make a move towards his knife but he kept his right hand free. He wrapped his other hand with a rag and pulled the coffee pot out of the fire, "I rather thought ya might." He poured coffee into two tin mugs that were waiting by the fire.

"I've been watching you all day and I didn't see you eat anything so I got some vittles ready as well as the coffee. Tain't much but it'll stick to your ribs and fill the space in betwixt." He spoke with a western slang but there was no mistaking the voice of an Irish seafarer.

He sat back with his range worn denims resting on the heels of his rundown boots. The setting sun reached under the wide brim of his western hat and illuminated his scared face. One coal black eye looked back at the carrot headed young man who had frozen as he reached for the steaming mug being held out to him.

"Well, Jamie?" the man by the fire asked teasingly, "Are ya not going to say hi to your old shipmate? I can see you've recognized my voice if not my face."

Trevor stood, staring at this weathered man sitting by the fire of dried buffalo droppings. It took him several seconds before he found his voice, "Faith `n' begora. It can't be Patch. I thought you died off the coast of Africa. And yore not wearing yore patch?", he added as he reached for the tin mug of steaming coffee the man was holding out.

"I thought the same of you. I thought you were one of the boys that got slaughtered by that broadside from the Germans."

Never letting his eyes leave the older man's face, the man in uniform lifted the mug to his lips and swallowed half of its contents before he realized that it was burning his mouth.

He dropped the mug from his hand, turned, and spit the coffee out in a stream of steam through already blistering lips.

Trying not to laugh, the man by the fire said, "Watch ya don't burn yoreself, that Joe just came outta the fire. Water barrel is over there", he added, pointing behind him with his free hand.

Trevor made a dash for the wooden keg as soon as his streaming eyes located it. Quietly Patch called to him, "Don't run, ya fool. Ya'll startle the buffs."

Trevor slowed to a quick walk. Kneeling by the barrel he scooped the water out with his hands and splashed it on his face. He sucked some water into his mouth, swished it around, and spit it on the ground. Then cupping his hands and bending over the barrel, he drank, swishing each handful in his mouth until it reached body temperature and then let it slowly trickle down his throat.

When his thirst was slacked and the heat from the coffee had been quenched to the point where it wouldn't do any more damage to his tender flesh he stood up.

Noticing a wooden bucket he filled it with water and headed for his horse. As he went by the fire the other spoke to him, "Ya never made a sailor but ya might make a cowpoke. Ya remembered yore horse and ya did a fair ta middlin' ride today so I guess ya been out West here awhile. I'll set out another mug for ya, by the time you've watered your horse it will be cool enough ta drink. I'll set yore supper out so it'll cool as well."

The young man started to speak but when he opened his mouth his burnt lips hurt too much so he closed it again.

He had to stoop over to get the bucket under his horse's mouth. The Bay stood on spread legs with his head hanging. He perked up a bit when he smelled the water and would have cleaned out the bucket but Trevor pulled it back and only let him have a bit at a time.

Trevor pulled his saddle further away from where his horse was standing and then used the saddle blanket to give the horse a well deserved rub down. Draping the blanket over his saddle he carried the bucket back to the fire where he sat down by the waiting food.

He picked up the plate that was sitting by the edge of the fire and scooped a forkful of potato into his mouth.

The still hot potato hit his burnt lips and the fork came out as fast as it had gone in, "Good Lard Jhasus that coffee was hot."

"Straight out of the fire youngster. If you'r' going to survive out here in the West you'r' going to have to be more observant".

Trevor slowly nibbled at the food on the fork, gently easing it passed his sore lips, "That's the trouble, I was too busy observing you. I still find it hard to believe. I thought the St. George went down with all hands.

Patch began to eat but he never took his eyes off the youngster. "The ocean is big and it is easy to get separated from others. They say this prairie is as big as a' ocean. I say it's a hell of a coincidence that we should meet in the middle of it. And what's this uniform ya're wearin'? Ha' ya joined th army?

Between small forks full of food Trevor replied, "It's called the Northwest Mounted Police. We were sent out here to keep the Indians from fighting and to stop the whiskey peddlers from selling them rum".

Patch took a slow look around the horizon, "Still no break in the buffs so ya've got all night to tell me. But it'll be dark soon and we'd best get yore horse in the line with mine. Finish yore supper and I'll stake him in."

By the time Patch had returned from caring for the horses Trevor had finished his supper, lain back on the prairie soil, and gone fast asleep. Patch picked up Trevor's plate where it had fallen in the dirt and pushed his booted feet a safe distance away from the fire.

When Trevor finally awoke the sun was high in the sky. Patch, who had; made and eaten breakfast, cleaned and packed his gear, saddled and packed the horses, was kicking his foot, "Are ya gonna sleep all day?"

Slowly Trevor opened his eyes, squinting against the bright sun. Sensing the lack of weight at his waist he knew that Patch had taken his pistol. "Just dreaming of you, ol' Patch."

"Aye, I can imagine what a nightmare that was?"

"Actually you might be surprised what I was dreaming." Slowly Trevor slid the palms of his hands along his thighs. "It's been a lot of years since we last saw each other. I have been to many lands and met many people."

Teasingly he started to run his finger tips over the enlarging bulge in his trousers. "Some women, some men. When I knew you I was a young frightened boy. I knew nothing of carnal pleasures. I learned from others what you wanted to teach me. But at the time I was too young to understand."

"And yore old enough to understand now are ya?" Patch croaked.

"I'm old enough to know that the sun is awfully warm and I've had neither man nor woman for a long time." As he spoke Trevor was slowly unbuttoning his trousers, slowly exposing his rigidity. Teasingly he began to work his trousers off his hips.

Lifting one foot in the air he spoke softly, "Why don't you be a dear and pull my boots off."

Hastily Patch stepped forward, grasping Trevor's boots he pulled them off and then assisted with the trousers.

"Breakfast is served," Trevor said as he spread his legs far apart, cupped and lifted himself with his hands, offering himself to his old shipmate.

Patch dropped to his knees and placing his hands on Trevor's out flung thighs he bent forward. Placing a hand on Patch's forehead Trevor arrested Patch's movement, "My, my, but we are hungry aren't we. But fair is fair. You still have your pants on."

"Huh? Oh, Yeah, Ok." Patch, understanding, rolled over onto his buttocks and lifted his feet in the air as he began to undo his buttons. Trevor rose and helped Patch with his boots and dropped them on the ground, then helped pull his pants off and laid them beside his own which he reached into for a moment.

Stepping between Patch's legs, he whispered, "Lie back big boy, I'm mighty hungry after that long ride yesterday."

As patch lay back on the dry prairie grass Trevor knelt down between Patch's thighs. With his left hand he grasped the end of Patch's hardened manhood, his right hand came from behind his back. With the knife that he had taken from his trousers he sliced cleanly through the base of Patch's member, severing it from the man's body. Patch let out an unearthly scream and, clutching the remains of his privates, curled into a foetal position.

Before Trevor could get out of the way Patch's flailing legs caught him in the side of the head, but Patch wasn't attacking.

Trevor recovered his balance and stood to one side while Patch wreathed on the ground. He gazed about, noting how his weapons were on Patch's horse, how his horse was in the string of others but his saddle was still on the ground.

When Patch's screams turned to moans and then to curses Trevor stepped over to the injured man. Spearing the remains of Patch's member, which was lying beside him on the ground, Trevor held it before the man's mouth, "You wanted breakfast. Eat this. Fresh meat. Sorry I don't have time to cook it but I seem to be packed and ready to travel. But you forget to saddle my horse."

"You son of a bitch," Patch started to say but as he opened his mouth Trevor poked the offering in. When Patch started to spit it out, his hands left his crotch to go to his mouth, Trevor again stepped between patch's legs.

Grasping one testicle Trevor sliced half way through the top of his scrotum before Patch's hands grabbed the knife. Pulling the knife out of the man's grasp the blade sliced through the palm of one hand. Again Trevor stepped away and surveyed his surroundings while he waited for Patch to stop screaming.

"Now you know the kind of nightmare I was having. You see, I was dreaming of you. I have dreamed of you many nights. I have killed you a thousand times, in a thousand ways.

Today, I kill you for real. With your own knife."

Trevor held the pig sticker before Patch's eyes, "Do you recognize it. I stole it from you, many years ago, and I have saved it for today. Take a close look at it. Do you remember the night you used it to kill my mother?" Trevor drew the knife away and as he did he sliced through the bridge of Patch's nose and the eyelid of his good eye.

Again Patch's hands left his crotch and went to his head and again Trevor stepped between his legs cutting more of the scrotum away from the pubic area. When Patch's hands came away from his face Trevor stabbed him in his good eye, with the point of the blade. "That's for Jamie."

Setting the knife on the ground Trevor cleaned the blood off his hands with fresh soil. Walking slowly to the horses he calmed them, reassured them, and then put his saddle on his horse.

Picking up his discarded clothing he tied it behind his saddle then rummaged through Patch's clothing recovering what had been taken from him while he was asleep. Patch's clothing he scattered across the campsite.

Picking up the knife he returned to the wounded man, "You always thought my name was Jamie. Jamie was my baby brother. He was alone in our room when you killed our mother and got me press ganged. He probably died there with no one left to care for him."

"You thought I would have sex with you. You disgusting shit. I've never let any man touch me. Though lord knows you tried often enough. I can't count the nights I went without sleep because you were prowling the deck looking for me. Every night I slept with my pants on."

"Oh, I know all about the pleasures that men can have with each other. I witnessed it often enough. I've even watched you do it with other men. I wasn't old enough to really understand how sick that is but it cemented my determination to get my revenge. Let me tell you, I was sorely disappointed when I thought that you had gone down with our ship. That would have been too kind a death for you."

Standing up Trevor said, "A kind death is not what you deserve you bilge rat. No, a slow painful death is what you deserve and it's what you'll get." Quickly before Patch could react Trevor lifted the knife and plunged into the remains of the man's scrotum, twisting and cutting as he withdrew.

While Patch wreathed and screamed Trevor wiped the blade of the knife clean in the hair on Patch's head. Then looking at the knife he said, "Hell's bells, I don't want this thing anymore. It's finally served it's purpose."

Trevor reached forward and stuck it into Patch's side, just below his rib cage, gave it a slight twist, and left it.

Standing, Trevor turned and slowly walked to the horses. From one of the pack horses he extracted his scabbard that patch had taken and put it back on his own saddle. From the scabbard he withdrew his sabre and walked back to the moaning Patch.

Trevor stood over the wounded man who was trying to extract the knife from his side with his lacerated hand. Holding his penis, Trevor aimed it at Patch and urinated on him. Walking forward, as Patch tried to roll away, he sprayed him from foot to head.

When his bladder was empty Trevor moved to Patch's feet, "Just, if by some stretch of the imagination, you might survive what I have done to you, I wouldn't want you following me." Trevor swung the sabre and amputated Patch's left foot, just above the ankle.

Ignoring the screams of the dying Patch, Trevor calmly cleaned the sword on the prairie grass, put it back in the scabbard, untied the horses from the picket stakes, pulled the stakes from the ground, put the stakes in a pack, mounted his horse, and slowly rode West, passing behind the last of the departing buffalo, without looking back.

The return journey from the hill to the forest was a lot quicker than the outward bound trip. Gone was the great brown tide that had swept the prairies for four days and gone was the prairie wool that had grown tall before the advance of the shaggy tide. Now only the black soil remained. Contrasting, light, amber-coloured, gophers scurried about looking for something to eat.

Within a few hours Trevor was back at the campsite by the river where Patch had killed the prospector.

Conzuela appeared from behind a tree, her long black hair, pulled back into a pony's tail, bobbing up and down behind her, as she walked back to the campsite. If he expected her to run to his arms he was badly mistaken. While he had been away she had decided that she wanted nothing to do with him.

He may have thought he was Prince Valiant, riding off to avenge her father's death, but as far as she was concerned, he was just another pistolero, bent on death and destruction. She walked to the fire, giving only a slight nod of her head to acknowledge his presence.

Turning her back on him, she squatted by the fire and added some coffee to a battered pot. She knew that he didn't like coffee but he was just a stupid Gringo and didn't know any better anyway. She tried to resist as his hands came from behind and tried to lift her.

Her mind was torn. On one side she wanted him to leave, on the other she was painfully aware of his warm breath on the back of her neck, the curly red hairs of his chest, tickling her shoulders, the heat of his hands on the bottom of her breasts.

She had seen him arrive, wearing only a loin cloth, like some savage Apache, his red hair taking the place of war paint.

She tried to make her mind concentrate on the decision she had made while he was away. A decision to move to a city and find a man of gentle persuasion. His hands, however, would not cease pulling at her.

No matter how much she tried to ignore him, the touch of his fingers, at the base of her mammae, were sending signals through her body to lodge between her legs.

Resistance at an end, she rose quickly, and wrapped herself around him, causing a cloud of dust to arise from his body.

They started to kiss but were interrupted as Conzuela failed in an attempt to stifle a sneeze.

Releasing him she sneezed again. Tugging at his arm with one hand, loosening her clothing with the other, she dragged him to the creek.

Sneezing again, she stopped, and turned. She would ignore the dust. Who cared if he was clean or dusty. She wanted him inside her and she wanted him now.

Squatting she ripped the loin cloth from his waist and stuffed him into her mouth. It was still soft, short, and flabby. Quickly it grew, as her tongue worked on it, until it would no longer fit. Slowly sliding it out of her mouth, her hands tugged at her boots and then her pants.

Too impatient to wait for him to lie down she stood and pulled herself to his shoulders then while he planted his feet in the sand she impaled herself.

She felt him burst inside her. She felt him start to topple and then right himself. As she started to collapse in his arms she sneezed again.

With slow, measured steps, he carried her into the water where he lifted her off his shrivelling member and dropped her into the water, where the two spent the rest of the afternoon washing each other.

As the evening shadows grew long, they prepared a meal and then returned to the water, where they gambolled until well after dark. Finally, by the fire, they curled up in each other's arms.

The hot summer weather held and the two ambled North, stopping at every creek they could find, escaping the rays of the relentless prairie sun in every pool that was deep enough.

The man showed her the little cabin that had been burnt, the creek that led into the canyon, and his little ranch. He showed her how to work the ropes for the ramp.

He stayed with her for two nights then donned his uniform and continued North to his post and his duties.

As much as she had enjoyed the past few days, as much as her body demanded this man, her mind was set. She would not live her life with a warrior.

Letting him go, she would stay to harvest the garden by the burnt cabin. She would stay to pan the gold in the corners of the creek. She would not stay until he came back.

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