After his second knock the door suddenly opened and there was the ranch foreman, Mr. Layton. Billy forced a quick smile which faded when the man chided him for bringing a 'lady friend'? Hell, if he only was so lucky to have a lady friend, least the kind he figured Layton was talking about.
"No sir, it isn't what it looks like. I wouldn't do that none. We run into this here lady while we were out rounding up those strays. Bein' the sociable sorts we are, me n' Greer invited her to share our camp food and we talked a mite too. She is lookin' for a job and she mentioned she knows guns..." he paused, all Layton had to do is glance down at Dotty and see she was packing two revolvers. No typical woman did that.
"I told her that maybe..............now maybe....I couldn't make no promises after all as I just work here...but maybe she could get a job here for the Steelgraves. She was pleased to hear that. So ...well, here we are and..." Billy didn't get to finish.
The real boss, Elias Steelgrave called out from within the house asking what was going on. Layton promptly answered. So far so good, at least he would meet with Dotty. That was something. Layton invited her in and then ordered him to go back to work. Billy was disappointed in a way, he had brought her this far and now he wouldn't even get to hear what would be going on. But he wasn't stupid enough to argue. You didn't do that at Evergreen if you wanted to keep a job.
"Yessir, understood," Billy turned to Dotty then, "Well, I done all I could for ya. Wish you luck, hope you get the job. If you do, me n' you will have a chance to see each other again then."
Dotty, if that was her real name, was willing enough to end the evening and go to sleep also. No doubt whatever else was true or false about her story, she had been traveling for some time and was as tired as that horse of hers looked. If Greer had some plans to very quietly sneak over to their newcomer and rifle her stuff looking for anything interesting, he was too tired to stay awake long enough. The trio slept soundly thru the night.
Next morning, it was decided to forego breakfast, they didn't have much to be honest anyhow except for a repeat of the beans last night. Instead the newcomer agreed with their idea to break camp and press straight on to the Evergreen spread, it wasn't that far a ride. Billy had promised the gal he would introduce her to the Steelgraves and , hell, they might just go and hire her. He had hinted pretty strongly though it wouldn't be for cowpoking but for her gun.
The weather was good, air crisp, and the string of horses quite cooperative so it was about midday when the trio rode onto the ranch and Greer took the horses to the corral next to the barn. Billy meanwhile would handle the introductions between this gal and somebody with some real authority at the ranch. Soon enough he knocked on the main front door of the Steelgrave residence, something he almost never did. But then he had never found himself a possible recruit before either, especially a woman gunslinger. Whether the Steelgraves would think so, God only knew. Billy only hoped they still weren't mad at him for the big brawl at the town festival.
As the woman left the camp temporarily to go fetch her horse, the two long time companions watched her backside til it disappeared into the dark. Greer spoke up first but only in a low tone of voice lest the woman hear him.
Billy frowned, "Whaddya think what?"
"About this here gun-toting gal....who the hell you think I'm referrin' to," Greer frowned right back.
"I don't know....maybe they'll hire her. Don't take a big strong man to pull a trigger ya know, females can do that too....I guess," Billy shrugged.
"Ya don't say, well yer proof of that, you so scrawny and all," Greer smiled, he often made fun of the younger man.
"Well, I damn well could outshoot you, we both know it," Billy snapped back.
She returned so enough leading a fine looking (leastwise in the poor light of evening) horse.
"So we are plannin' on turnin' in now. It's been a long hard day for us roundin' up these strays," Billy referred to the string of horses they had.
"Well, we damn well know how to use our guns too, just gotta be willin'. Some folk just freeze up," Greer remarked.
Billy smiled, "Greer when were you ever in a gunfight?"
"I killed Zeke Crowley back when," Greer defended himself.
"That wasn't no gunfight, that was an ambush," Billy pointed out.
"Life ain't always fair is it?" Greer smirked.
Billy figured he'd better get back to talking to their campfire guest though, "If you're still interested, sure I can bring you to the ranch and introduce you to the foreman. If he's of a mind to, he'll have you meet Mr. Steelgrave. He makes those kind of decisions afterall."
She wanted to bring in her horse, tied up somewhere out in the trees, a reasonable request.
"Sure go ahead, ain't like we're goin' anywhere," Billy nodded.
The woman said she wasn't upset, well Billy had his doubts about that alright. She sounded upset. But he wasn't about to argue with her over it. Instead he gave a look toward Greer as if to silently say 'stop it' then instead spoke to her.
"Well, that's good then."
He then changed topics and asked about if she might possibly be looking for work. Turned out she seemed at least a bit interested given her return question.
"Not exactly....I just was curious but no, I didn't mean saloon or cat house. Still......you shoot those guns of yers pretty good? Can ya hit what ya aim at? Might just know a place or two where gunhands can get hired. Depends on how willing you are to actually use those?" Billy still wasn't wanting to come right out with it plainly.
Billy nodded as the woman identified herself. Dotty...Jackson. Now he knew a Jackson family over Billing's way but he didn't recall them having a Dotty. Still it was a very common family name, lots of Jacksons.
"Dotty. That's a right pretty name, " he lied thru his teeth, he actually didn't like it but he was trying hard to be friendly with this gal.
She turned to meet his gaze then even as she asked a question about towns.
"Oh yeah. Closest is Kalispell. Then probably Whitefish. You got family around?" he had his own questions.
So did Greer who was far less diplomatic, "Why in tarnation you wearing two sixguns? What kinda woman runs around with guns like that?"
Actually Billy thought that too but hadn't voiced it, leave it to his lummox partner.
Billy figured it was in the end the food that drew her in as she made her up to the campfire then sat down. He now took his hand off his gun and relaxed a bit. He wasn't a trusting person, most of his life he had lived with and dealt with people you wouldn't want to trust. That included his current employers but they paid decent so he stayed on. The woman seemed quite content with beans then was rather pleasantly surprised with the tack on jerky offer.
"Alright, here use my plate and spoon, I'm done eatin' anyhow," he passed over the utensils then got up again to go pull the jerky out of his saddlebags. Those were piled with his saddle on top of the blanket he would be sleeping on.
While the young man did that, Greer just stared at the gal. She probably wouldn't want to know what his current thoughts were but whatever, he did not voice them. When Billy returned he had a few long sticks of jerky to give her.
"So what's yer name then? Oh, this here is Greer - he don't like his first name none. And I'm Billy...Billy Watlow. "
And then this mysterious woman finally appeared, emerging out of the darkness of the tree line as she approached the campfire. The woman replied that she already had her horse so that meant they wouldn't have to do a search when daylight came. That was a good bit of news because neither of the cowpokes had any ambition or desire to.
"Oh, that's a good thing then," Billy nodded as he studied the woman.
Definitely not that damn farm girl with her dark hair in pigtails....no this here was a grown woman. And looking a bit rough for wear but then if she had been wandering around in the wilds, small wonder. Billy wondered how old she was. He also wanted a closer look at her once she reached the fire so he could decided if she was pretty or not.
Now on the other hand Greer didn't pay attention to all that as his attention was drawn to the fact this woman had not just one but TWO guns in her holster. In all his years, he never could remember any woman heeled like that. Nope, this was no townie or ranch gal. Nobody like that would wear two six guns. This one could be real trouble.
The woman stated a willingness to partake in some dinner though. Afterall they had invited her to share their supper.
"Sure, it ain't fancy. Just beans though but we got plenty left," Greer invited her in then.
Billy kept his hand on the handle of his pistol but it remained inside it's holster, "Sure, you can use my plate, I'm done anyhow. Oh and we got some beef jerky too. Would you want a couple slices?"
As he was standing he waved with his free hand for her to have a seat by the fire, "Make yerself comfortable."
The two cowboys tensely waited for............well something to happen. A reply, gunfire, the sound of a horse galloping away...something. Suddenly there was a voice from the darkness, a female voice! That was a good thing....probably.
Billy glanced over to Greer, "It's a gal."
Alright, so that was belaboring the obvious. Greer nodded without reply. So even though Billy was by far the junior of the pair he assumed the spokesman role.
"That's good, neither do we. We're eating some supper, nothing fancy but you're welcome to have some. Course you're gonna have to come over to the fire then."
For just a moment he thought of that rabid wildcat farm girl but no, it definitely did not sound like her. He'd remember her voice alright.
"Sorry 'bout your horse. But maybe we can find it come daylight. Besides we got us some extra horses," he added.
Greer practically spilled his plate of beans on hearing the horse from closeby but not the direction where their horses were tethered. Then he froze in place and stared out into the darkness. Being so close to their fire, that only made vision past the blaze all the more difficult. He did manage a shout out though.
"Hey, anyone out there?"
Billy flinched but then recovered quickly to set his own plate aside and carefully place one hand on the handle of his holstered revolver but he did not draw it. For all he knew someone or several someones out there had aimed guns on them. He was no fool. But if shooting did start he was ready to dive away from the fire and go prone while at the same time having his weapon out and firing at any possible target.
"Just show yourselves...we don't want no trouble," he smiled and his youthful voice sounded a whole lot more calming than his gruff older partner.
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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