The Spaniard


The Seville family survived the Moors during the invasion of Spain in the early 8th Century; actually, their sword making techniques, during the occupation, made the Seville family wealthy. The Moors had a deep respect for the technology involved in manufacturing a fine honed blade, thus they allowed the Seville family to prosper; eventually, Moors married into the family and the family became one of the wealthiest families in Spain.

Over a thousand years later, the family members were titled and wealthy aristocrats; they were a handsome family, noted for dark skin tones as well as blue and green eyes. They were considered to be capable and intelligent; unfortunately, because of the early practice of marrying cousins to keep the family estate intact and perhaps, because of incestuous relationships over time, there was a strain of madness that permeated the Seville bloodline. However, Toledo made the best steel swords in the world and the Seville family was considered to be the best sword and knife makers in Toledo.

A good sword had strength, flex, and the ability to hold a razor’s edge. The Seville swords and sabers were easily recognized by men of arms, whether they were duelists or the arms buyers for the armies of Europe. Inferior swords often broke in combat and if they couldn’t hold an edge they were useless and cost lives. The secret was in the purity of the iron, the carbon and the tempering process. In an era of coal fired forges, there were no thermometers; however, temperatures were critical, if the temperatures were too high when the steel was quenched, the iron would be too brittle and the steel would break like glass. If the steel was too cold, the blade wouldn’t hold an edge and the sword would bend. The control of the temperature, the application of carbon, and the quench or cooling phase were all important factors needed to make a good sword.

Young Ignacio was the son of a younger brother of the Don who headed up the family. He would never inherit the wealth of the family. His most obvious options were the military or the church. Young men like Ignacio were supposed to be men of leisure, horse riding, fencing, and seducing astronomical numbers of maidens were considered worthy pursuits for wealthy dilettantes, but Ignacio was different. He learned the steel business from the smelting of iron to the sharpening and polishing of the finished blade.

His family was incensed when young Ignacio came from working in the mills and forges with coal dust and dirt covering his body and clothes. His male cousins laughed at him and the females rolled their eyes with smirking grins. Despite his family’s disapproval, Ignacio was being recognized as an important member of the sword making enterprise.

If someone was sick or if someone died, Ignacio stepped forward and trained a new worker. He still rode horses and took fencing lessons; except, he had a strength of both body and mind that his brothers and cousins secretly envied.

There was one cousin that envied Ignacio’s skills and hated him for his work ethic and his knowledge; Carlos was in line to inherit the sword making factory. His life was spent in gluttony, wine drinking and being a bully to anyone beneath his social station, which was almost everyone. He was waiting for his invalided father to die so that he could inherit all the money to continue his life of unfettered debauchery, until the family estate went bankrupt or he died of excess.

Such young men resent those who make them look useless. Thus, Carlo’s hatred for Ignacio seethed; he waited patiently for the chance to rid himself of this cousin who served only to remind him of his wasted and irresponsible life.

Saturday evening belonged to Ignacio and he would go to a small cafe on the plaza to get a glimpse of the love of his life. Louisa would be there with her older brothers. Her impossibly blue eyes that flashed and sparkled like the forges at work and her long flowing black hair that curled in waves down to her lower back were her most striking features. At 5 foot 8, she towered over most of the men in the village. Yet she was the romantic daydream of every male with a libido in the village.

Ignacio was allowed to join Louisa and her two brothers to stroll on the promenade where flirting and flashing eyes were a formal tradition in selection of possible matrimonial partners. Young girls paraded their charms and chastity while chaperoned by older male relatives who glared at men who showed an interest. To walk with a young girl, a suitor must ask the chaperone for permission to speak to the maiden. He then had to ask to walk alongside of her. This was his chance to engage in conversation and make a favorable impression. Many potential suitors asked, but few were accepted; it was fashionable to be in demand, but not to seem too approachable.

If a man was deemed suitable, he was asked to Sunday dinner. After several dinners, he was expected to propose or he might be challenged to a duel by a brother or cousin of the maiden. Honor and respect were expected and disputes were often settled with blood and death. Courtship was a serious matter to the caballeros of this class and to those who ascribed to the old traditions.

Young single women of lower socio-economic classes and some who weren’t so young or single used the promenade as a chance to set up liaisons of passion. A glance, an eye movement, or a toss of the head were all part of a ritual that helped unite lovers later on that evening. The danger from male relatives and husbands was intimidating in a village where every man owned a sword and was trained in its use. But in the village of Paloma near Toledo, it was accepted that its people were a lusty bunch, even by Latin standards.

Ignacio could have met with hundreds of peasant girls or frustrated married women for a few minutes of lust, but he had already been invited to Louisa’s family dinner and he was under close scrutiny as a possible mate for Louisa, it was imperative not to be caught up in some scandal. It was easy to be caught, for although it was considered the actions of a degenerate for a man to speak of his sexual conquests, it was a great topic of conversation for women to speak of their sexual conquests, listing all the important details of each encounter to any female who would listen. Thus men sometimes died after a glowing review was told and retold, until an enraged male relative demanded satisfaction and one of the two men was either seriously wounded or killed. It was a part of their culture, flawed as it may have been, it kept a measure of honor and cohesion within the group.

On this fateful night, after walking with Louisa and her brothers for a respectable twenty minutes, one of the brothers said it was time to say goodnight. Ignacio stood about 18 inches away, a distance that made her relatives nervous and said good night to Louisa and telling her he hoped to see her soon. He bowed his head and his torso slightly. When he stood up, one of the brothers told him they would be serving dinner tomorrow at 3 o’clock and that he should come at 2 o’clock.

Ignacio thanked the relative and said he would be at their hacienda at 2 o’clock.

The trio walked toward their home and Ignacio was ecstatic. This was his second invitation; if he were invited two more times, he was expected to propose. He decided to have a glass of wine to calm his nerves while he was oblivious to the admiring glances of many females.

After drinking the wine without tasting it, he mounted his horse and decided to ride by Louisa’s family estate on the way home. He had to feel close to her, just one more time this evening. He was in a dream world and the beautiful Spanish maiden never left his thoughts.

A short distance out of town, Ignacio saw two men in the road and one of them was in agony. He jumped off his horse and held onto the reins as he knelt to offer assistance. It was Louisa’s brothers, they had been stabbed multiple times and were bleeding profusely. The one who asked him to dinner said they were dying and not to worry over them, but Louisa had been kidnapped by Carlos Seville and several brigands. He pointed to the wagon tracks of a carriage and told him to save Louisa.

Ignacio said, “May God hold you in his arms tonight.” The dying man said, “Vaya con Diaz” (“Go with God) and laid back to die. Ignacio jumped on his horse and followed the tracks to a room in the back of a cantina. The carriage was parked beneath a tree and several evil looking men were lounging around the carriage. Without forethought he walked up to the men as they slowly stood and put their hands on swords and knives. He drew his sword and slashed the first man through the right collar bone and down through the chest cavity. The sword finished its diagonal arc through the left abdomen of the man and Ignacio brought his sword up at lightening speed and thrust it through the breast bone and the heart of the next man, killing him instantly. He lost valuable seconds while trying to dislodge his sword from the bone. One of the cowards ran into the night, but the other one drew his sword and thrust at Ignacio just as his sword broke free. The thrust of the sword was stopped by the ribs of Ignacio, the man lacked the strength to break the ribs and force his sword into the chest cavity to deliver a killing thrust. The blade glanced off the ribs leaving only a jagged cut and chipped ribs. Ignacio raised his sword and brought the razor sharp edge across with speed and power. The blade entered the side of the man’s neck and exited the other side without slowing down. He dropped his sword and grabbed his neck with both hands in a futile effort to stop the bleeding. Ignacio left him to bleed out on his knees and ran into the small room. His cousin was on the naked Louisa, she was bitten and bruised as if the hunting hounds had nearly torn her to pieces, her face was unrecognizable, her eyes were bruised and swollen shut, her nose was broken, and her lips protruded many times beyond their normal shape.

He hesitated to stare in horror at the scene of debauchery in front of him. Carlos reached for his sword and the two engaged in mortal combat next to the violated girl. As often happened, when two expert swordsmen meet in combat, they thrust at the same instant and each sword met flesh. Carlos’ sword cleaved the left cheekbone and below the eye of Ignacio, blinding him with pain and blood. The blade of Ignacio pierced the belly of Carlos and would have been a killing wound except for the roll of belly fat around his middle and the intense pain of Ignacio’s wound causing him not to complete his thrust. If Carlos would have been a stronger man, he could have finished off Ignacio, but the sight of his own blood scared him and he ran to his carriage, barely noticing the bodies of his brigands, as he left to acquire medical assistance at home.

Ignacio overcame his pain and covered his love with her torn clothes. With difficulty from the pain of his two wounds he mounted his horse while holding his beloved’s broken and bleeding body. He rode to the home of his older sister Emilia, Emilia and was a serious woman who understood the gravity of the situation. She tended to Louisa and had one of her maids tend to the wounds of Ignacio. She told a stable groom to prepare a coach with their best team.

When the two young people were bandaged, she gave them a hamper of food, two bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy, she told them to drink the brandy for pain and to drink the wine at night to sleep. She pressed a leather sack of gold and silver coins into the hands of Ignacio and told him, “Head for the port of Malaga, Andalucia, we are shipping swords and knives to Lavaca, Matagorda, and the ship leaves in ten days, the ship is the Corazon de Mexico, give the captain this letter and you will be safe, now go!”

The groom drove them to the coast and left them with the ship and the Captain who treated the couple as royalty. Louisa was withdrawn and rarely ventured from their cabin during the five week trip across the Atlantic. Ignacio realized she would need time to recover and he was determined to give her all the time she required.

The village of Lavaca was a cultural shock for the young couple. The roughshod Texican seemed to be little more than uncouth barbarians; yet, they were respectful with a strong sense of justice and fearlessness.

At first Ignacio disliked these frontier ruffians, but he soon realized the very element of independence and self-reliance that made him learn the weapon manufacturing business is what drives these Texans. He learned to admire their rugged individualism and sense of right and wrong.

With the Mexicans, there was a distinct set of social classes that reminded him of Spain. They were among the upper levels of society, since they were born of Spanish aristocracy. The Mexican born of Spanish blood was next, followed by the Mexican born of Indian and Spanish blood. The Indian was of the lowest class. The aristocrats considered beneath their station to associate with lesser people. Yet, people from lower social classes were always trying to marry their children to a higher social group to attain entry to a higher level and hopefully any wealth that might part of the deal.

Ignacio had already seen the caste system at its worst. He preferred the Texans, they showed only a minimal respect to aristocrats; although, it was no wonder, among the Texans, there was a mixing of the social classes, for the wealthy aristocratic Texans were just as uncultured as the lowest classes.

It was a short time after their arrival, they met acquaintances from Spain. Fearing the possibility of Carlos sending assassins or coming to Monterey himself to kill them both in an effort to avoid repercussions in the future, they were anxious to keep moving.

Louisa hated this new country and wanted to socialize with no one, even the one man who loved her. She wore a veil to hide her crooked nose and her shame, for she now knew she was pregnant with the seed of Carlos. She had told Ignacio to tell people they were brother and sister, since she was with child and she felt as if she could never marry, because of her disgrace and her crooked nose.

When she felt the swelling begin in her belly, she told Ignacio. She expected him to throw her into the street, but he told her that he would love this child and raise it as his own. At that moment, she fell in love with the brave young man that had saved her life and told herself that she could never look at another. She told him she wanted to start a new life in Oregon, to be away from the old world and the horrible memories. Ignacio longed for adventure and told her that Oregon would be a good place for them to build a life. He kissed her cheek, she felt herself swoon and she almost fainted.

At some point in the future, she knew they would marry and could live as man and wife; she knew that day would come in their future, when she felt safe and free of the Old World.

Ignacio thought the wagons of Texas were weak and poorly made, there was no comparison in the craftsmanship of Toledo and Mexico, but he bought one of the inferior wagons, for he was sure that his future wife would be unable to ride all the way to Texas in her present condition.

He purchased the best wagon he could find and enough supplies to carry them to Texas. He hired two young vaqueros to guard them and help with the chores. The vaqueros were just boys with quick smiles, but they were quick, brave, strong, and fearless. Alejandro and Pepe were of true Mexican stock. They were illiterate, but possessed the skills of master horsemen and stockmen. They also had that Spanish trait of undying loyalty to a patron. He was sure they would fight to the death to defend Louisa, for that feature was embedded deep within the soul of the Hispanic and his culture of machismo.

Ignacio knew of the Comanche and the even more ruthless Comanchero, the mixed blood offspring who traded with the Comanche for slaves and gold, and supplied them with guns; they had a reputation for hating everyone and everything. He swore if they were under attack, Louisa would never be taken alive. He made sure that his vaqueros understood his wishes in that regard. They each nodded with solemnity, indicating that they understood their responsibilities; at that instant they had both respect and love for their Spanish patron, for he gave them this great measure of trust and responsibility that is so important to the young men of the Mexican culture.

During the trip through Texas, Ignacio was glad he had his vaqueros with him. They rode past many men who looked to be bandits, but the bandits seemed to dislike the possibility of armed resistance from three well armed men. In the desert of North Texas, they were camped for the night when the voice of a gringo caught their attention, “Hello the camp, Ranger Mckee, coming in.”

Ignacio drew his pistol as did his vaqueros.

Ranger Mckee walked into the light of the fire leading his horse. He looked strange and frightening, he stood over six feet tall and had multiple weapons on his belt and in scabbards on his horse. As he walked into camp he smiled and said, “buenos noches”, with the horrible gringo accent. Everyone was silent as they stared at this stranger who seemed to travel alone. He asked if he could have a bowl of beans, Ignacio nodded his head and the ranger opened a saddle bag to withdraw a wooden bowl and spoon. He ate several bites and asked if they knew Querna Vaca was tracking them.

“Who is Querna Vaca?” asked Ignacio.

“If you live long enough, you will meet him and his men just before daylight.”

Ignacio asked the ranger to explain.

He is one of the worst Comanches that has ever lived and he has eight or ten of the most bloodthirsty Comanches and Comancheros in Texas as his companeros. Tommorrow they plan to kill you and your men, and steal your woman and anything you have of value.

At first, Ignacio thought Ranger Makee might be an assassin, but this sounded much worse. He asked the ranger how he knew all this information.

Mckee smiled and said, “I’ve been tracking him for three months; you’ens are the first victims I’ve found, before he killed them.”

“What do you intend on doing,” Ignacio asked.

“I’m going to wait until he comes in the morning and kill him and his men or die trying.”

“Can we help you, Señor?”

“The help would be appreciated, but they will be coming fast and ready to kill. If you hesitate you will die. If they captures you alive, they will torture you for hours, just so you know what to expect.”

“We will fight, Señor. We will fight to the death.”

“I was hoping you wanted to fight. Put out the fire and roll the wagon over here. We’ll turn it over in this coulee and build a redoubt. I want the four of you in the fort, I’m going back in that brush and shoot them in the back as they run past me. I may come up out of that hole with guns blazing if it looks like you are going to be overrun, so don’t shoot me.”

Ignacio made sure his vaqueros understood the battle plan and they began preparing for the battle.

The first Comanche crawled to within thirty yards of Ignacio’s little group and stood up to charge at a full speed run with a blood curdling scream. Ignacio and his vaqueros all three fired into the torso and the Comanche was sliding forward with his momentum and stopped within a few feet of the coulee. One of the vaqueros was shot through the hip, but he turned to fire at another charging Comanche. Ignacio could see the ranger firing into the backs of the attackers and then walking forward with both revolvers firing. It was almost over when a bullet smashed into his kneecap, Ignacio fell forward onto the lifeless body of Pepe. Ignacio raised his revolver to fire just as Querna Vaca brought his war ax down on the left temple of Ignacio, exposing a portion of his brain. Louisa drew Ignacio’s sword and plunged it upward into the belly of Querna Vaca until it pierced his heart. Querna dropped his weapons and touched his fingertips to his chest and mouthed a silent scream; until, he fell forward and pushed the sword all the way through his back. The battle was over, the three men who were protecting her were all dead and she was going into labor.

Ranger McKee carried her from the carnage and into the shade of a small tree. After she tried to deliver the baby for the rest of the day and into the night, Ranger Mckee told her he knew how to help cows deliver and if she didn’t deliver the baby soon, she would be too weak to deliver the baby and they would both die.

Louisa told him to do what he needed to do, while she still had the strength to help.

McKee felt in the birth canal and found the head in a normal position, but one foot was beside the head and there wasn’t enough room for the baby to be born. Using his knowledge of cows, he placed her lower back on his thigh and pushed the baby back with all his might, when he felt the baby slip backward, he pushed on the little foot until it slipped backward and upward in the birth canal. The baby slid forward at a tremendous rate of speed and was born. Louisa passed out when the baby was slid into Mckee’s hands. He cleaned up the baby boy with his bandana and held the baby to Louisa’s breast to suckle. While holding the baby, he laughed at its’ aggressive appetite. He looked sadly at he bite scars on her thighs and breasts and assumed she was ravaged by Comanches, it probably happened at the same time her nose was broken. It wasn’t a terrible break, the lower half was angled to the left a quarter inch or so, but it was the only blemish on an angelic face, a face that was beyond comparison on the frontier of Texas.

She would need help, Makee’s rangering contract was up and since Querna Vaca and his merry band was dead, he no longer had other responsibilities. He would take care of her and the baby, until they were with her people. He held the baby when it was done feeding and drifted into a light sleep, while Louisa slept a deep sleep.

Mckee introduced her to her baby before daylight the next morning and explained that the baby had already fed during the night and he had an excellent appetite. She smiled at the baby as if he was the most beautiful treasure in the world, while Mckee wandered into the brush to round up as many horses as he could find to get them moving. By noon Mckee had his horse, the team for the wagon and the vaqueros’ horses, as well as several of the comanche horses. He didn’t know how she was set for finances, but the horses had value and some of them could fetch a twenty dollar gold piece.

He retrieved all the weapons from the battle and the fine Spanish sword Louisa had used so well to stop that homicidal bastard Querna Vaca. He found the leather pouch carrying the gold and silver Spanish coins on Ignacio and put them into the wagon. She was pretty well set up, he could accompany her wherever she wanted to go and she would have enough money to support herself for a long time or until she could find a husband.

Louisa looked upon Mckee as almost a god, he came to them out of the blue, to warn them of an indian attack, an attack she and her baby would not have survived. He then delivered her baby, when it was caught in a position that would have killed her and the baby. He was truly a special man, yet he was so humble and polite. He had seen her scarred body and crooked nose, but didn’t ask the questions she didn’t want to answer. She could feel herself falling in love with this gentle giant, this gringo, who smiled so openly, when he looked her in the eye, he never stared at her crooked nose. With him she felt safe and accepted: she never wore a veil again for the rest of her life. If this giant gringo could accept her without questions, the rest of the world could accept her as well.

He laid Ignacio, Pepe, and Alejandro in shallow graves and by mid-afternoon, they were ready to travel a few miles before dark. He felt it was important for the mental health of Louisa to get away from the scene of the battle.

When they were ready to start, he asked Louisa where she would like him to take her. He could have fallen over when she said Oregon.

He once rode all the way to Santa Fe to shoot a cold blooded killer, but that was the farthest he had ever been outside of Texas. There was no hope of her reaching Oregon, unless he helped her, but there were no guarantees she would make it, even with his help.

Heading North Out Of Texas

Makee was born on a ranch in West Texas twenty seven years earlier, He had been in twelve skirmishes with Comanches, had fought countless Comancheros, and had hanged many renegades and horse thieves, but he had never been north of Texas. It was late fall, but he knew if he stayed East of the Rockies they could probably travel all winter; at least, if the snow didn’t get too deep.

The woman and the baby seemed to grow stronger each day. Louisa and Ranger Mckee took turns riding and driving the wagon. Mckee was actually beginning to like the baby. He was a strong little fellow that would grab his finger and hang on then smile and giggle. McKee was ten years old and an only child, when the Comanches killed his parents. After the death of his parents, he had lived off the land and by using his wits, until he was big enough to lie about his age of thirteen and become a ranger. He had never been around children and this was a new experience for him, an experience he was really starting to enjoy.

Growing up as a ranger meant long hours in the saddle and moments of extreme danger. They never chased and hanged good men. He had mainly been exposed to the worst examples of human kind. The only women he had known were the women of the saloons. they loved his boyish smiles and shy mannerisms, but he always had an empty feeling in his soul the next morning. After awhile, he stopped joining his ranger buddies for a chance to relax with whiskey and women at a saloon after a successful patrol. He would rather enjoy a full night’s sleep. He never really developed a taste for whiskey; he had just liked the camaraderie of his friends and the attention of the whores.

He became a recluse, there was no chance of securing a wife, there was no woman who wanted to live as a wife alone and never knowing whether her husband was dead and scalped on the Staked Plains or in old Mexico.

In his imagination, he made himself think of Louisa as his wife and of the boy Dominic as his own son. For the first time in his life, Ranger Makee was feeling content and happy. Louisa enjoyed riding and often showed off her equestrian skills. It was obvious she had learned real riding skills from a master in Spain.

They spoke in a mix of Spanish and English and although Mckee had no concept of verb tenses, for few Spanish speakers in the New World mastered the correct usage of Spanish, he was learning the grammatically correct aristocratic Spanish from Louisa; unfortunately, she was picking up the same imperfections in English that Mckee had, as well as his direct, slow speech patterns, but she was learning McKee’s imprecise English at a tremendous rate.

Sometimes Mckee wondered whether she expected him to ride back to Texas after they arrived in Oregon or whether she might want him to stay in Oregon. Maybe he could be a substitute father of Dominic and a friend of Louisa, for he never thought this fine Spanish lady would look upon him as a possible husband. She is a cultured beautiful Spanish Lady: he is an Indian fighter, tracker of horse thieves, and a Texas Ranger, he had been a ranger since he was thirteen, he had spent most of his life in the saddle, he had been wounded by twelve bullets and arrows, she probably thought of him as just a little better than a half civilized Comanche.

For the first time in his life, he was not alone. He had ridden with many rangers and seen too many of them die, but even when he rode with these rough men, he was alone. He now had a spiritual partner and he felt fulfilled. For the first time, since his parents were killed, he had deep loving feelings for a human being; he thought maybe he was falling in love with Dominic and Louisa.

It was mid-afternoon when two human figures came running down from the foothills to the East. They were running very hard and about a mile away from the wagon.

Ranger Mckee, said to himself, “What’s going on here?”

He drew his rifle from his scabbard and started to trot toward the two figures. Suddenly, a group of eight riders rode down from the hill. The ranger spurred his horse into a gallop and said to himself, “I don’t like the way this looks.”

He fired twice at the lead rider and missed both times, the rider was within twenty yards of one of the runners and was ready to throw his lance. McKee aimed as well as could on his galloping horse from sixty yards and fired just as the lance left his hand. The bullet from the Sharps struck the Apache in the center of the chest and he flew backwards out of the saddle, but McKee watched in horror as the lance arced through the air and struck the running Indian woman in the lower back, the blade and part of the shaft were sticking out of her lower abdomen.

McKee could see that she was carrying a newborn baby and he flew into a killing rage. He draped the Sharps over the saddle horn by a leather thong he kept tied to the rifle. He then drew the Navy Colts and killed the other Apaches with a bloodlust he had never felt before. In less than a minute, the Apaches were all knocked from their saddles. He finished off two of them with a double barrel shotgun he kept in a saddle scabbard and finished off the last one with his Bowie knife. As Louisa drove up in the wagon he reloaded his pistols and put a bullet in the head of each Apache. He learned a long time ago not to trust Apaches to die, just because they had a mortal wound. He then joined the Indian who was trying to comfort his dying wife.

Louisa ran up and asked the ranger in Spanish if there was anything they could do. Mckee tightened his lips and shook his head no. She was on her knees and was holding her newborn to her breast. Eventually, she sat down on her calves and tried to be as comfortable as possible while waiting to die.

Mckee and the man were communicating with sign language. Louisa asked what the man was saying. He says his wife can’t die in peace, knowing that her baby daughter will starve to death.

Louisa looked shocked and said, “Ranger Mckee, you tell her that I will feed her baby like it is my own and raise her up to be a young woman.”

Mckee gave the appropriate hand signals and the young Indian woman’s facial expression took on a look of peacefulness. She held out the baby to Louisa and slumped down to die.

They laid her in the wagon and drove to a little hill and buried her at sunset. Louisa fixed dinner, while the men dug the grave. They buried her in silence. After dinner the Indian man sang a funeral song in his own language. It was a haunting song that made the hair stand up on Mckee’s arms. When he was finished, Louisa sang a Spanish song of love, life, and death. During the song, the Indian man started crying and Ranger Mckee felt all the emotion of twenty-six years boil to the surface and he began to cry, not so much from death and sorrow, but from the happiness of having a good woman with him and the expression of kindness she showed by taking on the little Indian baby. His family was getting bigger.

Louisa now began to realize why the Texas Rangers are regarded so highly. Ranger Mckee didn’t hesitate when he saw an injustice. He was not only the peace officer, but he was the judge, jury, and executioner as well. He was a magnificent man, but he was as humble and unassuming as he was brave. She decided that this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

The next morning at daylight, Mckee was awakened to the sound of an animal in camp. He jumped out of his bedroll to see the Indian cut the throat of an exhausted bull elk. Mckee helped the man butcher the animal, but he was astounded by what he had just seen.

When the men were cooking elk steaks, beans with onions, and coffee, Mckee began to ask the man how he had caught the elk and brought it into camp.

The Indian explained that he was from the Tarahumara tribe from the high mountains of Northwestern Mexico. They were legendary runners who hunt game by running it down. They live in the high mountains and usually don’t venture away from home, because they are shy of the rest of the world.

They had to leave their home because his wife was in a contract of marriage to a chief’s son, it was arranged when she was a small girl, but she had fallen in love with him, Chi Chi and they decided to elope, so they ran away.

They didn’t expect the chief to hire Apaches to hunt them down. The Apaches had been on their trail for over a year and if they wouldn’t have run into Ranger Mckee, he too would have died with his wife and since Ranger Mckee had saved his life he was bound to serve him for the rest of his life.

In all his days of rangering, Mckee had never heard such a story. He had heard of the Tarahumara, but considered them to be legends. They were said to be able to run distances of a hundred and even two hundred miles. No wonder those Apaches looked so gaunt, they had spent a year trying to run down these two young runners, “foot throwers” they call themselves, it was no telling how many horses the Apaches had stolen trying to keep up with the runners. The Apaches were among some of the best trackers, they were considered legendary like McKee, but to run down people who can run over a hundred miles a day would kill horses, you would kill a horse every few days.

Mckee wondered if he could have run down these two. The Apaches were relentless and would have considered it to be a matter of honor; although, from their appearances, they looked more dead than alive, they couldn’t have pursued the young couple much farther before the pursuers would have died on the trail. The story was even more phenomenal when you consider his wife ran during her pregnancy and gave birth a few days ago; yet, they were still running and they looked to be in great shape.

He told the tale to Louisa and she began to cry. Mckee put his hand on her shoulder and said that at least the two lovers were together for a year and that the fruit of their love would now live under their protection. Louisa spun into Mckee and wrapped her arms tightly around his middle and squeezed with an unimagined strength. She was five foot eight, Mckee was six foot two and an extremely strong man, but her strength was almost frightening. She cried even harder and Mckee patted her back with his hand and told her that things would work out.

Later, Mckee was overwhelmed with the strength of Louisa’s bear hug around his belly. She was visibly upset, but was she upset with him, did he do something wrong? It was all very confusing for Mckee, for he was the fearless Indian fighter and tracker of horse thieves, because the fearless hunter and executioner of bad men had no experience in affairs of the heart.

Ranger Mckee had never considered having a servant and disliked the term itself, but Chi Chi was proving himself to be very useful. Every afternoon, he would run ahead to find a good campsite with good water and feed for the horses. He’d have a fire started and fresh meat or fish cooking, when the wagon arrived.

One morning, Chi Chi saw a lone buffalo about a mile in the distance. He told Mckee to be ready because he was going to run way around the buffalo and then spook it towards Mckee and his horse. Mckee started to signal him that buffalo may turn to fight, but Chi Chi was already running away to flank the buffalo.

Chi Chi was an excellent hunter, so Mckee assumed he knew what he was doing.

In the distance, Mckee saw Chi Chi run toward the buffalo to spook him. The buffalo took three strides in retreat and then spun to fight. Chi Chi kept running straight at him and slapped the buffalo on the forehead and ran toward Mckee.

“Well, he don’t lack for nerve,” Mckee said out loud when the buffalo followed Chi Chi with a frightening burst of speed.

The distance was eaten up by the speed of Chi Chi and the rampaging bull in a few minutes. Chi Chi swung North away from the wagon, to take Louisa and the children out of danger and Mckee charged the buffalo at full speed. He saw his first two rounds sink deep into the chest cavity, he was then galloping alongside the buffalo, the animal did not slow or show signs of distress, McKee put the muzzle up against the animal’s back and fired. The bullet destroyed the heart of the beast and he collapsed in a rolling heap.

Chi Chi let out a war cry and came back to dance around the buffalo in celebration. Mckee let out a Comanche war whoop as Louisa drove up in the wagon. They were celebrating because of the kill and partially because they knew, there would be no starvation for the rest of the winter. For they could carry all the meat on the wagon and the meat would be preserved in the cold. That day they celebrated with a day of rest and a meal of tongue with wild prairie onions.

Later that afternoon, Chi Chi began mixing and cooking a pot of cactus and other plants he had been collecting along the trail. He rendered some of the buffalo fat and mixed it in with the residue of the plants. Once it was stirred well, Chi Chi placed it in the snow to cool.

Two hours later it had congealed into a gel, he presented the mixture to Louisa in a wooden bowl. She looked at him with a question on her face. He made the motions of rubbing the mixture on his chest. At first she thought it was meant as a breast salve, but then he pointed to a scar on his forearm and put a small amount on the scar.

He had surely seen the scars from the bites on her breasts, they were still vivid red marks on her ivory skin. She thanked him and thought she would first experiment and apply the mixture to the scars on her abdomen. Her breasts were the only things keeping the helpless babies alive and she didn’t want to take a chance of ruining their feed supply.

She applied the medicine that evening and in the morning she looked at the scars in disbelief, they were nearly gone. The angry looking redness had disappeared and the scars were much harder to see. She was overjoyed and quickly applied the medicine to all the scars she could see and reach. Within days of applying Chi Chi’s salve the scars had all but disappeared, there were only faint traces of the marks.

She thought of the ranger and how good it felt to hug him and hold him to her body. He had been so embarrassed and at a loss to know to hug her back. She laughed at his naive nature that she admired so much. He was a darling man and she needed him to hold her.

She devised a plan. When Chi Chi went out on one of his two hour runs, she called Mckee into the wagon under the pretense of rubbing the salve on her back. He was rubbing the salve into the scars of her back, when she pushed the sheet covering her backside to expose a few scars he had never seen. Mckee began rubbing the salve into these new scars very dutifully and professionally, as Louisa made a low guttural cat noise in her throat and turned around to embrace Mckee to her naked body. Mckee started to panic, when he felt the abnormally strong Louisa grab him in a fit of passion, but he forced himself to relax and returned the raw passion of a woman overwhelmed with a combination of love and lust, and responded with a gentle loving touch, a response that inflamed Louisa’s aggressive raw passion even more.

In less than two hours, they had consummated the passions that had been pent up for years within both these young souls and had pledged their love and commitment to each other for the rest of their lives. Thus a true American love story was born from tragedy and pain.

Their love was to span six decades.

Later on that summer, Ranger McKee and his family met Colonel Fallon’s wagon train in the area that was to become Montana. They were shocked to see the suffering these Americans had endured; for while the American wagons were falling apart and many of the people seemed on the verge of starvation, their wagon was still sound and they had eaten quite well on the trail, thanks to Chi Chi with his unique skills at hunting and gathering wild food.

The Americans found it astounding that the Mckee wagon had been on the trail all winter.

Colonel Fallon was glad to have the experienced lawman and Indian fighter with him, but he had never met a man so instilled with the thoughts of right and wrong and the sense of being the law, the judge, and the executioner. Colonel Fallon took time to explain to Ranger Mckee that the laws of Texas don’t necessarily apply to someone who had never been to Texas. Mckee was in a state of shock at the concept of jurisdictions, in Mckee’s mind, Texas was the only law west of the Red River and the idea that they were in an area with no real law, other than the Colonel’s jurisdiction over the wagon train was very confusing for a Ranger.

The Colonel appointed Ranger Mckee as his second in command and began instructing Mckee in the Constitution and of how America had won its Independence. Thus from these early history lessons and of teaching McKee to read, there emerged a brilliant mind from this rustic frontiersman, for he read every book the people in the wagon train had to offer. Captain Levin introduced him to Plato and they had great philosophical discussions that often left the old sea captain perplexed and amazed at the young man’s ability to grasp complex concepts so soon after learning to read. This was the nucleus of the transformation of a rugged Texas Ranger into a judge for the future state of Oregon.

The Colonel married the couple a few days after they joined the wagon train, Louisa was beginning to swell and she wanted to talk to the other ladies, using her newly acquired English with a back country Texas accent, she wanted to talk about of her new baby and her Ranger. She was quickly accepted among the women of the wagon train, who admired her for taking in the orphaned baby and her knowledge of ladylike culture.

Chi Chi began working closely with the Colonel and the guide Mr Tomlin, to find forage and water.

The new wagon brought hope and strength to the wagon train, because of their positive attitude and their ability to thrive in the wilderness. Americans were fulfilling these dreams of Manifest Destiny. They were bringing these ideas of nationhood and freedom to the Pacific Northwest with a resourcefulness and richness of ability. There was a richness of intellect and ingenuity that would help them tame this new country and make it safe and civilized in the near future.

Epilogue: This is a chapter from a novel about the Oregon Trail. It is meant to portray how Americans from diverse cultures have used their abilities to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles. These people relied on themselves and each other to accomplish great things. There was no need for the government to come in and regulate every phase of their lives, dependency on the government and the hunger for power and control by politicians would come much later. As humans weakened and developed fear of the unknown and the future, some people felt the need for benevolent despots to guide and protect them. These concepts were almost unheard of by those who ventured to Oregon; for them, the weak died along the way and the cowards never started. The cowards came much later.

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Great Tale, Skook!

Although I’ll admit I have never been able to get comfortable with historical novels that stir in the fictional with the real-life. Are any of the characters here actual people?

The writing style is a bit stilted, so one would presume the novel from which this tale is derived goes back a ways, but then again, no, as Western novels prior to the seventies were always strictly G-rated when it came to hanky-panky. Then again, even contemporary Westerns can often have a distinctly archaic tone and verbiage to them.

Some of the technical details seem thoroughly far-fetched. I really think the author glosses over the part about getting a wagon over the Rockies in dead-of-Winter in style. I have no first-hand experience in this, but you only have to read a few historical accounts (think Lewis and Clark’s struggle in the Bitterroots) to realize that’s just plain impossible. Our hero, however able, had never been outside of Texas, yet he makes his way through a thousand miles of unfamiliar, alien territory without a guide. Also, improbable at best.

In my readings of gold-rush era, Klondike and Alaska, I recall veterans of the time recounting that they much preferred the various versions of “Miner’s Law” compared to the underpaid, corruptible judges that were eventually appointed over them.

I defer to your experience, sir. I look forward to buying and reading the whole enchilada when you get it published. Believe you me, I know all about getting funny comments about my speech. I’m from Arlington, VA, but as a State Dept. brat I spent the core of my teenage years listening to British Forces Broadcasting exclusively in the late seventies and early eighties when the family was stationed in Bonn, Germany (BFBS UK had all the good music, much better than our own AFN, but my! They loved to talk!), so I ended up with this pseudo John Kerry/Thurston Howell accent.

What I meant with the “G-rated” comment was that no Western novel I ever encountered prior to the 1970’s EVER had a sex scene. There seemed to have been some unofficial Hayes code in the genre, though I could be wrong. Wikipedia says the “adult Western” genre arose in the 1970’s (in the berthing spaces of the old USS DALE, we had the bodice-ripping “Longarm” series circulating round along with the squeaky-clean Louis L’Amour).

No problem with the dialogue. A famous example of authentic 19th century dialogue would be Daniel Woodrell’s “Woe To Live On” from 1987, which was made into “Ride With the Devil” in 1999; about the bloodcurdling nature of the Kansas-Missouri guerrilla fighting in the Civil War. Book and movie were much commented on at the time for their characters’ long-winded, highly ornate speech.

I daresay I am curious as to the fact that you never nail down the date. The map notwithstanding, it wasn’t until you mentioned the Sharps rifle and the Navy Colts that I realized we were somewhere in the 1860’s, but if so, why no mention of the War (no matter where you go, there is dirty ol’ politics) .

Well, all the best with your work. I’d love to see the long lives and adventures of Fallon and Louisa extended into a multi-part series (if our hero went from his ABC’s to Plato in a matter of months he must indeed be a genius).

@sinanju: “The writing style is a bit stilted”, Sorry Sinanju, but that’s just buffalolshit. I was spellbound reading the entire long piece. I’ve read a lot of Louis L’Amour, and Skookum’s writing is every bit as good if not better.

Skookum, your piece was perfect. Don’t let this self-important weenie with a foreign name get you down.

Skookum– If you ever care to pay your respects to Louis L’Amour, he’s buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California. He’s buried in a small plot outside the Great Mausoleum, facing the mausoleum, on the right hand side at the wall . Somewhere I have a photo…

Skookum: I love this story, I’m wanting to read more and I don’t care if there was some unwritten rule about being “G” rated, be yourself, write it as you want it to be written. If everyone wrote the same exact way, why would we even need more than one iteration? (Frankly, I never heard of this rule but rules are made to be broken.) 🙂

You are a marvelous writer. I’ve read your stories ever since you began writing here at Flopping Aces and I don’t want you to change a thing! Just keep writing!

IT’S ONE THING TO MAKE A CONSTRUCTIVE CRITIC BUT IT’S another thing to add to it stupid phrase of self reliance to more knowledge than the writer Himself, which we consider to be one of the most creative one on theses western’s good old stories of life and death with a survival rate un-imagine by the know it all
of today’s life in CITIES to small and too crowded to leave room for green grass of home on the range, where the ANCIENT TRAVEL BEYONG YOUR NARROWED IMAGINATION FROM THE TRAIL GOING NORTH TO THE SNOW FILLED FOREST OF THE NORTH.

Well, thank you, Jenny! I’ll be needing a shoe horn to get my western hat on in the morning, after reading your comment. There will be more stories in this group. There will be the Metis coming down from Canada, some Santa Fe traders, and some Missouri River boat men who lose their boat. It’s loads of fun for me, because I must learn lots of material to make it realistic.

Oh well, it’s nice to know there are dedicated readers out there, thanks again.

Bees, sometimes, you get all fired up and I like it. It’s reassuring to know you are one of my readers. You have a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy the story about the Metis coming down from Alberta to join the wagon train. I will be thinking about you when I write that one.

I will buy our first book, don’t forget to sign it for us


Ditto! 🙂 (Why didn’t I think of asking for a signed copy!) LOL Yes, we’ll be wanting the opportunity to have a signed copy from our soon to be famous author. NO pressure though!

yes we are waiting for it, to own some of his creative part of him, will be a very precious gift

Skook, outstanding story, and it reads much like the real history of the west. The women in my family have been excellent at portraying the struggles in the west. My great grandmother Lois Hunt West was born in Beaver Utah in 1875(she was my best friend as a child). Her father John Hunt was the sheriff in Beaver and she grew up with Butch Cassady. John Hunt chased Blue Duck a couple of times, unsuccessfully. Her grandfather, Jefferson Hunt took a wagon train for the first time down the old spanish trail from Salt Lake to San Bernardino Ca(now I-15). He was the captain of company A in the Mormon Batalion. Let me tell you, not even Mormon history is G rated. He also was at Sutters Mill when gold was discovered and drove the first wagons over Donners Pass from the west after the tragic winter there.

Maybe the reason I live with wolves is genetic.

Skookum, congratulations this is the first time in a whole lot of years I’ve actually read something over a few paragraphs. I was totally drawn in, the writing style works perfectly for the story, IMNSHO. I’ll second ilovebeeswarzone’s comment, if you write it I’ll buy it but it’s gotta be signed.

very interesting, nice of you to come.
and beside I personally very much love the wolves also

Skook, how close are you with your book? Next thing you know, Miss Beez will be pushing you for a series, are you prepared for that?

you always bring great ideas, that’s why, we’re missing you so,
you where one of my teacher, when I first moved in F.A.
I’ll work on that, when the first is out.

Skook, that was awesome. When you finish, make sure you tell the publisher to allow it to go to Kindle.
Oh yeah, and this:

The cowards came much later.

They always do. After the hard work has been done, they are the people that want to know where their share is.

Aqua, I read that line when I was a boy. It was attributed to the Oregon Trail people. I think it is appropriate for the OWS people at this time. They are the cowards who never ventured forth, but to camp on the parks and demand their fair share.

Sadly, they are protesting Wall Street abuses, when the most flagrant violations of the trading laws are being committed by people like Boehner and Pelosi. These are the people who excuse themselves from the laws on Insider Trading and yet, you and I will go to prison for breaking the same laws. It is time to relieve all of these scoundrels of their positions of power and abuse. They belong in prison. I will shout it out every day until they come to arrest me. Pelosi and Boehner belong in prison!

Just to add, after all the hard work is done, they come in and want it changed to their liking.

Thanks, Bees!

@ Skookum
Well said sir! I read something yesterday and I’ll have to write it from memory. The author noted that there are sure a lot of people that go to Washington with rather humble portfolios and leave as millionaires with a benefit package that guarantees them a rather comfortable life. He went on to point out that this is the reason these people fight so hard and spend so much money to retain a $150,000 a year job.
OWS needs to take a page from the TEA Party. This isn’t a democrat or a republican issue, this is an American issue. These people, both sides, are destroying our country and it’s time to take it back. If they can’t pass the laws, the States need to threaten a Constitutional Convention.

A very enjoyable read Skook, thanks.

Agreed, it was a good read. Thank you for doing it.

Skook, I have devoured more historical tomes in my life than any other types/genres, and I enjoy your writing thoroughly, as you know. Your style is yours and your experiences touch your stories, including this one, which enhances their richness. As you fine-tune your writing, which is your wont, don’t change it, . . . I heartily second John Cooper’s comment above.

This story comes at a rather appropriate moment, as the President of the greatest country on Earth accuses its citizens of having slid into laziness over the last twenty years. Where has this idiot been for the last twenty years? Most of the people I have connected with through the past thirty five years were putting in six days a week, eighteen hours a day, building, earning, creating, hiring, motivating, etc.

You’re right, . . . the “cowards” came later, and I can only assume that they are all that the Teleprompter-In-Chief has known. The stories coming out of the White House suggest that he has caught that disease.

Stay on course. Don’t let anyone make you second-guess yourself. . . . But then, you know that already. Well done.

Obama calling anyone lazy? When has he had to work a hard day in his life? Just like the socialist J. Carter did, he blames the American people for the failure of his brilliant schemes. Typical liberal. It’s never their ideas or actions that are the problem, but the fault of others.