by One More
Western true to life drama.
The locket dangled from his fingers. Sheriff Samuel Murray just retrieved it from the pile of pumice dust on the side of the road. "It's hers," he said as he mounted his red Morgan and handed it to his deputy.
"I'm sorry,Sir," Albert responded; he more than liked the sheriff's daughter,Olive, he loved her. She was just fifteen-teen years old and as pretty as a picture. There was a dimple in the middle of her soft square chin that he loved to watch wiggle when she laughed; which she did often when he was around.
Sam had been holding on to the hope that she hadn't made it to Persist yet, but now the truth was evident, she had left him a sign. The silver chain wasn't broken, she must have taken it off and tossed it knowing that her father would find it. It wouldn't help him know who took the women or where they were headed, but now he knew for certain what he feared the most, his daughter was among them.
Back in town a posse gathered. Telegrams were sent to all surrounding settlements calling for help or information. Other young women were missing from the surrounding areas too. A preachers' wife (a mother of three) and the new young school teacher from the Upper Applegate. There were no leads.
22 year old Race Fosset stumbled upon the gang quite by accident. His mule, loaded with supplies for his gold claim, bolted after stepping into a hornets nest. Kicking and screaming it went straight up a rocky ledge to the top of a ridge. From this vista vantage point Race saw the captives, tied, bound and packed on horses like bed-rolls behind the riders. He hadn't heard about the missing women but he could tell these gals weren't going anywhere willingly. But one man against so many would be foolish so he rode the other way, straight down the mountain to the closest town, Persist.
Deputy Albert Mahony was the first to talk to Race, he was on his Roan and gone before the Mr. Fosset crossed the street to the sheriffs office.
Albert knew the area better than most and he had been thinking all the way up the mountain where they might be taking the women. Once it dawned on him that it could be Squaw Lake, he was sick. That's where mountain men, miners and outlaws bought wives from "slavers." His only hope now was that he reach Olive before the auction if that what this was all about. Riding hard he stayed on their trail. He was careful to stay hidden, he staked his horse and snuck down to their campsite.
He needed to find Olive. He heard women crying and screaming and men laughing. It was all he could do to not call out to her. He wanted her to know it wouldn't be long before she would be rescued. If only she could have a little hope, but it was too risky. She would be safe soon he kept telling himself. He found his way to the horses tethered together and cut them loose. He gave one a slap on the rump and they all ran off. He ran too but the other way. Instantly men in the long john under-ware and a few completely naked began chancing after the horses.
Albert took in the situation. It wasn't pretty. One woman had been branded on her back, the wound red and festered. Another's face beaten and bloody.
When morning came, Albert finally found her but she wasn't alone. He pulled the mans' head away from hers and cut his throat. Olive moved away from the body trying to cover her exposed flesh. Albert was fighting with another. She saw others headed towards him there was nothing she could do. It was over is seconds, boom, a bullet to his the head.
Sheriff Murray heard the shot. He urged is posse on. A Marshall and a troop of soldiers from Ft. Klamath joined in the recovery effort. With so much man power there was little resistance. Olive and the others were returned to their families. But, there weren't any happy celebrations, all the women had been hurt and some critically.
Olive never truly recovered. About nine months later in a freezing blizzard, she ran out of her house in the middle of the night dressed only in a nightie and gave birth to a baby boy. They were both found frozen to death the next day.
The locket dangled from his fingers briefly before he let it slip into her coffin.