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Authors: Fay Risner

Tags: #western adventure 1880, #western couple romance, #western oklahoma

Blue Bonnet (2 page)

BOOK: Blue Bonnet
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Chapter Two

 

Bat saved looking in the parlor
for last. That room always bothered him the most. Cobwebs hit him
in the face when he went through the parlor doorway. He swiped his
lean hand across his face to get rid of the stray hair
feel.

Hannah did a good job of
decorating the spacious and cool room with a red and white Navaho
area rug on the floor. Dust was thick. He ran a finger over the
walnut lamp table between his and Hannah's rockers. He left a trail
on the wood. Same with the red and white tanned cowhide settee's
carved walnut arms.

Bat studied the smiling, painted
portrait of his pretty, red headed wife, in a dark green dress with
gathered white lace at the neck, that hung above the rock
fireplace. The thought popped in his head, What would Hannah say if
she saw the pitiful shape her house was in?

She'd be sure to blame him so he
might as well apologize right off. Bat took his hat off and smiled
at the large likeness of his wife. “Mornin', Hannah. I sure have
been neglectful of yer house, and I am right sorry for that.” His
voice was remorseful as he talked to the painting. “If I hadn't
been missin' ya so bad, I'd have paid more attention to the mess
this place is in.

I know ya would say that isn't a
very good excuse for lettin' a fine house like yers go to pot. I
promise here and now, I'm goin' to do something about the way your
house looks. Ya ain't goin' to have to put up with this mess
anymore. I figure a good cleanin' is what the whole place needs,
and I'm seein' it gets done as soon as possible.

I'm comin' home, Hannah. I'm
movin' back in with ya where I belong. I miss ya, and love ya a
whole bunch.”

Before he stayed in the house
again, Bat had to find a woman or two to come out from town and
clean the place. Hannah might not be able to enjoy the house
anymore, but he sure could if it was cleaned.

He knew how Hannah felt about
living on the ranch. This was her home. She loved it here. He could
hear her voice now. She'd be putting a heavy hand to her broom and
scolding him, “Cleanliness is next to godliness, Bat Kayhill.
Remember that next time ya forget to scrape yer boots off in the
yard.”

In the old days, she fought just
as hard as he did to keep the ranch from being destroyed when
Indians and Comancheros raided. Side by side, they fired
Winchesters stuck out the shutter holes as fast as they could jack
another shell into the chambers.

It got so that Indians and
Comancheros gave the ranch a wide berth. Word passed in a hurry
that Kayhill was a tough hombre with a fast draw. The red headed
woman living with him was too good a shot to pull anything on
unless they were smart enough to stay out of rifle
range.

Bat sat down in one of the two
rocker in front of the fireplace. As he studied Hannah smiling at
him, he contemplated what it had been like in the old days, living
in this house with his wife.

Hannah had always been full of
Irish fire and feisty fierceness. That disposition was what made
her so well suited to live in this wild land. That's part of why he
loved her so much.

Bat remembered some of Hannah's
traits he wasn't so fond about. When Hannah set her head to
something, there was no changing her mind. Wooee, was she the most
stubborn woman he had ever met. That temper of hers seemed down
right dangerous sometimes. He tried awful hard not to get her
dander up. She was a Texas twister when she was mad.

On the other hand, she was the
bravest woman he'd ever seen. She didn't have a drop of fear in her
bones. Probably because she was such a good shot, she saw no reason
to be fearful of anything or anyone. She was good at defending
herself and was confident she could take care of
herself.

Bat laid his head back against the
rocker and tried to remember all the details of one of the times
early on when Indian territory was a wild place in Oklahoma. It was
the story Hannah told when anyone asked how she managed to stay
alive in this dangerous place all those years ago.

Of course, he noticed she did
change the story here and there as the years went by. Not that it
hurt anything. Her story always got better and more exciting with
the telling.

It helped back then that Bat's
younger sister, Billie, lived with them. Billie was good company
for Hannah, and he sure enjoyed having her around.

Right after they moved to the
ranch one fall, they lived in the log cabin all winter. In April,
Hannah and Billie had to stay alone for the month. Bat took five
pack mules to get supplies for the winter from Stillwater. He
needed to hire cowhands and drive back a herd of breeding stock for
the ranch. That was going to take some time, traveling
slow.

Bat twisted around on his saddle
and waved at Hannah and Billie. He was branding his memory with a
picture of home and the women he loved. From the log cabin porch,
they waved at him as they watched him disappear from
sight.

The lean to attached to the cabin
was stacked full of fire wood for cooking and heating water. Bat
made sure of that. The tawny colored milk cow paced in the corral
attached to the log barn. She rested her head on the top log rail
and gave a plaintive, dolorous moo, wanting to be milk. Bat told
Hannah to keep Clara Belle penned up until he got back. He didn't
want Hannah wondering around on the prairie looking for that cow.
Between copperheads, rattlers and Indians, the prairie was too
dangerous.

The best Bat remembered how
Hannah's story went after he left was like this. One morning about
two weeks later, Hannah poured herself a second cup of coffee from
the pot always kept simmering on the back of the wood
cookstove.

She sat down at the roughly hewed
table across from Bat's sister, Billie, and pushed her dirty
breakfast dishes out of the way. Bat had been gone two weeks, and
she was mopy from missing the fire out of him.

Practical Billie brought her back
to reality. “It took the last of the water to make coffee, Hannah.
We can’t do dishes until we fetch more.” Billie put her elbow on
the table and stuck her fist under her chin. her focus was on the
timber beyond the cabin’s open door. “You think it’s safe to go
after the water right now?”

“I cain’t say fer sure.” Hannah
blew on the coffee and took a sip.

Billie’s brow wrinkled in worry.
“Don’t it seem to you them Indians are more restless of late? I
don't remember ever seeing as many batches of them passing back and
forth across the ranch as they have recently. Makes me wonder what
has happened.”

Hannah kept her eyes on her cup.
“We've sighted a might more Indians I know since Bat left which is
a might worrisome. I just keep thinking that don't mean much.
Indians aren't about to let us see them until they attack if they
on the warpath.”

Hannah missed her husband the
minute he disappeared from her sight over the knoll, leading the
pack mules. Just mentioning him, made her miss him more. Every
night, she crawled into their bed and threw her hand over into
Bat's hollowed out spot in the straw mattress. The spot was stone
cold. It would be until Bat came home, and each day she grew more
uneasy. Something was a foot with the Indians which might mean
Billie and she was in danger. Hannah wished he was there with
her.

She listened to the coyote packs
yip as they ran through the hills. At least, she hoped what she
heard was coyotes and not Indians. She was so uneasy worrying about
the what ifs it took her awhile to fall to sleep, then she always
hated to get out of bed the next morning.

As the long days passed, it seemed
to the women that Indians lurked behind every hill, tree and bush.
With each half naked savage they saw, Hannah wished fervently that
Bat was there with her and Billie.

The morning they were out of water
Billie was thinking the same thing. Only she spoke her thoughts out
loud. “All I can think about is, I wish Bat was back already. I
been noticing one tall, tough looking, skinny Indian. I've seen him
enough now that I recognize him on sight. He stops to watch me hoe
in the garden when he sneaks by.” Billie looked over at Hannah.
“Ever think about what we should do if Indians was to catch us and
try to carry us off?”

“Plenty of times,” grunted
Hannah.”We don't want that to ever happen I reckon. We've heard
enough stories about what happens to women captives. Horrible
nightmare tortures for the unlucky women that get caught by those
savages.” She drummed on her tin cup with her fingers.

“That's why I'm thinking maybe we
should talk about some for instances so we're prepared,” stated
Billie. “We need to face the fact us getting captured by Indians
just might happen some time or other. We’re here by ourselves for
quite a spell this time while Bat is gone. This won't be the last
time my brother has to leave us alone.”

“Could be if the Indians don't
figured out we're here without a man around, they will soon be done
with all the spying on us. We're just a passing fancy. They have
more worrisome problems that's keeping them on the move.” Hannah
blew out a breath.

Billie shook her head. “That's
only wishful thinking. You've heard talk just like me. You know
what happens when those savages get a hold of a white woman. It's
the most brutal way to die or live if one of the braves decide to
keep you for a squaw.

I'm being truthful with you when I
say you just aren't any white woman, Hannah. You should be worried
more than most women about being a trophy for an Indian. That
fireball red hair of yours makes you a prize catch for any Indian
or Comancheros. I reckon that skinny chief that's been peeking at
us from the bushes would like to have your mop of hair on his
breech cloth band. That's a fact.”

Hannah stiffened slightly. “I
hadn’t thought of that.”

“Sorry to be so
blunt, but we need to face facts,” Billie said.

“I best be
wearing my bonnet when we're outside to hide my hair. I don't want
to tempt one of them savages.” Hannah studied her sister-in-law
long and hard. “Maybe ya should consider wearing yer bonnet, too. I
think that chief would like yer curly, blond locks just as well as
he would my red hair.”

Billie brushed a blond curl away
that pasted to her sweaty cheek. “You really think so? Maybe we
should stay hold up in the house until the men get back. We can
defend ourselves better in here.”

“That's for sure. We've got guns,
and we know how to use them. I vowed to myself when I moved this
close to Indian territory with yer brother I’d fight to my death if
those savages caught me. I mean to do just that. Don’t figure on
being trapped in this house or taken alive by savage redskins
without giving them a fight.” Hannah stood up. “Except for one
small problem. If we're going to hold up in here, we need to fill
the water buckets and every kettle we have. We've got to have water
to drink, wash dishes in and cook with for the
duration.”

Billie gathered all the kettles
and pans in the cupboards and put them on the end of the table. “It
might take a couple trips to get enough water to fill these
kettles.”

“Maybe three trips before we're
done.” Hannah grabbed her rifle propped in the corner by the door
and picked up the water bucket and the milk bucket in her left
hand.

“I agree, and I'm already worrying
about how many trips we might make before we make one too many. We
just might get caught by Chief Skinny.” Billie’s complexion turned
pasty, but she followed her sister-in-law’s lead. She picked up her
gun from the corner and another bucket.

“Stay put until I look around,”
Hannah said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

 

Hannah eased outside and stood
with her back against the rough logs on the porch wall. She wanted
to stay close to the door opening for a minute in case she had to
duck inside quick if she didn't like what she saw or
heard.

The spring air smelled fresh and
crispy cool. Just the way, she liked it when she needed all her
senses awake and alert to danger.

Red and pink sky colored the
eastern horizon. The sun was up enough to brighten Hannah's
surroundings and carried the promise of a nice day.

Dew sparkled grass blades in the
sunlight as far as Hannah could see. Usually, she liked seeing
twinkling glitter even though dew soaked up her skirt hem as fast
as kerosene did a wick. This morning she had too much to worry
about to enjoy her surroundings.

It did seem way too peaceful
outside. Quiet sometimes was a warning, but she might be wrong.
Hannah hoped she was making a mountain out of a mole hill. She
wanted to be wrong. She hated to have anything spoil a day as nice
as this one had started out. If the Indians had to cause trouble,
she prayed they waited until Billie and her had plenty of water
stored in the cabin.

Cautiously, Hannah scanned the
underbrush at the edge of the clearing for any kind of movement. On
the back side the garden, she didn't see any Indians darting behind
the trees and underbrush. That was usually where the redskins watch
the house while Billie hoed.

BOOK: Blue Bonnet
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ads

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