Content Warning: There is none at this time. I will let you if there will be as the chapters progress.
Note: I want to thank my Beta reader, Pam. Your critiquing is greatly appreciated. I want to thank my muse for giving me the inspiration for writing this story.
Comments: Feed the bard. You can send comments to my email. firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
Copyright © March 2004: R. A. Hughes
April 13, 1874- somewhere between San Antonio and El Paso, Texas
Elizabeth Clark had nodded off for the third time. The continuous squeak of the wheels on the stagecoach kept luring her to sleep. Suddenly they hit a bumpy terrain that jolted her awake. Her curly blonde hair bobbed from under her pink silk hat. She coughed from the taste of the dry dust.
"Are you all right, dear?" a deep voice asked from the seat across from her.
"I'm fine, daddy. My throat is just dry," she answered after clearing her parched throat.
"We should be stopping soon. I'm sure we'll make it until then," her father said. He gave her a reassuring smile.
Elizabeth smiled back, and then looked out the open window. The long journey started at dawn. They were expected to change horses in El Paso. Elizabeth's father was the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. They were traveling farther west, following the Iron Horse to cities that are more prosperous. Since she could remember, Elizabeth lived in luxury. She had a Spanish nanny when they lived in San Antonio and Maria was the closest thing to a mother to her, since she never got to know her own, as her mother passed on before she even had a chance to. Elizabeth only knew her mother by photo. She carried the faded black and white picture in her hatbox, sitting next to her.
Elizabeth glanced at her father, who was reading. How can he read traveling like this? She thought to herself. You couldn't tell the difference between father and daughter, other than their height, of course. They had the same hay colored hair and the crinkle on the bridge of their noses when they smiled. However, Elizabeth inherited her mother's emerald green eyes. She also liked to think that she inherited her mother's personality. As a child, she always got herself in trouble.
"You are a wild mustang that can't be broken in. You're supposed to be a proper lady. What am I going to do with you?" Her father used to say to her. She chuckled softly, remembering the little scamp that she was. Her father didn't punish her, but he didn't let her get away with everything either. The wild mustang had been held at bay for too long. It was waiting for someone to break it free.
A blue-eyed stranger adjusted the red bandanna, not to keep the dust from getting the face, but as a disguise. The stranger tightened the strings of the hat. One boot slipped into the stirrup, grabbing the saddle horn for leverage, and swung the other leg over. Five other riders with disguises mounted their horses. The leader rode up to the stranger.
"Ready?" the leader asked.
The stranger picked up the reins. The icy blue eyes narrowed. "Ready," answered the stranger.
"Hyah!!" The riders yelled into the open prairie, galloping toward the rambling stagecoach.
Elizabeth fidgeted in her seat. Her legs were hurting from sitting so long. She wished they would stop soon so she could stretch her limbs. As if the driver had read her mind, the stagecoach came to a sudden halt. Her father looked out the window, and turned to the driver. "Why have we stopped?" he asked. He was surprised that the driver was not sitting at his driver's seat. He looked at Elizabeth, "Stay here."
"Be careful, daddy," Elizabeth said. Her father opened the small door and stepped out. She heard her father talking to someone. Probably the driver, she thought. There were several voices now.
"Check inside," the leader shouted.
Elizabeth wished she could hide. She swallowed back the fear she never had until now. As a menacing shadow moved closer to the window, she scooted away.
The blue-eyed stranger looked inside, first where her father sat.
Elizabeth knew she came into view out of the corner of the stranger's eye. She gasped when the stranger quickly turned and glared at her. Those icy blue eyes softened. They stared into her frightened green eyes. Elizabeth felt like an invisible rope was pulling her toward those blue eyes. She jumped when a hand reached out.
"Step outside, please," the blue-eyed stranger said.
Without questioning the stranger's intentions, Elizabeth took the extended hand. She was courteously helped outside the stagecoach. Her father and the driver were standing off to the side. There were five other men on horses. The leader pointed a gun at her father and the driver.
"I don't want to hurt any one of you. All I want is your money," the leader said.
"We're not carrying any money, just our clothes." Her father said, "You can check for yourself."
"You look like a respectable man. I'll take your word for it. Nevertheless, I'm not leaving empty handed. You must have something valuable," the leader said.
"The only thing valuable is my daughter. She's all I have." Her father said.
"Yes, she even looks valuable." The leader sneered.
Elizabeth got a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She didn't like the leader and she didn't like where this was going. The leader turned to the rider with red hair on the right.
"Nosotros la tomamos con nosotros. Atela entrega y la obtiene en el caballo," The leader commanded to the redhead.
Elizabeth saw the rider quickly jumped from his horse, and walked toward Elizabeth. She took a step back, and then she remembered that it was best not to try anything. The blue-eyed stranger who was still standing behind Elizabeth ran to the leader.
"¿Qué hace usted? Nosotros no la necesitamos," The blue-eyed stranger said to the leader.
"Usted está hermana equivocada y pequeña. Ella puede ser útil a nosotros. Ahora móntese su caballo," The leader said.
"But… " The stranger started to say.
"Now!" snarled the leader.
The blue-eyed stranger glanced back at Elizabeth before climbing onto the horse. Elizabeth's hands were tied with rope. The redhead dragged her toward his horse, throwing her into the saddle. The redhead sat behind her, taking the reins. Her father stepped forward.
"Please. Don't take my daughter." Her father pleaded.
"Sorry, old man, but she doesn't need you anymore." The leader said as he turned to the other riders, "Let's go."
The group split up in two groups, going east and south. Elizabeth looked back at her father for the last time.
To Be Continued
"Nosotros la tomamos con nosotros. Atela entrega y la obtiene en el caballo."
- ("We're taking her with us. Tie her hands and get her on the horse.")
"¿Qué hace usted? Nosotros no la necesitamos."
-("What are you doing? We don't need her.")
"Usted está hermana equivocada y pequeña. Ella puede ser útil a nosotros. Ahora móntese su caballo."
-(You're wrong, little sister. She may be useful to us. Now get on your horse.")
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