Chapter 1

Portland Oregon 1876

"State your name for the record please," Judge Reynolds ordered the prisoner. The Judge was about 60 with a great mane of gray hair. He was a tall, slender man dressed in a frock coat, a button on collared shirt and a string tie. The Judge had a frown on his face as he looked through his Prince Nez glasses at the man standing in front of his bench.

"Johnny Burrows sir," the shaggy looking man answered. He was dressed in buckskins and Indian moccasins that had seen better days. He kept putting his hand to his head and swayed back and forth.

Reynolds looked closer at the prisoner, noticing for the first time that his hands were shackled in front of him. "Marshal Sims, why is this man wearing shackles in my courtroom?"

"Your honor, he beat the hell, excuse me, heck out of two of my Deputies last night. I thought it best we keep him trussed up."

"Remove them at once," Judge Reynolds ordered.

As the Marshal released Burrows, Reynolds thought there's no doubt that he's a "mountain man". He's got to be 6'3 or 4; if he was shorter he'd be called stocky with those broad shoulders, big arms, and huge hands. His curly bearded face and scarred hands show the years of working outdoors. The judge continued his thought; he's part of a dying breed, damn shame too.

The Judge had grown up reading and hearing stories about mountain men. Before he was Judge Reynolds he was Gerald Reynolds, a young boy that would light a candle after his parents went to bed, to read the dime novels about men like Jim Bridger and Daniel Boone.

The mountain men were usually the first white men to see new parts of the country. Stories of their exploits and adventures in the wilderness and with the Indians kept the young boy awake many a night and gave him pleasant dreams of someday being a mountain man too.

Clearly the Judge had a soft spot in his heart for this figure from history.

Judge Reynolds read the arrest warrant and saw no mention of the man's age. Burrows could be anywhere from 40 to 70 years old, Judge Reynolds told himself.

"Are you alright Mr. Burrows?"

"Yes sir, your Honor," the big man answered and then laughed. "A bit too much of who-hit-john last night."


"Yes sir, you know, whiskey."

"Yes now I understand. Haven't heard it called that since I was a boy. What is your given name Mr. Burrows"

"It's Jonathan D Burrows sir. But I've been Johnny more years than Jonathan."

"What does the D stand for?"

"The D is for Daniel Judge. Back where I grew up every third or fourth man has Daniel in his name somewheres, so I don't use it much."

"And where were you raised?"

"I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Everybody back thar names their boys after Daniel Boone."

"Is Portland your home now Mr. Burrows?"

"No sir, it taint. Don't rightly have a home. I just sorta move around as the wind blows me."

"And why did you 'blow' into Portland?'

"Well sir, I led a wagon train up here to the Willamette Valley. Back in '62 it was and I just never went back south," Burrows answered.

"And you've been here in Portland since then?"

"No sir; just got back to Portland last week."

"What have you been doing since the wagon train Mr. Burrows? Tell me the story and don't make me keep asking questions please"

"Well sir, after I got the wagon train here, I put together a grub stake and decided to take a ride," Johnny said and stopped. At the look from Judge Reynolds he continued. "Decided I wanted to see Washington and Mount Rainer. I stayed there for awhile and then went to Canada. Didn't like Canada, they talk funny up there. So I came back to Portland."

"You said you just came back to Portland last week, how long was this ride?"

"Well, let me figure it out. I got the train here in the fall of '62, stayed around getting drunk until the summer of '63. That's when I left," Burrows replied. Looking up Judge Reynolds he asked, "What year is it now?"

"This is April 30, 1876 Mr. Burrows," Reynolds answered. He wasn't really surprised that a mountain man wouldn't know the date or year.

Burrows nodded and got a faraway look as he did the arithmetic. "Reckon I was gone for nigh on to 13 years Judge."

Reynolds paused for several seconds. Quite a ride, he thought. He read more of the Marshal's report. "Mr. Burrows, the arrest report says you were drunk and disorderly, incited a riot, and attacked two Deputy Marshals. Is that correct?"

"Well Judge ... I don't know about that riot stuff and I didn't attack those Deputies; I was defending myself." Burrows saw the look on Reynolds face and added, "They tried to arrest me and I didn't want to be locked up, so I resisted them a bit."

"He resisted more than a bit Your Honor," the Marshal interrupted in an angry voice. "Tom's still over to the Doc's getting tended to and Bill won't be able to work for three or four days."

"Why did you refuse to go with the Deputies Mr. Burrows?" Reynolds seemed more curious than judgmental.

"I tolt you sir. They was gonna put me in jail and I didn't want to go." Johnny paused and added, "I tolt them to let me be and I'd leave but they wouldn't have none of it. Said I had to go to jail, so I resisted."

"I guess that tells me about the assault on the Deputies," Reynolds said. "What about this drunk and disorderly charge Mr. Burrows?"

"Well ... I was drunk and I guess disorderly. But I haven't had a drink of real whiskey in over a year Judge. I was trying to make up for lost time and I guess I over did it a mite. So I guess that parts true."

"Alright. Then there's the charge of inciting a riot. Care to explain that?"

"It wasn't a riot, it was just a barroom fight is all. This big fellar named Swede said I looked and smelled like a horse that'd been rode hard and put away wet. So I told him it looked like he'd had a fire on his face and someone put it out with a pitch fork. That's when the fight started."

"Why did you say that to this man Swede Mr. Burrows?"

"He's got all these marks from the pox," Johnny answered with a grin. "Anyway we was havin a good time fightin when one of his friends hit me across the back with a chair. Made me mad, so I grabbed him and before long there was two other fellars jumped me."

"There was a lot of damage done to the saloon Mr. Burrows," Reynolds told him.

"Twernt me Judge. Those boys just kept throwing chairs and bottles and even a table or two. All I did was throwed them back."

Judge Reynolds was having a hard time trying to keep from laughing. Burrows is a man who thinks fighting four men at once is just a good time, he thought.

"Are this Swede or his cohorts in the courtroom? Can they or anyone else verify or disputed Mr. Burrows' account of the events at the saloon?"

"No, Your Honor," the Marshal replied. "When we got to the saloon, Burrows had his foot on the chest of a man lying on the floor and the other two he had in headlocks. Swede was sitting on the floor holding his nose. Those four took off as soon when we arrested Burrows here. Don't know where they are. The other customers took off when the fight started."

"What about the bartender? He didn't leave also, did he?"

"No sir. But he said he didn't see anything after Swede hit Burrows," the Marshal answered. "A bottle flew by his head and he ducked down behind the bar."

"Anyone else have anything to add?" Reynolds looked around the courtroom but no one spoke up. He thought for a minute still trying to keep a straight face.

"Mr. Burrows, in the absence of conflicting testimony or eye witnesses, this court finds you not guilty of inciting a riot. However the court does find you guilty of being drunk and disorderly and resisting two Deputies. Have you anything more to say before I sentence you?"

"No sir, I reckon you gotta do what you have to."

"Mr. Burrows, this court fines you ... how much money do you have sir?"

Johnny reached into the draw string bag tied to his waist and pulled out a few coins. Counting them he replied, "Got about $20 here Judge."

"The fine for destruction of property is $5." Reynolds leaned forward and added, "Swede and the others aren't here to dispute you story but they're not here to pay a fine either, so it falls on you."

Leaning back Judge Reynolds continued, "The court further sentences you to 90 days in the city jail." Waiting a few seconds Reynolds added, "I will suspend the sentence with one stipulation sir."

Johnny had sort of slumped when he heard the 90 days; he was used to living outdoors and free. Johnny didn't know if he could take 90 days locked in a jail cell. Now he looked up at Reynolds with a little hope in his face.

"I will suspend the sentence if you will give me your word that you will leave Portland as soon as possible. Are we agreed Mr. Burrows."

Now Johnny was grinning. "Yes sir Judge. Time for me to get outta this big town and back to the mountains anyway."

"How long will you need to get ready to leave Mr. Burrows?"

"I'll need a day or two to get supplies and such for the trail." Johnny thought for a bit and said, "Reckon I can get gone in two days Judge."

"So ordered. Pay the bailiff, Court's adjourned." Reynolds stepped down from the bench, walked over to Johnny and shook his hand.

"Johnny I think you're probably the last of your kind. It'd be a damn shame if I heard you had to spend your last days in jail or the state prison. Be careful sir." Reynolds turned and left the courtroom.

Watching Judge Reynolds walk away Johnny shook his head and smiled. Nice fellar, he thought. Not many would have been as fair with me. Johnny turned to the Marshal. "No hard feelings Marshall. Hope your two boys are okay."

"No hard feelings hell, Burrows," the Marshal replied. "You said you'd be gone in two days, if you're here the evening of the third day I'll put you in jail as a public nuisance."

Johnny walked toward the door but stopped. "That puttin me in jail part didn't work out real good the last time, did it Marshal?" He stared at the man with the badge and left the courtroom.

Just no pleasing some folks, he thought. Oh well, got things to get ready.

First Johnny went to the livery stable to tend to his two horses. William was his riding animal; the horse was named for a young man that kept him from getting a beatin back when he first started out to be a mountain man. He'd been at a church social paying attention to a young lady. The man she came to the social with didn't care for Johnny's attention to her.

He gathered three friends and braced Johnny, planning to beat him and run him off. William Kelly stepped in on Johnny's side and made the men back down. Damn, that was better than 30 years ago, back in '43, he thought. Johnny remembered fondly the man and his sweetheart, Molly that had befriended him.

Johnny's other horse was Buck; his pack animal. He'd picked up the animal before he started back from Washington. Buck was a big horse, probably too slow to be a good saddle pony, but he could carry almost twice what normal pack animals could.

Making sure his horses were well fed and watered Johnny climbed the ladder to the hay loft where he'd been sleeping for the last week. Tomorrow I'll stock up on trail supplies, he told himself. He sorted through his meager possessions deciding what he wanted to take with him before getting some lunch.

"Mr. Burrows are you here?" A voice called up to him. "I'd like to talk with you if I may."

Damn that sounds like a woman, Johnny thought. Peeking over the edge of the loft he saw a young woman of about 20 or so looking up at him.

"Mr. Burrows," the young lady introduced herself, "I'm a reporter for the Portland Gazette."

"A female reporter?" Johnny had never heard of such a thing.

"Yes sir. Could you come down and I'll explain why I want to talk to you."

Johnny came down the ladder and looked at the young woman. Pretty little thing, he thought. "I never heard tell of a female reporter Miss. Thought mostly men did that job."

"That's what most people think, Mr. Burrows. I plan to prove them wrong," the girl said heatedly. "I'm Margaret Anne Dempsey," she introduced herself reaching out to shake hands.

She had a strong handshake and looked Burrows in the eye. Margaret was about 5' 4 with auburn hair and sparkling green eyes which told of her Irish heritage. She's a fine figure of a true Irish colleen, Johnny thought as he shook hands with her.

"My uncle owns the Gazette and he hired me to do stories about tea socials, flower shows, and debutant balls for the society page."

"That sounds like a fine thing Miss Dempsey."

"Call me Maggie please and I'll call you Johnny if I may," she replied. "It is a good job but I want to write about more important things. I want to report on real news items, about the things important to Portland and to Oregon."

Johnny smiled; he admired the spunk and intensity of the young woman. "Where'd you ever get such an idea?"

This time it was Maggie that smiled. "My father is something of a ... a rebel I guess you'd say. He thinks that women should be treated equally with men. As I was growing up he instilled the same ideals in me."

Maggie stopped and chuckled. "He once told me if I'd been born a man I could have been a powerful force in state government. As it was I'd have to fight to be treated as something more than a second class citizen."

She looked at Johnny with fire in her eyes. "I won't be treated like a second class anything and my Daddy supports me. He even named me after two of history's first and finest women reporters; Anne Royall and Margaret Fuller."

"Never heared of them," Johnny admitted.

Maggie smiled again and continued, "Margaret joined the staff of the New York Times in 1844; she was their first female reporter. Anne Royall was the first female reporter to get an interview with a sitting President of the United States," Maggie explained.

"In1826 John Quincy Adams was bathing naked in the Potomac River and Mrs. Royall asked for an interview but President Adams declined. Anne sat on his clothes and wouldn't let him have them until he talked to her."

"I think I would've liked Anne Royall. Always did admire someone, man or woman, with spunk," laughed Johnny. "But what do you want with me, Missy?"

"My uncle said that if I could write something that would interest men as well as the women who usually read my work that he would print it," Maggie answered. "I was at your trial this morning and I thought a story about you and your life would be the way to write something more important than whose roses won the blue ribbon."

"Who wants to read about an old broken down mountain man?"

"I heard Judge Reynolds say you were the last of your kind and he's probably right. I think people would be fascinated to hear about the life and times of a real life mountain man," Maggie explained. "Look at all the books and stories written about Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger, and John 'Liver Eatin' Johnson."

"Well Missy, I wouldn't mind helping you but I've got to find some day work for a couple days to get a grub stake so's I can leave town like I promised the Judge. I just don't think I'll have the time."

"How much do you need, Johnny?"

"I reckon about $80 would see me through. I got about $50 after paying that fine so I need another $30 or so."

"You told Judge Reynolds you only had $20," Maggie said with a smile.

"Yes 'em I did," Johnny answered with a grin. "I believe in tellin the truth but there's no need to be a fanatic about it." Then he laughed out loud. "I need the money more than that saloon owner does."

Maggie laughed with him. "I'll make you a bargain Johnny. We'll go this afternoon to get your supplies together and the Gazette will pay for it. Then you have dinner with me this evening so we can talk and you spend tomorrow talking with me too. What do you say?"

"You sure you're uncle will stake me?"

"Yes sir, I am. He pretty much thinks like my father. But even if the Gazette won't pay the freight, I will."

"You got that kind of money Missy?"

"I'm not without resources Johnny. I give you my word; you'll get your traveling stake."

Johnny looked Maggie in the eye and could see that she meant what she'd promised. "Okay Missy, I'll bend your ear for the next day or so. Let's go put together my grub stake."

The rest of the afternoon Johnny and Maggie went around the town getting and doing the things he felt necessary to get ready for his long journey. He'd decided where he was headed just before Maggie came into the livery stable. They took his horses to the blacksmith to have them reshod. Next they went to the general store to pick up staples.

Salt, sugar and coffee were purchased. Johnny also selected, and Maggie paid for, about five pounds of beef jerky, a mixed bag of oats and corn for his horses, and some penny candy. "Sometimes you can't stop to eat and suckin on the candy will help you forget how hungry you are," Johnny explained. "Besides, it just tastes good," he added with a grin.

Before they left the general mercantile, Maggie handed Johnny a new wide brimmed hat, a couple of pair of sturdy work pants and four shirts. "Try this on," she ordered handling him the hat. "If you're going on a long trip you'll need a good hat and decent clothing. Those that you're wearing looks like they're about to fall apart."

The hat fit well so Johnny threw his old hat into a waste bin. "Add it to the bill," Maggie told the clerk.

"I'll meet you at the cafe just up the street from the livery at 5," Maggie told Johnny. "And Mr. Burrows, could you take a bath between now and then please? Mr. Swede was right; you do smell like a horse."

He nodded and she walked away. Johnny spent the rest of the afternoon stowing his supplies in the pack saddle panniers that he would load on Buck. Some things, such as ammunition for his Winchester 73 rifle and Colt Peacemaker handgun, he put in his saddle bags; they both used the same .44-40 cartridge. But the final thing he did before meeting Maggie was to take a bath. He stripped out back of the stable and washed in a horse trough.

At 5, a clean and well dressed Johnny walked into the diner. Maggie was sitting with an older man at a table in the back of the room. She smiled and motioned for him to join them. As he got to the table the older man stood and offered his hand.

"I'm Sean Dempsey, Mr. Burrows. Maggie's father," the man introduced himself. "It's a real pleasure to meet you."

Johnny shook hands with Sean. "Johnny Burrows, Mr Dempsey. You've got quite a daughter there," he said pointing to Maggie.

"Don't I know it. Sometimes I think I've let her have her head a little too much after her mother passed away," Sean replied with a small laugh. "But then I think how interesting life is with her around and wouldn't want to change a thing."

"Daddy," Maggie protested blushing. "Johnny you almost look elegant in your new clothes."

"Don't know about that," he replied. "That lye soap pert near took my hide off. But this is the cleanest I've been in quite a spell."

"Sit down please Mr. Burrows. I came along as sort of a chaperone don't you know. In spite of her rebellious streak, young ladies just don't meet gentlemen alone for supper. Not even in these modern times."

"I understand sir," Johnny replied. Sean would make a fine protector for his daughter, he thought. He's near as big as me.

"No need to call me sir. My name's Sean and I'll call you Johnny. If that's alright with you."

The three ordered dinner and Maggie began her questions. When the food was brought to the table, Sean told Maggie to let the poor man eat before his food gets cold. After dinner Sean had a suggestion.

"I have some paper work that must be completed this evening and I can see that Maggie isn't half way done with her questions. May I suggest you come back to the house with us and stay the night. That way you and Maggie can talk until all hours."

"Thank you Sean. It'd sure beat sleeping on those hay bales."

"Let's get your horses and gear up to our stable and you two can talk as long as you want," Sean suggested.

Arriving at the Dempsey's Johnny put his horses in their stable and joined Maggie in the parlor. Two pots of coffee and several hours later Maggie called a halt.

"I've gotten a good start tonight Johnny but it's after midnight and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Let's continue after breakfast tomorrow."

Johnny nodded and Maggie showed him to his bedroom. Dang, ain't talked that much in two or three years combined, he thought and he went to bed.

He was up at first light and made his way to the kitchen; he thought he'd put on a pot of coffee for everyone. Johnny was surprised to see Sean sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in front of him.

"Coffee's on the stove, if you've a mind for some," Sean greeted him.

"Surprised to see you up this time of the morning," Johnny said as he refilled Sean's cup and poured one of his own.

"I spent a lot of years gettin up at daybreak when I was a lumberjack," Sean replied. "Never did get over the habit. He took a sip of the hot coffee and asked, "Did Maggie and you get a lot done last night? I know you two were still going at 10."

"Yes sir." Johnny smiled. "She sure asks a lot of questions, don't she? I think she knows what I had for breakfast every day for the last 40 years." He and Sean both laughed.

"We'll pretty well finish up my life story today. But we'll have to take some breaks," Johnny complained with a smile. "I'm not use to talkin that much."

Maggie joined them. "I'll fix some breakfast for us and then we can get started again," she said as she turned to the ice box.

"Yes 'em," Johnny said winking at Sean behind her back. "Anything you say Miss Dempsey."

She turned to face him, saw that he was teasing, and laughed. "Okay. Would it be alright if we continued after breakfast Mr. Burrows?"

"Yes 'em Missy. It would be my pleasure."

While Maggie fixed breakfast Johnny wrote a letter he wanted to mail before he left Portland. Though she was as curious as a cat, Maggie refrained from asking who he was writing to.

They talked, or rather Johnny talked and Maggie asked questions until midday. After lunch, Maggie suggested they take a short break.

"Good, my voice could rest a spell," Johnny responded. "Think I'll ride over to the post office and mail that letter I writ this morning."

He could see that Maggie wanted to ask who he was writing to but was too polite to bring it up. "It's to an old friend down San Diego, California way," Johnny told her holding up the letter. "He's about the only friend I got that's still kickin."

Johnny mailed his letter and stopped at a saloon for a quick beer; it was a different saloon than the one he'd been arrested in. Better get back fore Missy comes looking for me, he said to himself after one beer.

When he got back to the Dempsey's, Maggie was sitting on the porch swing waiting, impatiently. "Well, let's get back to work," she said and motioned Johnny into the house. He smiled, put his horse away and followed her into the parlor.

They stopped around 5 for supper and then went back to work. Just after 8, Maggie stretched and put her notebook down.

"That brings us up to your fight in the saloon so I guess we're done Johnny."

"Just in time Missy. I need to leave tomorrow or the Marshal will try to put me in jail again," Johnny replied with an evil little grin. "He wouldn't get it done but I don't want the ruckus."

Sean came into the parlor to join them. He handed Johnny a glass almost full with an amber liquid. "That's pure old Kentuck sippin whiskey," he said in a put on southern drawl. "Reckon your mouth should be tuckered out by now. This will help you recover." Sean lifted his own glass in a toast to Johnny.

"Where you headed tomorrow?" Sean asked.

Johnny finished his whiskey and looked thoughtful. "You know I been up here for nie on to 14 year and I've never seen the Pacific Ocean. Reckon I'll ride over to Cape Meares and see it for myself."

"That a long way Johnny," Maggie offered.

"From what folks tell me it's about 50 mile or so. That's about a two day ride if I don't run into trouble or bad weather."

"You can make that ride in two days?" Maggie asked.

"Yes 'em. I won't take my pack animal, no need for that short of ride. So I'll make good time," Johnny replied.

"How long you plan to stay?"

"No more than a day or two. Got to get headed south pretty quick," Johnny answered. He could see a gleam in Maggie's eye and asked her, "Why?"

"That means you'll be back in Portland in five or six days," Maggie replied. "If you stop and see us," pointing to her father, "I'll have a copy of the story for you. You can read it on the trail."

"I was hopin to leave Buck here with you and pick him up on the way through. If that's okay with you Sean."

"That's fine Johnny. Besides Maggie would have my hide if she didn't get to show you her work."

Seven days later, late in the afternoon, Johnny Burrows stopped his horse William in front of the Dempsey's house. Before he could dismount Maggie came running out to greet him.

"What took you so long?" She asked all excited. "I've been waiting for two days."

"Just this side of Cape Meares I ran into a fellar I knowed up in Washington and we had to visit for a spell," Johnny answered. He didn't want to tell her that he and his friend spent an evening trying to drink a whole jug of whiskey. Can't drink like I used to, he thought. Took me most of the next day to get over it.

"Well come into the house; you're just in time for supper. Clean up a bit and join Daddy and me in the dining room," Maggie ordered. "After supper I've got something to show you."

Sean stood as Johnny entered the dining room. "Welcome back, come sit and eat. You look like you could use a good meal."

"Thank ye Sean. I rather eat one of Maggie's home cooked meals a sight more than trail food."

As the three ate supper Johnny told them about his visit to the Pacific Ocean. At the end of his story of his trip he said, "Whole bunch of water, ain't it? Never seen such a sight before."

They spent a long time at supper talking. Later sitting on the front porch they had an after supper coffee while Sean and Johnny each smoked a cigar.

"Where you going next Johnny?" Sean asked. "You're welcome to stay here with us as long as you care too."

"Oh please stay," Maggie added.

"Thank ye Sean, that's right nice of you," Johnny responded. He leaned toward Maggie and said, "Can't stay Missy. I'd go plum loco living in a big town like this. Guess I spent too many years alone up in the mountains to like a bunch of people around all the time. Besides I'm overdue; I gave the judge my word to get out of here days ago."

He took a sip of his cooling coffee and smoked his cigar for a minute and thought about his destination. "A while back I got a letter from my friend Clint Hobart, he used to run wagon trains along the Santa Fe Trail, anyways he said a mutual friend, Josh Kelly, has a ranch over to Colorado. Thought I might drop by and see him. It's been, let's see ... nigh on to 14 years since we saw each other. He was just a youngster, about your age Maggie, when I met him."

Johnny seemed lost in thought for a minute. "Member that fellar William I told you about?" At Maggie's nod he continued. "Back in Missouri it were, where he kept me from gettin a beatin. Well Josh is his son. I met the boy when he signed on with one of Hobart's wagon trains. Bout 18 years old he were. Rode with him for two days I did. Never met a youngster with such a good head on his shoulders. We became good friends in those two days."

"Where's Mr. Kelly's ranch Johnny?" Maggie always the inquisitive reporter asked. "Colorado's a big place."

"Clint said Josh had settled in the Chico Basin, near a town called Fountain. It's about a half days ride south of Colorado Springs," Johnny told them so they'd have an idea of where he was going.

"When you plan on heading out?" Sean asked, hoping Johnny might stay for a few more days. He enjoyed talking to the old mountain man.

"Reckon, I'll head out at first light," Johnny said smiling at Maggie's disappointed look. "Missy, I can't get there if I don't get started."

Johnny finished his coffee and cigar. "Better get some rest if I'm leaving at daybreak."

"Just a minute Johnny, I still have to give you my surprise," Maggie said. "I'll be right back."

Johnny looked at Sean as he smiled and shook his head. Maggie came bouncing back onto the porch.

Handing Johnny a newspaper she said, "My story about you was a big hit. See it starts on the front page and continues on page two." Maggie was almost jumping up and down in excitement.

"We had to print extra copies because people heard about the story from their friends and wanted to read it for themselves. You're a celebrity Johnny."

"All the more reason for me to get gone," Johnny replied. "Can't abide folks makin a fuss over me." He took Maggie's hand. "I'll read this at night on the trail. Thank you for your interest in an old man Missy."

Maggie threw her arms around Johnny and hugged him. "Thank you for giving me the chance to do a real story," she said with tears in her eyes. She turned and went back into the house.

"You've made quite an impression on her Johnny," Sean said and shook his hand. "Thank you, I haven't seen her this happy in years. Just so you know I hear that other papers out here in the west are picking up the story and printing it too."

Johnny shook his head and laughed. "Who'da thought that one little girl could reach so many people." Waving his hand Johnny went up to his room.

When he came downstairs the next morning, Johnny was surprised. He'd thought he's slip out before anyone got up. Instead Sean and Maggie were both waiting on him. Sean smiled and gave him a metal flask. "It's got some who-hit-john in it, for those cold nights on the trail."

Maggie handed him a bundle. "Some fried chicken and corn pone, at least your first night you won't have to eat trail food." She hugged him and teary eyed ran back upstairs.

Johnny, followed by Sean, stepped onto the porch. Johnny's horses, William was already saddled and Buck with his pack saddle waited for him. He thanked Sean with a nod, walked to William, and mounted.

"Won't say goodbye," Johnny said to Sean. "The Sioux always say 'some time again. Some time again, Sean."

Johnny turned his horse into the sun toward Colorado.

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Story tagged with:
Drama / Western /