Welcome Basket with Cattle - Part 2 [MOVED]
Location: Redmond Homestead
Timeline: Early Afternoon, July 1875
Shade tensed and let his hand holding the lariat drop although he did not drop the rope. He kept both hands well away from his guns, the six-gun on his hip and the Winchester 1873 in its saddle scabbard. Lakota continued to watch the bellowing cattle but was too well trained to move when his rider was not telegraphing signals with his hands or legs. However, his ears moved back and forth as he sought to catch all the noises in the area.
Still wary and not fool enough to assume that just because the girl was young that she had no idea how to use the gun in her hands, Shade nodded toward the milling cattle. "I'm from Lost Lake Ranch. That beef carries our brand. I'm going to get them out of your garden." And, he thought, providing I'm not shot, I'll be telling Kate Hale what she can do with her welcome baskets in the future. "Mrs. Hale asked me to stop by and bring some things for the Redmonds."
Hell, Shade thought, the garden utensil brandishing, gun-toting teenage may have already dispatched the Redmonds.
Just as she figured, those fourlegged vandals were some of his. He claimed he was going to take care of them too. She almost asked him why then did he allow them here in the first place, but he'd just lie anyhow. He also mentioned Mrs. Hale too. And even more, he knew their family name. That gave her pause, but she did not take her finger off of the trigger, though continuing to hold up the heavy horse pistol level was becoming a bit of a strain.
"So you say, mister! Hardly means it is the truth. After all, I could say I know President Grant but doesn't mean I actually do now," she pointed out with what she believed to be firm logic.
"Also we did not enter into any bargain or purchase with that woman," she also added, so he would realize she caught him outright in a baldfaced lie.
Shade practically snorted his derision at her logic. "Mrs. Hale is a good woman. You did not have to enter into a purchase agreement for her to send what she calls housewarming gifts." That was about as much explaining as Shade was inclined to do at the moment. "Now, you can take a look in the basket and the sack, but unless you plan on shooting me in the back, I'm gonna move that beef away from the back of your house and out to the meadow where I can pick 'em up on my way back to the LLR." Shade shifted his weight and gigged Lakota into a walk, planning on guiding him around the recalcitrant girl.
So it was a welcome basket? She had heard of those of course, not that the family had ever been on the receiving end of one but still. Her resolve was weakening, just maybe he wasn't actually the thread she had figured him for. Slowly she began to lower her pistol as she searched for the right words to say next. He was moving closer but intended on going right past her to begin round up the cattle or leastwise that the man's declared intentions. Her keen eyes studied the man's features as he came closer.
Wait a minute! That face seemed sort of familiar, like she'd seen him or a close likeness anyhow previously? Then it hit her. He sure looked a particular wanted poster she had once gazed at in some Dakota town they had been traveling through. The face on that poster belonged to a man wanted for armed robbery or murder or something of that ilk. Yes, that man would fetch reward money. Here her father was desperate for any money he could lay his hands on and this could be the ticket right here in front of her!
"Hey, slow down, mister! I think I know you....I mean I've seen your face before......you're wanted by the law!"
Up went the pistol again as she took a few steps to keep abreast of him, she was close enough even a half blind person would fail to miss this point blank shot.
"You stop or I'll shoot you, I mean it!" she assured him with deadly serious intent.
Shade had had about enough of the stray cattle, the girl, her gun and ferrying welcome baskets for a decidedly ungrateful recipient. He made as if to pull rein, but at the last minute, he launched himself in a dive off the horse. His body slammed into the girl's, his momentum carrying them both to the ground.
So it seemed like she had him pegged alright and also he was fixing to cooperate too, Clara relaxed ever so slightly. Big mistake! Suddenly it all happened before she could react, his adult-sized self hurled down upon her from above and hit her harder than she had ever been tackled before. Of course, her previous melee experience was her little brother's playful wrestling when she was younger. Down she went hard onto her back and butt, she lost the grip on the heavy Dragoon which clattered on the ground a few feet away, fortunately unfired.
Shade rolled to get his weight off the girl, trying to pin her flailing arms and kick the heavy pistol further away all at the same time. A couple of her blows managed to land, giving him a bit of a cuff to the head. He grunted, "Settle down, you little wildcat. I'm not gonna hurt you."
Clara was having none of it, flailing away with both fists as she tried to prevent him from pinning her arms because then she would be doomed. She also made one last appeal to reason, "Lemme go! If you surrender now, I promise you I will put in a good word to the law, and they might not hang you." Though she highly doubted, this one was a ruthless blackheart.
"Owww! Now, just stop it," Shade said, his eyes watering a bit where the girl had managed to land a blow to his nose. He was hampered by not wanting to hurt her and wanting to keep her hands away from his gun or the one she had dropped. Finally, he caught her wrists and pinned them firmly to the ground. "Quit, and I'll ease up...that's gotta hurt, and I don't like hurtin' little girls."
Clara struggled until the last second, but she found herself pinned to the ground. If he thought his tight grip might be hurting her the man had no idea of the sort of pain this girl had endured the last time she was attacked. A couple of last grunts and gasps to free herself failed miserably before she stopped then, glaring up at him as she took a few heavy breaths.
"I am NOT a little girl, mister," she wanted him to know then sighed, "I will stop." She hated that word 'quit', no sir, she didn't quit on anything.
"I'm gonna let you go, and we're gonna get to our feet," Shade said, still glaring a bit. He kept a good grip on her, as he climbed to his feet and pulled her up with him. Moving fast, he reached out to scoop up the Dragoon and tuck it in his belt. "Now, I ain't sayin' you didn't see a wanted poster on me. But I was cleared of those charges in Willow, Colorado."
He was dictating the terms now as he got up and pulled her up next to him, Clara did not resist as she had given her word. Her father had taught her it was very important in this world to keep your word when you give it. She watched as he deftly stole her pistol even as he tried to explain to her the circumstances of that poster.
She huffed in derision at his story. "I hardly imagine no one but an idiot would admit his guilt and while I am certain you are quite the lout, you do not seem slow-witted," she replied, quite the concession actually, coming from someone like her.
Shade stepped carefully away from her and out of range, leaning down in a smooth motion to pick up his hat and replace it on his head. "Well, your opinion on my guilt or innocence ain't gonna lose me any sleep." He paused, "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Clara watched him pick up his hat then glanced at her own still on the ground as she responded to his question, "I am a good deal more sturdy than you appear to imagine me. So....no, you did not hurt me."
She crossed her arms then and threw in a comment, "A gentleman would pick up a lady's hat you know."
"A lady wouldn't try to shoot a man who was just payin' a neighborly call," Shade shot back at her. Still, he admired her grit so leaned down and picked up her hat, offering it to her.
"I could hardly be expected to believe such a story coming from a man whose cattle were trampling my garden and whose past had earned him a wanted poster for his misdeeds," Clara smirked, with her sharp tongue she actually enjoyed a good argument as she then waited for him to extend her hat. "Thank you," she had been taught her manners.
"You're welcome. Why not go see what Mrs. Hale sent you and I'll get the cattle out of your garden?" Shade offered with a smile. "Then, if you don't mind, I could use a drink of water. It's hot work wrangling a teenaged girl, even one as slight as you are."
Slight? Was he saying she was scrawny? Clara was rather touchy about her womanly frame or rather lack of thus far, she was sadly flat as a board but had her hopes for the future. Other than that thinly disguised insult of his, the man was willing to help with one big issue, removing those disgusting steers. Plus, indeed she was curious about what that Mrs. Hale had brought them....well, unless the man was lying, and there some big rattlesnake in there or something? She doubted it though.
"Very well, wrangle something other than a young lady and I will allow you a drink from our well. Your fine horse too if you wish."
She could be nice............sometimes.
Shade risked turning his back on the girl, then turned around again, "Hey, tigress, what's your name?"
Tigress? Clara blinked. A second to consider though and she decided that really wasn't an insult though. As she plopped her hat back on, she answered, "Clara...Clara Redmond, daughter of Aurelian Redmond."
"Howdy, Miss Redmond," Shade tipped his hat to her and leaned down to pick up his lariat. Grabbing Lakota's reins, he grabbed the horn, gave a slight hop and pulled himself up, expertly sliding his foot into the stirrup. Coiling his rope, he held it by the loops, shaking them out just enough so he could use it to move the cows away. Lakota needed only a slight signal for him to go to work, pushing the recalcitrant creatures out and away from the Redmonds' house and garden. Once the steers were well away and actually meandering off into the meadow, Shade turned his horse and cantered back.
Clara watched him for a moment, it was quite amazing how the cattle responded to him and his well trained horse. One thing he definitely hadn't been lying about, he was a ranch hand alright. Of course that didn't mean he couldn't be an outlaw to boot. And a liar...of course. Still, there was enough doubt now that Clara's temper was cooling a bit. But her curiousity remained so she went over to the basket he had set onto the ground, kneeling she opened it. It was filled with lots of niceties from soap to food both dried and jarred. It had been a very nice thing for that Mrs. Hale to do and though the cowpoke might not agree, Clara was not an ungrateful person. He was riding back then, his mission accomplished and the cattle off in a nearby meadow. She took the basket by it's handle and met him at the well.
Reining in, he dropped to the ground near the well. "If you promise to not try and shoot me again, I'll give you back your pistol," Shade told Clara as he availed himself of a dipper of water, enjoying its cool sweetness.