Paradise Valley 4, Roundup

Paradise Valley 4, Roundup

Rusty and Tall Elk galloped into the mouth of the blind canyon, whooping and twirling their ropes. They hazed 12 cattle into the canyon and drove them toward the brush corral. Silver Quail appeared out of nowhere with a rifle and sprinted to the mouth of the corral. She dropped the logs and stepped back as the cattle stampeded inside. Tall Elk slid from the saddle of his blaze faced chestnut and helped her return the three logs to their place.

“A good day’s work,” Tall Elk smiled, wiping the sweat from his face. One bull began bucking like a stallion. It shook it’s head and looked at the humans, before following the scent of water to the small stream. Cattle of all sizes and descriptions milled around in the small, desolate valley. The walls of the valley were actually climbable for a determined cow or horse, but cattle were naturally lazy and would remain in the bowl of the valley unless terrified into stampeding.

“Are they branded?” Silver Quail asked, looking at the new cattle while resting her chin on the top bar of the railing.

“Every last one of them,” Rusty called, sliding from his dark bay horse. “That makes 127 of them by my count.”

“When did you learn to count?” Tall Elk scoffed.

“The day I drew my first paycheck. Which you’ve never done, by the way.”

“Aw, white man’s money, who needs it?” Tall Elk scoffed again.

“In your case that’s true,” Rusty laughed, “but I could use a little. I’ve been broke for the better part of a year.”

“Let’s fill out the herd to a full 150, then drive them home,” Tall Elk turned and put his back against the railing. “Maybe we can turn the extra fifty head into working money and get you paid.”

“There you go,” Rusty pointed at Tall Elk’s chest with a smile.

“We might have trouble,” Silver Quail turned serious. “I was watching from the tower up above and I smelled dust. Your dust came from the south. This dust drifted on an easterly wind,” she pointed behind them. “I watched your dust all the way here. If I saw it, they saw it.”

Tall Elk looked up at the ship-like pile of stones on the hill. “How many?” Tall Elk hid his concern.

“More than five and less than fifteen. If they are dragging pack horses, I would estimate four men.”

“You smelled that on the wind?” Rusty jeered.

“Of course. Can’t you?” Tall Elk squinted at Rusty.

“Oh, come on,” Rusty shook his head, then looked uncertainly from one to the other. Tall Elk knelt in front of them.

“An animal places it’s foot on the ground, and then lifts it,” Tall Elk pressed his hand to the ground and lifted it, leaving an impression in the sand. “An animal never raises dust unless it is being pushed, or was frightened into running. A white man’s horse wears metal shoes and carries a heavy weight upon it’s back; a saddle, man, bedroll, canteen, firearms, and camping equipment, nearly doubling the weight of the horse. It leaves a deeper impression and throws up dirt with the metal shoe,” he tossed dirt aside with his fingers, causing dust to drift in the wind. “That horse will raise more dust going uphill or down, and the least amount on flat ground. By sampling the air for several minutes you can get an estimate of how many horses are in that herd, and how many riders. Most riders need food when they are so far from civilization, so they drag a pack horse along behind them.”

“And you can tell how many men by the smell?” Rusty raised an eyebrow.

“You can if your life depends upon it. Our lives have depended on such information since the day we were born.”

“So what do we do?” Rusty asked, his eyes going to the hills around them.

“We practice with our guns while Silver Quail watches, then we eat and sleep as usual.”

“Should we stand watches tonight?”

“No, we are wary. Indians can watch in their sleep.”

Silver Quail had made a light stew for dinner. She combined cactus fruit, amaranth, pig weed, chives, and two unlucky rattlesnakes, cooking it low and slow until it was absolutely delicious. After eating, Tall Elk and Rusty did their daily pistol practice. Rusty had gotten so adept at drawing and dry firing his pistol that he was almost as fast, and as accurate as Tall Elk. The idea of the fast draw was unheard of at the time, and very different from what they were doing. A fast draw could be completed in one hundredth of a second. They pulled their pistols in about half a second. The true fast draw would not be perfected for nearly fifty years. But getting a gun out fast was just plain common sense and had been around since the day men first made guns.

Normally the two men fired off a few shots to check their accuracy. But with white men around, that was impossible. Tall Elk gave Rusty lessons in knife throwing instead. Rusty was becoming very good at that as well. Truth be told, Rusty was turning into a very good, untried warrior.

Under Rusty’s tutelage, Tall Elk was becoming a top hand. He could rope and brand with the best of them, and grew aware of the habits and thoughts of cattle. It was important to know what cattle where thinking. Generally cattle were smart, not the dumb critters people believed them to be. But cattle had their ways and Tall Elk learned them as fast as everything else he had learned. It was just one more step in his animal lore.

“I think we could draw faster if we filed off the front sights,” Rusty said as he rolled into his blankets and watched Tall Elk and Silver Quail get ready for bed. He propped his face on one hand, resting on his elbow. “The guns hang up sometimes.”

“Only if you shove the gun down hard in the holster. The sights hold the gun in the place when the going gets rough. Filing off the sight would be great if you live in town, but out here we need to make sure the gun stays in the holster,” Tall Elk said as he settled down.

“The strap could do that.”

“A strapped gun is useless to us. It might as well be in a saddle bag.”

“Yeah,” Rusty agreed. He rolled over on his back and looked up at the stars. “One more day,” he sighed. “I miss the ranch.”

“I’m sure she misses you too,” Silver Quail said with a smile. Rusty chuckled. They both knew whom he meant.

The object of his affections was sitting across the table from Nancy, back on the ranch. They sipped coffee beside the dying fire of the cook stove. The tiny flames shimmered from the open stove door and flicked on the walls. White Fawn set her cup on the checkered table cloth and ran her hands across its glossy surface. A whippoorwill cried from the cove of trees, down by the river. A blackbird made it halfhearted warbling cry to the setting sun in the west. The smell of dust was strong in the air, as a stallion pursued a mare in the nearby corral.

“You have such wonderful stuff,” White Fawn sighed.

“Me, I’m poor. I have almost nothing.”

“And Indian would never say that. Imagine if you had to pack all your stuff out on two horses. Imagine what you would have to leave behind.”

“I couldn’t begin to pack everything out on two horses or two wagons,” Nancy laughed.

“Because you are rich,” White Fawn nodded.

“I guess I am, if you look at it that way,” Nancy took another sip. “But I have the troubles which go with it.”

“You had no troubles today. There were none yesterday. Don’t let a little trouble last week, ruin all the days which follow. Indians live a life while constantly at war. Each day is special to us. You have everything you need in life to make a person happy, all around you here,” White Fawn motioned at the house.

“Not quite everything,” Nancy said bitterly.

“What are you missing?”

“Love. A man. A really good friend,” she said, staring at the fire.

“Oh, you have all of those,” White Fawn scoffed.

“It doesn’t appear like it, when I have to go to bed alone at night.”

“You do so by choice. Rusty has been here, unpaid for a year. You think he’s here for your cooking?”

“I have nothing to cook,” Nancy smiled, then drank again.

“Exactly. But still he stays, a grown man hanging onto your every word, obeying your every command. Isn’t that love and friendship?”

“I suppose,” she said thoughtfully.

“If you don’t like going to bed alone, do something about it. I’m willing to join you until Rusty returns.”

“I thought you and Rusty . . . ” she stopped in confusion. White Fawn shook her head with a twinkle in her eyes.

“You get milk from a cow, and a cow needs to be milked, but that doesn’t make you husband and wife,” White Fawn giggled.

Nancy snorted and placed a hand over White Fawn’s. White Fawn turned her hand up and held Nancy’s in an intimate fashion. “You are so much like your mother,” Nancy sighed.

“I know. If I survive, I might turn into a good wife some day,” White Fawn laughed.

“And a good friend,” Nancy squeezed White Fawn’s hand. Nancy locked the front door and set the rifle beside it. She turned and pulled White Fawn into her bedroom.

The fire died down and Rusty turned to face the opposite direction. They knew he was not sleeping. He was just being polite. Silver Quail pulled her dress off beneath the blankets. Tall Elk ran his hands over Silver Quail’s soft, slender body. He was always amazed by the difference between a woman’s skin and a man’s. Women were so soft and supple. As a hunter he knew it was because a female carried more fat than a male. As a lover, he was simply amazed and intrigued by the difference.

Silver Quail’s hands went to Tall Elk’s penis. She massaged it gently until it reached its full hardness. She straddled his body and eased herself down on his cock. She sighed as the full length slid up inside her body. She felt the tip of his cock touching her cervix deep inside her body, just behind her pubic hair. That was one reason she liked being on top. It gave her the maximum penetration possible. She rested there for a moment while her lubricants began flowing, then lifted her body gently until his cock nearly fell out. She stopped and settled again, until she rested against his abdomen. Tall Elk gritted his teeth with his eyes tightly closed. Silver Quail repeated this three more times, then gently increased the tempo. Her body undulated above him. He grabbed her small breasts and began tweaking the nipples. She closed her eyes and smiled in appreciation. Moving her hands to his shoulders, she began riding faster. Tall Elk’s hands slid down to her tiny ass and squeezed it. Of all her magnificent assets, Tall Elk believed her small shapely ass might be the best. It was hard to judge, because in most men’s eyes, Silver Quail would be considered the perfect woman. She certainly looked like one as she rode heavily on his impaling cock. Her face grew sweaty as she intensified her lovemaking. Rising and falling on her bent legs, his cock was flashing in and out of her wet pussy with blinding swiftness.

It wasn’t long before Tall Elk began feeling fire in the roots of his cock. His balls began churning. The slick hot pussy flesh clenching his penis was tight and wonderful. He never failed to appreciate Silver Quail’s talents. Even though her pussy had produced their wonderful daughter, it was still almost as tight as the first day they made love. He could tell, as her pussy began milking his stiffened flesh, that Silver Quail was having an orgasm. He simply relaxed and allowed his own body to explode. As Silver Quail stopped, his throbbing cock began filling her tiny pussy with hot cream. She felt the hot fluid squirting into her quivering pussy and bit her lip to keep from moaning out loud. That squirting fluid was the final thrill for a woman. Hot and wet it filled her emptiness and left a warm spot which lasted for minutes. She pulled off his cock with a hiss, and fell to the blankets beside him.

Silver Quail nuzzled Tall Elk’s neck as they rested and their breathing returned to normal. They both grew aware of the sound of moving cloth, and the subtle grunts of their camping partner. Rusty was trying to masturbate in silence.

“He will attract ants,” Tall Elk chuckled.

“He doesn’t have a wife?” Silver Quail whispered. With a grunt of surprise, Tall Elk slid back and studied her face. He remained silent, deep in thought, until he finally nodded his acceptance.

“Very well, but only using that new trick you learned. I want nobody inside you but me.”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” she smiled. Her naked body disappeared into the dankness.

“Huh? What? Oh my god,” Rusty’s surprised voice came from the darkness. Tall Elk smiled and rolled over to sleep.

Silver Quail began trekking up the hill with the rifle and a canteen. Tall Elk and Rusty saddled their horses and pulled the cinches tight. The air was cool and moist with a heavy dew. The sun would be up in 30 minutes. Their cooking fire left a tendril of smoke against the orange colored sky on the horizon. There was still a sprinkling of stars directly overhead.

“Hey, thanks for last night,” Rusty said over the saddle of his horse.

“For what?” Tall Elk was mystified.

“You know, sending your wife over,” Rusty said in embarrassment. “That was really nice of you. Not many men would do that.”

“Did you shit last night, Rusty?” Tall Elk asked with a smile.

“What?” Rusty was shocked and sickened by the question.

“Did you shit?”

“Yeah, of course I did.”

“Did you thank anybody for it?”

“Now what kind of a fool question is that?” Rusty was disgusted. He knew he was about to get another batch of Sioux wisdom, but Tall Elk simply pulled the cinch tight and mounded up. He laughed as he rode away and Rusty scrambled to catch up.

Nancy stretched and smiled, then opened her eyes and found White Fawn looking down at her from ...

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