Millie's Western Adventure
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Elizabeth Philby jerked awake as
the train reduced speed and the gentle rhythm of the clack-clack that had put
her to sleep changed. She had leaned against the window in her sleep and the
book she'd been reading was in her lap where nerveless fingers had dropped it.
She looked out the window to see
more of the featureless grassy plains that had been there when she'd fallen asleep. They must be close
to the mountains by now. Elizabeth stretched her seventeen-year-old body,
extending her arms and luxuriating in that special feeling that only comes from
a nice stretch.
Her bonnet had been knocked askew
by the window of the train, and she straightened it, sitting back in the seat.
She'd wanted to take it off, but other women on the train left theirs on, so
she did too. Besides, this was the first hat she'd ever worn that her mother
hadn't made for her, or that she hadn't made herself. The fact that she'd spent
a nickel of her last dollar on it at the dry goods store next to the depot in
St. Joseph didn't enter into things.
She was on her way to live with her
aunt in the big city of Sacramento, California - a fact made necessary by the fever that had killed a quarter of
the residents of St. Joseph, her parents included. The townspeople had gone a
little batty trying to stop the killing disease and had burned the possessions
of those who died of it. Everything Beth owned, in fact, was currently
packed in the two suitcases stowed under her seat. The unsmiling banker back in
St. Joseph had looked at the book on his desk and, despite the fact that there
were numbers next to her father's name in that book, said he could not give her
the money until the courts "worked things out". The banker had been willing to provide money for a ticket to California,
assuring her he'd forward "the funds" from her parents' probate to
her "when they become available."
parents' landlord demanded rent and neighbors had piled all her parents' things in the
street and burned them.
In short, Beth had nowhere to live. She'd thought of Aunt Maureen only
because, while she was sifting through the ashes of her life in the middle of
the street, she'd found the remains of what had been a tintype picture of her mother and aunt. A book had lain on top of it and protected it from the flames.
A sign reading "Beaverton" flashed past the window.
She'd never heard of Beaverton.
From her studies she knew it was a corruption of "Beaver Town", but
there wasn't a tree in sight. Why would anyone name someplace with no trees and
no beavers something like Beaverton?
The train was slowing and obviously
going to stop. The porter came striding down the aisle calling, "Beaverton, Nebraska, ten minutes,
Beaverton, rest stop, ten minutes."
Good, she could use an outhouse about now. She gathered her skirts and grabbed her parasol, the only thing of
her mother's she'd been able to save, and that only because she had snitched it and hidden it at
her friend Annie's house. The girls loved to parade up and down Broadway as if
they were in the big city and her mother would never have allowed her to use
the parasol for something so silly. She felt a twist of pain in her gut as she
thought about her mother who would never scold her again ... or hug her either.
The train groaned to a stop and she stood up. Several of the other ladies stepped into the aisle, heading for the
steps that led down to the platform. By the time she was in line there were
four other women in front of her, waiting to use the old wooden structure that
sat fifty dusty yards from the train station.
Fashion being what it was in those days, and taking a long time to undo and then do back up, Beth knew she didn't
have much time when her turn finally came.
She might have made it, had the fat woman who used the outhouse just before her told the porter that Beth was in
But she didn't.
Even then, she could have run along the tracks and caught the slowly accelerating train once it left the station
... but for the actions of three boys who would become significant in Beth's life, though neither she nor they knew it then.
Said boys, named Chauncy, Benjamin
and Michael, and all being thirteen years old, had decided to have some fun.
The boys were together by virtue of their fathers all attending the same stock
auction at the other end of town and couldn't resist trying to liven up the
dusty place that they only got to visit once every two or three months. Hiding
in wait with a rope and Michael's horse, they watched the pretty girl at the
end of the line of women go into the outhouse. The idea was to throw a loop
over the outhouse, whack the horse on the butt and thus tip the outhouse over.
They would then abandon the rope, which was old and no good for herding cattle
anymore anyway, and scamper off to chortle about their exploit.
The first part of their plan went
well. Michael was good with a rope and dropped his loop over the peaked roof of
the privy neatly. It caught on the latch that kept the door closed.
His horse however, was a newly
broken mustang and while he was used to cattle and the boy who rode him, he was
not used to a building coming
crashing down right behind him. Consequently, memories of the open range
flitted through the horse's limited intelligence and he decided to go there.
With no rider to stop him, the
horse managed to drag that outhouse three quarters of a mile before he came to
a gasping, lathered halt, spraddle-legged and dripping foam from his mouth.
As for Beth ... her first clue that
something was amiss was a loud yell of "Yeeehaaaawww!" outside the privy. This occurred shortly after
she had finally gotten through all the petticoats to her underwear, which she
untied by feel, and had just sunk gratefully onto the wooden hole that was
about to bring her so much relief. She was in fact in the middle of a nice long
stream when the world turned literally upside down. The frightened horse pulled
so robustly that the outhouse toppled and actually rolled up onto its roof part
way, before slamming back down on the dry, dusty soil.
Beth, of course, was hysterical.
There was nothing she could do. The rope held the door closed and the structure
slid first on its back, then on one side, before rotating in a complete circle
as it hit bushes and clumps of grass on its short ride to infamy. And Beth just
bounced around inside it, trying to protect her head and screaming her lungs
For the boys it was hysterical too - hysterically funny. At least until
Michael realized his horse was running away and he had no way to catch him. He
would not be able to explain this to
his father if he didn't get that horse back. Besides, it had a thirty dollar
saddle on it.
The incident didn't go unnoticed.
It was a Friday, which was the day the stage came in with the mail and parcels
ordered from back east, and passengers for the townspeople to fleece before
they rode on. The train was faster, but it was also a lot more expensive than
the stage line, so there was still competition there. And, when the train stopped, which wasn't
often, there were economic possibilities there too.
So there were a fair number of
people out on the streets. One was Bessie Robinson, the Mayor's wife and a very
important woman in town, at least in her own eyes. Hearing a crash, she gaped,
astonished and secretly delighted, as the outhouse bounced out of town. Here,
at last, was something worthy of gossip. She rushed toward her husband's
office, where young Tommy Ralston was lounging on the porch. When he saw her,
he hurried in - obviously to announce her, as
befitted her station.
Tommy Ralston was in fact announcing the Mayor's wife, but not for the reason she
"Yer wife's a-comin', Mr. Mayor,"
he said, poking his head inside the office. This was his one opportunity to see the naked naughty
bits of his sister, Mabel, without anyone yelling at him. She worked for
the Mayor, sometimes writing things down, and sitting prettily behind a desk.
She also got the honor of raising her skirts and receiving the Mayor's seed
occasionally, meaning every chance the Mayor thought he could get away with it.
Like now. He was pretty close, and
wanted to finish.
"Tell her I'm in an important
meeting and can't be disturbed," he rasped, sawing his duly elected
erection in and out of Mabel as she wiggled under him.
"She looks a mite
excited," said Tommy, thinking back to how Mrs. Robinson's breasts had
been bouncing all about as she hurried toward the office.
Mayor Robinson groaned. He was so close. "Use the spittoon,"
he gasped. Then he socketed his cock deep in the willing young woman who was
quite sure the Mayor would cast aside his shrew of a wife and marry her just as soon as she was
pregnant with his child. After all, Bessie Robinson had only given him one daughter,
and that one had run away, to get married to a cowboy, of all things! Plus, she was a lot prettier than Bessie was,
and half her age too.
Tommy, knowing what his mission
was, went to the front door, stepped outside and "accidentally"
kicked over the spittoon that sat right by the door on the porch. Its contents
splashed across the entryway, making an evil, brown slick spot just as Bessie
stepped up on the porch.
She jumped right back off the
porch. "You clumsy boy!"
she yelled. "You could have soiled my gown!" Tommy looked at Mrs.
Robinson's gown, which everybody else in town would have called a dress. That
she was excited was easy to see, since there were two nice hard points in the
bodice of that gown.
"Ah'm sorry ma'am," he
drawled. "Ah'll clean it up. Won't take me but a minute while you
Bessie fumed as the boy wiped at
the mess with a rag he found somewhere inside. Her husband came to the door a
few minutes later, his face red. "Sorry dear," he said.
"Why do you tolerate this
clumsy oaf, Henry?" she complained.
"He runs errands for me,
Bessie, now what seems to be the problem?"
Bessie told him what she'd seen and
the two of them joined a crowd of people who had started out on foot to follow
the trail of scrapes, broken bushes and dust that the outhouse had left.
What they found, when they arrived,
made their blood run cold. Lying amidst the fragments of what had once been the
outhouse were two bloody legs. That the legs were wearing high topped women's
shoes identified the gender of the body, but nothing more could be seen because
the rest of the structure had collapsed on top of the unfortunate woman.
"Look!" yelled Mr.
Simpson, the storekeeper. He was pointing at an odd sight - that of a boy running alongside a
horse that was saddled. The horse and its non-rider were heading away from the
crowd and it was impossible to see exactly who it was, but it was clear that
they had something to do with the outhouse.
"That's the horse that was
dragging the privy!" shouted Bessie importantly.
Ralph Dugway, owner of the
Beaverton Hotel, was pulling at the boards that had sheathed the outhouse,
trying to uncover the body inside.
"Is she dead?" called
Annie Buckminster, one of the few girls who had kept up with the crowd on its
run to the scene of the crime. She was only thirteen, but could run as fast and
far as any of the boys.
As if in answer to her question,
there came a groan from the pile of wood in front of them.
"Get her out of there!"
yelled another man.
A voice screamed, "Somebody go
get Doc Fisk!"
There was a general milling of
people who mostly just got in each other's way as Beth's limp body was slowly
She was, to put it lightly, a mess.
On her 'ride', Beth had bounced
against every possible protrusion that could tear her dress, puncture her skin
and snag her hair. Her attempts to cover her head probably saved her life, but
her arms and legs were a bloody mess. Her injuries were not actually life
threatening, though everyone who saw her that day was quite sure she would
expire any second. In fact, she had only one serious injury. That was a thick
splinter, about the size of a man's little finger, that had penetrated her
dress and the skin under it, near her hip and about two inches above the edge
of her glossy, raven pubic hair. The tip had bounced off her hip bone and torn
its way back out of her body before the whole thing broke off, leaving what
looked like the impossibly thick piece of a broken arrow piercing her body.
The crowd, however, did not know
that at the time, probably because her efforts to protect her head had not been
entirely successful. Several sharp raps
had left her mercifully unconscious, though she groaned several times as she
was pulled from the wreckage. Upon
getting her free, though, the men noticed she was both silent now and limp as a
wet rag. They let go hastily, letting
her drop limply in the dust and stepped back, horrified that the woman had died
while they held her arms.
Thankfully, one of the other people
who had seen the outhouse being dragged off had already realized the
implications. She was known to the townspeople of Beaverton only as
"Boots." She had arrived in the town one day, some years back, on a trapper's wagon,
covered in bruises and welts. Her thin
dress was in tatters and she was barefoot. Once the trapper had conducted his
business, and despite the fact that she was only thirteen, at best, she calmly
picked up a handy, broken wagon spoke and brained the man, announcing that he
had beaten and raped her for the last time. She had then stripped the man's
boots off his body and put them on herself, along with his six shooter, which
she appeared to know how to use. She took the money he'd just received and
asked the store keeper to show her some clothes. No one had argued with her. In the five years
since then, she had taken up residence in an abandoned sod house on the
outskirts of town, and hired herself out as a scout, tracker and hunter. Boots
was the kind of woman who, when she saw the outhouse being dragged away by a
rope on a horse, knew instinctively that there was someone in it. She also sensed that it was a rough ride, and
that the doctor would be needed. To that
end, she ran to George Watkins' Livery Stable, harnessed up a wagon, and went
to pick up the town doctor.
Ten minutes later Doc Fisk hopped
off the wagon seat with the ease of a man half his age, which was a ripe
"She's dead, Doc," called
Luthor Simmons, one of the men who had felt her expire in his hands.
"Crossed the great divide just as you were gettin' here."
Doc Fisk looked up. "Well, she
appears to have crossed back, Luthor, 'cause her chest is rising and falling. I always check that first,
Several of the other people laughed
and Luthor turned red.
"Come on," said Robert
Fisk, the only physician within a hundred and fifty miles. "Help me get
her up on the wagon so I can get her back to the surgery." He called his
office 'the surgery,' because almost the entirety of his
medical training had been in a camp surgery during the war between the States.
In short order Beth was laid out on
the floor of the buckboard, a limp, bloody mess. As Doc Fisk glanced back at
her his face was grim. She looked entirely too much like the patients he
remembered from his early medical days. Since the war had ended, he'd gotten
used to saving more patients than he lost.
He hoped she'd help him keep his streak going, but it could turn out the
Boots actually knew how to drive a
wagon in a way that jostled the cargo the least. When he commented on it, she
said she'd had lots of practice hauling drunken fur trappers around and the
only way to avoid what she blandly called "problems" was to make
their hung-over trips as painless for them
as possible. When she'd arrived in town
and made her splash, Doc Fisk had briefly examined the man she'd killed, and
had then treated her own injuries. By the time he was finished with her he'd recommended that the town save
the money on a burial and just have the man's body dragged off into the wilds
to feed the coyotes.
Boots assisted him in getting the
woman into his little office and then helped cut the rags that had been the
woman's dress and underthings off of her. It was Boots who found the arrow-like
splinter in the woman's abdomen.
"Shit, Doc. Might be a problem here." She touched the swollen purple skin where the wood emerged from the body.
Doc Fisk had been counting the
'problems' he was uncovering. The woman had clear, healthy skin and had
probably been beautiful, but he doubted she still would be after this was all
healed up ... if she lived. He looked to see what Boots had uncovered.
"Hmm, just like shrapnel," he murmured. "I can get that out pretty easy. I've got a
bottle of whiskey around here somewhere, Boots."
She took that as an order and began
searching for it, finding it under an old saddle in one corner that had been
given to the doctor as payment for saving a badly broken leg. She uncorked it
and took a swig.
Coughing and sputtering she handed
it to him. "Doc, that's the awfullest tasting rotgut I ever slid past my
"That's because it's not all
whiskey," he said mildly. "I put some formaldehyde in there with it.
I use it to sterilize wounds, not drink."
"Well, whatever that hide
stuff is, don't ruin any more good whiskey with it," she grumbled.
"When you find whiskey in my
office ... don't drink it," shot back the doctor. "Pour some of that
around the wound. It's shallow enough I'm just going to cut right through the
skin, peel it back and lift the splinter out."
"Damn, Doc, why don't you just
pull it on through?" asked Boots. "Why do you have to cut her
"Because if I try that, the
pieces around the outside of it will just break off and stay in her. Who knows
what kind of filth is on that wood.
Leaving any in her would be a recipe for gangrene and it would probably
kill her. Now hold her down. She may feel this."
Boots lay over on top of the woman
and watched as Fisk produced a straight razor from a tray of instruments. He planned on cutting right into the wood, and he didn't want to chance damaging his single, precious scalpel. He
stropped the razor, wiped it on his trousers and sliced across the flesh holding the
splinter in. It practically burst open and the piece of wood came away in his
fingers. Fisk pulled the flesh apart and plucked at a few smaller splinters. He
splashed more of his sterilization mix into the open wound. The woman moaned
weakly, but it was a reflexive action of her lungs. She was still unconscious. Then he sewed her up with coarse thread.
After he was sure there were no more places that needed actual surgery, he got a basin of water and began
cleaning each place where the woman appeared to have bled, removing blood and
dirt from her skin. He marveled at how fair her skin was. He looked at her
hands and knew she did not work with them for a living. They were soft and the
nails were neatly trimmed. As he cleaned her up, the doctor began to appreciate
her beauty more and more. Almost all of the cuts and nicks he found had clotted
already, so he left them alone to heal, assuming the woman lived. Finally she
lay before him, now clean and very ... naked looking. He glanced at Boots, who
was staring at the patient too. She had pulled splinters and leaves out of the
woman's black hair and piled it all up above her head. Her hair had originally
been held up by combs, but they were gone now.
"Damn, Doc," said Boots again.
"She's a pretty one. Or she was.
She reminds me of me after Jasper ..." She stopped short. Bob was one of the few people who knew the
name of the man she'd killed. He also
knew what Jasper, a self-proclaimed mountain man and trapper, had done to Boots
after he'd bought her for a bottle of whiskey.
He didn't like to think about it.
He bent to continue working on all
the places the filthy interior of the outhouse had torn the woman's skin.
After Michael caught up with his
almost foundered horse and cut the rope that was tied to the horn of the
saddle, he made his escape in the same direction away from town as the outhouse
had gone, because he correctly suspected people would be coming from that direction.
One look at the horse told him he couldn't ride it. It might die on him anyway.
So he trotted beside it, heading for a gully he knew of that would let him
disappear from sight and go around to the other side of town. He stopped, once out of sight, and rubbed the
horse down with his shirt. Then he
walked back towards town, hoping they could get to water soon.
When he got there, wearing his now
smelly, but dry shirt, he mounted the horse and rode slowly down Main Street to
the water tank, like he had nothing better to do than loaf along. Benjamin hailed him from the porch of the
general store, where he was sitting and whittling with shaking hands. Chauncy,
it turned out, had hightailed it to find his father, sure that he would be
caught and hanged, or worse.
"Boy you messed up big this
time," whispered Ben to his friend.
"What do you mean I messed up? We messed up, and don't you forget it!" said Michael, looking
around to make sure no adults could hear them.
"Hey, it was your horse that
bolted," said Ben, folding his arms.
"What happened while I was
getting my horse?" Michael asked, ignoring Ben's attempt to lay blame.
"They all went out and brought
that woman back. At first I heard they thought she was dead, but Doc Fisk took
her to his office and she was still alive, I guess."
"What are we gonna do?"
asked Michael, his voice beginning to rise in panic. "If she dies, they'll
do something bad to us!"
considered extremely poor taste to
abuse a woman in the West. Men had been known to mysteriously die for doing
that, not to mention that it was a perfectly good excuse to arrange a festive
"Let's go over there to Doc's
and see what we can find out," suggested Ben.
The two boys ended up outside the
south wall of the doctor's office, which fronted a narrow alleyway between that
building and the home of Tilly Sumpter, the oldest woman in the county. She was
deaf and half blind, so they didn't worry about her seeing them out her
windows. Cautiously, Mike edged an eye up to the window and peeked in. He
gasped and sat down hard in the dust with his back to the building, taking in
great heaving breaths of air.
"What's the matter?" whispered Ben as loudly as he had the
courage to. "Is she dead?"
"I don't know 'bout dead, but
she's as nekkid as the day she was born!" gasped Mike.
Ben shot to the window and shaded
his eyes as he peeked in. Mike hadn't
been lying. The black haired woman was there,
lying on a long table, on top of a sheet.
She had marks all over her body, but she surely was naked. Ben could see the pink tips of her breasts
and a few black hairs down where he knew her legs joined. He was about to say something to his friend when
a strong hand gripped his shoulder painfully.
"I knew I saw somethin' movin' at the window!" crowed Boots as
she took her captive into custody. She
had kept Mike from warning his friend by the simple expediency of pulling her
revolver on him and pointing it right at his face, while putting one finger up
to her lips.
Now she holstered the weapon and
pulled Mike up to his feet. "You
two are comin' with me," she ordered.
Doc Fisk looked up from his
examination of the still unconscious woman as Boots dragged the two boys into
the office. Their eyes were already
bugged out, but when they saw the naked woman they almost had conniption fits.
"Boots!" he barked.
"You can't bring those boys in here while I'm examining a
patient!" he said sternly.
"But Doc, they wuz peekin' in
the winda," she said by way of explanation.
Bob knew what was going through the
boys' minds. His patient was a beautiful woman, if a pretty well
beaten up one at the moment. "Just
take them out back and shoot them," he said, as if it were one of the
things he said daily. He watched Boots
carefully, though. You never knew what
Boots would take seriously and what she wouldn't.
"It wasn't me ... honest...
It was Mike who done it!"
squealed Ben, turning coat on his friend almost instantly.
"Did what?" asked
Doc. He didn't think the boy was talking
about peeking in a window.
"It was Mike who tipped over that outhouse. I just watched, Doc. Honest! Please don't let her shoot me, Doc
... Pleeeeaaaaase." He bawled
and sank to the floor in a hopeless puddle of boy. A puddle of something else formed under him
as the crotch of his pants darkened.
Mike saw his life flash before his
eyes as he remembered looking down the barrel of the Colt .44 that Boots
carried. It had looked big enough to
crawl into. As he listened to his friend
... his former friend ... spilling
his guts, he decided that he'd rather get a bullet in the back than see it
So he jerked loose from Boots'
grasp and ran for the door.
Sheriff Miller chose that moment to
come through the door, which opened inward.
So when Mike's brain was telling him to reach for the door handle, which
he thought was about two feet away, the edge of the door impacted his face,
right in the middle, breaking his nose and loosening two teeth. He bounced backward, landing flat on his
back, his head hitting the floor with a dull thunk.
Just like that, Doc Fisk had two unconscious patients.
Ben scrambled to his feet and his
hands shot up in the air. "I give up, Sheriff. Don't shoot!" he yelled as loud as his shaking
The amazing thing was that it only
took ten minutes to clear everything up.
Ben was assured that he was neither going to be shot, nor arrested. Mike regained consciousness, was helped up
and Doc went to work on his nose, threatening to amputate it if the boy gave
him any more trouble. Sheriff Miller announced
that it was necessary for him to 'document' the injuries on the victim
whereupon he began a close and detailed inspection of the unconscious woman's
When another male face appeared at
the window, Doc knew things were getting out of hand.<
"Out!" he yelled, and he chased them all out, including Boots,
who said she'd just wait on the porch, in case he needed her. Then he pulled down the shade on the
At last it was quiet.
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