chapter seventeen

chapter six

chapter twelve

chapter one

chapter seven

chapter thirteen

chapter two

chapter eight

chapter fourteen

chapter three

chapter nine

chapter fifteen

chapter four

chapter ten

chapter sixteen

chapter five

chapter eleven

chapter seventeen

chapter seventeen
in the shadows of myth

 

All they could think about was Norny as they endured the long journey west. They thought about all the things that set Norny apart from other women. The skills she possessed as a rodeo contender and champion, as well as her defensive capabilities and her lack of attitude. But even more important then that was her unique qualities as a human being. Her seemingly innocent persona that accentuated her compassionate nature, and her willingness to share of herself with others.

The tale the old man told them back in Santa Fa, caught them off guard. It turned from the knot in his yarn, into the knot in their stomachs. His story sent the two of them packing for California straight away.

Pete and Roscoe knew she would have eventually been thrown, it was inevitable. But what were the odds that it would happen with such dire consequence the first time. They hadn't really counted on that.

Even though Norny, just like all the other riders shared the same risks, and accepted them as the terms and conditions as participants in the sport, they had a lot to lose in her friendship. She was a special rider. A strange kind of hero to Pete and Roscoe. And though the loss of a colleague would always be like loosing a family member, she was personal. For she was the only human being that had a direct connection to their souls. And she was closer then anyone could be to the inseparable duo of Pete and Roscoe. Still they weren't really religious men, but they both prayed they would find her alive, and had not already taken her ride on the 'lonely bull.'

In their solemn demeanor, they had time to reflect on many aspects of the relationship they both shared with her. The way Norny changed their attitude and their thinking about females in general. She was real flesh and blood, but still at the same time, she was like a wispy mirage of fantasy to them. She was here today, but always gone tomorrow.

It was something of a fairy tale nature to her existence. Like she floated in and out of reality. For Pete and Roscoe, she always lived somewhere between truth and myth. And neither of them knew which, but they both knew she was real at least part of the time, for they actually held her in their arms on occasion.

She was intricately woven like a silver thread in and out between their rock hard emotions, and the beat of their hearts. And their inner attraction and warmth for Norny was now something that couldn't be denied.

The respect they held for her was deep and wide as an equal in skill and ability. And though they didn't recognize it, they both felt the weight of compassion they had gained for her. She was always alone and the underdog in the big world. And perhaps knowing this, she brought out of them a compassionate nature that neither of them realized they possessed.

Her friendship changed many subtitles of their lives. And just like others who have known her, they both knew they were somehow different then they once were, but they didn't know why. Still they were both better, stronger men for it.

Now there was one fearful question that kept playing over and over in their minds. Was this how it was to end? Had the sweet fragrant rapture of her wind song been sung? It was hard to believe, and the very thought of it pierced their hearts like a cold steel blade.

 

When Pete and Roscoe arrived in San Francisco, they had very little to go on. They were just two cowboys lost in the big city. They were unaccustomed to the ways of a hustling metropolis, but they were a determined pair.

The two men rode their horses out of the cattle car they were stabled in, and right out of the station and down the street. There were people everywhere, but hardly anyone on horseback. There were a few horse drawn carts, but mostly people got around on foot or by means of a cable car pulled by horses. It was a busy place for a couple of prairie drifters who were use to the wide expansion of the western landscape. But no matter, they had to find their way to San Raphael wherever that was.

Inquiring as to the whereabouts of San Rafael, they were steered northward into Marin County. But since there weren't any bridges, the only way to get there was to cross the bay by ferry, which made the journey to San Raphael an all day affair.

They were directed towards the wharf where all boats departed from, so they rode straight down the street in that direction. They sat tall in the saddle then anyone else who was getting around on foot, so they stood out like a couple of country bumpkins.

When they got to the wharf, it curved around the city for over a mile, but they still had no idea of where to catch the ferryboat.

While their heads bobbed around in all directions trying to spot the point of departure, they were noticed by a couple of fellows playing a street game of cards. It was a scam, but you weren't supposed to know it. Recognizing the two men on horseback as a couple of good marks they called them over. Pete and Roscoe needed some help finding their direction, so they obliged. They dismounted their horses and walked over.

"We're looking for the boat to cross over to San Raphael." Roscoe says.

"Yeah, sure…it's right up there." Pointing hastily to the left.

"Say, you to look like a couple of real smart cowboys…I'll bet you can't guess where the joker is." He says as he lofts the three cards around to confuse the players.

"Where did you say that boat was?" Roscoe asks again.

"Up there!" The man says as he nudges his head in that direction."

"Huh?" Roscoe replies in confusion.

"Tell you what…I got five bucks says you can't find the joker. You pick it out and I'll give you five bucks and tell you where to catch the boat. If you don't pick the right card, you each give me five bucks. What do ya say?" The dealer says as he looks at his shill and smirks.

"OK." Roscoe says, then looks over and says, "...Where do you think it is Pete?"

In the blink of an eye Pete's gun comes up out of his holster and shoots a hole dead center in the card he figured to be the right one.

The card dealer jumps up and back in shock, while everyone in a two hundred foot radius was startled by the noise and looks to see where it came from, "I'm pretty darn sure that's the card. What do ya think?" Pete, showing the card dealer he wasn't taking no crap asks him.

Roscoe with his right arm reaches behind and to the side of him without looking back and grabs the shill by the shirt collar.

"Well did he get it right?" Roscoe asks pulling the man around in front of him face to face. The man feared the wrath of Roscoe as he looked him straight in the eye.

These city boys had only heard of Rootin-Tootin cowboys in books. But they never expected to be face to face with any, "Yep, I think he did." Gulps the shill.

They didn't bother to turn them over.

These boys knew they had best back off and give these strangers what they want. They realized they'd better get them out of here before someone gets hurt. The load noise of Pete's gun scared the hell out of them, and the two card sharps were slow to recover.

"Now, you were going to tell us where to catch the boat." Roscoe says

"You go straight down that away about a quarter of a mile and you'll see the boat and the sign. You can't miss it." He says in a politely nervous voice.

"Much obliged…Oh by the way, you owe us five bucks?" Roscoe says.

"Huh! But…Oh sure, that's right! Here you go." And hands it to Roscoe.

As Pete and Roscoe mount up, Pete looks over at Roscoe and says….."Neighborly town ain't it? I mean eager to let a total stranger play in their card game like that."

"Yeah, they're so eager to play they brought the game right out to the street to meet us!" Roscoe laughs as he swings his leg over his saddle.

 

When Pete and Roscoe boarded the ferry, they rode their horses right up onto the main deck with all the other passengers. All the other horses and buggies where kept in a particular area, leaving all the human passengers to walk freely around the deck. But Pete and Roscoe didn't even bother to dismount. They stood out like a couple of carrots on a vine of grapes. When the Captain came over and told them that they need to tether their horses with the rest, Roscoe replies……."This'll be just fine thanks!"

The Captain could see not to push the issue with these two and let them be. Pete and Roscoe rode on up to the bough of the boat, leaned across the saddle horn and talked amongst themselves. They were at least four feet over the heads of everyone else, so they were the main focus of attention to all the other passengers on board.

When the two cowboys departed the boat, their horses left a few mementoes of their visit, which was exactly why the ferry has rules about animals and passengers in separate areas.

 

All they had was a place and a name. San Rafael and Father Donny. The name and place the old man had suggested they begin their search.

The two horsemen pounced onto the shore and headed all out for San Rafael and upon arriving there, they spotted the only church in the town, which had be the place they might find the Father. And they did.

Once they explained to him who they were, how far they traveled and why they had come, the Father was willing to help in any way he could. But he had never heard of her before now, or knew where to find her. There was indeed an orphanage not ten miles from San Rafael, but when all three of them rode out to inquire, they came up empty.

Since they didn't find her at the orphanage they reluctantly headed back towards the church for lack of a direction to travel. But as they rode along the Father remembers something that might possibly be of help, "You know, now that I think of it, there's a big cattle ranch about twenty five miles north of here. They supply livestock for many of the rodeo events in the territory. You might head there and ask about your friend."

That sounded as good as anything else, so the boys thanked him for his help and rode north.

"I'll pray for your friend!" The father shouts to them as they ride away.

The anticipation that they may be too late was wearing on them. They were edgy and a little stressed from it all, and they had a sinking feeling in their gut that it was all over.

The two of them asked everyone they came across on the road and the trail about the female rodeo rider, but nothing gave them the hope they sought after so diligently.

It took all day to reach the ranch and the boys were tired and weary of the long ride. The ranch foreman was good enough to give them a place to bunk for the night sense it was so late. They sacked right out knowing they would do better in the morning after a good nights rest.

 

The next morning as some of the ranch hands were readying for the days chores, Pete and Roscoe questioned the men.

Most didn't know anything, but a couple of men did. They claim to have been there that very day.

"Oh sure! What a rider that little lady was!…..Too bad though! She was killed up around Ukiah during the Sixth Annual last year."

"Are you sure she was killed?" Asks Roscoe.

"Yep! Purty sure. Yep, I'm sure." He said.

And with those words Pete and Roscoe's hearts were flat lining. They suddenly felt like they were empty shells of men. And the knot in their stomachs now became the knot in their throats. For them the unacceptable had happened.

"What a shame, she was a real eye opener. Where does a woman learn to ride like that? I can't forget it. Why I member the first time I saw that little gal on a bull. She had the damnedest colored thing painted over her eye."

Pete and Roscoe knew for sure now he was talking about Norny. No other rider painted their left eye before a ride.

We all looked at each other and wondered what the hell is that. Some of the men laughed and others yelled out farm critter noises at her tryin to get her goat…sorta speak."

"But when we saw her ride that bull, well…she was about the purttyist woman any red blooded cowboy ever saw. We all knew right then she weren't just some female."

While they were talking, some of the ranch hands were noticing the way Pete wore his gun. They were sizing him up. Is he a real gun hand, or is he just wearing his gun like one, they questioned each other.

From across the coral someone asks, "Hey partner. You know how to use that thing or what?"

Pete doesn't say a word. But Roscoe couldn't resist, "Well now. You wouldn't be fool enough to wanna find out. Would ya?" Roscoe blurts out.

"I think he's just quick draw pretender." The man says.

"Look! We didn't come here for no trouble. We're just tryin to find our friend." Pete says.

"HAHAHA!! I think he's..." And before the man could finish his sentence, Pete's gun came un-holstered and he shot three hats off the heads of the cowboys standing together, then quickly re-holstered his weapon. The shots from Pete's gun were so close together; they almost sounded like one continuous shot.

The men standing there were white as a ghost.

"Now if you boys want to carry this any farther, pick up your guns and make ready." Roscoe says.

Everybody who saw the lightening fast speed, and dead eye accuracy of Pete's gun hand was in shock.

"Look! We're powerful sorry. We was just funning ya. We didn't mean no harm." The man pleads.

"Come on, let's go." Pete says in disgust.

"One last question. How did it happen?" Roscoe asks.

"Well I don't rightly know. It all happened so fast I could hardly see, with the lightening striking so close and all. In the blink of an eye she was down and the bull was on top of her."

Then the cowboy looks off yonder into the sky and says, "She was a real cowboys angel. Yep! That's what she was, a cowboys angel. You know what I mean?" The man asks.

"Yeah, we know what you mean." Pete sadly replies.

"But why are you guys here? Did you boys know her?" The cowboy asks.

Depressed by what they just heard Roscoe says, "Yeah, we knew her."

 

There was complete silence for a few moments. Roscoe slowly removed his hat and crushing the brim with his hands he felt almost like crying, while the two of them just kept looking at the ground in disbelief.

"Well, what do ya think Pete? Where should we go from here?"

"I say lets see where they put her down. We need to say our respects to her no matter what. And I think we should gather up her things, she didn't have much, but she had a saddle and her boots and that little necklace trinket she cared so much about."

"And that pocket watch."

"Oh yeah, besides, we need to see that her horse Poco was well taken care of. You know she would expect us to see to that. And that's the least we can do. "

"Yeah your right, lets find her." Roscoe replies.

Pete and Roscoe saddled up.

"By the way. We didn't catch your names." The man says.

"I'm Roscoe, and this here is Pete. Well, so long. Thanks for the help."

"Sorry partner." The cowboy replies.

And so they ride off.

The ranch hands stand and watch them as they ride away.

"Pete and Roscoe my foot!" Another man says.

"There's only one man that can handle a gun like that! That was the Sundance Kid. And that big feller, that was his partner, Butch Cassidy. We were damn lucky. They're a couple of real desperados." He says.

"You ever seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?" The older cowboy asks.

"No, but I know em by reputation. And I'm telling ya, that's them!" He insists.

 

Pete and Roscoe took their time. There was no longer any urgency to their journey.

The sun was shinning that day, and for most everyone else it was a beautiful afternoon. The skies were blue and the birds were singing. But for Pete and Roscoe it was all gray. It had to rank as the gloomiest day of their lives. All they could do is cover as much territory as they possibly could in search of her remains.

So the two of them ricocheted off every town, farm and ranch from the bay to the border in hopes of finding a clue.

Until now neither of the two men were fully aware of just how much Norny meant to them. Every minute in the saddle felt like an hour. Her death had caused a deep-rooted agony like they never felt before.

"I just cain't believe it, Pete. Norny's gone."

"I know Roscoe, I can't believe it either. I can still see that pretty smile and those sparklin blue eyes lookin right at me. That sunshiny smile is gonna haunt my dreams from now on."

"I know, me too!"

Then Roscoe tries to lighten their load, "Hey Pete. Remember that biscuit thing she used to do. You know, sticken it over her pinky finger.'

They both chuckled for a second, but it didn't help much.

 

When the boys got to Ukiah, the very first thing they had to do was to find a saloon to a down a couple. Anything to help them numb the pain and take off the edge. Neither of the two men hardly spoke a word. They just took the bottle and found a private booth. Pete would pour the drinks, and then both of them would slam them down.

"Ya know, her smile could cut you right to the bone. Its like you couldn't escape her smiling eyes even if you tried." Roscoe says.

Then Roscoe would fill their glasses and they would slam them again, and so on for hours, until it was all gone and so were they.

When they were done drinking they were in no condition to go anywhere or do anything, so they got a room over the saloon and passed out for the evening.

The next morning the two of them had to get serious about finding out what happened to her. The bartender gave them a pot of strong coffee to start the day and clear their heads from the night before.

They told the bar keep their story to see if he had any information they could use.

"Oh yeah. I remember that. Yeah, it was a sad day. Nothing like that ever happened here before. Say, was she a friend of yours?"

"Yeah. She was like our kid sister." Pete says.

"Well I'm real sorry bout that. I wish you all the luck in finding her."

As Roscoe reached into his pocket to pay for the coffee, the man says………."Keep it, its on me."

"Lets see if we can't find out who was 'doctorin that day." Roscoe says.

It didn't take long to find the Doctor who examined her after the incident.

"What happened to her things? Where's her horse and where's she buried!" Roscoe insists.

"Buried! She's not dead. " The doc exclaims.

Pete and Roscoe froze in their tracks and their mouths dropped open at the same time, "Now you best not be funning us Doc. Or we'll have to…"

"Funning you? Why would I want to do that." The Doc interrupts.

"Last time I saw her she wasn't walking, but she was alive."

"Did ya hear that Pete!"

"YEEHAAA!!!" Pete says as he whips his gun out of his holster and does the fanciest gun twirling he ever did. Then smooth as silk slips it back into his holster just as fancy as he whipped it out.

The two of them felt the blood rush back into their chests. In an instant all the pain and sorrow was gone.

"Where is she? Where can we find her?" They anxiously demanded.

"She's at the sisters convent near Sacramento. At least she was. There's a convalescent hospital and orphanage all right there. My guess is that she is probably still there rehabilitating." He tells them.

This was great news. It wasn't the best news, but regardless of the shape they would find her in, at least she was still alive.

"What's wrong with her Doc?" Roscoe inquires.

"Well she had a few broken ribs in her back, but luckily her back wasn't broken. But she needed some time to heal up and get her back limber again. They can help her there at the home, so that's the best place for her." The Doc explains.

"Well how come everybody is tell'n us she was killed?" Roscoe asks.

"I don't know. Could be because she was unconscious and she just looked dead." He answers.

"Well, it don't matter now." Pete says.

"Well now we need to find her and do something to help her along." Roscoe says.

"I better warn you before you go. The sisters there have some very strict rules about visitors. You'll just have to try and convince them to let you in to see her. They don't mean to get in the way, it's that they're just trying to do the right thing for her, so they may be a little protective about her. In fact they probably won't let you in. But you'll just have to be persistent." The Doc says.

"But if you run into real trouble, get in touch with me and I'll see if I can help." The Doc says.

"Well if she's there, it won't matter whether they let us in or not. We're gonna see her, and no ones gonna stop us." Roscoe tells him.

So the boys thanked him then made the journey toward Sacramento and to the convent.

Pete and Roscoe were curious as to how they would find her. Still they were excited to see her no matter how she was. They would accept Norny under any conditions.

When they arrived at the convent, they decided to forget about asking the Mother Superior and just sneak in. Besides, they lived their whole lives as adventurers. In those days it wasn't proper for a lady to have gentlemen callers or to visit with her unchaparoned, so they figured they would be denied anyway, so why bother.

It took a couple of days riding to get there, and once they did they had to size up the place and come up with a plan. Pete and Roscoe didn't come all this way to let a little old eight foot iron fence and brick walls stop them. After more than fifteen hundred miles of train, boat and dusty trail, they weren't about to let anything stand in their way. Besides, they better then anyone else had Norny's best interest at heart.

 

Looking at the convent, Roscoe says to Pete, "Look, Pete, here's what we're going to do. We'll come back real early in the morning, about an hour before sunup. One of us, that would be you, will scale that wall and let the other one in……that would be me."

"Me! How about you climbin the wall and lettin me in?" Pete says.

"Cause your smaller, younger and more wirery then me. You could climb over, and through things better."

That did make sense Pete thought, "OK!"

Pete and Roscoe lived through many risky adventures in their day, and this was just another one. But they laid out this elaborate plan to sneak in, find Norny and sneak out without ever being detected. They went over and over it to be sure of no slip ups. But what they didn't know, because they didn't bother to ask, was that Norny was gone. She had checked out about two weeks earlier.

"They'll never even know we were here. We'll be like a well-oiled machine. Slip in and slip out. Just like that." Roscoe says.

The next morning before sunup, the two of them came back to the convent and waited for the right moment to make their move.

Pete scaled the wall and opened the gate for Roscoe just the way they planned. They made their way to a window and into the building, then quietly crept around to get a feel for the layout. To them they were precision team work at its finest.

Most of the sleeping quarters were on the second floor. But still they had no idea where to begin, so and they poked their heads into several rooms before they could get their bearings.

Each man took a side of the hall, quietly opening each door as they went.

Pete comes to the door at the end of the hall, opens it and looks in.

He sees the Mother Superior's very overweight body sleeping exposed wearing only underwear. Quickly he closes the door.

Feeling like his eyes had just been offended he says to Roscoe, "Whoa! She ain't in there, take my word for it."

"Look, we could find her faster if we split up and took separate floors." Roscoe says.

They agreed, so Roscoe took the first floor and Pete took the second.

Pete continued on from where they left off. Slowly, quietly peeking in hoping to find Norny's room. He would open this one on the right, then tiptoe across the hall and peek in the door on the left. It was tricky to be quit sense the boards in the floor would creek on occasion.

When he came to the end of the hall he turned and worked his way down the wing on the right and then back up on the left. But Pete had no luck. He only hoped Roscoe had better luck on the first floor. So he went down stairs to see what he found.

When Pete got into the hallway of the first floor he couldn't see Roscoe anywhere. Carefully he crept down the hall whispering as loud but as soft as he could, "Roscoooooe." He whispers. "Hey Roscooooee." Again.

All of the sudden he hears something familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. There it is again. It was a sound very familiar to Pete. It was a sound he had heard for years. It was the unmistakable sound of Roscoe belching. The sound was coming from the door across the hall. He must have found his way to the.... so he pushed the door open, "Just as I thought!" .... Roscoe had found the kitchen.

There he was sitting at the table stuffing his face with chicken and a jug of apple juice.

"Feedin your face at a time like this. Did you forget why we're here Roscoe?"

"Tar-nation No! I just thought I would do a thorough search here before I moved on."

"Well what do ya think? Any sign of her behind that loaf of bread. Did she leave any tracks around that fried chicken? Look, we came here to find Norny, and that's....say, are those buttermilk biscuits?" Pete asks.

Roscoe biting into one, "MMMMMM.........M!!! Yes they are. And, Oh look! Here's one with your name on it?"

"Well, maybe it won't hurt to have just one." Pete says.

"Here, sit down. We can do a better job lookin on a full stomach. Besides, Norny ain't goin nowhere. We'll still find her here somewhere.

Realizing that Roscoe wasn't going anywhere until he's had his fill, Pete sits down and grabs the cider jug, "Pass me one of those chicken legs."

"These biscuits are just like mother used to make. Hey get it? Mother?" Roscoe says with a chuckle.

When they finish eating, it was time to get serious and resume the search.

"Well let's get 'crackin. Remember, team work, precision. That's what we're all about here." Roscoe reminds him.

"I saw a clothes locker room up stairs. Maybe we can spot something of hers, and it will tell us what room she's in."

"Now that's good thinkin! Lead on." Roscoe replies.

So quietly they make their way to the second floor. They find their way to the clothes closet and slip inside. The room was pretty good size. More like a looker room then a closet. There were coats and hats hanging from hooks. And open bins where clothing was neatly folded and placed for keeping. Most of the people here either wore uniforms or patient gowns, so they kept all the civilian clothes here.

"Now you remember the kind of clothes Norny wears. Look for something similar. It might not be the exact same clothes, but it will probably be something like it."

"Unless she's wearin them, we ought to find something even her hat maybe." Pete says.

"That's right, anything that looks like hers."

 

As they are looking through all the pieces, Pete stumbles on to something curious, "What the?" He mutters to himself.

Pete stretches it out to get a better look at the object.

"What the hell is this black thing-a-majig?" Pete asks.

As Roscoe looks through other feminine objects he tells Pete, "It's a bra-zeer."

"What?" Pete asks.

"Ain't you ever seen a bra-zeer before?"

"I don't get it?" Pete says.

"A bra-zeer! You know! It goes around up here."

"HUH???"

"OVER THE SHOULDER BOULDER HOLDER! " Roscoe exclaims.

"OHHH! Yeah, I get it!"

So while Pete ponders the possibilities, Roscoe goes on looking, until he also spots something interesting. He spreads it out, and it appears to be a very large pair of bloomers.

"Holy Makrel!" Roscoe exclaims. So he stretches them across his waist to compare the difference. He starts to chuckle at the enormity of the size.

"Hey get a gander at these." He says wanting Pete to see the humor in the size of the woman's bloomers he found.

"I don't think I'd ever seed a heifer this size." Roscoe says.

But Pete was too engrossed in his own fascination to pay any attention.

And both men were becoming side tracked, fascinated by the womens undergarments, that they momentarily forgot the purpose of their search.

Just then Roscoe starts to laughing when he looks up and sees about a dozen people looking at him with the bloomers stretched wide across his waist and Pete with his face buried into the bra-zeer.

"Uh Oh!!" Roscoe says.

 

Standing there were a whole lot of people, like the Mother Superior in her nightgown, and several other nuns along with an official looking man wearing a star.

Pete and Roscoe must have looked like a couple of deviants standing there going through the women's clothes. They were in serious trouble, and they knew it.

 

...just after sun-up.

The Southwestern Pacific out of Sacramento glides along the path of the steel rails, on route to Portand. The engineer keeps a watchful eye on the tracks ahead, while another man fuels the furnace with the wood from the tender.

Back in the coach compartment there are about twenty-five passengers sitting comfortably reading the paper, playing cards or just daydreaming.

Tommy was riding with his father that day, and was just staring out the window watching the landscape roll by. When he thinks he sees something off in the distance, darting between the trees. "Dad look up there!" he says.

His father looks up towards the tree line about a hundred yards out. "What is it your looking at son?"

"Up there in the trees. Someone is racing with our train. THERE!… RIGHT THERE!… CAN YOU SEE EM?" He only gets a glimpse of the rider as he comes and goes while passing between the trees, galloping at full speed and staying up with the train.

"I see him," He replies as he gets up out of his seat for a better look. "That's odd. I wonder why he's following us?"

Then suddenly the trees end and the rider bursts out into full view in the open space, "WOW! LOOK AT THAT HORSE RUN!" Shouts Tommy.

"That's the fastest horse I've ever seen." He says.

Just then the horse and rider turn downhill on the grassy incline to intercept the train, still staying right with it. As the horse and rider comes closer the passengers get a better look.

Outside it was a morning cool and brisk, just enough crispness to air to make a person feel alive.

But inside the train all the passengers watch intently as the horse's head is lunging forward with his flared nostrils showing the visible exhale of its heavy breathing.

Few realized the enormous physical effort of the horse and rider to keep up with the train.

She is bent slightly forward and her long hair is flowing behind her in the whooshing trail of their wind stream.

"HEY! It's a woman!" Tommy exclaims, he waves like crazy to get her attention.

Tommy's father opens the window so that Tommy could stick his head out and yell to her.

The rider is only about twenty feet out from the train, looking straight ahead and keeping right up. All of the sudden the engineer blows his whistle, two short and one long blast acknowledging the rider's presence.

By now all the passengers are at the window yelling and cheering her on. They didn't know who she was or from where she came, but at that moment, she had all their attention, and she was their champion.

Then the woman stands up in the stirrups, and enthusiastically snatches the hat off the top of her head as she turns and faces the passengers with a big beaming smile. Her eyes were sparkling in the morning sun as she waves her hat vigorously over her head to say hello to all her new friends on the train.

And to most the passengers witnessing the moment, there was a strange beauty about her unlike any other.

In the brief few minutes that their lives intermingled with hers, they couldn't help but feel as if they had always known her.

Then the woman pulls back on the reins and slows down giving way to the inexhaustible energy of the iron steed.

The passengers immediately dashed to the windows throwing them open, and poking their heads out to get one last look, and to savor every moment of their encounter. They waved good-bye and cheered at her as they diminished from view, and the female rider sat atop her horse eagerly waving back until the train rounded the bend and they were gone.

But she wasn't gone, and she never would be.

That seemingly insignificant moment in time had marked a lasting change for everyone that saw her. They had experienced something indefinable. It was like an invisible force that altered each person in some small way. Nothing you could notice out right, but something deep down in their souls that revealed their individual identity carried the warmth of the experience.

Perhaps it was the exuberance of her character, or the enthusiasm of the riders friendly manor or maybe the charismatic effect left from the sight of her smiling eyes glistening in the sun light.

What ever the reason, no one knew how or why, but there was something inside each of them that had been switched on for life. They weren't sure what, but there was a good feeling left inside each of them.

How strange, and wonderful their brief encounter was. An unexpected, yet refreshing change from the monotony of idle time.

And the immediate effects of this cheerful equestrian lingered on with them all day. They all felt peaceful and serene, and somehow at ease with the world. The passengers on board the train had never been so polite or considerate of one another before.

Arriving at their destination, they departed the train with a relaxed feeling of comfort and satisfaction from the journey.

The mysterious rider was momentary magic as if her appearance blessed all those who were there to greet her.

"Who was she dad? Where did she come from?"

Tommy's father feeling warm and tranquil from the exhilarating experience says…"One of God's morning angels, Tommy. And you only see those once in a lifetime, if you're lucky."

Through out Tommy's life, he never forgot that fleeting few moments in time when the woman rider with the beautiful smile made of pure sunshine grazed his memory with joy.

Even as he became great grandfather Tom, he spoke of the magical encounter to his great grandchildren many decades later. And it was only natural for him to wonder as he did all his life,

Who was she, and what ever became of her?

 

...their jail cell was about 12 ft. x 12 ft. Just barely enough room for them and a little patch of daylight leaking in from the barred window. A far cry from the wide open spaces they were use to.

Sitting there, Pete says to Roscoe, "Yep, we were a well oiled machine all right."

Roscoe had to reply, "I just want to know what the hell were you smellin, with your face in that damn bra-zeer anyway. Do you know what kinda pree-vert you looked like. I mean what the hell's the matter with you?"

"I just thought they would make a good eye mask for my horse. I thought if I cut a couple of eye holes in the tips, he could see out just fine, and it would keep the flies off him" Pete says.

"Eye mask for your horse? Are you kiddin me? You know how embarrassing it was for me when they came in and saw you." Roscoe says.

"Embarrassing for you! Hell you looked like you were so proud of your new bloomers, that you were going to start shoping for a parasol, matching shoes and a handbag." Pete replies.

"All right, lets just forget about it, and start thinking of a way out of this." Says Roscoe.

This was going to be tough to get out of without any help. They tried to explain what they were doing there, and why they were found in the clothes closet. And the fact that they had to sneak in at night like common thieves proves that they were up to no good. But what they didn't know yet, was that there were bigger problems facing them.

It seems that the authorities were sure they had just apprehended Butch and Sundance. A couple of dangerous desperadoes. There had been many actual robberies committed in those names, and the real robbers played on the reputation of Butch and Sundance in order to throw the law off their tracks. The echoing effect of their little name game they played in Sedona, all came back to haunt them after Pete's fancy gun play that afternoon in August. And immediately the rumors started flying.

Every time a different person told it, something new had been added. Until finally, the rumors were coming fast and furious and stretching far and wide. Butch and Sundance were becoming famous. Problem is, there was no way to determine fact from fiction. It was all fiction, but only Pete and Roscoe knew it.

And now somewhere along the way, rumors had embellished the reputation and the fictitious names. They were no longer just Butch and Sundance. Now they were known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The rumors and the names had grown to such a grandoise proportion, that every little two bit nobody of a robber or criminal had boosted of once riding with the infamous Butch and Sundance. And of course they had their own stories to tell. Someone said they had a hideout up in the mountains where they all met before they would pull a job. It was just a little hole in the wall place, so they of course became known as 'the hole in the wall gang'.

This came as a big surprise to Pete and Roscoe. The two of them had played the role of dirty rotten scoundrals at times in their lives, but they never robbed or deliberately harmed anyone.

"Butch and Sundance?" Pete says with surprise.

"But there ain't no Butch and Sundance, Roscoe. We just made em up."

"Yeah I know. But they must have believed us."

"Somehow I knew your name droppin back in Sedona was going to bring us trouble. And sure enough here it is."

"Say, deputy. What exactly do you want these two Butch and Sundance for?" Roscoe asks.

"What for? For bank robbery and train robbery all over the country. Why you two are wanted in seven states. There's even a thousand dollar reward for each of your capture."

Pete and Roscoe were shocked. Roscoe made the names up so no one would know their real identities. Butch and Sundance weren't real people they were just names, figments of imagination to be used only for their moment of escape back in Sedona. But somehow the mirage grew and grew until the reputation of their one time decoy identities was larger then them. Now Pete and Roscoe stood dwarfed in the shadow of their myth.

"Well, deputy, we gotta tell you how this all got started. Your gonna think this is funny. In fact I'm sure your goin'a laugh when we tell ya... Pete and I were down in Sedona a while back for the big rodeo. And we was in this saloon when…" And Roscoe goes on to tell the story of how the names came about.

The lawman sat there and listens to every word. Then when Roscoe was done…….

Well the deputy laughed all right, but not for the predicted reason.

"He don't believe us Roscoe."

"I know. We gotta get outta here before they find a reason to hang us. Who knows what other crimes have been committed in those names."

Talking didn't seem to do much good to the lawman. But they would get this all worked out when the district judge came to town in a week or so.

But there was no way they were going to wait in jail for a week or more to proclaim their innocence. It could take months maybe even years to prove their whereabouts when the robberies were committed. And besides, they were losing time.

When they explained about their search for Norny, the woman injured in a bull riding accident, the deputy knew at least that part was for real. The sisters had said that the woman they spoke of got better and moved on a couple of weeks ago.

The getting better part sounded good to Pete and Roscoe, but they were stuck in jail for who knows how long. And now Norny was getting farther away by the hour.

"Look Pete! We gotta get out of here. Norny has a big head start, and hell, they may hang us fur something we know nothing about."

So once again they needed a plan. It had to be a good plan, because if it failed, they would have tipped their hand that they were going to attempt an escape.

It couldn't be the obvious tricks; it would have to be unexpected.

"Listen Roscoe, this had better not be a 'well oiled machine' kinda plan!" Pete says.

Roscoe just scowls back at him.

Then Roscoe says out loud for the deputy to hear, "Well, it looks like they got us Sundance. But we swore they would never take us alive. And here we are, caught like a couple of rodents. Well there ain't much left for us to do except cop to it, and take our punishment."

Pete looks a little worried about what Roscoe has planned, "Hey! Are you crazy? We don't want them to think we're those guys, remember?" Pete whispers.

"Just wait." Roscoe says, "Say, Deputy, would it be OK if we wrote a confession. It would clear things up and make things easier for everyone."

"Why don't you just tell me and I'll write." He answers.

"No that won't work! We need time to think back at all we've done and the places we've been. Just give us a pencil and paper and a little time to write it all out." Roscoe says.

"Well I suppose it couldn't hurt anything." And he gives him the pencil and paper.

An hour or so later the deputy leaves on his rounds.

Now with the first step out of the way, they took one of the blankets and tore it into long thin strips. Then they tied them together to make them rope like. Then they wrote a note confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

"We swore that we wouldn't be taken alive, and we're men of our words." The note said.

They lofted the note out into the middle of the floor where no one could miss it when they came in.

Then next when the time was right, they made it appear as if they had both hung themselves while there was no one in the jail. They tied the blankets over the log beam in their cell and wrapped the lengths around their necks. But the actual stress points of the ropes were around their chests under their shirts. To the distant eye, it looked like they really hung themselves. Roscoe even dropped one boot to the floor.

 

When the deputy came into the jail, he immediately saw the paper on the floor and that Butch and Sundance had done what they said they would do, and hung themselves, "Oh my God!" The deputy exclaims. But he reads the note first and it verifies the hanging bodies. It sounds legitimate.

Like they said, they couldn't be taken alive.

So the deputy grabs the keys and goes into the cell for a closer look. When he did, Roscoe's legs wrapped around his neck and squeezed, not enough to kill him, but just enough to render the deputy unconscious.

Pete and Roscoe knelt down along side the deputy to check him and make sure he was still breathing, and would recover.

"Sorry I had to do that, but we had no choice."

Then they hog tied him and locked him in the cell, before they made a dash for the stables and their horses.

So they saddled up and tore out of there, hell bent for high ground.

 

Pete and Roscoe were having no luck finding Norny's trail. And now to add to their problems, the law is going to be looking for them. They were just passing through a small town where they might have normally spent the night, they decided not tot take a chance. So instead they bought a bottle of Jack Daniel's and stayed on the trail. They wanted to gain as much time as possible to catch up to Norny, and they didn't want the law to catch them.

They headed towards the Sierras where there would be less chance of being noticed. They found a good place to camp for the night nestled between the rocks and hidden in the trees where their campfire couldn't be seen.

They tethered the animals then….."You gather some firewood and I'll tend to the horses. They've had a pretty rough ride. I got some jerky and some hardtack in my saddlebag. And lets get it done in a hurry. We got company comin."

"Company! What are you talking about you fool old man." Pete says.

"That's right! Company!….Jack Daniel's." Roscoe replies.

"OH YEAH! Good ol' Jack.. Now that's family, not company!"

So they got themselves settled in and made the first toast to their friend Jack, and the second one to their lost friend Norny.

"We gotta make a decision Roscoe. Either we're gonna keep on looking for Norny and take a chance on getting caught by the law. Or we high tail it back to Colorado and hide out until they stop looking for us. I mean, we know Norny ain't dead and she must be OK out here somewhere. But if they catch us and we go to jail, she ain't never gonna know where we are anyway, and it won't do any of us any good."

"I hate to admit it but this time I think your right. We cain't do her much good from jail. We'll work out a plan in the morning." Roscoe says.

Pete and Roscoe passed the bottle back and forth until it was gone. Then climbed under their bedrolls and sacked out.

When day broke, Roscoe was stirring first. He heard one of the horses make a whinny sound and looked over in the general direction. In his foggy state he could see three horses where there should be only two.

"What in tar-nation is goin on here?"

Then he sees someone on the other side of the fire rolling up their bedding.

"Pete! PETE!! Wake up! You dreamin?"

Pete stirs around, "What?………If I'm hearin you, and I'm seein you, then I'm havin a nightmare. Damn it!"

"NO, not me! Look over there on the other side of the campfire."

So Pete looks over, "It looks like Norny, so we must be in each others dream. So get the hell outta mine, so I can get some shut eye." Pete shouts.

"Norny? Is that you there or am I still asleepin?"

"No Roscoe. Its me."

"NOORRNNYYYYY!!" Roscoe shouts as he leaps to his feet.

"Pete! Looky here, what found us!"

Pete rolls over to see what he's yellin about and……"NOORNNY! It you."

"What are you two doin out here? I figured you'd be miles from here."

Pete jumped up to their feet, and stood on his bed roll.

They both had their boots on and gun belts over their long johns with the trap doors. Pete's was half open.

"Norny, we been looking high and low for you" Roscoe says as both men charge over to her and throw they're arms around her. They were never so excited about anything in their lives.

"Damn Norny! Ain't you a sight!" Roscoe says.

"Yeah, we heard you was maybe killed at the rodeo in Ukiah." Pete says.

"I nearly was. But how'd you find out?" She asks.

"Some old man came through Santa Fe, and told us the story of how you got throwed."

"Well I got broke up pretty good, but I'm all better now."

"Its been quite a while since I saw you two last. Let me have a look at you." She says

They were quite a sight. Roscoe's long johns were a faded red and in desperate need of washing, while Pete sported the dingy gray look. They both slept with their hats, boots and gun belts on.

Pete's gun was tied off at his thigh for fast draw, while Roscoe's hung down in front hidden his privates sense he slept on his back..

"You two sleep with your hats and guns on? I don't remember that." Norny says.

"Well we don't normally, but we got a good reason. Let's get some grub and then I'll tell you all about it." Roscoe says.

"How about you two finding a creek or something, I had to sleep up wind of you both last night. And when you've been drinkin, you make a lot of funny noises in your sleep." She tells them.

"I guess we do look a mite dusty."

"Just a mite." She answers.

 

Pete runs over to a look out point first to see if anyone is out there. The coast is clear so they grab their clothes and head off to find some water. About an hour later they return to find Norny had rustled up some breakfast.

"Hey Norny, this is new." Roscoe says.

"I spent some time with Diego and his family, and he taught me some cooking tricks." She reports.

"Well, I declare." Pete says.

"You met up with Diego? You mean good cookin Diego and Rosa and little Pablo?"

"That's right. Now they have their own canteena. And their doin real well for themselves. Everybody loves his food."

"Do tell." Roscoe says.

"Where'd the fixins come from?"

"I carry a few things with me on the trail."

"Well what ever it is your makin, its smellin mighty tasty."

Norny divides up the food and they all settle down to eat.

"OH MY GOD! You gotta marry up with me and Pete. What do ya say Pete? We found a woman that can cook like Diego."

"I'll get my I DO"s out of the way right now." Pete says.

The boys were treated to the best tasting grub they'd had in a long time

When they finished eating, they saddled up and followed Norny to higher ground. She could see the boys were edgy about something, and they needed to feel secure and out of reach so they could have the time to really talk.

She led them to a point high up where they could see as far as twenty miles out on a clear day. Up there they could talk without worrying about someone sneaking up on them.

"How'd you find us last night Norny?" Pete asks.

"I saw the last flickers of your flame, and went down for a closer look."

"Was I ever surprised to see you two. When I saw you boys sleepin soundly, I knew this was my camp, and I rolled out my beddin." She says.

Those words hit Pete and Roscoe at home. They knew for sure now that Norny was kin. Its what they wanted from her more than anything.

"We noticed you ain't ridden Poco?" Pete says.

Norny is quiet for a moment, then she says, "No, I laid Poco down in Mountain Valley a while back."

"Mountain Valley! You mean my Mountain Valley?" Pete asks.

So she goes on and tells them of her sorrowful loss. Then she goes on to tell about her travels. All of her trials and tribulations, her friends and acquaintances, and the important lessons life has taught her. She was growing fast and they could tell from her words and experiences that she was.

"Your dang lucky your back didn't get broke Norny, or worse dead." Pete says.

"You broke some ribs in your back, that must have been painful as hell."

"It was. A rib in my back broke off and poked straight out my shirt and vest. Here, see for yourself."

And she lifted her shirt to show them where her rib had broken and poked through her skin on her back. Even those two tough cowboys winced at the sight of her nasty scar.

"Can I touch it?" Roscoe asks.

"Sure. Go ahead."

Such an ugly scar on sweet little Norny, Roscoe thought.

Pete looks at Roscoe and says, "Now that's one tough lady!"

 

They spent the better part of the day catching up on the missing years. They each had a lot to say. Norny told them all about the artist she met up with and how much he had taught her. And all the amazing things the world has to offer that she never knew existed until the artist shared them with her.

"He was very generous with his knowledge and experiences. When he told it, I felt like I was there with him." She says.

She had much to be grateful for, and except for the loss of Poco, no regrets.

The day was getting on and they were getting hungry.

"I think I'd rather try some more of Norny's cookin for a change." Pete says to Roscoe.

"I'm afraid I'm out of supplies. I wasn't expecting to meet up with you two hungry cowboys. I was only carrying enough for one." Norny says.

"That's all right, Norny. I'll rustle us up some of my adventure stew. That'll get us through till tomorrow." Roscoe tells her.

So they all jumped in and helped to get things prepared for the chef... Roscoe.

About this time Roscoe usually disappears just long enough to gather the ingredients for his stew pot. It took him just about an hour to find what he needed. Then he gets right to it. His hungry appetite was his main motivator, so he didn't waist any time.

The three of them were sitting around the fire, Roscoe was just about finished cooking dinner. "Come and get it while its hot." Roscoe says.

"I'm ready." Norny says.

"What are we servin tonight Roscoe?" Pete inquires.

"Not sure what you'd call it, so let's don't." He replies.

"Is there meat in this." Pete asks.

"You could says that." Roscoe answers.

"I didn't hear any gunshots, so he must have strangled the meat with his bare hands." Pete mutters sarcastically.

Norny holds her plate in front of her and looks at it closely before she digs in.

Roscoe starts right in uninhibited about his food.

Cautiously Pete takes his first bite.

Then Norny goes for it.

It didn't taste too bad, they thought.

All of the sudden Roscoe stops eating and faces straight ahead. He doesn't make a sound and his eyes are bulging out of his face. Then he drops his plate to the ground and grabs his throat with both hands.

"AHHHGGGGGGG!!" A horrible noise is coming from him as he rolls backwards off of the log he was sitting on.

Pete and Norny are wondering what the hell is going on. They can see Roscoe is gagging and turning color, so now Pete is getting scared. He jumps up and drops his plate to the ground and dashes towards Roscoe yelling.....

"Roscoe, Roscoe! I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT! Sooner or later he was going to poison himself with his adventurous trail grub cookin!"

Norny looks frightened for Roscoe and drops her plate and runs over to help.

With his hands still around his throat, Roscoe blurts out with............"I ain't poisoned, I swollard a fly, Pete you Jackass!!"

"OHHH!" They say with relief and start to laugh.

After all that, they got through another night and need to discuss where they were going from here.

Pete and Roscoe were sipping their coffee, while Norny sipped tea from her little tea cup and saucer Daniel gave her.

Things were pretty casual as they sat at the top of the mountain looking back at the trail they just came up. Suddenly Pete notices something.

"Hey Roscoe! Look at that dust cloud off in the distance. What do ya suppose it is?"

"I don't know. Let's wait and see where it goes."

And the three of them sat there for about twenty minute, when they realized that the dust cloud was a group of men, maybe a posy looking for them.

"I think they're looking for us Pete. Their following our exact trail."

"We'd better think of something fast, or they're going to be on us in about another forty five minutes."

"Damn! These guys look like they can track anything. We better come up with something fast. What do you think Norny?"

"I don't understand. Why are they so eager to catch you?" She asks.

"Because of Pete's gun play back there. They think were somebody else."

"Who do they think you are?"

"Butch and Sundance." Pete answers.

"Who are they?" She asks again.

"Nobody! We just made up the names back in Sedona. And ever since then, people have been accusing them of bank robberies and train robberies all over the country.

"You made them up? Why?"

They didn't want to have to tell her that they did it to save her from an angry cowboy who was going to fix her wagon, "Its kind of a long story Norny. But we never thought it would come back to bite us on the ass like it did." Roscoe says.

"Right now we'd better saddle up and run like hell. Unless you got miracle up your sleeve." He says.

"I like to think of Daniels words to me. There always seem to be a solution in there somewhere."

"Yeah, well that may work for you, but what would he have to say about getting out of this mess?" Roscoe asks.

"Daniel always told me that the railroad tracks could get me out of trouble if I just followed them." She says.

"I don't see how that could work here. If the law catches us we're going to do some serious jail time." Roscoe says.

Norny's pauses for a moment, then as she thinks, her right hand comes up and takes hold of her little earring necklace.

"Wait a minute. Don't be so quick to doubt. Daniel's words haven't failed me yet. Maybe the railroad tracks can save us after all." Norny explains.

"I got an idea. Come on Pete, Roscoe. If it works, we can end this right now and you won't have to be looking over your shoulder any more."

"What do ya got in mind Norny?" Pete asks.

"Just follow me, and let me handle everything." She says.

And so they did. As much as they wanted know what she had in mind, there wasn't enough time. So they put their complete trust in her instincts. They really had no choice unless they wanted to become real out laws.

They mounted up and…"Wait a minute. Shouldn't we try and hide our tracks?" Pete asks.

"NO! don't. We want them to follow us." She says.

This really confused Pete and Roscoe, but they have faith.

The three of them made their way down the other side of the mountain and back to the railroad tracks. When they got to the tracks they raced along them in order to buy themselves as much time as they could. They traveled for a couple of hours until they came to a small town and a train depot.

 

She headed straight for the depot. Then, she went over to the window. She spoke with the man, then turns and walks back over to them. "You boys got a hundred dollars each on you."

"Sure." And they each handed her a hundred bucks.

"Follow me back over to the window, and just go along with anything I say."

"OK Norny. Its your play."

"Oh, by the way. Which of you is Butch, and which is Sundance?" She asks.

"Pete is Sundance."

They go back to the ticket window

Norny remembers back to the maps on the wall of Emily Beale's classroom. She remembered this insignificant little country way far south of the border. Too far away for any posy to ride too. It had to be a place with a name that no one would forget. And Bolivia was it.

"I need three one way tickets to Bolivia please." She says.

"BOLIVIA?" The ticket agent says with astounding curiosity.

"That's right! Bolivia."

Pete and Roscoe look at each other with a puzzled expression on their faces. But this was Norny's idea, and they had to let her play it out. Especially sense they had nothing else to go on.

"We don't get many passengers asking to go there. If fact I'd say we've sold about none. So you're the first." The man says.

When the man handed her back the tickets, she made sure the ticket agent heard her words, "Here you go Butch. And here's yours Sundance. They'll never think to look for us in Bolivia.

The ticket agent's eyes widened when he heard the names, as if he had heard them before.

The possey that had been trailing them was now about three hours behind. Fortunately the train arrived fifty six minutes later. When it did, the trio loaded their horses into the boxcar and stayed with them. They knew the ticket agent would tell the possey when it arrived that Butch and Sundance and some unknown woman had taken the train south destined for Bolivia.

But Norny had more to her plan. When the time was right, they would make their move.

About twenty five miles out, while the train is moving south along the tracks, the boxcar doors came open. The tracks were only about eight feet above the surface of the water. And at this point, only the bears and the birds were around to witness the silhouette of a man on horse back leaping from the train into the wide river they were crossing. Then a second rider splashed down, then finally a third leaped from the boxcar on horse back and into the swift moving current away form the tracks. The train just kept on going unaware that passengers had just disembarked the train in unknown territory.

The three riders immediately headed north, in the opposite direction of the train.

They rode hard for days, until they arrived in Oregon. Where at last they could rest and take a breather.

They found a good place to hold up for a day or so, time enough to figure out how to lay low and inconspicuous.

"That's was damn clever back there Norny, I declare. That was plum genious." Roscoe says.

"No, it was Daniel's words to me that helped us out back there. I just remember what he said, and had faith." She replies.

"But what happens when they find out we ain't in Bolivia? And what if they stopped the train somewheres up ahead and find out that we ain't on it. They'll be looking for us again." Pete says.

"It doesn't matter. They'll think we're still headed for Bolivia, or at least south out of the country. But there is one more part to my plan. And that will finish it, and they'll never look for you again."

The last part of her plan would require the three of them to lay low until it took effect. So like she said she would do, she had sent a letter to Diego back in Nevada and told him of their predicament. Norny was family to Diego. If it weren't for her, Diego and his family might not have realized their dream. But Diego remembers Pete and Roscoe fondly. And any family of Norny was family to him. So Diego did just what Norny asked.

They waited a month in order to give the fictitious Butch and Sundance a chance to reach South America and rob a few banks, then Diego spread the word far and wide that there was big news from his country. He even had a fake news paper made up headling the story. It told of two American Gringos by the names of Butch and Sundance had been robbing banks down in South America. And the Federalis had finally caught up with them and killed them in a blaze of gunfire.

Butch and Sundance went out hell bent for glory. At least that was the story. And it worked.

 

Gradually the reward posters started coming down, and they stopped looking for the infamous bandits. And though history recorded the fate of the two desperadoes, there would always be some who had their doubts.

The fact that their demise occurred down in South America, there were a lot of blanks in the story left open. But it didn't take long before they were filled in by the creative imagination of the gossips and the rumor spreaders.

The rumors didn't matter any more; Pete and Roscoe were finally in the clear, thanks to Norny. At long last she was able to repay her two friends for the times they bailed her out.

And now the three of them held a secret, that would always remain intact, except of course for their trusted good friend Diego. A trust Diego would never betray.

The legendary Butch and Sundance reign of holdups had finally ended, and no one could lay the blame on them for anything again. But those fictitious names that Pete and Roscoe invented wouldn't die, and instead, they became a sort of nineteenth century Robinhood, that would live on in story books and movie pictures and in the minds of dreamers for many years to come, possibly forever.

And there were stories about a mysterious woman who aided the two desperadoes in their get away. In fact they said she traveled to South America with them. But everyone knows that in fiction there is always a little truth. So the rumors of the woman only served to romantisize the story that much more. Some said she was the girl friend of either Butch or Sundance, while others believed she was one of the gang. But history would never record the actual identity of the woman or what became of her after her partners last hoorah.

The truth is out there, and many will speculate, but no one will ever know absolutely for certain.

 

For Norny it was the combination of Daniel's words of advice and her Indian skills, that delivered her and her pals from another difficult situation. To Pete and Roscoe she was the hero. But then, to them she always had been.

But Norny would always trust in Daniels belief that the railroad tracks could lead her from danger and to find help, and that was the real reason they got away.

And because of Daniel, her love for him, and the romance she felt for the railway were reinforced and even grew.

And tonight when she sleeps, Norny will meet with Daniel once more. With the little earring around her neck, love in her soul, and Daniel on her mind, she will thank him from the bottom of her heart, the only way she can…

 

 


chapter

18
(coming soon)

(click on Norny's face to see sketch detail)