This is a work of fiction and not intended to be historically accurate but merely a representation of the times. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental and unintentional. Historical characters used are strictly for dramatic purposes. This story contains some violence.
Fort Larned Kansas July 1864
The rocker strained to resist the urge to shatter under the massive weight of Marshal Macy Tucker. He rocked in a lazy fashion on the sidewalk outside the jail. The legs of his chair curved out while the slats of the sidewalk deformed under the load. Macy Tucker was no slight man; at six feet five inches, the man tipped the scales at four hundred forty pounds. Tucker sat whittling on a small hunk of wood. His envisioned sculpture was of a horse, though for now, it resembled little more than a chunk of coarse wood with uneven pieces carved from its surface. The shavings covered his pants and the boards of the sidewalk around his chair.
The town had been peaceful in the weeks following the last hanging and the death of Judge Jackson. The judge's passing hastened by the Packer girl's retribution over the destruction of their family by the vengeful jurist. Tucker enjoyed the peace and quiet that settled over the town and even Fort Larned. The soldiers hadn't even caused a ruckus in this period. Lawyers campaigned for the vacated position with a special election scheduled in mere days. As the balloting approached, everyone wondered who would replace the late, but not lamented, Judge David Jackson.
For weeks, Macy enjoyed his blissful existence, with an ardent wish that this moment would last forever. He chewed a mouth full of jerky, drank a nearly cool beer, and deliberated on his personal future. He was free to enforce the law, upholding it without consideration of the concerns of a greedy, corrupt, and wealthy politician. Setting the beer in a place of relative safety from the flying shavings of wood, Macy returned to his whittling. Perfection ruled the day with a flawless passage of time, one delightful minute after another. That was until Deputy Samuel Myers came running from the telegraph office waving a sheet of paper and yelling at the top of his lungs.
"The Packer girls are thieving all over the place Marshal." The Deputy ran to his boss with two yellow slips of paper clutched in his hand. He handed the first to Tucker. Taking the document, Tucker read the telegraph. "Two young girls robbed a general store in Bellfont making off with six colt navy revolvers, several boxes of balls, powder, percussion caps, two powder flask, an assortment of canned goods and thirty-seven dollars."
"This robbery was in Bellfont, why Sam that isn't even a real town. She's just a collection of businesses," at first Macy Tucker was amused before the cold realization set in and he grew heartsick. He knew he had made a mistake in not going after the girls.
"It was a real stickup. Then there is this one," Samuel handed Macy another telegraph.
It stated, "The Packer Twins robbed the Howell Bank of one hundred dollars." A detailed description of the undersized outlaws followed along with their full names. "Helen and Hanna Packer are considered armed and dangerous. There is a fifty dollar reward for their capture and may be claimed by any civilian turning them into any jail in the state of Kansas or Colorado Territory - Alive." While he had swept their murder of the judge under the carpet, the realization only dawned on Tucker at that moment that the preteens had no way of knowing this. Their actions ensured the law wanted them. The responsibility of his decision rested on his massive shoulders. He had to set this right, for Macy Tucker the decision required no thought. He tucked the penknife and the small carving into his vest pocket. Tucker breathed in hard, then he turned his full attention to his deputy, with a smile and a nod, he addressed him.
"Sam ole boy, do me a favor, go to the stable and saddle Lucky. Tell Dancer I need two additional mounts, one animal with a saddle same size as mine, and the other with a sawbuck saddle for supplies. I'll be there to collect them soon." The Deputy put his hand under his hat scratching his head.
"I'm adrift at sea Marshal, what are you saying?" Getting up from his rocker, he looked at his deputy as he unpinned his badge. The rocker sprang back to its intended form, one could sense the liberation the chair experienced.
"I'm going after the Packer girls to make this right. Tell the mayor my return is doubtful," he looked at his six-pointed star as he handed it to Samuel, "Here you go Deputy Myers. As far as I am concerned, they could do a sight worse than making you marshal. If they do, it will do me proud if you wear this."
"Marshal," Sam said.
"Go do me the favor and don't talk to that namby-pamby mayor until I'm out of sight." He looked at his deputy and smiled, "Everything will be fine son." Twenty minutes later former town marshal Macy Tucker, stood at the stable getting ready to leave. The stage pulled in as he loaded the last of his supplies. Passengers exited the coach and one walked straight up to Macy, a gaunt stern looking man dressed in a fine suit.
"I tell you my good man," he spoke with a refined English accent, "I do not know how I have endured this continuous captivity in what I call the hell wagon. I have had no intermission other than a stoppage every forty miles and only for fifteen minutes. This only occurring twice a day and twice at night. Now mind you, this is not for our benefits sir but only to change equines who, from all appearances, are more relevant to the stage line than their passengers are. I was forced to sleep in a moving coach while sitting up as the coachman continued the expedition with relentless enthusiasm. Passengers packed in shoulder to shoulder. My feet, my good sir, rested on mailbags while my knees are interlocked with those sitting across from me. The discomfort of this trip is unbearable."
"Mister, I ain't your good nothing," Tucker said as he mounted his horse, "Now iffen you want to know about pain query my horse. I bust his back with my nigh-on-to a quarter of a ton sitting on him. Old Lucky here weighs shy of one-thousand-twenty-five pounds. It has to be a misery for the poor beast to haul the likes of me. Another thing, your lordship, without them thar horses, you go nowhere." Macy continued but in an incoherent rush of hushed words laced with crude expletives. With that, he touched his heels to the ribs of his pony; the mountain of a man was on his way. The two animals followed him tethered in tandem to his saddled via long ropes. He would ride for an hour or two then change horses. Considering his substantial mass, the rugged terrain, and frequent breaks to soak himself in his drinking water followed soon after by the refilling of the canteens at the river, the party of four made good progress.
The two girls cleaned their weapons, their back to the yellow light of the setting sun. Stars twinkling above them and the moon rising over the eastern horizon gave a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere to their campsite. The heat of the day wouldn't break for hours. Beads of perspiration covered their faces. They sat in silence enjoying themselves, quite pleased with the events of their day. Hanna spoke first, "You can bathe first and I'll stand watch. Then I'll do it after you're done." Helen nodded at her sister.
"I still dream about... ," Helen said but Hanna interrupted her.
"Not going to talk about that damn judge no more. We gave him what he was owed and there's an end of it. You remember what he did to our pa', our mother, and poor George. Those are still my dreams my brother swinging at the end of a rope. The flower sack over his head covered in blood from their botching of the first attempt. Not our first brother, the damn judge, hung either. We were too young to keep that terrible memory, but we heard of it all our lives. You best remember those things. If you do then our gunning him down won't bother you so much. I ain't lost even one minute of sleep for murdering that bastard. I enjoyed it. It's a pleasant memory, I hold it dear ... him laying face down in a fresh, wet, horse-patty."
"Don't say that Hanna you sound..." breaking off her comment she walked to the stream. She removed her boots, shirt, pants, and under clothes then waded into the cool water of the Arkansas River. It felt good, the wet coolness of the rivers waters covered her body, soaking the heat out of her. As Helen bathed, she heard the familiar refrain of her sister loading the guns.
"Powder, ball, lever," repeated five times, followed by, "cap, grease." Eight times her sister repeated all of the instructions. Helen thought of the two prickly-pears they had decimated unloading their guns. The two girls had become deadly proficient with Colonel Colt's well-crafted, precision instruments of justice. Lying on their bedrolls that night they discussed their daring robbery of a general store that day.
"We came a busting in and I blasted that coal oil lantern next to that clerk. I'll be damned if he didn't piss his pants," Hanna said laughing as she talked. "His pee running down his leg pooling up next to his shoe was a sight for sure."
"That fat woman fainted and the young boy turned white as my hair," Helen rolled on her bedroll laughing hard. They had made away with twelve dollars and fourteen cents, two cans of beans, a loaf of fresh bred, and some salted bacon and pork. Either no one had been brave enough to face the delinquents or they didn't wish to harm children. Perhaps it is more accurate that both were facts.
.... There is more of this story ...