Billy Oldham's War
They spent a day in Kansas City so that the women could do some window shopping, but they didn't buy anything because they didn't want to encumber themselves while they were on patrol. It was just as well because they ran into some jayhawkers who had crossed the Kansas-Missouri border to cause some trouble with "slavers."
The jayhawkers simply wanted to cause trouble for Southern sympathizers in Missouri, and anybody who they found along the river was a slaver by definition. This was a rather large bunch of troublemakers, there were 19 in all. They caught sight of the women in the wagon and there was no holding them after that. Maria, who was driving, as usual, caught sight of the gang in time to head the wagon into the woods at the side of the road. That kept them from being surrounded, which was a great help to the defense against so many attackers.
Of course, the men were more interested in rape than they were in immediate killing when they saw that the wagon's occupants were women, though the women would be murdered before the jayhawkers left for home. The jayhawkers were far enough away for rifles to be of value at the beginning of the battle, so Ann had time to kill one and badly wound another jayhawker.
Both women had dropped to the wagon floorboards and were able to make good use of the driver's seat as added protection against the jayhawkers' bullets. By now, the attackers were pissed off and no longer interested in rape, but only in killing the people who had the temerity to shoot at the men who were surely doing God's work.
Well, the women had the much more stable shooting platform, so they were doing a superior job of shooting at the men who were bouncing around on running horses. The way bullets were flying, it took a few minutes for the jayhawkers to realize that they were being fired on by outside weapons. Billy was making good use of his new repeating rifle from about 70 yards away from the melee.
Billy was not wasting time trying to shoot the men. He was concentrating on killing as many horses as he could. That .54 caliber bullet was just as potent against horses as it was against men at this range, and a lot of men were being put out of action by having their horses shot from under them. This usually resulted in a broken bone for the men, if nothing worse happened to them.
What little organization the jayhawkers had begun with was quickly destroyed by the combination of Billy's rifle bullets and the women's pistol bullets. The attackers never expected such a well armed defense and were just not prepared for the kind of battle they had encountered.
Billy finally ran out of bullets for his rifle; he had gotten off 18 shots in such rapid fire that the jayhawkers were caught totally unprepared. A couple of men who had tried to break off from the attack on the wagon and charge him only made it easier for Billy by shortening the range. The jayhawkers could see the rifle, but they could not conceive of Billy having more than one bullet at his disposal. Even the 15 seconds required to change cylinders was not enough time to put Billy out of action.
There were only four men left out of the original 19 by the time Billy's rifle was empty, and they took off for Kansas when Billy put up his now empty rifle and pulled a Colt. Billy charged after the retreating jayhawkers, but he only went about 100 yards down their path before pulling up. There was no point in riding into an ambush. They had eliminated the gang as an effective fighting force, and the four escapees would think long and hard before returning to Missouri.
Billy rode up to the women to determine how they had weathered the attack. There were no bullet wounds, but both women had some bruises that resulted from quick movements around the wagon during the fight. They congratulated themselves on their victory while they reloaded all of their weapons. The women had emptied 19 of the 37 Colts they had at their disposal, so it was time for lunch by the time all of the guns were reloaded and the bodies were looted.
Billy's rifle work had killed or wounded so many of the horses that they only recovered six that they could sell. They picked up seven Mississippi rifles and 32 pistols worth selling. They were no longer bothering with knives. Six of the horses and five of the jayhawkers were dispatched since they were not yet dead, and neither Billy nor the women wanted to let them suffer before they died. The bodies were pulled to the side of the road and left for the scavengers as a warning to other miscreants.
That was the end of the excitement for the day, but they felt that they had gotten their "money's worth." The night was spent in a hotel room, and they all were glad for a chance to work off the excess energy they had built up over the fight that day.
The next morning when they woke up, Maria suddenly had a sick feeling and an urge to vomit everything she had eaten for the last week or so. She barely made it to the chamber pot in time, and she felt pretty lousy for the rest of the day. Fortunately, that day was a dud as far as excitement went, so Maria did not have to worry about fighting.
The next morning was a repeat of Maria's vomiting spree, so they decided that she must really be sick and headed home to the cave. It took them one more night on the road, and Maria was sick the same way the next day. They arrived at the cave a little before lunch, and Maria was definitely "green around the gills." Nancy took one look at her and said, "Maria, how long have you been knocked up?" That unexpected question set them all back on their heels!
Nancy said, "I've been a midwife for 23 years, and I know all of the signs. Maria, ya've been knocked up for at least two weeks and maybe as much as two months. Did ya miss yer last monthly period?"
"Yes, I did. I didn't think too much about it, since I figured that I was just being irregular because of all of the excitement we've run into."
"Well, I can tell ya, ya can't git more pregnant than ya are right now. Ya need ta stay home, now, 'cause all that bouncin' ya git from ridin' on that wagon seat can't be good fer ya. Of course, ifen ya want ta dump the baby, just keep doin' what ya're doin' now."
"Oh, no! I want the baby! I guess that we were lucky ta have ya around ta tell me what was my problem. I appreciate that, but what am I gonna do when the baby comes?"
"Don't worry 'bout that. Josh an' I have decided ta marry, soz y'all are stuck with me. I ain't never lost a baby in my 23 years of midwifin', an' I don't expect ta start now. Ya just relax an' leave everythin' ta me."
Maria hugged Nancy, and that led to a group hug as they congratulated the newly weds. Ann decided that they needed a big dinner to celebrate the marriage and the pregnancy, so she set in to work on it as soon as she could get organized. They ate a cold lunch to give Ann, Maria, and Nancy the time they needed to get the celebratory meal ready.
After the meal had been cleared away and everybody was sitting around trying to recover from the overeating, Maria screwed up her courage to the sticking point and asked Nancy, "Kin I still fuck Billy, or do I have ta stop until after the baby is born?"
"Ya kin keep up yer wifely duties as long as ya feel like it. I've know women who had bellies swelled up like balloons who've serviced their husbands with no problem. Ifen ya start bleeding or somethin' like that, ya'll have ta stop, but ya kin keep fuckin' as long as ya still want ta."
Ann asked, "Billy, ifen Maria can't go, an' Nancy an' Josh want ta stay home, does that mean that ya'll want ta give up patrollin'?"
"I ain't real sure, Ann. I'd hate ta give up patrollin', but I'd also hate ta leave Marie here with our child. I 'spose that with Nancy and Josh here ta look after her, it would be OK fer us ta keep patrollin'. Yeah, I guess that ya an' I kin keep it up, at least fer a while. Does that suit ya?"
Ann jumped from her chair and plopped into Billy's lap. "That'll be just fine with me. I love the excitement of the patrol, an' I love bein' with ya, Billy. I want ta keep patrollin' until ya knock me up, too."
That brought a general laugh, and they talked about many things until it was time for bed. That night, Billy, Ann, and Maria could hear sounds coming from the other bedroom that proved that Josh and Nancy were well married and getting along fine. It wasn't long before the three started making the same kind of noises of their own.
Billy and Ann waited a week before returning to patrol. They delayed because they planned to go back to Kansas City in hopes that the second repeating rifle was ready. With Ann in the wagon by herself, Billy was going to be a lot more comfortable when Ann had her own repeating rifle. He and Maria had made out well when they first started, but the mental comfort of two people in the wagon was sorely missed by Billy every time he thought about it.
They took the familiar road to Kansas City along the river bank on its south side. That was the same road Billy had followed the time he had found the cave. Well, it was kind of an exaggeration to call it a road, a wide trail would be more accurate. It was not a common road for people to take for various reasons, and that was the way Billy and his extended family liked it. An unexpected visitor was most often an unwanted visitor.