For the umpteenth time that day the wagon stuck in the gripping mud, and for the umpteenth time that day she wandered what she was doing here alone in a wagon. Traveling with a ragtag bunch of pioneers, following some long ago lost trail in the wind and rain. The dripping of the rain from the wagon canvas seemed to know exactly where the gap in her slicker was. Each drop found it's way down her back.

It had, of course, not started out like this. She remembered with a lump in her throat how her parents and she had set off to discover the Promised Land, "Go West," the signs had said, and that's where they had headed. Sadly it was just a few weeks into their journey, that a freak flash flood in a box canyon had taken several wagons and their owners to a Promised Land far beyond American shores. Her parents had been two of the people lost that night.

Of course the rest of the wagon train had offered every help they could expecting her to turn around and head back East. She was made of more steel than they thought, and carried on, single handedly across the miles, heading for who knows what or where.

Though her parents had always called her there little bird, she soon became known to the rest of the wagon train as Golden Dove because of her long golden hair. Which in those early days could be seen flowing behind her as she kept pace with the wagon train on her horse.

After the death of her parents, she cropped her curls, and the people soon changed to calling her Lonesome Dove.

At last the wagons stopped for the night, forming into a muddy circle to rest for the night, Lonesome Dove slowly climbed down from the wagon, and wearily started to sort out her supplies, shifting through the soaking packages trying to find something that may help with tonight’s meal.

The rest of the wagon train were equally quiet, not only the weather damping their spirits but the fact that none of them knew where there were. The wagon master who had started with them on their trek being another poor soul lost in the flash flood.

The cooking was done centrally, each wagon adding something to the meal, taking it in turns tp do the cooking and the other chores. Tonight Lonesome Dove was taking her turn in finding wood for the fire, this in the pouring rain was no easy matter, she moved further and further away in her quest for dry wood. All of a sudden a movement caught the corner of her eye, her heart jumped to her throat, before she could scream a warning a deep voice disturbed the sound of the rain.

“Evening Ma’am”

Her scream stopped jammed in her throat.

A tall horseman slowly moved his horse from under a nearby tree to stand in front of her.

“Not a nice evening to be out looking for wood”

She looked up into a face that was suddenly lit by a brilliant smile, and her heart stopped trying to get into her mouth and did a little flip.

So it was that some minutes later Lonesome Dove entered the wagon circle, with some dripping pieces of wood, and a tall dark stranger. The other members of the wagon train gathered around the stranger, who was soon joining in their evening meal and hearing about the problems that had hit the pioneers so far. He waited until they had finished, then slowly got to his feet.

“Seems like you folks have had a real bad time, and the fact that you are here miles from the trail proves that you need my help. My name is Todd, Todd Bennett, I’m a Ranger, helping out where I can. If you will let me I’ll gladly lead you to the nearest town, where you can hire a scout to take you the rest of the way.”

Todd said no more. The following days as Todd lead them to the nearest town, the quiet Ranger said very little. Each day as they travelled, it seemed to Lonesome Dove that Todd spent extra time riding beside her wagon, giving her that flashing smile. Gradually he made her forget her troubled months. Even the weather seemed to brighten up. Every evening it was with Lonesome Dove that Todd drank his coffee, listening to her stories about the East coast, her home, her family and her dreams. After many adventures, trials and troubles, the wagon train eventually wound it’s way into the town of New Grove, where the families set about sorting their live’s out, each very grateful to Todd and knowing that without his help and guidance none of them would have survived the journey.

The months passed and come spring, the wagon train complete with a new guide and wagon master set out West once more. That is, all except Lonesome Dove. She stayed where her heart was, safe in the arms of Todd.

The west was tough, and un-tamed. Life for Todd and Lonesome Dove was not easy, but together they took all that was sent to test them in their stride. Soon the two became three when a son, Blake was born. Todd built them a cabin near a gentle stream, where they made their life together. But the wildness was never far away, and as the town grew, it came that Todd the Ranger became Todd the Lawman.

One fateful day, the family that were three became a family of two, when Todd was shot in the back while patrolling the town streets. Many fingers were pointed at the killer, but no proof was ever brought forward. Lonesome Dove once more was on her own, this time though with a young son to support.

Winters, storms, floods and droughts all came and went. Lonesome dove worked day and night to provide for her and her son. She was loved and respected by everybody. Though she seemed to have got over the loss of her man, in only a few years her once golden hair had turned grey. Though she smiled in her daily work, and the pleasure she received watching her son grow, her heart was crying for the loss of her Todd.

The years went by and the young son grew into a man. It was part pride and part horror that she felt when one day her son arrived home wearing that same sheriff's badge that Todd had once worn.

A year later a message arrived at the town. The man that had shot Todd had robbed a bank up north, and was heading towards the border. The only law that could stop him was the son of Lonesome Dove.

A showdown happened that very day, and many stories were told about how the young sheriff was taken by suprise. He would have been shot in the back like his father except a shot rang out from a near-by alley-way and the murdering bushwhacker, lay dead in the dust.

Nobody knew where the shot had come from, or who had pulled the trigger.

Nobody knew that is except Lonesome Dove, the woman who would not lose a son as she had lost a husband

Barry Eva 1998