" Jaime Younger, you will not take one more step out of this house" my twin
brother Jim boomed at me as I had attempted to sneak out the back door.
With a grimace I turned around to face him.
"And just what else do I need to do to gain my freedom Mr. James?" I
inquired of him, trying to keep a quizzical look on my face.
"Well missy I reckon a brother deserves a goodbye kiss from his devoted
sister before she goes off to break the rules." Laughing, I rushed over to
him and swiftly pecked him on the cheek as he wrapped his arms around me in
a quick hug before spinning me back towards the door.
"Enjoy that horse," he called after me as I leapt off the porch steps.
"before Cole comes home to discover you tamed his beloved beast and tans
your hide." Still chuckling I entered our barn, taking in a deep breath
that smelled of the sweet sun-ripened hay. Jim was right about Jett, my
horse. He wasn't my horse at all, he belonged to my oldest brother Cole.
Cole and Bob, my other older brother, had been gone the past four years
fighting in the Civil War. When they left I was only thirteen and a little
snippet of a cricket as he used to call me. He made me swear not to touch
his new possession, an ebony black thoroughbred foal he named Jett and
promised to break him when he got back.
I tried to be good to my word but my love for horses is almost equal to the
love I have for my family and Jett was a diamond in the rough. I also grew
quite a bit in their absence, shirking my girlish gawk for slender womanly
curves, long rich brown hair and big golden eyes. Jim had taken to teasing
me that if I wasn't such a tomboy, I might actually be attractive to men.
But I preferred the company of horses, so instead of pursuing beau's as
every other girl I knew had begun to do, I set my sights on Jet, and making
him mine. It took a long time for me to break him but at last I had
succeeded and every morning now I would take him out and we would fly like
the wind through the prairie bluffs. I treasured each morning I had with
Jett because news of the end of the war had finally reached our little town
of Liberty and Cole would be coming home to us soon.
"Come on baby" I whispered to the horse as I slipped the bridal over his
warm black face. "Lets go meet the morning again." With an excited whinny
from Jett, we cantered out of the barn and up the dirt road. I refused to
ride side-saddle, no self-respecting rider did. Instead I hitched up my
skirts and let them blow in the wind, displaying my bloomers for all the
world to see. I rarely ran into folks out on the prairie so it was never
much of a problem. Once we reached to endless rolls of the Plain Land I
laid down on Jett's neck and undid the bridal from his head. Wrapping it
around my saddle horn I grabbed two handfuls of his thick black mane I let
out a whoop and instantly Jett started to fly. We sailed through the high
grass, and I let Jett choose where to go, he knew the best places to run
and turn and all I did was hang on and enjoy the ride.
We had been flying free for most of the morning when I noticed five figures
on the horizon. Curious as to who else could be out here I steered Jett
towards them with my knees, and we quickly galloped over to meet the group.
Coming upon them I noticed that the lead rider was an Indian, the other
four were white, and all seemed to be exhausted. Covered in dust and mud
from days of travel, even the horses seemed to be walking dead.
"Hello there." I said to them as I slipped off of Jett's back even with out
his bridal, he followed me, keeping his muzzle right next to my shoulder.
"Where y'all from?"
The riders had slowed down and were about ten yards from me now, the sun
shone down on them so I couldn't make out what they looked like. That made
me a bit nervous, Cole had always said you could tell the make of a man by
looking in his eyes, but from here I couldn't see any details on these men
especially their eyes.
"Could you point us towards Liberty?" Said one of the weary voices. "Storm
last night rustled up everything in these parts and I can't tell hide form
hare where we are."
"Well Liberty's just about four miles yonder." I pointed over to the east.
"It's my hometown." Someone stirred in their saddle as I said these last
"You say you're from Liberty?" Came another voice, a bit more eager this
"Yes sir I am lived their all my life." With that I heard two bodies
sliding down the sides of saddles and was quickly approached by the two
white men. I stepped back, pressing myself into Jett's chest, startled. All
of them were skinny and dirty and hadn't bathed or shaved in ages by the
look of it. But the bright eyes of one of them caught my eye and I gasped.
"Cole?" I whispered daring to believe it was true. The one I addressed
looked down at me and through the stubble and dirt I saw a familiar smile
cover his face.
"Lil' Jaime? Is that you?" He inquired back. With an overjoyed scream I
jumped into my brother's arms and sobbed into his shoulder.
"It's really you, I thought I'd never see you again!" I wailed into his
shirt. He had wrapped his strong arms around me and lifted me off the
ground spinning in circles. I could hear a muffled sigh from him and knew
he was also crying.
"I never thought I'd live to see my baby sister again." He said as he set
me down and wiped the tears out of his eyes.
"Oh come on Cole, I'm not your baby any more, I've grown up." I said,
trying to stand a bit taller.
"Good Lord you have, its no wonder I didn't recognize you when you rode
up." He said as he looked me over, his eyes then roved onto Jett. I felt my
heart lurch as he finally realized who I was riding, but I had no time to
respond because right then the other man had grabbed me up into another
"Bob!?!" I squealed as I latched onto my other brother. "Oh lord how I've
missed you!" Bob was also crying a bit but he was laughing as well, Bob was
always the most optimistic of our family always joking and laughing. He too
set me down and looked me over.
"Glory be, Jaime you're all growed up!" He exclaimed as he had me spin
around. "And what a beauty, you remind me of Ma." Smiling deeply at this
compliment I looked up at the other three men who had stayed on their
"Hello Jaime" said the oldest of the white men
"Hello Frank" I said as I recognized Frank James.
" Jaime, this here is our friend Tom, and Indian we met in the war, and I'm
sure you remember my brother Jesse." He said pointed out the Indian who
nodded at me and then pointed to the dark eyed man sitting the farthest
"Lovely to meet you Tom." I said, a bit more formally than I had with the
others and gave a bit of a curtsy. Then I looked over into those dark eyes,
and quickly dropped my gaze to the ground becoming quickly aware of my
uncombed hair and grubby hands.
"Of course I remember Jesse, hello."
"Hey" he responded. Even through the exhaustion and grime I could see that
Jesse had grown into a handsome young man, with those dark eyes that seemed
to capture me. I tried to shake off the feeling, I was a tomboy, not one of
the giggly town girls who melted at every pair of eyes that met hers, and
I'm sure that's the type Jesse would prefer to someone as untamed as me.
"Hey Jaime, we have to go talk to Doc Mimms, will you be a sweetheart and
ride over to the James' land and let their Ma know that her boys are alive
and we'll be home soon?" Bob asked me as he headed back to his horse.
"Yes sir, I'll go grab Jimmy and we'll meet you there." I told him, he
smiled at me and swung back up onto his horse. Cole passed by me and
grabbed me up in another hug.
"And we'll talk about the horse then too young lady." He added in a whisper
as he set me down and mounted his steed. They galloped off without another
word. My stomach flipped at his words but my joy at having my brother's
home was still to great. He couldn't be that mad at me, I had taken great
care of Jett, I told myself. Shaking of my anxiety and jumped onto Jett's
"Let's go home boy and tell Jimmy the good news." I said to him, and
without a hesitation Jett set off back to our farm.