Dang it little Joe. Can't you decide what you want? Your birthday is next week."

Hoss Cartwright asked his little brother they bounced along in the back of their father's buckboard.

"I don't know. Paint got a hold of her saddle blanket yesterday and tore it to pieces. I could use one of them, or a bag of candy from the Orowitz's store."

"I don't think you need candy little Joe. Think of something you actually need."

Came Ben Cartwright's answer from the wagon seat in front of them.

"But pa."

He pleaded

"No buts Joseph."

Came his father's stern reply.

Little Joe looked at his dirty brown boots and shook a fly from his boot toe. Then he looked up.

Hoss stretched his arms out behind him and grunted.

"Well you'd better decide on somethin' soon. Were almost there."

Little Joe turned around to face the front of the wagon and crawled towards the seat were his father sat. He then stood up behind his father and watched the town buzz with the every day excitement of Eagle station.

Ponderosa

The legendary black and white pony threw her legs forward closing the gap between her and the blue roan stallion ahead of her.

Her rider was non other than the legendary Wildcat who was said to shoot women and children who got in her way.

Her dark brown eyes were fixed on the stallion's rider. The woman called Hanes had gone and done the impossible. She'd snuck up behind the Wildcat and stolen her poke. Something the Wildcat would hunt and kill for.

Now they tore after her in pursuit. They would catch her they would get her money back and they would kill her if they had to.

They crested a rise to look over a small town. The roan still ran for the crowded and muddy street.

The roan breathed hard as he gave his mistress everything he had. She glanced back the pony was catching them.

A the small town drew closer she glanced back again. She was almost on top of them.

She kicked her silver rowels into her stallions flanks and ducked under a low branch of the one tree that had crossed their path.

The town now suddenly seemed to stop and scatter. The mud flew as they entered the streets and bypassed several shrieking women.

She and her stallion were slowed down by the sloshing mud.

She looked back the paint mare was still coming. Her rider had a look of determination on her face.

They bounded through the mud with ease as her stallion slipped and sloshed through it.

She kicked his flanks again as she heard the shot. Pain pulsed through her body starting at her left shoulder and progressing everywhere.

She drew her gun and twisted around to fire her .45 on the rider behind her. Only she wasn't there.

Hanes glanced to the right and caught a glimpse of The Wildcat ducking into a door. She grabbed her saddle horn and threw her right leg over the back of her horse and hung there to keep out of The Wildcat's fire range.

Ponderosa

Ben Cartwright heard the commotion outside and glanced out the large front window of the Orowitz's store. A horse and a pony flew past the window, one of the riders had a bloody shoulder. When he looked again he saw there was only one rider.

He ran out the door in time to see the rider pull a foot from a stirrup and hang sideways on his saddle.

The black and white paint pony stopped and sloshed through the mud to the hitching rail where she stood and waited for her rider.

Little Joe now followed him out and watched the rider hoist himself back into the saddle with gun in hand. When another shot was fired the rider collapsed onto the muddy ground.

Ben and Little Joe both ran for the figure in the street.

"Joseph get his horse."

The rider groaned as Ben flipped him over. He removed the rider's hat to watch the long blonde hair tumble from his head.

"You mean her horse pa?"

Ben picked her up as he yelled.

"Hoss!"

He slipped and sloshed through the mud as Hoss came through the door.

"What happened pa?"

"Don't ask questions Eric just get the buckboard. Joseph, I want you to stay with Eli and Ruth Orowitz. Do you under stand me?"

" Yes Pa, What do I do with her horse?"

Ben turned around.

"Tie him next to the paint."

As little Joe looped the stallion's reins around the hitching rail someone grabbed the paint's reins.

A figure clad in complete black had appeared from out of no were.

"That your pony Mister?"

The man nodded but didn't say a word.

"Did you shoot the woman who rode in before you?"

The man looked up from tightening his cinch.

"What business is it of yours?"

The man now turned and started to go through the saddle bags behind the roan's saddle.

"I guess it's not my business I'm just curious."

He grabbed what looked like a wallet out of the saddle bags and stuck it in his shirt.

"You might have killed her."

He started to mount up but stopped.

"Ya know. Yer kinda annoyin'. What if I ment to kill her?"

"Then that would make you a murderer."

The man looked around.

"Yer to nosey for yer own good."

With that he grabbed little Joe and hauled him onto his saddle and mounted up and kicked his pony's flanks.

People scattered in all directions to let the pony and her rider through.

Ponderosa

With Ben at the reins of the buckboard that left Hoss to keep the mysterious woman from getting the life jolted from her.

As they rolled into the yard of the Ponderosa ,Adam and Carlos came out of the barn.

"Pa, your home sooner than expected. Were's little Joe?"

"We had trouble in town Adam."

Hoss stood up and picked up the woman.

"Carlos could you take her?"

With a look of surprise on his face Carols held the unconscious woman.

"Get her into the house. Adam go tell HopSing were coming."

Ben herded Carlos towards the house as Hoss jumped down from the buckboard.

When they reached the door HopSing and Adam met them.

"Take her to my room."

He instructed Carlos.

"HopSing you know what to do."

HopSing nodded and followed Carlos through the door.