Call me a mangy dog if you like. I have never been one to settle for just one woman, but I suppose it isn't me fault, I love them and they love me. The name is Joseph, but folks call me Joe, Joe Byrne. I have always been what some may call a womanizer, that is until I met her. Stubborn lass, and if I might say, outspoken at times.
Ned, Dan, Steve and I had been wonderin' the woods. It had been only yesterday that we had killed the first of many police. It was then that we heard deep voices in the forest, naturally we thought they were more police comin' for our heads, that is what drew us to them.
We found it was only a band of robbers like ourselves, but they had a lass with them. And not a partner, mind you, a hostage. She looked first upon me with her deep blue eyes. I don't know why, I thought at the moment that it was just me need comin' through, for I had been without a lass for quite a while, but I just sat there a gazed, "Oi! Wha' you lookin' at?" snarled one of the three robbers to her, which seemed mighty stupid to me considering they had gagged her.
Her eyes flung back to me and the men turned around in turn. All four of us came out from behind the trees and held our pistols at the ready, "We mean you no harm," said Ned, "We thought ye were the law, but since we have ye here, tell me, what with the lass?"
They chuckled and lowered their guns, mistake #1, "We found her travelin' on her on."
"Ah," I sighed with a shake of my head, "Now, that is no way to treat a lady. Surely you know that? Why do you not untie her?"
"Then she would run." the man answered with a frown.
"So she is a hostage then?"
They smiled and nodded stupidly, "Yeah, yeah, that's the word, thank ye."
Ned nodded to me then turned back to the robbers, "Well me men and I don't take lightly to harmin' women folk."
One of the three men laughed hysterically and grabbed the lass by the chin to give us a better view of her face, "This is no lady," he insisted, "The damn thing just about scratched my eye out." he said, pointing to a deep, fresh looking scratch running from his forehead, passed his bloodshot right eye to his cheek.
"Yeah," agreed another, "If she would'a behaved she wouldn't be tied up."
"We can take the lass out of your hair," said Ned, "Surely she is no use to you."
The third man shook his head and shrunk down next to the lass and stroked her cheek with a nasty, yellow-toothed smile. She tried in vain to move away from the man, for the ropes held her in place. The man's expression turned angry as he raised his hand and struck her hard enough on the head to knock her out cold, "We can find plenty uses," he chuckled, "Once we, uh, whip her into line." Mistake #2.
I could tell Steve, Dan, and Ned were getting just as angry as I at these men. I raised my gun first, "Untie her or I'll shoot."
The last thing I remember was the four strange men coming into the camp before I blacked out. A while later I felt the familiar texture of bark upon my back, but a throbbing pain in my forehead tore me away from my thoughts. As soon as the pain started to grow worse a cold cloth was pressed to my head.
Groggily I opened my eyes. A man sat before me. I admit, he was handsome. His dark brown eyes looked upon me in a way that made me feel comforted. His touch was gentle and I couldn't help but blush a bit as he looked upon me in his intense way.
I quickly moved my eyes to my feet. I had always felt uncomfortable when people stared at me, and this man made me feel so uncomfortable that I could feel warmth in my cheeks from a my growing blush. Though when he spoke he comforted me in a way I cannot explain, "Will you tell me why you were traveling alone?"
I shifted uncomfortably, "I was returnin' home from my brother's wedding. My stagecoach was attacked and took me as a hostage." I replied, unsure of why I was actually answering truthfully to a stranger.
He smirked, "Surely you know this is a good example of why a young lass shouldn't be traveling alone? You are Irish, aren't you? I can tell by the accent."
I rolled my eyes and slapped my hands on my legs, "You sound like my Ma!" I exclaimed, "I am aware, but I am no coward and I do not need nor want protection. By the way I am Scottish, thank you, of the family Wallace."
It was then that I noticed we weren't alone. Three other men joined us, sitting before me, "Ye got some flame in ye, lass," said one of them with a smile, "But if you don't mind me sayin' I think you need some protection, considering you got captured."
I crossed my arms over my chest, "For your information, they only had me hostage for only a few hours before your lot discovered us. I was goin' to escape when the time was right."
I could have gone on an on chewing out that man, but I didn't. I furrowed my eyebrows, something about these lads where familiar... Then it dawned upon me, "Great Scott!" I exclaimed, "You're Ned Kelly!"