Chapter Four--To Be a Lawman

Back to mid-October….and earlier…
          Allie Summer had been in difficult situations before and she was in another one now. But she did not—never had—regretted becoming a territorial Ranger.
          The desire began very early in her life. When she was five years old, her parents gave her a kitty. Allie loved the kitty, but one day it jumped out of her arms and ran off. Allie chased her pet, crying because she couldn’t catch it. She was so afraid she’d never see her kitty again. The little animal ran up a tree and perched on a branch about six feet above the ground. Allie stood below at the foot of the tree, still crying, begging her kitty to come down. It wouldn’t. But after a few minutes, a tall man in a cowboy hat came by. He saw what was happening and gently reached up and took the kitty from the tree branch and gave it to Allie. The little girl was so happy. The tall man smiled at her and patted her head. The only thing Allie remembered about him was that he had a star on his chest. She didn’t know what that meant, so she asked her mother when she got home.
          “He’s a lawman, dear. Maybe a sheriff or marshal or a Ranger. They do nice things for people and catch outlaws.”
          From that moment on, Allie wanted to be a lawman—or lawwoman, though there was no such thing as “political correctness.” Maybe that was because there was no such thing as a female Ranger. Allie was determined to become the first one. Her dreams were further inspired by the dime novels, many of which were written about lawmen such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Wild Bill Hickok. As she grew older (in her teens) she realized that the novels were embellished to a great degree, but that didn’t discourage her at all. Her father was whimsically agreeable, thinking that his daughter would grow out of it. But she never did.
         He put a pistol in her hand when she was 10—and she fell in love with that, too. She practiced every chance she got, and became very accurate—and very fast. Her decision was made, for good, when she was 17 years old. Her father and mother were killed by a riotous mob in the town where they lived. Allie escaped only because she could hide under a rock and/or move in the forest as stealthily as an Indian. And considering she was half-Indian, that wasn’t too terribly surprising.
          Nobody liked “breeds,” and she was one, but the mob that killed her parents—and would have killed her, if they had caught her—was especially after the father. Allie’s father, Winter Wolf, was a full-blooded Cheyenne; her mother, Sandra, was a blonde-headed Norwegian who had come west with her parents many years earlier. Cheyenne had killed Sandra’s parents, but captured the girl when she was seven. She was raised in the Cheyenne camp and eventually married Winter Wolf. When the Cheyenne were (largely) subdued by the army and given a reservation, Winter Wolf and Sandra were allowed to live off the Indian land because of her. They had the one child, Allie. Winter Wolf wanted to name her Summer Rain, but Sandra called her Allie, after her grandmother. Eventually, the girl simply called herself Allie Summer.
          The mob that killed Winter Wolf and Sandra were the typical prejudicial group who didn’t like Indians and especially didn’t like Indians who married white women. They might not have killed Sandra, but she defended her husband and died in the process. Allie ran for the hills and escaped. She knew what she was going to do. She made her way to the territorial capital and found the Rangers’ office.
          “I’d like to see the head Ranger,” she said to the man at the desk.
          The fellow behind the desk looked Allie up and down, and apparently liked what he saw. And there was a lot to like. She had jet black hair, like her father, but ice blue eyes, like her mother. Her skin was medium, about halfway between Indian and Scandinavian. She wore an Indian headband around her forehead. She was, in a word, a beautiful woman, even at 17 years of age. The attendant Ranger said to her, “Well, the ‘head Ranger’ is Captain McConnell. May I ask what you’d like to see him for? He is a busy man.”
          “I want to become a Ranger,” Allie said simply.
          The man was a sergeant named Pine, and he threw his head back and laughed. “You can’t be a Ranger, you’re a wo—“
          Allie had a gun, an old .36 caliber Remington Navy, stuffed into the back of her pants, and in a jiffy, she yanked it out and stuck it in the sergeant’s face. “I said I want to see the head Ranger, whatever he’s called. Are you going to tell him I’m here or am I going to have to go introduce myself with your head lying on the floor behind you?”
          Sergeant Pine had never seen anyone, male or female, move as fast as Allie had. He stared at the gun in his face, then up at the girl. Looking at her thoughtfully, he slowly nodded his head. “I’ll tell him you’re here.” And he got up and went down the hall.
          He was back about 3 minutes later. “The Captain will see you now.”
          Allie walked down the hall without saying another word to the sergeant.
          The Captain’s door was open, but Allie respectfully knocked anyway. McConnell was sitting at his desk doing some paperwork. He didn’t look up for about 15 seconds, then he did. He stared at Allie for a few seconds, and said, “So you’re the little lady with the quick gun. Come on in.”
          Allie walked in and sat in front of McConnell’s desk and examined him.
          The Captain appeared tall, had a grey mustache, and grey hair. He looked strong, however, and his facial features were still handsome and masculine. Somehow, he seemed familiar to Allie, but she couldn’t place him.
          “So you want to be a Ranger,” he said, with a smile, but not a condescending one.
          That smile…and she recognized him. “Yes, I do.” Before he could go on, she said, “Captain McConnell, do you remember, about 12 or 13 years ago, pulling a kitty out of a tree for a small girl?”
          He frowned, obviously thinking. “No, I can’t say I can. Where did it happen?”
          Allie named the town. McConnell nodded. “I was sheriff there at the time. It could have happened, but I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”
          “It did happen, Captain, and I’m that little girl. And it’s because of what you did that I want to become a Ranger. I want to help people, like you did me.”
          The captain grimaced a little. “What’s your name, miss?”
          “Allie Summer.”
          “Miss Summers, there’s a lot more to being a Ranger than just pulling kitty cats out of trees for children.”
          “Would you like to see me shoot? I’ll bet I can outshoot any man you have here.”
          McConnell was in some angst. “Well, that’s fine, it’s’re… you’re…”
          “I’m a woman.”
          McConnell sighed. “Yeah. And it just isn’t done.”
          “But you’ll make an exception in my case, won’t you.”
          McConnell smiled again. “Persistent, aren’t you.”
          “Did you hear about the massacre—killing—in Caliente a few weeks ago?’ Caliente was the town Allie and her parents had lived in.
          “Yes. Bad business. An Indian and a white woman were killed by a mob, I believe.”
          Allie nodded. “That was my parents.”
          McConnell winced. “I’m sorry to hear about that, Miss Summers. But…” He shook his head, still in some distress, “outlaws can be awfully mean and vicious. It’s nice that you can shoot straight, but hand-to-hand…you’re only, what? 5’6, a little over 100 pounds…”
          “5’7”, 120 pounds.”
          “Some of those outlaws would be double your weight.”
          “How much do you weight, Captain?”
          “About 210.”
          Allie stood up. “Please come here” and she moved to the center of the room.
          McConnell started to say something, then shrugged, stood, and moved around his desk to stand in front of Allie.
          “Attack me,” she said.
          McConnell smiled, “Miss Summers, we’re trained—“
          “Humor me.”
          McConnell sighed, feeling a little foolish, but thinking he’d go ahead and get this over with. Maybe this will convince her she has no business being a Ranger…He feinted, and started to grab Allie. Within two seconds, he was on his back, and Allie was over him with a knife at his throat. Her father had taught her Indian wrestling, too, and very few white men knew it or knew how to counter it. McConnell looked into Allie’s ice blue eyes and saw—ice. Or fire. He wasn’t sure which. He just knew that he was almost afraid, and if this had been for real, he would have been afraid. The captain had never seen such terrifying eyes in his life.
          "And it's 'Summer,' Allie said, with a frozen smile, "not 'Summers'."
          The Ranger Captain slowly nodded.  “You can shoot, too, you say.”
          In less than a second, the knife was gone and a cocked pistol was at McConnell’s neck. “Yes, I can shoot, too.”
          McConnell looked at the girl above him, thoughtful. “Would you kindly remove that cocked gun from my throat?”
          Allie smiled, but it wasn’t necessarily a warm smile. She didn’t remove the gun. “Do I have a job?”
          “You’ll need a little training. In our methods,” McConnell hastily added.
          “That’s fine.” The gun still at the captain’s throat. “Do I have a job?”
          McConnell almost smiled. “I could always say I was under some duress when I hired you.”
          “Do you really want to explain how you ended up on your back with a 17 year-old girl’s gun at your throat?”
          The man laughed. “No, I don’t. And, yes, you have a job. There’s not a man in my outfit who could have done what you did.”
          Allie smiled and pulled the trigger on the gun. McConnell jumped—as best he could—but the hammer fell on an empty chamber. “I’m also a good bluffer,” Allie said. “The gun isn’t loaded.” She stood up.
          McConnell scowled as he arose. “You little witch, I ought to fire you before I hire you.”
         “But you won’t, will you? I can have a job as a Ranger?” Allie’s hopes soared.
          McConnell smiled. Maybe I DO remember that little girl and the kitty…”Yes, you have a job—provided you pass the training and probationary period.”
          Allie squealed her delight and hugged the captain. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve wanted to be a Ranger ever since…” Tears came to her eyes. “Ever since that nice man got my kitty out of that tree.”
          McConnell laughed. “Now, none of this crying stuff, you hear? I don’t allow my men to cry.”
          Allie wiped the tears away. She was determined to become the best Ranger she could be……………
          And for the next five years, Allie Summer did indeed prove to be one of the best Rangers in the territory. Captain McConnell started off with relatively easy assignments, of course. Go with another Ranger to pick up an outlaw to transport him to another town. Guard a prisoner overnight. Ride with a stage for a short trip to protect a gold shipment. Deliver a message to an army fort. Allie did the best she could, but she wanted something a little more challenging.
          But because she was a woman, McConnell was a little leery about giving her something too dangerous. For a few reasons. One, she was very young—still a teenager, and thus, by far, the youngest Ranger in the force. Two, the male Rangers resented her a little; it was supposed to be an all-male group and McConnell was afraid he might have some trouble if Allie “showed up” the men by outperforming them. Which the Captain was quite worried that she might do. Plus, she was a woman, and he didn’t want to be known as the Captain who sent a woman to an assignment that got her killed. He feared for his own job if that circumstance happened.
          But she did everything he asked, and she did it very well. And finally, she forced him, and everybody else in the Rangers to take notice when she saved the hide of three of her co-workers. McConnell finally let Allie go on a “hunt”—searching for a gang of ruffians that had been robbing banks and rustling cattle. Three other—experienced—Rangers went with her, and he hoped they would protect her as much as find the outlaws. Still, it bothered him because the men might decide to be “chivalrous” and protect the lady rather than do their job. Besides…
          “We don’t want her goin’, Captain. She’s inexperienced and liable to git us all killed,” Bob Kramer told McConnell. “What if she can’t hold up her end of the deal?”
          “She will Bob, she will. Wait and see,” McConnell told him, with a whole lot more confidence than he felt.
          Anyway, the four Rangers were riding through a valley in the direction of the outlaw hideout. They were heading for a mountain pass through which they would go to reach that hideout.
          “That looks like a good place for an ambush,” Allie warned. She knew, from stories her father told her, that Indians loved to ambush whites in mountain passes.
          “Naw, they won’t hit us there. Too obvious,” Flip Arnold told her. Then muttered, “Dumb woman” under his breath, but just loud enough for Allie to hear. She let it slide. She’d had to do a lot of that the first year or so of her work.
          But she had been correct. When the Rangers got about 100 yards into the pass, gunfire erupted from the trees to the north. Two of the Rangers were hit, though not mortally. All four of them managed to get cover behind some rocks on the other side of the road, but they were pinned down.
          Allie surveyed the situation. There were a few trees on the south side of the pass, where she and her fellow Rangers were. The north side was heavily wooded and sloped up at a more severe angle than the southern part of the pass. But Allie saw a way…
          “You all wait here. Keep them occupied.” she said, and she started moving, stealthily among the trees on the south side of the pass.
          “Hey! Where you goin’? Git back here!” Bob Kramer called after her, but Allie didn’t stop.
          It has already been noted that Allie could move in the woods like the half-Indian she was. Slipping from tree to tree, then across the road, she made it to the north side of the pass undetected. Silently, she made her way through the trees. There were five outlaws, and they were spread among the trees. One by one, she crept up behind each outlaw and knocked him unconscious with a rifle butt to the head. She then tied his hands and feet. Her biggest concern was getting hit by a stray shot from the Rangers below. When she had all five outlaws down, she called out to her companions.
          “Ok, boys, I’ve got them all. Let’s round them up.”
          Kramer, Arnold, and Jeff Kaberle, the third Ranger, looked at each other. Kaberle had taken a bullet in the shoulder and Arnold had been grazed on the hip, but they could both walk. Kramer called out. “Allie? Is that you?”
          “Yes, of course it’s me. Now come help me. They are all spread out.”
          Within 10 minutes the five outlaws, now all awake but groggy, had been captured and taken down to the road. Allie found their horses and they were loaded up to transport to the nearest jail.
          Kramer said to her, “Miss Allie, I apologize to you. That was one fine piece of work. We all’d been dead if you hadn’t done what you did.”
          Allie modestly brushed it off, but secretly she was pleased with her fellow Ranger’s words, which were echoed by the other two men. Kramer’s report praised her highly for her quick thinking and decisive, effective action, and she won a commendation from the territorial governor. Now maybe I can get some better assignments…
          She did. And she handled them all expertly. It bothered her a little when she killed her first man. “The first one is always the hardest,” she was told. “Don’t ever get used to killing people, but better them than you.” Allie thought that was good advice.
          And, five years after she started, Allie Summer stood facing the lights of The Man outside his house. She felt it was her most important assignment yet, and she had blown it. Well, not yet. But at the moment, with three rifles pointed at her, she didn’t have a plan of how she was going to un-blow it.