My fire-fighting friend, Gypsy Jan posted this picture on her blog, (Jan Morrill’s Thoughts Over Coffee. blogspot.com.) It was inspired from a real-life experience that hit close to home for Dixie.
Over 150 years ago, Dixie Dandelion fought a similar battle. Here is her story:
The horses! Had to save the horses!
Without thought or hesitation, I ran toward the fledging flames, peeling off my buckskin jacket as I ran. The tanned leather wouldn’t catch fire, would be heavy enough to smother the embers. But the wind whipped the sparks into frenzy. Flames danced an evil, mocking tune. They licked my boots, pulled my pants leg, sneered and laughed at my desperation.
I flogged the beast with the coat. Frantic. The barn twisted and yelled for help in the grips of a violent death struggle. Oh, God! The horses! Slaughtered! Who would do such a thing?
Lips cracked from the heat, stealing my spit. Eyes blurred and burned from the smoke. All around me the smell of burning grass and wood. Unwillingly I drank the scent in, throat raspy and rough, coughed up black soot.
A shadow loomed beside me stomping at the flames. Who? Didn’t matter. Thank God I wasn’t alone.
Inky’s booming voice outshouted the roar of blood in my ears. “They’s free, Miss Dixie. They’s free.”
I heard the mares gallop past, the frightened whinnies of their colt’s right behind them. Safe. All safe.
The shadow grabbed my arm, pulled me away. No! I fought against his firm grasp. Had to save the barn!
“It’s too late, lassie.”
I struggled against Big Mike’s meaty arms when he pinned me against his big barrel chest. Tears sizzled on my cheeks. I cried at my helplessness to stop the snapping beast from devouring wood, nails, hay, and leather. One last death rattle and the barn’s scorched shoulders folded and collapsed to the dirt.
Anger deep inside my belly hollered and fed unknown strength into exhausted muscle and bone. I ripped loose from Big Mike and stormed the cabin. My hands shook as I buckled the 45 around my waist and grabbed the rifle from above the fire place. Those son-of-a-bitches! I’d kill every one of them.
Big Mike caught my arm as I tore past.
“Ya can’t shoot them all, lassie. Let it go.”
I whirled and stared at his ruddy face.
“Let it go! Are you loco? They burned down my goddamn barn!”
“Let Jackson handle it lass. Don’t take the law into your own hands.”
“Jackson?” I sputtered. “Jackson?”
I kicked at him and screamed. “Jackson ain’t here, remember? He rode away. Just like he always does. Just like that day on the wagon train. Rode away and left me to fight off Whitaker. Alone. Always alone.”
And there he was. Bigger than life. Stepping down from his gallant black stallion like a knight returning from some far-off crusade. Long legs ate up the ground between us and he grabbed my forearms. My heart quickened as the look of worry and concern inched across his chiseled face.
“Damn it, woman!” He growled. “Just say the words!”
He dropped his arms. The heat from his stare withered my courage and my heart.
“I keep waiting, Dixie. But ya never say them. Ya never once just say, ‘Stay.’”