January, 2015

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Issue #64

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
You're at the right place.


Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

by J. M. Shinpaugh
The stage driver was dead, the stage burned, and the woman was badly beaten. She wore a nun's habit, but $100,000 was hidden in its folds. What was she? A nun, a thief, or even a killer!

* * *

Lorny's Burro
by Dionna L. Mann
The drought took away the extra feed that her burro needed and little Lorny fretted as he grew skinnier. Could she muster the courage to stand up for him?

* * *

New Beginnings, Part 1 of 2
by Jesse J Elliot
Bad luck and bad men can take away your security, leaving you with few choices. Unfortunately, people tend to look down on a young woman who lives in the whorehouse.

* * *

by Gary Ives
Niles Olson had a hankering to rob a train and get away from his many "responsibilities." It would be as simple as pie, if only he could keep his big mouth shut.

* * *

The Stolen Brooch
by C.A. Simonson
Her Precious had been stolen and the lady from back East wanted everyone on the stage coach arrested on the spot. What did she have up her sleeve?

* * *

Want all of this month's Western stories at once? Click here –

All the Tales

Lorny's Burro
by Dionna L. Mann

Lorny's burro was a sight for sore eyes. Poor thing, looked more like a moth-eaten carpet than it did a useful donkey. But to Lorny that burro was the most beautiful creature in all of New Mexico. As sure as lizards run, it was the best friend Lorny could ever have.

Lorny's brothers, on the other hand, had no use for her old burro. So when a drought blew its dry breath on the Adams' ranch, it was up to Lorny to keep her burro fed. No easy task for one small girl, the youngest amongst a slew of cow-roping brothers.

True, the Adams boys had hauled in feed clear from Magdalena. But Lorny's brothers said that high-priced stuff was only for their horses and ponies—those worth their weight on the ranch. So whenever Lorny's burro would try to grab a morsel or two, one of Lorny's brothers would hurl a stone right at its nozzle. Or worse yet, a brother's horse would shove a hoof right upside its hide.

Though Lorny's burro was nothing to her brothers, nothing to the horses, nothing to the ponies, it was everything to Lorny.

Hot tears streaked Lorny's dust-kissed face every time she saw her burro without a stitch to eat. Lorny's poor burro got thin right before her weary eyes. Why, oh why, didn't it rain? But no matter how Lorny wished for it to rain, not a drop fell.

Lorny's poor burro got thinner . . . 

and thinner . . . 

and thinner, still.

Finally, when Lorny could stand it no longer, she tightened her bonnet atop her head, and fixed on finding something for her burro to eat!

Day after day, under the boiling sun she hunted all over the Adams' ranch, her burro trailing behind her.

But look though she might, all Lorny could find was a nibble of grass, here or there—barely enough for her burro to wrap its tongue around.

The ribs on Lorny's poor burro began to stick out like bony fingers.

Then . . . 

One great day in the morning! Far beyond the homeplace, Lorny's eyes set upon a wondrous sight. The Adams' round-up corral was a glorious green!

All fenced in, the corral was chock-full of succulent weed, and not a soul knew about it! It was an entire half-acre of juicy lamb's quarter—a burro's paradise! The burro's nostrils twitched, and Lorny's heart leapt clear to Texas.

Lorny lifted the first bar of the gate. Her burro snorted. She lifted the second bar. The burro pawed the ground. She lifted the third bar, and Lorny's burro looked like it would jig right in.

Into the corral Lorny and her burro went, her bonnet billowing behind her.

And as sure as geckos skirt the sand, Lorny's burro ate . . . 

and ate . . . 

and ate . . . 

Now each day at feeding time Lorny and her burro knew just where to go.

Alas! Late one evening, with Lorny astride her burro, calamity billowed into a cloud. Cowboys and hooves were headed straight for her burro's corral! How dare those cowboys try to pass through on her land and set their eyes on her burro's food!

Lorny felt heat tumbleweed up into her face. No longhorn steers headed to market would gobble up her burro's food! Come dust storm or blizzard, not if she could help it!

Lorny clicked her heels against her burro. Giddyup those weary bones, burro! Getchya going! Got to get there first! And as sure as snakes shed skin, Lorny's rickety burro galloped.

Into the corral Lorny went, jumping off her burro as soon as she was through the gate. She latched the first bar. The snorts of steers crashed in Lorny's ears. She latched the second bar. Heat from cattle hides burned Lorny's cheeks. She began to latch the third bar . . . 

But it was too late. Those longhorns had smelled her burro's food! They wanted to eat it! Beast upon beast pressed against one another, and pressed against her burro's gate.

The lead steer groaned Muh-Ooooove! But as sure as buzzards circle the sky, Lorny was not about to move away from that gate.

Instead, Lorny climbed the bottom bar of the corral gate, snatched her bonnet from atop her head, and leaned over as far as she could stretch. Lorny smacked those longhorns right between the eyes with her bonnet.

Cowboys were at the gate now, flailing arms and ropes. Slow but sure, they turned the herd away.

The trail boss walked up to Lorny, and scratched his chin. Lorny fixed her eyes on his and said, "This is my burro's pasture. It's all he's got to eat!"

The trail boss spat on the ground. The trail boss kicked the dust. The trail boss tipped his hat. And then he bid Lorny a "Good-day, Miss." Soon, cowboys and longhorns became a speck on the orange-colored horizon.

Lorny jumped down from the gate. She grabbed her burro's neck and squeezed her friend tight. And as sure as cacti bloom after rain, Lorny's burro smiled.

The End

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