January, 2015

Home | About | Brags | Submissions | Books | Writing Tips | Donate | Links

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

The Stolen Brooch
by C.A. Simonson

The hullabaloo started one hot, dry, dusty day when the old stagecoach rumbled into town. The Eastern sophisticate thrust open the stagecoach door the minute it stopped screaming at the top of her lungs. The door flew into the skinny waif waiting to help her and sent him sprawling into a swirl of dust at the sheriff's feet. She bustled down the two steps in the sweltering heat, sweat dripping from her reddened face.

"Where's the Sheriff?" she screamed. "I need the Sheriff in town!"

"What in tarnation is all the hubbub? Lady, what ya dithering 'bout?" asked the sheriff.

"Arrest him! No! I demand you arrest them both!" she screamed, pointing toward the stagecoach.

"Unbunch yore pantaloons, miz, and tell me what your problem is."

"One of those heathens stole my precious brooch! Ripped it right from my garb, they did. Must have done it when I was sleeping. Look," she pointed toward a dangling chain on her collar, "it's not here! It's gone! " The irate woman pointed toward a little man still cowering in the coach, "it must have been him! Look at his face."

The small man ducked behind his Derby. "Or him!" her finger swung toward the opposite side of the coach. "He sat across from me!"

The sheriff shielded his eyes against the setting sun to get a better look at the men. He looks like a mollycoddled patsy if I ever did see one, he thought, eying the first man. And the other one? So humongous, the klutz couldn't take a gumption to even make a move on this highfaluter.

"Missing a pin, you say?" The sheriff's voice was calm, unassuming. He would not get in a dither over this lady's accusations.

She glared at him behind her round spectacles. "Not just a pin, a brooch, sir; and not missing, mind you, stolen!" The lady wrung her hands, "Stolen, I swear." She flipped an unruly wisp of white hair from her up-swung do and burst into tears. "Please, I must have my Precious back."

"Quit yore bellering and come sit a spell. Tell me more about this doohickey," he nodded towards a bench. "You men stay put 'til I tell ya to move." He led her by the arm to the bench in front of Wilson's Mercantile. "Now, you were saying?"

"It is a precious scarab—a jeweled scarab," she sobbed.

"First ya said it was a brooch, not a pin. Now it's a scarab? What in the dickens is a scarab?"

The large lady shook her head and dabbed at her eyes.

"My Precious is a sacred beetle—a scarab. An Egyptian scarab. Very rare, very costly. You have to find my Precious!"

"Not a pin, not a brooch, but a beetle? Can't ya git yore story straight?" The sheriff stood up, removed his hat and wiped his brow and balding head. What a ridiculous tale.

"Oh, you don't understand." She grabbed his arm. "It's not just any beetle, it's my pet scarab. One of a kind; it is encrusted with jewels!" she blubbered, her huge body shaking as she burst into sobs again.

"Lady, yore not makin' sense. I can't understand why yore sniveling over a bug." He scratched his head. "With jewels, you say? What kind of newfangled thingamajig is that?"

The madam took a deep breath and dabbed her eyes with her hanky. Clearly this man was unmoved by tears. She would try another approach.

"Oh, my dear sheriff," she said quietly, sniffling while she dabbed at her nose, "I can see you are a man of the world. It's the newest in fashion in the East, haven't you heard? This brooch is worth a lot of money and I will offer a good reward. Please, Sheriff. If you cannot find it on the men or in the coach, maybe I could be recompensed for my loss?"

"All right miz. I'll ask and see what they know," he said. "Off with ya now to the hotel and get settled in for the night." What a cockamamie story, he thought. But I will not be duped.

The men didn't have much information to offer, other than seeing the large Rubenesque waddle aboard the stagecoach in Philadelphia.

"Ms. Prump is headed toward Montana," said the stagecoach driver.

"Said she came from the East coast," said the small man, speaking with a British accent from behind his Derby.

"Barely 'nuf room fer both me and her," said the huge man. His forehead creased into a frown. We wagged his head. "My knees almost touched hers. But, yah, I saw the bug. Looked like little sparkly things gummed all over it. Watched it crawl all over her bosom." The man shivered.

"Wait jest a dad-blamed minute, mister. Yore not tellin' me it was alive, are ya?"

"Yessiree, sir—I wouldn't be fibbin'. Hooked to a little chain pinned to her dress," he pointed to a spot on his chest, "Gave me the heeby-jeebies."

The sheriff nodded his head and jotted some mental notes. The large man seemed to be telling the truth, his wide disbelieving eyes showed his queasiness when telling his story. The Derby guy? He wasn't so sure. He had checked his pocket watch several times, played with his Derby, and fidgeted in his pockets while being questioned.

"This is quite the waste of time, Sheriff," said Derby man. "Listen. I will offer you two dollars toward a new pin for the lady. How about you men?" He raised his eyebrows at the large man and the driver.

The large man dug in his over-sized pockets, and pulled out some lint with a couple coins. "Ah don't have much left after this trip, but here's a couple cents. I jest want to git home."

"The stagecoach's policy is to pay for lost goods," said the driver. "So, Sheriff, give her this too." He counted out $5 and handed it to the sheriff. Amazed, the sheriff shook his head again, and took the money from the men.

"I'll make sure she gits it." I hope I'm not being hornswoggled by this floozy.

The sheriff arranged to meet Ms. Prump later that evening in the lobby of the hotel.

"I fear yore bug's gone, ma'am; but I do have a few dollars to cover your loss."

"Oh my poor Precious. I will miss him." She let a tear slip down her cheek as she accepted the wad of bills. "Thank you kindly for your indulgence. I will be on the next coach to the East in the morning. Good night, Sheriff."

Ms. Prump watched the sheriff as left the hotel and crossed the street, and then hurried up to her room. She plopped on the bed and fingered through the bills in her hand, smiling. She counted out three dollars and held it up. "Come, Mr. Froozle. Get your money."

"And, Precious—you can come out now," she spoke into her breast as she detached the jeweled beetle clinging inside her camisole. "You were a good scarab." She kissed the bug and set it on the nightstand.

"Very nicely done, dear," he said. The man removed his Derby, placed it over the bug, kissed her forehead, and smiled at her. "Get your rest now. Tomorrow, we'll do it again."

The End

C.A. Simonson is the author of Love's Journey Home, available on Amazon.com or bn.com

Back to Top
Back to Home