Sadie Adler was terrified. Seated on horses around the wagon she was driving were three men, all armed. Lemoyne Raiders, they called themselves. Ex-Confederate soldiers chasing a pipe dream of a South risen once more, more like.
But nonetheless, she was scared. And that was the strangest thing. Sadie didn't get scared. She'd fought off wolves with her husband, Jake, barely days before those O'Driscolls showed up and shot him. She'd stared death in the face at the tender mercies of Mr. Pearson, and she hadn't flinched. But now, surrounded by three armed horsemen, Sadie knew, in the very depths of her soul, she was afraid.
Maybe it was because she had something to live for now. Dutch's gang had been one of the only good things to come out of her run-in that winter. Since joining, she'd robbed foolish townsfolk with Karen, Tully and Mary-Beth, traded well-meaning insults with Sean. She'd even worked up the courage to dance a little with Charles, the morning after Sean's welcome-home party.
Or maybe, she thought, it was because of who was with her now. Seated next to her on the wagon, wide hat angled to shade his face from the sun, was Arthur Morgan.
Arthur was a bit of a mystery to Sadie. He'd been one of the three men she'd first met of the gang, along with Micah Bell and Dutch. Out of the three, she definitely liked Arthur the best. Dutch was a bit too much of a dreamer, too high up in the clouds to ever truly see what was happening. Micah was just an asshole, no two ways about it. But Arthur had seemed... different.
He told nearly everybody he was a bad man, that gang life was the only thing he could ever know. But Sadie had seen the life in his eyes, when he told stories around the fire.
Like the time he saw a man digging something out of his horse's hoof. Remembering a similar situation, with rather back-breaking results, Arthur had immediately stopped and gone over to help out. And when the horse ran off, Arthur went after it and returned it to its rightful owner.
Or that time he'd found a hunter in peril, leg caught in his own bear trap. Arthur had pried the trap open, letting the man remove his now-mangled leg. He'd even provided the man some whiskey to help dull the pain.
There were so many stories just like that, and Arthur had stopped to help. No second thoughts, no looking around to see if maybe he could take advantage of their misfortune. He simply helped them. And he said he wasn't a good man.
A coarse man, perhaps, with a hardened edge to his voice and a roughness to the way he behaved. But beneath that, Sadie saw something. A heart of gold, and eyes that provided a window to that heart, showing softness and depth that had survived through his rough upbringing and dangerous life. And maybe, one day, she could help coax that heart further out, from deep within him closer to wearing on his sleeves.
But perhaps, she thought, that day could wait. Better for him to keep his heart where it is, so as not to get it shredded by the bullets of the Raiders surrounding them.
"Arthur," Sadie whispered, "what's our play?" She pulled the reins back, slowing the wagon.
"Keep calm," he replied, his gruff voice calm. He rested his left hand on his standard Lancaster repeating rifle. His right moved to the brim of his hat, pulling it down to better shade his eyes and get a better view of the men around him.
"Give us everything, and we won't have to hurt ya," the rider closest to them demanded.
"Yeah, well how's about this?" Sadie replied, drawing her revolver from her holster and firing in his direction. Unfortunately, it missed entirely.
The riders all pulled their weapons and began aiming. Sadie slapped the reins hard, and the draft horses surged forward out of the ambush.
"Are you out of your mind?!" Arthur yelled as he drew his Lancaster and fired on the riders that were now in their dust, hitting a few.
"Just hold them off!" Sadie screeched back, attempting to control the horses and failing miserably. They careened off the road, stopping before they hit anything.
"Get into cover!" Arthur commanded, hopping off the wagon and taking shelter behind a nearby boulder. Sadie followed, choosing a different rock.
She poked her head up over the mass of stone, and nearly lost her hat, the bullets flew so close. There was a lot more Raiders now than the three they'd first encountered.
"You're gonna die!" One of the Raiders yelled at them.
"Not today!" Sadie threw back, firing blind over the rock in an attempt to suppress their adversaries.
They returned fire in a fusillade of repeater, revolver, and shotgun bullets, showering Sadie with bits of her cover.
"What now, Morgan?!" Sadie yelled, desperate for a plan of action, they couldn't stay here, they'd be surrounded. They couldn't move, they'd be stuffed full of lead like victims of a firing squad.
The Lemoyne Raiders' guns fell silent for a moment, waiting for the two of them to make a move.
"Stay here," Arthur said in a voice that was icy calm, "I'll handle this." He stood up and moved out of cover.
"Arthur, what are you doing?" Sadie whispered furiously. What was he trying to do, draw their attention. However, she stayed where she was, not peeking out from her rock.
"C'mon, fellers, let's talk," Arthur called out clearly, the icy calm growing harder.
Sadie heard movement, like the Raiders moving out of cover to face Arthur full-force. Then she was nearly deafened by a tremendous bang, as if thunder had struck directly in front of her. Sadie covered her ears to protect them, and waited for the ringing noise to stop.
No sooner had the ringing stopped that a familiar gloved hand entered her field of vision, outstretched to help her up.
Sadie accepted the hand tentatively, and rose up to be met with the worried face of Arthur Morgan.
"You okay?" He asked, holstering his Mauser pistol. Sadie noticed its internal magazine was empty. And smoking.
"Yeah, I think so," Sadie replied, turning to look at their enemies. "What the hell was that..."
There was no one left. Not a single Raider had been left alive to tell the tale. The only survivors were the few horses they'd brought, now panicking and bolting. Understandable. Sadie felt like she might pass out, that noise had been so overpowering.
"How did you...?"
"Are you sure you're alright, Miss Sadler?" Arthur answered, not answering at all. Sadie looked at him, her eyes filled with confusion.
"Maybe I'll drive us back, yeah?" Arthur pressed. Sadie nodded vaguely, still looking from the bodies to Arthur to his empty, still smoking pistol.
The ride back was uneventful. Sadie didn't feel like talking much, and Arthur didn't try to pressure her into talking. She was fine with that.
They arrived at Clemens Point, and delivered the supplies to Mr. Pearson. All the menfolk, with a few exceptions like Arthur, Hosea, Strauss and a few others, were casting sideways glances at Sadie, their eyes wide.
Sadie noticed them gathering around, and backed up a few steps, addressing them all at once.
"See something you like boys?" She inquired, injecting a little feminine flair.
John snapped out of it first. "No, ma'am. Much apologies."
"Good to hear, John," Sadie replied, "because none o'y'all is getting any of this." She gestured to her body, her curves accentuated much better by her shirt and trousers than that plain old dress.
The rest of the staring boys quickly regained their decency, turning away and muttering apologies.
Arthur laughed and clapped her on the shoulder. "That was amazing. And hilarious. I don't think I've ever seen Micah get embarrassed before." He chuckled to himself.
Sadie joined him with a snicker of her own. "That was pretty funny, wasn't it?"
Arthur started turning away, but Sadie grabbed his hand.
"Could you help me with something, Arthur?"
"Um, sure, Arthur replied. He arched an eyebrow. "With what?"
"I just need your help getting the boat in the water, Mr. Morgan," Sadie replied. "I fancy myself a bit of fishing." She motioned to their newly-acquired boat.
"Alright, Lady," Arthur said with that infuriating nickname. His eyebrow remained arched in her direction.
"What?" She demanded, placing her hands on her hips, interrupting their efforts to launch it.
He chuckled again, and Sadie got a little warm feeling in her chest. "Nothin'. Just never figured you for an angler."
"I'm full of surprises, Arthur," she replied. They resumed pushing the boat, and got it in the water.
"Well, I look forward to uncovering a few of those, Miss Adler. If you'll allow me."
"Maybe I will," Sadie replied, hopping into the boat. Arthur moved to join her, but Sadie stopped him with a hand. "But not today."
Sadie took hold of the oars, and rowed out a ways until she felt she'd found a good spot. She stowed the oars and stilled herself. Arthur hadn't even noticed she hadn't taken a rod with her. What a chivalrous, dense man.
Sadie sat there a few hours, pondering the day, what had happened, and the mystery that was Arthur Morgan.