The year is 1858 California is unsettled. I am in the wild west on a route that went from Los Angeles back East through Tucson and back.
I was taking the Stagecoach from Tucson to Los Angeles on the Bradshaw Trail. This trail was known for Wild West action such as robbery, horse rustling, and a few honest men trying to make there fortune finding Gold. The stages were drawn by six horses and two drivers who were heavy armed because the stage was know to carry heavy shipments of gold heading for the docks of Los Angeles. As we passed this row of Cottonwoods I looked out and saw 3 men who had just been hanged in the trees we hear later they were cattle rustlers who were just caught .This was about a mile or two from where our rest stop was. The Cottonwoods were beautiful and the row stretched all the way to the Ranch. This rest stop and service area called Whitewater Station was at the end of the cottonwoods. A welcome site for travelers riding in those uncomfortable coaches. I was going home to Los Angeles, well really Montebello where Laguna Saloon was my place. You see I am madam Maggie Roberts I had to go to pickup my brothers daughter her father was killed in a gun fight and his wife ran off with the gun fighter who killed him over her. Little Marguerite Roberts was left with the school teacher.
You see we are from France by way of New Orleans our father was a sailor who brought us over to the French quarters and then in 49 we came west for gold. Daddy found enough gold to build and open the Laguna that I now own.
Little Marguerite and I rest on a bench in the shade and get a drink of water. We see two guys looking at the horses and stage as the drivers hook them up. I don't like what I see and check my derringer and Arkansas toothpick that I put the in my boot and derringer in my garter. As we get back in the stagecoach I notice these two shady characters are still eyeing the stage as we gently roll away west toward San Bernardino Station. I pat my leg and make sure my derringer is there. Take my other hand touch the handle of my knife the toothpick and give little Marguerite a hug. We head into the sunset.
Little did I know these guys were the Castile Brothers. Jake and Si well known throughout three counties
Si was younger and always the nerviest one. Jake was smarted and served two terms in the State prison.
About 45 minutes out of Whitewater sure enough I hear gunfire and the drivers return fire with a blast of the shotgun and pistol fire. The stage stopped, it was dark and I was scared, I had little Marguerite hide under the seat of the stage……..the moon was full and you could see shallows and make out figures approaching the stage the one drivers who had the shot gun told me they both been hit the driver was dead and he yelled to me that he was bleeding real bad. I thought oh shit and grabbed my knife as Si the nerviest one opens the stagecoach door and sticks his head in. I stick that Arkansas toothpick right in his neck and he falls back to the side as blood squirts out about 7 feet. I jump out of the coach and Jake is on his horse wondering what just happen, as I pulled a bead on his head and pulled the trigger. I was taught very well how to defend myself, by my dad. Growing up I even saw him protect me a few times and he always said to be smart take the aggressive action and strike first. Now I know what he meant. We were alive, I checked the other driver and the shot gunner he was dead too.
I grabbed Maggie from under the seat and hiding her eyes from the guy with blood and a knife sticking in his neck I put her on the horse of the bad guy and jumped on using the stagecoach step to help and rode back to Whitewater Ranch. There Dr. Smiths brother the blacksmith and horse handler was still working in the shop and help me and Marguerite off the horse and I tell him the story. Dr Smith is in the Adobe house and hears us talking loud and comes out running and comforts me and Marguerite.
Dr. Smith's brother goes and gets the stagecoach and the dead bodies. Marguerite and I stay with the Smiths that night and another while the Sheriff fills us in with who these bad guys were. I can not wait to get back to the Laguna Saloon and start a new life with my little niece Marguerite Roberts. Years later Ms Roberts becomes aka "French Marguerite".