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The town was full of donkeys.

Which you’d expect since it was also full of drunken miners. Casey and I were dusty and tired as we rode into town, and so were our horses. The livery stable was full up, and though they offered us some space in the corral, that was full of donkeys too. They even offered to sell us a donkey of our very own. We said no thanks.

We turned around and looked at the town of Newton, and didn’t see much—just a patchwork of old boomtown shacks and more respectable buildings strewn along a single street, but an old fella across the street was waving at us. He had some corral space behind his store, which used to be part of the stage stop. The railroad hadn’t come through this town yet, but the stage company was still a lot smaller than it had been. Seemed to be doing pretty good business just now though. Lotta men arriving, buying shovels and mules.

“I thought this town was panned out,” I said to the old guy, as we led our horses around to the back of his store.

“Yeah,” he said, giving me a sly little smile. “I thought so too.”

Casey went on ahead, striding along with a little kick in her step so her new spurs would jingle properly. She was inordinately proud of those spurs. And me, I was inordinately pleased at the way they made her swing her hips.

At the back of the store was a little corral that had been split into three. Two had horses in them. The third was empty. Casey scrambled up the fence and over. She kicked at the slats and checked out the ground, all business.

“Not much room,” she said.

“But you got it to yourselves,” he called back to her.

“Gear?” I asked.

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