Arthur stood on the border of New Hanover and Lemoyne at the Blue Water Marsh. He had to get to the nearest station to pay another bounty on his head in the new Hanover territory. The closest was in Saint-Denis. God, how he hated this city, a city that smelled of coal and expensive French perfume, and the smoke of tall chimneys clouded the sky, making even sunny days seem overcast.
The sudden shots jerked him out of his reverie. He looked back and saw the pursuit. In a massive cloud of dust that rose from the hooves of horses, Arthur saw more than a dozen people, in the quest of a man. The stranger was loading his gun and firing frantically at them. One by one, the O'Driscolls dropped from the saddles. The horses fled, dragging the dead bandits with their feet stuck in the stirrup. They continued to chase him, whistling and shouting threats.
While Arthur watched the chase, there were three bandits left.
"Good shot," he noted. The hunted had already stopped firing and just spurred his horse with all his might in the direction of the abandoned cabin, trying not to get a bullet. Arthur didn't want to get into trouble, especially when there was a bounty on his head, but it was the O'Driscoll's, and he knew he was out of ammo.
"Goddamn!" He rolled his eyes as he swung his horse around and spurred it as hard as he could. He was a bad, cruel outlaw, but there was always a sense of justice in him, especially when it came to the hardened enemies of the Van der Linde gang. Arthur stopped a little way from the cabin. Three bandits began to approach the door slowly and didn't hear as he approached. Arthur dismounted and walked quickly toward them, the loaded revolver in his bent hand, the back of his hand on the trigger for a quick reload of the gun. Without asking them questions, he shot them instantly in the end, without giving them even a chance to understand who it was, not also to fight back.
Now it was Arthur's time to stroll to the door of the cabin.
"I killed O'Driscolls! You're in no danger!" He shouted as leaning against the battered wall of the cabin. But no one answered him. Arthur stretched out his hand and slowly opened it. Just as he peered behind it, a bullet whizzed past him, grazing the helix of his left ear.
"Damn!" He gritted his teeth in pain and clutched at his ear. Arthur slowly opened and closed his mouth and swallowed to get rid of the sudden stun. He rubbed his ear several times, examining his hand until he was sure there was less blood on it.
"I won't hurt you!" he shouted again. Silence. Arthur took a deep breath, calming himself with it, and tried again to get into the cabin. This time no one fired, and he slipped quickly through the door into the interior. In the far corner, leaning against the wall sat a man in a pool of blood. His legs spread wide, and his bloodied arms hung down at his sides, his head hanging down. The revolver almost fell from his hand. He was wearing black pants, a gray shirt soaked in blood. A brimmed hat and a bandanna tied over his face prevented Arthur from seeing the stranger's face.
"Are you alright?" Arthur came closer with the revolver pointed at the stranger, quickly kicking the revolver out of his hand to the other side of the cabin. Arthur squatted down to get a closer look at the face. He flicked his hat away. Arthur's eyes widened in surprise as he pulled the bandana from his face, not believing what he saw.
"Damn it, it's a woman," he said softly and raised his battered hat with the muzzle of his revolver.
"Ma'am, can you hear me?" Arthur gently lifted her chin with an index finger, bent over her face, and looked at her intently. Suddenly he felt a faint warm breath on his skin and saw her eyes open slightly. They were cloudy. Life was leaving her. Arthur, without losing seconds tore at her shirt and saw a gunshot wound on the left side, from which oozed thick blood. He removed his suspenders, tore his bandana from his neck, then, pressed it against the wound by making a pressure bandage from his suspenders.
Arthur grabbed her bag and gun, slinging it over his shoulder. He gently picked her up and carried her to his horse. Arthur set her gently forward, for she had no strength to hold on. He raced through the swamps, riding his horse to the limit. As he entered the city, he hurriedly asked where the nearest hospital was, and a startled passer-by anxiously pointed in the direction. The men ran away, cursing him, and the women shouted something in French, but Arthur didn't care.
He halted his horse abruptly at the entrance to the hospital, pulled the woman down carefully. He took two steps toward the main doors and one foot swinging the door opened with such force that the glass fell from the frames.
The young nurse jumped from her seat in fright at the sudden noise.
"Faster! Bullet wound!" he shouted at her.
"Yes, Yes, I'll get Dr. Bonnet," the nurse bustled out from behind the desk and ran down the hall. A moment later, a tall, white-haired man in a white coat and two nurses appeared in the corridor. He and the nurses ran to meet Arthur.
"What happened? the doctor asked anxiously as showed where to go.
"Bullet wound." Arthur had entered the office putting her on the table, covered with a white sheet.
"How long has she been bleeding?" doctor, removed the bandage, asked. Blood instantly stained the sheet crimson. The nurse checks her pulse and nods to the doctor, indicating that she is still alive.
"15-20 minutes." Arthur's throat was dry. Dust and sweat covered his eyes. He roughly wiped his face and now the sweat mixed with the dust, turning into the dirt on his face.
"It's good that you put a compression bandage. Otherwise, it would not have lasted 5 minutes" praised the doctor.
"What's her name? How old is she?" pressed Dr. Bonnet.
"I don't know. I've never seen her before. Will she survive?" Arthur asked anxiously, looking at her deathly pale face. The doctor shrugged and bent over the woman in front of him.
"It's hard to say, but now, please leave this room," he said, pulling out his medical tools.
"Come, sir, I'll walk you out," the young nurse said with a sad smile as taking him gently by the elbow. Arthur obeyed without a word.
The nurse took him into a small room, there was a cupboard with bottles and a table with all sorts of tools, names of which he did not even know. The nurse took the gauze from the table dipped with the liquid from the bottle.
"Excuse me, sir," the nurse said, smiling before holding out her hand with gauze.
Arthur looked at her questioningly.
"Your ear, sir." She was detailed. Arthur touched his ear, and there was plenty of blood.
"Please sit down, you need stitches," she said, pointing to a chair by the window.
"It's going to hurt a little. What's your name, sir?" the nurse asked in a sweet, quiet voice as she treated the wound and proceeded to suture.
"Arthur Callahan," he growled at her in sharp pain.
It took God knows how much time, outside the window, it was already dark. Arthur sat on an uncomfortable wooden bench and watched everyone who came and went to the hospital. Finally, Dr. Bonnet stepped out into the corridor, glanced around. As he saw Arthur still there, he started toward him.
"How is she?" Arthur got up. He even couldn't imagine how numb his butt and legs.
"Everything depends on her now. She hasn't recovered yet. Time will tell. Maybe she'll need two weeks, maybe a month." the doctor bowed and walked away. Arthur nodded back, touching the tip of his battered hat, and was about to leave the hospital when he hailed.
"Mr. Callahan!" the nurse slumped over the counter. "Mr. Callahan, I'm sorry, but unfortunately, we're not a charity," the nurse said awkwardly.
"Oh! Sorry. I just -" he began nervously to take out the dollars and lay them on the reception desk.
"That's enough, no more extra" - she stopped him, putting her hand on his and smiled sweetly.
"And that's for the broken door, miss." Arthur laid some more of the banknotes.
"You're a good man, Mr. Callahan. You didn't walk right past by stranger." stated the nurse.
"I'm not a good man. Not usually". Arthur shook his head.
Arthur went outside and approached the horse. There was a bloodstain on the saddle and rump that had long since dried. Arthur's shirt and jeans were dyed with blood, too.
"I guess it's time for both of us to take a bath," Arthur smiled sadly as patted the horse's neck. He mounted and rode slowly to the nearest stables.
The next day Arthur came to visit the stranger. The same young nurse sat behind the reception desk. She greeted him with a broad smile, but the news was not particularly positive. The stranger only for a minute came to herself, and terrible pains tormented her. They gave her morphine, and she fell asleep.
"Can I see her?"
"Of course, Mr. Callahan, I'll lead you out." Arthur followed the nurse. They entered a bright room, in the center of which was a bed with a high headboard against the wall. Arthur and the nurse stared at her in silence for a moment. She covered the chest with a sheet, and her arms were bare. The woman lay still, not a muscle of her face moving, barely breathing. Arthur had just noticed a scar on the right side of his face from the temple to a cheekbone, about two inches. But it didn't spoil her at all. Arthur wondered where she got it.
"She's like sleeping beauty" nurse noted with sadness in her eyes.
"Who?" Arthur responded, reluctantly attending from the stranger to the nurse.
«Sleeping beauty. Grimm's fairy tale." the nurse nodded and took the stranger's hand.
"Well, a kiss won't wake her up." Arthur gasped.