"Thinking of takin' 'er off my hands, are ya?" Curly shook his head. "She's a heap of trouble but ya ain't takin 'er 'fore I get my poke."
"Tough time getting that poke?" Quinn couldn't help but feel relief knowing the woman had held Curly off until now.
"Ain't been the time."
"So what's stopping you?" Quinn measured the man across the campfire from him, disgust growing with every passing minute.
"Nothun now. My belly's full. I ain't a greedy feller. Ya can 'ave a go, jus' as well. Then we know what stakes we're playin' fer."
Quinn noticed the evil glint of anticipation in Curly's eyes. He looked around to see the woman grasping a stout branch in her hands, obviously planning to stand her ground. Instinct told him that she very well could.
"No way. Over my dead body. You want a go? I'll take your manhood first," she hissed.
Quinn stood facing her, the plate of beans forgotten. If he could divert any hostility he had to come between the woman and Old Curly. He sidestepped, placing one foot firmly on the rope that tethered her. He spread his hands, inviting her to trust him as he would a skittish horse. He tried to reassure her, mouthing the words, "It's okay. I won't hurt you."
He sensed rather than saw Curly skirt the fire. "Ya go fer 'er hands. I'll hog tie 'er."
Quinn's hand recoiled at the same time he spun. His knife flashed once before sinking into Old Curly's shoulder. "N--" The stout branch caught Quinn off guard. The second swipe hit him and all went black.