Tombstone Silver

Klondike Mike

Klondike Mike had a crazy tale about a woman and a silver ribbon. But just how crazy was his story?

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It was about sunset that cold January evening in 1883. There was only one customer at the Stone Corner saloon up on the corner of Sixth and Allen. The only people in the room where the bartender, Mr. William Allen, and a customer, Francis Burke, an attorney in Tombstone. The saloon door opened and a stranger stumbled in. He was pale and gaunt, his gray hair was stringy and hung down to his shoulders. His gray mustache and beard appeared that it had not been trimmed in a very long time. His gait was uncertain and both men in the saloon became instantly concerned about the stranger's health. "Evening stranger," said the bartender. "What can I give you to drink?" The stranger replied, "I don't want nothing to drink, I just wanted to warm myself beside your stove." The stranger headed toward the large potbelly stove in the middle of the room and drew up a chair next to that stove across from Mr. Burke. He said, "They call me Klondike Mike and I have a story about a ghost who saved my life a couple of days ago."

Truth be told, Klondike Mike had never lived anywhere north of San Francisco; but if a man came to Tombstone and called himself "Klondike" then what business was that of anybody else?

Klondike Mike continued his tale...

I was prospecting along about sunset a few days ago over in the Dragoon mountains. My mule, Sally, was tied up to a mesquite tree and I was out on a narrow ledge taking a look at a promising outcropping. I lost my footing and fell about 15 feet into a narrow gorge. The fall didn't kill me, but it did break my leg. Because of the pain, I couldn't climb back up out of that canyon; even worse, I couldn't call for help since no one was in the area. I laid there for quite a while trying to figure out what to do and finally fell asleep. When I woke, the sun was gone and the stars was out, and it was powerful cold. That was the night that we got that winter storm and the wind whistled through that gorge like a freight train. A few flakes of snow swirled around me. I drug myself over to the wall of the canyon and tried to huddle up much as possible. I made it through that night, but I really don't know how. When the sun came up the next morning I knew that I was in a bad way and had to figure out s ome way to get some help. There was just nobody around.

I laid there for a couple of hours and then heard a horse stumbling over the rocks in the gorge. I couldn't see no one but I begun to yell for help. After a few minutes I saw one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen. Coming around the edge of a boulder in the lower part of the gorge was a beautiful black horse with a silver bridle and reins. Sitting on that horse was a young woman, no, an angel. She was young and beautiful and was wearing pants, about like a man, along with the greatcoat. The horse stopped next to me and she climbed out of the saddle. As I looked up at her up close it seemed to me that she was almost shimmering with a light that I could not place.

She didn't say a word. She squatted down beside me and touched my broken leg. I felt some sort of heat start at that touch and then spread throughout my body. I soon began to understand that I was in the presence of a very special creature. She stood up and went back to her horse, opened the saddlebag, and pulled out a short piece of silver ribbon. She brought that ribbon back to me and gently tied it around my broken leg. She smiled at me and leaned down to gently kiss me on the forehead. She then returned to her horse and climbed up into the saddle. She turned the horse back down the gorge and slowly left; but I was not worried. I knew that all was well.

Within a couple of hours, the pain in my leg was gone. I pulled myself up on it and then begun to walk out of the canyon. My leg hurt like it had been bruised pretty bad, but I could walk. I walked out of that gorge and back up to where I had left Sally the night before, but she was gone. I guess some other prospector felt like he found a prize.

I began the long walk to Tombstone. It took me the rest of the day, but the weather didn't seem to be as bad as it was the night before, and besides, I was walking to town where I knew I could find help. I got into town just a little while ago and came here to try to warm up. That's my story.

The bartender offered him another drink, this time "on the house." Klondike Mike again refused, saying that he was not thirsty. He said that all he wanted to do was warm up by the fire for a little while and then go look for his Sally. Shortly after that, Klondike Mike left the bar, but Mr. Burke watched him and thought that he saw an odd flash of light. It must have been a reflection off of something shiny on Klondike Mike's clothing. Mr. Burke jumped up and crossed to the door to ask Klondike Mike a question, but when he stepped out on the board walk Klondike Mike was gone. Mr. Burke looked in the various stores and bars in the area and never saw Klondike Mike again.

Nobody else in town had seen Klondike Mike or knew anything about him. Nobody else in town had ever heard of a woman like Klondike Mike described. However, a week later a prospector brought in a body draped over a saddle. He said that he found the body lying at the base of a small cliff in a gorge over in the Dragoon Mountains. He thought that a man had fallen and then froze to death. Oddly, he said, there was a silver ribbon tied around that man's leg.