Cover image for Buckskin and satin
Buckskin and satin
Wilhelmsen, Romain, 1924-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Santa Fe, NM : Sunstone Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
213 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



On July 14, 1882, the notorious Texas gunman, John Peters Ringo, was found beneath a blackjack oak tree some distance from Tombstone, Arizona, with a bullet in his head. Colonel Henry Hooker, Billy Breakenridge, Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holliday were all suspected of doing him in, but charges were never brought against anyone. Was this going to be an unsolved mystery? The answer could lie in this blending of fact with fiction woven into the lives of these famous characters of the Old West, and those of the less-well-known Frank Buckskin Leslie, bartender, part-time army scout, and awesome gunfighter; the woman he wanted -- the beautiful and fiercely independent Nell Cashman; and Louis Hancock, a big, black rancher determined to avenge a heinous crime.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Frank Buckskin Leslie rode with Tom Horn in pursuit of renegade Apaches, crossed paths with Doc Holliday, and may have even had a hand in the killing of the infamous Texas shootist Johnny Ringo. He also carried a lifelong torch for Nell Cashman, the beauty who would eventually settle on Wyatt Earp as a mate. As the legend of the West grew, Frank Leslie was always close by, friend to the principals and sometimes even a small player himself. After a career as a scout and adventurer, Leslie passed his days drinking and tending bar at the Oriental in Tombstone, Arizona, where a confluence of events brought about the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This elegantly written novel seamlessly melds fact with fiction. Readers vicariously experience the West's seminal events through the eyes of a deeply flawed but somehow admirable Everyman. Adding tremendous depth is a romance that may be western fiction's best since Jack Schaefer gave us Shane and Marion almost a half-century ago. --Wes LukowskyBooks for Youth

Publisher's Weekly Review

Countless books and thousands of pages have been written about the 30-second gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but first-time novelist Wilhelmsen's revisionist western adds a touch of romance, whimsy and mystery to the oft-told tale. Much gunsmoke and kicked-up dust helped confuse the facts, leaving Wilhelmsen free to fictionalize about the Earp-Clanton feud in Tombstone, Ariz., in the 1880s. While Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc Holliday square off against the Clantons, McLaurys and other owlhoots of the Cowboy Ring, other notorious western characters oil their holsters and load up their pistols for a little mayhem and frontier fun. Frank "Buckskin" Leslie, famed army scout and star-crossed bartender in Tombstone, has the hots for Nell Cashman, a strong-willed businesswoman with no place in her kind heart for a man like Frank. Murderous gunman Johnny Ringo is tormented by his own dark secrets and can't imagine the terror that awaits him at the end of his trail. And one-eyed rancher Louis Hancock aches to settle an old score as brutally as he can. As in the lead-slinging dime novels of the Old West, there is a lot of entertaining fluff here, and a weakness for corny cowboy clich‚s, as when "The old cattle rustler bit the dust right then and there." Wilhelmsen's vivid imagination roams on a loose leash and comes upon as good a solution as any to the unsolved mystery of Johnny Ringo's death. Domestic rights, Maria Carvainis Agency; foreign rights, Daniel Bial Literary Agency. (Apr.) FYI: Wilhelmsen's extensive and perilous travels and much-publicized adventures (on TV and in men's magazines) have earned him the nickname "The Legend Hunter." (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One                              FRANK "BUCKSKIN" LESLIE ENJOYED his coffee. It was army coffee the way he liked it--very hot and very strong. It tasted good with the first cigarette of the day.     He took pleasure in all that was about him, feeling refreshed by a much-needed rest, and comforted by the familiar rustlings of Captain Wirt Davis's thirty-odd scouts. Yesterday's danger was behind him. No Apache would now dare approach this group of hardened frontiersmen. Each man was busying himself with either cleaning his Springfield Carbine--a Trapdoor Model 1873--or reloading his .45 Colt six-shooter. It was a formidable display of armament.     The driving rain had finally stopped. High above the tall pine trees the morning sky was turning a soft blue and the mist was beginning to lift from the earth. Huge mountains materialized out of the haze--not the friendly Dragoons or the Whetstones of Tombstone--but the mysterious Sierra Madre Mountains of Sonora, Mexico.     For all its soldierly appearance, the small group of mercenaries in the pay of the United States Army was but another moving shadow in the pristine wilderness. They kept together. They were a long way from home. ****     Tom Horn hunkered down next to his friend, Frank Leslie, who had been left alone to sleep away the misery of yesterday, and listened while Frank retold the story. "Better get it straight now before he gets into town and begins to embellish it," Tom thought. Frank was that way. If a story was good, he'd make it better; but regardless of how Frank told it, the deed was done. General Crook would eventually report to his superiors that Nashville Franklyn Leslie had all alone braved the cunning, almost spectral Chiricahua Apache to carry Captain Davis's report of success in this thankless campaign. Eleven times Leslie had been forced to swim the Bavispe River to escape them.     Tom was proud of his friend, but Frank was even more proud of himself. He knew that by the time the news hit the Tucson and Tombstone papers it would be one hell of a story, and he was right. Crook, like himself, was no shrinking violet when it came to publicity. To read Crook's report to the AAG Division of the Pacific, one would think two major battles had been fought and that the backbone of the Chiricahua had been broken. In reality, there had been but a couple of quick skirmishes resulting in approximately a dozen casualties, most noncombatants.     Nevertheless, during the Davis scout, Frank had lived up to his reputation as being a fast and sure shot. Of the four Apaches brought down, one had fallen between the sights of Frank's Springfield. Tom Horn liked that. He and Buckskin prided themselves on being sharpshooters, and as long as Uncle Sam was handing out free cartridges, they banged away at every conceivable target. They were good. Perhaps too good. Their guns would eventually bring them a lot of trouble. ****     They savored the aroma of the campfire, the sizzle of thick-cut bacon and sourdough biscuits frying in the pan, and the smell of coffee, leather and horses. This was a man's world. At age twenty-five, Horn was in his prime. The juices bubbled in his veins. He still had much to see and more to do, and he intended to live his life to the fullest, as his friend had lived his. Tom's problem, though, and he realized it, was that he was a loner. He couldn't laugh and tell jokes, sing, dance or attract the ladies the way Frank did. Only when he had a snootful could he communicate well. He was actually more content alone in the mountains with his rifle for a companion.     Leslie was different. He was older, and the bloom of youth was fading. His reactions had slowed, and not just from age. He'd had too much whiskey, too many blackouts, and too many shootings. Once in a while his excesses came back to haunt him, particularly in his dreams. He had needed a change, and in joining this expedition hoped to be able to put at least some of his demons behind him. The campaign had rejuvenated him. He felt relaxed and re-energized, and best of all he hadn't had a bad dream in over a month. His dreams now were for a better future, and he was glad when the chief scout, Al Seiber, announced they were going home.     The half-breed scout that Al described as "half Mexican, half Irish, and whole son of a bitch" now joined the two scouts. Mickey Free was quite a sight. He had long, tangled red hair worn in the Apache style, and one eye had been badly mutilated in an encounter with a bear. His castoff army coat hung loosely over his shoulders and breechclout. A Colt revolver nested in the holster fastened to his oversized Mills cartridge belt. He carried a 45/70 Springfield rifle and a Bowie knife, and about his head wore a red band that distinguished him from the hostiles. Like Tom Horn, Mickey displayed the stoicism of the Apache. He had been captured by them when he was just a boy; had lived with them, loved them, and was one of them until liberated by the whites. His services as an interpreter at the San Carlos Reservation, and as one of Al Sieber's scouts, were invaluable. He could easily out-track both Tom and Frank, and some swore he could literally smell a hostile Indian from half a mile away. But his ambition was to be able to shoot with the same accuracy as Tom Horn and Buckskin Frank. No one was better than they were, and whenever possible Mickey traveled close to these two contract scouts in order to learn from them.     Tom and Frank liked their strange companion. For one thing, he had enough white in him to make him more palatable than the other White Mountain Apache scouts. For another, he spoke their language, and had wonderful stories to tell after the teswin liquor loosened his tongue. This he did now as the small group of scouts cinched their saddles and began the long way north to the border and home. ****     The sun began to warm the countryside. Frank reached into his "bag of possibles" which had been retrieved from one of the pack mules, and pulled out his canteen filled with Old Crow. He had saved it for an occasion such as this, having just four months prior taken its contents from the ample supply at Tombstone's Oriental Bar where he was head bartender. He let the smooth liquid slide down his throat and take hold. It was so much better than the pulque, teswin and mescal picked up when passing through the little Mexican villages along their trail. He took another slug, and then handed the canteen to Tom, who was only too glad for a sip of the good stuff. Frank was about to cork the container, but instead turned to Mickey Free, nodded for him to move up, and handed it to him. As he did, he thought "whiskey sure brings an odd lot of humanity together--drifters, desperadoes, liars, cheats, sadists, damn fools, Indians, and half-breeds. So be it." He replaced the canteen in the special bag, hung it on his Mexican saddlehorn, and took a biting slug from Free's bottle of mescal. Drinking was strictly prohibited by the army, but what the hell. This wasn't really the army. It was just a bunch of thirsty misfits working for the army. It sure livened up the day and the conversation as the straggly column wound its way through massive expanses of pine forest, gloomy valleys and along game trails. It would be this way for several days until the cactus-filled Chihuahua Desert could be glimpsed occasionally from the heights of the Sierra Madres.     Frank kept his bourbon to himself, but Mickey Free was plenty free with his mescal and his stories. He spoke of the legends whispered over nocturnal campfires by the Shis Indy (Men of the Woods) Apaches. He told of grand cities of stone that appeared to be hanging from the mountainsides, great cliff dwellings long abandoned by the Anasazi, and a huge cave in which a giant was said to be buried alongside old Spanish Conquistador armor. He told the story of the large Spanish colonial city of Baroyeca in the Sonora Desert that the Indians overran a century ago, now forgotten, its church bells still ringing in the wind.     Farther along on the descent from the mountains he pointed to a distant mesa rising conspicuously from the desert floor. He said it was the Cero de Miñaca , the main geographical evidence relating to the lost Jesuit mines of Tayopa. He cautioned that this area is guarded by the Yaqui Indians, who see all and tell nothing. "Even now we are under the eyes of the Yaqui. They are everywhere. They, as well as the peaceful Tarahumara Indians who live in the deep copper canyons, know everything that is to be known of the Sierra Madre Mountains." It was at this time, as the little band of scouts trudged slowly across the alkaline desert, their boots and their horses totally worn out, and still with some distance to go, that the Chiricahua Apaches made their presence known. Some distance from the rear of the column a scattering of shots was heard. With speed belying their weary bodies, each of the scouts--white and red--came off his horse, scrambled behind it, and almost instantly was on the ground with long guns at the ready. Eyes red with fatigue squinted at the trail over which they had come. Puffs of smoke floated in the air. Then came the distant boom of Sharp's "Big Fifty" buffalo gun. It upheld its reputation as a mile-long range rifle when a couple seconds later one of the supply mules brayed, sagged to the ground, and died. There was silence for a moment. Then nine forms materialized in the distance.     Here was the enemy that Captain Wirt Davis and his band of scouts had been tracking for four months. These opposing forces watched each other for a few moments. Then, with a derisive howl, the Chiricahua swung easily onto their mounts which had been hidden nearby among century plants and Spanish Bayonet scrub trees. They had had their little joke. They rode slowly toward the west, to the Sierra Madre Mountains, with no fear of pursuit because their horses had just been stolen from General Luis Terraza's Santa Clara Ranch, and they were fresh and rested, quite unlike those of the white eyes and their Apache scouts. So sure were the hostiles of their superiority that one of them turned and rode back toward the scouts. He came within shooting distance, shook his fist, spat on the ground, stood on his horse's back, and scornfully exposed his genitals and buttocks to his enemy. He called out to Mickey Free and cursed, calling him " lokohí-sca-'ni-ilgáe o ndi yù-dastin a-atà lick-ind-ye 'n' -naltì-i-gi-a net-j-tailtcohe te-indì-ndi " (a crazy, scabrous half-breed bastard with a snake eye and a forked tongue who spies and lies in all things). His fun didn't last long. Buckskin Leslie's Springfield was at his shoulder, and he squeezed the trigger. It was a long shot for this weapon, but the renegade and his horse went down. A cheer went up from the ragged band of scouts, only to turn to disappointment as the Indian rose from the ground, stripped the blanket from his thrashing horse, and hastened after his companions. "Son of a bitch," muttered Frank, as he sent another bullet into the wounded animal. "Son of a bitch," he said again as Tom and Mickey mentally calculated and marveled at the distance of his shot.     So ended the campaign that George Crook had hoped would enhance his reputation with the War Department and the nation. It didn't. So, too, was Frank Leslie's contract with the government officially terminated. ***     Tom Horn was to be sent back to Fort Huachuca from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Frank would eventually take the train from E1 Paso to Tucson, and then ride his horse home to Tombstone. Mickey Free was already on his way back to San Carlos. Tom and Frank looked one another over. Tom was all cleaned up, and had shaved off four months' growth of beard, but he had kept his long mustache. He was quite the figure of a westerner--a good six feet tall, lean and clean-cut. Frank was somewhat shorter, but he was handsome and had the presence of a professional actor. His mustache curled at the ends, and he had pale blue eyes which never betrayed his emotions. With his rakish demeanor, there was something of the devil in Frank "Buckskin" Leslie.     The two men had much in common. While still in his teens, Tom and twenty-one unemployed scouts and packers from Fort Huachuca had joined Frank, and they prospected the Dragoons just west of the Fort. On occasion, they joined up with Ed Schieffelin. It was in that area that Ed made his momentous discovery of the immensely rich silver mines that brought Tombstone, Arizona, into being. Leslie was going back to Tombstone and his prosaic job behind the bar at the Oriental. The fun and games were over, or so he thought.     Frank and Tom clasped hands. Tom turned back to the army post, and Frank swung aboard the train.     With a swoosh of steam, the Southern Pacific heralded its departure. Frank settled in, closed his eyes, and was soon asleep, dreaming of the future.     But nothing in his dreams could compare to what actually took place when he was once again back in Tombstone. Copyright © 1998 Romain Wilhelmsen. All rights reserved.