Western Fiction posted July 19, 2009 Chapters:  ...14 15 -16- 17... 


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Leland goes after the horse theives.

A chapter in the book THE TOUGH BREED

The Wrath of Leland

by c_lucas



Background
The Peralt Land scandal led to violence pitting settlers against new arrivals that had fallen for the farce.

The distant sounds of sporadic gunfire made the group of riders increase their speed.  Leland reined Sidewinder in hard when he came across two of his men controlling almost two dozen horses. The others stopped.

“What’s going on, Riley?”

“The rustlers laid a trap up ahead and tried to ambush us. Coffee stopped us in time, so no one was injured. He told me and Rebel to bring the horses back here. Those bastards have us pinned down.

Leland looked around. The trail was less than ten feet wide with towering hills, covered with boulders, on either side. He studied the two animal paths, one on each side, leading up to higher ground. He glanced at Tea.

“I know the pass they're defending. We can get above them and show them the errors of their ways.”

“With these hunting rifles, we would have superior fire power.” Tea grinned at Leland. “How long would it take us to get up there?”

“About twenty minutes. You and I can go up the left side. Slim, you and Panhandle go up the right side. You will be closer to them, so you’ll just need your Winchesters….”

Tea interrupted Leland, “If they don’t need the hunting rifles, maybe we should get them up to Coffee. We’ll have them covered three ways.” 
“That’s a good idea,” Leland agreed. “Riley, you and Rebel picket those horses.  Pecos, take the extra hunting rifles to Coffee. With you included, there will be three big guns down here. Tell Coffee our plan and to wait until we open the dance.”

Twenty minutes later, Tea, Leland, Slim and Panhandle were in position. Leland counted five rustlers below them. He returned Slim’s wave and pointed out one of the outlaws to Tea. “I’ve got the one in the red shirt.”

Tea took aim at another one. “I’ll take the one in the blue shirt.”

“Leave yours healthy. I’m going to send mine to Hell.” Leland fired, killing the rustler in the red shirt.

Tea fired twice, wounding the blue shirted rustler in both legs.

Two of the remaining rustlers, surprised by the gunfire from above, raced for their horses. They ran right into Slim’s and Panhandle’s well-placed objections, punctuated by Leland’s and Tea’s.

The final rustler threw down his rifle and yelled, “Hold your fire. I give up!” He came out of the rocks with his hands in the air.

Tea looked over to Coffee’s position and yelled out, “The pass is cleared; two prisoners; one’s healthy and one not so healthy. We got them covered.”

Twenty minutes later, everyone was gathered around the prisoners. The wounded one’s moans and groans were met with very little sympathy. The healthy prisoner, with his hands tied behind his back, glared at his captors but kept his mouth shut.

Leland walked over to the wounded prisoner. “What’s the name of your leader?”

“Help me!” the prisoner pleaded.

Leland kicked one of his wounds.

The man screamed.

“I don’t want to ask you again.” Leland kicked the prisoner’s wounded leg a second time.

“Why don’t you leave him alone? You bastard!” The healthy rustler yelled at Leland.

Leland glared at the healthy rustler and kicked him in the groin. The rustler fell to the ground. “We buried three friends before we came after you. I want some answers and I want them now!” He reiterated his remarks with a kick to the healthy rustler’s side.

“Pettigrew,” the wounded prisoner answered. “He had us watching your ranch. When we sent word about your horses, he gave us our orders.”

“Is Pettigrew with the horses?”

“He and his two marshals will meet up with us, soon.”

Leland delivered a swift kick to the wounded man's head, knocking him out. He turned his attention to the other rustler, withering in pain and drew his pistol. “You got anything you want to add?

The rustler spit on Leland’s boots and received a gun butt to the side of his head.

Not all approved of Leland’s actions. Riley’s features paled, but he remained silent.

The young foreman looked at Tea. “Are you and your men still with me?”

“It looks like we got a few of our horses back, but not all of them. I don’t like to leave a job half finished.”

“That goes double for me,” Coffee said, smirking at the unconscious rustlers.

Leland thought the two men didn't agreed with his actions, but he didn’t care. His mind was filled with Cindy’s reaction over the shooting of her father and Cookie. The rustlers weren’t responsible for their ambush, but they sure as hell were responsible for Dusty, Mike and Big Bill. You bastards are going to pay for that!

“Pecos, you’re in charge until I get back. Rebel, hand me your rope.”

Rebel handed his rope to Leland. He shook  out the loop, put it around the wounded rustler’s neck and jerked it tight. He offered the other end of the rope toward Rebel. “I’m not ordering you to take this. If you don’t want it, I’ll tie it to my horse.”

Rebel extended his hand. “Dusty was my friend. I’ll be honored to give this bastard a Nantucket sleigh ride, Western style.”

Leland nodded and looked at Riley. The young cowboy turned whiter. “Bring me your rope.” The young cowboy stood still.

Pecos took the rope off his own horse and handed it to Leland. “Don’t be too rough on him; he’s new. I’ll do the honors for Dusty, Mike and Big Bill.”

Leland took the rope. With Pecos’ help, he worked it through the rustler’s armpits and slid the end of the rope through the hoop. He pulled the outlaw’s boots off and threw them toward Riley who picked them up.

“Put those in your saddle bag.” Riley did so.

Leland took the canteen off one of the outlaw’s horses and removed the cap. He poured the contents onto the outlaw’s face.

The prisoner sputtered and regained consciousness.

The foreman handed the rope to Pecos. “He can walk back to the ranch. I don’t care how healthy he is; just make sure he’s still breathing. Find out what you can from him and hang him from the tree by the three graves. I don’t give a damn what you do with the body!”

Leland chose Slim and Panhandle, plus two other cowhands. He told the rest to ride with Pecos.

Tea and Ray chose extra mounts for their posse and roped the rest of the horses into two chains. He handed both ropes to Riley. He made rope chains of the mounts they were taking with them and handed one to Bucky and the other one to Cliff.

Leland took Pecos aside. “Send someone to town. If there are any bodies, I want you to bring them home and bury them. I’ll say my goodbyes when I return.”

Pecos nodded and motioned toward the wounded rustler. “What about him?”

“He should be dead after a mile or two, throw his body over a cliff. If anybody objects, the colonel’s pocket money is in a box, bottom drawer. Pay them what they have coming and kick them off the ranch.”

“What about Cindy?”

Leland thought about it; his dark features lightened. “Look after her if she wants to come home. If she wants to stay at the Doc’s, assign a couple of the boys to protect her. I’ll get there as soon as we have the rest of the horses.”

Leland mounted and nodded at Tea, who led the way through the pass. Every eye in the make-shift posse was studying the rocks and trail.  Coffee stopped once and dismounted to study a large pile of horse droppings. Tea and Leland joined him.

“They have slowed down,” Coffee said, as he gently kicked the pile of droppings apart.

Tea bent down and tested the temperature of the pile by squeezing a piece between his fingers.  “No heat left in it. They are at least seven hours ahead of us.”

“Let’s change horses and see if we can make up for lost time.”

***
Cindy seldom left her two loved ones alone. She was sitting beside Cookie, praying silently, when the giant Negress woke up.

“Chile, wat for you crying?” Cookie’s voice was weak.

Cindy looked over at her father who was still unconscious. She squeezed Cookie’s hand. “I’ll tell the doctor you are awake.”  Relieved, she hurried from the room.

A few minutes later, Dr. Barnett, followed by his wife and Cindy, entered the room and hastened to Cookie’s side. “How are you feeling?”

“Wat for you mean? I’se feelin' like I’se been shot!” Cookie snorted at the doctor.

Unperturbed, Barnett pulled the sheet down, exposing Cookie’s bandaged torso. “I need to check your wound.”

Mrs. Barnett handed him a pair of scissors.

“I’se guess it’s okay. Your wife is here,” Cookie tried to smile.

Cindy worked her way between the bed and wall and took Cookie’s hand. The giant Negress gripped it weakly.

Barnett cut the bandages off and uncovered Cookie’s chest. 

Mrs. Barnett handed him the lantern.  He studied the wound with the usual medical “hmns and aahs,” before he handed the lantern back and smiled at Cookie. “You have quit bleeding. But, I must warn you. The bullet is still in there, next to your heart.”

“Wat’s tat means?”

 “It means you are going to be in bed for a while. With any type of luck, muscle tissue will cover the bullet and hold it in place. You’ll have to take it easy.” He patted Cookie’s free hand. “Now, let’s get you bandaged.”

Cindy smiled at Cookie and kissed her on the forehead. She worked her way out and walked over to her father.

Doctor Barnett took the lantern from his wife to examine his other patient. He placed the lantern on the bed stand.

Cindy watched as Barnett removed the bandages and examined her father. “How is he?”

Doctor Barnett took a deep breath and looked at the colonel. “He hasn’t awakened and that’s bad. I was hoping he would be awake by now.” He patted Cindy on the shoulder. “As long as he is in this state, I can’t say.”

Mrs. Barnett helped her husband put on a new bandage.

Cindy looked at her father’s unconscious form and over at Cookie who had fallen asleep. She closed her eyes. “Please God….”



Recognized


GUIDE TO TOUGH BREED



The Baron of Arizona

Addison ???Peralta??? Reavis played a dark role in the History of Arizona Territory. A former Confederate soldier, turned real estate investor, he tried to steal a parcel of land from the United States Government.

He claimed to have acquired an old Spanish Land Grant giving him the rights to an area of land the size of New Jersey in Arizona and New Mexico Territories???about twelve million acres.

Reaas-Peralta was a master forger and enhanced his claim with some very good forged documents and by training a young Mexican maiden claiming she was a direct heir to the Peralta Land Grant. He married the young girl, giving him a stronger claim.

The farce lasted for twelve years and he became rich by cheating rail roads, mines and individuals. The twelve year farce was revealed in the Santa Fe Territorial Court and the Baron of Arizona spent a short time in jail for his duplicity. He was a true Arizona Legend.

THE STORY LINE

The land scam created by hostilities between early settlers and new arrivals to the West. This is a fictionalized account of one incidence. The story begins in 1895.









CHARACTERS

K???Bar???K Ranch



Leland Richards ???Foreman ??? Twenty two years of age--Six foot???one hundred-eighty pounds???Brown hair???Birth date August 10, 1873--Son of the Colonel???s deceased Sergeant and wife. Has lived on the K-Bar-K all his life. Been a ward of the Colonel since age eleven.



Colonel Kenneth David (K. D.) Johnston,??? Birth date December 19, 1826???Fifty-nine years of age???Five foot-nine--gray/white hair???two hundred pounds--Brilliance strategic who earned his fame as a Calvary Officer in the C.S.A.* -- Lost his wife (Kayla) when daughter was eight years old--Started the K-Bar-K in 1873. (Settled on the land???did not purchase it)



* C.S.A.--Confederate States Of America.



Cindy Johnston???Only child of the Colonel???Birth date May 6, 1875???twenty years old--One hundred-fifteen pounds-Black hair.



Sergeant Jim Richards ??? Leland???s father ??? first foreman of the K-Bar-K. Served under the Colonel in the Civil War.



Alice Richards???Jim???s wife and Leland???s mother. She and Jim died from fever outbreak when Leland was eleven.



Sidewinder ??? Outlaw horse on the K-Bar-K???has never been ridden. It is finally tamed by Tea McKenzie and Cindy.



???Slim??? Martin Sheldon ??? Leland???s assistant ??? five seven ??? one hundred and eighty-five pounds. Twenty-five - two years older than Leland.



Pecos Kelly Nelson - ranch hand ??? late twenties ??? five foot ??? eight, one hundred and sixty pounds.

Jesse Nelson ??? New cowhand.

Fred Owens ??? New cowhand.



Riley Hayes ??? K-Bar Cowhand ??? early twenties ??? five foot- six, One hundred and fifty pounds.



Johnny ???Rebel??? Pickens ??? K-Bar Cowhand ??? late thirties, five-foot-eight- One hundred seventy pounds.



???Panhandle??? Pete Davis ??? forties ??? five-six - one hundred and ninety pounds, ranch hand



Dusty Jose Gomez ??? Ranch hand/wrangler in charge of the barn - nineteen ??? five foot ??? two ??? one hundred and thirty pounds.

Mike Adams ??? Cowhand chosen to stay with Dusty to help with the horses.

Big Bill Mays ??? Crippled up cowhand that worked with Dusty. Five-foot-two



Cookie Johnston ??? the ranch???s cook. Heavy set female???a former slave of the Colonel???raised Cindy when her mother died at childbirth.







Circle C Ranch

Jake Barker-Purchase the existing Circle C and surrounding area from Reavis. Land claimed by the K-Bar-K lies within this bogus sale.



Jake Barker Junior ??? Oldest son of Jake Barker and foreman of the Circle C.



Brett and Chet Barker ??? twins ??? late teens.



Clay Slade ??? assistance to Jake ??? hot head.







Characters of Interest



Thomas "Tea" McKenzie--Widower--Birth date unknown-Approximate age thirty eight--Five foot-nine--Dark Brown Hair-one hundred and seventy five pounds-Owns the Tea Cup Ranch (called - The Cup - Ranch - formerly the Double M. - Raises horses.

Tea Cup Ranch - Brand Cup with the letters T C inside a cup.

Ray Marsh - foreman of the Tea Cup Ranch. Five foot - eleven. In his late fifties. One hundred-eighty-five pounds. Worked with Tea and Coffee at the Double M.



Bucky O'Malley - late twenties--A cowhand at the Tea Cup Ranch - Nineteen-five foot seven -



Antonio Gomez - late teens - Cowhand at the The Cup Ranch.



Sure-Shot Cliff Henderson-worked with Tea at the Rocking R.

Once shot himself in the foot while practicing his fast draw-Early forties. Tea named him "Eagle-Eye".



Joseph "Coffee" Harris aka "Coffin Joe" Bachelor-Birth Date unknown--Five foot-eleven-Approximately Thirty seven-One hundred and ninety pounds-Blondish hair-Lost a gunfight with Tea over the hand of Rachel Morris. Job at time of story - gunman for the Circle C. Part of his job is to look after the twins.



Rachel Morris - Deceased - daughter of Mitchell Morris (owner of the Double M Ranch) Gave Joe, Tom and Pete their nicknames--Married to Tea McKenzie - Died from typhoid fever



Amanda a four year old black mare with white stockings. Sired by Thunder. Rachel's favorite mare.



Thunder - Tea's black stallion.





"Hogan's Hell Hole" - a medium-size settlement - home to a couple of hundred people and the closest place within seventy miles to buy supplies.



The Scarlett Lady Saloon-owner not mentioned



Hogan's House - two story hotel - David Peel - owner/manager.

Rev. Jonas Barkley - Pastor of the Methodist Church.

Residents



Gentleman - Pete Taylor--Date of Birth - April 1, 1835 - five foot two hundred twenty pounds - Partially bald-Black hair and trimmed beard - Former foreman of the Double MM -friends to Coffee, Joe, and Rachel, who he treated like his daughter.

At time of story - saloon owner - The Salty Dog

Madame Opal - owns bordello behind the Salty Dog-- Palace of Gems.



Niles Thurmond - Attorney



Doctor Jerrod Barnett - Early sixties - five foot seven - stocky

Eleanor Barnett - Wife - early sixties - five-foot- four - stocky



Madame Opal - owner of the bordello behind the Salty Dog-- Palace of Gems.

Mr. Joplin - owns the General store



Sheriff Jim Graham - former cowhand - friend of Gentleman Pete - late fifties, five foot nine - heavy built.



Peralta's men

Bartholomew T. Pettigrew. Peralta agent.

Cyril Barratt. Agent general representing Mr. James Perata-Reavis.

Marshal Ferguson. Fake U. S. Marshal

Santa Fe Territorial Court. The court that considered these claims and dismissed them.



Reverend Thomas Peterson. Minister of Hogan???s Methodist Church.


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