Western Fiction posted September 17, 2009 Chapters:  ...20 21 -22- 23... 

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The horse thieves are in jail, waiting for trial

A chapter in the book THE TOUGH BREED

Making Things Legal, Part Two

by c_lucas

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

Cindy’s natural survival instincts told her to fight back. She was ready to use her right foot and kick backwards at her attacker’s groin when she noticed the smile on her father’s face. “Leland Richards, let me go now!”

The pressure holding her eased, and she turned to face her husband. She threw her arms around him and passionately kissed him. She heard Cookie chuckle as he returned the kiss with even more passion, pulling her tighter against him.

Cindy did not care she was making a spectacle of herself; she was in Leland's arms.

Mrs. Barnett entered and stopped. She cleared her throat, but the couple held their embrace. “Will you lovebirds go finish your honeymoon? I can take care of things for a couple of days.”

Leland released Cindy and glanced at Eleanor. “Sorry.” He turned his attention toward the colonel. “Do you want my report?”

K.D. chuckled. “From the way my nurse greeted you, I’d say I’ll have her angry with me if I didn’t dismiss you. She might deny me the bed pan. Go finish your honeymoon.” He smiled at Eleanor. “I’m in good hands.”

Cindy held Leland’s left hand as they walked to Hogan’s House. They were greeted by Mr. Steele who refused the coins Leland offered. “You still have two more days in the special room paid in full. If you need it longer, it will be half price as long as the colonel and Cookie are laid up at Doc’s.”

Cindy smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Steele.”  She started pulling Leland toward the stairs.

Slim entered the General Store. Mr. Joplin was waiting on a Mexican couple with a brood of well-behaved children scattered around the store. The woman was holding her youngest.

“Hi Slim, be with you in a few minutes,” he said and started to turn back to the man but stopped. “Slim, is the K-Bar hiring?”

“We lost three men and need a cook.”

The man took off his hat. “My name is Miguel Garcia. I am good with horses. My boys can do stable chores and My Consuela is a magnificento cook ….”

“You’re hired.” Slim blurted out, interrupting the speaker. He couldn’t believe his good fortune.

Miguel smiled. “We have a wagon and team out back….”

"We have a house you and your family can live in,” Slim said, thinking of the foreman’s house. For a cook, he would stay in the room at the bunk house. “It’s kind of small, but we can add to it. We need a wrangler. The job is yours, if you want it.”

“Gracias, Senor.” They shook hands on the deal.

“Mr. Joplin, may I borrow pen and paper to draw Miguel a map to K-Bar? I’ll need to write a note to Pecos.”

“Doesn’t Leland or the colonel have to approve before Miguel is hired?”

“No, Leland told me to hire a cook. I saw him and Cindy going into Hogan’s House. If he comes in, tell him he doesn’t have to order tar and feathers. He’ll understand.”

Slim waved goodbye with a parting word to Miguel. “See you at the ranch.” He headed to Pete’s to celebrate. He completely forgot why he went to the store.
Tea and Coffee controlled their prisoners. The two fake marshals were tied hand and foot and tossed into the back of the buckboard. Tea took the reins of Coffee’s horse, and Coffee climbed into the buckboard. Ray and the rest of the crew herded the horses back to the K-Bar-K.

Pettigrew and Ferguson were forced to walk ten miles before Tea tied them up and piled them into buckboard.

The trip back to the K-Bar-K was uneventful.

Ray and his crew helped the K-Bar’s crew examine the horses. A final count showed no horses were missing.

Tea and Coffee delivered their prisoners to Sheriff Graham.

The sheriff watched as they untied the men. “Leland and Slim brought in three the other day. This will bring the total to seven.”

Pettigrew faced Graham. “Sheriff, these hoodlums kidnapped us. I demand you arrest them!”

“Mr. Pettigrew, you and your marshals have been a pain in my ass. I checked with the District Marshal’s Office. Your marshals are not on the payroll. You, sir, are on Peralta’s and your boss will soon be on trial for attempting to defraud the U. S. Government. You have made my life miserable for years. In your case, I will have to break a promise to a friend because I want the honor of hanging you! Now, shut your damned mouth!”

“I want a change of venue. I can’t get a fair trial, here!”

“That’s not going to happen. You won’t even get a change of underwear when you shit yourself on the gallows!” Graham opened the jail’s door. “Now, move!”

Coffee and Tea kept an eye on the other prisoners during the exchange between Pettigrew and Graham. They brought up the rear as everyone went into the jail.

The sheriff locked his prisoners in the one vacant cell and ignored Pettigrew's protest that it was too crowded.

Tea looked at his friend and partner. “We best find Leland and let him know we brought the horses back.”

Graham laughed. “Leland and Cindy have been holed up in the hotel for the last two days. I wouldn’t advise disturbing them.”

“That’s good advice. Leland almost shot me the last time I interrupted them. We’ll report to the colonel. It will be safer that way.”

Everyone chuckled.

Niles Thurmond put down his copy of the Santa Fe New Mexican. He gathered up the different unread newspapers and headed toward Dr. Barnett’s house.  Eleanor answered his knock and stepped aside for him to enter.

“How are your patients today?”

“Keith and Cookie are doing fine. He is showing more and more mobility each passing day. Jerrod is letting Cookie sit in a chair for short periods of time. They are both complaining about being in bed.”

“Where is Cindy?”

“She and Leland are finishing their honeymoon.” Mrs. Barnett laughed. “By now, I would bet Leland wished he had some more horse thieves to chase. The way I heard it, most of the crew has volunteered to stand in for him.”

They laughed.

Mrs. Barnett led the way down the hall. She pecked her husband on the cheek. He looked up from working on the colonel’s right arm and spied Thurmond. “I’m almost finished with him for today.”

Niles watched as Barnett manipulated the colonel’s arm, bending it at the elbow and straightening it again.

Barnett smiled at K. D. “Keep working with moving your arms and legs. You are getting your strength back.” He got up and walked over to Cookie who was dressed in a cotton night gown with a robe over it. “Let’s get you up for a few minutes.”

The colonel watched his medical friend help Cookie maneuver into a chair. “When am I’m going to get my pants?”

Doc turned and faced him. “When I want you out of bed.”

K.D. frowned at the doctor and looked at his attorney who used the time of the exchange to claim the chair next to the colonel’s bed.

“Good afternoon, Keith.” 

“Afternoon.” The colonel returned the greeting.

“Since Cindy is not here, would you like me to read you the news?” He laid the newspapers on the nightstand. After sorting through them, he picked up The San Francisco Examiner.

“No, I won’t keep you. Just tell me what I need to know.”

“The case will reopen in two weeks from now on Monday, June twenty-third. I should be in Santa Fe by the previous Tuesday in plenty of time to get a room. These proceedings will be like a three ring circus.”

“That will be enough time for you to take care of the other matter before the twenty-third.”

“I plan to take care of that as soon as I have a room. As of last week, there hadn’t been any changes. Barker has not filed as owner of the Circle C which has a little over two thousand in back taxes.”

The colonel smiled. “Good.”

K.D. and Thurmond spent a little over an hour discussing the news, strategy and the upcoming trial of Peraltareavas for attempting to defraud the United States Government.

Thurmond returned to his office and found a note from Sheriff Graham saying Pettigrew wanted to see him. He went over to the jail. When he arrived, Graham directed him to the two cells at the rear of the jail. He looked over the crowded cells and asked, “Which one of you is Pettigrew?”

“That’s me,” a thin man in a frock coat answered and ignored the curses of his fellow prisoners as he forced his way to the front of the cell.

“My name is Niles Thurman. I’m an attorney.”

“I need you to get me out of here! There has been a mistake.”

“I am not available. You’ll have to get another attorney.” Thurmond pulled out his pocket watch and checked the time.

“The sheriff said you were the only attorney in town.”


“Can you send a wire for me?”

“I can do that.”

“May I have pen and paper?”

Thurmond turned around and looked at the sheriff.

Sheriff Graham dug through his desk and retrieved a pencil and paper. He handed them to Thurmond. “That’s all I got.”

Niles passed the two items through the bars.

Pettigrew snatched them from the lawyer’s hand and searched the cell unsuccessfully for a flat surface. “I need something to write on.”

Graham grinned at the thief’s anxiety. “There ain’t nothing in your cell you can use for that. Give the pencil and paper back to Mr. Thurmond, tell him what you need to tell him. He can use my desk.”

“Address it to The Casa Grande Development and Land Improvement Company, attention Mr. Cyril Barratt ... I am being held under false charges of horse stealing in Hogan’s Hell Hole, Arizona Territory. Please send an attorney ASAP. Bartholomew T. Pettigrew.”

When he finished writing it down, Thurmond read it back to Mr. Pettigrew who approved the wire.  He checked his watch again. “That will be twenty dollars-- a dollar-fifty for the wire, eighteen- fifty for time involved.”

“Why that's highway robbery!”

“Good day, sir.” Thurmond left the paper on Sheriff Graham’s desk and started for the door.

“Okay! Okay! Twenty dollars, it is.” Pettigrew dug in to his pocket for a double eagle. “Come back here!”

Thurmond exited the jail, turned around and re-entered. His face took on a dead-panned expression. “That will be thirty dollars. This is my second trip to see you.”

Pettigrew started to say something when Thurmond started for the door. “Okay,” he conceded and forked over a double eagle and an eagle.

As he started to leave for the second time, with paper in hand, Thurmond heard someone ask, “Is the lawyer for us, too.” He didn’t hear the answer, but he heard a commotion in the cell.

Graham left behind Thurmond. “Mind if I join you?”

Thurmond smiled. “First drink on me, but business before pleasure.  I have to send this wire.”

Pettigrew yelled out, “Help! Sheriff!”


The Prologue is the arthor's notes and contains the character list.
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