|Western Fiction posted December 21, 2009||Chapters:||...29 30 -31- 32...|
Eviction for the Circle C
A chapter in the book THE TOUGH BREED
Eviction - Part One
The Peralta Land Scam created hostilities between early settlers and new arrivals to the West. This is a fictionalized account of one incident. The story begins in 1895.
Rebel left the Palace of Gems with a big smile on his face. Emerald knows how to please a man. All was right with his world. He stopped when he heard the train whistle. As the new sheriff, I should be on hand to check out who comes in on the train. He hurried to the depot on the far side of the small town.
Rebel could not believe who stepped off the train in the company of Niles Thurmond. “Cal Jenkins! How in hell did you land a job as a Deputy United States Marshal?”
The marshal, a middle aged, well built man with graying temples, laughed. “I knew Hogan’s Hell Hole needed a new sheriff. Thurmond received a wire saying the old sheriff had died. They must have scraped the bottom of the barrel to appoint a reprobate like you. I thought you'd given up law-dogging.”
The two men shook hands and slapped each other on the back.
Niles smiled at their antics and comments. “I take it you know each other.”
Rebel laughed. “Cal was my commanding officer when I was in the Texas Rangers.”
Cal grinned. “An experience I am still trying to live down. Rebel caused me more grief than all the outlaws in Texas.”
“Are you still sore about me taking Lucinda away from you?”
“No, I’m sore over you letting me win her back. You could have warned me.”
“It was not my place to correct my commanding officer. You found out soon enough what a true pain in the ass she was.”
“You left the Rangers before I could even the score.”
“One of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made.”
The banter between the two friends lasted all the way to The Salty Dog. Out of habit, both men stepped to opposite sides of the entrance to let their eyes adjust to the interior's dimness.
Niles walked past them and went to the bar. “We need to celebrate the colonel’s victory and the reunion of old friends; a bottle of your best and four glasses, Pete.”
Rebel pointed to a table in the far corner of the saloon. The four men converged on it.
Pete uncorked a bottle of the colonel’s sipping whiskey and filled the glasses.
Niles accepted a glass with a smile. “Pete, let me introduce Caleb Jenkins, Deputy US Marshal. I just recently discovered the only flaw to his reputation. He and Rebel are friends. Cal, your host, Gentleman Pete Taylor.”
Cal stood and shook Pete’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Same here. I take it you are here to bring this unsavory business to a head?” Pete freed his hand and slid a glass to Cal’s place at the table.
“If you mean I'm here to evict Jake Barker, you are correct. I can’t wait to get this Peralta’s shenanigans behind me. I was hoping to be the one to escort him to Yuma, but Mr. Thurmond asked my boss for his best deputy and here I am.”
Rebel took a sip. “Like I said, the U S Marshal Service is in very sad shape; the quality of a certain deputy proves it.”
Cal set his half-empty glass down. “Not as bad of shape as this county is in with you as sheriff. I hope they didn’t give you the combination to the safe.”
Pete chuckled and looked at Cal. “Have you ever met Colonel K.D. Johnston?”
“Nope, but I heard of his exploits during the War. I consider it an honor to be of service to him.”
Rebel nodded. “There may be some gunplay before it’s over.”
Cal finished his drink. “If Barker is smart, he won’t go that route. According to the papers I’ll be serving him, I have the power to request federal troops if need be.”
Rebel leaned back in his chair and glanced at Thurmond. “You must be good if you got that much support for the colonel.”
Thurmond slid his empty glass toward Pete. “Let’s just say that Peralta doesn’t have much influence with the Attorney General, who happens to be an old friend of mine.”
“Amen to that.” Cal sought a refill, also.
Rebel emptied his glass, but did not seek a refill. He looked at Cal. “Since the Circle C is in my county, I’ll be riding along. Any objections?”
“Not in the least. Two ex-Texas Rangers should be able to handle any problems Barker wants to throw our way.”
After his second drink, Niles Thurmond made his way to the livery to check on his surrey and horses. He was surprised to find his surrey inside the livery and sparkling clean.
Luke just finished rubbing down the leather harnessing. “Hi, Mr. Thurmond. I have your horses curried and your surrey cleaned. Tomorrow, I’ll have it ready when you want it.”
Niles walked around the surrey, admiring Luke’s work. “Congratulations. I understand you’re the new owner.” He offered his hand.
Luke laid his cloth over the top of a stall and shook hands. “Yep, I’m going to prove to everyone I know how to run a business.”
“I’ll take your word for it, Luke. How much do I owe you for the work you’ve done?”
“The same as you paid Mr. Carson for storing your surrey and caring for your horses, three dollars a week. I will curry your horses and clean your surrey once a week.”
“I’ve never known Dave to take such good care of my property.”
“I know. He wouldn’t let me clean and service your surrey, or curry your horses. I plan to take good care of you, Mr. Thurmond.”
The lawyer smiled. “I can see that. Here’s a half eagle for the good service. Keep the change.”
Luke pocketed the coin. “What time would you like your surrey in the morning?”
“About eight. I brought a Deputy US Marshal with me. He’ll need a horse.”
“Mr. Carson never had any good livestock. Rebel tells me you're going out to the K-Bar. The marshal will find all types of prime horseflesh out there and I’m sure the colonel would be happy to loan him one. Have your marshal friend bring me his saddle and gear. I’ll clean it and store it on the surrey.”
“At what price?”
“No charge, sir. He’s doing the colonel a favor.”
Niles shook his head and chuckled. “At the rate you are doing favors, you are going to have difficulty earning a profit. You know Rebel is going with us?”
“Yes sir. His horse and gear are ready. As for earning a profit, I’ve already earned two extra dollars from you.”
Thurmond laughed. “That you did, Luke. That you did.”
Leland and Pecos rode silently side-by-side. He noticed sunlight glinting off metal. “Lookout!” he yelled and leaped toward Pecos, knocking him off his horse. The sound of rifle fire reached them as they hit the ground. Leland grabbed a stunned Pecos by the collar and hustled him into the rocks.
A second bullet ricocheted off a nearby boulder, burning Leland’s left cheek. “Are you okay?”
“Except for hitting my head when you were teaching a new way to dismount, I’m okay.”
Leland drew his .44. “A bruised head is better than having a bullet hole in it.”
He scanned the rocks and located their assailant, high up, several hundred feet away. He knew his gun was useless against the rifle. He surveyed the area around them and located larger boulders near by. After firing three shots in the direction of the ambusher, he grabbed Pecos by the left arm and scampered to the better protection. They were safe before the ambusher returned his fire.
Pecos shook his head to clear it. “You think Slim objects to your orders?”
“If he did, I would be dead by now. This must be the bastard who shot the colonel and Cookie. His marksmanship hasn’t improved.”
“What do you want to do?”
“Nothing we can do, but to hunker down and wait. Maybe they heard the shots at the box canyon and will come to investigate them.” Leland leaned closer into a boulder.
“Too bad you didn’t grab your rifle.”
“No time, I had to get you off your horse. I didn’t want to answer to the colonel for losing another man. He’s narrow-minded and frowns upon his men being shot. I’ll probably catch hell for the three horse wranglers and Slim.”
“I knew you had a hidden motive for your action. What’s your plan?”
“Just wait him out for the time being.”
“If I get shot without having a chance at that son-of-a-bitch, I’m gonna be riled.”
Leland smiled. “If he shoots me, he’ll have to answer to Cindy. I wouldn’t wish her type of vengeance on any man. She holds grudges.”
Ray Marsh and Bucky O’Malley were herding a few steers to the canyon. He pulled up at the sound of rifle fire. Bucky followed him. The cattle continued down the trail. Another rifle sounded, followed by three pistol shots.
"Sounds like somebody is in trouble,” Ray commented and added, “Take the cows to the canyon and bring back some help. I’m going to check out the ruckus.”
Bucky herded the steers as fast as he could. Ray rode slow and easy with his eyes and mind alert. A couple miles later, he recognized Sidewinder and the horse Pecos usually rode grazing. He got off his horse, grabbed his Winchester and dug into his saddlebags for extra ammo. He followed the sound of sporadic firing of the rifle.
Ray hurried up the steep mountainside, as fast as he could. He spotted Leland and Pecos hiding in a group of man-sized boulders. Their assailant was out of sight on the far side playing pocket pool with his shots, trying to flush his quarry out into the opening.
Shifting from one protected spot to another, Ray worked his way closer. As of yet, no one knew he’d dealt himself into the game. After a while, he caught his first glimpse of the rifleman. He hurried his shot and missed. He cursed himself as the rifleman disappeared. Soon he heard the sound of a running horse leaving the scene of the ambush. He leaned the rifle against a tree, cupped his hands and yelled out, “Leland! Coming down.”
When everyone was on the trail, Bucky showed up with two riders, Antonio and Sure-Shot. Each led a horse behind him.
Leland jumped on his horse and urged him toward the ambusher’s nest. The others followed him. It didn’t take long to find the tracks of the ambusher’s mount. It left a print of a damaged, left rear shoe. Frustrated, Leland spent the night with the crew and started back toward the ranch about mid-morning.
Cindy helped Cookie into her wheelchair and placed a blanket over her lap. “Would you like to go out onto the veranda?”
“I’se rather gos to de kitchen.”
“Okay, but don’t make a nuisance of yourself.”
“Chile, I knows de kitchen ain’t mine anymo, but I’se can still gos check on lunch.”
“Okay, but don’t get too excited. The doctor wants you to rest.” Cindy wheeled Cookie into the kitchen. “Good Morning,” she greeted Consuela and Juanita in Spanish.
Consuela smiled at the young woman and answered “Good morning, senora Cindy and senorita Cookie.”
“What’s youse plannin’ for lunch?” Cindy translated Cookie's question for Consuela and translated the answer to Cookie.
“Beef soup and bread and butter.” Consuela smiled.
“The colonel likes his wid hot sauce. Youse’ll have to ask his guests how dey wants deirs.”
Cindy smiled at Juanita. “Would you do the honors while I check on Father and his guests?”
Juanita nodded hesitantly.
“Cookie is easier to understand if you stop and think about what she says.”
Changing to English, Juanita replied, “I will do my best.”
Cindy nodded and walked to her father’s office. She knocked lightly and waited for someone to open the door. She was surprised when it was Leland with a glass in his hand.
“When did you get back?”
“A few minutes ago. Didn’t Slim tell you I was riding out to the box canyon?” Leland was surprised when she resisted his embrace.
“He told me you would be back last night.”
“I ran into a small problem; by the time I settled it, and checked on the herd, it was getting late. I decided to wait until this morning to return.”
“What type of a small problem did you encounter?”
“Nothing for you to worry your pretty little head about.”
Cindy stared at him. She noticed the scrape mark on his cheek and abruptly turned. She kept her anger in check until she was upstairs. Nothing to worry my pretty little head about. I’ll show you Mr. Almighty Richards. I’m not your stupid little plaything. This is my ranch, too!
Author???s note: In the last chapter I had the characters speak in Spanish and added the translations in parentheses. I am trying a different means in this chapter. Do you still get the idea Spanish is being spoken?
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