omeone hallooed the camp from the darkness, and was invited in. Into the light stepped Sheriff Abner Davis. The wagon train had encircled the camp with a couple parallel to each other in the middle. Over these was stretched a canvas allowing shelter from the rain as the sparse meal was being prepared.
The center post of the temporary tent was tall enough that the canvas was higher in the middle causing the water to run off rather than pool, gaining in weight which would eventually sag until it ripped.
Judge Randall recognized his voice and invited him to come in out of the weather. "What are you doing out in this weather Sheriff? he asked.
"I've been chasing some varmints and came back through Smile and thought I'd stop in for a confab. I sure hate to see Smile on the ground like that. I didn't know who would be out in this kind of weather." he answered.
"How long you been out Sheriff?" Judge Randall inquired.
"This is my seventh day on the trail. Why do you ask Judge?
"Because we sent a man back in to Santa Barbara with six stiffs who tried to rob us. Who's minding the store?"
"Well I don't really have but two deputies and one of them I think is on the take" he answered.
"Did you see Sheriff Goodsen"
"No, he had been summoned to a wide spot in the road some people are calling Lancaster."
"You'ns have any idea who these men were that tried to stop you?" asked Sheriff Davis.
"Naw, wasn't much time for pleasantries. They cut a tree into the road way, then came up on us from behind while JD here was chopping it apart. One of the men identified himself as a US Marshall."
"Any names come to light?"
"Naw, but Marshall Travis here noticed something about one of the guys although they all had bandanas over their faces. "
At that, the men all turned to face William Travis. "Can you explain to me about that Marshall?" Sheriff Davis asked.
"Yeah. Two things. One of the guys had an eye that looked sharply to the left, and it was a light colored blue. The other eye was black, evil looking."
"That would be Garret Holder, brother in law to one Erik Scoggins, grandson to Buck Lever. He was about as mean as any of the Levers of which I've heard so much, but his brother in law, Eric Scoggins was on the very farthest edge of humanity. He was more animal than human."
"It sounds like Marshall Gale is in deep trouble" said William. He turned and called Golden Fawn in the wagon. "Golden Fawn."
"Yes?" she replied as she looked out from behind the front curtain.
He then quickly explained what was going on, that some were going to attempt to help Tobias, and then asked "if we re-hitch these horses to pull two wagons, can you, Judge Randall, JD and the two teens make it the rest of the way to The Post?"
"Yes William we certainly can. Go do what you do best, and bring Tobias back to me. Promise me."
"Will do Golden Fawn. Judge Randall is going to stay with you so there will be two large teams. Stick with him and you'll be fine."
William picked up his saddle after walking his horse under the shade out of the rain and using his hands, squeegeed the biggest part of the water from his back. The other men by this time were ready to mount. "You have any firearms Golden?"
"Yes Marshall" she responded.
"OK then. You should be at The Post by sunset tomorrow if you leave at first light."
Golden Fawn raised her hand in acknowledgement and moved back behind the front cover with Tobias Jr. It was going to be quite a challenge to manage a team of eight horses, and a child but, manage . . . she would. She would meet any challenge head on the same as Tobias would.
After several hours of hard riding, Sheriff Abner Davis had slowed his horse down to a walk, then stopped. Gunfire was heard in the distance and coming from the direction of Santa Barbara. "Sounds like someone is in trouble" he said. There were pistol shots, the shots of a .3030, and then once in a while the cannon like boom of a big Spencer fifty.
"That would be Tobias" William said.
"He always did set store by that big ol' cannon Abner said. I think he still carries the one he bought from Lone Wolf.
"We're close enough to see the glow of fire if they'd thought to burn the place out. Trouble is, the whole town would go up like Smile did. The only thing that wouldn't burn is the jail and the bank. Even then, it would get so hot in there I doubt if someone could survive" Sheriff Davis said.
Time and again they heard that big old boom. There was something kind of strange about the shots they were hearing though. Just a couple of minutes prior, it sounded like an army firing, then one big boom from that big ol Spencer. Now, it seemed the smaller weapons were thinning out, and still, every once in a while, the big Spencer would shatter the stillness.
"Unless I miss my guess, they've pinned Tobias down and trying to get him to use up all his ammunition" commented Sheriff Davis.
"Well, I pity the man who comes into reaching distance of him" William said. "I've heard stories of him being every bit the man that his dad was."
"Yeah, I've heard some of those stories" Davis said. "I just thought they were overly embellished stories of the kind that makes for tall tale telling' round the fire. But there've been too many men who told the exact same stories."
After a brief pause and another boom from that big Spence, he said "I was on a critter chase one time with Marshall Arthur Randall, and he was telling me several of the exploits of Yancy Gale. It was all true."
"When you get him riled, you're in a peck of trouble, that's for sure."
Davis held up his hand and stopped the cavalcade. "The shooting has stopped."
The atmosphere grew very somber as the men each contemplated the possible outcome of the gun battle. They all hoped it turned out in the Marshalls favor. But surprise of all surprises was waiting for them when they rounded the corner by the Marshalls office.
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