Bayou Trackdown

Bayou Trackdown by Jon Sharpe Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Bayou Trackdown by Jon Sharpe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jon Sharpe
wood for the fire and got it going using a fire steel and flint. On his hands and knees, he puffed tiny fingers of flame to crackling life.
    Clovis had shot a squirrel shortly before the sun went down so supper consisted of coffee and squirrel stew. The boy skinned it and chopped the meat and didn’t care one whit that his hands were covered with gore.
    Fargo ate with relish. He wasn’t fussy when it came to food. Cook it well, and he would eat just about anything. He was on his second helping and had just set his coffee cup at his feet when loud crashing broke out across a narrow span that separated their island from another.
    “Deer,” Namo said. “They caught our scent and ran off.”
    Clovis came around the fire and held his rifle out to Fargo. “Want to look at it? It was my mother’s. We found it where she died and Papa gave it to me.”
    It was an old Sharps. Somewhere or other the stock had cracked and been wound with strips of leather. Fargo pressed it to his shoulder and sighted down the long barrel. “Nice gun.”
    “Have you ever fired a Sharps, monsieur? They kick.”
    “I owned one,” Fargo enlightened him. For years, until he switched. There were days when he thought about switching back again.
    Clovis gazed with interest at the Henry propped against Fargo’s leg. “Why did you give it up? A Sharps will drop just about anything.”
    “That it will,” Fargo agreed. But the Sharps was a single-shot rifle. The Henry held fifteen rounds in a tubular magazine and another in the chamber. Someone once joked that you could load it on Sunday and fire it all week. “But there are times when I need to spray a lot of lead.”
    “Such as when?”
    “Oh, when a war party is after your scalp and there are five or ten of them and only one of you.” Fargo gave the Sharps back and said fondly, “But I’ve dropped many a buff and many a griz with one of these.”
    “When I am older I will go to Texas and shoot some buffalo,” Clovis said. “I have always wanted to do that and we do not have any in Louisiana. No grizzlies, either.”
    “Count your blessings.”
    “I’m not afraid of them.” Clovis patted his Sharps. “Not so long as I have this.”
    “A lot of people are afraid of the monster, as they call it,” Fargo remarked.
    “Not me. I hate it. I want it dead for what it did to my mama. I don’t care what it is or how big it is. When we find it, my Sharps will kill it.”
    “What is this ‘we’?” Namo broke in. “You will protect your sister like I told you and leave the shooting to me.” He caught himself. “And to Monsieur Fargo, of course.”
    “Of course,” Fargo echoed. But to tell the truth, he still didn’t see why Namo needed him. The Cajun knew the swamp better than he ever could.
    “I have been meaning to ask,” Namo said. “Is it true you shot the biggest grizzly ever killed?”
    “Where did you hear that?”
    “I read it somewhere.”
    “You read wrong. The few grizzlies I’ve shot were big but nowhere near the biggest. I think you’ve got me confused with a mountain man who supposedly shot a griz the size of a cabin.”
    “Then it wasn’t you?”
    “I just said it wasn’t.”
    “Oh.”
    Fargo suspected that Namo thought the “monster” was a giant bear. So Namo had sent for someone he mistakenly thought to be a killer of giant bears. It gave him something to ponder as he lay on his back with his head on his laced fingers, gazing up at the star-speckled firmament.
    The next day was more of the same. The vastness of the swamp amazed him. As big as a small state, it seemed. So big, the Atchafalaya had never been fully explored. Vast tracts had never felt the tread of a human foot. White feet, anyway. Namo mentioned that several small tribes lived so deep in the swamp, whites rarely saw them.
    Which reminded Fargo of something. “What can you tell me about the Mad Indian?”
    Without breaking his rhythm paddling, Namo answered, “Not much. I’ve never seen

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