Kill Angel! (A Frank Angel Western #6)
ought to be lyin’
dead in town! If you was a man you’d have died afore lettin’
anybody face you down in Agua Caliente!’
    ‘ He
never gave me no chance, Pa,’ Harry essayed, sullenly.
    ‘ Chance? Chance? Who’s talkin’ about chances?’ The old
renegade was in a towering temper and everyone in the big room at
the stone ranch house up in the hills above Agua Caliente knew
better than to intervene. Harry must take his medicine. They’d all
had to do it at one time or another. Crossing Yancey Blantine was
as dangerous as stepping barefoot on a rattlesnake.
    ‘ He
took Harry unawares, like, Mr. Blantine,’ the hostler, Georgie,
    ‘ Shut
your sniveling mouth!’ rasped Blantine, rounding on the man, who
quailed and stepped backwards to safety some yards out of Yancey
Blantine’s reach. ‘I’ll teach this whelp to crawl in front of my
town!’ He snatched a quirt from the wall and it whistled through
the air, lashing across Harry Blantine’s shoulders, bringing a
shout of pain from him. Again the old man struck and again, as
Harry cowered away from him, pursuing his son around the room like
some grim old prophet out of the old Testament, purging sins.
Finally, he stopped, chest heaving.
    ‘ Now,’
he said, ‘now! Tell me who he is.’
    ‘ Angel,
Mr. Blantine. He said his name was Angel.’ This from the
    ‘ Never
heerd of him,’ the old man snapped.
    ‘ Me
neither,’ said Burke Blantine.
    Burke was the youngest of the
Blantine brood, a husky six-footer with light curly hair and a
deceptively boyish face. Broad shouldered, narrow hipped, a natural
athlete and horseman. Burke was a ladies ’ man but nonetheless as dangerous in
combat as a wolverine. He had never met a man who could beat him to
the draw.
    ‘ Any o’
you ever heard the name?’ the old man demanded querulously. One by
one his sons shook their heads: Harry, sniveling on the floor,
rubbing his burning, shoulders with his good hand. Burke, lazily at
ease in a wood-and-rawhide chair. Gregg, the dull-witted giant,
huge even in this land of tall men, his long arms swinging apelike
and loose, his low forehead creased by a deep frown as he tried to
follow the rapid shifts in the conversation.
    ‘ You
others — someone musta heerd o’ the man!’ snapped Blantine. ‘He
ain’t just been minted to give me trouble.’
    ‘ It
ain’t a name you’d easy forget,’ Dave Ahern said. He was Blantine’s
straw boss, the leader of the riffraff who were recruited along the
border when the Blantines went riding.
    ‘ He’s
right, chief,’ chimed in Pete Gilman. ‘I never heard o’ no long
rider with a moniker like that.’
    Blantine nodded. If Gilman
hadn ’t heard
of him, the man had never operated in this part of the world
before. Gilman knew the name and records of every owlhoot in the
border country. He was the quartermaster for Blantine’s renegade
army. Gilman, and his sidekick Gene Johnson, the slow-spoken
Minnesotan who stood always silently at Gilman’s elbow and rarely
if ever spoke, were the men who procured ammunition, traded in
stolen guns, bargained for stolen horses and all the other
impedimenta the Blantines needed when they mounted their
    ‘ Mebbe
he’s usin’ the moniker to throw dust in my eyes,’ the old man
wheezed. ‘Whoever he is, he’s trouble as long as he’s in Agua
    He paced up and down for a few moments, his
brow furrowed. He shook his head once or twice, muttering to
    ‘ It
don’t figger,’ he said once. ‘It don’t figger at all.’
    They watched him, waiting. No decision would
be made that was not made by the Old Man. Few of them actually
liked him. That had nothing to do with their fear of him, their
innate respect for his mad genius. Yancey Blantine was crazy like a
fox, they always said. He would put up an idea that sounded
completely mad, and then challenge them to knock it down. The more
they tried the more they convinced themselves of the

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