Massacre Canyon

Massacre Canyon by William W. Johnstone Read Free Book Online

Book: Massacre Canyon by William W. Johnstone Read Free Book Online
Authors: William W. Johnstone
enough water before it disappeared underground to support some vegetation, making the canyon one of the few spots of green in this brown, black, and tan wasteland. Cottonwoods and hardy grass grew along the stream. Farther from the water, manzanita, barrel cactus, and the majestic, somewhat eerie saguaros covered the landscape.
    The big house had two stories, with terraced steps leading up to its entrance and a balcony along the second floor at the front. From there Rudolph Kroll could see much of the compound that was also surrounded by a high adobe wall with wrought-iron gates set into the main entrance. The barns and corrals, the long, low bunkhouse, the blacksmith shop, smokehouse, and granary all testified that once this had been a hacienda instead of an outlaw stronghold.
    Kroll wasn’t sure what had happened to the early Spanish settler who had established this ranch. More than likely he and his family had died screaming at the hands of the Apaches.
    All Kroll knew for sure was that when he and his men retreated to this canyon after pulling one of their jobs, they were safe. The law wasn’t likely to find them here, and even if that happened, they could hold off a small army.
    Yes, it was safe here, Kroll thought as he stood at the wall around the balcony and looked out over the hideout with the reddish light from the setting sun washing over his face . . . if you had enough sense to stay in the canyon and not sneak out to get drunk and dally with whores.
    If you weren’t as stupid as his little brother, Mordecai!
    A massive, bearded man wearing a long vest decorated with Indian beadwork in intricate patterns came onto the balcony behind Kroll and said, “Supper’s ready, boss. You want the woman to bring it out here?”
    Kroll considered the question for a moment and then shook his head.
    â€œNo, Galt, I’ll come inside in a few minutes,” he said.
    Galt grunted and nodded. He retreated through the French doors into the house.
    Kroll had spent a considerable amount of money repairing and refurnishing the buildings of the abandoned rancho when he decided to make this the gang’s headquarters. He didn’t mind admitting that he enjoyed luxury. Growing up on a hardscrabble farm in Kansas before the Civil War, there hadn’t been any of it. There hadn’t been much of anything except squalor, backbreaking work, and near-starvation. Mordecai was younger. He didn’t really remember much about those days or understand what that life had been like.
    And that ignorance was one of the things that made him stupid.
    Kroll turned away from the spectacular view and went into the house. This was his bedroom, but a table was set up so that he could take his meals here, too.
    An attractive, middle-aged Mexican woman named Valencia brought his meal in on a tray and placed it on the table. She shared Kroll’s bed from time to time. There were other women here to serve the gang’s needs, too, some of them very young and beautiful. Mordecai hadn’t needed to leave the canyon just because the itch was on him. He could have satisfied it without setting foot out of the stronghold.
    No, as soon as Kroll had received word of Mordecai’s capture from one of the spies he had spread out across the southwest, he knew what had happened. Mordecai had slipped out of the canyon out of sheer defiance. He didn’t like his older brother riding herd on him all the time. They had clashed repeatedly over that issue, as well as over the way Rudolph ran the gang. Like most young men, Mordecai thought he knew everything.
    Now he was locked up, sentenced to death.
    â€œIs there anything else, Señor Rudolph?” Valencia asked. She was slender, with a beautiful face and hair as dark as a raven’s wing except where it was touched with silver threads that just gave her more character.
    â€œNo,” Kroll said, then changed his mind and went on. “Yes. Light a fire before you

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