Six-Gun Gallows

Six-Gun Gallows by Jon Sharpe Read Free Book Online

Book: Six-Gun Gallows by Jon Sharpe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jon Sharpe
    â€œWell, you boys have a right to know.”
    Fargo reminded them about the brutal attack on the Quakers yesterday, and added the detail about the mysterious doeskin pouch the old matriarch had given him.
    â€œThe yellow-bellied sons of bitches,” Dub said. “But what’s in that pouch that they want it so bad?”
    â€œThat’s a poser, all right. For that matter, you can rob unarmed people without killing them. But I’ll tell you this much—when border ruffians don’t bother to steal from their victims, that tells me they’re getting good money from somebody who’s got deep pockets.”
    â€œF’rinstance, who?”
    Fargo shifted his back against a rough cottonwood, scratching himself like a buffalo. “Boys, to you this land looks empty. But I’ve marked the changes over the years. The Philadelphia lawyers, the New York land hunters, the deep-rock miners, the railroad barons—they’ve got their own ‘scouts,’ and they’re out here right now, figuring out how they can divide the West up among them and then tax the rest of us to guarantee their fortunes. It’s all percentages and angles. And sometimes these scouts have to stir up some disasters to further their cause. They don’t care a frog’s fat ass for the natural beauty or for whoever they have to destroy to do their masters’ bidding.”
    â€œDamn,” Dub remarked. “Our pa use to talk a lot like that. Anyhow, can’t you just open that pouch?”
    â€œThe order from that dying messenger,” Fargo said, “was to leave it sealed and give it to an officer. Even though I’m not a soldier, I just signed a contract for more work with the frontier outposts. That puts me under military law.”
    â€œOh. Then how’s come you don’t just take it to the nearest fort? There’s Fort Hays a few days northeast of here.”
    Fargo grinned. Young men never seemed to run dry of questions.
    â€œBecause,” he said, “as you saw yesterday, those heel flies pestering me will kill me. They’re staying on me like ugly on a buzzard. Long as I stay in this area, they’ll try to kill me with some discretion. But if I make a beeline out of here, I’ll have every jayhawker in the territory trying to snuff my wick. You two sharpshooters need to think about all that before you decide to stick or quit.”
    â€œI’ll stick,” Dub said immediately.
    â€œMe, too,” Nate echoed. “Pa always said even God hates a coward.”
    Fargo rolled into his blankets. “Judging from the quality of your mother, and your marksmanship, your pa was quite a man.”
    â€œTop of the heap,” Dub said proudly. “How ’bout your folks, Mr. Fargo?”
    â€œBest get some shut-eye,” Fargo told them. “Could be a long day tomorrow.”
    Fargo shook the McCallister boys awake at first light, then whistled in the Ovaro and tacked him.
    â€œWe’ll skip morning grub and grab something at Sublette,” he explained. “From here on in, keep your eyes peeled.”
    Sublette was about a three-hour ride. Before he hit leather, Fargo lay flat on the ground and placed his right ear just above it.
    â€œAin’t you s’pose to press your ear to the ground?” Dub asked.
    â€œNo, just above it, or all you’ll hear is your own heart pulsing. Well, no big group of riders closing in, anyhow. Let’s dust our hocks.”
    All three riders scanned the wide-open plains as they rode. The bloodred sun rose higher and turned a burning yellow.
    â€œMr. Fargo?” Dub said. “I been using my eyes like you said to yesterday. I think there’s riders way to the south, tracking us.”
    â€œGood man,” Fargo praised. “I see them, too.”
    When Nate started to guzzle water from his canteen, Fargo spoke up. “Gradual on that.”
    â€œWhy? Water

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