the Iron Marshall (1979)

the Iron Marshall (1979) by Louis L'amour Read Free Book Online

Book: the Iron Marshall (1979) by Louis L'amour Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louis L'amour
to listen. They were coming, all right. They were scattering now.
    Think ... he must think.
    The railroad yards, with all those cars standing, it would be dark there. He ran.
    With all his hard work, he was in good shape, in better shape probably than any of his pursuers, unless some of Childers's footracers were among them. Footracing was a popular sport, and most gamblers had one or two on the payroll. He ducked down another alley and turned into a street lined with trees. He paused, then walked on, catching his wind. He felt for the gun. It was gone ...
    It must have fallen from his pocket back in an alley somewhere. He hoped they had not found it, that they wouldn't know he was unarmed. Somebody crossed the street behind him and he heard a shout. He ducked into an alleyway ... blind!
    He turned back and went up the street, but they were closer now. They were spreading out, coming at him. Ahead of him there was a low fence, and he smelled wet cinders and coal smoke. Then he saw the cars. Over there was an engine, puffing thoughtfully as it waited. He dropped a hand to the fence rail and vaulted it easily, then slid down a bank and lost himself in the darkness. A train whistled and he heard the chug-chug of a starting engine. Somebody fired a shot and it ricocheted over a car ahead of him. He ducked under a row of standing cars and saw some moving cars ahead of him. He ran, caught the ladder rung and swung himself up and over into an empty gondola. The train gathered speed. Behind him there were shouts and yells. They were searching. A shot ... not aimed toward him, apparently. Gasping, he dropped to a sitting position against the side of the car.
    God, was he tired!
    The train whistled and he looked up to see roofs going by. It was raining harder now.

    Chapter Three.
    When Shanaghy awakened again he lay for some time, just thinking. There was no sound but the trickling of water from the small creek and the chirping of birds. Somewhere the birds were singing an endless variety of songs. He did not know much about birds.
    After a while he sat up and looked around. He wrapped his arms around his knees and rested his chin on his arms. He had never known a morning so still ... Yes, he had-when he was a boy in Ireland and walked to the upper pasture to bring the horses down. It had been quiet in Ireland, too. He got up, went to the stream. After taking off his shirt, he bathed his face, head and shoulders in the cold water. It felt good. Then he rolled up his blankets. Finding a few coals left in the fire, he rekindled it and broiled some bacon.
    Then he examined the guns. The pistol was a good one, brand-new, apparently. Whose outfit did he have, anyway? He belted on the gun, tried it for balance and feel. It felt good.
    He had to get back to New York. That meant returning to the railroad and finding a town or a water tank. Some place where a train might stop. He had to get back. Morrissey would need him.
    Shanaghy walked back to his blanket-roll, but instead of picking it up he sat down again. Damn, it felt good! Just the stillness, the peace. After the hectic life he had.been living ...
    He knew the sound of horses' hoofs when he heard them, and he heard them now. For a moment he remained where he was, just listening. Then he got up, moved the blanket-roll out of sight near a tree and leaned the shotgun against the tree. The coat he wore effectively concealed the pistol. Shanaghy walked down to the ashes of the fire. Now maybe he could find out where he was and how far away was the nearest town.
    There were four of them and they came down the slope toward the stream, riding together. One man, on a gray horse, trailed a little behind. "Hey!" He heard one of them speak. "Somebody's ... "
    They rode through the stream and pulled up about twenty feet away from him.
    "Look," one of them said, "it's a pilgrim!"
    "How are you?" Shanaghy said. "I wonder if ... "
    "It's an Irish pilgrim," another said. "What d' you know about that?"

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