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Authors: J.T. Edson

Tags: #texas, #mexico, #jt edson, #ole devil hardin, #us frontier life, #caplock rifles, #early 1800s america, #texians

Ole Devil and the Caplocks

BOOK: Ole Devil and the Caplocks
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An American shipload of
Caplock rifles has been unloaded on the Texas coast. This
new-fangled firepower could be vital to the Texians fighting for
freedom from Mexico … if it ever reaches its destination. There’s
only one man General Sam Houston trusts to escort the Caplock
shipment, and that’s Jackson Baines Hardin … the ‘Ole Devil’
himself. Ole Devil is a man to be reckoned with, and this time he’s
got a pistol-packin’ girl and a sword-swinging Oriental in his
corner. But he hadn’t counted on the ornery likes of a vicious
Mexican general … or a townful of cutthroats lusting after the
rifles for loot … or a vengeful woman whose renegade gang would
stop at nothing to stop Ole Devil!

 

 

OLE DEVIL AND THE
CAPLOCKS

OLE DEVIL HARDIN
2

By J. T. Edson

First published by
Transworld Publishers in 1976

Copyright
© 1976, 2015 by J. T.
Edson

First Smashwords Edition:
August 2015

Names, characters and
incidents in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual
events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is purely
coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part
of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording
or by any information or storage and retrieval system, without the
written permission of the author, except where permitted by
law.

Cover image © 2015 by
edwrd984.deviantart.com

This is a Piccadilly
Publishing Book

Series Editor: Ben
Bridges

Text © Piccadilly
Publishing

Published by Arrangement
with the Author’s Agent.

 

To Chuck and Ellen
Kurtzman of Fort Worth, Texas, with fond memories of many a filling
of Ubert with “Limpopo Water”

 

 

Author’s Note

While complete in
themselves, events in this book continue from those recorded
in
Young Ole Devil.
Although readers have been promised more information about
the composition and operation of a Mule Train, regretfully space
has not permitted me to include it in this book, but I promise it
will be given in
Ole Devil and the Mule
Train
(not, as stated in various
footnotes, in
Ole Devil at San
Jacinto).

Chapter One – They Could Change
History

Having been carried in by
the sea breeze and flowing tide shortly before noon on February 26,
1836, the two-masted trading brig Bostonian Lady was rocking gently
at its anchor. There was an air of urgency about the actions of the
sailors who were starting to transfer some of the cargo from the
forward hold to the boats which had been lowered. Although Captain
Adams had not offered any explanation, they realized that only
exceptional circumstances could have caused him to accept the
navigational hazards of bringing his vessel into the small,
landlocked, Santa Cristobal Bay. Situated about ten miles north of
the Matagorda Peninsula, it was in what was usually an unpopulated
region. The nearest human habitation was the tiny port of San
Phillipe, which they had passed on their southbound course some
fifteen miles farther up the Texas coast.

From all appearances, the
captain had not been surprised to find human beings at the bay. In
fact, his behavior had suggested that he was expecting to find
somebody in what should have been a deserted area. On approaching
the coastline, he had studied the mouth of the bay through his
telescope. Although they did not have similar aids to vision, a
couple of the hands claimed they had seen a man waving what
appeared to be a blanket from the cliffs above the entrance.
Despite this signal, Adams had not entered immediately. Instead,
the Bostonian Lady had hove to offshore for almost an hour. During
that period he had climbed the main mast and searched the horizon;
presumably to satisfy himself that there were no other vessels
within visual distance. When sure that they were unobserved, he had
descended and given orders to go in.

On entering the bay, there
had been indisputable evidence that the visit was prearranged.
Several men were gathered on the beach and the brig’s sole
passenger had been sent ashore in the jolly boat. As soon as he had
landed, orders had been given that had set the crew to
work.

Few of the sailors took
much interest in current affairs unless the issues involved were
such as might affect them personally, but even the most
disinterested of them could not help being aware that at that time
there was some kind of serious trouble taking place in Texas. It
had been the main topic of conversation around New Orleans for
several months past. None of the fo’c’s’le hands had extensive
knowledge of why the Anglo-Saxon colonists and not a few
Chicanos
i
had
elected to sever all connections with Mexico and establish a
self-governing Republic under the Lone Star flag.
ii
Nor did they particularly care. What did concern them was an
uneasy feeling that the local authorities would not approve, to put
it mildly, of their visit.

The suspicion had been
strengthened when the sailors were told which items of the cargo to
extract from the hold. The designated boxes had caused comment and
speculation after they had been loaded at New Orleans. Some were
oblong, about five foot in length, three wide, three deep, and
heavy. The rest were lighter and roughly three foot square. All had
one significant point in common. There was nothing on them to say
what their contents might be, from whence they had come, nor to
where and whom they were to be delivered.

However, the hands knew
better than to mention their misgivings openly. Captain Nathaniel
Adams was a humane, tolerant and easy-going man—in comparison with
many of his class—but he would not—could not—permit the members of
his crew to question his actions. So they set to work as quickly as
possible in order to reduce the length of time they must spend in
such a potentially precarious location.

Fortunately for the crew,
none of them stopped to think too deeply about their situation.
Having arrived at their destination at the commencement of the
incoming tide and with the breeze blowing from the sea toward the
land, the Bostonian Lady would have difficulty in leaving before
the ebb. Even after the tide had turned, it might be necessary to
tow the brig out to sea with her boats. Going out before the ebb
would be a slow and laborious task. Too slow, in all probability,
for them to escape if anything should go wrong.

Captain Adams had a better
appreciation of the position. While he was not fully cognizant with
the causes of the strife which was embroiling Texas, he knew that
carrying out the mission which had brought him to Santa Cristobal
Bay was placing himself and his vessel in considerable jeopardy. If
he should be caught, the very least he could expect was for the
Bostonian Lady to be impounded. From what he knew of Latin
officials—and he had seen plenty of them during his years of
trading from the Rio Bravo
iii
in the north, via Cuba and Puerto Rico, as far as the Rio de
la Plata in South America—his fate was likely to be far worse than
that. He had been well paid, with the certainty of other and less
risky cargoes in the future. Arrangements, which appeared to be
working, had been made to reduce the risks but he knew that there
was still danger and he would not be sorry when he could get under
way. Once he was out at sea, it would be very difficult for the
Mexican authorities to prove that he had been connected with the
unmarked consignment.


I’ve
got the cargo broken out and am having it put into the boats,
Cap’n,” announced the mate, having come from the forward hold to
where his superior was standing amidships studying the beach
through a telescope. “So I hope yon fancy dressed supercargo
iv
knows what he’s talking about.”

“He said he knew the party
who were waiting. Mister Shrift,” Adams pointed out. “And he
wouldn’t be fool enough to go ashore unless he was certain that
everything’s all right. You can start sending his consignment
across.”

“Aye aye, sir,” the mate
assented and returned to supervise the work.

For all the captain’s
comment, he felt perturbed. The men who had hired him had laid
great emphasis upon the need for secrecy and that their consignment
must not be permitted to fall into the wrong hands. In spite of
having received the correct signal from the cliffs and his
passenger’s assurance that all was well, he was uneasy when he
thought of the reception committee. While none of the quartet who
had come to the water’s edge looked like Mexicans, neither did they
appear to be a delegation from the Republic of Texas; particularly
when something so important was involved. While the man at the left
of the party most assuredly was not of Latin origin, neither did he
spring from Anglo-Saxon stock. In fact, despite Adams’s entire sea
service having been confined to the eastern side of the American
continent and its offshore islands, he was able to recognize that
the man was a native of the Orient.

Not quite five foot six in
height, but with a sturdy build, the Oriental was young.
Bareheaded, his black hair was close cropped and he had sallow,
almond-eyed, cheerful features. His garments were a loose fitting
black shirt hanging outside trousers of a similar material which
were tucked into matching Hessian boots.
v
Apart from his footwear and the lack of a
pigtail, he might have been a Chinese coolie such as could be seen
in most of the United States’ major seaports. However, one rarely
saw a coolie carrying weapons and he appeared to be well, if
primitively, armed. A pair of long hilted, slightly curved swords
with small circular guards hung—the shorter at the right—with their
sheaths attached by slings to his leather waist belt. In addition,
he held a long bow in his left hand and a quiver hanging across his
right shoulder pointed the flights of several arrows so they would
be readily accessible when required.

Adams found the second
member of the quartet equally puzzling, but in a different way.
About three or four inches taller than the Oriental, the snug fit
of a fringed buckskin shirt, trousers and rawhide moccasins left no
doubt that—in spite of a pistol thrust through the right side of a
belt which also had a knife hanging at the left in an Indian-made
sheath —it was a girl in her late teens and fast approaching the
full bloom of womanhood. Her fiery red and curly hair had been cut
fairly short. For all that the right eye was blackened and the top
lip swollen, her pretty, freckled face expressed a happy-go-lucky
zest for life. While the attire was unconventional to say the least
for a member of her sex, it seemed to suit her personality, and,
somehow, the weapons she was carrying did not appear incongruous in
her possession.

From the similarity of
their clothing, the remaining pair was apparently clad in some type
of uniform. Hanging on their shoulders by
barbiquejo
chinstraps, they had
black hats of the low crowned, wide brimmed pattern which had
become popular as
Presidente
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s repressive and
obstructive policies had caused a growing antipathy among young
Texians
vi
toward everything of Mexican origin. Their buckskin shirts
were tucked into tight-legged fawn riding breeches and they had on
Hessian boots. A pistol carried in a broad, slanting leather loop
on the right side of the belt had its butt turned forward so as to
be available to either hand. It was balanced by a massive knife of
the kind which had already acquired the name “bowie”
vii
in honor of the man who was credited with designing the
original weapon. There was only one noticeable difference in the
pair’s attire. The man next to the girl sported a long, tightly
rolled bandana that was a riot of clashing colors while his
companion’s was plain scarlet.

BOOK: Ole Devil and the Caplocks
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