Oliver Strange - Sudden Westerns 03 - The Marshal of Lawless(1933) (9 page)

BOOK: Oliver Strange - Sudden Westerns 03 - The Marshal of Lawless(1933)
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That
the guerrilla leader understood the grim witticism is doubtful, but the
menacing movement of the speaker’s gun could not be mistaken and he obeyed the
order. The marshal turned to the Indian, impassively waiting, and pointed to
the quirt lying beside the body of Lopez. A gleam of fire shone in the black
eyes as the redskin realized the white man’s intention.

 
          
El
Diablo also understood, and his dark face grew first pale with fear and then
red with shame.

 
          
His
voice shrilled out as the Indian picked up the whip and came towards him.

 
          
“Senor,
theenk what you do,” he cried desperately. “I am a white man like
yourself
. I am not a peon, as he”—with a gesture towards
Lopez—“but a caballero, a descendant of Old Spain.”

 
          
“If
yu don’t keep them paws up yu won’t be a descendant a-tall, yu’ll be an
ancestor.”

 
          
Jocular
as the voice was, no humour showed in the granite-hard features of the speaker,
and the Mexican knew he might just as well hope for mercy from his late victim,
who now stood before him, whip in hand, bitter hatred in his gaze. Reading that
look,
and recalling what he knew of a red man’s ideas
of revenge, the marshal was satisfied that the bandit was getting off somewhat
lightly. He nodded to the redskin, the whip whistled through the air, and the
Mexican shrieked as the knotted lash cut away the flimsy fabric of his shirt,
leaving a bloody track from shoulder to hip. Again the marshal nodded, and
again the whip fell, this time in the opposite direction, scoring the yellow
flesh as though it had been slashed with a knife. Mad with agony, the stricken
man clutched at his breast and rolled upon the ground, spitting out curses upon
the man who had so shamed him. The marshal regarded him scornfully.

 
          
“Yu
may be of Old Spain an’ this fella on’y an Injun, but he’s got yu skinned when
it comes to takin’ medicine,” he commented. “Shut yore rank mouth an’ keep
mighty still ‘less yu want some more o’ yore own treatment.”

 
          
He
turned just in time to see the redskin take two stumbling steps and fall prone.

 
          
“Agua,”
he whispered as Green bent over him.

 
          
The
marshal grabbed a canteen slung about the body of Lopez, marvelling at the
enormous will-power which had enabled the Indian, though nearly dead with
exhaustion, to stand’ up and mete out terrible punishment to his foe.

 
          

Damn it, I ain’t got no
affection for war-whoops, but
they’re men,” he muttered.

 
          
The
water proved effective, and in a few moments the Indian was able to stand up.
The marshal pointed to the guerrilla leader’s horse, which, elaborately saddled
and bridled, was tied to a nearby bush.

 
          
“Fork
that cayuse an’ we’ll punch the breeze,” he said. “This hombre will have
friends not so far off, an’ it’ll be healthier for us if we ain’t around when
they arrive.”

 
          
The
redskin climbed into the saddle, his set teeth showing what the effort cost
him, and Green led the way to where he had left his own mount. From where he
lay
motionless on the ground the beady, venomous eyes of the
Mexican followed them. Only when they had vanished in the thick foliage did he
venture to rise and shake a vengeful fist in their direction.

 
          
“We
shall meet again,” he grated. “And then it will be the turn of El Diablo. Dios!
but
you shall pay.”

 
          
Meanwhile
the marshal and his companion were wasting no time in covering the ground to
the Border. Not until they were on the far side of the river did Green attempt
to learn anything of the man he had rescued. The redskin’s eyes flashed as he
answered the blunt question.

 
          
“Me
Black Feather—Mohave chief—one time,” he said slowly in a deep, guttural tone.

 
          
The
marshal realized much of what lay behind the simple statement; he had lived
with the red men. He knew that Black Feather was an outcast—willing or
unwilling—from his tribe.

 
          
He
had been guilty of some offence, had lost his “medicine,” or was, perhaps,
satisfying a private vengeance.
Whatever the reason, for the
time being, he had no lodge, no people, he was a wanderer.
Further
enquiry elicited that he had fallen into the clutches of the bandit and his
follower by evil chance; they had shot his pony and, in common belief that the
Indian always knows “the home of the gold,” had tortured him.

 
          
Realizing
that the trail of Bordene’s murderer was now hopelessly lost, the marshal
headed for home. They reached Lawless after dark, so that the citizens missed
the rather amazing sight of their newly-appointed law-officer holding a
drooping Indian in a silver-mounted saddle, on the back of a fine, Spanish-bred
horse. When the pair arrived at the marshal’s quarters, the sick man slumped to
the ground in a dead faint. Pete, who was standing at the door, hurried
forward.

 
          
“Yu
ain’t goin’ to tell me this fella bumped off Bordene?” he said incredulously.

 
          
“I
am not,” the marshal said. “Push them broncs in the corral an’ come help fix
him up. He’s all in.”

 
          
He
hoisted the slack form to his shoulder and went inside. When Pete returned he
found the patient stretched on his bed and the marshal bandaging his hurts.

 
          
“This
fella’s pretty sick. See here, he’s bin shot in the leg as well, an’ never let
out a chirp about that,” Green said admiringly. “An’ here’s vu—a white
man—yowlin’ like a lost soul over a mangy bed.”

 
          
“It
ain’t a mangy bed—or it wasn’t till yu put that doggone aborigine in it,” Pete
retorted.

 
          
He
looked at the still senseless form. “Reckon he’ll make it?”

 
          
“Shore
thing. Injuns is hard to kill—as Uncle Sam knows,” the marshal replied. “I’ve a
hunch he’ll pay for savin’, an’ anyways, I couldn’t do nothin’ else.”

 
          
He
went on to tell the story of his trailing, and Pete whistled when he heard of
the guerrilla leader.

 
          
“El
Diablo, huh?” he said. “Yu’ve stirred up a lively nest o’ hornets there; he’s
rank pizen an’ as vain as a peacock, they say. It’s a safe bet he’s got friends
in Lawless too.”

 
          
“Yu’ll
have me scared to death in a minit,” his chief smiled.

 
          
Pete
looked at him. “Fella can crowd his luck too close,” he replied. “Wonder where
that bushwhackin’ coyote hid up?”

 
          
“Doubled
back, likely as hot,” the marshal opined. “Wouldn’t astonish me none if he’s
right in Lawless now. Rustle some chuck; I’ve an idea our guest has missed
meals lately.”

 
CHAPTER
VII

 
          
On
the following morning the enquiry into the taking off of Andrew Bordene was
held in the dance-hall attached to the Red Ace, where all public meetings of
importance were convened.

 
          
Nothing
new transpired. Potter, the banker, deposed to the dead man having drawn out
five thousand dollars, stating that he had a debt to pay. Andy related his
story and the marshal told of his investigation, but he did not produce the
empty shells he had picked up, nor make any reference to what had happened over
the Border. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the outlaw
known as “Sudden,” and the whole assembly adjourned to discuss the affair at
the bar. Here the marshal found Raven, with two men he did not know. The
saloonkeeper beckoned.

 
          
“Marshal,”
he said, “meet Reuben Sarel of the Double S, and Saul Jevons, foreman o’ my
ranch, the 88.”

 
          
The
fat man extended a moist, flabby hand, but Jevons merely nodded. He was about
the same height as the marshal but older by ten years. He possessed a powerful
but angular frame, a lean, hatchet face, and his dark, straggling moustache
failed to hide a slit of a mouth. From ear to chin on his left cheek was a
puckered white scar, relic of an old wound, which gave the impression of a
perpetual sneer. The marshal disliked the fellow at sight.

 
          
“Bad
business this, marshal,” Sarel remarked. “Bordene was a white man an’ a valued
citizen. We’re lookin’ to yu to put a crimp in this fella Sudden.”

 
          
“He’s
gotta be found first, Reub,” Jevons said, and there was a suspicion of a jeer
in his tone. “Yu ain’t suspectin’ that Injun yu toted in, are yu?”
This to the marshal.

 
          
“Not
any,” that officer replied. “I picked him up on the trail; he’d bin shot,
stripped, an’ set afoot.”

 
          
“What
nation?” asked
Raven.

 
          
“Claims
to be Mohave, but I figure he’s a stray,” the marshal told him. “He ain’t
talked much yet.”

 
          
“Bah!
Better ‘a’ left him; I’d as soon fetch home a hurt rattler,” Jevons said
savagely.

 
          
“Redskins
is
all liars an’ thieves.”

 
          
“Saul
is a bit sore on warpaints just now,” Raven explained. “He’s bin losin’ a few
steers an’ he’s blamin’ them for it.”

 
          
“Well,
I got no use for Injuns, but I reckon it’s more likely them toughs in Tepee
Mountain is liftin’ yore beef, Raven,” the Double S man offered.

 
          
After
a while the other two sat down to play cards, and Raven led the marshal into
his office.

 
          
“Yu
got any private opinion ‘bout this killin’?” he asked.

 
          
“I
said all I had to say at the enquiry,” was the reply.

 
          
“Young
Andy could ‘a’ done it,” the saloonkeeper suggested. Green shook his head.

 
          
“Pete
an’ me checked up the times; we know when the old man left Lawless an’ when
Andy started from the Box B; he’d have had to ride mighty good to reach the Old
Mine before his dad,” he pointed out. ” ‘Nother thing, Andy carries a .44,
which takes the same fodder as his Winchester.”

 
          
Seth
could not gainsay this. “O’ course, I was on’y givin’ yu a possible line. Andy
is in pretty deep with me, an’ the old man didn’t know it.”

 
          
“Anyways,
he couldn’t ‘a’ held up the stage, being at the Box B all that day.”

 
          
“Huh!
Bound to be the same fella, yu think?”

 
          
“Shore
as shootin’.”

 
          
Raven
picked up a large sheet of coarse paper. “What yu think o’ this?” he queried.

 
          
It
was a notice, printed in large capitals, offering a reward of one thousand
dollars for the capture of the man known as “Sudden,” or information leading
thereto. No particulars of the outlaw were given, but the horse was described.
The document was signed by the saloonkeeper.

 
          
“Might
produce somethin’,” the marshal agreed. “We gotta do somethin’. This is the
fourth play he has put across in a short while. It’s up to yu an’ Barsay,
marshal,” Raven said.

 
          
“We’ll
get him,” Green said confidently, and picking up the notice, went to nail it
outside the saloon door.

 
          
Seth
Raven puzzled him. Apparently a public-spirited citizen, anxious for the
welfare of the community, there was an elusive something which evaded the
marshal. With an innate feeling that the man was crooked, he had to admit that
so far he was not justified in that belief. A little later, when he entered his
quarters, and went in to see the sufferer he found him still occupying Barsay’s
bed, and awake. The black eyes, no longer fierce, looked up at him gratefully,
reminding him of a devoted dog: and as any sort of sentiment rendered him
uncomfortable, his tone was almost abrupt as he asked, “Feelin’ better?”

BOOK: Oliver Strange - Sudden Westerns 03 - The Marshal of Lawless(1933)
13.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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