Carson, taking his rifle from the scabbard, cocked it and whispered, “Let’s go.”
Ty nodded grimly. Leaving his own gun holstered as back up, he advanced down the trail beside Carson with his father’s six-shooter gripped firmly in his right hand.
Pausing before a turn in the trail, both men listened. Rough voices could be heard. After a cautious look through the screen of bushes and pine trees, Ty nodded to Carson and, throwing all caution to the wind, they dashed out into the open.
The sharp crack of Ty’s six-shooter as he shot the gun out of one of the outlaws’ hands was the first anyone knew of their presence. Consternation was written all over Vin’s face as he realized too late that not all of his party had been present. As for the other travelers, no sooner had they caught sight of their comrades than every gun was drawn before the surprised bandits could collect their startled senses enough for flight or resistance.
It was all over in a matter of minutes. When one of the men began tying Vin’s hands, he protested.
“You can’t tie me up. I’ve got ta lead you over the rest of the trail.”
“We’ve come as far as we care to on your trail,” the man replied grimly. “Vin, you’re under arrest.”
“I tell you, you can’t arrest me. You ain’t the law.”
At that, the man pulled off his vest revealing a deputy sheriff’s badge. Vin stared wide eyed and open mouthed. “The sheriff deputized me before we even came to you. And now, I think he’ll be rather pleased with what we have to bring to him.”
“But . . . but, that mountain lion. I ain’t seen him yet, and he’ll kill you all!”
Ty, who had been assisting with the tying up of the outlaws, grinned. “How would ya be knowin’ one mountain lion from another, Vin? This one got any special mark?”
Nodding, Vin replied, “It’s left ear is torn and missing a piece where my bullet went clean through one time.”
Beckoning to Sally who had approached with the horses, Ty chuckled. “Hmm, perhaps ya’d like ta identify this here large cat I jest kilt on th’other side a the cliff. I were kind a short on time an’ didn’t get much of a chance ta look ‘im over.”
Untying the cat, Ty hauled it off his mount and dropped it down before the astonished gaze of the entire party. It was an uncommonly large mountain lion, evidently a grandfather one with huge paws and, sure enough, his left ear was torn and part of it was missing.
Several of the men, leaving their prisoners under the watch of the others, began to examine it more closely, asking how Ty had come to shoot it with such accuracy as to kill it with one shot. Therefore, Ty, to the great pleasure of the rest, related the tale and his shot from the ground.
Suddenly Carson, who had listened with great interest, broke in. “Ty, we’d best get them scratches on ya washed real good.”
“Scratches?” The very word brought two of the other men to their feet in a hurry. “Come on, Ty,” one of the men ordered. “Wild cat scratches ain’t things ya want ta mess ‘round with.”
The other adding, as Carson pulled his younger companion to his feet, “Got a younger brother who got scratched by a bobcat. He was mighty sick for a long time, I’m tellin’ you.”
Ty merely laughed. Grinning at Sally, who had looked startled when she realized Ty had been hurt, he pulled her gun out he had tucked in his belt and handed it over. “I reckon ya can put it back. An’ don’t ya worry none ‘bout me. I’ll go long with them seein’ as I ain’t got much choice.” The last was called over his shoulder as he was hurried away.
After slipping her gun back into it’s holster at her side, Sally noticed many of the men staring at her. Coloring slightly she turned to her horse, realizing that probably no one knew until now that she even had a gun.
“Can you hit anything with that?”
Sally turned around. The question was asked respectfully, yet with a note of skepticism too. The speaker was the quietest and possibly the youngest one of the men who had gone to talk with the sheriff back in town. Sally nodded.
Glances were exchanged between several of the men. Sally didn’t volunteer to show her skill, thus unknowingly casting doubt on her ability as a markswoman. However, nothing further was said until Ty returned with Carson and the two others. His shoulder was bandaged and he walked with a slight limp. The washing of his scratches hadn’t been the gentlest and he now felt the pain which he hadn’t noticed before.
“Ty,” the young man questioned, “Can yer sister really shoot with that six-shooter?”
Ty snorted. “Can she? She can match me at a draw most any day an’ can hit any target I can. Ya want ta see?”
“Ty!” Sally protested softly, turning scarlet.
A murmur of assent rippled through the men, prisoners and guards alike.
“Jest pick a target you can hit an’ let her try.” Ty was proud of his sister’s shooting and wanted to enjoy seeing the faces of those who doubted it when she proved her ability.
Accordingly the young man pointed to a tree a good distance away that had a knot about half way up.
Sally was given the opportunity to go first, but she shook her head. He had challenged her, so he shot first. Carson and Ty nodded. They had no doubts that Sally could hit it.
The young man was a good shot and hit the outer rim of the knot. Then Sally stepped up. For a moment she remained motionless, gun in its holster, arms down at her side, studying the target.
I'm trying to decide, should I post again tomorrow?