I kept reminding myself last night that I had to post a Western this morning. And, I nearly forgot.:) But I remembered. Enjoy!
Part 38When Jack entered the room some time later, moving on soft feet
to the bedside of his patient, Sally fairly held her breath. Ty hadn’t
stirred at all since she had come, was he --? She blinked her eyes
rapidly and then, as the tears refused to leave, drew her sleeve
quickly across her face clearing her vision for a few minutes at least.
Jack straightend up, “No change,” he whispered to the watchers. “I’ll
take a turn now, Joe.” He nodded to his brother. “And Miss Sally,” he
continued, “go back to bed and get some sleep. You’ll need your
strength for tomorrow if you are going to do any watching then.” Jack
added the last when he saw her beginning to shake her head at the
mention of leaving. “Come on,” Joe put in a little coaxing. “Jack will
wake you if there is the slightest change. If you don’t sleep now, how
are you going to keep up?” Feeling torn by conflicting emotions, Sally
looked first at one face and then another, lingering finally on Ty’s
pale one on the pillow. “If there is any change, please promise . . .”
she pleaded, her dark eyes on Jack’s face above her. “I promise.” With
a little sigh, Sally allowed Joe to help her to her feet and guide her
to her own door where he left her with a gentle pressure of the hand.
Meanwhile Carson was having his own struggle out under the stars.
Wrestling with his thoughts and his fully awakened conscience, he
tramped for hours over the fields in the silence and quietude of that
moonlit night. At last fully exhausted, he flung himself on his knees
behind the barn and prayed as he had not done for nearly a dozen years.
Pouring his whole soul out before his Lord, Carson wept and pleaded for
forgiveness, for strength to continue on, for life for Ty, and, with
tears coursing down his rough cheeks, he pleaded to find his Sunshine
once more before he died. As he knelt thus, unmindful of the time, a
gentle feeling of peace began to steal over him until at last he sank
down and lay quiet and still in the grass. The stars above looked like
tiny candle flames flickering faintly in a far off window. The moon
cast its silvery shimmer across nature. Carson gazed about with a new
wonder until he felt his eyelids begin to close. With great effort, he
roused himself. Back at the house, he made his way in and, finding a
blanket left on a chair for him, he rolled himself up and slept a deep,
dreamless sleep. The sun was shining brightly in the eastern sky and
all living things were still basking in its warm ray. Across the plains
half a dozen horsemen could be seen cantering along. Jim Fields, his
son Jed and three of their cow hands were following Bob Carson back
over the trail from yesterday. As they neared the bottom of the hill
where Carson had spied the smoke from the Fields’ chimney, he halted;
dismounting and dropping the reins, he cautiously made his way up the
hill, rifle in readiness for anything. For several minutes after he
reached the summit, he remained nearly motionless scarcely turning his
head as his quick, sharp eyes examined the woods stretching out before
him. There was no sign of danger. No voices were heard, no movement
observed. Slowly he stood to his full height. Nothing changed. All
remained as it had been. Beckoning the others, Carson waited until they
rode up and Jed handed over his mount’s reins. “I reckon if we were ta
split up, we could circle ‘round in both directions. It’d keep us all
from walkin’ inta an ambush too.” Heads nodded as all eyes took in the
lay of the land. Gesturing with his hand, Carson continued, “Right down
yonder, ‘bout where them pines are gowin’ is where I reckon the shot
come from. I aim ta look there first.” “I’ll go with you,” Jed
volunteered immediately. “Just where was Ty when he got shot?” queried
Mr. Fields. “See how them trees makes a U shape ‘round that bit a
grasslands?” When heads nodded he added, “Well, I reckon he might a
been ‘bout in the middle a that there U. Sally an’ I were still in the
trees behind him. Now I reckon we ought ta get movin’. Ya ready, Jed?” “Ready.” Carson and Jed rode off towards the left, circling to get
back in behind the trees somewhat before making their way through them.
Jim Fields, with one of his men, headed his horse for the U in the
middle while the other two cowhands moved to the right. No one spoke.
Each was listening and watching, alert for any possible danger. All
guns were held ready. Suddenly Jed pointed ahead into the trees. There
seemed to be something there. Swiftly Carson dismounted, handing the
reins this time to Jed instead of dropping them as he usually did.
“Wait here,” he whispered, moving forward with catlike tread. Soon he
beckoned and Jed rode forward and dismounted at the edge of the trees.
Leading the horses, the two advanced into the woods. All was still. Jed
watched in amazement as Carson, with no noise and scarcely seeming to
move any branches or grass, slipped along before him. Before long they
came to a small clearing with the charred remains of a fire to one side
and on the other a small path. Dropping down to examine the ground,
Carson touched the ashes. They were cold. But on probing a little
deeper he discovered warmth still existed. “Fire ain’t out all the way.
I reckon they left in a hurry.” “They?” Carson nodded. “I see two,
maybe three sets a tracks ‘round here.” He frowned in silent thought.
Jed, who had also been looking around gave a low exclamation, “Would
you look at this! I think it explains everything.”