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“So that’s why ya rode in an’ said ya had ta leave,” Carson interjected. “Ya sure was closed mouthed ‘bout it all.”
“Jest didn’t want Pa or Sally ta know nothin’. They’d a worried. Least ways Sally would a.” Ty paused a moment before going on. “Pa was dyin’ an’ Sally had wrote ta me tellin’ ‘bout his bein’ sick. We weren’t there more’n a couple days but someone got wind a me bein’ back or comin’ back an’ we had ta light out again.”
“Don’t you have a sheriff out your way?”
“Nope.” Ty shook his head.
“Well!” Sheriff Owen looked astonished. “How long was Bartram around your parts?”
“’Bout two, three years ‘fore I left, I reckon,” replied Ty after thinking a moment.
“Two or three years,” the sheriff mused. “But you left about three years ago . . . Yes, . . . that might fit . . . I wonder if it’s still there?”
“What they hid?” Carson asked.
“Yeah. What do you think, Ty?”
Ty shrugged. “Could be. If’n they’re still wantin’ ta silence me, I wouldn’t be surprised if’n it were there. But then ‘gain . . .”
“It might not be,” finished the sheriff. “I know.
“Do ya know what they might a been hidin’ Sheriff?” asked Carson, quite curious.
The sheriff stroked his chin, stared at the opposite wall and frowned before saying slowly, “It could be money from a stage coach robbery that happened three and a half years ago. They never did find the gold. At least not that I know of.
The three men sat in silence as the rain poured down outside, turning the dust of the streets into mud. The lightning flashed in dazzling display of electric beauty while the thunder rumbled echoing and re-echoing from mountain to mountain, rolling across the sky like a cannon barrage.
Inside, all was quiet and dry. No one seemed inclined to talk, each was mulling over in his mind what he had heard. At last the sheriff stood up. “Anyone want some coffee?” he asked going over to pour himself another cup.
Both Carson and Ty declined.
“I’m going to wire the U.S. Marshall about those theiving foxes, and I’ll let him know about Bartram too. I have a feeling he’ll be quite interested in it all. You all are sticking around for a while, aren’t you? Thinking of moving here, maybe?” Sheriff Owen tipped his chair back on two legs and leaned against the wall and looked hopeful.
Carson answered after glancing at Ty. “Don’t reckon we’ll be here long lest we have ta. One a our horses threw a shoe an’ we got ta wait fer her ta get well ‘fore we get another one on.”
“Hmm.” The sheriff sighed. “Ty?”
Ty turned from the window. “Yep?”
“You wouldn’t want to consider sticking around here for a while would you?”
Ty eyed the sheriff. What did he have in mind? He had brought in some varmints, why did he want him around longer?
Almost as though he could read his thoughts, Sheriff Owen continued. “You see, this town is pretty rough. I’m the only law around and I’m looking for a deputy. I think you’d make a real good one, and I sure could use you.”
“Me, deputy?” Ty looked incredulous.
“I don’t see why not. You managed to bring those four yahoos in with only one shot fired didn’t you?”
“Carson did most of it.”
“Yep, Sheriff,” Carson grinned, “I stood with a drawn gun while he jest rounded up Shorty an’ Duffer. Disarmin’ Duffer an’ scarin’ Shorty so’s his teeth were knockin’ together. I sure did most.”
Carson and Sheriff Owen laughed while Ty turned back to the window. After their laugh had subsided, the sheriff stood up and strode to Ty’s side. Placing a hand on his shoulder he said, “I mean every word I said, Ty. I really could use you. This whole town could use you. What do you say?”
Ty turned around. His face wore a look of firm determination. “I can’t stick ‘round longer’n I have ta, Sheriff. It’s right nice ta know I’m wanted, but I promised my Pa on his death bed that I’d find my missin’ youngest sister.” He paused, drew a deep breath and then continued. “I ain’t had much ta go off a, but it ain’t been a year an’ I aim ta keep goin’ till I find her. I will keep my word, even if it takes me all my life.” He added the last sentence in tones low and full of feeling.
The rain continued to fall outside and the only sounds heard as Ty finished talking were their drops on the roof and windows. “May it never be said that I kept a man from fulfilling his word.” Sheriff Owen held out his hand and Ty shook it heartily. “So, how long is your horse going to be laid up?” He asked returning to his desk.
“I’d say maybe a couple a days, maybe a week,” Carson answered.
“An’ I reckon we ought ta be goin’ ta check on her an’ find out where Sally is,” Ty put in.
Carson rose. “Reckon we ought.”
“Well,” said the sheriff as his two morning visitors stepped out onto the porch. “If you find out you’ll be here for a week, come and see me. If I had you for a deputy for even a week I’m thinking we could clean up half the town.”
Ty grinned. “Ya’d have ta build yerself a bigger jail first,” he shot back. He couldn’t think of himself as a deputy sheriff. “Let us know if’n ya hear from the U.S. Marshall,” he added, stepping out into the muddy street while Sheriff Owen chuckled.
“I’ll do that,” the sheriff called after them. “Keep your guns dry.”
Neither Ty nor Carson talked as they set off down the street towards the livery and blacksmith’s.