This is a fan fiction story based on characters from the Lonesome Dove television show, which belong to Rysher Entertainment and Hallmark. No infringement on copyrights is intended. Author's notes at end.

Supposin' Clay Mosby Had Married Hannah Peale
by Craig Caff

Chapters: 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7 ~ 8 ~ 9 ~ 10 ~ 11 ~ 12 ~ 13 ~ 14 ~ 15


Chapter 1: There Shall Come A Southern Gentleman

Everything started the same. Newt had helped Mrs. Ida Grayson return to the Unity Hotel. Clay Mosby had entered the building. Then, the fight broke out. At its conclusion, Buffalo Bill Cody had strolled down the stairs.

"Did I miss dinner?" He looked down at Newt. "Haven't learned a dern thing, have you son?"

Newt scowled.

Miss Hannah Peale noticed the young Texas ruffian.

Clay Mosby noticed Miss Peale. Noticed? He was Smitten!

Here, in far away Montana, it was Mary! No, she wasn't his Mary. But she resembled her so much, it was eerie.

Clay swept his arm across his chest, bowing in a single smooth motion.

This action momentarily confused Miss Peale, who had planned on talking to the young cowboy at the desk.

"May I present myself. Colonel Francis Clay Mosby. At your service and offering my sincerest apology for this unsightly brawl."

Clay reached out, taking Miss Peale's soft hand, and brought it up to his lips, where he gently kissed it.

Miss Peale was dazed. She had never met such a man in all her young life.

Mr. Mosby was chivalrous, gallant, and a Southern gentleman.

She quickly forgot what she had intended to say to young Newt. On top of that, she was smitten herself!

Mosby now turned to Newt. "I admire a man who isn't afraid to defend a lady in distress, Mr. . .?"

"Uh, Call. Newt Call." Newt kind of jumped, stepping over to the dashing, bearded Colonel.

"You did a right fine job of handlin' those boys, Mr. Mosby," Newt smiled.

Both men clasped their strong hands together. Strange? It felt as if some kind of bond had already formed between the two new men in Curtis Wells.

Well, Josiah Peale bellyached about his dinner being ruined till Bill Cody bid him clammer up. Cody invited Clay and Newt to sit and join the group, which they both agreed to. Clay, always a gentleman, held out a chair for Miss Peale. He then took the seat next to her. Anyone half sober could see these two had already been hit by the thunderbolt.

In respect for Mr. Mosby, Newt never gave Hannah a thought again, leastways for now. His Ranger upbringing was just too strong and deep inside him.

Hannah also forgot young Newt. How could any cowboy compete against a man of such character as Colonel Mosby?

Clay quickly won over Hannah's father and her brother, Austin. Newt began spending time with the ultimate charmer himself, Buffalo Bill Cody.

One morning soon after Clay had begun courting Hannah, he rode out of town.

 

Chapter 2: Disagreement

Clay guided his horse, Thunder to a campsite some three and a half miles South of town. There was a reason Clay Mosby had come to Curtis Wells in the first place. And, it wasn't because of Miss Hannah Peale. That was the icing on the cake. The real reason was gold. Gold from a Russian Duke.

As Clay brought his mount into the small, unkempt camp, he was met by his closest friend, Robert Shelby. Clay climbed out of the saddle, smiling like a lovesick school boy.

"Where have you been, Clay?" Robert angrily asked. "You should have come here two days ago. What's going on?"

"Relax, Robert." Clay patted his boyhood friend on the back, as he entered the main tent.

"You're scaring me, Clay. . . you better had not made other plans."

"Robert," Clay said, grabbing his friend. "She's here. Mary. I've found Mary. We're getting married."

Robert stared like he'd just seen some unexplainable vision. "No, Clay. Mary's dead. You've seen some woman that merely resembles her. It's not Mary."

"I know that, Robert. But, she looks just like Mary. We've fallen in love. I'm calling the robbery off."

Robert's eyes widened and turned red. "Like Hell you will. Damn you, Clay! We've spent months planning this robbery. It's the only reason we're up here in this Yankee wilderness."

"I'm sorry. I really am, Robert. But, considering the circumstances, I have no choice."

Clay turned, walked out of the tent. He grabbed a plate and scooped some beans and chili. Robert knocked the plate out of his hands.

"Don't do this to me, Clay. I'm taking that gold, with or without you."

"I'm sorry you feel that way, Robert. But I belong here now. I'll stop you myself if I have to."

Robert began knocking tables over. Clay tried to maintain his composure.

"Get out of here, Clay! Don't try to stop us, you hear? You may end up dead. Get out!!"

Clay could see talking weren't no good. He remounted Thunder and slowly rode away.

Robert, fit to be tied, drew his pistol and aimed it at the back of Clay's head. He cocked the hammer, then whispered, "I'm sorry, Clay. But no one's stopping me. . ."

 

Chapter 3: The Hand of Death

Robert steadily fixed the sights on Mosby's back, unbeknownst to Clay. Slowly, Robert cocked the hammer. Clay was getting smaller, his horse gaining speed. Robert raised the gun ever so slightly, till it was dead center on Clay's head.

"You are not going to stop me, Clay."

Then he fired the gun! But, at the last instance, he had lifted his arm skyward, merely shooting a hole in the sky.

Clay abruptly reined in his horse. From a distance, he spun around, fairly shaken by the bullet's echoing thunder.He held up, squinting to see the camp he had just ridden away from. He watched as Robert Shelby lowered his arm, turned and entered the main tent.

"My God," Clay whispered. He remained atop his horse for agonizing moments, not sure what to do. Finally, he spun and galloped off, kicking up a cloud of dust.

#####

There were big goings on happening back in Curtis Wells. A wedding shower for Hannah Peale was taking place inside the Unity Hotel. Mrs. Grayson, Mrs. Hackett, and the other town ladies were sitting with Hannah, just goin' on about the silliest things.

"And, once we're married proper, I'll make him shave that disgusting beard off or I won't let him in our house."

"Why, Hannah," Mrs. Grayson replied, "you haven't got a house."

They all laughed.

"That's irrelevant, Mrs. Grayson. We will be staying here at the Unity, until Clay builds me the house I want."

"I can hardly wait till you have children, Hannah," Mrs. Dorothy Hackett said.

"Phh. If Mr. Mosby wants children, he'll learn to obey everything I tell him. I do believe I have that man wrapped around my little finger."

#####

Austin Peale laughed about poor Clay Mosby not knowing what he was getting himself into. Josiah, sitting next to Hiram Cobb, told him to mind his manners. They were talking about the wedding, inside Mr. Browley's Tonsorial Parlor. They noticed Buffalo Bill Cody and young Newt Call ride into town. Josiah watched as the two men stepped down to the street, outside the Pig's Eye Saloon.

Clay Mosby opened the saloon door, and spoke to Cody and Newt. They went inside. Josiah wondered what Mosby had on his mind, then shrugged and rejoined the men's conversation.

#####

Day of the wedding. Day of the gold shipment. The wedding went smooth, with nary a hitch. The robbery took place, also. With nary a hitch. As Clay and Hannah walked out of the half-built church, Robert Shelby led the hired men on horseback. Only, they didn't ride away from Curtis Wells. They rode through the street, straight toward the church.

Guns were firing as the robbers stampeded through town. No one had worn their guns to the wedding. Clay cursed as he recognized Robert leading the Sweetwater men right at them. There was chaos and confusion. Robert aimed his gun at Clay, then fired, hitting Hannah Peale.

"NO!!!!" Clay yelled.

Hannah dropped to the ground. There was a lot of blood. Newt jumped and knocked one man out of his saddle. Cody tried the same thing but was too slow. Mosby looked at Robert, then down at his new bride.

Robert looked back at Clay as he led the robbers out of town....

 

Chapter 4: The River Changes Course

Robert Shelby had not only robbed the Curtis Wells Bank, but he had shot down Clay's new bride, Mrs. Hannah Peale Mosby, like a dog!

Hannah was on the ground, there was a lot of blood. The sound of the gunshot just kept repeating in Clay's shocked head. For possibly the first time in his stalwart life, he was absolutely confused. Witnessing his closest friend gunning down his new wife as they exited the church. Mosby had witnessed more than most men, constantly seeing death and destruction at a horrifying rate.

Nothing could match the senseless brutality of such a disgusting act as Robert Shelby had just performed. Nothing! Clay was shoved out of the way as Austin and Josiah, both screaming, lifted a very pale Hannah. Dr. Cleese and Indian John led the way to the doctor's office, behind the Dry Goods.

Newt ran up to Clay. "We're gettin' us a posse to track them boys. Don't worry, we'll get 'em."

"I should go with you, Newt," Clay replied, trance-like.

"Your place is here, Colonel, by that young filly of yours," Bill Cody said, placing a strong, calloused hand on the young Southerner.

"You best be gettin' inside Doc's office," Newt said. "Hannah's gonna need you." Newt's voice almost cracked at the thought of Hannah possibly dying. Even though he respected Clay Mosby, he still felt affectionate feelings toward Hannah.

Mrs. Ida Grayson had gone to the Telegraph Office to send a message to Fort McNabb, where her husband, Aaron Grayson was stationed. She returned quickly, and along with Mrs. Dorothy Hackett, escorted a visibly shaken Clay into the back of the building.

Once Cody and Newt reached the livery, they were faced with another piece of bad fortune. Every horse in the stable and corral had been shooed away. Shelby, a most competent cavalry soldier had out maneuvered the men of Curtis Wells like they were mere children. Newt and Cody, along with the rest of the makeshift posse shattered as they hurried to bring the town's horses back together.

This would delay the posse for maybe an hour. Plenty enough time for Shelby's plan to work. The robbers reached the river. They had two wagons. Only one had the gold. Robert split his men up. The decoy wagon was rolled along the bank of the river, till it came to some trees. A few men pushed it about twenty-five yards into a nearby wash, almost empty of water. They re-emerged, and quickly caught up to Shelby and the others.

Shelby guided his band of robbers across an open plain, into Indian territory. Out of nowhere, Spotted Elk, a renegade killer attacked the men, who were caught completely off guard. The River Crow war party was smaller than Shelby's gang, but the Indians had the element of surprise with them.

Robert yelled for his men to ride for the nearby gathering of birch trees. But his men were falling like leaves in autumn. Robert reached cover and as he turned to look back, BAM! The side of his head slammed into a low overhanging branch about the size of a man's leg. Blood sliding down his face, he fell unconscious into the wet brush.

One of Spotted Elk's warriors followed Shelby. In a smooth motion, he jumped off his pony, unsheathed his red-stained tomahawk, and raised Robert's head in his painted hand. He turned his hand sideways, preparing to scalp the helpless Virginian.

 

Chapter 5: Into The Fire

Robert Shelby lay unconscious, unaware that his life was about to be snuffed out by Red Claw, Spotted Elk's companion. Lifting the white man's hair, the warrior froze his death wielding tomahawk. He shook Robert's head, trying to wake him. He would gain more pleasure, more tribal honor, by slicing off the top of his foe's head if he were awake.

Spotted Elk rode his war-painted pony into the brush, up to where Red Claw was toying with Robert Shelby.

"They are all dead," Spotted Elk uttered.

"Not this one," Red Claw replied, turning to look at his friend.

"Leave him."

"No! He must die like the others."

"There is no time. I hear many horses coming this way. Leave him!"

Red Claw looked off to the distance, and listened. He could hear a low thundering sound, like many buffalo running across the plains. He spun his tomahawk and slammed the hard handle into Robert's face, splitting his nose open as blood shot in every direction. He spit on Robert's face, then quickly jumped onto his horse and rode away with Spotted Elk and the rest of his renegade warriors.

William F. Cody and Newt Call had managed to finally gather the town's horses. They had nine not-so-able men ready to follow them. With Cody and Newt in the lead, the posse charged out of Curtis Wells, about one hour behind the robbers.

Inside Dr. Cleese's office, Clay stood in a daze. Austin put his arm around the newlywed's shoulders. Josiah paced nervously, jibbering to himself. Mrs. Hackett tried to get Josiah to sit. He did, but was up pacing in less than two minutes.

She can't die," Clay muttered. "Doctor, can you save her?"

Sweating profusely, Dr. Cleese turned toward the grief-stricken Mosby. "I'm doing everything I possibly can."

Hannah was pale, her heartbeat weak. It could go either way. Possibly the only thing in her favor was the fact that she had turned as the robbers neared and the bullet entered her side, rather than her front. Clay found himself doing something he hadn't done in many years. He was praying to the Almighty. He couldn't stand watching his new bride this way. He stepped out of the office, and Austin quickly followed him.

"Buffalo Bill will track them down," Austin said, feeling awkward.

Mosby stared at his new brother-in-law with a blank look. He knew Cody would find them. He didn't know what to do about Robert. Part of him wanted to kill Robert, himself. He couldn't believe what just happened. Robert Shelby shooting his wife, Hannah. He knew one thing though. He had to regain control of himself.

Bill Cody and Newt Call guided the posse to the decoy wagon. They figured out the robbers’ plan and hurried off toward Indian territory. By the time they reached the spot of the massacre, Aaron Grayson and a half dozen men in dirty-shirt blue were gathering the dead robbers.

"You men from Curtis Wells?" Grayson said, riding up to Cody. "Oh, Mr. Cody. Obliged to see you, Sir."

"What happened, soldier?" Cody asked.

"Spotted Elk and his men wiped out this group. All except for one poor fellow. Seems he was the leader."

"Well, looks like the gold's been recovered," Cody replied.

"Yessir. We're heading back to Fort McNabb to bury these men."

"What about that other fella?" Newt asked.

"His name's Captain Robert Shelby. Ex-Confederate officer. He's already been taken to the fort. We received a telegram from my wife, Ida Grayson. Bank robbery and possible murder. He would've been better off if the Indians had killed him."

"Speak a bit more clear, soldier," Cody said.

"Robert Shelby will be executed by a firing squad at dawn, in two days. That clear enough."

 

Chapter 6: Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Town

It was late in the afternoon when Bill Cody, Newt Call, and the posse returned to Curtis Wells. They had recovered the wagon full of the Duke's stolen gold, along with the decoy wagon. As the crowd gathered to hurrah Cody in front of the bank, Newt climbed off his horse and quickly walked behind the building, over to Dr. Cleese's office.

Ida Grayson was the first to meet him. "Newt! My husband, Aaron. Did you see him?"

"Yes Ma'am, Mrs. Grayson. He captured the man responsible for shooting Hannah."

Newt removed his hat out of respect for the lady. Mrs. Garyson reached out and hugged Newt. As Newt returned the hug, something stirred inside of him. Surprised, Ida Grayson stepped back.

"Beggin' your pardon, Mrs. Grayson. I'm ... I'm sorry."

Ida Grayson stared at the young cowboy, not sure what to say. Being a lady of dignity, she felt it best to ignore what had just happened.

"Come inside, Newt. Mr. Mosby will want to hear what happened."

Newt followed Ida into the doctor's office, his face fairly red.

"Mr. Mosby," Ida said, "Newt has something to tell you."

Clay Mosby rose from his chair by Hannah's bedside. Newt explained that all the men except the leader had been massacred by Spotted Elk's band. He said the man named Robert Shelby was to be executed at Fort McNabb in two days.

Well, Clay Mosby had changed since a few hours ago. Even though he was grief-stricken about his new bride being shot, his old fire had returned. It was plain to see. His eyes were no longer dazed, but resembled burning coals.

"No," Josiah Peale yelled. "The man who shot my daughter must be brought back here. He must be hung, right here, in Curtis Wells."

With that, Josiah rushed out of the office and straight for the telegraph office.

Newt cautiously stepped near Hannah's bed. She looked so pale. He turned to leave, but looked over at Ida Grayson. She looked back, her eyes different than before. Putting his head down, Newt quickly exited.

Mosby followed Newt outside. "Newt. Thank you."

"We didn't do much, 'cept get the gold back." He wanted to say something about Hannah, but couldn't find the words.

"Only Shelby is alive?"

"Yep."

"I see."

#####

Next day, Josiah Peale was flashing a piece of paper for everyone to see. Judge J.T. Calder had intervened, allowing Robert Shelby to be transported to Curtis Wells. He would stand trial for robbery and attempted murder. Josiah was informing every person that justice and righteousness would be allowed.

Clay Mosby sat alone in the Pig's Eye Saloon. He needed a break from constantly sitting by Hannah's side. Townsfolk were coming up to him, telling him he would have his revenge against the man who shot his wife. Clay merely smiled. But it was the smile of a fox standing guard near a henhouse.

Clay had been wrestling with his thoughts. Part of him had planned to ride out to Fort McNabb at night. He was going to start a fire and sneak in to rescue Robert. He just wasn't sure if he wanted to then kill him, or to let him escape. This was real torment. His longest and dearest friend, they were more than brothers. Fighting side by side in the War, a bond formed between men killing and facing death.

Yet, this very man had pointed his pistol at his new bride, and gunned her down. Well, Josiah had messed up his plan. Now, he had to rethink things.

Newt Call sat upstairs in the livery. He was concerned about Hannah. But he was also thinking about Mrs. Grayson. What happened was just plain crazy. She was married and old enough to be his mother. He sighed. Why couldn't Curtis Wells have at least one whorehouse?

#####

Judge J.T. Calder arrived at Fort McNabb. Robert Shelby was shackled like an animal and put into a supply wagon. One guard rode along with the Judge and prisoner. Shelby was a sight, his eyes both half closed and black. Dried blood stuck in his hair. He was still woozy.

"Well, son," the Judge said to Robert, " looks as if you'll be meetin' your Maker by a rope instead of a gun."

The Judge and guard both laughed as the wagon began its journey to a waiting Curtis Wells.

 

Chapter 7: And One Shall Reveal Terrible News

The Army supply wagon transporting Robert Shelby had arrived in Curtis Wells. Curious townsfolk gathered nearby to get a first hand look at the villain who had shot Hannah Mosby and robbed the bank. Austin Peale shoved his way to the front and cursed Shelby. Then, he tried to jump up and attack him. The guard put his boot into Austin's shoulder, knocking him unceremoniously onto his backside. Josiah helped his son up while voicing his complaint to long time friend, Judge J.T. Calder. The Judge waved his hand saying the law would be upheld at any cost, and that he and Josiah would speak soon enough.

Now, it isn't known if what happened next was caused by the loud buzz outside due to the arrival of Robert Shelby, or whether it was just time for it to happen. But Hannah opened her eyes. A near-exhausted Clay Mosby, who had had almost no sleep for two days sat straight up in the chair next to her bed.

"Hannah," he whispered. He leaned over, gently kissing her dry, unmoving lips. He lingered briefly, smiling at her. Hannah stared up at her new husband. There was no emotion, just a blank, empty look. This greatly troubled Clay.

"Mr. Mosby! Please," Dr. Cleese interceded, touching his arm. "Your wife needs rest."

Clay turned, grabbing the faithful physician and actually lifted him slightly off the floor.

"Mr. Mosby!" the doctor nervously cried.

Immediately, Clay released him, as the frightened doctor pressed his hand against his chest, feeling his heart pounding. Clay rubbed his bearded chin.

"Forgive me, Doctor. I ... I don't know what possessed me to such rash behavior?"

"Might I suggest you perhaps get some sleep?"

"Yes," Clay agreed. "Perhaps you're right."

Clay looked back at Hannah. Her eyes blinked, then closed.

"She needs rest. And, so do you," Dr. Cleese replied.

"I'll return shortly," Clay said, grabbing his hat and leaving.

#####

Since there was no jail in Curtis Wells, Robert Shelby was shackled inside the Grainery. He was a sight. Split nose. Blackened eyes. Dried blood caked on the side of his head. However, his mind had begun to clear. He was aware that he was now in Curtis Wells. And, that Clay Mosby must be nearby. His mind flashed over recent events. The Indian attack! What happened to the other men? How did things get so messed up?

Judge Calder and Josiah Peale sat inside the Montana Statesman discussing the trial. All indications were showing that Robert Shelby would be hung by the neck until pronounced dead.

Inside the Pig's Eye Saloon, Bill Cody was saying his goodbyes to Newt. He would trail South, down into Wyoming Territory. He was bound and determined to gather new talent for his Congress of Cowboys Show. Newt had informed Cody of his decision to remain in Curtis Wells, leastways for now.

#####

Mrs. Ida Grayson stopped Newt as he was about to ride out of town.

"Newt! Wait!"

He pulled up as she hurried into the dusty street.

"Where are you going?" she asked him.

Newt hesitated, then said, "Sweetwater."

"My goodness! May I ask you why?"

Once more he hesitated, but this time he didn't answer her.

She shook her head and said, "I see."

He opened his mouth to speak, but was stopped.

"I have a favor to ask of you, Newt. Will you take me to Fort McNabb to see my husband?"

"Yes ... ma'am, Mrs. Grayson." He said it reluctantly, knowing he had a powerful urge to get to Sweetwater. "I'll get a wagon and wait outside the hotel."

"You'll have to come up to my room first, Newt. I ... need your help with something."

She allowed a slight smile to show, as Newt climbed off his horse and followed her toward the Unity.

#####

Unable to sleep, or to even relax, Clay Mosby returned to Dr. Cleese's office. The doctor had stepped out for a quick meal at the hotel. Clay quietly sat near Hannah. She suddenly opened her eyes again. This time she turned her head, looking straight at Clay.

"Hannah," he breathed, standing up.

"Clay?"

"Yes, my dear?"

"Listen to me. This was ... a mistake." She coughed two times.

"Don't talk, Hannah. You need rest."

She shook her head angrily. "NO! Stop it! I don't love you. I never did."

"WHAT?!" Clay couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"You're a big fool, Clay. I only married you so I could get away from my father and ... cough, cough ... and Austin. Cough. I don't want to be your wife. I just, cough, wanted to ... cough. I don't love you. Get away from me."

 

Chapter 8: Secrets of the Heart

Clay Mosby was speechless. She must be delirious from loss of blood, he thought. He tried to reach out and touch Hannah, but she thrashed her arms, yelling and coughing.

"This is your fault. You're ... cough, cough ... respon ... cough ... sible. OH. I feel sick! It's your fault I was shot."

"Hannah," Clay replied, feeling his stomach being ripped out and stepped on. "You're very sick. You can't help what you're saying."

I CAN HELP WHAT I'M ... cough, cough, cough, uhhhh. LEAVE!"

Angry and hurt, Clay walked out of the doctor's office just as Josiah and Dr. Cleese were returning. Clay quickly told the doctor what had happened. Both Cleese and Josiah rushed inside.

"Hannah!" Josiah cried. She looked at him. Tears were in her eyes. "Father, I made a terrible mistake."

"No. Don't talk. Just, you need rest. Rest, Hannah."

Dr. Cleese administered medicine to quiet the ailing woman. Josiah grabbed the doctor's arm. "Why did she say those things, Ephraim?"

Dr. Cleese sadly looked at Josiah. "I fear her time may soon be up."

#####

Out at Fort McNabb, the soldiers were preparing to hunt for Spotted Elk. Aaron Grayson had hoped to take some time to visit his wife, Ida. Now, it would have to wait. Before leaving his quarters, he took one last look at the young woman laying in his bed.

"Soon's we get back, we'll take you and the other girls back to Sweetwater. Keep my bed warm."

A red haired woman opened her eyes, smiled, then went back to sleep.

#####

Clay Mosby felt like a Yankee cannon ball had just ripped through his innards. The marriage had happened so fast. He really didn't know Hannah. He found himself outside the Grainery.

"Come to see the man what shot yer wife?" the guard asked.

Clay didn't answer him. He looked at the small wooden structure. Then bobbed his head.

"I'll need yer gun, Mr. Mosby. Cain't let you shoot this feller."

Clay handed over his Remington. The guard unlocked the door, and Clay entered.

#####

"What exactly am I supposed to help you with, Mrs. Grayson?" Newt asked, following behind the older woman.

"You'll see in just a moment."

They entered Ida Grayson's room, as she turned the lock. Newt looked kind of funny at her. She just smiled back at him.

"Newt? I seem to have a problem." She looked him straight in the eyes. "I seem to find myself attracted to you in a most unusual way. Are you attracted to me, Newt?"

Newt's face got all hot and red. "Uh, Mrs. Grayson...."

"Perhaps we should both have something to drink," she suggested, as she opened her nightstand and pulled out a small flask of bourbon.

"Oh, don't look so surprised, Newt. We all have little secrets, don't we?"

Newt was nervous. But the fragrant odor surrounding Mrs. Grayson was intoxicating, and he found himself drawn to this forbidden fruit.

"My husband is away so much. I'm lonely. I need affection. Now, I want you to tell me why you were going to Sweetwater."

She took a fair drink and handed the bourbon to Newt.

"Was it to visit the ladies?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

She shook her head. "Uh huh. Well, maybe I can take care of ... your problem."

Poor Newt. Part of him wanted to jump on top of Mrs. Grayson right then. The other part was frozen in fear.

"Come near me, Newt. It's time I paid you back for all you've done for me."

Newt felt his legs moving, till he was very close to Mrs. Grayson.

"I think we better remove this gun and holster first," she whispered.

#####

Clay stepped into the darkened Grainery. He looked down, over in a corner.

"My God! Robert!"

Robert Shelby opened his swollen eyes, then lurched back against the corner.

"Robert. Don't be afraid."

"You've come to kill me, haven't you, Clay?"

"No, Robert. Although I have thought about it."

Clay bent down near his old friend. "Did they do this to you?" he asked, pointing to his face.

Robert laughed a little. "No. The Indians did. And a low-hanging tree branch."

They both laughed a little.

"Is ... is she dead? Clay, I'm so sorry."

"I know, Robert. No, she isn't dead, not yet. Now, she hates me."

Robert lowered his chin, and began quietly sobbing. "Why'd we ever leave Virginia?"

"Because the Yankees destroyed our homes."

"And, now I've ruined things for you, Clay."

"Time’s up," the guard called, opening the door.

"I'll be back," Clay quietly said.

#####

Dr Cleese stepped out of his office. He walked to the front of the building, then down the wood planked sidewalk. Josiah approached him from the Pig's Eye Saloon.

"Josiah, your daughter is dead."

 

Chapter 9: Beyond All Hope

Josiah Peale stood there in front of the Pig's Eye Saloon. The four words Dr. Cleese had just spoken, "Your daughter is dead," seemed unreal. He looked at the doctor; maybe he misheard him?

"I'm sorry, Josiah. Hannah died moments ago. There was too much internal bleeding. I couldn't save her."

Josiah's legs buckled. Dr. Cleese had to grab him as he fell. Austin hurried out of the Pig's Eye Saloon as he witnessed this scene. He hugged his father, knowing words were useless now. Both father and son cried over the death of their beloved Hannah.

Clay sat in Dr. Cleese's office. He stared at the pale, dead features of Hannah. His thoughts were a mixture of anger and confusion. Hannah's cruel and calloused words, the last words she had spoken to him were tearing at his heart, like razor-sharp claws of a mammoth grizzly.

Clay knew one thing. He had to do something, or there would be two dead people he cared for.

#####

Across mountain and plain. Through valley and forest, rode the cavalry along with Aaron Grayson. Chasing after ghosts. Always on the tail of Spotted Elk, but not able to corner the renegade River Crow.

################

Newt laughed. It was a carefree laugh.

"What are laughing about?" Ida Grayson curiously asked.

He turned toward her in her soft bed. "Don't hardly seem right. Being in bed while daylight's burnin'."

"Ohhhh," she giggled, "there's a lot of things I'd just love to teach you that don't hardly seem right."

He pulled her close with his strong young arms. He started kissing her mouth.

"Gently, gently," she whispered. I'm not a horse you're riding, Newt."

"That ain't what you said 'bout an hour ago, about riding."

"Ohhhh, is that so?" They both laughed as their hands were all over each other.

Newt rolled her on her back, his eyes feasting on her like a starving man at a banquet.

"My goodness," Mrs. Grayson sighed. "What have I created?"

#####

Word got back to Robert Shelby that the woman he had shot was dead. It seemed hopeless now. Judge Calder held a short trial. Hell, it weren't no trial. But no one protested. Clay Mosby knew he could hardly speak on Robert's behalf without incriminating himself in the bank robbery.

Now, his wife of five minutes was dead, and his closest friend was scheduled to be hung by the neck. And to make things worst, his final moments with Hannah were about as bad as anything could be.

#####

Newt stumbled his way back to the livery. There was a tingling feeling inside his body like he never felt before. Well, maybe once before. Back in Ogallala, when he left Texas. But that was nothing compared to this. What a feeling he was experiencing! He laid back on the loose hay and quickly feel asleep.

#####

Unable to sleep, Clay wandered outside of the Unity. Construction on a gallows had already begun. He thought about burning it down. It wouldn't save Robert, only slow the process. The sounds of the crickets momentarily interrupted his thoughts. He reflected on Hannah. Maybe he should watch Robert hang.

Either way, there seemed to be no possible chance to free Robert. Clay turned and went inside. It appeared that he was helpless to do anything to rescue Robert.

 

Chapter 10: Farewell, Old Friend

The last shovelful of dirt was thrown over the grave. Even though the church stood uncompleted, there was a handsome stone nearby. Hannah's remains would be the first resident of Curtis Wells new cemetery. Josiah and Austin both assured Clay he was family now. Judge Calder promised Josiah that Robert Shelby would have his neck stretched before the sun went down. Clay heard the Judge, but hadn't thought of a workable plan to save his friend.

Ida Grayson longed to see her husband, Aaron. She loved him dearly and hadn't been able to visit him yet, due to the Spotted Elk situation. She wondered what her friends back in Chicago would say about her affair with young Newt, and his being some twenty years younger than her. She watched from the hotel's balcony as Newt crossed the street and approached Clay Mosby.

"Mr. Mosby," Newt began, "I'm sorry for your loss."

"I know you cared for her, Newt. Perhaps she would have fancied you had I not courted her."

Clay sighed. "What's done is done. Life goes on, sir."

#####

The soldiers of Fort McNabb had finally caught up to Spotted Elk. They engaged the hostiles in combat. Unfortunately for the Army, they hadn't been issued standard repeating firearms, and the River Crow were able to inflict damages to the soldiers, although they also suffered casualties. They managed to capture Aaron Grayson alive, believing him to be strong medicine, due to the jacket he wore. It was the same type of outer wear Lt. Colonel George Custer had worn two years ago, when these same Indians had called him Hi Yett Say, Longhair.

The soldiers had broken through and retreated. Once back within the relative safety of the fort, the commanding officer ordered a troop to remount and quickly ride to Curtis Wells. There was a young Texan named Call whose ability they needed to track Spotted Elk. Aaron was their tracker. Without him, the majority of men would be lucky to find their own noses.

#####

"Why are you so interested in visiting with the man who killed Hannah?" Josiah asked Clay.

"I don't know," Clay replied, lying. "I just ... I just need to, Josiah."

"I strongly urge you not to, Mr. Mosby," Judge Calder added.

"I bet he plans to kill him," Austin said, thinking he knew Clay's thoughts.

"I have to find out why he shot her," Clay uttered, not wishing to reveal his true motive.

"Clay, please," Josiah begged, "he'll be hung soon. Forget that ridiculous idea."

Judge J.T. Calder had been watching Mosby very closely. "Well, I guess it can't hurt none. But you make it quick, you hear?"

"I intend to, Sir," Clay answered as he hurried out of the saloon and down the street.

Whether Clay said goodbye to Robert, or whispered a bold plan, is not known at this point. Clay, however, exited the Grainery within four minutes, and appeared more at ease. Or, maybe he was just at peace with himself?

#####

Newt had the unenviable task of delivering the telegram to Mrs. Grayson concerning Aaron's capture. It also requested his assistance in tracking the renegade hostiles in hopes of rescuing her husband.

"Mrs. Grayson?" Newt quietly said, entering her room.

"Come in, Newt. I've been very impatiently waiting for you."

"Uh, yes, ma'am."

He took a deep breath then handed her the telegram. Her reaction was expected. She immediately cried. Newt turned the brass door handle to leave her alone, but she stopped him.

"Newt, I need to have you stay here with me ... please, I...."

Newt couldn't believe the reaction that she was causing with him. This is crazy, he thought. Why is my body acting like this now?

#####

The fated hour had come. Judge Calder looked at his pocket watch and replied, "Time is no longer on the prisoner's side."

The shackles were removed from the condemned man. Robert Shelby was shoved outside, where the townsfolk resembled a pack of bloodthirsty vultures. His swollen eyes squinted, trying to adjust to the light. Clay was nowhere in sight. Robert swallowed hard. His heart began pumping faster as he broke into a sweat. Now he was in the street, looking up at the just-built gallows. It was like some unholy monolith, reaching into the sky.

Judge Calder said some words, but Robert's mind was somewhere else. This time, there was no escape, he finally concluded. Clay just couldn't help him, and couldn't bear to watch him die.

Then, two men were walking him to the gallows steps. "Hold up," Judge Calder yelled. The cavalry soldiers were riding in just then. Robert assumed they were there for the hanging. Suddenly, all the town's horses were let out of the corral, near the livery. A gunshot was fired, stirring the animals. They charged through the street, mixing with the soldiers. People ran for fear of being trampled. No one was going to risk their own life to pull Robert Shelby to safety.

 

Chapter 11: Deadly Scent

It was chaos on the street of Curtis Wells as horses ran wild and the cavalry rode into town. Robert was left alone to face the stampede.

People screamed and ran for cover. Even Judge Calder lit out for the nearest doorway. It was a scene of confusion as horse and rider converged. Riding low on a saddled horse, Clay guided the animal to where Robert was standing. Jumping off with superior speed, Mosby grabbed Robert. He lifted him onto the horse and slapped its backside. Robert leaned over, his face in the horse's mane. Clay could only hope no one had seen this take place. He quickly sidestepped a charging beast but wasn't as lucky with the next one.

Trying to avoid being trampled, Clay was struck on the back of his foot, causing him to involuntarily yell in pain. The pain radiated from his left heel, cutting a fiery path straight up to his head. Most men would have fallen down, to be run over by the terrified horses. But Clay Mosby weren't "most men." Gritting his teeth, he hobbled with exceptional quickness till he was able to dive head first onto the steps of the Land Office, near the hotel.

He watched as Robert, still leaning low, guided the gift horse out of town, running as if the devil himself had just come out of the ground. Other horses followed, providing the perfect cover and escape.

Newt, having just exited the Unity, saw Clay, and hurried to assist the Colonel.

"Mosby? You alright?" Newt called out, reaching Clay and turning him over as things were settling down on the dust covered street.

"I’m fine, Newt," Clay replied, as Newt helped him to his feet.

"Arhhh!" Clay yelled, his left leg giving out on him.

"Whoa," Newt said, holding him up. "Best if you took it easy for a minute."

Clay lowered his boot onto the wooden sidewalk. No doubt about it. His heel was in pain.

The cavalry from Fort McNabb managed to corral most of the horses. Only three seemed unaccountable. Order was restored, though it required the soldiers a good twenty minutes to do so. Time enough for Robert Shelby to put some space between himself and Curtis Wells.

The two missing horses that had followed him finally pulled away. Robert slowed his horse down. He wasn't out of the woods yet. His hands were still tied. He had no food, no water, no money. But he was able to laugh. He had somehow cheated death once more. He had more good fortune than any man should have. He didn't end of scalped. He never died by the firing squad. He wasn't hung. And, he didn't die in the stampede.

#####

The townsfolk were riled something fierce and foaming at the mouth like dogs gone mad when they realized Robert Shelby had disappeared. Not seeing his bloodied, trampled body broken to pieces in the street was turning them into an ugly mob.

Newt helped a limping Clay into the street.

"Where is he?" Clay yelled. "Where is that murderer?" He had to admit to himself, he was real believable.

"Search every building," Josiah yelled, waving his arms like some giant bird.

Austin, wearing a holster, drew his gun, while some folks prayed he wouldn't shoot at them.

No one was angrier than Judge J.T. Calder. His face was about as red as new paint on a schoolhouse. Clay even put his head down once, trying not to laugh.

#####

While the barnyard residents watched with curiosity, Josiah led his fellow citizens around the town. They had no idea Robert was now miles away.

Newt rode out with the cavalry, in search of Aaron Grayson. Ida waved to him from the hotel balcony. Clay wanted to be part of the tracking party, but knew he had to keep up his prank.

#####

Aaron Grayson lay in the cold, wet grass. His feet and hands were tied together from behind, making it impossible for him to stand. Spotted Elk argued with one of his band. He was some sort of Spiritual man. He held a handful of sand or dust, which Spotted Elk proceeded to knock out of his hand. Tempers flared as other men of the tribe had to seperate the two. Aaron Grayson figured the scuffle was about him. Anything that allowed him more time was fine with him.

#####

The soldiers brought Newt to the place where their skirmish had occurred. He jumped down from the Hellbitch, bent down, and studied the grass. The soldiers observed his actions, careful to watch for more Indians.

"They took Grayson that way," Newt replied, pointing east. He quickly mounted his horse and they hurried off at a natural three beat gait.

Darkness was covering the sky when Newt reached Spotted Elk's camp. A few small fires were scattered in the blackness. One of the soldiers, an old sergeant, took over. He motioned for the men to split into two even sized groups, and to close in from the flanks.

Newt stopped the sergeant.

"You smell that?" he whispered.

"What is it? It's awful," the sergeant answered back.

The other soldiers held their noses at the horrible smell.

"It's the smell of human flesh," Newt replied, almost gagging.

"My Lord," the sergeant said. "They're burning Grayson's body!"

 

Chapter 12: Two Tins

The awful stench of human flesh being burned alive caused the sergeant to regroup his men and charge all out straight into the nearby woods. Newt rode up to the charred figure of a man grotesquely standing tied against a simmering wooden stake. If it was Aaron Grayson, he was beyond hope. Jumping down, Newt gagged at the odor of cooked flesh.

"It ain't Grayson," he yelled, trying to figure out who it used to be. He figured it was some holy man of the River Crow.

Turning, he heard a small muffled sound in the grass. It was Aaron Grayson, bound like some pronghorn deer from a hunting trip. Before he could move toward Grayson, an Indian raised his knife above the Army scout's body.

#####

Josiah, Austin, and a hobbling Clay had just returned from Hannah's grave. They entered the Pig's Eye Saloon and sat at a table with Judge Calder.

The Judge had finally convinced a reluctant Josiah that some form of law was needed in Curtis Wells.

"Josiah, having law and justice in this nice little town doesn't mean more outlaws will show up. Just the opposite. Why, you build a jail, elect a sheriff, outlaws will think before entering your town."

"Ahhhh, I don't know, Jonathan...."

"Well, I do know. This town can't depend on soldiers scattered all over the territory."

#####

Newt drew his Colt and fired. The Indian fell back dead. He stepped through the wet, tall grass till he reached Aaron Grayson. With his free hand, Newt pulled out his knife to cut the flesh-cutting cords that bound Grayson. Red Claw, the Indian who had nearly scalped Robert Shelby, charged Newt, his own sharp, silver blade seeking blood. Newt fell backward over Grayson's body. His gun discharged, firing into the air from the jolt.

Spotted Elk, being a man with no integrity, had jumped onto his pony and lit out before the soldiers could catch him. There was chaos in the camp. Two soldiers nearly shot each other in the dark. Some Indians escaped, but most either were fighting or had died. A few of the soldiers lay in the red grass, blood oozing from stabbings.

Red Claw dove for Newt. Newt fired his pistol. Red Claw let out a painful grunt as the lead bullet ripped through his chest, and exploded out his back. He fell heavily on Newt, his knife sinking deep into the cold ground. Newt squeezed the trigger once more. Red Claw's body lurched up as blood and innards splattered all over Newt's green jacket. He rolled the dead River Crow off his body, then went to assist Grayson.

The fight with the hostiles had ended almost as quickly as it had begun. Spotted Elk and four or five warriors had escaped. The others were dead. The soldiers had casualties as well. Three men were dead. The others were either helping their injured or gathering the horses.

Newt cut the ropes, freeing Aaron Grayson. He was hurt. Spotted Elk had repeatedly beaten him from head to knees. He was unable to stand on his own. Newt and the sergeant both helped him up. Aaron Grayson paused, sniffing the air. He looked at Newt.

"I remember you. You were riding with Cody." He sniffed again. "You smell like my wife, Ida's perfume."

#####

"Clay Mosby! Raise your right hand," Judge Calder ordered.

Mosby obeyed.

The Judge proceeded to reveal that by authority given him from the Territory of Montana, he was now naming Clay Mosby as Sheriff of Curtis Wells.

For whatever hidden reasons Clay had accepted, Austin felt he would name him his deputy.

The Judge, anticipating such actions, had carried two tin stars with him. One, a sheriff's badge. The other, a deputy's badge.

Josiah was happy his son-in-law had been made town sheriff. Clay had plans of his own.

#####

Robert Shelby had ridden long enough. He had finally rid himself of the ropes that bound his hands behind him. He had rubbed the skin raw doing it, but he was free. He was in the hill country. He laid down to get some much needed rest. No sooner had one minute gone by when he heard a double-barreled shotgun being cocked against his head.

#####

"Mrs. Grayson gave me a hug when I left Curtis Wells to track you. She must of figgered I'd find you safe, is all," Newt told Aaron Grayson as they approached town.

"Simmer down, son. I didn't mean no harm in my words. Fact is, Newt, I owe you my life." Then he lowered his voice. "These boys here coulda never found me before Spotted Elk woulda killed me." He smiled at Newt. "I owe you."

The party entered Curtis Wells at night. Soldiers were sent to find Ida Grayson. Mrs. Grayson hurried to Dr. Cleese's office.

"Aaron! Ohh, Aaron. My darling."

They both reached out to touch their hands together. They smiled. Their smiles showed love. Their faces both showed deceit.

With things settling in, Aaron asked Newt to come to him. Ida was nervous. Newt approached Aaron's bed.

"Here, Newt. Take this, it belongs to you now," Grayson said, handing Newt his tanned, fringed jacket. "This is all I have to say thank you for saving me."

Newt, wide-eyed, took the jacket. He had thrown away his green jacket that was splattered with human innards. Immediately, he slung it on him, then found a mirror.

"Suppose I look like Bill Cody now, don't I?" he said, turning around. "Now, alls I gotta do is grow me some longer hair."

#####

Next morning, Clay Mosby, new sheriff, walked up to Newt. Newt was reclined on the bench on the side of the Unity.

"My, don't you look important today, Newt," Clay said, smiling.

"Believe I do," he replied.

"Newt, I have a serious proposition for you. As you know, I've just been chosen sheriff of Curtis Wells. However, I need a good man to back me up. I do believe that together, you and I could succeed in bringing justice here."

"You askin' me to be your deputy?"

"That's exactly what I'm asking. Well?"

Newt looked around and shook his head. "Sounds good."

"Good. Here, take this tin star and pin it on that fine looking jacket."

"No! Not the jacket. I'll pin it on my shirt."

"Well, Deputy Call. Will you join me for breakfast?"

Newt stood up to follow Clay, his new boss. Down the street, an angry and jealous Austin Peale watched the two tin star-wearing men head into the Unity.

 

Chapter 13: Burly Bob

Robert Shelby had just relaxed for the first time in days, ready to savor some much needed sleep, when he heard the trigger click and felt a double barrel shotgun being rudely shoved against his head. Slowly, he rolled over to see who had found him.

"Tarnation, boy! If you ain't a sight! Ha ha, I declare if you don't look like some ol' bar chewed you up and crapped you out."

"I was attacked by Indians. Spotted Elk," Robert said, looking up at his armed foe.

"Damn, boy, if you ain't the luckiest mortal walkin' God's green earth. Here, gimme yer hand. We better git a movin' 'fore some other heathens show up. Ha ha."

"Well...? Who're you?" Robert asked, standing up.

"Me? Why, I'm Curtis. Been livin' in these hills nigh onto fifty years now."

"Curtis?"

"Damn, boy, you shore do jabber a lot. Let's get some food in you."

Old Curtis led Robert deeper into the high country. At his campsite, he nursed Robert's wounds and fed him till he was stuffed to the jaw. Robert was relieved that Curtis had no inkling of who he was.

#####

Now, about a month had passed since Old Curtis had found Robert. In Curtis Wells, Josiah and Austin were beginning to appear less friendly to Clay Mosby. The reality of Hannah's death was eating his insides away like some growing cancer.

Even Austin had grown outwardly cold to Clay. His motives were a combination of losing his sister and being snubbed for the deputy's job.

Aaron Grayson, being a superbly strong man, had finally healed and had returned to Fort McNabb, though still on inactive duty. His wife, Ida, had gone with him to the fort. She had come up with a brilliant plan. Ida wanted to take their savings, money that was to carry them to San Francisco, and use it to purchase the Unity Hotel, which had recently been put up for sale.

This sparked a most disturbing and bitter conflict between the couple. It reached a boiling point, causing Ida to leave Aaron, and return to Curtis Wells. It was bad fortune all around, with neither one speaking to the other as she left the fort.

#####

Clay Mosby had made a profitable turn at being sheriff. His fines were steep, but he was the law. He had begun spending much of his time in the Pig's Eye Saloon, playing poker. He was very good and it happened that on this very day, he had finally lured Mr. Tomkins, the saloon's owner, into betting all he had. Never doubting the outcome, Clay won. He now owned the Pig's Eye Saloon. He had taken away everything Mr. Tomkins had spent years building up.

Sheriff of Curtis Wells. Owner of the only saloon in town. The first step of his big plan was now complete. Lighting one of his cigars, he stepped outside of his saloon. Looking around, he saw Austin Peale leave the Montana Statesman and head over to the livery, where Newt Call was standing. Clay smiled. With that jacket from Aaron Grayson and not shaving or cutting his hair since arriving in town, Newt's appearance was similar to Buffalo Bill Cody.

Clay stopped smiling as he saw one of Austin's friends grab Newt from behind while Austin began punching him. Clay ran quickly up the street. Austin had landed three or four solid blows to Newt's face and belly. Clay drew his gun and fired a warning shot into the air. Austin and his friend stopped. Newt swung the friend off him and threw a punch at the much taller Austin. The blow drove up into his jaw, knocking him to the ground.

"What're you doing, Austin?" Clay asked.

"None of your business, brother," Austin arrogantly replied, holding his mouth.

Newt grabbed Austin's friend, kneeing him in the face.

"Newt! That's enough. Lock these two up. Fine is $25 each for disturbing the peace, and $25 each for attacking a lawman."

Newt kicked the friend and shoved his gun in Austin's back as they climbed the steps of the new sheriff's office.

"C'mon, Clay. We was only having fun. Right, Newt? It was just...."

"Austin! Not another word. Are we clear?" Clay angrily said.

Josiah came running over and pleaded with Clay to not treat family that way.

#####

Now, it was right after this that Clay Mosby discovered the batch of bad whisky inside his saloon. Joseph the bartender had left town in a hurry. Clay and Newt heard tell that a man named Clayton had been seen recently in Sweetwater. He was the one selling the bad liquor.

Clay mounted his horse, Thunder, as Newt stood near him.

"You're in charge, Newt. Watch my saloon."

"Will do. Sure you don't want me ridin' with you?"

"I just want to talk to the sheriff in Sweetwater."

Clay turned and rode away. Crossing his path before he left town, was Mrs. Grayson, returning in an Army wagon. She waved to Newt and he immediately walked over to her.

#####

Clay got off his horse in front of the Celestial Palace Saloon. He asked about the sheriff. Someone told him it was a bearded fellow named Burly Bob Parrish. His office was down at the end of town. Clay walked his horse down to what looked like a simple cabin. It was the Sheriff of Sweetwater's office. Clay opened the door and entered. The sheriff had his back to him.

"Sheriff Parrish? I'm Clay Mosby, sheriff of Curtis Wells. I'd like to discuss a matter of importance with you."

"Well, Clay Mosby, sheriff of Curtis Wells. Say hello to Burly Bob Parrish," the Sweetwater sheriff said, then turned and stood up.

"Hello, Clay," Burly Bob said, smiling big.

"My God! Robert! It's you!!"

 

Chapter 14: Storms Within

Clay's initial reaction at seeing Robert was joy, coupled with relief. He hugged his now bearded friend, then suddenly backed up.

"Robert! What are you doing? Sheriff? This is too dangerous. Curtis Wells is too close."

"Relax, Clay. I couldn't pass up the opportunity. There's more money to be made here than robbing any bank."

"What're you talking...."

The door opened and a large man stepped inside. "Burly Bob, we're fixin' to pull out. Wagon's empty," the man said, suspiciously eyeballing Clay.

"Hold up a minute there, Clayton," Robert replied.

"Clayton?" Mosby said, turning and looking at the large man.

"What's it to you?" Clayton angrily shot back.

Mosby drew and spun his Remington, swinging the butt into Clayton's face. Clayton fell into the desk, knocking papers onto the floor as he crashed to the ground.

"Clay! What the hell're you doing?" Robert yelled. "This man works for me."

"You've made a poor choice, Robert. This man...."

"Bob! My name's Bob," Robert exclaimed.

"A man is dead in Curtis Wells because of him, Bob."

"Me? I didn't kill no one," Clayton barked, spitting blood. "You loosened my tooth you

bas...."

"I'll put a hole in the back of your throat if I hear one more word," Clay ordered, shoving his gun into Clayton's face.

"Clay! That is enough!" Robert yelled, grabbing a half-full whisky bottle and hurling it against a wall, shattering it.

#####

Mrs. Grayson had asked Newt to accompany her up to her room. Newt had been struggling with his conscious, especially since Aaron Grayson had given him his jacket. Ida convinced Newt of her need for his company and the young deputy followed like a beast being led to the slaughter. Newt knew it was wrong. But there he was, pursuing this older, dark-skinned woman. He was powerless to resist. Her eyes, her voice, her fragrant aroma. It was like a raging forest fire, his lust. He wanted to stop. But all he had was a small tin cup of water to throw on flames covering the entire sky. And, before they reached her room, he couldn't wait to feel the fire.

#####

At Fort McNabb, Aaron Grayson had been reconsidering his words with Ida. She was more important to him than San Francisco. He was given permission from his commanding officer to ride to Curtis Wells to see his wife. Without delay, Aaron Grayson rode off. He wanted to show up unexpectedly and surprise Ida.

#####

"A man named Ross died from the whisky this Yankee scum is selling," Mosby said, his pistol still pressing into Clayton's bearded face.

"Well, that may be, Clay. But there's too much money involved to concern myself over some drunken fool," Robert angrily replied.

"I am now the owner of the Pig's Eye Saloon. I will not have that man's death on my hands."

"You're sticking your hand in too many pockets, Clay. Sheriff. Saloon owner. You should be here with me."

For a moment, Clay hesitated, considering Robert's words. He stood up. Clayton started to get up. Clay shoved the heel of his boot into Clayton's chest, pinning him back to the floor.

"Damn it, Clay! This is now the second time you've cheated me from money I want."

"How long do you think you'll be here once people find out where you are, Robert?"

Clayton grabbed Mosby's foot and pushed it away from him, causing Clay to stumble and lose his balance. Clayton moved fast for such a large man and now was holding his gun on Clay.

"I say we shoot this sheriff, Burly. He's only gonna bring trouble," Clayton said.

#####

Newt sat on Ida's bed, pulling his boots back on. Ida scurried up behind him, putting her arms around his waist.

"Don't leave just yet, Newt," she whispered in his ear. "There's nothing important happening out there."

He turned and pulled her close, kissing her.

#####

Aaron Grayson led his horse into Curtis Wells, guiding his mount to the front of the Unity Hotel. He climbed down and looked up at the hotel. "Ida, I have a surprise for you," he quietly said.

 

Chapter 15: Roses Are Red, Violets Are True

Clay Mosby cursed underneath his breath. How could he have allowed this murdering, Yankee scum to knock him off balance. And, beyond all belief. Was Robert Shelby taking sides with Clayton over him?

"He's a murderer, Robert!" Clay shouted.

"I don't care what he is in Curtis Wells, Clay. And, I will not repeat myself again. My name is Bob Parrish," Robert shouted back, stepping nearer to Clay. "In case you've forgotten, the town of Curtis Wells was going to hang me!"

"Yes," Clay replied, his temper beginning to flare, "You killed my wife ... Robert!"

Robert dropped down and grabbed Clay's shirt. "Even our friendship has it's limits, Clay. And you are pushing me closer to it each minute that passes."

"What are you going to do, Robert? Kill me over some filthy money?"

"Do not tempt me, Clay."

"I say kill him now, Burly Bob," Clayton replied, hoping to push Robert.

"No. I'll lock him up for now," Robert said to Clayton. "You take that wagon and go, now!"

Clayton holstered his gun and spit on Mosby as he left, grumbling.

Robert, pointing his gun at Clay, helped him up.

"Are you mad? Wha ... what are you locking me up for?"

"To save your life. And, to keep you from ruining my plans again."

#####

Aaron Grayson stood in front of the Unity Hotel. Wouldn't Ida be surprised to see him! He couldn't wait to see the look on her face when he opened the door to her room and walked in. He took a step toward the doors, then paused. For some strange reason, he had a hankerin' for some whisky. He turned and crossed the street, heading for the Pig's Eye.

But when he got there, he was met with a surprise of his own. A sign on the doors read:

Closed Temporarily -- Till Stock Checked. It was signed, C. Mosby, Owner.

"Well, if that just don't beat all...." he muttered.

Newt Call had just exited the Unity and was walking up the street when Aaron saw him.

"That's a fine looking jacket, Deputy," Aaron said, smiling as he greeted Newt.

"Oh ... well ... thank you, Mr. Grayson. Wha ... what're you doing here?" Newt asked, extending his hand to Aaron's already extended hand.

Aaron laughed as he shook hands with Newt. "I'm here to see Ida. Is she in her room, Newt?"

"I ... I guess?"

"You guess?" Aaron lifted his hand to his face. He inhaled deeply. "Seems every time I run into you, the smell of my wife's perfume is somewhere on you. How do you explain that, Deputy?"

#####

"Robert! Don't do this. You can't go around locking up another sheriff. It's ... it's just not proper."

"Pipe down, Clay. I'm only keeping you here till Clayton's gone. I don't want you picking up his tracks either. I told you once before you could end up dead. Keep sticking your nose where you shouldn't...."

"And, what, Robert?" Clay said, standing against the bars. "You'll kill me? Is that what you're saying?"

"Damn it, Clay. No! That is not what I'm saying. Just stay out of my way. What's happened to you? You meet a girl that resembles Mary, and you go soft on me. I don't know what to expect from you any more."

Clay shook his head. "Perhaps you're right, Robert." He sighed and sat on a tattered blanket that covered a bench. He lowered his face into his hands, closing his eyes.

"Everything happened so quickly ... this never should have happened."

"You just calm down and think things over, Clay. I'm getting something to eat. I'll bring you something." Robert said as he walked outside, closing the door.

#####

Josiah entered the new Sheriff's Office. He walked up to Austin and his friend, both in different cells.

"Austin. You can't go around trying to hurt Newt just because Clay didn't choose you."

"It's not right, father. He should have given me that badge."

"Why?" Newt was raised by Texas Rangers. Newspapering is all you know, Austin."

"I don't care. I'll show Clay that I'm the one deserving of being his deputy.Just as soon as I get out of here."

Austin then turned his back on his father, ignoring him. Josiah shrugged and left. Both he and Austin were hurting plenty over Hannah's recent murder.

#####

The door to the Sweetwater jail opened. The hinges creaked from being rusty. Clay hadn't bothered to look up.

"My, my, Clay. Aren't you a sight behind those bars," the voice teased.

"Violet!" Clay said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought you came here to see me, dearest Clay?"

Clay chuckled slightly. "I had business, my dear."

"And it is always business before pleasure, isn't it, Clay?" Violet walked up close to the other side of the bars. Her fingers interlocked with Clay's.

"Burly Bob Parrish is in the Arcadia Opera House. He'll be back soon." Violet turned and looked at the desk. She noticed the mess on the floor. Grabbing the keys, she quickly unlocked the cell door, freeing Clay.

"Thank you, my dear," Clay said, holding her close.

"You better ride out, Clay, before Burly returns. You can pay me back next time you're here."

"I won't forget this, Violet. And, I always pay my debts."

"Ohhhh. Make it soon, dearest. Au revoir, Clay."

Mosby grabbed his holster and gun and left. Once outside, he chose to ignore Robert, at least for now. He mounted Thunder and galloped away.

Stepping out of the shadows from the back of the jail, Clayton walked up to Violet.

"Does he suspect anything?" Clayton asked.

"Clay Mosby doesn't suspect anything, Clayton. And, neither does Robert Shelby."

Violet and Clayton both let out a sinister laugh.

Continued here

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Author's Notes:

Back in the 1970's Marvel Comics Group created a short running series entitled "What If."

They took their biggest heroes and put them in situations that had never happened, but where the possibility existed. In honor of Stan "The Man" Lee and Jack "King" Kirby, Marvel's creators, I present a new LD series, entitled "Supposin'".

Now, we've all had ideas for different stories and different scenarios in our minds. Like most of these types of stories, events usually begin similar to the original. Then, one small significant action changes everything. One small action triggers a new reaction that forces all events to reroute into a whole new story.

This story will be presented in serial form, similar to the Saturday morning cowboy serials of the 1940's.

Back to beginning of story.

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