Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Now Playing: Hellfire
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Episode Sixteen concluded with:
After finishing, Stacey hastily introduced his three companions. Hatfield gave Dehner a curious stare. “Is this the gent you told me about?” He asked Stacey. “The man who could outdraw Lars Olsen?”
Dehner’s eyebrows lifted. “That’s why you wired me to come here! You didn’t want to have to face Olsen yourself!”
Stacey shrugged his shoulders. “There was a great deal on my schedule at the time. I had to delegate certain tasks. I’m sure you understand.”
“I understand all right--”
“That’s enough, gents!” Hatfield shouted. “There’s no way we can stop this fire. We hav‘ta find Olsen before this town becomes a pile of ashes.”
Lars Olsen was arrested as he staggered out of Beau Rawlins’ house, where he had been recuperating. Two hours after their arrival, the Rangers had Olsen and several lesser known crooks in custody.
“Quite a few jaspers got away,” Britt Hatfield spoke as he looked at the burning buildings that had been Hellfire. “But we got what we came for and then some. You kept your part of the deal, Hooper. You’re a free man.”
“Thank you, Captain. I have always believed that citizen involvement is vital to a democracy…”
As Stacey prattled on, Dehner examined the curious assemblage that surrounded him. Everyone was on horseback, about a half mile from the flames. Besides Olsen, the rangers had sixteen prisoners. They also had an additional seven horses which had been rescued from the livery. They would be taken back to headquarters and used by the Texas Rangers. Their owners had either escaped on foot or perished in the fire.
Rance left Stacey’s side and rode over to the young couple, who looked both exhausted and excited. “How are you two holding up?” He asked Gail and Hosea.
“We’ve just been talkin’,” Hosea said. “You know, when I was in Collins I noticed that there weren’t no church there. Gail and me is gonna see that they get one.”
“You’re welcome to come visit us anytime, Mr. Dehner,” Gail added. “We are very grateful for what you’ve done.”
Hosea’s wife looked younger than Rance had ever seen her. She carried the natural assumption of youth that things would get better. She was looking forward to tomorrow.
“I’ve been thanked plenty,” Rance said.
When he returned to Stacey and Hatfield, the captain’s voice was becoming officious. “I’ll have to send a detail back to recover the corpses. It’ll be a few days before this fire burns out entirely.” He turned his head and raised his voice. “Prepare to move out!”
Stacey Hooper and Rance Dehner stayed behind for a few minutes, feeling the heat from the raging fire. Rance spoke slowly, as he viewed the destruction in front of him. “’For a man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.’”
Stacey smile approvingly. “Ecclesiastes 9:12. For a range detective you are remarkably well read, good friend.”
Dehner glanced quickly at Gail and Hosea. “I hope our newlyweds don’t get trapped in any evil nets. There are plenty of them out there.”
Both men turned their horses and quickly rejoined the group. There was still work to do. The rangers needed help with so many prisoners.
For three days the ruins of Hellfire burned and smoldered. The flames and smoke gradually disappeared and the town became a grotesque pile of destroyed buildings and burnt flesh.
Tomorrow: A new Rance Dehner western adventure:
The Songbird of the West.
Don’t miss it!