Monday, August 13, 2012
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Episode Two concluded with:
As he continued his round, Rip Gowdy mused that Angie Brighton was as odd as she was beautiful. The town was threatened with destruction in less than twenty-four hours. What difference did it make what the piano playing at the evening church service sounded like?
For a moment the deputy got caught up in his private musings. He didn’t notice the crowd of men gathered outside the Half Moon Saloon. “Rip Gowdy, on your way to lick the marshall’s boots?”
The words sounded like they came from a barfly. Rip was surprised when he stopped, turned, and saw that Henry Willford, the town barber, was yelling at him. Henry was surrounded by three other men. All of them could be called solid citizens. All of them had been in church that morning. Now they were standing outside of a saloon, drinking and looking eastward at the people waiting to kill them.
Gowdy decided to treat the insult as a joke. He smiled broadly and ambled toward the four men. “Good to see you gents.”
The men left the boardwalk and made their way into the street to meet the deputy. They stopped a few feet beyond the horses that were tied to the hitch rail. “We ain’t so happy to see you, Deputy. How come you and that marshall won’t turn over some worthless drunk to Akando? You’re allowin’ ever one in this town to be slaughtered by a bunch of savages.”
“This town has law, Henry,” Gowdy replied. “We’re not turnin’ a man over to a gang of killers.”
As Rip spoke, Henry remained in place, but his three companions formed a circle around the deputy. Gowdy heard a voice from behind him. “Well, I’ve got a gun on you right now, Rip. Maybe the marshall will let Tully Jones loose in exchange for the safe return of his deputy.”
Gowdy silently cursed himself for being so careless. Yes, he was dealing with so called respectable citizens. But these were also men driven half-insane with fear. A fear stoked by alcohol. He should have had his guard up and never allowed them to trap him like this.
The deputy spoke in a low monotone. He didn’t want to inflame emotions any higher. “You men are too smart to be actin’ like this. Now--”
“You’re the fool, Rip Gowdy!” The voice from behind him grew louder. “You and that worthless marshall.”
Henry Willford smiled but his face held terror. “We’re takin’ you over to my shop. I got an empty closet you can fill for a while, Deputy.”
Rip Gowdy stood overwhelmed by his predicament. He was being taken prisoner, in broad daylight, by a group of men who had never broken a law before in their lives. The Town of Hardin was close to exploding. If he started a fight and seriously hurt one of his captors, mayhem could break out and the good citizens of Hardin might kill each other before the Indians got a chance.
Tomorrow: Episode Four of Ultimatum