Friday, August 31, 2012
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Episode Sixteen concluded with:
Rance began to feel uneasy within a half hour after the group had left Hardin. He shouted past the prisoner. “Take a look back, Nate.”
Reverend Nate glanced backwards and smiled. “You’re plan is working, Rance. We’re being followed.”
“We’re being followed. I’m not so sure the plan is working.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are eleven Indians. The dust cloud behind us is much too small for eleven braves.”
This time, the two lawmen joined Reverend Nate in glancing backwards. “You’re right,” Bret Carson said. “And I don’t see any other dust clouds. Where do you suppose Akando’s other men are, Rance?”
“I don’t know,” Rance Dehner said. “I don’t know.”
The group rode up the back of the horseshoe shaped hill that surrounded the Macklin place and then rode single file down a narrow trail toward the cabin. “As soon as we get to the bottom, Tully will go into the cabin. One of our men is posted there.”
Dehner wasn’t surprised by his friend’s statement. Bret Carson was a fine lawman who saw it as part of his duty to keep a prisoner safe.
Thick lines of trees stood behind the cabin. A rustling sound came from those trees, as if a breeze were knifing through them. But there wasn’t even a hint of a breeze in the air.
As the riders neared the flat ground, Dehner spotted a figure staggering from out of the pines. The man stopped and pressed both hands against his head as if he were holding it together. He then began to move toward the riders, fighting each step to maintain balance and stay on his feet. As the figure passed the cabin, Dehner could see that he was seriously wounded. He was also waving his arms back and forth in a frantic gesture.
“That’s Paul Edwards,” the marshal said. “He’s one of the men I have stationed out here.”
Edwards dropped his arms. He seemed to be dizzy and confused. He stumbled sideways and collapsed, several yards in front of the cabin.
Bret Carson, Deputy Gowdy, and Rance dismounted immediately and ran toward the wounded man. Reverend Nate slid off his horse and waited for Tully Jones to do the same. He walked beside Jones as they joined their companions, who were huddled around the wounded man.
“Paul, Paul,” the marshal was crouched over his friend who was bleeding in several places. Carson’s first instinct had been to lift Paul Edwards into a sitting position but the man appeared far too seriously wounded for that.
“Can you hear me, Paul? It’s Bret.”
Paul Edwards’ eyes had been open, but he suddenly appeared to be seeing the people around him for the first time, as if returning to consciousness. “Bret. It’s a trap. We were ambushed. The rest…dead. They thought I was…I held on, wanted to warn…” Paul Edwards closed his eyes. He wouldn’t open them again.
Running footsteps sounded before Paul Edwards died. Dehner turned around in time to see Rip Gowdy running into the cabin. A shot fired from the cabin window, missing Dehner by inches. The detective returned fire. A loud screech of pain followed.
War cries came from the surrounding hills, followed by gunshots and a fast stream of flying arrows. Dehner and his three companions hit the ground. Bret drew his six gun and fired at the attackers on the hill. “Paul was right,” he shouted. “We’ve got the Macklins behind us and the renegades on the hill. We’ve ridden into an ambush.”
Monday: Episode Eighteen of Ultimatum