Last Stand at Papago Wells (1957)

Last Stand at Papago Wells (1957) by Louis L'amour

Book: Last Stand at Papago Wells (1957) by Louis L'amour Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louis L'amour
that. It won't keep in this heat."
    Abruptly he walked away. His weariness hit him suddenly and when he found a shady spot he sat down heavily. With an effort he managed to get his boots off, and, lying down, was asleep at once.
    "Takes a lot on himself, doesn't he?" Webb muttered.
    Grant Kimbrough did not reply, but he was filled with impotent anger. Their only hope lay in flight, and if he had not crossed the desert to the west he was sure that a man on a good horse could make Yuma in no time. Without the drag of those who must walk, and those other women, they could make it through on fast horses.
    Getting out of the cul-de-sac that was their defensive position was the big thing. Once away they could run for it, and Webb was ready to go. So he would plan it that way, prepare Jennifer to be ready for the break, and when opportunity came they would ride out. If Cates objected, Kimbrough would kill him. He had, he realized, been giving the contingency a lot of thought these past two days. The first thing was to talk to Jennifer. She would, he was sure, be only too anxious to go.
    Logan Cates awakened with a start. He was bathed in perspiration and for a moment he did not know where he was. A blanket had been stretched from the rock to the ground forming a crude shelter that allowed shade and some air circulation. He sat up, and listened ... there was a crackle from the fire, a distant murmur of voices, the sound of someone stirring about close by.
    He checked his pistols. These actions, the moment of listening to judge what was happening around him, the checking of the guns, all were second nature to him now. When he slid out from behind the blanket curtain he resumed the boots that he had immediately put on again after returning from his midnight foray.
    Jennifer was at the fire. "You slept a long time," she said. "It's noon."
    "Anything happen?"
    "Styles is dead."
    "He's better off, but it's a hard thing to die here."
    "Why did you go out last night? You might have been killed."
    "We needed meat."
    "What happened out there?"
    "Met an Apache whose luck had run out."
    Big Maria had moved herself closer to the rocks, near the place where Cates had seen her disappear that night. She kept a gun close to her at all times, and before Cates had finished his coffee he could see by her actions that she was suspicious and ready for trouble.
    He must talk to Lonnie Foreman. The boy was solid, he had nerve, and he was a stayer. He could count on Foreman, probably Sheehan. Who else? Junie Hatchett, with perhaps Beaupre and Lugo. Conley was another question but he seemed to be a solid citizen. As to Jennifer ...
    Lugo was at the fire, gnawing on a mutton bone. He glanced up at Cates and his eyes went to the bloody shirt. It was like the Pima that he made no comment, asked no questions. The bloody shirt spoke for itself, and the Indian is not one to talk of the obvious or of needless things. Lugo knew there had been a fight out there in the dark, the fact that Logan Cates had returned and that the blood was not his own was sufficient evidence as to the outcome.
    "Who's with the horses?" Cates asked.
    "Kimbrough," Lugo said. "He watch horses."
    Logan Cates considered that but saw nothing in it that was dangerous. It was true that Kimbrough had always held a position in the rocks or in the brush along the edge of the arroyo, but there were no assigned positions, and a man could choose his own.
    "Is he alone?"
    "A soldier is with him."
    Lonnie Foreman was hunched in the shade talking to Junie. He was stripped to the waist and Junie was mending a rent in his shirt. Beaupre and Zimmerman were digging a grave for Styles in the lower arroyo not far from where the horses were. Webb paced restlessly; Kimbrough was busy with his own thoughts. Logan Cates picked up his Winchester, checked the load and then climbed up in the rocks, noting the water level as he went by. Although the water had fallen considerably since their arrival, there was still

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