[Texas Rangers 04] - Ranger's Trail

[Texas Rangers 04] - Ranger's Trail by Elmer Kelton

Book: [Texas Rangers 04] - Ranger's Trail by Elmer Kelton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elmer Kelton
Tags: Fiction, General, Revenge, Western Stories, Texas
horses runnin’ away right after the shots. We all expected them to come for Alice, but why Josie?”
    Andy said, “They were out yonder a ways. They saw Josie in the lamplight and mistook her for Alice.”
    Rusty had been too stricken to reason it out, but he judged that Andy was probably right.
    Alice saw it, too. She turned, both hands to her mouth as she stared at Josie’s still form in the dim reflected light from the moon. “Then she died in my place. Why couldn’t it have been me instead?” She seemed about to collapse. James and Webb both grabbed her.
    Webb said, “Hold tight, Alice. Some things we are not given to understand. It was not your fault.”
    “ But it was.” She made a weak effort to break free of them, then fell back against the gaunt Webb. “If I hadn’t been addle brained, if I hadn’t run off with Corey, …”
    Webb said, “You couldn’t have known it would lead to this. You couldn’t have known what Corey was capable of.”
    Corey. The name ignited a flame in Rusty’s brain. Bessie Bascom had vowed that her sons would take an eye for an eye. The flame built into wildfire. He said, “Corey Bascom will die for this.”
    Webb said, “You’re in shock, Rusty. Wait ’til you have time to think straight.”
    “ I’m thinkin’ straight enough. Corey Bascom killed her. I’m goin’ after him.”
    Andy moved to his side. “Not by yourself. I’ll go with you.”
    Webb showed no more inclination to argue. He bowed his head, his voice breaking. “I prayed for Clemmie, and I prayed for Alice. I never thought to pray for Josie.”
    James placed his hands on Rusty’s shoulders. “Josie was my sister. I’ve got as much interest in Corey as you have. But let’s don’t go off half cocked. We need to see her buried first, with the proper words said over her.”
    “ And give Corey a long start? No, I know where he’ll go first. I’m not givin’ him time to go any farther.”
    Evan said, “You and Andy may not be enough against that bunch. I’ll be ridin’ with you.”
    Rusty argued, “You’ve got a wife and family to think about.”
    “ This family took me in when I was near dead and gave me a life again. Josie was my wife’s sister, and like my own. I’m goin’.”
    Rusty felt too beaten down to protest more.
    Evan said, “But first I’ve got to break this to Geneva. She’s at the house with the kids, probably worried to death. Tellin’ her will be as about as hard a thing as I ever did.”
    Andy said, “I’ll go catch up our horses.”
    James relighted the lamp and turned to Rusty. “You’ve got your mind made up to go. Nothin’ I can say will stop you?”
    Rusty found it painful to speak. “I can’t do anything to help Josie now. But I can do somethin’ about Corey.”
    “ Then I’ll throw some grub together for the three of you. You’ll need it.”
    Corey Bascom expected his mother and brothers to return home soon, but they did not show up until near noon of the day after his arrival. He walked to the barn to meet them as they rode in. They were dusty and weary, but his mother had a stern look of triumph about her.
    He asked, “What kept you-all? You ought to’ve been home yesterday.”
    She fastened accusing gray eyes on him. “We stayed around and finished the job you ought to’ve done for yourself.”
    Alarm quickly stirred in him. “What do you mean?”
    “ I mean your sweet little Alice girl ain’t goin’ to do no talkin’ to the law or anybody, not ever again.”
    He felt as if his skin were afire. “What did you do?”
    “ Me and your brother Lacey went back and took care of her.”
    Corey’s jaw dropped. For a moment he could not move. He could only look at her in disbelief. But he knew he had to believe. He felt a fool for not having realized she might do it. She was fully capable of killing anyone who stood in the way of her and the family. He remembered that years ago she had stalked and shot a witness in Arkansas just before the

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