[Texas Rangers 04] - Ranger's Trail

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

Book: [Texas Rangers 04] - Ranger's Trail by Elmer Kelton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elmer Kelton
Tags: Fiction, General, Revenge, Western Stories, Texas
grand jury was to convene and bring an indictment against old Ansel for stealing hogs.
    He trembled. “But I loved her, Ma.”
    “ Love!” She spat the word. “Love is what you give to your family, not to some calf-eyed little tart. All your thinkin’ lately has been below your belt or you’d have seen what had to be done and done it yourself.”
    Grief and fury rose together, swelling and spilling over. “Damn you, Ma!” He drew back his hand and slapped her, hard. He had never done it before.
    She recoiled in disbelief, then brought up her quirt. She lashed him about the face and shoulders until he grabbed the limber leather end and jerked it out of her hands. He flung it aside and strode beneath the shed where his saddle sat astraddle a rough log rack.
    “ Where are you goin’?” she demanded.
    “ As far from you as I can get.” He turned burning eyes toward his brothers. “From all of you.” He took a rawhide reata and cast a loop around the neck of his black horse.
    She shouted, “Corey Bascom, you turn that horse a-loose. You ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
    “ How are you goin’ to stop me? You goin’ to shoot me, too?”
    Bessie made a gesture at Lacey. Lacey came at Corey with clenched fists. Corey did not wait for him to strike the first blow. He hit Lacey first in the stomach, taking his brother’s breath away, then a second time to the jaw. Lacey went down on his knees and spat blood.
    “ That’s for Alice,” Corey said. “I ought to kill you.” He saddled his horse and rode away, not once looking back.
    Lacey pushed to his feet, rubbing his aching jaw, wiping blood on his sleeve. Newley, who had been morosely silent since the shooting, watched his older brother’s departure with concern. “He ain’t fixed for travelin’, Ma. He didn’t take so much as a blanket, and no grub at all.”
    Newley was a fool, she thought, concerned only about Corey’s comfort. Because he, too, had a weakness for Alice, he could not see or chose not to see the threat she had presented to them all. She said, “He’ll come draggin’ back when he gets hungry enough.”
    “ Maybe not. He looked awful mad.”
    “ Then he’ll have to take care of himself. He chose that girl over family.” She spread her fingers against a face still reddened and burning from Corey’s slap. “First time one of you boys ever raised a hand against me. I don’t know why the Lord has let the world come to this. Folks are losin’ all sense of right and wrong, the way it looks to me.”
    Bessie recognized Rusty Shannon and the boy Andy on sight. She did not remember the name of the third rider, though she recalled that he had backed the Monahans when the Bascoms had made their first try at recovering Alice.
    She looked around to be sure her three remaining sons were close by and armed. They were. She had put years of training into preparing them for a hostile world, though they had fallen short of her expectations in many particulars. Especially the weak-willed Newley, and now Corey. She stood waiting, the quirt in her hand.
    Rusty Shannon had a look of death about him. He reined his dun horse to a stop. The boy Andy pulled a long-legged sorrel in beside Shannon. The third man drew up on the other side, a shotgun across the pommel of his saddle.
    Shannon’s furious gaze swept over the Bascoms. “Where’s Corey?”
    Bessie said, “You can see for yourself, he ain’t here.”
    “ You say he’s not, but you could be lyin’.”
    Bessie felt a quick indignation. She never lied except when it seemed expedient. This time she didn’t have to. “He’s gone away. What do you want him for?”
    “ For killin’ a woman.”
    Bessie felt gratified. She had been a little concerned over the slight possibility that Alice might have survived the bullet, though Bessie had seen the blood gush when it struck her in the back. Lacey’s aim had been true.
    She asked as innocently as she could, “And what woman would that be?”

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