Brett had tried to slip off the horse he had been flung over, but one of his captors grabbed the ropes yanking him back into position roughly and growled, “Oh no ya don’t. If ya wanna stay alive ya won’t be tryin’ that!”
The young man very much wanted to stay alive so he stopped his struggles and tried to think. He couldn’t see on account of the blindfold, and even though the voices were muffled, he thought they had a familiar quality about them.
Once they reached the camp, Rocky yanked on Brett’s ropes dumping the young man unceremoniously onto the ground, not worrying if he was hurt or not as they were going to kill him anyway.
The horses were taken away and the Deputy lay there smarting from some bruises he had sustained. He had no idea where he was or who his captors were as of yet.
Slick yanked the young man to his feet by his ropes and led him over to a tree where he was roughly shoved onto the ground in a sitting position and then tied to the tree.
He was left there while the others went a distance away to talk.
“Well boys, we got him. We only have to wait now fer the Sheriff ta find our note and for him ta come rescue Dead Eye. Then we can capture him as well, tie him up and make him watch us kill his Deputy little by little.” Slick stated, his eyes glinting evilly.
Rocky, with a satisfied smirk, grinned at the others and said, “Yep, then we can kill him too.”
"Let’s take turns roughin’ Dead Eye up a bit before we take off the blind fold and let him see who’s got him.” Pock said with a sneer.
The head outlaw nodded. “Yeah, sounds good.”
The four men approached Brett and each of them began to slap and punch him until the young man gasped and went limp. They had kept the gag in so he couldn’t cry out and make too much noise.
Brett tried to listen and to loosen the ropes he had been secured with, but they were tight and he couldn’t move. He heard and smelled the men as they came back and then was shocked as hands and fists began to slap and pummel him. He tried to avoid the blows, but with not being able to see he couldn’t do much and mercifully fell into oblivion after a while.
Jalen couldn’t sleep worrying about what had become of Brett. He was frustrated as dawn broke and the drunken men began to stir. He had to take care of releasing the fools before he could go and look for the Deputy. Fortunately, all of them had enough money on them to pay their fines or post their bail and one by one he filled out the appropriate paperwork, had them sign or place their X and then sent them on their way.
Once the jail business was taken care of he began a search of the town once more carefully examining each back alley and alleyway between shops. He could see no signs of a scuffle or fight anywhere and was about to give up hope. He couldn’t believe that Brett would just run off. They hadn’t had any conflicts between them and everything had been going well, both personally and with the townspeople.
Dan and Cole saw Jalen and stopped him. “We heard about Brett missin’, is there anythin’ we can do to help?” He asked concerned to see his friend so dispirited.
The Sheriff said, “I don’t know Dan. I just can’t figure it. There’s no signs of a struggle anywhere I can see and no one saw anythin’. I can’t believe when things were going so well he’d just slip away without a word. He didn’t even take his horse.”
The other men looked at their friend. “No, it’s not like Brett to do any of that, especially leavin’ without his horse.”
The three men walked together continuing to search.
When they came to the alley between the land office and the seamstress They walked down it just as they had the others in town. Cole seeing a piece of paper bent to pick it up frowning. They tried to keep their town clean. He went to stick it into his pocket to be thrown away when he noticed writing on it. He read it and his hazel eyes widened. “Umm…Dan?” He called.
The other man came over to his young partner. “What is it Cole?”
The younger man handed his partner the paper. Dan’s violet eyes scanned it and his eyebrows went up. “Jalen…come look at this” He called quietly.
The Sheriff, who had been examining some signs that looked like there could have been a struggle went over to his friend. He handed him the note and Jalen’s green eyes read it and then sparked with anger and fury.
‘Sherrif, if ya wanna see ya Deputy alive meet us at the giant oak tree on Rascal Creek three miles outta town. Come alone and bring five thousand dollars in silver, gold and small bills with ya. Put it in the hollow in the tree. If ya don’t bring the money in two days we’ll figure ya don’t want him and we’ll kill him.’
The Sheriff frowned. “Five thousand dollars?” He asked out loud incredulously. "Where the hell am I supposed to get that kind of money? Who the hell are these guys anyway?” He asked angrily of no one in particular.
The other man put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about the money. I’m sure if everyone chips in we can raise it, but I’m not sure payin’ them off is the best way to handle this.”
Jalen sighed. “You may be right Dan. I think we should call a town meetin’ and see what others think. Maybe I should wire the U.S. Marshall to see if anythin’ like this has happened before and how to handle it.”
“That would be a good idea. I’ll let Jack know and James so a town meeting can be called.” The Sheriff’s friend said.
Jalen shook his head, a guilty look crossing his handsome face. “I never shoulda let him go off alone. He’s been tellin’ me he’s been uneasy for the past couple of weeks now. I oughta of known better.”
Dan placed a consoling hand on his good friend’s shoulder. “No one could have known Jalen. We’ll just have to make sure we get our Deputy back safe and sound whatever we need to do.”
The other man nodded, his green eyes filled with worry.
Slick kicked Brett awake. “Wake up ya good for nothin’ piece of shit.” He growled.
Brett, startled awake by the pain in his ribs, lifted his head as it had fallen forward when he had passed out earlier.
“Good…ya’re awake.” The outlaw slapped Brett’s face hard causing his mouth to be cut by his teeth. He was still gagged and so had to swallow the blood, making him queasy. His stomach rumbled as he hadn’t eaten for some time and he was hungry.
The other men laughed.
Rocky went behind the young man and said, “I’m gonna take the gag out, but if ya badmouth us too much it’ll go back on.”
Brett felt the gag being untied. His mouth was dry and tasted foul from the blood. His lips were swollen and his eyes and face felt bruised and sore.
The voices were still muffled and hard to pinpoint, even though they were familiar.
Slick asked, “Should we let him see us now?”
The head outlaw shrugged. “Let’s make sure he’s tied real tight first.” He checked the ropes and tightened them some as they had stretched a little when Brett’s head and body had fallen a bit forward against them the night before. Once he was satisfied they were tight enough he removed the blindfold.
The light blinded the Deputy for a moment, then blinking the men came into focus and his blue eyes darkened recognizing them. “Shit…you fuckin’ bastards!”
Rocky grinned evilly. “Naughty language don’t ya think fellas? I should put the gag back on him so that filth can’t spew out of his mouth.”
Slick shook his head. “Naw…let’s teach him some manners first.” He began to slap Brett’s face and mouth hard several times.
Then each of the men took turns slapping, punching and kicking him until the Deputy saw nothing but a red haze and was about to pass out again from the pain.
Rocky said, “I think he’s learned his lesson boys…let’s let him think about it for a while.”
The other men walked away and began to cook over a small fire.
Pock asked, “Wonder how long it’ll be ‘fore the Sheriff finds our note?”
Slick said, “If he’s as smart as he thinks he is shouldn’t be too long, but gettin’ the money together…now that'll be somethin’ else.”
Catfoot nodded. “Yeah, but we shoulda asked for more. I’m not sure it’s enough to get us to Mexico and start somethin’ new.”
The other man said, “If we stick together it'll be. If we have to divvy it up, then probably not so much."
Brett’s head ached and he was hurting and hungry. He tried to fall asleep again and prayed Jalen would come for him soon.
The Sheriff, Dan and Cole went to the livery and shared what they had learned.
“I thought I saw a group of men leavin’ last night and that somethin’ was odd about it, but I got distracted. I wish I had paid more attention.” He shook his head. “Well, I’ll gather the townsmen together.” Jack told them, heading off to do just that
Dan guided Jalen to the Diamond Dust where he shared with his brother what they had learned and got a whiskey for his friend.
The Sheriff sipped at the whiskey. It helped a little, taking away the cold knot he had in his stomach.
Little by little the townsmen gathered in the Diamond Dust. Max Anderson the barber, and his cousin Jebidiah Anderson, the land office clerk arrived and shortly after, James Duncan the general store owner came. Roland Harrison, the town lawyer along with Hugo O’Brian the black smith soon entered. The men looked up a bit surprised to see Reverend Ambrose Thorton step into the saloon, followed by Bertram Fisher the banker. Then Blake Sheridan the undertaker and Doc Mac, Amos MacNamara showed up. Jack Hillyard the livery owner was the final one to arrive.
Jack looked over the men who had assembled and informed them about the crisis, the kidnapping note and the monetary demand.
A buzz went up as the men began to talk among themselves and then looked at their young Sheriff.
Bertram Fisher said, “Sheriff, that’s a lot of money with no guarantee of our Deputy’s being return unharmed.”
Jalen replied, “I’m aware of that Bertram. I’m goin’ to send a telegram to the U.S. Marshall to see how other kidnappin’ cases have been handled and to ask if there have been any other ones where a lawman has been captured and held for ransom. I’d guess it’s happened before, but we need to know how they were handled, and the outcome.”
The other men again spoke amongst themselves until Roland Harrison spoke up “I can research some of that as well Sheriff, and see how other cases such as this have been handled. I’m certain there must be some court cases and trial transcripts in my law books.”
Jalen gave the attorney a grateful smile. “Thank you, Roland, I’d appreciate your help.”
The lawyer nodded. “Glad to assist.”
James Duncan said, “I’m willing to put up money toward the ransom.”
The banker and barber also said they too were willing to put up some cash.
Dan Fairmont and his partner Cole Tucker who shared the saddlery would be willing to put up money too.
Gabe offered money from the Diamond Dust as well.
Hugo O’Brian added his voice to the mix also offering to put up cash.
The Reverend Thorton offered, “The church can take up a special collection and add it to the ransom demand.”
Jalen’s heart warmed to see the townsmen pulling together to help him in this situation with Brett. He would be able to put up the rest of the money once he saw what could be collected among the townspeople. “Thank you, all of you.” The Sheriff said humbly. “I’ll check with the Marshall and let you know what I find out.”
The men who had gathered all agreed with their Sheriff’s plan and began to disperse one by one and each of them offering encouragement and those who hadn’t publicly declared monetary support told Jalen they were willing to contribute what they could as their finances weren’t as flush as some of the others. The young man expressed his thanks to them and once everyone but Gabe, Dan, Cole and Jack had left the saloon Jalen said to his friends, “I’d better go get a wire off to the U.S. Marshall. We don’t have much time to deal with this. I’m tempted to just go out there and scope out the situation and then just rescue Brett and to hell with the kidnappers.”
Jack put a hand on Jalen’s shoulder and said quietly, “Don’t go off halfcocked Sheriff. We don’t want to lose you and we’re all in this together.”
Jalen, a bit surprised at the older man’s action and words nodded. “Yes Jack, I know you’re right, but I really hate that Brett’s in their hands and what they may be doin’ to him while they’ve got him in their clutches.”
The livery owner nodded. “I’m sure, but gettin’ killed isn’t going to help him.”
The young Sheriff sighed, knowing the older man-made sense. “You’re right Jack. I’d best send that wire.”
Jack squeezed Jalen’s shoulder and then walked with him to the telegraph office.
Kelcy Johnson, the Diamond Springs telegraph operator smiled at the Sheriff and livery owner as they entered his place. “Mornin’ gentleman, may I help you?”
Jalen nodded. “Yes, good mornin’ Kelcy. I need to send a wire to the U.S. Marshall. You may have heard that our Deputy was kidnapped and a ransom has been demanded.”
The young man replied. “Yes, I heard. I’m sorry it happened.”
Jalen nodded and wrote out his message. He handed it to the young man who immediately sent the wire. “I’m not sure just when a reply will come through Sheriff, but I’ll find you right away as soon as it does.”
Jalen replied quietly, “Thank you Kelcy, hope to see you soon.”
The young man nodded. “All right Sheriff.”
Having nothing more to do Jalen went to the Sheriff’s office and headed back into the bedroom to lay down to see if he could get a little shut eye. He was exhausted.
Jack said, “I’ll man the office while you rest Jalen.”
The Sheriff replied, “You have your own business to tend to Jack. Just leave a sign on the door.”
Jack shook his head. “No, I’ll leave a sign where it could be seen at the livery that if anyone needs me they can find me here.”
Jalen was about to object when Jack gave him a look reminiscent of one Dallas had given him from time to time and he decided to not argue. “Thank you, Jack.” Was all he said.
“Good decision young man and you’re welcome.” The older man praised and the young Sheriff headed to the back room where he promptly fell into an exhausted sleep.
Brett was terribly thirsty, hungry and hurting from the abuse that had been perpetrated upon him. He drifted in and out of consciousness and was brought sharply to when the men decided to beat on him again until he succumbed to unconsciousness once more.
The Deputy groaned, not being aware he had done so as he again became conscious.
Seeing Dead Eye awake again Rocky said, “We better give him some water. We don’t want him dyin’ on us before the Sheriff comes for him. ‘Course if he don’t show up in the time we said then we’ll just kill him.”
Slick nodded. “All right.” He went over to the Deputy and held the canteen in front of him. “You want some of this Dead Eye?”
Brett licked his cracked, dry bruised lips and croaked, “Yes.”
The man grinned. “Ask nicely and I might just give you some.”
The young man closed his eyes that also were dry and bruised and then opening them asked, “Please, may I have some water?”
Slick said, “I’ll think about it…” Then he walked away.
Brett croaked out desperately, “Please…”
The man stopped and said, “Beg you piece of shit. Beg for it.”
The Deputy’s head spun, but he knew if he had any chance of getting out of this alive he would have to humble himself and said, “Please…Please give me some water.”
Rocky gave the outlaw a nod.
Slick went back to Dead Eye and then held the canteen to his mouth.
The young man gratefully swallowed a mouthful and then the outlaw took the canteen away. “That’s enough.”
Brett’s brain burned with anger and it was reflected in his blue eyes no matter how much he tried to contain it.
Slick shook his head. “You ungrateful brat.” He slapped the Deputy across the face and then punched him and kicked him as the other men laughed until Brett went unconscious once again.
When the telegram arrived from the U.S. Marshall the Sheriff had wired, Kelcy brought it to the jail. He saw Jack there and asked, “Mr. Hillyard? Is the Sheriff here? I have a wire for him.”
The livery owner nodded “He’s resting in the back room. I’ll get him.” The man left the outer office and opening the door and closing it quietly behind him woke the lawman. “A wire has come for you.” He told Jalen.
The young man awoke, sitting up. “Thanks Jack” He said and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes he stretched, yawned and headed to the front office where he took the envelope from Kelcy and gave him two bits for his trouble.
“Shall I wait for a reply?” The other man asked.
Jalen shook his head. “No, if I need to I’ll come over.”
Kelcy replied, “Okay Sheriff.” He left the jail and returned to the telegraph office.
The lawman sat down at his desk and opened the wire to read it.
Jack waited patiently to see what the Marshall had said.
Jalen looked up and shared, “The Marshall said to not go by myself, but to keep any others I bring with me out of sight so it appears I’m alone. He also said I should bring the money and once they release Brett then we should move in and make the arrest.”
The other man said approvingly, “It sounds like a solid plan. I’ll go with you.”
The young Sheriff smiled. “Now why doesn’t that surprise me Jack?”
The livery owner shook his head. “Because you know I’ll do my part.”
Jalen replied, “Yeah, you always do. I’ll have to see who else would be willin’ to go along.”
Jack suggested, “I’d bet Dan Fairmont would, and Hugo O’Brian.”
The lawman acknowledging the other man’s input said, “I’d also say James Duncan wouldn’t mind comin’ and maybe Max Anderson as well.”
“You don’t want too many of us. Four of us should be adequate I’d think.”
“Depends on how many of them there are.” Jalen mused. "Maybe Bertram and Cole as well. They’re both good shots.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “Cole? Isn’t he a bit young for that?”
The Sheriff chuckled wryly. “I don’t think Dan’ll be able to prevent him from comin’ along anyway. He and Brett are best friends.”
The other man nodded. “Better to have him under supervision than out there on his own and maybe tipping the kidnappers off.”
“Yep, my thinkin’ exactly.” Jalen said. “Well let’s get the money together and gather up our men and head out. I don’t want my Deputy in the clutches of whoever’s holdin’ him any longer than we have to.”
Jack agreed. “Yes, let’s get things organized.”
The Sheriff had spoken to Roland Harrison and he had affirmed what the Marshall had outlined. It was what he had read as to how things had been handled in the kidnapping cases he researched in his law books Where the court testimony had been recorded in the trials. By late afternoon Jack and Jalen had the money collected. Bertram had made sure it was in gold, silver and paper bills. He put it all in a leather bag he had gotten from James Duncan at the General Store. It was heavy, but manageable.
Jalen thought it would be best if they camped out on Rascal Creek for the night and approached the kidnappers first thing in the morning. Even though they were only a few miles out of town it would give them time to scope out the situation and plan out where to place themselves in order to capture the men who were holding Brett.
He shared his thoughts with the men who would come with him. He had Jack, James, Hugo, Max, Dan, Cole and Bertram. With himself it made up a posse of eight men and he believed that should be enough without them knowing for sure the size of the gang that kidnapped Brett.
The men agreed with the Sheriff’s plan and everyone readied themselves for an overnight stay near Rascal Creek.
The outlaws who had captured Brett had continued giving him sips of water and even a bit of rabbit they had cooked, making him beg each time. They didn’t want him to die, but the beatings continued throughout the day.
Brett was hurting and was weak and feeling helpless. His eyes burned, his face and entire body was sore and he continually felt sick to his stomach. Each time he had had a sip of water or eaten a morsel of food he had to fight the queasiness to not expel it. He knew if he had any hope of staying alive he had to keep something down and prayed his partner, friend and lover would come for him soon.
As night fell, the outlaws, seeing Brett was so weak did nothing but made sure the ropes holding him to the tree were tight and sat around the small campfire talking and making comments about how they were going to kill him tomorrow night if the Sheriff didn’t come ransom him.
As the group approached the site where they wanted to stay for the night Jalen ordered, “Everyone set up camp. I’m goin’ to scout around and see what I can. The huge oak tree they were talkin’ about is just up ahead around the bend of the creek. They’ll probably have lookouts so I don’t want us to get any closer and be detected.”
The others nodded and quietly began to do as they had been told.
Jack came up to Jalen. “Sheriff, I’m coming with you.”
The young lawman said, “I can do it alone, but thanks Jack.”
The livery owner gave Jalen a stern look in the starlit night and said, “No arguments. It’s safer with two of us so I’m coming with you.”
The Sheriff narrowed his green eyes for a moment at Jack, but then giving it a moment’s thought knew the man was probably right. “All right, come on, but be as quiet as you can.”
The livery owner put a hand on Jalen’s shoulder “I’ve never let you down yet young man and I don’t intend to now.”
The young lawman nodded. “Okay.”
“Now that’s usin’ good sense Sheriff.” The older man replied and he and Jalen left and walked quietly through the woods guided by starlight on the moonless night.
James Duncan began to put together a stew for them to eat as the other men gathered firewood and made a small campfire. Max, Bertram, and Hugo began to erect shelters for everyone for the night and Dan said, “Cole, go help to spread out the bedrolls.”
Cole asked, “What are you gonna do?”
Dan said, “Help James with the cookin’.”
The younger man gave his partner a look. “I think you better help me instead. I’ve tasted your cookin’ remember?”
The older man flushed a little and then smiled. “All right, I’ll help you.”
With all of them working together they got the camp set up and a meal in the works and waited for Jalen and Jack to return.
The Sheriff and the livery owner crept quietly through the woods. They located the huge old oak. Jalen whispered, “This is the place, see that dark spot? It’s the hollow in the tree. That’s where I’m supposed to put the money.”
Jack nodded and put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder to indicate he had heard him, staying quiet.
“Let’s scout around a bit further. I’d like to locate where they’re holdin’ Brett if we can…I want to know what we’re up against.” The young lawman whispered quietly in the older man’s ear.
The livery owner nodded and they made their way carefully away from the creek, making wider and wider circles around the place where the tree was, glad for only starlight on the moonless night as it would be harder for them to be spotted by a lookout as he was certain there would be one.
The outlaws were talking, eating, and drinking whiskey around the campfire. Seeing Brett still slumped against the tree they didn’t bother with him If they heard him groan or something they’d make sure he didn’t make any more noise for the rest of the night as they would just beat him into unconsciousness again.
Brett heard the men at a distance. He had a buzzing in his head and he was so weak he couldn’t move. He knew by keeping quiet and making sure they didn’t realize he was awake would keep the men from beating him again. He wanted to cry, but knew tears wouldn’t help and he prayed over and over again that Jalen would find him. He was so miserable, but he knew his partner would make everything all right.
Jalen’s ears perked up as he thought he heard faint voices and stopped short listening very carefully. He held up a hand to stop Jack.
The other man halted and looked at the Sheriff in the dim light of the stars and could tell he was listening hard. He made no noise and then voices came again faintly on the breeze to their right.
Jalen began to creep toward the faint sound which he heard a bit louder from time to time.
As they progressed Jack kept a sharp lookout and he placed a hand on the young lawman’s shoulder as he spotted a man outlined, barely discernible against the starlit night. He was sitting on a rock with a rifle across his lap.
Jalen, feeling the other man’s hand on his shoulder turned and looked where a finger was pointing and he crouched down low. They weren’t within the man’s sight, but if they weren’t very careful they could be heard.
The lawman pulled the older man down on the ground. They began to crawl on their bellies, making no more noise than a night creature may rustling in the undergrowth. They could see the camp now and Jalen’s heart jumped and his eyes burned with rage when he saw Brett slumped over, tied to a tree. He almost wanted to charge in, rescue his partner and shoot every last one of the bastards.
Jack, seeing the same scene as the young Sheriff automatically placed a restraining hand on Jalen’s shoulder.
The lawman feeling the hard, strong hand glanced back. He could also see the cold fury in the other man’s eyes, but restraint as well.
Jalen and Jack lay there for a long time watching. They couldn’t hear exactly what was being said, but glances toward the figure slumped at the base of the tree gave the Sheriff a pretty good idea. During the time they were changing guards the young lawman backed carefully away and he and the livery owner quietly made their way back to the others.
When they arrived, they were greeted by the smell of food cooking and an orderly camp. Dan came over. “You two were gone a while. We kept some food warm for you.”
Jalen said, “Thank you.” He glanced at Jack and the older man gave his thanks as well and Jim dished up a portion for each of them.
Dan could tell the young lawman was extremely upset, but didn’t push for any details. He knew his friend would share when he was ready.
Cole gave his partner a look when he first saw the two men return. By the firelight he could see the strain in the Sheriff’s face and the worry and concern in his eyes. “It don’t look good” He whispered.
The older man nodded. “We’ll just have to wait though, give them some time to eat and settle down a bit.
When Jalen had finished and Jim had taken the empty plates from the two men, the young Sheriff said quietly so his voice didn’t carry beyond the camp. “Jack and me located the place where they’re holdin’ Brett. He doesn’t look very good.” He went on to describe what he saw.
Several of the men swore softly and all had angry looks on their faces.
The livery owner cautioned quietly, “We all need to stay calm and use restraint. Going off with blood in our eyes will only get Brett killed and our goal here is to get our young deputy back alive. If we can bring back the men who did this alive as well that too would be good, but if not…” He let his thought trail off.
Jalen nodded. “Jack’s right. We need to go in prepared and with a plan. Anything can be expected. I have an idea the outlaws who did this would also like to take me as well so we’ll need to be careful. As far as we can tell there are four of them. There're eight of us so the odds are in our favor.”
The others nodded and looked at each other, talking quietly among themselves.
Dan put a hand on Cole’s arm. “You need to listen to the Sheriff. No heroics understand?”
The younger man nodded and said quietly, “Yes Sir, I understand. I don’t want to get Brett or Jalen killed.”
The older man squeezed his partner’s arm. “Good, that’s what I wanted to hear. None of us are very happy about the circumstances, but we all need to have cool heads and think.”
The other men near Dan and Cole nodded in agreement at the man’s words.
The Sheriff then went on to outline the plan. “I’ll walk in alone tomorrow morning and place the leather bag with the money in the hollow of the giant oak tree. I’ll hide’n wait to see who comes to check for it and collect it. At that moment, I’ll step out and arrest them. I’m sure the other men’ll be nearby and attempt to surround me, thinking I’m alone, then you all surround them. I’ll be countin’ on you to capture who you can. If two of you try to take each one of them we should be successful. If shots are fired, fire back, but make sure you see not only what you’re aimin’ at, but who may be behind him so none of us ends up gettin’ shot by one of our own.”
All the men listened quietly and then nodded at the young lawman’s plan and instructions.
Jalen turned to the livery owner. “Jack, I’m makin’ you my deputy for now. You'll be in charge of the rest of the posse while I’m puttin’ the money in the tree.”
The older man, surprised at first, nodded and then smiled “I’ll be happy to serve as your Deputy.”
The Sheriff swore Jack Hillyard in in front of the men and then turned to them. “I want all of you to listen to Jack as if it were me. Whatever he says goes, even if you don’t agree with it at the moment. We don’t want anyone killed.”
The other men heard and saw the stern look on Jalen’s face and all gave their pledge to follow Jack’s commands
The young Sheriff, feeling they were all as prepared for the coming day as they could be sighed and said, “Don’t stay up too late, get some sleep, I’m thinkin’ it’s going to be a long day tomorrow.”
Everyone nodded and as Jim cleaned up the cooking things with Dan’s help, the rest of the men began to settle down for the night.
Jalen sat by the fire as it died down and the others sought their beds. Jack Hillyard came after a while and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I think you better take some of your own advice Sheriff and get some sleep.” He told him quietly.
The young man looked up at the livery owner. “I can’t help thinkin’ of seein’ Brett tied to that tree slumped over that way. A part of me wants to sneak in there tonight and just get him, but I know it’s not the way to handle things.”
Jack nodded. “I understand, but try to get some rest” The older man pulled out a flask. “Take a swig. It’s whiskey, but it could help you relax enough to get to sleep.”
At first, Jalen shook his head, but then the look in the other man’s eyes had him accepting the offer. He laid on his bedroll and it wasn’t long before he did fall asleep.