Ralph Compton Death Along the Cimarron

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fall on the other side of the door. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes, I remember,” said Ellen, not giving in all at once.
    â€œWell, I’ve been thinking,” Dave continued. “We’ve got the money, and we’ve got the time.... Hell, there ain’t nothing keeping us here right now. What cattle is out there is in good grazing for now. What say we just up and take off?”
    â€œYou mean, soon?” Ellen asked, opening the door a crack, enough for Dave to see that she was still wearing her cotton gown. This time he was not at all disgusted at the sight of her breasts. In fact, this time the partial sight of her through the narrowly opened door stirred desire within him.
    â€œSoon?” Dave chuckled, putting aside any ideas he might have just had and reminding himself that there was a good reason for what he was proposing. “Honey, I’m not talking about soon! I’m talking about right now ... this minute. I’ve already saddled up two riding horses. I’ll open the corral and turn the rest out to graze when we leave. Denver, here we come!”
    â€œOh, Dave, do you really mean it?” The door squeaked open another foot. “I mean, this isn’t just the whiskey talking, is it?”
    â€œOh, yes, I’m sure the whiskey has a hand in it.” Dave smiled, putting his arms around her and pulling her against him. “But, little darling, I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life.”
    â€œOh my goodness, Denver!” Ellen squealed with delight, then pushed herself away from her husband. “Don’t you dare change your mind! I’ll throw some things in our grip bag and be ready before you know it!”
    â€œYou do that, darling, and hurry yourself up,” Dave said, cutting a quick glance across the room, out the window toward the main trail. He watched Ellen throw back a blanket that covered the dressing trunk where she kept her clothes. As she began pulling out a hat box and a pair of lady’s high-topped dress shoes, Dave said, “I’ll grab a couple of clean shirts and some trousers when you’re done. Meanwhile, hurry up!” He clapped his hands to speed her along. “I’ll make sure all the dry food is topped and stored.” Another glance out along the empty trail brought a sense of relief to him. “Who knows?” he said, feeling better by the minute. “We might be gone for the next month or two.”

Chapter 5
    â€œWell, now, look here,” Cherokee Earl Muir said, crossing his wrists on his saddle horn and looking down at the Waddell spread from the shelter of a pine thicket lining a cliff behind the house. Four of his six men drew their horses up quietly around him. Earl had begun to split his men up, sending Frisco Bonham and Billy Boy Harper on head, riding a different trail in case anybody followed their tracks from Haley Springs.
    â€œDon’t forget, Boss,” said Sherman Fentress. “We’re down to six men now.”
    â€œI ain’t worried about it, Sherman,” said Earl. “Dave is the only gun on the place.” He dismissed the matter and sat watching Dave Waddell lead two horses hurriedly from the barn to the front of the house until the tin roof blocked him from sight. Earl spit a stream of tobacco and said, “Looks like my new partner’s in a big hurry to get someplace.”
    â€œYep, it does,” said Dirty Joe. “Why don’t I punch a couple holes in him for you?” He reached down, slipped his rifle from its saddle boot, and started to raise it to his shoulder.
    â€œPut that damned rifle down, Joe,” said Earl. “I don’t care where Davey goes.” He chuckled under his breath, turning his gaze back to the house, studying it like a hungry wolf. “I just don’t want him taking that pretty little redheaded woman with him. I would call that unobliging of him.”

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