The Red River Ring

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Authors: Randy D. Smith
Tags: adventure, Western
concerned.”
    â€œMaybe we should leave it that way,” Pommel said.
    Temple thought carefully. “I don’t know about that. Reese has a right to know.”
    â€œPac doesn’t,” Pommel said abruptly. “Can you tell one without the other finding out?”
    â€œWhy not? Reese and Pac have little to do with each other. They grow farther apart every day.”
    â€œYou can figure that one out. Maybe you ought to ask Mary?”
    â€œNo, she has nothing to do with this one. She took it upon herself to write you and get you into this mess. What happens from now on is for you and me to decide.”
    â€œYou sound angry.”
    â€œI’m tired of you and Mom making those kinds of decisions. I’ll do what I think is right.”
    Pommel smiled. Whatever had happened in the past, he liked the son that Mary had raised. He figured he was probably a better man than most. Temple’s judgment was certainly as good as his. “It’s your show. I ain’t here to take over. You do what is best.”
    â€œI will. I always have,” Temple said bitterly.
    Pommel nodded and sloshed the remains in his cup.
    â€œIf you really want to help, I’ve got a job for you that’s a hell of a lot more important than riding around the range looking for trouble,” Temple said.
    â€œWhat’s that?”
    â€œThe Ring has me boxed in. I’ve got at least seven hundred head to get to the railhead in Amarillo. I can’t take the herd without leaving the ranch. The minute they know I’m gone, I figure they’ll hit the ranch. They’ve burned several places to the ground. Reese has the freight operation to run and he’s got a family. Pac is too hot headed. None of the men will listen to him. If you could drive the herd, I could defend the ranch.”
    â€œWhat do we tell the others?”
    â€œJust what you are, a professional trail boss. That’s all they need to know for now.”
    â€œWhat about the other ranchers? Won’t they join in an organized drive?”
    â€œThey’re too scared to do anything. The only one with any fight left is Blomberg and he’s too crippled and old. Here of late he’s backed off. He doesn’t want us to pull a raid like Reese suggested. He’s afraid how it will look in Austin. He says the law will only come down on us.”
    â€œOught to be the same law for everyone.”
    â€œOught to be. That’s what I said. Blomberg says it isn’t.”
    â€œIf there’s no law for Bent and Colredge, then there’s no law for me,” Pommel said sullenly.
    â€œYou gonna help me or not?” Temple asked abruptly.
    Pommel threw a couple of mesquite limbs into the flames and watched them take fire. “Yes, I’ll do whatever you think is best.”
    â€œI’ll pay you regular foreman’s wages,” Temple said.
    â€œNo money. I’ll do it because I’m trying to repay a past debt to you, or I won’t do it at all,” Pommel said in a determined voice.
    Temple nodded. “I’m too cornered to argue. I ain’t going to hassle about that.”
    Pommel smiled and emptied the pot into their cups. “Good enough. It’s your show.”
    They talked for a while but soon went to their bedrolls. Pommel was relieved that it had gone as well as it had. He had expected anger, maybe even a bullet or two to dodge. Temple wouldn’t have been without the right. But there were questions that troubled him about Pac and Blomberg. He figured he would wait a spell and see what developed. Perhaps it was best that the others didn’t know about Pac’s relationship with Bent. Maybe he could use it to his advantage if things got out of hand and he needed a draw card.
    Whatever, he had never met a man that he liked better than Temple. She had done a good job. He owed her that.

Chapter VIII
    I
    Sulky Pearson lifted the hem of her nightgown and made a

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