Chapter 4: the turn around
They headed back to town to talk to the sheriff. He was in 'is office when they found 'im, an' 'e told 'em 'e thought they needed to head out of town. People been talkin an' some of the local boys wanted to see just how fast this marshal really is. We don't have time for play like that sheriff. We just came from the Potter place, an' the whole family's been murdered. Yea, I know all about it. Are ya gonna do anything about it? Like maybe go after the men that did it? Nope. Looks to me like you boys are hot in pursuit of these boys. They rode through here about a half hour ago, headed west. The leader told me they would be in Missouri, if ya wanted to find 'im. He said 'e was gonna go visit your family. An' ya just let 'im ride out. Well, 'e had a gun pointed at my face. I wasn't gonna argue with that. Where's the train station? I don't want you in my town that long. I don't care. Where is it? I want you out of; by the time 'e said that much, marshal Cates had 'is own gun ticklin 'is nose. An' I said I don't care. Now where's that train station? Down the street on the left, just past the post office. Thanks. Good day sheriff. They walked out on the boardwalk, an' Joseph asked John; ya wanna go to Missouri? I don't know Joseph. Maybe we better just trail them fellers in stead of goin on a train. We shoulda killed them dirty muts when we seen 'em ridin into town this morning. Yea, but we wanted to keep it quiet in town. Yea, an' now another family's been murdered cause of it. We shoulda stopped it afore it happened. I know Joseph. But if we dog 'em all the way to Missouri, maybe it'll keep 'em on their toes, an' they won't be as likely to kill anymore till we catch up to 'em. Maybe your right after all, but maybe ya ain't. I need to send a wire afore we leave, to Sally, so she can stay in town till we get there. Good idea Joseph. Meet me at the livery. I'm gonna get a wagon, so we can do this your way. I know it's gonna be a long trip this time. We'll need supplies. Ok John. I'll meet ya at the livery.
Joseph headed to the telegraph office, an' about half way up the street 'e heard somebody holler at him. 'marshal Cates is it?' Yea, that's me. What do ya want? I want to see just how fast you really are. He replied: don't waste my time or your life boy. By that time the guy had 'is hand on his gun, just afore 'e died. Joseph Cates wasn't in a mood to play today, after what 'e'd seen. He went on an' sent 'is message to 'is wife without missin a step. Then 'e headed to the livery to meet John, with no more interruptions.
They got the wagon, an' two new horses, then went to the general store to stock up. After getting loaded up, they headed west toward West Virginia. Joseph kept the horses at a smooth trot, an' they made it to Wheeling just after nightfall the next day. They set up camp just outside of town, an' the next morning early they loaded up an' drove into town to look around. They met the town sheriff at the same saloon they ate at the other day, an' asked if the men they were chasin came back through town. They had; 'e said, an' they had to get new horses. It looked like they ran the ones they came in on to death. They were all lathered up, an' pretty much had it. You was right marshal. That was a woman with 'em. She was a pretty little thing too. Long black hair, an' handsome as I ever seen. What color were 'er eyes sheriff? They was green as fresh leaves. It's her alright; John said. Nobody looks quite like that but your sisters. Sister?; sheriff McCain said. Yea, she's my sister; Joseph confirmed. One of 'em anyway. We just don't know if she's runnin with that bunch, or they took 'er against 'er will. Well, it looked like she was one of the bunch to me. Pardon my comments marshal. It's ok sheriff. If she's runnin with 'em, she'll have to pay, same as them. Well boys, if ya hurry, you can catch 'em afore they get into Ohio. We'll dog 'em. They can't keep runnin hard like they are. It'll wear 'em down soon enough. Our horses ain't even tired. We'll camp an' head out in the mornin. G' night sheriff. Night boys. An' by the way. I hope ya find them killers, but in Ohio, or farther west. Don't worry sheriff. We'll get 'em, west of here. What do ya think John? Wanna camp tonight? Or head west a ways first. Let's camp Joseph. Let that bunch get tired, then we can catch 'em an' they won't put up as much of a fight. Let's go get some sleep, so we can head out early in the mornin.
The next mornin they were up an' loaded afore the sun came up. They were in Ohio by noon trackin the horses. Well John, it looks like they're takin to the road this time. Maybe they think we took that train. Maybe, an' if they did, they just might be movin slower. It'll make it easier to catch up to 'em. Yep. Only they won't be so tired, an' might put up a scrape. That's ok though. Makes it easier to shoot someone if they're fightin. They kept the horses trottin till they came into Zanesville, where they stopped to eat, an' check with the sheriff. Yea boys, they came through here alright, an' shot up the saloon. Anybody get hurt? Nah, they sure scared a lot of people though. How long ago were they here? Bout an hour ago, maybe a little less. Any of 'em stay behind? Yep, one's still over at the saloon right now. Big feller. Let's go John. The sheriff walked over with the two law-men, an' 'e told 'em what this feller looked like, so they'd know. Soon as they step in the saloon, Josh Gibson let lose with a hail of bullets. None of them hit what 'e was aimin at though. However, the return shots hit 'im several times. Another one down; John said. Yep. That leaves five, an' Penelope. Any idea who 'e is Joseph? Yea, I met 'im in the war. He was a gorilla fighter that ran with Bill Green an' 'is bunch, name of Josh Gibson, I believe. Killers, all of 'em. Gorilla fighter, eh? Why do they call 'em that? The way they fight. They lay in wait an' waylay people. Any people, whether they was in the war, or not. They didn't care who they killed, they just liked the killin. Bill tried to get Peter 'an' me to join up with 'im an' 'is bunch during the war, but we wouldn't have any of it. Well, one thing sure, they don't get word from this feller an' they'll know we're trailin 'em. That's good. It'll make 'em run harder, an' tire them horses faster, an' themselves. Let's go John, we got a long way to go, an' five men to catch. They kept it at a trot till night fall. They never seen anything of the gang they were chasin, an' figured they knowed by now their man wasn't comin to meet up. They camped in a grove of trees at the top of a hill, so they could see a long way in the morning, an' see if they could spot their runners. At night they could also check to see if they could see a camp fire, an' sure enough, they did. Looks like they're only 'bout a couple miles ahead of us Joseph. Yea, that's them alright. Let's camp, an' I'll take a midnight walk later. Maybe I'll be able to get close enough to hear something this time, an' see that woman. I wanna make damn sure if it's Penelope or not.
After settin up camp and talkin a bit and it was plenty dark, Joseph lit out for the other camp fire. He stopped 'is horse plenty far back so they wouldn't hear 'im, an' slipped up till 'e was only a few yards away an' on the west side, where they'd never expect 'im to come in from. He tried to see where Penelope was sleepin, so 'e could try an' slip 'er out of camp unharmed, just in case she was being held captive. He knew 'e was in a stickly situation, but if 'is sister was bein held captive, 'e had to do 'is very best to get 'er out. Just how to do it, 'e wasn't sure just yet. A diversion was out of the question. It had to be something sneaky, an' quiet. Then again, if it is her, an' if she is runnin with this bunch, she might let my presence be known. He sure wished 'e knew for sure. An' 'e wished 'e could figure out why she's runnin with a bunch like this, if she was. This was a tough situation. He knew they had to have a sentry set out somewhere, so 'e'd find 'im afore 'e tried anything else. Surely he'd be on the east side of camp. He crawled a big circle around to the east side till 'e found the sentry. Good; 'e thought. He's sleepin. He slipped up on 'im an' sneaked 'is gun out of the holster, then knocked 'im out cold, then hog tied the guy. He put the mans guns in the bushes an' slipped up closer to the camp. He could see everybody from here, an' they were all sleepin. He thought; these guys are careless considerin we been chasin 'em. He spotted Penelope alright. She was sleepin with Bill Green. Right next to 'im. Well, getting 'er out of here is out. He crept back to where the sleepin sentry was, an' dragged 'im back to 'is horse. Then 'e snuck in an' took a horse from the gang without anybody wakin up. After loadin the guy up, 'e led the other horse an' went back to his an' John's camp. John had coffee an' beans waitin. Well Joseph, what do ya have here? This is their sentry, or was anyhow. He was sleepin, so I invited 'im over here. Whether we feed 'im or hang 'im is up to you. We'll hang 'im. But not tonight. Let's wait till mornin. What do ya say? Sounds good. Let's eat. Them beans smell pretty good. They took the sentry off 'is horse an' asked 'im what 'is name was. I'm Harvey Masters; 'e said. Well Harvey. You an' that bunch of cut throats killed my wife an' three little girls, so for that, we're gonna hang ya come tomorrow mornin. But for now, we'll let ya sleep over there. They proceeded to drag 'im over to a tree where they tied 'im so 'e could never escape. He could hardly even move, an' the blood was cut off from 'is legs an' hands, but that didn't really matter to 'is captivators. They were too concerned with eatin. They got their plates an' sit down to eat, an' John asked Joseph; well? What did ya see? She's in there alright. Sleepin right next to Bill Green. He clinched 'is fists when 'e even thought of it. No way was I gonna get 'er out. Well, we'll figure it out. John knew Joseph was upset that 'is sister was likely runnin with a bunch of cut throats, so 'e didn't push anything. He advised their prisoner of the same thing, although 'e somehow knew Harvey masters wouldn't heed the warning. He didn't care. In fact, he might enjoy watchin Joseph Cates beat the man to death. After all, he was one of the bunch that murdered 'is family, an' the Becker family too, now that they know Penelope 'as with 'em. No telling how many people this man's killed. Including women an' kids. He was however, worried about Penelope. He wondered if she was really runnin with this bunch, or was she captive. They neither one could be sure one way or the other. An' it bothered both of 'em. After supper they pulled out a bottle an' had a drink afore goin to sleep.
Mornin came an' Joseph fixed bacon an' eggs. They only had six eggs, but that was plenty for one breakfast, an' John made 'is famous biscuits. After breakfast, they decided to let Harvey decide how 'e wanted to die. They gave 'im four choices. Hangin, shot (several times,) throat cut, or being beat to death. An' if 'e chose the last, 'e had a chance to defend 'is self. Course, 'e had to defend 'is self against Joseph Cates, an' 'e was extremely mad right now, cause they had 'is sister. They asked Harvey if she was runnin with the gang, or was she held captive. He said she was with 'em, but that made Joseph even madder. So much for a choice. Tell ya what Harvey, you just made your choice. Git 'im up John. Untie 'im. John got 'im to his knees an' just cut the ropes. He didn't take the time to untie the guy, while Joseph throwed a rope over a limb, an' afore 'e let go, Joseph was on 'im beatin 'im to a bloody pulp. He beat an' beat till the man hardly had a face left. Then 'e took out 'is knife, an' cut the mans throat, grabbed the rope, an' strung 'im up afore 'e died, so it cut the blood off to 'is head. He couldn't even bleed to death. He had to strangle. It only took about ten minutes or so, since Joseph left 'is feet barely touchin' the ground. Four down; 'e said. Five to go. They left the dead man hangin where 'e died, of coarse.
They already knew that the gang they were chasin knew their sentry was gone, so they'd be runnin faster, wearin down their horses an' themselves. They loaded the wagon, an' trotted west. By the time night fall was on 'em, they was getting close to Indiana. They'll be needin fresh horses by now; John said. Yea, I figure they'll probably steal some from a farm somewhere. I just hope they don't kill the family they steal 'em from. Me too Joseph, but they have a bad habit of doin just that. Coarse, they're in a big hurry too, so they might just steal horses an' light a shuck. We better find them boys afore they do. We will, I don't think they'll be too far ahead of us. They topped a good size hill an' there they were. Lookin over the valley, they could see the gang tryin to make it up that hill to a farm house. They raced for the farm, an' started shootin at the gang, chasin 'em off. They'll get no horses from here tonight; Joseph said. They rode on up to the house an' the farmer opened the door to see who was there. Houdy; he said. What's all the shootin? We been chasin a gang of killers for several days, an' they been runnin hard. They'll be needin horses, so they were gonna barrow some from you. We run 'em off. Well, I'm much obliged for that. Come on in an' have some supper. We was just sittin down to eat. Thank ya sir. We'll be proud to join your family. They went in an' ate, an' then they asked the farmer if it'd be ok to camp out in his barn for the night. He said 'e would be glad if they did, what with that bunch of killers runnin around.
The next mornin they woke up early to leave, but the farmers daughter was standin at the barn door. She said 'er maw had breakfast ready, an' they would be pleased if the men joined 'em afore strikin out. Well miss, there's two things we never turn down. One of 'em's good food, an' the other's a pretty girl. We'll be right in; Joseph said. She blushed an' ran in the house, an' they soon fallowed. He did have a way with the ladies, an' 'e loved it when 'e made a young girl blush. He had a humor about 'im that never failed, even during the worst of times. This little girl was about six years old, an' she reminded 'im of 'is own little girl Mandy. She was five. They had breakfast, thanked the man an' his family, an' headed west to see where they could pick up the trail.
It wasn't hard to find. Five horses runnin hard, an' nearly beat. They just kept up at a trot, knowin they'd run up on them boys soon enough. They kept doggin 'em for days, not tryin to actually catch 'em, just doggin 'em till they dropped, if they did. And if they did, they figured they'd shoot 'em right there an' be done with it. Days went by, an' they made it near to Missouri. Saint Louis it was, an' the trail went south. They fallowed along the Mississippi till they found the ferry an' crossed. They asked the ferry driver about the four men an' a woman who crossed, an' when. Bout two hours ago; 'e said. They was mighty tired too, like they was runnin from something. They were runnin alright. From us. Ya know which way they headed? Yep, south west. They said something bout the city of Jefferson. The lady said she had kin there. She has kin there alright. Thanks for the ride. They paid the man, an' headed south west toward Jefferson.