Chapter 5: to Jefferson.
They crossed some hills and seen the men they were fallowin only a mile or so ahead of 'em. Joseph said; looks like they want a fight. Tired of runnin I s'pose. Well, let's give it to 'em. They kept trottin along till they got closer to the gang. Bill green rode out to talk, but they weren't in any mood to talk to 'im or any of the gang. All they wanted was to kill every last one of 'em. John put a bullet close to his horse, an' 'e turned tail an' ran back for the gang, an' they all lit a shuck, shootin at the law men. That was their worst mistake of the day. Joseph drove, an' John shot, cause he was best with a rifle. Charles Winston, an' Zeb Smith were shot an' killed. Neither Joseph or John were hit. Six down, two to go, an' Penelope. They slowed the wagon and let the bunch think they made a get away. What are we gonna do about Penelope Joseph? We need to know up front. Are we gonna put her down like the rest? Or do we let her go? I gotta know. I wanna know too John. But I gotta talk to her first. I think it's the only way to find out for sure. I'll try to slip in their camp tonight. That last man ain't liable to stick around since the rest of 'em's pretty much history. And Bill Green ain't much of a threat. Only thing 'e has is Penelope, an' I get the feelin 'e might use 'er to save his own hide. He knows I won't barge in there shootin for fear of hittin 'er. Let's gather up these horses. We'll let the next farm have 'em. Ya think we aught to bury these men? Nah, I've never buried a man like these in my life. I ain't gonna start now. Let 'em rot. Coyotes need to eat too. Yea, guess you're right. They gathered the horses an' headed west an' south. They came up on a farm an' asked the farmer if 'e needed a couple horses. He was glad to get free horses, an' they rode out. By the next night they were only about fifteen miles from Jefferson when they camped. They knew that Bill Green would be needin to get some distance between 'im an' the law-men, but with their horses wore out, they wouldn't make it far. They made camp on the river only about half a mile downstream of the two men an' Penelope.
Joseph slipped over to their camp to see what 'e could find out. He knew too that there was only two men left, so they couldn't have a sentry. They'd just have to keep watch as best they could, an' bein tired like they was, that wouldn't last long. He was in luck. Penelope wasn't sleepin with Bill tonight, but by herself away from the two men, closer to the fire. An' that one mans bedroll didn't look quite right. Actually, neither of 'em did. He could see Penelope real well, but 'e couldn't see either man. Just humped up bed rolls. Not even any guns. ok; 'e thought, I know this trick. They keep back away from the fire in the shadows, an' hope I'll come bustin right in, so they can cut me down like a bandit. Well, not tonight boys. He looked around an' found a hickory tree that had been hit by lightning a while back in a storm. There was a limb laying there with a big mall knot on one end of it, an' it was just about three feet long. Just right 'e thought. This is truly my night. He remembered one time when 'is paw made a mall out of one of them hickory knots to drive fence posts in the ground. Hard as a rock. All 'e had to do was a little whittlin. He pulled out 'is Barlow pocket knife an' went to work. When 'e got done with 'is new "hammer" 'e looked around till 'e found Bill Green hidin by a tree. He was sleepin, just like 'e thought 'e would be. He knocked 'im in the forehead, so 'e'd know the man wouldn't wake up till mornin, with a terrible head ache. He took 'is gun, an' looked around some more an' found Sam Smith. Same thing. Two men will have terrible head aches come mornin. With a grin an' both men's guns 'e went to the camp. He woke up Penelope, an' she throwed 'er arms around 'im like she thought she'd never see 'im again. Oh Joseph; she said. I knew you'd come. They said they was gonna kill Sally an' Mandy. They done enough killin Penelope. I gotta know somethin afore we go any farther. What Joseph? Well, it's hard to say it an' not offend ya, but I got to ask. Well what is it? Well, story has it you might not of been took. There was no sign of a fight or anything at the Becker place. Oh Joseph, you don't believe that do ya? I just don't know Penelope. I seen ya sleepin right next to Bill one night. We been closer than ya think we have. I know ya been close Joseph. You an' Sheriff Weston. I just don't know what to believe right now Penelope. Well, let's go. John has supper on an' I'm hungry anyway. They loaded up all the guns on the horses an' took all of 'em to where John an' Joseph set up camp. When they rode in John was waitin with bacon an' beans, an' hot coffee. Well, looky here. How are ya Miss Penelope? I'm ok Sheriff Weston, an' how are you? I'm starved. That brother of yours kept me waitin till I near starved to death. You coulda ate John; Joseph told 'im. I'd ate after I got back. Nah, it's ok. Where's the two men? Sleepin, an' they'll have a hell of a head ache come mornin. I found a hickory mall. Ouch, I can feel it my own self. Well, they'll wake up an' have no guns or horses. It'll be easy to find 'em tomorrow. An' we'll hang 'em right then an' there. Right by the river. They ate an' sit to have coffee an' talk awhile, like they always did, an' Penelope went to sleep by the fire. The two men sit back away so they could talk an' not disturb 'er, an' also not be heard by 'er. They talked in a low tone. What do ya make of it Joseph? Well, when I woke 'er up, she never asked where Bill Green or the other one was. Kinda makes me wonder. She says they took 'er, but damn if I know. We'll just have to see what happens I guess. Ok then. We'll play it by ear. Let's get some sleep. Tomorrow 'll be a new day. An' the last of that bunch will breathe no more, an' kill not another person. Ever.