Chapter 6: they betrayal
The next morning they had their answer. Not the one they were lookin for, but an answer. Penelope was gone, along with all the horses an' guns except their pistols. Damn the luck; John said. Well, I guess we know now, huh Joseph. Yea, I guess we do. Let's go, see if we can pick up their trail. Now it's us that'll be needin horses. There's a farm between here an' their camp, up the hill a ways. Maybe we can get some there. I know the ol' boy. He's a good sort. I bought horses from 'im afore. They headed out an' got to the Wilson farm, an' James Wilson greets 'em at the door. Houdy Joseph. Houdy James. What brings you out this way? You walkin? Yea, we lost our horses an' need a couple new ones. Kinda hoped maybe ya can help us out. Oh sure. Come on in an' have some coffee. If ya don't mind James, we need to get movin. We're trailin a couple murderers an' need to get after 'em, if it's ok by you. Oh sure. Come on, we'll go pick out two good ones. Who's your friend? Oh yea, this is John Weston. Sheriff back home in Kentucky. Kentucky? Long way from home aint ya? Yes sir. We been trailin these men ever since there, an' clean over into Pennsylvania. Lost your horses eh Joseph? Out sneaked, eh? I never thought I'd see the day that you'd be out sneaked. Well, ya have now. James Wilson just couldn't resist the opportunity to poke fun at Joseph Cates for bein out sneaked. He chuckled all the way to the coral. They picked out two good horses an' paid him, then headed back to the river to find the trail again. They didn't bother hookin up the wagon. At least Penelope left some of the food. Let's head for Jefferson; Joseph said. They might already be there. They got two good horses now, so they'll be runnin hard, an' we better do the same. They set the horses to a run an' went along the river where the tracks were leadin the way right toward town. By now they were about ten miles from town, an' the rail road tracks came in an' ran along the river. Joseph told John that 'is farm was only a couple miles south of here an' they might as well go by an' get fresh horses, so they can keep on a hard run. Plus they could go by road. Easier ridin, an' faster. They do, an' also check to see if everything was alright. All was good, as none of the gang, or even Penelope knew exactly where the farm was. Sally an' Mandy were stayin in town at Josephine's place till this was all over, an' Mrs. Benton Was takin care of the place for 'em while 'is girls were in town. They headed for town, an' arrived in about an hour an' a half, just about dinner time. They went to the town sheriffs office to see if 'e'd seen anybody runnin horses through here. He hadn't 'e said, so they decided to get a bite to eat, an' go by and see Sally, Mandy, an' Josephine. They were all glad to see Joseph, an' John too, since they aint seen 'im in over two years, but there was no time to visit. They had to eat an' go. Joseph told Josephine an' Sally that Penelope was runnin with Bill Green an' another man. Well why would she hook up with a man like him?; she asked. We aint figured that part out yet. There was eight men to start. Jason was one of 'em, but 'e's dead now. Well, they was always kinda sweet on each other, so I could see 'er hookin up with him maybe, but she never did like Bill. That's what bothers me most. Joseph, are you absolutely sure she's hooked up with 'im? Fraid so. She sneaked out last night, an' stole our horses, an' went back to Bill, an' they lit out. We gotta go an' find 'em. You keep Sally an' Mandy here till we get back; ok Josephine? Of course I will. He hugs an' kisses 'is wife an' child, an' they rode out towards the river. Well John; 'e said. Which way now? They didn't come here that anybody knows of, an' with train tracks they can go for miles afore we pick up any sign. Well, if they didn't come here, then where do ya think they woulda gone? I have no idea. Well, where's Peter livin Joseph? Town called Kansas City, bout a hundred an' fifty miles west of here. Ya don't think they might be headed up that way, do ya? It's a chance. A long one, but the only one we got right now. I think they'll keep to the river. There's farms along it, an' they can steal food, an' water. Ok then. Let's go. It still bothers me that they didn't come into town. Me too Joseph. Can't help but to wonder why. An' if they hook up with Peter, that could be bad, really bad. What do ya mean Joseph? Peter. But I don't think 'e'd do what this bunch does. You didn't think Penelope would either. Yea, I know. I heard 'e took the wrong road after 'e moved to Kansas City, but I aint heard it from him 'is self. Story has it 'e makes 'is livin with a gun, an' you know how fast 'e is. Well Joseph, if 'e does make a livin with a gun, 'e aint liable to hook up with us on a deal like this, is 'e? What do ya think on it? Well I don't know for sure, but I don't think 'e'll fight us, specially if 'e knows women an' kids been killed. I hope you're right. Me too John, me too. We'll see when we get there.
They reach the river just north of town, an' start the trip toward Kansas City, hopin they come across the tracks of their stolen horses. They ride a few miles an' notice tracks in the mud that look familiar. Well John, looks like we're on the right track. Yep. They pick it up to a trot, an' keep it goin all day. They camped by the river an' got up early the next mornin to head out. They ate little an' drank only when they found a farm to get clean water. Farmers always welcomed law-men, cause they see 'em seldom enough. They asked all the farmers when they were waterin their horses if they'd seen two men an' a woman ride by. The men they said would probably have goose egg knots on their foreheads. One farmer did see such a group. They watered their horses an' lit out. The wife offered to put a poultice on their heads but they seemed to be in too much a hurry. Headed west they was. How long ago?; John asked. Early this mornin. Well Joseph, they're only bout half a day ahead of us now. Yea. We should be caught up by mornin if we stay steady. We better git. Thanks for the water. My pleasure. Say, what are ya huntin these folks for? Murder. They killed three entire families that we know of. Even the women folk? Yep, an' the kids. His kids included; 'e said, pointin at John. My goodness. Well, I hope ya catch 'em, an' hang 'em. We will. Good day sir. Good day gents, an' good luck. They kept a trot all the rest of that day, full knowin the three they were chasin would be wearin thin by now, if they knew they were bein chased. An' they must know, or they wouldn't be runnin so hard. John said; ya reckon they seen us? Or maybe they think one of the boys talked when we had 'im? Maybe. Somethin tipped 'em off. And that'll be to our benefit. Runnin scared like they are, that'll wear 'Em thin fast, an' them horses ain't gonna make it another day like that. As much as I hate to see a good horse get ruined, I'm glad they're doin it right now. We need to catch up to 'em afore they hook up with Peter, if that's where they're headed. An' it sure looks like that's where they're headed. The next mornin they start out afore the sun, an' by nine or so, they found one of the horses wanderin around along the river, near dead. Who ever was ridin it didn't even bother takin the saddle off. They stripped the saddle so the horse had a little chance to make it, an' headed on west. Well John, they'll be doubled up now, so it shouldn't be long afore we catch up. Yea, an' we better keep a good eye out too, so they don't waylay us. Your right. Let's take to the woods for a spell. We can slip along easier an' quieter, an' not be seen till it's too late to shoot us in the back. The grass is good too, so we can stop now an' again to let the horses eat, an' rest. The plan paid off afore long, because they spotted the three sittin on a log up ahead under some oak trees. They looked to be arguein, so they slipped right up on 'em. Hello boys; Joseph said. Bill Green spun to draw but seen two pistols aimed right at 'is eyes. Now drop them guns boys. They both dropped their guns an' John went over an' took 'em. Get the rope. John was pleased to get the rope for 'e knew there was gonna be a hangin. Where do ya want me to put it Joseph? Tie 'em up. We'll take 'em back to Jefferson. Hang 'em there, so the whole town can see. Joseph, even Sally? An' Josephine? Even them, if they want. These people killed eight or ten people or more, includin women an' kids. They need to be hanged public, hard as it'll be to do. Penelope stepped forward an' asked Joseph; you aint gonna hang me too, are ya Joseph? Fraid it looks like we are little sister. Ya run with killers, ya die with killers. But Joseph. I wasn't with 'em. They told me they wasn't gonna kill Jack an' his family, but they did anyway. They was the ones that murdered all them folk. Tell it to the judge. Let's go. John helped Penelope up on back of Bills horse, an' they headed back towards Jefferson. All day long Penelope tried to talk Joseph into letting 'er go. Where were ya headed anyway Penelope? We 'as goin to Kansas City to hook up with with Peter. I sent 'im a wire an' told 'im what was happenin. He'll tell ya. He knows. Does 'e now? Yes! Ok then, I'll send 'im a wire from town. If 'e answers afore the hangin you might go free. Well, what if he can't? Well, ya hang I s'pose. Why'd ya steal our horses that night? I was scared. Bill told me if I didn't help out 'e'd kill me an' Sally too. An' Mandy. Come on Penelope. You don't expect us to believe that, do ya? It's true ass hole; Bill said. I told 'er. An' I'll kill 'er too, an' that wife of yours. You just give me one chance. I'll kill you too. An' this piss ant sheriff with ya. Ya talk big Bill. Try backing it up an' we'll see who dies. An' it won't be pretty either. Kinda like that one ol' boy ya had runnin with ya. Josh I think 'is name was. No, no, it was Harvey. Harvey Masters. Yea, that's right. Ain't that right John? Yep. It was ugly too. Poor man tried to bleed to death after bein beat to a pulp, an' gettin' 'is throat sliced, but the rope cut off 'is blood stream in 'is head. Too bad it didn't break. Choking takes so long. All that kickin an squirmin an such. Bill didn't talk any more for awhile after that. By night fall, they was ready to stop an' make camp. The captives were plum wore out, an' Joseph an' John were ready for some food an' rest themselves. Well John, let's see what this bunch been eatin. Good idea. They open the nap sack, an' find bacon an' beans. Well, it aint special, but it's food. John got the wood an' made a fire while Joseph got the prisoners situated by the trees 'e tied 'em to. When supper was ready, Joseph took a plate to Penelope so she could eat. He untied 'er hands enough to let 'er eat, but stayed right by 'er while she did. She was in tears when she said; do you really mean to hang me too Joseph? I'm sorry Penelope, but I have no choice, if Peter don't answer my wire in time. There's a town up a ways. Boone ville, I think it is. I'll send the wire from there. That'll give 'im a couple days longer to reply. An' honestly Penelope, I hope 'e does. I really do. You eat now, an' get some rest. Joseph. Yea? Do ya think I might be able to ride with you tomorrow? Bill keeps grabbin me. You know, my private area. Why didn't ya say somethin? I was too scared, cause ya was so mad. He took me Joseph (tears were runnin down her cheeks by now.) He took ya? Yeah. He did, I swear 'e did. I aint with 'im Joseph. I never was. I swear on poppas grave I wasn't. Well, I promise 'e'll not grab ya anymore. We'll see bout who ya ride with in the mornin. Thank ya Joseph. It's ok. He moved 'er closer to the fire an' away from Bill Green an' 'is partner. Now ya get some rest an' we'll talk tomorrow. He tied 'er hands but 'e put deer skin under the rope so it wouldn't hurt so much, yet she was still bound. Hey! What about us?; Bill yelled. What about ya; John asked. We're hungry too, an' them 's our beans. Well, if you're lucky, you'll starve to death afore Joseph gets too mad at ya, an' gives ya the Josh treatment. Oh wait. I mean the Harvey treatment. Joseph went to Bill an' leaned down close an' said. I aint in a habit of keeping cow shit scum like you alive, let alone feedin 'em. You'll get your last meal when we get ya to Jefferson, if ya live that long. What's a matter marshal? Mad cause I been feelin your sister? I had 'er ya know. She was good too. Them teats felt good when she pushed 'em up agin me on that hor… POP! One big hand across his face an' 'e slept the rest of the night. Sam Smith was calm as a lamb. He didn't ask for food. He didn't complain. He just sit there an' worried.
The next mornin, after the law-men an' Penelope ate, they loaded up an' Penelope road behind Joseph. They didn't bother feedin the other two. They headed down stream towards Jefferson at a slow walk. They weren't in any hurry now that they had everybody caught up, or dead. They seen the storm brewin ahead, so John put 'is rain coat on, an' Joseph draped 'is poncho over 'imself an' Penelope. It was plenty big enough. He told Bill an' Sam they needed a bath anyway. He didn't have any good feelins for these two at all. Penelope laid 'er head on Josephs shoulder and told 'im so that nobody could hear; I'm pregnant Joseph. You're what? I'm, pregnant. Well it is Jacks baby, aint it? Yes, coarse it is. How far along are ya? Bout three months I reckon. Well shit. This'll change things, at least for another five or six months, or maybe seven. I'm sorry Joseph. Well, it's kinda late for bein sorry. We'll figure somethin out. Don't worry bout that baby. They won't hang a woman that's with child. But what if they decide I'm to be hanged? If they do, they'll wait till the baby's born, then do it. Which means you'll have to sit in jail till then. One good thing comes of it. It'll give Peter plenty time to get there an' help out, if 'e plans to. Boonville should be just over that rise. We'll go in town, an' I'll wire Peter. John 'll stay with ya at the jail, so nobody pesters ya. You'll be fine. Ok Joseph. When they reached the sheriffs office, they took the prisoners in an' locked 'em up. John staid there while Joseph went to the telegraph office to wire Peter. Bill asked the sheriff; do ya suppose we can get some food? This sheriff an' that marshal aint fed us in three days. They feed her though. She's a sister to the marshal, so I guess she gets special treatment. He looked at John an' said; that right Sheriff Weston? That's right. You can feed 'em if ya like, but they're gonna hang anyway. Just looks like a waist of food to me. Well, all the same, I better give 'em somethin. He asked Penelope if she was hungry, an' the sheriff. They both said yes. He went to the café across the street an' got some food an' brought it back to his visitors.