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Texas Rangers, May, 1948
OUTLAW
POSSE
By SCOTTY RAND
Being sheriff requires more
than just wearing a badge!
HERIFF ZEKE ADAMS was late. He
sent his horse at a reckless gallop over
the rough trail, hoping he could still
catch one of the posses at the rendezvous
point.
The sheriff had come back to town that
morning to find the bank robbed and two
posses of irate citizens out on the trail of the
bandits. They had left word for the sheriff
that the outlaws had been seen heading
toward Cross Creek and that they would try
to meet the sheriff at a point near the
Witches’ Den—a boulder-strewn canyon.
So to save time, Adams cut across
country straight for the Witches’ Den,
hoping to meet the posse there, or if he were
too late, to pick up the tracks from there.
Presently he noticed the tracks of three
horses cutting in from the side and taking the
rough trail he was on. Men from town? he
wondered. Or innocent cowboys—or some
of the bandits?
A spot of color caught his eye and he
saw a red bandanna caught on a low
mesquite limb and fluttering in the breeze.
He picked it off the limb as he went by and
stuffed it into a pocket of his shirt.
The Witches’ Den was silent and
deserted. There were horse tracks here,
coming from several directions, trampling up
the ground and departing in several
directions. It was a maze.
Sheriff Adams absently mopped his brow
and tried to figure out his next move. A
voice spoke harshly from the bushes:
“Hold it, friend, we’re coming out!”
Hoofs clinked on stone and three men
rode into the canyon.
“We’d about give you up!” one of them
said.
“I’m late, I know,” Adams replied. “Glad
yuh waited for me. Which way did they go?”
“South,” said one of the men. “So we’ll
go west.”
Adams was a little surprised that the
strategy of the hunt should be taken out of
his hands this way, but he reasoned that the
men could not wait, so they had made their
own judgments and split their forces to the
best advantage.
Certainly if some had ridden south to
search, it was logical they take another
direction.
They rode west and the three possemen
seemed to know exactly where they were
going. They entered a region of broken and
tangled canyons which the sheriff knew from
hunting trips as a boy, but thought no one
else knew as well. To his surprise, they led
him into a well-hidden box canyon with a
S
OUTLAW POSSE 2
small pond and a log cabin set in a grove of
firs.
“There’s the place,” said one of the men.
Suspicions crystallized in the sheriff’s
mind. But he kept still and waited to see
what would happen.
They dismounted in front of the cabin
and one of the men took a pair of bulky
saddle-bags from behind his kak. Inside the
cabin he dumped them out on the table. With
little surprise, Sheriff Adams found himself
looking at tied bundles of greenbacks which
he knew were the bank loot.
“That’s the whole pile,” the bandit said.
“Yore share’s a thousand if yuh do yore part.
See that grub and fresh horses are here, let us
know as soon’s the shoutin’ dies down and
it’s safe to move. Savvy?”
He drew a deep breath and wiped his
forehead with a red bandanna. Looking at it,
Sheriff Zeke Adams saw something strange
about it. There were holes cut in it. He
realized they were eyeholes—that the
bandanna had recently served as a mask.
NCONSCIOUSLY his fingers went to
his pocket, to the bandanna he had
picked off the mesquite limb. For the first
time he looked at it and saw identical
eyeholes. So that was how they had picked
him out! The bandanna was a signal to them.
He spread it out and something caught in
its folds dropped to the floor with a clatter.
Winking up at them was his sheriff’s star!
There was a little hushed silence in the
cabin. The outlaws stared down at the star,
then up at Adams. He could almost see the
wheels turning in their heads.
“Sheriff, eh?” one of the men breathed.
His gun hand began to curve over the butt of
the Colt riding low on his thigh.
In the silence came the sound of horses’
hoofs. All four men strained their ears, but
none dared take his eyes from the others.
The approaching sound could be some of the
posse, which meant danger for the outlaws,
or it could be the man the outlaws were
expecting—the one they had mistaken the
sheriff for—in which case it meant curtains
for Adams.
The tension broke like a giant spring as
one of the bandits drew. Adams pulled his
gun at the same moment, shot the bandit
through the arm and upended the table on the
other two, scattering money left and right.
Then, taking his chances outside, he burst
out of the door.
A handful of men whooped as they saw
him and spurred their horses into a gallop.
Adams’ heart leaped as he saw they were his
own men from town. And riding in front of
them, arms trussed, was a surly character
who could be none other than the missing
outlaw whom the bandits had expected to
meet!
“Take cover and surround the cabin!”
Adams yelled, sprinting for a rock. “They’re
inside!”
The posse tumbled off their horses and in
a moment, rifle lead was splintering the
cabin walls. The outlaws gave up pretty
soon, seeing it was hopeless. They trooped
out, hands in air, all except the wounded one,
who clutched his right arm with his left.
“Gee, Sheriff,” said a member of the
posse, peering into the cabin. “Lookit all the
money in there.”
“Stay out of there,” Adams ordered.
“Don’t yuh trust me?” the posseman
demanded, hurt.
“With the money—shore! But you go
tromping in there with yore big feet and
yuh’re liable to step on my badge which I
was lunkhead enough to drop. I want that
badge. From now on it’s gonna remind me of
somethin’—of how bein’ just a mite careless
can land yuh in the closest squeak of yore
life!”
U

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