Tad Langer was no fool.
He was, I discovered the hard way, an old soldier and one who knew his business.
I admired that.
But it wouldn’t give him an easy death.
As Jackson had told me, Langer lived in Pepperell, Massachusetts, not far from Cross and too damned close as far as I was concerned.
When I arrived at his home, I was surprised to see it disguised as an old church. Off to the left was a second structure and another house set a bit farther back, and a burial ground to the right. I let my horse stay off to one side, protected by a copse of thick trees, and went to the end of Langer’s walkway.
Standing there, in the remnants of the first snowfall of the season, I caught a glimpse of sunlight on metal and stepped aside as a shot rang out.
The sound was crisp and clear, and it told me two things.
First, I’d not sneak up on the home.
Second, Langer was a good shot.
Had I stood still, the bullet would have taken me in the face, and that would have been a hell of a thing to recover from.
I took shelter behind an oak, patted the horse on the head and called out to the man.
“Who wants to speak to the General?” a strong, young voice demanded.
I let out a sigh and shook my head.
“Tell him it’s Duncan Blood and that I want the tree’s wood back.”
There was silence for a few minutes, and then the man shouted, “He says you should go right back to Hell, Mr. Blood.”
I heard the chuckle of more than a few voices, and I nodded.
Sliding my rifle out of its holster, I chambered a round and then shouldered my haversack.
I stepped away from the horse, found a good spot in the copse of trees and set the barrel of the rifle on a limb. It took only a moment to find the window the man had shot at me from.
“Are you still there?” I asked.
“Aye,” the man answered, and I shot him through the glass. Gunfire erupted from the church and the house beyond.
Chuckling, I chambered another round.
I didn’t mind that Langer wasn’t alone in his home.
Not at all.
I had enough bullets for everyone.
And my knife for Langer.