I’d heard of something strange happening at the far end of the Coffin family’s lands, just over the Cross River and close to the mills. In an old lot, overgrown and long forgotten, a pair of bodies had been found.
They were drifters, as best as the police could tell, and they’d been murdered. That astute observation came from a new detective who’d once worked as a patrolman in Concord, Massachusetts.
The bodies were found with arms and legs akimbo, their heads mounted on poles a good forty feet from their necks.
The heads had been removed by clean cuts, and when I examined the ground between the bodies, I found a clear set of hoofprints and a pair of paw prints. There’d been a mounted rider and a dog. By the heads, I discovered the imprint of riding boots in the dirt, and I knew I was looking for a calvary man in the company of a dog.
I took my leave of the police and the new detective, expounding on his theories, and followed the trail.
It led me a good half mile away, and in a small glade, I found them.
The horse, hitched to a young sapling, had his nose buried in a tuft of grass and was eating contently. The calvary man, looking every bit the dandy, stood a short distance away with drawn sword in hand. Beside him, the dog sat with a bored and disappointed expression on his face.
“I’ve come for your head, Blood,” the man declared.
I spat on the ground, looked at him and asked, “That a fact?”
“It is,” he nodded. “Will you face me on the field of honor?”
The dog looked up at him and shook his head.
“Is that where you get on your horse, charge at me and try to take my head off?” I asked.
“It is,” the man stated with pride.
I drew both Colts and shot the man in the chest. The sword fell from his hands as he collapsed and then tumbled onto his back.
Moving forward, I stood by the dead man opposite the dog.
“We told him he was a fool,” the dog stated.
“He didn’t listen to anything,” the horse added around a mouthful of grass.
“Hm.” I reloaded the Colts. “Need a place to stay?”
“We’d be obliged,” the dog answered.
I unhitched the horse and led them both home.
It’s hard to suffer fools, and they’d suffered enough.