Not Leaving Just Yet
“Hold on a minute, now,” Ridge said, swinging his rifle barrel around to point at C.J. although he spoke to Imala. “Once our Navvy tracker gets here and does his job, Easterly here’ll be leavin’ one way or another.” He dipped his head toward the corner. “You can stay and wait for your man to be cleared, or go.” Ridge got a lop-sided smile. “But if you stay, I want you over in that corner where you can’t pull that pig-sticker out within arm’s reach of me.”
C.J.’s pulse pounded. Should he admit everything and make them understand that he didn’t shoot anyone? No. They’d hang him and be done with it. His best hope would be to delay them until tonight and try to sneak away then.
Who’s in Control
Imala stood still, her posture straight, chin level, and let her gaze travel over Ridge from bottom to top.
Ridge lost his grin and shuffled his feet. “Go on, then. Corner, or out the door.”
“Why don’t you stay?” Matt asked the Apache maiden. “I may need some more of that medicine tea.”
Imala kept her eyes on Ridge. “Your Navajo won’t come until after ntsaai nilch’i. The big wind. He will know, as I do, it’s coming.” She curled her lips. “White men don’t pay attention to the harmony of Mother Earth and Father Sky. You’re too busy killing each other.”
Yeah, But …
“There was a killing, all right,” Shorty butted in. “That sort of thing may be honorable in your tribe, but we see it as a crime, calling for justice, no matter which way the wind blows.”
Imala turned to Shorty; Ridge licked his lips and let his shoulders droop, evidently happy her attention was on someone else.
Imala pointed at C.J., “Will this man’s death serve your justice?”
“If his horse out there is the one we’ve been following, yeah,” Shorty said.
Could Be the Same Horse
“Brown Tooth from my tribe was hunting and killed a deer. That horse wandered by with a white rider so sick his mind had gone to the Black God. The white man had no need of a cowpony, as you call them. Why not let the horse carry the deer back to the village?”
“Hold up,” Matt said. “If that guy we were trackin’ was here, and he was sick, maybe that’s what I got.” He rubbed his belly while stress rings wrinkled around his eyes. “Sounds like he died, too.”
A loud discussion broke out among the HW ranch hands centering on whether the rider died, was he still out there, or even if they could believe Imala’s story.
Shorty asked Imala, “What were you two doing with the mare?”
“We are going to Cibecue.”
“What I meant was, why didn’t this Missing Tooth—”
“Why didn’t he keep the horse?”
“It is a Spirit Horse.”
“What the h—what does that mean?”
“I am Imala.”
Shorty slapped the table and shook his head. “You’re not making a pinch of snuff’s worth of sense. You speak English better’n any of us, so just tell me plain out what you mean.”
C.J. noticed the slight grin at the corner of Imala’s lips. “You white men are chasing justice by killing a man, but you’re trying to catch a horse. Outside is a horse, inside is a man. Is one, or either of them, guilty of the crime you describe? If the horse wasn’t there, is the man innocent? If the horse is guilty of being at the crime, and a different man now rides her, will hanging the man bring justice?”
What do you think? Will Imala’s reasoning stand? Did she lie? Leave a comment now.
Here is an interesting site about western justice.
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