The Rifleman
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Fulton's Fury

A Predatory Excursion - To Ravage …. Fury
Feed the Need — Chapter Fifteen
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Bat figured he wouldn’t be hearing from Quentin until well after the gun show, but he was surprised to find a telegram waiting for him Monday morning suggesting that they could meet at the farm lodge on Thursday in the early afternoon. He paid a visit to Sarah and they agreed that it would be a good time to meet. They made plans for Turley and several of the able bodied workers at the hotel to come along as had been discussed before. Bat continued on to inform the others and then to Owen Pollard’s office to discuss the matters at hand.

“Owen, once I get this meeting with Renfro out of the way, I intend on taking Lucas to New York. It’s a big step to consider such a large city for only our fourth performance. It occurs to me that we should do this in order to draw the necessary attention that we may need to gain a meeting with the cottonseed investors.”

“I think you should do it. Yesterday was a real eye opener for me. You guys are going to hit the big time. What better place to draw attention?”

“What I’m thinking more about is how to best address the matter of publicity here in Dallas. At some point, Will is going to have to show his hand. Once this town wakes up to the fact that he has returned, we can’t be sure what nonsense will follow. At this point, if we all leave Dallas nothing has been said. Will is considering taking the women home and waiting to hear from us in North Fork. Right now I’m inclined to keep things quiet and just leave. Once we discover enough about what our next move ought to be, we can consider making Will’s return public knowledge. We are fortunate to have had this luxury after being here for almost a month so far. Quentin is the only one I’m aware of who can break that silence. Beckwith is another, but I don’t think he would do such a thing, never can tell though. Can I trust you to keep in touch with me while we are in New York? If something happens, please let me know.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way! There are those few who know of this matter, but ten years is a long time and until there is a reason for Renfro to blow things out of proportion, I don’t think you have much to worry about. I’ll do my best to keep an eye on things.”

“Thank you Owen. You are a great friend. I sure enjoyed having you in the show Saturday. We gave them plenty to remember.”

“You betcha! I hope we can do that again sometime. Gives me something more to look forward to and it keeps target practice interesting. I’m going to keep working on that sideways card split shot. I’ll have more of those holders made.”

“I can’t say just how long we will be performing this show, but Dallas is one place on the list for an encore. You guys are doing a great job as this town grows up. We’ve made some very good friends here and I’ll always look forward to my stays in Fort Worth.”

“You and that White Elephant just can’t keep away from each other. I wish I had more time to prowl those parts. You sure do get around old Bat! I admire your tenacity and willingness to get involved in the face of injustice. Makes my heart all warm and fuzzy inside.”

“I can see where you have such a place in your heart, you crafty keeper of the peace. We must have survived our early years for some good reasons. Now about the visit to the farm on Thursday, is that a good time for you?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. You will need me as a witness and the sooner we get this done the better. This is where we must be careful not to say too much and let them get away with the fraud, right?”

“Exactly. We have no reason to jump on our friend R.J. Graham. I want to be able to flash his name around in New York if need be. But I have not said a word about going to New York to any of them. I think it better to leave it that way. Unless of course Renfro and I get to talking and I think it alright. If we can get his confidence in our trip, we may not need to look very hard for those investors. We shall see.”

“I love this kind of espionage, and better yet when played by a master.”

“Well, thank you Owen. You are a most valuable asset in this game. I hope you can find something out about the Carlson hanging while we’re away. That may not be so easy if we want to keep things quiet in the press. Do be careful my friend.”

“I will be very careful indeed. I may wait for your return or at least your approval before I approach this. I could wind up scaring the rats if I let it be known we suspect such a thing as a fake hanging could be possible. And you just might wind up making the discovery on your trip anyhow. Let us be patient on this one.”

“I agree, we shall keep in close touch by telegram and never to mention our actual business in the messages of course. Let us speak only of the cattle business and a man named Bentley, does that sound easy enough?”

I can do that. What should his first name be? Let me see…… something regal but not too pretentious….. not a well known name in these parts. How about Stephen…. Stephen Bentley, that sound good, you like that?”

“Almost too good Owen, but I like it. Vernon Carlson is now Stephen Bentley. And we do not mention William Fulton by telegram either. Just call him Bat Jr.”

“That’s too funny. He looks so good in your derby brother, I love how he came across that legendary keepsake. You’ll fit right in where you’re going!”

“I plan to, it don’t get any bigger than New York!”

“Well, you’ll leave them all talking about you in Dallas. I don’t think we’ll be able to keep a shot glass safe here for years to come. I’m thinking to invest in a shot glass making company, it can’t lose!

“I’m wondering the same thing about Yuma and Santa Fe. I hope New York is ready for this. I should put money on that venture when I first get there. But I’m not sure how much practice we will get. I need to contact the local authorities to see how we will be received. There is much to learn.”

“You’re welcome to use our resources at any time Bat. I’ll put in a good word for ya! But I think the News Papers have already started that ball rolling.”

“Right you are my good man, it is a snowball gathering weight quickly. I have a reply to send to Renfro, I want to get it back to him before it gets too late. Perhaps we can all have dinner tonight, are you free?”

“I am very expensive in fact, count me in!”

“I will be sure to include you always Owen, see you then.

Two wagons and a host of horse back visitors kicked up dust on the way to the Graham farm. Sarah brought along prepared dishes, wine, and many supplies. The farm was busy roasting cuts of beef , pork and plenty of chickens. A fiddle player warmed up the festivities with a wonderful mix of tunes. Soon, a banjo player arrived and people were jumping around to the rhythms of folk music and Irish jigs. Quentin Renfro and Robert J. Graham sat at a table in the lodge visiting with various workers and friends as they waited for the guests of honor to arrive. A game of rounders was underway in a nearby field. This was a popular pastime for the men on the farm and was important for their moral. Many of them had seen service in the Civil War and learned the game then. Most of them were at the gun show and were looking forward to meeting Bat and Lucas.

A yard full of children and dogs clamored about the lodge to greet the wagons as they arrived. Quentin and Arnold Colby came out to greet them and brought everyone in to meet RobertJ. Graham. Once inside, they set their eyes on R.J. as he stood up to invite them to the table. Quentin led Sarah and William over first to stand on his left side, then Ann, Bat, Lucas, Aubry, and Owen. Emma stayed in town as usual and Turley took a seat close to where the servants brought in the supplies from the wagons. R.J. was dressed to the hilt in a three piece black suit. His top hat was on a rack near the door. Bat thought this unnecessary attire for such an occasion and left his fancy duds at the hotel. So R.J. was the only formally dressed person at the table. Quentin thought this proper for a New York businessman and Gusset did his best to play the role.

“Sarah, William, everyone, I want you to meet Robert J. Graham, owner of this marvelous operation and one of my finest clients.” Quentin waved his arm behind the standing Graham and patted him on the back.

“Thank you Quentin, it is my honor to meet all of you today. Thank you for coming out here and making this occasion possible. Sarah, I know it has been many years, you look as fine as ever.” R.J. bent forward to kiss Sarah’s hand. “And this must be William Fulton, I’ve heard a lot about you young man, very impressive! Bat Masterson, I don’t know how lucky a man can be to have a chance to meet you, how wonderful.” R.J. reached to shake or kiss each hand as he went along. When he came to Lucas he gave a very firm handshake, as he was advised to do. Lucas could tell it was a rancher’s handshake, very firm indeed. Once the pleasantries were complete everyone sat down and joined in casual conversation. Bat advised them beforehand to make it easy for Gusset. They were not here to challenge him or give them any reason to make a big deal out of Will’s story.

Gusset seemed to be well rehearsed and relaxed in his role. He was able to discuss the early days of the farm’s formation and how he met with Sarah at the time. Sarah did notice a few things that made her sure he was not the same man she met on that day, but she gave no reaction and let him lie his way through the entire story. Bat was astonished at how Gusset handled the subject of cotton farming with ease. Several weeks of study worked wonders on this rancher. Bat sized him up and kept the conversation mildly challenging as he matched wits with him on the cotton trade. At the mention of cotton seed and oil both R.J. and Renfro agreed that it was an important part of the industry but that most of their involvement ended as the raw cotton was delivered to the mill. Bat decided to let the subject go and not show his hand or mention anything about New York. It was entirely possible that the seed no longer held the importance that it did in their earlier times. Bat later took some time to examine the cotton gins and seed handling part of the operation. It was fully functional, some of the men operated two of the machines for everyone to see. As they stood by watching Bat finally mentioned his interest in the oil.

“You know R.J. the seed oil side of the business holds some interest for me, I have read where they are discovering new uses and that the market is rising fast. I believe the time to invest is soon if one wants to take advantage. Since we have come to Dallas, the cotton business has come to intrigue me.”

“It has been a life long passion for me. My parents raised me in New York, but I managed to discover Dallas and the cotton industry through investment. I was introduced to Quentin upon my arrival and the chance to own this farm was presented to me. I have not regretted a moment or a dollar spent since.”

“That is good to know. I am contemplating an investment of my own one day soon. The gun shows and gambling money I have amassed have me wanting a shelter. I’m not getting any younger and I need a way to finance my later years. Would you recommend this as a good time to enter the cotton market by investment?” Bat was toying with the handle of one of the gins as he spoke.

“I’d say things are looking up, you can’t go wrong. There is plenty of activity among the investors in New York. Quentin can fill you in if you want to get started.”

“That’s right Bat.” Quentin stepped up to take over. “We should meet in town one day and I can fill you in with the particulars. We are always open to new clients. With what R.J. has in mind, you can invest in this very farm. Let us gather after the meal and have a more detailed discussion.”

“I’m all for that! But I was just wondering what R.J. might suggest about the oil. There have been some interesting articles in the Fort Worth Gazette and I was intrigued by the comments concerning the new uses developed. I enjoy the aspect of exploring new frontiers and things sound promising.”

“Yes, of course Bat. R.J., what have you heard in New York recently?” Quentin gave Gusset direct eye contact as if to say, don’t get too fancy here.

“Well, I have heard of a move to invest in many concerns in the cotton markets. Production is up right now and England can never get enough. Oil is certainly on the rise. One can see that the mills in New Orleans and Houston are very busy. I predict big things for the future of the oil.”

“I’ve got a good feeling about this idea, I’ll study the subject more. Being a long time cattle man myself, I like to keep a sharp eye on how things are done. I’m invested in several ranching concerns to this day. Most of them are simply ran and I take no funds from them. They are people I helped in my career as a lawman. I understand the byproduct from pressing the oil is a good supplement for cattle feed. I’m sure my friends would like to know more about this as corn is very expensive. There are also those who are attempting to use the oil for various new purposes, ammonia for refrigeration for one, which is also key to the growth of the cattle and shipping industries. Cooking oil and margarine are other new products that I have just heard of. I think I would prefer real butter though.”

“I’m impressed with your knowledge Bat. Here, I’m mostly involved with the farming and shipping of cotton. In New York, I take part in the garment manufacturing side of things. The spinning of thread and yarn as well as the making of fabric is what I am involved with. Our population is growing and clothing is always in great need. You have me wanting to explore the oil as well. I will have to pay more attention to it on the stock market.” Gusset did his best to not let on that he had no idea what he was talking about.

“I see R.J. Thank you. I know the oil side of the business is a new area and one would have to be directly involved to understand the finer points. I hope that we can all learn and profit from these things in the future. You have a fantastic operation going on here and I know that the New York side of things must keep you very busy.”

“Indeed that is true. I have investments to look after in New York City and spinning mills in Fall River, Massachusetts. There are factories that make the fabrics and supply the tailor shops and larger clothing manufacturers. It is getting to be quite a challenge to keep the English and US markets supplied at the same time. I have a number of people working for me and as you know, very little time to visit this farm or the Dallas and Fort Worth areas. I do love it here. Someday I would like to relax and settle down at my home in Fort Worth.”

“Well, we can understand that. I am impressed with your ambition and extensive responsibilities. I hope we can all be great friends as time goes on. Thank you R.J.”

“I think you are wise to consider cotton in your investment plans Bat, and all of you for that matter. It is a growing industry and our country depends on it. Let us move on to the barbeque and watch the men play rounders. I’m sure you will enjoy it!” Quentin made a motion for everyone to follow him. He did not want Gusset questioned any further by Masterson at this point. Bat could tell he was getting too close and backed off but he did enjoy making them squirm a little. He found out what he wanted to know. Quentin was eager to involve them through investment. He thought that bold of him yet not unexpected. This suggested that Quentin was not concerned about any danger in dealing with him. His ability to investigate could be much stronger if he knew that Quentin was not suspicious of his intent.

Lucas, Bat, and Will each got to play in the rounders game. It was great fun as they took their turns at bat and playing in the field. Will was still young enough to throw the ball well and hit two base runners to make outs. He had plenty of experience from prison. Lucas hit the ball a long way but did not run as fast as he would have liked. He was safe on base but then got hit when another player grounded to a fielder who hit him with the ball on the way to second. Lucas played during his Civil War days but had not done so since. Bat also played rounders in his earlier time as a scout with the Army, but only on rare occasions like this. The girls were cheering and having a great time. Food was brought around on trays and a giant picnic was enjoyed by all

Once the game was over, Bat offered to give a brief shooting demonstration. Arnold Colby escorted them to the target range. William and Owen went to the wagon and brought out the card holders, coins, shot glasses, and liquor bottles. This was the time for Quentin to receive his commemorative Lucas McCain rifle. Bat and Lucas brought the gift forward complete with a Certificate of Authenticity and personal autographs on both hand written letters and the certificate. Quentin was very moved by this and took great caution at handling the rifle and then allowing R.J. to give it an inspection. It was placed back into the wood case and left open for others to look at. Lucas took out his original rifle and his new back up. Bat had his pistols and both sharpshooters put on a special show. Most of the men from the farm brought their firearms along and Lucas allowed some of them to shoot his back up rifle. Quentin gave the card trick a try and broke a few bottles, but it was clear that he was more of a collector than a marksman. R.J. refused to shoot and was satisfied to sit back and sip wine. In his real life, Paul Gusset was extremely handy with a gun and he didn’t want it to show. Arnold Colby was a very good shot. He was able to cut a few cards in half at fifty feet and also hit more than half of the shot glasses he aimed at. Billy, Pete, and Davey came forward with the same rifles they once aimed at Lucas and the others that fine day at the meadow. They had a much warmer greeting and further apologies for their previous meeting. This time it was Lucas who gave them lessons on marksmanship and everyone had a good laugh as they told their stories. Over an hour went by while the shooting continued until finally Lucas brought things to a close by lining up his ten card holders and everyone gathered around as he stood before them with his rifle resting in his crossed arms. Bat made sure everyone was clear and gave him a count of three. Lucas whirled around and rapid fired each of the ten cards in half. Smoke was rising and the people were cheering. Lucas tossed his rifle into the air, caught it just right and whipped it around for an eleventh and final shot. Off in the distance was one last shot glass that didn’t stand a chance. It shattered completely and the show was over. Bat and Lucas were mobbed by men and children alike until the sun was close to the horizon. R.J. and Quentin wanted the rest of the visit for a private talk with their guests about the future of the farm.

A sampling of food and drink was taken inside to the lodge table for a final gathering in order to discuss ownership of the farm land. Quentin and R.J. sat together as William, Sarah, and Bat sat closest to them. Quentin outlined a proposal to allow Sarah to convert her ownership of the Fulton land into a partnership in the entire farm. This would increase her benefits and do away with the lease. She was then free to allow William or anyone else to take part in her share. This was not what William wanted however and he insisted that he still desired to one day own his parent’s farm. R.J. tried to reason with him on why it was best to have the operation on a wholly owned property and that he would feel his investment was much more secure if he owned a controlling share of the entire property. The new partnership would mean that Will could have access to all of the land rather than just his past farm.

“I can understand your desire William, sentimentality is a very strong emotion, but you must consider that I am the one who is currently at risk due to the leased land having most of the water present on the farm. Isn’t there some way we can reach a compromise where I can gain some control over my own destiny concerning the water?”

Bat leaned over and whispered into William’s ear which prompted him to reply, “You have nothing to fear about the water, I’m willing to enter into contract with you in a most reasonable manner for however long of a time you might desire. The farm was wrongfully taken from my parents and I feel very strong about my heritage. Isn’t there some way we can find compromise so I can once again restore my parent’s name to their rightful place?” William was taking the lead in the negotiations more than he ever expected. He looked over to Bat and then Sarah for a confirming eye.

“I shall take that into account William, but my aim is to keep this operation expanding into the future. As you know, it is a vital part of the local economy and the cotton industry is growing fast. The railroads are expanding, so are the mills and equipment manufacturers. One doesn’t have to look past Dallas very far to realize that. I see it most every day in my work back east. I am invested in many concerns and farmland is a most critical part of my business. I ask you to consider that you stand to benefit much more financially by becoming a partner. Do not let your memories from the past cloud your good fortune ahead.” R.J. looked over to Quentin and received an agreeable nod.

At this moment Bat jumped in to comment. “Gentlemen, I believe the both of you fully understand what each other wants. That happens to be ownership of the prime land involved in this cotton farm. We all want it to flourish and to benefit everyone involved. As long as the contracts require that the water rights remain indentured to the cotton operation I see no reason why it would cause you to feel insecure. William is willing to be a partner in the same fashion as an owner of the land and this goes a long way towards rebuilding his life which was so wrongfully damaged ten years ago. It is my suggestion that you consider his wishes and good intentions as well. The only real question in all of this is, are you willing to renegotiate the lease?”

Quentin took over at this point. “Mister Masterson, I understand your angle on this, it is the one we least want to entertain. R.J. and I agree that William was wronged long ago, but that does not have a direct implication concerning our operation. We both have something to gain by renegotiation, but neither one of us wants to relinquish ultimate control over the land or the water rights. If we simply allow the lease to play out, then all bets are off and you can do what ever you prefer at that time. Sarah can keep things just as they are. It has been an equally fair contract to this point. If Sarah wants or needs to change things that is fate and we must deal with it. But the contract was written so there would be direct consequences in order to protect my client’s rights and investment. The rest of the land could be rendered useless without that water. We must know that our concerns are fully protected. It was our hope at the start of this contract that Sarah would eventually see that the land should become part of the entire farm. That depended on how it would fare into the future. That future is rapidly approaching and now we are faced with a new concern. I think that the future can be very bright if you are willing to consider the overall picture. We are being generous in offering you a substantial partnership in the farm. Please take some time and give this some thought.”

“I realize that your offer is generous and under normal circumstances there should be no objections. Now I know that William is not a proven entity as an owner or a partner. He is inexperienced at this point and I don’t blame you guys for being protective of your concern. Sarah is still the primary backer of this deal, it is for the long run that we are concerned for the ownership of the Fulton farm. If we give up future rights to the property for a share in the overall operation, what happens if the business goes bad? The farm would be lost! That’s what!” Bat got a little worked up at this comment.

“I see what you are driving at. The family heritage is more important than the ability of this venture to make a profit. We both have an important desire to be owners of this property. That is the bottom line. I can see that making you a partner is not going to be good enough.” Quentin became frustrated by the looming failure of his attempt at gaining the controlling ownership. Bat could see that he was disturbed.

At this point Sarah spoke up. “Gentlemen, before we go any further with this conversation, let me say that I am still the one who ultimately makes any decisions as to the fate of this property. That is, of course, should I survive for the next five years. It will do none of us any good to start a fight over an outcome due so far off into an unknown future. It is true that profit is not the main issue for me. If William has decided that ownership of the land is his goal then I am prepared to gamble that I do survive to make that happen. If you are willing to make a deal that preserves his right to the property then you have the ability to ensure that your precious business can go on for a very long time, much more than five years I might add. So I fail to see what the problem is. Unless there is an underlying need for you to own all of this property, dare I say it, you might want to sell it off at a higher profit once you have control?” Sarah was now the one with a stern face.

“I can assure you Sarah that there is no underlying plot to sell this land. It has long been our desire to own all of this concern, no doubt. Is it not a natural desire for an investor to gain control in his operation? We negotiate in good faith, please do not question the integrity of our intentions.” It was becoming obvious that R.J. was no longer involved in this conversation. Bat kept a close eye on his face, which was blank and about to turn to dismay.

“I am only saying that I am confused as to what keeps you from being able to see our side of this negotiation. What is the difference if we are partners due to our ownership of the specific part of the land or of the entire operation? What level of control will our partnership afford us? It certainly wouldn’t be at a percentage high enough for us to protect our interest or influence any decisions. Who do you think you are dealing with here Mister Renfro? I am tired of this already. I think I will have to bring my lawyers into this matter if you insist on continuing on this path!” Sarah and Bat gave each other an agreeable nod and William kept his straight face well.

“I see you are a shrewd dealer Sarah. I do not wish to fight with you on this aspect. You can’t blame me for trying to gain control. Five years is a long time and much can change. We are not prepared to relent on this matter at this particular moment. I think we can all use some more time to consider our options. You are right in being careful and protecting your concerns. I don’t want to fight with any of you fine people. It was in good faith and spirit that we all gathered here today and I want to keep it that way. I am glad that we had this great day and that R.J. had a chance to meet all of you. I have faith that we can still reach an amicable decision in good time. Let us try to meet again in the very near future and perhaps we can all see this matter in a different light. We have yet to reach the planting season and further along during the harvest will be an education for you as well.”

“I respect your rights and intentions Quentin, I am not trying to be mean spirited either. We all have much at stake in this venture and the future of many workers hang in the balance as well. I manage quite a few large concerns and have to trust the opinions of lawyers, consultants, competitors, politicians, relatives, and many others involved before making such an important decision as this. I won’t take it lightly. Bat has agreed to represent us in this matter and he has done a wonderful job of it. John Beckwith is a busy man and I thought we could give this a try without him present. That may still be the case, but you are right. We do need more time to consider something this important. You gentlemen have been very gracious to have us out here as your guests and show us a great time. The families of your employees were a joy to be with. I love this farm and want only the best for it. And thank you for your very generous offer and honest intentions here this evening. It is much to our mutual benefit to take some time now that we know how strong we feel about our concerns. We do not need to hurry.”

“Very well put Sarah, thank you. And thank you William, Bat, everyone, you too have been very gracious to come here today and share your time with us. It was a very pleasant afternoon and we had such great fun at the target range too. I am so happy to enjoy this new addition to my gun collection. How can anybody fight after all we have done here today? A little tug of war is always needed to get things started in a negotiation of this magnitude. I know that we can go home and digest these thoughts and come back with new vigor another day to reach a proper decision.” Quentin smoothed things over well and was starting to see that he had left R.J. out of the fracas. “Do you have anything to add R.J.?”

“Well, you said it as far as I am concerned. I had no idea just how passionate you would feel about the property at this point. I will take these matters into consideration and I promise that we will do our best to evaluate everything expressed here today. I am very impressed with each and every one of you. Thank you for a wonderful time. I am sorry that I have not taken the opportunity in the past to come here. But Quentin has done a great job in representing me throughout the years. If I cannot be here to negotiate in the future you have my solemn blessing to take anything he says or does as if I was here myself.

Bat stood up and raised his glass of wine. “Very well friends, we will take our time and reconvene on another occasion. I propose a toast to R.J. Graham for traveling a great distance to be with us today, Thank you sir!” Everyone clinked glasses and drank to the toast. “William, do you have any final words this evening?”

“Thank you Bat, I just want to express my appreciation for our ability to meet Mister Graham and to understand his desires for this land. I want him to know that I honor his concerns and will spend a great deal of time thinking about how we can reach a mutual agreement. I think I speak for everyone when I say that it was a great thing for us to see the people that make this place run so well. I, for one, will keep them foremost in mind as we move forward. I trust all of you will do the same. Now that they have seen our faces it is my hope that they can feel better about who they work for and what kind of leadership they must trust. All I ask is that you try to understand how I feel as well. I have no intentions of disrupting this operation. All I am interested in is preserving the memory of my family and seeing that this farm remains a stable place for these fine people to make a living. Given the current agreement, I don’t think it is too much to ask.” William nodded to R.J. and Renfro as he sat down.

“Well said William. Thank you all once again. I am very thankful to have had this chance to meet everyone. Quentin and I will be studying as this next planting season draws near, you are all welcome to come and observe or take part in the work. I hope that I can learn from this as well. I am sure that Arnold would welcome your visits at any time.” R.J. got an approving look from Renfro as he sat down. This brought a close to the official discussion. Talk turned to a more casual tone as they finished the meal and drank more wine.

Bat was very happy with the results as they talked on the way back to Dallas in the dark. After a brief time on the horses, down the road and out of sight from the farm, they all stopped for a short time. Then Bat, William, and Sarah rode together in her carriage so they could talk in detail.

“Bat, I was so happy with the way you handled Quentin this evening. You are so very right about all of this. That man was in no way R.J. Graham! His hands were so big and rough feeling. The other man was more of a gentleman and not so well built. He lied about how we met before as if I had no memory of the occasion. Quentin is taking a long shot by attempting this masquerade.”

“I thank you for the compliment, but I’m not happy that we have to go through this. Owen is now a great witness and I don’t think Quentin has any idea that we suspect R.J. an imposter. I thought he might try something like he did, making you partners in order to gain a majority control of the entire property. May I say you did a great job in stepping on the conversation as you did, Bravo!”

“It was no trouble at all. I am very mad about this miserable farce. If I have to, I will seek all the legal power available to me in order to do away with these scoundrels. They seem to think I am some kind of a fool to try and put this ridiculous scheme over on me. It is a complete insult to my intelligence. I am so sorry I fell into this mess long ago and to have it erupt now when all I wanted to do was give William something good. Words can’t describe how terrible I feel!”

“Sarah, you have given me more than you’ll ever know. I have learned that life is never fair and no matter what, it is faith that will bring us through our troubles. After what I have endured, this is just another day to me. I welcome the fight. Let us keep a firm grip and stick to our guns.”

“Thank you William. I love the way that you think. You have given me much happiness in just your coming back. My dear friend Bat, are you alright about what we have planned? It is asking a lot of you.”

“Lucas and I agree that a trip to New York is a great adventure. If we can pull off a gun show there, we can do it anywhere. I enjoy investigative work. Outsmarting criminals is what I do best. It keeps me on my toes and the blood runs quicker through my veins. Lucas will enjoy seeing a different part of this country, one that never sleeps and is far from boring. I say we go all the way. We have John Templeton and Owen Pollard on our side, how can we go wrong?”

“I don’t want to think about that, it is plenty wrong already!” I appreciate you boys so much. I’d call you men, but you’re having too much fun!”

Outside the carriage, Owen rode alongside Lucas to say, “Looks like they are talking about your future in there.”

“Yup, I’m New York bound. I hope my backside is ready for the train ride. I’m looking for a thick cushion to bring along.”

“Good idea, you’ll probably have to change trains often I reckon. We only have a few lines out of town, they’ll get you on towards St. Louis. I wonder if R.J.’s backside hurts from his train ride?”

“He’s in for a ride alright, that was surely a rancher’s hand I shook with today!”

“Makes a man feel good to know he’s right in the face of swindlers, we stuck it to them good today!” Owen gave Lucas a wide grin.

“Kind of makes life worth livin’, don’t it?” Lucas enjoyed yet another opportunity to use his favorite saying. To Will it was more than a saying, it was his life’s story.

Fulton’s Foray — Train Leaves Dallas in the Morning

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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