By John Thomas Edson

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Comes morning. " "rU start the boys come sunup. " CHAPTER THREE Tte Missing Hundred Head The morning after his visit to Chisum's camp, John Slaughter had breakfast with his blond-haired, pretty and shapely little wife, then went to the cook shack where Coonskin, his Negro cook, served breakfast to the hands. The fat, jovial ex-slave, wearing a coonskin cap instead of the traditional chefs hat, oflFered his boss breakfast, for he could never reconcile himself to the thought of Slaughter living on a woman s cooking.

All in aU they looked like an exceptionally salty brace of Texas cowhands, though not hard-case troublemakers like the Long Rail crew. The one at the right looked to be in his late thirties, same as the interloper in the center of the street. He wore range clothes and a well-worn Confederate Cavalry campaign hat rode his head, no mean tribute to its maker, for the war was a good ten years over. Despite the hat, the man had about him that undefinable something which spelled top-hand. The walnut-handled Colt Cavalry Peacemaker riding butt forward in a low Cavalry twist-hand draw holster at his right side did not look like a decoration.

He gathered the notes authorizing him to collect the branded stock of dozens of ranchers, keeping the papers in the length of zinc stove pipe. Once he had the notes, Chisum called his "warriors'" together and they went out into the range country. Along with all the unbranded stuff he found, he collected every head of branded stock belonging to the ranchers wherever he foimd such animals. In such a manner Chisimi built up his vast herds and founded his fortune. The unbranded animals were given the Long Rail brand, no matter what mark their mothers might have canied.

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Slaughter's Way by John Thomas Edson


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