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With her left hand, Becky reached in and downward. Grabbing up the understandably frightened mestizo with very little effort. She then reset the roof into (nearly) its original position before glaring at Prairie Wolf.

"Alright, you. I'm gonna ask you just one question. And you'd better answer with the truth, the whole truth, and nothin' but the truth. Or, I'm gonna pop that worthless head of yours clean off your neck...and swallow it like a grape! Comprende?"

"Yeah-yeah-yeah!" he fervently chanted with rapid-fire nods of his head: "I got it. What do you wanna know?"

"Where does Chief Red Bear hole up?"

"R-Red Bear? Who's thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!"

Becky had started squeezing upon recognizing an evasion tactic when she heard one.

"A'right! A'right!!" Prairie Wolf managed to scream through gritted teeth: "H-He's holed up in a box canyon about fifty miles due south o'here. There's a played-out old copper mine at the bottom of it. It's where he killed the cinnamon bear that first gave him his manhood name! So, he considers the place big medicine."

Becky's answering grin could only be describes as feral.

"Like my cute little husband said; 'There are other things in this world a whole lot bigger.' "

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"What happened next happened too fast for anyone else to do anything about it, at the time. It's only in hindsight that the folks involved move with any kind of slowness."

"Jeb Daniels began to draw a bead on Dooley with his derringer. This caused Becky to scream and jump in between the two of 'em! That, in turn, distracted Jeb long enough for Echota to run forward and wrestle with Jeb for the gun. Unfortunately, both barrels got fired off in the process."

"Right into Echota's heart, point blank!"

"Everyone was stunned for a moment. Not sayin' a word. It was only after his pa slumped to the floor that Dooley finally reacted. He flicked open the spring-bladed D'estaing dirk (that he'd been usin' as an eatin' utensil) to full length...and ran straight at Jeb. Yellin' like a maniac, and topplin' both of 'em to the floor like trees in a twister!"

"Dooley landed on top o'Jeb, and did his utmost to stab that boy in the throat. But, Becky's brothers were among the first to run to Jeb's aid and pull Dooley off of him. Nine provin' required for that, altogether!!"

"Well, sir; to make a long story short, the jury at Jeb's trial found him not guilty. Rulin' Echota's death at his hands a tragic accident. And, naturally, that didn't sit too well with the Reardons, in general. Nor Dooley, in particular."

" 'Everybody knows them jurors have mortgages held by Jeb's pa!' he complained to me: 'He probably threatened to call in most of 'em if they voted guilty."

" 'Well, that may be,' I told him: 'But, what's common knowledge on the street ain't always admissible evidence in court.' "

" 'Oh, really,' he answered back (real sarcastical): 'Are you a lawyer now, too, Malarkey?' "

"Nope! I've just ministered enough last rites, to condemned prisoners, to pick up some of that legal double-talk.' "

" 'WELL, I AM SICK AND TIRED OF LEGAL DOUBLE-TALK!' he screamed at me: 'I'm goin' for a ride on Gunmetal to clear my head.' "

" 'Wait up!' I called out to him: 'I'll saddle Old Absalom and come with you.' "

"It was that, of all things, that finally brought a smile to his face."

" 'Sorry, Mal. But, I'm itchin' to go full gallop. And, the best your swayback old mule can do is canter.' "

" 'Absalom ain't swayback!' I replied, real indignant-like."

" 'Well, then, you've got only the camel in the whole world with an upside-down hump.' "

"He just laughed and ran off, as I threw some ice cubes from my glass o'lemonade at him. Little did I know that all that verbal horse-play had been to keep me from findin' out that he and Becky..."

"...had decided to elope."

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