Tracks of a Pigeon-toed Horse
Tracks of a Pigeon-toed Horse
Book #1 in the story of Collin Mitchell, a Mormon with two wives and a back-trail full of enemies. In the fall of 1868, the Black Hawk War is over, and a year of fighting renegade Utes through the mountains of central Utah has left Mitchell disillusioned and ready to settle down. The Utes want peace, and Brigham Young is ready to bring them into the fold. But Salt Lake City has changed, and Mitchell is out of a job. Brother Brigham, however, has just the project for an unemployed, reformed gunman, and Mitchell finds himself in the middle of a twisted and mysterious disappearance of a young girl.
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Ogden —1 September 1868
Sarah Mitchell stood with her back to the window of Jon Browning’s firearms store and watched the slow moving traffic on the muddy streets of Ogden City. Water pooled in footprints, ran down the deep ruts gouged by wagon wheels and turned into miniature rivers. At a poorly fashioned corner, the rivers slowed and built to a flood. Her father claimed to have seen a full-grown mule washed down Fifth Street and into the Weber River, but her father was known to tell a tale now and then, so she was inclined to believe that the mule had really been a goat or a small pig.
Sarah shifted the revolver in her hand. The butt of the navy Colt was slick from the rain, but it was loaded and ready to fire. From within the store, her sister’s laughter sounded strained and unnatural. Sarah risked a quick glance through the rain-spattered glass. Her husband stood at the back counter, inspecting a revolver. Her sister, Susan, stood close beside him. Collin Mitchell spoke quietly to the man behind the counter. The man nodded, took the revolver, and turned away. Sarah watched as her husband drew Susan close and quickly kissed her. Hurriedly, Sarah wiped the dampness from the palm of her hand. It wouldn’t do to have the thing slip from her hand when she fired it.
She turned from the window, and again watched people and animals alike slug through a street turned to mud by a cool September rain. Some of them might understand when she killed the man, but a goodly number of those people had come from the East and harbored the grand illusion that they were now the cream of society. There was no doubt in her mind that they would be the ones demanding her life when her bullet tore a hole through the man’s chest. She tensed as two men stepped onto the boardwalk. Their muddy boots left a trail as they stepped to the window and peered through the glass. They passed her with barely a nod, and entered the store. Sarah was close on their heels.
“Help you fellers in just a minute,” said the clerk. “About done here.”
Sarah slipped to one side of the room, standing partially hidden behind a rack of new rifles. No one seemed to notice as she slipped the revolver from the pleats of her skirt.
“Brother Mitchell,” said the clerk, “those are the two finest Colts we have in stock. Jonathan test fired the both of ‘em, and they both print a mighty fine group at fifty feet.”
Carefully, Mitchell tested the action and cylinder timing of each pistol. Both worked smoothly and locked tightly.
“You’ll trade for both?” he asked.
The clerk eyed nearly a dozen, used firearms lying on his counter. “Sure,” he said, looking at Mitchell as though fighting the urge to ask how he had come by so many of the things.
“Jon won’t mind?”
“No sir. He told me you were coming, Brother Mitchell. He said, I was to take good care of you.”
Mitchell nodded. “Good. I also need powder, caps, and a hundred rounds for each one, including holsters, and a set of tools for the forty-four.”
“Tools and a spare cylinder come with ‘em, Brother Mitchell.”
Sarah watched as her husband wrapped Susan’s hands around the butt of one pistol.
“Well?” he asked.
“Feels heavy,” she said quietly.
Sarah caught Susan’s eye, and saw a faint trembling of her sister’s lips. Less than ten feet separated them, and she could see Susan’s eyes widen.
The store was damp and muggy from the storm. The smell of oil and gunpowder hung faintly on the air. Sarah brought the Colt up—just like Collin had taught her. She stared at the man’s chest, instinctively pointing the barrel toward his heart.
The gun bucked in her hands. She felt the hard recoil, saw the blast of smoke and fire. She saw the spot of blood under the man’s arm—the arm that held the pistol. There was no time to do more. The .36 caliber in Susan’s hands shot fire and lead, and Sarah could almost feel the lead ball as it struck with a hard thump. The second man staggered and fell.
Central Utah Ranch