After saddling his horse, Cody rode out and crossed the river. As was his habit, he rode carefully, alert to all that was around him as he followed the trail.
Coming around a bend on a ridge, down below him he saw three men at a fire with several cows. He knew immediately what this was: rustlers rebranding someone’s cattle.
Three to one were not good odds, so he had to move carefully. He made his way down the hillside under cover of the trees and came out to the flat ground just thirty yards from the rustlers. Their backs were towards him as they held down a cow to rebrand it.
Cody paused a moment, considering, then urged his horse forward at a gallop, riding right into the rustlers, knocking two down and causing the third man to stumble back.
Cody’s horse was trained to stop and turn on a dime, and he did. Before the men could recover, Cody had his two six shooters out.
“Don’t try anything,” he ordered. One man, however, decided to try anyway, but before his gun was out of the holster he cried out, blood rolling down his fingers from Cody’s accurate shot.
“Drop your guns and throw them over here,” Cody said,
The rustlers looked at each other, then complied. Cody kept his pistols on the men while he dismounted and picked up their guns.
“You there,” he motioned to the two unwounded men. “Stand back to back.” Then Cody expertly threw a rope over them and pulled it tight, then put several other loops on them.
“You’re not going to drag us, are you?” one asked.
“No,” replied Cody, “You may deserve it, in fact you deserve hanging, but I’m not the judge.”
He then tied up the man with the injured hand and had them all sit down. He went over to examine the cattle which they’d been rebranding. They were Dodge’s.
He got the two men tied together up on one horse and the wounded man on another. Gathering up the reins, he led off, heading for Dodge’s ranch.
When he rode into the yard, Dodge came out of the house.
“Hello, Dodge, hope this finds you well. Found these three fellows rebranding your cattle. Thought you might like to have a talk with them.”
“I sure would, a shooting chat, or maybe a necktie chat!”
“Now Dodge, remember our talk about Heavenly Wisdom; one aspect is being sweetly reasonable. These here cattle thieves deserve some punishment, but not hanging. I’m going to turn them over to you and suggest you take them to the fort and hand them over to the Marshall there. He’ll take care of them.”
“How did you manage to capture all three?” asked Dodge. Cody explained, briefly.
“I’m right glad you were able to catch them, Cody. Three to one is not good odds.”
“Well,” said Cody, “Most of the time I figure a good offense is the best way, not backing away from problems, but charging right in. And that’s what I did.”
Picture: branding cattle