More on Heavenly Wisdom
After carefully examining the hoof prints of the horse ridden to John’s to set the barn on fire, Cody went back to the barn where the others were waiting. “I’m going to follow those tracks and see who made them, and where they go” he said.
“I’ll come with you,” said the Captain, “if you don’t mind.”
“Come along,” Cody replied. They mounted up and Cody led the way.
“This fellow isn’t even trying to cover his tracks,” he said, “he must have been totally confident that the barn would go up in flames and no one would try to follow him.”
They were riding westward towards Dodge’s ranch. “I can’t believe they did this after our talk with them,” said the Captain.
“It may have been that one of the hands did it on his own,” Cody replied. “They, too, are facing the loss of their way of life.
But it is illogical, what with the army sitting there in his yard.”
They topped the hill and there was Dodge’s ranch house. The tracks led straight to it.
“Let’s remember to use Heavenly Wisdom here,” Cody said.
As they rode up to the house, Dodge came out, with Amy right behind him.
“Well you’re back. I’ve been thinking more about what you said, and it makes sense. I’ve talked with my men and picked out the ones who will make claims on certain parts. I accept that half a million acres is enough. I never realized how much land I was using!”
“That’s wonderful,” said the Captain, smiling. “But now we’ve got another problem.”
“What’s that?” asked Dodge, surprise on his face.
“Someone just tried to set fire to John’s barn. We followed his tracks and they came right here.”
“Really? I know nothing about this,” said Dodge. Amy looked shocked.
“I can tell you who it was,” Cody interjected, “if you let me look at the horses in the corral.”
“Be my guest,” Dodge said, waving his hand towards the corral.
They all walked over to where the horses were milling about. Cody climbed into the corral and began to check the horses’ shoes one at a time. On the fourth horse he straightened up, “This is the one ridden to Dickson’s ranch. Whose is it?”
“Big John’s,” said Dodge. “I did not put him up to this!”
“Well, it wouldn’t have been very smart to do so,” said the Captain, “what with forty soldiers sitting in your yard, ready to take you in!”
“I’ll call him,” said Dodge.
Big John was the right name for the man. Well over six feet tall, he had broad, muscular shoulders, hands like shovels and he probably weighed 250 pounds. Not a man to be trifled with. And he was belligerent.
“Yah, boss, what’s up?”
“Where were you this afternoon?”
“Just went out checking things.”
“Were you at John’s ranch.”
“No, why would I go there?”
Cody spoke up, “Your horse was there. I found the tracks and followed them here. I checked the shoes and it was definitely your horse.”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
“I’m calling you an arsonist.”
“Why you no good drifter, you’re the liar!”
“Horse tracks don’t lie.”
Big John went for his gun, but before he could get it up to fire, Cody had his out and fired, shooting the gun right out of Big John’s hand. Amy screamed and put her hand over her mouth.
Hearing the shot, the soldiers came running and crowded around, as did the other cowhands.
“You dirty coward,” yelled John holding his hand. “Doing it with a gun is easy. How about meeting me man to man without guns?”
“Fine,” said Cody. “Take your guns off.” He dropped his own gun belts and stepped forward. Big John grinned; he was much bigger than Cody, confident that he would win.
Cody came out quietly while Big John rushed at him. Cody dodged the first few swings and went underneath with some powerful jabs to the stomach and chest. Then he rocked big John back with a swift left to the jaw, but John came right back at it again and landed a punch on Cody’s face. Cody went down, but he was up immediately.
From then on it was downhill for Big John. Cody was too fast, too tough, even though he was smaller. All the time he’d spent in the saddle, in digging fence post holes, and wrestling steers paid off. In the end Big John was out cold on the ground.
Dodge stepped forward. “Alright, was anyone else in on setting that fire on Dickson’s barn?” he asked. No one answered. “I trust that means no one. We are not going to do anything against Dickson. We are going to lay claim to enough land for ourselves and let him have his land. We are going to be neighborly. Understood?”
The hands all nodded. Amy took her father’s arm and smiled approvingly at him.
Dodge turned towards Cody and suddenly shouted, “Look out!”
Picture: Big John knocks Cody down, but he’s not out. From the internet.