Sample N12 from Edwin Booth, Outlaw Town. New York: Ballantine Books, Inc., 1961. Pp. 103-108. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,003 words 543 (27.1%) quotesN12

Used by permission of Edwin Booth.0010-1750

Edwin Booth, Outlaw Town. New York: Ballantine Books, Inc., 1961. Pp. 103-108.

Typographical Error: shout [for shot] [1220]

Header auto-generated for TEI version

When several minutes had passed and Curt hadn't emerged from the livery stable , Brenner reentered the hotel and faced Summers across the counter .

`` I have a little job for you , Charlie . I'm sure you won't mind doing me a small favor '' .

Brenner's voice was oily , but Summers wasn't fooled . He moistened his lips uneasily .

`` What is it you want me to do , Mr. Brenner '' ? ?

Brenner shrugged carelessly .

`` It's very simple . I just want you to take a message to Diane Molinari . Tell her to come here to the hotel '' .

Vastly relieved , Summers nodded and started toward the door .

`` One thing , Summers '' , Brenner said . `` You're not to mention my name . Tell her Curt Adams wants to see her '' .

Summers pulled up short , and turned around .

`` I don't know , Mr. Brenner '' , he said haltingly , beginning to get an inkling of Brenner's plans . `` It doesn't seem quite right , telling her a thing like that . Couldn't I just '' -- His voice trailed off into silence .

Brenner continued to smile , but his eyes were cold . He turned and looked around at the lobby as though seeing things he hadn't before noticed .

`` You know , Summers '' , he said thoughtfully . `` Eagle's Nest ought to have a fire company . If someone were to drop a match in here , this place would go up like a haystack '' . He started toward the stairway , then turned to add , `` Tell her to come to Adams's room , that Adams is in trouble . Tell her to hurry '' .

`` Yes sir '' . His face pale , Summers headed for the street .

Curt's visit to the livery stable had been merely a precaution in case anyone should be watching . He paused only long enough to ascertain that Jess's buckskin was still missing and that his own gray was all right , then climbed through a back window and dropped to the ground outside .

The fact that Jess's horse had not been returned to its stall could indicate that Diane's information had been wrong , but Curt didn't interpret it this way . A man like Jess would want to have a ready means of escape in case it was needed . Probably his horse would be close to where he was hiding .

From the back of the barn it was a simple matter to reach Black's house without using the street . Curt approached the place cautiously , and watched it several minutes from the protection of a grove of trees .

There was a light in Black's front room , but drawn curtains prevented any view of the interior . Curt circled the house and located a barn out back . He could hear horses moving around inside , and nothing else . There was no lock on the door , only an iron hook which he unfastened . He opened the door and went in , pulling it shut behind him .

Again he stood in the darkness listening , but there was only the scrape of a shod hoof on a plank floor . He moved ahead carefully , his left hand in front of him , and came to a wooden partition . Horse smell was very strong , and he could hear the crunch of grain being ground between strong jaws . He found a match in his pocket and lit it .

There were two horses in the barn , a sway-backed dun and Jess Crouch's buckskin . Curt snuffed out the match .

It was certain now that Jess was in the house , but also , presumably , was Stacey Black . Curt wanted to get Jess alone , without interference from anyone , even as spineless a person as the store owner .

He studied the problem for a few seconds and thought of a means by which it might be solved . Reaching across the side of the stall , he slapped the buckskin on the rump . The startled animal let out a terrified squeal and thrashed around in the stall .

As Curt had hoped , the house door banged open . He slapped the buckskin again and it kicked wildly , its hoofs rattling the side of the stall .

Curt moved over beside the door and waited . Presently he heard footsteps crossing the yard , and Jess's smothered curses . The door swung open , and Jess said sourly , `` What the hell's the matter with you ? ?

The horse continued to snort . Curt doubted that any animal belonging to Jess would find much reassurance in its owner's voice .

Jess cursed again , and entered the barn . A match flared , and he reached above his head to light a lantern which hung from a wire loop . As he crossed to the side of the stall , Curt drew his gun and clicked back the hammer .

`` Before you try anything '' , he said . `` Remember what happened to Gruller '' .

Jess caught his breath in surprise . He started to reach for his gun , but apparently thought better of it .

`` That's the stuff '' , Curt said . `` Just hold it that way '' . He reached out to pull the door shut and fasten it with a sliding bolt . `` You and I have a little talking to do , Jess . You won't be needing this '' . He moved up and lifted Jess's pistol out of its holster .

`` Damn you , Adams '' -- Jess was beginning to recover from his initial shock . `` We ain't got nothing to talk about . If I don't come back in the house , Breed's going to '' --

`` Your trigger-happy brother isn't in the house . About now he's probably having supper . That long ride the four of you took must've given him a good appetite . Now turn around so I can see your face '' .

Jess turned . There was raw fury in his eyes , and the veins of his neck were swollen .

`` You're about as dumb as they come , Adams . I don't know what you're up to , but when Brenner '' --

`` You can forget about Brenner , too '' , Curt said . `` It's Ben Arbuckle we're going to talk about '' .

`` Arbuckle '' ? ? Jess stiffened . `` I don't know nothin' about him '' .

`` No ? ? I suppose you don't know anything about a piece of two-by-four , either ; ; one with blood all over it , Arbuckle's blood '' . Curt's fingers put a little more pressure on the trigger of his gun . `` So help me , Crouch , I'd like to kill you where you stand , but , before I do , I'm going to hear you admit killing him . Now start talking . Who told you to do it ? ? Was it Dutch Brenner '' ? ?

Curt was holding Jess's gun in his left hand . He drew back his arm to slash the gunbarrel across Jess's face , but didn't finish the motion . Pistol-whipping an unarmed man might come easy to someone like Jess , but Curt couldn't bring himself to do it .

Apparently sensing this , and realizing that it gave him an advantage , Jess became bold .

`` Having all the guns makes you a big man , don't it , Adams ? ? If we was both armed , you wouldn't talk so tough '' .

`` No '' ? ? Curt reached out and dropped Jess's pistol back into the holster . He retreated a step and holstered his own .

`` All right , Crouch ; ; we're on even terms . Now draw '' ! !

Sweat bubbled out on Jess's swarthy face . The fingers of his right hand twisted into a claw , but he didn't reach for the gun .

Curt , angry enough to be a little reckless , raised his hands shoulder high .

`` Does this make it any easier , coward '' ? ?

`` I ain't drawin' against you '' , Jess said thickly . `` I heard how you outdrew Chico . I ain't a gunslinger '' .

`` No . You're the kind of bastard who sneaks up on a man from behind and hits him with a club . I just wanted to hear you say so '' .

Jess stared at him without answering and let his hands fall to his sides . He had found Curt's weakness , or what to Jess was a weakness , and was smart enough to take advantage of it .

Somewhere in the distance , a woman screamed . Curt was too involved in his own problems to pay much attention . He had to make Jess talk , and he had to do it before Stacey Black got curious and came to investigate . Once more he lifted Jess's gun from its holster , only this time he tossed it into the stall with the frightened buckskin . He dropped his own beside it .

`` We'll do it another way , then '' , he said harshly .

Jess's coarse features twisted in a surprised grin which was smashed out of shape by Curt's fist . With a roar of pain and fury Jess made his attack .

Curt managed to duck beneath the man's flailing fist , and drove home a solid left to Jess's mid-section . It was like hitting a sack of salt . Pain shot up Curt's arm clear to the shoulder , but Jess seemed hardly aware that he had been hit . He slammed into the wall , bounced back , and caught Curt with a roundhouse right which sent him spinning . An inch lower and it would have knocked him out . As it was , his vision blurred and for a moment he was unable to move . When his eyes began to focus , he saw Jess charging at him with a pitchfork .

Curt twisted to one side , and the tines of the fork bit into the floor . Jess wasted a few seconds trying to yank them loose . It gave Curt time to stagger to his feet .

The tines broke off under Jess's twisting , and he swung the handle in an attempt to knock Curt's brains out . His aim was hurried ; ; so the pitchfork whistled over Curt's head .

By now Curt was seeing clearly again . He stepped inside Jess's guard and landed two blows to the big man's belly , putting everything he had behind them . They made Jess double over . When his head came down , Curt grabbed him by the hair and catapulted him head first into the wall .

The building shook , setting the lantern to swaying , and the buckskin to pitching again . Even Black's old crowbait began to snort , and from the house Black yelled , `` Jess ! ! What's going on out there '' ? ?

Jess didn't seem too sure himself . He lurched drunkenly to his feet , lowered his head , and took one step away from the wall . Curt caught him flush on the nose with a blow which started at the floor .

Jess had had enough . Blood gushed from his nose , and he backed off as rapidly as he could , stumbling over his own feet in his frantic haste to get away from Curt's fists .

Curt was in almost as bad shape , but he wouldn't quit . He backed Jess into a corner , grabbed a handful of the man's shirtfront , and drew back his right fist .

`` Tell me about Arbuckle ! ! You killed him , didn't you '' ? ?

`` It was Brenner's idea '' , Jess mumbled , dabbing at his nose . `` He found out about you and Arbuckle talking . He wanted to show the town what happened to anyone who tried to start trouble '' .

`` You mean anyone who stood up for his rights '' , Curt said . He let go of the shirt , and Jess slumped to the floor . Turning his back , Curt crossed to the stall , reached over to untie the buckskin's halter rope , and waved his hand in the animal's face .

The buckskin bolted out of the stall . Curt moved in and picked up his gun . He shook loose straw out of the action , and placed the gun in his holster . Leaving Jess's where it lay , he left the stall .

`` Get up , Crouch . We're going someplace '' .

Jess painfully got to his feet as someone rattled the door .

`` Who's in there '' ? ? Black called fearfully .

Curt opened the door , grabbed Black by the shoulder , and pulled him into the barn .

`` You're staying right here for a while . This dirty coward just admitted killing Arbuckle . I'm going to let him tell it to somebody else '' . He shoved Black toward the stall , and pointed his pistol at Jess .

`` Get out of here . You're coming along peacefully , or I'll put a bullet in your leg '' .

Jess stumbled through the door . Curt followed , reaching behind him to shut the door and hook it . Black would have little trouble getting out , but it might delay him a few minutes .

`` Where're you takin' me '' ? ? Jess asked worriedly .

`` We're going to Marshal Woods's house . Maybe if the marshal hears this himself , it'll make a difference . Somebody in this town must still have some backbone '' .