Descended from a long line of fighters, lovers, and dreamers, the MacCallister clan are legends in their homeland of Scotland. But when Duff MacCallister came to America, it seems he brought the legend — and the war — along with him....
Here in America, life is full of surprises. Duff never expected to hear from his old friend Charles McGregor, his battalion commander from the Black Watch Regiment of Her Majesty's army. Turns out McGregor lives in New Mexico now. And he needs Duff's help. He's started a new life as the mayor of Antelope Wells — a mining town that's being targeted by power - hungry madman Ebenezer Schofield, who wants to declare the whole area an independent principality — and himself as king. He's already squeezing taxes out of the local businesses and citizens. But no one has the guts to stop him. Because Schofield's got his own private army of fifty uniformed men, six Mexican revolution cannons — and a traitor working on his side in the heart of Antelope Wells....
This is more than just a favor for a friend. This is justice. This is payback. This is war. And this is Duff MacCallister.
Release date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
Print pages: 368
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William W. Johnstone
Schofield used that position to enrich himself, first as a participant in the Whiskey Ring, then in receiving bribes from railroad construction companies who were looking for government approval of their projects, particularly those that cut through Indian lands.
Schofield was caught up with the other corrupt officials in Grant’s administration, and sentenced to prison. After serving five years in prison (his sentence ameliorated by his connection to the president), Schofield was discharged, along with a decree barring him from ever again working for the government.
Part of his sentence was the government decree that Schofield forfeit all ill-gotten gains. They recovered over ten thousand dollars in cash, and were satisfied that he had made full restitution.
What the government did not know was that they had recovered less than twenty percent of Schofield’s money. Before going to prison Schofield had hidden a little over forty thousand dollars and he was ready to make up for lost time.
Schofield intended to institute the plan he had come up with while he was still in prison. Studying some of the maps that he found in the prison library, he saw something about New Mexico Territory that was particularly intriguing. Part of it was shaped like a bootheel that protruded from the extreme southwest corner of the territory in such a way that it was bordered on three sides by Mexico. It was, he saw, the most isolated and detached part of the United States.
One of the men Schofield had met while in the federal prison was Julian Peterson, also a graduate of West Point. After the war he’d absconded with an army payroll, but was caught and imprisoned. By coincidence, his prison sentence ended less than one month after Schofield was released. They had agreed to meet in Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory, after Schofield had provided Peterson with enough money to buy a train ticket.
Well aware that Peterson might just keep the money, Schofield was pretty sure he would show up. He had tempted his fellow prisoner with promises of wealth and power and knew Peterson didn’t have any other viable options.
Schofield’s trust was justified when he’d received a telegram from Peterson telling him the date and train on which he would arrive.
Schofield was standing on the depot platform in Lordsburg as the train rolled into the station. He saw Peterson, the third person to step down from the train, peruse the depot platform looking for him.
“General Peterson, I’m over here,” Schofield called.
Peterson walked toward him with a broad smile. “Hello, Schofield. What’s with the general? I never got higher than captain.”
“It’s Prime Director Schofield,” he corrected. “And I have just appointed you to the rank of general, assuming you accept the offer to join Schofield’s Legion.”
Peterson got a confused look on his face. “Schofield’s Legion? What is that?”
“I’ll tell you over dinner,” Schofield said.
Later, Schofield showed Peterson a map of the Territory of New Mexico. He pointed specifically to the Bootheel section. “This is the part that will concern us. I intend to sever it from the Territory of New Mexico, indeed from the United States, and establish a new nation.”
Peterson laughed. “Uh, you may recall that has already been tried, and the Confederacy didn’t work out so well.”
“That’s because eleven states seceded, and had they been successful, the nation would have been split in half. Believe me when I say that what I have planned is of no threat to the United States. The most we’ll have to deal with will be local law, and with our army, they can be easily overwhelmed.”
“You have an army already?” Peterson asked.
Schofield smiled. “At the moment, I have only a general and enough money to outfit an army, complete with weapons and uniforms. Your first job, General Peterson, will be to help me raise the soldiers. That is, if you are interested in the idea.”
“This starting your own country business, is there money in it?” Peterson asked.
“Indeed. As an independent country, we can assess taxes. Every working copper, gold, and silver mine will be taxed. Every rancher and merchant will be taxed. Oh yes, my friend, there is a great deal of money in the future of Tierra de Desierto.”
Schofield repeated the name. “It means Desert Land,” he explained. “And it is the name of our new nation. As Prime Director, I will be the unelected, but absolute, ruler, and as my general, you will be second in charge. Are you interested?”
“Damn right I’m interested,” Peterson replied.
“Very good, General,” Schofield said in response. “Our first job is to raise an army. I will provide weapons, uniforms, and a bonus for fifty men.”
“May I make a suggestion as to the organization?” Peterson asked.
“Of course. After all, you will be the general in charge.”
“I would suggest a captain, two lieutenants, and four sergeants. The remaining forty-two men will be privates.”
“Excellent suggestion, General. I’ll leave the business of recruitment to you.”
Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory
Duff MacCallister stood to one side and watched as his prime Angus cattle were being loaded into the freight cars after a cattle drive of eight hundred beeves from his ranch to the Cheyenne rail head. Unlike the long drives of a few years earlier, it had been an easy, two-day journey of only forty miles. From there the cattle would go by train to market in Kansas City, where he had contracted them for forty-five dollars per head.
When the last cow was loaded, Arnold Dupree, who was the buying agent, walked over to see him. “Here’s the bank draft. Thirty-six thousand dollars is a lot of money.”
“Aye, but there was a lot of work in getting the creatures to market, and a lot of expenses, too. Still, ’tis a good payday,” Duff agreed.
“I’m told that you’re the man to thank for getting so many to switch to Angus,” Dupree said.
“Aye, some have listened to my suggestion. ’Twas in Scotland where I first began to raise the creatures, and when I came to America, I decided this would be a good place for them.”
“It’s been good for us. We get a better price for Angus beef than we do for any other breed, even Herefords.”
The locomotive whistle blew.
“I must go,” Dupree said. “I’ll be accompanying the cattle to market. It’s been good doing business with you.” He extended his hand and Duff took it.
It had taken six men to drive the cows down from Duff’s ranch, Sky Meadow, but the six men, including Elmer Gleason and Wang Chow, had returned to the ranch as soon at the herd had been delivered. Only Duff remained in Cheyenne to receive payment, and because it was too late to start back, he waited until the next morning.
The next morning three men were waiting at Bristol Ridge, watching the road north from Cheyenne.
“Thirty-six thousand dollars?” Foley said. “You sure that’s how much money he’s carryin’?”
“Yeah, I was workin’ at the loading chutes when I heard MacCallister’n another man talkin’,” Otis said. “He was a cattle buyer ’n he had just bought all the cows MacCallister had brung in, ’n he paid ’im thirty-six thousand dollars for ’em.”
“Which one of you is the best at cipherin’? How much money will that be for each one of us?” Clemmons asked.
“Ten thousand for each of you, ’n sixteen thousand for me,” Otis said.
“Wait a minute. How come it is that you’ll be gettin’ most of the money?” Foley asked.
“On account of I’m the one that found out that MacCallister had all that money ’n he would be comin’ by here on his way back home, ’n that he would be all alone,” Otis explained. “’N I’m the one that let you two in on it.”
“He’s right, Foley,” Clemmons said. “Hell, we wouldn’ta knowed nothin’ ’bout the money if Otis didn’t tell us nothin’ about it. Besides, ten thousand dollars sounds good to me. I prob’ly ain’t had me ten thousand dollars all tolled up in my whole life.”
“Yeah,” Foley agreed. “I’m fine with ten thousand dollars.”
“It’s good that you are because—”
“Here comes someone, ’n he’s all by hisself. You reckon this is him?” Clemmons asked.
Otis looked around the edge of the butte. “Yeah! That’s him! Get ready boys, we uns is about to be rich!”
Duff was sitting easy in the saddle, letting his horse, Sky, proceed at his own speed. He was seriously considering running a few hundred head of sheep, though he knew he’d have to sell that idea to Elmer Gleason and Meagan Parker, both of whom were partners in the ranch. Elmer would be the most difficult to sell the idea to. He had an inherent prejudice against sheep, believing that sheep and cattle could not be raised together. Duff knew better. He’d seen such operations in Scotland. And unlike cattle, sheep could bring in money without being sacrificed.
He wasn’t concerned about Meagan. Her partnership wasn’t a hands-on arrangement and she would acquiesce to anything he wanted to do. The real question was, is this something he really wanted to do? Or is it just an idea that he found intriguing and—
“Hold it right there, mister!” someone shouted as three men jumped out from behind a butte and pointed pistols at him.
Sky was well enough trained that the sudden appearance of the men didn’t arouse a startled reaction.
“Well now. Ye would be Mr. Otis,” Duff said, nodding toward the man in the middle.
“What the hell, Otis? He knows you?” one of the men asked.
Duff chuckled. “Well, I wouldn’t say we were old friends, but I do remember seeing him at the loading docks.”
“Yeah, I’m Otis.”
“And, let me guess. ’Tis thinking I am that ye would be for wanting the thirty-six thousand dollars I was paid for the cattle. Am I right?”
“You’re just real smart, ain’t you?” Otis said.
“Oh, smart enough to keep ye from getting the money.”
“How you goin’ to do that?” Otis asked, lifting his pistol to make a point. “’Cause the truth is, you’re either goin’ to give us that money, real peaceable like, or we’ll shoot you ’n take it offen your dead body.”
“Oh, well, I wouldn’t be wanting ye to take the money from my dead body, so I suppose I should give it to ye now. Then we can both be on our way.”
Otis nodded. “Yeah, that’s what you should do all right. Where is it? In them saddlebags?”
Duff shook his head. “Nae, I’ve got the money right here in m’ shirt pocket.” He raised his hand to his shirt pocket.
“Your shirt pocket? What kinda fool do you take us for, mister? There ain’t no way you can put thirty-six thousand dollars in that shirt pocket.”
“Sure you can.” Duff pulled out a small slip of paper. “Here it is, right here.”
“What? What are you talkin’ about? What is that thing?”
“’Tis a bank draft. ’N the only way to get money from it, is to take it to the bank,” Duff explained.
“So, what you’re a-sayin’ is iffen we take this here piece o’ paper to the bank, they’ll give us the money?” Foley asked.
“Ah, nae, I’m afraid not,” Duff said, shaking his head. “Ye see, they’ll only give the money to the people whose names are on the draft. That would be me, ’n two others.”
“Let me see that!” Otis demanded.
“Sure, if ye care to take a look,” Duff said, holding the draft out for Otis to take.
As soon as Otis took the draft, he, Foley, and Clemmons began to study it, diverting their attention away from Duff. Foley and Clemmons were holding their pistols down by their sides. Duff took advantage of their distraction, pulled his pistol, and fired twice. Immediately, both men let out shouts of pain and dropped their guns.
Otis looked up in surprise and saw that the odds had changed. He was the only one of the three would-be robbers who still had a gun in his hand, and he wasn’t pointing it at Duff.
On the other hand, Duff was pointing his gun at Otis.
“I’ll be for taking my bank draft back now, if ye don’t mind.” Duff smiled. “After all, it wouldn’t do ye any good, for nae bank would cash it for you.”
Otis held up the bank draft and Duff retrieved it. “And I’ll be taking the pistols as well.”
“Mister, this pistol cost me twenty-five dollars,” Otis complained.
“Aye, ’n it nearly cost ye your life,” Duff said. “Hand it over. You,” he said to Foley. “If ye would be so kind, dismount and pick up the other two pistols and hand them to me as well.”
Reluctantly, the man did as requested.
Duff stuck their three pistols down into one of his saddlebags. “And your long gun as well,” he said to Otis, who was the only one of the three who had a rifle in his saddle sheath.
Reluctantly, Otis handed over the long gun.
“Thank ye kindly,” Duff said with a friendly smile. “I’ll be taking my leave of ye now.” With a nod of his head, he rode away, leaving three dispirited and weaponless men behind him.
“What do we do now?” Foley asked after Duff rode off.
“We follow him, ’n when we get the chance, we’ll take the money from him,” Otis said.
“That’s what we was goin’ to do this time, only there ain’t no money,” Clemmons said. “All he’s got is that bank draft, ’n even if he had given it to us, it wouldn’t be no good.”
“Yeah, well, that paper is worth thirty-six thousand dollars. And soon as he shows it to the bank, why they’ll count out the money ’n give to ’im,” Otis said. “’N this time when we stand ’im up, we’ll know that he actual has the money,” Otis insisted.
“Yeah, well, there’s another problem that maybe you ain’t thought nothin’ about,” Foley said.
“Maybe you ain’t noticed or maybe you done forgot, but we ain’t got no guns.”
“I got one,” Otis said. Reaching down into his saddlebag, he pulled out a Colt .44.
“That’s good,” Clemmons said. “But that’s only one gun ’n they’s three of us. What are we sposed to do whilst you’re holdin’ a gun on ’im?”
“If we’ve got one gun, we can get two more,” Otis said. “I been this way before, ’n I know where they’s a store that’s real close by. There ain’t nothin’ else around the store, ’n it sells guns.”
“We ain’t got the money to pay for no more guns,” Foley pointed out.
“Who said we were goin’ to pay for ’em?”
Duff rode by the sign, happy to be back home, or at least what had been his home since having left Scotland some years earlier. At first he had thought it might be difficult to adjust to America, but he had made many friends in Chugwater and he no longer felt like a displaced Scotsman. He considered himself a true resident of Chugwater Valley, secure on his ranch and comfortable with the little settlement that had become his new hometown.
There were two saloons in Chugwater. One was the Wild Hog, and while the owner of the Wild Hog was a law-abiding citizen, he had no pretensions about his place of business. It existed for the sole purpose of providing inexpensive drinks to a clientele who didn’t care if the wide plank floor was unpainted or stained with spilled liquor and expectorated tobacco juice. The biggest thing that set the Wild Hog apart from Fiddler’s Green, the other saloon in town, was its women. Whereas the girls who worked the bar at Fiddler’s Green provided pleasant conversation and flirtatious company only, the women who worked at the Wild Hog were soiled doves who, for a price, would extend their hospitality to the brothel that was maintained on the second floor of the saloon.
Just as Duff rode by the Wild Hog, he heard a woman scream, but the laughter that followed immediately afterward gave evidence that the scream had been in fun. An out-of-tune piano ground out loud and discordant chords that may have been part of a song, though it certainly wasn’t anything Duff had ever heard before.
The laughter and music fell behind him as he continued to ride down Bowie Avenue. Although he occasionally had a drink in the Wild Hog, it was just to maintain a cordial relationship with the owner. Duff’s personal choice of saloon was Fiddler’s Green. Everyone agreed that it was an establishment equal to anything you could find between St. Louis and San Francisco. It was owned by Biff Johnson, a retired army sergeant who, while he was with the Seventh Cavalry, had served with Custer, Reno, and Benteen.
Fiddler’s Green was practically a museum to the Seventh Cavalry. The walls were decorated with regimental flags and troop pennants, with arrows, lances, pistols, and carbines picked up from more than a dozen engagements. Biff even had one of Custer’s hats. It had been personally given to him by Libbie Custer when he escorted her back to Monroe, Michigan, after George A. Custer was killed.
Even the name Fiddler’s Green was indicative of Biff’s service in the cavalry. Cavalry legend had it that anyone who ever served as a cavalryman will, after they die, stop by a shady glen where there is good grass and a nearby stream of cool water for the horses. There, cavalrymen from all wars and generations will drink beer, chew tobacco, smoke their pipes, and visit. They will regale one another with tales of derring-do until that last syllable of recorded time, at which moment they will bid each other a last good-bye before departing for their final and eternal destination.
When Duff stepped into the Fiddler’s Green Saloon he was greeted warmly by at least a dozen customers, as well as receiving a personal greeting from the proprietor.
“Duff, my boy, Elmer and Wang were here earlier and they told me that you got your cows delivered with no problem,” Biff said.
“Nae problem at all.” Duff didn’t mention the incident that happened on the return trip. “And I’ll be for havin’ a wee drop of scotch if ye would be so kind.”
Biff, one of Duff’s first friends in Chugwater after leaving his native Scotland, took a bottle of Dewar’s Scotch from under the bar, one he kept personally for Duff. In addition, Biff was married to a Scotswoman, which helped cement the bond between them.
Duff lifted his glass and gave his toast. “Here’s to the heath, the hill and the heather, the bonnet, the plaid, the kilt and the feather!”
“And while goin’ up the hill of fortune, may we never meet a friend comin’ down,” Biff replied.
“Aye, m’ lad. Well spoken.” Duff took a sip of the drink and held it on his tongue for a moment to enjoy the flavor before swallowing. “I’ll be going now,” he said as he set the empty glass on the bar. “I’ve some business to conduct.”
The business Duff spoke of was the deposit of the thirty-six-thousand-dollar draft into the local bank. And since the draft was made out to Duff, Meagan Parker, and Elmer Gleason, he had to round the two of them up.
That wasn’t a difficult task, as Elmer was the foreman of Sky Meadow and was there when Duff rode up.
“See there, Wang, I told you Duff would come back,” Elmer said. “’N here, heathen that you are, you were so sure that he would run away with all the money.”
“I said no such thing,” Wang Chow said with no sense of umbrage in his denial of the specious charge. He knew that Elmer was teasing.
Upon arriving in Chugwater, Otis, Foley, and Clemmons had gone straight to the Wild Hog.
At the moment, Otis was holding a mug of beer in his hand as he stood at the front of the saloon, looking out over the swinging batwing doors. He saw Duff MacCallister and an older man come riding into town. “Foley, Clemmons,” he called to his partners.
When neither of the two answered him, he looked around to see that they were sharing a table and drinks with two of the Wild Hog women. Not only had they acquired two more pistols and some ammunition from the store called Grant City, they had also taken all the money—$112—from the cashbox, part of which paid for the drinks. When they left the store Emile Grant was lying dead on the floor behind them.
“Foley, Clemmons,” Otis called again, much more forcefully this time. “Get over here!”
Duff and Elmer stopped by Meagan’s Dress Emporium.
“Lass, can ye leave the store for a bit?” Duff asked. “We’ll be for needing your signature.” He showed the draft to Meagan.
“For this, I’ll be happy to close the store,” she said.
A moment later with a sign that read CLOSED on the door, she accompanied Duff and Elmer to the Bank of Chugwater to make the deposit. The proceeds of the bank draft were divided three ways in accordance with the percentage each of them were to receive. Elmer was junior partner in the ranch itself, while Meagan owned some of the cattle that had been sold. The entire operation was a cashless transaction, as the bank credited the three accounts with the proper amount.
“Elmer, go on back to the ranch without me,” Duff said. “I’ll come along a little later.”
“All right.” Elmer smiled at Duff and Meagan. “Now don’t y’all go gettin’ into no trouble now.”
“We’ll try not to,” Duff said, returning the smile.
“Oh, come now, Duff, that wouldn’t be any fun,” Meagan said. . .
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