Is There Anyone Home?

The First Night/ First Impressions

by  Sharon


Is There Anyone Home?

Is there anyone home, in this house made of stone?

Anyone in there who might care?

I’ve grown weary and wise and I feel much amazed, got a few good tales to unwind.

Turn around, don’t look down, there’s a man behind you with a gun.

--Gordon Lightfoot

“Is There Anyone Home?” 

from the Sundown album

Part I. 

Is There Anyone Home?


Based on the episode “The High Riders”


        Having unpacked only the essential items needed for the next morning, Scott Lancer stood at one of the windows of the large guest room which he’d been assigned and surveyed the view.In the twilight he could see the distant towering mountains,rugged peaks which would easily dwarf the older slopes found back East.He folded his arms and leaned against the casement, gazing at the scenery as he considered the day’s surprising events . . .

En route from town, Miss O’Brien had reined in the horses and paused for a quite spectacular view of the Lancer ranch--a place which she had termed the most beautiful in “the whole wide world.“And he had to admit, he’d been favorably impressed.This was beautiful country, no question, though it was certainly strange to hear of a place called “Lancer“. The girl had confided that a few months ago her father, the ranch foreman, had been murdered, and that “Mr. Lancer” had also been shot, but she had not revealed any additional details.She’d also asserted that it meant a great deal to Murdoch Lancer that his two sons had come to the ranch. 

His two sons . . . Standing at the window, Scott shook his head at that.It had certainly been a surprise to hear another man respond when the young woman had asked for “Mr. Lancer”.It had to be the very first time that Scott had ever encountered another person with the same surname. He certainly would never have expected it to be the rumpled cowboy who had crowded onto the stage ten miles outside of town.The young woman, who had identified herself as Teresa, had quickly explained that his father ----their father---had had two wives and two sons.And she referred to the cowboy as “Johnny Lancer”.All in all, a truly amazing turn of events--the younger brother that Scott had once wished for, even fantasized about, did in fact exist, although the reality was far different from what he had ever imagined.Scott only hoped that he had somehow managed to disguise his dismay.Of course, Johnny had not tried to hide his reaction at all, he had looked right at Scott and. . . laughed.

Well, that development had certainly altered the scenario he’d been contemplating for the past several weeks.He’d imagined numerous variations ofhis initial encounter with his father, and only to discover that the experience was now tobe shared with a stranger. Since Johnny clearly had not been aware of the existence of another Lancer son, Scott had wondered how well his “brother“ knew Murdoch Lancer.

Over the past few years, Scott had occasionally toyed with the thought of traveling to California and confronting the man.But he was quite certain that he would never have done so, for the same reason that the letters he’d written in his head had never been put on paper----the potential for humiliation was just too great. Even though he was now anadult, an army veteran, a college graduate, it had still seemed an impossible task to phrase an inquiry in such a manner as to make it sound other than what it was: a child sadly pleading with his father to answer the questions, “Why didn’t you want me?Why didn‘t youcare?” 

All of his life, Scott had wished for some contact from his absent father.But when his twenty-first birthday had passed without any communication from California, Scott had finally resigned himself to the fact that he would never hear from the man and had been determined not to care. Consequently, one month ago, when the Pinkerton agent had spoken with him, Scott’s first impulse had been to reject the extended invitation: “I haven‘t lost anybody ..” he’d said.There had been no personal message, no note of any kind, just a third party offer of travel expenses to California and a payment of one thousand dollars for one hour of his time. It was really rather insulting.Still, Scott had accepted the agent’s card, and the next day, he had gotten in touch with him. At that point, he’d really had very little to keep him in Boston; no real occupation, a broken engagement and tensions with his grandfather.He’d decided that if he didn’t respond to the offer, he would always wonder about his father . . . Scott had rejected the one thousand dollars, agreed to the travel expenses, and then left for California a few days later---over his grandfather’s strenuous objections.

Well, it had certainly not been surprising that the elderly gentleman had attempted to dissuade his grandson from undertaking the westward journey.Harlan Garrett had never hidden from Scott his disapproval of Murdoch Lancer as both a father and a husband.Catherine Garrett had left her home and family in Boston to marry the man, and her father blamed Murdoch Lancer for her death.His grandfather had often commented unfavorably on Scott’s father’s absence from his life, contrasting it with his own attentive presence, but he hadn’t needed to. That had always been quite evident, what more was there to say?

Scott had taken his time on the trip, stopping in various places along the way.He’d had plenty of time to anticipate the initial meeting. Now that the long awaited moment had arrived, it was the two of them walking in together to meet their father. And at long last, there he was: Murdoch Lancer, face to face.When the older man’s first words had been to offer them a drink, Scott had quickly and politely declined. When Murdoch had pressed the point with Johnny, his new found brother had quietly stated that he only drank, “when he knew the man he was drinking with“.Scott had truly relished that response, although he’d been careful not to smile.The remark had confirmed his suspicion that Johnny didn’t know any more about Murdoch Lancer than he did.He’d felt a heightened sense of curiosity--what sort of man had two sons, two adult sons and had never bothered to get to know either one of them?

Their father had addressed each of them in turn, making specific references to their mothers. He stated that Johnny had his mother’s temper; he said that Scott had his mother’s eyes. When he’d first entered the room, Scott had carefully assumed the neutral expression which he had mastered during a year in a Confederate prison camp, what he thought of now as his “Libby mask”--- but he’d felt it slip then.Scott felt certain that he’d reacted to the comment about his mother‘s eyes.He hadn’t said anything in response, but what he’d wondered was<<“What ever did she see in you?”>>

It was Johnny who had issued a verbal challenge to their father:telling him to say what he had to say, calling him “old man“.Although Scott would never have addressed Murdoch Lancer in that manner, he’d still felt a strange solidarity, standing there beside his half-brother. << A solidarity based upon what?Our shared . . . resentment?. .. >> 

But then Johnny had been quite willing to scoop up the envelope with the thousand dollars inside, had assured their father that he would indeed count it.And he had, right then and there. Scott had already indicated, that he didn’t want anything to do with the man’s money.But he hadn’t wanted the one thousand dollars to become the focus of the discussion either.When Murdoch had insistently proffered him an envelope anyway,Scott had reluctantly accepted it, rationalizing that it could be used to cover the expenses of his return trip to Boston.

<<“What do I call you?”>> . . Scott closed his eyes now as he remembered asking that pointless question.It just seemed to have slipped out.Not that he’d received a satisfactory response. It seemed that there was no point in asking any questions, since Murdoch Lancer obviously wasn’t a man given to answers or explanations.He had, in fact, disposed of Scott’s history with a few brief sentences.Scott could clearly recall his father’s exact words as well as his tone: “Your mother’s family thought she was daft to marry me, not a year off the boat from Inverness . . . And maybe they were right.You were born, she died, I left you in their hands.Period.” <<“I left you in their hands“--like a package of some sort.Never gave it another thought?>> His grandfather had intimated often enough that Murdoch Lancer was not at all concerned about his son, but now Scott had heard for himself his father’s confirmation--he really hadn’t cared.What had left him feeling stunned was that“period”, as in “end of discussion“.<<Did the man really think that I traveled all this way to be satisfied with that?>>Murdoch Lancer made no attempt to defend any of his actions, justify his inaction or to offer an apology.Had they been alone, Scott knew he wouldn’t have let it go at that, he would certainly have pressed the point. 

But Murdoch had immediately turned to address his younger son.He’d claimed that a few years after he’d married Johnny’s mother he had woken up to find the woman gone, and that she had taken Johnny with her. When Johnny had immediately replied that that wasn’t what he had been told, Murdoch’s retort had been, “I don’t care what you heard“. <<Anotherwonderfully touching response.>>

Scott leaned forward, placing his hands on the window ledge scanning the area outside his window.<<What, if anything,does the man care about? >> he wondered. <<This ranch.What was it he‘d said? That he loved it more than “anything God ever created“?Not surprising that his second wife left him, with that attitude . . . .>>

It had finally been revealed why Murdoch Lancer had, at long last, sent for his estranged sons---he wanted their help because his ranch was in danger.There were men who were trying to take it from him. “Land pirates” was what he’d called them, and apparently there were no law enforcement authorities to stop them.It was unbelievable that someone could just come in and run a man off of his land. 

Scott squinted up at the stars which were now appearing in the night sky.They were the same stars that you could see on the other side of the country, in Boston. Well, there was a much wider expanse visible here, everything was so open.It was almost like looking up at the sky from a battlefield.He shook his head.Now why had that image come to mind? He’d seen stars like this from the shores of one of the big northern lakes, many times.But, here, he had, after all, enlisted for a battle, hadn’t he?It sounded as if the ranch was being invaded, as if it was under attack.

And Johnny appeared to be well acquainted with the enemy, this gunman, Day Pardee. He also had seemed quite pleased to hear that their father was having trouble.His “brother” had indicated that if he were to do anything to help the man he’d expect, <<What was the term he used?. .. gun money”?>>. Scott had his doubts that Johnny would actually stay; it seemed much more likely that he’d take his one thousand dollars and be gone, rather than actually help Murdoch Lancer protect his property.

Murdoch Lancer had said that he wanted more than just their guns--“guts if you got any.“And in response to Johnny’s query as to what Murdoch would come up with as part of the bargain, their father had extended a truly amazing offer:one third of the ranch for each of them if they were able to help him defend it.Incredible.What did he think that Scott Lancer would want with a one-third ownership of a ranch in California? The man didn’t really believe that he would just decide to . . . live here did he?Scott shook his head again. They’d certainly be a happy little family, the father and his two sons.

Whenever he had contemplated the various scenarios for this encounter,one constant for Scott had been that no matter how the initial interview proceeded, he had no intention of leaving after only one brief hour to begin the long trip back to Boston.Once Murdoch had started talking about the troubles he was facing, Scott had immediately surmised that if he did not express concerned interest in the ranch, well, then the “family reunion” would effectively be over.Scott could easily imagine being summarily dismissed by the man, the one hour run out, no questions asked or answered, no information exchanged, no discussion, nothing . . .So he had accepted the offer.Scott had enlisted in the present conflict, and he would see it through. But he certainly did not believe that ownership meant that he was obliged to stay on permanently.Although he had no pressing reasons for a hasty return trip East, how long he would actually stay, well, that remained to be seen. 

The conversation about the perils threatening the ranch had been interrupted by the fire bell---the “land pirates” had set one of the fields aflame.The attempt to combat the fire had been unsuccessful and the field had been left to burn itself out.Returning to the house, Scott had been shown to this sizeable room: it had two separate entrances,two large windows and his suitcases had already been deposited inside. Johnny was in a similar space across the hall.Someone had collected Scott’s smoky clothes while he’d taken a bath.

Strange how he’d felt as if he was washing away much more than the smoke from that burned field.Of course he’d had deluxe accommodations during the trip--some more “luxe” than others, he recalled-- but it was only now that he’d finally arrived at Lancer that he really felt as if he was completely washing away the weeks of train fumes and coatings of stagecoach dust, as well as the layers of anticipation, the tension which he hadn’t fully realized he was carrying.It had finally happened, he had met his father, and the meeting had been nothing like what he’d contemplated. What had he expected, really?A Homecoming?<<Well, a somewhat warmer welcome . . . Perhaps even “thanks for coming“? >>

When they’d gathered for dinner, Murdoch Lancer had essentially kept the conversation focused on the activities of the land pirates and the threat to the ranch.Scott had listened carefully and asked questions, trying to learn as much as he could about the situation.Murdoch had not posed any questions in return.There had been no polite inquiries about Scott’s trip West.No personal questions asked of either son.Scott wondered now how much Murdoch Lancer actually knew about him. Was he even aware of Scott’s military service? His experiences during the war?His “brother” across the table had continued to eye the Bostonian skeptically each time that their father mentioned the fight which lay ahead.If it was a war, then Scott felt that he was well prepared. He certainly had war stories which he could tell, not that he was at all eager to relate them. 

As he closed the window and turned back towards the interior of his room,Scott’s glance fell upon his still unpacked case. He thought ruefully of the photographs and the one or two other items he’d packed, thinking that he might show them to his father. It appeared highly unlikely that that would happen any time soon.It just didn‘t seem that the man would be interested . . . .But Scott still didn’t feel uncomfortable here.Perhaps it was the openness, the warm, dry air, which somehow seemed inviting, despite its contrast to the comforting closeness of the city and the familiar cool dampness of Boston. Perhaps it was nothing more than the feeling of having reached a journey’s end.

Scott slid out of his shirt, tossed it on the bed and sat down in a chair to remove his boots.He hadn’t come all this way for money or for one third of a ranch.He’d come here to meet Murdoch Lancer, to satisfy his curiosity.What had he learned?Very little so far. Murdoch Lancer was gruff, demanding, completely unapologetic and obviously used to having things his own way.Uncaring--or at least unwilling to show it.The man had built up this ranch--one hundred thousand acres, an impressive accomplishment. He had said that his best hands had remained with him.Loyalty--Scott knew that that spoke volumes about a man, if those who served under him were willing to stand by him, no matter what.And the girl Teresa certainly seemed to be devoted to her guardian. But the most amazing revelation of all, and the thought which had kept repeating itself throughout the day, came back to Scott now as he drifted off to sleep: << This is the man my mother gave up everything for . .This is the man my mother fell in love with.>>


. . .Catherine’s eyes.When he’d looked at Scott, it had been Catherine’s eyes that he’d seen staring back at him.Although he still possessed a photograph of Catherine,all that Murdoch Lancer had ever had of his elder son was the now faded memory of that one momentary glimpse---- almost twenty years ago.A too quick impression of a small boy withblue eyes and blond hair, who was well dressed, ever so polite, and had regarded him with an expression that was far too serious.He was amazed how well that description had fit the young man who had strode into the room and stood before him.

Seated in his darkened study, cradling yet another glass of bourbon, Murdcoh Lancer sighed heavily. He knew so very little about Scott. Over the years, he had steadfastly avoided thinking about him; tried hard not to care about their separation.When he had thought of Scott at all, it had most often been as <<“Harlan Garrett’s grandson.”>> 

It had been asurprise to receive the wire saying that Scott was on his way West.Murdoch had reluctantly hired the Pinkerton agency to deliver a message to the young man, making the same offer that they had been authorized for years to make to Johnny, if they could ever track him down: $1000 for one hour of his time. But even forgetting whatever story his grandfather must have told the boy, after all the long years of silence, Murdoch couldn’t imagine that his son would care to accept the invitation.In fact, Murdoch had secretly believed that if the young man had any pride at all, then he simply wouldn’t respond. 

During his long recuperation from the gunshot wound which he had received from Day Pardee, Murdoch’s old friend, Sam Jenkins, the local doctor, had strongly encouraged him to contact Scott-- something that his other good friend and late foreman Paul O’Brien had been urging Murdoch to do for years. He’d assumed that his son was still in Boston, so the Pinkertons had been hired to simply deliver a message.Murdoch hadn’t asked them to collect any detailed information, but the agent assigned to the task had written a summary report --- a brief outline, actually: Scott had served in the army, a cavalry unit, then attended Harvard. So in theory, his elder son could ride a horse and handle a gun, he was not as much of a “Boston gentleman” as he appeared.During their initial conversation, he’d certainly sounded as if he had some knowledge of military strategy--he’d been what, a Lieutenant?Murdoch wondered cynically whether the young man had actually earned his rank or if his grandfather had simply purchased it for him. . ..

Word had come back to him from Boston that his older son had been insulted by the offer of the $1000, didn’t want the money.<<Well, once he was here, he’d accepted the envelope after all, now hadn‘t he?>> Murdoch thought with grim satisfaction.<< Once he was here.. . . >> Murdoch was still amazed that he’d actually come. And, equally surprising, Scott had even accepted the offer ofa one-third ownership in the ranch.He seemed willing to fight for it, although Murdoch still had doubts about how useful he’d be, let alone whether or not he’d actually stay . . .

Murdoch swallowed the liquor left in his glass.With difficulty, he rose from his chair and limped over to the table to pour himself a refill.The embattled rancher had had weeks to think about this meeting with Scott, to consider what he would say to him.He’d decided that he couldn’t explain the past, so he wouldn’t try.He couldn’t change it, after all.The only hope seemed to be to focus on the present, try to forget the rest.

Facing the door, he relived the moment when the two young men had entered the room.Side by side. So different from each other in so many ways, yet so alike in their hatred for him.<<Well, what did you expect?>>Murdoch asked himself, then sighed, limped back acros the room and lowered his aching body heavily into his large leather chair.

Although he had been apprehensive about meeting Scott for the first time, it had been his awareness of Johnny’s presence, standing slightly behind his brother, that had caused the clenching in Murdoch Lancer’s gut.His younger son, the infamous gunfighter. Murdoch had only been aware of his identity as Johnny Madrid for a few years, but that had been long enough for the Pinkertons to collect a detailed history on the gunman. Once they’d known the name his son was using, it had still taken the agents far too long to catch up with him, and it had almost been too late.As Murdoch understood it, Johnny had literally been rescued from a firing squad.Not that he’d appeared to be grateful, not by any means . . . .

Maria’s boy . . . Murdoch had loved her, she had left him, she had stolen his son.His son, dammit. Who knew what stories she had told the boy. . .but all that mattered was that he was here.Johnny.This was where Johnny belonged, at Lancer, where he’d been born, where he’d taken his first steps.His son should have been here all this time. But his mother had stolen him away, after she had taken up with another man.Murdoch had searched for his missing wife and child, and periodically he had hired the agents to do so, spending money that he could have put to good use on the ranch.

Gazing at Johnny,Murdoch had tried to see the toddler he’d known. Rather than another stranger, he‘d wanted to see the child for whom he’d been searching for so many years.Instead, he’d been confronted by the gunfighter he’d been reading about in those damn Pinkerton reports.He’d hoped to view, in the angry young man before him, some vestige of the happy, smiling baby with the dark hair and bright blue eyes. Well, his son had smiled at him---a cynical smile as he observed that Murdoch “had some trouble“.He’d been insolent, <<called me “old man.”>>Challenged Murdoch from the first moment he’d walked in.Stood there and counted his money. Quite a contrast with his older brother who seemed so restrained in comparison . . Well, so Johnny took after Maria, all right.He certainly had some fight.And he knew Pardee.Knew he was a gunfighter, said he was a good one.<< As good as Johnny Madrid?>> Murdoch couldn’t help but wonder.

To Murdoch Lancer’samazement, Johnny had also accepted his offer. Skeptical, he’d wanted to see the paper, demanded to know why it wasn‘t signed. Murdoch swirled the amber liquid remaining in his glass. Nothing for nothing. They needed to understand that he still called the tune. He had no intention of turning over a single acre, not one blade of grass, to either of his sons, unless he received the help that was needed. The help that he so resented having to ask of them. He’d meant it when he said he didn’t want any favors from either of them.But he’d give them their due, if they earned it.

As he finished his drink, Murdochwondered again exactly what Johnny had heard, what that woman told him. . . . Well, save the ranch first.Then there would be time for talk.If they stayed he could tell them stories, of how hard he’d struggled to build this place.The sacrifices he had made.He wondered if they’d ever care.


Johnny removed his boots and then stretched out on the bed, hands behind his head, thinking to himself: <<Not too bad.>>.He already had what he‘d come for; he had one thousand--one thousand dollars in his pocket.An amazing sum.But even more amazing was the possibility of a part ownership of a 100,000 acre spread. He’d never pictured himself as a landowner.Not that he truly believed the old man would really part with any of it willingly; what was it he’d said? That he loved it more than anything.

Johnny had been curious enough to want to meet this Murdoch Lancer; after all, he’d heard plenty about him over the years, all of it bad. Funny how his mother had told Johnny repeatedly how his father didn’t care about him, but she’d never said too much about this ranch, or ever mentioned that the man had another son.It seemed like he hadn’t cared any more about his other kid than he had about Johnny. Well, by rights, the old man should be grateful that Johnny wasn’t planning on calling him out, after what he’d done.It was strange to think that he’d been born on this place; it sure didn’t feel like coming home. Johnny had figured on staying for the one hour, not one minute more, then he’d collect the money he’d been promised and he’d be gone. But on his journey north, the gunfighter had spent considerable time wondering why all of a sudden Lancer would want to see him.

<<Day Pardee-- --oh yeah, the Old Man has some trouble all right.>> Day was good and he always had a good crew.Johnny hadn’t decided yet if he was going to try and hook up with Day or warn him off.But he’d let the old man think he was going to help protect the property, that he would come up with all those “guts” Lancer’d said he was looking for. <<Oh, I got guts, all right Old Man.You’ll see>>. Johnny sure didn’t feel any sympathy for Murdoch Lancer, didn’t much care about how much he loved this ranch . . . Hell, it would be real fittin’ if he was kicked off of his precious land, the way he’d tossed his mother and him out all those years back. . . Course, that wasn’t the way the old man had told it, well, big surprise he didn’t admit it--- ‘specially in front of an audience.

This other son, now, he was something. Acted like he didn’t want Lancer’s money--well, ol’ Scott could just hand it over to Johnny anytime. The city boy hadbeen all dressed up fine and so serious. He did talk like maybe he knew something’ ‘bout soldiering.Well, his “brother” might be some kind of big deal back East, but if he thought it was gonna be easy to take on Day Pardee and his boys, he was in for some surprise.And why the hell had Scott been so quick to say he’d help the old man defend the place?He’d pitched right in to fight the fire too, ruined his outfit for sure.

‘Course, at supper, he’d been dressed up in another set of fancy clothes.Johnny had been pretty annoyed when Scott had taken the seat that he’d had in mind--the old man was at the head of the table, the girl to his right.That left two chairs facing each other, one beside the girl, one on the other side---the one thatJohnny had wanted.But while he was pouring himself a drink, the gringo had plopped down there, where he had a fine view of the others at the table.Johnny, seated beside Teresa, could watch the blond man across the table, but had to look sideways at the girl and she was partially blocking his vision of the old man.

The girl--Teresa--- had announced that it was a special meal in honor of the brothers’ arrival--well, of course she really meant in honor of ol’Scott, since he was the one they’d been expectin’ . . .There was plenty of silverware and the hired help kept bringin’ out platters--”courses” she‘d called ‘em-- of different foods.Deciding which utensil to use didn’t seem to bother the Easterner at all, so Johnny had just studied him. Scott seemed to be listening real carefully to Murdoch goin’ on and on about the troubles at the ranch . .Tellin’ stories ‘bout all the evil deeds committed by Day and the boys…

Johnny saw right away that even though Murdoch Lancer was doing most of the talking, it was Scott that was pretty much controlling the conversation.First, he’d talked to the girl, complimented her on the food and asked a few questions about some of it.Johnny could tell that the Easterner wasn’t liking the Mexican dishes too well; typical gringo.He was drinking a pretty good amount ofwine too, though it didn’t seem to be affectin’ him any.Anyway,Scott just kept ol’ Man Lancer going on about the problems he’d been facing. The blond man’s face didn’t give much away, but while he was listening to Murdoch there’d be just a flicker as Scott caught something, and then sure enough, when the old man paused for breath, he’d ask a question.No, not even a question most of the time.Scott would just sort of repeat whatever Murdoch had said, get the man to say some more about it . . .Johnny appreciated that Scott was finding out some pretty useful details, could see he what kind of patterns the man was lookin’ for.

 At one point, the girl had managed to get in a question about Boston, the city that Scott was from. Johnny hadn’t said too much, mostly just listened, but now he heard himself ask, “So where’s Boston?”

     His brother gave him a slight smile across the table and in a real mild voice said:“It’s about as far East as you can go.”

Then, his glance including Teresa, he’d said, “I’ve found that not too many people out here have ever heard of Boston“.Looking back at Johnny again, he’d added, “It’s in Massachusetts.”

Johnny snorted to himself now.Like that had been any help at all. 

   << Mass-a-chu-setts? Just from the name of it, it sure don’t sound like anyplace anyone would ever want ta go. >> But Teresa had had a few more questions for Scott; she’d seemed real interested in city life. Johnnyrecalled now that Teresa hadn’t asked him anything about Mexico, or life along the border. . .no mention of gunfights or firing squads either.. . 

When the dessert came, it looked pretty good and they’d only given him the one plate and one fork.<<And that’s when ol’ Boston looked right at me ‘n caught me lookin’ at him.Let me know it too. >> 

     Right after that little pause, Scott had addressed him from across the table: “You said that you know this Pardee.” It was a statement, not a question, like most of the things he‘d said.

     Johnny shrugged. “Yeah we go back.”

     “What kind of man is he?”

     Johnny had smiled at that, even considered describing Day’s mustache, the color of his hair.But he’d decided to give a serious answer.“He’s out for money.Don’t care who gets in his way.”

     “I assume that he has men that he can rely upon to help him.”

     “Been with ‘im a long time, some of ‘em.He’s one of those big dogs, like the old man said.” Johnny nodded towards Murdoch. “But Day’s the kind of big dog even the middle sized ones don’t mind followin‘”.

     “Out of fear or respect?”

     “Have ta say both.”

     “You also said he was a gunfighter, a good one.”

     “That’s right.”

     “Are there many of those around?”

     “One or two”.Johnny had waited to see if the old man would say anything, but he didn’t--- justsat there watching and listeningJohnny had wondered how much the girl knew about him.About Johnny Madrid.So far the old man hadn’t let on what he knew, but that agent he’d sent, well, he’d come lookin’ for Madrid . . .

   <<What the hell.>>, he‘d thought.I’m one myself,” Johnny had grinned at Scott, waiting for his reaction.There wasn’t one. Scott was looking down at his slice of cake--“Is that right“, he said glancing up.

     “This isn’t about a gunfight,” Murdoch had interjected, “it’s a range war.”

     Teresa had started talking about their rooms, hoping they’d both be comfortable.Then she’d explained the plan for breakfast the next morning, all cheery like. 

     Well, if anyone ever decided that they were interested, Johnny figured he had quite a few stories he could tell that would keep ‘em up at night.Bet he could even get a reaction out of ol’ Boston.Stretched out on his bed, Johnny kept thinking about Scott, why he was here, what he was after. Whether or not he might get in the way of whatever Johnny decided to do.<<Well, I’ll be up long before that city boy opens his pretty little eyes.Seems like I’ll just have to stroll on across the hall, see what I can find out.. . .>>




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