It lasted longer than Hughes had anticipated it would.
When it was over, they had two of Wharton’s younger sons and one of the man’s hands still living. The rest were just going to be fodder for the buzzards.
And Wharton himself was bleeding from a gut shot.
Hughes was having a hard time finding it in himself to even care.
Wharton was screaming out, demanding the doc tend him first.
What kind of father did that? The man had two boys still alive, three counting young Alex inside Hughes’s own house. Shouldn’t he care about them first?
All the Whartons and their hands were wounded. But they’d live.
Live long enough for the hanging, once the judge came through.
No one ambushed men in this town. No one.
Hughes’s new brother-in-law approached from the side of the house where he’d been engaged with some of the bastards.
“Anything you want to say to this piece of bird shit?” Hughes asked, barely resisting kicking the snake while he was down.
Jacob looked at Wharton. Then swore.
“What is it?”
“That’s not Justice Wharton. That’s his damned brother Amos!”
“Then where is his brother?” Tucker asked.
“Check the bodies, now. Get the boy from the house. We need him to identify the dead,” Turner said, bluntly.
“No. He isn’t going to see his kin like this. Not going to happen. I’m not going to do that to him.” On that, Hughes was adamant. That boy was just a kid. This was not what he deserved at all. But it was the way it was. The boy would need someone to help him get through it. “Jacob?”
“I know them all well enough to identify them.”
“Then let’s get to it.” They had just started to where Hughes’s nephews were carrying the bodies of Wharton’s dead toward the back barn where they’d stay until it was time for the burying, when shouts and gunshots rang out.
From inside the house.
Where the girls were.
Hughes just started running, Hughes’s sons and Jacob on his heels.