“He caught one of them?”
“One of who?” Beau glanced at the dark-haired kid in his hold, a kid who wore a bandanna covering all but his wide blue eyes. A bandanna? What on earth had that spawn-of-Satan horse gotten him into?
“See if you can find the others,” Shorty ordered.
The troublemaker turned his head, causing the bandanna to slip, revealing smooth cheeks without a hint of stubble.
“Right.” With a nod, Lanky hurried toward the water.
Without warning, the kid sank his teeth into Beau’s arm and broke from his hold.
“Ouch! Why, you little brat!” Beau snagged the boy’s leg, knocking him to the ground, and pinned him in the wet sand. “I ought to turn you over my knee.”
“We’re going to do worse than that.”
At the new voice, fear flickered in the kid’s eyes.
Keeping his hands on the young man’s shoulders, Beau looked up to find a well dressed, if winded, older gentleman standing next to Shorty, gun drawn.
“Nice work, mister. You just caught yourself an outlaw.”
An outlaw? Beau glanced down at the youngster whose voice hadn’t even changed. He couldn’t be more than thirteen or fourteen. How could someone so young already be an outlaw?
Troublemaker, yes, but outlaw?
“Where are the other three?” the gentleman questioned.
Shorty cocked his head toward the water. “Lawson went to see if he could find their trail.”
“Mr. Grimes, perhaps you should lend Mr. Lawson a hand.”
With a nod, Shorty took off as another man approached, horses in tow.
“Mr. Hewitt, toss this fella a rope and help them, please, sir.” The dapper gentleman took the horses’ reins from the balding man Beau had met at the livery earlier that day and turned to Beau. “I believe Mr. . . .”
“Bones,” Beau offered as he accepted the rope from Hewitt and set to binding the outlaw’s hands.
“I believe Mr. Bones and I can manage this one on our own.” The leader paused, drawing Beau’s gaze upward. The bearded man looked from Beau to Satan’s Spawn—or Buster as the horse was more commonly known, a name which now made much more sense considering his aching backside—and back again. “Bones? Are you any kin to our late marshal?”
Beau finished securing the knot, one perfected by what his brothers used to use on him through the years, and hauled the youngster to his feet. “Yes, sir. He was my uncle.”
“Well, looks like you two were cut from the same cloth.”
Beau wished that were true. His namesake had been brave, fierce, afraid of nothing and no one. He was the only one who’d ever believed Beau could amount to something, could do more than struggle in his brothers’ shadows. He’d hoped by coming to Small Tree, Texas, he could prove his uncle right. Prove everyone else wrong. Prove that he could be his own man.
But on his first day in town, he couldn’t even ride his uncle’s horse.
“I’m Mayor Arthur Jones.” After shaking Beau’s hand, the graying gentleman led the way through the trees, the prisoner between them. “I assume you’re here to settle your uncle’s estate, Mr. Bones. Are you going to be in town long?”
“Well, I, uh. . .I’d thought to stay on awhile, but—”
“Wonderful. We could sure use a man like you around Small Tree. As you can see, trouble has already found us in the short time since your uncle’s passing. My condolences, by the way.”
“What would it take to talk you into staying on and being our new town marshal?”
Beau couldn’t help laughing at the outlandish thought. “Not much, bu—”
“Stupendous! You’re hired.”
“Hired? Wait. What?”
“The job comes with a monthly stipend, plus room and board.” The mayor kept talking,
but Beau’s brain couldn’t take in any more.
Hired? Him? A marshal? He didn’t know anything about being a lawman, only the wild tales his uncle used to spin when he’d come to visit. Tales a little boy with seven older brothers could only imagine experiencing. He couldn’t fill his uncle’s boots, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand. The mayor was highly mistaken if he thought Beau could handle such an important job. Sure, he’d always dreamed of such a chance, but he couldn’t. . .
He wouldn’t. . .
It wasn’t right to let the mayor, the town, think him capable—
The outlaw stumbled, breaking Beau’s inner argument and his grip on the kid’s arm.
The boy pivoted toward the trees.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Beau had tried that move with his brothers too many times to count. Snagging the youngster’s waist, he tossed him over his shoulder.
The mayor angled him a grin. “See, I knew you were the right man for the job the minute I laid eyes on you. This way, Marshal. I’ll show you where you can lock up this prisoner. Then we’ll send for the judge.”
At the praise, Beau couldn’t help standing a little straighter. Maybe he could do this job. Maybe this was the exact opportunity he’d prayed for almost all his life. Maybe, just maybe, if he tried real hard, he could prove the mayor hadn’t just made the biggest mistake of his life by making Beau Bones the newest marshal of Small Tree, Texas.
—Mistaken Marshal by Crystal L Barnes from the Lady and the Lawman Collection, Barbour Publishing.
Howdy y’all! Crystal Barnes here and I hope you enjoyed that sneak peek into my novella in the Lady and the Lawman collection. I got my story idea by kinda blending the Shakiest Gun in the West starring Don Knotts with Marshall Dillon from Gunsmoke. I loved hearing my husband’s laughter as he read this scene about Beau Bones getting roped into a job he never saw coming, so I thought I’d share the fun.
How about you? Have you ever been roped into a job you never expected to have? How did it turn out?
You’ll have to read the rest of Mistaken Marshal to find out how Beau fares. I know I’ve been momunteered many times in my life. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it’s when your mother volunteers you for something. A situation that normally turns out pretty well because we end up doing the task together.
I’ll be giving away a FREE autographed paperback copy of the Lady and the Lawman to one of this
post’s commenters, so be sure to tell me some of your stories. (Paperback for contiguous US winners only. Sorry.)
Before I go let me add a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all y’all at Petticoats & Pistols!
Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the celebration today!
A best-selling author, bona fide country girl, and former competitive gymnast, Crystal L Barnes tells stories of fun, faith, and friction that allow her to share her love of Texas, old-fashioned things, and the Lord—not necessarily in that order.
When she’s not writing, reading, or singing, Crystal enjoys spending time with family, exploring on road-trips, and watching old movies/sitcoms. I Love Lucy and Little House on the Prairie are two of her favorites.
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