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The four rode through the gate. As they approached the house, Maude noticed the dog.
"Who is your friend?" She called out.
"We found her caught in a trap on the other side of the hill. I do not think she is hurt bad, but she has a scrape on her leg from the trap. It was too sore for her to walk on so I carried her. Granny would you be able to help her?"
"Some thing never do change," the old woman said as she rose from her chair. "You are still bringing wounded animals home. I will get my medicines. Bring her up on the porch."
Ellie dismounted and held her arms out for the dog until Cassie climbed off her horse. Cassie gently took the dog back and carried her to the porch. She petted the dog until Granny returned. Granny looked the dog over before she turned her attention to the scraped leg. The dog whined when Granny touched the leg. Granny leaned over and whispered in the dogs ear. The dog quieted. Granny cleaned the area, applied a thick paste and a clean bandage. She whispered again into the soft ear. The dog gave her a friendly lick.
"She will be all right. She needs food water and rest to help her leg heal. Granny said.
"Any ideas who she belongs to?" Maude asked.
"None, but the next time I am in town I will ask around."
"Until then, I have some scraps in the kitchen and will get her some water." Granny stated as she packed up her medicines.
"Is everything quiet out there?"
"So far. The fences are good. We found the dog before we finished checking the area out. I want to go back and check for any more traps. We do not need the cattle getting caught in them. We will be moving some of them into that area next week." go
"Still want some company?" Victoria asked.
"Sure, if you feel up to it. I don't want you to over do it."
"I feel great."
"All right then, lets go."
"Four pairs of eyes are better than two." Ellie said. "Especially when some of our stock will be there also."
"Yeah, plus we never ate that lunch, Maude packed for us. We could have a picnic by the lake then wash a little of the dust off before we start back." Ruth added.
"That sounds like a great idea, Cassie. Relax and have a little fun for a change." Maude added. "There are men here if I need anything."
"Are you sure, mama?"
"Will you get out of here?" Maude ordered.
"Yes ma'am." Cassie said as they turned their horses around and headed back out of the yard. The dog was content to lay on the porch contentedly chewing on the bone Granny gave her. The older women went to work in the garden. At midday, they stopped to rest as the day grew hotter. It was a peaceful afternoon as most of the men were out taking care of the stock. Those few who remained on guard duty worked around the house. The peace continued until the phone rang.
Maude picked up the receiver. "Hello"
"Miss Maude, this is Sherriff Cooper."
The train pulled into the station. Among the passengers who got off were several men who looked out of place. Their clothes were rumpled and dusty from the days they spent on the train. One man stood out from the rest. Not because he was tall or particularly handsome. He stood out because of his cruel eyes. He was taller than his companions and not bad looking. He was a man used to getting his own way and having his every order obeyed with out question. He fired orders at the men with him
"We need to find the Sheriff first. You men get the horses. Montgomery let me see that telegram again."
The older man next to him, pulled the paper out of his pocket and held it out. It was grabbed from his hand. Shorter and a few years older than his companion, his lined face was the result of years of working and worrying about the land.
"It says the Double J ranch. The Sheriff will know where that is. Meet us at the Sheriff's Office with the horses." He commanded.
They walked away from the train. The younger man stopped to ask for directions to the Sheriff's office, before they headed in town. It did not take them long to find the building. They walked into the office.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" The man behind the desk asked
"I am looking for the Sheriff."
"You are in luck. I am Sheriff Peterson. You are?"
"Matthew Corrigan and this is Daniel Montgomery. We are..."
"You gentlemen are not from around here. Are you?"
"We are from Virginia."
""Virginia. You are a long way from home. What brings you all the way here?"
"My daughter was taken several weeks ago. I received a telegram saying she was at the Double J Ranch."
"Double J is the Jones place. That is about twenty miles from here. Hey wait, I remember a hand bill about a missing girl that came through a few weeks back."
"I sent that out as soon as we knew which direction to look."
"That is a lot of towns. How did you know where to start?
"We did not at first, but her mother knew the general direction, so I had those hand bills printed and sent out to the bigger towns North of Virginia."
"Now you say she was taken. How do you know she just did not run away?"
"She was taken the night before her wedding. What woman does want to get married? Montgomery asked.
"I know of a lot of woman who do not to get married. Do you have any proof that she was kidnapped?
To be continued...
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