The legendary MacCallister clan brought 500 years of Highlander tradition, honor, and fighting courage to the American frontier. In an astounding new novel from the national bestselling Johnstones, Duff MacCallister rides into the Colorado mountains with a young girl at his side—and a gang of stone-cold killers eagerly waiting for them . . .
DAY OF RECKONING
When Duff MacCallister sees smoke rising from his neighbor’s ranch, he knows that something is very wrong. But he isn’t prepared for what he finds: smoldering buildings, a rancher and his wife brutally slaughtered, and a 14-year-old survivor who could not save her parents. Now, Duff is going after the killers—and his only companion is the headstrong girl who refuses to be left behind.
Duff and his new companion head into the towering Gore Range. Up ahead are two convicted murderers who were about to be hung in Cheyenne, and the killers who broke them lose. Duff doesn’t have a plan—or a prayer. But the girl will be more help than he can know, and when the day of reckoning comes, bullets and blood will prove who is the bravest and fiercest fighter of all . . .
About the Author
Being the all around assistant, typist, researcher, and fact checker to one of the most popular western authors of all time, J.A. Johnstone learned from the master, Uncle William W. Johnstone.
He began tutoring J.A. at an early age. After-school hours were often spent retyping manuscripts or researching his massive American Western History library as well as the more modern wars and conflicts. J.A. worked hard—and learned.
“Every day with Bill was an adventure story in itself. Bill taught me all he could about the art of storytelling. ‘Keep the historical facts accurate,’ he would say. ‘Remember the readers, and as your grandfather once told me, I am telling you now: be the best J.A. Johnstone you can be.’”
Read an Excerpt
MacCallister Day of Reckoning
By William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 J. A. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
Archer, Wyoming Territory
The first rider came into town from the north, stopping in front of Mrs. Steinberg's Boarding House. He tied his horse off at the hitching post, then went inside. He was a large man who had once been a prizefighter, and that occupation had left him with two distinguishing features. His nose had been broken so that the bridge of it lay closer to his face than normal, and he had a cauliflower left ear. He signed his name, Clay Callahan, with tobacco-stained fingers.
"Will you be staying with us for an extended period of time, Mister ..." Bella Steinberg paused to read the name, "Callahan? The reason I ask is, anyone who stays longer than a month gets a special rate."
"No," Callahan replied. "Just for a few days."
"Oh? Well don't get me wrong, I am most happy to have you, but generally people who stay less than a month take their lodging at the hotel."
Callahan smiled. "I like the homey atmosphere of a boardinghouse," he said.
"Yes," Mrs. Steinberg replied. "All of our residents regard this as their home, and as you will see when you dine with us, it is as if we are one big family."
"That's exactly the way I like it."
Zeke Manning rode into town two days later, checking in to the Adam's Hotel. Manning and Callahan weren't in the same room at the same time until the next evening after Manning arrived. Manning went to the Cock o' the Walk Saloon, where Callahan, who had already been in town for three days, was joking and laughing with the new friends he had made. And though Callahan saw Manning come in, the two men maintained a separation.
In a town as small as Archer, any new visitor was noticed, and several of the saloon patrons commented on getting two new people coming to town within just a few days.
It created even more attention when two more strangers arrived later that same evening. The two men were laughing and talking loudly as they stepped up to the bar.
"Barkeep!" one of them called. "A beer for me 'n my brother."
The bartender filled two mugs and set them before the brothers. One of the two turned away from the bar and looked out over the ten tables, all of them occupied by from one to four men. A couple of bar girls were hopping from table to table.
"Hello to all here. My name is Dan LaFarge. This is my brother, Don. Anyone here from Texas?"
"Yeah, I'm from Texas," a rather large man said.
"I'm from Texas, too. What about it?"
"We're from Texas, too. Barkeep, give our Texas friends a drink on me 'n my brother."
Dan and Don flirted outrageously with the bar girls and went from table to table, laughing and talking with the other saloon patrons.
* * *
Archer was a railroad town, five miles east of Cheyenne, and it was here that the holding and feeding pens were located for shipping cattle. Earlier that day, Duff MacCallister, Elmer Gleason, and Wang Chow had brought cattle here to be shipped out.
"Here you go, Mr. MacCallister, a receipt for the rail shipment of two hundred Black Angus cattle to the McCord Beef Processing Plant in Kansas City. Your beeves will be there in two days," Bull Blackwell said.
Blackwell was the shipping agent for the Union Pacific Railroad in Archer. He got the name "Bull" because he was a big man, with broad shoulders and a somewhat oversized head that seemed to sit directly on those shoulders, without benefit of a neck.
"Thank you, Bull," Duff replied.
"You know, Mr. MacCallister, you have become one of our largest cattle shippers. You are, by far, the largest shipper of Black Angus, and while I would have to examine all the documents to be certain, I can tell you without equivocation that you are in the top five for all of Wyoming."
"Aye, coming to Wyoming was a good thing for me," Duff replied. "'N I can say, 'tis lucky I have been in introducing the Angus cattle to the American market."
"Luck hasn't had anything to do with it, the way I've heard it told," Blackwell said. "You come to Wyoming and started raising all these black cows that many of the other ranchers teased you about." Blackwell chuckled. "I'd be willing to bet a dollar to a cow turd that nobody is teasing you now."
Duff laughed. "Sure 'n ye meet a lot of people who are willing to bet a cow turd do ye? 'N would be for tellin' me, Bull, what you would do with the cow turd once you won it?"
"Well, I don't really want a cow turd, you understand, it's just ..." Blackwell stopped in mid-sentence when he saw the twinkle in Duff's eye. "You're funnin' me, aren't you? 'N here I didn't think you Scotsmen had a sense of humor."
"'Tis thankin' ye I am, Bull, for handling the shipping for me. I'll see you next time I come this way."
"You going back home today?" Blackwell asked.
"Nae, I think I'll ride over to Cheyenne before I go back. Cheyenne is only five miles, and 'tis so infrequently that I am this close that I plan to stay for a day or two 'n enjoy all the benefits of a big city."
To anyone from one of the bigger cities back east, such as St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, or New York, Duff's reference to Cheyenne as a "big" city might sound laughable. But compared to where Duff called home, Cheyenne was a metropolis.
Home, for Duff, was Sky Meadow, a very large ranch that was located about eight miles south of Chugwater. He did his banking there, he shopped there, he had very good friends there, most notably Biff Johnson who owned Fiddler's Green.
Biff Johnson was a retired army first sergeant who had served with General Custer. Indeed, Biff had made that last scout with Custer, though he was spared the ultimate disaster because when Custer divided his regiment, Biff was with Captain Benteen.
Biff's saloon, Fiddler's Green, got its name from an old cavalry legend. The legend claimed that any trooper who had ever heard the sound of "Boots and Saddles" would, when they die, go to a broad, inviting meadow, surrounded by shade trees and bounded by a sparkling brook. Then all the old cavalrymen there gathered would have all they wanted to eat and drink, they would enjoy the music of "Garryowen" and "The Girl I Left Behind Me," and sit around telling drunken war tales until the last day.
Fiddler's Green wasn't just a saloon for men, it was more on the order of what the English called a pub, and thus was of the character that decent women did not have to feel out of place while visiting. One woman who was a patron of the saloon was Meagan Parker. Meagan owned a dress emporium in Chugwater, and she and Duff had what could be referred to as a "special" friendship.
Meagan was also Duff's business partner. She had been an early believer in his idea of introducing a new breed of cattle to the area and had loaned him money at a time when he needed it. Duff, long ago, had gathered the wherewithal to repay Meagan, but she didn't want to be repaid. She preferred, instead, to be a part owner of the cattle, and the nature of their relationship was such that Duff found her interest and participation in his ranch to be agreeable enough that he made no effort to disentangle himself for her involvement.
Though he didn't share the information with Bull Blackwell, one of the reasons Duff wanted to go to Cheyenne was because Meagan would be there on a buying trip for her store. They had already planned their rendezvous.
As Duff left the cattle holding lot, he had absolutely no idea of the drama that was occurring at this very moment just down the street in the Cattlemen's Bank and Trust of Archer. There, Callahan, Manning, and the two LaFarge brothers were about to play out the real reason they had come to Archer, for though the four men had arrived in town separately, that had been a subterfuge. They were about to come together to carry out the nefarious scheme they had planned two days earlier.
It was Callahan who went into the bank first to break a fifty-dollar bill, requesting five and one-dollar bills. Counting out the money, kept the teller preoccupied. Because of that, he paid no attention to Manning who came into the bank shortly thereafter and stepped over to a table, where he began to fill out a bank draft.
A moment later the two LaFarge brothers stepped into the bank as well. It wasn't until then that the teller noticed, with some surprise, that there were so many people in the bank at the same time. But what was even more surprising than the number of customers was the fact that he didn't recognize any of them. And, in his position as bank teller, he knew almost everyone in town.
The two LaFarge brothers raised their guns.
"This is a holdup!" one of them shouted.
"Oh, I'll be damned!" the teller said to Callahan. "I believe they intend to rob the bank!"
"Oh, we not only intend to rob the bank, we are going to do it," Callahan said.
"You are a part of this?" the bank teller asked.
"We all four are," Manning said from the table where he had, ostensibly, been filling out a bank draft. Manning, like the two LaFarge brothers, was holding a pistol in his hand.
Callahan handed the teller the pillowcase he had taken from his bed in the boardinghouse.
"Empty the cash drawer and the safe, and put the money in this if you would, please."
"Four strangers in the bank at the same time," the teller said. "I should have realized that something strange was going on."
"Shut up and empty the cash drawer and safe like I told you to," Callahan said, his tone of voice little more than a growl.
Complying with the request, the teller filled the pillowcase with money.
"Get the money," Callahan ordered, and Manning took the money from the teller. Then, just as the four men turned to leave, a man and woman came in through the front door.
"Ernie, this is a wonderful day! The collection in church yesterday was the best we've had in a long time!" The man who called out was wearing a black suit and a low-crown, black bowler hat.
"Run, Reverend Pyle, run! The bank is being robbed!" Ernie, the teller, shouted.
"What?" the reverend replied. He was unable to get another word out, because all four robbers began shooting at them. Both the good reverend and his wife went down under a hail of bullets.
The four men ran from the bank and leaped onto their horses, followed out the door by the teller.
"Bank robbery!" the teller shouted. "These men robbed the bank!"
Callahan and one of the LaFarge brothers turned to fire at the teller, and he went down with one bullet in his heart and one in his neck.
Callahan was the mastermind of the robbery, and he had researched it quite thoroughly, including the fact that there was no city law in town, only a sheriff's deputy who didn't spend all his time here.
What he did not know, and could not have possibly anticipated, was the fact that Duff MacCallister was in town. Duff was also, at that very moment, no more than one block away from the bank, and he had both heard the teller's shout and seen the teller shot down.
The four men mounted their horses, then started galloping away from the bank. They were bearing down on Duff, who, in contrast to all the others in town who hurried to get out of the way, had stepped out into the street in front of them.
"Who is that crazy son of a bitch?" Dan LaFarge shouted.
"Shoot him!" Callahan ordered. "Shoot him!" All four of the bank robbers turned their guns toward the man who was standing, like a statue, in front of them.
With bullets whizzing by him, Duff raised his pistol and fired. His first shot took one of the LaFarge brothers from the saddle.
"Dan!" Don LaFarge shouted.
Don LaFarge was taken down by the second shot.
"Hold it up! Hold it!" Manning shouted, pulling his horse to a halt. "Don't shoot, don't shoot! Here's the money!" Manning, who was carrying the money, threw the bag on the ground and put up his hands.
"Manning, you cowardly bastard!" Callahan shouted. Callahan aimed at Duff, but when he saw Duff's pistol being pointed unerringly at him, he had second thoughts and threw his gun down as well.
Now, with two of the robbers lying dead in the street and the other two still mounted but sitting still, with their hands up, an enraged citizenry began to appear from the buildings where they had taken shelter.
"Two of 'em is still alive," someone said.
"They kilt Reverend Pyle 'n his wife," another said.
"An' don't forget Ernie, they kilt him, too," a third added.
"String 'em up!" someone shouted. "String the bastards up!"
"I'll get a rope!" another shouted.
The shouts were interrupted by Deputy Wallace firing a pistol into the air.
"No!" Deputy Wallace shouted. "There's not goin' to be any lynching while I am here."
"What do you mean while you are here? Where was you awhile ago, when the bank was bein' robbed? Where was you when we needed you?"
"I was having lunch," Wallace said.
"Come on, Larry," one of the angry mob said. "You heard what they done! They kilt the preacher 'n his wife."
"And they'll hang for it," Wallace replied. "But I'm takin' 'em to Cheyenne where they'll get a trial, and then we'll hang 'em all legal like." He looked over at the two men who were still holding their hands in the air.
"And this way, they'll have plenty of time to think about it."CHAPTER 2
Deputy Wallace had company for the five-mile ride as he took the prisoners from Archer to Cheyenne. Duff was with him, and so were Elmer and Wang.
"I tell you the truth, Duff, I don't know why you didn't shoot these two the way you did the LaFarge brothers," Deputy Wallace said. "If you'd done that, these two men would be back at the undertaker's parlor with the other two."
"The difference is, the other two men were trying to shoot me," Duff said.
"Hell, the way I heard it told, all four of 'em was shootin' at you."
"Aye, but these two changed their mind and threw down their weapons. And I'm for thinking that it would nae be a good thing to shoot an unarmed man."
"You mean the way these two sons of bitches shot down Reverend Pyle 'n his wife?" Wallace asked.
"We didn't know they was unarmed," Manning said.
"A man wearing preacher's garb, 'n his wife standin' right beside him, 'n you didn't know he was unarmed?" Deputy Wallace asked. "Ha. Try that in court 'n see how far it'll get you."
"What are we goin' to do, Callahan?" Manning asked, his voice on the edge of panic.
"We're goin' to hang I reckon," Callahan replied.
"That's the first thing you've said that's right," Deputy Wallace said.
* * *
News of what had happened in Archer had already reached Cheyenne, and more than a hundred people lined up on both sides of the street, watching as the little parade of men rode down Central Avenue. Many of them followed the riders, so that by the time they dismounted in front of the sheriff's office, more than a dozen of the citizens of the town were there.
"Is it true they kilt Reverend Pyle?" someone shouted.
"Yeah," another answered. "Shot him 'n his wife down in cold blood they did."
"You two are goin' to hang, 'n I plan to be there to watch," another shouted.
"Hell, why wait? Let's hang the bastards now!"
"You gotta pertect us," Manning said.
"Why?" Wallace asked.
"Because you do! That's your job!" Manning said, his voice breaking with the terror he was feeling.
By now Sheriff Sharpies had come out of his office, accompanied by two more deputies.
"Don't you worry any," the sheriff said. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you two boys. If you're lynched, I won't have any hand in it. But if you're hung legal, I'm proud to say that I'm the one that'll march you two up those thirteen steps to meet the hangman."
"It's goin' to be a public hangin', ain't it, Sheriff?" someone from the crowd asked.
"Oh, yes indeed, it will be public," Sheriff Sharpies answered.
"Then hell, that's as good as us doin' it our own selves, I mean, if we get to watch it 'n all."
"Sheriff, I think you need to know that it was Duff MacCallister that caught these two, 'n he's the one that kilt the other two," Wallace said.
"Yes, I've already been told." The sheriff smiled at Duff. "There was already a two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar reward on each of these men, even before they tried to rob that bank. Looks like you've got a thousand dollars comin'."
Excerpted from MacCallister Day of Reckoning by William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone. Copyright © 2017 J. A. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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