The MacCallister family is legendary in the American frontier. And wherever a MacCallister travels, the legend--and the guns--follow.
Fight Like The Devil
When Duff MacCallister journeys to Texas to deliver 100 head of angus cattle, he finds a land on fire. Unruly, lawless teams of fence cutters, branded Blue Devils by the locals, are rampaging across grazing land and cutting fences in the name of an eastern land company. The ranchers are fighting back, and Duff joins the fray. But the fight leads to Austin, and into an even deadlier mission.
The governor's daughter has been kidnapped by Blue Devils. Duff and his partner Elmer are willing to go after her, but they're going to need more men and a lot more firepower. The best the governor can do is three outlaws who once served honorably in war. Now Duff MacCallister is going up again a fanatical, highly trained enemy, riding with gunmen he cannot fully trust. Once the shooting starts, there is no turning back--because Duff and his posse are heading straight into the bloody depths of hell.
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. Bill, as he preferred to be called, 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 and creating believable characters. ‘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
Ten Guns from Texas
By William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 J. A. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
Duff MacCallister was having a Scotch with Baldy Johnson at the Fiddler's Green saloon when Wang Chow came in.
"Hey!" someone shouted. "What's that Chinaman doin' in my drinkin' bar?"
"This isn't your drinking bar. It is mine," Baldy said. "You may have noticed on the sign out front, just under the name Fiddler's Green. It says Baldy Johnson, Proprietor."
"Yeah? Well, it seems to me like you would have more consideration for your customers than to allow a stinkin' Chinaman to come into a bar where white men are drinkin'. I think you should throw him out."
"Throw him out yourself," Baldy replied, smiling across the table at Duff.
"Really? You mean it's all right with you if I throw him out?"
"Sure, go ahead."
Wang Chow looked at Duff, who, with a smile, nodded at him.
"Hood, you really plannin' on throwin' that Celestial outta here?" one of the other saloon customers asked.
"Yeah." With a malevolent smile, Hood left the bar and started toward Wang Chow. "What's your name, Chinaman?"
"My name is Wang Chow."
"Well, Wang Chow, you got two choices. You can either turn around and leave now, or you can let me mop up this floor with you and throw you out. Which will it be?"
"I do not wish to do either," Wang Chow replied.
"Well, then, we'll do it my way." Hood swung, putting everything into a wide right cross.
Wang Chow ducked easily under the wild swing, then shot out his hand, palm forward, striking Hood in the chest. The return blow surprised Hood, and drove him back several steps.
"Why, you —!" Hood swung again, missing as badly as he did the first time.
Wang Chow hit Hood on his forehead with the heel of his hand.
"Stop playing around with him, Hood," someone said.
Hood decided to try a straight jab and shot his left fist forward. Wang Chow moved his head to one side easily, and with no show of effort, hit Hood in the side, just under his arm.
Hood punched and swung again and again, never once making contact with Wang Chow, who with movements as graceful as those of a dancer, responded to every one of Hood's attempts with a counterpunch that scored. It soon became very evident that Wang Chow was carrying Hood and could, at any time, have dealt him a fight-ending blow.
Hood was getting more and more frustrated, and more and more exhausted. Finally, breathing heavily, he stopped, and held up his hand. "What did you say your name was?"
"I am Wang Chow."
"Well, Wang Chow, come over here and let me buy you a drink. I need to make friends with anybody who can fight the way you do."
"Why don't the two of you come over to my table?" Baldy called out to them. "I'll get the drinks. You've probably worn yourself out."
"You've got that right," Hood said.
The two men walked over to sit at the table with Duff and Baldy.
"Where did you learn to fight like that?" Hood asked.
"I am a priest of the Shaolin Temple of Changlin," Wang Chow replied.
"A priest? I'll be damned if I've ever seen a padre who could do that."
"Wang Chow isn't the kind of priest you are thinking of," Duff said. "A Shaolin priest is a most unique individual. Wang Chow entered the temple as a boy of nine, and left when he was twenty-eight years old, a master of the Chinese martial art of Wushu."
"How did you wind up in America?" Hood asked.
"Some evil men killed my mother and my sister," Wang Chow said. "When I went to the temple to burn incense to honor my family, the master of the temple told me to seek no revenge. I was told that if I did so, it would bring dishonor to the temple."
"Damn, but you done it anyway, didn't you?" Hood asked.
"Yes. I cut the topknot to my hair, which distanced me from the temple, then I went to the tong of the men who had done the evil thing. Six men were there, laughing about having killed my family." Wang Chow stopped.
"Well, go on," Hood said. "What happened?"
"I killed them."
"Wait a minute. You said there were six of them."
"And you killed all six?"
"I am ashamed to say that I let my temper control me."
"So you shot all six of them?"
"I do not use guns," Wang said.
"Then how did you kill them?"
"I killed them with the sword."
"What happened then?"
"I was expelled from the Changlin Temple and the Empress Dowager Ci'an issued a decree ordering my death. I left China with a group of laborers, and came to America to work on the railroad," Wang said in conclusion.
"Damn," Hood said. "I'm glad I didn't really make you mad."
Duff and Baldy laughed.
"Say, Duff, is it true you're going to be taking some of your beeves to Texas?" Baldy asked.
"Aye, 'tis true. I've been dealing with a man named Jason Bellefontaine. He owns the Slash Bell Ranch at Merrill Town, which is near Austin. He wants some Angus to improve his herd."
"How soon will you be going?"
"I expect it'll be at least another month before we've got everything worked out. I've checked with the railroad. 'Tis five hundred of the creatures I'll be takin', so 'tis twenty cars I'll be needing."
"You're takin' cows to Texas?" Hood laughed. "Here, now, 'n if that ain't 'bout the funniest thing I've ever heard. I thought cows come out of Texas, not go in."
"These are Angus cattle. 'Tis a special breed from Scotland they are, and far superior to the Longhorns 'n aye, even the Hereford."
"Superior how?" Hood asked.
"Oh, in about ever' way you can count," Elmer Gleason said, joining the conversation. "They have lower calf weights, so the birthin' is a lot easier, which means you don't lose as many during calving season. They produce a quality carcass, 'n that means a better beef.
"But now, you take a Hereford, they have a higher birth weight, 'n they got white faces, which could cause the pinkeye. Also, they ain't as calm as the Angus is, neither."
"What about the Longhorn?" Hood asked.
"Anyone who is still raisin' Longhorns don't even deserve to be called a cattleman," Elmer said.
"What do you know 'bout bein' a cattlemen?" Hood teased. "I mean, seein' as you ain't nothin' but a cowboy your ownself."
"Oh, on the contrary, Mr. Hood," Duff said. "Mr. Gleason owns a substantial piece of Sky Meadow. He is every bit a cattleman, and has a personal stake in the safe delivery of these cows to Mr. Bellefontaine."
Near Phantom Hill, Texas
As Duff and the others were having a pleasant gathering in Fiddler's Green, some eight hundred and fifty miles south, two outlaws, Al Simmons and Hugh Decker, were on the run.
"They're a-comin'. I can feel it in my gut. They are out there, and they're close." Simmons climbed down from a rock and walked over to his horse, where he slipped his rifle out of the saddle holster.
"What is it you're a-plannin' on doin' with that rifle?" Decker asked.
"When they get here, I'm goin' to commence shootin'. It looks to me like we don't have no other choice."
"Yeah," Decker agreed. "Yeah, you're prob'ly right."
With rifles in hand, the two men climbed back up onto the rock that afforded them not only a good view of the approaching trail but also some cover and concealment. They checked the loads in their rifles, eased the hammers back to half-cock, then hunkered down on the rock and waited.
"Let 'em come up to about fifty, maybe seventy-five yards away," Simmons suggested.
He and Decker weren't career outlaws. Until earlier that day, they had never done anything against the law. But they'd held up the Abilene stagecoach. During the robbery they took nothing from the passengers, stealing only the money being transported by the coach. They believed they had every right to do that because, until the week before, they had worked for the stage company, keeping the coaches in good repair. However, their supervisor had come in drunk and offensive. They'd gotten into a row with him, and he fired them. When they took their case to the station manager, he upheld his supervisor. To make things worse, they were each due two weeks' pay, and the company withheld their pay, claiming it was a fine.
They had moped over the unjust treatment for a few days. When they learned that the bank was expecting a shipment of money, they made up their mind to rob the coach.
Even though they had worn masks during the holdup, the driver had recognized them and a posse, hastily formed, had chased them into a dead-end canyon.
As the thieves waited, the posse came into view over a distant rise.
"There they are," Decker said.
"I see 'em!" Simmons raised his rifle to his shoulder.
"Wait a minute," Decker cautioned. "Don't shoot!" He reached up to pull Simmons's rifle down. "They don't have no idea we're here."
"You're right. I'll wait until they get closer," Simmons agreed.
They waited as the distant riders came closer, sometimes seeming not to be riding, but rather floating as they materialized and dematerialized in the heat waves rising from the ground. On they rode, across the long, flat plain.
"It's takin' 'em forever to get here," Simmons complained.
"Yeah, well, what else have we got to do?" Decker asked with a chuckle.
"Nothin', I suppose," Simmons replied, also chuckling.
The two men waited until the posse closed to less than one hundred yards.
Simmons lifted his rifle again and rested it carefully against the rock, taking a very careful aim. "Wait until they get just a little closer," he said quietly. "I'll give you the word, then we'll both fire at the same time."
"No," Decker said.
Simmons looked at him in confusion. "What do you mean, no?"
"Think about it, Al. Do we really want to do this?"
"What do you mean, do we want to do this? Seems to me like we don't have no choice. 'Case you ain't noticed, this here is a dead-end canyon. We ain't got no way out 'cept through them."
"There's at least twenty of them. There's two of us," Decker said. "What difference does it make how many we shoot? We'll still be dead in the end."
Simmons nodded. "That's prob'ly true."
"And consider this. Some of them men is our friends," Decker said. "Hell, me 'n you had Thanksgiving dinner with Phil Burke and his wife. And how many times have we pitched horseshoes with Danny Mitchell? If we start shootin' now, we'll wind up killin' some of our friends. I don't mind goin' to meet my Maker as a thief, but damn if I want to meet Him with murder on my conscience."
"What do you propose that we do?"
"I say we give up."
"We'll be goin' to prison."
"Yeah, well, at least we'll be alive, 'n we won't be murderers. Besides, they'll feed us there, 'n we'll have a place to sleep. It ain't like we don't know no one that's there. How bad can it be?"
"Yeah," Simmons said. "Yeah, you're right. So, what do we do now?"
"We give up. I'll call down to 'em." Decker cupped his hands around his mouth. "Phil!" he shouted. "Phil Burke!"
Burke, Burke, Burke echoed back from the canyon.
"What do you want?" Burke called back.
"Me 'n Al want to give up!" Decker shouted.
Give up echoed several times.
"That's up to the sheriff!" Burke called back up.
"Sheriff, tell them boys not to shoot. We're comin' down," Decker shouted.
Down, down, down echoed.
"All right. Toss your guns out, then come down with your hands up," the sheriff replied.
Simmons and Decker responded to the sheriff's order, then, with their hands up, climbed down from their perch behind the rocks.
Two weeks later, tried and convicted, they were delivered to the prison at Huntsville.CHAPTER 2
Slash Bell Ranch — Travis County, Texas
Six mounted men materialized out of the darkness, riding slowly and quietly. Of the six men, only their leader Dirk Kendrick was not carrying a large wire cutter tool. When they reached a long stretch of barbed wire, he held up his hand. More than a hundred calves were on the other side of the wire. Most were sleeping, but many were moving around anxiously, searching for their mothers, for though they had been physically weaned away from the teat, they were not yet emotionally ready to be alone.
"Cut from here to there," Kendrick said, pointing to locations on the wire fence. "Cut all five strands."
When the wires were cut, five horsemen looped their ropes around the posts standing between the two cuts and urged their mounts on. The horses easily pulled the posts from the ground then dragged the section of fence away, leaving a twenty-foot opening.
Aware that something had happened, even the calves that had been asleep were on their feet.
"All right, boys, let's get the creatures out of there," Kendrick ordered.
All six men went into the pen and, within less than a minute, every calf had been moved out, each content to move as long as all the others were moving.
Merrill Town, Texas
When Jason Bellefontaine, owner of the Slash Bell Ranch, left the theater, he decided to have a few drinks over at the CSS Alabama Saloon before returning home. Owner Ken Prescott had been a crewman onboard the Confederate raider and had honored his saloon with the name. He had lived in Mobile before the war and was signed on to the ship by Admiral Semmes, who, at the time, was also a resident of Mobile.
"Tell me, Ken, do the folks back in Mobile actually live in houses?" Bellefontaine teased.
"Not just houses, my friend, but mansions," Prescott replied. "You will find some of the most beautiful mansions in all of America on Adams or St. Anthony, Claiborne or Conception Streets, right there in Mobile."
"Then why did you leave, if there are such beautiful homes in Mobile?"
Prescott smiled. "Because I didn't live on any of those streets. I lived on Telegraph Road."
Bellefontaine laughed. "Good enough reason. Besides, if you had stayed in Mobile, we wouldn't have the Alabama Saloon, and where would I go when I have a thirst for a beer?"
"You could always go to the Hog Pen," Prescott suggested, mentioning one of the other saloons in town. Whereas the CSS Alabama was a very pleasant saloon with a convivial atmosphere, the Hog Pen catered to a considerably more crude clientele.
"Ha. I would be real welcome in the Hog Pen now, wouldn't I?" Bellefontaine finished his drink, then set the glass down on the bar. "Take care, my friend. I'll see you later."
"Bye, Jason," Prescott said as Bellefontaine started toward the door.
* * *
Bellefontaine rode through the dark to return home, thinking of the unbranded calves that had been rounded up over the last two days. Tomorrow his crew would be branding them, then turning them back into the herd. It promised to be a busy day, so reason told him he would be better served by returning to the ranch and going to bed.
It took him no more than half an hour to cover the five miles between his ranch and Merrill Town, and though he had no watch, he was certain it had to be after eleven o'clock by the time he dismounted in front of the barn. He was about to unsaddle his horse when someone came toward him, moving out of the shadows. It was so dark he couldn't see who it was, and for a moment he thought the worst. Cautiously, he let his hand slip down to rest on his pistol.
Recognizing Sam Post, his foreman, he relaxed. "Hello, Sam. I thought sure you and the others would be in bed by now. Especially given how hard you all worked today," Bellefontaine said as he returned to the job of unsaddling his horse.
"We've got a problem, boss."
"What kind of problem?"
"When I stepped out of the bunkhouse about an hour ago, I heard the calves we had cut out for brandin' today all bawlin' 'n such, so I rode out to check on 'em just to make sure they were all right."
"They're gone, boss. Ever' damn one of 'em."
"Damn. How did they get away? Did the fence fall?"
"No, sir, the fence didn't fall. It was cut."
"Cut? You mean by the Fence Busters?"
"Oh, it was the Fence Busters, all right, Mr. Bellefontaine. Ain't no doubt in my mind about it."
"Yes sir. That's what I figure all right. That's why I've got all the men up and dressed," Sam said.
"So we can go after him. Don't forget, boss, those were some of the newly born Hereford calves. You don't want to lose any of 'em, do you?"
"Sam, suppose we did go after them. What good would it do? Remember, we aren't dealing with your average rustler here. The Fence Busters are as well organized a group of men as I have seen since Robert E. Lee surrendered my regiment to the Yankees at Appomattox. If we go after them with no more than a handful of cowboys, we're are going to wind up getting a bunch of good men killed."
"Does that mean we don't do anything at all?"
"We can go see Sheriff Wallace," Bellefontaine suggested.
Excerpted from Ten Guns from Texas by William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone. Copyright © 2016 J. A. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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