Cotter faced Mashpit. “Andy, I was impressed with the way you handled the gun yesterday. I thought artillery was your game.”
“The problem with artillery, Jake, is the enemy was always trying to overrun our position and I had to use my sidearm more than once to save my hide.” Mashpit sat down on the plush couch and looked at the fire. He bent down to pick up a funny-looking log.
“Don’t throw that in the fire Andy.” Cotter reached over and grabbed it from him in case he didn’t hear.
“Why? It’s only good for firewood.” He looked from Cotter to LaRoque.
“Andy, take a good look at this piece of tree.” Cotter held it in a vertical position. It looked like a 12-inch diameter tree trunk segment, bent and fragmented in the middle. It had multiple hack marks. “Did Mother Nature do this?”
Mashpit inspected the bent section. “Hell no and no beaver did either. This was an axe cut but it’s at several levels. The cutter must have had poor eyesight.”
“Or he chopped it at night.”
“Who chopped what? Come on you two what’s this all about?” Mashpit put the log down.
LaRoque told the story of the incident three-weeks ago in the snowstorm and of the tree falling. “I saw the glint of shiny steel just before the tree fell. It could have injured Mrs. Hamer, me and the horses.”
“Sabotage?” Mashpit looked at Cotter for the response.
“I’m afraid so. It appears we have enemies. I want you to wear your gun at all times.” Cotter stared at the expression on Mashpit’s face. “What’s wrong Andy?”
“The other day when I went into the Green Moss, I got out of the bath while some thick set man got into the next tub. His clothes and gun were draped over the chair in the corner of the room. On top of the gun was another holster. It carried a bright shiny axe.”
LaRoque jumped up. “Who was he?”
“I don’t know, but he had a mustache shaped like a horseshoe and extended off both sides of his trimmed chin beard.”
“Kelvin Danzer.” Cotter breathed.
“Who?” Mashpit looked at his two colleagues.
“Nancy Locke’s hired gun.” LaRoque rubbed his right thigh as they heard a bustle of activity at the front entrance. He looked out the window. “Great. The Hamers are here. Let’s help them in with the rest of the food.” The turkeys had already been shot and dressed after they had their Wednesday gunfire exercises.
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