Train connections were slow but tolerable. In Chicago, Cotter watched as they led his horse from the stable car of the Ohio train which he had picked up in Kansas. The conductor gave instructions to the horse handler to proceed to the Chicago-Erie train for the change. Cotter re-affirmed his ticket for himself and the horse. The horse tender began talking to two men as he led Cotter’s horse across the train yard. The two men looked at Cotter’s palomino and made some gestures which looked like bartering. Cotter moved fast.
“What’s going on here with this horse?” Cotter asked the train horse-tender. He stared at the other two. They were dressed liked cattle drovers.
“Now wait a minute, we saw him first. I offered a firm 50 dollars, he took the money and the horse is mine fare-and-square.”
“Do you have a bill of sale for this horse like I do?”
The train horse handler looked uneasy. He gave the reins to the cowhand and started to leave.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Cotter grabbed the train man by his back shirt collar. Cotter’s travel clothes were heavy black cotton. His black hat was held by a chin cord to counter the evening wind.
“Okay man, back-off. The horse is mine.” The man held the reins tight and he and his friend glared threateningly at Cotter.
“I don’t think so. Here’s one of my ‘Bills-of-Sale’.” Cotter took the papers from the left coat pocket of his knee-length gray travel duster.
“Well this don’t cut nothin’ with me. Readin’ ain’t my strong point and I got a witness to my payment.”
“Here’s my other Bill-of-Sale.” Cotter’s gun appeared like magic. For travel he wore only one .45. It was the polished nickel-framed weapon. Cotter held the gun on the duo and released tension on the train horse handler’s shirt. “Give the man back his money and take my horse to the Erie train.” He extended his gun hand toward the man holding the reins. “And you, take the money and give him the reins.” Cotter rested the barrel of his .45 on the man’s forehead. With the transaction completed Cotter motioned the duo to leave. “Get out of here. I just saved your asses from being branded horse thieves. Consider yourselves lucky.” They left at a quick pace.
The Erie train got him connected to his Hartford destination. After he changed clothes, Cotter bought a sturdy canopied combination buggy-wagon and acceptable age horse for the trip to New Haven. He tied his palomino to the rear and loaded his three bags onto the four-by-five-foot wagon bed. He had a two-hour ride left to the residence hall at Yale.
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