A swinging saloon door was the only thing that kept the silence at bay. Each of the marshals and the Pinkerton looked on after the retreating would-be assassin, who had realised just how close he was to death.
Jack Lightning turned toward James Lovelace. “Mind tellin’ me what was that about?”
The Pinkerton Detective met the gaze of the Lightning Marshal and couldn’t say for certain whether the lawman had known about the worker’s murderous intent or not. One thing he could say for certain was that she didn’t care.
“The man,” James began, “was planning to do something untoward to you.”
Jack’s expression didn’t change until Caine summed it up. “His hand was driftin’ gunward.”
“Ah,” Jack said.
“I thought it best that we eliminate any nefarious intentions in a peaceful manner,” the Pinkerton man continued and shuffled aside to accommodate Octavius Wilhem at the table. “Also I thought it would serve as the best way to introduce myself to the local constabulary. Lovelace, James Lovelace.”
“‘Preciate you makin’ the effort,” Jack drawled. “Name’s Lightning, Jack Lightning.”
If there was one force in America – and more than a few other places abroad – as well known, respected and more effective than the Pinkerton Detective Agency – who had been charged with the security and protection of various heads of state as well as uncovering Machiavellian plots against the government for years – It was the Lightning family.
“A pleaure to make your acquaintance,” Lovelace replied, extending a hand and not making any sudden movements.
“Hans Octavius Wilhem, at your service,” the German Marshal offered, standing and clicking his heels together as he did.
“Wendell Caine,” was all the mountain marshal said.
“Unusual…” Lovelace said, eyes scanning the Ignit-Inn. “Your housekeeper made mention that there were four of you in Ascension.
“He’s out back,” Caine replied. “He ain’t allowed to have lunch indoors.”
There was the sound of a metal pail rattling out the back of the saloon and a loud growling burp. Lovelace decided to focus on the task at hand.
“I’ve come with the intention of locating this chap,” he said as he produced a photo of man who had appeared to, judging by his dour expression, been manhandled into a three-piece suit and ordered to stay still in front of the camera. “His name is William Tapping. Junior.”
“Wanted?” Jack asked as she took the photo.
“Not at all. His father passed on and it’s my duty to inform him of that, as well as what was bequeathed to him.
Jack passed the photo on. “Ain’t seen him.” Wilhem and Caine agreed, having become aware of the collection of workers from Colt and Ithaca over the weeks, in one way or another.
“That’s a shame,” Lovelace said, returning the photo to the folder. “I’ll have to visit the Colt and Ithaca camps.”
As the marshals were warning Lovelace of the kind of reception Camp Ithaca would provide, the doors of the Ignit-Inn were flung open and a man coated in grime, sweat and dust stumbled inside. His eyes roamed the tables until they locked with the badges seated together.
“Thank God I found you, Marshals!” he croaked while trying to clear the dust from his throat. Wilhem left his chair and steered the man into it while Lightning ordered another shot of whiskey. The man nodded both frantically and gratefully, knocking it back at a speed that Jack respected.
“Vhat is zee problem?” Wilhem asked after he was sure the man wasn’t about to expire on the table.
“My name’s Bill Boxer. John Henry Anderson down at the mine sent me to find you.” He gulped the air as desperately as he had the whiskey. “There’s been a murder.”
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 4