Last Stand at Papago Wells: A Novel
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It was the only water for miles in a vast, sun-blasted desert where water meant survival. So Logan Cates naturally headed for Papago Wells. But he wasn’t the only one. Fleeing the fierce Churupati and his Apache warriors, other travelers had come there too. And when the Apaches found them, they began a siege as relentless and unforgiving as the barren land…and just as inescapable.
The last thing Cates wanted was to be responsible for the lives of thirteen desperate strangers and a shipment of gold. But he knew that if they were to survive, he was their last chance. He also knew that some in the party were willing to die—or kill—to get their hands on the money. If he couldn’t get them to work together, it wouldn’t be the desert or even the Apaches that would do them in—it would be the greed of the very people he was trying to save.
two hind-quarters, the saddle and every available bit of meat he could get in the few minutes he had to work, Cates bundled it all into the hide and straightening up, bow and arrows in hand, he started back. For several minutes he hurried, trying not to stumble, fighting for breath, and then he found the arroyo. There he paused for several minutes, listening. He remembered the Indian who had gone up the arroyo as he came down it—that Indian would probably still be there. Shifting the burden to
Junie. He was stripped to the waist and Junie was mending a rent in his shirt. Beaupre and Zimmerman were digging a grave for Styles in the lower arroyo not far from where the horses were. Webb paced restlessly; Kimbrough was busy with his own thoughts. Logan Cates picked up his Winchester, checked the load and then climbed up in the rocks, noting the water level as he went by. Although the water had fallen considerably since their arrival, there was still enough . . . if they did not stay too
stretch of country from here to Yuma is one of the worst in the world.” He turned to Taylor. “You know it is.” “I’ve been over it before,” Taylor declared, “and I can do it again.” “You didn’t have women to think of,” Cates said, “and you probably had water.” Taylor got up and stalked away to the far side of their area, ignoring the comment. He sat down with Webb and Kimbrough. Big Maria after a moment got up and walked after him. For a moment Logan Cates looked at them, then glanced away.
brought a twist of grass, hastily ripped up the night before, from his pocket. Thrusting it under the wood he cupped a match in his stiff fingers. The grass caught, then a bit of hanging bark, and soon a fire was crackling. Then Tony Lugo’s words penetrated. “There are white men coming?” The Pima nodded. “They far off, one, two hour. I see them.” Lugo paused as if searching for words, then glanced meaningfully at the still huddled shape of Grant Kimbrough. “Gold gone,” he said. “Covered with
widened with the hours and crimson began to tint the far-off hills. Here and there the red dripped over and ran down a ridge into the desert. Tired as she was, Jennifer led her horse to the lower pool and stood by while he drank deep of the cool water. It was a lesson learned from her father, learned long ago. “We’ll have to rest,” Kimbrough said reluctantly. “Our horses are in bad shape.” “It’s a place to fight from.” Foreman squatted on his heels. “We could do much worse.” Kimbrough’s