Ben Carter and his men are sent to the West Texas town of Cactus Junction in response to a plea for help. A gang of rustlers, led by the notorious outlaw, Black Jack, is stealing their cattle, putting them at risk of losing their land. Once there, though, Ben has to deal with the town's prejudice as much as he has to worry about the outlaws.
Charles gives an overview of the book:
“I told you that cinch wasn’t tight enough,” Ben Carter said to the corporal who was struggling to hold a reluctant mule still while he put the bag of provisions across its back. The corporal, George Toussaint, Ben’s second in command of the detachment, wasn’t amused.
“It seemed tight ‘nuff back at the fort; musta worked loose during the trip. You wanta give me a hand, or you just gone stand there and criticize?”
Ben walked over and picked up a small bag, handing it to the corporal.
“Make sure it’s good and tight this time,” he said. “It’s a day’s ride to Cactus Junction, but if we have to keep stopping and picking up stuff your mule drops, we’ll be another week getting there.”
“Yes, First Sergeant,” Toussaint said, smiling wryly. “I swear, ever since they done promoted you, Ben Carter, you been gettin’ bossier ever day.”
Ben looked down at the left sleeve of his blue uniform jacket. The little diamond sitting in the valley of the three stripes seemed strange. He’d been promoted just before his troop commander informed him of their current mission.
“I’m still the same as I always was,” he said. “You’ll be putting on an extra stripe pretty soon yourself, so you got no call to be ragging on me.”
“Ain’t raggin’ you; just pointin’ out the truth. You one bossy man, you know that?”
They both laughed. Ben hadn’t gotten along with Toussaint when they first met, but over time, they had become friends. He trusted the tall, dark-skinned man; had on more than one occasion trusted him with his life. Their banter was merely a part of their friendship.
The rest of the detachment waited for them atop the slight rise. Ben had ordered them to stand fast; no sense spooking the poor mule further. It had shied when a sidewinder had crossed its path, throwing its load around; and was just beginning to calm down as Toussaint alternated between knotting the rope around its middle and rubbing it behind the ears. The man had a way with animals.
“You just keep that danged mule under control,” Ben said. “Folks in Cactus Junction will be expecting us, and the colonel won’t like it if we show up late.”
Cactus Junction was a little town in the foothills of the plateau that the border town of El Paso was on, at the Mexican border. The residents, mostly ranchers with spreads on the arid plains, had sent a request to the cavalry at Fort Davis for assistance to deal with a band of rustlers that had been raiding some of the more remote ranches. The Ninth Cavalry was the closest army unit that had troops available, so Ben and his detachment were dispatched to provide security to the town. The colonel felt that a small gang of thieves; and the request for aid had said that there was only about ten men in the gang; would be no trouble for Ben and his men.
A native of East Texas, I have been involved in leading organizations (particularly those in trouble) for over 40 years. I have written a number of articles on history, culture and leadership, and have written three books on leadership in addition to my fiction works. The Al...
kudos to Charlie for his terrific book "Things I Learned from my Grandmother about Leadership and Life ." I gobbled it up and it would be wonderful reading for whatever incarnation of leadership training...
Things I Learned From My Grandmother About Leadership and Life is a small book that makes a great impact. Charles Ray, the author blends his fond memories of his grandmother with his dual career as a...