A Daring Act Of Retribution (Preview)

“I shot the first antelope,” Duncan McDougal said as he lifted his Boss of the Plains hat to reveal a head of flame-red hair while he mopped the sweat off his forehead with his bandana. 

The handsome twenty-two-year-old didn’t look anything like his eighteen-year-old half-brother, Yuma, whose mother was a full-blooded Yaqui Indian, even though they shared the same, red-bearded Scottish father. Duncan’s Scottish mother had died just before he turned two years old. Gregg McDougal, never one to let the grass grow under him, had quickly taken Doe Eyes, a Yaqui native, as his wife.

Where Duncan was tall, handsome, and fair-complected, one would not consider Yuma handsome even in the best light. The half-breed stood only five-foot-four-inches tall, with copper-colored skin and long jet-black hair, kept in place by a white headband in the style worn by Yaqui warriors.

Having inherited a flashy streak from his father, Duncan wore two pearl-handled single-action Army Colts in a double holster. Since the age of six, barely bigger than the revolver he handled, Duncan had practiced drawing and firing a pistol. Nowadays, anyone who witnessed his fast draw walked away swearing they had never seen a man’s hand move so quick.

In contrast to his brother, Yuma always carried a Sharps buffalo rifle in the crook of his left arm. Almost as a second thought, he packed a big Walker Colt in his holster. Anything Yuma could see, he could hit with the rifle. And though he lacked Duncan’s hand speed, he never missed with the Walker Colt once he drew it.

“Mine’s bigger,” Yuma said as he reached back and patted the antelope draped over the back of his horse.

“No, little brother, it’s who gets the first kill that counts,” Duncan said, shaking his head. “And the older the antelope, the tougher the meat,” he added.

Instead of arguing, Yuma urged his black mare, Bella, a Mexican Criollo, into a trot. Duncan smiled as he pressed his knees into the sides of Red, his Quarter Horse gelding, and quickly caught up. 

“I hope Doe Eyes makes fry bread for supper,” Duncan said as he glanced at the scattering of desert willows and palo verde up ahead. 

“She always does,” Yuma said. He suddenly reined Bella to a stop. “Smoke, black smoke!” he added, glancing at Duncan. 

“Ain’t the wagon just ahead beyond those junipers?” Duncan said.

Instead of answering, Yuma kicked his heels into the sides of his mare and galloped ahead.

Red needed only for Duncan to touch his heels to the big gelding’s side to sprint off after Yuma and Bella. He pulled alongside Bella in a few strides. Duncan could have left his brother in the dust, but he held Red in check and rode alongside Yuma as they approached the smoldering ruins of a wagon.

Two bodies lay beside the blackened remains. Both Duncan and Yuma leaped off their mounts and raced over to examine the dead.

Duncan shook his head as he glanced down at his father, face down in the sand with several bullet holes in the back of his shirt. Beside Gregg McDougal lay Duncan’s stepmother, Doe Eyes.

Yuma dropped to his knees beside his mother, threw back his head, and let out a deep, mournful cry. 

Duncan rolled his father over onto his back and found his face busted up from a horrible beating. “They beat Pa before they shot him,” he said, his voice lacking his usual pleasant tone.

“They did worse to Ma!” Yuma replied in a voice deprived of emotion as he stood up and circled the wagon while studying the ground. “Federales!”

“Are you sure?” Duncan asked as he stood and walked over to his brother.

“One of the horses is charro riding,” Yuma said. “An officer’s horse in the Federales is trained to dance.”

Duncan shook his head. “Charro riding is nothing but horse abuse! I hate the Federales!”

“Let bury Ma and Pa and then go Federale-hunting,” Yuma said with a stoic look.

“I see a shovel in the ashes. It ain’t got a handle, though.”

Instead of speaking, Yuma walked over and fetched the item. He glanced around the desert.

“Over there beside the desert willow,” Duncan said.

Without commenting, Yuma carried the head of the shovel over and started digging under the tree.

Duncan checked his father’s vest pocket for his watch but found nothing. “They thought they took all the valuables but missed Pa’s belt,” he said as he unbuckled the ordinary-looking belt with a plain buckle, nothing anyone would bother to steal. After Duncan slid the belt out of his father’s belt loops, he pulled back the split running down the back of the belt to reveal a twenty-dollar gold coin. “At least we’ve got whiskey money,” he called out to Yuma.

Yuma didn’t respond as he shoveled dirt while kneeling at one end of the grave.

“When you get tired, I’ll take over,” Duncan offered.

“I’ll dig Ma’s grave. We’ll both dig Pa’s.”

Duncan shrugged. “Okay, if that’s the way you want it. But you know I love Doe Eyes, too,” he said as memories of his stepmother teaching him and Yuma how to track game flashed through his mind. “She taught us the ways of the Yaqui.”

Yuma didn’t respond. Duncan watched his younger brother digging the hole deeper and deeper, knowing the pain Yuma felt but refused to show.

Finally, Yuma climbed out of the grave. “Burying Doe Eyes in the ground is not the Yaqui custom. I do this because she asked me to bury her in the white man’s tradition. Such was her love for Pa,” he said. “But Duncan, when I die, you must not put me in the ground.”

“You ain’t going to die no time soon, Yuma. However, a lot of Federales ain’t going to see another sunrise!”

“Yes, I will track them down, and we will kill them all,” Yuma agreed.

Two hours later, Duncan and Yuma rode single file, with Yuma leading the way as he studied the ground. “They make no effort to hide their tracks,” he called back to Duncan.

“The Federales are arrogant!” Duncan said. “They will not try to hide their campfire tonight, and it will be their undoing.”

“I count thirty horses,” Yuma said as he pulled Bella to a stop. “Some will get away for sure.”

“Yup, I reckon we’ll have to head across the border,” Duncan said and then shrugged. “I’m tired of Mexico. Pa did better trading in Texas. I don’t know why we came down here.”

“Ma wanted to see her sister,” Yuma said and shook his head. “We came for a visit and Pa never left.”

“Nope, he liked Mexico better than Texas,” Duncan said.

Yuma urged his mare forward and they fell silent.

The sun hung low when Yuma held up his hand to signal Duncan to stop. He wheeled the mare around to face his brother. “I smell smoke. The Federales are camped just beyond those rocks and junipers.”

“Should we attack them now or wait until after dark?” Duncan asked.

“After dark. Their campfire will give me enough light to get a bead on them.”

“Where are you going to set up?” 

“The rocks ahead. They will give me a good view of their campsite.” 

“Then I’ll circle behind them and set up to pick off the ones that make a run for it,” Duncan said as he patted the pearl handle of his right pistol.

“Some will get away,” Yuma reminded him.

“Yup, I reckon iffin’ your count is correct, they will, and get reinforcement and come racing after us,” Duncan said. “We’ll head straight for the Texas border as soon as we finish hitting ‘em.”

“Texian don’t like half-breeds,” Yuma said.

“Neither do the Federales,” Duncan said. “And brother, you look like a full-blooded Yaqui, not a half-breed.”

“Texian don’t like Injuns either,” Yuma said. 

“Okay, let’s stop jawing and send some Federales to Hell,” Duncan said as he urged Red into a trot.

He felt sorry for the prejudicial treatment that Yuma would receive at the hands of most Texians who had engaged in more than one skirmish against the Yaqui Indians over the years. However, to remain in Mexico after killing a Federale officer would lead to them facing a firing squad sooner or later.

Duncan cut a wide berth around the Federales’ camp to ride in from the south. Once he spotted the campfire again, Duncan headed toward it. He reined Red to a stop behind a stand of palo verdes and junipers and tied his reins to a juniper limb.

Although Duncan could not hit center with a rifle as good as his brother, he always hit where he aimed his Henry rifle. And, packing sixteen shells, the Henry rifle would come in handy against the Federales.

Using the skills that Doe Eyes had taught him and Yuma, Duncan crept toward the campfire, moving silently from tree to tree and rock to rock until he crouched behind a waist-high boulder about forty yards from the men gathered around the fire.

Duncan smiled a little later when he recognized a man emerging from a nearby tent as Federale officer from the sword he wore. “Hmm, Yuma is going to send him to Hell before he reaches the campfire,” Duncan murmured to himself as he pointed the barrel of the Henry rifle toward the fire and started lining up his shots, knowing that when the officer fell, chaos would erupt among the soldiers.

The thought had barely formed in his mind when the sound of a Sharps buffalo rifle shattered the quiet night. As always, with a Sharps, the sound of the shot proceeded the bullet hitting its target by a couple of seconds. When the bullet hit the officer, it knocked him backward several yards to land on his back.

“My turn.” Duncan acquired his first target and pulled the trigger. Then, in a smooth action, he moved his sights to the next soldier, squeezed off a shot, and then to the next. He shot six Federales soldiers in a matter of seconds before they scattered like exposed cucarachas.

The boom of the Sharps sounded again, and a soldier mounting his horse landed in Hell instead of the saddle. Duncan stepped from behind the rock as men ran to grab their horses from the picket line. He shot four more Federales before they could climb in the saddle, but others mounted and fled West. The poor souls that didn’t run for the picket line died as Yuma shot them one at a time with his Sharps.

The attack lasted less than fifteen minutes.

Finally, the cries of the wounded Federales replaced the booming crack of the Sharps.

Duncan walked back to fetch Red. He mounted and rode toward the campfire and the wounded men crying out in pain. As Duncan approached the campsite, Yuma emerged from the dark with his Walker Colt in his hands. Before Duncan could stop his brother, Yuma started shooting the wounded.

“You didn’t have to do that?” Duncan said as he dismounted and led Red over to the fire.

“You put down injured horses, don’t you? And none of the Federales are worth a swayback horse,” Yuma replied as he dismounted and moved from soldier to soldier, checking if they were dead or alive.

“Hmm, I guess you’re right,” Duncan said with a sigh, not wanting to reprimand his brother, whom he knew grieved deeply over the death of their parents and couldn’t handle the emotions as well as Duncan could.

“They’re all in the white man’s Hell, now,” Yuma announced as he climbed back into the saddle. He glanced down at Duncan. “What do we do now?”

“We hightail it toward the Rio Grande as fast as we can. Come daylight; this place is going to be crawling with Federales angry as hornets and out for our blood.”

Chapter One

“Southern Texas is a flat as a piece of fry bread, but with all the scrub oaks and live oaks, you can see nothing.” Duncan glanced at Yuma.

“It beats the desert,” Yuma replied.

“I guess we’re far enough away from the Rio Grande to be safe from pursuit from the Federales,” Duncan said as they broke out from a thicket of scrub oats to find a wagon road. He pointed to it. “This road leads to Clarksville, and I’m hankering for a shot of whiskey. What do you say we head over there and have us a hog-killing time in a saloon?”

“You just want to get in a dustup,” Yuma accused.

Duncan shook his head. “No, I want to spend Pa’s money on a few drinks to honor him and Doe Eyes.”

“The bartender is going to take one look at me and tell me to get out, and you are going to take offense. Then, the next thing you know, someone is going to be lying on the floor bleeding,” Yuma said.

“Put on a Mexican sombrero and they will think you a Mexican peon,” Duncan suggested.

“I’m proud to be a Yaqui!” Yuma said in a tense tone.

“Half Yaqui. The other half is Scottish. And we Scots love the taste of whiskey,” Duncan said.

Yuma shook his head. “Nope, we’re fleeing Mexico, and I don’t want us to have to outrun the Texas Rangers.”

“Okay, little brother. I’ll just run into the saloon and fetch a bottle of whiskey, and we can go to the livery stable and drink it in the stall with our horses.”

Before Yuma could answer, the sound of gunfire reached their ears.

Duncan wheeled Red around to face the sound. “Trouble is heading up the road.”

“Bandits?” Yuma asked as he shifted the Sharps to his right arm.

Duncan glanced down at the road. “From the looks of the tracks, a stagecoach plies this road, probably heading for Clarksville.”

“Let’s go and see what’s heading our way.” Yuma urged his mare into a trot.

“And you accused me of wanting to get involved in a dustup,” Duncan said as he urged Red to follow Yuma’s mare. 

Upon hearing more gunshots, they sent their horses galloping down the road as the pistol shots grew louder. 

“A stagecoach!” Yuma, who had the sharpest eyes, shouted.

“It’s a holdup,” Duncan said as he gave Red his bit and let the Quarter Horse air out his legs.

As they barreled down on the stagecoach, Duncan saw the shotgun messenger fall off the wagon under a hail of bullets, followed by the driver a moment later.

The horses, no longer being whipped, started to slow, and almost immediately, riders overtook the stagecoach. However, before any of the bandits could dismount, the boom of the Sharps sent one of them to Hell.

The remaining bandits spotted Duncan and Yuma, but instead of turning and fleeing, the riders charged past the wagon and headed straight toward the two brothers.

“Wrong decision,” Duncan said, drawing both pistols as the boom of Yuma’s Sharps sounded.

One of the charging bandits pitched sideways off his horse; however, it didn’t deter the rest of the gang.

“Okay, amigos, if that’s how you want to play this hand,” Duncan said and smiled as the bandits fired their pistols in his and Yuma’s direction. “Yuma, shoot the riders on the left; I’ll take the ones on the right,” he yelled as the bandits rode into pistol range. “Now!” 

As one, Duncan and Yuma started cocking and firing their pistols. Bandits toppled from their mounts like falling dominoes. In a matter of a few seconds, eight horses lost their riders. The remaining highwayman jerked his horse to a sliding stop. However, before he could wheel his mount around to flee, Duncan aimed and shot the man in the chest.

“Like shooting ducks on a pond,” Duncan said.

“Ducks don’t shoot back,” Yuma replied. “We could have caught a stray bullet.”

“Hmm, I thought you were looking forward to the happy hunting ground?” Duncan said as he walked Red toward the dead and dying men lying in the road.

Yuma snorted but didn’t reply as Duncan heard his mare following him.

Duncan opened his mouth to tell his brother not to shoot the wounded bandits when Yuma started firing his pistol. Duncan glanced over at him. “Sometimes, you’re a bloodthirsty savage, Yuma.”

“Yup, too bad I can’t be one all the time,” Yuma said as he finished reloading and started shooting the remaining fallen bandits.

“Let’s see about the passengers.” Duncan shook his head. He urged Red into a trot. As he approached the stagecoach, the door flew open.

“Help, my mother has been shot!” a woman with hair like spun gold shouted as she stuck her head out the door.

Duncan leaped off his horse and ran up to the stagecoach. “Are you all right, miss?”

“Yes, but my mother has been shot. And the man riding in the other seat is dead,” the young woman shouted. “Mother needs help. I don’t know what to do for her.” 

Duncan started to climb into the stagecoach, but the dead man in a black suit blocked his way. “Just a moment,” Duncan said as he grabbed the man by his right arm, pulled him out of the stagecoach, and let him fall to the ground.

The woman gave Duncan a shocked look.

“Dead men don’t feel no pain,” he said as he climbed into the stagecoach. 

The woman lifted her mother’s head into her lap as she sat beside her. The injured woman opened her eyes.

“Mama, it’s going to be all right. We’ll get you to a doctor in Clarksville,” the young woman said in a soothing voice.

“I love you, April,” the wounded woman said and closed her eyes.

“Mama! Mama!” April shouted.

Her mother didn’t respond.

Duncan leaned forward and touched his fingers to the woman’s neck, looked at April, and shook his head. “Your mother is gone.”

“No! Mama! Mama, don’t leave me,” April shouted, holding her mother’s head lovingly as tears flowed like rain down her cheeks.

“I’ll let you say your goodbyes,” Duncan said as he stepped out of the stagecoach.

“The driver and shotgun messenger?” Yuma asked.

Duncan glanced back down the road at the two bodies. “Let’s fetch them and load them on the top of the wagon. We’ll carry them to Clarksville and we’ll tell the sheriff about the dead bandits.”

Yuma shrugged as they walked toward the dead men. “The coyotes and crows can have them. They need to eat, too.”

“Nope, we tell the sheriff where to send the undertaker to fetch the bodies,” Duncan said as he grabbed the shoulders of the dead driver.

They dragged his body and the body of the shotgun messenger to the side of the stagecoach and then lifted them onto the roof.

“I’ll drive, and you bring Red,” Duncan said as he climbed down and walked back to the stagecoach’s door. 

He glanced inside at the teary-eyed blond. 

“Miss April, you’re safe now. I’m going to drive the stagecoach on to Clarksville,” he said.

“What about the men that attacked us?” April asked.

“They are all dead.”

“You killed them all?” April had a look of astonishment on her face.

“Yup, with the help of my brother, Yuma.”

“Are you a Mexican? You are dressed like a charro,” April said, eyeing the short, embroidered jacket and tight-fitting pants with decorative sides with a disapproving look.

“My brother and I have been in Mexico a while, but I’m from Texas. My father was a trader. Now, sit back and try to rest,” Duncan said before he closed the door.

I don’t think she likes Mexican or Injuns, he thought as he climbed into the wagon seat and took up the reins to the team of four horses. He glanced down at Yuma, who held the reins of Red. 

“Are you ready, brother?” he called out, louder than needed so that Aril would hear him. He wanted the young woman to know the relationship between him and Yuma before she made a disparaging remark about his brother.

The stagecoach attracted a crowd as Duncan parked it in front of the sheriff’s office. He jumped down from the seat and nodded at Yuma. “You stay mounted,” he called out as men circled the wagon.

“What happened? Where’s Frank and Taylor?” someone asked.

Duncan ignored the question as he pushed through the crowd and walked onto the porch. Before he reached the door to the sheriff’s office, it flew open.

“What’s going on?” a chubby middle-aged man called out as he stepped onto the porch.

“Bandits hit the stagecoach and killed the driver, shotgun messenger, and two passengers,” Duncan explained.

“Get out of my way!”

Duncan glanced around to see a slim, gray-haired man mounted on a high-stepping palomino forcing his way through the crowd.

“Mister Thacher!” the sheriff said as he walked toward the approaching horse.

“What’s going on, Sheriff Kinny?”

“Bandits attacked the stagecoach!” Sheriff Kinny replied in a respectful tone.

“Charley!” April shouted as she stuck her head out the window of the stagecoach. “They killed Mama!”

The well-dressed man glanced back at Sheriff Kinny. “I need answers!”

“Mister,” Duncan said, “bandits attacked the stagecoach about four miles north of town.”

“Sheriff Kinny, round up a posse. I want those highwaymen hung before nightfall,” the man shouted, in a tone suggesting he was used to giving orders.

“There’s no need for a posse,” Duncan said. He nodded over at Yuma. “My brother and I killed all of the gang that attacked the stagecoach.”

Mister Thatcher glanced over the crowd of gawking men at Yuma. “You and the Injun?”

“Me and my half-brother, Yuma, yes, we sent all the bandits to Hell,” Duncan said.

“How many?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t count. A dozen or so.”

“Are you Mexican? You dress like a charro,” Thatcher said in a disapproving tone.

“Nope, we were born in Texas, but we’ve been in Mexico a while. Our father was a Scottish trader,” Duncan said.

“Was?”

“Yup, some Federales killed him and my stepmother Doe Eyes. Yuma and I tracked them down and sent a lot of them to Hell. We figured it was time to leave Mexico, so we crossed the Rio Grande this morning ahead of a slew of Federales.”

“Hmm, I hate Federales more than Injuns,” Thatcher said with a glance at Yuma.

April climbed out of the stagecoach. “Charley, didn’t you hear me? Mama’s dead. Ain’t you a bit concerned that your wife is dead?”

Thatcher dismounted and glanced around at the men encircling him and the stagecoach. “You fellows stop gawking and get a move on; this ain’t no sideshow.” He nodded at Sheriff Kinny. “Clear them out, Sheriff!”

“You heard Mister Thatcher shake a leg!” Sheriff Kinny shouted.

Thatcher turned to face his daughter. “We don’t air our dirty laundry in public, April.”

“You never cared for Mama or me! And now she’s dead!” April cried.

“I did once, but not for a while. She wrote me that she was coming to Clarksville to get a divorce. Well, she got it. Now, wait in the sheriff’s office for me to fetch a carriage to take you to the ranch.”

“But Mama?”

“I’ll fetch the undertaker. Now, get inside!” Thatcher ordered in a firm tone.

With a pout, April lifted her petticoat and walked up the porch’s steps and inside the office. Thatcher shook his head. 

“Saddling me with my daughter is Madeline’s last slap in my face,” he said under his breath. He glanced at Duncan and saw a shocked look on his face. “I sorry to report, but there wasn’t no love lost between my wife and me. And I’m starting a cattle drive up the Chisholm Trail tomorrow and don’t have time for sentimentality for a woman that left me twelve years ago.”

Duncan nodded. “Sheriff, I reckon that Yuma and I’ll mosey over to the saloon to settle the trail dust in our throats.” He paused and touched his fingers to the brim of his Boss of the Plains hat. “Sorry for your loss, Mister Thatcher.”

“Hold up. I could use someone like you on the cattle drive. Are you interested in hiring on? I’m driving three thousand head of cattle to Abilene, Kansas,” Thatcher said.

Duncan glanced over at Yuma, who didn’t respond. “Yeah, the both of us are looking for work.”

“I don’t hire Injuns,” Thatcher said.

“Where I go, my half-brother goes, so I’ll have to decline your offer,” Duncan said and glanced over to Yuma. “Let’s head to the saloon.”

“Wait, I’ll hire both of you. I guess it’s the least I can do since I reckon you saved my daughter’s life and me the trouble of running down the bandits.”

“What do you say, Yuma? You want to take the job?” Duncan asked.

Yuma shifted the Sharps from his left arm to his right. “Yup, I don’t like Texas. Kansas sounds better.”

Thatcher bristled at Yuma’s remark. “Okay, the both of you are hired. Ride out to the ranch after you finish in town. Ask in the saloon for directions,” he said and walked away.


“A Daring Act Of Retribution” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

When Duncan and his brother discover that a corrupt Federales Officer has murdered their parents, they embark on a journey of revenge. As they flee Texas, they stumble upon a stagecoach robbery in progress and rush to the rescue. They save April, the daughter of a prominent rancher who hires them as drovers to repay their kindness. Yet, the cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail will end up being far more dangerous than they expected…

Can Duncan’s quick thinking and determination help him protect what he values most?

Duncan immediately takes a shine to April who is indifferent to his subtle advances despite him having saved her life. To his surprise, however, she hides in the supply wagon and forces her way into their journey. Duncan watches as April is transformed from a spoiled girl into a frontier hardened cowgirl, ready and able to take care of herself as perilous attacks abound.

Could love flourish amidst danger and hardship, or will the consequences be deadly?

Through it all, Duncan and April will fend off Indians, rustlers, and ranchers. Each turn brings a new obstacle, and just when they think they are on the verge of entering unfamiliar territory, a new challenge appears, one they could never have imagined… Can they valiantly drive three thousand cattle from Texas to Kansas intact?

“A Daring Act Of Retribution” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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