Chapter 19, Deputies
As Carlton exited the boarding house Kelvin had the horses waiting. Donni and Luke were sitting on the porch smoking. Carlton came down to the horses, grabbed the reins to his and motioned the rest to follow him. They led the horses over to U.S. Marshall Thurston’s office. Carlton turned to the other three, “You wait out here for now. I’ll go in and talk to the Marshall.” He turned and entered the office without waiting for acknowledgement.
Kelvin turned to Donni, “I’ll go in and talk to the Marshall,” he mimicked Carlton’s voice. Donni laughed and started rolling a cigarette. Luke watched him closely.
U.S. Marshall Matthew Thurston just stared at Carlton as he entered. He did not greet him nor did he ask why he was there. He sat waiting on Carlton to speak. “Marshall I have come to be sworn in as a Deputy. Ranger Thornton asked us, myself and family, to be deputized so that we can assist them to shut down the pending range war.”
“Yeah, Thornton and the others came by here really early this morning. Rousted me up. Didn’t look like they had slept a wink. I get that I am supposed to deputize you four and tell you to meet them out at the West fork of the river. You know where that is?” Carlton nodded, “I just want to say that I’m not real happy about this arrangement, but with what they said happened last night I get it. I want you to know that I did as I said I would. I did some checking on you boys and you’ve got honest-to-God clean records with most of the territories around here. Nothing bad with any, but there were some questions from a couple. That still doesn’t mean that you’re lawmen. At best, your gunfighters that have just happened to land on the right side of the law most of the time. At worst you just haven’t gotten caught yet, with all due respect.”
Carlton appearing to finally lose his temper. “The only difference between us and you, Marshall, is that your butt’s flatter from sitting in that chair… with all due respect, Marshall,” he finished caustically.
Thurston stood, his face livid, “Why you fancy-pants, back-shootin’ bounty-killer! I oughta…,” Carlton smiled slowly. He’d gotten what he wanted, gotten the truth out of Thurston. At least the truth of what he thought of them. He has also learned that someone out in the territories had relaid some questions about them to the Marshall. He needed to figure out who it was before they left town. It could mean trouble for them depending on what territory they headed too next. Thurston seeing the smirk on Carlton’s face stopped talking and stared at him for a heart beat before he sat back down and cleared his throat. “Get your brothers in here.”
Carlton stepped out and called his family closer. Lowering his voice he told them, “Listen closely and do exactly what I tell you. You screw around in there and the Marshall might not deputize us. We need this to be of a help to the Rangers. They are counting on us and they also know that even though we are deputized we will still be ablt to get the bounties for any of the men we bring in. This will get us paid and keep us on the right side of the law. Keep us from being hunted men. Got it?” All three nodded, “Good, go in stand still, hold up your right hand when asked and say ‘I do.’ when asked. That is all you have to do.” All three nodded and gain and then followed Carlton back into the office.
Thurston did not need any formalities nor wait for any. “Raise you right hands,” Thurston said brusquely after they had all stepped in, “Repeat, I swear by the laws of the United States and the territory of Arizona,” Thurston paused long enough to let the Holts repeat his word. “That I will uphold the laws of the United States and said territory. I will do my utmost to honor the badge that I wear…,” the oath droned on and the Holts dutifully repeated it at every pause…
“By the authority invested in me as U.S. Marshall to this territory… I pronounce you U.S. Deputy Marshalls to the territory of Arizona until such time as this conflict is resolved and only as long as you are still involved in support of this current conflict,” Thurston finished and looked them over with ill disguised regret. He had added that last bit in. He didn’t want the guys running off thinking they were some kind of territorial deputy, able to rove about the land. He dug through his desk and handed them badges. They pinned them on and stood uncertainly for a second.
Carlton smiled and tipped his hat, “Thank you, Marshall.” Thurston sneered, making a face as if he had just smelled something awful, and returned to his desk without saying anything else.
“Amen,” Luke said fervently and put his hat back on. He had removed his hat when he entered the office. The only one of the four that had done so. The other three Holts stared at him for a second.
“You’re a strange one, Luke,” Kelvin said and shook his head as they all hurriedly exited the office.
Kelvin looked at Donni and Carlton with awe, “So, we’re U.S. Deputy Marshalls now?”
Donni grinned, “It just means that we can kill men without worrying about getting arrested.”
Carlton frowned, “Yes, Kelvin we are U.S. Deputy Marshalls, and ease up on that kind of talk, Donni. Kelvin shouldn’t be hearing or even thinking that kind of gab. Show a little respect for the badge. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with this badge.”
Donni looked disgusted, “Shit! Then why did we do this?”
Carlton mounted up and addressed Kelvin and Luke, ignoring Donni’ remark, “You two watch yourselves. That badge gives us all some tiny bit of coverage from the other lawmen here, but it also makes you a good target for those opposed to us. Donni and me have been involved in this kind of trouble before… you gotta watch your back. There’ll be a lot of people aiming at it. That badge gives you a lot a authority to make decisions fast so use it right. We aren’t gunmen or bounty-hunters now, we’re lawmen. Doesn’t mean we can just kill men because we want to,” he finished shooting a look at Donni.
Donni glanced back at him with a grin, but Carlton motioned him to be quiet. A badge was a heady thing to be wearing. It made some men a little crazy. It was better that Kelvin and Luke took it seriously, less trouble that way. He knew that Donni wouldn’t pay any attention to the fact that he was wearing it but he could handle Donni. It was the other two that he was worried about. The Holts, now legally lawmen of the U.S. Government, rode out of town toward the West Fork of the river.