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The Strange White man Part 7

When Holly Linkhorn, a dance hall girl at the Cactus Flower saloon failed to show up at her job for two days the saloon owner went to the sheriff and filed a report.

"Holly maybe loud, brash and stubborn but her skill at drawing and firing a pistol was pretty well known among the saloon staff, so her not showing up for two days has me concerned," the owner said.The sheriff made notes as they talked and promised to make some inquiries around town.

The sheriff made further inquiries around town and was informed by the men that had been hanging around outside of the Silver Fox saloon that the newcomer called Carpenter was seen riding out of town with Holly in his lap late last night. There were more jokes from them about the fact that she was missing as they all figured that she rode him to death and if anyone might be missing it would be him.

 He then spoke with Texas Jack Johnson as it was reported that she was the last person she had been with.

"Yeah, she was here but left when I had a meeting with a perspective client," he told the sheriff.

"Would that be a Mister Carpenter?"

"Yep, that would be him."

The sheriff rode out to the old Henderson place to talk with this Mister Carpenter. Even though Carpenter had purchased the land he had yet to remove the Henderson name from above the entrance gates, so the people still referred to it as the Henderson place.

He walked up on the porch and was about to knock on the door when he noticed a sign in the window that informed all that he was out of town for the day and would be back tonight. The sheriff walked around the house and discovered that all the windows boasted real heavy drapes like the kind he had seen used on the stages in San Francisco.

He checked out the barn and found only a few horses but no livestock or farming equipment.

The sheriff then rode the property inside the fence looking for anything that was out of place and was about to leave when he saw two Lakota arrows laying inside the fence, and there was blood on the heads. He didn't go too close to the fence because that would put him near to Lakota's burial grounds and he avoided that place at all costs.

The last time he got too close to the bones there he became very sick and had nightmares for two days. Everyone said it was just a touch of the miseries, but he knew better. So now he did not go closer than he had to.

He rode back to town and decided that would come back after sunset and speak to the owner. He had just finished his supper and was strapping on his gun belt as he was getting ready to head out to the Henderson place and speak to this new owner when the man named Carpenter appeared at his office.

"Texas Jack said you made inquiries about me?" Carpenter said

"That's right."

The sheriff then questioned him about being seen with the missing girl and Carpenter admitted he had taken her home, but reported that when he got up she was gone.

"How did she leave?"

"I do not know as I was sleeping."

"So you said."

"Is there anything else, Sheriff?"

"Naw, she'll probably turn up in few days."

"Probably," Carpenter said as he stood to leave.

"Now its none of my business but ya might think about renaming your ranch so people will stop calling it the Henderson place."

"Yes, I had planned too, there were other matters to attend to first."

"Oh, one more thing, Mr Carpenter. Do you have any idea how two Lakota arrows wound up on your property?"

"Not really, I try to avoid those savages."

"Smart thinking, have a good evening, Mister Carpenter."

As Carpenter left the Sheriff's office he cursed himself for being so careless and leaving evidence out in the open and he also realized that would need help to establish himself here. That was in the process of being taken care of, but first there was the matter of the gold.

Once again in the dead of night Carpenter jumped the fence that separated his property from the ancient burial grounds and entered the cave where he worked throughout the night stopping only long enough to ferry the full bags from the cave to the barn.

The following evening he visited Texas Jack again and asked if he had a problem with transporting a passenger along withe some crates to the territorial capital. Texas Jack informed him that he had a special private stage coach not unlike the armored coaches that they use to transport money and gold and it could hold a passenger or two.

Carpenter then asked if he would be willing to leave at sundown and drive straight through until morning.

"That's going to cost ya a little extra."

Carpenter tossed another bag of gold on the table and Texas Jack examined the contents and then agreed to his terms.

So on Friday just after sundown Texas Jack and his shotgun arrived at the ranch and knocked on the door. He was surprised when Holly Linkhorn answered it.

"Holly? Where you been girl, ya got everybody looking for you."

"I was away.""

"So now you work for Carpenter?"

"Yes."

There was something different about her. She wasn't as loud or brash as she was the previous times he'd been with her and she also appeared a little paler than normal.

"You feeling all right?"

"I am fine," she snapped.

They found three small crates and a steamer trunk in the barn and proceeded to load them onto the wagon.

"Good Gawd almighty, what is he shipping, dead bodies?" his shot gunner asked as they strained under the weight of the trunk.

"Don't know and don't care, now lets get moving. " Texas jack responded.

"All right Holly, now climb on board and hang on cause its gonna be a bumpy ride."

They rode at a breakneck speed and stopped at the Wells Fargo station long enough to hook up some fresh horses and pick up a bag of mail before continuing on. He had sent a telegram the evening that he spoke to Carpenter so despite the lateness of the hour they were ready for him.

It was about 8:00 AM when they arrived. They stopped their wagon in front of the Biltmore Hotel and the trunk was carried up carried up to one of the finest suites they had. They then went over to the largest bank and Holly asked them to wait as she went inside.

J.Wellington was the president of one of the largest territorial banks and had received a telegram advising him to expect her this morning. After checking the paperwork she had that gave her the power to act in his stead he had the Pinkerton guards carry the boxes into the bank and into a counting room were the contents were examined by the staff metallurgist.

A small piece was broken off each of the nuggets and tested. Once satisfied they were of the highest grade he began to weight the nuggets and keep a running total of their worth in cash. He worked quickly and in about an hour he was finished.

He brought the final figures to Wellington's desk where the president was having tea with the attractive female, and Wellington checked the figures and then smiled at Holly.

"Your boss is a rich man, the total amount is over fifty thousand dollars. Holly stated that Carpenters requested half in cash and the rest would remain in an account here. Three hours later the paper work signed and the folding money was placed in a carpet bag and handed to Holly.

Holly went to her suite at the Biltmore and waited. It shortly after sunset that Carpenter appeared in her room.

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