Out today a selection of stories Winter Warmers: Festivals and Festivities Reimagined from Jane Jago.
From What Happened at Moose Crossing
Moose Crossing was the kind of a place that aspires to be a one-horse town without much hope of success. It had a packed-dirt street lined with chinked log buildings, a livery stable with smallish corral for visiting livestock, and a tented settlement of prospectors whose population was as fluid as the freezing stream off the mountains that provided the town with drinking water.
It was September, and there was enough bite in the wind to keep the mosquitoes at home, although the sky was still a faded denim blue and the trails were hard and relatively easy to travel.
A big Conestoga wagon breasted the rise just at the edge of town and drew to a halt to give the team a breather. The eight horses steamed in the bright cool air, and the female driver jumped down with a leather water bucket – giving each animal a drink and a word of thanks.
This being the obvious place to shake-down newcomers, there were already covetous glances being cast on the wagon and its team of big, strongly-built horses.
The the owner of one pair of greedy eyes decided that now would be a good time to stake his claim to the wagon, its contents, the woman and the horses.
He swaggered over, with a hand hovering above the fancy pearl-handled Colt that hung low on his right leg.
“Well, little lady,” he sneered, “there’s a toll to be paid if’n you wants to get this hyar wagon into town unmolested.”
The woman hawked and spat, and gobbet of something landed on the ground between the would-be hard man’s feet. He was fool enough to lose his temper. Grabbing for the gun on his hip he snarled a vile insult. Even as his hand closed on the Colt he realised he wasn’t fast enough – as he found himself looking down the wide barrels of a shotgun which were pointing somewhere around his midriff.
“Put ‘em up, mister less’n you wants a square of turf on Boot Hill.”
He raised his hands, managing to keep a poker face as two of his confederates crept towards the wagon. The first would-be robber slipped into the back of the wagon, while the second made for the horses.
Both men started screaming at about the same time. The one by the horses was down on the ground with a set of long yellow teeth snapping at his throat, while the other was forcibly ejected from the wagon by the boot of a man who looked like he wrestled grizzlies for a hobby.