Ma, I'll be back for chapel on Sunday".
The tall fair-haired form of Adam Cartwright passed is mother while
she prepared to place the dough in the old stone oven for the day's
fresh bread. As he made his way across the ranch to the barn on the
other side he could see his father hitching up his pair of black quarter
horses to the buggy he used to travel all over the state of Texas.
Adam's father was Judge Joseph F Cartwright, commonly known as 'The
Hanging Judge'. His reputation was state wide and today he was off
to a small town called Milkin, a town where amazingly a two bit sheriff
had managed to arrest and jail Johnny (the scar) Caitlin, an outlaw
and gunfighter wanted in every state that the judge knew of.
Adam tacked up and mounted his palomino riding it slowly from the
barn as his father watched him approach, "where you goin son?"
"I'm helping old man Grady to bring his stock in ready for market".
"Why you wearing my colt on your hip, d'you intend to shoot them
and drag em in?"
"No Pa, but you never know when you may need to protect yourself"
"Me and the Law are the only protection you need, hell your only
eighteen boy, I doubt you could even hit a buffalo in a bar room with
that if you panicked"
He turned back climbed aboard the shining buggy and shaking the reins
moved off along the road heading north.
It took him the best part of that day to travel the seventy or so
miles to Milkin, but when he arrived he went straight to the makeshift
court house at the rear of the saloon to set up ready for the next
mornings work. A dark haired skinny man came in, he stood around five
feet tall and had a moustache that was so thick that he looked as
though he was talking through a piece of tumble weed. On his chest
he wore a shining five-pointed star.
"I'm Taylor, town sheriff and mighty pleased to make your acquaintance
Judge. I've arranged for a room upstairs for you, the best in the
"Why thank you, that's mighty kind Mr Taylor and how is our prisoner?"
"Oh he's full of life Sir, says you aint never gonna hang'im"
"well I'm a fair man and if there's any doubt, I will have to
let him go. But, if I state he hangs, then he hangs. I never go back
on my decision once I've signed the warrant and I never will"
The two men passed some more polite conversation and the judge retired
to his room for a hot chicken meal and a good nights sleep.
He awoke early the following morning, around dawn with an uneasy feeling
in his stomach. "Well either that chicken was bad last night,
or I'm getting too old for this job and worrying about the outcome"
he felt a grin spread across his face as he decided it was the chicken
'cos he was far to cold hearted for sentimental feelings to creep
in', then he gave a little chuckle as he reached for his pants. The
mornings work went without interference and after listening to eleven
witnesses to the crimes of horse rustling and murder, he read out
his decision and despatched the prisoner to the large oak tree on
the road in to be hung by the neck until dead. With his work done
he decided to head on back to his home quickly, as the sky was getting
mighty dark and a storm was most definitely looming. He concluded
the paperwork, handed it to Taylor and was just turning to leave when
Taylor's Deputy came running in with a Telegraph message. He handed
it to the judge and waited for a reply. The message read;
Please attend the Mission Town Courthouse
Prisoner being held for murder
Four witnesses willing to testify
Town has no sheriff and deputy says lynch mob is forming
Judge sent the reply that he would attend and left immediately. It
was two and a half's days ride south to mission town, passing both
the outlaw hanging from the tree and the road to his own hometown
on the way. He pushed on as quickly as he could stopping at night
in lodgings he found on route and arriving early afternoon on the
Friday. The deputy met him at the town limits and started to explain
how the town was at the brink of rioting and how they really needed
to get this trial underway that day to bring harmony back as quickly
as possible. The Judge agreed and said he would visit the prisoner
as soon as they arrived. The deputy explained that this may not be
a good idea as if they unlocked the door to the cells, he felt they
may be over powered by the lynch mob and injured himself, for the
same reason he felt that the prisoner should not attend the courtroom
but that his statement would be read out. The judge reluctantly agreed
for safety reasons and they both went directly to the courthouse.
The judge brought the court to order and the charge was read out.
The body of an old but successful local farmer had been found in his
barn by four cattle hands arriving to try to get some work. The four
cattle hands had heard the single gunshot and seen the prisoner standing
over his still warm body. All four, which were father and three sons,
gave very similar accounts to the events of that day and the judge
felt no remorse in signing the warrant to hang the prisoner. He then
read out his decision to the small courtroom.
"The prisoner shall be taken from here and hung by the neck until
dead for the murder of
.", turning back the folded top
section of the warrant he read, "Isaiah Mosses Grady"
his blood ran cold and his stomach turned over, 'Isaiah Mosses Grady',
was old man Grady that his son had gone to assist when he was leaving
home. The judge reached for the folded corn sack that held the murder
weapon and putting his hand in, pulled out his own colt with a single
round fired from it. Time seemed to freeze and he was suddenly brought
back to reality by the sound of a group of men dragging the prisoner
to the gallows. The judge rushed towards the door to stop them, but
was stopped by the four witnesses who were now smiling.
"Let me introduce myself judge," said the father, "I
am Morgan Caitlin and these are my boys Ike, Jessie and Morgan junior.
I believe you met my other son Johnny in Milkin Town just before you
hung him, well I guess we're just about even now aint we, a son for
a son, Oh and by the way, that's a mighty fine colt that you own,
probably the best one I've ever shot!!!!"
With that they turned and left the courthouse, leaving the hanging
judge sobbing on his knees.