The Feller boys were in a bind.
The posse from Silver City had chased them down through Aura Canyon, and the rocky sides were pinching them into a narrow path. The justice-seekers were closing in from behind, maybe only quarter a mile away now, judging by the sound of their pounding feet.
And now, they were stuck crouching behind a boulder, on account of a rifle round that darn near put a big hole right through Frank’s hat from the front.
This was Peterson territory, and they had cut off the pass. Those boys would be hot for blood, too, especially if they knew there was a reward for the Fellers.
Ted had to think fast.
He surveyed the landscape once, twice … nothing. Then Frank nudged him with an elbow.
“Hey, Ted,” the big lug said, “what’s that?”
He pointed to a small thicket nestled against the canyon wall about halfway between their boulder and the entrance to the woods where the Petersons stood guard. The prickly brush danced and bobbed, moved by unseen forces.
“What are you smiling at, Ted?” Frank wanted to know.
“I have a plan!”
Ted pulled the revolver from his waistband, drew a bead on the rotting tree stump in front of the thicket, and fired. The stump exploded into a thousand splinters, and a family of startled rabbits hopped into the clearing.
“Bunnies!” Frank exclaimed, a sentiment echoed from the woods at the other end of the pass. Ted placed a hand on his brother’s arm and nodded toward the clearing.
Lonnie Peterson lumbered from the shadows, arms outstretched toward the rabbits. “Bunnies!” he called. Stan Peterson chased after his brother.
“Lonnie, get back here!” the older Peterson called out.
The bunnies hopped in circles, zigging and zagging, then doubled back on the Petersons and disappeared into the forest.
Lonnie followed, in a full run, and Stan stumbled to keep up.
And, suddenly, the pass was clear.