The Outsider

Free The Outsider by Penelope Williamson

Book: The Outsider by Penelope Williamson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Penelope Williamson
outsider will be having a reason to come here.” She dabbed at the wound, and dabbed and dabbed. “As for us, we Plain People bring suffering to no one, least of all the helpless and the sick.”
    “You’re bringing suffering to me now, lady, the way you’re prodding at me like I was a cow in a bog hole.”
    He’d put on his charming rascal’s smile again, but this time it didn’t quite work. This time his mouth betrayedthe wildness in him, revealing the potential for meanness.
    “The Bible says, Mr. Cain, that a man’s sins do find him out.” And Rachel tipped the bottle of carbolic acid over the raw hole in his side.
    He made no sound, but his belly shuddered hard. She knew she’d hurt him and she felt mean now herself for having done it. It was what Noah meant about the taint of worldly corruption, she supposed. Already she was doing and saying things that weren’t Rachel Yoder at all.
    She finished putting on the fresh dressing, saying nothing more, not meeting his eyes. She was about to leave him when she saw that his gaze had fallen on the bullet he’d brought with him into her house, buried in his flesh. It sat there on the nightstand, next to her Bible. Small and round and bronze, and flattened a bit at one end where Doc Henry said it had struck a rib bone.
    “The doctor dug that out of your spleen,” she said.
    He actually let go of his precious gun to pick up the bullet. He held it up to the shaft of sunlight pouring through the window, examining it almost with awe, as if it were a gold nugget. But then his fingers curled around it, making a fist.
    She followed his gaze from the bullet in his fist to the wardrobe. The door was half open, although it should not have been. The wardrobe where Doc Henry had put the outsider’s guns—and his cartridge belt with the extra bullets.
    Rachel gasped, and her own gaze flew to the gun lying at his side, and then back up to his face.
    Blue eyes, dead of all feeling, looked into hers. “The last bullet, almost.”

    MOSES WEAVER SCUFFED HIS feet along the rough boards of the Yoder front porch, scraping the worst of the sheep manure off his tooled leather high-heeled boots. He lifted his derby to slick back his pomaded hair, gave his checked trousers a hitch, and raised his arm to knock.
    The door opened before his fist could fall. Mrs. Yoder gave him a slow look-over, pressing her fingers to her lips and making her eyes go round as shoe buttons. “Why, if it isn’t our Mose. And don’t you look flashy in those clothes, like a tin roof on a hot summer’s day?”
    His fist fell to his side and his cheeks caught fire. “Uh, I’ve come to chop up that wood for you, ma’am.”
    “I figured as much, and it sure is good of you. Especially when I know how your da has got you working over at your place from can’t see to can’t see.” Her eyes squinted up at him, as if with silent laughter. “My, but you do look handsome, though.”
    He craned his head to see around her into the kitchen, but she shifted her weight to lean against the jamb. “So, did you get those fancy new clothes of yours out of a mail-order wishbook?”
    “Yes, ma’am. I sent off for ’em with last summer’s wool money.” He stretched out his neck to see over her. He got a glimpse of a milk bucket and strainer sitting in the middle of the floor, a flour tin and a string of dried apples waiting on the table. With all the talk he’d been hearing, he almost expected to see the outsider lurking in there, wearing a black duster, armed with a pair of pearl-handled six-shooters, and leaking blood from a bullet hole in his side.
    Mrs. Yoder stepped across the threshold onto the porch, pulling the door half shut behind her. The smell of vinegar wafted off her, pinching Mose’s nose. She must be pickling, he thought, though it was the wrong time of year for it.
    And he hadn’t gotten so much as a whiff of the stranger. Folk said the man was a desperado, an outlaw whose face looked out of

Similar Books

Twisted City

Jeremy Mac

The Fourth Rome

David Drake, Janet Morris

Dead Man's Tale

Ellery Queen

The King of Torts

John Grisham

The Blue Cotton Gown

Patricia Harman

Lost Lake House

Elisabeth Grace Foley

The Sword Brothers

Peter Darman