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No one is sad when the cantankerous elderly storekeeper is found murdered. Mike Williams, the town's sheriff is frustrated because he has a town full of suspects, all with motive, and he is unable to find the killer. Rebecca Lane, ol' Amos' great-niece, is determined to see to it that the killer is made to pay for his or her crime, and she arrives in Cat Creek rarin' to take on the task for herself, if need be.
Mike Williams thinks the little redhead is too pretty to share Amos' nasty disposition, and once her sharp tongue crosses a line with him, he turns her over his knee for a good spanking. That's nothing, though, compared to his outrage when he learnes that Becca is determined to find her uncle's killer. Sparks fly as the Sheriff and the Storekeeper's Niece go at it in front of the whole town!
The Storekeeper's Niece is an old-fashioned Western, with traditional spanking of adult women in an historical setting.
Mike heard the voices raised in anger and he shook his head. Amos Weatherby was a mean ole cuss and one of these days someone was going to lose their temper and stomp the old man into the ground. But, Mike vowed as he hurried toward the Mercantile, it wasn't going to be one of his hired hands that did the stomping. He hurried inside and stepped between the cantankerous old man and Riley, one of the youngest men who rode for him.
"Riley, calm down and tell me what this is all about."
"Boss, I just bought me a shirt, and didn't even get it out of the store when I saw it was the wrong size. I asked Amos to exchange it and he refused, saying it was no skin offen his nose if I bought the wrong size! I sure as hell wouldn't buy no shirt in a small!" Riley said in disgust.
"Amos, what are you thinking?" Mike Williams asked the elderly man. "You wouldn't be out a nickel to let Riley have the shirt in a larger size. You can see he hasn't worn the small shirt." Mike attempted to reason with the stubborn man, but he was sure it was going to be futile.
"It's not my fault he bought a shirt that is too small for him, and I'm not making any exchanges. He has eyes, same as any other fool what comes in here, Mike Williams, and just because you own half this town don't mean that I have to run my store to suit your whims!"
"I am not asking you to run your store differently, Amos, just to give Riley a break. You can see that small shirt won't fit him, and he needs a new shirt for the dance coming up. What's the harm in exchanging it for a larger one just like it? It's the same price�" Mike tried to talk him into making a fair decision.
"No. I ain't doing it. Now, unless'n you are goin' to buy something, get out of my store. I don't have time to be talkin' to the likes of you two cowboys."
"Come on, Riley. Let's go." Mike was pissed off and as anyone in the town of Cat Creek knew, it wasn't wise to make Mike Williams mad. He was a man of action, and in that split second, Amos Weatherby bought off more trouble than he could handle.
"But, Boss�" Riley started to argue until he saw the look on Mike's face.
"I'll get the Sheriff and he'll throw the pair of you in jail!" old Amos threatened.
Mike turned to look at him and then said, "You can thank your lucky stars you're an old man and I was brought up by a Mama who taught me to respect my elders, Amos." He looked at Riley and said with quiet dignity, "We are leaving right now, and you can pass the word to the rest of the MW hands that anyone who is caught doing business in this store is fired."
"You can't do that, Williams!" Amos protested.
"I just did it, Amos. What's more, I intend to see to it there is a decent store in town, one that treats people right."
Cat Creek was buzzing with excitement, and the street in front of the new building was full of people just waiting for the brand new store to open. The only one who wasn't excited was old Amos Weatherby, and he was complaining to anyone who would listen. He'd even gone to the Sheriff and tried to stop Mike Williams from opening a store to compete with his, but the Sheriff was tired of all the complaints about the way Amos did business, so he was happy to see that Mike was giving them another place to do business. Mike hired Colie Smith to run the store, and that was another jab at Amos, since Amos was the one who taught Colie the business, only to fire him when Colie asked if Amos would be willing to sell the store to him when he was ready to retire. Amos didn't like anyone talking about his retiring and he fired Colie on the spot, not giving a care that the man had a wife and three kids at home depending on him to support them. Colie had gone to Mike and asked for a job, but it was soon obvious to everyone, including Colie, that he wasn't cut out for ranching. Opening the new store gave Colie a job he could actually do, and Mike was more than generous with the salary he was being paid. Best of all, Mike promised Colie he could buy the store when the time was right.
Finally, the doors opened and Mike was there to greet people as he allowed them inside. He only let in a few at a time so they could actually move around the store, and when they were done shopping, he allowed in a few more people. The store was very busy all morning, and Amos frowned as each person walked out carrying a package, and even worse, a happy smile on their face! Amos was irate when his customers, people he'd thought would be faithful and still shop in his store, were seen entering and leaving Cat Creek General Store. It was too much for Amos and he stepped outside and started calling people names like 'traitor', 'back stabber', and then uttering curse words. He then crossed the street and entered the store. "You'll get yours, Mike Williams! Someone will burn this store to the ground!"
"Why would anyone do that, Amos?" Mike asked. "It isn't illegal to sell goods to folks, and no one has complained yet about the way we do business here."
"Sugar is twenty cents for ten pounds, Amos Weatherby, and you charge twenty-five cents!" Miriam Curtis told him. "Other things are cheaper here, too. Mike Williams isn't trying to take advantage of us like you do!"
"I'm only trying to make a living, you old biddy!" Amos screamed at the woman. "Don't you ever set foot in my store again, you old witch."
"How dare you speak to me like that?" Miriam was insulted. "I've a good mind to ask my Theodore to give you a sound thrashing!"
"I'd like to see him try it. I'd blow him to kingdom come with my shotgun!" the elderly man promised.
"Amos, I think you should leave. I am busy and my customers are shopping here so they don't have to deal with your rudeness and your high prices." Mike didn't mince words.
"I'll pay you a dollar a week more than he's payin' you, Colie Smith, if you come and work for me again!" Amos offered, bold as brass! "After all, I taught you everythin' you know 'bout doin' this kind of work. You owe me!"
"I like it here just fine, Mr. Weatherby," Colie answered politely.
"You're a traitor, too!" the elderly man accused. "Something bad is gonna happen to your wife and kids if you keep working here. Someone'll come to the house and do for them!" Amos threatened.
"Amos, that's enough. Get on out of here and across the street where you belong."
"You ain't got no right to boss me, Mike Williams. I don't work for you, and I can see to it that no one else does! I'll make you so much trouble won't no one go near that fancy ranch of yours!"
"You're welcome to try, Amos." Mike was trying to remind himself that Amos was elderly and he really couldn't punch him in the mouth, no matter how much he wanted to. The man was rude and a royal pain in the ass. Mike truly wondered how a human being could be so sour towards good people. As far as he knew, Amos Weatherby hadn't ever had a good word for anybody in Cat Creek!
"I'll try, all right! I'll get even with you and every last person in this whole damn town!" He stomped out of the store and across the street, shoving away the people who were trying to get inside the new mercantile.
"What is wrong with that old fella?" A drover from a trail drive camped out of town put his hand on his gun and Mike thought for a few seconds that he was going to shoot Amos down in the street. The man was definitely angry enough to resort to violence and he looked like a tough character.
"He's just one mean, spiteful old man," Mike spoke up. "What can I help you find?" he asked, trying to take the man's mind off of Amos.
"I'd like some tobacco for smokes," the man answered, and Mike helped him and told him to send his fellow drovers into town if they were in need of anything. He promised he would do just that and left.
"Do we have anything left to sell, Boss?" Colie asked with a huge grin. "People sure are happy about this store. Most folks downright hate ole Amos Weatherby, and I'm on that list for sure. I can't believe he threatened Abby and the boys." Colie was furious and it showed.
"He's all talk, Colie. He wouldn't go near Abby, and if he did try anything, she'd club him over the head with her rolling pen." Mike grinned as he thought of the diminutive Abby laying one on old Amos.
"I'll tell her to keep an eye out for him," Colie stated. "I don't like it that he felt he could threaten her to get me to work for him again! If this store hadn't been full of customers I would have torn him apart."
"I understand, Colie," Mike said in a soothing tone of voice.
The store got busy once again, and once again, Amos crossed the street, swinging his broom at anyone who dared to try and enter the Cat Creek General Store. He even smacked Ginny Carson across her ample derriere, and she turned around and chased him across the street, screaming that she was going to kill him! Her husband came out of the bank in time to intercept her and steer her back to the General Store, and then he crossed the street and had words with Amos and promised him that he would cut his throat if he ever touched his wife again!
The town was in an uproar and the Sheriff went in and talked to Amos and told him to leave folks be. Amos refused and told the Sheriff that if he was doing his job like he should, he would have arrested Mike Williams for rustling years ago! News of the accusation spread like wildfire and people couldn't wait for Mike Williams to get wind of the latest gossip. People watched from various points that were close to the two stores and it was obvious when Mike heard the news. He shot out of his store and was across the street in mere seconds.
"How dare you accuse me of rustling, you son of a bitch!" Mike angrily demanded. "I built my ranch with hard work and sweat. I've never once taken anything from anyone; I'm no thief, and you'd damn well better admit it, Weatherby, or they're going to be burying you! Accusing me of rustling is a low down thing to do. I never stole so much as a calf from another rancher! Admit it. You made it up!" Mike ordered.
"I'll do no such thing, you thief!" Amos screamed. "Get out of my store!"
"Mike, come on with me now. No one believes a thing Amos says, and killing him isn't worth your hanging."
"You are going to get yours, Amos Weatherby. Trust me on that. You are going to get yours."
"Sheriff, do you hear him? He is threatening me and I insist you put him in jail."
"Shut the fuck up, Amos, before I let Mike at you. In my opinion, his strangling you would be a favor to the whole town."
Amos cringed before the Sheriff's anger, but he remained defiant and accused the Sheriff of being employed by Mike and taking orders from him. It was then Mike's turn to calm the Sheriff. They left the store before either of them could deal with Amos in the manner he deserved.
The scream was loud and piercing and came from across the street. Mike's store emptied of customers and he was right behind them, wondering what was going on to cause someone to scream like that. The Sheriff came running, too, and he went into Amos's store and came out, looking at the crowd. "Did any of you see anyone going in or out of Weatherby's?" he demanded.
No one spoke up except to ask, "What happened, Sheriff?"
"Amos is dead. Someone stuck him with a knife." The Sheriff watched the people in the crowd, but couldn't see anyone who looked guilty.
"Hell, Sheriff, it could of been any one here in Cat Creek," one man said with a snort of derision. "Ole Amos wasn't liked by no one."
"He didn't deserve to be murdered," the Sheriff argued. "I expect anyone who saw anything, or thinks they know who did it, to come to me." Not one person stepped forward, and the Sheriff saw to it that Amos was buried. No one came to his funeral except the minister and the undertaker/funeral director, and the Sheriff. The only reason he was there was to see if anyone else showed up. No one did! The Sheriff talked to nearly everyone in Cat Creek, at least the ones who actually threatened to harm Amos, but all of them claimed innocence. He ran out of ideas and decided not to waste his time trying to find Amos's killer. No one cared, and frankly, neither did he.
Rebecca Lane put her handkerchief over her nose to try and block the dust. She'd thought traveling on the train was arduous, but the stagecoach was even worse. The two men riding with her were crude and smelled bad. One of the men kept sipping from a silver flask he kept in the inside pocket of his jacket, and the other stared at her constantly and she knew he was mentally undressing her! She did not feel safe with the two men and hoped that the driver would hear her scream if either of them touched her or made improper advances. Not for the first time she wondered why on earth she'd decided to come all the way out here to this wild country.
The driver suddenly let out a yell and started whipping the horses to get them to run faster. Rebecca heard screams and when an arrow flew in the open window, one of the men pushed her down on the floor and ordered her to stay there. He pulled his gun and leaned out a window and started firing, just like the other man was doing on the opposite side of the coach. Rebecca saw a man with a painted face jump on the coach and try to come through the door, but the man who shoved her down on the floor shot the Indian and he fell to the ground. Rebecca was shocked to realize that she was crying. She never cried, but she was terribly afraid. This was exactly what her friends had warned her about, and some of their stories terrified her and gave her nightmares.
Suddenly the Indians stopped their screaming and took off in the opposite direction. "Thank God Almighty!" one of the men said with heartfelt gratitude. "There are riders coming! It's the MW crew," he said as he watched them ride closer. Most of the men went after the Indians, but a couple rode toward the coach to check on everyone. The driver halted the horses and let out a whoop and cheer.
"I thought we was goners," he yelled toward the men. "Thanks for your help!"
"Everyone okay in here?" Mike leaned down from his saddle to look inside the coach. His eyes immediately went to the only lady inside the coach and he did a double take. She was really pretty, and she looked a bit shaken from being tossed around inside when they were running from the Indians. Her face was streaked with tears and he felt sorry for her. The manners his Mama taught him at an early age took over, even though he wasn't exactly thinking, and he tipped his hat and smiled.
Rebecca wasn't impressed. "I would think you would be chasing down those hooligans rather than lollygagging here and staring at me!" Rebecca was self-conscious because she knew she looked a horrible mess, and she awkwardly put up a hand to straighten her hair, wishing he would stop looking at her.
"You look right fine, ma'am," Mike was quick to offer reassurance and wished he'd kept his mouth shut when she gave him a dirty look. He was disappointed to learn she had such a nasty disposition when she was so all-fired pretty to look at. It must be the red hair that had fallen free of the hairpins holding it up when the stage started bouncing as the driver ran for their lives. Everyone knew that redheads had terrible tempers, and nothing he'd seen in his lifetime had taught him differently, Mike decided. "Well, since none of you are hurt, I'll gather my men and we'll see you safely closer to town just in case those Apache decide to come after you again."
"Thanks, Mike," one of Rebecca's traveling companions spoke up. "You ever need anything, you look me up. I'll return the kindness with gratitude."
"You're welcome, Willy. How's your sister?"
"She's doin' better, Mike. We almost lost her, though. My brother-in-law was beside himself, but Penny is a fighter and she wanted to see her boys grown, so she pulled herself through when others would have given up."
"Good news, Willy," Mike said with a smile. The redhead simply glared at him.