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The western horizon still showed a tinge of pink as Lewis rode up to the gates of Fort Pecos atop his black Kentucky Thoroughbred stallion.

"Hello, the fort! It's me; Lew Cross."

"We know who you are, senor" replied a jaguar-headed figure atop the parapets: "Dismount, turn your horse around, and slap its rump."

The ex-Confederate smiled. He had anticipated some such precaution against his bringing his Spencer repeater into the fort. So, he complied without dispute.

Only when his horse began galloping back, in the direction of town, did the gates open. He immediately began walking towards them, his hands raised in the air, parallel to his shoulders.

By the time he had reached the center of the parade ground, he was surrounded by several other "jaguar-men." Apparently, they had seen no further need to masquerade as the remainder of Clark's troops, and had dressed back up in their ritual costumes.

The one Lewis perceived to be their commanding officer came down from the parapets to join him and the two riflemen guarding him.

"I see you came in full dress uniform, senor. Very gallant of you...and very transparent. Remove the long coat, por favor. And, hold the lining towards me."

Lewis did as instructed, thereby revealing the "hammerless" Pettingill revolvers inside.* Each resting in a holster sewn into the lining. El Jefe smiled, as he confiscated the long coat and threw it to the ground.

"Now, your main gunbelt, por favor."

Lewis unbuckled his double-holster rig, and gently let it fall to his feet.

"And, finally? Please, to remove the Bowie knife from your right boot."

Lewis arched his eyebrows, causing El Jefe to chuckle.

"My Mistress has the gift of gastronomancy. Those she consumes pass all their knowledge on to her as they digest! In that sense, Privates Barlow and Peters proved most...informative."

Lewis glared at the man, as he removed his right boot, in order to untie the sheath containg his knife from around his lower leg. Only then was he permitted to put the boot back on.

"Now, we shall meet your esposa-to-be."

"Wait a minute!" exclaimed Lewis: "I don't go anywhere until I see Lauren Findlay. Alive and unharmed."

"Su pardon! I completely forgot."

El Jefe barked an order in Spanish. Following which, two more riflemen came out from the livery stable. Behind them marched the young woman in question. And, behind her, in turn, marched her four bride's-maids.

The latter, all ten feet tall.

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