Jane always felt that Georgia was the heart of the Confederacy. With rumors spreading that the Union was wanting to destroy the long, carried-on traditions of the South, there were talks of going to war to defend what the Confederacy felt right. But in Georgia, this sordid talk was muted by its own idle gossip that kept tongues wagging and minds more on marital affairs than the rivalries of the South and North. The excitement that came from saloons, street peddlers, and slave auctions kept everyone busy. Yes, Georgia was the heart of the confederacy. If it dared to stop beating, the South would surely go to pieces.
Although Jane herself was a supporter of the Union, because of her hatred towards slavery, she often received the best bounties from Southern states. Be they from small-town marshals who had no such luck in catching the criminal, wealthy judges who had their own axe to grind with the offender because of letting them off in the past, or even a relative of a victim of robbery, rape, or murder who wanted their personal form of justice to be satisfied and were willing to pay any price to see it done.
The bounty of John "Brown Boots" Harris had been issued by Judge Clark Clayton, who usually offered the bounties that Jane took up. Not only because he was wealthy, but because he was in the minority of accepting a woman as a bounty hunter in a usually male-dominated occupation. It gave Jane comfort to know that there was some gentlemen who didn't let ego and sexism cloud their judgement.
There was one thing, however, that Jane didn't like about Judge Clayton. Or rather, that she didn't understand. Instead of living on a large plantation of his own, or even owning a decent house inside of the city, Judge Clark resided in a small shack in the woods. He had enough money to buy anything he wanted, but chose a rural lifestyle. Some said that he was a fraud and had lost all his money because of his gambling habits, while others defended him and said that it was because he was an old man and wanted a quiet place to live, and others were convinced that he had gone insane when his wife and child were killed in a robbery. Whatever the reason, Jane did her best to ignore this puzzling factor.
Halting her horse in front of the dingy shack, Jane dismounted carefully and went to the front door. Before she even had time to knock, Judge Clark came to the door, still wearing his sleeping garments and sporting a bad case of bed-head.
"I was hoping that I wouldn't wake you." Jane said.
"Eh, never you mind." Judge Clark yawned. "So, where is he?"
Jane gestured her head towards the Harris' body, which had been hidden inside an old rug with only his stiff, cold fingertips just barely visible from underneath it.
"Come inside, I'll fetch your money and brew us some coffee."
Judge Clark and Jane headed into the shack. It was well-kept, but extremely simple. Only a stove for cooking, the proper utensils for eating, a bed, a dresser for clothes, a table and chairs for dining, and a washtub.
"Black, I take it?" Judge Clark asked as he put the coffeepot on the stove.
"Yes, Mr. Clark, thank you."
As the coffee started to brew, Judge Clark hurried to his bedroom and moved his dresser. He had made a small compartment in the wall where he kept his safe. After taking the money out and counting it, he returned to the table and handed the money to Jane.
"Don't worry now, Janey, it's all there. All six thousand and five hundred of it."
Jane smiled and nodded, but counted the money nonetheless. It was better to be safe than sorry in her opinion. Like Judge Clark had said, all the money was there. Soon, the coffee was done brewing and Judge Clark poured it for himself and Jane.
"I got a telegram from Washington. Morris Beck, a good friend of mine, is having trouble. You've heard of Grant Douglas, I take it?"
Jane shrugged. "A little. He killed his family and then robbed a bank?"
"That'd be him. He was suppose to hang last week, but he escaped from his cell the day before his execution. Now, Beck is a federal marshal and he's the one that set the bounty. Dead or alive. Everyone's been searching, and his last sighting was in New York. I figured you'd want to start there."
Sighing, Jane took a sip of her coffee and then the cup down. "How much?"
"One million, in cash."
Jane arched her eyebrow. "What aren't you telling, sir?"
"I did some talking and looking, and...I figured out...His father is...Newland Douglas."
Jane nearly fainted when she heard that name. "Her killer? This bounty is for the son of my mother's killer?"
"Janey, you listen to me. I don't want you taking this bounty out of revenge or spite. I want you to take it because you're the best and I've told Beck so on occasions. He's expecting the head of Grant, not Newland. Don't take on a interrogation when you find the Douglas boy. Kill him, beat him, just bring him here and don't go questioning him."
Jane calmly rose from her seat. "I accept, Mr. Clark. Just don't expect me to make a promise that I don't intend to keep."