Irvin stops, pulls the roan up short at the sound of the child’s wail. Heart stops as well, for just a mite, no sound worse to him than a kid or a critter hurt.
He slides off the horse, and starts forward, quietly, with deliberate steps. Looking for what cover he can find. Stops at a rocky outcrop and listens for more sound. Rustling, like the sound of horses shuffling about, and the noise of laughter, male laughter. His hackles rise, but no more sound of a child or woman in danger.
Waiting under his covering rock, he reckons he can wait a little longer, give himself some cover of darkness before he moves forward even more. He finds no use in the concept of going hell bent forward, to only be captured, or shot himself. No use in that at all.
He waits pretty good, does a lot of it he is thinking. Trying to understand what is happening at the camp. He hears four distinct male voices, boisterous, like maybe they are drinking; loud, wild voices. He hopes that he does not have to rush in and rescue someone before he is ready to make his move.
Twigh-light comes on, and as he moves away from his shelter, he can tell the gang is settling down for the night. They are a short way from him, and he sees that he can climb a bit up to a rock top, that overlooks the camp some. He walks slow, watching his every step, feeling for any tumbling rocks under his feet. Making his way to the rock top, he thinks he has been doing a little too much stretching out and watching the last few days.
Below him he sees the camp, fire unlit, men laying about in a slovenly fashion against saddles and packs, unaware of his presence. “Lazy and stupid” he thinks. Away to the side, nothing to prop them, huddle the woman and child, she holding her baby carefully, lovingly. Yet her head is up, a look of determination on her face. He wastes no time admiring her, but seeing that none of the men are on guard, sights, and shoots down into the mass, his bullet landing into the foot of one of the bandits, startling them into whelps of pain, anger and confusion. They are going for their guns, and he shoots again, this time catching another in the arm.
He yells down, “Stay away from the guns you no count varmints!” Still they are milling about; one does pick up his gun and fires it wildly toward Irvin’s voice. Irvin shoots again, this time wounding the wild shooter in his side. And the other just sits. Trembling. Too drunk to move forward, or too scared to try.
The woman and child are standing, and Irvin slides down the slope towards the gang, Holding his gun on the group, ready to shoot if he needs to, he kicks out the guns from the camp, and motions for the woman to come pick them up. She does, hurried like. No need to explain to this, one she knows what to do. With the guns in her arms, and the child holding on to her skirt, she stands and watches, a steely eye, wary. She does not know this savior from the rocks, does not know if she is in better times or worse.