‘You got a good eye, miss, you don’t mind me saying so. That’s a fine piece. The Oriole M4: classic design. Rosewood grip, clean bore. Small enough to hide in your underthings, excuse my crudeness, powerful enough to drop a horse. Anybody looks down the barrel o’ that girl, they won’t see nothin’ else ’til Judgement Day.’

She could just picture the light bursting out of the tiny gun, burning a hole through anybody who gave her trouble. She shivered. ‘I can’t see where to put the battery cartridge …’

‘No ma’am, no fussing about with finicky machinery, just a bit o’ powder, bit o’ lead and she’s ready to go.’ He lifted the gun up to eye level. She swayed, following it like a mongoose does a snake.

‘Bullets! It really fires bullets? But why?’

‘You put your finger on it yourself, ma’am, your very finger. It’s the batt–’

‘Ow!’ Her shoulder spasmed with pain.

Her husband’s hand, gripping the flesh of her upper arm. ‘There you are Annalee! Wanderin’ off on me like that, it ain’t right. The hell you lookin’ at that toy for, anyway? Get along!’

Annalee allowed herself to be dragged away.

‘Hey! Hey!’ the gunseller called after them. ‘She’s little, but she ain’t no toy!’