There is a scene in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian where the Judge needs someone to hold a horse (this is chapter XV, page 229 in my edition) while the Judge dispatches it so it may be eaten. The ex-priest cautions the kid not to help.

A similar situation occurs when The Kid is the only one to attempt to extract the arrow from Brown's leg -- not even Glanton tries. When The Kid succeeds, the ex-priest tells him basically that had he failed, Brown would have killed him I guess rather than dying alone; and this is sort of like the wounded man (Shelby) whom The Kid is tasked with saving from a death by torture at the hands of the Mexican soldiers -- The Kid offering a great but unpleasant service at some peril (because he must stay behind to do so -- this is not a "fun" thing to kill a comrade-in-arms, even among killers) to himself, but Shelby bitterly attempts to grab his gun, even though the only thing The Kid refuses him is to uselessly give him a gun: he would leave him alive, shoot him, even drag him pointlessly behind meager cover.

But why was anyone afraid of holding the horse for the Judge who, after all, was simply trying to feed the men? If the Judge wanted to kill anyone, he would not need to wait until they came within such close range. Glanton presumably would not want any of his men killed for no reason (although Jackson, but for cause, did lop off his colleagues head much earlier in the book).

So what is going on in the scene with the horse, The Judge, and The Kid?

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I am pretty sure the answer is that The Kid's absence when he was expected to return from shooting the wounded Shelby made Glanton extremely suspicious -- there is other evidence of his paranoia -- and Tobin who counseled The Kid to ignore The Judge's request for assistance was well aware of Glanton's suspicions and Tobin plausibly believed that The Judge was using the killing of the horse as a pretense to in fact kill The Kid as The Judge agreed with Glanton's suspicions.

Not really related to the arrow removal at all.

We already know that desertion was repaid with death by Glanton -- Chambers, whom The Kid and Toadvine had joined the gang from prison with, was strongly implied to have been killed for trying to escape.

We also saw Glanton suspicious of two Delaware who had left their horses at some remove -- why exactly this made Glanton suspicious I am not sure of but he threatened to shoot them if their enemies attacked at this point.

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