Settling In. Chapter nineteen
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Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Settling In. Chapter nineteen Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:58 pm|| |
Settling In Part one
The month of punishment went by fairly slowly for Heyes which is, I suppose, not a big surprise to anyone. His left forearm did not cause too much of an inconvenience as the break had been clean and the infection that had developed in the dark cell was cleared up quite quickly once it got hit with the right medications. It did of course need to stay in a cast for six weeks, but not in a sling, so Heyes was still able to perform many of the duties required of him on the work floor.
Still, he missed his visitors and his books and the variety of duties that helped to keep the mundane from ruling his life. So when he was finally able to return to the infirmary to continue on there he found that he appreciated the privilege even more than he had when he had first started it. Kinda hard to miss having something if you hadn’t had it in the first place.
The other person who appreciated Heyes’ return to his regular duties was Dr. Morin. When Heyes had first been thrown into the dark cell yet again as punishment for fighting, ole’ Doc Morin had raised quite a stink. Not only was he loosing the aid of the best assistant he’d ever had, but the risk of infection and fever to all three of the inmates who had been injured and then denied treatment for two days just went totally against his medical judgment.
In fact, it rankled the Doc so much that the next time he saw Kenny, which happened to be the morning that the guard had snuck Jed Curry in to the infirmary to visit his friend, Doc Morin quietly, but firmly stated his case.
“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOIN’!?” Morin snarked. “All three of ‘em had injuries that should have been tended to right away. Harris wasn’t too bad and fortunately didn’t have any problems develop, but Heyes had quite a fever when he was finally brought in here and you’re lucky Boeman didn’t choke to death on his own blood!”
“Don’t go chewin’ me out Doc,” Kenny said in his own defense. “Carson ordered it and he’s the boss.”
“Yeah, but you coulda’ said something!” Morin accused him.
“Yeah, I coulda’,” Kenny agreed, “but to be quite honest I was so mad at all three of them that I didn’t feel much like getting into an argument with Carson right at that moment. Heyes damn near gave me a concussion when he head butted me not to mention this black eye from Boeman! So I wasn’t feeling too compassionate about the fact that they’d been injured turning the work floor into a battle field! Not to mention inciting a riot!!”
“What do ya’ mean ‘damn near gave you a concussion?!’ I told ya’ it was a mild concussion and that you should take a couple of days off,” Morin challenged him, having gotten stuck on Kenny’s first argument. “But did you listen to me? Nooo!! Everybody knows better than the Doc! Serves ya’ right!”
Kenny stopped talking at that point, realizing that he was getting pissed off all over again. He took a deep breath to try and bring his anger back down and stood watching Heyes interacting with his cousin.
“Yeah, yeah. Okay. I know you’re right Doc,” Kenny then conceded, “but it was still Carson’s call, and those three idiots have been dancing around each other for months now. Maybe after this they’ll think twice about pushing for a fight again. I hope so anyway—enough of this bull---t!”
“From what I hear Carson’s been pushin’ for it too, maybe he’s the one who needs to back off,” Morin pointed out. “Heyes isn’t the only one being punished here—now I have to go for a month without my assistant and that’s just downright depressing!”
Kenny nodded. “I know Doc,” he agreed. “I don’t think even Carson expected things to get as out of control as they did so maybe he will just leave them alone now—let them work out their own truce. And as for your other complaint; you’re the one who pushed to get Heyes over here. You coulda’ requested any number of inmates to be your new assistant, ones who aren’t so libel to be getting into trouble. I warned ya’ what Heyes was like.”
“I know, I know!” Morin grumbled. “But he’s still the best assistant I’ve ever had so I guess he’s worth the problems he causes.”
Then both men stopped their conversation and looked over at the inmate in question. He was happy, almost playful in his conversation with his two friends now that Sister Julia had just joined them. Both men silently noted to themselves that they were witnessing yet another dimension to the convict’s character that neither of them had ever seen before.
“Well, I got paperwork to do,” Morin finally announced. “You gonna be much longer?”
“No,” Kenny answered. “I’ll give them some time to visit and then we’ll be gone.”
“Fine,” and then grumbled as he walked towards his office. “Just don’t send me any more patients, I’m gonna be short handed for a month!”
Kenny smiled and nodded agreement and went back to his observations and quiet musings concerning those two most notorious of outlaws; Jed ‘Kid’ Curry and Hannibal Heyes.
Much to everyone’s relief, things did start to settle down at the prison after the big blow out. Everyone eventually got back to their regular duties and Kenny had pretty much accepted the information that Heyes playing at being a double agent was indeed the truth. It wasn’t so much that Heyes’ behaviour had changed but more because it hadn’t. Not to mention his privileges were returned to him right on schedule and Warden Mitchell suddenly was taking more of an interest in how that particular inmate was coming along.
Heyes himself was pleased that, as hoped, both Boeman and Harris had decided to back off of him. They made a point of avoiding Heyes whenever they had the choice, and if they were forced into one another’s personal space, well, body language and the lack of eye contact did a lot to convey the message; you leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone. Since that was all Heyes wanted in the first place, this new agreement suited him just fine.
So time went on. Spring moved into summer and Heyes discovered that the prison could be just as hot during that season as it could be cold during the winter. Opportunity to join a work gang in order to get outdoors for a few days was jumped at by just about everyone. Even though it meant being chained and doing physical labour out in the heat of the day, it was still a relief compared to being cooped up inside the stifling prison all summer long.
Not to mention, some of the locals, whose fences were being repaired, or new barns being erected would often come out with water, or even lemonade to help slacken the thirst of the convicts. There was even one little old widow lady who brought out ice tea, chicken and apples not to mention sweet and endearing conversation for the lonely and tired work gang.
A couple of the guards tried to shue her away, but she just shued them back threatening to give their backsides a paddling if they didn’t learn some manners! No harm came from her visits though, and the convicts were considerate and polite to her to a man so eventually she was allowed to carry on with her visiting, unhindered.
Back at the Double J, Jed was getting frustrated. Beth had been working consistently sending out fliers and letters asking for support in getting their friend pardoned from prison. Unfortunately, as in most things that carry on over time, people who were very accommodating at first were loosing interest and getting on with their own lives. Beth’s requests were becoming more and more just a nuisance in people’s busy schedules and were being generally ignored.
Jed’s own attempts at getting in to see Governor Warren were getting just about as much notice as Beth’s fliers and Steven suggested that he back off the harassment for a time just in case the Governor decided to file a court order against him. Jed and Beth both had hit a brick wall. What else could they do? Whatever information Abi might have obtained to use as leverage was now obsolete since Warren’s questionable business dealings were starting to become public anyways. General opinion was that he wasn’t long for the office.
“Just wait,” Steven had strongly suggested. “Wait and see what happens.”
“But now would be the time to hit him the hardest!” Jed had insisted. “If he’s about to be thrown out of office anyways, what more damage could be done by pardoning Heyes?”
“He’s fighting for his political life!” Steven countered. “When your boat is sinking, the last thing you’re going to do is add more water to it!”
Eventually Jed had to concede anyways. Even Lom wasn’t getting in to see the governor these days and any requests for an audience from Curry were just being blatantly ignored.
It was also proving to be a difficult summer in other ways as well. Water was always scarce this time of year, but this particular summer was dryer than usual. Word was that Montana was getting the worst of the drought but all the plains states were feeling the pinch of it.
Jesse was fortunate with his property. After the disaster of his previous ranch in Wyoming he had learned how to judge the land and the water rights to it. He knew how to look beyond the green grass and lush vegetation and see what the normal situation was for any particular parcel of land. He had made sure this particular property was sound before plunging into ranch ownership again.
Even at that though, the Double J felt the strain of a dry Spring and and even dryer and hotter Summer. Everyone was looking forward to the Autumn months and the promise that the cooler temperatures and damper climate would put things to right again.
One pleasant respite from the weather and the frustrations was the much anticipated marriage of Sam Jefferies to Maribelle Riley. The wedding day in mid summer had been hot but promising for the young couple and since just about everyone in town had been invited it really turned into quite a shindig and an enjoyable time was had by all.
Only two minor details marred the festivities for a couple of the guests. One being that Bridget had decided to be extremely busy that weekend and therefore, much to her mother’s disappointment, would not be attending. The second minor incident was that Beth caught the bouquet, much to Jed’s disappointment. But those two things aside, everyone had a good time and the dancing and consuming of punch went well on into the early hours.
Everyone slept late the next morning, even Belle who was usually up with the dawn allowed herself a couple of extra hours to recuperate from the festivities of the previous day. Fortunately the youngest member of the Jordan family was content to allow her to do this and didn’t start complaining for breakfast until he actually heard his mother start to stir.
Belle quietly rolled herself out of bed so as not to disturb her snoring husband and then donning her housecoat and slippers she glided over to the crib to tend to the baby. She quickly and quietly changed his diaper and then hoisting him up to her shoulder, carried him downstairs amongst happy coos and gurglings. He really was getting heavy.
Once downstairs she put him down on the floor so he could crawl or attempt to walk anywhere he chose to while she lit the stove and started the coffee for when the rest of the family decided to rise and shine. Oatmeal was next on the agenda. She was busy with all these preparations when she heard the door to the downstairs bedroom open and she turned to see a rather disheveled Jed Curry stumble out towards the kitchen.
“Good morning Thaddeus.”
Then there was some delighted gurgling from Jay as he maneuvered his way over to his favorite ‘uncle’. Little hands grabbed onto a pant leg and pulled himself up to his very unsteady feet and made it quite clear that he wanted some attention.
“Oh, hey there little man,” Jed greeted him sleepily. “What do you want?”
“AHHG!!” and a little fist punched a manly knee.
“Oh, you want up,” Jed teased him. “Well why didn’t you say so?”
Then Jed reached down and swung the willing tyke up and over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes that reverberated with wild shrieks and excited laughter.
“Well if that doesn’t get the rest of the household up, nothing will,” Belle commented with a smile. “I guess we all had quite a late night.”
“Uh huh,” Jed agreed. “But the horses will still be wanting their breakfast and since I am supposed to be filling in for Sam here, I guess I better get to it.”
“Well here,” said Belle as she handed him a cup of coffee. “I’ll trade you.”
Jed smiled as he took the cup from her and then leaned down a little to help shuffle Jay over into his mother’s arms. The little guy protested at first, but once he realized that Mama was about to feed him breakfast all thoughts of play went out of his mind. Jed headed outdoors just as Beth and her father were making their way downstairs.
It was still just early morning but the air was already heavy with heat and Jed yawned and stretched as he headed over to the barns. At least the coffee still tasted good; once the real heat of the day started, water would be the only thing worth drinking and that they had to use sparingly.
Then the onslaught began. The three dogs were the first to realize that the humans were finally on the move and they came running over with their tails wagging indicating a desire to be fed. Rufus greeted Jed with one loud ‘woof’ then turned and with an important air about him, led the way towards the barn where the food was stored. Peanut and Pebbles danced and yapped joyously about Jed’s feet and also helped to escort him in the right direction.
By the time Jed had entered the barn the horses had been well informed that food was on its way and he was greeted by loud snorts and nickerings and stamping of feet. He went into the feed room and began dishing out the various different portions and quickly got the dogs out from under foot. Then he emptied a large bag of grain into a wheelbarrow and making his way down the isle began scooping a serving of grain into five of the six occupied stalls. Soon the barn was filled with the contented banging and munching of most of the horses.
Karma was not pleased. Why was she not getting her grain at the same time as the others? Her ears went back and tossing her head in agitation she began pawing at her stall door. Then as soon as Jed appeared out of the feed room, carrying a ‘special’ bucket of feed, her ears shot up straight and she began to nod at him in anticipation.
Opening her stall door, he had to push her searching nose away so he could dump the supplemented feed into her manger at which point, she eagerly tucked in and began to devour it. Jed smiled and gave her a rub on the neck.
“There ya’ go, young lady,” he softly murmured to her. “Eating for two now aren’t ya’?”
He was answered by a contented snort.
Next on the agenda, Jed climbed up the ladder to the hay loft and dragging a bale over to the opening he pushed it through and let it tumble down to the isle floor. Then he climbed back down after it and dragged it into the feed room. He broke it apart and putting six flakes into the same wheelbarrow he headed down the isle again and tossed a flake each into the six stalls. That done, he gave his own gelding a pat on the neck, then pushed the barrow back to the feed room and headed to the house for his own breakfast.
Once he was done with his morning meal then the horses would also be done with theirs and Jed would let them all out into the different pastures and set about cleaning the barns.
All in a day’s work. It was Sunday so there was no point going into town for supplies and it was likely going to be a laid back kind of day anyways. At least that was what Jed thought as he was heading into the house for breakfast, but things don’t always turn out the way we think they will.
Later on, after a very casual lunch of sandwiches and tea, Jed was out by the pasture fence making sure that the horses had water for the rest of the hot day when he turned around and nearly walked into Beth. She looked fresh and pretty, wearing a light summer frock with her blond hair pulled back into a pony tail. She smiled openly at him, her brown eyes sparkling.
“Ahhh, hi Beth,” he began tentatively.
“Hello Thaddeus. Are you going for a ride this afternoon?”
“Hadn’t planned on it,” Jed admitted. “It's pretty hot and Buck’s still kinda tired from the ride into town and back yesterday.”
“He’s tired just from that?” she asked with knitted brow.
“Well, he’s not a spring chicken anymore.” Jed explained. “And the heat we're getting these days is hard on him,” then added in a mumble. “gettin’ even warmer right now too.”
“Yes, I suppose it is,” Beth agreed with a shy smile. Then she perked up. “Wasn’t that a lovely wedding yesterday? Maribelle looked so pretty and happy too!”
“I hope she’d be happy!” Jed commented. “She’s gonna be spending the rest of her life with Sam, so if she wasn’t happy about it, there’s something wrong.”
“I suppose,” she agreed. “I guess when you’ve met the right man, you just know, don’t you?”
Then Beth brightened up again. “I caught the bouquet, did you know?”
“Yup,” Jed nodded. “uh huh.” He started to feel a slight dread hit him in the pit of his stomach.
“You know what that means don’t you?”
“Yup,” Jed admitted. “I wouldn’t put too much stock in that though, it’s just an old wives tale.”
“Oh,” Beth looked disappointed.
Jed smiled and put a hand on his friends’ shoulder. “C'mon Beth,” he said. “You’ve got lots of time before ya’ gotta start thinking about that stuff. Live a little first. Get out there and enjoy life, give yourself a chance to find out what you really want.”
“But, I know what I want!” she insisted with a bit of a sulk.
“At seventeen?” Jed asked with an incredulous tone to his voice.
“I’m almost eighteen!” she insisted indignantly. “I think I’m old enough to know my own mind!”
“Aww Beth,” Jed was sympathetic. “believe me, you don’t know yet. The last thing you want to do is rush into a marriage before you’ve had a chance to explore your options. I’ve seen it happen too many times. Marrying too young and then living to regret it. And once you’re married, you’re kinda stuck and then you’ll be miserable for the rest of your life.”
“But I wouldn’t be miserable,” Beth insisted. “And I’m not too young to know.”
Jed sighed and leaned back against the fence. He looked off into the distance for a moment and then down at his own hands, trying to put into words the thoughts that were swirling around him. How to explain this without hurting her feelings, without treating her like a child? He gently squeezed her arm and she looked up at him, into those brilliant blue eyes and her heart did a little somersault. But the look that he sent back to her was one of compassion and concern but not love and it scared her a little bit.
“I remember when I was seventeen—almost eighteen,” he said quietly. “I remember thinking that I knew what really mattered and what was important. Beth, you were at my trial, you heard me admit to doing certain things. I’d already killed when I was younger than you are right now. I’d made the worse mistakes of my life all before I was twenty years of age. And all the while thinking that I was right, that I was justified, that that’s what I wanted. By the time I was twenty-five the choices I had made had already set my life onto a path that was dangerous and self-destructive. All the while we were thinking that we were in the right, that we were the smart ones—that we had life by the horns and we were going to live it to the fullest.
“It took a long time for us to realize the selfishness of our choices—the conceit. And now Heyes is paying for both of us. Paying the price for our bad decisions and our arrogance in thinking that we were better than everybody else. That because of what we had been through we had the right to do what we did.
“I’m just getting to a point in my life now where I only know what I don’t want. I’m not going to be able to think about what I do want or even, who I really am until all the consequences of those bad choices have been dealt with and cleared away. And I have no idea how long that is going to take. You can’t possibly know what you want yet Beth. You need to take the time to get to know yourself first.”
“But a lot of those choices you made were because of the things that happened to you when you were a child!” Beth felt like she was fighting for her life. “I never had to go through any of that. I had a happy childhood so it would only make sense that I would know myself better now—I’m not a child Thaddeus!”
“I know that Beth!” Jed agreed. “I can see that! But you’re still….”
“Bridget’s only a year and half older than I am,” Beth cut him off. “and she’s being courted by Steven. Two of her friends got married last year and one of them already has a baby! My friend Jane who is three months younger than me got married this past spring and my other friend Ruth is betrothed!”
“It’s not a race Beth!” Jed pointed out. “And there is one big difference between them and us!”
“I’m fifteen years older than you!” Jed said blatantly. “All your friends married young men who are around their same age. They’ve all know each other for years—grew up together. That makes a big difference!”
“Bridget didn’t grow up knowing Steven!” Beth pointed out. “She’s only known him for a year!”
“I know that,” Jed admitted. “but they are still a lot closer in age than we are and they share a lot of things in common. And believe it or not Beth, at your age a year and a half encompasses a lot of growing up!”
“But Momma is a lot younger than Papa—almost fifteen years! And they have a wonderful marriage.”
Jed sighed. This was not going well. “I know that,” he admitted. “But your Papa had a lot more to offer as a husband and a father than I do. I’ve got nothing to offer you Beth. I have no money, very little education and even fewer prospects—you could do so much better.”
Beth was almost stamping her foot in frustration.
“I don’t want ‘better’!” she insisted. “I want you. Why don’t you want me? Don’t you like me?”
“Of course I like you Beth,” Jed answered her gently. “I like you a lot.”
“But you still go in to town to see those saloon girls,” Beth pointed out. “If you like me so much why do you go to see them?”
Jed stood dumbfounded for a moment, his mouth hanging open. He had no idea how to answer that! How do you explain to a maiden the difference between having sex and making love? He looked at her and her big brown eyes stared back at him, awaiting an answer.
“Aww, Beth. Ahhh,” he sighed, a hand on her shoulder. “Beth, you don’t…..that’s not real…..” oh brother, what now? “You don’t want me coming to you for that Beth.” he finally explained quietly. “That’s just frivolous—it doesn’t mean anything. You want a man to respect you, to come courting.”
“Hmm,” Beth commented thoughtfully. “That’s what Momma said.”
“Well she’s right,” Jed backed it up, though feeling a little exposed knowing that Beth had already spoken to her mother on this topic. Could a man have no privacy around here?
“So if you like me, then why…?”
“Beth, please,” Jed was almost begging. “I’m still trying to work out who I am now and what I need to do to help my partner. I’m just not able to even think about marriage or even courting anyone until I get these other things in my life sorted out. Can you understand that?”
“But that could take years!” Beth complained. “All of my friends are either married or getting married soon! At this rate I’m going to end up an old maid—I’m not getting any younger you know!”
Then Jed couldn’t help it and he laughed out loud.
“Ho ho! Beth darlin’! You’re so young it scares me!” then instantly realized that he had said the wrong thing.
Beth drew herself up in total indignation and with a horrified look that soon became awash with tears; she pivoted around and made a wild dash towards the house taking a hurting heart with her.
Jed slumped back against the fence having been hit with his own level of regret and frustration. And yes, hurt too.
“Aww, no. Jeez,” he mumbled. Then stood up and shouted after her. “Beth! Beth don’t! Please. BETH!”
But she had disappeared into the house at that point and obviously wasn’t listening to him. He had started to run towards the house himself, but then stopped half way and realized the futility of that. He sighed again and then with slumped shoulders, turned and walked over towards the barn.
Dammit! He had really put his foot in it that time. Why does everything have to get so complicated? He had tried so hard not to hurt her feelings and had ended up saying the worse thing ever! What the hell was the matter with him anyway? He kicked an empty bucket and hit the wall with a fist! Rufus decided it was time to go outside and sleep in the sunshine. His old bones rather liked the heat.
Jed continued to pace around inside the barn, mumbling to himself and shaking his head in frustration of not knowing how to deal with this very sensitive situation. Finally he stopped and sighed and thought about what he usually did to help clear his mind and settle his nerves. That was easy; target practice. Oh, but Damn! His holster and gun were in his bedroom in the house and he really didn’t want to go in there just now. He sighed again. Damn.
Then a small sound caught his attention and he looked up to see Jesse standing in the doorway of the barn. Oh, damn again! It’s bad enough causing a scene with a young lady who is sweet on ya’, but when the father of that young lady is well within earshot it can be downright inconvenient.
“Problem?” Jesse asked him rather casually.
“Aw, Jesse. I donno!” Jed fussed, running fingers through curls. “I didn’t mean to upset her. I like Beth—a lot,” then as a quiet aside; “Maybe too much.” Jesse’s eyebrows went up. “But I just can’t give her what she wants right now!”
Jesse smiled and walked deeper into the barn.
“The problem with being young, especially a young lady; is that everything hurts so much,” he explained. “Beth thinks she knows what she wants—and I don’t know, maybe she does. But because she is so certain of her feelings she just can’t understand how you could not be, so she takes it personally.”
“No, she shouldn’t take it like that,” Jed insisted.
“I know that,” Jesse assured him. “but she doesn’t. Unfortunately it might take one or two heartbreaks for her to realize it.”
“But I do care about Beth,” Jed repeated and then sighed again, feeling even more frustrated. “I don’t want to be the one who hurts her like that.”
Jesse shrugged. “Sometimes we’re not the ones who get to decide that,” he said. “All you can do is ‘handle with care’.” Jed snorted. “No, I’ve been watching you.” Jesse admitted. “You’ve always treated Beth with respect and consideration and kindness—a father can’t ask for more than that. You’ve never led her on or played with her affections and she’s just going to have to learn the difference between friendship and romance. And that can be a hard lesson to learn.”
“Oh brother,” Jed did not sound convinced. “I donno Jesse, maybe I should just leave after all. I don’t want to; you folks well, you aren’t ‘like’ family anymore; you are family. And David is a really good friend and I guess I’ve gotten kinda used to having that now. And without Heyes, well being on the trail seems kinda lonely. But—this isn’t fair on Beth. I should just get out of her life for a while, give her a chance to get over it and meet someone else more appropriate.”
“Well that’s up to you,” Jesse responded. “We’d all be sorry to see you go.” he smiled. “Not just Beth. Don’t make any rash decisions Jed. Why don’t you saddle up ole’ Spike and go for a ride, clear your head? You can bet your bottom dollar that Belle is in the house right now having a talk with Beth and by the time you get back, well there could be a whole new slant on things.”
Jed thought about that for a moment and then nodded with a quiet smile.
“Yeah, okay,” he agreed. “that’s probably a good idea.”
Jay was contentedly playing on the dinning room floor while Belle was finishing up in the kitchen after the mid-day meal when she heard Thaddeus shouting her daughter’s name. Of course that got her attention and she turned away from her cleaning up just in time to see her youngest daughter come running through the front door and up to her room. Obviously something earth shattering to a teenage heart had just transpired as Belle could not help but notice that Beth had her hand over her mouth and was fighting the angsty sobs of operatic tragedy.
With a resigned sigh, the mother of three scooped up her son and amongst squirms and complaints from that young man, headed up the stairs to try and calm the flow of tears. When she got to the door of Beth’s room she was surprised that all she heard was silence from inside, so she knocked quietly and waited for her daughter’s permission to enter. A strained little ‘come in’ followed and Belle opened the door to find Beth sitting quietly on her bed looking tear stained but sheepish.
“What happened?” Belle asked as she put Jay down to explore his sister’s floor. “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” came the sloppy answer as she gulped and sniffed and wiped her tears. “I have been such a total idiot!”
“I think that is a bit of an exaggeration,” Belle countered as she went to sit down on the bed as well. “Do you want to elaborate?”
Beth sighed. “It just dawned on me that I have been doing exactly what you told me not to do.”
Belle smiled. It’s always nice to have your children acknowledge your wisdom.
“And what was that exactly?” she asked.
“You told me not to chase after him, to wait until he was ready to come to me,” Beth explained. “But now I realize that I have been doing just that! I didn’t think that I was, I just wanted him to like me! But you were right; all I’ve done is push him further away!”
“Oh. I see.”
“Now I’m sure he hates me!” Beth insisted, anger at herself taking over from the tears.
“I highly doubt that,” Belle countered. “From what I have seen Thaddeus very much enjoys your company.”
“Of course he does!” Belle insisted, then smiled and patted her daughter’s arm. “You just need to give him some room.”
Beth nodded, emitting another large sigh. Then she caught her breath as an alarming thought occurred to her and she turned large and frightened eyes to her mother.
“You don’t suppose he’s going to leave do you?”
Belle only got so far as to open her mouth to respond when Beth jumped up from the bed and headed at a run towards the door.
“OH NO!” she wailed. “He can’t leave!”
And then she stampeded down the stairs and out the front door the way that only a teenage girl can do. Belle sighed and glanced over at her son.
“Thank goodness you are a long ways off from putting us through this.”
Jay smiled and gurgled at his mother while he stuffed one of Beth’s socks into his mouth.
Down in the first barn, Jed was just in the process of throwing a saddle onto the back of a very nice pinto gelding when Beth made a somewhat self-conscious entrance through the open double doors. She quickly, though a little late, began to straighten out her hair and her frock and make sure the last of her silly tears were gone from her face and then she took the plunge.
Jed turned, surprised to see her there and then he looked a little self-conscious himself.
“No Thaddeus!” she assured him as she quickly stepped forward and put a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry. I’ve been pushing and I shouldn’t have done that.”
“I know you’ve been through a lot this past year,” Beth acknowledged. “and actually, for a lot longer than just the year. You’re actually been having to re-discover who you are all over again.” Then she smiled mischievously. “In a way you could say that I’m older than you are.”
Jed snorted then laughed. “Yeah, I suppose you have a point there.”
Then she turned serious again. “I also know that you are very worried about Joshua.”
“Yup,” Jed nodded, turning serious again as well. “He’s having a hard time Beth. I don’t know how much longer he’s gonna be able to hang on there and to be quite honest I’m at a loss as to what else I can do about it. Lom and Steven are doing everything they can, but a lot of the doors are just gettin’ slammed in their faces and the governor sure ain’t any more accommodating towards me!”
“I know,” Beth agreed. “It’s just like all my letters asking for support—nobody seems interested anymore. It’s like they’d rather just forget all about Hannibal Heyes.”
“Yeah, well I don’t intend to forget about him!” Jed insisted with a bit of heat. “I just gotta figure out another way of comin’ at them!”
“Bridget is working as Steven’s assistant now,” Beth pointed out, and then she smiled and put both hands on Thaddeus’ arm. “Will you let me be yours? Let me help you.”
“You have been helping Beth,” Jed reminded her. “I know it was all the work that you and Bridget did that saved my neck. And you’ve carried on doing the same for Heyes. You have been helping.”
“But we have to do more, because the letters are no longer working,” she said. “Won’t you let me come with you when you go see the governor and when you go see Joshua?”
“Oh now Beth,” Jed backed off of that. “I told you that Joshua doesn’t want you coming to see him there and on top of that I really don’t think your Papa would approve of you traveling around the countryside with me and no chaperone!”
Beth sighed in frustration. “Oh that is so silly! But I suppose you’re right. Still,” she continued. “I want to do more to help you with this, will you let me?”
“Of course Beth,” Jed agreed. “I could use all the help I can get!”
“Good!” she smiled and presented her right hand for him to shake.
Jed laughed, but then he took her hand and they shook on it.
“Friends?” she asked him.
“Now how would you like to join me for a ride before supper?” Jed suggested.
“I’d love to,” Beth accepted with a smile. “Papa said that it was still alright to ride Karma just as long as I don’t gallop her.”
“Good,” Jed agreed. “She could probably do with a stretch. I’ll get the horses tacked up while you go get changed. How’s that?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Heyes sat in the visitor’s room again, waiting for his company to arrive. Not surprisingly, Kid had been his first visitor right after the punishment period had ended and now Heyes was anticipating a session with his lawyer.
He was shackled hand and foot yet again since the cast had been removed from his arm by this time. The bone had healed straight and clean and Heyes was not oblivious to the favour that Kenny had done him. He had no doubt in his mind that Carson had meant it when he warned Heyes that he had crippled inmates before and wouldn’t mind at all doing it again. Heyes knew he had been lucky that Kenny was the one who had landed that blow since Reece’s intent, always, was to subdue not to cripple.
Heyes sighed and sat back while he awaited his legal council. He and Kenny definitely had an unusual relationship. There seemed to be a mutual respect there but at the same time neither one ever took the other for granted. Kenny was an old hand and knew his business so he sure wasn’t about to take any nonsense from a youngster like Heyes. But at the same time the guard was well aware of the inmate’s reputation and acknowledged him as a step above the average convict. Still, there was an order to things that had to be maintained and as long as both accepted that, they’d get by.
Then Heyes was brought out of his inner musings when the outer door opened and Steven stepped into the room. Heyes smiled a greeting, but then his expression suddenly changed from acceptance to surprise and then anger. He was on his feet so abruptly that he knocked his chair over and Pearson, still a little edgy from the riot thought Heyes was going to attack his visitors. The guard jumped forward and grabbing Heyes by the belt yanked him back and into the wall. Heyes lost his balance and went down, the business end of the guard’s rifle suddenly staring him in the face.
“NO! No, don’t treat him like that!!” came the feminine protest and the young lady ran around the table to protect her friend.
Pearson was instantly between them. “NO! Miss! STOP!” he ordered her. “This inmate is dangerous! Get back to the other side of the table! NOW!”
“HE’S NOT DANGEROUS….!”
“BRIDGET!” Heyes yelled at her. “Do what he says! NOW!”
“Bridget, come on,” said Steven. “You promised me you would not approach him…no matter what. Remember?”
“Come on Sweetie,” came Clem’s soothing tone. “Come on back here so we can all sit down and be reasonable!” This last bit aimed directly at the guard.
Bridget reluctantly submitted to the logic of her friends and retreated to the other side of the table but it didn’t stop her from glaring daggers over at the guard.
Once Pearson was satisfied that everyone was where they should be he grabbed Heyes under the arm and hauled him to his feet. He then pressed a hand against his chest and pushed him back into the wall.
“Just wait there Heyes,” he ordered. “Don’t move.”
The inner door opened and Murrey stuck his head in.
“Everything alright in here?” he asked.
“Watch Heyes for a minute will ya’?” Pearson asked him. “Let me get this sorted out.”
Murrey stepped inside the room, his rifle ready while Pearson righted the knocked over chair and then looked over to the lawyer.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” the guard said to him. “I know you’re his lawyer and you have the right to a private session with him. But he is very unpredictable and with these ladies here….”
“No, it’s alright Guard,” Steven assured him. “Both of these ladies are friends of his, he won’t hurt them.”
Pearson did not look convinced.
Steven smiled at him. “I’ll take full responsibility,” he reiterated. “He’ll be fine. I’ll call you if we need any assistance.”
“Fine,” Pearson conceded. Then he motioned to the inmate. “Alright Heyes, sit down. You better behave yourself or you’ll be back in the dark cell for sure. I’m beginning to think that you’re starting to like it in there.”
Heyes rolled his eyes, shuffled his way back over to the table and sat down again. Then the two guards left and shut the door behind them. Heyes sat silently; he was not pleased.
Heyes snapped his eyes onto Bridget; they were in a slow burn. Bridget felt a slight twinge of fear; she had never seen her friend angry before—she had heard him angry, in the jail cell back in Cheyenne, but never had she seen it, and certainly not aimed at her. The Joshua she knew had always been so kind and amiable but now she was getting just a glimpse of the threatening and intimidating outlaw leader that the law had always insisted he was. She wondered, briefly if this side of him had always been there and he had just hidden it away from them, or if being in this terrible place was causing it—or, more likely was it a bit of both?
Bridget took a deep breath and summoned up her courage, reminding herself that he was still the same man whom she loved and had come to think of as a brother. She looked him straight in the eyes and met his anger.
“I’m sorry I over-reacted,” she told him. “but before you get all accusing on me, I should let you know that I have every right to be here.”
Heyes opened his mouth to argue that point but Steven cut him off.
“She’s right, Mr. Heyes,” he emphasized. “Bridget is my assistant. She has come with me on a number of occasions to the prison in Colorado and has always conducted herself in a professional manner. Until today.” And he raised his eyebrows at her.
Bridget rightfully looked contrite
“I already apologized for that,” she defended herself. “But you are right, that was not professional.” Then she looked over at her friend again. “But is that normal? Is that standard procedure for the guards to treat you like that?”
Again Heyes opened his mouth to answer, and again Steven cut him off.
“It is a prison, darling….”
Heyes’ eyebrows went up at the use of that endearment. He just hadn’t expected it.
“….not a church social. Many of the prisoners here are very violent people. And that reminds me…” Steven turned his attention back to his client. “…the warden stated that you caused a riot. What was that all about?”
Heyes started to answer but was again cut off before he could get a word in edgewise.
“Oh Heyes!” Clem admonished him. “Can’t you be anywhere without needing to be in control? What….did one of the other inmates try to tell you the ‘proper’ way to crack a safe or something?”
Heyes clenched his jaw and would have crossed his arms if he had been able to. Then he sighed in frustration and went into a sulk. The other three people in the room sat silently, waiting for him to respond.
“Oh!” he finally sniped. “I’m expected to speak now am I?”
Clementine sent an accusing look over to him. “Well I can certainly see that prison hasn’t done anything to sweeten your temperament,” she commented. “Still snarky as an old bear.”
“Steven’s my lawyer, Bridget is his assistant. What’s your excuse?” Heyes shot at her.
“Well for one thing, I wanted to see you although now that I’m here and you’re being so sulky I’m wondering; what was the point?” then Clem took on an air of self-importance. “But that aside, I’m also Bridget’s chaperon. Whenever Steven and Bridget need to go on a business trip, I come alone to make sure that no hanky-panky takes place.”
Heyes snorted derisively.
“HEY!” Clem was quite indignant.
“She is right Mr. Heyes,” Steven confirmed. “That was a condition that Mr. Jordan insisted on for Bridget to come and work for me. She was to have a chaperon with her. It’s mainly so she could have a friend with her this being her first time away from home, but it is also the proper thing to do.”
“Obviously Jesse doesn’t know Clem very well.”
“HEY!” Clem reiterated. “My, but you are in a snarky mood today!”
“Ahhh, perhaps we should get on with the business at hand,” Steven suggested. “It’s not like we have all afternoon.”
“Fine,” Clem agreed, though still a little indignantly.
“Fine,” Heyes also agreed, grumbling.
“I actually was able to get in to see Judge Parsons and speak with him about the possibility of an appeal,” Steven explained. “He wasn’t terribly accommodating but he did say that if you were willing to change your stance and name the other people involved in that fraud then he might consider reducing your sentence.”
Heyes looked over at Clem, almost feeling like it would serve her right if he did. She and Bridget should not have come to this place.
“What does Miss Hale say about that?” he asked, with just a hint of sarcasm.
“Heyes, you know I already said that I would come forward with the information,” Clem reminded him. “I told Steven and the Kid both that I would do that but nobody would let me!”
“And the Judge doesn’t want it from her,” Steven clarified. “He wants to hear it from you.”
“Ahhh!” Heyes nodded with a sardonic smile. “Wants me to admit that prison broke me, is that it? Wants me to come crawling back to him to apologize for showing contempt of his court? That I’ve learned my lesson—that I’ll tell him anything he wants to know!”
Steven sighed, knowing that this wasn’t going well. “Something like that, yes,” he admitted.
“But Joshua,” Bridget was almost pleading. “don’t you want out of here? Clem has agreed to it, and Steven doesn’t believe that the Judge would send her to prison, especially when she explains the circumstances.”
“It’s not just Clem, sweetheart,” Heyes told Bridget, his anger at her beginning to abate. “The other person involved probably would be sent to prison, and I just can’t do that to him.”
“But we miss you so much,” Bridget pushed. “We all want you to come home.”
Heyes could almost feel his heart break in two. He swallowed and cleared his throat.
“I want to come home too,” he admitted. Even to himself, his voice sounded a little choked. He cleared his throat again and then not being able to look into Bridget’s misting brown eyes, he turned his attention back to Steven. “You said that Judge Parsons would consider reducing my sentence.”
“By how much?”
“He said that he would be willing to consider ten years,” the lawyer answered quietly.
Heyes closed his eyes and groaned. Then he looked at Granger again, shaking his head.
“He wants me to turn in my friends just to shave off ten years of my sentence?”
“It would still be cut in half, Mr. Heyes,” Steven tried to be positive about it. “I know that looking at it from this end, it doesn’t seem worth it, but I’m sure that in ten years time you’d be happy for the reduction.”
“Mr. Granger,” Heyes explained. “one way or another, in ten years time I don’t intend to still be in this prison.”
This statement was met with three sets of shocked eyes, staring at him.
“Oh Heyes! Don’t talk like that!”
“What do you mean by that comment Mr. Heyes?”
Heyes was silent for a moment, looking down at his shackled hands.
“Just that, Mr. Granger,” he finally said. Then he looked over at his lawyer. “I’m sorry, but I won’t betray my friends to this hell hole in order to reduce my own sentence.” Then he shook his head and reiterated. “I simply won’t do it.”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: Settling In. Chapter nineteen Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:00 pm|| |
“What did he mean by that comment?” Bridget asked as the threesome made their way out of the prison and over to their waiting surrey. “Surely he meant that he was confident that we would have him out of here by then, right?”
Steven and Clem exchanged quick glances.
“Oh I’m sure that’s what he meant,” Clem insisted. “Heyes has always been so melodramatic. Don’t you worry about him; he’s a survivor.”
“I don’t know,” Bridget was pondering the different possible intentions of her friend’s words. “It didn’t really sound like he was feeling very positive.”
The three people stepped up into the surrey with Steven giving a gentlemanly hand to the ladies. Then he stepped aboard himself, picked up the reins and clucked to the pacer to move them along. Everyone was quiet, busy with their own thoughts and concerns. Finally Bridget sighed and looked up from her musings.
“Well, either way, we’re going to have to tell Thaddeus about this,” she stated. “Maybe he’ll have a better idea of what Joshua’s intent was.”
“Ahhh, we can’t really do that Bridget,” Steven reminded her.
“Why not?” Bridget queried. “Thaddeus is his partner; he has a right to know what is going on.”
“Bridget, you know that anything said in a private consultation is privileged communication and considered confidential,” Steven emphasized. “You cannot tell anyone what was discussed in there.” In the back seat of the surrey Clem opened her mouth to speak. “And that goes for you too Clementine.”
Both ladies pouted. Clem pursed her lips wondering how he had even known that she had been about to protest!
“Surely Joshua wouldn’t mind if I told Thaddeus what he said,” Bridget continued with her case. “They are partners, cousins, best friends….”
“And if Mr. Heyes wants his cousin to know about what we discussed then Mr. Heyes can tell him himself,” Steven insisted. “We cannot.”
“Bridget, you knew this beforehand!” Steven reminded her. “Confidentiality is one of the most important conditions of our profession. You better decide early on what matters to you. If you can’t keep a secret then working in a law office may not be for you.”
Bridget was stunned into silence. An icy dread encircled her heart as she feared she may have disappointed her suitor. Being away from home and actually working in a law office brought with it a whole lot more responsibility than she had ever imagined, but she loved her job and she loved her man and didn’t want to lose either one of them.
“You’re right Steven, I’m sorry,” she finally said, and then she sighed feeling disappointed in herself. “And that’s the second time today that I’ve had to apologize for being unprofessional.”
Steven smiled. “That’s alright,” he assured her. “You’re still just learning the ropes and I know it was a shock for you to see your friend like that.”
“I didn’t think it would be,” Bridget admitted quietly. “I saw those inmates at the Colorado prison so I thought I had prepared myself for what to expect. But I suppose seeing someone you know and care about being in that situation—and being treated like that!” she added with a bit of heat. “There was no reason at all for that guard to be so rough with Joshua; he wasn’t going to do anything!”
“I know,” Steven sympathized. “He’s your friend and you care about him and you know that he would never do anything to hurt you.”
“But I also know that Mr. Heyes has proven to be a difficult and unpredictable inmate,” Steven continued. “and as far as those guards are concerned, he has been violent in the past and is considered ‘dangerous’. That guard was well within his rights and he was only doing it to protect you.”
“Well, perhaps the guard did feel that he was only doing his job,” Bridget argued. “but to say that Joshua is dangerous—that’s just nonsense!”
“But he is,” came Clem’s voice from the back seat. “At least, he can be.”
Bridget swung around on her friend with an indignant and accusatory tone.
“How can you say that?!” she demanded, feeling betrayed. “You’ve known him longer than either of us!”
“Exactly!” Clem pointed out. “I’ve known Heyes and the Kid for well over twenty years. They’re loyal, loving, considerate, compassionate not to mention, just plain, well—passionate!”
A knowing devilish smile flitted across her features that might have caused Bridget some concern if she had seen it.
“But they are also lazy, self-centered, arrogant, manipulative; especially Heyes, and if the need arises—dangerous,” Clem continued. “Taking in to consideration the situation that Heyes is finding himself in now, I can see why the guards might consider him to be unpredictable and warranting of extra caution. He never did give in to authority easily.”
Clem sighed then, sadly watching the scenery rolling by on their way into the town of Laramie.
“Poor Heyes,” she murmured more to herself than to the two people up front. “He never could stand being cooped up either. This must be killing him.”
Bridget and Steven exchanged quiet glances.
The rest of the ride in to town and to the hotel was concluded in silence.
Later that same afternoon Heyes found himself being escorted over to the warden’s office again for their monthly discussion. It was becoming more and more difficult to come up with tidbits of information that would keep the warden happy and himself safe from inmate retribution. As it turned out, Heyes needn’t have worried about that end of their agreement this time because Warden Mitchell conveniently provided him with something else to worry about instead.
“You do realize that Dr. Morin is an alcoholic don’t you?”
“He is?” Heyes asked innocently. “No sir Warden, I wasn’t aware of that.”
“Oh come now,” Mitchell chided him. “You’re over there working with him every week. Do you mean to say you have never noticed anything unprofessional in his habits?”
“No sir Warden,” Heyes lied. “He’s a fine doctor.”
“I’m not disputing that,” Mitchell conceded. “when he’s sober. But that’s not the point. If he is drinking while on duty then he’s a danger to his patients, and we can’t have that. Have you ever noticed him taking a drink while on duty?”
“No sir Warden,” Heyes lied again without missing a beat.
“Well, that surprises me,” Mitchell continued. “Still, he’s probably just hiding it from you. So, I want you to take a look around his office and the infirmary just to see if you can find any evidence of him drinking.”
“Like what, sir?”
Mitchell was beginning to wonder if Heyes was actually as smart as his reputation suggested.
“A bottle of alcohol would be a good start,” the warden pointed out. “Empty shot glasses would be another indication. Alcohol on his breath. How about that? Do you think you could manage to take note of anything like that?”
Heyes shifted uncomfortably. “I donno Warden,” he mumbled. “I would think that stuff like a bottle and glasses would be kept locked up—especially if he knows he’s not suppose to be drinking.”
Mitchell sighed in exasperation. “I am well aware of your talents Mr. Heyes. I’m sure you would have no difficulty getting passed any locks he might have on his cabinets.”
“Well….I’d need special tools….”
“It’s an infirmary!” Mitchell was loosing his temper. “It’s filled with special tools!”
“Oh. Yes sir. Hadn’t thought of that.”
“Tell me Mr. Heyes, how is it that you were able to avoid capture for so many years?”
Heyes sent him a vacant look. “Luck?”
Mitchell rolled his eyes. “That’ll be all Mr. Heyes. Just let me know if you find anything.”
“Yes sir Warden.”
Then Murrey escorted the inmate back out of the office.
Mitchell sat back in his chair shaking his head. Geesh…how disappointing. The outlaw had seemed to be very intelligent upon his arrival at the prison but now apparently that façade was beginning to crack. But then the warden became reflective as another possibility occurred to him; obviously something here was a façade, but which was it? Was Hannibal Heyes a fool and just putting on airs of intelligence, or a smart man pretending to be dumb? Yeah, dumb like a fox. Only a real fool wouldn’t know the answer to that one.
The warden smiled to himself. If Heyes wanted to play games, Mitchell could go along with that—for now. Give it some time and then we’ll see; who’s the cat and who’s the mouse.
Heyes had been deep in thought during his escorted walk back into the prison proper. This new situation was not good. He was not only being asked to spy on one of the few friends he had in this place, but the warden was also telling him to ‘break and enter’. That was something that Mitchell had initially assured him he would not be expected to do. Just keep your eyes open; ‘it’s not like I’m asking you to sneak into their cells and rummage through their belongings.’ Hmmm.
Well it seems the rules had been changed. What a surprise.
The next time Heyes found himself back in the infirmary he already knew what he was going to do. It had been a no-brainer really. He wasn’t about to turn in the Doc.
“Hey Doc,” Heyes got his attention once they had some time to themselves. “you still got that bottle of whiskey stashed away somewhere?”
“Sure,” he admitted. “Why? Ya’ want a drink?”
“NO!” Heyes cringed a little and then lowered his voice. “No Doc, that’s not it.”
“Well what’s the problem then?”
“It’s the warden,” Heyes explained. “He knows you’ve been drinkin’ on the job and he’s just itchin’ to catch ya’ at it so he can fire you.”
Morin creased his brow and looked a little ticked.
“Well how would you know that?” he demanded.
“Cause Mitchell asked me to spy on ya’ Doc,” Heyes admitted. “To look around and see if I could find any evidence—even to break into your cabinets if I needed to.”
Now Morin was really ticked.
“That fxxxing son of a whxxe!” Morin swore. “Who the fxxk does he think he is? It’s bad enough having to work in this fxxxing sxxt-hole of a place without that little pxxxk poking his fxxxing nose into my business! I oughta’ take that whiskey bottle and shove it up his xxx!!!”
Heyes couldn’t help but smile at the torrent of profanities that flowed from the good doctor’s mouth, and he waited quietly until Morin stopped to come up for air.
“He knows who he is Doc,” Heyes pointed out. “and he is out to get ya’. If he gets evidence that you’re drinking on the job you will be out of a job.”
“Sxxt!” Morin expostulated. “As much as I bxxxh about working here I’d be in real trouble if I lost this job.”
“Well yeah, that’s what I figured,” Heyes admitted. “And that’s why I’m tellin’ ya’. You gotta get rid of that stuff Doc, get it outa here.”
“Why?” he asked. “You’re not planning on snitchin’ on me are ya’?”
“NO! Of course not!” Heyes was indignant. “But if Mitchell asked me to spy on ya’ what’s to stop him from askin’ somebody else to do the same. Somebody who don’t care about what happens to ya’?”
“Hmmmm,” came the familiar response. “Ya’ got a point.”
“Yeah. So like I say; ya’ gotta get that stuff outa here—tonight, if possible. Okay?”
“SXXT!” Morin let out one last obscenity, and then sighed with acceptance. “Yeah, you’re right. I will.” Then he gave Heyes a pat on the shoulder. “You’re a good man Heyes, a good friend. I won’t forget this.”
Heyes’ dimples made a rare appearance. “Gee, thanks Doc.”
The 4th of July found Steven, Bridget and Clementine coming out to the Double J for the long weekend to enjoy the festivities with family and friends. When the Sunday morning rolled around everyone pooled their resources in order to get the necessary chores done and then a number of horses were either saddle up or hitched to surreys and the whole gang headed into town for 11:00 a.m. services.
The whole town was alive with festivities and the population seemed to have doubled in size with everyone from within miles coming to join in. 12:45 found our group of celebrants casually walking along the boardwalk taking in the sights and sounds of the town done up for a party. Of course there was the inevitable town band making it’s noisy way along the main street and there were banners and flags flying and not to mention a whole sky full of Karma-Lou’s nemesis; BALOONS. Everyone was in a festive spirit, but also thinking as a whole about the possibility of nourishment.
Taking the lead, Belle and Jesse were keeping the pace slow since they had little Jay with them and he was insisting on doing his share of the walking along with everyone else. He still wasn’t quite able to manage this feat on his own and clung on to a hand belonging to each parent and doing his very best to put one foot in front of the other. As stated, this was a slow process, but no one seemed to mind and Jed especially got a kick out of watching the little fella having the time of his life.
Jed, as suggested was second in line with a lovely lady on each arm. Clem, on his left was chattering away as usual, commenting on everything from that extremely revealing line on that dress that so-n-so was wearing to what an interesting aroma that was coming from the sweets shop. Beth, on Jed’s right arm was quiet, but smiling with the enjoyment of the day and watching the antics of her younger brother. Sometimes competing with Clem when she got on a roll just wasn’t worth the effort.
Behind them came Steven with Bridget on his arm. They were quite content to keep the pace slow as it gave them all the more time together without having to interact with anyone else. They casually laughed and flirted and chatted about everything and anything that caught their attention, lost in a world of their own that only two young people in love can create.
Eventually the group did make it to the town center where many tables were set up for families to sit and sample the culinary delights of various different venders in the area. Jesse scooped Jay up in his arms and walked on ahead to find a table that would accommodate their lot. Very soon they found one that would do and both father and son started waving at the others to get their attention.
They had all just settled down with various lunches when they were joined by one more acquaintance.
“David!” Jesse greeted him. “Come on and join us!”
“Actually that was my intention,” David admitted with a smile of greeting to everyone present.
Room was made at the table and David slid in to sit between Belle and Beth and prepared to tuck in to lunch.
“Where is Tricia?” Belle asked him. “Will she be joining us?”
“No, I don’t think so,” David answered. “She’s not feeling well and just wanted to stay home and drink tea.”
“Oh,” Belle commiserated. “Nothing serious I hope?”
“No, no,” David assured her. “Just a summer cold I think. But she wanted me to leave her alone and kicked me out of the house. She says I’m a pest—can you believe that?”
Both Jed and Jesse snorted.
David smiled but did his best to ignore their opinion.
“How is everyone on this fine 4th of July?” he asked around the table. “Any great plans for the rest of the day?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Jesse answered him. “I think after lunch the ladies want to take in the flower show and the baking competition. As for us gentlemen—well, I do believe Ned has brought in samples of his fine beers and there is also a shooting competition. You might be interested in that Jed.”
Jed shrugged. “Yeah, maybe,” he answered. “The problem with shooting competitions is that I always figure I could do better. Used to be dangerous for me to enter them ‘cause it would bring unwanted attention. Now, I might just end up embarrassing myself.”
“I don’t know about that,” Beth commented. “I’ve been watching you practice and you’ve improved a lot over the last few months.”
Jed smiled. “Well thank you Beth,” he responded. “But I’m still a long way from top form.”
“How is your shoulder coming along?” David asked. “You been keeping up with the stretches and stuff?”
“Yes David,” Jed assured him with a long suffering roll of his eyes.
David laughed. “Yes okay! Onwards! Let’s have some fun.”
As the afternoon progressed the group just naturally split up into sections and went their own ways. The four gentlemen, as suggested, went off to sample some beer etc. Belle with Jay in tow joined a number of her friends to view the vibrant floral arrangements and sample some fine baked goods—and of course to gossip. The three younger ladies went off to window shop and to indulge in their own version of gossiping.
The three friends eventually ended up at the soda shop, and with some sweet treats in hand found themselves a lovely private little table outside where they could sit and chat without too much concern of eavesdroppers.
“How was he?” Beth asked, full of concern. “Is it really as bad as Thaddeus insists?”
“Yes,” Bridget answered. “It was worse. It was heartbreaking. I thought I was prepared to see him like that, but it was such a shock! And then that guard being so abusive!”
“Abusive?” Beth repeated in a quiet voice, her face paling. “But Joshua has always been such a kind man—why would they treat him badly?”
Clementine rolled her eyes. “You girls really do need to grow up,” she commented.
Both young ladies sent defensive looks over to their older ‘friend’.
“What’s that suppose to mean?” Beth demanded.
“There you go again!” Bridget accused her. “Condoning the treatment that Joshua has been receiving! How can you say that it’s alright?! That he deserves it?!”
“I’m not saying that!” Clem defended herself. “I’m just saying that you have to harden your hearts if you want to be of any use to Heyes. You have to get over this naivety about prison life and about how ‘it’s not right!’ and ‘how dare they treat him like that!’ etc. etc. One thing you girls really need to understand is that Hannibal Heyes is NOT Joshua Smith. Heyes was the most successful ever leader of The Devil’s Hole gang and you don’t get to that status by being ‘the nice guy’!”
Both girls were looking at her now, their eyes wide and shining. Neither of them wanted to hear what Clem was saying and yet they were hopelessly fascinated by it as well.
“Heyes was an outlaw. He was a con man, a card sharp and a thief!” Clem continued. “and those guards know exactly who Heyes was, and is—better than you do! They are not going to take anything for granted when it comes to dealing with him. Heyes can be a handful, and that’s for sure!”
Then Clem, seeing the frightened, yet totally enthralled faces looking back at her, softened her stance and smiled warmly in memory. “And yet he is one of the most generous and kindest men I have ever known—Kid too.”
Big sigh. “They really are ones to set a young lady’s heart to fluttering.”
Beth and Bridget both smiled appreciatively.
“So.” Clem continued with a more business-like air, “if we are going to help Heyes, then you two have got to toughen up! You have to stop crying over ‘what is’ so that we can start deciding what exactly to do about it. Goodness knows we’ve left it in the hands of the men for long enough.”
The two sisters nodded agreement, their expressions changed to ones of hardened determination.
“I have to get in to see him,” Beth insisted. “I need to see for myself what we are going to be up against.”
“Well yes, of course! But how to get you in there,” Clem agreed speculatively. “I don’t think your parents would approve.”
“No!” Beth agreed.
“That’s for sure!” Bridget seconded. “And Joshua won’t be pleased about it either. He was quite angry with me for coming to see him!”
“Why?” Beth asked. “I thought he would be pleased to see you.”
“Stubborn male pride,” Clem chimed in. Then seeing the confused expressions coming back at her, tried to explain the male ego. “He knows he’s at a disadvantage. He also knows that you two look up to him, maybe even admire him.” Two enthusiastic heads nod vigorously. “So put yourself in his shoes. He’s been subjugated—knocked down to the lowest level of humanity, his pride and his confidence beaten out of him. He’s ashamed and embarrassed. Do you really think he would want you to see him like that?”
The sisters sat quietly for a moment, digesting what Clem had said and then nodding in acquiescence; of course Joshua would find that difficult. Actually now that Clem had explained it to them, they reprimanded themselves for not having realized it before.
“I guess that’s why Thaddeus refused to take me to see him,” Beth commented reflectively. Then she gave a determined sigh. “But I still want to go. I need to see for myself how he is and what conditions he’s living in!”
“Neither of us is arguing that point,” Clem assured her. “but we still have to find a way to get you there—without your folks or Kid knowing what you’re doing.”
Beth thought about it for a moment. “Thaddeus mentioned a Catholic Sister who has access to the prison,” she informed the others. “Apparently she knows both Joshua and Thaddeus and has helped to care for Joshua when he gets sick or injured.”
The other two ladies sat and looked at her, waiting for her to explain how this just might be helpful.
“Well, perhaps if I could get in touch with this Sister and explain what we want to do, maybe she would take me in,” Beth suggested.
“Ohm, that’s debatable,” Clem commented. “And besides, you would still have to find a way to get there.”
“You could always tell Momma and Papa that you’re coming to stay with us for a week or so—just for a visit,” Bridget suggested. “Steven and I are already planning to come here for Christmas, so if you were to come visit us for Thanksgiving, that wouldn’t be suspicious.”
“Yeah,” Beth commented uncertainly. “but then, what happens when Momma and Papa ask Steven about my visit?”
“You can actually come for a visit,” Bridget explained. “Where you go after that is your business.”
Clem was looking very skeptical. “Do you have any idea how much trouble I would be in if Steven and your folks found out I was helping you with this? I’m supposed to be your chaperon! I’m supposed to make sure you stay out of trouble!”
Both girls looked back at her with their big brown eyes, imploring her solicitousness.
“Oh for goodness sakes!” Clem declared. “I don’t know how I get roped in to these things! I swear!”
Then all three ladies very nearly jumped out of their chairs when someone, probably the local male child population set off a string of fire crackers that split the air. Suddenly the street was even more active than intended with horses rearing and trying to head for the hills, and people running in circles trying to control the horses and catch the culprits! The fireworks were for later that evening after all!! Not in the middle of a family filled festive afternoon.
Meanwhile, Belle with Jay in tow had sat down at an outside table with her own group of friends. All four ladies had tea and pastries to attend to and with Jay settling in for an afternoon nap on his mother’s lap they all looked forward to some time to chat.
“That was certainly a lovely wedding wasn’t it?” Mable commented while sipping her tea. “Maribelle looked so pleased and Sam was very handsome.”
“Yes,” Belle agreed. “They seem well suited. And Sam is certainly a hard working young man. He should do well for himself.”
“Yes, but what a shame about he and Bridget,” Suzie piped in. “You must have been quite disappointed when that all fell apart.”
“Oh good gracious no,” Belle contradicted her. “Not that Sam isn’t a fine young man, but I knew Bridget wasn’t too serious about him. She was just flirting, you know. The way young ladies do.”
“Ohhh yes!” her three friends all nodded knowingly.
“She was very hurt at first by what happened,” Belle admitted. “but I think it was more wounded pride than a broken heart.”
“And my! But she’s found herself quite a beau now!” Millicent exclaimed. “Being courted by that handsome young lawyer! A young lady couldn’t ask for anyone better.”
Belle smiled. “Yes,” she agreed. “Mr. Granger is indeed a fine young man.”
“And what of Beth?” asked Suzie. “She’s done with school now and is of an age to be thinking about marriage. As you know my Lucille is already betrothed to young Mr. Thomas and they plan to be wed over the holidays.”
“Yes, we know Suzie dear,” chimed in Millicent. “and we’re all sure that Lucy and Theodore will be quite happy together. They’ve know each other since they could crawl for goodness sakes!” Then Millie looked over to Belle again. “But what of Beth? She’s such a pretty little thing—have you no one in mind for her? Don’t want to wait forever you know or all the good ones will be snatched up!”
“I think Beth is making up her own mind about that,” Belle answered. “I believe she has decided to hold out until the right one comes around.”
“Oh, such childish nonsense!” quipped Millicent. “The right one! She should set her sites on an eligible young man and go for it—otherwise she’ll be left an old maid. Surely there must be some young men in the county whom you would consider ‘acceptable’! What about Michael out at the Twin Star ranch, or Philip right here in town?”
“I do believe that Philip is already taken Millie dear,” Suzie informed her. “He and Sharon Wilson are probably going to be wed very soon.”
“That was quick!” Millicent responded with wide eyes. “Why they just barely started to notice one another!”
“Apparently they did a lot of noticing when no one else was noticing!” Suzie continued with a knowing air. “It seems they ‘have to’ get married—if you catch my drift. And soon too!!”
Belle smiled. “Well these things do happen don’t they?”
All the ladies smiled and took more tea.
“Might I mention my own boy, Charlie?” Mable took up the topic again. “He’s a fine young man and is still quite available!”
“Yes, yes ladies! I know,” Belle smiled. “but Jesse and I believe in allowing our girls to make their own decisions when it comes to choosing a husband. Unless, of course we had a very strong aversion to the young man in question! But we can hardly complain about Mr. Granger and I’m sure that Beth will make just as wise a choice.”
“Oh I don’t know about that,” Suzie commented dubiously. “the way Beth hovers around that Mr. Curry. Tch tch!” then she smiled with a slightly dreamy look to her own eyes. “Still, I can certainly understand the attraction; he is a very handsome man. I can certainly understand how a young, inexperienced maiden could be smitten by him. Considering who he is and all.” Then she became serious and shook her head knowingly. “But hardly a wise choice, given his—background.”
“Well, who’s to say?” Belle responded with a small smile. “We are all very fond of Thaddeus. He’s gone through a very difficult time but he seems to be coming out the other end of it now and he is proving himself to be quite worthy. If he and Beth decide that is what they want, we would not have a problem with it.”
This declaration was met by three buxomly gasps from around the table.
“Surely you don’t mean that?!”
“He’s an outlaw and a gunslinger!”
“He has no prospects! What could he offer her?!”
“Well now he was an outlaw,” Belle corrected them. “He has turned his back on that lifestyle, of that I have no doubt. As for him having no prospects, I don’t believe that’s true. Thaddeus has a lot to offer a young lady. He is a very intelligent and resourceful young man. I’m sure that once he finds his footing, he’ll find his nitch.”
“Well from what I hear,” stated Mable. “all Mr. Curry cares about now is getting that partner of his out of prison! Just where do his loyalties lie? If he has turned his back on that life as you say, then shouldn’t he be thinking more about his own future rather than wasting his time on some convict? Since only Mr. Curry was given a pardon then it would appear obvious that Mr. Heyes was the true scoundrel and was sent to prison for a reason! I would think that Mr. Curry would be wise to sever all ties to that swindler and get on with his own life!”
This statement was met with some vigorous head nodding and murmurs of approval from the other ladies present.
“Oh ladies! Please!” Belle was adamant. “What happened to poor Joshua was the biggest parody of true justice as I have ever seen. It’s all politics! Governor Warren crucified one in order to justify giving to the other what had been promised to both! My opinion of Thaddeus would be poor indeed if he were to turn his back on his friend now simply in order to ‘get on’ with his own life. It would be poor indeed.”
“Well, if that’s what actually happened, then I suppose….” Mable quickly tried to back step.
“Still, that could take years,” Millicent stepped in. “Just how long would Beth be willing to wait?”
“And is it worth it?” Suzie added her opinion. “How do you know that Mr. Curry is even interested in…..?”
Then all four ladies nearly jumped out of their seats as the festivities were loudly interrupted by the explosion of fire crackers renting the air! Jay was startled out of his comforting nap and started to cry.
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: Settling In. Chapter nineteen Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:02 pm|| |
Again, meanwhile the four gentlemen of the party were gradually making their way to the saloon where they knew some fine home brewed beers were waiting to be tasted and then voted on. Jed could hear the fast draw contest in full swing down one of the nearby side allies but had decided discreetly not to join in. He was with friends now and he would enjoy the day as a family group.
They were all just stepping up onto the boardwalk in front of the saloon when quite unexpectedly Jed walked very much accidentally into one of the local young ladies who just happened to be passing by on her way to the soda shop. Jed stepped back and smiled down at the pretty brunette and tipped his hat in apology.
“Oh, excuse me ma’am, ah, Miss Baird isn’t it?” he asked.
“Why yes Mr. Curry,” she smiled sweetly up at him. “how kind of you to remember my name.”
“Well it’s easy to remember the name of such a pretty young lady,” he commented casually.
Miss Baird smiled even more sweetly. “Why, thank you Mr. Curry. Will we be seeing you at the fireworks later this evening?”
“I do expect to be there, yes ma’am.”
“Lovely! I’ll look forward to seeing you then,” She flirted back at him, and then she moved on with a very sweet and smoldering brown eyed look back at him.
Jed settled his hat back on his head and watched the enticing young thing walking away from him to join her friends over at the soda shop. Then he looked around towards the saloon to find his three friends smiling at him.
“Oh, don’t even start!” he warned them. “That was just a…”
“An encounter?” finished David.
“Yeah. NO!” Jed floundered. “That was nothin’!”
“Yes, of course it was nothing,” David teased him.
“Better not tell Beth,” Steven commented.
“There’s nothin’ to tell!” Jed was getting flustered.
Finally Jesse took pity on the young man and getting in between him and the other two, he draped a conciliatory arm across his shoulders and headed him into the saloon.
“C'mon Jed,” he assured him. “don’t listen to them; they’re just jealous because some pretty little lady isn’t fluttering her eyes lashes at them.”
“There was no fluttering of eye lashes!”
Then the four men settled themselves up at the bar and began in earnest to sample some of the fine beers that were being made available. They looked around, hoping to find an empty table that would accommodate all of them, but no such luck. It seemed that the saloon was a very popular place for the numerous husbands of the county and every table was occupied. So the four friends turned back to the bar and continued their conversation leaning there and enjoying their drinks.
“How is business going Steven?” Jesse asked his future son-in-law. “You keeping busy?”
“I’ll say!” Steven admitted. “Since I still have my office in Cheyenne running and now the one in Denver, I’m kept very busy!”
“Why are you keeping two offices running?” David asked him.
“I still have open cases in Cheyenne—including Mr. Heyes’,” Steven explained. “I didn’t feel right about just walking away from them.”
“Han’s case is still open?” Jesse asked.
“Oh yes!” Steven confirmed. “I’m still trying to set up an appeal, but unfortunately neither party is willing to compromise.”
“How do you mean?” asked David.
“Well, Governor Warren won’t even speak with me,” Steven explained. “The Judge won’t relent on his sentence unless Mr. Heyes is willing to concede and give up the information that he refused to release during his trial which he is still refusing to do. And neither one is willing to negotiate the terms.”
This was met by a chorus of frustrated sighs and then everyone looked over at Jed.
“What?” Jed asked them.
“He’s your partner,” Steven pointed out. “Can’t you talk to him?”
“And tell him what?” Jed asked again. “That he should knife two of our friends in the back in order to get out of prison?”
“Actually, it wasn’t in exchange for a total pardon,” Steven reluctantly revealed. “The Judge said he would be willing to reduce Mr. Heyes’ sentence to ten years instead of twenty to life if he surrendered the information.”
Curry snorted in disgust. “That’ll never happen,” he said.
“Yes,” Steven admitted. “so Mr. Heyes has already informed me.”
This information was met with another chorus of frustrated sighs.
“Well,” began Jed rather intently. “what’s the next step? What else can we do?”
There was a moment of silence as everyone considered this question.
“I still say that the best step is to wait and see what happens with Governor Warren,” Steven commented. “I doubt that he is going to be in office much longer. Once we get a new governor in there, well maybe he will be willing to honour the pardon.”
“Yeah right,” Jed mumbled. “We’ve been through this before. A new governor is going to be too concerned about keeping the big budget business men happy to be willing to pardon Hannibal Heyes. I just don’t see it happening.”
“I know,” Steven acknowledged. “I’ll keep at it from my end and continue to petition the Judge for an appeal and I know that Bridget is still writing to various newspapers about the promises made and broken. I don’t know what else she can do right now.”
“Well, Beth is busy doing much the same thing,” Jed offered. “Keeping in touch with the individuals who helped out before. Asking them for more letters to the Governor’s Office and all that. I don’t know. It just seems like everyone is ignoring us now. Nobody wants to think about it anymore.”
“What about your friend Mr. McCreedy?” Jesse asked. “Is he still involved?”
“Yeah,” Jed answered. “I know he’s still putting pressure on Governor Warren, but again he’s getting shut out. Big Mac has money and influence, but mostly in Texas! Wyoming doesn’t really care. But he is still trying.”
“He is still sending me retainers,” Steven admitted. “It helps me to keep pushing for an appeal. I just wish there was more we could do.”
“What about that other judge, the one you boys knew from before?” Jesse asked Jed.
“Who? You mean Judge Hanley?”
“Yeah,” Jesse agreed. “He seemed to be quite supportive of you. Is he still in the picture?”
“I guess,” Jed answered. “He’s not well these days and I suppose Warren figures that giving me the amnesty sort of makes them even. I don’t know if Judge Hanley is really up to continuing the fight.” Jed sighed. “Maybe Beth could get hold of him again and see if he can still help out.”
Just then the bat wing doors of the entrance slammed open and five or six young bucks exploded into the saloon laughing and hooting and slapping one particular young fella on the back.
“Hey! Frank here just up and won the fast draw competition! Beers all around for us!!”
“Woo hoo! That was some mighty fine shooten’ you fellas missed! Ya’ all shoulda been there!”
“Yeah! I ain’t never seen nobody faster!!”
Jed casually glanced over at the group as they collected up their beers and he met the eyes of the excited young Frank who was all puffed up with his victory. The lock on was only for an instant and then it was broken by the celebratory group heading away from the bar and taking possession of a table that had recently been made available. Jed sighed almost regretfully and then turned his attention back to the conversation.
“Yeah,” Steven agreed. “Keeping pressure on the powers that be can’t hurt. I still think our best bet is to wait for a new governor to be appointed and go from there.”
Jed sighed dejectedly and stared down into his half empty glass of beer. It’s all well and good for them to just wait and see, but what about Heyes? He was the one who really had to just hang on and wait and how long would he be able to do that for? All the doors seemed to be getting shut in their faces and nobody was coming up with a feasible ‘next step’.
He sighed again and took another swallow of beer. Then his blood went cold in his veins.
“KID CURRY!” came a yell from behind him. “I’M CALLIN’ YOU OUT!”
Jed’s three friends all turned as one to look at the young man doing the yelling. It was Frank, the winner of the fast draw competition. He apparently was feeling his oats and with the support of his friends, got to thinking that he was invincible.
Meanwhile, once the instant chill had left the Kid’s body, his well honed instincts took over. His heart rate and breathing slowed and a calmness settled on to him as his right hand dropped inconspicuously to rest quietly by the handle of his gun.
“What’s he look like?” Jed asked Jesse who was standing the closest to him. “Is he wearing his gun tied down?”
“Yeah,” Jesse whispered. “Much like how you wear yours.”
“Damn it,” Jed sighed regretfully. “Get away from me,” he told his friends in a whisper. “and for goodness sakes, don’t stand behind me.”
“No Jed, you can’t be serious,” Jesse argued.
“I’m not the one callin’ him out Jesse!” Jed responded in a whispered hiss. “and he sounds serious. Move away from me—now!”
“YOU HEAR ME CURRY?!” Frank called out to him again. “or have you gotten soft since you became all legal?!”
Then everyone in the silenced saloon quietly shuffled away from the two gunmen. The atmosphere inside the establishment had gone from carefree and festive to one of oppressed anticipation as the seriousness of the challenge became apparent. Even Bill, the bartender had snatched up some of the more expensive bottles and had taken cover behind the bar.
Jed sighed one more time, and then he straightened up and turned away from the bar to face his adversary.
“Listen,” he said, trying to defuse the situation. “this has been a nice quiet….”
Then Frank made his move and Jed didn’t even have time to think about it. His body reacted on pure instinct. The muscles in his right shoulder contracted and like an electric shock running down through his arm and into his hand the nerves and tendons responded instantly. His six shooter exploded with the report and then the wisp of smoke and the smell of gun powder filled the air.
Frank lay writhing on the floor, clutching his right thigh, his own gun having clattered uselessly to the floorboards. There was stunned silence for a heartbeat and then everyone was brought out of their stupor by the sound of firecrackers taking over the scene. The was followed by horses screaming in fear and people shouting off in the distance to try and get things back under control.
Then everyone in the saloon was talking at once, with the occasional ‘Whoop!” and “Did you see that? I ain’t never seen anything so fast!”
And then David was on the run over to tend to the stricken man and someone else was running for Sheriff Jacobs and Steven was standing there with his mouth open, not so sure that he had seen what he’d just seen.
Jed had returned his six shooter to its holster and leaned back against the bar looking very disappointed. Jesse put a hand on his shoulder.
“Jeez Jed,” he said quietly. “is that how it happens? So fast—with no real warning?”
“Yup,” Jed nodded sadly. “usually it does.”
“Well,” Jesse sighed. “at least you know you’re still fast.”
Jed just shook his head. “No,” he said. “I’m way off. If that had been Danny Bilson I’d be dead right now. And I was aiming for his holster, not his leg. I didn’t want to actually hit him.”
Jesse and Steven exchanged looks at that admission; it had seemed plenty fast to them. Then David looked up from his administrations and beckoned to the lawyer.
“Steven, could you run over to my place and get my medical bag?” he asked. “I need to get this bleeding stopped then we can move him to my surgery and I’ll patch him up over there.”
“Oh, sure,” Steven agreed. “I’ll be right back.”
Then Jesse gave Jed another pat on the back. “C'mon Jed,” he said. “let me buy ya’ a shot of whiskey. You’re shaking.”
The two men turned back to face the bar just as Bill came up with a bottle of the good stuff and three glasses.
“No fellas, it’s on me!” he offered as he started to pour. “and I’ll join ya’. That has got ta’ be the dangest thing I ever seen! Talk about a 4th of July! Whooeee!”
The three men downed their whiskey just as Sheriff Jacobs entered the building. He did one quick look around and then headed over to speak with David first and get the prognoses of the young man bleeding on the floor.
“No, it’s not bad Sheriff,” David told him. “I’ll get some padding onto it and then get him over to my office. He’ll be limping, but he’ll be walking tomorrow.”
“Good,” Jacobs nodded. “Did you see what happened?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Good,” Jacobs said again. “When you’re done with him come over to my office and give me your version.”
David nodded and then went back to trying to soothe the whimpering contest winner. Jacobs looked over at the bar, sighed and shook his head. Always something on the 4th of July. He started over towards the bar, practically having to push eager witnesses out of his way. All of a sudden everybody wanted to offer up their version of what happened.
“I saw everything Sheriff! It was absolutely amazing!”
“You’re not gonna believe it Sheriff! What a gunfight—I ain’t never gonna forget this!
“Hey Sheriff! I’ll be happy to tell ya’ what happened! I had a real clear view of the whole thing!”
Jacobs nodded politely to all the townsfolk who were so eager to be of assistance, but he still steadily made his way over to the bar and to the man he really wanted to have a conversation with.
“Mr. Curry,” he greeted the gunman.
So with the pleasantries dispensed with the sheriff turned his attention back to Jed.
“You want to tell me what happened here?”
Jed sighed; this was never going to get any easier.
“We were just having a drink at the bar when that young fella called me out,” Jed explained. “I tried to calm him down, to talk him out of it but he went for his gun and I just reacted. I’m sorry; I tried not to hit him but I guess I’m still not as accurate as I used to be.”
“Uh huh,” Jacobs sounded skeptical. “No reason for it? He just decided outa the blue to call you out?”
“That’s right Sheriff,” Jed reiterated. “I guess he was feelin’ punchy, having won that fast draw contest and I suppose he’d already had a few beers before comin’ here and then he saw me at the bar the figured he’d make a show of it. I guess he found out the hard way that shootin’ at a spinning plate ain’t quite the same as shootin’ at someone who could shoot back.”
“Uh huh,” Jacobs nodded. “Is that pretty much how you saw it Jesse?”
“Yes,” Jesse agreed. “That young fella started it. Jed did try to talk him down but it just wasn’t gonna happen.”
Jacobs let go a big sigh and all three men looked over to where David was helping Frank up onto his feet and a couple of Frank’s friends were each getting under an arm to help escort him over to the Doctor’s office. David sent a quick smile over to the three men at the bar and then a look of concern flashed across his face when he noticed Jed supporting his right arm with a thumb hooked into his belt. Then he was gone, tending to the more immediate need but making a mental note all the same.
Steven came over to re-join his friends at the bar. He gladly accepted a welcoming shot of whiskey himself.
“How about you Mr. Granger?” Jacobs asked him. “you agree; that young man started the whole thing?”
“Oh yes Sheriff,” Steven backed up the story. “There’s no doubt about it.” Then he smiled. “And if you have any intentions of arresting Mr. Curry here, well I’ll be quite happy to defend him—free of charge!”
Curry sent him a look, like; why did you have to bring that up? But Jacobs laughed and then shook his head.
“Oh, I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” he assured the group. “On the contrary, I believe I will ask the good Doctor how much he’s going to charge for the medical services and then whatever’s left over from that young fella’s winnings will conveniently be the amount of his fine for disturbing the peace and inciting a gunfight.” Then he tipped his hat to the small group at the bar. “Good afternoon gentlemen. Enjoy the festivities, but please try and stay out of trouble.”
“Yes sir Sheriff,” Jed answered with a relieved smile.
“See you later Carl,” Jesse added.
Jed slumped in relief and then poured himself another shot from the bottle.
“I am never gonna get used to talkin’ to a badge,” he mumbled into the glass.
Jesse smiled and gave him a pat on the back. “C'mon,” he said. “let’s go find the ladies. I’m sure rumours of what happened will be all around the town by now and they’ll be worried.”
A couple of hours later found the whole group together and seated around another outside table, enjoying supper before the evening got too much further along. David had tended to his patient, gave him painkillers and then sent to sleep away the rest of the evening at his hotel room. Then the good doctor had rejoined the festivities though he was a little disappointed that his wife was still not feeling up to snuff and had again decided to stay home and rest.
“Well, what an exciting afternoon,” Belle commented while she tried to help her son get food into his mouth rather than all over his face and hands. “Thank goodness it wasn’t too serious.”
“Yes,” David agreed. “It turned out to just be a graze; painful but hardly life threatening. Hopefully he’s learned his lesson.”
“Yeah,” Jed grumbled. “Unfortunately for every one who learns the lesson, there’s five more that still need teachin’.”
“Don’t you think the majority of them will leave you alone now that you’ve been pardoned?” Jesse asked him.
“I donno Jesse,” Jed admitted. “I hope so. But like I said at my trial ‘there’s always one who wants the reputation.’ And knowin’ that my shoulder ain’t what it used to be might just make it all the more inviting.”
“That’s just silly!” Beth exclaimed. “Where’s the honour of out shooting a man who’s been injured?”
Everyone at the table smiled.
“A woman’s logic,” Belle commented.
“Well, let’s hope you’re right Beth,” Jed told her. “But in the mean time I’m gonna keep on practicing just in case you’re not.”
“That reminds me,” David piped up. “how is your shoulder feeling after that? I noticed you supporting it in the saloon. Is it still bothering you?”
“No David, it’s alright,” Jed assured him. “It’s just a little stiff. It’ll be fine.”
“Okay. But if it’s still sore tomorrow, come in and I’ll work on it for you.”
Jed groaned. “David! It’ll be fine.”
“Oh don’t be such a baby!” David threw back at him. “You know it feels better after I’ve worked on it. I swear; I’ve never known a grown man to whimper as much as you do!”
Jed glared a look over the table at him, but David met it with an innocent smile—obviously teasing his friend. The young ladies giggled.
Soon all the supper plates were cleared away and everyone was enjoying dessert and one final cup of coffee before evening plans were brought up for discussion.
“I’m sure you young people want to stay for the festivities tonight,” Jesse observed. “There’s going to be dancing and of course fireworks once it gets dark.”
“Yup,” Jed agreed. “I believe that’s a fair assumption.”
The three young ladies were smiling, with sparkles in their eyes in anticipation of a fun night in town.
“Well, that’s fine,” Jesse continued. “Though I do believe Belle and I will be heading home shortly.” Belle nodded a tired but enthusiastic agreement to this statement. “Our young man here needs to get to bed—not to mention the old man! I just ask that when you people do get home tonight that you try to be quiet. Please.”
“And you young men,” Jesse took on a stern manner, indicating Jed and Steven. “You’ll be escorting my girls, so I expect you to behave like gentlemen! You understand me?”
“Good!” then he and Belle exchanged a look. If Jesse had had any concerns about honourable behavior—or lack there of—his daughters would not be staying in town for the evening. “On that note,” he continued. “I believe we will call it a night.”
Everyone who stayed in town for the party ended up having a wonderful time. The town center was eventually cleared away to make room for dancing and the local band got itself set up to play and the fun soon began!
It seemed that though our group tended to stick together when it came time to eat or drink or just sit one out, when it came to dancing no one was sticking to just one partner. It wasn’t really surprising though, since most of those in attendance were of the same age group and had basically grown up together. But even the new comers were familiar enough faces around town to feel like they belonged and it was one big happy family having fun.
Jed got one scare added on to his day when he left the group to tend to necessity and he spotted two of Frank’s friends coming towards him. He felt a twinge of resentment that they might be coming over looking for revenge, but that supposition was soon laid to rest when both young men smiled at him and offered hands for shaking.
“We sure do want to apologize for Frank acting like such an idiot there this afternoon Mr. Curry,” one of them started in. “He’s not a bad fella, but he can be a bit frisky sometimes, especially when he’s had a few ta’ drink!”
“Oh, well that’s okay fellas,” Curry responded, relief washing over him. “No hard feelings.”
“Good! Good!” stated the other. “I must say though, it sure was an honour to see ya’ in action. We ain’t never gonna forget that!”
“Yeah, that’s for sure!” agreed the first. “It was almost worth Frank getting shot to be able to see that, yes sir!”
“And ah…” started the other, a little more somber this time. “we really want ta’ thank ya’ for not killin’ em. Like we say; he’s not a bad fella.”
“Yeah, sure,” mumbled the Kid. “no problem.”
And then amongst a few more hand shakes and a slap on the back, the men parted company and Jed carried on with his mission hoping he was never going to have to set eyes on those fellas again.
Then, on his way back to his group of friends, one small incident did transpire that was taken quite seriously by some, and shrugged off as irrelevant by others, depending of course on your gender.
As was stated, Jed was returning to his friends when he found himself once again bumping into Miss Baird. Again, he quickly back stepped and apologized. She smiled and batted her lashes.
“Miss Baird!” he said. “I do apologize. I seem to be bumping into you a lot today.”
“That’s quite alright Mr. Curry,” she smiled back. “And please—this is an informal gathering; feel free to call me Isabelle.”
“Well thank you—Isabelle,” Curry was smiling by this time as well. “My name is Jed.”
“Yes I know.”
Jed then offered her his arm and they strolled back to the dancing together.
“I certainly heard about that incident this afternoon,” Isabelle commented. “How very frightening for you! And how relieved I was to learn that you had not been injured.”
“I’ve gotten pretty good at taking care of myself Isabelle,” Jed assured her. “It was hardly worthy of your concern.”
“Yes, I’m sure you are quite able to take care of yourself,” she flirted back up at him. “You strike me as a very capable man—in more ways than one.”
“Ohh hoo, Isabelle,” Jed teased her. “I believe you’re changing the subject.”
“It would seem that you are very astute as well.”
At which point any further conversation was cut short by the appearance of Clem and Bridget who were very quick to intervene! Before Isabelle had any notion of the combined intervention being reigned down upon her those two worthy friends had nipped in between the couple and were quickly ushering Jed off to a neutral corner! By the time Isabelle was aware that her quarry had been absconded with and had got her breath back to protest, she was instantly silenced by two sets of dark smoking brown eyes just daring her to try that again!
Jed himself was a little surprised to find the very attractive Isabelle suddenly replaced by his two friends, one on each arm, hustling him off towards their table. As far as he was concerned, he was just being neighbourly.
“Whoa! What’s going on!?”
“You don’t want to be seen with her!” Bridget explained. “She has a reputation!”
“What? We were just talking!”
“Besides,” Clem added. “Beth wants this next dance with you!”
“She does?” he asked. “Why didn’t she just say so?”
“Well she’s just shy,” Clem explained. “Go on! Get over there and ask her for the next dance!”
Then Clem and Bridget, each with a hand pressed against the small of his back gave him a push towards the main focus of their discussion. Jed very nearly tripped over one of the chairs that was scattered about, but caught himself just in time and came up face to face with a smiling Beth.
“Beth,” Jed addressed her politely. “would you honour me with this dance?”
Beth beamed up at him, smiling broadly. “Of course Thaddeus! I’d love to.”
Then with a furrow browed look towards the two instigators, Jed offered his arm to Beth and they headed towards the dance area.
Bridget and Clementine rolled their eyes, and shook their heads in astonishment.
“Men!” Clem declared. “Sometimes they can be so obtuse!”
At which point Steven and David offered their arms to the two ladies and everyone except Isabelle joined in to dance the evening away.
The next morning, no one was quick to rise and shine but eventually the household started to stir and coffee was quickly prepared and passed around. Fortunately for everyone, even young Jay wasn’t too interested in getting out of bed so it became a very relaxing morning, mostly spent sitting out on the front porch and drinking tea or lemonade.
Then Jed groaned as they all spotted David’s surrey making its way down the lane towards the open yard. As usual Buck and Karma came dancing over to the fence to greet the visitors and David’s little gelding tossed his head and sent them a nicker. Belle stood up and waved at him as he turned his horse into the hitching post and disembarked.
“David!” she greeted him. “How good to see you. How is Tricia today?”
“Feeling better I think,” he answered with a smile. “Just a twenty-four hour thing.”
“Good! Would you like some tea, or lemonade?”
“Some lemonade would go down very nicely right now, thank you.”
“Fine,” Belle answered. “Come on up and have a seat. I’ll get you a glass.”
“Morning David.” Jesse greeted him. “What brings you out this way?”
“Yes, David,” piped in the Kid, suspiciously. “What does bring you out this way?”
David came up onto the porch, stepping over the three stretched out dogs as he headed for the empty chair. So much for being on the alert! He sat down between the two men and smiled over at Jed.
“I think you already know what brings me out,” he answered. “I decided I wasn’t going to wait for you to do the right thing, so I just included you in on my rounds for this morning. You’ll thank me later.”
“David—I’m fine,” Jed scowled, not wanting to mention that he had hardly slept the previous night due to the aching in his shoulder.
“Hmm hum. Oh! Belle, thank you!” David accepted his drink while Belle pulled up another chair and joined them again. “I take it everyone got home alright last night. Quite an event wasn’t it?”
“I’ll say,” Jesse agreed. “I don’t think anyone is going to be forgetting this 4th of July for some time to come.”
The conversation carried on in this vein for half an hour or so and then David put down his empty glass and started getting to his feet.
“Well Jed, c'mon let’s get to this,” he said. “Best if we go inside, get you sitting in a straight back chair.”
“How about we just don’t bother doing it at all?” Jed suggested sourly.
“Nope,” David didn’t accept that and then headed indoors, totally expecting Jed to follow him.
Jed sighed, but didn’t move.
“You best get it over with Jed,” Jesse suggested. “You know he won’t let up until you do.”
“Grrrrr,” Jed grumbled but started to push himself to his feet anyways. “My shoulders fine,” he mumbled as he headed indoors. “Why does he have to be such a pest?”
David stepped back, a little surprised at the level of hostility.
“What’s the matter?” he asked his friend. “Why are you in such a snarky mood today?”
Jed sighed and slumped his shoulders.
“I donno, just am,” he mumbled.
David moved back in and continued to massage the shoulder.
“Here you go again,” he accused him. “you do know why, you just don’t feel comfortable talking about it.”
“Yeah, fine,” Jed agreed, and then grimaced in pain. “David that hurts.”
“Yes, I know. So, what is it you don’t feel comfortable talking about?”
Jed sighed again. Poke prod, poke prod. Jed just couldn’t understand why he liked this man so much.
“ALRIGHT!” Jed finally conceded. “I’m frustrated—okay!?”
“HEYES!” he shouted. “What else?! Here we are, doing everything we can do that’s legal—and nothing’s happening! And people wonder why we just went outside the law to get what we wanted! Ya’ just turn old and gray tryin’ ta’ do it the right way!! All summer long he’s been working outside the prison walls! All I gotta do is get some of the boys together from Devil’s Hole and go cut him loose! Head down to Mexico or something! But here I sit, waiting for the next new governor, cause just on the outside chance, he might be agreeable. Well damn ‘agreeable’! I should just go get him—to hell with the pardon!”
“Hmmm,” was David’s comment as he moved around behind Jed and started to massage both his shoulders. The man was getting tense. “Have you mentioned this to Hannibal?”
“Are you going to?”
“No,” Jed admitted, calming down a bit. The massage was helping. “He’d just get mad at me. He’s already told me not to blow my own chances now. Even said that he’d ‘understand’ if I decided to just forget about him and get on with my own life. Can you believe that? That he would say something like that to me?! Geesh!”
“Well, I guess he’s just trying to let you know that you have choices now,” David hypothesized. “I can certainly understand him not wanting you to do anything illegal now that you have your pardon. Maybe he sees it as; after all that hard work at least one of you has benefited. If you go and blow it now, well what was it all for then?”
“Yeah,” he sighed. “I suppose.”
Then a stampede of giggles and skirts came charging in to the front room, being followed by a more sedate Belle. Jed quickly put his shirt back on.
“David,” Belle said. “would you like to stay for lunch?”
That evening the family was all relaxing in various positions between the dinning room table, living room armchairs and the front porch. Belle was comfortable settled into an armchair and was busy knitting various items for the upcoming cooler months. She was a little quiet in her mood at this time as she knew that Bridget along with Clementine and Steven would be heading back to Denver in the morning. She had known that they would not be staying for long but she was still sad to see her daughter going again.
Those same three people were out on the front porch laughing and talking together like the old friends that they were quickly all becoming. Bridget, as is usual for youngsters leaving the nest, was eagerly anticipating getting back to her new life in Denver and had no clue as to how difficult this whole transition had been on her mother. Belle certainly wasn’t going to let her know!
Jesse, Jed and Beth were all sitting at the table quietly involved in their own endeavors. Jesse was doing the never-ending paperwork involved in running a business. Jed was busy cleaning his gun—again, something which he did every evening, but much to Belle’s relief always after Jay had been put down for the night. Beth was sitting quietly and watching with fascination while her friend dismantled his gun, cleaned every single little piece of it and then put it all back together again without missing a beat. She’d watched him do it night after night and still couldn’t keep up.
“Have you asked Joshua what he would like for Christmas Thaddeus?” Belle suddenly asked from her corner.
“Ah, no I haven’t,” Jed admitted. “But I do seem to recall him saying that a woolen hat would be appreciated.”
“A woolen hat?”
“Yeah. They shaved off his hair, remember,” Jed reminded her. “His head gets kinda’ cold.”
“Oh my goodness!” Belle admonished herself. “I had totally forgotten about that!” Then she sighed reflectively. “I suppose it’s because I haven’t seen him. Whenever I think of him I still see him as he was here, with that lovely thick head of hair. I guess he looks quite different from that now, doesn’t he?”
Jed sent a sad look over to her. “Yeah, he does,” then he smiled, trying to lighten the mood. “So, a woolen hat and some mittens if you have the time.”
Belle smiled. “Of course I have the time. Joshua takes priority these days. Do you know what you’re going to get for him?”
“No. I hadn’t really thought about it. I suppose I should—Christmas will be here before we know it,” then he stopped and looked down at the small cleaning tool he was holding in his hand and he turned reflective. “Heyes gave me this cleaning kit for my birthday, I guess about five years ago. I already had one, but some of the tools were missing and I was just kinda’ makin’ do. I hadn’t said nothin’ to him about needing a new kit ‘cause I knew we didn’t really have the money for one. But I guess he saw that I needed it and he found the money somewhere.”
Belle sent him a gentle look. “That was very considerate of him.”
“Do they do anything at the prison for Christmas?” Beth suddenly piped up.
“Oh, yeah,” Jed answered her, pulling himself out of his reminiscence. “There is actually a woman chaplain there who gives services and lectures on Sundays for the inmates and I believe holds special services for Christmas and Easter.”
All three heads looked up from what they were doing at the mention of this rather amazing piece of news.
“Really?” asked Beth. “A woman chaplain? At a prison?!”
“Yeah, that’s what I said too,” Jed agreed. “From what Heyes tells me she’s very well educated and even has her doctorate.”
“Well,” Belle commented. “who would have ever thought? I hope Joshua is getting some enjoyment out of the services and lectures. Someone else of an intellect perhaps, to keep him interested?”
“Yeah—I donno,” Jed admitted. “I think lately Heyes has been backing off that stuff. Keeping more to himself, you know.”
Belle frowned. “That doesn’t sound good,” she commented. “Joshua has a very active mind. If there is someone there who is willing to give lectures and spiritual instruction he should take advantage of it.”
“Heyes never was very spiritual,” Jed pointed out.
“Yes, I know,” Belle conceded. “but there’s something to be said about the spiritual side of things, especially during hard times. It might make his life now a little easier for him.”
Jed sighed. “Well, there is Sister Julia,” he mentioned. “We met her a few years back and now she’s helping out at the prison sometimes. She seems to have taken Heyes on as her new project.”
Belle smiled. Beth perked up at the name of this person of interest.
“Yes, you mentioned her before,” she commented. “Didn’t the sisters bring gifts for the inmates last year?”
“Yeah,” Jed confirmed. “that’s right. That’s how she found out that Heyes was there.”
“Oh. Do the sisters live close by to the prison then?”
Jed became reflective. “Well, there must be a convent close by I would assume. She would live there, with other sisters—I suppose.”
“Oh. So she goes to the prison often?”
Jed shrugged as he started putting his gun back together again. “I donno how often. Usually when the doctor there needs help she’ll come to act as nurse. I know when Heyes was sick last winter she did a lot to get him through it.”
“Yes! That was frightening,” Belle remembered the episode. “I certainly hope he doesn’t get that sick again.”
“Well, he’s eating better this year, so hopefully not,” Jed assured her and then smiled. “And a nice woolen hat and mittens will certainly help him to stay warmer!”
“We’ll just have to make sure he gets them then!” Belle declared.
“So would the convent be in Laramie do you think?” Beth asked, bringing the topic back to her point of interest.
“I don’t think so,” Jed answered her. “I certainly haven’t seen it. But how many convents can there be within a days’ wagon ride of the prison? It must be around there somewhere.”
“Yes, I’m sure it is,” Beth agreed. “The locals probably know exactly where it is.”
“Well!” said Belle as she got up from her armchair. “I’m in the mood for an evening cup of tea. Anyone else?”
“That would be nice,” Jesse responded.
“Sure,” came Jed’s answer.
“Not me Momma,” said Beth as she got up from the table. “I’m still really tired from our late night yesterday. I think I’m just going to go up to my room and read a little while there’s still light.”
“Oh,” Belle was surprised. “alright Beth.” Then she smiled. “I suppose you all did have a rather boisterous evening.”
Beth made her way up the stairs and into her room which she was now sharing with Bridget and Clem while there was such a full house. She quietly closed the door and went over to her little writing desk and sitting down, took out a piece of clean paper along with her ink jar and pen. She sat for a moment, reflective, wondering just how exactly to word this very sensitive letter. She must have sat for at least ten minutes just staring into space when finally she dipped pen into ink and began to write.
To; Sister Julia
Then she stopped and thought about it some more. It wasn’t much of an address but it was all she had. She could only hope that her letter would actually find its way to the proper recipient.
“Dear Sister Julia……”
TO BE CONTINUED
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: Settling In. Chapter nineteen Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:35 am|| |
I really enjoyed the way Clem explained some of the harsh realities to the Jordan girls. Beth is sounding quite young at times and adult at others, but isn't that real immaturity - to be mature enough to mix in an adult world and then not to be able to cope with everything they meet there? The Kid also seems to be growing and better able to deal with life on his own.
|Subject: Re: Settling In. Chapter nineteen || |
Settling In. Chapter nineteen