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Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

Firelands-The Beginning

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As I said in my other topic regarding posting the original Firelands story from Belle Alley, this story was begun by Duzy Wales and carried on by her and a lot of other folks. As I post that story, I ask that all and sundry refrain from commenting here. I will start a thread for comments but please, please do not comment on this thread. I would much prefer that the story have a chance to unfold as it was originally written. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

 

The above having been said, let the story begin:

 

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Duzy Wales 7-24-07

 

Duzy nudged her Paint, Edi, named after her Grandmother Edith, to a halt and stepped down. Overlooking the valley below, she watched the progress of the new building being completed. It was a day of celebration, with the town’s people helping each other attend business, while taking turns to meet friends, who had ridden in from miles around. Things were good in Firelands, the name of the thriving little town. The women were setting up tables of food, the children running and playing in the dusty streets, and the air of excitement, laughter and music reached her ears, as her heart swelled with anticipation and pride. The building would be her place of employment, the first newspaper office in the area. The Sheriff had been surprised when D. Wales had arrived, thinking that they were hiring a man to run the office, but after a nice lunch and getting to know her, along with her credentials, he had decided to take a chance by hiring her, much to the amusement and ridicule of his male friends.

She smiled and wished her parents could have made the trip to live there, as she missed them terribly, and then she chided herself, knowing that they would were happier not leaving their home and friends, and that this was her dream. Her Mama and Papa had encouraged her that she could do anything, if she would do what was expected of her. It was simple, Mama said, “Say your prayers, think for yourself, make good friends, use good manners, be honest, help the less fortunate, make a stand against wrong, make your word your bond, your handshake your word, and work hard to find something you loved to do.” They were passionate about life and loved each other more than any two she had ever seen or known and she knew deep in her heart that she dreamed of a love like that someday.

Duzy had loved books and had fantasized about the far away places that she read about. She had been fortunate, attending some of the best schools in the East, and now she was here, reminiscing about the day she had picked up the news paper, with the clipping that had changed her life. She had been expected by many to finish school, come home, and marry a handsome young man she had known all her life, whose property had adjoined her parents. He was smart and kind, always the gentleman, but she didn’t feel the spark she expected when he held her hand, his touch didn’t make her heart pound, the first kiss had been almost like that of a brother, making Duzy wonder if there was something wrong with her. Sometimes she wondered if she were being foolish, and had taken the love stories and poetry of her books too seriously, giving her the wrong impression of how it should be, but she thought again of her Mama and Papa and remembered watching them leave to take walks at night, holding hands and then she would watch as they kissed in the moonlight under the pine tree….never seeming to want to pull away or let go of each other

Her beau, as everyone thought him to be, had been shocked, hurt, and angry that she would leave him for the unknown, as he was already an established attorney, located in the foothills of North Carolina, where they had been born and raised. He had finally quit trying to persuade her not to leave, and Duzy knew that he thought she would come running back to him, that the little western town, “Firelands,” he had scoffed, whose clipping had brought her here, would be too boring, too rugged, or both, for a lady of fine breeding and the daughter of a respected family. Duzy was at home in the grand ballrooms in the South. She had once met the inventor, Mr. Thomas Edison, asking her Papa to buy his new invention, the phonograph in 1877. A year later, she had the honor of being introduced to Rutherford Hayes, President of the United States of America. Her Mama had taught her the proper way to entertain, always mingling while seeing to the guest’s needs, and flirting with the young men who kept her dance card full.

Her Papa had asked his sister, her Aunt Esther, who, like Duzy had unconventional ideas at times, some that amused her Papa and some that made him scold the both of them, to move with her to watch out for her and be her escort, reporting back to him if there were any problems. Aunt Esther had never married and was excited to go. She was diligent, always watching, but Duzy had told her Aunt she had an errand to run, just to savor a few moments alone before the festivities. It was time to return for a leisurely bath, with a scent of jasmine, with her long dark hair needing to be washed and styled; another of her Aunt’s many talents. Turning to get atop Edi, she thought she heard a noise and automatically reached for her rifle, unconsciously feeling for the derringer hid in the pocket of her riding skirt, and remembering sheathing her knife in her boot when she had dressed. Duzy had been raised with brothers and learned how to fight and handle her weapons, just as they had, during her vacations from school. They had delighted in seeing how mad they could make her and how hard she would fight, finding that it was sometimes one of them who called “truce,” before using all their manly strength against her. She wondered if her dear Mama had turned her head, knowing all along that her Papa knew, that she had joined in their activities, making bets on who would win the fights, the races on their horses, the luck and skill of seeing the last card turned in a hand of poker, all the things her “beau” had thought was wrong for Papa to let a daughter see, much less do! Oh, how it had made her prickle, the hair standing up on her neck, when he suggested that when she was his wife that “all that nonsense would end!” Seeing nothing as she scanned the area, she relaxed and started her ride back to the boarding house she and her Aunt were living in temporally.
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She was thinking of the gown she would wear to the dance that night, a black silk underskirt, embroidered burgundy over black silk overskirt with an off the shoulder bodice, with shots of silk threads, in burgundy and black, which seemed to change colors, depending on how you looked at it! She had ordered a set of black bloomers, chemise and petticoat to be made to wear with it, but her prized possession was her new black and burgundy corset which cinched her waist to 25 inches, without any problem. The bodice was slightly daring, showing off her creamy white skin and her cleavage, boosted by the custom made corset. She was hoping to dance with all the eligible men, young and old, never giving too much attention to any one, but flirting the way only a Southern woman could do. Duzy had just began to catch herself falling back into the habit of talking slower than the diction she had learned at school, and found that the men of the West seemed to love the slow drawl of her native tongue! Always thinking of what she was here to do, and after her experience with the Sheriff, she used it more frequently to her advantage, using her charm to break down the barriers of doing business in a man’s world.

She was a journalist, as she loved to write and seemed to have a fire that sparked her interest in writing about the injustices of the world. She didn’t mind challenging authority and convention to get her story. Although Duzy was a Southerner, she had been against slavery, and the treating of anyone wrong seemed to fill her head with ideas of how to change the injustices. She thought women should be equal to men, with the right to vote and the right to hold office. She had found that she had to be very delicate about the way she let it be known, as she was the newcomer and would have to tread lightly to start with. She thought of the Indians plight, with all the broken promises and treaties and she could feel her blood beat in her temples, as if she were hearing the sound of their drums beating in her head.

“Enough,” Duzy, she said aloud to herself. Tonight was a night of celebration and she was looking forward to all that was to come, possibly even meeting the man that could make her heart pound and her body afire.

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Kid Sopris 7-24-07

 

WARNING AND CAUTION: any similarities between the characters portrayed or any comparision to those person(s) living or dead is purely coincidental. In no event should anyone draw conclusions based on the story lines! All rights are reserved by the Authors.

 

 

 

Kid Sopris 7-24-07

 

Back in the days when the cowman with his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the "Code of the West." The Kid was a product of this environment. Innocence of age gave way to surviving and doing what had to be done. Kid Sopris traveled the cow trails, and gunfighters of the West. Eventually maturing and surviving his youth and mistakes, Kid “Reverend” Sopris turned to the Bible and the teachings of the Lord. He used his Colt’s to make followers out of the Non-believers.

Yet there was not only much that was attractive in their wild, free, reckless lives, but there was also very much good about the men themselves. They were—and such of them as are left still are—frank, bold, and self-reliant to a degree. They fear neither man, brute, nor element. They are generous and hospitable; they stand loyally by their friends, and pursue their enemies with bitter and vindictive hatred. Rev. Sopris was a perfect example and embodied, if not the life, the spirit of what was real about the time. Out on the border of virtue and wickedness alike, men take on very pronounce colors. A man who in civilization would be merely a backbiter becomes a murderer on the frontier; and, on the other hand, he who in the city would do nothing more than bid you a cheery good-morning, shares his last bit of sun-jerked venison with you when threatened by starvation in the wilderness. One hunter may be a dark-browed, evil-eyed ruffian, ready to kill cattle or run off horses without hesitation, who if game fails will at once, in Western phrase, "take to the road,"—that is, become a highwayman. The next is perhaps a quiet, kindly, simple-hearted man, law-abiding, modestly unconscious of the worth of his own fearless courage and iron endurance, always faithful to his friends, and full of chivalric and tender loyalty to women.

Tall, dark brown hair turning gray, his blue eyes are said to change with the environment, and neatly dressed, Rev. Sopris was delighted to be building a new Christian Church in FIRELANDS.



Rev. Sopris, though he dressed in his usual Sunday Rev. Clothes on day of worship, was also known to dress casually during the week bridging the gap of those on the edge.

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Lady Leigh 7-24-07

 

The only thing holding the glass in the window frame was probably the yellowish brown tobacco stains . . . at least that was what Bonnie McKenna thought. Clad in an equally stained corset and bloomers, Bonnie picked up a tattered cotton stocking and rubbed out a section of the grime to peer outside.

She long ago quit praying for a life out there, but just look at that ski! It reminded her of the outside edges of Bachelor Buttons as they were on the tail end of its bloom cycle. The palest of blue laced with that silvery touch . . . “hmmmm” she breathed allowed.

Just as she was turning away, she noticed the new “Talk of the Town” . . . Bonnie shuddered as she thought about what the men downstairs were saying about her. D. Wales had better watch her step! Most of the men were decent enough, but, a chill ran up both her arms as she recalled what Bert Graves said . . .

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William A.A. Wallace 7-24-07

 

A large, quiet man surveys the town from high above on the near side of the ridgeline that lies North of the newly formed and busy new town. He has heard of this place in the few towns that he has passed through on his way to Texas from Lexington, Virginia. Dressed in soft and supple buckskins, with a single shot rifle, large hunting knife and leading a pack mule with the few items that he calls his own, he surveys the town known only as "Firelands"...somewhere between his homeplace in the East and his soon to be new found home of Texas. "Bigfoot" Wallace is a very large man compared to many men of the day. Standing six feet two inches in his moccasins and weighing over 240 pounds, he is a massive figure of a man. He is not a learned man by any means when it comes to knowledge gained from the school house. Rather, he has learned the ways of the world as a scout, trapper, and hunter. No man will stand in his way on his quest to avenge the killing of his cousin by the Mexicans down in Texas. In need of refreshment and supplies, he descends upon the town like a ghost, barely noticed by the residents of this small, outpost on the frontier of westward expansion.

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Duzy Wales 7-24-07

 

As Duzy and Aunt Esther joined the festivities, Duzy felt like someone was watching her. The feeling was uncomfortable. As she looked around her, she noticed a lady peering out of a stained window in the upstairs of one of the saloons in Firelands. Shrugging it off, she thought that was all it was. She was planning to do a story on the prostitutes in an upcoming article and made a mental picture of the window where the woman was watching. Maybe she could get an interview with her at a later date. Duzy was interested in the backgrounds of the women and hoped that she could help them out of the profession they were in, if that was their wish. She knew from reading that some of the women were forced into working in the brothels, others had lost their husbands and had no one to help take care of them, not being able to run their farms by themselves, usually losing them to an unsavory land grabber. Then, there were the women who seemed to enjoy the life they led and the money that they made, giving them the chance to move on and start over in another place. She realized she may be turned away, but she was always willing to take the chance to get her story and to help anyone that she could, as her Mama had taught her.

Duzy noticed a handsome middle aged man standing in front of the mercantile, with blue eyes that seemed to pierce her to her soul. Their eyes had only met for a moment before Duzy looked away. “Aunt Esther, do you know that man over there?” Her Aunt took one look and whispered “yes my dear, he is the Reverend Kid Sopris and is building the new church here.” Duzy was surprised, as he was dressed like the other cowboys in town. Taking another look, she noticed that his clothes fit like a glove, his body was muscular and he surely didn’t look like any preacher she had ever seen! He would look more at home on the range, and it amused her that he could probably fill the church with all the women in town, without any problem whatsoever. As she looked up, she realized he was still watching her, and she blushed that he had caught her looking at him not just once, but twice in a matter of minutes. She recovered quickly, thinking that it didn’t matter as she believed one made their own fate by being a good person and didn’t believe in organized religion, a source of many wars in the past and most likely the future as well. She couldn't foresee herself sitting in his church.

As they crossed the street, Duzy had that uncomfortable feeling again of being watched. Just at that moment, some children ran through the streets in front of her Aunt and herself, and she noticed one little girl in particular, dressed in tattered clothes and standing back from the rest of the children, a wistful look on her face, as if she would like to join in but was afraid to. Duzy walked over to the tables of food and sliced the little girl a piece of cake, hoping to find out more about her, as she walked over to her. Just as she reached her, Duzy heard a man say, “No need to be spoilin her, lady!” Duzy turned and looked at a man who sneered at her, boldly looking at her, from her eyes to the bodice of her dress and downward, then back up again. “And why is that sir,” Duzy said, holding her head high. “It is only a piece of cake!” “Yeah, wel this’n is mine and she don’t need no cake from some uppity piece like you, thinkin’ youse so high’n mighty with that new job of yourn.” He spit his tobacco on the ground beside Duzy and she could only wonder why he held such hostility toward her. “What is your name sir, and why do you seem to dislike me so? The question seemed to surprise him and he blurted out, “Bert Graves, but taint no bisness of yourn who I am.” “Sorry to hear that, sir, as I do not understand your dislike of me; would you let me give your daughter the cake?” Still looking taken aback that she would continue to talk to him after insulting her, he relented and let her give her the cake. “Jis the one, and she aint mine, my ole lady left and left the brat with me, but she will be good for sompin when she grows some.” Aunt Esther had stayed quiet, watching the exchange of words and making a mental note to keep an eye on the man. He seemed dangerous and it was obvious he didn’t like her niece, and she didn’t like the way he look at her either! She had known Duzy would not give up if there was any way she could help the little girl. She watched Duzy as she handed the cake to her, asking her name, and the girl replied, “Sarah,” her eyes lighting up as she took the first bite of the cake. “Sarah, my name is Duzy Wales, and it is a pleasure to meet you. I hope we meet again soon.” Duzy knew not to push her luck, so she turned and walked away, knowing that she would find a way to help little Sarah.

Duzy heard the music start and urged her Aunt to where the dancing would begin. As they got closer, she saw a large man, dressed in buckskin pants and moccosins watching the crowd. He must be new in town, Duzy thought, or she would have noticed him before! Perhaps he would be one of her dance partners tonight and she could find out more about him. She smiled to herself, thinking that someday her curiosity just might land her in trouble, but that was the journalist in her, as much a part of her as breathing, and she would handle it as it came.

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Kid Sopris 7-25-07

 

Rev. Sopris, or Kid, depending on how well you knew him, seldom smiled. He smirked really usually catching many off guard. His way to delivering his message was a common sense approach. He allowed the parishioners to believe as they wished based on their interpretations of the Bible, rather than force feed the flock.

Sopris lived modestly, even though he had money, and didn’t rely on the offerings of the Church members. He was also known to carry a Colt, concealed underneath his jacket, even from the pulpit. Nonsense was not tolerated while Church was in progress.
Many town folks would come into his view, he studied each one, and talked with those who approached him but very rarely did he engage a stranger in conversation. But he knew everyone, their faults, and sins; their views on morality, life and death. Not from conversing; just by studying their habits.

Some questioned his unorthodox ways, but quietly. Personal confrontations were not in the aggressor’s best interest.

Sopris watched as the two ladies crossed the street. Both very attractive, one in particular appeared to want more than a single glance. He recognized the lady identified as Esther, from an earlier exchange of glances. He continued to watch as the ladies encountered the gruff old reprobate known as Bert Graves. Bert wasn’t totally bad, just lacked social skills and had a fondness for liquor. Seems he was grouchy when he wasn’t drinking and mean when he was.

Bert had been admonished about his treatment of the little girl once before, Sopris thought it was only a matter of time before the Angels of Mercy visited him.

Sopris watched a large stature of a man come into town, at over six feet, a true pioneer of the West,. He had the look of one who had used his will upon the wild frontier and influenced his enemies with his opinions. Sopris thought, “I wonder if Bert will give this stranger the same treatment has he gave the ladies?”

Sopris’ coffee was getting cold, so he sauntered toward the coffee at the general store. Maybe he could scare up a game of checkers with a follower.

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Lady Leigh 7-25-07

 

"That's quite a scowl, Bonnie ... whatcha lookin at?"

"Berts is town, Tilly. Best be tellin Sam with the heads up," Bonnie replied.

On closer inspection, Bonnie saw Sarah. "Probably ought to make up the pallet in the pantry closet, too, Tilly. Sarah's with him."

"That poor little thing." Tilly added, "Can't someone in this blasted town do somethin' to help that child ... Like the Reverand over there!"

It wasn't a queston, but more of a statement. There were many nights Sarah slept at Sams Place. When Sarah wasn't at Sams, Bonnie and the girls knew Sarah was home alone. Not that Sam's was the best environmet for the child, but at least the girls knew she was safe.

Bonnie walked back into Sam's running her hand down her waist length Auburn hair, Bonnies only prideful possesion she allowed within her life anymore. Her tall, well porportioned figure was long ago abused, and with Bert, more than likely being entertained at Sam's tonight, she, like most nights, would have rather crawled into a hole than entertain the likes of Berts drunken self. It was Berts anger while drinking that upset her the most. His callous comments were unsetteling.

Lately, those nasty remarks were directed toward Duzy Wales and her Aunt.

"What did he have against her," Bonnie questioned. "Was it Duzy, or women in general?"

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William A.A. Wallace 7-25-07

 

After tying his mule to a hitching post near the town livery, Bigfoot Wallace stepped inside to find some feed and water for his trusty animal. Long ago, Wallace learned to take care of your animals first and yourself later. Wallace noticed some movement in one of the stalls and inquired, "Anyone in here?"

A short, wiry man stepped from behind the horse that he was grooming and Wallace noticed that he walked with a limp...one leg was crooked and looked to have been poorly set from a bad break. The fellow seemed to move fairly well though and walked up to Wallace and said, "My name's Shorty and I run this here livery...what can I do for you, stranger?"

Wallace said, "I've got my mule hitched up outside and need some grain and water for him before I check out the town. I won't be needing any stall space since I plan on camping just outside the town. How much for feed and water now and an additional sack of feed for later?"

Shorty tells Wallace that, "It'll be two bits for now and a dollar for the sack of grain." Wallace nods and says "that'll be fine...here's an extra two bits if you'll brush the dust of'n him and check his feet and such."

Shorty takes Wallace's money and Bigfoot leaves the livery to look around town. Townfolk try not to stare as the large man strides through the town. Rarely has anyone seen a fellow as large that moves with such purpose and yet so quietly. Bigfoot doesn't hold most folks in very high regard, keeping to himself most of the time, he is more at ease with nature than humankind.

Bigfoot notices a pretty young lady walking with a more matronly woman down the street. The younger of the two stopped in the street to speak to what appeared to Wallace to be a young girl in tattered clothes. Wallace, although not very social, had a soft spot in his heart for young children and animals, never allowing either one to be taken advantage of or abused. The young lady offered the girl a piece of cake and at that moment a dirty looking man accosted the young lady and spoke to her in a very disrespectful manner.

Bigfoot fingered the handle of his fourteen inch knife, wondering and almost wishing that the scruffy looking fellow would make an attempt to harm the child or the young lady and her escort. Wallace was well known as a man of strong convictions and never one to just stand idly by when someone was in need. The young lady gave the cake to the girl and quickly walked away, while the scruffy and dirty looking fellow ambled off with the little girl child in tow.

Bigfoot notices a stern looking fellow watching the proceedings as well and catches a glimpse of a Colt pistol under the fellow's coat. Never having much use for handguns, Wallace wonders if this fellow is a gunfighter of some sort. He notices that the fellow also has a book under one arm and watches him as he turns and moves toward the General Store. Needing some supplies, Wallace follows the fellow into the store, smelling the aroma of strong "cowboy" coffee in the air as he enters...

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Lady Leigh 7-25-07

 

"Bonnie? I know my Mama's front name was, Mama ... do you know what her next name was?"

Bonnie laughed while she and Sarah were sitting on the pallet in the pantry with Sarah half sitting on her lap and her fingers tracing the outline of Bonnie's ear and checkbone. Bert Graves having thrown the child at Bonnie not a half hour ago, ranting and raving at how much trouble Sarah was, it was meaning Bonnie had to console the wee thing for a time, and try to get her to sleep.

Sarah a problem child? Never! Scared? Yes. Confused? Yes. Filthy? Absolutely. But a problem? Not Sarah. Under her torn dress and limited undergarments, Sarah had the milkiest skin with not a hint of a freckle. Hair the color of cornsilk ... she was a beauty.

"I'm not really sure what your Mama's name was, Sweetheart. Clara, Clarabelle ... something like that. Your Mama and I didn't really have a chance to visit when she was in Firelands."

Sarah responded. "Mama told me once that Sarah means Princess. I don't think I live like a Princess, do you?"

"Well .... we can pretend, Ok? I'll be your Fairy Godmother, and you can be Princess Sarah."

"Bonnie?" Sarah asked, "Does your name have a meaning to it?"

Bonnie just sat there .... tears puddled and almost spilled. She remebered sitting with her Papa while he held her in is massive arms that so gently cradled her. He often told her the meaning behind her name ... reminiscing the love he had for his beloved Scotland.

"Yes, Sarah ... my name has a meaning," Bonnie finally said.

"What is it?"

"My Papa was from Scotland, and he was so very proud of that home so far away from here in Colorado. It takes weeks and weeks to get there, you see. You have to ride on a ship way across the world." Bonnie began.

"Why did he come here?"

"Oh, Sweets, that is a story that I don't even totally understand, and really not important for your dear little ears right now," Bonnie told her.

Sarah was not wanting to fall asleep, and Bonnie knowing she was already going to catch the devil for the delay on being back out on the floor, continued to hold Sarah within her arems ... just like her Papa did with her.

"My Papa told me I was named after Bonnie Prince Charlie, Sarah. He would tell me over and over of a nursery rhyme that claimed a child born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay. I guess because I was born on the Sabbath, the dicision for Bonnie was set in stone."

"Do you believe in God, Bonnie?"

"Now aren't you full of questions and chatter tonight, Sarah!!! I think you need to keep yourself quiet and pretend to fall asleep. Your Fairy Godmother just sprinkled sleep dust over Princess Sarah. Go to sleep, Sarah ... One of the girls or myself will check on you from time to time, ok?"

A kiss on Bonnies finger, and pressing lovingly to Sarahs nose, Bonnie got up and pulled the curtian closed.

"Do you believe in God, Bonnie?" ... Hmmmm .... "do I?" What a struggle that thought was for Bonnie. She looked around her miserable exsistence, witnessing everyday the vulgar place she lived . The entertainment practices that went on within the walls of Sam's Place were NO place for anyone, if truth be told. God? Bonnie didn't see him! Except for maybe in the beautiful angel eyes Sarah had.

Sarah ... what will become of her as time goes by? Bonnie struggled with that, too. She knew very well the type of a future that would easily embrace a child like her. A life like Bonnie was living ...

"If you really are there God, help me to get Sarah and me away from this .... hell hole!"

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Duzy Wales 7-25-07

 

Duzy was dancing with a young man when she suddenly had a feeling, something pulled at her like bees to honey, except there was a sense of danger about it....she tried to make polite conversation as they went through the moves, but her mind was not on dancing. "Excuse me please," she said and walked away quickly to lose him in the crowd. She didn't think at that moment that she was being inconsiderate or rude....she reacted instead.

Soon she was down the street, having eluded everyone so far, including her Aunt, who had been dancing at the time. Oh, how she hated to face Aunt Esther after this, knowing how hurt she would be if something happened to her on her watch.

She was drawn directly to Sam's Place.....feeling the woman who had stared at her through the window, feeling little Sarah....

She quickly mussled her appearance, even in her silk gown, to look disheveled and hurried up the steps past the drunken men and women downstairs....trying to fit in. She reached for her derringer inside her redicule and pulled it out, dropping everything else as she moved forward. She had already known where to come, but it was as if there were visions of where to go at the same time. Her heart was pounding.....hurry, hurry, hurry....

She reached the door and pushed it open, no one else seemed to mind that there was screaming coming from the room, so it wasn't hard to get in. What was hard was seeing Bonnie with her face swollen and blue, marks on her body and fear in her eyes. The man started to lunge at Duzy and she fired, stopping his heart and leaving his eyes without a soul in this lifetime.

Then, she looked at little Sarah, standing there watching and all she could think is "what have I done?" "Oh Sarah, please honey, please come to me, please, let me try to explain.....but what was she to say?

Coming from the wisdom of a small child who had known the cruel ways of her Father, and what she had seen for herself, Sarah said, "It was not your fault, Miz Wales!" With that, Duzy reached for her and knew she would never let go. Sarah would be for her to love and take care of. She would find a way.

Duzy went to Bonnie and their eyes met. There was a connection there...Duzy couldn't understand, she didn't know for sure about Bonnie, but they both knew that there would always be a bond between them. Something had brought them to this place at this time....

Then it came to both of them.....calling the sheriff, the questions, how it was to be explained when neither of them knew at the moment what was best to say or if they would have time to talk about it before someone arrived.

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William A.A. Wallace 7-25-07

 

Watching form the edges of the humanity at the dance, not willing to participate...Bigfoot Wallace noticed that the fair young woman he had noticed earlier in the day, left the dance floor and left the building as well. Noted for his silent progress in life, Wallace followed her to the place known as "Sam's Place". Not having visited such a place in his lifetime, Wallace waited outside, wondering what would the outcome would be of this visit of such a fair maiden to this house of ill repute.

While waiting outside, Bigfoot Wallace, with his uncanny hearing, practiced among the hunting fields of his fathers, heard a scream and the sobbing of a woman...then, a gunshot! Rushing in, fearing for the life of the fair skinned young woman that he had spied earlier in the day, he saw that the young woman was with the girl child that he had noticed earlier, given a piece of cake and led of by that unsavory character known as Bert...

Seeing the bloody body of Bert, lying next to the bed with a hole in his chest, Walllace quickly gathered the young woman and her newfound ward and ushered them out of the room. Telling them to go to a place of safety whilst he took care of the rest.

Gathering up the body, with his great strength, he slung the hapless corpse over his shoulder and proceeded down the stairs. Met halfway down the stairs by the proprietor, Sam, he fingered the long knife that was always by his side. Sam knew instinctively not to bother this large and impressive stranger, moving aside and letting him pass without comment. Bigfoot proceeded down the stairs and carried the body through the back alleys of the newly formed town.

Upon reaching the livery, he trussed the body across his trusty mule and proceeded to carry it to the outskirts of town.

Easily escaping detection by the townfolk that were at the dance, he proceeded to bury the body in a rough grave...six feet long and six feet deep, and then left to go to his campsite. Bigfoot Wallace slept well that evening, knowing that he had helped a young woman in need and a young girl child as well...

 

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Kid Sopris 7-25-07

 

By the time the big wilderness man had entered the General Store, rev. Sopris had gotten his fresh coffee and had exited the back, walking in the direction of the church. He has some work to do, before he visited the dance.

By the time Sopris arrived at the dance it was in full swing, He had noticed, Ms. Wales leave, and followed by the Big Stranger. Within minutes Sopris heard gun shots, and then a huge shadow appeared out the back of Sam’s place and it looked like he had a body draped over his shoulder.

Sopris then intercepted the Sheriff, who was headed towards Sam’s place. “Good Evening Sheriff’, Sopris greeted the diligent duty bound man. “Howdy Preacher” responded the Sheriff, “Say Preacher did you hear gun shots?”

“Sheriff, listen to yourself, a large party going on and shots are normally heard, what makes you think tonight would be different?” Sheriff, thought for a moment, “Yeah you are right, I suppose if it was serious, someone would come get me!”

“You, the doc or me”, replied Sopris. “Say Sheriff, you play Checkers?”

The night continued on without much further incidents. Esther and Ms. Wales seemed to be discussing some type of disagreement; Bonnie was acting a bit suspiciously. But Sopris figured most women do, particularly after gunplay.

Morning had come and Sopris and the Sheriff were still playing checkers. Nobody even missed the abusive Bert. Not even Sarah.

It was mid day when the preacher was out and about in his buggy, when he encountered the Big Stranger, and figured it was a good time to introduce himself to the new self proclaimed undertaker.

 

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Duzy Wales 7-26-07

 

Aunt Esther had missed Duzy as soon as her dance ended and she excused herself to look for her. It wasn't like Duzy to be inconsiderate....unless, and then she became worried. Duzy had always had premonitions, even as a child, and most people would say, "that child sure has an imagination." Aunt Esther knew better, as she was the only one who would carefully listen to what the child was saying. Esther also knew firsthand how it felt to have these feelings, just not as strongly as Duzy did, one of the bones of contention between herself and Duzy's Papa. "You shouldn't encourage her Esther," she could remember him saying. "I do not encourage her Lee, she has the gift, the gift of insight and the need to help others that God himself must have given her!"

Suddenly, she saw Duzy, with little Sarah and another woman, whom she had never seen, motioning for her. Duzy took her Aunt's hand and walked her quickly aside, relating the story as fast as her breath would allow. At first, she admonished her for leaving without telling her and then knew that it was time to think ahead and figure out the best way to help, now that the deed was done. She looked at Bonnie, shivering in the cold and gave her the cape that she had worn, sometimes feeling the chill in the air after sunset.

After discussing everything further, Bonnie told them she would wait till morning and tell the Sheriff that Bert had left little Sarah with her, telling her that he was leaving the area and couldn't take her with him. It wasn't such a stretch, as she had taken care of Sarah many times, as well as the other girls at Sam's Place, so everyone would believe the story. Bonnie had also had the foresight to pick up Duzy's redicule as they left, not wanting anyone else to find it. Bonnie reached for Sarah to take her back to Sam's Place until daylight when she would find the Sheriff to tell him that she could not take care of her, as Duzy held little Sarah's hand, and promised her that she would be there for her soon. "you promise?" Sarah asked. "Yes, Sarah, I promise, cross my heart, I will come get you," and Duzy could see the relief in little Sarah's eyes.

Duzy straightened up and looked at Bonnie, not knowing anything about her except that she needed help. "Bonnie, my Aunt and myself need a small house, somewhere near town, do you know of any such place?" "The only one I can think of is Bert's place now, but it isn't anything you would live in Miss Wales." "We will look at it tomorrow and see if it can be repaired or if someone else knows of a place." "Bonnie, can you read and write?" Duzy saw Bonnie wince and knew she had brought up some painful memories, or possibly insulted her unintentionally, but she persisted. "It doesn't matter, with me working, my Aunt and I will need help at the house, at the newpaper office and with Sarah. Would you come and help us?" "I cant pay you much to begin with, but you will have a place to stay, food, and a little money for your own." Tears came to Bonnie's eyes as she remembered praying for someone to help to get her out of that "hell hole," never believing that anyone would hear her or that she would actually have the chance to leave. Maybe there was a God afterall, she thought.

Duzy was thinking the same thing, as she had never understood the feelings that came over her, and she remembered the big man who had come to help them, and wondered how he had known. Her mind flashed back to when she had sit with her parents in church and remembered the preacher saying "that God worked in mysterious ways." Could it be that he actually worked through her at times, knowing that each time something like this had happened in her short life, it had been to help someone. And just as suddenly, she remembered Bert, and that she had taken a life tonight, suddenly feeling the chill herself as her insides began to shake from the relization of what she had did.

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William A.A. Wallace 7-26-07

 

Awakening from a good nights sleep, knowing that he had done the right thing by helping the woman and girl child in their predicament, Bigfoot Wallace stretched his long arms and legs and proceeded to make some breakfast. A meal of biscuits, coffee and bacon satisfied his cravings and he set about to the task at hand of getting his campsite in order. A few hours later, he decided to go into town and see if the previous night's event had stirred up anyone's suspicions. While walking into town, he spied the "gunslinger" fellow driving a buggy. The buggy came to a halt and the "gunslinger" hailed Bigfoot and asked hm to come over. Bigfoot was always suspicious of most men's intentions and was wary and his senses were on high alert. The "gunslinger" introduced himself and said "Hello there, my name is Kid Sopris and I'm the preacher in this here town. I'm building a church in town and was wondering if you were going to be around for awhile? We sure could use a good, strong man such as yourself to help finish the church."

Bigfoot was taken aback that this supposed "gunslinger" was actually the town's minister! Bigfoot replied, "Well met preacher, my name is William Alexander Anderson Wallace, but most folks just call me Bigfoot...I'll be in town for awhile, resting my mule and gathering supplies for my trip to Texas. I'm not much of a carpenter, but I'd be glad to assist some with the heavy hauling and such if you need me."

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Kid Sopris 7-26-07

 

The two Westward men surveyed each other and talked about the future of life. Sopris insured Mr. Wallace that God works mysteriously at times, providing help to those who need it, and burial for those that require burying. Sometimes things happen for the good and benefit of all, though it may not appear that way. Sopris Asked Mr. Wallace to stick around and take in the new bakery in town. They got some kind of thing called a “Donut”.

With that both men parted ways, Sopris with an encouraging smile and an air of reassurance for Mr. Wallace.

Sopris, knew that Bert met a "Timely Death", with his behavior, and figured God dealt with the demise in the most appropriate way. Sopris was not going to judge the hand the fulfilled Bert’s destiny. What about the others? Surely Mr. Wallace’s cool composure would have no problems, but the Ladies, Bonnie and Ms. Duzy? Ah Sopris reminded himself; perhaps I should go introduce myself to Ms. Bonnie and Ms. Duzy. It’s a nice day to visit and planting the seeds of hope is in the best interest of everyone.

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Lady Leigh 7-26-07

 

"What was I supposed to tell her, Tilly! No, I can't read or write when I can and then some?! No, you can't take Sarah?! No, I really don't want to be talking with the Sheriff?! ... Ouch, Tilly! Dang that hurts ..."

"I'm just about done, Bonnie. Hold still will ya?"

Bonnies face was a mess. Bert laid into her real good while she was trying to hold him back from taking Sarah. Sam had is faults, that was no secret, but it never ceased to amaze Bonnie how he'd ignore his girls when the beatings took place. The coin always took precedents over "the girls".

"What do I do, Tilly? What do I do? ... with the extra money I've made sewing for the men around here and along with these pitiful wages, I can buy my contract out with Sam, but I wouldn't have enough to set up an inventory to properly sew for the women. And what about you, Tilly? I don't want to start that business adventure without you! ..... Who am I kidding? I'd need to go elsewhere to set up a business ... maybe I could just take Sarah and we could head to Glennwood Springs. I could say I am widowed ... I wouldn't be looked down upon so severely that way."

"You may chastise Sarah for chatterin' a mile a minute, but are you listen' to yerrself, Bonnie? All I know is somethin' kinda magical happened tonight what with the way that Mz Wales shot Bert and the stranger takin' Berts body outa here. And ya know Sam'd never say nothin. I seen the way that Ms Wales looked at ya, too, and I also the seen the return look ya gave her right back! ... Maybe heading for Glennwood ain't that bad ... you'd be able ta start lookin' fer yer brother again, but answer me, Bonnie ... what about Sarah? Just what kinda life can ya really give that child? Maybe somethin' else could be thought up."

Bonnie slumped over and sobbed. Why did life have to be nothing but one loss after another? Tilly was right of course. What kind of a life could Bonnie give Sarah? What kind of life could Bonnie give Bonnie??

Papa used to believe in the Celtic Fey with the talk of magic arrising at any time ............ maybe .......... Thoughts were turning over and over in Bonnies head.

"Tilly? As soon as I can get out of here in the morning, I'm going to have a chat with Mz. Duzy Wales. I don't think my thoughts are to off base here. I think that maybe I could help them out for a time ... test the waters outside these miserable walls."

As painful as it was to smile, Bonnie actually gave it a try. What was it her Papa used to say? " Sometimes you need to be flat on your back in order to look up." Bonnie has been flat on her back a long time ... now all she needed to do was open her eyes.

Edited by Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

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Duzy Wales 7-27-07

 

Duzy couldn’t sleep, as every time she closed her eyes, she saw the vacant eyes of Bert staring back at her. She always felt drained after one of her “feelings,” but this was much different, as the realization that she had taken a life hit her full force. She rode Edi to a place beside a small creek, just outside of town, and sat on the bank to listen to the soothing sound of the water. She had never thought about how it would feel afterward, always thinking it would be easy to kill to protect herself or someone she cared about. It had been easy at the time, as her instinct of self protection had kicked in. Would his eyes haunt her forever? Would the sound of the gunshot ever stop? She could hear it now, over and over, as her insides shook and her body trembled. And, then the tears came, as she crossed her arms against her chest, and rocked herself back and forth, her teardrops falling into the water as she leaned over, feeling sick inside. Oh, how she wished her Papa was here, holding her in his big arms, and telling her everything would be okay…

Edited by Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

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Lady Leigh 7-27-07

 

Waking up as if she hadn't slept at all, Bonnie dressed in the nicest things she had at present. Brown Twill skirt and ivory cotton blouse. They looked like they were a 100 years old! But they were respectable looking and clean.

"There isn't much I can do with these stockings and shoes .... Oh well, I'll just stand as much as possible."

Bonnie did the best she could with Sarah. Tattered clothes are just that, but Sarah was clean, and her hair brushed and pulled back.

"Are you ready, Sarah?"

Sarah seemed a little tenative, but placed her hand in Bonnies, "I don't know that lady, Bonnie!"

"You didn't know me when we first met either, but the feeling changed ... rememeber? More importantly, Sweets, you will be safe and cared for ... always!" Bonnie, for the hundredth time was thinking the same for herself. Safe ... what a strong word ... almost seemed out of reach.

Then there was hoping a Sarah could keep quiet about what really happened last night. "This was going to be a trial in itself." Bonnie kept thinking about the things that could go wrong, and found herself praying about the things that should go right.

Together they walked out the Saloon doors and turned toward the hotel Ms Wales and her Aunt were staying.

Bonnie paused as she saw Duzy riding horseback out of town.

" I think we'll be visiting with the Aunt this morning instead, Sarah."

In silent prayer, "This needs to work, Lord."

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Kid Sopris 7-27-07

  

It wasn’t long before Sopris encountered Duzy, sitting on the bank of the creek. She was so occupied in thought, she never heard him. Slowly he approached her and from about 20 feet away he announced himself. “Good Day dear lady!”, “What has brought you to this beautiful spot in God’s Garden?”
 

As Duzy turned quickly to see the Strangers voice, Sopris could tell immediately that she happened crying. She possessed the look of one who had seen the other side of life after death, and the bewilderment was over powering.

Duzy , replied, “Oh I didn’t know anyone was here, you startled me.” “Sorry”, replied Sopris. “I am Rev. Sopris in Firelands.” “Yes I know”, replied Duzy,” I am Duzy Wales. I am here with my Aunt Esther.”

Sopris spoke to her as if he knew her forever, “Ms. Wales, Sometimes God asked us to do things, which appear to be in contradiction to the Bible. The Old Testament is filled with death and yet it was necessary. Whatever is bothering you, place it in the stone at your feet, and cast that stone into the creek delivering your problems to be washed away.”

Duzy was puzzled, Did the preacher know what happened, was he guessing, or did he have insight like her?

Sopris then said, “I am headed back to town, would you care to ride with me in the buggy, you can tie your horse to the back, we can get acquainted as we ride?”

Duzy almost seemed taken away, and accepted the offer of conversation and the ride.

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Lady Leigh 7-27-07

 

Under any other circumstances, the hypocracy of many of the townfolk would have made Bonnie laugh. Women, who knew their menfolk frequented Sam's Place, were aghast when they laid eyes on Bonnie. Occasionally a few women would look at her with sadness in their eyes. They were the ones who knew her before though, but chose to do nothing to help. Then there were the men ... the biggest hypocrates were the ones who acted like they didn't know her. Interestingly enough, many of these men didn't know her in the "Biblical" sence, but the shunning was typical anyway.

As Bonnie approached the hotel, she made her back a little straighter, and held her bruised face a little higher. Getting past Donald Higgins wasn't going to be easy. He ran a clean business, even though his social life wouldn't be considered the same.

"And what do you think you are doing? You can't come in here!" Sure enough, Bonnie was right. The bellowing was proof.

"I believe I am expected, Mr Higgins." Donny boy, as he liked the girls to call him at Sam's, stood so fast his large girth upset the paperwork on the desk. Daily reciepts went flying everywhere ... which only made him turn red and his breathing came on real quick. "Goodness, " Bonnie thought, "A man of his size will surely die of a heart attach!"

" No decent patron would be calling for you here!!!!"

A voice coming from Bonnies left, very gently, but curtly, filtered through the air, "Mr Higgins! Miss McKenna is indeed expected! Please, Miss MeKenna, would you join me for a cup of tea? .... Sarah, too, of course."

"Umm ..." Bonnie glanced at Donny boy, and back again at the kindly looking woman she had met breifly last night. "Excuse me, but maybe we should take this visit someplace a little less public, Mrs Wales, I mean you ..."

"Nonsense! Come along. I need to break my fast, and I would enjoy your company. And it's Esther, if you please."


Bonnies heart was racing, and her eyes were darting everywhere. This was harder than she first anticipated. She looked down at Sarah who was eyeing the scones, and there was that hunger longing look in her eyes.

"Very well, Ms ... Esther. Thank you .... I noticed your niece was riding out of town a few moments ago. I only have a bit of time off this morning, and waiting is something I don't have the liberty of doing." Esther was silent. Another deep breath, Bonnie continued, "I would like to discuss the invitation to help you and your niece ...."

The woman still wasn't saying anything! Bonnie was going to go mad!. Instead Esther buttered a scone for Sarah, poured tea into two floral china cups. Indicating with her hand if Bonnie wanted sugar, cream or lemon, and finally handing the dainty cup to Bonnie.

"McKenna ... Scottish surname name, is it not?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Has your family lived in America for very long, my dear?"

Bonnie really was not expecting this type of conversation, and she was put off gaurd somewhat. But, if this Esther wanted to ask questions, Bonnie would answer if it meant getting on with a more decent life for her and Sarah.

"My Father did not come to America by choice, but he stayed by choice. His first steps on American soil were in South Carolina in 1844. Seven years later he went to Chicago, Illinois. It was there he met my Mother. He married her and adopted her son, and then myself and my sister were born to them."

"And when did you leave the Chicago area?"

"November of 1871 ... A couple of weeks after the Chicago fire."

When was the last time Bonnie ever mentioned that? Granted, this woman was easy to talk to, but this line of conversation was becoming a bit unnerving.

"Ma'am? Please ... If I may, it is imparitive that I find alternet means of a living. Please ... if not for me, then for Sarah?"

Esther just starred at Bonnie. "Oh Lord, what does that face expression mean?" Bonnie thought.

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Linn Keller 7-27-07

 

The big Standard Bred had a surprisingly light step and a very smooth gait. Most would consider such a sizeable piece of horse flesh fit to pull a plow or a heavily loaded wagon; I'd long come to appreciate his steadiness and reliability as a saddle mount. Oh, make no mistake, he could drag a young mountain along behind him, given enough trace chain, but I'm just a little too lazy to hitch up a mountain and besides, folks might get irritated if I started rearranging the terrain.
Town seemed to be holding its breath.
Firelands, the neatly painted sign declared.
I knew a Firelands once, a lifetime ago, back East.
I was a stranger in town. It had been donkey's years since I'd worn a lawman's star, but sometimes an enemy will cross paths when not expected; though I sat easy in the saddle, I didn't miss much around me.
Sam felt me stiffen, and slowed to a stop. I leaned down and patted the big Standard's neck. Didn't want to distress him any, but he could tell I already was.
A lady and a little girl had just gone into the hotel, and for a moment, for a long moment, I was back near Lake Erie, called by the native tribe of the same name, "The Sweet Sea" ... I heard the happy laughter of a little girl, and saw a two-year-old running toward me, with eyes like an Arizona sky, and hair like ripe corn silk, and I felt her weight as she jumped into my arms ...
I watched the lady and the child disappear into the hotel, and the shadow of my hat brim hid the sadness I know showed around my eyes.
No parent should ever have to bury a child, but I'd left my little girl six foot deep in good black soil, back in the church yard.
Next day I sold my farm to a newly-arrived German family and turned my face west, me and Sam, leaving what happiness we'd known behind us.
I eased my weight in the saddle and Sam started up again.

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Duzy Wales 7-29-07

 

Duzy had never met a Reverend quite like Kid Sopris before. It seemed he accepted people of all faiths, and was not the judgmental, fire and brimstone type, that had turned Duzy away from organized religion. She may “eat her words” and find herself sitting in his new church sometime after all! He was kind and understanding, with an unusual perception of knowing how to make your heart feel lighter while lifting your soul. It was uncanny how he had spoken to her, just as if he had known what had happened and knew what to say to make her feel better. By the time they had reached town, Duzy felt the weight lifted from her shoulders and a renewal of spirit.

She knew it was time to meet Bonnie and discuss how they could get her out of the brothel, find enough work for her to do to become independent, start looking for a home large enough for the four of them, and to decide what was best for little Sarah and everyone involved.. She realized that she had reacted without much thought; and, now they needed to decide how to work things out to suit all their needs. Duzy had never thought about raising a child, until she had looked into the eyes of little Sarah and knew she needed someone who would love her, as she had been loved.

At the same time, she was opening the newspaper office and hadn’t even talked to Aunt Esther about having a child around. She wondered if her Aunt had already written her Papa about what was happening and how he and her brothers would react when they heard. She could almost see them riding into town after her! Duzy had given her word to Bonnie and Sarah; and, that meant finding a way to make it work!

She bid Reverend Sopris a fond goodbye, feeling as if she had met a new friend in town, and turned to go see her Aunt. She would talk to her first, get her advice, and then go into town and find Bonnie and Sarah.

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Linn Keller 7-29-07

 

It was clear the hostler genuinely loved what he did. Sam definitely approved of his care. I warned him about Sam's tendency to kick first and look afterward -- "talk to him before you walk up behind him," I said with a rueful smile.
"You did?"
"Only once!"
We chuckled together and I handed him some coin, which he bit before pocketing.
"Where can a man get a meal hereabouts?"
"Oh, the ho-tel ain't bad, if you can stand Sam."
Hearing his name, the big Standard turned his head and regarded us solemnly.
"No, not you," I said.
Sam went back to his grain.
"Sam runs the place?"
"Yep. Need something, he can get it, for a price."
I'd known men like that during the War, and never cared much for them. Carpetbaggers, mostly. Business is business but there's taking advantage and I never held with that.
"Reckon he can scare up a bath?"
"Oh, ya, he can do that. Even heat some water if you like."
It had been a while since I'd had my Saturday night bath. "Generally try to bathe once a week, whether I need it or not," I replied.
The hostler nodded knowingly. "It don't pay to take a bath too often. Ain't healthy."
My belly reminded me I might want to eat first. Sam seemed happy with his provender, and a good meal, a bath and a clean bed sounded pretty good to me.

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Kid Sopris 7-29-07

 

After Dropping off Duzy, Rev. Sopris encountered Bonnie and Sarah walking down the boardwalk. Sopris Stopped the two with a gentle “Good afternoon Ladies”. Bonnie seemed fearful at first: as evidenced by her clutching Sarah’s hand a little tighter.

Sopris spoke about new beginnings and the opportunities that are afforded when doors and windows to life are open. “One should afford themselves the luxury of enjoying what is at their feet, before shuffling off to a new adventure”. Sopris continued, “The abrupt passing of one person, doesn’t end with the circumstantial fears of ones own thoughts, but merely provides the key and vessel to a new life or to be reborn again”. Ms. Bonnie, you have been provided the opportunity to go forth with a new vision on your direction. Sarah may need the help of many to overcome the hurdles of life. Perhaps Ms. Bonnie, you, Ms. Wales and her Aunt are the people Sarah will need hereinafter.” “With that ladies I shall bid you farewell, and look forward to seeing you both on Sunday”

As Sopris left, Sarah looked up at Bonnie and asked, "Ms. Bonnie, what did the preacher mean?"

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Linn Keller 7-30-07

 

I smiled a little, looking in the black-glass mirror of a convenient window.
Once a lawman, always a lawman, I thought: I'd hesitated at the mouth of the alley, listening, watching, before I stepped out. That nice friendly window gave me a reflected view up one side of the street, and I studied it.
I could almost hear what the fellow on the buggy was saying. His tone of voice was kind, and when he addressed the worn-looking woman and her little girl, he lifted his hat. I fancied I could see his eyes smile, though I knew the window's reflection wasn't good enough to really see that detail.
I heard all of two words -- "new beginnings" -- when he was done speaking and moved on, I faded into the side of the building, unmoving, invisible.
I heard the little girl ask something. Asked, I thought, as the final syllable turned upward, and in the delightful tone of a little child's voice.
I swallowed hard. Too many memories.
New beginnings, the man said. Sounded like good advice. Reckon a preacher could make a sermon out of that.
Then my belly reminded me that it was tired of being wrapped around my back bone, and I headed for the front door of the hotel.

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Duzy Wales 7-30-07

 

Duzy walked inside to find Mr. Higgin’s waiting for her in the lobby, with a stern look on his face. Miss Wales, he blustered, I cannot have this type behavior in my establishment! I will not condone it!

Not having any idea what he was referring to, Miss Wales, looked at him innocently and asked, whatever are you referring to? Realizing that it was the more elderly Miss Esther Wales who had met and accepted Bonnie, he explained “that woman from the brothel, Sam’s Place was just here with a dirty little child I have seen around town, here in my place, having tea with your Aunt!” “And your point is?” Duzy said, looking him directly in the eye, knowing that many of the so called respectful men of the town frequented Sam’s Place. Before he had a chance to reply, Duzy continued, “it is my plan that Sam’s Place and the type of men who frequent it be a main topic in the first issue of the Firelands News, exposing the true nature of the views of the “oldest profession” known to man, from men and women alike. I will be interviewing quite a few people for the article. It seems to me that those who protest the most seem to have the most to hide. I am sure you won’t have anything to worry about; however, as surely you have never seen the inside of the place, not with your wife and young children being first and foremost in your life.” Duzy was amused as she noticed the redness of his face grow darker and he sputtered for a second, not knowing what to say. “As a Christian yourself, with your prayer circle on Wednesday nights in the lobby, whilst you await the new church, I think your group should join me in helping the young women who clearly would love to leave that place and have a new start. Perhaps we could have fundraisers to help the widows and children who have been left homeless and thus had to find work in such places! And is it not a Christian duty to help the less fortunate, especially the most innocent of all, the orphans or abused children of this town? I am sorry if their presence offended you, so maybe you can help the both of us. Do you know of an empty house close to town, as my Aunt Esther, Bonnie, Sarah and myself will be looking for another place to stay?” Realizing he was losing guests who always paid on time, tipping his family well for their services, he was at a loss of words.

Finally he said, “I am sure we can work something out Miss Wales. Perhaps my wife and daughters have some clothing they can no longer wear and would be happy to donate them to to er uh, you are not really going to write an article about Sam’s Place, are you?” Not even being able to say their names infuriated Duzy, but she kept her calm and stated, “Perhaps if you know of a place that is for sale nearby, I could leave you and your lovely wife out of the interviews, Mr. Higgins.” “Clearly flustered, he said, "I do have one house, just outside of town, it needs a little fixing up, but it has a nice white picket fence and the lady that lived there, may she rest in peace, had a garden that could be tended, with flowers and vegetables in the summertime. I haven’t decided on selling the place, just haven’t gotten around to doing the repairs.” “Wonderful, Duzy said smiling, I would love to see it later today, and I would appreciate you selling it as I can have the repairs made myself. Please let me know what you decide, and yes, the clothing would be appreciated, as I hope to start a home in Firelands for the widows and orphans.” It was the first Duzy had thought of the idea, but it was a good one she was thinking as she walked upstairs to find her Aunt, thinking the Reverend Sopris may be of some help in this new venture.

What Duzy didn't see was the fanatical, burning look in Mr. Higgins's eyes as she turned and walked upstairs. Mr. Higgins was thinking to himself that he didn't need the property anyway and could use the money in other ways. Smiling then, he could visualize the fire he could start while they slept, putting a stop to the uppity Duzy Wales, her Aunt, and the trash she seemed to attract, not even thinking how much of his own money he had spent at Sam's Place just two nights ago with the same type woman whom he had just referred to as "trash!"

Duzy could feel him as he watched her climb the steps and knew she may have stirred a hornets nest, but she had expected that when she had entered her profession and knew she would have to watch her back carefully.

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Lady Leigh 7-30-07

 

As Sopris left, Sarah looked up at Bonnie and asked, "Ms. Bonnie, what did the preacher mean?"

"That you and I deserve something better in this life ... especially you Sweetheart."

As a child, Sarah's life was held in the hands of others. A mama who was gone, a step pa, who, too, was gone. Children always at the mercy of someone else's hands to aide them, protect them .... Children who get lost need the hand of someone to help them find their way. Children who need to cry, need someones hand to lovingly pat their back, and give them the encouraging words to proceed.

Bonnie realized she wasn't just thinking about Sarah. SHe knew it was herself her own thoughts were for as well.

"Oh my goodness, Sarah! I'm not sure that was the Preacher! Just may have been an Angel!"

"Looked like the Preacher to me"

Having almost reached Sam's Place, Bonnie looked down at Sarah, "It's a New Beginning time for the two of us, Sarah! You and I are going to step out on a limb, but we're going to be just fine." One way or the other, Bonnie thought. It had been a long time since she followed her Mama's words to, "let go and let God".

Marching into Sam's Place, Bonnie and Sarah flew up the stairs. Bonnie had to do this before her courage fled. Pulling open a drawer and bringing out the ugly contract and money sock, Bonnie held them tightly in her hands and looked around a room that just about made her sick.

"You're goin' to get out, aint ya?" It was Tilly with tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Yes ....." Bonnie grabbed for Tilly and pulled her into her arms wispering in her ear, "but I'm going to get you out of here, too, Tilly! You'll see! We'll get that better life yet." Pulling away and reaching to lift up Tilly's palm, "My Mama always told me I rest right there in the palm ... of God ....wonder what ever possessed me to forget that?"

Clutching Sarah's hand once again, they descended the stairs. Tilly holding onto Sarah while Bonnie paid off a contract made by the devil.

Oh, there was the ranting that Sam had to make a scene with, but truth be known, he was probably glad to see Bonnie go. Bonnie had a tendency to get a little out spoken with Sam ... though he just might have to find another girl who could read! That was something that Sam appreciated ... but not much else.

"Come on, Sarah. It's time to "afford themselves the luxury of enjoying what is at our feet". Time to find out just what exactly Rev. Kid Sopris was saying to them a short time ago. Though Bonnie knew, she was even more excited to see how it was all going to transpire.

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Kid Sopris 7-30-07

 

Rev. Sopris dropped his horse and buggy off at the livery and proceeded to the hotel. Mr. Higgins was known for his prayer meetings and had promised Sopris help in the completion of the Church.

Sopris knew that Mr. Higgins always wanted to appear that he was doing the right things; but that he was also filled with greed. Something many town folk disliked about him. Rev. Sopris also detected a sinister side to Mr. Higgins.

"Good Afternoon or is it early evening, Mr. Higgins", Sopris called out. Mr. Higgins replied, "Well its 5 pm but the summer sun is still shinning brightly, so either way Reverend." Sopris wasted no time in reminding Higgins about his offer to finish the church, and besides with his involvement the community might have a better appreciation of his efforts.

Sopris also stated, "You know Mr. Higgins, it sure be right nice of you to sell that house on the out skirts of town to a deserving family and allow a new beginning to those trying to improve on their lives. It wouldn't hurt to get those volunteers who are helping with the Church to put a new exterior coat of paint on that house either." "Oh and just one other thing Mr. Higgins, I would hate like hell to see anything happen to Christian folk trying to make a fresh start"; and with that, like a divine spirit, Rev. Sopris coat flew open and the Colt Single Action sparkled the suns reflection, coming through the window, into Mr. Higgins eyes.

Mr. Higgins, shaded his eyes momentarily, heard Sopris bid him a good day and barely caught the image leaving the Hotel lobby.

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Duzy Wales 7-30-07

 

Duzy kissed Aunt Esther on the cheek as she walked in, trying to get some clue as to her feelings about all the changes that were beginning to take place in their lives. Had she written her Papa? Was she going to stand beside Duzy with her decisions? Aunt Esther knew Duzy as well as anyone, besides her Mama and Papa, and she knew Duzy couldn’t wait to get a response from her, therefore dragging it out, trying to teach her patience, as well as to act more responsible, not making rash decisions before having the chance to think about the impact she could make, not only on herself, but everyone she came in contact with. “Oh, Aunt Esther, please do not play this game with me, making me wait to see what you are thinking, and I can just imagine the questions you had for Bonnie without saying a word about how you felt!” She must be so worried, not knowing whether she will have a home with us, or not!” “Duzy we have been here just a short time and you have already made many plans without even discussing them with me, and I might add, you could have gotten yourself and Bonnie into a lot of trouble or even killed by your rash behavior! Do you honestly think you are being fair to me, when it is my place to be protecting you, my dear?”

“I know you are right, Aunt Esther, but it is not as if I planned it. You know how these premonitions come to me, and what would have happened if I had not been there? I know I am troublesome at times, but is it not the intention that is really important?” Aunt Esther smiled at Duzy, relenting as she always had, and said, “I happen to think you did a good thing. I like your new friend and little Sarah surely needs someone to help her and love her. I am not sure that it is you she needs, as she seems to be taken with Miss. McKenna. I think there is already a bond between the two of them that will be hard to break, and I also do not think you are ready to take care of a child of your own. Now, you ask for my feelings, and I am going to be blunt with you. If they would like to live with us, then we will find a place to live and get away from that hypocrite Mr. Higgins! I can barely tolerate the man myself! However, I want you to let Miss McKenna take care of Sarah, with our help of course, and without you getting the fanciful idea that you need a child right now. You are just starting with your career and I am sure that taking care of yourself is more than enough for the both of us to handle!

While Duzy and Aunt Esther were having their discussion, Duzy looked out the window and thought she saw Reverend Sopris leaving. Surely he would have stopped by and said hello, oh well, he was probably in a hurry to work on the church.

Mr. Higgins watched the Preacher man leave and thought to himself that he would sell the house alright and make him happy. He called his wife Marie into the lobby, to run the business and walked out to stir up some trouble, thinking he wasn’t scared of no Preacher man, not believing that was really a gun he thought he had seen, but just the light catching his belt buckle or his eyes playing tricks on him! He hadn't never known a Preacher man to carry a Colt! He would tell a few of the men in town about the article that Duzy was planning to write, and then go over and help the Preacher. After relating his tale, a man sitting in the corner spoke up, “I have heard of her type just recently in New York, a new breed of journalist called ‘muckrakers,’ always stirring up controversy about the so called ‘injustices’ of the world.” The man was Duke Slade, the attorney in Firelands, who had a mean nature about him, some said because he had opened an office in New York and had to sell out and move on, but no one seemed to know why. “I told Sheriff Landers he made a mistake in hiring her to do a man’s job! Women should stay at home working or be on their backs pleasuring the men folk of the town, he stated with contempt. Tom will soon see the error of his ways, as I sent a wire to the newspaper’s owner just last week!” Mr. Higgins laughed and left to go help build the church, thinking it would look good if he would get the paint for the house as well.


Not knowing about the conversation going on down the street with Mr. Higgins and Duke Slade, Sheriff Tom Landers' mind was on Miss Wales, but in a different way. He knew from his own Mother and sisters that women were just as smart or smarter than most men and could do what they set out to do, if given half a chance. Sheriff Landers had taken this job at the request of several of the town folk, but it wasn't really his passion. He hoped to buy his own ranch and run it in the near future, having worked hard during his thirty years and saving every penny he could. He worried as to whether he had made the right decision in hiring Miss Wales, but he intended to keep an eye on her, just in case she ran into trouble. She sure was a pretty young lady, remembering the feel of her body in his arms, and how he had enjoyed her conversation during the dances he had shared with her. Then, she had gotten lost in the crowd and he hadn’t had the opportunity to see her again, instead finding himself playing cards with Reverend Sopris throughout the night. He was planning to change that, he thought, as he walked out of his office to get a bite to eat and see if he could catch a glimpse of the dark haired beauty.

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Lady Leigh 7-30-07

 

As Bonnie and Sarah were, once again, heading back down the worn boardwalk, Duke Slade was walking in her direction. Manuevering out of his way was to no anail. Intentional or not, be brusquely ran into them.

"Not only are you located in the wrong environment, Bonnie, but you are entirely over dressed."

Not wanting to say anything to this despicable man, she tried to side step him, only to have Slade harshly grab Bonnie by the arm. "I said, Bonnie ..."

I know what you said, Mr. Slade. Now if you will stand aside for us to pass."

"Oh, I don't think so .... where are you going is such a hurry?"

People were beginning to take notice of the exchange between them, and Bonnie was trying to quietly remove herself from him. "Please! Allow us to pass," Bonnie pleaded.

It was three years ago she had her first encounter with this man. Three years ago he saw to it the bank forclosed on the boarding house her Mama ran when Mama and Margaret died. Bonnie was sure of it. As sure as sun rose every morning.

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Kid Sopris 7-30-07

 

Mr. Higgins was true to his word, he and other men of the community helped finish the church located at the center of the towns Northern Edge.

It was a grand opening and a wonderful first day of Services. Rev. Sopris, made it known that the wearing of firearms in Church, was welcomed. Sopris also bestowed upon the community of Firelands the responsibility of Welcoming EVERYONE to Sunday services, despite whatever line of work or belief’s they may have. Not all of God’s children are given the same privileges as others. It was more like a warning to be tolerant and do not cast their eyes downward upon the less fortunate; but to embrace and uplift theses souls to a better way of life. Women folk seem to acknowledge the fact as indicated by the suttle nudging they gave their husbands.

Sopris spoke of the Bert’s departure leaving his daughter Sarah behind. Word had reached Sopris that Bert was no longer among the living and Sopris hoped that the three new Godmothers, Ms. Duzy, Ms. Esther and Ms. Bonnie would be welcomed and since the community and territory at large did not have formal adoption procedures that the community accept little Sarah as Sarah McKenna.

Sheriff Landers seemed to raise his eyebrows a might at learning of Bert’s untimely departure, but said nothing.

Mr. Higgins was publicly thanked for his support, and for organizing the gift of fresh paint to the new home located on the outskirts of town. Sopris added that aiding and abetting in the sorrow or hurtful ways of others with malice of forethought was doomful to those who practiced the art. Sopris seemed to look right through Mr. Higgins and burned a hole in Duke Slade who felt an uneasy discomfort in his chest momentarily.; and who was also recovering from a broken jaw for his rude behavior.

The new church had a grand bell in its chapel, one that could be heard from a mile or more away. It came from the McShane Bell Foundry, located in Baltimore Maryland, who has been making church bells since 1856. It was a 36 inch, 1000 lb bell and boy howdy could it ring.

The Church was white with a Dark Gray trim. The Doors were of solid oak and stained glass adorned the doors centers and the glass windows all around. There was even a private sleeping quarters in the back where Sopris laid his head at night.

Sopris also offered the church during the week to the teacher, until the School house could be completed. It might just make them boys act a bit more civilized.

After the services a grand picnic in the Church courtyard was thrown and many more community minded folk exchanged welcomes and greetings; a perfect setting to a perfect day.

Mr. Wallace was even in town for the gathering. Sopris walked up to Mr. Wallace, they exchanged greetings and then Sopris asked a very unusual question of Mr. Wallace. “Say what do you think of Lawyers?”

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Linn Keller 7-30-07

 

"Mr. Slade?"
Slade turned at the unexpected hail.
I started the punch at my boot tops and ended it a foot past the point of his chin, driving the heel of my hand into his jaw with full intent driving his bottom teeth out his scalp.
Slade hit the board walk like a cut down oak tree, his fancy derby hat rolling off the dusty boards and falling off the edge.
I shook my hand, reflecting this was not my brightest move, I should have bent a single tree over his unrepentant skull, but I can not abide by ill manners in a man, and no single tree was handy at the moment.
I raised my hat to the lady and her little girl. "Your pardon, ladies," I said gently, "can I be of further service?"

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William A.A. Wallace 7-30-07

 

"Lawyers? hmmmm...never had the need for one and don't see as they do much except make money for themselves and keep the well to do folks from paying their due." Wallace wondered where the preacher was going with this train of thought, but thought he'd let it lie like a sleeping dog until the preacher offered more information as to where this conversation was headed. Changing the subject somewhat, Wallace said, "Well, preacher, this here church is a mighty fine addition to this little town. Hope that you and your congregation get along just fine in it." Kid Sopris, the preacher with a holstered Colt on one hip and a Bible in his hand replied, "Bigfoot, we sure thank you for your strong back these past few days...you really helped us along with the construction and the placing of the new bell." Wallace nodded and said, "I'm glad to have it finished! Never worked so hard in my whole life!" and commenced to laughing..."you know, preacher, I might just start being a church going fellow just to see what you might say and see how some of these so called "Christian" folk react!"

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Lady Leigh 7-30-07

 

What are you supposed to do when a stranger comes right out of the blue and litterally decks ... in this case a man who deserved it ... the towns Attourney? Bonnie was caught speachless. Sarah was stiff as a board. People were definitly gawking.

"Um ... thank you ... really, I never would have expected such a thing. Oh I hope you do not find trouble with this! He's an Attorney for crying out loud!"

This man, whom Bonnie had never seen, gently took her by her elbow and ushered her around the man lying down. This marked the second time in as many days. Are all of the new men coming in town going to be like these last two? Bonnie was baffled.

"Again, thank you Mr... "

*******************************


Church on Sunday??? It was, Bonnies opinion, that the Church goers were usually the ones that had the hardest time forgiving! This was going to be interesting!

Mrs. Higgins was kind enough to bring a frock, stockings and boots over for Sarah to wear. With a quick turn of a needle, Bonnie hemmed the darling little dress, ever thankful that this lovely blue and yellow calico would be something Sarah could wear for awhile.

As for herself, Bonnie was taller than the average woman, and definitly finer boned than Mrs. Higgins! It would take some all around altering to get the skirt and blouse to fit her. The faded brown twill and ivory blouse would have to suffice for a Sunday church service. She and Sarah would be sitting in the back anyway.

"I wonder who will be there this morning? That man never did mention his name ... who is he? And who's the other one clad in buckskin? Mercy but this all very curious!"

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Duzy Wales 7-30-07

 

Bonnie didn't need to wear her brown twill skirt afterall, as Duzy and she were about the same age and size, except Bonnie was a smidge taller. All Aunt Esther had to do was add a ruffle to the bottom of the clothes Duzy had taken out of her over abundant amount to give to her friend, giving her three complete outfits from her undies to her hat, gloves, and shoes. "Why, thank you Miss Wales," Bonnie said, barely keeping the tears from her eyes as she held the silk against her skin. "Please call me Duzy, if I may call you Bonnie," Duzy said in return, "and you are most welcome, afterall, we will soon be like sisters, living in the same household." Aunt Esther had fixed both of the young ladies hair in a pretty updo with curls and they had certainly caused a commotion when the four of them entered the beautiful new church. Bonnie started to sit at the very back, but Duzy wanted to see Reverend Sopris' blue eyes and how they seemed so full of what she could only describe as "calculated energy" as he brought his points home to many seated in the church. They sat proudly near the front and enjoyed his sermon, knowing that this wouldn't be the only time they would attend his service. Reverend Sopris was very insightful, with a protective streak that ran through him that was obvious to every woman in the congregation and hadn't gone unnoticed by the men, some even squirming in their seats before it ended.

Sarah ran and played with the other children at the picnic, and Duzy couldn't help but think back to the first time she had seen the little girl. She was watching Sarah play when Sheriff Tom Landers joined her, asking if she would like some more lemonade or a slice of pie. "Yes, thank you, Sheriff, Duzy said, giving him a bright smile in return. It was turning out to be a great day in Firelands!

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