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Firelands-The Beginning


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Duzy Wales 4-7-08

 

Early morning, Day two, St. Louis

Dear Diary,

It is after midnight, and I had a wondrous time! I will wait until I have rested to write about the evening, for now, I must get some sleep!

I will say that when I knocked on the Marshall’s door, he appeared looking most dashing! He had dressed to go to the Symphony and had purchased tickets for the performance, making me wonder at his insight, or if he has had a lot of experience with women, or perhaps a special woman in his past?

We did see the arc lights and had a wonderful meal. He told me he had a surprise for today, so I must get some rest. I have some postcards of the sights we have seen to keep for mementos! I think I will be asleep before my head hits the pillow!

He is most thoughtful, as he had already checked and found that Jake made it safely to San Francisco, so I must have been dreaming about the gunfire and Jake being in danger. He also sent a wire to Firelands, letting everyone know that we are safe and where we can be reached today.

As he left my room to go into his own, he took my hand in his and kissed it, as we looked into each others eyes. We seem to be getting closer with each encounter, building a friendship that I am sure will last for a lifetime, and leaving me wondering just how close we will become…

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Linn Keller 4-7-08

 

Word traveled fast.
It always does.
Esther was downstairs, a fragrant, bone-china cup of tea in front of her, spectacles forgotten on top of her head, and she nibbled delicately at one of the cakes Daisy had baked for such occasions.
"Oh, yes, 'twas bad news," Daisy assured her, bouncing Little Sean on her lap, causing the chubby little Irishman to squeal a little and smile and wave his pink arms with delight. "A black-edged envelope it was. The Winthrop boy wheedled two penny candies out of Jacob, can you imagine! The little scoundrel!"
Esther smiled. Jacob was as carefully generous as his father, and as cautious; she couldn't help but think the lad might be a new recruit in Jacob's personal information network. Young Master Winthrop had already proven useful in getting information to Daisy.
"Little Sean is growing so fast!" Esther smiled, tilting her head a little.
"Oh my goodness he is," Daisy groaned, picking him up and stirring with the other hand. "I'll no' be takin' care o' him here much longer, I'm afraid!"
Esther finished her kaffeeklatsch and thanked Daisy for her kindness; stroking Sean's soft cheek with the back of her finger, she cooed to him, and Sean laughed, and Daisy beamed proudly, and Esther turned to leave.
Her heels were loud in the little hallway between the kitchen and the polished mahogany that was Mr. Baxter's kingdom, and she stopped to say hello to its sovereign, who paused in his constant burnishing to greet the lovely proprietress.
"I do believe, Mr. Baxter," Esther said, tilting her head as she often did, "you keep the loveliest saloon I have seen in many years and many miles!"
"Why thank you, Miz Esther," he smiled, reddening. "Can I get you something?"
"Oh, no, thank you, I just had a lovely cup of tea with Daisy."
"I could smell it," Mr. Baxter nodded. "Does she have any of those little cake things left?"
Esther laughed. "Yes, Mr. Baxter, she even dusted them with powdered sugar, just for you."
Mr. Baxter's eyes crinkled with pleasure. "I suppose it wouldn't be polite to let them go stale."
"No, Mr. Baxter, it wouldn't."
Mr. Baxter folded his polishing cloth, placed it neatly on a shelf. "I had better take care of that, then," he declared, and headed down the hallway towards Daisy's warm and welcoming domain.
Esther smiled and, drawing up her skirts, went back up the stairs, back to her office.

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Duzy Wales 4-7-08

 

Dear Diary....

I am attaching the post cards of the places we have been and seen...first is where we are staying...the Lindell Hotel, rebuilt in 1874, after the fire.

 

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Next is the Eads Bridge of which I wrote earlier....look at the train under the bridge!

 

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The Faust Restaurant where we dined and where the first arc lights were installed in St. Louis...

 

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And, this one should have been first...the train depot!

 

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More to come later...

 

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Linn Keller 4-7-08

 

The Welsh Irishman had just finished cleaning the firehouse. The mares weren't kept in stalls; rather, they were three abreast, just in front of the double doors, and the tall, narrow horse house held their harness up overhead: upon receipt of alarm, the harness would be dropped down on them, they would be hitched up, and by then the boiler would be fired, wakened to a roaring hunger from the warmth of the constant, banked fire they maintained.
A boiler with a warm belly was much faster to steam than if it were stone cold, and they took it as a point of pride that their boiler never, ever went cold.
They kept the firehouse absolutely neat, spotlessly clean: it had started as a shack, knocked together shortly after their arrival, but steadily, with time, the firehouse had been rebuilt; it was now on solid foundation, good square stones, cut and quarried and laid on the native stone strata.
Tall, narrow, it rivaled the hospital for quality of workmanship and imposing appearance.
The firemen looked up as the smooth stone floor shivered underfoot; alarmed, the Welsh Irishman soothed the matched white mares, who had gone from placid, almost sleepy, to alert, restless, walling their eyes and dancing, anxious to be anywhere but where they stood.
Had the doors not been securely shut, they would surely have bolted.
"Where's Sean?" came the shout.
"I don't know, lads, but I don't like whatever's happened!"
The fire door banged open under the boiler and a bucket of coal oil soaked corn cobs was thrown in, with a shovel of hard coal. "Come on, you brass bound hussy," the fireman swore, "I want steam and I want it NOW!"
Another shovel of coal followed, the fire door banged shut.
The coal oil caught and she began to roar, quietly, smoke rolling up the chimney that yawned above the boiler's short stack.
Harness fell free, landed neatly on the three mares' backs; with a swiftness that spoke of long practice, they were snugged, buckled; with the reassurance of the familiar harness, the mares still danced, but now they took their bits, blowing, shaking their heads, anxious to do what they loved, and that was to run: to run, leaning into their padded leather collars, thrusting against the resistance of the steam wagon behind them, running with the joy that comes naturally from doing what they were bred and trained to do.

Sean was rubbing noses with Little Sean, and Little Sean was laughing, squealing with the delight of a little boy who absolutely adored his Papa. Daisy hummed quietly as she stirred the stew she was fixing, a great kettle of it, for she was intending to feed the entire crew today; she had four loaves of bread cooling, two more in the oven.
She knew the appetite of a fireman, and with four of them around the same table, she knew, it would take quite a bit to fill them.
The hardwood floor vibrated underfoot.
Sean looked over Little Sean's fuzzy head as Daisy froze, alarmed.
The surface of the stew showed a sudden vibration, and the stew pot shivered on the cast iron stove top.
Dishes clattered a bit, then all was still.
Sean turned, Little Sean hugged to him, and he was out the door in three long strides.
"Sean!" Daisy shouted, then snatched up a pot holder and picked the stew kettle off the table. Thumping it down on the table, she yanked open the oven door, tossed the bread onto the table somewhere near the stew kettle, seized up her skirts and sprinted after her husband.
The door came shut just as Daisy came to the doorway.
Daisy squeezed her eyes tight shut against the pain, her hand going reflexively to the corner of her forehead, where it had bounced off the doorway.
She twisted the knob savagely, shoved the door open.
"SEAN!" she shouted, slamming the door shut behind her and running with a desperate speed after her husband, and their infant son, still held securely under his arm.

 

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Duzy Wales 4-8-08

 

Day 2, Saint Louis

Dear Diary,

Just when I think the Marshall cannot surprise me, he told me at breakfast this morning that we will have our own private car for the rest of the train trip. It seems that was the business he was taking care of the first day, making the arrangements with a friend to have it for our use! It will make the trip much more comfortable and opulent.

I haven’t seen it yet, and wonder at the sleeping arrangements, and the intimacy of the arrangement; however, I trust the Marshall, and he feels that he can be more protective of me without others around. He should certainly get more rest, as he was always on the lookout for anyone whom he thought may try to keep me from testifying once we reach Washington!

We will be traveling as husband and wife, just to keep the gossips at bay, although at this point, I care little what anyone else thinks. With everyone knowing about Jake, I was eager to get out of Firelands, to keep from facing the humiliation and hurt that I felt, and I still feel a great loss, a hurt that is simmering inside me, as I try to forget and have a good trip. I am so thankful for the Marshall. He makes me feel special again and has been the perfect gentleman…..

We will see more sights today and then be leaving early tomorrow, so we will move our bags to the car this evening and should be asleep when the train pulls out…

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Charlie MacNeil 4-8-08

 

Charlie's legs suddenly folded under him and he sat heavily. He carefully dumped the empty shells from his pistol and tried to reach around for loaded rounds to put in the vacated chambers. His fingers fumbled the first round from his belt and he stared at it, dumbfounded that it was covered with some sort of slippery red liquid. He shrugged and slid the cartridge into the empty chamber and reached for another, cursing when he dropped that one in the dust from his slippery fingers. Single-mindedly he reached for another round.

Willy clomped up beside him, leaning heavily on his crutch. "We gotta get you to that doctor!" Willy exclaimed.

"Why?" Charlie asked hazily. Now that the adrenaline of the fight was wearing off the world was getting dimmer, for some reason. Then it came to him at the same time that the wolverine made another assault. Pain flashed through him and he doubled over, the pistol falling into the dirt. He reached for his gun but his fingers never got there...

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Linn Keller 4-8-08

 

Fiddler Daine gentled the suddenly-skittish dapple as best he could, barely keeping her from running away with the wagon. He used gentleness on the reins and a liberal application of profanity, steering her off the wagon track and in a fast trot in a big circle. It like to beat his liver loose as the ground was less than smooth but by the second big circle was completed, the dapple was calmed down enough he was no longer worried she's seize the bit and run away with him.


On the other side of town, Twain Dawg jumped like he'd been stung, landing on all fours, furred out and growling, looking around for some enemy, something in which to sink his dentures: seeing nothing, he barked sharply at Sarah, and galloped over to the door, reaching up to rake it once.
"Twain Dawg, you stop that," Sarah scolded. "Mama doesn't want you scratching up the doors! She already told you about that!"
Sarah emphasized her words with a brisk shake of her Mommy-finger, which she had seen Mama do.
Twain Dawg was not impressed.
As a matter of fact, Twain Dawg ran to her, seized her skirt in his teeth and began dragging her toward the door, growling fiercely.
Sarah, surprised and suddenly a little afraid, almost fell but kept her feet as Twain Dawg hauled her toward the door.
Sarah reached up and twisted the knob, and Twain Dawg washed through the opening like water sluicing down a drain.
Sarah heard him barking, again, yammering and jumping at the outside door.
Alarmed, Bonnie looked out the front window, then to the side, and her hand went to her mouth.
"Caleb! The horses!"
Caleb rose quickly, mouth open in dismay as they watched their two horses, Butter and Jelly, running in wild circles, finally sailing over the board fence and galloping off.
They ran for the front door. Twain Dawg was first out the door and first on the porch, looking around, fangs bared, daring the world itself to trespass.
"Oh, no,' Bonnie groaned. "How will we ever catch them? They'll be halfway to Mexico by now!"
Sarah pointed. "Twain Dawg! Get 'em!"
Until now Twain Dawg lacked a focus for his energy.
Twain Dawg knew something was very wrong.
Twain Dawg suddenly had something he knew how to do.
Twain Dawg launched off the porch like a fired arrow and shot across the field, as straight and true as if he were running a chalkline.
Sarah tugged at Bonnie's apron. "Mama?" she asked. "What's that?"
Bonnie turned and looked the other way, toward the circle of fence posts the mine recently put up around the new hole sunk in their side field.
Caleb pulled his wife nearer as dust and smoke squirted out of the hole, followed by a belch of flame that was gone as quick as it was there.

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Linn Keller 4-8-08

 

Rose drew up, trembling.
I leaned down and stroked her neck. "What do you see, girl?" I asked in a gentle voice.
Rose's ears laid back and she blew and I knew it was going to get interesting real quick.
A flock of prairie grouse launched off to my right, and I fetched out my '73 rifle and laid my thumb on the hammer.
"Stand," I whispered, and Rose's ears came up a little: they pointed toward me instead of laying down flat, and I turned Rose to our right, and walked her forward.
Two more flocks took out, and in the distance, a herd of antelope began running.
"Ho," I said, and Rose ho'd.
Something felt very wrong.
I could not figure what it was but an old timer once told me when I was a very junior lawman, "Son, when in doubt, follow your gut," and my gut told me it was time to point our noses back toward home, and to waste no time about it.
I thrust the rifle back in its scabbard.
Rose spun under me and in two jumps she was running and in three she was at a flat out gallop, and I let my hat fly back on its storm strap and leaned out over her neck as she started to stretch and started to run and the world ran out from under her like it was scared of her.
I wanted to be home, and Rose wanted to be there as well, and she was darn well going to make sure we got there, just as fast as she could.
A man can tell things about his horse.
Rose o' the Mornin' was of good stock, her blood included blooded Kentucky stock ridden by General John Hunt Morgan's men when they raided up into the Ohio country and put the fear of God into the godless Yankees.
Rose o' the Mornin' loved to run for the sheer joy of running.
Rose o' the Mornin' had ridden me into pitched battle and never flinched, she and I had run down coyotes and killed them, she had spun and charged a mountain cat that thought for a little bit it might like to have horse for supper, at least until supper turned with hooves and teeth and suddenly didn't look like a good idea a'tall.
No, Rose was scared, and she ran like she was scared, and her hooves set a steady drumbeat on the dirt road and when we come over the next rise I saw reason for fear.
Bonnie and Caleb's house was ahead, and it looked to be smoking bad through the roof.
Butter and Jelly were off in the far field, looking for all the world like they were being herded back. I knew they were well out of their fenced pasture but at the moment it was a very unimportant observation.
"Go - go - go - go" I encouraged Rose, in cadence to her gallop, and somewhere, somewhere Rose brought up more speed, more speed, more speed, and if God had give her wings we would put a sparrowhawk to shame for speed, for I never in my life have gone faster, nor in all the years that followed, than I did in that moment.

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Charlie MacNeil 4-8-08

 

...Charlie thanked Providence that the snow underfoot had been frozen hard, because it let him run on top rather than sinking in with every step. Behind him the wolves that had been howling all morning? afternoon? night? began to yip, a sure sign that they were on a hot trail. He looked down at the bloody tracks he was leaving and shrugged. There was nothing to do now but find a place to hole up, some place he could back up against to keep them in front of him. He knew he had two cartridges left in the pistol he wore belted over his long wool underwear? and none in the rifle he carried? The rifle would make a good club once the pistol was empty.

Ahead he saw a rock outcropping. Beside it a huge Ponderosa pine grew tight against the rock. He would make a stand there. He turned his back to the rock with a sigh, and waited for the wolves to appear.

"We must get the bullet out of him and stop the bleeding," a voice said loudly.

One of the wolves slammed into him from the side, and the sudden agony drove him down into a howling red nothingness...

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Linn Keller 4-8-08

 

Paint hid a crack, the crack betrayed a knot, and the knot waited patiently, patiently, waited for six years and more.
It was not until someone set a twenty pound box of spike nails on the shelf that the knot smiled, for it lived to make boards weak, and it intended to fulfill its purpose in life.
The nails had been set in the dead center of the shelf, where it was weakest, but the wood was seasoned, and resisted the weight for most of a year. Summer had passed, fall's leaves blown away, and winter's snows were retreated with ill grace, and spring finally dared peep up through the dead grasses. It was still chilly, a warm stove felt good, and indeed the stove in the depot building felt very good.
Railroad lanterns were fueled with coal oil, and coal oil came in cans, and cans sometimes got set where they really didn't belong; some anonymous railroader set these cans directly under the shelf.
Just then the floor shivered, and with it the wall, and with the wall, the shelf.
Ill luck smiled as the fatigued wood snapped. Twenty pound of spike nails, in a wooden box, fell straight down on one can of coal oil and knocked over a second; the spray from its impact lit little fire-trickles where it splashed on the hot stove, and these ran and sizzled down the side of the stove, and met the running tongues of fuel that also trickled down between the boards.
Suddenly there was fire.
Fueled by its eternal and insatiable hunger, the fire burned on the floor, and in the floor, and under the floor, and started to work its way up the wall, and found a collection of mouse nests between the walls, and began to chimney up the inside of the wall.

Lightning paused his hand, frowning and looking around.
His son was firing their stove.
"What wood is that?" he asked irritably.
"Same as we've been using, Pa," the boy replied.
"Doesn't smell right."
The floor shivered underfoot.
Lightning touched the key experimentally, sent a quick message to the next station, received an immediate reply.
"Sir?" his boy asked.
"Go look about," Lightning said quickly. "Something's not right."
"Yes, sir," the lad replied, and opened the door.
He stood there for a long moment, the door open, half-in and half-out, looking at something.
The boy pulled back in, eyes big.
"We are fired!" he shouted, and sprinted down the depot platform.
"WHAT!" Lightning was on his feet and following.
They hauled open the heavy double doors to an inferno. The fresh draft of air fed the monster, which started rolling, a horizontal cylinder of living flame.
Lightning drew back, shielding his face from its intensity; his boy crouched, reached in and started hauling out trunks and tools.
Lightning reached in and seized him by the back of his drawers. "Never mind that!" he yelled. "Get the Irish Brigade!"
Lightning turned and snatched up a wooden bucket, gouged it savagely into the rain barrel and turned to throw it into the inferno.
He might as well have spit at it.

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Linn Keller 4-9-08

 

I reined Rose up and she reared a little, right in front of the Rosenthals' front porch, and Sarah laughed and clapped her hands at the sight, bouncing up and down on her toes like she did.
I was looking at their roof, assuring myself that it was intact, and it was indeed not smoking.
Caleb was leaning on the far porch rail, watching the drifting cloud that belched out the mine's vent; Bonnie looked at Caleb, and down at Sarah.
"What happened?" I shouted, gentling the dancing Rose, and she turned under me again, shivering. She still wanted to run, but I held her, and she blew and shook her head, unhappy, but stood restlessly for me.
Bonnie's hand went to her mouth and she bent and scooped up Sarah, and shoved the door open, and disappeared within.
Caleb turned his head and said, "I don't know, Sheriff, but it wasn't good."
"What did you see?"
He frowned, thrusting his chin at the circle of wire-ringed fenceposts. "You already know about the mine fencing off that sink hole."
"I heard talk of it, yes."
"I was inside at my desk and the floor shook. Just a little shiver. Twain Dawg acted like he wanted to rip the door off its hinges and kill somebody and when we looked out front, nobody was there. I looked out the side just in time to see Butter and Jelly running in circles and then leap the fence."
I turned and looked, raised an eyebrow.
"Butter and Jelly?" I'm afraid my voice betrayed what I felt, for they had two of the most placid harness horses I'd ever seen; it would have taken an act of Congress to get either one above a gentle trot, and that only after two votes and a filibuster.
Caleb's expression was morose. "Twain Dawg shot off after them. I can only imagine what he's done with them." He shook his head, pushed off the porch rail and straightened up. "Sarah" -- he chuckled in spite of himself -- "Sarah pointed like an avenging goddess and commanded, "Get 'em!" and off he went!"
I stood in my stirrups, more to ease my backside than anything else, and turned Rose just a bit.
"Ahh ... Caleb?"
"Yes?"
"You wondered about Twain Dawg?"
Caleb came down the steps and looked, following my gaze.
Twain Dawg trotted along between Butter and Jelly, tongue hanging out, the very picture of puffed-up pride. They were headed right for us, as if they had every right to present themselves there in the front yard.
I laughed. "Do you suppose they'll go back into the pasture for you?"
Caleb bent down and ruffled Twain Dawg's ears. "Good boy!" he said softly, then reached up and began fooling with Butter and Jelly.
They seemed as glad to see him as he was to see them again.
Rose o' the Mornin' grunted under me, her head swinging left, and I felt her tense up again.
I looked to the distance, back toward town, and saw smoke.
"Oh, no," I groaned.
Rose didn't have to be told twice.
She wanted to run some more and I figured now's the time.
Rose wanted to run, and I let her!

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Duzy Wales 4-9-08

 

Later…Day 2, St. Louis

Dear Diary,

When the Marshall and I unloaded our bags at the depot, my heart beat with anticipation. I had seen the inside of a private railroad car once, as Clara’s prisoner, along with Bonnie, and for a moment, the memories assailed me, taking me back to that time. The Marshall noticed my hesitation and lifted me into his arms and carried me inside.

I looked at him questioningly and he said that we had to make things look real, and was he not supposed to carry his bride across the threshold! I smiled as I looked at him, as I think he sensed what I was feeling and returned by telling him that if we were truly wed, should we not have rings also?

He asked me to reach inside his jacket pocket, and when I did, there were two matching bands and a beautiful engagement ring to match! It seemed he had thought of everything, as there was a rolled piece of paper that was actually a wedding certificate! The Marshall certainly has connections or well placed freinds, which would be scary, if I didn't trust him! He said I should never underestimate my husband and I replied that I would try to remember that! We were enjoying playing out the game, but I had to question the rings, and his only reply was that I was not to worry and to please wear them until the mission was over, at which time he would return them to their owner.

And then came the most shocking question, “Duzy Wales Sopris, may I show you our home,” with a sparkle in his eyes that was contagious, as I answered, “Yes, you may. After all, am I not to love honor and obey my husband?” He actually rolled his eyes on the word “obey,” and gave me that smirk, as if he would have to see that to ever believe it; and, when I gave him a well deserved punch just above his gun belt, he said, “Duzy, it is obvious that I will have to teach you how to be a “proper wife!” Can you imagine? It wasn’t as if I had hurt him, as he felt rock hard and it probably hurt my hand more than it did his torso!

Our home, the private rail car that we will be traveling in is Presidential! There is a covered deck on the back with rattan chairs, a door that goes into a parlor, with cherry paneling, a sofa, chairs, a spittoon, stove, brass fixtures, plush carpeting, and a desk with a beautiful Victorian oil lamp. The velvet curtains are a deep red color with fringe, with a matching curtain that opens into the bedroom and lavatory! I have never seen anything quite as opulent in a railcar, although the sleeping car we were in before was nice, but this has running water, and privacy, so the Marshall can relax and not constantly be watching for trouble or someone that may be a threat! He told me that the car had been used by many famous people, including Mr. Abraham Lincoln, and I could certainly see why! The bed was brass, with a feather mattress and pillows, and I couldn’t help but to lie back on it, thinking how wonderful the trip would be riding in such luxury! He looked at me for a moment and then reached for my hand, telling me that there would be plenty of time to test the bed after we had seen more of the sights of Saint Louis, which instantly brought a blush to my face by his wording! After all there is a sofa for one of us! Perhaps we will flip a coin to determine which of us will use the bed!

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Charlie MacNeil 4-9-08

 

...and the redness of the pain gradually faded into the silky red of Fannie's hair. Her back was to him and he reached out his hand to lay it on her shoulder, to turn her face to his.

The snarls of the wolves startled him and he thought he whirled to face them, reaching for his pistol, but again the fangs rent his flesh and his world faded to black...

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Linn Keller 4-9-08

 

I drew Rose up as we came to the end of the main street, and we were to the Jewel before she slowed enough to come down to a trot.
I let her trot on down to the church.
The Reverend Belden was just coming out the door, Bible in hand, looking at the commotion, and what he and I saw could mildly be called "commotion."
I'll admit I love the sight of a running horse. God help me, there are few things more beautiful than standing with morning sun at your back and watching a horse coming right at you, into the sun, just as hard as she'll run!
We looked at three matched white mares, hauling the Irish Brigade's steam wagon, and they were very nearly in step, so well were they matched and trained: the steam wagon was rolling smoke out its top, everything gleamed and shined and glittered in the sun, and the red-and-gold- ladder wagon behind bounced and clattered ...
...and so did Daisy ...
...and it took me a moment to realize that something was unusual about that.
It took me another moment to realize Sean, standing as he always did, looking as impressive as a minor deity, was holding something other than reins and a horse whip.
Then everything fell into place: Daisy's words, screamed against the back of the steam boiler, Sean's triumphant grin, teeth white and startling under his rebellious, absolutely red handlebar mustache, and the chubby pink arm waving from the blanket bundle he held against the red bib of his fireman's shirt.
Parson Belden and I looked at one another and looked back at the steam wagon as it made the turn and rolled in behind the burning depot building.

Daisy gripped a rung in both hands and shoved hard with both feet, leaping off the ladder before they were fully stopped, and reached the front of the steam buggy at a run.
She stopped dead and put both hands on her hips and looked at her husband.
Her look would have set a rock on fire.
"Daisy me dear!" Sean roared, a broad grin splitting his face, "Me son has gone on his first run!"
Little Sean, safe in Big Sean's big hands, squealed with delight as Daisy received him and held him to her bosom.
Sean fetched the brake into battery with one pull of his muscled arm, leaped lightly to the ground, pulled Daisy close in against him and kissed her soundly, and her knees sagged a little, as they always did, for Sean was a passionate man who woke the fires within as well as he fought those fires that were his other passion in life, and she shivered for a moment as Sean strode to the back of the steam buggy, bawling orders and swearing at the hot-tongued demon eating the depot from within.

"Parson," I said, settling my Stetson back on my windblown and thinning hair, "do you have any idea what in the Sam Hill is going on this fine and lovely day?"
Rose o' the Mornin' was catching her wind beneath me, and I dismounted as the Parson shook his head. We walked together down toward the fire scene.
"No, Sheriff, I don't have any idea," the Parson admitted, "but it's certainly been interesting so far."
We watched the Irish Brigade for a bit, as did half the town, for there hadn't been this much excitement for some time.
I saw Jacob and Miss Messman standing together, holding hands.
Looked like the most natural thing in the world.
I turned back to the fire, smiling a little, and stroked Rose's neck.
"Come on, girl," I said, "let's walk you for a little bit."
Parson Belden looked over, curious, as I laughed a little.
I looked up, and our eyes met.
"Just thinking about Charlie," I said. "Likely the man is sitting in some quiet little cantina, enjoying a cool drink, a plate of good food and the sight of a good looking dancing girl." I laughed again. "Marshal MacNeil always was smarter than me," I said dolefully, and Parson Belden laughed with me on that one.

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Duzy Wales 4-9-08

 

Evening, Day 2, St. Louis


The Marshall and I had a wonderful time this evening. We started our trip by riding to the top of Olive Street and looking at the scenery below us.

 

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Then, we rode to the Saint Louis library and checked out some books that we will drop off on our return trip.

 

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We rode out to the Saint Louis University...

 

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and passed by the Chouteau Mansion.

 

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We then checked out the Saint Louis Fire Department, and an uneasy feeling came upon me, wondering how everyone was in Firelands. I hope they are all fine.

 

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I suggested to the Marshall that we flip a coin for the bed and I called "heads," and won! I felt badly leaving him on the sofa, but it looked comfortable, so I am going to enjoy the bed tonight, hoping that he can rest as well. It has been a wonderful stopover and the Marshall and I seem to be getting closer each day. Until tomorrow, I will say goodnight.


Duzy turned to get into bed and stepped on something cold, and reaching down to pick it up, she noticed it was the coin that the Marshall had flipped, that must have fallen out of his pocket. Looking at it more closely, she noticed that it was a two sided coin, both heads, and realized the Marshall had given her the bed. Duzy climbed into the bed, thinking once again how thoughtful the Marshall was, and how with each day, they seemed to become closer.

 

"Images courtesy of, www.stlouistimeportal.com"

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Duzy Wales 4-10-08

 

Kid settled in on the sofa, hoping to get some rest, but like most men, who do not wish to talk about their personal lives to others, those thoughts come back, once they are alone.

What neither Duzy nor anyone else knew was that he had already had enough cross country travel. After the delivery of the suspect, and Chang received his well deserved bounties, his plan was to retire from law enforcement.

Kid dreamed of quiet time traveling back to the West and the expansion of the new frontier. As the days passed with Duzy, he thought of the intelligent and beautiful young woman, and at times wondered how it would be for the two of them to revisit the small Colorado town, Mt. Sopris, that was named after his Father, and to settle down together, enjoying the scenery of his home place.

He thought of the dark haired woman, so vibrant and full of life, laying asleep just a few feet away, and had to admit that she was tempting, but he also thought of Jake, a fellow lawman, and tried to keep those thoughts at bay. This was a vulnerable time in her life, and she may forgive Jake and return to him, so in his mind, she was already taken.

Kid’s last thought before he shut his eyes was that this trip would have been a hell of a lot easier, in some ways, had he kept her on the train for the rest of the trip, but by taking advantage of the generous offer of the private railcar, he could protect her much more effectively, so that was what he planned to do. Damn!

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Linn Keller 4-10-08

 

Lightning continued taking messages, relaying them and making carefully printed notes of all that transpired in his log; he was a methodical man, and long past the excitability of youth.
His son had none of that seasoning.
He'd been put to running to the nearest rain barrel with a bucket and hauling water back, and dumping it in the rain barrel into which the Irish Brigade had thrust the suction line for their steam engine. There were two rain barrels, side by side, both full, but the steam pump had an appetite, and the engineer knew they could empty it fast.
He looked longingly at the water tower, wishing for a long, flexible line he could button on its hinged spout, but such was not to be: he dealt with the reality he had, and throttled back the discharge on his pump.
Lightning continued to send and receive until the wall beside him started to smoke, then he sent "ALL STATIONS NOW HEAR THIS STOP FIRELANDS DEPOT FIRED STOP WILL ADVISE WHEN WIRE BACK UP END."
Lightning stood and calmly unscrewed the brass nuts holding copper wire to his key; then, unbuttoning the sounder as well, he stacked them neatly on his log book, gathered as much as he could conveniently carry, and piled it on the wheeled wooden chair he normally sat in.
He dollied this out the door, and to the opposite end of the platform from the conflagration.
Snatching up an empty powder box, he went back into his little office and continued loading all that he could. An anonymous townsman, offering to help, found the powder box thrust into his hands with the calm instruction to take it to the far end of the platform, where his chair was; Lightning's boy was busy with water, so on the good townsman's return, Lightning "drafted from the Unorganized Militia" and had him take one end of the wooden desk, and Lightning picked up the other; coughing now, for the smoke was gathering and lowering in the telegraph office, they carried the desk out, and duck-walking under the weight, labored their way to the far end, with the other rescued supplies.
Esther was standing at the far end of the platform. She laid a gentle hand on Lightning's forearm. "You are well?" she asked, spectacles forgotten and slid to the end of her nose.
"I am, ma'am," Lightning said deferentially, and looked sadly back at his little office. Fire was just starting to light up its interior.
"Have a wire strung to my office in the Jewel. We'll move you up there until we're rebuilt."
"Ma'am?" Lightning said. "Would that be proper? I mean, you're a married woman and all --"
"Hang propriety!" she barked. "We've got a railroad to run!"
"Yes, ma'am!" Lightning grinned in reply. His bladed hand came up automatically, in a crisp military salute, a response to the ring of command.
He always did like her spirit.
She generally kept her temper hidden, but her red hair was a warning, and when those lovely green eyes flashed, he knew, the wise man did not stand in Miz Esther's way!

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Charlie MacNeil 4-10-08

 

...and with a Herculean effort Charlie forced his eyes to open. The light in the big tent was dim and came only from a guttering lamp, its wick turned down to the bare minimum. Even that little bit of light was almost more than he could handle and he blinked gummy eyelids until his eyes adjusted.

From the corner of his eye he could see a blurry image of Willy slumped in a chair beside the cot that Charlie lay on. He cranked his rusty neck muscles to the side enough to allow him to see Willy better and croaked, "Willy," in a dry, dusty voice that barely carried past his lips. Willy sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"Well, I guess you're alive after all," Willy said. "How do you feel?"

"Thirsty," Charlie ground out. It came out more like "Firsy" but Willy got the point. He poured a glass of water from a pitcher on a small table nearby, slipped a hand under Charlie's shoulders, and held the glass to Charlie's lips. The first drops of the cool liquid were like nectar crossing Charlie's tongue. He swallowed greedily and the cool freshness spread through him.

When the glass was empty Willy let him back down on the pillows. "Where's Dawg?" Charlie asked. A big, black furry head appeared alongside of Willy and a huge rough tongue flicked out and touched Charlie's hand. Charlie lifted a five ton lead hand to ruffle Dawg's ears then the hand dropped back onto the blankets. "How long?" Charlie asked.

"You've been out for three days," Willy said. "You lost a lot of blood before Dawg and me got you back here to the doc's. I wasn't too sure you were gonna make it that far even. Scorsby put quite a hole in you on back and front both."

"Damn, I'm gettin' too old for this crap," Charlie said. For some obscure reason he reached for the blankets to throw them off and started to sit up.

"Where in hell do you think you're going?" Willy asked.

"I gotta get to Denver," Charlie said, but he had barely gotten up on one elbow when a stitch of pain hit him again. He settled back on the pillows with his face white and a sudden sweat sheeting down his forehead.

"You dern fool, didn't you hear what I just said?" Willy demanded. "You ain't in any shape to go anywhere for a while. Now you just lay there, and I'll see about gettin' you something to eat." Willy got up from his chair, tucked his crutch under his arm, and started toward the back of the tent.

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Linn Keller 4-10-08

 

The Lady Esther's whistle was a long warning as she coasted with otherwise near-silence into the depot.
The Sheriff ran up to the engineer and handed him Lightning's hand-written order. The engineer read it, nodded and shouted, "The conductor needs this!" before laying on the whistle again, a quick signal that he was backing.
The fireman opened the sanders and the engineer laid his weight on the Johnson bar, and the Lady Esther leaned back against her string of a half-dozen cars.
Passengers seated themselves quickly at the unexpected movement and the conductor leaned down to take the flimsy from the Sheriff's up-thrust hand. He read it quickly, waved understanding, and leaned further out, waving to the engineer, giving permission to proceed.
The Lady Esther pushed more strongly and they backed up about two train-lengths, enough to get away from the fire scene, but not so far as to terribly inconvenience the new arrivals.
The town was nearly all turned out to see the spectacle of their depot becoming a charred memory; most of the men moved with the train, ready to lend a hand with unloading as necessary.
Jacob came trotting up on his Appaloosa. "Sir!" he called to his father. "With the train stopped, sir, when may we expect another on this line?"
"I don't know," the Sheriff admitted. "Find out. Lightning's on that end of the depot."
"Yes, sir!" Jacob trotted the now-skittish stallion to the end of the platform, looked up at Lightning, standing about a head taller than he sat.
Jacob smiled a little as he lifted his hat to his mother, both from natural affection, and because she was wearing the cameo brooch he'd given her.
"Sir! When will the next train be on this line?"
"Not for another four hours," Lightning replied, "but I need to get the wire up again." He looked sadly at the collapsing inferno that used to be a depot. "The extra wire was in there."
"No, sir, it wasn't," Jacob replied. "It's still in the hardware. It got delivered there by mistake."
"Praise God and Saint Whoever!" Lightning laughed, and Jacob thought he might actually do a little jig, so delighted did he appear. "Get me some help, Jacob, we're setting up office above the Jewel!"
"Yes, sir!" Jacob touched his hat-brim to his mother, who smiled at her son's manners, and Jacob spun the grunting stallion, giving him his head onto the now-empty street.
He knew just where to go to find help.

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Duzy Wales 4-10-08

 

Jake received a telegram from headquarters that he was to be working as a Territorial Marshall in Oklahoma, so that was the way he was headed. He had thought long and hard, almost every sleepless night, and many times in between, and the only thing that kept him from seeing Duzy was his duty to his job, or so he tried to make himself believe…..

He knew how badly he had hurt Duzy, how betrayed she felt, how humiliated, and he didn’t blame her for whatever she did, at least not at this moment….

Jake felt in his heart that Duzy needed him now more than ever, and yet, he was headed elsewhere….and he wondered if she would find Marshall Sopris to be charming and comforting, someone close, that she could trust, someone who would treat her like a lady, and perhaps, someone that could possibly take his place in her heart, or find a special place of his own!

Hell, it was hard to think about, as he liked Kid and he loved Duzy, he thought Kid was honorable, and he respected him, but could he truly blame Kid if he did want Duzy? Especially knowing what he himself had did to her? What would he do in the same circumstances? Would he take the chance while it was in his grasp? Would he find himself looking at her, longing for her, wanting her, wanting her to be by his side, and still be able to deny those feelings and not act upon them?

“Just please keep her safe Kid, please keep her safe, that is all that I ask?” was his final thought before sleep finally came.

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Linn Keller 4-11-08

 

String was found, and a rock; the string was thrown from rooftop to rooftop, line tied to the string and drawn across; wire tied to the line: Lightning supervised installation of the big glass insulators and directed how the wire should be attached to them, and fussed over the wire run down the roof of the Jewel and into Esther's window.
It was not the workmanlike job he wanted to see, but it would let them get back up quickly.
Esther arranged a desk and willing hands hauled precious cargo up the stairs, and into Esther's office, and Lightning improvised shelving and arranged his work area; quickly spinning the round knurled nuts on the brass studs, he secured the wire to the sounder, and to his own key.
Immediately there was the clatter of traffic, and he cocked his head a little, as he always did, and began "copying the mail."
He squared his shoulders and reached for the key, and Esther tilted her head with ladylike curiosity, admiring the ease with which he plied the big button.
Up and down the line the message went, and welcome news it was:
FIRELANDS STATION IN OPERATION.
The sounder began a rapid clatter.
The metallic tapping ran in Lightning's ears and out the sharpened end of his pencil.
Esther looked over his shoulder as the message flowed in block print onto the ledger book:
MINE EXPLOSION STOP TEN MEN TRAPPED STOP SEND HELP END.
Esther knew she had to get word to her husband, and fast.
She seized the recently-opened window and hauled it up again, leaned out and put two fingers to her lips.
Drawing a deep breath, she let out a shrill, piercing, and most unladylike whistle.

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Duzy Wales 4-13-08

 

Duzy awoke to the whistle of the train and felt the movement as the train pulled out of Saint Louis. Hoping to watch as they crossed the Mississippi, she rose up in bed and looked out of the window. Looking at the Eads Bridge from land was one thing, crossing it was another sight, and even though the sun was barely rising, the view of the river was beautiful.

Lying back down and snuggling in, Duzy hoped to get a little more sleep before breakfast, as she was not normally an early riser, especially after getting used to the hours of the Silver Jewel! The movement of the train lulled her back to sleep.

Faintly, screams could be heard, and then Kid came running to Duzy’s side and laid her on the floor of the railcar, shielding her with his body. Duzy could feel the movement of the railcar, unusual movement, not the type that normally lulled her to sleep. Suddenly there was darkness all around and when she could finally see, they were in a cemetery, and she was with the man in the cloak, and they were once again in each others arms, kissing and clinging to each other as if they were depending on each other for life itself, and may never have the chance to feel like this again….

Duzy awoke shaking, and thought about the dream….actually it seemed to be a mixture of her vision and a dream, and she could only wonder at their meaning! Duzy rose from the bed, clad only in her chemise, and walked to the parlor, still groggy, but seeking comfort. The Marshall was lying on the sofa, still fully dressed, and Duzy sat beside him, as he turned sideways to make room for her.

“What is it Duzy?” the Marshall asked.

“A bad dream, will you hold me for a few minutes, like Jake used to do, before….before, and the words wouldn’t come, as tears started forming in her eyes?”

Marshall Sopris was a hardened lawman, but the sight of a woman’s tears still had the ability to move him in certain circumstances. Watching Duzy, and the pain that she felt, a hurt she had tried hard to hide while they had toured Saint Louis, made him quickly come to a decision. He stood, lifting Duzy into his arms as he carried her back to the bed, and lay down beside her. Holding her against him, he whispered that she was safe, and not to worry, as he wiped the tears from her eyes, and continued to hold her, and rock her, until he could feel her body stop shaking, her breathing begin to slow down, and finally until she was asleep in his arms.

Afraid that he would wake her if he moved, Kid continued to hold Duzy. When he felt his body begin to respond to the feel of her body against his, he cursed the day that Jake had walked away and left Duzy alone, he cursed Mary Sloan for the poisoned kiss and Jake for responding, for God help him, he didn’t know how much longer he could resist the urges he felt or the temptation that he was beginning to feel more and more often, and other feelings that he couldn't identify when he was near Duzy, and yet he knew he had to try! Duzy had become a close friend and he couldn’t betray that friendship while she was in a vulnerable state of mind….and yet she felt so good in his arms that it made him want to throw caution to the wind! Damn, what was a man supposed to do, he thought as Duzy snuggled her body closer to his, turning to face him, laying her head on his shoulder, and then to make matters even worse, she moved her legs, so that one was against his and the other was lying atop him as she wrapped one arm around his chest, hugging him to her, until he could feel every curve of her body, not to mention the sight of her body against his, through the thin material, as soft as silk and clinging to her body, with her long hair mussed and falling loosely to her waist, and onto his body, and yet with the innocence of a child asleep his arms.

With iron will, Kid brought his body under control, realizing that Duzy trusted him and felt safe in his arms, a thought that made him smile, and he lay back and fell asleep as if it was the perfectly natural thing to do.

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Linn Keller 4-13-08

 

The Sheriff took the stairs two at a time.
Esther was bent over a little, her left hand flat on Lightning's desk, her left arm stiff as she leaned hard on it, watching Lightning's pencil move in quick, sure strokes.
CANCEL HELP, she read, EIGHT INJURED ON ORE TRAIN HAVE HOSPITAL READY END.
"There's been an explosion at the mine," Esther said matter-of-factly.
"What do they need?" The Sheriff's voice was equally businesslike.
"Nothing, apparently." She waved at the ledger. "They asked for help then canceled just as quickly."
The Sheriff came over and took in Lightning's clear hand at a glance, reading the past several messages from his logbook, and smiled grimly. "I'll bet the foreman canceled the request, and he's probably not happy with whoever panicked and sent the first message."
Esther nodded. "Eight injured. How full is the hospital?"
"I'll find out." The Sheriff turned and bumped into Jacob. "Good Lord, son, I'm sorry! Didn't even hear you!"
"I'm sorry, sir. I can find out for you."
"Go." The Sheriff's brief command was softened by his gentle voice and expression.
Jacob smiled a little, and spun, and was out the door in two long steps.

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Duzy Wales 4-15-08

 

Kid awoke to find Duzy still sleeping peacefully, and as easily as he could, he slipped out of the bed and back into the parlor. Splashing some water on his face, he ran his fingers through his hair, put on his hat and gun belt, and went in search of a good stout cup of coffee. The railcar was stocked, but he needed some time to think and felt Duzy would need some time alone when she awoke as well. His stomach was telling him that it was well past his usual breakfast time, as it had growled loud enough to wake her, had he still been beside her! Reaching for his pocket watch, he looked at the time and was surprised to see that he had slept longer and more peacefully than he could remember in a long time.

Duzy awoke shortly after the Marshall had left and looked beside her, but the Marshall wasn’t there and she started trying to put the pieces of the night together. Had she dreamed she had fallen asleep in the Marshall’s arms, along with the dream of the cemetery and the shaking railcar? It was times like this Duzy needed the counsel of Aunt Esther, the woman who knew her better than her own Mama, as she had always understood that the visions were real and had helped her to better understand what they meant. Just thinking of her dear Aunt, made Duzy wish for the feel of Aunt Esther’s arms around her, like she had since Duzy was a small child and was troubled….and Duzy also wished she had the chance to have a good heart to heart talk about her feelings concerning Jake, and now the Marshall as well!

Duzy mentally shook herself and quickly got out of bed. She was a grown woman now and it was time she started to rely on herself. Looking through the curtain to the parlor, she didn’t see any sign of the Marshall, so she went into the lavatory to freshen up and face the day, dressing in a simple day outfit, made of cotton and more for comfort than the outfits she had worn in Saint Louis. Duzy was putting the last pin in her hair when she heard Kid call out, “Duzy, are you dressed?”

“Yes and good morning Marshall! Did you sleep well last night?”

Marshall Sopris wasn’t sure if Duzy didn’t remember or was putting on a brave face at the moment, but he figured it best to go along with her, so he responded. “Yes, I slept very well; I hope you did?”

Duzy blushed slightly, thinking of her dreams, and was thankful when the Marshall continued, “I brought you a bite to eat and some coffee, even had them round up some vanilla for the coffee.”

“Thank you! Would you care to sit out on the deck with me as I eat?”

The Marshall smiled and said that he would love to and soon they were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine, as they each pointed out pretty places in the countryside, and looked at the clouds for shapes of imaginary animals, and other objects, and found themselves laughing and having a wonderful day.

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Charlie MacNeil 4-15-08

 

For the next few days, Charlie was asleep more than he was awake. Han's mother had given him some kind of tea that made him sleep, because she said, through Han, that "Sleep is the best of medicines".

Charlie woke up with the dawn and felt stronger than he had since he'd been shot. He sat up carefully and felt of his side. It was slightly tender, but if he moved slow and gentle he figured he would be fine. It was when he was dressing that he got a shock. He slipped the top of his union suit down to see the bullet hole, and all he could see was a dimple of scar tissue! He couldn't for the life of him see how he had healed that fast, unless Han's mother was right: that sleep was good medicine. Some good medicinal herbs probably hadn't hurt either.

He slipped his arms back into his long underwear and buttoned up the front. His pants and shirt were laundered and folded on a chair by his bed, his boots standing at attention on the floor in front. He got dressed then slipped his feet into this boots and stamped them into place. The noise finally woke up Willy, who was snoring in the next bed over.

"Wha, wha," Willy snorted. He sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"We're burnin' daylight," Charlie said with a grin. "I gotta get to Denver. I need to send a telegram. Fannie's probably worried sick about not hearing from me."

"Lemme get my britches on and we'll get some breakfast and I'll saddle your horse," Willy said. He sat up and swung his feet to the floor. Dawg stood up and stretched and yawned mightily then sauntered over to Charlie with his stub tail flicking.

"Mornin', Dawg," Charlie said. He ruffled the big dog's ears and picked up his hat.

Han came into the room. "I see that my mother's herbs have performed another miracle," he said. "I believe prayer may have played a part as well." Charlie gave him a startled look. "I am a Christian," Han said with a smile. "I've found that having God on one's side is a great help when practicing medicine." He pointed to the door he'd just come through. "My mother's cooking helps, also, and breakfast is ready." He led the way to the kitchen area where Han's mother had tea and other food on the table.

After breakfast Charlie and Willy went out to where Charlie's rented horse was stabled. After a brief argument over who was going to saddle the horse, Willy slung the blankets and saddle on the horse's back and Charlie cinched him up. Han came out to the porch when Charlie led the horse up to the front of the canvas-roofed building. "What do I owe you, Han?" Charlie asked. He paid what Han asked and swung into the saddle. He leaned over to shake the doctor's hand. "Adios, my friend." He reined the horse toward the trail to Denver. "Come on, Dawg." The big dog stepped up alongside the horse with his tongue lolling out. Dawg was always happiest on the trail.

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Linn Keller 4-15-08

 

Mr. Baxter was industriously removing bottles from the shelves, one at a time, wiping them free of dust real or imagined, and swiping the shelf where they sat, before restoring them to their neat ranks. Always a tidy man, he demanded his bottles be precisely spaced and exactly arranged, and the bottles remained obediently ranked.
In spite of the recent excitement, business was good, and business was steady; there was the regular demand from the gambling tables, and the girls were both attentive to customers' thirst, and quick with a smile and a laugh.
Few things were quite so quick to open a man's purse as the sound of a woman's laughter, he'd found.
Daisy had come in shortly after the depot caught fire, Little Sean on her hip and thunder on her brow: she'd gone to the trouble, she declared, of fixing those bog trotting Irishmen a good kettle of stew, and a few loaves of bread, and that great red-faced oaf of a husband was dandling his dear little son -- just a child, now! -- on his knee when WHOOSH -- her free hand described the speed with which the man had left -- and him with his own dear son under his great arm, can you believe it!
Mr. Baxter listened solemnly to the blue-eyed Irishwoman's declaration, somehow managing a poker face in spite of his honest amusement, for the more Daisy described the events that transpired, the more strident she became, the harder it was for Mr. Baxter to keep from laughing --
"And I snatched up me skirts and let me tell you, Mr. Baxter, I never ran s'fast in all m' life! Why, the guid Saint Patrick himsel' couldna' kept up wi' me, an' him wi' wings!"
Mr. Baxter's eyes twinkled and the corners of his mouth twitched, and Daisy continued, neither noticing nor even suspecting the difficulty she was causing a half-dozen other patrons, who had kerchiefs or coat sleeves pressed against their mouths to muffle any premature explosions of mirth.
"And there I am, clinging to the ladder at a full gallop -- and me a married woman, mind you! -- Sean is as proud as he can be, standing up and whipping the team into a gallop, and him wi' our wee child under his great arm, singing those Irish war-songs he is so fond of, I'm surprised little Sean here didn't die o' fright! But ye didn't, did ye, my wee man?" She stroked Little Sean's cheek, and Little Sean laughed and grasped her finger, for he was hungry and he was determined to taste test anything in reach.
"And when he hauls up the team I snatch up me skirts again and run t' the front o' the steam buggy, and what does that great red-shirted oaf do but hand me wee Sean here as if it were the most normal thing in the world! Ooooh! I've a mind t' take a rollin' pin t' his hard Irish head! And I've just the good marble pin t' use, too!"
Daisy muttered and declared her way down the hall, free hand still occupied with grand and forceful gestures, and Mr. Baxter's eyes were watering with the effort of containing his hidden hysterics; finally he abandoned all pretense at composure, and pressing the folded bar towel to his face, began to make noises somewhat akin to a chicken in labor.
The other patrons, abandoning any further attempt at muffling their laughter, voiced their appreciation for the entertainment afforded by the incensed Irishwoman.

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Duzy Wales 4-16-08

 

April, 1880

Dear Diary,

Today was most unusual. The Marshall and I enjoyed the day, laughing and talking, but as I watched him, I had memories of being in his arms, of him carrying me to bed last night, but I did not dare broach the subject, for if it was true, he did not give any indication of it.

At times I would find myself looking at him, and I cannot deny that there is an attraction that I cannot explain, even to myself. Perhaps it is pure chemistry between two friends who are sharing so much time together, and in such close quarters, and perhaps I am the only one who feels it! I honestly do not know what has come over me. I am beginning to question my loyalty and my judgment when it involves matters of the heart!

I think of Jake and I wonder why he accepted his new position, instead of staying and fighting for our relationship. I wonder if he thinks of me or if he has already moved on with his life without even trying to explain what happened with Mary Sloan. Sometimes, I wonder if I ever truly knew him at all; at other times I feel an emptiness that hurts to my soul!

As I write this, I think of the Marshall, in the parlor, so handsome and virile, so close, and I must admit that my thoughts are not that of a lady, but of a woman whose fantasy at this moment would be for him to part the curtain that separates us, as I would open my arms to him and partake of the pleasures that we could share.

In reality, I know that my thoughts are not honorable, and I question my motives as well. I wonder if I wish to be with the Marshall to hurt Jake, to show him how it would feel to know that I was with another, or could I be realizing that Jake was not the man for me all along? I also wonder why in my vision, I am sure it was the Marshall that I was with? Could that have been a sign for me to stop the wedding? Will the vision come true? Could it be that I gave my heart and body to the wrong man?

I must be careful to hide these feelings and try to not think of them again. Instead, I must search my heart for the answers, and give myself time to heal, for I cannot use the Marshall to ease my loneliness or to get back at Jake! I value our friendship too much to lose it, and I must know that if we are ever together, that it is part of a master plan….one that has been meant to be all along.

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Linn Keller 4-16-08

 

Of the injured sent to Firelands on the ore train, one died enroute, one died within an hour of arrival, and the rest were recovering in the clean, well-lighted surroundings of the new hospital.
Dr. John Greenlees was no stranger to the urgency that often accompanied his chosen vocation; he could have had a soft, well-paid practice back East, and for a time, shared a practice with an old, established physician with a number of well-off clients; like many young men, or men seeing their youth retreat at an alarming pace, the younger physician set off, first with the military, then on his own, and had once admitted to the Sheriff, in an unguarded moment, that his arrival in Firelands was "more accident than design."
He'd been busy from the moment the ore train braked to a screeching stop, the hastily-added boxcar at the end of the ore cars was a couple hundred yards from the black cavity that used to be the depot: wagons were brought alongside, the injured transferred and brought to the hospital.
The dead were last to be off-loaded; sheeted, shrouded, they went to the funeral parlor's back door.
Doctor Greenlees worked swiftly, lips pursed, his hands quick and sure as he repaired the shattered humanity on his operating table; one, then another, received his careful ministrations.
He stayed with his patients the rest of the day, and into the night; dark of night, he knew, was the most likely time they would surrender to their injuries; he was restless, prowling from bed to bed, until one miner husked, "Doc, will ye go lay down, ye're makin' me tired watchin' ye!"
Doc Greenlees chuckled and drew up a chair, and the two of them talked quietly, into the night, and finally Doc winked and wished his patient a good night's rest, and withdrew.
He'd pulled off his shoes and laid down on his bunk, still dressed.
Exhaustion closed his eyes, and he was asleep inside of three breaths.
He was unable to hear the quiet discussion between two of the miners.
"Hey, Pete?"
"Yeah, Red?"
"I never thought that long tall drink o' water was ever gonna leave!"
"Me neither!"
"They got any nurses here?"
"Yeah, they got two of 'em anyway. Cute ones, too!"
"I might just marry one or two of 'em."
"You lyin' sack, you couldn't handle one good woman, let alone two!"
Pete grunted. "You wasn't with me in Kansas City last summer, neither."
"You wasn't even in Kansas City last summer!"
Pete sighed. "Naw," he finally admitted, "but I sure wisht I had been!"
"How's your leg?"
"How's yours?"
"My leg's just fine, you ugly son of a bank mule, but my ribs sure hurt!"
"You shoulda gone to Kansas City!"
Red chuckled, then groaned. "Yeah, I shoulda."
There was a long silence, then: "Hey, Pete?"
"Yeah, Red?"
"How long do you reckon before that cute little nurse comes in here?"
"Why? Is she from Kansas City?"

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Linn Keller 4-18-08

 

Mr. Baxter was no stranger to bar fights, nor to misfortune in its various forms; nor was he, especially on this occasion, averse to admiring the sheer savagery and the terrible beauty of a good knock-down, drag-out sort of a manly disagreement.
Especially when the fellow getting the stuffing knocked out of him was so very deserving.
Morning Star cowered behind the bar, her torn dress clutched up to cover her modesty, a growing bruise on one cheekbone; she'd received too many such, when in the unwholesome employ of those who forced women to sell themselves, and her spirit, if not broken, had been badly bent in those dark times.
The pain and the humiliation of every assault, every fist, every hard hand, came roaring down on her as she cowered in the corner, whimpering like a frightened child, trying to make herself small, trying to hide.
Mr. Baxter stood with the bung starter in one hand and the double gun in the other: silent, patient, he satisfied himself the fight was not going to trespass upon his kingdom, but he stood ready anyhow: he'd seen enough of these to get completely out of hand not to be wary.
The Sheriff's face was white, except for the cut where a punch had caught him over the eye, and Mr. Baxter could tell the way he held his left arm that a punch to the ribs had cost him: still, he dispensed justice as he saw fit, and he apparently saw fit to dispense quite a bit of it, for he'd picked up one fellow and thrown him bodily into another, and while they were sorting themselves out on the floor and shaking their heads, the Sheriff addressed the third.
Mr. Baxter flinched as the Sheriff's good right fist buried itself just under this fellow's wishbone, doubling him over, at least until the Sheriff grabbed the hair of his head and drove his knee into the man's face, hard.
The Sheriff's tie was askew, his hat was halfway across the room and his nose was bleeding: breathing heavily, he glared at the two still supine on the polished floor and said quietly, "If you want some more, just step right up."
One shook his head and raised a hand, palm out; the other laid back with a groan.
The third fellow, the one whose nose had been kind of flattened, tried to rise.
The Sheriff reached down and seized him by the front of his coat and hauled him upright, a quick, violent snatch that brought the man's toes off the floor.
"You like beatin' on women?" the Sheriff grated.
"She's just a squaw," the stranger muttered, and the Sheriff let go of the fellow's left-hand lapel so he could cock his fist again.
"Sheriff?" There was a hand on his shoulder, and a cultured, familiar voice from behind him. "May I?"
Doctor George Flint reached in with his left hand and took the man by the throat.
The Sheriff let go and stepped back.
Strangling, the fellow grabbed at Doctor Flint's wrists, kicking weakly.
Doctor Flint wasn't quite as tall as the Sheriff, but the Sheriff had seen him without his shirt one time, and the man's build was impressive: it showed, now, as he carried the bully, by the throat, to the front door of the Jewel.
He casually opened the front door and threw the man over the hitch rail and into the street.
The Sheriff accepted a wet bar towel from Mr. Baxter with a nod, and tried to contain, or at least capture, the blood from his nose.
"You fellows get out of my town," the Sheriff said, his voice muffled a little from the towel. "Get out of here and don't you ever come back, none of you."
The two rose painfully to their feet and hobbled for the front door; one was guarding his ribs, bent over a little to the right, and the other was exploring a couple of loosened teeth and wondering if his jaw hinge was broke in three places or only two.
That Sheriff might be kind of gray but he wasn't to be trifled with.

Dr. Flint came back in, standing politely to one side as the hobbling pair gave him a wide berth as they could in their departure, then he tilted his head a little to the left and regarded the Sheriff. "Now, then," he said, "let's have a look at you."
The Sheriff glared at him, then ruefully regarded the front of his coat. "Esther won't be happy," he muttered through swelling lips.
"Nor are you," Doctor Flint smiled. "That was quite a performance, Sheriff. Did you ever consider a career in boxing?"
The Sheriff grunted.
"Here. Let's take a look at you." He drew the Sheriff's hands down, and with them, the red and dripping bar towel; Doctor Flint frowned as he explored the various injuries to the older man's face.
"Take off your coat, please," he said, and the Sheriff stood, with an effort, wincing.
"The numb's wearing off, isn't it?" Doctor Flint asked.
The Sheriff grunted again.
"Ribs?"
Another grunt.
Doctor Flint helped the Sheriff out of his shirt, explored the tender ribs with quick, expert fingers.
"Cracked, I should imagine. I don't feel any grating. Hold still." He placed two fingers on the Sheriff's rib cage, well away from the tender ribs, and tapped on his paired fingers, listening; he repeated the process at top, middle and bottom of front and back of each lung.
"Good. Your lungs are still up. Tricky thing, broken ribs, they can punch a lung fairly easily." He eyed the Sheriff's scar, low on the right ribs. "But you know that already, I take it."
The Sheriff nodded.
"Sick?"
Another nod.
"Mr. Baxter, would you have a pail of clean water, please? And another towel?"
Daisy came hustling up the hall with a wooden bucket and a towel over her arm. "Brawlin' again, is it?" she said briskly, her Irish accent prominent. "You should have seen me Sean, back in Porkopolis! The man didn't know defeat! Oh, they marked him, they did, and many's the time I cleaned the man up and tended his cuts and his bruises." All the time she scolded the Sheriff she was also wiping the blood from his face, wringing out the towel and laying it across his shoulders, wiping his arms.
Mr. Baxter offered him a beer mug of water and the Sheriff sipped it carefully.
"Your teeth, Sheriff?"
The Sheriff ran an exploring tongue around his dentures, tentatively tested his left canine with a careful thumb. "None loose."
"Hm. Tilt your head back and open up." Doctor Flint carefully drew back the lawman's lips, gently pressed the corner of the wet-and-wrung-out towel against a cut inside his upper lip. "Just hold that there."
Mr. Baxter had put away the Greener and the setting-maul both and was getting ready to slide another two bar towels across the mahogany to Daisy when he heard Esther's light step on the stair.
To her credit, the Sheriff's wife did not exclaim, faint or scream; she looked at Mr. Baxter, for all the world like a commanding officer expecting a subaltern's report.
"Three fellows came in, called Morning Star a dirty squaw and tried to have their way with her," Mr. Baxter said quietly. "They tried, until the Sheriff stepped in."
Esther's eyes went to the cowering woman at the back of the bar. "Morning Star," she said gently, "are you hurt?"
Morning Star drew even further into herself.
"Doctor Flint?" Esther asked quietly.
Doctor Flint looked up and nodded solemnly, then turned back to the Sheriff. "You need to have that nose looked at, Sheriff. Go on down to the office, Doctor Greenlees is there with the miners."
The Sheriff nodded cautiously. "I will," he agreed.
Doctor Flint went to the end of the bar, motioned to Mr. Baxter.
Mr. Baxter came over to the Doctor, curious.
"Doctor, would you be so kind as to keep company with the Sheriff? I fear Morning Star may take some persuasion to come out of there."
"Sure." Mr. Baxter folded his polishing cloth carefully and laid it precisely on the corner of the bar, untied his apron and hung it on the peg. "Poor child is terrified," he said sadly.
Doctor Flint's hand was heavy on Mr. Baxter's shoulder. "You did the right thing, Mr. Baxter. You kept her safe. Thank you."

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Charlie MacNeil 4-18-08

 

Charlie and Dawg took the middle of the street, and drew their fair of attention and then some. The big black dog drew attention wherever he went, unless he was trying not to. In some way that Charlie was never able to adequately explain to himself Dawg could seem to vanish into his own tracks while standing in plain sight. It was a talent Charlie wished that he himself had.

At the livery he drew up and stepped gingerly down from his rented horse, giving the animal a pat on the neck. "You were better than most I've seen before, pardner," he told the horse. He handed the reins off to the stableman. "Give this fella some extra grain and a good rubdown," he told the hostler. "That's a damn good horse you've got there."

"I'll sure do that, sir," the young man said.

"What do I owe you?" Charlie asked. "I kind of kept him longer than I planned to."

The youth named a price, and Charlie gladly paid it. That was a good horse. "Come on, Dawg. I need to change my clothes," he said. He turned towards his hotel.

Charlie walked purposefully into the lobby of the small hotel. Dawg waited outside for Charlie to signal. The desk clerk looked startled at his sudden appearance. "Marshal MacNeil!" he exclaimed. "You're supposed to be dead!" It was no wonder the man looked like he'd seen his Grandpa's ghost.

"Excuse me?" Charlie asked, dumbfounded himself.

"That's right. It was in the papers a few days ago that you were killed by bandits up in the mountains."

"And just who exactly was it who reported my death?" Charlie asked with a cold growl in his voice.

"Why, the Federal Marshal's office here in Denver," the man said.

Charlie gave him a grim smile. "As the man said, it's obvious that the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated," he said quietly. "I suppose my room's been closed and my stuff done away with?"

"Your room's been closed, but your gear is in storage right here in the hotel," the man said. "But we've got another room available." He looked in the register. "Yep, second floor front, best room in the house. And it'll be free gratis, of course."

"Alright," Charlie said. "Get me a bath, a bottle of good whiskey, ten pounds of beef, and a couple of big bones."

Now it was the desk clerk's turn. "Excuse me?"

Charlie smiled at him and whistled shrilly. Dawg strolled inside. "I'm sorry Marshal, but we don't allow dogs," the clerk said.

"Don't tell me, tell him," Charlie said mildly. Dawg sat on his haunches, which put his head somewhat above the level of the counter, and yawned widely. The white flash of his teeth was essentially mirrored in the clerk's sudden pallor.

"Uhm, er, no, that's alright. Uhm, that was er, ten pounds of beef and two bones, right?"

"And don't forget the bath," Charlie said. The clerk just nodded, swallowed loudly, and handed Charlie a key. "Oh, and I'll need my clothes sent up too."

"Ri, right away, Marshal." Charlie turned and headed for the stairs. Dawg gave the clerk one more yawn and rose to follow Charlie.

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Linn Keller 4-18-08

 

Morning Star did not look up as Doctor Flint approached her.
He stopped about two arms' lengths from her, and sat, his back to the bar, crossing his legs under him.
Morning Star shivered, eyes squeezed tight shut, waiting, waiting for that hated grasp at the back of her neck, or the yank on her gleaming, raven's-wing hair, the slap, the punch ...
She heard a quiet humming.
Doctor Flint spoke a word.
Morning Star's eyes snapped open. It was not a word of her people, but it was a word, and she knew its sound.
Morning Star's mouth was open a little, her breathing was quick, silent; she put her hand flat on the floor, turned her head.
Doctor George Flint, physician and college man, respected member of the white man's community, sat in breechclout and moccasins, wearing a buffalo-horn ceremonial headpiece, and sprinkled dried leaves on a small fire.
Morning Star closed her eyes hard, shook her head, opened them.
She saw Doctor Flint sitting with his eyes closed, in a white man's suit, sitting cross legged as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Morning Star blinked, puzzled.
Doctor Flint's eyes were closed, his breathing relaxed, as if asleep.
Morning Star shifted her position, tilting her head a little to the side, curiosity overcoming fear. Somewhere within her she knew This is a good man, and she did not know how she knew, but she knew!
Shaman? she signed in the hand-language common to all tribes.
Doctor Flint opened his eyes, lazily, like a cat in a sunny windowsill, and turned and smiled at her, a quiet smile, with his eyes.
He raised his right hand to his face, drew two fingers across his cheek bone.
His finger tips left ochre and black in their wake.
Morning Star's eyes dropped to where his hands had been, looking for a pot, a pouch, something that would contain the ceremonial pigments --
She looked again, and the stripes were gone.
The Sheriff looked briefly at them, as he passed the end of the bar, folded towel held to his face. Morning Star waited until the door opened, and closed, and she believed them alone.
Warrior, she signed. Chieftain?
Yes, George Flint's hand said.
Morning Star signed Gratitude.
He knows.
White man! (anger) (Not know!)
Chosen brother.
Morning Star was taken aback. Chosen brother? she thought, suddenly aware of the ramifications of a shaman choosing a warrior-brother of another tribe, of another ... of another people!
Protector, George Flint signed. Good heart.
Morning Star clutched the ripped material of her bodice and bent over a little, groaning.
She smelled ceremonial sage and heard, dimly, distantly, a shaman's chant, and the wind, and she looked up ...
She was alone behind the bar.
Twain Dawg looked around the end of the bar, pink tongue dangling as it often did.
Morning Star held out her hand and smiled. Of all the souls in Firelands, Twain Dawg was perhaps her favorite.
Twain Dawg trotted happily to her, toenails tik-tik-tikking on the tightly-fitted, scrupulously-clean floor.
"Morning Star?" Esther called gently from the other side of the bar. "I think this may just fit you."
Morning Star could just see Esther's hands as they held up a new dress.
Twain Dawg looked up at the sound of Esther's voice, and his tail beat a happy tattoo on the floor.
Morning Star got her feet under her and rose, and smiled shyly at the emerald-eyed, motherly woman holding up the newly-finished dress.

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Linn Keller 4-19-08

 

Rentay looked around, suddenly uneasy.
He's comfortable, Rentay thought with a mixture of confusion and surprise.
Too comfortable.
Rentay fancied himself a hard man, and believed he should be the mine boss. The stockholders, having better sense, dismissed his efforts, which made him all the more unpleasant: a natural bully, he was also a coward, and had come to the gold mine hoping to do some high-grading.
So far his entire take, after two months of hard work, amounted to less than half a thimble full of gold.
"You're all they sent?" Rentay demanded loudly, shaking a fist in the air, hoping to bluff the slender young man on the Appaloosa stallion. "Why, boy, I"d ought to bend you over my knee and take my belt to you!"
"Be sure it's what you want," Jacob said quietly.
Rentay's mouth was dry. He'd just talked himself into a corner.
Glancing around, he found he was surrounded by the same miners he'd bullied and cowed with threats and a few beatings -- carefully selected beatings, generally involving applying a pick handle by surprise, and only to those he was sure he could take.
Now they waited, silent, watching.
Rentay knew if he backed down, his authority would be gone.
There's no gold to be had, he thought. Why am I staying?
Pride overrode good sense.
"You step down off that horse, sonny, and I'll welt you good!" he roared, shaking a finger at Jacob.
Jacob's smile was tight, his eyes half-lidded, almost sleepy.
Something like lead settled in Rentay's belly and he began looking around for a pick handle.
Jacob stepped out of the saddle, lightly, gracefully, ground-reining the stallion.
Rentay came at him quickly, rushing him before he could get set.
Jacob sidestepped him, arms loose, hands open, moving easily, lightly.
"Come on Rentay!" someone shouted. "Belt him, if you're man enough!"
Rentay's face purpled and he reached for Jacob.
Jacob seized his wrist, pulled: Rentay fell over Jacob's leg, face-first into the dirt, his arm twisted up behind him.
Jacob bent Rentay's wrist, bent it down, causing quite a bit of pain. Rentay bit his tongue, hard, clenching his jaws against the sensation of having the wrist ripped out of his forearm.
Jacob's boot was heavy on Rentay's shoulder blade. "Now what was that about taking your belt to my backside?" he asked mildly.
Rentay managed a strangled noise.
"I'm gonna let you up," Jacob said, unruffled. "You're going to behave yourself, or I'll teach you some manners."
Jacob removed his boot and released his grip on Rentay's arm, and stepped back.
Rentay rolled over and sat up, scrambling to his feet, shaking his arm.
One of the miners started to laugh.
The miners' numbers had grown: word passed quickly that Rentay had picked a fight, and it didn't look like this stranger was afraid of him.
One of the stockholders had arrived on the previous ore train, on an inspection tour; he followed a running knot of miners, walking sedately along, biting the end off a Havana and sizing up this new opportunity.
Like most successful businessmen, he knew when to make money, and he stood to make something on a wager, and he knew just who to approach.
Rentay looked around.
"What's wrong, big man?" a voice asked. "Scared?"
"I ain't scared of nothin'!" Rentay roared, pointing at the sleepy-eyed young man. "You! You're nothin'! You're just a kid!"
"And you're picking a fight with just a kid?" Jacob answered gently, the tight smile never leaving his face. "You must be a really dangerous man, if you have to beat up on little boys!"
Rentay's eyes were almost panicked, but he couldnt' back down now.
Gathering his strength, he charged Jacob.
The stockholder bumped the foreman's arm. "Care to place a friendly wager?" he asked. "I've got an ounce of gold on the stranger."
"I'll take that!" the foreman chuckled. "It'll be a pleasure takin' your money!"
"How many times do you want that?"
The foreman smiled. "Once is plenty. I'll delight in spending your gold!"
The stockholder shifted his Havana to the other side of his mouth and turned his attention to the developing fracas.
Jacob stepped into his charge, blocking a grasping arm and seizing Rentay by the coat and the belt and throwing him an impressive distance -- not by strength, but by misdirection, using the running man's momentum against him, a trick he and the Sheriff had practiced.
Rentay came up on his knees, to his feet.
"Rentay! Catch!" someone shouted, and a pick flew through the air.
All good sense lost, Rentay swung the pick, charging Jacob.
Jacob snatched his .40-60 from its saddle scabbard, cocked the hammer.
"DROP IT, RENTAY, OR I DROP YOU!"
Rentay neither dropped the pick, nor slowed his charge.
Jacob fired once, catching Rentay just below the belt buckle.
Rentay's legs collapsed, the pick falling from nerveless fingers.
Jacob looked around, slowly, making eye contact with every man there.
Not a man among them moved, nor said a word.
Blue smoke from the rifle's shot drifted slowly on the slight breeze, and the Apple-horse switched his tail; otherwise, all was still.
Jacob nodded. "Does anyone object to my action?" he challenged, cycling a fresh round into the Winchester. "Speak now and I'll be happy to entertain your argument."
The foreman frowned and handed a small leather poke to the stockholder.
Jacob walked up to the choking man, seized his shoulder and rolled him over.
Rentay was half curled up, hands pressed to the belly wound.
"Don't let me die," he begged. "Get me to the hospital. Please! Don't let me die!"
"You're gut shot, Rentay," Jacob said quietly. "You tried to kill a lawman. That's a hangin' offense. You can die here or you can hang, either way you're dead."
The foreman shoved his way through the crowd. He looked at the dying Rentay, then at Jacob.
"It was a fair killin'," he declared to the assembled. "The man had it comin'."
There was muttered assent.
"Obliged," Jacob nodded once. "Anything we can do to help?"
"Nah," the foreman said. "We got everyone out and they're headed for your hospital on the outbound ore train."
Jacob nodded.
The foreman looked at the weakening Rentay. "We'll bury him here, Deputy. No need for you to haul his bloody carcass back."
Jacob looked at the approaching stockholder.
"Deputy, is it then?" The stockholder shoved out a hand. "Samuel O'Farell. I don't believe I've seen better!"
Jacob's grip was firm. "My father taught me well, sir."
"Your father?" O'Farrell squinted. "And who is your father, my good man?"
"Sheriff Linn Keller, sir."
"Sheriff!" the stockholder snorted. "Well!"
"Your foreman tells me you recovered everyone from the explosion."
"So I'm told myself," the stockholder affirmed. "You understand, I'm relying on the men that actually go down into the mine."
"I understand, sir." Jacob paused. "The Sheriff sent me out to see what happened, and to see if we could extend any assistance."
"Well, what happened, we must've got a gas pocket in an old lateral. One of the heathen Chinee struck a light and bang she went!" The foreman shook his head.
"Did he live?" Jacob asked, easing the hammer down to half cock and sliding the Winchester back into its scabbard.
"Him? Nah, he's just a Chinaman."
Jacob's eyes were cold.
Silent, he swung easily into the saddle, touched his hat-brim to the foreman, turned the dancing stallion.
The circle opened, and Jacob galloped out of the assemblage.

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Linn Keller 4-19-08

 

The Apple-horse was of wild stock: tough, built for endurance, he kept up a good pace most of the way back to Firelands.
Jacob leaned back in the saddle.
Apple-horse slowed in response, breathing easy, went from a gallop to a mile eating lope.
Jacob's face was tight and his belly was tight and his soul was in turmoil.
It was crowding sundown by the time he got back to Firelands. Instead of going directly to the Sheriff's office to report, he slowed Apple to a fast walk, turning a little to come into town from the back side, and they ended up at the town cemetery's ornate archway.
Jacob tied Apple off to the cast iron upright, snatched the rifle from its scabbard, strode into the cemetery.
He looked around, reading the familiar markers, remembering the lives represented by the chiseled names: his eyes stopped on a tiny marker, and he remembered the cold day when they lowered the infant into the earth, and how warm Annette's hand was in his, and how the wind cut into his kidneys after he wrapped his coat around her grateful shoulders.
He walked a little, casting back and forth, and found himself standing at the foot of a grave that was a bit too familiar.
Jacob knelt, the crescent steel butt plate resting on the sod, and he took off his Stetson, and looked at the stone.
He remembered a girl who wore a blindfold, and played a piano, a girl who laughed, and held his arm, a girl he wanted to help and couldn't.
He'd dared to love, and she died.
He'd loved his Mama, and she was killed, while he watched helplessly.
He'd dared to try loving his new Pa, and he near to died, shot from ambush.
Now he'd killed a man, he'd looked into his eyes and saw the light go out of them and knew it was his hand that did it, and he felt nothing.
Nothing.
He looked long at the tomb stone, and remembered her laugh, her voice, how she smelled of soap and the barest trace of rose water.
"I remember," he whispered.
He stood, settling the Stetson on his head.
His step was slow, measured, as he walked thoughtfully back to Apple-horse.
Drawing the reins free, he thrust the rifle back in its scabbard and stepped into the saddle.
Apple-horse turned his nose back toward the main street, and together they rode to the Sheriff's office.

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Duzy Wales 4-20-08

 

April 18, 1880

Dear Diary,

I have been remiss in writing. We are on our return trip and I have much to document, with pictures of the many sights we have seen. It is six in the evening and the Marshall; no I cannot call Kid “the Marshall,” as he surprised everyone by retiring once we completed our business in Washington.

Kid is standing on the deck, and I can see the wind blowing his cloak as he watches the darkening of the sky. We will go through Marshville and then Saint Louis will be our next stop, where we will return the books we borrowed and then return to Firelands. I have missed everyone and will be so happy to be home. I did as I said, and searched my heart since my last entry, concerning my love for Jake, his betrayal, and my growing feelings for Kid.

The wind has picked up and I see Kid coming back inside

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Duzy Wales 4-20-08

 

April 20, 1880

Jake looked at the telegraph he had just received and was on his way to Marshville, Missouri. A terrible storm had come through wiping out most of the town and had hit the railroad in four different places on its way to Saint Louis. His mission was to help find the dead and to bring order to the devastated town.

As he neared Saint Louis, more word was coming in from various places as he read what was before him:



Marshfield, Missouri Tornado
April 18, 1880

THE TORNADO.

Marshfield, Mo., Leveled by a Hurricane.

The Debris Immediately Takes Fire in Several Places.

Eighty Dead Bodies Taken Out and Many More in the Ruins

Two Hundred People Wounded and No Physicians Left to Attend Them

Relief Trains With Doctors, Nurses and Supplies Sent From Neighboring Towns

A TERRIBLE DISASTER.
St. Louis, April 19. – Reports have been received that nearly the whole town of Marshfield, Mo., was blown down by a terrific wind storm last evening and then burned, resulting in frightful loss of life. Telegraph wires are all down and nothing direct from the seat of the calamity can be obtained.
Last nights storm did no serious damage in this city but caused a general shaking up.
Many farmers’ families have been destroyed and not yet reported. Seven of the wounded on the James River died this afternoon, five at Marshfield.
ALL IS CONFUSION
and the people in such an excited state that it is almost impossible to get an intelligible report. Many families are homeless and have taken refuge in the depot and empty cars standing at the station. The court house is still standing and has been converted into a morgue. The school building is used for a hospital. Up to 7 p. m., they have a death list of 78 and a prospect of increasing it before morning. Many are yet missing and a number of people have been buried of whom no record is kept.

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