View Full Version : Return to Sender - Chapter 2

06-15-2012, 12:37 AM
The Painting is my depiction of the South Platte River in Colorado, with the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in the background.
Painted with AR 2.5, using the mouse. (as usual :) )

Chapter 2

Three weeks after Dover's scuffle with the Ute in Wyoming, I had left our cabin after breakfast, and started up a nearby trail in search of a large animal such as an Elk or Grizzly. Keeping meat supplied for my family was a full time job, not only for now, but more importantly, for the long winter months when game was very scarce.
As had long ago become a habit with me, I turned to check my back trail before I had walked very far. To my surprise, off to the east I saw a rider moving in our direction. Waiting several minutes to be sure he was not being followed by anyone else, I started moving back down the trail. Arriving back at the cabin, I alerted the women, and then took up a position behind some fallen aspen trees to the right of the cabin, with my rifle covering the rider as he drew closer.
The more I watched him, the more I realized that there was something familiar in the way he rode. The way he cautiously approached the cabin, as he constantly watched the surrounding cover for danger, indicated that he was no pilgrim.
When the rider pulled up in front of the house, he called out, "Hello the house. I'm riding friendly, and hopeful for a cup of coffee." His head snapped around as he heard the click of the hammer on my rifle. Walking out into the open, I looked at the rider. "Glad to hear you're riding friendly Dover. I'd hate to shoot you before I had a chance to shake your hand."
A wide grin crossed the face of the man called Dover. He quickly dismounted, and rushed to meet me. "Well Sean, you've sure learned a mite since the first time I laid eyes on you. In those days, I could have snuck up and stolen your rifle right out of your hands without your even knowing I was around."
Dover's words took me back to my forced exodus from my homeland of Ireland. When I first arrived in America, as a poor hungry seventeen year old refugee with no family, I had been wrongly forced into indentured servitude. After planning and making my escape, I headed west to escape pursuit. It was on that trail that Mariska and I first met. What an unlikely pair we made. A young Irish lad who knew nothing about how to live in the country around him, and a tall beautiful Mohegan girl, who was returning to her village after having made her own escape from kidnappers. In my ignorance of snakes, I managed to get bit by a poisonous snake. Had it not been for the care of Mariska, I would have died right there.
After staying the winter with her Mohegan people, we were married, and headed west to build a new future together. Along the way, Dover stumbled upon us in Mississippi at a time when we were both in grave danger. He was to save our lives a couple of times before he eventually headed north to spend the winter with the Nez Perce.
Bringing my thoughts back to the present, I shook hands with Dover and replied. "Yeah, I reckon I've learned a few things, but most of them I learned from you before you left. Come on inside. Mariska will be happy to see you again."
Before I could reach for the door, it flew open and an excited Mariska ran to Dover, and threw her arms around him, almost knocking him over. "Dover, we've missed you so much. Every day when I'm making coffee, I catch myself listening for the sound of you riding up." She grabbed him by the hand, and escorted him to the cabin. "Come on in. I'm dying to hear what you have been up to these past three years."
As we stepped inside, the first thing Dover saw, was a beautiful eighteen year old girl standing beside two young children.
Mariska reached out and took the girl's hand. "Senta, you have heard us talk about Dover. Well, here he is, at last."
"Dover," I said as I pointed to the Senta and the boys, "This is my second wife, Senta. Her father is the chief of the Arapaho over on the South Platte. The oldest boy is Chance Dover Eaton. Mariska is his mother. The youngest child is Patrick Grady Eaton. Senta is his birth mother." Noting the surprise on his face, I pointed to the chairs by the fireplace. "Come over and sit down. We obviously have much to tell you."
He chuckled as he walked toward the fireplace. "Obviously, the man says".
Mariska poured him a cup of coffee and watched nervously as he took his first sips. Her eyes brightened as he looked at her and said, "Ma'am, you still make the best coffee I've ever tasted. It's worth the ride down here from Montana."
Mariska smiled and shook her head. "After all this time, and all we have been thru together, and you are still referring to me as 'Ma'am.' "
"Yes Ma'am," he answered. "I reckon I don't change much."
"Well, enjoy your coffee, while I try to bring you up to date on what you have missed out on during your absence." Walking over to Senta, she put her arm around her. "As Sean told you, this is his second wife Senta. When we first came to this part of the country, we stopped in the Arapaho village. While we were there, Sean helped stop the Pawnee from stealing the chief's only son. As a measure of his gratitude, her father, Tadu, tried to give his daughter Senta to Sean for his wife."
Mariska looked at Senta with affection as she continued. "Well now, the idea of this very beautiful girl, only sixteen years old at the time, sharing my home and my husband, was something I was not about to accept, and Sean knew it. We had to tread carefully to avoid insulting Tadu, but, eventually he accepted the idea that he and Sean becoming blood brothers would be an acceptable compromise, and it was done. As we left to find our new home in the mountains, I was quite happy that Senta would be staying in the village. Sure that she would soon be some warrior's wife, my jealousy faded away.
That winter, disease killed half the tribe. Because Sean was his blood brother, Tadu sent her to live with us to avoid starvation during the winter. It was during that winter that Chance Dover was born. While Sean was away, Senta fought off attackers that would have killed me before Chance would have been born. During that winter, I came to love her as a younger sister. I knew that Senta had fallen in love with Sean back in the village, and over the course of the winter months, I saw the look in Sean's eyes as he watched her. To me, the answer was obvious. Senta had by that time, already become a member of our family. For her to become Sean's second wife only made sense. With his needing to be away so much of the time, hunting and trapping, Senta and I provide company for each other. We share the work that always seems to be more than we can keep up with, and together we mother our children. For we do indeed look upon them as 'our' children. Chance is not 'mine', and Patrick is not 'hers'. We are both their mothers, and we are both Sean's wives."
Dover handed Mariska his coffee cup for a refill, and turned to face me. "I've lived out here for many years, and have never been lucky enough to latch onto one woman of the caliber of these two. Here you are with two of them. You are indeed one very fortunate man."
"And well I know it," I answered.
When Mariska handed the cup back to Dover, he got red around the ears when he spoke. "Ma'am, if'n you don't mind my asking. You said that the oldest boy's middle name was Dover." He seemed to search for the right words before continuing. Finally, he said, "I know I'm not the only Dover in the world, but I was wondering..."
Mariska rushed to his side and kissed him on the cheek. "Yes, you fool. Of course we named him after you. Sean and I knew well that without your help, we would never have made it out here to have a life together. It's our hope that Chance Dover will grow up to be half the man he was named after."
In all our time together, Dover had always deflected any attempts to thank or compliment him. True to his nature, he suddenly declared, "I expect you folks will excuse me. I reckon my horse needs tending to," as he hurried out the cabin door.

06-18-2012, 10:51 PM
What a great story and illustration. I am going to try to keep up this time Mike. Great work my friend.

06-19-2012, 05:30 AM
What a great story and illustration. I am going to try to keep up this time Mike. Great work my friend.

Truly appreciated Sandy. Thank you. :) :)

Marilyn Anne
06-19-2012, 07:26 AM
What a nice idea to write and illustrate a story. Enjoying it!

06-19-2012, 11:23 AM
What a nice idea to write and illustrate a story. Enjoying it!

I am so happy to hear that. It's knowing that there are readers that enjoy my novels that keeps me writing. :) :)

06-19-2012, 09:30 PM
Here they're all back in this new story! :)
Good to know that Sean is enjoying a little harem in West rather than in Middle East ... :D I'm sure Amanda is already working to the new cover.
Your essential illustration accomplish perfectly its didascalic and artistic role to integrate the words, as usual.