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Thread: Moving West - Chapter 20 - A Helping Hand

  1. #1
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    Moving West - Chapter 20 - A Helping Hand

    A day after they left Uncle Emmett's place, Sean became very ill. The next day, he was struggling to stay in the saddle.
    Mariska spotted a small house and led Sean over to it.

    As they approached the house, a large man came out the front door.
    “Excuse me sir. My husband is sick. Do you know of a doctor anywhere Could my husband possibly stay here while I go for help?”
    He hesitated a bit and replied, “ Well I can't hardly do that. You see, I don't live here. Just stopped to check on the widow Sanders,but, she's not here. Probably gone to town. I can't let you in her house without her permission.”
    “If my husband doesn't get help, he may die. How about if I put him in the barn, and you ride for the doctor?”
    “No ma'm. That can't be. I have to leave right away, and I'm going in the opposite direction of town. Tell you what... No more than an hours ride to the west, lies the town. Just take your husband there, and the Doc will fix him right up.”
    Mariska was more than a little irritated at this man's lack of interest in helping Sean, but arguing, or giving way to her anger was not going to help Sean. Burying her anger under her silence, she just led Sean's horse off in the direction of the town the man had told her about.
    More than two hours later, there was still no sign of a town. She began to think that the man at the farmhouse had sent her off on a wild goose chase, but that didn't make any sense. “What reason would he have to do that?” Mariska asked herself.
    Sean was wobbling in the saddle, and they were running out of daylight. When she found a likely spot, Mariska helped Sean from his horse. She then loosened his clothes, and covered him with a blanket. Then, she set about taking care of the horses, and built a fire.


    As evening fell, Mariska made a broth, and tried to feed some to Sean, but he was unable to take more than just a bit. He was burning with fever, and at the same time, wracked with chills. She had heard her mother talk of “sweating out a fever”, so Mariska went over to their packs, and pulled out another blanket to cover Sean. As she picked up the blanket and turned around, she was shocked to see the man from the farmhouse riding into their camp. Mariska cursed herself for being foolish enough to have become separated from Sean's rifle. Instinctively, she knew she was in trouble. That he had sent her in this direction, and now was here, was certainly no coincidence. She had no chance of getting to the rifle, or a knife, before he could grab her.
    Forcing her fears aside, she struggled to think calmly. “ No matter what, I must find a way to make sure I survive this. If I die, then Sean will surely die also.”
    Dismounting from his horse, the man told her, “ I guess I should apologize for sending you off in this direction when I knew there was no town or doctor. But, you see, someone might come by that woman's farmhouse where you saw me coming out of, but hardly anybody ever rides out this way, so I figured I'd rather catch up to you here. I'll say this for your husband – he sure has good taste in squaws.. You want help for your husband? Well now, if you are really nice to me, maybe I'll just take him to the doctor myself....then again, why would I do that?
    You are going to be nice to me, whether you want to or not...”he said, followed by an evil laugh...

    As he stepped forward, Mariska jumped back, and a voice rang out... “ FOWLER!, FRANK FOWLER!..."This is Dover.
    I have you in my sights. You know me, and you know that I won't miss. If you make one move towards that woman, it will be your last.”
    “ Ma'm,” he hollered down from the hill, “ do you know how to shoot a rifle?”
    “Yes," she answered.
    “Ok then. Stay well away from Fowler and go pick up your husbands rifle. Keep it pointed right right in the middle of his belly. If he even looks like he's thinking of jumping you – shoot. If you have qualms about killing him, think on this – if you don't stop him, he will kill your husband”.
    “Fowler, very carefully, take your rifle and cartridge belt off your mount, and lay them on the ground, well away from your horse. Then get on that animal and leave. Don't come back. I'll be here watching for you. Should I see you again, I'll shoot you on sight.
    That's my promise to you.”
    The man who called himself Dover, stood on the rise as Fowler left the camp. He continued to watch until Fowler was out of sight, and an hour beyond, before walking down into the camp.
    “Ma'm, my names Dover. Now you don't know me from Moses, so you keep that rifle in your hands and don't trust me a bit. For all you know, I could be as bad as that killer that just left here.

    I heard enough from up there behind that tree to have a rough idea of what happened. Either that woman was not home, and he broke in to steal what he could find, or, she was home, and is now dead. I was traveling today and recognized Fowler from
    where I was standing on a piece of high ground as I was looking the trail over. It was easy to see that he was trailing someone, and knowing Fowler, that meat someone was probably going to die.

    Ma'm, in most places in this part of the country, and on into the west, a woman can go where she pleases, in safety, and be treated with respect. Even the worst of outlaws will not stand for a woman being mistreated. I once saw a man reputed to have killed a dozen men, split the head open of a man with his gun barrel, for failing to tip his hat to a lady that passed by on the street. Unfortunately, there are a very few men that are nothing but animals. Fowler is one of those. The worst of those.
    Nobody has ever been able to produce evidence to convict him of anything, but it seems that every time he leaves a town, they find a woman who has been mistreated and then killed. Word gets around quickly, and the last couple of towns Fowler was in, he barely escaped hanging. The townspeople weren't going to wait to find another woman dead. They grabbed a rope and intended to stop him forever, but they were a minute too late, and he escaped his just due.”
    “His history of killing women is too well known now, so his days are numbered. It's just a matter of time until someone kills him. There won't be any big shootout like in the dime store novels. More than likely, some farmer will simply walk up and without saying a word, blow him away with a shotgun, just as he would a snake that was eating his chicken eggs. Out here people tolerate bad men until they become a threat to their families, then they remove that threat quickly without ceremony or rules. I would have done it myself tonight, but my rifle is busted. All I could do, was bluff him into thinking I was going to shoot.”
    Pointing to the coffee pot, Mariska asked, “Would you like some hot coffee Mr. Dover? When he nodded yes, she poured him a cup as she continued, "What if he had called your bluff?"

    “Well Ma'm....I guess he would have killed us all. Wouldn't that have been something?

    That's mighty fine coffee Ma'm... I haven't had the makings for a couple of weeks now... I sure do appreciate this..” replied Dover.
    As he finished his coffee, Mariska gave him a quick rundown on how they came to be here. After taking a good look at Sean, Dover told Mariska, “I'm no sawbones, but it looks like Malaria to me. It's not uncommon around the river in this part of the country. From what you say, your husband was in good health and strong, so I think he will make it. Keep him covered, and get as much water and broth into him as you can. Another day or two, and he should start coming around.”
    “Nodding that she understood Mariska asked, “Mr. Dover, do you think Fowler will come back tonight?”
    “No Ma'm, I don't. He knows I'm here, and he knows of me.

    Fowler knows that I'm a man of my word. I promised him I'd shoot him on sight, and he knows that I will. Fowler wants victims, not a fight.
    He may trail behind a day or two to see if he can catch you alone, but if not, he'll go after easier prey. Still, I've managed to stay alive this long by not assuming anything. I prepare for the worst, and am thankful when it doesn't happen. That's good advice for you and your husband to keep in mind.

    You keep that rifle by your side while your husband is sick.
    Put out that campfire before you go to sleep. If you hear something, and look into that fire, you won't be able to see anything until it's too late. Take your most skitish horse, and picket him right next to you. If someone or something, comes around the camp, he will let you know. Meanwhile, I'll take Fowler's rifle and find a good lookout spot somewhere on the outskirts of camp. Even if he should return, Fowler won't chance coming into the camp not knowing where I am."

    He's the Devils own spawn, but he is not careless."
    "Sleep lightly Ma'm. I'd be beholden to you if you could brew up another cup of that coffee in the morning to knock the chill off my bones."
    With that, he stepped into the darkness, and Mariska felt a blanket of security fall around her. She had known this man for no longer than perhaps an hour, yet she was sure that as long as he was there – that they were safe.
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    Last edited by barnburner; 12-16-2010 at 02:38 AM.
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  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Many thanks Sandra... I appreciate your reading the story.
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  4. #4
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    Pretty good story and pic. Your doin' good!!
    My real name is Neal Gilbertson, AKA Gilbert Neilson, AKA Jibes.
    I'm a musician too. Please come hear my music at:
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  5. #5
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    What a trying time for Mariska , glad the gentleman came by

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibes View Post
    Pretty good story and pic. Your doin' good!!
    Many thanks Jibes.. I certainly appreciate it.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by justjean View Post
    What a trying time for Mariska , glad the gentleman came by
    Yeah, I'm glad too.. I was getting a little worried..
    Jean, thank you for your kind comments. Much appreciated!
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  8. #8
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    Chapters flow wonderfully and keep the interest high across the different situations. none of which seems to be quite and boring period.
    Enthralling novel and I suspect the positive and nice characters are, one way or the other, similar to the author ...
    Perfectly illustrated as usual. I guess the man in front of Mariska is the bandit.
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    Chapters flow wonderfully and keep the interest high across the different situations. none of which seems to be quite and boring period.
    Enthralling novel and I suspect the positive and nice characters are, one way or the other, similar to the author ...
    Perfectly illustrated as usual. I guess the man in front of Mariska is the bandit.
    Yes sir, the man in front of Mariska is indeed, the bad guy. After all, he is wearing a black hat.... in American western tv lore, the bad guy wears a black hat, the good guy wears a white hat...

    Caesar, thank you for your very kind comments. I sincerely appreciate them, and your continued interest in my efforts to relate this story.
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  10. #10
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    I am totally grasped by this story Barnburner and the paintings are great too. Well done again
    Sometimes...I remember better with my eyes closed

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