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Thread: Return to Sender - Chapter 6

  1. #1
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    Return to Sender - Chapter 6

    After Sean follows the trail over the hill, then over a small hill after that, he will find himself at the edge of St. Louis. There he hopes to gather news and information before continuing on his journey to the east.
    I'm not sure what the proper name of the flower in the painting is. People during the time of this story usually called it "Marion's Bliss".
    The flower was believed to have originated in Brittany, then migrated to England with the Normans. According to one or more of the Robin Hood legends, this flower was said to be the favorite of Robin's lover, Maid Marion. If one takes a hike through Sherwood Forest today, it's quite possible that you might run across these blooms in various places in the thick dark woods. If one believes the legend, these flowers are the descendents of the ones that Maid Marion planted in and around Robin's outlaw camp in Sherwood.
    When England began sending people to settle in new lands across the Atlantic, "Marion's Bliss" apparently came with them. When the entire colony of Roanoke was found to have vanished, this flower had flourished in their absence.
    As each generation of pioneers pushed westward, the flower moved with them, and that is how Sean happened upon this particular one on his way to St. Louis.

    Note: I lied. There is no such flower. Being a poor hand at painting flowers, I decided if I was going to inflict one upon the forum, the least I could do, would be to add a little story with it, even if it hadn't a word of truth in it.

    Chapter 6

    While my horse grazed on some good grass on a hilltop at the edge of St. Louis, I looked upon the city with amazement. On our trip west, we had, on the advice of Dover, made a last minute decision to bypass St. Louis. Dover had warned us that the lure of quick money to be made in this city could end up as an obstacle to fulfilling our dream of a home in the west. As I watched, the non-stop activity in this bustling city, I sensed that Dover had indeed been correct.
    Riding down the hill, and then along the river front, I was impressed by the amount of activity going on. There was a constant flow of men loading and unloading a great many large paddle wheel boats, not to mention passengers leaving and boarding those same boats.
    Riding up the main road up the hill a ways, I found a mixture of homes and businesses on both sides of the dirt street. My eye caught the sign on a building on my right, that read, "Henri's Tavern". I was eager for a cool drink, and figured that there was no better place to hear the local news, so I tied my horse out front , pulled my rifle from it's riding holster, and stepped on inside.
    The place was about half full. Most of the men were in little groups, involved in conversation as they consumed drinks, most of which seemed to be beer. The far end of the bar was vacant, so I headed there where I could be alone while I took stock of the men around me. The bartender was a short, but muscular fellow with a bushy mustache. He wore an apron that could stand changing, and a hat that resembled ones that had been popular back in Ireland.
    "What will you have?", he asked as he walked in my direction.
    "Something cool to drink for starters", I answered.
    "How about a cold beer?", he suggested. "I've got a cave right under this building where I keep my beer, and you won't find colder beer anywhere in St. Louis."
    Dropping my hat on the bar, I said, "Are you Henri?" When he answered, "Yes", I said, "Well Henri, my name is Sean Eaton, and you've got yourself a paying customer."
    Whatever else Henri might have been in his lifetime, I didn't know, but, for sure, he was a man of his word. That beer was cold. Cold enough that I sent him back down for another as soon as the first one was gone. As I enjoyed the beer, I leisurely pumped him for the latest news of the area. He in turn as would be expected from a man running a tavern, was curious about where I came from, where I'd been, and where I was heading. Altho he seemed to be a trustworthy fellow, a stranger is well advised to play his cards close to the vest. Henri had been forthcoming with information for me, so I returned the courtesy by telling him where I lived, and some information about the Colorado area. My plans were another matter. When he inquired as to where I was heading, I took another sip of cold beer, then set the glass back on the bar. "We got word that my uncle in Pittsburgh died, leaving me with a dozen horses. I'm on my way back there to look them over. If they are good enough to stand the life out west, I'll take them back with me. If not, I'll sell them before going back."
    Noting that my glass was nearing empty, Henri asked, "Another beer Sean?"
    I smiled, and replied, "Thanks, but no. A man in a strange town should keep his head clear. Can you recommend a place where a man can get a good room for the night?"
    "It depends," he said. "There are several places, if you don't mind sharing a room with a few other folks. The town is filling up so fast that they can't build places for them to stay fast enough."
    Picking up my hat off the bar, I said, "Thanks Henri, but maybe I'll just find a stable and make a bed of hay for the night."
    He pointed up the hill. "Just head on up the hill, and you will find two stables close by, one on each side of the street. Both men are newcomers, so I can't tell you much about them."
    "Thanks, " I said, and headed for the street. Outside, I slid my rifle back into it's riding place on my horse, and started to untie him. The sound of a a man talking to a young couple seated on a covered wagon parked on the side of the street, made me stop where I stood.
    "Folks, it's just like I was telling you. You folks will never make Oregon with those oxen pulling that wagon. There ain't near enough grass out west to feed them animals, and they will starve to death. The wagon train will leave you to your own devices, and both of you will most likely starve out there yourselves, that's if the Indians don't get you." Looking over at a man sitting in front of a store, he said, "Say there Mister. Have you ever been out west?"
    The man he had addressed stood up and replied. "I reckon I have. I led a party to Oregon three years ago, and went out to the Wyoming territory last year."
    The first man then asked, "I've been trying to tell these nice people that those oxen will die along the trail, and they should trade them in for horses. What do you think about that?"
    The other man looked at the young couple. "Folks, he's sure enough telling you the gospel. Ain't none of my business, but if it was me, I couldn't get rid of those oxen fast enough. If he's willing to deal, you better take it, because you will have a hard time finding anyone to take them off your hands."
    As I watched the young couple look at each other, it was obvious that they knew they were in a situation where they didn't know what to do. Finally the woman said, "Amos, maybe we should do as he says." Amos turned to face the first man. Before he could speak, I spoke up.
    "Hold your horses Amos. He's lying to you, and it appears to me, that the other gent here is working with him to fool you. I've been living out west for three years. Those oxen are exactly what you need if you are going to Oregon. You can make it to Colorado, or Wyoming with horses, but if you are going any further, the oxen are the way to go."
    The first man and his partner quickly moved in my direction to shut me up. It's been my experience that a man should avoid a fight if he can. However, when he knows it's going to happen no matter what, the only thing to do, is get the first lick in. As I heard the second man rushing up behind me, I pulled my horse between us, then quickly pulled my knife from my belt and put the blade alongside the first man's throat. "Now, your partner might give me a beating, but the thing of it is, you won't be alive to see it. The way I see it, you've got a decision to make. You want to see how long you can live with your throat cut, or would you and your partner like to get the hell out of here?"
    To give him credit, he was a man capable of making a fast decision. "We'll go", he answered. As I watched them start up the street, I reached over to my horse, and pulled my rifle. As I had expected, the pair soon stopped and looked back to see if my guard had been let down. When I smiled and cocked the hammer on my rifle, they quickly found an alley way, and disappeared from sight.
    The young man from the wagon climbed down, and shook my hand. "I'm Amos Gary, and this is my wife, Effie. Mister, I can't thank you enough. We didn't know what to do, and didn't know who we could trust."
    CONTINUED BELOW
    Last edited by barnburner; 07-02-2012 at 11:50 AM.
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  2. #2
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    continued from above:

    "My name is Sean Eaton. No thanks necessary. My wife and I made the trip out to Colorado three years ago. If we had not run into a man that looked after us and taught us what we needed to know, I don't know if we would have made it or not. He did us a good turn, and I figured he would expect me to do the same for you. When you get to Independence, mostly likely you will have to wait while they get enough wagons for a train. Use that time to talk to the buffalo hunters, soldiers, and trappers that have been out west. You can count on most of them to tell you the truth. Listen to them. The fact that they are still alive, speaks for their knowledge. Good luck to you folks. It's a man sized thing you are doing, but with luck you will make it to Oregon, and I'm certain you will forever be glad you did it."

    Waving good bye, I passed along one more piece of advice before riding off. "Folks, if I was you, I'd take that wagon down to the riverfront for the night. Find a few of those big Irish fellows that are loading the boats down there, and tell them what happened here. My guess is that they will make sure those two gents don't bother you tonight. If they are like most of the men like them that I've known, they would die before letting harm come to a pretty young woman like your wife. Then be on your way first thing in the morning."
    "Thanks Sean, and we will do just as you said," answered Amos as he started the team moving.
    With two angry enemies in town, I decided to act with caution. If those two came after me, I'd do my best to make them regret their decision, but I had more important things to take care of. Instead of sleeping in a stable, where I might be easily found, I rode on out of town, not stopping until after the sun went down. Not wanting to risk a fire, I decided a supper of cold flour and jerked bear meat would hold me over until the next morning. I'll tell you this for certain. I was in a lot better mood the next morning when I got my first taste of hot coffee and the smell of frying bear meat began to fill the air.
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    Last edited by barnburner; 07-02-2012 at 12:21 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Nice trip indeed ... It looks like the West wasn't the only wild place then.
    Fine illustration and bothanical (fake) story.
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

  4. #4
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    Got half way thru Barney and will finish the rest after supper, you put so much effort into your stories and to do all that typing is what a worthy author is all about, what dedication you have

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    Nice trip indeed ... It looks like the West wasn't the only wild place then.
    Fine illustration and bothanical (fake) story.
    Thanks a lot Caesar. Very much appreciated.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pat1940 View Post
    Got half way thru Barney and will finish the rest after supper, you put so much effort into your stories and to do all that typing is what a worthy author is all about, what dedication you have
    Thanks so much Pat. It's the appreciation of nice folks like you that make doing it rewarding.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandra View Post
    Another good one dear friend. I love the illustration as well.
    Dear Sandy, thank you very much. I truly appreciate it.
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