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Thread: Return to Sender - Chapter 10

  1. #1
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    Return to Sender - Chapter 10

    Chapter 10

    The morning fall winds brought with them a clear and sunny morning. Dover emptied his fourth cup of coffee, then began picking up his hunting gear. "Looks like a good day to get in a full day of hunting. You ladies have plenty to do without me getting in the way, so don't look for me until it's nigh on to sunset."
    Stopping at the door to take his rifle down from the place he had made to hang it from, he turned back to face Mariska and Senta. "Probably don't need to remind you, but I will anyway. The Ute, Pawnee, and maybe even another tribe or two will have warriors out hunting for meat before winter. Likely some of them might pass this way. Keep your eyes open and your rifles at hand. If I hear a shot, I'll come running. Just make sure it's not me when you pull the trigger. I wouldn't be able to show my face in the happy hunting ground if'n I was killed by a couple of pretty women."
    Mariska laughed, and answered. "All right Dover. Go do your hunting. Just you be sure and yell out before you come back, or else your scalp might be hanging from the door of this cabin."

    Not much more than a couple of hours later, Mariska was busy taking care of the boys, while Senta worked on scraping on a buffalo hide. They were passing small talk back and forth between them, when they heard Dover's voice in a much different tone than normal.
    "Ladies, I tried to call out, but I just couldn't get er done. My apologizes."
    Standing in the doorway, was Dover with an arrow shaft sticking out of his shoulder. The blood on his shirt signified that he had done his share of bleeding getting back to the cabin.
    Mariska jumped to her feet and ran toward Dover, as she yelled, "Senta, grab his rifle!" As Mariska led Dover over to a blanket, Senta checked the rifle to be sure it had been reloaded. Wounded he may have been, but Dover's instincts had remained intact. The rifle had been reloaded and was ready to fire. Knowing well that Mariska knew what to do with his wound, Senta stayed by the door and kept a watchful eye in case Dover's attacker, or attackers, had followed his trail back to the cabin.
    It would have been easier for Mariska to have just cut the shirt off Dover, but clothing was not easily come by in the mountains, so, as painful as she knew it would be, she took her time and managed to get the shirt off him with as little damage as possible. Dover had apparently cut off the arrow shaft, leaving only a couple of inches sticking out of his chest. By doing so, it lessened the chances of the shaft running into something and making the wound worse than it was.

    "Dover!", she spoke sharply. "Can you hear me?"
    "Yes Ma'am. The arrow got me in the shoulder. Missed my ears completely," he answered with a wink.
    Mariska feigned anger as she looked down fondly at this man who had done so much for both she and Sean since their meeting. "I swear, if a grizzly had torn off your legs, you would have crawled back and asked what we were having for supper. Now, as I assume you know, that arrowhead is still buried in your shoulder. There's not enough shaft left to try pulling it out, and it's not deep enough to be able to drive it out the back. That means I'm going to have to cut it out. Are you up to that, or do you want to rest a bit first?"
    "Ma'am, I don't figure rest is going to make much difference. It's gotta be done, it's gotta be done. Won't be the first time an arrow or bullet has been dug out of my hide. Never had anyone as pretty as you do the cuttin tho. That'll surely take the edge off the pain I'm thinking. Anyway, the only thing I want before you start, is a cup of your coffee."
    "Coffee?", she asked. "Now?"

    "Yes Ma'am. Now I reckon you are about as good a doctor as I could wish to find out here, but there's always a chance that something could go wrong, and I'll be hunting beaver in the hereafter tomorrow, so just in case, I don't want to go without the taste of your coffee in my mouth."
    A smile erased some of the worry from her face. "Dover, you are one of a kind." Turning to Senta, she asked. "Do you see any sign of anybody out there?"
    "No," Senta replied. Nothing at all. The birds and squirrels are moving naturally, so I don't think there is anybody around."
    "Nothing to worry about," spoke Dover. "There were only two Pawnees. I finished one of them with my rifle, and when the other one came after me, my knife sent him on his way to visit his ancestors."
    Motioning to Senta, Mariska said, "Come and keep an eye on Dover while I make some coffee for him." She winked at Senta and continued. "Keep a close eye on him in case his hands get to roaming. He's weak, and normally would not betray Sean's trust, but he might be a little out of his head and get you confused with one of those pretty Nez Perce girls he likes to talk about."

    "I'll keep a close eye on him," Senta answered with a laugh. "From a distance." She motioned Chance to stand back out of the way, and set Patrick where she could keep an eye on him as she observed Dover.
    Despite her insistence on only giving him one cup of coffee, Dover would not be satisfied with less than three. "Well you see Ma'am, if I have to take that trip to the happy hunting ground, I'm afraid that just one cup of coffee wouldn't last that long." In the end, as he knew he would, Dover got his way. Then, after Senta stuck a tough piece of buffalo hide between Dover's teeth to bite down on, Mariska lightly kissed Dover on the forehead, and started to work with the knife.
    To be fair, with him biting down so hard on that buffalo hide, the sounds coming out of his throat were not really identifiable as words, just really strong sounds. Had they been able to understand some of those words he was forcing out between his barred teeth, Mariska and Senta might well have gotten an education on english words that they might not have heard before.
    Luckily, nothing of importance had been damaged, and the wound was bleeding freely, reducing the chances of infection. Senta had told her that infection in this high altitude was not nearly as common as it was on the plains anyway. In just a few minutes after Mariska removed the arrowhead, Dover was sleeping and resting comfortably.
    Senta returned to scraping the hide, while Mariska started working on repairing Dover's shirt. After observing Senta working for awhile, Mariska spoke. "You are worried about Sean aren't you? I mean, even more than usual?"

    Feeling a little shame that her feelings had been obvious, Senta answered. "Yes, I suppose so. I keep trying to keep my mind busy, but for some reason, It's really hard today."
    Mariska smiled a knowing smile, for she had been having the same feelings. "Look, it's a beautiful day out today, and who knows how many more we will have before winter. Dover is fine, Patrick is napping, and Chance is watching the squirrels. Why don't you take a rifle and go for a walk. Let the autumn wind clear your head and help you find peace in your mind? It will do you good."
    For the next hour or so, Senta took her time strolling along the ridges over the stream, stopping to take in the peace of her surroundings as she thought about her husband, and wondered how he was doing. If somehow she could have seen a sign to indicate that he was in Boston, she wouldn't have known what to think about it, for she had never seen a city in her life.


    When Boston came into view in the distance, my stomach reminded me that I should be thinking about stopping for a bite of lunch. Not far from the edge of the woods, I found a likely spot and we stopped there for a rest and lunch break. As we chewed on some dried jerky, Chet asked, "You have been here before?"
    "Yes, I have. I was orphaned at seventeen, and because I embarrassed a powerful Irish nobleman by stopping him from beating an old man, he sent his men to kill me. Fortunately, I escaped by stowing away on a ship bound for Boston. My good fortune was short lived however. Not long after landing in Boston, I was unjustly arrested and sentenced to a form of slavery to a rich, powerful, and evil man. I managed to escape, and headed west. Now, I return to persuade that same man to finance my trip to Ireland to visit the nobleman that wanted me dead. He found out that my cousin helped me escape, and had him killed because of it. It is my intention to return to Ireland and settle accounts with him."
    With a puzzled look upon his face, Chet asked, "Why do you think this man in Boston will help you? It doesn't seem that you would be in his favor."
    CONTINUED BELOW
    Last edited by barnburner; 07-14-2012 at 08:32 AM.
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  2. #2
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    CONTINUED FROM ABOVE.

    With my eyes focused on a pair of squirrels scampering up a large Maple tree, I answered. "Sometimes people just need to be shown the errors of their ways. Sort of like in your case. You just needed a chance to head your life in a different direction. I shall offer Mr. Ruppert a similar opportunity."
    Chet's eyes locked on me as he remained silent for at least a minute. Then, he said, "Somehow, I think that you are only giving me part of the plan."
    "You know what you need to know. What you do not know, you cannot be held liable for. If anyone ends up being punished, it shall be me, and me alone. Now, when you finish your food and your coffee, let's get the dust knocked off our clothes, and wash our face and hands in the stream. We don't want to enter such a grand city looking like a couple of dirty buffalo hunters from the plains. I want to draw no more attention than necessary."

    Late that afternoon, after leaving our horses and gear at a livery stable, we walked the streets of Boston until we came to Cohen's pub. After we stepped inside, Chet followed me to a table that provided a view of the street thru a window. I reached over and tapped him on the shoulder. "Time to continue your education. The first thing you do when you enter a building, room, campsite, or group of men, is take stock of your surroundings. You never know when you may need that knowledge, and you may need it quickly."
    Looking in the direction of the back door, I continued. "Immediately, check out all possible exits, so that you are prepared to move, and move correctly, in case of an emergency. Then, look over the people around you. Check out their mood. Are they happy, upset, angry or disinterested? Which ones might be trouble makers or dangerous? Which ones appear to be men of reason and patience? If trouble starts, and it's impossible to escape out the exits, you want to take out the most dangerous man first. Often, the rest will just be followers, who will lose courage when their leader is out of action. When trouble cannot be avoided, act, don't react. In most fights, the man who lands the first solid blow, usually wins."

    As we looked around the room, we saw three exits. A front door, a back door, and a door leading upstairs to Cohen's living quarters.
    Two men were at the bar, each minding their own business.
    Two tables in front of us, a man and his wife were having some sort of fish for dinner.
    The only other customer was a man sitting by himself on the far wall at a small table. By the manner of his clothing, I judged him to be fairly well off. Whether he had eaten or not, I had no way of knowing. At the moment, he was intently reading a newspaper as he sipped on what appeared to be a glass of wine.
    Seeing the owner, Nathan Cohen, step from behind the bar and start our way, I knew this would be my first identification test. Would he recognize me, or had the changes been enough to fool him? Years had passed, I was a bit taller, and the hard living had added more muscle to my frame. Mindful that I was probably still a fugitive in this country, I had allowed both my beard and my hair to grow as I had traveled eastward, to further aid in my disguise.

    "Welcome, "Cohen announced as he reached the table. "I'm Nathan Cohen. What is your pleasure gentlemen?"
    "A couple of beers to quench our thirst to begin with. What do you have to offer in terms of food?"
    For just a moment, there was a hesitation in Cohen's manner, then he answered. "Today, it's your choice between seafood, or stew."
    "Well Mr. Cohen, bring us the stew. We are tired and hungry men, and it should be more filling than the seafood, I'm thinking."
    Cohen nodded. "Aye, that is it indeed. Relax, and I'll bring it out as soon as it's ready."
    While we waited, I explained to Chet, that it had been this same Nathan Cohen that had give me a chance at earning a meal when I was without money or friends in this strange city. He had also offered support at my trumped up trial.

    The stew turned out to be both filling and delicious. We were each steadfastly working on the second bowl when I whispered to Chet. "Don't look. Your brothers and two more men, all carrying loaded rifles, just walked thru the front door. Which way are you going to run?"
    The blank look on his face gave me the answer. "Relax. I was just testing you. You didn't know, and that can get you killed. Never sit down in a room without knowing where you are going to go in case of a problem. It might turn out to be the wrong choice, but it's better than not having made one."
    We had no sooner finished our stew when Cohen showed up at our table. "Is there anything else I can do you gentlemen,?" he asked
    Years on the frontier had taken away most of my Irish accent, but I made a point of using it when I answered. "Mr. Cohen, is it? I'm an orphan just arrived from Ireland with no money and no friends. I'd be glad to work hard in exchange for food."

    The look in his eyes told me that he was searching back in his memory. I saw his eyes light up, then heard him whisper. "Sean lad, is it you? I knew there was something familiar about you, but the beard threw me off."
    "Yes, it's me, and I've never forgotten what you did for me at a time when I needed a friend. Pointing at Chet, I said, "Meet my traveling companion, Chet Wilson. We ran into each other down the road yesterday. I shot him, and he decided to travel with me. Just another young man that made some bad decisions in his past, but is now looking to make a good life for himself."
    Cohen shook hands with Chet and said, "It's a wise move you made deciding to stick with Sean. It may prove to be dangerous, but if you live, it's a wiser man you'll be for the experience."
    Leaning close to Cohen to avoid anyone from overhearing, I asked. "Is Ruppert still around?"

    "Aye," he answered. "Much to my regret, I have to report that he is still around, and just as evil as ever."
    "Good. I will deal with him tomorrow. We will be sleeping in the stable at the west end of town. If something comes up, would you send someone for me?"
    "No lad. When I leave the table, you and your friend start walking toward the back door. When you get close, I'll make a commotion to draw everybody's attention. When that happens, you two go thru the door leading up the stairs to my living quarters. Don't wait for me. I'll be late closing up tonight. Make yourselves comfortable and go to sleep. We will talk in the morning."
    Just as we reached the back door, we heard a loud crashing sound as Cohen dropped three bottles of ale he had started to carry. That was followed by a long torrent of the best Irish cussing I had heard since leaving the emerald Isle. By the time, the last bit of profanity cleared Cohen's lips, we were safely upstairs. Within the hour, we were fast asleep.
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    Last edited by barnburner; 07-14-2012 at 08:31 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Intereting as always

    I like the painting too!

  4. #4
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    Sticking to what I know

    I'm afraid I haven't read the other chapters and I'm not a writer my friend.
    However I think the painting is excellent.

  5. #5
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    Marilyn - Thank you so much for your interest in my stories. I do appreciate it.
    One of these days, I will figure out how to get the illustrations into their e-book form. I've made several attempts, but something in the transformation from Word to e-book, just doesn't work. Anyway, thanks!

    Brian - Many thanks. I appreciate your kind input.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandra View Post
    Wow, another exciting chapter Mike!
    I love the illustration as well.
    So very much appreciated dear friend.
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