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Thread: Return to Sender - Chapter 11

  1. #1
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    Return to Sender - Chapter 11

    The painting is of Mr. Cohen, the Boston bartender who has befriended Sean.
    Painted with Ar 2.5, with the mouse.

    Chapter 11

    Sitting at the breakfast table the next morning, Mr. Cohen's eyes focused on me as he asked. "What is it you have in mind Lad?"
    "Does Ruppert still own a few ships?," I answered.
    "That he does. Two of them are at anchor in the harbor right now."
    "Which one is the fastest?"
    Cohen poured Chet and myself a fresh cup of his strong coffee, then said. "From the talk I've heard, it would be The Galway."
    "Good. You get a lot of the seafaring men in here from time to time, do you not?"
    "That's true," he answered. Mostly the officers and the older crew members, who prefer good food, and peace and quiet over the music, drink, and supply of easy women available in the waterfront dives."
    "What manner of man is the captain of the Galway," I asked as tasted the coffee.
    "Oh Sean, had you but been here a week ago, my answer would have been of praise for him. Captain John Gage is known as a skipper that almost all crew members are eager to sail under, for he's known to be fair, and an excellent ship handler." A look of disapproval came upon his face as he stared into my eyes. "Captain Gage was fired three days ago. Ben Ruppert wanted him to take the Galway to the shores of Africa and bring back a cargo of slaves to be sold to the plantation owners in the south. Captain Gage told Ruppert that there wasn't money enough in Boston to make him be a partner to selling human beings into slavery, and Ruppert being Ruppert, he immediately dismissed Gage from his employ."
    "Has Gage found another ship yet?," I asked.
    "He was in here yesterday morning, and had not found anything at that time, altho a man of his quality will not be without a ship very long, I'm thinking." Cohen leaned back in his chair and stared long at my face. "What is it that you have in mind to do Sean?"
    "Mr. Cohen, I have need of returning to the old country in order to settle a debt. I haven't the money needed for the trip there and back. It's my hope to persuade Ben Ruppert to provide what's needed."
    "And, how is it that you would be going about doing such a thing? I should not have to remind you of all people, that not a single bit of human kindness exists in the man."
    "Well, I'll admit, that my plan calls for a bit of help from you. Do you think you could use your influence to persuade a couple of Boston's fair minded and influential citizens to take a ride with me tomorrow morning?"
    The prospect of doing something to bring Ben Ruppert down a notch, clearly put a glint of excitement in Cohen's eyes. "Aye, I'm fairly certain I can arrange that. There is a long list of good men that have been waiting a long time to see Ruppert taken down a notch. I'll go visiting first thing this morning. If I'm not back in time, tell the cook to open up the pub. He knows what to do. You and Chet can give him a hand should it get busy before I return."


    Most of the Boston citizens were not even out of bed when Chet, myself and Cohen's volunteers rode out of the city. It was nearly two hours later than we rode up to the main gate of Ruppert's farm. We were stopped there by the large bearded fellow that had been assigned to stop anyone from entering the farm without Ruppert's approval.
    "You have no business here, and I have nothing from Mr. Ruppert authorizing you to enter, so turn around and go back where you came from," he said in an insolent tone.
    A slight kick of my heels was all it took to urge my horse forward, knocking the guard to the ground, and send his rifle sliding away from him. When he started to go after the rifle, I spoke. "Don't be a fool. I can put a bullet into you before you ever touch that weapon." Looking at Chet, I said, "In my saddlebags you will find several lengths of rope that I brought along with this in mind. Climb down and tie our friend's hands behind his back. Tie the knots well. I wouldn't want him to get loose and be tempted to do something stupid. I never did enjoy killing a man before I had my lunch."
    When we reached the main building, we encountered three more armed guards standing and watching us as we rode up. The guard standing closest to us was a tall fellow with a long scar down the left side of his face. It had the look of a close call with a sword or knife. He stepped forward, held up his hand, and yelled. "STOP!. Who are you, and why do you have Adam tied up?"
    Pulling back the hammer on my rifle, I said, "Your friend was not very hospitable, and seemed inclined to violence, so I thought it best to protect himself from his evil thinking."
    The tall man motioned for the other two guards to step up beside him. "It's a fact that Adam is not the friendliest man around, but then, he's not getting paid to be friendly. He's paid to keep people out. Now, if you had business here, we would have been told. Since we haven't been told, you need to turn our friend loose, and get out of here. There are only two of you carrying rifles. We have you outnumbered with firearms, three to two, not to mention the other guards that will come running. Either go back where you came from, or your horses will return to their stables with empty saddles."
    I nudged my mount two steps forward then stopped. With my eyes locked on the guards in front of me, I called back over my shoulder in a clear voice. "Chet, if any of these men starts to lift his rifle, you are to put a bullet in the brain of the man with the scar. Understood?"
    "Clear as a bell," came Chet's reply as I heard the sound of the hammer on his rifle being cocked back. "I'll kill him dead."
    Still looking at the leader of the guards, I said. "So, while you may have us outnumbered, you will be dead, so that doesn't seem to be an advantage for you does it?"
    Scarman was in a pickle and he knew it. He was not anxious to die, but he seemed to be the kind of man whose code of honor dictated that he do the job he was paid for, whether it was honest or not. He took a deep breath then answered. "You make a good point. However, when a man takes up earning a living with his rifle, he knows dying is sometimes a part of it. I won't lie. I'm not anxious to die, but if I'm going to die, neither am I going to turn my back on who I've been. So, come ahead and do your best, and we shall do the same."
    Calling back behind me, I said, "Ease the hammer back down on that rifle Chet. I think we can avoid spilling blood here." Stepping down from my horse, I walked up and faced the guard with the scar. "You may be a crook or worse, but I have no desire to kill a man who has the courage to put honor ahead of death. Take a look at the three men who ride behind me and my companion. You will notice that they carry no weapons. One is a priest from a catholic church in Boston. Another is the minister of the largest Boston protestant church. The third is the editor of the newspaper. Are you truly prepared to kill three such honorable and prominent men just to protect the evil ways of Ben Ruppert?"
    After thirty or forty seconds of silence, scarface eased his rifle to the ground, then stepped aside. A few seconds later, one of his men followed suit. The third man's emotions showed on his face, as he started to bring up his rifle and fire. Scarface grabbed the man's rifle, then knocked him to the ground.
    "My name is Wes Gleason,: he said. I've done my share of bad things, but I'll not be a part of killing innocent men. If you will allow me, I'll ride along in case any of the other guards try to stop you."
    "Come ahead, and welcome," I replied. "My name is Sean Eaton. I used to be a prisoner here. If you are ever in Colorado, look me up. It's a grand land, with plenty of room and opportunity for a man that has both courage and honor. You will be welcome at my fire."
    Much of the day was spent on that farm. After we released the prisoners, they were quite anxious to tell their stories of how they had been unjustly forced into servitude on Ruppert's farm, along with the stories of the beatings and whippings, along with the deaths of those who tried to escape.
    CONTINUED BELOW
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  2. #2
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    Continued from above

    That evening, my four companions and I, walked up to Ben Ruppert's home. My knock brought a woman, obviously a servant, to the door.
    "Excuse me ma'am. We are here to see Ben Ruppert."
    Her eyes looked over our group, and she grew apprehensive. "I'm sorry, but Mr. Ruppert gave me strict instructions. He's not seeing anybody tonight."
    "Ma'am, I don't want to put you in the middle of this. Just go in there and tell him that either he invites us in, or we will force our way in. He has no other choice."
    She scurried quickly away, and a minute later, Ruppert walked to the door, looking as arrogant as ever. "What is the meaning of this,?" he demanded. "Are you anxious to spend the night in jail?"
    Pointing at my companions, I replied. "I believe you know these gentlemen. You are going to have them jailed?"
    Suddenly there was a crack in his look of arrogance. His instincts told him that this was a dangerous moment, and his usual tactics were useless in this situation. "Who are you,?" he asked.
    Stepping closer I looked right into his eyes. "I'm the hungry, poor seventeen year old kid who spilled a beer on you in Cohen's tavern. The one you used your money and power to have me arrested and sentenced into slavery on your farm. I'm also the one that made a fool of you by escaping from your farm prison."
    Fearing who knows what, Ruppert stumbled backwards a couple of steps. "What do you want? Why have you brought these men here with you?"
    "Relax, I have not come here to kill you. At least not yet. We are here to talk. Now are you going to invite us in?"
    With hate burning in his eyes, and without a word coming from his mouth, he reluctantly motioned for us to come inside. After we were all seated in the living room, Blaine Thomas, the newspaper editor, spoke to Ruppert.
    "Ben, after what we have witnessed today, it's my guess that Sean here could put a bullet in your brain in front of all these witnesses, and he would never be sent to jail for it. Tomorrow's paper will carry an editorial from me, advising Boston's citizens to have nothing to do with you, and I will inclue the reasons why. Father Donovan, and Reverend Colby are going to issue similar statements to their congregations on Sunday. You are finished in this town."
    Pointing in my direction, he continued. "This young man has a proposition for you that allows you to leave Boston with your life, and a little money. Personally, I wouldn't be that generous. I strongly suggest you listen to what he has to say. Should you turn it down, I don't see where he has a reason to not kill you."
    Stepping up to face Ruppert, I handed him a piece of paper. "I had this document drawn up by one of the most reputable attorneys in Boston yesterday. If you sign it, the gentlemen with me are prepared to sign it as witnesses, and it becomes forever binding. You should of course, read it completely before making a decision, but, basically it provides for several things."


    "I become the sole owner of The Galway.
    Your bank is directed to turn over a sum of three thousand dollars to me immediately as payment for your causing me to be wrongfully forced into slavery, and for the mistreatment I received there.
    All of your assets will be sold off.
    One thousand dollars will be given to you to start a new life somewhere else.
    A year long search will be made to locate the people who were forced to work for you.
    Half of the money will be divided equally among them. The other half will be put into a fund to help the poor and needy over the coming years.
    By signing, you certify that you are guilty of the crimes listed in the document, and agree to leave Boston. You are never to return any closer than one hundred miles. Should you violate that agreement, you will be arrested and prosecuted for the crimes you have admitted to being responsible for in the document."


    The room fell into complete silence as Ruppert read, then re-read the document. Finally, his face grew ashen as he fell back against the chair, as if someone had emptied his lungs of air. Finally, he looked at me more hate than I've ever seen in any man's eyes. "One thousand dollars? That's all I'm to get? One thousand dollars?," he asked incredulously.
    "No," I answered. "You also get to walk out of this house with your life. If you prefer to die a rich man, my companions can return to their homes." Pulling my knife from it's scabbard, I continued. "Since you are anxious to die a rich man, I'll be glad to teach you how the plains Indians test a captive to see how much they can make him suffer before he dies. Now, it's been a long day. I'm tired, and I'm really sick of looking at your miserable face. Make up your mind. Sign the document or not."
    His eyes searched desperately for some sign that someone might come to his defense. All he got back was cold stares from men who clearly despised him, and who had no sympathy for his fate, whatever it was going to be.
    Finally, he picked up the pen and signed. Without a word, he walked over to the corner of the room and collapsed into a chair. One by one each of the men with me signed as witnesses. After the last signature was made, Blaine Thomas picked it up and turned to me. "I'll take it with me and wake up the court's clerk and have it recorded into the record. The money you require, and the papers on the Galway will be ready for you first thing in the morning."
    Being the last one out the door, I stopped on the front steps. "Ruppert, your money will be available by noon tomorrow. You have twenty four hours to leave town. Take my advice. Don't make it twenty four hours and ten minutes.
    As we walked away and faded into the darkness, I heard Chet say, "Sean?"
    "Yes," I answered.
    "Sean, weren't you afraid that he might shoot you in the back as we walked away? After all, he didn't have much to lose."
    "No. Ruppert is a coward, and he knows that I know he's a coward. He might pay someone to kill me, but if he himself were to pick up a gun, his hands would shake so bad that he would probably have an accident."
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  3. #3
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    Another good chapter

    Hard to tell where this is going! Very inventive!

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  5. #5
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    Marilyn - Thanks so much for your continued interest in the story. I truly appreciate it.

    Ken - Thanks. I wasn't sure how this was going to work out, but I'm kind happy with the way it turned out.
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  6. #6
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    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr more please, this is so exciting, well done Barnburner once again for creating this great story
    Sometimes...I remember better with my eyes closed

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  7. #7
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    Barney another fine story, and it is easy to read now lol thanks for sharing

  8. #8
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    Katie - So glad you like the story. I really appreciate your kind comments.

    Pat - Delighted that it's now easier for you to read the story. I'm just truly happy that people like yourself enjoy reading my stories. Thank you.
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