Simple Sam rolled a barrel up a wood board he was using as a ramp. They were almost finished loading the wagon with water barrels from a nearby homestead. He bought the water for the low, low price of five bullets to the heads of the homesteaders he found there. He hated shooting the young boy he found hiding in a hayloft, but he didn’t have the time to have the kind of fun he liked having with young boys and eventually he would have killed the boy anyway. Alex told him to take another man with him, but Sam didn’t like to work, so he brought three of the gang, leaving the rest with Alex to set themselves up for a stay. One of the men had started to rape the young daughter of the homesteaders, but they didn’t have the time, so Sam just shot the girl. As they worked, they saw some horses riding upon them. Sam figured Alex sent someone to bring them back.
Early the next morning with a shovel in his hand, Jack went out into his property to start a new hole. He decided that night that for better or worse, he would dig one more hole, and if all he found were the strangely colored stones, he would pack up what he owned and leave for good. Let someone else deal with the place. He dreamed that night of finding his wife and starting a new life in a city where he could find work and just maybe there would be water. He had no idea, nor would he ever find out his wife was already dead and buried in an anonymous grave out in the desert. Two feet down, he found a layer of hard stone, under that layer, was more of the opal. Using a pickax, he broke through to a layer of a white stone not knowing he just found silver.
William Harrison sat on his horse on a slow ride back home. He was just told the American Government wouldn’t support his plans to link the west with the east by railroad. His own representative wasn’t interested saying the railroads were secondary to waterway passages and they would only support small lines connecting rivers to plantations. The south was growing dependent on cotton and slaves with rich people controlling both. Fitz had just ridden back after dealing with the lawyers and was out on another mission that would take him to Texas. His mission was to test the waters on separation from the union. Texas was as different to the rest of the country as any of the states could be and with a war coming Harrison thought they might just want to stay out or leave. That was Fitz’s mission just not what he was going to do.
July 2nd, 1863 Gettysburg Pennsylvania
The day before, Frank watched as a cannonball ripped through his best friend, James. His unit was ordered around, and up to this little hill, people were calling little round top. They were told the men in front of them were either New Yorkers or from Maine. Frank wondered why men from Maine were in this fight. He also wondered why he was there. They were told that the Mainers had been in the war since the beginning and many wanted out. From day one he and his fellow soldiers were told the Yankees would fold and the war would be easy. Nearly two years later, the war was turning their way, but there was no end in sight. It was hoped that by invading the north, they could force the public into calling for the end of the war and the beginning of their own country. James would say how it was a country for the rich slave owners.
One week ago,
Willie drew out a line in the dirt to represent the main road going through town. She sat a rock where the tea shop was, a rock where her cabin was and a bottle where Jasper and Maggie’s place. She placed a rock where she wanted the wagons.
Willie said, “we draw them into town away from Jasper’s house, and when everyone is there, we set the explosives off returning Hester’s Spring to the state it was in before these squatters arrived.”
At the time, the plan made sense. These people didn’t have the right to the town and their self-appointed mayor was a traitor but seeing the crudely marked images in the dirt made it all seem real. The wagons would be packed with dynamite, pine tar, lamp oil and nails making them as destructive as possible with the oil and tar spreading fires across the town. Willie turned to Janet.
She said, “if we don’t get him in town, then he’ll most likely run back to the house where you should be waiting for him. You and Ted.”
Janet replied, “no, Dan and I will be waiting.”
Jack made his way into town with a silver dollar and some silverware he found he found in the bottom of the wagon they used to get west. It was all he had left other than the deed to his property. He also had a few of the strange stones with him. He had polished a few and hoped he could exchange them for a penny or two. Along the way, he passed a woman on a horse staring at the town. She looked a little like the wanted posters for a woman named Wilhelmina O’Shea. There was a five-thousand-dollar bounty on her head, but he knew only dangerous people are worth so much. She nodded to him, and he nodded back as he passed by. All Jack could think about was just how he had almost nothing worth taking.
The newly self-made mayor of Harris town William Harrison stepped out of his house. He was in what became his new signature look, a white suit with matching Stetson and white snakeskin boots. He wore a thin dark gray tie with a black opal accent near the knot. An ebony walking stick with a silver and opal top rounded out his wealthy look. The town was growing with the influx of money Harrison brought in as well as a new group of settlers looking for their part of the American dream. He didn’t think it would ever work, an employee suggested they subdivide the open land around the town and put an ad in all the east coast papers offering cheap land for the right people looking for freedom. At first, it was just the hard-luck cases wanting homesteads as far away from town as they could. The first man was out there in a one-room sod shack digging holes all day. The sale of land brought in money outside of his personal fortune and legitimacy to their claim. It helped that the land they were selling didn’t belong to them.
A man walked out of a small homestead on his way to the outhouse. He was dressed in just a pair of long johns with enough holes to show their age. Jack spent his days working on a field trying to get anything to grow, but after two years all he had to show for his efforts was a one-room sod shack and an empty space where his wife should be. Maybell left him one day after he had left to dig another dry well. She made it clear she was unhappy and would tell him that morning she had hoped the well caved in and she was a widow by night. He came home to find her and anything valuable gone. He didn’t know she didn’t get very far. In over a hundred years after her death in the spring of 2002, her skeleton would be unearthed by an archeology class from a local college. Jack didn’t know he would be in the middle of what would be a fight between the marshals and the O’Shea Gang.
I’m (darn it) looking over what I typed for the last part of chapter 14, and I just don’t see where I was going with the last part. I think part four of chapter 14 acts as a better chapter end than anything I could add. In fact, I wonder if this was more of a filler rather than a true story. I need to stop looking at the word count and concentrate on a tight story (as if that’s possible now). As of right now, I see two more chapters with the next one being where all the different parts collide and the last chapter acting as a resolution to the entire story. I hope to have something soon,
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Back in their camp, Willie met with Janet and Anna introducing the brothers to everyone. Half walked over to her with his arms crossed, staring her down.
Willie said, “Abraham.”
Half raised his left eyebrow.
He said, “Wilhelmina.”
They stared at each other for a second, then smiled and came together in an embrace. Anna mouthed the name Abraham to her mother, who just shook her head. Jasper said how Willie needed to tell them something and how she felt it would turn them back home. The group went around the fire. Willie stood near the flames, thinking about the last time she was home, and her last memory of her mother as their neighbors threw her into their burning home.