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Prairie's Children, Chapter 9
Submitted by Starla Anne on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 20:24
By Starla Anne Lowry
A rider came trotting into town, tied his horse in front of the marshall's office and hurried inside. The townsfolk wondered what was going on and that included Ruth Ann. She closed the store for a moment and strolled in that direction as other people were doing.
When the rider came out, questions aimed at him were "What happened?", "Somebody get shot?", "Anything serious?"
He replied, "A man stopped the stage just outside of town and kidnapped a woman."
At once, Ruth Ann knew that it was Patricia. Patricia's husband had caught up with her. If Ruth Ann would hurry, she could probably catch up with them if she knew which direction they were headed.
She stopped and considered what had crossed her mind -- if she knew what direction they were headed!
She did not know. It would take some tracking. Although her father had taught her a little about tracking, she was not an expert, but she believed she could do it if she did not wait until the trail got cold.
She had to tell Josh. Just as she started to find him, she saw Josh coming up the street.
"Josh, he's got Patricia" exclaimed Ruth Ann.
"Well, what can we do about it?" asked Josh.
"Go after them, of course."
"Okay. He will see you coming. He will have a gun. He will probably know what happened and remember you. Before you get close enough, he will shoot. I will have a dead wife. Don't you see that I love you and I don't want to see you get killed?"
"Oh, Josh. I have gotta do something," said Ruth Ann in a trembling voice.
"Okay, I will saddle our horses. If he shoots us, we will die together. Is the store locked?" asked Josh.
"Yes," replied Ruth Ann.
Josh said, "Then I will go and lock the storeroom. One thing we don't need is a robbery because we didn't pay attention to our business."
In a few minutes, Josh returned with the horses and wearing his gunbelt.
"I brought your gun, too. Thought you might need it, but put it in your saddlebag for now. You do know that we can't be gone long. Mr. Brown will not know where we went and he wants his store attended to."
"I will get word to him through Miss Hammer," said Ruth Ann.
"Well, do as you please," was Josh's reply, not being happy at Ruth Ann's unusual way of butting into someone else's business. He knew Ruth Ann was stubborn, but he loved her, so he gave in much too often to her wild ideas.
This was the west and people did not get mixed up in someone else's family affairs. So the man had more than one wife -- so what? That had been going on for years in some religious organizations. After all, did not the Bible speak about men of God having multiple wives and concubines?
Josh was supposed to be a man. Maybe he should stand on his own two feet. He smiled at that thought. He knew of more than one hen pecked husband. At least, Ruth Ann did not try to boss him around -- but, she was stubborn. No doubt about that.
Josh had some experience in tracking, so they quickly found the place where the stage or a wagon had stopped and some tracks leading away from there. Since there probably wasn't any wagons nearby, it must have been the stagecoach.
The tracks were easy to follow. Evidently the man did not expect anyone to be following him -- at least, not a woman. Josh and Ruth Ann rode most of the day, finally coming to a small settlement of burning houses, sheds, and barns. Standing in the middle of everything was Patricia knealing over a dead body.
"What happened?" asked Ruth Ann as she quickly dismounted her horse.
"Indians! We rode up just as they were leaving. Chuck drew his gun and fired a shot and they got him with an arrow," said Patricia with tearful eyes. Crying over her husband? Maybe she did love him -- in a way.
"I am so sorry," said Ruth Ann.
"I wanted to be free from Chuck, but I didn't wish him dead," cried Patricia. "The worse thing is they carried my two girls with them. My son is over there. Thank the Lord he is still alive."
Ruth Ann looked and saw a young boy about three years old with his head bowed. He was very quiet, but it could be seen that he was hurting emotionally for his father.
"How old is your girls?" asked Josh.
"One is two and the other is eleven months."
"Just babies," said Josh.
"You were just a baby factory, wasn't you, hon?" asked Ruth Ann.
"Yes, that is all the men wanted -- big familes so they would have someone to work on the farm," said Patricia.
Although she didn't say it aloud, Ruth Ann thought, 'yep, raising kids to be slaves'.
"My children are gone forever," cried Patricia.
"No they are not. We are going after them!" declared Ruth Ann.
Josh would have swallowed his chewing tobacco if he had any. "W-w-what?" he stuttered.
"I said we will go after them," said Ruth Ann.
"Now, listen here. White men are one thing, but indians are something else. If you think I am going after some murderous redskin ..."
"Then, Patricia and I will go by ourselves," declared Ruth Ann.
"No, you are not! This is one time I am putting my foot down!"
"Glue it to the ground if you want, but I am going to get those babies back!"
"No, you are not!"
"Yes, I am!"
Turning to Patricia, Ruth Ann asked, "Can you ride a horse?"
"Well, get one and let's go. I am sure you can find one around here unless the indians drove them all off."
Josh just stood there with his mouth open.
"We will see you when we get back -- with the babies," said Ruth Ann.
"No, you are not! I am going to give you a good whipping."
"You and who else?" questioned Ruth Ann.
With that statement, she rode over to where Patricia had found a horse already saddled. The owner had been killed. The two women rode off together in the direction that Patricia had seen the indians going.
Josh said to himself, 'Are you a man or mouse?' He thought just a minute and loudly said, "A man! I am a man! What man would let his wife go out and face danger alone?'
Ruth Ann looked over her shoulder and saw Josh riding toward them.
She thought to herself, 'I knew he would come'.
She smiled at the thought as she reached into her saddlebag and retrieved her gunbelt and strapped it around her waist.
--To be continued
All characters and places, except historical persons and places, are fictitious and any resemblance to other places or persons, living or dead, are coincidental.
© 2008 by Starla Anne Lowry