Welcome to "The Way Back Home"-Part 7! I hope you are ready for the next to last segment. Has anyone been enjoying this short story series? I've enjoyed writing it. If you are new and want to begin from the beginning, follow this link. I am so glad you've all come. It makes writing even more fun, when I get to share my work with you. Alright, let's jump back in where we left off.
"The Way Back Home"-Part 7
by Sandy Kay Slawson
I said, "Get down." Marshall Trevor Knox commanded the passengers of the stagecoach.
Violet grabbed the twins' arms and guided them to the floor with haste.
"Awww, we want to see what's going on," whined Lester.
"Yeah, we wanna help catch the bad guys," added Luther.
Mrs. Howard squeezed on the floor and hovered over her sons. Her uncharacteristic muteness, spurred Violet into an assumed responsibility for the passengers.
"Boys, you must keep your mother on the floor and be as quiet as a mouse," said Violet with a severity she'd not heretofore used.
The seriousness of the situation must have been conveyed, because they both nodded and rearranged themselves to give their mother more room. Mrs. Howard sent her first grateful glance Violet's way.
Violet averted her attention in Mr. Stuart's direction. He still slept. She shook his arm. Twice.
"Humph. What-what is it? Are we at the next stop already?" Mr. Stuart straightened, cleared his throat, coughed and adjusted his hat.
"No, Mr. Stuart. The James' Boys are in the road ahead. Please, lay on the seat and take cover," said Violet in hopes he comprehended the situation in his half awake state. He laid on the bench. Good.
"Alright, your turn, Violet. Get out of sight as much as possible," said Trevor.
"Oh, no. Give me your extra revolver. I'll watch out my window."
Trevor spun towards her, his post at the window momentarily forgotten.
"Absolutely not! Lay down, before you get yourself killed."
"I can shoot and you know it. You're the one who taught me," With one fist on her hip and one palm held out for the gun, she waited.
"And how long has it been since you've practiced?" Trevor challenged before he scanned outside again.
She hesitated. Her opportunities for practice had been rare, but she had confidence in her ability. Of more importance, she had confidence in the Lord.
"Please, Trevor. You don't want to leave this side of the stagecoach vulnerable."
"I'd help if my hand weren't useless with this blamed arthritis," said Mr. Stuart.
"It's alright, Mr. Stuart. I'm a capable shot. Marshall Trevor will see the sense of it in a moment."
Trevor whispered something under his breath and handed Violet a gun and a pouch of bullets.
"Use the gun if necessary, but I'd rather you keep the guns loaded for me." Trevor placed the revolver in her palm, but didn't let go until she focused on him. "Be careful. I don't want to lose you again."
When he let go, the absence of his hand made the cold steel colder. She nodded.
"You be careful, too."
They both assumed their positions by the windows. The stagecoach slowed to a crawl. The James' boys spread across the road some fifty yards ahead. The deputy stationed on the roof stuck his head in the window at the rear of the stagecoach, which made Violet squeal with surprise.
"Marshall, the whip wants to know should he stop or keep going?" The lanky cowboy hung onto the ladder as he awaited an answer.
"Stop. I didn't expect them to just block the road. Tell Clyde to bring our horses. Let's put them on the defensive instead of waiting for their next move."
Violet heard the deputy shout the orders. The draft horses came to a halt. Clyde came alongside the stagecoach with the horses. The deputy climbed onto his and Trevor moved to leave and do the same. She grabbed his sleeve.
"Keep the gun in case you find yourself in distress. When this is over, I'll-"
"Don't make promises you can't keep, but please be safe," A flicker of pain crossed Trevor's features, before he left and joined his men. They set off at a break neck gallop.
Violet sucked in a sob and wiped an errant drop from her cheek. Then she noticed the bag of bullets on the seat beside her, right before shots began to ring out.
"Oh God, help him."
The draft horses stamped their feet, harnesses jangled. The noise of the battle faded into the distance. Mrs. Howard came to herself and her complaints commenced.
"Where are they? The sounds of shots aren't as close anymore. Is somebody going to tell us when we can get off the floor? My legs are half asleep."
Violet watched out the window. The blasts of gunfire did sound further away, but she'd let Mrs. Howard choose for herself and her children when she deemed it safe enough to arise.
Violet's desire for information drove her out the door. The whip stood shotgun at the ready, beside the stagecoach.
"Sir, what can you tell me?" The whip gave a quick lift of his chin towards the road ahead where dust still settled.
"They got them hell-bound outlaws on the run. At least one of them dad blamed-pardon Miss, criminals got a bullet stuck in his sorry hide."
"How many were there?"
Four against three.
"What are we going to do?" Violet asked herself more than the driver, but he still answered.
"Might as well get to the next station and change these horses. Another half hour and we'll make it."
Violet joined the other passengers inside. She'd no sooner shut the door, when the driver called to the horses and the stagecoach moved forward. The motion threw her against the back of the seat. She caught her balance and readjusted her position before she addressed the silent questions on the faces of the group.
"We're headed for our next stop. The Marshall and his men have run the outlaws off," Violet informed the group.
Mr. Stuart pushed himself aright, an effort which caused a great deal of pops in his arthritic joints. Removing a handkerchief from his front suit pocket, he mopped the sweat from his brow. Mrs. Howard arose with a groan and resumed her seat.
"Play with your horses on the floor, until we're sure it's safe, boys," she said.
The group rode along in silence for about ten minutes, when a bullet splintered the wooden frame around Mrs. Howard's window.
She screamed and fell into a dead faint.
"Ma! Ma? Is she dead?" Luther and Lester both leapt towards their mother. Violet saw no blood and the rise and fall of their mother's chest.
"Don't fret, she's alive. You must get on the floor again, alright? You can tend to her in a bit." Violet took charge again. Mr. Stuart had already lain down on the bench. She grabbed hold of the gun and put the pouch of bullets in her skirt pocket. She scooted to the corner out of sight of the window and faced the door.
Another shot fired, the whip cried out. The horses' erratic movements told her he'd taken a hit. A different horse flew by the window and a few moments later the stagecoach came to a halt.
Violet heard the crunch of gravel under boots. The draft horses stomped and whinnied, but remained in place. The footfalls moved closer. Violet cocked the gun and pointed at the door.
"Let's make this easy and you all come on out here where I can see you."
The deep husky voice of the man outside the door sent chills along Violet's spine. She held a finger to her lips, before she gripped the gun with both hands.
"I said come out." His yell, followed with a curse made Violet jump. The twins wailed. Mrs. Howard's eyes flew open, she half rose, saw Violet gun in hand and covered her mouth with shaky fingers.
Violet moved forward on the bench and motioned Mrs. Howard to get behind her. The woman moved through the aisle pulling her boys with her as she went. Then Mrs. Howard with her two boys on her lap, huddled behind Violet. Mr. Stuart, upright and alert placed his cane in front of him as if it were a sword.
"You've got till the count of three. If I have to come in and get ya, I'll make you regret it. One-"
Violet wiped her sweaty right palm on her skirt.
She put pressure on the trigger.
The handle turned. The door opened. The bushy browed, masked giant bent over to view his victims. His gun lifted.
To be continued...
Have you ever wondered how you would act in a life threatening situation? I have. As a writer I imagine all sorts of situations for my characters, but also for myself. Would I face my fear like Violet or would I cower like Mrs. Howard? We never know until the time comes. But, whatever our reaction may be, we can have confidence in the Lord. If you are His child, you can be sure He will be and is with you. Does that mean He always rescues us out of the problem or danger? No. But, you can trust that He will do and allow what is the best for you, even though it may not seem that way at the time. Trust the Lord. He will never leave you or forsake you.
Happy Monday and Happy Fall! The weather is beautiful and getting outside is so pleasant. I hope you are enjoying this season and remembering to give thanks to the Lord above for all His blessings. If you are not a subscriber to my website, please consider subscribing. Also, I love receiving your comments and encouragement. It really keeps me going when I feel discouraged. The journey to becoming an Author involves so much more than I ever realized. It takes time. Lots and lots of time and work in addition to actually writing the novels. I appreciate all my patient followers.
May the Lord God bless each of you and your families with Faith, Hope and Love. In Jesus' Name.
I Appreciate You!!