New Western Adventure Story

The life and times of Marshall Luke Johnson

by a. j. Lombardi Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved

 

Part Four

Voice of an Angel

 

Besides, like you said, the war is over and you ain’t a soldier no more!”

 

Those words hit me hard!  I reckon that there was hard truth in what the Sheriff had just said. “My uniform gave me no privilege, especially in Montana.”  Sheriff Hockshaw lit up his cigar and then poured another helping from his liquor bottle into my cup.  After about two hours, it was time to head back to my room at the Dove Tree saloon.  As I was heading for the door Sheriff Hockshaw yelled out to me, “Don’t forget your pistol Yankee, it fell from your belt when you nodded off.  I reckon that you Yanks can’t handle your liquor like us Rebs down here!”  I guess that homemade shine got to me and I dozed off.  As I stumbled towards the door he yelled out, “by the way,  I think I have some kin folk up North,  so I reckon I have to treat you a little better! Maybe we are related, wouldn’t that be funny if  I have  Yankee blood just like you?

 

As I tried to make my way towards my room at the Dove Tree saloon, I could have sworn I heard the sound of someone singing a gospel song from the side alley next to the post office.   I figured that maybe I had a bit too much to drink and I was just hearing things.  Whatever the case, it sounded beautiful, "like the voice of an angel!"  The next morning, I decided that I should stay in town a little while longer.  I had some unfinished business to take care of.  As the day progressed, my conscience started to bother me thinking about how I stole the Colt 44 from the dead man back at the saloon.  I decided that I should take a ride out to where his wife and son lived and return it to them.

 

That afternoon I saddled up and rode out to their ranch.  When I arrived up to the winding road leading up to the main house, I noticed that many of the fence post and rails were broken or just missing.  I heard that when the Union army passed through they were taking wood from wherever they could for firewood.  Getting closer to the house I could see the boy Ben trying to lift and repair a section of the fence next to the house.  From what I could see he was not getting anywhere. When he saw me, I could see his face light up. “Howdy Mr. Luke, so nice to see you!  I was impressed that he was so well mannered.  Seeing that he was getting nowhere in repairing the fence, I decided to give him a hand.  After about twenty minutes he noticed his mother heading out to the side yard to hang clothes to dry.  When Ben saw her, he yelled out “Ma, Ma it’s Mr. Luke, he came to visit us, and he just helped me fix the side fence!” 

 

She then quickly and straight forwardly walked over to me with head held high.  “What’s your business here sir?  I took my hat off and said,  Ma’am I believe I have something that belongs to you and I’m here to return it. I then proceeded to hand her the Colt 44.   Ma’am, “I believe this belongs to you!   She looked at it and said, “you want to give me the gun that killed my husband?   “Keep it mister, it’s yours, and just get back on your horse and high tail back North!”  I then decided that I was not welcomed and headed for my horse tied up to the fence post by the well.   As I was get ready to mount, Ben yelled out; “look Ma, his horse is the kind that some  of the injuns ride! 

 

 My horse was an Appaloosa breed.  The Appaloosa horse was bred by the Nez Perce Indians of Wyoming. It was specially bred  to show distinctive spots that would resemble war paint.  The horse’s hooves are stripped and hard which  suite them for the rough terrain in the mountains of Wyoming where the Nez Perce lived. The Appaloosa horses are known for their endurance, speed and gentle intelligent character. When I first came into town, I  found her wondering around near the lower canyon by the river.  When I inquired about her at the Sheriff's office he said that she was probably  a run away.  He told me that he has   only seen a few Appaloosa’s in this part of town. The only time he has seen them, is when some of the injuns ride through on their way to the reservations. 

 

Ben ran over to pet the horse.  “Mr. Luke, my Pa  had a lot of horses, but never one  like yours.  A couple nights ago some raiders came in and stole all of our horses!   Hearing this, I walked back to the where the woman was standing.  “Ma’am, your son said that your horses were stolen the other night, did you inform Sheriff  Hockshaw?  “Mr., the Sheriff can’t do anything about it. He is a one man show with enough to take care of back in town.  “I  understand that Ma’am,  "but no one has the right to take what’s yours!  She then came right up close to me and said, "Did I hear you say no right to take what's yours?  "Why that's pretty ironic coming from a Yankee!"   At that, I was sort of lost for words and followed up  by politely telling her that I would inform the Sheriff when I got back to town.   It amazed me that my offer to help her went on deaf ears.   She  started to walk away and when she reached the house porch she turned and said   “don’t bother mister, we don’t need help from no Yankees!  "In hindsight, I reckon she had good cause to be bitter.  However, I was troubled by the fact that I was trying to help her, and she acted as if  I was the cause for all her hard luck.  Trying to be as polite as I could I looked straight back at her and said, “Ma’am. I’m only trying to help,  the war is over, and we have to work to make things better! “Wars is over for you sir, but  just beginning for me!” There seemed to be no getting on the good side of this woman. Although I did realize that she lost her husband and most of what she previously owned, I decided it would be best If I just  walked away.  As I mounted up Ben yelled out, “Thank you for your help with the fence  Mr. Luke, are you coming back to visit again?”

 

Continue  Part 5.

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Please note that this is an ongoing story that will contain  several additional parts that will continue to be published until it's completion.