New Western Adventure Story

The life and times of Marshall Luke Johnson

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

 

Part Nine

They be drowned and dead Sir

 

Sheriff Hockshaw remained somewhat quiet for the remainder of the afternoon.  I guess he now had to share his power with another lawman.  At the same time, I figured he had to be relieved in that he now had someone to help him with his overwhelming duties.  As I was leaving the office, he shouted out to me, “I forgot to tell you that the thousand-dollar reward money owed you is waiting for you at the bank!   I did not waste any time and went directly over to the bank to collect.”

 

As I was making my way back to my room at the Dove Tree, I heard that same sweet voice singing a gospel hymn  I heard before.  I decided to investigate to where I figured it was coming from.  In the side alley of the saloon I could see a young negro child sitting behind an old wooden barrel.  “Hey there, missy what are you doing there?  She looked up at me and said that she was hiding from Mr. Clayborn and his men.  I called her to come out into the daylight. “Where is your Ma and Pa, and why aren’t you with them?  “Sir, I don’t gots no Ma and Pa no more. and I don’t rightly know what happen to little Andy. “I prayed to the good Lord that he would have a guardian angel take care of him.  I asked her.  Who is little Andy?  She said he was her younger brother.  She went on to say that Mr. Clayborn’s men had  chased them by the river and she has not seen them since.  She then looked at me intently and said, “I reckon that they be drowned and dead in that there river sir!  I think I understood.  A fella by the name of Clayborn owned a farm outside town and held a few negro slaves as workmen. From what the child said I figured that her folks tried to make an unsuccessful get away. “Annie, please tell me about this man Mr. Clayborn. She went on to say, “He is the meanest and ugliest white man I ever did see!  He only has about four teeth and they is all brown like old corn. When he  ain’t wearing a hat his head is shiny and wrinkled like and old  yellow plum.  Mr. Clayborn  has four ranch hands that oversee his ranch and they is white folk.

 

My heart was broken to see this sweet little girl with no folks to take care of her.  Motioning her to come closer to me I asked, “What’s your name missy?   Her eyes lit up and she responded, my name is Annie.   “Well I’m pleased to meet you Annie,  my name is Luke Johnson, I’m the new Federal Marshall in this county.  “Mr. Luke, are you a Christian sir?   Why yes I am I answered.  Although I don’t spend too much time in church these days, I’m proud to say that I do believe in the good Lord.    “Tell me Annie, what have you been having to eat.  “Well sir, after the saloon closes, I sneak in the back window and take some of the vidals from the back kitchen.  I don’t mean to be no robber or nothing like that.   Mama always said that the good Lord don’t want none of his children to go about thieving.  So, I sweep up the floors and go about doing some cleaning.  “You won’t arrest me Mr. Luke, will you?  “No, I won’t Annie, you did the right thing.

 

 

I could not leave this sweet little girl on her own.  I decided to  get her  all cleaned up  over at the boarding house.  I also wanted to  get her some new clothes and   filled up with some good fixins.  It appeared to me that she had not had a change of clothes in some time.   This little girl also needed a place to stay so  I decided to take her over to the Randall homestead.  I recalled  Mrs. Randall’s words that her door would always be open to me.  What better time to oblige myself?  We arrived at the Randall homestead late afternoon and were greeted by Mrs. Randall and her son Ben. When Ben saw the little girl with me, he yelled out, “Annie, is that you?   It was apparent that they knew each other.  Ben came up, took the little girl by the hand.  “Annie, come and see my new horse, He is an injun horse, they call him and Appaloosa.

 

The two ran off while I went inside to talk to Mrs. Randall. My intention was that I would ask her to take care of the little girl until something could be figured out. She agreed without hesitation.  I decided that I would give her one hundred dollars from my reward money to help out.  She reluctantly accepted.  I am sure that it was hard for this once upper-class woman to accept my offer.  Before I left, Mrs., Randall implied that she would be pleased if I should call her by her first name, Beth. I agreed. Before opening the door to head out I turned to face her and said.  “I am well pleased that you asked to do so.   Our eyes locked for a moment and I could tell that the awkwardness of our very first encounters had turned into something of a mutual unspoken courtship.

Continue  Part 10. 

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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.