Read To Everything a Season Online

Authors: Lauraine Snelling

Tags: #FIC042040, #FIC027050, #FIC042030, #Christian fiction, #Love stories

To Everything a Season (10 page)

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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Chapter 10

ed really kind of admired this blond doctor, even if she was a woman. Good looking—a pretty lady—and tough as nails. Nothing seemed to frighten her. She was single-minded when it came to operating on his little brother. And she was good at giving sensible directions.

This doctor lady had stitched Manny's leg all back together. Now she said, “With your help I want to put him back in traction. Then we'll tie his hips and chest down until he wakes up, so he can't try to get up and damage the break more. I'm afraid he's his own worst enemy right now.”

“Ain't we all.” His oldest brother, Gabe, was gone with the sheriff now and pretty much out of it. Morphine, huh? Pretty slick. Shack stood near the door with the pistol, keeping watch, but the fellows outside weren't causing trouble so far.

“Hold this, please.” And then, “Good. Now lift his heel—perfect.” And then other directions. “You see how this is going to work?”

And yeah, he could see what they were doing, how they were rigging a harness of ropes to put just a tiny bit of pull on the leg so it couldn't cramp up. Jed realized he didn't even mind a
woman bossing him around, and that was strange. He usually didn't cotton to women ordering him around. Maybe it was because she wasn't cranky or pushy. And she obviously really cared about Manny, the gentle way she worked.

So Gabe liked to believe he was the thinker, the mastermind, eh? Too bad he couldn't think past his nose. Or think at all right now, so Jed would take over the thinking. And do a better job of it, no doubt.

“Shack? How we doing over there?”

“They've moved down the hall a piece. Just waiting. What are we gonna do?”

“Been thinking about that. Can't take Manny with us. We'll hafta—”

“But like Gabe said, he'll blab all about us! We can't leave him here.”

Jed held a stick of some sort while the doctor wrapped rope around it. “We'll have to leave Manny behind. So here's what we're gonna do. When Manny's all set up here comfortable, we use the doctor for a shield and walk down to the horses. Those fellers won't shoot at us with the doctor right there. Ride out to the edge of town and turn the doctor loose.”

“No! We need her for protection!”

“If we take her along, they'll come after us. Not only that, she'll know where we're hiding. We leave her and ride to the river. We'll stay in the river, down in the river bottom, riding in the water along the edge until we get well away, so they can't track us. Then tomorrow, we can start back to Kentucky.”

Shack wagged his head. “We don't have enough money.”

“Got twice as much as we had. We won't have to pay for food for Gabe and Manny. You and me can escape easy enough.”

Shack was thinking about that. Jed could tell when Shack
was thinking: His forehead got all wrinkled. “Guess there ain't no other way.”

“I can't think of any.” Jed looked at the doctor, looked her right in the eye. “Ma'am, I truly don't want to see you get hurt. I mean that. You're taking good care of Manny, fine care of him, and that means a lot to me. So if you cooperate, I'll let you go soon's we're clear.”

She studied him a moment and nodded. “This is probably foolish, but I believe you.”

And then he said something he almost never said to a woman. “You can trust me.”

Manny didn't look like he was hearing anything, but Jed put a hand on his arm anyway. “Manny, this here's Jed. Listen to me. You do what the doctor says and get that leg healed up, hear? Shack and I are leaving now.” Jed got a sudden sick feeling in his stomach. He was abandoning his baby brother. But maybe Manny would have a better life without them. Or land in jail. Who could say?

He reached out and grabbed the doctor's arm. “Here we go.” He led her forcibly to the door and opened it. Shack looked scared stiff. What if he panicked?

Jed took the gun out of Shack's hand and held it steady, pointed in a general sort of way toward the doctor. Now if Shack did something stupid, at least he wouldn't be firing rounds, emptying their only gun.

And then the doctor called out, “Daniel? Let us through. They're promising to turn me loose somewhere by Hoaglunds', and I believe they will. Let us through, please!”

Shack peeked out. “Hit's working! I think it's working!” He stepped out into the hall.

Jed followed. Keeping the doctor between them, they walked
to the end of the hall as the men there backed up.
keep walking, Jed. Keep calm, keep walking.

Then they were pushing out the doors, and there were their horses, right where they left them. The men had fallen back. Cowards or smart? Didn't matter. And away out there was an old lady with a braid wound around her head, just standing there, her head bowed, her hands clasped. Granny McCrary did that when she was praying for Jed and his brothers. When she died, the praying stopped. This woman was probably praying for the doctor here, or the men. Everybody surely knew everybody else in this town.

And oh, how Jed wished she was praying for him!

Take Gabe and Manny's horses or not? Jed didn't care much whether Gabe had his horse. He was probably in jail by now, but Jed hated taking Manny's horse. He left them both tied there.

He untied his gelding and handed the reins to Shack. “Hold his head so's the doctor don't kick him.” Jed plopped her up behind the saddle with both her legs off this side. He mounted, swinging his right leg over the horn and neck. He gathered up his reins, and Shack leaped aboard his mare. When they took off, the doctor wrapped her arms around his waist, hanging on for dear life.

Shack twisted to look behind. “They ain't following, Jed! We done it! I never woulda thought, but we done it! You're brilliant.”

Near the riverbank, Jed drew to a stop. He reached back and wrapped an arm around her waist so she wouldn't fall. “There you go, ma'am.”

She slid to the ground. He expected her to run like blue blazes. Instead she turned to him, and her blue eyes met his. “Thank you.” And then she did run like blue blazes, back toward town.

Jed kicked and his horse bolted forward. He led the way to the riverbank and down into the water. They splashed along
near the west shore, staying off the soft mud that would leave tracks, staying out where the flowing water would erase any marks they made. When Jed's horse started stumbling—he was so tired—they slowed to a walk.

Shack pointed. “I think our place is about out that way, near them trees. We're going past it.”

“That's right. Don't want to lead them right up to it. Besides, this land is so flat they can see us two days away. That's why we're staying down here among the trees in the river bottom. Till we're beyond sight.”

Shack nodded. “That's good. Yeah.”

They kept going for another hour. When the river did a bend, they stopped and let the horses rest and drink.

Shack was grinning, something he rarely did. “That was so smooth! I didn't think you oughta let our hostage get away, but that was sure the thing to do.”

“Yep. By the time they find out our place from Gabe or Manny, we'll be long gone. Gabe might let it slip. Doubt Manny will.”

Tonight was an old moon, waning gibbous, so they waited until it was up before leaving the river bottom and returning to their lair.

In the corral, which was very well built, Jed loosened his cinch, but he didn't unsaddle. They might have to leave in a hurry. He forked hay to the horses.

They went inside and Jed laid his gun on the table. “I'll take first watch if you want.”

“Suits me.” Shack headed for the corner cot.

Jed wandered out to the front porch and settled himself to leaning against a porch post.

This place must have been abandoned a while, but the porch post was still solid, didn't creak. The porch back home had fallen down twice since Jed was a kid; for sure you couldn't lean your
full weight against those posts like you could this. It wasn't near as sturdy and well made as this place.

And flat. Je-himiny this country was flat! Except for a couple low hills away out on the horizon to the west, you could see forever . . . well, at least half of forever. If riders approached, he'd see their dust rising five miles away, even in moonlight. So in its own way, this old farm was as safe a place to hole up in as any cabin in the Kentucky hills.

He thought about that doctor. He couldn't quit thinking about her. She wore a wedding ring, so she was married. Probably to whoever that Daniel was that she called to. She was noble—that was the only word for it. She'd said,
“I believe you”
like she meant it. And she was caring, truly caring. What did they call her? One of the men said, “Don't hurt Aster.” Something like that. He knew girls named Daisy and Violet and even a Petunia, so why not Aster?

You didn't see many stars in Kentucky. With trees and hills all around, you mostly only could look straight up. But out here in this Dakota country, the stars were half the world, horizon to horizon. Amazing stars. He knew some of the constellations—he knew the Big Dipper. It was higher overhead here than it was in Kentucky, but you could still make it out and that way find the North Pole Star that it pointed to. But he couldn't pick out many of the other constellations he remembered from Kentucky, because there were so many stars up there, and they were all so bright that they obscured the patterns. Even with the moon washing out the faint ones, there were too many. Too many stars. Think of that.

He still got a knot in his stomach thinking about running off from Manny. But what else could they've done?

Manny was a fine kid, a good worker. Once he got out of jail for bank robbery, he'd probably make a pretty good life for
himself. Maybe he'd find a girl like that doctor, a really good, true girl. Jed had never found one. Besides, if she was a good girl, she wasn't gonna let herself be courted by no bank robber, that's for sure. Jed probably messed up his own chances forever by taking up his pappy's line of work. Too late now to walk a different road.

Or was it? He thought about that a long while. Maybe they should split up. Let Shack go back to Kentucky, since he wanted to. Jed could go someplace where nobody knew him. Maybe Texas. Get a job on a farm or a ranch. He was a good hand with horses. Start building a decent life and looking for a decent woman. Forget this bank robbery business that only brings trouble.

Granny McCrary prayed for the boys for a long time. Maybe her prayers would finally come to something. Like that woman's prayers in town.

By the time the dipper had swung around and it was time to wake up Shack to keep watch, Jed was pretty happy with his new plan of action. He would become a worthwhile man.

The next morning he woke up around sunrise, did his stuff out back in the outhouse, and left the back door of the house open when he came in, so as to let the air move through. This house did tend to get stuffy. He started searching through the cupboards. They couldn't risk a fire, so they couldn't cook. And there wasn't anything left in these cupboards that didn't need cooking.

“I already looked.” Shack came in and plopped into a chair. He left the front door open too. “Not even any coffee.”

“If we're ever gonna eat again, I guess we might's well hit the road.” Jed plopped down across from him. “Say, I been thinking. We might do better if we split up. Then we wouldn't look suspicious or anything.”

Shack nodded. “Interesting. I was thinking the same. They're
looking for a gang, not just one feller. Split apart, then meet up at home at Pappy's.”

“Wonder who lives there now. Everybody we know is passed, 'cept Pearly.”

“And she woulda got married by now. Maybe she lives there.”

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

Jed snapped to his feet so fast, his chair fell on its back and scooted on the floor.

The fellow who wished them good morning was standing in the back doorway, casually leaning against the jamb. The shotgun he held at ready sure got Jed's attention in a hurry. It was a twelve-gauge side-by-side, and the barrels couldn't be any more than fourteen or fifteen inches long. Load that baby with nails, and you could clear a room by firing just once.

“My name's Trygve. I'd suppose you two are the McCrary gentlemen.”

Their gun! Where was their gun? Not on the table here.

Shack was already standing there, his arms held high and waving around. He looked terrified.

Jed wasn't feeling so calm himself. He heard boots on the front porch, and the room darkened a bit. Someone was in the front doorway behind him. “Trig Vee. Who lets themselves be named Trig Vee?”

This fellow looked a lot like that doctor, when you think about it—same eyes, about the same color hair. Mostly though, it was the air of confidence, a total lack of fear. Yes, chances were pretty good he was related to her some way.

The man shrugged. “I like it.”

Jed turned to look toward the front door. A jovial, somewhat overweight fellow came in, a broad smile on his pudgy face, and waving a pistol. Jed's pistol! “They left it on the porch rail. Figured I'd bring it in for them.”

“Nice of you. It looks pretty heavy to me. Maybe you should just carry it for them as a friendly gesture.”

“Good idea.” The jolly fellow stuffed Jed's gun into his belt and stepped aside. Two others entered, with handcuffs. And badges. That was something of a relief, actually. A vigilante posse would as soon hang you as look at you. At least official law officers just stick you in a jail.

“How'd you find us? It wasn't Manny, and Gabe was in no condition to chat.” Jed's arms got yanked behind him, and a fellow clicked genuine steel handcuffs on him. The only other time someone had arrested him, they'd had to use whipcord.

And now Shack was under lock and key as well.

BOOK: To Everything a Season
3.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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