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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  GENERAL TOPICS  |  Saddlebag Tales (Moderators: Marshal'ette Halloway, Lucky Irish Tom)  |  Topic: The Last Patrol 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: The Last Patrol  (Read 182363 times)
Elegant Ella
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« Reply #875 on: January 11, 2010, 12:21:48 am »

"Bo is going very well," replied Ella. "Doctor Martin is a very good surgeon, much better than I am."

"You're pretty good, yourself," replied Scarlet.

"But Doctor Martin was actually trained as a surgeon, instead of learning out of books.  Anyway, Bo isn't going to be able to ride a horse for some weeks yet, until those stitches in and over his stomach heal, but he can ride in a wagon back to the fort whenever Doctor Martin and General Crook decide to send the wounded back.  Major Martin might send Major Samuels back, to take care of them at the Fort. Major Samuels may have studied Napoleon, but seeing the aftermath of battle up close doesn't suit him. He does better caring for the wounded well back from the front."
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Elegant Ella
1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #876 on: January 11, 2010, 08:42:02 am »

Fritz wandered the Goose Creek Camp.  The feel of the men had changed from that of trepidation to the feel of a summer camp.  The men amused themselves by hunting and fishing, which greatly increased the variety of the fare at the mess.  However, Fritz was agitated.  His report didn’t go over very well with General Crook.  Fritz refused to whitewash the incident, and told it like it was, leaving out no details.  The men had performed admirably under daunting circumstances, but the truth was the General had been caught with his pants down.  He had recovered quickly and saved the day, but the victory was hollow.  They left the field of battle to the Indians, who made a grand show of circling the camp when they left.  Crook felt he needed reinforcements to pursue the Indians further, and would not leave the Goose Creek Camp until they arrived.  The Crow scouts departed shortly after the battle, vowing they would return in two weeks.  Fritz felt they had lost faith in their commander, and were attempting to bow out gracefully.

He found his way to the corral.  He whistled, and both Strider and Buddy came running over.  They horses were an amalgam of what he felt.  Buddy was full of the exuberance of youth, while Strider bore the scars of this life.  Both horses were willing to carry him, but Strider also carried experience with his saddle.  He petted both between the eyes.  Strider looked at him.  Fritz looked over the horse’s wounds.  Like his, Fritz feared some would never heal properly.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Bill said.  Fritz had been so engrossed in caring for his horses that he didn’t even notice Bill walking up.  

Fritz turned to salute but his friend waved him off.

“I was just thinking about all the friends we’ve lost today.  The price is getting pretty damned high.”

“That’s what we do,” Bill replied.  “It’s what we’ve always done.”

“They fought hard at the Rosebud…harder than we’ve ever seen before.  Do you think their village was down the valley?”

Bill nodded.  “There’s nothing more dangerous than a man fighting for his home and family.”

“What if the roles were reversed?” Fritz asked.  “What if they were attacking us in the heartland…attacking the way we lived.  
Wouldn’t we fight just as hard?”

“I suppose” Bill replied.  

“The American people are going to scream for blood after this.  They’ll scream for the extermination of the Sioux race.  Do we have the right?  Do we want that on our conscience?”

“You make good points” Bill said.  “But that is for politicians to decide.  We’re Soldiers.  We carry out policy.  We don’t question it.”

“Well, maybe it’s time someone spoke for them.  They’re hungry, and want to keep their way of life.”

Bill asked “What are your intentions?”

“If we aren’t going to pursue the Indians immediately, we’re wasting time.  I didn’t come here to waste time.  If the General won’t strike while the iron’s hot, I’m done.  I’ve got my twenty.  I’ve had enough. ”

“I was hoping to pass the Second on to you.  Who can I replace you with?”

“Johann,” Fritz said.  “I promoted him to First Lieutenant a little while ago.  He’s come a long way since the early days.  He’s ready.”

“I hate to lose you,” Bill said.

“Scott was right,” Fritz replied.  “You lost me on the mission to Mexico.  Part of me never came back from that hell-hole.  But a part of me was reborn, too.  A part that I thought had died forever.  I’m going to live Bill.  I’ll live for Scarlet.  I’ll live for myself.  I’ve paid my wage to Uncle Sam.”

“Very well,” Bill Replied.  “See the Quartermaster to cash out.  Come see me before you go.”  Bill took a step back and saluted.  “Thanks for coming back Fritz.  We’ll miss you.  Thank you for your service.”

Fritz saluted, and then extended his hand.  “It was my honor, sir.  If ever you’re in Texas, please stop by.”
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Scarlet Angel
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« Reply #877 on: January 11, 2010, 10:30:52 am »

Scarlet wasn’t surprised at Ella’s comment regarding Major Samuels, the man appeared very out of place here.

“Do you have anything that can be used as a good eye wash?” Scarlet asked.

Ella looked at her “are your eyes bothering you?” she asked.

“Not me, Strider. He went down pretty hard. I think he got a lot of dirt in his eye. I’d like something better than just plain water, which is what I have available that is safe for eyes. Something to fight infection would be best if you have it and can spare it. If not I’ll think of something else perhaps.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #878 on: January 11, 2010, 11:38:04 am »

He walked to the Quartermaster’s tent.  As all of Fritz’s uniforms and equipment were Civil War stocks, they had long ago been written off as paid in full.  The only things he was charged for were his revolver and carbine; a grand total of 33 dollars.  Fritz had no intention of keeping the carbine, but it was back at the ranch.  He was assured by the Quartermaster that he could turn it in at the fort at El Paso, and have his money refunded.  His monthly pay at Captain’s rank was about $208.00.  Subtracting the price of his weapons, he walked away from the Quartermaster’s tent with $175.00.  As Strider was wounded, he was given to Fritz as well.  The Army no longer had to care for an injured mount…or an injured Soldier.
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #879 on: January 11, 2010, 01:22:58 pm »

"I don't need the ingredients for eyewash for any of the wounded men.  I'll boil it up as soon as I clean the kettle."

"Strider doesn't need that much!"

"But it's the only kettle I brought, and I don't trust the cleanliness of anything that hasn't been in my control."

Escorted by Samuel and Chris, they walked together down to the creek, well upstream of the camp. Ella scrubbed the inside of the kettle out with sand, before filling it with water. Back at the scout camp, she poured some of the water out into a waterskin, added chopped root and bark and set it to simmer. After half an hour, she took it off the heat and added dried leaves. When those had steeped long enough, she strained the liquid through cheesecloth into a clean bottle and added a little salt.

"What all did you put in there?" asked Scarlet.

"Goldenseal root, Bayberry bark, Eyebright herb, raspberry leaf, and salt," replied Ella. "It's a standard eyewash recipe. Now I should get back to the wounded."
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #880 on: January 12, 2010, 12:14:11 pm »

A week after the hospital tents had been erected, they were half empty. 15 of those wounded at Rosebud Creek had died at Goose Creek and been buried. Dick had died the night after Cyrus's visit, with less torment in his delirium than Ella had expected. Perhaps Cyrus had been the only person Dick knew he had wronged.

Other patients had returned to their units and light duty.

The supply wagons were going to return to the fort loaded with the wounded who were not going to return to duty soon, if at all. Some would have their broken bones finish healing in the Fort infirmary. Others would be sent on to rehabilitation centers to learn how to manage without one arm or without one leg.

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Elegant Ella
1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #881 on: January 12, 2010, 01:12:27 pm »

Fritz and Scarlet walked to the company area to say their goodbyes.  As they approached, Scott’s voice bellowed “Company…ATTENTION!”

The Second Cavalry had fallen out to say goodbye as well.  They stood statue still.  Bill Marched out to receive the command, with Johann at his left.  Johann was wearing a new pattern, five button sack coat with yellow piping.  The Lieutenant’s straps looked heavy on his shoulders.  No doubt Johann would grow into them.

“Captain and Mrs. King…FRONT AND CENTER!”

Fritz escorted Scarlet by the left arm.  She held him up so he wouldn’t limp.  She could feel him shaking.  There were tears in his eyes.  Fritz centered himself on his old friend, in front of his adopted family, and saluted.

“Captain King Reporting as ordered, sir.”

“On this date, you stand relieved of your duties as Company Commander, and are retired from active service.  Congratulations.”

Johann stepped forward.  In his left hand he held a small box.  He handed it to Fritz, shaking his hand with the right.  “This is from the men.  Thanks for your service to your country.”

Fritz opened the box.  Inside was a pewter flask with a leather case.  Fritz smiled.

“Am I to become an alcoholic?” he asked.

“Not if I can help it,” Scarlet said, smiling. 

“Take the case off it,” Bill said.

Fritz removed the case.  He read aloud the engraving on the surface.

“To Captain Fritz King, From the Officers and Men of I Company, Second U.S. Cavalry, Summer Campaign, 1876…Lest We Forget .”
Tears streamed down his cheeks as Major Shurmann called “Company…ATTENTION!  Present…ARMS!!!”

Fritz saluted the officers, then executed an “about face.”  He saluted the men.  Men he’d grown gray in war with.

“Thank you” was all he could muster.
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #882 on: January 12, 2010, 01:27:18 pm »

Boston, Thursday, July 6, 1876

The newsboy bawling "Sioux slaughter Seventh Cavalry. Little Bighorn Massacre." caught Alan's ear as he left the medical school after his lecture. He bought the paper the newsboy was selling, and looked at the lead story. He headed for the newstand near the train station to buy newspapers from New York, Chicago and Washington. The papers all had versions of the same incomplete story.

Quote
New York Times
July 6, 1876

LATEST ACCOUNTS OF THE CHARGE. FORCE OF FOUR THOUSAND INDIANS IN POSITION ATTACKED BY LESS THAN FOUR HUNDRED TROOPS - OPINIONS OF LEADING ARMY OFFICERS OF THE DEED AND ITS CONSEQUENCES - FEELING IN THE COMMUNITY OVER THE DISASTER.

The dispatches giving an account of the slaughter of Gen. Custer's command, published in THE TIMES of yesterday, are confirmed and supplemented by official reports from Gen. A. H. Terry, commanding the expedition. On June 25 Gen. Custer's command came upon the main camp of Sitting Bull, and at once attacked it, charging the thickest part of it with five companies, Major Reno, with seven companies attacking on the other side. the soldiers were repulsed and a wholesale slaughter ensued. Gen. Custer, his brother, his nephew, and his brother-in-law were killed, and not one of his detachment escaped. The Indians surrounded Major Reno's command and held them in the hills during a whole day, but Gibbon's command came up and the Indians left. The number of killed is stated at 300 and the wounded at 31. Two hundred and seven men are said to have been buried in one place. The list of killed includes seventeen commissioned officers.

It is the opinion of Army officers in Chicago, Washington, and Philadelphia, including Gens. Sherman and Sheridan, that Gen. Custer was rashly imprudent to attack such a large number of Indians, Sitting Bull's force being 4,000 strong. Gen. Sherman thinks that the accounts of the disaster are exaggerated. The wounded soldiers are being conveyed to Fort Lincoln. Additional details are anxiously awaited throughout the country.

Alan got back to Mrs. Erdbeer's house with his mind in a whirl. "Deborah, Ella's out in that area. How am I going to find out if she's all right?"

"Well, you can't follow her out to the Black Hills. You could go to El Paso to wait for news of her friends to get sent there. How many lectures do you have left?"

"Two more lectures to give and three to write up for publication." Deborah's practicality was calming Alan so that he could think again.

"So if you get them all written up by the time you give the last one, you will be able to head for El Paso by the end of next week."

"If I get them all to the publisher by the beginning of the week, he'll get the galleys of all of them ready for my review before I leave, and I'll be able to work on the galleys during the journey."
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #883 on: January 13, 2010, 11:17:54 am »

El Paso

It was late in the afternoon when Alan stepped down from the seat on the freight wagon with a sigh and a prayer of thanksgiving for journey's end.  If he had known how long it took to travel from Boston to El Paso, he would not have expected Ella to take herself to Boston as soon as she heard from him.  He had assumed that it would take much less than a week to get to El Paso, since it only took four days to get all the way to Sacramento on the Transcontinental Express, and Texas was only halfway to California.  One trouble was that he was travelling with their household goods, and the set of doctor's office furniture and equipment he had bought from an acquaintance who was retiring.  The excess baggage charges on the passenger lines were so high that his budget required him to travel on slower freight trains.   

After the first day's travel, he packed up the nice linen suit and wore the overalls he used when helping out at his brother's farm.  There were a few nights in hotels along the line, while waiting for the next train going in the right direction.  The rest of his sleeping had been done in a corner of the car carrying his belongings.  He had finished checking the proofs for the last lectures and mailed them back from the first overnight stop.  After that, his daylight travel time was spent re-reading Ella's letters, reading the newspapers he bought at each stop and watching the landscape go by. General Custer's disaster was still big news, but General Crook hadn't been mentioned in any of the stories about it, so he could still hope that Ella was safe.

Once he had arranged for his goods to be stored in the freight depot for a couple weeks, he took carpetbag containing clean clothes in one hand and Gladstone bag in the other, and followed directions to the Ace of Hearts.  He had a letter of introduction to Rabbi Jacob Cohen, but he wanted a bath and fresh clothes before he presented himself there.  Based on Ella's letters, he hoped he didn't look too disreputable to get a room at the Ace, and he wanted to talk to Mrs. Ross to find out when the posse was expected home.

Hank looked up as the swinging doors opened and the man peeked in. Judging from the way he looked, he’d been on the trail for a piece. He was dressed in overalls but didn’t look like any farmer Hank had seen. The city hat and city gloves looked strange with the overalls.  Gamblers and gunfighters took that kind of care of their hands. 'Course he didn’t look like a gunfighter, but it wouldn’t be the first time trouble tried to disguise itself.

That man behind the bar had to be Hank.  Alan smelled a good stew cooking, and was suddenly aware of being famished.  Alan left his hat on the rack, then went to the bar and asked, "Could I get a beer and a bowl of stew, please?” while he pulled off the gloves. 

“Comin’ right up,” Hank replied. He would have to be deaf to miss that Eastern accent. Hank noticed that his hands showed no calluses from working a field, or any kind of work. Maybe not a gunfighter or gambler, maybe one of those newspaper people that came sniffing around every now and then trying to find dirt to write about, he thought.

“You must be Hank,” Alan said.

Hank raised an eyebrow in question. The action didn’t go unnoticed by Alan so he quickly continued. “My wife wrote to me about you.  I'm Doctor Alan Coatsworth."

"You don't look smart enough to fit the tales Miz Ella used to tell about her husband." 

Alan was reassured and pleased at the idea that Ella had bragged about him, but wondered and asked, "Used to tell?  Doesn't she tell tales about me any more?" 

"She's been quiet about you since you didn't come last year.  Folks were starting to act like they thought you were imaginary, after they had been looking forward to having a new doctor out here.  'Course there are a fair number of men wishing Miz Ella was single.  She's a fine woman."

Alan felt rebuked, and knew there was justice to it, but thought the conversation was heading into uncomfortable territory, so he changed the subject, "Could I get a few words with Mrs. Ross, please?"

Hank put the beer on the bar. He knew Ella was concerned about her marriage, maybe people coming around to see if they could find out improper behavior to report.

“Mr. Coatsworth, before I let you have a few words with Mrs. Ross, I’d like to be sure you are who you say you are and not someone that has come here to try to start some kind of trouble.”

It was Alan’s turn to raise an eyebrow in question.

“Nobody in here takes too kindly to someone coming in here claiming to be someone they ain’t just to get information they like to twist around to sell to some newspaper for their own profit at the cost of my friends. Miz Ella and Mrs. Ross are good friends of mine. So if you don’t mind, prove to me you are who you say you are.”

Rebecca had noticed the man come in and take a seat. She could be in another room and still somehow know when someone came into the Ace. She could either tell you who it was or tell you it was a stranger in town. She figured it came from running with Scarlet for too long, but it did come in handy. From where she was, she could tell Hank was sniffing the stranger out for trouble. The stranger must have started asking questions to raise the hackles on Hank’s neck.

Becca took the bowl from the girl that was coming from the kitchen with a smile and took it to the man sitting at the bar. It would get her close enough to listen to what was going on. She set down the bowl in time to hear Hank tell the stranger that she and Ella were friends of his and to prove who he was. She made no move to identify herself. She trusted Hank, it was his job to keep them safe and he did it well.

Alan told himself that he should have been prepared for Hank's request.  Ella's letters had mentioned how much he protected everyone associated with the Ace.  Alan lifted the Gladstone bag up onto the counter and opened it.  He took out a card case and extracted a calling card engraved "Dr. Alan Coatsworth", which he handed to Hank.  He tried to think how else to identify himself, and handed Hank the letter of introduction as well.  Then he turned his attention to the woman who had delivered the stew.  Her appearance matched Ella's description and the sketch Ella had included in one of her letters to Mrs. Erdbeer.  He rose and tipped his hat as he handed her another of the calling cards. 

"Mrs. Ross, I presume?" he asked. "The only information I'm after is whether my wife is well and when she will be back.  The last letter that came to Boston said the Army was leaving the fort.  That was at the end of May.  Mrs. Ross, have you heard from the posse?" pleaded Alan.  He hoped her appearance of calm meant she had heard from her husband recently, and not that she was skilled at concealing her emotions or that he had been mistaken and she wasn't Mrs. Ross.

"Ella sent a wire when they got back to Fort Fetterman week before last.  She wired from Cheyenne yesterday.  They'll be here in five days."

"Thank you," he whispered, almost collapsing in relief.  He bent his head and murmured a brief prayer.

Becca watched his reaction. Her instincts and experience with people told her this man still cared for his wife, she wasn’t sure exactly on what level, but he still cared. The reaction didn’t necessarily mean he’d come to stay but he did seem to care. She looked over at Hank. She’d lived with him long enough to know the skeptical look that only the ones that knew him well would see. That was ok, one had to earn Hank’s trust: it was who he was. Becca trusted him to be cordial since Alan had answered all his questions, but she knew if Alan asked him questions, he would only get general knowledge.

"Watch the bar for a minute, Darlin'," Hank said, then disappeared into the kitchen. Becca watched him, she knew exactly what he was up to, it was a good idea she thought. She turned her attention back to Alan.

"There is a room upstairs you’re welcome to. If you like, tomorrow I will take you out to the Starr or you are welcome to stay here until Ella returns."

"Thank you for the room.  I was hoping to stay here for two nights at least.  I would like to go out to the Starr, but maybe the day after tomorrow?  I've got business enough in town to fill tomorrow.  I want to meet the rabbi here, and talk to the bank to start the process of transferring Ella's inheritance account.  Ella had told me about some houses she had looked at that might suit us for our home and office.  I don't know if any of those would still be available, but I do want to see if I can identify some candidates for Ella to choose between when she gets back."

Becca smiled, thinking Alan's plan sounded romantic. "If you need somebody to show you around, I would be happy to do it, Dr. Coatsworth. That is, unless you would rather have a more appropriate escort. I can think of a couple of gentlemen that have better standing with some of the townspeople than I."

"I think you would be an appropriate escort.  My wife told me she stood up with you at your wedding to Marshal Ross.  I am not going to look down on any of her friends.  Townspeople who might decline to see a doctor because he is unwilling to cooperate with their prejudices are not people I would want as patients, anyway." 

"Ella has been a very good friend to all of us. I was very happy she stood up with me at our wedding." Becca paused, hoping the fact Alan wanted to look at houses meant they would be staying in El Paso for a long time. "Just let me know when you'd like me to go with you. When you're done with your supper, I will show you to your room."

"I'd like to look at houses tomorrow afternoon, after I talk to the rabbi and to the bank.  Thank you," replied Alan, sitting again and turning his attention to the stew and the beer.
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Elegant Ella
Elegant Ella
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« Reply #884 on: January 13, 2010, 11:21:27 am »

Feeling more normal after a bath and change of clothes, Alan finished tying his necktie, then headed downstairs, with his Gladstone bag in hand.  He was tired, but thought he was too tense to sleep yet.  He would have another glass of good beer, and watch people for a while.  So far, El Paso matched Ella's descriptions, and the relaxed honesty of the people contrasted favorably with the stiff formality of Boston. 

There were a fair number of people but the room wasn't crowded.  It looked like dinner time was over, and drinking time was well under way.  Alan took a seat at the bar and set the bag on the floor at his feet.  He asked, "Good evening, Hank.  Could I get a glass of beer, please?" and put the payment for it on the bar. 

"Evenin', Mr. Coatsworth.  Comin' right up," replied Hank, drawing a beer and setting it in front of Alan.

"Please call me Alan.  Mr. Coatsworth is my big brother."  Alan smiled at a memory, "Ella continued to address me as 'Dr. Alan' after we were married.  My mother thought that was charming, and copied her."

"Dr. Alan is the hero of most of her stories," Hank allowed.  "Do you carry that bag everywhere you go?"

"Just about.  I like having the tools of my trade at hand, not that I go around expecting a doctor to be needed suddenly.  From what Ella wrote, Doctor McDowell often carries a carpetbag or two filled with his tricks and fireworks."

Hank pushed the money back towards Alan. "Becca and Scarlet wouldn’t hear of you payin'. Ella does more than enough, and you never know when that bag will come in handy. One minute it is quiet and the next minute you could be sewing up somebody." Hank was working on a partial smile.

"I want to call on Doctor Stuart here in town, just as a professional courtesy. Ella said she hasn't met the man, but she doesn't think much of his skills."

Hank responded, "He's been the only choice of doctor for years, except when Doc Woods comes through, or if Doc Griffin comes in from the fort. Doc Stuart doesn't like Yankees. His only son was killed in the War, died of wounds in a Yankee prison camp."

"I'll keep that in mind. Would you have any idea of when and what prison camp?"

"No. Mrs. Rose Longknife might know since she talks to Mrs. Georgia sometimes."

"From Ella's letters, I know what everyone else does in the posse, but she usually made it sound like all she did was hold the horses and watch until the fighting is over, then patch up the wounded, and help with the aftermath of paperwork.  She has always been quiet about her own accomplishments."  Alan smiled again, "I am certain that there were several dozen Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners who survived their stay in hospital only because of her nursing, but she wouldn't claim that she was responsible for saving their lives. I remember the first time I saw her."  Alan broke off his reminiscences, seeing one of the waitresses coming towards the bar. "I'd be happy to talk about Ella all night, but I shouldn't keep you from your work."

The doorway was suddenly full as a group of ranch hands escorted their boss and his wife into the Ace. Alan felt a chill as one of the hands looked over at him, but then recognized him from one of Ella's sketches. Hank was free again, so Alan said, " I think a whole lot of my new in-law relations just walked into the room. Hank, could you introduce me to James Bradbury and the Longknifes?"
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #885 on: January 16, 2010, 01:16:01 pm »

Hank looked taken aback. “Pardon?” He said.

Alan was sure Hank had heard him the first time but repeated the request “could you introduce me to James Bradbury and the Longknifes?"

Hank did his best not to burst out in laughter. Becca looked shocked as she walked up hearing the request.

Alen looked puzzled at the reaction, but on second thought maybe he shouldn’t be. From Ella’s letters Alan had gathered James Bradbury had little use for strangers but was a very good friend to those that took the time to know him. 

“I apologize Alan. I just don’t remember many men that ask to be introduced to
Jimmy.” Hank said.

Hank came out from behind the bar and walked over to the group. Alan watched as the lady gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and he shook the boss’s hand as he exchanged a few words with the man.

Mrs. Longknife was dressed like a lady, yet appeared to be as at ease in the Ace as the working girls and they all had greeted her with smiles or hugs when they walked by. Alan remembered his wife saying Rose’s definition of class is being to treat everyone well….if they deserve to be treated as such, and her philosophy showed in her actions.

Hank turned to Jimmy and said “there’s a fella would like me to introduce ya to ‘im.”

Jimmy’s eyes quickly scanned the room. Before he had a chance to place his hand on his pistol Rose took him by the arm. “Is it someone I might be interested in meeting and is he carrying?”

Rose had a knack for defusing trouble and sometimes putting Hank’s fun to a short end. “Yes ma’am you would be interested in meeting him and no he’s not packing.”

“Hank onea these days I’m gonna shoot you just for the hell of it.” Jimmy remarked.

“I would consider it a favor if you are at least well behaved towards Dr. Coatsworth, give the man a chance, Ella speaks highly of him.” Rose said softly to Jimmy as she let his arm go.

“For you and Ella.” Jimmy said.

Rose knew Jimmy already had formed a dislike for Alan. It was in his nature to be untrusting of men and not care for them. But in Jimmy’s opinion Alan had just short of sold Ella into becoming an indentured servant and then deserted her.

The group made there way to where Alan was sitting.

“Rose Longknife this is Dr. Alan Coatsworth.”

Alan stood and dipped his head “Mrs. Longknife it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Rose’s smiled sparkled thinking he was better looking in person than in the picture Ella had of him she kept in her room.

“Dr. Coatsworth it’s I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. Welcome to El Paso.”  She replied.

Johnny Extended his hand introducing himself “Johnny Longknife, good ta meet ya Dr. Coatsworth.”

Alan smiled “Thank you Mr. Longknife Please call me Alan.  Mr. Coatsworth is my big brother."

Johnny smiled “Call me Johnny then. This is Jimmy.” Johnny said indicating the man standing next to him.

Before Alan had a chance to extend his hand Jimmy just touched the brim of his hat “Doctor” he said in a cool tone then politely excused himself to Rose and took a spot down the bar where he could drink his beer and watch Alan but not have to talk to him.

Rose noticed when Johnny introduced some of the hands that worked for Fritz and Scarlet how cordial they were to Alan. Men that before Fritz came to the Starr may have judged the man negatively based on his accent. Fritz had changed that in most of them. It did shock her to hear one of them teasingly say too many yanks were slippin’ into Texas, but as long as they were good folk like Mr. King and Miss Ella we’ll keep ‘em, but they were still thinkin’ bout Hank. She didn’t know if Alan took it as well as he seemed to but she sure hoped so.

Becca moved next to Rose and whispered in her ear the conversation regarding looking for houses. Rose seemed relieved to hear Alan planned to stay and hoped he would come to like it here and not miss some of the fineries of the big cities. She suggested a couple of places for Becca to show him that had just become available. One place Ella had even admired as to having the perfect place to grow herbs.

Once all the introductions were made Rose took a seat at the bar next to Alan. “I want you know you are welcome to stay at the Starr.”



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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #886 on: January 16, 2010, 02:31:55 pm »

"Thank you, Mrs. Longknife. I would appreciate that, after I take care of business in town tomorrow," replied Alan. "Ella's letters made me very interested in seeing the Southern Starr."

Four days later -

Alan hung back while everyone else gathered around the returning posse.  He had eyes only for Ella.  His memories were of a girl, but she had grown into a magnificant woman while he was gone. Probably his view of her had always been clouded by his memories of her, and only the separation let him see her clearly again.

He lost sight of her for a moment when she dismounted, but she soon reappeared, walking towards the house with Rose.  Rose must have just mentioned his presence, because Ella was peering into the shadows on the porch.  He stepped forward to become visible.  Ella started to run, but stopped, uncertain.  He ran down the steps to meet her.  He didn't know if she had raised her hands to ward him off or to offer a hug. He embraced her, and said softly into her ear, "I love you, I missed you, I'm sorry I ever let you think I didn't."

Ella started trembling, and Alan realized she was about to weep.  Knowing that Ella had always hated to be seen crying, he swept her into the house and to her room.  He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her onto his lap.  He kept repeating "I love you, I missed you", and held her while she cried as though her heart was breaking...

Or maybe it was healing. 

When the tears stopped, he lifted her chin to kiss her gently.  As she responded, the kiss became more passionate and demanding.  He started work on her buttons.  She started on his. 

When Alan enountered Ella's pockets, he exclaimed, "What on earth are you wearing?" 

Ella giggled, "That's my pockets."  She stood up and stepped out of the split skirt, then carefully put the pockets on the table.  While she was standing, Ella unstrapped the holster from around her thigh, and picked up the holstered gun that had fallen onto the bed when Alan unbuckled her belt.  The relaxed way she handled the guns reminded Alan that she was a Deputy Marshal, and made her accounts of the posse's adventures more real to him. 

"When we got married, the only things you carried in your pocket were a tatting shuttle, a handkerchief and a sewing kit."

"I still have the tatting shuttle and the sewing kit in there, and a couple handkerchiefs.  While we were living in Boston, I started to carry medical supplies as well.  I never knew when I might be called to help someone.  It was easier to keep bandages and ingredients for the most commonly needed tonics in my pockets than to carry them in a handbag.  And on the Sabbath, I couldn't carry a bag, but I could still wear pockets.  Out here, every time I have encountered a situation that would be helped by having some small item at hand, I added it to my pockets.  Then I started adding things that I imagined might be needed.  Bill's carpetbags were also inspirational.  I think he and I sometimes got into a competition about who was carrying the most useful items.  I think I usually carry more individual items, but smaller things."

She strutted back over to him and pulled him to his feet into a hug, then lifted her face for a kiss.  "I really ought to bathe before our reunion goes farther.  The bath house should be free.  Will you come wash my back?"  When Alan agreed, she collected clean underwear, and put on a wash dress while he buttoned his shirt again.  He left his vest and coat in the room when they walked hand-in-hand down to the bath house. 

"Who heals the healer?" asked Alan, examining scars on her left arms while washing her back.   

"Usually Scarlet, sometimes Bo.  I've got hardly any scars at all compared to the rest of the posse."

"You never wrote about getting injured in the course of your job."

"Those scars are all from knife-fighting lessons and practice."

Later in her room, she cleared the top of a trunk and opened it, releasing scents of lavender and cedar, then pulled out a evening gown of rose-colored silk, and its undergarments.   

"I remember that dress," said Alan, working on the buttons.  "You wore it the evening before I left.  I got the fabric in trade.  Did you make it up yourself, or get it made up in trade?"

"Deborah must have told you how I managed my practice and the house."

"She told me a lot about you, that I should have seen for myself."  He went to his coat and got out a small box. "I had that dress in mind when I bought this for you."

She opened the box to find a petit-point brooch of roses on a black background.  Alan was pinning in at the base of the front V-neckline when the dinner bell rang.

Ella took Alan's arm for the stroll down the staircase and into the dining room. "Fritz, Scarlet and Bo, I would like you all to meet my husband, Dr. Alan Coatsworth," she said proudly.
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #887 on: January 16, 2010, 05:53:03 pm »

Fritz stood slowly, sizing the man up.  He nodded, and extended his hand.  "Nice to meet you Doctor Coatsworth.  Ella has told us so much about you."
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« Reply #888 on: January 16, 2010, 07:23:13 pm »

Alan accepted and shook Fritz's hand, "Thank you, Captain King. Ella wrote about your promotion. Congratulations."
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Elegant Ella
1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #889 on: January 17, 2010, 08:58:08 am »

"Thanks," Fritz replied.  "But it's either Mister or Marshal now.  I've ridden my last patrol for th Army."
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« Reply #890 on: January 18, 2010, 11:28:55 am »

Scarlet smiled and stood thinking how Ella looked happy enough she could be walking on clouds as she escorted her husband.  “It’s good to meet you Dr. Coatsworth.”  Scarlet said avoiding anything that may make Alan uncomfortable like using the word finally or it’s good to put a face to the man Ella speaks about, although she would have meant no disrespect in saying it it may have been taken so.



Bo extended his hand his voice sounded like he was welcoming home a lost family member as he said  “Welcome to Texas Dr. Coatsworth. If you are half the doctor you’re wife is a healer the town you choose to call home will be a lucky place. I hope someone has told you that we sure could use y’all round here.”
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #891 on: January 18, 2010, 01:02:38 pm »

Fritz rode away from the Army wearing dirty shirt blue.  Once he and Scarlet hit Cheyenne, he’d bought some civilian attire.  He let Scarlet pick it out for him, as she had a better eye for such things.  They had a bath and a steak, and his uniform was cleaned and wrapped in brown paper for the trip home.  There, it was placed carefully on a shelf in the closet, where it would stay until the day he was sent to meet his maker.  Then, he’d stand before the Almighty wearing his uniform.  It wouldn’t be dirty, but it would sure be blue.

The End.     
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Elegant Ella
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« Reply #892 on: January 18, 2010, 01:07:52 pm »

Alan shook Bo's hand, saying, "Thank you all for the welcome. I'm glad to finally be here, where Ella and I can set up a practice together."
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Elegant Ella
1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #893 on: November 29, 2011, 07:47:26 pm »

THE END.
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