This is a continuing story, if you would like to read the from the beginning, the letter A : Aces and Eights But... each letter/story stands alone as well. Enjoy:)
The small but growing town of
was just ahead. Ben grinned as he slowed his horse to a walk. Just a few more
miles and he would be home. First, he had to stop at Macintyre General Store.
He stopped on the boardwalk and brushed off some of the road dust. He heard a voice filled with surprise. “Benjamin Mason. As I live and breathe.”
Ben looked up into the face of Frank Macintyre. He walked into the shop and held out his hand. “Frank, it is good to see you. Do you still carry ready-made dresses? Or maybe just a new bonnet.”
“Ben…. “ Frank didn’t know what to say, how to say. It was obvious Ben hadn’t gotten the letter.
Ben continued as he looked around the shop. “The ladies in
had these fancy woven bonnets, I could see Ellen in one with her hair all
tucked back…” He paused and grinned. “Sorry, I’m goin on and on, I’m glad
to finally be home.”
Frank nodded slightly, his own expression not so joyous. “Ben, did you get Pastor Grove’s letter?”
Something was wrong, why would Pastor Grove have sent him a letter? “No, I’m afraid the army mail system wasn’t very reliable at times. It’s been eight months since I’ve heard from Ellen.” Ben looked at the shopkeep. “Frank, what is in the letter from Pastor Grove?
Before another word could be said, Frank called back to his wife. “Luella, I’ll be back in a little while.”
She walked out and put a hand over her heart when she looked at Ben. “Take your time, dear. Mr. Mason…. I’m so sorry.”
Ben’s gaze went between the two, he was deeply concerned, and what would she be sorry for? Before he could reply, Macintyre lead him out of the shop and down the thoroughfare. “Much has changed since you went to fight. The first year or so things were calm. Ellen was quite proud of you, so was your uncle. Old Pete would brag a storm about his nephew the lieutenant.”
He glanced at Ben. “The railroad folk started comin through, buying up every property they could get their hands on. The ones that didn’t succumb to the bags of money they were offerin, well were pushed off.”
Ben stopped walking and looked at him. “Pushed off? Pushed off how, didn’t any one stop them?”
Frank nodded but he could tell Ben was already taking this hard. “Yes, several fought them. Formed coalitions and wrote to the congressional offices and solicitors. Every thing legal. The railroad folk didn’t play by the same rules. They turned this town inside out to get their way.
“They burned barns, houses, poisoned livestock, harassed wives and children when they new their husbands and fathers weren’t there to stop it.” He nodded when he saw the question and horror etched on Ben’s face. “Yes, Ellen was among them. She fought them back as hard as she could. Pete stood with her.”
He motioned with his head toward the direction of the train depot. “The last rails went down six months ago. Two moths after it happened.”
Ben’s breath was short with anxiety, where was his family? “When what happened, Frank?”
Frank walked with him a few yards more to the cemetery. There were several graves not more than a few months old. Ben’s eyes fixed on one name. His hands shook as he knelt down and wiped the dust from the wooden cross to see it clearly. Here lies Ellen Mason. Wife and Mother 1864. Next to her a smaller cross.
Ben’s hands gripped the mounded grave dirt as a cry of grief tore from his chest. For five long years, he fought to come back to them and now, there is nothing left to fight for. He sat for hours knelt between them until his grief had rung out and something else took its place.
Something dark and thirsty, vengeance. There was something to fight for, he would make sure those that did this would know as painful an end. Benjamin Mason would bring hell to the rails.