A tad more from: Wolfkeeper's Woman
The lone rider entered the homestead slowly. The cabin was not quite as the letter described it. The place just didn’t feel right. He expected it to be further developed. It lacked the orderliness that he expected from his brother. It left the rider wondering if maybe he made a wrong turn and this wasn’t the right place after all.
“Maybe, I am at the wrong place,” he said aloud hoping it was true.
“Hello! In the cabin, anyone home?”
He saw the rifle barrel as it pushed through the gun hole of the window’s shutter.
“I mean no harm," he called out.
“Whats your'n business here?” A voice asked.
“I am looking for my brother Frank and his wife.”
The rider could hear people talking inside, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“You need to tell'm, Clet.” the female voice said.
The man voice behind the door hushed his wife.
“Pearl,?I ain’t telling him not'n. We’s squatters here till the paper work is done and this here'n man looking for'n his brother might ruin it for us. You want that, do you, huh? Do ya? Then hush'em up and let me handle this.”
Turning back to the window he yelled back at the man outside.
“Don’t know no. Frank. The widda’ Benton might know em’ shes lived around here for awhile. It’s to the east through them ‘der woods.”
The rider realized he wasn’t going to get any answers here. He turned his horse toward the woods and headed east. Less than five minutes later, he entered another clearing.
This one area before him had a two-story structure half log cabin and half-wooden plank house sat in the middle of the property. A shed, a small barn, and corral surrounded the home. The front of the house had flowers along the front porch. It was neat and tidy. Two children sat beneath a large oak tree growing between the home and barn.
“Mama, mama. We gots company!” The young girl yelled.
The man on the horse watched as a woman in her thirties walked on to the small porch. The boys stood as if they were guarding her. The thought brought a smile to his face.
Tipping his hat, he said. “Are you Mrs. Benton?”
“My name is John Clark and I’m looking for my brother and his wife.”
John saw the reaction as the woman before him stiffened in response to his words.
“Michael, take Mr. Clark’s horse and rub him down. Mr. Clark, you might as well come inside. You ain’t gonna like what I got to tell ya.”**
John dismounted and started to walk his horse over toward the corral that’s when he saw it. A new grave covered in fresh flowers. He heart tightened in his chest. He quickly forced the bitter bile back down his throat by swallowing hard. The sour taste remained in back of his throat. He was too far away to read the name, but apprehension still filled his gut.
The smaller boy watched as the man eyed the grave.
Was all he said. He said it as if that was all anyone needed to know. John’s eyes followed the boy as he ran back over to the girl sitting under the tree.
Normally, he took his steps two at a time, but not today. He didn’t feel like bouncing anywhere. Feet filled with lead deliberately climbed the steps, landing solidly on each one. She was waiting for him. A slender hand held open the screen door for him to enter.
The woman didn’t stop at the small parlor, but headed straight for the kitchen. the man followed her lead.
“Coffee’s warm, would like you like some?”
“YES, ma’am. I’d very much like a cup. Thank you.”
Handing him the cup she asked. “Do you it take black?”
Becky indicated for him to sit as she sat down.
“Well, John, I really hate to be the one to tell you but Frank’s dead. A little over two months ago. Injuns.”
She stopped to let her words sink in and watched as he bowed his head.
Here is a tender man just like his brother Frank. She thought.
Her own wounds were still open and raw as tears formed. The warm salty tears flowed quietly down her cheeks. She felt John’s hand pat her hand in comfort.
“I lost my Todd the same day. Call me, Becky, OK... Todd and I loved your brother and his family.
“Family? I knew Cassie? But?”
“OH, dear it ’s gonna be a long day. I guess you don’t know just how slow the mail is here. That’s if you ever get any mail.” Smiling she added. “My letter to my own ma telling her, I had a son, took so long to get to them, they came to visit when he was a little over a year old and the letter was waiting for them when they got home.”
Shaking his head in agreement he understood the lack of communication. That is why he came, sometimes you just have to know about those you care about.
Changing into a more serious tone Becky began to tell John the sad things he had a right to know.
“They had a son about three months before they; the Indians came. They took Cassie and the boy with them...”
Large teardrops filled her eyes and the remembered pain causing her words choke in her throat.
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