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Sunday, April 10, 2016

NORTH OF AUSTIN - CHAPTER NINE


Howie's Family Business
Chapter Nine

It was a hot summer’s afternoon and I was sitting on the porch when I saw a man and woman driving up in a wagon. My dogs had them treed until I sent them under the house. The man got down and then helped the woman. I wasn’t sure who the couple was, but shortly I realized it was a cousin from Arkansas.
As best I could remember his name was Howie and he was of a slight build.  His Ada was a big boned woman and would have been a very large except for the fact she hadn’t been very well fed over the years.  While we talked, two small boys crawled out from under their covers that had been made into a bed under the spring seat.

You could see that one of the boys was going to grow into a man with a rough exterior while the other one was going to be of a more delicate nature. While we were talking Abby came out and I explained to her who these people were and where they were from.  
Immediately she invited them in and gave them some refreshment. I felt a little embarrassed for I would probably just left them outside until I sent them on their way. Abby invited them to stay overnight and fed them. The boys ate like grown men or were making up for not having ate for a couple of days. Abby checked the boys over for lice and gave them baths.

She then told their folks to get into the tub and scrub themselves till the smell they had acquired over their long trip was gone.

Abby wasn’t afraid to come right out and tell people like it is. She said they were more than welcome but they were going to be clean when they slept in her beds.

There is something about Abby that didn’t offend when she would come right out and tell them they needed to clean themselves or to watch their language. They could tell she was concerned about them and wasn’t trying to put them down but really cared for them.

She and Ada managed to get some fresh clothes washed while the sun was still high and dried their clothes. There was a difference between Abby and Ada like daylight and dark but they hit it off right away, but that was the way it always was with Abby.

People took to her and didn’t mind her bossing them around if necessary. I still wonder today why she took up with me for she was so much classier than I am.

I asked Abner why he thought she chose me over any other men that were so much more refined than me. He said; “I guess she just liked a challenge and that you were the most pathetic looking thing around.”

I responded by saying; “I was hoping it was something else but you’re probably right.”

After a week staying with us, Howie said he noticed that not far from us was a big patch of woods and wanted to know who owned them. I told him they were mine, about one hundred sixty acres of them. He wanted to know if I would sell him about twenty acres and the small cabin he saw while coming to my place.

I said I would give him the small parcel he was speaking of but he insisted on paying for it. I said there is no way you can make a living of such a small patch of land that had not been cleared. He assured me it would be just fine.

I finally said okay, but I had a fifty acre farm he could have to raise his boys on and make a good living off of it.  He wouldn’t have it any other way,  so we made the deal.

Abby gathered up a lot of furniture and household goods we had stored in a shed out back. Shortly they were moved in and had set up housekeeping. Even though they were only seven miles from us I seldom saw them after that. Abby would see Ada in town ever so often and Ada assured her they were doing fine.

Some months later I had come home from the law office for dinner, just in time to see Howie came dragging himself in for he had been beat half to death.

I had trouble understanding him but finally realized that some bootleggers had beaten him and Ada something fierce. I got him in the buckboard and headed to the doctor while Abby headed for their place with four of our cow hands for protection.

When she arrived she saw Ada was in worse shape than Howie was. They threw a mattress in the wagon and headed to the doctor. A short distance from town she found the boys heading for our place. When the trouble started they ran into the woods and the men couldn’t find them. They knew they would be safe if they could get to our place. She quickly got them into the wagon and they made it to the doctor’s office where he had just finished working on Howie.

The doctor examined Ada briefly and said he didn’t know if he could save her. They had brutalized her in about every way they could. He spent the rest of the day and night treating her. The next morning he told Abby that Ada was a strong woman so she had a fighting chance.

Abby spent the next day with Ada and then the doctor’s wife and nurse took over with Abby visiting a couple of times a day. The doctor told me neither would be the same even if they lived which didn’t set well with me.

I knew who had harmed them and I went to the sheriff and discussed bringing the perpetrators in and charging them with attempted murder. He said he was short of deputies and the one’s he had were chasing down some cattle thieves. He said he couldn’t bring them by himself for they would just kill him outright.

I understood and agreed he was right. Abner was the one who usually settled any wrong done to our family but he and most all of the ranch hands were on round-up and couldn’t stop that to deal with the situation I found myself in.

Abby was madder than I ever saw her for she usually was such a gentle soul. Visiting Ada each day kept her stirred up.  I finally told the sheriff I was going to deal with this and he said go ahead but understand that these men are killers and would do me in if they got wind I was after them.

I didn’t know just how I was going to deal with these men. There were four of them plus their father who raised them.

Howie had recovered enough to tell me the story. He had set up his bootlegging equipment and had started to cut in on the business of the men who tried to kill him. He started to sell to the saloons in town as well as to people who bought directly from him.

The angry men came on him before he knew what had happened. He just had time to tell his boys to run for their lives. They could run like little deer and the man who chased them was left standing in the dust. He threw a couple of shots at them missing them both.  Howie heard one of the men say we will get them later.
TO BE CONTINUED - -

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Robert for sharing your writing with us here at Tell me a Story. Very interesting.

    ReplyDelete

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