Leap Upon Mountains — episode #6
While on his way to Abilene, Jas's horse threw a
shoe. As he walked past a cemetery; Jas noticed a
Quaker lady kneeling over a grave. He approached the
lady. She said her name was Mrs. Cooper,
and asked Jas if there was someone he knew buried in
the cemetery. He said there wasn't and then he
introduced himself. She told him that her husband,
Warren had died a month ago. He then told her that
the reason he was walking by was that his horse had
thrown a shoe, and that he had been on foot for the
last 10 or 12 miles and wondered if she was going to
Abilene. She said she was going to Abilene and would
gladly give him a ride. It looked like it was going
to storm as they headed on their way. She said they
better hurry, the thunder was getting closer. Jas
told her he didn't think it was thunder. It was four
riders approaching the cemetery. They rode up to Jas
and Mrs. Cooper. "Well ain't this romantic? Right in
the middle of a bone orchard!" Said Renger. Just
then one of Renger's men stepped on Warren Cooper's
grave. "Please Mr. Renger!" Exclaimed Mrs. Cooper as
she pointed to Karp, one of Renger's hired hands,
stepping on her husband's grave. He told Karp to
keep his six bit boots off of the grave. He looked
at Jas and said....."You.....What are you called?"
"By my name.....McCord." He asked Jas if he had
signed on with Mrs. Cooper. "I don't know
that.....that's any of your business," said Jas as
he yelled to Karp to keep away from his things.
Renger told Jas it was his business and that he had
lost an arm fighting for the union, he didn't hold
much for those that stayed behind and profited. He
was referring to Warren Cooper. Mrs. Cooper had the
water rights and told him he was more then welcome
to all the water he wanted. But that wasn't good
enough for him, he wanted it all, he wanted to buy
her out. Just then Karp pulled Jas's broken saber
out of it scabbard. Laughing and yelling....."Charge!"
Jas told him to put it back. Karp laughed and asked
him if he was going to make him. Jas walked up to
him and told him that was his choice. As Jas took
his hat off he hit Karp in the face with it, then
hit him with his fist and knocked him to the ground.
Jas then drew his gun on Karp and told him to pick
up the saber. Karp walked over and picked up the
saber and placed it back in it's scabbard.
"Hey you!" Yelled
Renger. "Wanna work for me.....you can have Karp's
job?" "Not interested Mr. Renger!" Said Jas.
"Alright Karp.....you still have a job.....get
on your animal!" Said
Renger. "Is that an army saber?" Asked Renger. "It
was," said Jas. Renger asked if it was dipped in
blue or grey. Jas asked....."What's the difference?
That wars over!" "Maybe it's easier for some people
to forget then it is for others," said Renger as he
rode off. Karp rode over to the grave and made his
horse go back and forth over Warren Cooper's grave,
and then he rode off. Mrs. Cooper quickly started to
smooth the dirt over her husband's grave. Jas just
stood there as he watched these men ride away.
As Mrs. Cooper and Jas went on their way.....Mrs.
Cooper told him that she was a member of the Society
of Friends and that they don't believe in violence,
most people know them as Quakers. She said when she
and her husband bought the farm during the war. It
was his dream that someday they would be able to
start a community there someday. Before Warren died
he made arrangements
for six more Quaker families from Pennsylvania to
move out here and share the farm. In about two
months they would be coming here. She hoped she
could manage until then. She told Jas that since her
husband had died she hadn't been able to keep a
hired man. They would all get scared off. "I know
that Quaker's don't believe in violence Mrs. Cooper,
but your husband Warren, wouldn't he fight a man
like Renger?" "Yes.....he would fight.....in a
different way," said Mrs. Cooper. "You mean.....turn
the other cheek?" "Look Mrs. Cooper.....I have a job
waiting for me in Kansas City.....but it can wait."
"I don't know much about farming, but I can sure
split a rail or hammer a nail." She was pleased and
thanked him for staying.
Renger and his men headed into town and then the
saloon. Jas headed for the blacksmith. Karp was
watching and waiting for Jas. He told Renger that he
saw Jas go into the blacksmiths. While Renger was
standing at the bar, Buckrum walked up to Renger and
asked him if he changed his mind about giving him
and his brothers, Chet, and Lathe a job. Renger told
him....."I'll make it plain and simple.....I don't
like you!" "Not just 'cause ya' run off from the war
and not 'cause your a bushwackin' cheatin'
gunny.....just that I plain don't like ya'!" Buckrum
told him they didn't take that job from the widow.
Renger told him that was the best judgment he ever
showed. "I don't cotton looking at the likes of
you.....so get away from me!" Said Renger.
Jas and Mrs. Cooper were at the General Store and
Jas was loading her buggy. Karp couldn't keep
himself from watching Jas. The longer he watched
him, the madder he got. Karp called to Renger and
told him that the drifter was helping the widow load
her buggy. Renger walked out of the saloon and
everyone followed. Karp told Renger he wanted a
piece of Jas. Renger told him to help himself to all
he wanted of him.
Karp started for the General Store. Jas was inside
and Mrs. Cooper was standing by the buggy. She was
feeling uneasy and knew there would be trouble. Jas
came out of the store carry a large sack of flour
over his shoulder. Jas saw Karp. As he stepped down
from the porch, Karp took a swing at him. Jas spun
around hitting the sack of flour. The sack fell to
the ground. Jas swung at Karp, hitting him and
knocking him to the ground. Everyone stood outside
the saloon watching. Jas picked up the sack and put
it into the wagon. While Jas's back was turned, Karp
slowly pulled his gun. Jas acted quickly. He grabbed
his saber and swung it around, throwing it at Karp,
pinning his coat sleeve
and Karp to the ground. Jas didn't hurt Karp, just
his pride. Everyone walked over to the front of the
store. The sheriff came running out of his office
and asked what was going on. Mrs. Cooper told the
sheriff that Karp attacked Jas. Renger agreed with
her. The sheriff said he had a mind to run in Jas
anyway. Jas asked him....."What for?" "How's
vagrancy for openers?" Asked the Sheriff. Renger
told him that Jas wasn't a vagrant, and that he had
himself a job with Mrs. Cooper....."On the
then git to farmin'," said the sheriff. Jas then
threw Karp his gun and helped Mrs. Cooper into the
buggy. For some reason Renger stuck up for Jas, what
could be his motive?
"Karp.....don't you ever get tired of meeting your
shadow in the ground?" Asked Renger. He didn't give
Karp a chance to answer. Renger told him to get
himself a bath. This was the chance Buckrum was
waiting for. "Mr. Renger.....you ought to think
about hiring yourself some good men," said Buckrum.
"Your boy can't even handle that coward from Bitter
Mrs. Cooper and Jas got to the ranch before it
started to storm. She prepared them a nice meal and
some hot coffee. By this time it was raining really
hard. Jas said it was time to turn in for the night
and he would stay in the barn. Mrs. Cooper wouldn't
hear of it. She told Jas the roof leaked like a
sieve and he could stay the night on the coach in
the living room. He agreed and told her he would fix
the barn roof first thing in the morning. Jas then
went to get his bed roll. They didn't know that
Renger was out amongst the trees, in all this rain,
thunder and lightening watching the house. Renger
watched the house until the lights went out.
Jas bedded down on the coach, he wondered if he
would be able to sleep with the thunder and
lightening, it seemed to have gotten worse. He did
manage to get to sleep, but it didn't take long for
him to start dreaming. He dreamed of Bitter Creek,
the battle. He dreamed of General Reed and the men
who died. Everything kept flashing back to Bitter
Creek in his dream. He also dreamed of the time he
relieved him of his command and the fiery arrow that
hit the ammunition wagon. The explosion woke him up.
The thunder also woke up Mrs. Cooper. She came out
to the living room to check on Jas. He looked upset,
disturbed. She asked him if he was
alright. "It's a dream I have.....every now and
them." She told him she knew what it was like to
wake up like that and it might help to talk about
it. She said she'd make some coffee.
He told her about Bitter Creek and how there was
even a song about it. "I guess you can say.....I
even live with a battalion of ghosts," said Jas.
Jas fixed the roof on the barn and told her after he
took his gear out in the barn he'd get to work on
tightening the wagon wheel. She told him he had been
doing the work of three men and that it was Sunday,
the Lord's day and told him to do the chores on
Monday. Just then someone knocked on the door, it
was Renger. She had invited him in. He saw Jas
standing there with his bedroll and the two of them
just stood there looking at each other. Jas then
went out to the barn to fix the wagon wheel.
He had brought Mrs. Cooper flowers. He told her that
he had come calling on her. She thanked him for the
flowers. "Now look ma'am.....I'm not much for pussy
footin'.....so do you mind if I just speak plain?"
She told him she was sure they would both feel more
comfortable if he did. He came to offer her a
proposition. "Well.....I've got maybe fifty time the
land you have.....but.....you've got more water and
any kind of drought, my streams would dry out." She
reminded him that he would always be welcome to all
the water he wanted. "There are two things wrong
with that ma'am.....one.....you might not always be
here or you might take on a new husband who could
change your mind." "Two.....you want to farm this
land.....this is Kansas.....cattle country. That's
always been our crop and always will be." "But I've
got another idea and that's why I'm here." "I know
I've been pretty rough on you and your hired hands
and I know your man ain't been dead long
but.....dead is dead." "I thought maybe if I started
to come to call.....after a respectable time.....say
a month.....you and I could go down to the court
house....(he could tell by the look on her face,
court house wasn't the word he should use) or
church." "I'm a rich man by some standards and with
your land we could have an empire, like a duke and
duchess." She was surprised. She didn't know what to
say to him, she just stood there looking at him.
"Well.....that's it!" Said Renger. She was stunned
some and had to sit down. She told him that she
didn't want to seem ungrateful with his offer, but
there were six families coming here to live. He told
her he would buy them out. She explained to them
that they expected to make their home there on her
land. Renger felt he didn't have enough to offer
her. She assured him that wasn't it at all. "Maybe I
know what it is.....or who!" "And maybe
ought to know just who your new friend is!" She told
him she did know. He said he wasn't much good at
fixing wagon wheels, and maybe that was because he
never run from a fight. "I lost this arm fighting
for my country and I'm willing to loose the other
one fighting for this ranch!"
He left the house slamming the door behind him and
headed straight for Jas. He called Jas a rotten
poacher and he knew what was going on here. "I've
seen you in her cabin at night!" He then hit Jas and
he fell to the ground. Jas got up and started for
Renger, he remembered this man with a missing an
arm. Jas couldn't fight him. He told Jas if he
wanted to make it even he was to use one hand.....or
was he still a coward. He then hit Jas again and
again and again until he fell to the ground. That
was enough, Jas got on his feet and with one hand he
hit Renger again and again across the face. The men
kept fighting. Finally Renger landed on the ground.
Mrs. Cooper was on her porch watching. Jas grabbed
Renger by the coat and pulled him up. Renger took a
swing at Jas. Jas hit him again, knocking Renger to
the ground. Again Jas grabbed him by his coat and
said....."Come to your senses Renger, and stop
acting like a fool!" "You lost an arm! So what!" "If
you force all the people in the territory to give up
their land to you, will that make you a whole man
again?" "You better take a good look at yourself
before you loose what little humanity you have
left!" "You should have killed me poacher!" Said
Renger. Mrs. Cooper walked over to the two of them.
She wanted Renger to come inside so she could help
him, but he refused. "Help him!" "But there is no
help.....he's a dead man!" "There's nothing left but
the burying!" Said Renger as he walked away.
Renger was true to his word. That evening Emily
Cooper and Jas were inside her home when a shot rang
out and broke the window in her living room. It was
Buckrum and his two brothers, Renger had hired them.
Buckrum yelled to Jas to come out and that Mrs.
Cooper wouldn't get hurt. He went for his gun and
told her to stay back no matter what. Jas slowly
opened the door with his gun belt. Buckrum yelled
for him to come out. While all of the men were
watching the front door, Jas snuck out a window in
the back. He went over by the corral and got off a
few shots. So did Buckrum and his brothers. Jas shot
Chet, who was behind the wood pile getting ready to
take a shot at Jas.
Renger was on his way to the Cooper farm. The closer
he got, the more shooting he could hear. He had a
change of heart and had hoped to get there before
any blood was shed. Renger rode in with his gun
drawn and yelled to Buckrum to forget the job and
get out. "Too late now Renger.....he got
Chet and now I'm getting him!"
Renger yelled again....."I said get out!"
Just them Buckrum turned his gun on Renger to shoot
him, but Renger shot first and killed Buckrum. When
Lathe turned to shoot Renger, Jas shot him.
Renger rode up to Jas and said....."I took that look
like you said and I didn't like what I saw." The two
men shook hands.
The next day Jas was all saddled up and ready to go.
Emily came over to see Jas before he pulled out.
With Renger not threatening anyone, Emily was able
to hire plenty of help. Jas told her that she and
Renger might even get to be good neighbors. She
started to say something to Jas, but couldn't finish
it. They stood there looking at each other. Jas said
to her....."I could see how a man might.....leap
upon mountains.....and skip over hills." Jas knew
that she was a special lady. The two of them had
formed a special bond. "Jason.....I shall not forget
thee....." Jas took his hand and touched her cheek.
He then mounted his horse and rode off.
around the McCain Ranch