Well, I don’t reckon there’s too much to tell of this story. I wasn’t really directly involved in it, and Pa didn’t tell me a lot of it, but I’ll hit on some thoughts. You read my Pa’s version of the story and then read my comments.
First of all, that first day we were in town, Pa and I were just doing a little bit of shopping at the hardware store. When we came out, we saw Oat Jackford beating up on Mr. Asa Manning. From what I heard, apparently Mr. Jackford was accusing Mr. Manning of stealing from him…or something like that.
Anyway, another interesting character was standing behind us. Now Pa’s always told me to stay out of such affairs and not talk about those who like to drink a lot. But when Bert Sanderson stated that it was Mr. Jackford’s fault that he had to sell off all his stuff in order to pay Mr. Jackford what he owes, Pa told him that it wasn’t Mr. Jackford’s fault that he got wet out of the bottle.
Now, I was standing directly in front of Pa, and Pa was more interested in watching the fight then watching me, so I laughed silently about that. I wiped the smile off my face, though, before Pa saw it. If he had seen it, I would have been scolded for sure!
Of course, since Micah was over there trying to break up the fight between Mr. Jackford and Mr. Manning, Pa went to see what he could do to “help,” and of course I followed. Well, Mr. Jackford was threatening to rope and drag Mr. Manning, and my poor Pa just couldn’t help reminding him that when his men tried that on him, they didn’t get away with it. I don’t know why he said what he said, because then Mr. Jackford turned around and punched my pa!
That punch looked like it really hurt my Pa! In fact, it hurt me just to watch it. This made my pa really mad and he started punching back! They fought until Micah shot his gun and put an end to it. I couldn’t help but state that Mr. Jackford would rather fight then eat!
A few days later we were at home. I heard Pa getting up, and I started to sit up. But he was putting a heavy quilt on my bed. He was dressed and had a heavy blanket wrapped around himself. “It’s cold, son. Stay under the covers until I get the fire going and it warms up. I don’t want you to catch cold!”
I shivered as he tucked the quilt around me. “We still going to the auction today?” I asked. It was Saturday and I had been waiting for this day all week.
Pa nodded as he went to start a fire. I laid in bed and listened to the wind howling. Pa soon came back in and grabbed my clothes from the closet. “Come on out by the fire and get dressed, son. It’s really warm out here.” I did. Pa made me put on an extra pair of socks. After we ate a nice warm breakfast, we finally got started for town.
When we arrived there, there were lots of people headed inside for the auction. Micah had some business to take care of with a man named Tom King. Pa grabbed his rifle and went with Micah to talk to him.
I went to the auction and looked around. I saw what I wanted to bid on. As they started bidding on other things, I went over and touched the guitar. It was old and needed some fixing up, but I sure did want to buy it. I’d always wanted to learn how to play a guitar. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long before they started auctioning it off.
I hadn’t been in there long when Mr. Hamilton came in and announced that Tom King was in town. I didn’t exactly know who Tom King was, but I could tell by the way the men were talking that he wasn’t a very nice man. And my Pa and Micah were trying to deal with him. It worried me a bit, but I figured they would chase him out of town then come in to the auction.
But a little while later, Pa and Micah came in. Pa came to stand beside me and I was glad he was finally there. But then something happened that sent chills running up and down my spine, and I couldn’t help being really worried about my pa! Micah announced that he would need some men to stand up with him to fight Tom King. But when they found out that Mr. King was gunning for Mr. Jackford, no one would stand up with him. That meant it would just be Micah and my pa. And that worried me – especially after listening to how mean Mr. King was.
I really wanted that guitar, but I loved my pa more. And as long as that man was in town, my pa’s life was in danger. So I walked out of the auction and back into the cold, trying to see just what Pa was planning on doing about his latest problem.
When I came up to stand behind him, Pa didn’t even know I was there. He told Micah that he knew Tom King and if he was allowed to kill Mr. Jackford, he’d be back to kill Micah or me someday. Micah was scared for Pa and didn’t want him to face Mr. King. And that scared me. “Pa,” I said suddenly. Pa turned around as he realized I was there. But he didn’t say anything to make me feel better, just asked me what I wanted. “You’re not gonna fight Tom King, are you?” I was worried and really hoped he wouldn’t. Pa said he was going to just talk to him. But I knew how talking could lead to other things.
Pa went inside to talk to him. I waited with Micah, asking him just how mean Mr. King was. Micah told me that if my pa wanted me to know more about Mr. King, he would tell me himself. I knew it must be pretty bad then! Pa finally came out. “All settled?” I asked hopefully. If it was, then Pa and I could go into the auction and bid.
But I knew that things were no better when Pa said “Almost.” He wanted to get rid of me so he could talk to Micah. “You go on back into the auction now, son,” Pa said. That was another way for him to say that he wanted me out of earshot so he could tell Micah just how bad it was! I slowly moved away, but stood and watched the two talking. Pa was really mad, and I could tell that things were getting a lot worse.
Pa soon walked passed me. He stopped for just a moment to tell me to go back inside and get warm. How could I do that, though, when his life was in danger and he was out in the cold dealing with all this? I was really hoping that wherever he was going, he could settle the problem!
I continued waiting outside, going between buildings to stay out of the wind. Pa was gone for quite awhile. I didn’t know what he was doing, but when he came back into town, Mr. Jackford was with them. They went inside the saloon for a couple minutes. Then when they came out, several men including Oat Jackford, Asa Manning, Micah and my pa (as well as the man that must have been Tom King) were heading out of town. I ran up to pa. I had to know what was going on. “There’s gonna be a fight, ain’t there, Pa?” I asked.
Pa stopped and turned around. “There’s gonna be a killing.”
I couldn’t help but be happy that Mr. Jackford showed up. That meant my pa would not be the target after all! In fact, I expressed my feeling out loud. “I’m glad it’s Mr. Jackford!”
But Pa took it wrong. I saw him stop dead in his tracks and turn around. I froze myself when I saw the stern look on his face as he knelt in front of me and said, “Don’t ever be glad a man is going to die!” The way he said this, I knew I was in a lot of trouble!
I did my best to try to explain what I meant. “Well, I’m not glad he’s going to die, Pa!” I said this in a shaky voice. But as Pa continued to stare at me, I said, “I’m just glad…it ain’t you.” I couldn’t even look at him anymore. But he finally softened his expression and gave me one more look of disproval. Then he got up and walked away.
I knew enough about my pa to know that I better stay there. I stayed right where he left me, knowing that if I was caught anywhere near there I’d find myself in even more trouble! They were gone for quite awhile! I heard a gunshot after some people had already started walking back. Finally, I saw Mr. Jackford returning, and my Pa! I ran up to Pa and said in as happy of a voice as I could that I was glad Mr. Jackford didn’t die!
I asked Pa if he’d come back to the auction with me. There was something I wanted to bid on and we had to hurry before it was gone. Pa stood with me for awhile but never bid on anything. He said the events of the morning had taken the excitement of the auction right out of him. Finally, bids for the guitar were open, and I bid 25 cents. Pa nudged me and raised an eyebrow at me asking me why I was bidding on that. I told him I really, really wanted to learn to play it. He shook his head but stayed quiet.
I had been allowed to bring a whole two dollars to the auction! That’s what the guitar went to, and I was really happy! As I carried the guitar out, pa just looked at me and shook his head, commenting that I would never use it. I smiled. “We’ll see,” I stated.
That night as we were eating supper, the wind continued to howl. I could see that it was starting to snow and I was happy. “No church tomorrow!” I declared. “And no school next week if it keeps this up.”
Pa cleared his throat and I turned around and came back to the table. “We’ll have our worshiping at home if it snows a lot, son.” Pa assured me. “And as for school, well just like any other time you have to miss, you’ll be doing your lessons at home so you don’t get behind.” I groaned.
“Now,” Pa cleared his throat. “I think that washing dishes alone for the next two nights will take care of the actions from earlier.”
“But Pa, I explained that! I didn’t mean it the way it sounded!” I argued.
Pa nodded. “I know you didn’t, son. But what you said should have never been said in the first place.” Pa just looked at me and handed me his plate. “Happy washing, son,” he smiled as I defeatingly made my way to the sink.
But then I turned and looked at my guitar knowing in my heart that someday I would learn to play.
*A special thanks goes out to Michelle Palmer for her insight on how Mark had seen these episodes.
A Matter of Faith
Mark's Memories ― Table of Contents
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's Story
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