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Fulton's Fury

A Predatory Excursion - To Ravage Ö. Fury
Circle Complete ó Chapter Two
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Will and Ann had discussions about the past many times. Ann especially wanted to understand this period in Willís life. She knew it would not be an enjoyable subject, but in order for them to be free from the shackles of Willís early life, he needed to do some things to put it all behind him. The most compelling reason to go to Dallas was to visit the site of his childhood and see if he could make things right for his parentís namesake.

The details of what happened in that devastating time were very clear in Willís mind, the pain never grew dull. But so many of the things he had been experiencing of late did go a long way towards helping him find peace. He warned Ann that going home could bring something out in him that he would not be able to control. Ann told him that she understood and that if they really loved each other, then they should be able to find resolution so they would have nothing to agonize over in their later years.

One other issue remained for Will to resolve. What happened to Hankís body?

In talking with Micah, he discovered that it had been buried in a boothill cemetery in Martinsville. The law seldom saw to the expenses for an outlaw to be taken home for such purposes. Will was in jail before his trial at the time, there was no other family to contact. Will was understanding that something like this would be the case, but he wanted to eventually take Hank home to Dallas and see that his family had a decent burial all together. Micah said that he would do some groundwork for him when he got home. His word should be good enough to have the body released. Sam said that he would pay any expenses when the time came.

In the years just after the Civil War, displaced people moved west to flea the strife. Many took up farming and tried to settle a family. Cotton was king and labor was cheap. Paul and Irene Fulton came from a battle torn Georgia with two young children to find a better life. Everything they ever had was lost as Sherman marched to the sea. Life was tough all through the south. Once deciding to leave Georgia, they first tried to settle in Alabama and Louisiana. It wasnít any better there so Paul decided to head west. West from southern nowhere meant one thing, you had to go through Texas. They wound up in Dallas with little food or money. They were at the crossroads of life. Paul found work at a dry goods store owned by Sarah Cockrell. She owned many businesses and was very influential in Dallas. Irene was soon hired as well and the Fultonís had a home. Home was a small room in town to start. Dallas was a busy city and growing fast, roads lead in and out in all directions. Sarah was a good lady who lost her husband, Alexander, in a gunfight with the town marshal before the war. Afterwards, she became determined to succeed and eventually became owner of close to one fourth of Dallas. Her favorite venture was the St. Charles Hotel where she spent much of her time. At the start, the hotel was named The St. Nicholas. She opened it in 1859, soon after the death of Alexander, but it had been open just one year when a terrible fire burned much of Dallas. So the first three story hotel in Dallas was burned to the ground. She rebuilt her hotel and named it The Dallas Hotel. Business went along fine and in 1870 it was decided to rename it The St. Charles Hotel. Sarah became known as a great hostess and benefactor.

 Her husband was in the lumber and freight business and also owned the toll bridge across the Trinity River. Sarah also owned a Flour Mill known as the S.H. Cockrell Company.

Sarah used her assets and influence well, which lead her to own much land and become involved in the selling of real estate.

As time went on, Sarah found the Fultons to be hard workers and their loyalty paid off. She gave Irene a better job at the hotel and they were able to work together. Sarah trusted Irene and this enabled Sarah to have more free time for her other pursuits. Paul took little time to achieve a supervisor position and learned the dry goods and shipping trade. Sarah involved them in some of the society events in Dallas. Paul was able to make many friends and have some influence. Life was good as they put their two boys, Hank and Will into school. Hank was of some age during the Civil War and his memories were unsettling at times, he became a problem child, often getting into fights. Will was younger and his early childhood sheltered him from the torments that plagued Hank.

He was better able to get along with the children at school and became a good student.

After two years of Hankís problems in school, Paul decided to buy a farm. Sarah was very helpful in placing them in a very good spot of land in a newly developed area just south of Dallas. This allowed Paul to keep his job in town but Irene quit the hotel to stay at home. The boys were getting old enough to work the farm and they could go to a new and smaller school. This proved to be an ideal situation and the farm did very well as they got started. Hank improved in school and Will enjoyed his coming of age in a new environment that he could feel at home in. For Willís sixteenth birthday his father bought him an American Saddlebred horse. He came from a very well to do ranch where Sarah knew the owners. Will immediately thought to name him Spirit, for that was what it took for them to have made it so far after losing everything in Georgia.

Will devoted himself to Spirit and spent most of his days with the young horse. He studied horse training and the two became inseparable. Will was the life of the party among his friends. He became very popular while his big brother was not as happy. Hank made it through school and had a good horse also, but he just couldnít fit in. What friends he did make were usually troublemakers.

As time went on, more farms formed near the Fultonís place. A man named Vernon Carlson bought up much of the land to the west of their farm. Before long, Carlson had the Fultonís almost completely surrounded. He began to come by and ask Paul if he would be interested in selling his farm. Paul refused the offers and told him that his family now had roots and wanted to stay. What Paul didnít realize was that Sarah had found him the one fortunate piece of land in the area that had plenty of ground water. The more land Carlson acquired the more he realized that water was scarce. He had money and wanted to make his ever growing land holdings pay off. He watched the Fultons enjoy a plentiful harvest as he saw his cotton crops fail and workers quit. Instead of looking for a plausible solution, he became more insistent with Paul to sell. As in so many cases of this nature, Vernon Carlson turned to violence. Sarah finally warned Paul that Carlson was not a nice guy and that he better watch out. She offered to help him find a new place if he wanted to simply get away. Hank was very upset about this, his memories once again making him think it was time to get tough and not give in. Paul did not want to have trouble but would not sell either. Will was busy working and riding about with his friends on Spirit. The young man was inspired and spreading his wings.

One fine spring day in 1876 Hank and Will rode off into the countryside to hunt. They had most of their gear and guns with them. They took enough food to be gone for several days. Paul and Irene were at home working as usual. Sarah was very involved by this time with a recently formed company that was building a new steel bridge over the Trinity. Paul was able to take time off to be at the farm more often for the spring. Carlson had not been heard from in over a month. All seemed well and nobody was aware of what was about to take place.
Vernon and some of his men spied to see Hank and Will ride off. They gave them several hours to get far enough away then rode out to the Fulton Farm. He knocked on the door and tried one more time to plead with Paul to sell. Paul once again refused, but offered to share some water rights with him. This was not enough and Carlson became enraged. He grabbed Paul by the throat and the two sprawled fighting into the front room of the house. The men followed in and took Irene hostage. Vernon beat Paul bad and then tied him into a chair. Irene was tied up next to him. Carlson and his men worked on them to change their minds or die. Paul and Irene held firm, believing they could survive until help arrived. Paul figured that he was too well known for Carlson to be serious. Vernon didnít want to kill anyone, but he was desperate. His land was useless without water and he was the kind of guy that had to have it all. His money and influence was also well known in Dallas. He wrestled with what to do over night as they held the Fultons hostage in their own home.

Hank and Will had a great time out riding and shot several deer. They camped out for the one night and decided to go home so they could save the meat. Meanwhile, Carlson demanded to know what Hank and Will were doing and when would they return. Paul would not say a word and Carlson couldít take it any longer. It was late in the day when Paul was struck in the head with the butt of a rifle. His neck was broken and Irene began to scream. Vernon turned and did the same thing to her. The men scurried about and did their best to make it look like a robbery. They left the Fultons in the chairs tied up and set the house and barn ablaze. They were in the process of riding away, hoping the boys would not return for some time. Hank and Will were close when they saw smoke in the distance. They galloped home just in time to see some men ride off leaving the house and barn on fire. There was little they could do by the time they reached the house. They watched in horror as their entire lives disappeared. They saw the bodies in the house, but the flames were too advanced. Hank became enraged, he made Will go with him and they rode after the men. The men rode out of sight and the daylight was fading fast. Hank was too smart to simply try to shoot it out with them, but he was sure it was Carlson. The two boys went back and gathered their few belongings. Hank persuaded Will to run away and avoid any authorities. They would think of a way to get back at Carlson later.

Before this time, Hank was already in a bad way. He was angry at the world and up to no good with his friends. As they camped nearby, they could see that the lawmen came by and looked for the boys. Will wanted to go and tell them what happened, but Hank would have nothing to do with them. He made Will stay with him and they rode off to a hang out that Hank knew about. They were able to survive on the deer meat for a few days, but hunting could only be a short term solution at best. Hank and his so called friends had been up to no good before the fire and he planned to escalate these activities right away. Will was not agreeable with this, but he was afraid and only had Hank to look up to. Hank convinced him that nobody would care and that he would only wind up in an orphanage or some such thing.

As far as the law was concerned, there was no way to prove that Carlson was the culprit. Sarah Cockrell tried to find the boys and she made a brief attempt to have an investigation conducted. She could have had it arranged for Hank to take over the farm, but he was in no state to cooperate with authority. Willís friends were upset with his disappearance and were afraid that he was killed in the fire also. Sarah took over temporary ownership of the farm. Her presence made it impossible for Carlson to purchase the property and he could not afford to cause the same trouble for such a powerful figure in Dallas. Sarah and the few neighbors grew weary of the lawís reluctance to charge Carlson with any crime and things stayed the same for a long time.

Meanwhile, Hank and the gang started a very long run of robberies and murder. Will tried to stay out of it at first, but Hank worked on him, trying to convince him that his way was best and as soon as they could afford to live on their own they would start over and return to get back at Carlson. Will began to go along on some of the robberies. He was good with his pistol and managed to get the draw on the victims before it was necessary to shoot. As time went on, he took part in train robberies, bank jobs, and various store raids. He was fortunate to not kill anyone in the foray, but he was as guilty as anyone for having taken part. Hank came to like being an outlaw. He resented those that settled down and worked hard for next to nothing. It wasnít just what happened to his family that did this to him. It was an overall bitterness developed since the Civil War. At times, Will could see what he was talking about. Law abiding people seemed sheepish in their ways and most would not even try to defend themselves. Will was in love with his gun handling skills and it always served him well. Still, his conscience worked on him and he was often at odds with Hank over why they had to kill.

Hank watched the Dallas newspaper for a spell after the fire, but little was reported. He thought about going to see Sarah, but he didnít trust her. Will knew her and wanted to sneak away to at least ask her about what happened. But as time went on, they started to run further and further away. Hank took on various members into his gang. He was a hardline leader and consequently had to kill a few of his own. The ones that stuck with him were loyal and knew to leave Will alone. Will tried to act tough and keep Hank happy, but deep inside, he knew this was going to kill him if he didnít break away.

After more than a year of being on the run, the gang started to become known along the railroads and various towns. It became harder to attack in the normal ways. Hank and Will were now far away from Dallas and began hitting places in New Mexico. Many of the small towns had not heard of them yet and it was easier to take advantage. Willís conscience never let up. He continued to argue with Hank, but Hank was all that he knew in the world.

Then it happened. The gang rode into Martinsville. They robbed the bank and it was a messy affair. Several men were shot and they made off with a lot of money as a payroll had just been delivered. Marshal Bennet formed a posse and chased the gang a long way. Finally they decided to split up and meet later at a place called Black Springs. Hank and Will took the money and the others got away. The posse stayed on Hank and Will for some time, but they finally got into the hills and watched as the posse stayed on the path, missing the spot they had turned off. What a break! They took off fast, excited to be getting away. Hank had visions of taking their share of the money and going back to Dallas. But Black Springs would have to come first.

They didnít get far when Will heard the voice of young Mark McCain, yelling for help hanging from a cliff just below where they were passing by. He was on a hike and slipped and fell. Willís first reaction was to help Mark, but Hank insisted they ride on, that the posse might figure it out and come back for them. They did head on, but Will couldnít stand it, he had to go back and help that boy. Mark was hanging on by a thread. Will got his rope out and started to come to his rescue. Hank was still hesitant, but he finally came over and gave Will a hand. As Will descended over the edge of the cliff he found Mark and gave him the rope while Hank used his horse to pull him up. Suddenly, Will slipped and fell to a ledge a good ways down and broke his leg. Hank and Mark struggled to get Will back and then take him to the McCain Ranch. After some talk and the setting of Willís broken leg, Hank decided to leave Will behind at the ranch with the money while he rode to Black Springs to hole up with the gang. Lucas McCain was not happy with this arrangement, but for the sake of the safety of his son, he agreed. He could tell that Hank was a hard man to deal with and he would be better off dealing with Will once he left.

At first, Will tried to act tough and made it seem as Mark and Lucas were his hostages. Lucas took his time to size Will up and went about his business of running the ranch. After a week Marshal Bennet rode onto the ranch while he was tracking the gang. He wasnít going to give up easy on this hunt. He talked with Lucas asking about a boy about 19 that was on the run. Will had his gun trained on Lucas and Lucas didnít want to give up on Will just yet, so he told the marshal that he hadnít seen a thing but would keep his eyes open. Once the marshal rode off, Will and Lucas had a brief exchange of words. Lucas made his move and grabbed the gun from Will. Will fell to the ground with a bruised ego, but now Lucas had the upper hand. As Willís stay went on, he started to see how life could be without the fear of being on the run. He met Ann Bard, a pretty young girl that lived just down the road. It had been more than two years since he was able to be nice to someone. He lied and told her he was the new hand. His leg began to feel better and he started to help out more around the ranch. Mark really liked him and they took great interest in each other. Lucas was glad to see that Will was wising up and with a slight nudge would want to go straight. They had a number of talks and soon Will was actually enjoying his time on the ranch. Lucas made sure he spoke on the virtues of his going straight and Will was easily convinced. But as time for Hankís return drew near Will became nervous and realized that nothing good could happen. He snapped at Ann and Mark both when they tried to talk to him, alerting everyone to his pain. Mark ran to his father and Lucas gave Will some stern words about how he had seen the light and now it was time to face his brother.

On the day of Hankís return, Will was working on the corral with Lucas and Mark. The gang rode in too, but hung back a ways to let Hank deal with Will and Lucas. Lucas sent Mark into the house and went to get his rifle. Hank had a few moments to talk with Will before Lucas returned to stand by Will. Will informed him that he wanted to go straight. He had the money in the saddlebag and was about to hand it over to Hank and send them on the way. Lucas could not help himself and reminded Will that the money still belonged to the bank in Martinsville. Will didnít have the nerve to refuse Hank so he started to hand it over. At this point, Lucas made a questionable decision. He snagged the saddlebag with the end of his rifle. Just as this occurred he could see the two men in the gang draw their guns. Lucas let fly and gunned them both down. Hank went for his gun and so did Will. Lucas was in a reactive state and shot Hank dead before he was able to take a shot. Will stood there in shock having shot at no one. He had been standing in front of Hanks horse with no way to shoot.

Will was devastated as he knelt down by Hankís lifeless body, blood running out onto the ground. Lucas was standing nearby with the saddlebag still around the barrel of his rifle. The adrenaline ran through him like a wildfire as he tried to catch his breath.

Death was no stranger to Lucas McCain, but this one was going to have a marked influence on his life for decades. Will remained with Hank for a long time. Lucas said not a word. Eventually Mark came out of the house to see what had happened and ran over to his Pa. After a few minutes, Lucas got his wagon ready and loaded the bodies of the two other men. He threw a cover over them and then walked over to Will and put his hand on his shoulders.

ďBest let the law take care of things from here son. Iíll take the bodies and money in to North Fork and see what Micah can do for us. I know him well, if there is a way to do this right, heíll know how.Ē

Will didnít care much about his fate at that moment. He helped Lucas place Hank on the back of the wagon and cover him up. He went into the house and sat at the table looking at the checker board and then over to Lucasí bible. That was when he realized that he had to give in and devote himself to going straight. He began to cry as Lucas and Mark came in. They sat together in shock for a couple of hours. Lucas finally broke the silence by telling Will that he would leave in the morning to North Fork and he should return by the afternoon. He would take Mark with him. He told Will that he could decide to go or stay while he was gone, but that he would not try to stop or find him if he wanted to leave. Will agreed and told him that he would most likely stay. It was time to give up this madness that he never wanted to be part of in the first place.
Lucas hauled the bodies into North Fork and gave Micah the shocking account. Micah was well aware of the bank robbery and possible identity from going over wanted posters and talking with Bennet. Micah told Lucas that he could speak for him and that he would have little to worry about for having sheltered Will Fulton. Once he had finished the telegram to Martinsville, Lucas seemed like a hero. But that was not how he felt. Lucas went home and found Will patiently waiting at the table. Micah arranged it for Will to turn himself in at Martinsville. But if he did not appear that next day he would put the word out and he would be wanted once again. Lucas and Will talked a good long time that night. They fed him a good meal and made sure he had all of his things ready for the morning. Mark rode over to the Bard ranch and told Ann to come by in the morning to see Will off. In the morning, Will said his goodbyes and told Ann to wait for him, that he would be back as soon as possible. It wasnít known at the time what would become of their love or his freedom. But Ann knew she had met a very rare kind of man, one worth the wait.

Will turned himself in right away, still mostly in shock over his brotherís death. He was numb from over two years of fear and grief. His horse was the only thing he had left in the world and all that he could even think to care about. Marshal Bennet went easy on him, giving him some time to clean up before doing some paperwork and placing him in the cell. It was going to take a few weeks before a Judge could come to town, but the money being returned and the rest of the gang being out of the way looked good for Willís chances in a trial. Spirit was taken into custody as well, he was taken to the townís livery to be held pending the trial.

Lucas felt bad about what happened and soon took a ride to Martinsville to look in on Will and speak to Bennet. It was decided that he should make an appearance at the trial because of his involvement and that it couldnít hurt for the judge to see him and hear a few good words in Willís behalf. There was some confusion over whether Will had shot during the altercation and Lucas told Will to leave it at that. The story was they both had taken shots and it was all in self defense. Lucas went home feeling hopeful that Will could get a fair trial and a brief sentence.

When the trial came due, Lucas and Ann went together, both were asked to testify. Ann could only be a character witness, but Lucas had to convince the judge that Will was worthy of leniency. He did his best, but the judge would not allow his story of the murder of his parents or the subsequent behavior with his brother to influence the case. All that he would take into evidence was the fact that Will was a member of the gang and took part in the bank robbery. Two men were wounded and their testimony was damning to say the least. Will did draw his gun in the robbery, but they had to admit that he did not shoot. In the end, the judge scolded Lucas for harboring a fugitive and that, even though he was ultimately concerned for the safety of his son, it was only because he put an end to the ordeal and made possible the return of the money that he would not be charged with any crime. He told Will that he felt for his circumstances but the fact remained that he had taken part in a violent and awful crime where attempted murder could be the charge. He could just as well be sentenced to life as an accomplice for past offenses that Hank was wanted for, including murder. With all of that in mind, he felt it lenient to sentence Will to ten years at hard labor in the Santa Fe prison. The hammer fell and Ann looked across at Will in horror. Ten years was a long time for anything. Her heart sank and she fell into Lucasí arms. The deputies took Will away without another word and that was the last time anyone saw him. The last order of business was when Ann spoke with the judge and made arrangements to buy Willís horse. Will was off on a train ride the next day. Justice was swift and cruel it seemed, but not to those who were robbed and wounded.

Fultonís Foray ó Dallas Rebirth

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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