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Fulton's Fury

A Predatory Excursion - To Ravage …. Fury
The Gift — Chapter Four
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

The desk clerk at the St. Charles had a message ready for Bat as everyone arrived back from the Marshal’s office. Bat opened it, smiled, then handed it to Will. It read:

My Dear Mister Masterson,

I should be honored to meet with you this evening at dinner. I am very much looking forward to seeing William Fulton. I have wondered of his whereabouts for ten years now.

Please make yourself at home in our dinning room as you like, I will arrive near six o’clock. Thank you, Sarah Cockrell.

It was two o’clock as they stood in the lobby gathered around the telegram. Lucas announced that he and Aubrey were going to take a walk and do some shopping. This prompted Bat and Emma to think the same thing. It was high time that everyone had something else to do for a while after so much excitement.
 
“Well you two love birds look as if you could use some time to talk things over. Why don’t we meet back here at five thirty and make sure we have a good table. Emma and I will take a walk to shop and see what is going on at the Dallas Theater.”

“Very good idea Bat, I’m sure we can all use a few hours to simmer down. We’ll be right here to meet you. Ann, let’s go see if we can find some of those riding outfits you have been talking about. I saw a few interesting shops on the way over here.” Will gave Bat a pat on the back.

“I think that is a wonderful idea, thank you for all of your help Bat. We will always be thankful for your thoughtful friendship” Ann placed her hand in Bat’s and he kissed it as he looked up with a smile.

“The pleasure is all mine Miss Bard. You two run along and enjoy yourselves, I have a feeling we have much more news in store for this evening.” Bat put his arm out for Emma to grasp, banged his cane on the stone floor, and they sauntered through the front door of the lobby and out of sight.

Will and Ann were left standing there speechless for a moment, not knowing what to do. Will had thought about nothing other than the issue at hand since his arrival. All of a sudden he felt exhausted and in need of a place to sit down. He took Ann’s arm, led her into the dinning room, and found a table. They ordered some lemonade and sat back in their chairs.

“I can see that you are feeling the strain of all of this dear. We don’t need to shop if you want to rest.”

“Oh, I’ll be alright. I just need a few minutes to let my mind relax.” Will still had the telegram in his hand. He looked down at the paper and saw the name, Sarah Cockrell. It was a powerful name, one that he learned long ago to treat with the utmost of respect. His parents went through great pains to ensure that he and Hank would always be polite when in her presence. Many times Will stood by his mother as she and Sarah spoke. Sarah always took the time to say something nice to put him at ease. Sometimes she would hand him a few coins, telling him to be sure and share them with Hank. The thought came to him that maybe it was time that he gave something back to her. He didn’t have any idea what that could be. In fact, this evening was probably going to be another one of those times that Sarah would be giving him something. This made him nervous. He folded the telegram neatly and put it in his shirt pocket.

“I am so happy that you are finding out some good things so far Will. I know this is not easy for you. I won’t make you try to talk about it, but please know that I care and am here for you no matter what happens.”

“Will leaned over and took Ann’s hands in his. “You go right ahead and talk all you want. Maybe I will seem distant at times. There are many things going through my mind. I want you to know that it is never my intention to expect you to remain silent. This is as much your story now as it is mine. I promise to never let any of this to come between you and I.”

“I appreciate that Will. We have already had to deal with something from my past. And I am ready to stand by you as we confront yours’.”

“There will probably be some old friends that will want to see me. Some of them will be women. But I have to tell you right now that I have no interest for any of that. I was too young to be involved, we were very innocent in those days. I did know one girl that I thought I might marry one day though. She and I went to school together. Beth Ann Harlan is her name. She must be grown up and married by now. I won’t try to see her.”

“You have never said anything about her, but I wouldn’t expect you to. It would be alright with me if you two meet. Did she live near the farm?”

“Yes, we walked together most days. She rode on Spirit too. We will see what happens. I don’t want to resurrect my entire past or relive my childhood. You are my focus now. And I don’t want anything that happens here to take me away from that.”

  “I trust you. In fact, I am happy for whatever you are able to gain from this experience. You take your time and do what you feel is best. Won’t it be marvelous if you can reclaim ownership of the property?”

“That is the overwhelming part of this situation. Hank never had it in his mind to face this, all he wanted was revenge. We could have stayed here and owned it all along. None of this had to happen. I don’t know if it feels right to just show up now and claim anything.”

“I can see what you mean. You don’t have to make it seem as if it is expected. This lady is a very wealthy land owner. Why don’t you just let her bring up the subject? I am sure she has something in mind after all of this time.”

“That is what I think I’ll do. Bat will no doubt have something to say also. It will be hard for it to not come up. I just don’t want her to think that I expect anything. She gave us so much from the start. I wish I could think of something suitable to give to her.”

“I think that having you back in her life will be gift enough. It must have been terrible for her to worry about you all of these years. She testified in court on your family’s behalf. She must have spent hours of her time and a great deal of money. If you simply accept her happiness for you I think everything will work itself out for the best. In the meantime, we can go shop around and see if we can’t find her some token of your appreciation. It doesn’t have to be expensive or material for that matter. Let’s see what happens.”

 “Perhaps you’re right. The walk will do us good. I feel much better now. You are the best thing that ever happened to me Ann. You have my permission to smack me at any time you think that I’m wandering from that statement.”

“You can be sure of one thing William Fulton, I will be the first one to let you know if you ever step out of line. But I will be right there and out of line with you!”

“That seems fair to me, I know it will all work out. I just have to get used to these good things that keep happening. At the same time, we have to be careful of the potential for trouble. Jack already taught us that lesson.” Will finished his drink and they went on their way.
 
Everyone met back at the hotel dining room at five thirty. The women were full of stories about how wonderful the stores were. Both Santa Fe and Dallas were known as crossroad towns, where many travelers passed through and goods and services were brought in from sources in the east. The Trinity River was an important part of that and Sarah was a pioneer from the start. There were many places where hand made clothing was available. Bat was especially happy to have ordered a new three piece suit, which he planned to wear to the opening of Emma’s show. It was scheduled to start in one week.

Emma made an appointment to have a fitting for a new gown for the opening also. Aubrey helped Lucas pick out a fancy new shirt to wear in the gun show and she was to be fit for a new dress as well. Ann looked around a great deal, but needed to take more time. She wanted something very special to wear in the horse riding competitions. Will couldn’t decide on a gift for Sarah, nothing seemed right. Ann was right, he needed to be the gift. It was up to him to make Sarah feel good with his presence and gratitude. Drinks were soon brought to the table and the wait for Sarah began. Before too long, Owen showed up to join them.

Promptly at six o’clock, Sarah walked into the room. She was a well known celebrity in town and knew many of the guests. It took a few minutes for her to speak with some of her friends before she came to the table. Will made eye contact with her right away and Sarah nodded back. That made him feel just a little better. She was dressed in a beautiful light blue evening gown and looked to be every bit the matriarch that she was. Her hair was very nicely put up and she carried a splendid gold laced purse. A man dressed in black walked a small distance behind her, keeping to himself. This figured to be a bodyguard. With her level of importance, that made sense. After several minutes of pleasantries, Sarah came to the table and went right to Will. Everyone stood up to receive her at the table.

“William Fulton! My God do you look handsome and strong! Words cannot describe how happy I am to see you.” Will embraced Sarah, trying to not muss her fancy gown. “And Bat Masterson, it has been years since we last met, well over five years I would say.” Sarah looked back at Will in amazement.

“Sarah, I wish I knew exactly what to say to you. I have thought about this endlessly. My family owed you everything before our tragedy struck. It will sorrow me for the rest of my days that I did not try to contact you for so long.” Will moved over, pulled a chair out and motioned for her to sit next to him.

“My dear Sarah, it is indeed a distinct honor and privilege to have you join us this evening. You are correct, it has been over five years since our last meeting. I hope we can find some time to catch up while we are here. Bat gave her his best smile and looked toward Emma. Please allow me to introduce to you my wife, Emma Walters.” Bat then went around the table and introduced everyone, finally giving Sarah a chance to respond as everyone sat down.

“Well, I started this day like any other, not expecting any earth shattering news, and now look at me, all dressed up and in the company of a most pleasant surprise. Let me start by saying thanks to all of you, I am so happy to meet each and every one. William Fulton, we have much to discuss. Obviously, after all of this time, I never expected to hear from you again. What happened to your family was indescribable and I could take forever and not be able to say enough to let you know how mad it made me. I assure you that I have done everything within my power to see that the right things were done. I shall tell you of anything you should like to know and we can take all of the time you want, now or at anytime during your stay.”

“Thank you for that Sarah. I am sure we will have plenty to talk about. Let us wait until later to speak of such things, however, I would love for this to be an occasion of joy. That is what fills my heart as we meet just now, not the unjust memories. Nor any expectations born of the past. I have learned that it is our spirit that counts and I want most of all for everyone of us to feel uplifted by our reunion.” Will let out a great sigh of relief as he gazed into Sarah’s eyes.

“I appreciate everything you just said William. I find you most gracious. I feel exactly the same way. I have so much to learn about all of your wonderful friends. My goodness, Emma Walters! I have read about you in our newspaper recently, I am most anxious to be at your opening performance. How ever did you rope good old Bat here? Probably the hardest fish to hook in the sea of life”

“I am not sure who hooked who, but he makes me both laugh and cry at the same time, and that is no act!” Emma got everyone to chuckle a bit. “I look forward to singing for you and I pray to get a laugh or two at the same time.”

“I should say that laughter is the best medicine for all ailments, and the best compliment for those in good stead. I love the opera and I know you are among the best.

I have also read about Lucas McCain. Our paper covered the gun show in Santa Fe, a very impressive display from what I must say is a most handsome man. I would like very much to get to know you better. I am familiar with John Browning and the Winchester Firearms Company, we should be doing some business through one of my shipping firms.”

“I am honored to have a chance to know you Sarah, thank you for being here with us this evening. All business aside, I hope we can find the time to enjoy each other’s friendship.”

“Thank you Lucas, may our friendship be endless. Dallas is most honored to have you grace our city. Ann, Aubrey, and Emma I trust you have had a chance to see some of our fine town, if there is anything I can do to make your stay here more pleasant, please let me know. I can put you in touch with the best of shops and services. I want to know what interests you may have and how I might find a way to spend some time with you. I don’t get out with the ladies as often as I used to, it would do us all some good, and give these cowboys some time to attend to their business.”

Ann took the opportunity to speak up. “We did shop around this afternoon for a few hours, I must say that it was most enjoyable. The exploration is a big part of the fun as we learn the town, but I for one would really like to shop with you!”

“I have never been to Dallas before this, I find it a lovely town, let us get together soon.” Aubrey added.
“I have already been fit for a new gown at a shop I have been to in the past. They still have my old pattern on file. Do you approve of Frederick’s?” Emma inquired.

“This gown I am wearing was made there, you have fine taste Emma!” Sarah motioned to the head waiter. “Let us get this meal underway. I have taken the liberty of having our best known dishes prepared, including shrimp and crab from New Orleans. You all are most welcome to anything on our menu as a main course, or I have plenty coming as it is. It is all on the house and my pleasure. I for one am famished!”

They ate and drank to their heart’s content. Sarah did her best to talk with everyone during the meal, but it was obvious that her and Will needed some time to speak in private. She thought it could wait for another time, but once the meal was well underway and talk turned to a more comfortable tone, Sarah asked if she could be excused to speak with Will. Sarah motioned to her bodyguard and the three went off to a private room. Sarah and Will entered as the guard stood outside of the door.

“William, I have so much to say to you. First of all, let me ease you about not contacting me. While it was a painful thing for all of us, I know you must have been so confused and in shock. You had no way to resist Hank I am sure. All I know is, thank God you are here now and let us move forward.”

Thank you Sarah. I know about some of what happened, the trial, Carlson being hung, and that the farm is an important part of a large operation now. I don’t want to make any waves.”

“You have every right to make those waves. You must know that I made quite a few for you as it is. Please, tell me what have you been doing all of this time? What became of Hank?”

“I will spare you most of the detail for now. Hank is dead, Lucas had to shoot it out with our gang some time after the robbery. I turned myself in shortly thereafter and was sentenced to ten years hard labor in the Santa Fe prison.”
“Oh my, that is awful. So harsh after what you had been through. I so wish you would have let me know, I could have helped you perhaps.”

“That may be, but it was in New Mexico for one, and I was in a very sad state of mind. All I wanted to do was run away and hide after what happened. Prison gave me a chance to let things fade. In case you are wondering, I am out early from my sentence. Lucas made that possible by talking them into letting me work for him on his ranch in North Fork. He is my brother now.”

“That is quite a story William. And what of Ann, how did you meet her?”

“I first met her as I stayed on Lucas’ ranch right after the robbery. While we were running from the law, we saw his son, Mark, in trouble hiking on a ledge and about to fall. We rescued him and I broke my leg in the attempt. So I stayed at their ranch to heal while the others went to hide. Ann is a neighbor that was accustomed to inviting the McCain’s to dinner. We started to talk and before we knew it, we were in love. I asked her to wait for me when I left to turn myself in. Little did we know that would take eight years.”

“And she waited for those eight years? That takes dedication. I would say God was working some much needed miracles in your life.”

“For everyone all around, even Lucas. I can tell you stories about that man that would make you tremble. He is among the most brave and wise.”

“I hesitate to ask for how long the answer might be, but how in this world did you meet Bat Masterson?” Sarah folded her hands and prepared to listen for some time.

“That is an amazing part of our story. And I could go on for hours about that alone. Lucas took me along to Yuma, Arizona to meet an old friend, Doctor Simon Battle, which is another long story. On the train we were talking about Masterson and the conductor knew him, he told us he was probably still in Yuma. We thought we would look just to see if we could find him. Ann’s father was the one who showed us newspaper articles about him in the first place. As it turned out, Simon knew him also. We spent some time together and came up with the idea to put on a shooting demonstration. One thing led to another and now here we are. I was planning on coming to Dallas soon as it was practical, but the opportunity arose to follow Bat and Emma here after we were in Santa Fe. I tell you, so much has happened to me in these last six months or so and my head is still spinning. Now I am sitting here with you, I can’t imagine what could happen next!”

“Whew! I am exhausted just hearing all of this, and I know there is a whole lot more. I would say that the Good Lord has had you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Well, fear no evil William. I am here to give you some good news. I can imagine you have many questions. First of all, I took care of your parent’s burial. I will take you there when you are ready.” Sarah took William’s hands in hers.”

“Yes, I need to know that, and to find out if I can have Hank’s remains brought to be with them.”

“That can certainly be arranged. I have a private area in the Greenwood Cemetery. The cattle seem to like grazing out there, but it is the best place and where my husband was buried. It sits atop a nice little hill outside of town. We will see to it as soon as possible.”

“I will be most satisfied if that is all that we accomplish while I am here. But I do want to ask if it would be alright if I go to see the farmland? I need to look over the area and let my mind heal for a short while.”

“I can do much better than that. I can give you that land, free and clear. How would you like that? The money involved means little to me. It is more a gesture of love and healing that would make me feel good, can you understand that?”
“I have thought about how I would answer this and I still don’t know just how to feel.

I am very much in love with Ann, her father owns a wonderful ranch and I stand to live there the rest of my life. He is partners with Lucas and it will soon be my duty to oversee the operation of both ranches when we return. We hope to be married this summer. So it would be very difficult for me to commit to any responsibilities concerning what must be a big deal with that farmland.”

“Well, you are right about that. I have kept it involved with the Graham operation all of this time so I wouldn’t have to pay too much attention to it. That arrangement can go on indefinitely for that matter. They pay a very high price to use that land. Water is what makes it all happen out there and that farm has almost all of it. I didn’t know that when I helped your parents buy it, and if I knew what I was doing at the time, I would have bought all of it myself.”

“I guess that is an obvious conclusion. I can’t expect anything after all of this time. My purpose is to make things right for my family’s sake and yours. You have done so much and deserve to keep that land for that matter. I just don’t know what to think.”

“Let me tell you something William. I have been through the tragedy of losing my husband very early on as we came to this land. Alexander was a great man and he built me a very strong fortune. Losing him hurt bad, but I hung on and made as much of his legacy as I could. That turned out to be more than I ever dreamed of. This hotel alone is more than enough to keep my family for the rest of our lives. It even burned down when I first got started. If you add all of the other land and concerns I am invested in, that farm would seem as a drop of water in a full bucket. That is not something to brag about or be proud of, it simply is what came of my hard work and perseverance. I am an old woman and wealth is of little concern to me anymore. I want to see you have something that will give you the same chance I had when I was left alone. The money from the lease is quite substantial. Graham stands to stay there for a very long time to come. They grow mostly cotton and do very well. Please let me bestow this upon you. My people will see to it that everything is taken care of legally. Once you take possession, you can do as you wish. Just the money coming in can make things much easier for a young married couple. I would be so happy for you.”

“Sarah, if it were just me I would take that money and donate it to some worthy cause. But I do owe my friends my life. The ranching business is a tough one, not for the feint of heart. I could help them a great deal as this partnership moves along. I am willing to take you up on this offer if you really want me too. It would make my parents happy to know that I was able to carry on. It would also help to make me feel better because Lucas and Sam have given me so much. I want to remain a part of them for the rest of my life.

If I can help them to expand and improve the business we could all enjoy a much stronger future.”

“Now you are talking young man! That is just what I wanted to hear. I can make it possible for you to do that and so much more. You are part of my family and in these ten years I have amassed a great deal of money from that lease. I am going to make sure you have enough to make that ranch thrive. All I want is a good cut of beef once in a while.
Sometimes I have a hard time chewing on the miserable meat we get around here.”

“Let us take things one step at a time, I hope I can be worthy of all that you are offering me. Sam is one of the best butchers in all the land. When I first got out, Lucas and I went to dinner at the Bard Ranch, you’ll like this story. So, I got to see Ann for the first time. Well she cooked these huge porterhouse steaks that would just melt in your mouth. I hadn’t had a steak in over ten years at that point. I was in heaven. I ate every scrap of that giant slice, fat and all. As time went on, I came to understand what made quality in beef. After that meal I was in a trance. That woman led me out into the stables and shocked the Dickens out of me. After my trial, she bought Spirit from the court and kept him there for me, eight years! All of a sudden we were eye to eye. I cried like a baby. We rode for over an hour that night. I knew right then and there I was going to marry her!”

“I remember that horse. You still have him? That is outstanding! He came from a very prestigious blood line. You should still be able to breed him.”

“Yes, he was everything to me until I met Ann. We have talked about breeding him. We have him with us right now in fact. I want to ride him out to the farm when I have a chance.”

“That is simply wonderful. I cannot wait to see that happen. William, this is a dream come true for me. You may see it as me giving you the farm, but for me, it is you giving me something. That gift is you. If my last vision is you riding Spirit across that farm, then I will die a happy woman!”

“Before we met tonight, I was so worried about all of this. I came to the conclusion that I can’t give you anything but myself. And here you go and say that very thing to me. God Bless you Sarah Cockrell. We shall be partners for life. I will see to it that you have Bard Ranch beef any time you want.”

“That will be gift enough for me! Come, let us rejoin our friends and put a fitting end to this most joyous of times.

Sarah and Will came back to the table after their talk feeling much better. Will was more at ease and bursting with the ideas that were now stampeding in his mind. Wealth was something that he never thought would come to him after being helped so much already. The very fact that he could now contribute towards the success of the ranch merger was such an overwhelming thought. It still wasn’t clear to him how he would let everyone know and it would be some time before he could actually do it. Ann could especially see a change come over him upon his return. Will asked Sarah if they could ride out to the farm in the morning. Plans were then made to have most everyone brought to the property by carriage. Flash and Spirit were going to take Will and Ann for the ride of their lives!

Fulton’s Foray — Spirit Run

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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