The Black Wolf’s Lands Excuse
Texas, early 1920’s
At the time the horse returned to the stable, Marcus Aurelius Caesar Carville was reading the sports page of the local newspaper on his front porch. Then he heard a commotion and lowered the paper and took a look at the upcoming horse and its unusual rider.
And for a moment he thought that his memory was playing a trick on himself.
He was back in time, almost fifty years to be more accurate, and the scene in front of his eyes was the same that he had seen. A young, blonde and disheveled girl was tied up on her saddle, crudely gagged with what looked like the remains of her blouse and was crying as she was forced to return to her home in such a state.
As the foreman and two cowboys rushed up to the horse, his good-for-nothing grandson Jimmy called the sheriff and his housekeeper was already giving the proper orders to the maids, Marcus stood up with the help of his cane. He took another look at the distressed girl and recognized her; it wasn’t Olive, but their granddaughter Jackie.
The cowboys had already cut her from the saddle and three or four maids were now helping the young Amazon to get to the house. They had forced her to remove her blouse, or had cut it, before tying her up. Her tan breeches were on but they had removed her black boots and socks. ‘Spike’ Newman, the strongest of his cowboys (and ‘secret’ boyfriend of Jackie) suddenly was in the middle of the maids, grabbed Jackie in his arms in a bridal fashion and walked to the Carville House, calming his granddaughter with soothing words.
Just like he had done with Olive, so many years before.
As the whole CC&H Ranch crew started to gather in front of the manor, Marcus issued a few orders. Someone was sent to call the doctor, the foreman and four of the cowboys were ordered to retrace Pretty Lightning (Jackie’s horse) trail to the manor and, more important than anything else, someone had to go to the Black Wolf Farm, ASAP!
Then he went inside the house and comforted his daughter Natalie; after all Jackie had decided that afternoon to go riding with her twin sister Peggy…
Bill ‘Black Wolf’ Benjamin Franklin Jackson and Howard and Moses, two of his many grandsons, and their cousin Rochelle appeared at the house at the same time that the five cowboys returned, walking on their own. The three black men in (the back of) the crowd (Rochelle was admitted inside the house) were completely ignored as the foreman told what had happened and why one of the cowboys had been shot.
They had been ambushed by five or six men and, when the newbie among them had tried to grab his gun, there had been a quick shootout. After they had surrendered and threw out their guns, they were forced to walk about a mile under the guard of five or six masked men until they reached Lonesome Pine (a pine that was the only tree on the top of a hill in a very remote area of the ranch). Peggy Carville was tied to the pine, her attackers her undressed to her bra and panties but she seemed fine.
She was bound with hemp rope, first they had tied her hand in front and her ankles together, and then they had wrapped the rope around the three until she couldn’t detach herself of it. She was gagged and blindfolded with scarves and seemed to have cried for a while. One of the masked men then removed her gag and, with a trembling voice, she had told them what they were supposed to tell Marcus.
The kidnappers wanted ‘Black Wolf’ Jackson and his whole family dead by dawn and their farm burned to ashes and the lands salted, or she would be killed.
Now everybody was looking at the three black men. But before anyone could say or do anything, Marcus forced his way through the crowd and stood in front of Black Wolf.
‘I should have let you kill him…’
‘Mister Carville, he is... your... bro…’
‘ANY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ME AND THAT SNAKE…’
And, as it was happening more and more lately, Marcus had a coughing fit that lasted for a few minutes. He shouldn’t raise his voice anymore as he had just done, but everyone knew the rumors about Julius Caesar Carville, and so his anger was plenty justifiable. But wasn’t Julius dead since Grant’s term as president? There was even a grave with his name in the tombstone at the local cemetery (Not at the Carville lot, but at the ‘disgraced corner’ of the cemetery, reserved for gamblers, drunks and horse thieves).
‘As I was saying, he tried to kill me! Tried to kill Olive! And Maybelle! And Sarah! And in case you are not counting that, YOU as well! He-IS-NOT-my-brother! And I should have let you kill him instead of beating his ******** up and letting him go on that train!’
So the rumors that the grave was empty were true? Who could figure that?
‘He tried what many other men tried, but I’m still here... Mr. Carville. So what will we do?’
‘How are your eyes, ‘Bloody Black Wolf’?’
‘I am old, Mr. Carville, and I’m paying the tool. I can barely see you in front of me, and you’re way out of focus to me anyway. But these two sons of my son Jeremiah Paul are as good shooters as I used to be, if not better!’
‘Black Wolf…That is beyond the limits of any human being.’
‘Do you have any good rifle, Mr. Carville?’
To ask if a Carville had a good weapon was like ask if the sky above Texas was the bluest of them all... A Carville knew how to treat women, guns and cattle (in that order) and M.A.C. Carville always had demanded to see the best weapons available when he decided to bought another one for his huge collection. Two rifles were brought from the house and the young black men were ordered to show Mr. Carville what they could do.
They shot a couple of rounds to better evaluate the weapons and then they showed the whole crowd what they could do. Those eyes weren’t human!
The sound of the shots was heard on the house, were Olive and Natalie Carville were staying up at both sides of Jackie’s bed. She had received a powerful sedative and was now resting, they had given her a bath and put on new clothes before the doctor arrived, and all the while she had told them what had happened. Olive couldn’t believe that her brother-in-law was till alive, and that he had dared to return to the county!
But he had identified himself, and by Jackie’s description it was really him!!!
She checked Jackie’s arms once again, those marks were ugly but would, eventually, fade. And she almost hadn’t any bruises. The problem was what else they could/might have done with her, she remembered her own nightmares that had lasted a few years.
‘Wasn’t uncle Julius... supposed to be dead?’
‘Your father told that... Julius that he was dead to him, that he would bury an empty casket with his name of the tombstone and that he was as good as dead if he tried to return here. But I guess that he wouldn’t let it go... If Jackie was right about the description she gave us he must be really bad, really sick and ill, worst than Marcus is. Probably he wants to settle the score before he’s dead. That’s the only explanation I can fathom...’
‘But... why? Why is he doing this?’
At that moment there was a knock on the door and the maids admitted Marcus inside. He asked how Jackie was faring and Olive told him, and Natalie’ question also.
And Marcus told his daughter the whole story...
Texas, mid 1870’s
The town was still roaring with the decision of the young and, not for long, well respected Marcus Carville to give a black man a few acres to built his house and live on. A black man! Some of the city’s most important citizens had tried to make him reconsider and go back on his word. Fat chance for it to happen! He said that he would never go back on a given word! And besides he owed ‘Black Wolf’ (as some Indians started to call the black man) his own life! So there was absolutely no chance for it to happen!
Ms. Olive Farnsworth (who was suffering a great pressure from her father to cancel her engagement with Marcus) and her friends Maybelle Harvey (who had recently widowed from Marcus’ partner in business) and Sarah Clement decided to have a picnic in a prairie in full bloom about nine miles from her fiancé ranch.
They had just prepared everything when they arrived. They were in four, dressed in rags and wearing large scarves to hide their faces. And they were black, all of them.
They quickly jumped from their horses and wrestled all three women on the ground while calling them names. All three were quickly and very roughly tied up, blindfolded and gagged. The leader of the attackers decided that Olive was the one that would send the ransom note to the Carvilles, so she was to be bound on Maybelle’s horse, but she managed to kneed one of the men and she received a couple of slaps, her blouse was ripped from her body and she was insulted. All the insults came in a perfectly articulated English, and not the ‘Negro (broken) English’ that the attackers were used until that moment.
Olive was quickly tied to Fury (a palomino that has been Maybelle’s pride since she bought it) and the horse was slapped. She couldn’t remember how long the ride had lasted, but suddenly she heard Marcus’ voice and felt his arms holding her.
She cried and wept as he calmed her and ordered that the doctor was called, and if he refused again he was to be brought by any means necessary. He came a bit infuriated since ‘Black Wolf’ had forced him at gunpoint to get on his horse, the former soldier had even shot a few rounds at some people that had gathered to prevent him to take the doctor and according to both men a group was coming to the ranch to ‘rescue’ the doctor.
But the doctor did a good job and she was sleeping by the time the crowd arrived. Both Marcus and Frank (Maybelle’s brother) were puzzled by the state of Olive’s clothes and the ropes that had held her. It looked like they had some kind of brown ‘paint’ on them.
The people that arrived at the ranch was furious. Somehow they already knew that three white women had been attacked by four black men, and that two of them were captives of the attackers. They wanted ‘Black Wolf’, and they would ‘extract’ the truth from him at any cost, then Marcus walked to the front of his home unarmed, reading out loud the ransom note. Whoever had wrote it was almost illiterate, or just pretending to.
They demanded ten thousand dollars for the safe return of Maybelle (who was the widow of one of the ranch’s founders) and Sarah (daughter of the blacksmith), the money was to be delivered at the Lonesome Pine in three days. Rash and foul words were used to refer to the captives, which only ignited more the indignation of the crowd.
But when Frank came out, with both his Colts drawn, saying that he had spent the whole morning discussing with Marcus a way for him to claim back the land he had given to Black Wolf, who was there and had even proposed that the land was loaned to him instead of simply given (a proposal which had boiled Marcus blood), so there was no way that Black had participated of the kidnapping of his sister. And he demanded to know who had told them about the color of the skin of the kidnappers, since there was no way that someone but the kidnappers themselves knew that (Olive hadn’t managed to give a proper description of her attackers, she had just mumbled about ‘they got them’ over and over).
Two of Barney Clay’s cowboys were quickly identified as the source of the rumor, and when one them tried to shoot at Marcus he was gunned down by Black Wolf.
The sheriff finally appeared and took the other cowboy under arrest back to town, both Marcus and Frank (and the crowd) followed him. Black Wolf was ordered to guard the ranch with a few other men. At the interrogatory, that lasted for hours, the man denied any wrongdoing, but Marcus had an idea and ordered that his shirt was removed. The cuffed cowboy got agitated and had to be held down, and when the blue shirt was removed they understood why. He had remains of some kind of brown paint on his back.
Identified as one of the kidnappers the man kept himself mute to the sheriff’s question, and the idea of priding the truth from him by any means was growing on Marcus and Frank’s minds when there was a commotion outside the sheriff’s office.
Hubert (a boy that worked at the ranch) had arrived driving a cart. Black Wolf was in the back, with a bullet in his left leg. And what he told to the sheriff, Marcus and the others was completely unbelievable. Marcus’ brother, Julius, was behind the whole thing!
He had returned to the ranch about one hour after the sheriff had arrested the cowboy, claiming that he was checking the eastern limits of the property, and got a bit awkward when he heard about the arrest and the death that had just happened.
One hour and a half later Olive awoke screaming. The two maids, Black Wolf and Julius run up the stairs and entered the room as she was scrabbling violently on the bed. She had recognized one of the kidnappers, and the moment she saw Julius she froze in panic. Before Black Wolf could do anything Julius grabbed his gun and both men fought for it, rolling on the hallway that led to the room where Olive was. At some point Julius managed to pull the trigger. The shot on his leg made Black Wolf to fall on the floor, and Julius pulled the trigger twice more, but those bullets had only scratched him told Black Wolf.
He pretended that he was down and Julius entered the room. He heard the commotion as Julius beat up the maids and forced Olive to follow him. Black Wolf’s attempt to ambush him as he left the room failed miserably, and he was kicked as Julius told him what was going to happen if Marcus wanted his fiancée back.
According to Marcus and Frank, Julius had a serious gambling problem that was about to cost him his share on the ranch, so now the whole plan was obvious to everybody. He had tried to pin on Black Wolf the heist that would make him a rich man.
Under a little ‘pressure’ of Marcus guns, Barney confessed that he had ordered that some of his men helped Julius as long as Black Wolf ended up dead and his house burned, not to mention of course that he would get a share of the ransom money. But when he told when the women were held captive they all realized that Julius had the upper hand.
Smokestone was a very deserted and plain place, perhaps the most isolated one on the whole county. According to Black and Hubert, if Julius saw anyone but Marcus at the place in the following day’s noon, he would kill the three women without thinking twice.
The doctor took care of Black Wolf’s wounds while he and Marcus developed a strategy. The next day Marcus rode alone to the valley known as Smokestone. He saw a cabin with tree women tied to the remains of a post at its left. Two men were standing flanking the women, holding guns pointed at them and with smug expressions on their faces.
One of the men was Julius. Then he heard something behind him and a rider appeared, stating that he had not been followed. They were alone.
Marcus dismounted and gave to Julius all the money the ranch had at the bank. Julius punched, elbowed, kneed and kicked his brother, who didn’t reacted since there was a gun aimed at his fiancée’s head all along. All three women were crying and trying to cower.
They had been forced to kneel on the dirt, wearing nothing but their torn and shredded garments, and there was a rope linking the ropes that held their wrists and ankles together. All three women had been gagged with dirt rags of cloth.
Julius was about to give Marcus a fourth kick when there was a shot, quickly followed by another. As he looked at his men they both fell dead on the floor.
‘Don’t move! Don’t try to move!’
Black Wolf’s voice was loud and clear, the valley provided a great acoustic, but where was he? Julius made a movement to reach his gun and received a bullet on his right arm.
Black Wolf, who somehow had managed to climb one of the mounts surrounding the valley during the night, appeared at the cabin at the same time that the sheriff’s posse arrived. No one (except Marcus) believed that he could have fired those shots from the distance he was when the creep guarding the women lowered his gun to better ‘cheer’ for Julius.
It was more than 500 feet for crying out loud!
Julius was arrested and convicted, but somehow (probably thanks to a bitter political enemy of Marcus) he got pardoned after twelve years. He dared to return to the county, and Marcus spent thirty minutes behind the corral ‘explaining’ to him why he was supposed to never ever return to the county. It was a fair fight, and Marcus lost a couple of teeth while Julius ended up looking like a mummy. He was placed inside the next train, with a little help of Marcus’ men, and no one heard of him afterwards... until that day.
Texas, early 1920’s
Peggy was shivering. They had provided a coat (that was bound over her bound torso and arms) and a blanket, but those weren’t doing much good to protect her from the winds. She was really tired, besides a short break in which she was given a sandwich and had been able to..., she has spent all her captivity tied to the Lonesome Pine.
Her great-uncle was dozing in and out of consciousness all the time, he was really worst than her grandpa, it seemed that only his desire for revenge kept him alive. All members of his gang were either his sons or grandsons, there was only one woman with and, for some reason, she kept herself hooded all the time. She had been able to see the faces of everyone of the men, but not hers. They had already told her (and laughed when she started to cry) that she was most likely not going to outlive her kidnapping and now, many hours after that dreadful moment, she was calm enough to ask herself ‘If they are going to kill me, hence the fact that they did not hired their faces from me, why does she was ordered to keep herself hooded?’, and find no answer to that question.
Louella Jackson (one of Black Wolf’s great-granddaughters) was one of the maids of the Carvilles, she was actually Peggy’s chambermaid. The very young girl (barely 18) knew what she supposed and allowed to do and what she wasn’t.
To lie on her belly on Miss Peggy’s bed was a big no-no, but she couldn’t help it now.
She was ordered to prepare Miss Peggy’s room to her return, she cleaned the whole place, put Miss Peggy favorite bed sheets, her porcelain dolls were cleaned to the point of shine by themselves and everything was ready by the time for dinner. Afterwards, like all the women, she gathered herself on Mrs. Carville (the mother) preach room and they all started to pray for the success of the rescue mission. She had told the other maids what she had seen her cousins Howard and Moses do a hundredth times (since the powerful Mr. Carville protected them, the Jacksons had a limited access to guns), and some of the maids had witnessed their demonstration of skill that morning.
They started to pray feverishly only to be interrupted hours later when the rescue posse left the place. The Carvilles’ five best cowboys, including ‘Spike’ Newman, a posse led by the sheriff, the three Mr. Carville (the son, the grandson and the son-in-law) and her cousins. Then Annabelle, who had always treated her politely (albeit a bit too coldly), said that she needed her help since she would like to check on Miss Peggy’s room because she had ‘heard some weird sound coming from it’. Both women entered the room ‘armed’ with brooms, Annabelle ahead and Louella following close behind. As Anabelle was checking a closet Louella got down on her knees to check under the bed, they were still there and blinked to her while making the ‘silence’ signal to Louella (who obeyed), who got up and...
She awoke as Annabelle cinched the last knots. The woman had bound her legs and arms and had shoved a scarf inside her mouth. And was calling her names, foul names that she had only heard in town since those words were forbidden at the Carville ranch. She was Annabelle... Carville! The youngest daughter of Julius Carville! And she had spent five years working inside the ranch to make sure that her father’s plan, to get his share of the Carville millions, worked perfectly. There was a knock at the door and Gertrude entered shoving a terrified Ms. Zubek (Mr. Carville, the father, ’s nurse) inside with glee.
The young Polish immigrant was still wearing her white uniform (but looked disheveled and her cap with the cross was gone), plus what looked like all the medical bandage that she had with her. Her arms had been tied behind her back and lower face was gone under the bandage. She was forced to lie besides Louella and her legs were then bound.
‘Two down, eight to go before the boys arrive...’ – Gertrude said to Annabelle-
Eight to go? Oh my God! Both Ms. Carville (mother and daughter), Miss Jacqueline and her maid Françoise (a real French girl with a funny accent), the cook Mrs. Rosendros and the other maids of the house Kathryn, Vivian and Mildred! They were planning to take them down! And the house too! The whole kidnapping was part of a bigger plot!
Without saying anything else, both women just added more rope to their victims and left them writhing on the bed. They first took the Mexican cook. The small mid-40s woman was in her room praying alone since she couldn’t pray with non-Catholics (her father didn’t let her do it), they knocked at the door, she answered and both women jumped on her. She was wearing only a simple white nightie and a beige dressing gown, and soon was left crying alone on the floor. Gertrude despised papists..., besides foreigners, Jews and (above all else) BLACKS! The fact that she was getting to have a share of the millions was just a bonus, she would do everything for free as long as she could ‘put things back where they belong’! And she had made sure to Consuelo, as she bound her arms and gagged her while Annabelle took care of the legs, what lied ahead for her during her impending captivity!
Next they lured Mildred (an early 20’s girl from a very religious family) and Vivian (the oldest of the younger maids, a frail brunette beauty of 26 years of age) to a back room with the ruse of ‘having to get everything ready for the Banquet of the Heroes’. Both girls also were wearing the black and white ‘French Maid’ ‘behaved’ uniform like Louella and were forced (at gun point by Annabelle) to hug each other while Gertrude bound them together. Each pair of wrists was bound over the small of the back of the other girl, then a rope was wrapped around each girl’s waist and linked to the other girl’s wrists trapping them there. Their knees and ankles were tied together, which caused them to stand uneasy, so Gertrude helped them to lie on their side. By then Annabelle helped her to make them a tight package and each maid was gagged with her own cap shoved inside her mouth and tied in place with a small piece of rope. ‘Five down, five to go!’ said Gertrude and Annabelle nodded.
Kathryn was ambushed by the pair when she returned from her duty to give to all men outside a cup of hot coffee. She carried two large and empty jugs in each hand, put all four jugs on the kitchen’s table, called for Consuelo and went to look for the older women. Since she was the tallest and strongest woman (6’8”, 180+ lbs. and many muscles showing) of the ranch, neither Annabelle nor Gertrude gave her a chance. Marble balls left on the floor of a darkened hallway (the bulbs had been removed) made their job and she slipped, and before she could realize what was going on a blanket was covering all her upper body. The pair quickly wrapped lots and lots of rope around the blanket, trapping both Kathryn’s arms on her upper chest area and wrapped a string of rope where her mouth was supposed to be, effectively gagging her. Once again Annabelle felt bad for not being able to get the giantess working for her, but why did she had to have such a strong moral code anyway?
Natalie Carville was reading a book in Jacqueline’s room while her daughter was sleeping with the help of those knockout drops the doctor had prescribed. Françoise was sleeping peacefully while sitting in a chair by the door. Since her attention was focussed on her daughter she had started and restarted to read the book about a dozen times, and hadn’t heard or saw anything wrong that might be happening at the house. Then there was a knock at the door. Françoise, who was a very light-sleeper, arose quickly and went to the door to answer it. And was pushed back as Annabelle and Gertrude barged inside the room.
At first neither Natalie nor Françoise understood what was happening, then Annabelle called her ‘cousin’ and she retreated in terror. Annabelle warned them to not raise their voices. They would take over the manor and get all women and old Mr. Carville as their hostages, then some of her cousins and friends would drop bye to make sure that they had the upper hand. Only after the death of all Jacksons (whom she called ‘uppish ******’) and the payment to her father for his share of the ranch and business of the Carvilles they would be set free. Françoise just menaced to give one of her famous high pitched ‘siren call’ and got brutally pistol butted by Annabelle, who then asked where was ‘auntie’.
‘She went to see how my father is doing tonight...’
‘Good, we’ll bind the two ****** lover lovebirds together like we did with those others...’
Natalie wanted so much to beat those two pathetic figures! But they had weapons with them, Annabelle carried a .38 and Gertrude one of the meanest knives she had ever seen, and her daughter was sleeping behind her, and this poor girl in her arms was really terrified.
She remembered her father’ strategy and played her part.
Natalie was forced to bind and gag her daughter, they at least allowed her to use satin ribbons to tie her ankles, knees and wrists together and cleave gag her. Choking back her tears she kissed the still slumbered Jackie and covered her with the blanket. When she turned around Françoise was lying on the floor and seemed to have put on some fight while she was being bound. She could see most of the girl’s large right breast popping out of the uniform, her hair was completely messed up and there were some torn on her clothes.
Annabelle made her turn around again and try to grab each elbow with the opposite hand. Harsh rope and knots were soon applied on her upper body then she was forced to sit back on her chair, Gertrude knelt on the floor to better bind her legs while Annabelle grabbed one of Jackie’s favorite (and the longest one of them) scarves and wrapped it around her head, managing to give it four full turns before she tied a good sailor’s knot.
‘Oh shut up! I know that already and you don’t need to remind me. Just an old rag and dear uncle Marcus and we’ll be able to claim the house as ours... Now let’s go.’
Both women were now exultant, they had made it! They had the Carville House all to themselves! They rushed to the patriarch’s bedroom...
Roscoe was a veteran of the Great War with as many stories to tell as scars to show. He had always said that he had mastered the art of crawling on the ground in a moonless night, and he was proving that he really had done that. He had passed by the guards and had managed to get closer to the Lonesome Pine. Miss Peggy was tied to it, with a hooded woman (or a very thin man) pretending to be guarding her at her left. There was a tent (were the old jackal was most likely sleeping inside) and a campfire around which the others were sprawled on the ground and snoring at about twenty feet from the Pine..
He made his calculus. Twenty to twenty five minutes to get to Lonesome Pine by the back, three at most to deal with the guard (if it was a woman, if it was a man he'll simply slit his throat), five to cut the ropes on Miss Peggy and take her away from the tree. With any luck the show would be over in three quarters of an hour.
It took him twenty three minutes to get unobserved to the Pine, five seconds to jump on and pistol-butt the woman, one minute and thirty seconds to hogtie her and another twenty seconds to gag her, two minutes to move to the other side of the Pine, six seconds to make Miss Peggy realize that he was rescuing her and not..., twenty seconds to cut her from the tree and throw her over his left shoulder (there was a mass of rope, blanket and something else trapping her and he had no time to waste trying to free her) and five minutes to carry her to a safe distance thanking all his saints the blacker-by-the-minute night all along.
Miss Peggy was frozen with expectation and terror and thus made no sound whatsoever all along so, after the now bound and gagged guard awoke and made enough noise to awake somebody, when the whole camp of dirty worms started to scream and look for her, he had quite a safe distance to them. But he was on foot, and they were jumping on their horses (he had calculated that it was too risky to try to do something with them) and had spotted them.
Now Roscoe was running at the top of his personal limit, Miss Peggy was now screaming so loud under her gag that he could understand what she was yelling. 'They're coming!'
But then Roscoe saw with the corner of his eye the sheriff's posse rushing to meet him. A couple of cowboys were almost reaching him from behind when two shots were heard and they fell from their horses, one had a bullet in his leg and the other one through-and-through on his shoulder. Then the posse was passing through him and he could relax.
He apologized with Miss Peggy as he removed all those ropes, including those who were under the blanket, from her body. Man those worms were a bit lunatic! That much of hemp rop on a nearly naked woman... nearly naked woman? She was the boss' granddaughter!
Bot blushed when they realized her state of undress and distress, he turned around and gave her his jacket, which was very big for the young woman and thus served to cover her a bit better than the ruined coat and blanket. There was barely a gunfight at the Pine and all was over and weirdly quiet, the two black men that had shot the cowboys were coming closer to them. One of them was carrying a poncho that engulfed Miss Peggy, but at least she was completely covered now, then the sheriff arrived next to the small group.
'That's odd... they have all surrendered to us and, yet, they have a grin in their faces that I can't understand. It looks like they have an ace in the hole of some kind...'
Her father, her uncle and her brother were arriving (the sheriff had forbidden them to take part of the attack) and soon she was hugging them, kissing them and crying. The sheriff, one of his deputies and the Jacksons stood at a distance to give them some privacy while they guarded them. All prisoners had been cuffed or had his hands tied behind the back by now and were forced to walk, except Julius who was helped to get on a mule.
Jimmy took his sister by the hand and made her stand behind their father and uncle, with the two black men flanking them (and helping to protect her from the prisoners view). The smug expression on the prisoner's face grew when the Carvilles realized who was the only woman among them. Annabelle? But... how? Wasn't she supposed to be... at the ranch?
'This is my daughter Emily, Annabelle's twin sister...'
The sheriff had to hold her father as he was surely about to punch the old man!
'And I must tell that a certain... Gertrude Hamein... Harmein... GERTRUDE! Is working for me actually, not for you. And that, by now, my despicable brother, that bitch Olive and all the others back at the Carville House, that I helped to build with my bare hands!, are under the guard of the other half of my men... so would you mind to free us now?'
Her father had been her grandpa's foreman once he decided to finally settle down after all the adventures he had endured after he left that fjord in Norway, and back in the day he was intimidating with his massive and big frame of a body. Now he was like a raging bull, with her brother and uncle (and the sheriff and a deputy) having to do a great effort to prevent him to beat the frail old man! And they were really having a hard time!
'Excuse me? Mr. Carville? Hey, Mr. Carville! Mr. Carville-HANSEN!'
Now everybody was looking at Moses, and his grin.
'What are you smiling at? WHAT ARE YOU...' – Mathias yelled a bit too louder even considering the distance between them (Moses was at about twenty feet at his right).
'Calm down Mr. Carville, please calm down. And look behind you, please.'
Puzzled more than ever, Mathias Carville-Hansen (and all the others) turned around and saw what looked like a... cart of two horses flanked by two riders closing fast on them.
But they were too far away to identify anybody, and yet the two young blacks had such a Cheshire Cat' smile plastered on their faces.
'Can... can you see who they are? Can you really see, Moe?'
'Yes Mr. Carville(-Hansen). The riders are Ken's brother, Angus, and Bolt's son, Farrel. As for the people on the cart, they're your father-in-law, your mother-in-law and your wife...'
As the riders and the cart got closer, and Moses' words got proven as correct, the posse and the Carvilles rejoiced in the same proportion than their prisoners got either in a deep somber mood or completely dumbfounded.
Both Natalie and Olive got out of the cart even before Marcus had managed to stop it completely, and were hugging (and crying with) Peggy as Marcus (even with all the obvious trouble) got out of it without the usual help. HE was looking at him. He wouldn't HIM see himself needing help, Hell would froze first! The hatred they exchanged through their eyes was palpable, then he decided that he had better things to do.
'Yes Mr. Carville?'
'There are thirteen spineless maggots back at the ranch waiting for you to provide a new home for them. Two of... of..., this... man's daughter and a woman tried to get me and my family a prisoner in my own home! With a little help of two cousins of those two -and he pointed at the Jacksons- and our French maid, my wife was able to overpower them and set a trap for the group that was supposed to be keeping me a hostage for this... man's plans.'
'Any casualties, Mr. Carville?'
'Two of the men had bullets to be removed from their bodies, nothing serious and the procedure was already done, and his daughter got royally beaten up... but that's it.'
Julius made a movement as if he was about to say something but Marcus cut him short.
'I am carrying a loaded gun. Just try to talk to me, JUST TRY IT, and I'll relieve the world from your infectious presence. Sheriff, can you stop by the House for lunch? We'll have a chat then, before you remove his filth from my lands...'
'Of course Mr. Carville...'
And Marcus returned to the cart, where his wife, daughter and granddaughter were waiting for him, without bothering to look at Julius even once more.
During the long ride back to town, the prisoners were ordered to stay silent and thus had to mutter to themselves their own perplexity. How things could have failed?
Texas, three months later
'So you can speak English very well?'
'Of course. You see, I had to speak my native language, French, everyday except on Sundays. Sundays my father picked the whole family, put on his boat and took us through the Channel, to the Anglican church. But if a ‘French maid’ doesn't speaks 'wif a Frenjsh agzent' she's not French. She's from Iowa, from Nevada, who knows..., maybe even from somewhere in Texas! But not from France. Thus, I had to zpeekhe wif ze agzent!'
'Very well... and how did Mrs. Olive Carville knew that you could not only speak English without any 'French accent', but that you could mimic other people's voice as well?'
'It's... it was a private joke between us the women at the Carville House. A few years ago only Consuelo knew that my accent was fake, and the Carville had a visit. Please don't make tell who was this visit... please... Anyway this visit was quite histrionic and, after he was gone, Ms. Jacqueline found me exaggerating his already exaggerated behavior and we all had a good laugh, and a reprimand from Mrs. Olive when she found out about it. But, little by little, my 'interpretations' of actors or actresses from the movies got popular with the Carville ladies, who demanded that I kept 'my agzent' in public and private though.'
'And what happened after Rochelle Jackson set you free?'
'Well, I was very surprised to see her and her sister Norma in the room, but not Mrs. Natalie and, while they freed us both, they told us what had happened and what has been all the commotion we had just heard. How the two... women... stormed inside the room only to be welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Carville (who while in bed were fully clothed and awoke) and them and how they all had their guns drawn. From the way that Rochelle and Norma had positioned themselves their guns did touch Annabelle and Gertrude’s faces, and there were the guns on both hands of both Mr. and Mrs. Carville! So first Norma, then Rochelle had reduced each woman to a standing reel of rope and had gagged them (most of the sounds we had heard at Ms. Jacqueline's room were their insults...). Mrs. Natalie removed all the bonds that they had forced her to put on Ms. Jacqueline, looked at her still narcotized daughter and stood there while me, Rochelle and Norma were ordered to free all women but to order them to not raise any alarm or turn on any light. It took us a while but we did and we all gathered in Ms. Peggy's room while Rochelle and Norma kept a watch on the two prisoners, they had a little help of Mr. Carville himself.'
'And Mrs. Natalie Carville?'
'She stayed at Mrs. Jacqueline during all the night.'
'And after that, what happened?'
'Well, Mrs. Olive told us that Mr. Carville had always kept an eye on his... on Julius. And with this recent revival of the Klan, he knew that it was a matter of time before Julius managed to convince a bunch of racists that a black man owning some land for himself was 'against God's laws' and everything else. It had worked in the past and he feared that it could work a second time. It was all about Julius’ greed, but he knew that many people could be fooled by Julius so he had developed a plan to the day that Julius resurfaced.'
'And this plan included hiding two black girls inside one of his granddaughter’s room for a full day without most of the house inhabitants realizing it? That was his strategy?'
'Oh no! Absolutely not! Rochelle and Norma... they are very great shooters and they were supposed to be the last resort. The moment Annabelle attacked Louella and Gertrude brought Ivana to the room they decided to play possum, and instead of freeing thir cousin and the nurse they rushed (silently of course) to Mr. Carville's room who ordered them to stay and help him set the trap. Mr. Carville apologized sincerely to all of us the next day, and besides it makes sense to set a trap when those were expecting to find a sleeping couple in the last room. And he gave us a 50% raise!'
The whole room laughed at the remark, the judge ordered them to be quiet and admonished her (for the last time, again) to stop provoking such reactions from the attendance.
'And when did Mrs. Olive Carville asked you to make your... performance?'
'Well we needed to know exactly what kind of signal they were supposed to give to their parents and friends, who were out there somewhere, and we needed to know as fast as possible. Then Mrs. Olive remembered that scene from a movie serial we had all seen at the Majestic (the local theater back in our town), 'Hazardous Mysteries of the Old House', did you saw it? It's from chapter six. The couple of heroes, Fred and Nancy, are captured by the bad guys at an abandoned hotel. They want to know where the couple hid the jewels of Nancy's family and decide to get the information from them at any cost. But Nancy had saved Lola, the bad girl of the gang, from drowning in a previous chapter and Lola doesn't wants that she gets hurt, only robbed. So she has a plan. The bad guys bind and gag Nancy quite thoroughly in front of Fred, seriously there was rope enough for three women on the actress' body, and she's carried to an adjacent room. There she's placed behind Lola (who has a similar hairdo of the heroine’s), but to Fred, who can only see the woman's shadow, Lola is Nancy. To give some credit to Fred, Lola is bound just like Nancy and is sporting a cleave gag (which is quickly removed) like her. Fred, who can only see the shadow of a woman being ungagged, believes that she is Nancy (whose gag is reinforced and has a couple of hands placed over her gag) and tells her to be brave. At first 'Nancy' pretends to, but as she is 'tortured' by the villains (who actually just pass the knives around her body) she starts to scream, and scream and scream... and since Lola is mimicking Nancy's voice perfectly, Fred falls on the trap and tells them where the jewels are. The leader of the bad guys leaves a bomb in the same room than the completely defenseless Nancy is and the gang rushes to get the jewels, while the poor couple is left on a dire peril!'
'And THAT was the plan? THAT was the strategy that you would follow?'
'First it was past midnight, past 2:00 AM actually. Second, Mr. Carville might have a huge collection of revolvers, pistols, rifles and the likes, but besides him, the Jackson girls (minus Louella) and his wife who else knew how to handle them? And Mrs. Olive could be hurt by the recoil of any of the guns! So that left only Kathryn (who's not a good shooter and is the first to admit it) as reinforcement. Third, Mr. Carville didn't wanted a shootout, we needed to trap those guys when they were at hand, not have a confrontation (in which any of us, ANY OF US not only his wife, his daughter and his granddaughter, could get shot) with unexpected results! And fourth, it worked didn't it?'
And how it had! After Mrs. Olive had ordered her to play that ruse on Gertrude they had had only ten minutes to check exactly where they could play it. Gertrude had been selected because she (Françoise) could pass for her more easily and Annabelle seemed to prefer to die rather than betray her father. Françoise took a good look at her eyes as they carried the struggling pair (three women carrying each captive) downstairs to the basement.
She had the eyes of Mme. Lóreant, who probably still believed that Dreyfus was a 'Jewish traitor' even with all the proofs that he wasn't. Not rational ones.
After twenty minutes of ‘normal’ interrogatory they decided to let the black girls ‘torture’ Annabelle and, thanks to a quickly and poorly rehearsed and yet well played ruse, Gertrude truly believed that she was seeing Annabelle’s shadow surrounded by the Jackson girls in an adjacent room. The real Annabelle was being kept in the farthest corner of that room in Kathryn’s arms and, just like ‘Nancy’ in the serial, she had her gag reinforced. But the real trick happened when Louella (who could believe that that girl had such a devious mind?) stabbed an apple that she had on the sly placed between her legs. Seeing ‘Annabelle’ being stabbed in the leg to the point that knife was stuck, and hearing the horrible scream that she managed to create, was enough to make Gertrude comply and tell them everything...
After the trap was set, Louella managed to get to the barn where some of the cowboys were and tell them about the incoming visitors, and had worked Annabelle got nuts and started to call everybody, specially the women and specially her cousins, all the names that she wished she never ever had learned what they meant! But after she called the late Mrs. Jackson THAT, Rochelle, who was far more hothead than the usual hotheads, turned her around, cut her bonds and shoved her to the front of everybody. ‘You want a fight, a fair fight, then fight...’. And how Annabelle got beaten! If they ever created a Female Boxing League, the impetuous Rochelle Jackson was a serious candidate to World Champion!
Françoise’s testimony lasted a few more minutes and she gave an interview to press afterwards. The Carville Case had attracted way too much attention. She even had to answer some question in French! The verdict was very obvious to anyone; the attackers who were somehow linked to Julius Caesar Carville were more interested in the millions he would demand to release his brother, while those who weren’t were most likely interested in seeing the Jacksons ‘learn their lesson’... and were from out of the county. And she had heard from the maid who worked for the family of the local chief/boss of the KKK that they hadn’t liked the blemish of ‘suckers/idiots’ that they had brought to the klansmen!
When would this family feud end? It had started way back right after the War for Southern Independence. And now, over 120 years after, things got still the same! His family again found itself in the middle of the hostilities and was being used as a lame excuse to recruit helpers to one of the sides of the feud.
Maxine Carville, his daughter’s best friend and the youngest offspring of the town’s mayor and biggest benefactor, was being held captive by her 4th or 5th cousins who, at least, had tried to disguise their intent of simply get the famous ‘share of Julius Carville’ with the excuse of teaching a family of ‘traitors of the race’ (she was half-Mexican) a ‘valuable’ lesson. The micro camera showed that she was fine. She was obviously scared and those ropes seemed to be digging deep on her flesh (that would leave some marks!), but they seemed to have not hurt her (much). No bruises or black eyes, which was more than they had done with Maxine’s boyfriend when they took her.
She was in the back of the house they had rented to use as base, alone and on a bare mattress. The five kidnappers were scattered in the front, in two different rooms. Roy and Erik Carville and three skinheads. And those were the ******** who had set fire on his family’s house! It was better for them to not react!
‘Sheriff Jackson? Sheriff? We are waiting, sir?’
The SWAT team was ready, his other men were ready and he was ready... he only prayed that this was the last time a situation like that happened... and gave the order.
Maxine Carville was rescued without a single shot fired. She was with her family in less than one hour, and then went to visit her boyfriend at the hospital. That night, both the sheriff and the mayor, in their own homes, did exactly the same thing.
They watched, again, 'Hazardous Mysteries of the Old House' (Marcus had bought a copy shortly after the trial that sent his brother to die in prison, from which they had made DVD copies), and afterwards the old Army buddies phoned to each other and talked about their lives, the never ending feud between the Carvilles and their fears that, one day, another descendant of Julius Caesar Carville appeared at the county...