Mail Order Wife, page 11
William looked up to heaven, then down again. He had turned his back on God and now he was in trouble, his love was in trouble, and there was nothing he could do about it. Unless a miracle occurred it would be too late by the time he found Elizabeth. He knew what gangs did to women that they kidnapped. Tales of horror were told, and he did not want to imagine that his sweet wife, the love of his life, would be ravished. It would destroy her and that was something that he could not live with. He had once seen a woman who had fallen victim to a gang. They had not only destroyed her body, but her soul as well, and the dead look in her eyes had been one that William would never forget. A few days later she had been found floating face down in the river, having ended her life. The pain was too much to bear.
William bowed his head. “Oh Lord,” he groaned. “I am sorry. Please forgive me, Lord. Please forgive me.” He begged. “For so long I turned my back on You, because I blamed You for Amelia’s death. I walked away from You when I should have walked to You. It has taken the love and faith of a wonderful woman to make me realize that I have been very selfish in my life.” He sobbed. “Elizabeth lost so much, but she kept her trust in You. She had to leave everything she loved behind, but her faith was unwavering. She has taken my children in and loved them like a mother, and I turned my back on her and denied her love and security. Lord, please forgive me, and help me find my wife before it is too late. She is Your servant, she has loved You with all her heart. Do not let these evil men destroy this beautiful woman. Please help me, God.”
He was silent, and then was surprised when Black Thunder took off, almost unseating him. “Whoa there, Black Thunder,” he said, when he was in control once more. The horse was practically flying and then came to a sudden halt.
William looked around him and saw an old trail. To an untrained eye it looked unused, but William got off his horse, thankful for the full moon which lit up the surroundings, and he could clearly see. He had spent time with Sure Foot who had taught him how to track, and he looked at the ground keenly. Horses had been this way. He saw something fluttering in the gentle breeze. It was a piece of cloth caught in the brambles. He took it and smiled, recognizing it. Yes, he was on the right trail. He made as if to get back onto the horse and then he paused. Right there on the trail, he knelt down.
“Father, I thank You for being merciful to me, and showing me the way. Take me back, oh Lord. I know that I am not deserving of Your mercy and grace, but please hear my plea, please cleanse me and renew me once again. Please lead me on and let me find my wife, the love of my heart, and the mother of my children. And Lord, please keep her safe. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
Black Thunder was a sure-footed horse and that was why William loved riding him. He carefully picked his way on the trail, stopping from time to time to get his bearings right. He had been riding for almost an hour when he sensed Black Thunder tensing up. There was an eerie silence and he knew great fear. He knew he was nearing his destination, whatever he sought, and he slid off the horse and knelt down again.
“Lord Jesus, I come to You at this moment. I am so scared, not only for my life, but for my wife’s life. You have led me this far, I submit to You now.” He wiped his tears. “I am before You on my knees, and I finally surrender to Your will. Have Your way in my life from this moment onwards. I give myself to You, Lord. Help me, please help me.”
He got back to his feet and held Black Thunder by the reins, leading him. There was a clearing ahead and he could hear men jeering and laughing. He peered between the trees and saw one of the men struggling with someone. He knew it was Elizabeth. Once again hopelessness and helplessness filled him and he bowed his head again.
His Elizabeth was a virgin. She was a virtuous woman who had kept herself pure, even in the midst of her suffering in Boston. A lesser woman might have given in to temptation, all to secure her future, but not his wife. And she had come to him as a pure woman, untouched, unblemished, a precious gift to a husband. Her purity would have been a precious sealing of their marriage covenant. But he had not esteemed her, nor valued her, and now her life was about to be changed and destroyed.
On his way back from Amelia’s graveside in the woods, he had been thinking and come to the decision that loving Elizabeth was the right thing to do. He had decided that tonight would be the night when they would share their love. He knew Elizabeth would give herself willingly to him because he loved her, and he knew that she loved him. He had smiled as he thought about consummating their love, how he would be the first man to touch her, and how he would teach her not to be afraid of him or of their love.
But now it was not to be. He shook his head. He was sure that the men would take it in turns to destroy his beautiful wife’s body, but at this moment he did not care. As long as they did not kill her he would help her heal both in mind and body because she belonged to him, with him for eternity. She was his treasure and no matter how much treasure was trampled upon, it never lost its value. They would hurt her body, but he would be there to help her heal.
He knelt down for one more prayer.
~~~ *** ~~~
The bandits reached their hideout and the Jeffrey jumped off his horse, dragging Elizabeth off the animal, and she fell like a heavy sack to the ground. He laughed. He tried to drag her towards the cave, but she struggled and he let go. The other three men tied their horses and prepared to have fun with the woman that they had captured.
“You will make a mighty fine woman for some time,” he spat on the ground. Elizabeth lay unmoving on the ground and he swooped in and hurled her to her feet. His foul breath and bodily smell overcame her, and she retched and soon emptied the contents of her stomach on his shoes. He made a sound of disgust and dropped her once again.
“Get up,” Jeffrey shouted at her. “Get up woman, or I will shoot you this instant.” He was pointing a shotgun at her and she bowed down and began to sob.
Jeffrey looked at her and shook his head. This was a really stubborn one and he would break her in, and he would have fun doing so. But first he wanted to check on the cows to see if the gang’s property was secure. Other gangs often trailed them, trying to steal their booty from time to time. The woman was alright for now. She was going nowhere, helpless as a kitten.
“Watch her,” he called out to Dusty, and put his shotgun back in his saddle and turned his back. He did not know that Elizabeth had been praying for an opening, and when he had taken a few paces away from her she jumped up, fear and adrenaline giving her the strength she needed, and snatched the gun from the horse’s saddle.
Jeffrey turned in disbelief when he heard the gun being cocked. He took a step forward and Elizabeth raised the gun and fired into the air. He stepped back hastily. She looked at the other three who had left their horses a distance away. None of them had their weapons on them.
She knew how to aim and she could shoot straight, thanks to the hours of practice she had had with William. She squinted in the moonlight, wishing she had her glasses, and raised the gun, anger making her desire for revenge. These men had done evil to a lot of women and she was not going to be a victim. She would shoot them all. Then she shook her head. God would send her help just in time. She had that assurance in her heart. She would not kill them. Their time would come and they would die, but not at her hands.
~~~ *** ~~~
“Father, all strength is with You. You are the all powerful and all mighty God. You know what these evil men intend to do to my wife. I am helpless, and I do not know what to do. I am crying to you at this time. Hear me from heaven, Oh Lord, and answer me. Shield my wife, for she is the love of my heart. She is my portion from You, only I was too selfish and proud to acknowledge it before, but now I do. Please Lord, let it not be too late for Elizabeth, for us. In Jesus’ name...”
Before he could say his amen he heard a shot and quickly peered in the direction from which it had come. And a smile broke out on his face. His beautiful wife held a shotgun and she looked threatening indeed.
William looked ahead of him. He counted four men in all. His keen eyes looked around to see if there were possibilities of there being more men, but soon realized these four were who he needed to contend with. He quickly got onto his horse. He knew that it was just a matter of time before the bandits jumped Elizabeth and overpowered her. She had the upper hand right now, and another woman would already have shot and killed or maimed her abductors, but he knew his wife had so much compassion in her heart that she would not kill the men. He made one last prayer.
“Greater is the army of the Lord that is with us, than they are,” he murmured. “Lord, send Your mighty army to fight for Elizabeth this night, in Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.” And he released Black Thunder to begin her trot into the clearing ahead, careful not to expose himself to the bandits. He had seen the three horses and made for them to cut the bandits off from reaching them. He went around until he was between the men and their animals.
“Boss, do you hear that?” Roy looked around him in fear.
“Sounds like horses to me,” Lovejoy agreed. “Many horses, and they are headed this way.”
Jeffrey spat on the ground. “You be shaking like old women when you hear the rustling of the wind. Idiots.” He took one step forward towards Elizabeth and hastily jumped back when a shot rang out and a bullet grazed the dust at his feet. Dusty, Lovejoy and Roy fled back in terror.
“I come in peace,” William called out in a voice that sent the chills down the backs of the four bandits. “All I want is my wife. I have no interest in what you are about. Just release my wife to me.”
“Who are you?” Jeffrey tried for boldness.
“Remember Henry Plummer?” William said, and the four men took a further step backwards, away from Elizabeth. “My sister-in-law has gone to get the sheriff, and they are riding fast behind me. You all know what that means. You will be strung like Henry Plummer and his gang, but I am prepared to let you all go, on condition that you release my wife.”
The bandits held a hurried discussion. Jeffrey, and indeed the whole gang, had heard of Henry Plummer. Ten years had passed but the story still brought terror into the hearts of all who heard it, and especially those who were on the wrong side of the law.
Henry Plummer had been a handsome and charismatic man who was chosen by the Bannack community then to be the sheriff, but unknown to them he was also the leader of a gang who robbed and killed miners, and snatched their gold and other possessions. But their luck had run out when the settlers got tired of the killings and robberies. This was especially after one gang killed a well-liked Dutchman, called Nicholas Thiebalt. The outrage had led to the formation of vigilante groups, and one such group captured Henry Plummer and his two deputies when investigations pointed to them as being the ring leaders of the gangs, and the three were hanged without a trial.
Jeffrey swallowed hard. If the sheriff was on his way, it only meant one thing. There would be trouble, and especially when he remembered that the livestock in the second cave would be a dead giveaway. And the sheriff did not ride alone. He had a group of people with him, and no doubt people seeing the sheriff riding out would be interested, and there would be many others following, some of who might be the dreaded vigilante. And the sheriff was half Nez Perce, and was known to be a very keen tracker. This same sheriff had killed his father and part of their gang two years ago, and had been searching for Jeffrey. The bandit shook his head.
The vigilante spared no one. They had been known to snatch bandits from the sheriff as they were being taken to trial, and hang them without a trial, and Jeffrey wanted none of this. Life was precious. He was not about to lose all he had worked for, just for a mere slip of a woman.
“If you let us go, I will lead the sheriff away from you,” William said. “Time is running out, and I need your answer, or else it will be too late.”
“Ah, take your woman and be gone,” Jeffrey spat. “More trouble than she is worth.”
William smiled. “Elizabeth, come to me.” He kept his gun well trained on the four bandits as he watched his wife running towards his voice. “Come to the trees towards the horses,” he urged, and she ran faster, the shotgun still in her hands. She was not taking any chances.
When she got to William, he reached out a hand and hoisted her up behind him. She dropped the shotgun.
“Okay now?” he asked gently.
“Yes,” she whispered, clutching his waist with both arms and holding on for dear life. Her face was hidden on his back. He smelled so nice, so fresh, after the foul smell she had had to endure for hours.
William fired his rifle towards Jeffrey once again to disorient him and the bandits scattered, then he turned Black Thunder and they rode off.
Virginia was too agitated to sit still. She kept pacing in front of the house, her tears falling. “Lord, please forgive me. Please let Elizabeth and William be safe,” she repeated over and over again. Then she heard the sound of hoofs and sat down quickly on the step, just as William rode up to the house, Elizabeth clinging to his back.
He got off the horse and helped his wife down. She clung to him, still shaking from her ordeal.
“I am so sorry,” Virginia ran to her sister, who shrank from her and clutched at William. “I am so sorry, Elizabeth.”
William ignored her and held his trembling wife in his hands. She needed to know that she was safe and had nothing more to fear. “You are safe now, my love,” he whispered into her ear, and Elizabeth thought she had heard him wrong. “There is nothing to fear now.”
Gradually the trembling ceased and William knew the worst of it was over. He released her from his hug but kept her close to his side and then turned to Virginia, his features stern and clearly visible to Virginia in the bright moonlight.
“Of all the selfish things to do, Virginia, this was the worst. How could you be so stupid as to put my wife’s life in danger like that? Not to mention your own? Do you hate being here that much? Mmmh? Answer me,” he demanded.
“I am sorry.”
“You better be. If you feel this is not the place that you want to be, then when it is daylight pack your things and leave my home. You will not put my wife or my children’s lives in danger, all because you feel you must shine. I understand that you have lost your dreams and everything you hoped to achieve, but you can find new dreams and a new life, just not as a whore.”
Virginia held her head down in shame.
“Your sister lost so much more. And she sacrificed her life to bring you here, so that you would begin life anew, and is this how you repay her? By running off to shame yourself, and her, in front of drunks and bandits?” He clicked in disgust. “You think you are the only one who lost all you had? Have you ever stopped to consider your sister for just one moment? She cleans after you, and yet you are old enough to be doing that. She washes for you, cooks for you, looks after you as if you were a child, and yet you are a grown woman who will soon have her own home. Many nights your sister goes to bed quite exhausted, to wake up early and begin the cycle of work again, and you rarely help her. And when you do so, it is with a lot of grumbling.”
Virginia raised a stricken face to her brother-in-law. She had never heard William this incensed before and she knew that she had crossed the line this time.
“Yes, I have heard you myself. Your sister serves you without complaining, and this is how you repay her? You better thank God that I found her just in time, before anything bad happened to her, or else you would have paid for everything, Virginia. You would have paid dearly.”
“I am so sorry, it will never happen again, and I promise with my whole heart.” The girl was in deep anguish. Her sister would not even look at her.
“Pull yourself together and get your life
“I am sorry.”
“Go to bed, and let me think about what to do with you in the light of day. And do not take it upon your head to try and run away, because I will find you, and you will be sorry when I do. And in any case, if you want to leave then you can use your legs. Do not touch any of my horses, do you hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” Virginia said in a trembling voice. “Elizabeth, I am sorry.”
“Go on to bed.” William barked, and she scrambled up the steps and into the house.
Elizabeth made as if to go to the house but William restrained her. “I know you are tired, and soon I will let you go and get some rest,” William said as he led her to their spot on the porch.
“William,” Elizabeth held out a hand to her husband. “I am so sorry on behalf of my sister. Please forgive her. She is a wayward child, but she has a good heart. I know that she will change. She can change.”
“Well, she had better change, because the next time she tries something like this, I will not allow you to go after her and endanger your life.”
“I know she is so scared, and will not dare again.” She smiled sadly at her husband. “And thank you for risking your life to save me when you did not have to. I am sorry that we have been such a bother to you.”
William made a choking sound and swiftly moved to Elizabeth.
“Look at me,” he demanded softly and she raised tear-filled eyes to him. “You will never be a bother to me, Elizabeth,” he whispered. “I love you so much.”
Elizabeth gave a small cry and pulled back. “You don’t love me,” she turned her back on him, struggling with her tears. “You are still in love with your wife.”
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