Matthew watched as the firelight danced across the wet skin of his mother’s body.
“I don’t like it when you watch me take a bath.”
“I ran Simon Jenks off today. I almost had to shoot him.”
“What did he want?”
“He was wanting to court.”
“Why didn’t you let him come up to the house? We need a man around here.”
“One man’s enough.”
Matthew pointed at the rifle above the mantle.”How did we get that? I took it off of that thief after I shot him. Who makes sure the mortgage is paid every month? Me. Who worked the fields ten hours today? Me. By every measure there is I’m man enough.”
“You’re fifteen years old and my son.”
“I’ve said all I’m gonna say about it.” He said.
“Would you turn around so I can get out of the tub?”
Matthew didn’t move.
Marcy sighed and stood. She grabbed a towel and stepped out of the tub. “Take your bath and be sure to dump the water outside before you go to bed.”
Marcy was in her room brushing her hair. Her name rang as a deep groan through the small farmhouse. She blushed scarlet red as her nipples popped. She hung her head in shame as she felt the wetness between her legs. “What am I going to do?” she whispered. She turned out her lamp and crawled into her bed knowing she was facing another sleepless night.
“I have to go to Taylor to pick up some supplies and settle some accounts. Would you like to go? We could have lunch at that kitchen you like.”
“Mattie’s? That sounds good. Let me get ready.”
“OK, I’ll get the wagon ready.”
They had just finished eating when Matthew said, “I’ve got a surprise for you.” He slid a twenty dollar gold piece across the table. “We did really well at the market. Why don’t you go to Henson’s and get material to make some new dresses.”
Marcy’s face lit up. “Oh, Thank you!”
Matthew smiled. “You’re welcome.You’ve earned it. While you do your shopping. I’m going over to the Iron Rooster and have a drink.”
“I’m just having one.”
“OK, just one. I guess you’ve earned it.” They laughed.
Matthew broke into a run when he heard Marcy’s scream. He rounded the corner of the building. A man had Marcy pushed up against the building. Matthew bellowed in rage and punched the man in the head and followed through with a wild kick that connected with the man’s chest. The man slammed into the next building and reached toward his pistol. Matthew shot him.
Through the ringing in his ears, he heard a voice. “Holster the gun and turn around son. I’m the Sheriff so do as I ask.”
“He attacked my mother. I heard her screaming. I came around the corner. He had her against the wall. I hit and kicked him. He went for his gun and I shot the bastard.”
“Is that right, Ma’am?”
“Yes, sir. He was trying to make me kiss him and trying to t ... touch me. My son got him off of me.”
“Did he go for his gun?”
“I couldn’t see. My son was between us, but I believe him.”
“Sheriff, I saw it.”
“What’s that?” The Sheriff turned. “Oh, hello, James. You say you saw it?”
“Yes, sir. I was in my shop when George pushed her into the alley. I was reaching for my piece under the counter when that young man there came running around the corner. I got here right as he started talking. It happened just like he said. George reached first.”
The Sheriff nodded. “Thanks. Could you have Thomas come pick him up for me? I’ll have to ride out and tell Pearl.”
“Pearl?” Marcy asked.
“His wife, ma’am.”
“Matthew, give the sheriff fifty dollars to give to the woman.”
“Ma’am, there’s no need.”
“Yes, there is. She’s alone in the world through no fault of her own. I’ll bet she doesn’t have much married to the likes of him.”
“That she doesn’t, ma’am.”
“Tell her he won it playing cards or something right before he died.”
“Yes, Ma’am and thank you.”