The wagon could be seen against the moon as it crested the ridge. The two mules plodded along while the two women that occupied the seat sat silently contemplating their thoughts and trying to ignore the pain of their injuries.
In the bed of the wagon lay the bodies of three men dressed in the sheets and hoods of the Nightriders.
It had taken the better part of the previous day for the two women to bury their dead family members—husbands and children. The two Irish families had immigrated to America four years before the American Civil War, because their relatives had praised America. They had been full of hope and looked for a better way of life, all because they had read of the freedoms set forth in the American Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
The English ruled Ireland with a 'rod of iron' and they used that rod to beat down a proud people. There were none of the freedoms set forth in the American Constitution and so the families had emigrated from Ireland. For a time the two families had found peace and a bit of prosperity in the Missouri territories, but all of that was gone now! Their homestead was in ashes, their animals and loved ones dead. Their hopes and dreams destroyed by bigotry.
The younger woman twisted a bit in her seat as she tried to ease some of the pain. She had fought hard against the attackers and felt the bite of the lash for all of her efforts. It was plain to see by the light of the moon that the back and sides of her tattered dress were soaked through with blood.
The second woman cradled her left arm because of a gunshot wound to her bicep. A visit to help a neighbor in childbirth had saved her from being at home when the Nightriders had attacked. It was she that had saved the other woman!
The attack had been going on for some time when, Maeve, for that was her name, returned. The Nightriders could not see Maeve because of the bright flames shooting from the house and barn had ruined their night vision, but Maeve could see everything that was happening clearly, the bodies of the children and the men lying around the yard and the half-dozen men in white robes with hoods trying to rape her younger sister, Shaylee. The young woman fought like a devil. She disabled two of her attackers with a well-placed foot or knee but was finally defeated due to the overwhelming odds. As the two injured men lay on the ground clutching their privates and moaning the other men tore the top of Shaylee's dress down and tied her to a tree.
Maeve's heart turned to stone and a virulent hatred filled her whole being as she viewed what was happening. The time for tears and grief would come later. She moved the wagon off of the road and tied the mules to prevent them from running away when all of the shooting started. The woman then took the rifle and found a good place from which to shoot.
The first man to fall was the man with the lash—his head exploded. Maeve rolled ten feet to her left and fired again. This time, the man that had seen her muzzle flash and returned fire fell. Maeve now rolled back to her right fifteen feet and fired at the man that was about to shoot her sister.
The Nightriders now figured that there were at least three people on the ridge shooting at them, they didn't like even odds and ran for their horses. Maeve got off two more shots wounding two of the three attackers as they fled. She wasn't sure but she thought that they were both gut shot and would die horribly slow and painful deaths—at least she could hope they would!
Maeve went to help her sister.
There was no need for talk as the wagon made it's way into town—the women had already laid out their plans for retribution.
There is nothing more dangerous, than a person that has lost absolutely everything.
Let me say it again, so that you understand how important this is.
There is nothing more dangerous, than a person that has lost absolutely everything.
At one-thirty in the morning the wagon rolled up behind the general store and the two dismounted. The older woman wore the holsters and guns of two of the dead men. The younger woman wore the one remaining weapon from the dead men, but she also had her husband's Le Mat pistol as her secret weapon (the Le Mat is a nine shot revolver, usually of .42 caliber, with a small smoothbore shotgun barrel under the main barrel.) Along with the handguns each woman carried a double-barreled shotgun.
Quietly the two went to the general store and got the three kegs of black powder, a case of dynamite, blasting caps and fuses ... literally all of the explosives available. The dead men didn't complain about the weight of what was loaded on top of them.
It took the rest of the night for the women to complete their plans. The two were very near to exhaustion from lack of sleep and loss of blood by the time things were ready, but cold hatred drove them on.
The next stop was the small combination church and school.
When they entered the building they went to the back room where the new preacher lived. The two women, quiet as church mice, snuck into the preacher's quarters and found him sound asleep. Shaylee drew a revolver and pointed it at the man's head while Maeve shook him awake. He moaned and complained as he woke slowly, but became fully awake when he felt the cold steel of the gun barrel against his forehead.
"Get up, you filthy bastard!" hissed Shaylee, "and take off them long johns."
"But ... but, you ... you can't be serious," sputtered the Parson.
Without a word, Shaylee moved the barrel lower, changing her aim from the man's head to his privates. Slowly, she started to pull the trigger. The Parson saw the woman's finger begin to move, and quickly crab walked up the bed trying to get his genitals out of the line of fire.
"All right! All right! I'll do it, just don't shoot."
Maeve had been searching the room as Shaylee was getting the Parson naked. What she found made her blood boil. In the corner of the room was a large basket with the bloodied attire of a Nightrider, and some bloody cloths that had been used to wash out a wound as well as a basin of bloodied water on the washstand.
"Will ya look at this?" she said as she held the offensive garment up for her sister to see.
The Parson used Shaylee's distraction to make a break for the door, but before he was no more than a step out of the bed Shaylee shot out his knee.
With a scream the man fell to the floor, writhing in agony.
"Bet that hurts 'bout as much as bein' whipped," Shaylee said coldly.
Maeve pulled her knife out and moved to the man's side and began to cut his long johns off. Once the Parson was naked the women saw that he had a bandage around his middle.
"Thought I nicked at least one of the bastards as they were running for the horses," said Maeve.
They bandaged up the new wound and then tied the Parson to the bedstead before returning to the chapel. Once there, they cut down the cross that was hanging from the beam along the back wall.
Next, they dragged the Parson out into the chapel and tied him to the cross and then propped the cross against the altar, upside down. They then flanked him with the dead men from the wagon.
Maeve looked at Shaylee and asked, "You sure?"
The other woman nodded and said, "What have we to loose?"
Maeve nodded once and strode to the bell cord and began to vigorously ring the bell. Within minutes every person in the small hamlet was running to the church. In six minutes total the entire populace was standing in the chapel looking agape at the bloodied body of their new Parson hanging from the inverted cross.
Several men finally regained their senses and started to move to help the Parson. Before the men took two steps Maeve fired both barrels of her shotgun into the ceiling. Men bellowed, women screamed and children cried because of the deafening roar from the ten gauge's blasts.
"All of you sit down, NOW!" yelled Shaylee as she pointed her shotgun at the crowd while Maeve reloaded.
"What is the meaning of this ... this..." sputtered the Mayor.
"Mister Mayor, you'd best shut your mouth or the next round will be in your gut," said Maeve interrupting the Mayor as she brought her gun to bear.
Though he was a total blowhard, and not too smart, the Mayor got the point and snapped his mouth shut. At that instant two of the townswomen began to scream. They ran towards the bodies that lay on the flood next to the cross.
Shaylee let go of her shotgun with her left hand, drew her .45 firing at the feet of the two women, stopping them before they could get to their men.
"SIT DOWN, OR DIE WHERE YOU STAND!" yelled Shaylee.
The older of the two women turned toward Shaylee and said, "Ya kilt ma boy and his paw you whores of Babylon. Parson done tolt us all about ya Irish Papists and ya sinful ways, and you'll burn in hell for this. Ya may as well shoot me 'cause I'm gonna tend to my dead no matter what you say."
Shaylee shrugged and said, "Have it your way." The woman fell with a bullet in her forehead. Everyone screamed with shock, horror and indignation. Shaylee fired another bullet into the ceiling.
One of the other townswomen said, "Shaylee? Have you gone mad? Why are you doing this?"
Shaylee thought for a minute then said, "Mad? Perhaps so, but know this! Before these men died they killed my man and my children and Maeve's family too. Then they burned our homestead and tried to have their way with me! I fought and got this for my troubles." Shaylee turned and pulled the top of her dress down to her hips baring her bloodied lash marked back to the people.
"We were friends once. Then that man came and poisoned your minds! You people have sown the wind and will now reap the whirlwind!" said Maeve as she struck a match and lit a fuse.
The people watched, confused, not knowing where the fuse went. Then, one after another the buildings of the town exploded. The town's women wept and four of the men tried to rush the Irish women. The men died as double-ought buckshot perforated their bodies. Several others behind the men were wounded too. Shotguns are not precise weapons.
The two Irish women backed out of the door locking it as they went. When they were twenty feet from the church Maeve lit a second fuse. This fuse went to the three full casks of black powder placed under the church. The two women ran for their lives. The townspeople forced open the doors at the same instant that the burning fuse reached the powder.
The explosion was horrendous!
The women picked themselves up off of the ground, and went to their wagons ... yes, wagons, plural. Earlier, they had packed up the entire stock of the general store into their wagon, and the wagon of the owner of the livery stable (both were numbered among the three Nightriders that had been killed at the homestead).
As Maeve drove one of the wagons down the street, Shaylee ran back and forth from the wagon to the piles of rubble that once had been the town, with kerosene and a torch. Within an hour, everything was ablaze.
The two weary women drove away ... hopefully to a better place, and a new life, as owners of a general store.
Edited By TeNderLoin