Chapter 11: double hangin
He went back out to the court room, an' the others were outside waitin. Where's Peter; 'e asked. Sally said; he left. He just told me to keep good care of Mandy, an' 'e left. We tried to get 'im to come out, but 'e wouldn't have it. I think 'e's hurtin. We all are honey. Let's go get Mandy. John spoke up, an' said; how bout you folks go on out to the farm, I'll go by 'n git 'er. Ya sure John? Yea, you go on. I'll go on out an' git 'er, an' meet ya at the house. Ok then, we'll see ya at the house for supper then. See ya then. Penelope asked Joseph what 'e thought of John. Joseph said; he's probably hurtin too, just like all of us, but 'e's helpin us get home easier by goin by to pick up Mandy. They headed out, an' the whole town watched as they drove by. Not a word was said by anybody in that town. The trip home was quiet too. Joseph did tell Sally an' the others that the judge hated the decision the jury came up with, an' how sorry 'e was. Sally was mad. He wasn't sorry enough to reduce 'er sentence. He still said…well, you know. Nothin we can do Sally; Penelope said. All we can do now, is wait till this baby's born, an' go through with what has to be done. You don't have to go in when we do it if ya don't want Sally, or you Josephine. They all agreed that they were in this together, an' they'd stay that to the very end. By the time they got to where the Benton drive turned off, John an' Mandy were waitin there for 'em. He told 'em; Mrs. Benton insisted that we stop by there for supper. She wouldn't have no part of us goin on home without eatin. She ordered me to get ya up to the house, so let's go folks. They all knew better than to argue with Mrs. Benton, so they headed up the drive an' had a feast with the Benton's afore goin home. They also had to explain what all happened in the court room, an' the outcome, which disturbed Mrs. Benton a great deal, an' Mandy was hurtin so bad she was cryin her big green eyes dry. She couldn't pull herself away from her aunt Penelope. She plum cried herself to sleep. Joseph carried 'er to the wagon, an' they went on to the house. After 'e carried 'is daughter in and put 'er to bed, 'e went out with Johns help to do the evenin chores, afore returnin to go to bed 'is self. Everybody was so distraught they none stayed up to talk. They all just went right to bed soon as they could. The next mornin Joseph got up an' went out to do the chores an' 'e gathered the eggs too since Mandy was down with a heart ache. John helped 'im do the chores, an' told 'im since 'e made plans to be gone for some time, 'e'd stay till Monday, an' help with the hangin if 'e wanted 'im to. That'd be good; Joseph told 'im. Let's go fishin this week, help get this off our minds maybe. Maybe it'll help. At least it can't hurt none. The plan was set. They'd invite the girls to another picnic, an' go fishin at the same time. They went in with the milk an' eggs, an' Joseph told Sally; John an' me, we made a plan. We decided it'd do us all good to have another picnic this week some time. What do ya think? We 'as thinking it'd help get our minds off things, an' help everybody relax a bit. Yea Joseph, it just might help. Let's do it say, Thursday? Thursday it is; he agreed. Sally told Mandy about the picnic, but she wasn't interested so much. She just wanted 'er aunt Penelope to stay forever. Well honey. Like we always teach ya, nobody stays forever, not even me or yer paw. Not even you honey. I know maw, but why do they have to hang 'er? The tears went flowin again when she said that. That poor little girl just couldn't quit thinking about that rope an' her aunt Penelope. An' puttin the two together made it even worse. Her maw did 'er best to ease 'er pain, an' quiet 'er down, but nothin seemed to work. She asked Penelope if she could talk to 'er, an' she agreed. She went in the room an' laid on the bed next to Mandy an' said; how ya feelin little 'on? I'm fine I guess, but my heart hurts. Mine does too sugar, but ya know what? What? Well, try to look at it this way. Dyin is like takin a trip. A trip of a lifetime. One like ya aint ever took afore. Ya get to go to a place like no other on this ol' earth. A place so beautiful, with flowers all year long, an' it don't get cold, an' ya never ever get sick or hurt again. Does it rain or snow there? Nope, never. It's such a beautiful place Mandy, an' my papa's there, an' my maw, that's yer grand paw, an' yer grand maw. I get to see them again, an' it's gonna be such a sweet reunion. It's what we all work for, to get to heaven, but we gotta die to get there. The only bad part's the dyin part. After that, it's all milk an' honey. Actually, I'm kinda lookin forward to it, even though I know you'll miss me, an' I'll miss you too. But I promise you right now, I'll be with ya every second of every day, right here in that big heart of yours. Ya will? Yes little lady, I sure will. Sides, you'll have a new baby sister, or brother to help remember me by. That's my biggest promise ever, an' it's to just you. Thank ya Aunt Penelope. I just wish they didn't have to……you know. I know sugar, but you don't worry none. Yer paw says it don't even hurt. It's so fast. I won't even know when it happens. Really? Yea. Now come here, an' give me a big hug. I love ya my little niece, an' I'll love ya forever. I love you too Aunt Penelope, forever too. They held each other an' rocked back an' forth, till Mandy was asleep again.
Penelope slipped out of bed an' went in the kitchen where Sally an' Josephine were talkin, an' they had heard what she said to Mandy. That was the best thing I ever heard Penelope; Sally said. Well, thank ya; she smiled. That's all I could think of to help 'er not to hurt so much. I think she'll be ok now though. I hope so; Sally agreed. By the time Thursday rolled around, Mandy had recovered some, an' was kinda getting excited about this picnic. Her paw had went to town yesterday with John, an' they come back with some brand new store bought fish hooks, an' they was gonna try a new type fishin. Trot lines they told 'er. What's trot lines paw? Well, ya take this tiny rope here, called twine, or cord, an' run it way out in the river with a bunch of baited hooks on it, see. Then ya just let it set in the river for bout a couple hours or so, an' when ya pull it in, ya got however many hooks ya have on it, only ya get that many fish, all at once. Wow. I can't wait, but who's gonna drag it way out in the river, an' bait them hooks out there? Oh, uh. We'll let John wade the river. They all laughed, an' John explained they'd bait the hooks, an' then throw it out, tied to a rock. That way it'll sink right where the biggest fish are. She was well ready to try this new type fishin. Sally packed a big basket of food, an' by noon, they was headed for the river, the whole family. They tried the trot line fishin, an' had a bit of trouble the first few times tryin to throw it out, but John finally got the hang of it, an' got it right where they wanted it. They fished with the reglar poles while they waited, an' when they finally pulled it in, they had a ton of fish on it. Too many for Mandy to count. Big'ns too. An' too many Joseph thought, for him to clean. But with Johns help, they cleaned all the fish, an' had fish for supper that night, an' dinner the next day, an' even took a big mess to Mrs. Benton.
Monday came, an' Joseph, John, an' the girls went to town to get on with this hangin. Mandy wanted to watch, so she would know what happens when they do it to Penelope, but Joseph didn't think it'd be a good idea. He told 'er it'd be best if she stayed at Mrs. Benton's again, cause it would upset 'er too much. He didn't want 'er ever to have to see anything like that, ever. She didn't like the ruling, but she went along to Mrs. Benton's place anyway, an' stayed there till they came back to get 'er. Sides, Mrs. Benton always had a cake cookin, or a sweet pie. An' she always gave Mandy plenty to eat, anytime she wanted. That's probably why she's so big; Mandy thought. After they dropped 'er off, they went on into town, an' Joseph let the ladies off at the café while him an' John went to the jail, where the sheriff was waitin with the men to be hanged. He went in to see the men, an' see how they was reactin. Sam Smith was sittin on 'is bed lookin out the window. Bill Green was pacin the floor like 'e 'as waitin for somethin to happen, an' save 'im from the noose. How ya doin Bill? I'm fine marshal. Ya ready for this? I been ready to die for years marshal. Are you ready? I'm ready. How bout you Sam, ya ready? No sir. Well Sam, there aint nothin I can do for ya. Want a preacher to talk to? No sir. That's ok. Thanks all the same. No problem Sam. Well marshal; Bill spoke up. I see they gonna hang yer damn sister haw haw. Yea, but I'm gonna hang you today. She gets to live awhile. At my house. Free like. Eatin good food whenever she wants. Goin for walks whenever she wants. We went fishin last week, me an' her. She didn't catch anything, but she sure laughed a lot. How bout you Bill, when's the last time ya laughed? When's the last time ya went outside? Kiss my ass marshal. I don't think so. It'll be full by half past twelve ya know. I'll see you boys later, an' we'll go for a walk together. Your last walk Bill. He went back out to talk to the sheriff, an' explain what's to happen. We'll take 'em both out together; 'e said. An' what I'll do is drop my kerchief like this, an' when I do, ya pull that handle. Ok? Ok marshal, I think I can do it. Ya can't think sheriff. Ya gotta know for sure. Can ya do it? I know ya never done it afore, so if ya need, I can get Sheriff Weston here to do it for ya. Ya can? Well, if ya can, please do marshal. I know they deserve it, but I just don't know for sure if I can actually hang a man or not. Not with 'im lookin at us like 'e will be. He's an evil man sheriff. He needed killin a long time ago. I'll just have John do it for ya, but I still want ya up on that platform,so ya can see it up close, an' start getting use to it. Ok marshal, an' thanks. You just have 'em ready by fifteen to twelve. Have plenty deputies. I got 'em lined up already sir. Ok, we'll be back in time to do this at twelve, just like Judge Parker ordered. He an' John walked out to inspect the gallows. They looked to be good enough for the job, so they walked over to the café where the ladies were waitin. They had coffee an' visited till half past eleven, an' headed back to the jail to get started. Everybody in town was waitin for the marshal to head to the jail just afore twelve, so they'd be right in front for the hangin. His sisters were right there watchin like everybody else. They was sittin next to the judge, an' not one person said a single word to Penelope. Joseph looked over by the bank, an' saw Peter standin there to watch these men hang, holdin a shotgun. He didn't expect to see 'im here, but it was no big deal. They went in the jail, an' the sheriff had the condemned men shackled an' waitin for 'im to walk 'em out. Soon as they reached the street, cheers went up, an' Peter shot the shotgun off by some people an' the noise stopped dead. Not another sound could be heard, except the footsteps of the men climbin the gallows to that thirteenth step, an' the platform they would drop from to their death. It didn't seem to bother Bill Green, but Sam Smith had tears runnin down 'is cheeks. Joseph decided to let him go first so Bills fallin wouldn't make 'im pass out or somethin, an' make it harder to hang 'im. John put the nooses around their necks while Joseph stood afore each man. He went to Sam Smith an' said; Sam Smith, you have been condemned to die by hangin by Judge Parker on this day, June fifteenth, eighteen hundred an' seventy three, at high noon. Do ya have any last words Sam? No sir. Ya wanna make peace with the lord Sam? I don't think 'e wants my kind sir. Sure 'e does, all ya gotta do is ask 'im Sam. He'll forgive anybody, even you. Ya sure marshal? Yea. It'll make ya feel better Sam, if ya do. Ok then, I need forgiven. It's done. An' soon as 'e said done, 'e dropped 'is kerchief, an' John pulled the handle that dropped Sam Smith to 'is death. Then 'e stepped over to Bill Green an' said; Bill Green, you have been condemned to die by hangin by Judge Parker on this day, June fifteenth, eighteen hundred an' seventy three at high noon. Any last words? Yea, I do. I want ya to know I took your sister, an' I can't wait till they hang the bitch. You lose marshal. Yea, an' I'm gonna watch ya hang Bill, an' so is she. Bill spit in 'is face an 'is reflexes went off, sendin a punch to the gut, which made 'im buckle, an' when it happened, Joseph dropped his kerchief, an' John pulled the handle. Bill Green fell through the trap door alright, but 'e hit the edge first, slowin 'im down some, so 'is neck didn't break. Joseph an' John casually walked down the steps, an' reported to the judge that 'is neck didn't break, an' 'e'd have to strangle to death. It should only take bout ten, or fifteen minutes maybe, if that long. Joseph was lookin right at Bill Green when 'e said it, an' 'e could see 'is eyes bulgin. All 'e said was, well Bill, ya won't spit on anybody no more, will ya. An' 'e watched him strangle till 'e was dead. He turned to the judge an' said; Justice served. Then 'e turned to 'is wife an' sisters an' said; let's go home, an' he an' John helped the ladies up an' in to the wagon. They all went home, leavin the two men hangin, an' the town watched the marshal an' 'is family as they drove by. Everybody was shocked that the man would let a man strangle to death, an' not put 'im out of 'is misery. Some thought 'e botched the hangin. Others knew the truth. They knew just what happened, but nobody said a thing about it. Not even the judge.
They went by an' picked up Mandy, an' went on home an' Sally an' Josephine got started on supper. Penelope was kinda upset that she watched Bill strangle like 'e did, but it did seem fittin for the heathen man. She just sit in the chair an' watched as Joseph made a fire, an' had a smoke with John. It made 'er feel good that Joseph had such a good friend, an' she hated the fact that the men she got stuck with for so long were the men that murdered 'is family. She knew there was nothin she could do to make it up to 'im, an' she hurt for that. She hurt for a lot of things that'd happened in the last month or so, but there was nothing to do now but wait till she had that baby, an' get this life over with. She just hoped Peter didn't make a fuss with Joseph. She didn't wanna lose either one of 'er two brothers, cause she loved 'em both. However, she was fearful that she'd end up losin one of 'em, for Peter said if Joseph hanged 'er, 'e'd kill 'im, an' Peter never makes idol threats. He was a killer, an 'e was good at it too. But then, Joseph was good with a gun too, an' if it came to it, he'd kill pretty easy too. But could 'e kill 'is own brother? She thought; hangin me 's one thing, cause the judge told 'im to, but killin Peter, that's different all together. It'd be a fight. An ugly fight, an' one of 'em wouldn't walk away from it. Or maybe neither would.
She thought an' thought, till Sally was wakin 'er up for supper. Oh my; she said, I musta drifted off to sleep. Its ok dear; Sally said. I just thought ya better get in there an' eat afore Joseph, John an' Mandy eat it all up. I got a pork tenderloin in there, it's lookin mighty good too, so ya better get in there. Come on now. She went with Sally to the table where the family is waitin to eat. After supper, she went to bed early, an' woke up late the next mornin.