Chapter7: the wire an' home sweet home.
Joseph got to the telegraph office an' told the operator 'e needed to send a wire to Kansas City, an' told 'im this is what 'e needed it to say;
to Peter Cates, in Kansas City. From marshal Joseph Cates, city of Jefferson, state of Missouri. Have arrested Penelope on murder charges. She said you can clear her name. If you don't, she will hang after her child is born. Please come at once. We need your help. Signed. marshal Joseph Cates.
That all?; the operator asked. Yea, that's all. Uh, Penelope who, marshal? Cates. Cates? You plan to hang your own sister? Send that wire. I have a job to do here, an' sometimes it aint all pretty. Ok, I'll send it. He sent the wire, an' waits for a reply. It didn't take long for the man on the other end to send the reply, but 'e didn't know how long it'd be afore this Peter Cates got the message, so it could be a day or more afore 'e got word back. That's ok. I'll be in town till tomorrow. You can find me or leave message at the sheriffs office. Ok marshal. That'll be eighty cents. He gives the man a dollar, an' told 'im to keep the change, an' give it to the messenger when 'e brings the message to the sheriffs office. Will do marshal. Good day sir. Good day marshal. When 'e got back to the jail, everybody was just finishing up dinner. Glad ya waited for me; 'e told John. Bill was cryin for food, so the sheriff decided to feed 'im. We just took advantage of it. Well, we gotta stay here till tomorrow, so Peter can get word back to us. We'll get a room at that hotel across the street there. Sheriff, can we keep these people in here till tomorrow? Sure can marshal. They aint goin anywhere. By the way, does she need anything? Like special treatment? Nah, just keep her to herself. She's pregnant, so keep them heathens away from 'er. John says: She's pregnant? Yea John, she is, with Jacks baby. Are ya sure? I mean, are ya sure it's Jacks baby? What are ya askin me John? Well, is it for sure Jacks? You sayin my sister fooled around on Jack? No, no, but what with what's happened, wouldn't you wonder? No John, I wouldn't. Let's just drop it, ok? Well, ok. No problems. He went in to see 'is sister one more time afore goin to the hotel. I'll be ok Joseph. You just go get some good food an' rest. I'll see ya tomorrow, when we get ready to leave. Joseph. Yea Penelope? I just want you to know. I really do love ya, ya know? I know little sister, I know. They hug afore 'e left with John, an' they headed to the hotel an' got checked in afore going to the café so 'e could get a bite to eat. Food was good, the storm blew over an' the rest of the day was nice and sunny. Morning came, an' still no word from Peter. When 'e was at the telegraph office 'e sent another wire to Kansas City.
It read; to Peter Cates. Kansas City. Could not wait in Boonville. Went to city of Jefferson. Send message there. Signed. marshal Joseph Cates. How much; 'e asked. Nothing for this one marshal. Much obliged. Good day. Good day marshal. He went back to the jail an' the prisoners were eatin' breakfast. Ok John, let's go to the café. Since they're eatin, we might as well do the same. Good. I'm hungry. They went an' ate, an' got back an' loaded up, then headed toward Jefferson. It was only about fifty miles, so they should get there tomorrow by noon pretty easy. Penelope road behind Joseph today, an' they took it easy the rest of the trip. The good weather held out, an' everything went smooth. They pulled in Jefferson on Saturday, just afore noon, an' went straight to the jail. The sheriff was in, so they had no problem gettin their prisoners booked in an' in their cells. The sheriff put Penelope in the far end from Bill Green an' Sam Smith. He kept them all separated so they couldn't talk, or plan anything foolish. When do we eat?; Bill asked. When we feed ya; the sheriff responded. Dinner is served at noon, supper at six. Breakfast is here at seven in the mornin. So ya don't have long to wait. I'll go over to Nellie's an' tell 'er they're here, so she'll send plenty food. Ok sheriff. We'll wait here till ya get back. No need for that Marshal. They aint goin no place. All the same, if ya don't mind, I'll stay. Ok then. I'll be back in a bit. It didn't take long afore 'e returned, an' Joseph went to Josephine's place to see his family, an' get some dinner 'is self, along with John. They were both over ready for some good food.
Sally met them at the door with open arms, an' Joseph ran to hug 'er. An' 'e reached down an' picked up Mandy an' gave 'er a hug an' kiss too. They were very happy to have 'im home. Josephine was glad they were there too, an' they was all glad to see John Weston again. There were hundreds of questions about their adventure, but the answers they got weren't all good ones. It ain't good Josephine. It looks like Penelope was runnin with 'em. I don't know for sure, cause she said Peter can clear 'er name. Has there been any word from 'im? No Joseph. Nothing. Well, she's "with child" too. That'll put a wrench in the works. Oh my goodness Joseph. Is she very far? She said three months or so, she thought. What about Jack? He's dead. I don't know if 'e knew or not. Joseph, I just don't know what to say. I don't either. He handed the tators to John, an' grabbed another pork chop. Sure is good eatin, eh John? Sure is. Dern sight better 'n your camp food. I thought I made good camp food. Sides, you do most of the cookin out there. I do, but nothing like this. Sally spoke up; what are we gonna do bout Penelope's baby? They can't hang 'er, can they? They can, but they won't. Not till she has that baby anyway. Oh my lord. Joseph. We can keep it, can't we? I mean, if it comes to, well, you know. We have plenty room. Let's talk about this later, when Mandy's asleep. Yes, of course. I'm sorry Joseph. Its ok Sally, just hand me some o' them biscuits, ok? Sure. Here.
After dinner, Sally an' Josephine insisted on goin' to see Penelope, but Joseph had to go see the governor an' the judge, to see if she could come out an' stay at the house till the trial, cause 'e was sure there would be one, an' 'e didn't want 'er in jail with the likes of Bill Green. Specially after what 'e'd done to 'er. Well, ok, they agreed to wait till the men got back. He and John set out for the court house, to see the governor, an' the judge. They had to see the judge to set a date for the trial, an' Joseph wanted to see the governor to see about lettin' Penelope stay with him an' Sally till the trial. What do ya think governor?; he asked. Well marshal, I just don't know. Maybe we better keep 'er in jail till ya here from Peter. Judge Parker has the final say though. The judge set the date for three weeks away, on a Monday. He decided to have a jury trial. Three weeks aught to give Peter time to send word; 'e said. Ok judge. We'll keep 'er in jail till I get word. Ya want me to find a jury? Nah Joseph. I need to get Sheriff Jones to do that. We gotta have unbiased people. You understand. Yea judge, I reckon I do. They went back to the jail to see Penelope an' tell her what the judge said, an' let 'em all know that there was gonna be a jury trial in three weeks, givin' Peter enough time to send word, if 'e was gonna do it.
Three days went by, an' Joseph was at the jail every day, along with Josephine, an' Sally. Still no word from Peter; 'e told 'is sister. I think I better take a train to Kansas City an' see if I can find 'im. No Joseph. Please don't leave. I need ya here. I need your visits. It's all that keeps me goin. Now Penelope, Josephine an' Sally are here. They'll come every day. That's right Sally an' Josephine said together. We'll be here every single day. Twice a day, if ya need. Thank ya; she said. Ok Joseph. I think 'e said 'e's stayin in a place called Independence Missouri, wherever that is. It's s'posed to be close to Kansas City anyway. I'll find 'im Penelope, an' bring 'im back. This is a time this family needs to stick together. He left 'is sisters an' wife at the jail, an' headed to the telegraph office to send another wire.
:to Peter Cates. Kansas City. Comin' to Kansas City to find ya. We need ya here in Jefferson. Penelope in a bad way. Signed. marshal Joseph Cates. He was walking back to the jail to say good bye to 'is sisters an' wife, when the telegraph messenger yelled at 'im. Hey marshal Cates. He stopped an' looked back to see what it was. This wire came for ya marshal. He handed it to 'im, an' it read; to marshal Joseph Cates, Jefferson Missouri. Am coming to town. Please help Penelope any way ya can. Will be there tomorrow at three pm on red line. Signed. Peter Cates. Thanks boy. He handed 'im a nickel an' left as the boy was admiring that nickel. He headed straight to the jail. When 'e got in the cell block, Sally an' Josephine were still there. They seen the excitement on 'is face as soon as they seen 'im. I got word; 'e said. Peter's on 'is way. He'll be here tomorrow at three pm, on the red line. Oh good they both said, but Penelope just sit there with gloom on 'er face. Sally asked; what's a matter dear? Oh, nothing. I'm just tired is all. But Penelope, Peter's on 'is way. He'll help, I just know 'e will. Joseph stood back an' listened to their conversation, an' wondered why 'is sister was not glad that Peter was comin to town, if 'e was the one who could clear 'er name. Sally turned to 'im an' told 'im; we can't leave this girl in here a minute longer Joseph Cates. We gotta do somethin. Didn't Judge Parker say she could come stay with us if ya got word from Peter? He said we had to keep 'er here till we got word from Peter. Not that she could come to our home when we heard from 'im. But I'll go see 'im right now. I'll try my best to git 'im to let 'er stay with us. Maybe since she's "that way" he'll let 'er come home with us. He always was the bashful kind, on things like this. He never even liked the word pregnant, but 'e sometimes just had to use it. His sisters an' wife all chuckled at 'im when 'e turned red, which probably put fire in 'is heels. He left right away to go see Judge Parker. When 'e got to the judges office, 'e went straight in. Judge, I got word from Peter. He's comin here, and 'e'll be here tomorrow afternoon at three pm on the red line. My wife an' I would appreciate it greatly sir, if you'd let Penelope come stay with us, since she's well, with child an' all. Let's see that wire. He hands the paper to the judge, an' as 'e reads it, 'e looks disturbed. What's a matter judge? Oh, nothing. Let me think on this for awhile, ok Joseph? But Judge, I'll take full responsibility for my sister. She aint gonna run off. Ya got my word on it. I know ya well enough to know that Joseph, but she's bein charged with killin women an' kids. The towns folk aint likely to want 'er walkin around free, an' besides that, it aint fair to her cohorts. Well judge, what if they aint cohorts, but kidnappers? Well, that'd make it different, but that's somethin we gotta figure out in the trial. That's why we're havin a trial, to see if she's guilty. I realize that judge, but like I said. I'll keep 'er out at the farm. She aint goin no place. She'll be with my wife every day when I'm in town. After long thought, the judge said: Well dammit, Alright Joseph, BUT. But what judge? You gotta make sure she don't leave that farm. Savvy? I savvy Judge. An' thanks. Don't thank me yet Joseph. You just see to it she stays on that farm, an' no trouble, ya hear? I hear. Good day Judge. Good day marshal. Oh, Joseph. Yes sir? I'm fraid I'll need ya to put a lock on 'er door at night. Ok? Ok Judge, I will.
He raced back to the jail with the good news. He walked in the cell block, an' the ladies were all eatin oat muffins Sally baked. What'd ya find out Joseph?; Josephine asked. Well, she can come home with us under some stipulations. What are they? She can't leave the farm, an' I gotta lock her bedroom door at night. Can ya live with that Penelope? I can live just fine with that; she agreed. Ok then, I'll go to the livery, an' hook up the wagon. I'll be back to get ya in awhile. Sally and Josephine went back to her place to wait for Joseph an' Penelope to get there an' pick up Sally an' Mandy. John would ride out with 'em. Mandy was excited to meet 'er new aunt Penelope, since as far as she knowed, she aint ever met 'er, although she had when she was a baby. An' she was also glad because John promised to let 'er ride 'is horse out to the farm.
They didn't have to wait long afore Joseph an' Penelope pulled up in front of the house. Penelope stayed in the wagon while the rest of the family came out to meet 'em. Sally brought out the bag she had packed with their clothes, an' Joseph put it in the wagon. Josephine told Penelope that she would come out to the farm to see 'er in a couple days, an' they'd have a picnic. She put 'er hand on Penelope's hand an' told her; don't you worry sister, Peter'll be here tomorrow, an' everything's gonna be just fine. I sure hope so; she replied. Joseph told her; now don't you worry little sister. I'm gonna take care of ya, an' Sally makes the best cakes ya ever ate. He looked at 'is wife an' said; I want fried chicken on that picnic too,with a grin. An' they rode out of town toward the farm. It was about a ten mile ride, an' Mandy let John have 'is horse back afore they reached the Osage River, an' she thanked 'im for lettin 'er ride 'is horse. When they reached the farm, Joseph had to get busy with the feedin an' milkin, while Sally took Penelope an' Mandy in the house to get settled. John helped Joseph with the feedin, but 'e didn't want any part of that milkin. After they got done with all the chores, Joseph put the lock on the door Sally showed 'im that Penelope would be sleepin in. It wasn't much, just a board 'e drilled a hole in, an' nailed it to the door jam so they could spin it around an' lock the door. Heck Mandy coulda broke out if she really wanted to. Well sir, Sally got supper on the table an' they all sat down to a fine supper an' went to the living room to visit in a less stressful atmosphere than they'd been visitin in. Mandy was full of questions about Penelope's new baby, an' why didn't she come to visit sooner. Penelope winged it pretty good, an' kept her satisfied till she was too sleepy eyed to stay up any longer. Sally took 'er to bed, an' this gave the grown people time to talk about more serious things. They all agreed to stick together no matter what came of it, an' Penelope realized she could still actually hang, an' if the judge decided to hang her, it would befall upon Joseph to do the job. She looked at Sally an' asked; if this does turn out bad, an' they hang me, do ya think there's room in your heart to take my baby, an' raise it like it was your own? I know it's a lot to ask, but I don't know where else to turn. Josephine don't look to me like the motherly type, an' I just don't know where to turn. She had tears streamin down 'er cheeks an' Sally hugged 'er to give 'er what comfort she could. Of course we'll take your baby if ya want us to Penelope, of course we will. Don't you worry none bout that baby now. Joseph 'an I would never let anything happen to it, ever. Now just relax an' rest. You've been through a lot. I'll go turn your bed down for ya. When she left to turn down the bed, Penelope turned to Joseph an' asked him; are you sure that you an' Sally 'll take good care of my baby? Course I am. Don't worry none. Sides. If Peter gets here an' says what ya said 'e would, then ya aint got anything to worry bout anyhow. I just hope 'e does come, an' helps out. He never was a dependable sort ya know. He'll be here. An' if 'e don't get here on that train, I'll go fetch 'im myself. That's a promise. Now come on. Let's get ya in a good bed for a change. There's a feather tic on that bed, an' you'll sleep like a baby. Thank ya Joseph. I don't know how I can ever make up to you an' Sally for what you're doin for me. Specially after what I did. He led her to the spare bedroom where Sally had the quilts turned down for 'er. After 'e said 'is goodnights an' left, she changed into 'er gown, an' slipped in the bed, an' was out in less than a minute. When 'e got back to the room where John was, John told him; I'll keep watch for tonight if ya don't mind Joseph. Sure John, if it makes ya feel better. But she aint goin anywhere. I know she aint, but after my wife an' girls were killed, well, I just have a hard time watchin her walk around free right now. Maybe I'd better head back to Kentucky in the mornin. I see what ya mean John, an' I don't hold nothing agin ya. Ya have a right to be suspicious, even if she is my sister. Thank ya Joseph. I'm glad ya see it from where I stand. Well John, every story has two sides, an' bein a law-man, I have to see both of 'em, no matter how it comes out. I'll be back for the trial Joseph. Thanks John, I'll need ya there. Good night Joseph. Good night.
Mandy was up afore anybody else the next morning. She was at Penelope's door wakin up John by half past six. He nearly jumped out of 'is skin when she grabbed 'is arm. Is Aunt Penelope awake yet?; she asked John. I'm not sure honey. Let's check, shall we? Sure. He unlocked the door, an' opened it quiet as 'e could to see Penelope sleepin peaceful as 'e ever seen a woman sleep, an' prettier than any other woman 'e ever seen. Even 'is own wife, who was quite a handsome woman in her own right. Well darlin, it looks to me like she's still sleepin like a baby. She sure is pretty, ain't she Mr. Weston. Yes, she sure is. My paw says I got 'er eyes, an' they're greener 'n piney leaves an' em'ralds. Well, if 'e never told the truth in 'is life 'e did on that one, 'e did. An' you do have greener eyes than any emerald I ever did see. What's an em'rald Mr. Weston? It's a jewel. A precious stone, an' they're greener 'n all git out. Prettiest stone I ever did see. Fittin for the finest ladies in the biggest castles. Queens even. Almost fittin for a pretty girl like yourself, maybe.; he said with a wink. She giggled an' ran to her folks room where Joseph was just comin out. Sally had just gone to the kitchen to cook breakfast. Mornin' paw. She jumped to 'is arms an' 'e held 'er tight an' said good mornin' to 'is little angel. He carried 'er as 'e walked to the bedroom where John was lookin in. Mornin' John. Mornin' Joseph. She's still sleepin like a baby. Yea, I see. She'll be awake soon. Sally's got breakfast on the stove cookin, so I better get on the feedin an' milkin. I'll help ya John started to say. But Joseph held 'is hand out. Not today friend. You take it easy. You leave today, an' you'll need rest, not chores. Sides. Mandy here is good at feedin, an' she can get eggs too. Huh Mandy. Yep. Sure can paw.
John looked at 'er an' said; ya know Joseph, if I didn't know better, I'd swear I's lookin at a little Penelope when I look at this pretty little girl. She giggled, blushed really big, an' scrambled in to the kitchen to help Sally cook. They both chuckled an' Joseph agreed; she does look just like Penelope did when she was that age, huh. Yea, she's the spit of 'er, an' your maw, too. Joseph smiled. I'll be back soon. I'm 'ona go feed. I'll be here, probably drinkin coffee. He snickered at the snarl Joseph gave 'im as 'e walked out the front door. Soon as 'e looked back after Joseph left the house, Penelope was standin there beside him. Mornin Sheriff Weston; she said. Oh, please, call me John, Miss Penelope. Ok, John. I'm really sorry bout your wife, an' little girls ya know. I wish I knew they were gonna do that afore they did. I'd left if I did. But I guess I'm just as guilty as them men are, even though I wasn't with 'em when they did it. She stepped out an' hugged 'im to show 'er sympathy, an' 'e melted when 'e felt 'er worm soft body press next to his, an' 'is arms slid around 'er an' held 'er tight. He almost let 'is feelin her get in the way of 'is feelins for good judgment. Then 'e realized what was happenin. Well, thank ya ma'am, but I don't know if I should be holdin ya like this. Oh, I'm sorry sheriff, I didn't mean it to be like that at all. It's Ok ma'am. I truly am sorry though, about your family. I know ya are ma'am. An' I thank ya. Uh, I believe Miss Sally has coffee on in there. Yes of course, well, we better get in there then an' have some. She pulled 'er gown tighter an' they went to the kitchen to see if Sally had coffee ready. Coffee's almost ready, have a seat, both of ya. I got biscuits in the oven, an' ham fryin. Mandy's out getting eggs, an' soon as they get back in, we'll have ourselves a breakfast to hoot lady; she said with a huge grin. She loved to cook, an' it made 'er extra happy when ever she had the chance to cook for company. An' hoot lady was one of her favorite words when she was happy enough to bust. It was a word Joseph taught 'er when they was sparkin. Penelope noticed; I see Joseph taught ya one of 'is favorite words. Yep, 'e sure did. They both laughed about it, an' John poured the coffee for all three of 'em. Thank ya John; Sally said. You are most welcome, both of you ladies. My, but you're all smiles this mornin John; Sally observed. Well ma'am, I just feel good, is all. Joseph tells me you'll be leavin today. Yea, I thought I better get back home, an' tend to the farm, an' town. I been away quite a long time, ya know. An' I am a sheriff. I got a job to do. Yes, I know. What with you an' Joseph chasin killers an'… oh my gosh, I'm so sorry Penelope. Oh, it's ok Sally, I'm ok. Really, I'll be ok. I simply must watch my tongue. I really am sorry. It's ok Sally, really. It is.
Ok dear. Just slap me if I bother ya like that again, ok? Oh, I couldn't do that. John excused himself to go see how Joseph was doin with the chores. As soon as 'e left, Penelope said to Sally; don't worry Sally, I got use to some terrible things in that jail. The men I was in jail with, they harassed me every time they got a chance. Really? How so? What did they say? Oh my, things like," how 'd ya like if I come over there an' bend ya cross that bed." Or " I sure wish I could reach them teats from here, I'd squeeze 'em till ya passed right out" an' mean things, like, " ya know, I hear a woman's teats pop when they hang 'em" and "if ya want another baby in ya, just come right over here, I'll give ya one in both sides." They even took off their pants when the sheriff wasn't there, tryin to show me their stuff, I guess. Good lord. Sally was all a gasp. She couldn't believe 'er sister in-law would even repeat these terrible things. She was stunned. But, she did ask. You just don't worry bout those terrible men Penelope. They wont hurt ya no more. You can stay right here with me an' Joseph. Thank ya so much Sally. I think Joseph could do no better for a wife than you. I do love 'im so Penelope. Yea an' 'e loves you to pieces too. He told me hundreds of times. He brags on how pretty ya are, an' everything. Always has. Bout them blue, blue eyes. Oh yea, he brags ever chance 'e gets. Oh, stop. Sally was blushin so hard she near burned the ham. She an' Penelope were best friends back in Kentucky, even afore Joseph an' her got married. She collected herself, an' put the ham an' biscuits on the table just in time, afore Mandy came in carryin a basket full of big brown eggs. Oh Mandy; Penelope said. Them are some pretty eggs. I bet ya got a name for every chicken in the coop, huh. Yep, we got eight of 'em we call Gertrude, an' eight more we call Matilda. Why do ya call eight of 'em Matilda, an' eight others Gertrude? Cause eight lay on the top row, an' eight lay on the bottom row. The ones that don't lay no more, we call them fryers, an' roasters. She had a smile a mile wide. Sally an' Penelope laughed at her statement, an' Sally took the eggs to fry up. Just then, here comes Joseph an' John. Breakfast ready; Joseph asked. Almost. Get some coffee an' have a sit. I'm fryin the eggs now. Good. I'm hungry enough to eat a horse. Looks like we got about three fryers out there. Well, it looks like ya might get that fried chicken on that picnic after all then. Yep; 'e said with a big smile of his own. He told John; ya might as well stay a couple more days John, have a picnic with us, an' see Peter afore ya head home. Oh, I don't know, I been away for quite a spell. I really need to get back. Well, ya know you're welcome to stay, long as ya want. I know Joseph, but still, I better head on back. Well, ok. Good fishin in that Osage though. That mighta done it, he thought. Sure enough, John spoke up. Fishin, huh? Yep. Best catfishin ya ever did see. Ask Mandy. That right Mandy? Yessir, sure is. I catch more 'en paw does sometimes. I just bet ya do. He never was real good at catchin fish. If ya stay, ya can show 'im how to catch 'em. Will ya please stay Mr. Weston? Well, I guess I could stay a couple more days. He had not a chance. He melted under the power of that little tom boy, an' the "P" word of coarse didn't help 'is case any. It was Joseph chuckling at him this time. He told Sally; Peter should be here later today. Maybe Josephine'll have that picnic when 'e gets here. That'll be nice; she replied. Then it's a plan. I'll ride in today and tell 'er. Wanna ride in with me John? Sure, I wanna check out this Osage I been hearin about. How bout takin Mandy in with ya Joseph? Yes! Yes!, I wanna go, please paw? I'll be good. I promise I will. Yea, but will ya be quiet? Well, I'll try. Promise not to talk our legs off? I promise. Well, ok, you can go with us. Thank ya; she said with a huge smile. After they ate Joseph hooked the wagon up, an' they loaded up an' headed for town. Mandy took the eggs so she could sell them to the store keeper. He gave 'em a penny a piece for them big eggs. She had ten of 'em, so 'er paw told her she could use a penny of it to buy candy. That should last 'er a few days. Maybe.