Sunday, August 3, 2014



            Scene from Sherman's side porch

Sherman and the boys trudged home along the banks of Diamond Creek. As they got to the pig pen Sherman went to the broken locust post attached to the gate and examined the break on the post. It appeared to have broken even with the ground and not rotted as he suspected. He told Leonard to get some wire from the overhang of the corn crib and to bring the post hole digger.

He walked to the back of the pig pen and selected a locust post that Robert had recently split from the locust logs gathered at the top of the ridge overlooking his house and the creek. Locust is an extremely hard and durable fence post and lasts for years before beginning to show signs of rot. The pen had been constructed just three years prior and he did not think that the post would have  deteriorated that quickly.

Fred and Robert had retrieved a hammer and a small bag of staples and Leonard had returned with the wire. As they were finishing up with the repairs Loan came out on the front porch and banged the triangular iron  hanging by the porch swing.

"Lets go wash up boys your mama is calling us to eat." Robert retorts, "I guess we won't have to fill the hog trough or put leaves in the pen." The hell you won't", replied Sherman "We are going to get our hog back come hell or high water."

As they approached the front porch of the house the Guinea hens flocked around them and Sherman stopped and lifted the top off a barrel and threw out some shelled corn to the hens. They made an awful racket as they fought over the corn. He did not like the noisy clucking but they had proven to be good watch dogs and the eggs were good. He chuckled as he thought of Bell, the beagle who mostly laid around on the porch and welcomed visitors. Some watch dog he thought but she did occasionally bring in a rabbit or two and she was good for squirrel and coon hunting also.

They stopped on the porch and washed their hands from the pan that Loan had put out for them. As they entered the house, the smell of frying pickled green beans and corn roused their appetite. Sherman knew from past similar meals that there would be fresh corn bread and a plate of radishes, lettuce and onion awaiting and possibly some fried okra and pinto beans.

He had called it exactly right. As they sat around the long table Loan poured coffee for all the boys and Sherman. He admired her new apron she had just made from the colorful flour sack they had purchased from the Company store in Rosman.

After lunch Sherman took a cup of coffee out to his favorite chair on the porch. His thoughts drifted back in time to sitting on the porch with his Daddy William Baxter Owen. His father was a great storyteller but mixed in with the stories Sherman learned a certain code of honor. Many of William's stories centered on past events within the Owen family and they always seemed to have a message of proper conduct. One such story came to his mind as he sipped his almost boiling cup of coffee. William was helping a friend across the way build a barn and he had left his wagon in the field loaded with lumber. He just unhitched his team of mules from the wagon and left it by the barn site. The following morning, he returned to find his wagon missing. He returned home and was strapping on his gun belt with the two pearl handled 45's that now hung in Sherman's bedroom. The word had gone out about the missing wagon. As Sherman watched his father oil and load the pistols he asked, "What are you going to do Daddy?" His father replied, "Gonna go get our wagon back." "You gonna shoot somebody?" asked Sherman." Son, never carry a gun that you are not ready to use. "You have to intend to use it or just don't take it. But if you find the other feller armed and you aren't then you are in a world of shit." "Can I go with you Daddy?" pleaded Sherman. "You can if you promise to stand to side out of danger. Now go saddle up the hosses"

Sherman and his father rode out from the house and trailed the Diamond Creek to a wagon crossing about three miles down from the house. "Where we going Daddy?" "Going to Balsam Grove." The mules trailed behind them as they wound down the hill to the road to Balsam Grove. Later in the day, they came to a road leading to the top of a hill. "How do you know the wagon is here Daddy?" "I don't for sure but this Morgan feller was eyeing us building the barn and he asked a lot of questions. Plus he has been known to take things that are not his before. We will just have to see what we will see." As they reached the top of the hill a small clearing among the trees on the ridge became visible. Nestled within the trees was a small cabin with a small barn. No one seemed to be home. William told Sherman to hold his position and he dismounted by the cabin and walked up some rickety steps to the front porch. When he knocked on the door there was no response. Sherman thought he saw a curtain move in the paned window to the right but he wasn't certain.

William came back to the horses and said, "Let's check the barn and see if anyone is there." As they rode down the ridge to the barn they saw the tail end of a wagon at the back of the barn. William called out, "Hello the barn." Receiving no reply he told Sherman to wait and he rode around the barn. Soon Sherman heard his father say, "Son, bring the mules." As they were hitching the mules to the double tree they heard a noise and down the hill came a man with a rifle cradled in his arms. They finished hitching the mules and the man called out as he got closer, "What the hell are you two doing?" "Oh," replied William, "we are hitching our wagon up"" I bought that wagon from a man from Tennessee Gap." the man blustered. William told Sherman to stand back and he stepped toward the man. "I think I know you. You are Alf Morgan aren't you?" The man cradling the rifle said, "What's it to you?" "Well, its just that I like to know the name of people I intend to shoot for stealing what is mine" "Wagons look a lot alike. How do you know this is even yore wagon?" " Well, for one thing I built the bed and rails of this wagon and my initials are on the planks."

"I didn't steal your wagon. I told you I bought the wagon" and he moved the rifle slightly. Sherman tensed up as his father put both hands on the Colt 45's holstered on his hip. The man said, "Hold on now there is no use for trouble" Sherman said, "Either you stole my wagon or you know who did. You give me the name of the feller from Tennessee Gap and show me a bill of sale and I will shoot him instead of you" The man stuttered as he blurted out, " M m mister, if that is yore wagon take it. I don't have a bill of sale and I will take the loss." William said, "There will be no trouble if you lay the rifle on the ground and do it gently." Morgan bent his knees slightly and laid the rifle on the ground. As William stepped toward him the man stumbled backwards a few steps keeping his eyes on William's 45's. William reached down and picked up the rifle. "You stay here, we will be leaving now. Yore rifle will be left on the porch. I don't want to see you again so take some advice. If I see you around me and mine again I will shoot first with no warning." He put the rifle in the wagon bed
as Sherman tied their horses behind the wagon. Sherman watched the man as they rode to the porch. "Git the rifle, unload it and place it on the porch. We will keep the shells."

Riding back to the Balsam Grove road, Sherman asked his father, "Would you have shot him? "Yep", replied William, " You do what you have to do." If you allow someone to take from you and yours word will get out and a man has to be able to hold his head up or he ain't much of a man. You have to watch out for yourself and yore family. A man doesn't have much without his name and  his word."Were you scared" asked Sherman. "Nope once I make up my mind about something being afraid would only make me subject to fear directing my moves instead of determination. Come hell or high water, I was going to get our wagon back."

Sherman finished his coffee and started back into the house as Jason McCall rode up to the porch and tied his horse t the rail. "Sherman", he called out, " Patterson plans to sell your hog at the Diamond Creek School house sale on Saturday." He carried a sale paper as he climbed the steps to the porch.

Stay tuned for Part 5.


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Burdens are a blessing!.