The Incredible Journey of Thomas Johnson


Copyright© 2017– Nicholas Hall


Chapter Twenty-Two


"I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves."

(August Strindberg)


A Deed Most Foul Shall be Avenged

Benjie and Henri, their naked bodies spread across my torso with Benjie laying in his usual position, full length on my stomach, our rigid penis's touching, and Henri one arm across Benjie's back, head on my chest just inches away from Benjie's face, and his own rigid tool, snugged up against my hip, were sound asleep!

We were greeted cheerily, as we tried to open our eyes, by two little boys, grinning, and chattering in French how we were sleepyheads and the sun was already up and why were in bed and "Mr. Jeansonne, you promised we could go swimming today if we got all of our work done."

So I had, but before I could even acknowledge it, they piled on the bed to rough-house with us. Their night shirts rode up and they were attacked by Benjie and Henri who commenced tickling and blowing "raspberries" on bare tummies, their bare butts and little boy sprigs exposed for all to see, as if they cared! The room was filled with giggles and shouts of joy!

Finally, as they were settling down, Gervais said to Benjie, noticing his current turgid condition, "You've got a stiffie!"

Parnell turned to me and said with a giggle, "You do too," and gave it a bit of a tug.

"Okay," I said quickly, "everybody up," and climbed out of bed.

"Where's Poppa K and Poppa Jim," I asked the twins.

"I think they wanted some time alone," giggled Parnell, continuing in French, "so they stayed in bed and told us to come down and wake you!"

Somebody was getting fucked and it wasn't me! Ordinarily, James and Caleb got the boys up, washed them, dressed them, and took them to breakfast. The opportunity for making love was sometimes hard to come by for the two of them, so I didn't blame them one bit. In fact, I encouraged it, knowing it was important for James and Caleb to have time together. Raising twins is quite an undertaking and these two were getting the best Caleb and James had to offer.

I asked Benjie and Henri to take the boys down stairs to the kitchen, in the main house, not over to Momma Doucet's, draw some hot water, get the boys cleaned up, and brought back up so we could get them dressed for the day. With hot and cold water now piped into both the Doucet house and ours, it made it nice for washing up, bathing, and cleaning in general. I had to thank Captain Randolph for all of his advice and supervision in getting that convenience installed for us. They quickly agreed and the four of them scampered off.

Much had changed in our house since the arrival of the Twins. They were so full of energy, happiness, and inquisitiveness; so loved by us all and returned love for love. We were a happy family; more so Mr. Chapman, who doted on Gervais and Parnell as much as he did Benjie and Henri. He has yet to tell them they are half-brothers and he is their father. I don't think Henri has a clue, but I'm beginning to suspect Benjie knows more than I think.

The first morning the Twins were here, I'd awakened earlier than usual and was working at my desk in my office. Chapman was up as well, sitting at his desk, reading a newspaper, and enjoying a morning cup of coffee. A tray of sweet cakes resided on his desk in easy reach, in case he was so inclined to have one with his coffee. I heard the patter of little feet coming down the stairs, stop, and then slowly move down the hall, amidst whispered words, toward my office and Chapman's study across the hall!

"Aha!" I thought, "little boys are on an exploring trip, trying to find out all they could before Poppa Jim and Poppa K woke up or noticed them missing!" I rose quickly thinking I'd prevent them from disturbing Mr. Chapman should they go in there first, but I was too late!

I heard him say, in French, "My goodness; who are these two young men coming to visit me?"

"Gervais," announced one voice followed by "Parnell" announced by a second voice.

"Did you come down stairs to wish `Good Morning' to Grand-pere and share a treat?"

There was a hesitation, but with a scurrying of little feet and squeals of "Oui, Oui!" the boys were in the study!

When I chanced a peek inside, Chapman had a boy on each knee and boys had a sweet cake each in his hand, nibbling, and offering to share with their new Grand-pere! He graciously surrendered to a bite from each before pleading he was "too full" but didn't put the boys down, in fact, held them even closer and offered them more of his breakfast. From that day forward, the Twins spent many a morning with their Grand-pere when he was home and at work in his office. There were times, I suspect, he really had little to do, but welcomed the presence and embraces of Gervais and Parnell. If he was at breakfast in the Doucet kitchen, where most of us still took our meals, they seated themselves beside him and chattered at him, anxious to share their stories or whatever! Chapman loved it; they were the grandchildren he didn't have and he the grandfather they wouldn't have had without him. As far as the Twins were concerned, all was well with the world!

The Fourth of July was particularly enjoyable, not only to celebrate Independence Day but the abolishment of slavery on June Nineteenth! The day became a community celebration at the Farm with all of the employees and residents of the Farm and our little settlement we now knew as Chapman's Corner, invited. We put two whole hogs on spits the night before, roasting them over a pit of oak and hickory coals, the aroma from them wafting through the air as our noon meal drew closer. Tables laden with pies, cakes, casseroles, fresh and cooked vegetables and vegetable salads, lined up under the shade of the big oak trees and we gathered and ate and ate and ate! After the meal, we had foot races, sack races, and other games for the children with prizes for all, whether they won or not! Henri and Benjie opted not to participate, instead, spent their time cheering on and congratulating their "brothers" Parnell and Gervais. They hugged the Twins when they won and when they lost, letting them know they were pleased either way.

The day was capped off with fireworks that evening Chapman had James pick up on a secret trip to Farmington. The Twins were so excited watching it all, but fell asleep toward the end sitting on Poppa K's lap. After they were bundled off to bed and the guests all left, Chapman and I sat on the porch and topped off the evening with a brandy. I felt he had something he wished to say, so sat patiently until he cleared his throat, and said,

"Thomas, without your background and knowledge we wouldn't be growing as we are and my fortunes increasing!"

I thanked him, but he wasn't finished. "I've only known you since your first appeared when Benjie and Henri brought you here. I never asked why you were here or where you came from. I only know the military seems to respect you, you know things most men do not, and I trust you. Your ability to perceive things and know secrets is beyond my grasp!"

He paused, took a deep breath and continued, "If I'm not mistaken, you already know Benjie and Henri are both my sons but by different mothers. I haven't told the boys and won't until they are able to understand it better. I've seen how you love them and how much they love you. Other people might find it abhorrent, a man loving two boys in a carnal manner and two half-brothers sharing each other's bodies as well, but I don't! My sons need and deserve you, at least until they reach an age when they are no longer dependent on you or you are no longer with us. They'll never be without your love, that's for certain. So, Thomas Jeansonne, last week when I was in Keokuk, I had my attorney draw up papers making you their guardian and trustee until they reach the age of twenty-one if something should happen to me. The Farm and all of my property and assets, according to my will, goes to them with you as trustee and manager of my estate until they reach the age of twenty-one."

Puzzled as to his reasoning behind this and seeking more information, inquiring, "How about Celeste; she is Henri's mother?"

"Celeste is well aware of all of this and knows I've made generous provision for her in my will. She and Hannibal and any others who so desire, may live here until their dying days. I know you'll make certain everyone will be well taken care of!"

"Mr. Chapman," I asked concern in my voice, "aren't you well?"

"Not really; the doctor tells me I have a heart problem. Although my death is not immediately eminent, it is, as for all of us, inevitable! Mine just might be much before I desire to be so I wanted to take care of things while I could!"

"That explains the tonic of Foxglove or digitalis Celeste administers to you every now and then," I understanding now why she did so.

Chapman looked surprised, then smiled, "Thomas, you surprise me every day with the depth and expanse of your knowledge; it never ceases to amaze me!"

I rested uneasily in my bed that night; Henri and Benjie were sound asleep; Benjie in his favorite position, stretched lengthwise on my naked body while his half-brother, Henri was snugged up tight to my right side, right leg across my hip so it made contact with Benjie's naked form, his head resting on my chest, face just millimeters from Benjie's, and his naked crotch shoved up tight against my hip. I had a great deal to consider; did I really want to return to the Twentieth Century now? I had these additional responsibilities; would I wait until the boys were older or would I ever return? Did I have any more control over my returning than I did coming back to this time in place? What would happen to those I loved if I left them? In light of the conversation with Chapman, wishing to express myself in a most intimate manner with my lovers, I spent a delightful time making very passionate love to Benjie and Henri, bringing them their own delights, showing them my love in so many ways; could I leave them, never to return? Such a dilemma I faced!

All of that seemed such a distance away as I looked across the table at the Twins, Benjie, and Henri as they finished their breakfast. Chores finished and Celeste wanted them to work in the big garden, since enlarged because of our growing family, before any swimming was to take place. Jubal and Rachael said they wanted to go also, so it was imperative the work was done first. The Twins, now seven after having celebrated a most joyous and really first, birthday party the week before with cake and presents, were feeling "older" and were really trying to contribute as much as they could, however, they were young and full of the old nick and would never change I feared! However, they worked just as hard as they played and were a continual joy to have around. Poppa Jim and Poppa Caleb had their hands full sometimes, but the boys obeyed them and were not really naughty, just mischievous!

After lunch, garden weeded and hoed, the entourage left in the donkey cart for Rock Creek and the swimming hole. Jefferson accompanied them on his mule, trusty short-barreled shotgun in a sling across his back, and alert for any dangers which might beset them. He and the rest of the adults still armed themselves, more so since Captain Randolph and his troops were sent away shortly after the Fourth of July to some duty near Mt. Pleasant, and we weren't convinced the countryside was safe for our community of mixed and black people! Iowa had considerable blacks working and farming in the State, but that being so, there were still those vestiges of hate and prejudice in pockets that could and did erupt every now and again in violence!

It was late afternoon when I was interrupted with cries of "Come quick, Mr. Jeansonne!" from outside! Dashing from my office to the front porch, I was greeted with the sight of the donkey cart careening down the lane toward the house as fast as Goliath could pull it; Benjie urging him on shouting, "Faster Goliath, faster!"

"There's something terribly wrong!" said Caleb, the person who'd summoned me.

Benjie driving, Henri sitting in the back, the Twins holding on to the sides trying to keep from catapulting out, crying for help as loud as their little voices could, but no sign of Jefferson, his mule, or Jubal and Rachael. Something was indeed wrong; very wrong indeed and black thoughts began creeping into my mind, fear in my heart, and a sense of loss or foreboding deep in my soul! I bolted from the porch, reached the donkey cart as it skidded to a stop, grabbed the halter, and held Goliath steady until Caleb could take my place.

"Mr. Jeansonne," screamed Henri, terrified, tears streaming down his face, "come help Jefferson; they shot him!"

Oh my God, laying in the bed of the donkey cart was Jefferson, Henri cradling his head on his lap, holding a blood soaked shirt up against Jefferson's equally soaked shirt, trying to stem the flow of blood from a wound to Jefferson's upper right thorax area. James heard the commotion and came running to see if he could help.

I turned to Caleb, "Run and get Momma Celeste; we need her!"

Turning to Benjie, I said calmly, "Climb down, hold Goliath so he doesn't bolt, and let me take a look at Jefferson!"

As he did and I climbed into the donkey cart, I quickly asked James to see if he couldn't find Colin. He raced off toward the bee hives near the orchard where he'd heard Colin say earlier he was going to be working. I did a quick check of Jefferson, noting he was still alive, but his breathing was shallow and, by my estimation, had lost considerable blood. Parnell and Gervais, still crying, looking at me for reassurance, seemed to relax somewhat when I announced, "He's still alive but will need some care soon!"

Celeste, followed by Hannibal, arrived just moments later, quickly climbed in the cart, ripped open Jefferson's shirt, revealing the source of his distress and bleeding. A ragged hole, caused by the bullet, opened in his upper chest, and when she turned him slightly, I could see where the bullet exited from his back, just under his right shoulder blade. Caleb motioned to the Twins and helped each one down, securing his arms around them, giving them the protection a father would give his sons!

"Henri," she ordered calmly, "climb down and help Benjie lead Goliath to the front of my house; Hannibal, see if anyone is in the bunkhouse to help carry Jefferson to my sick room," and to me, "keep pressure on the front of his wound while I put a compress on the exit wound!"

She quickly raised her skirt, tore a length from her petticoat, folded it and held to Jefferson's back. Henri and Benjie did as they were instructed and, in the short journey to the Doucet residence, enough help had been summoned by Hannibal to help us carry Jefferson into the sick room, the same room I awakened in after being transported to this time, and put him in bed. They all lingered outside the door, waiting for Celeste's diagnosis or pronouncement of Jefferson's condition.

"Mr. Jeansonne," she asked authoritatively, but with passion for Jefferson, "would you please stay and help me care for my son?"

I nodded and began doing as she bid; removing his clothing, getting her medical kit, asking Delphine and Delia, working in the kitchen preparing the evening meal, to bring some hot water so we could cleanse the wounds, and find some strong alcohol for a disinfectant (we used "white lightning," a home-brewed and distilled grain alcohol).

Colin rushed in during the process, all out of breath, desperate with fear and trepidation upon hearing the news from James, took one look at Jefferson, moaned his disquietude, knelt quickly by the bed, secured Jefferson's left hand in his own, and began telling him how much he loved him, and "please, my love, don't die on me!" over and over again! Clearly, we all saw the real depth of love Colin had for Jefferson! It was a distressing and sad time for us all since we knew not whether Jefferson would live or die!

"Colin," Celeste asked, "can you help or are you going to be in the way?"

The look on her face gave her the answer she needed and I knew my temporary assistance would now be resumed by Colin. I did, however, have to ask, "Celeste, do you think we should send for a doctor?"

With almost, but not quite, a derisive scoff, she replied, "I know more than most of the locals concerning the healing arts and am better at it than some of those butchers!"

Mr. Chapman arrived at the door as I took my leave, wondering if Jefferson would live. Celeste merely shrugged, replying, "The bullet went clear through; I don't think it hit his lung or any arteries, but he's lost a great deal of blood. If we can keep the infection down, along with the fever, he'll stand a better chance. The next twenty-four to forty-eight hours will be crucial; right now, I need to get him bandaged up and some laudanum in him so he'll suffer less!"

We left her and Colin to their task and Chapman turned to me saying in a low whisper, said, "Come over to my study; bring the four boys and James and Caleb. I need to know exactly what happened!"

Assembled as instructed, Chapman bid us all to sit, except Benjie, Henri, Parnell, and Gervais; he signaled them to come to him at his desk, opened his lap for Gervais and Parnell to sit on his knees, and Benjie and Henri to prop themselves up on his desk, something I'd never seen him do before. Chapman gave each boy a hug and a kiss on the cheek before he asked very quietly, "Quite a bad day you've had, hasn't it?"

The Twins immediately looked up at him and chorused, "Oui, oui, Grand-pere!" while Benjie and Henri merely nodded silently!

"Want to tell Grand-pere about it, please?"

Their arrival at the Rock Creek swimming hole was joyous, full of anticipation for a fun afternoon. Benjie and Henri tethered Goliath in a small grassy area behind the big rocks where he could graze and still be out of sight from passersby's. Everyone stripped naked, except for Jefferson who sat on a stump, with his mule tied up close by, in the clearing away from the creek so he could keep watch for anyone on the road coming their way, and with the giggles from the youngsters running from the bank of the creek and jumping in! It was a fun afternoon and they began to tire, but only Rachael and Jubal left the water, while the four remaining naked boys frolicked and enjoyed the cool water.

Jubal and Rachael emerged from the trees, fully dressed, but smiling and somewhat tired from their swimming and most recent copulation in the back of the donkey cart, and joined Jefferson. He was just getting ready to tell the boys to get out and dressed since the afternoon was waning when he saw six riders, accompanied by two very large dogs, coming toward them. He quickly told Rachael and Jubal to get behind him and shouted a warning for the other boys to stay hidden. They did, but lay in the cover of grass and trees to see what would cause him to sound the alarm!

As the men rode closer and stopped not far from Jefferson, Jubal, Jefferson, Henri, and Benjie immediately recognized two of the white men as the ones who tried to rape Colin in the alley in Keokuk. At the same time, the two men recognized Jefferson, and shouted, "It's that damned nigger that caused us trouble in Keokuk!"

With that, a scruffy looking man, but one who seemed to be the leader, shouted at the dogs, "Kill!" and waved his hand toward Jefferson. The two dogs leaped forward, intent on ripping Jefferson asunder! The dogs never got closer than fifteen feet from Jefferson; he killed them with a blast from each barrel of his shotgun. Before he could reload, the dog owner or leader, pulled his pistol and shot him, dropping him on the spot. He quickly ordered his men to grab Rachael and Jubal, commenting, "These two will be an additional treat for our guests tomorrow night!"

Rachael and Jubal were tied, after considerable struggle on Jubal's part, and loaded on Jefferson's mule. The entire group then took off. The boys raced to Jefferson, loaded him up in the donkey cart, and raced for home!

"I need you to tell Grand-pere what these men looked like," Chapman said encouraging the boys to speak.

Benjie and Henri, once recognizing the two thugs they'd observed trying to rape Colin in Keokuk, were quick to realize trouble wasn't far distant and began paying close attention to what was happening and the men causing it. Perhaps it was after listening to me exhort them to be continually aware of their surroundings and the people in those surroundings and the unrest following the tragedy in April, although frightened, remained calm, observing all they could, searing the events in their minds the disgusting, distasteful image of the evil-doers! When the leader shot Jefferson with no more regard then someone would shoot a barn rat in the grain bin, they immediately clasp hands over the mouths of Parnell and Gervais warning them of the dangers they would face if discovered! My boys were smart, quick, and patient, suppressing their urge to run and help, but chose to wait until the men departed to help Jefferson.

Their descriptions of the leader, rugged looking, bearded, tending to the portly, dressed well, and appearing to be "taller than Mr. Jeansonne, but shorter than Isiah," and smoking a cigar and definitely not a farmer. The description would fit many men in our nation, but it was the best they could do. The Twins sat quietly on Chapman's knees while Benjie and Henri described the clothing the man wore, expensive, the type of pistol he used, the lecherous looks he gave Rachael, and the snapped, quick orders he gave to his men regarding the captives and his disregard for black people!

It wasn't until Benjie and Henri seemed to exhaust all knowledge, under our questioning, Gervais said tentatively in French, "Grand-pere," looking up sadly at Chapman, "the bad man asked Jubal if he spoke French."

"And what did Jubal say?"

"Mais non!" spoke up Parnell, "He said neither did his sister. Then the man laughed and said something else to his companions."

"What did the man say?"

Gervais rose up and whispered something in Chapman's ear. Chapman raised his eyebrows, kissed Gervais on the cheek and said gently, "You may say it out loud, in English please, so Mr. Jeansonne and the others might hear what terrible things will happen to Jubal and Rachael."

Gervais was hesitant, but with encouragement from his twin and from Mr. Chapman, he said softly, head bowed almost in shame, "These two nigger brother and sister will bring a fine price letting the men fuck them first before we let the dogs have them!"

Angry, I demanded, to no one in particular, "Who is this man who would do such a thing?"

Chapman thought a moment before offering, "I don't know, although I've heard rumors of a place south of the state border where, for a price, men can enjoy watching or participating in some `special events' such as Gervais mentioned!"

"How do I find such a place?" growled James, anxious to get on with a rescue mission.

Again, Chapman thought a moment, before saying, "I don't know, but I know a man who might!"

Darkness found Caleb, James, Isiah, and me in a small community some fifteen miles from home, near a house on the outskirts, where Chapman indicated a man who, living alone and unmarried, was rumored to enjoy participating in such "special events!" We reconnoitered the home and determined the man was home and alone before we approached the door. I knocked and the door was opened by a man, naked other than his britches, who fell back as I forced my way in, followed quickly by my companions!

He first denied having any knowledge of any place that "held special events" or ever participating in them. However, after we stripped him naked, held him on his back spread-eagled on the floor exposing his genitals and making them extremely vulnerable, and threatened with castration, he soon spilled the beans once I cradled his balls in one hand and slowly slid the back side of my knife up under them, before turning the knife over and slightly nicking his left nut!

I should've felt some sympathy as he screamed in terror and shit all over himself and the carpet, but I felt none! Isiah, big, black, and fearsome looking to the smaller, now thoroughly frightened white man, reached down, grasped the man's now very shrunken cock, smiled deviously, and said, "You better tell us everything or I'm going to cut this loose and feed it to the dogs and then gut you alive if I find you didn't!"

The rescue party, consisting of James, Caleb, Isiah, Absalom, Malik, and me rode south of the Iowa Border and, following the directions of our informer, found the den of iniquity out in the country, far from any towns. My instructions from Mr. Chapman were very clear; rid ourselves of this menace and bring our family members back home! I resolved to do all he asked me to do, without hesitation or conscience attacks!

Arriving shortly after noon, we made cold camp in a small grove of trees far enough away so we wouldn't be discovered, but close enough to observe the comings and goings from the building. The tavern or inn, whatever you wish to call it, had a front section of two stories and a rear section of one story. If our informant was correct, and I had no reason to believe otherwise since he was literally "scared shitless," the front section held the saloon and entertainment room and "guest" rooms balconied on the second floor. Anyone on the second floor balconies had a view of what was happening below on the main floor. He'd been very thorough in his description and from I saw so far, was accurate.

The rear section held the owner's office, several jail type cells for captives who'd perform, and the dog kennels. The dogs were used for both guarding and entertainment. Entrance to the facility cost one hundred dollars in gold, the food was free, but customers had to buy their own booze, again, using gold only. James and I made a slow ride past the place, just to get the lay of the land, and then retreated to our hiding place to keep watch. James, using his telescoping glass, kept tract of those arriving as dusk began falling. He and I were puzzling what we could do to distract the large amount of customers showing up so we could effect the rescue, when Caleb walked up, grinning and holding a burlap bag with one end tied shut. He shook it and the angry sound of bees whirred from it.

"Biggest damned hornet's nest I ever did see!" he announced.

That settled the distraction; Caleb and I'd sneak into the place up a back stairs and at the right time, loose the wasps, free Jubal and Rachael while James led the rest in loosing the large number of horses tethered outside. When full dark was upon us, James gave the go-ahead; Caleb and I sneaked around to the back, entered through a backdoor after I'd jimmied the lock with my knife, went up a rear staircase to the upper level balcony and waited. A small band consisting of piano, banjo, fiddle, and horn blared away while the customers crowded around two long bars, several card tables, and roulette wheels. In the center of the room was a small arena, soon we were to find out, where the "entertainment" was held!

The little band stopped, sounded some sort of fanfare, and the owner walked out, pulling behind him, all tethered on a rope, arms tied behind them, three young naked, black boys, five naked young black girls, and finally Jubal and Rachael. They were followed by two armed guards, really thugs, as far as I was concerned. I heard Caleb stifle a gasp, turned to him, and saw recognition and hate in his eyes!

"That's Mr. Sam!" he whispered, "the same man that sold us out to be fucked and let the dog fuck me!"

Mr. Sam entered the small arena and announced, "We have several treats tonight. You all know the rules; we accept the two highest bids on each little nigger; highest bid gets first fuck; second highest gets second. The first two bidders on each nigger must fuck'em here in front of us all so we can enjoy the sights and sounds. After that, for twenty-five dollars a turn, every man here who wants can go upstairs and spill his seed into either boy or girl!"

I muttered softly, "I hate that fucking word!" and turned my attention back to what was going on below.

Pointing at Rachael and Jubal, he announced, "These two, brother and sister, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The highest bidder gets his choice, the second highest bidder gets the other one. Now only two bids will be taken because once their cherries are busted, we let the dogs have them. The dogs will either fuck'em or kill'em or both. That's when the real betting gets done! Look'em all over carefully, make your choices, and the bidding will start in a half hour!"

With that, he led his prisoners out the same way he came in. Caleb and I quietly went back down the stairs and waited until the two guards went back into the saloon, entered the door they'd just exited, and started down a hallway. The sounds of dogs barking and children crying greeted our ears from someplace down the dark hall. Per chance, as we crept by the rooms, the door to one was open and there, standing in front of a large safe, his back to the door, stood Mr. Sam, stuffing something in. I stepped in quickly and quietly and, before he could even say "shit" had the business end of my pistol in his right ear!

Holding a finger to my lips, I signaled him to be silent, held out my free hand, and ordered, "Keys!"

He hesitated, I cocked the pistol, shoved it into his ear opening, and he handed over a ring of keys. I handed them to Caleb and said tersely, "Open the cells, take the children outside to the others, and come back!"

I ordered Mr. Sam to lay down on his belly, hands behind his back, secured them with his suspenders, and shoved a cloth in his mouth. While waiting for Caleb to return, I looked over the contents of the safe. The items I found secured there would prove valuable in the future, so I stuffed everything into two large, leather saddle bags, determined to keep them safe with me until we returned home!

Caleb finally returned, saying, "We had to steal a buggy for the children."

"Turn loose our distraction and free the dogs so they can enter the saloon, then get the hell out of here. I'll meet you and the others near the trees!"

I heard the dogs growling, snarling, and soon the shouts of men ordering the dogs to behave. That all changed when I heard a man bellow, "Jesus Christ, where the hell did all these fucking bees come from?" and increased shouts of terror and pain as wasps, dogs, and men came into contact.! Satisfied there was panic in the saloon, I quickly broke several lamps against the walls and floor, setting the room on fire. Terror quickly covered Mr. Sam's face.

"Don't worry," I said cutting his bonds, "I'm not going to let you burn alive."

There was a sign of relief, then surprise, on his face when I shot him!

I splashed more lamp oil from those on the walls of the hallway, as I walked out of the back door of the building. Panic had set in as men tried escaping from the now burning structure. Screams and shouts filled the air, along with the increasing smoke, as men tried finding their horses, no longer there, to escape! "Too fucking bad!" I thought as I ran toward the trees!

Caleb stood holding his mule and my horse. We mounted and headed for home, some quarter hour or so behind the others. It was well daylight when we arrived home. We were tired, dirty, but pleased with our rescue. Rachael and Jubal were ecstatic, while the other eight children were still fearful of their fate. It didn't take long for Momma Celeste and the others to put them at ease, reassuring them they were safe and would be returned to their families, if there were any!

To be continued.


Thank you for reading "The Incredible Journey of Thomas Johnson" – Chapter Twenty-Two.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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