Go to Part 1
The urgency in the voice that told her 'go home girl' spurred her on. She ran. The pouch around her neck felt strange, but she trusted the human who put it there. Her tongue hung out as she ran. She stopped and drank from the stream, before she ran through it and headed home. She met only one person on her journey, but the human female was headed away from the ranch. She ran, not from knowledge of the area or instinct, but from a force that pulled her towards home. One more hill and she would be at the ranch house.
The ranch settled in for a peaceful Sunday afternoon. The herbs were sorted and put away. Lunch was prepared and the older women waited for Cassie and Victoria's return.. Neither had an appetite so they waited. The air was still as the temperature soared. The women from The Settlement were helping the hands with the stock. Maude sat on the porch and watched Granny. For almost an hour, the woman sat rock still on the hard floor. Her eyes did not blink for long periods. Maude had watched these preparations before. Granny was going on a Vision Quest. Most of Granny's visions came in dreams. She did not actively seek the visions normally. She brought her arms straight out from her body and closed her eyes. She remained in that positions for a long time. When thirty minutes had elapsed, her eyes flew open. She rose stiffly from the floor.
"Miss Maude, we will need the Sheriff and Doc. I will get the teams hitched. We will be in need of both wagons."
"I will take care of the wagon, you gather your medicines."
Granny went into the house while Maude ran to the barn. The barn was empty and she found them leaning the fence. "There has been trouble. We need both wagons hitched up." She called to them and headed back to the house. She did not stay around to hear their answer or see them hurry of to follow her orders. Maude ran into the house. She was breathless by the time she picked up the receiver. "Dottie, I need the Sheriff."
She waited for the Sheriff to answer. "Sheriff Cooper, this is Maude Jones. We need you out here right away. There has been trouble."
"What sort of trouble, Maude."
"I am not sure. I am following Granny's orders. She said we need you and Doc."
"If Granny says you need us, I will get Doc and we will be there shortly."
She hung up and went out to the porch to wait. Granny was waiting with her medicines and several canteens of water. The men brought the wagons to the porch shortly afterwards. Men and women were mounted and waiting. They grabbed rifles from the porch and waited. In less than thirty minutes, Sheriff Cooper, his deputies and Doc arrived.
Granny started to explain and was stopped by Maude.
"Shouldn't we be going?"
"Not yet. My vision told me to gather everyone and wait for our sign and guide."
"What sign?" Maude demanded.
"We will know when she gets here." She replied. She turned to the waiting men and women and told them of the vision. The were held them spell bound. When she stopped mid sentence, they knew something was about to happen. They heard the faint barking of the dog and looked to the hill.
"Jake go help that dog before she has heat stroke."
"Yes ma'am." He said as he jumped on his horse, spurred the animal and raced off to intercept the dog. The rest watched and waited.
"Someone get me a pan of water and wet towels." Granny ordered. Ellie jumped to get the items. It did not take Jake long to reach the dog. He jumped off his horse and made a grab for the dog. She evaded his grasp and continued her run to the porch. They were ready for her when she reached the porch. Ellie put the pan of water down for her which she lapped up greedily. They placed the wet towels over her back to cool her down. She patiently let Granny rub her down. Ellie took the pouch from her neck and handed it to Maude.
"This was around her neck."
"Cassie is in trouble. They both are."
"You can tell that from the pouch?"
"When Cassie was younger, she was always getting herself into situations. After she was injured trying to ride Midnight, we came up with this. If she is injured and can not get on her horse, she would tie the pouch to the stirrup and send the horse home. She was in bad shape whe we found her two days later. I didn't know she was training the dog to do the same thing."
"That is a great idea. Do you think she will be able to take us back to Cassie?"
"She will lead us to the second guide." Granny said. "That is why she was brought here. She will guide us."
The men helped Granny off the floor while the dog rested. After a few minutes the dog stood. "It is time." Granny said and was helped into the wagon. They made ready to leave.
Maude bent down and told the dog, "take us to Cassie." The dog's ears stood up. she barked once ad headed off the porch. Maude climbed into the wagon and the procession followed their guide.
Rebecca watched the dog as it headed toward the ranch. She was still angry that the men had left without giving her the reward money. She would help them as long as no one was hurt. She still thought that with Victoria gone, Cassie would return to her. By a lucky chance, she discovered the men had returned to the area and watched them. She had been returning late and spied their campfire. She crept up to see who was on Cassie's land and listened to what they discussed. She had never met any of the men, but by the sounds of their accents, realized who they were. She decided to keep an eye on them and wait to get her reward money.
Each day she left The Settlement early to keep watch on the men. They would leave one hill top for another during the day.Today she was late leaving The Settlement because her horse had thrown a shoe. By the time she had it replaced and got to her look out area, they had left their camp. She continued to the lake and followed the tracks she found. She thought. Maybe if I can get that little blonde back to her father, Cassie will realize that we belong together. She followed the tracks from the horses and dog. She hoped that meant Cassie was near by. Maybe if she is away from the house, she will relax and we can talk. I know I acted like a possessive child. That will not happen again. We are both adults. I have to get her to understand why I sent the telegram. Once I explain everything, Cassie will understand. She thought In her mind all old work out to her advantage.
Rebecca continued to follow the tracks. She frowned when she saw the third set if tracks. Then she noticed the dog's tracks headed back towards the house. That gave her a feeling of unease. Something was not quite right. Rebecca did not think Cassie would send the dog back unless she felt something was wrong. Now she knew one of the horses was Cassie's. It was slow going because at times the tracks were hard to see due to the rocky ground. The ridge was mostly rocks so the trail was almost impossible to follow..
Once she entered the trees she heard the sound of laughter and the sound of clothes being ripped. When she heard the scream, she dismounted, grabbed her rifle and headed slowly into the woods. She crept in the shadows until she came to the clearing. The sight that met her enraged her to the point that all sense left her. The sight of Cassie's semi naked body with a pig bastard of a man on top of her, and her bruised face, forced a scream of fury from her. She opened fire. She hit the man on top of Cassie first, then the two holding her down.
The rescue party reached the gate when Goldie arrived. The sight of Cassie's horse filled Maude with dread.
"We have to hurry." She told the men and women. "Cassie would ever have sent both animals back unless she were in real trouble." They picked up the pace as they followed both animals. Past the lake to the ridge. They heard the first shot as they started up the ridge. Two more shots followed the first, quickly. The dog ran up the ridge with the rescuers close behind. The wagons could not go up the rocky trail so they were left at the bottom. They all dismounted and went cautiously on foot. At the woods, the Sheriff motioned to them to split up and surround the clearing. He motioned to the older women to stay behind. Maude vehemently shook her head no. They heard the voices before they entered the clearing.
"You said you would not hurt her."
"You stupid bitch. Get out of here." He shouted.
Doc had to physically restrain Maude from rushing to Cassie's side.
"I trusted you to keep your word."
"I did. What are you complaining about. She is not permanently harmed. She needed to be taught a lesson."
"No man has the right to do that to any woman." Rebecca screamed.
"I make my own rules. Now why don't you just run along so that I can finish what I have started before I teach you the same lesson."
"You Bastard." Rebecca screamed. The rifle in her hands blazed once more as she aimed for Corrigan. She hit him in the groin. He grabbed for the wound as he fell to the ground. The men who were unharmed started for Rebecca. The dog ran towards one and grabbed his arm. The rescuers burst from the trees.
"Stop right there." The Sheriff ordered. "Now you fellas take your guns out nice and slow and drop them on the ground. They were out numbered so they did as ordered. "Stop girl." the Sheriff told the dog. She released the arm and went to Cassie's side. She lay next to Cassie and put her head on a leg. She whined. The men were disarmed. "It is safe Doc." Sheriff Cooper called out.
Before the words were out of his mouth, Maude and Granny ran into the clearing. Each went to one unconscious woman. Blankets were produced to cover them. The ranch hands averted their eyes out of respect for their boss,when they pushed the dead man off Cassie. They checked each man and said, "These men don't need you Doc. Don't know about Corrigan. He got hit in a bad spot."
"Tie this scum up." Sheriff Cooper ordered. He gently took Rebecca's arm and led her from the clearing. "You had better come with me miss."
Doc looked at Corrigan's injury. "Well if there was such a thing as poetic justice, this is it. This man will never rape another woman. Guess I should at least try to help him first, although if I had my way, I would let him bleed to death and leave his body for the buzzards."
"Doc you don't mean that." Ellie stated.
"No I suppose I don't. It would be too cruel to the buzzards." He said and knelt down next to Corrigan.
"Maude is with Cassie. Granny has Victoria, so I guess you are stuck with me, Doc." Ellie stated as she knelt down next to Doc. They watched Maude gently wipe the blood from Cassie's face. Her tears flowed freely. Granny looked at him with a grim set to her mouth. Doc looked at Corrigan's wound. He knew from one glance that the wound would be fatal. Blood spurted from the hole with every beat of his heart. The artery had been hit. There was nothing he could do.
Corrigan grabbed Doc's arm with a blood soaked hand. "Help me." He said.
"There is nothing I can do for you. Your wound is too severe. The bullet hit the artery. You are going to die, so I suggest you make your peace with God now, or strike a deal with the devil." Doc said and watched the spurts get weaker and weaker until they stopped. The hand that gripped his arm fell to the ground. The eyes closed and the breathing stopped. Doc threw a blanket over him. He went to check Victoria, but Granny waved him off. He went to Cassie's side to examine her. He felt the bruises on her face and found no broken bones. He felt his way down to her ribs. There he found some sponginess. "Looks like a couple broken ribs." He pressed gently. "Will not too bad as long as the ends didn't puncture a lung. He went back to Cassie's head where he examined the large bruise that covered one eye and went back past her ear. "This could be a problem."
"What do you mean, Doc?" Maude asked.
"This area here", he pointed to the bruise. "This is in a very bad spot. The bruising and swelling could put pressure on the nerves that control the eyesight."
"Meaning what?" She demanded.
"Her eyesight could be affected."
"She could be blind?"
"I am sorry Maude."
"She will face darkness." Maude whispered.
"What did you say?" Doc asked.
"Granny said that Cassie would face darkness. Will it be permanent?"
"I don't know, Maude." Doc said softly as he tried to soften the pain the news inflicted. "Lets just concentrate on getting them back to the Ranch house, and get them cleaned and patched up." We will know more when she wakes up." He stood and asked the men, "Can you get the wagons as close as possible to the clearing?"
"Sure thing Doc. If we have to carry the wagons we will get em here. It will take time, but we will do it." The men walked off. Doc went to Victoria's side. He looked at Granny.
"She has been violated."
"They both were. Too bad that bastard is dead. The fathers in this town know how to handle rapists. If it is any consolation, Cassie was not aware, but Victoria certainly was."
"What will happen to the men still standing?" Granny asked. "If the fathers find out, there will be more trouble. Sheriff Cooper does not need a lynch mob on his hands."
"The law will handle them. Coop has plenty of deputies to keep order. Maybe a few of the ranch hands could help out."
"That would not be a good idea. The men are all loyal to Cassie and angry that this happened. They could start the mob."
"I know. I would not blame them if they did. I certainly want to string those bastards up. They were brutal. There was no reason to beat Cassie that bad. She was tied up and no threat. Granny I did not want to tell Maude, but I am worried about Cassie's head. She took some nasty hits. There could be more damage than to just her eyesight."
"Cassie will not die." Granny told him firmly.
"From you mouth to God's ear, Granny." Doc replied.
"She will not die." Granny repeated. "You must have faith."
"Faith I have. I don't know if my medical skills will be enough." He sighed.
"There is always help if you are smart enough to ask for it."
"I am asking for your help, Granny."
"I will give it gladly."
"So is this the third part?" Granny nodded. "Did your visions tell you it would be this bad?"
"With everything they have been through, they will need all the love they can find."
To be continued...
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