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"Cassie have you thought this through?" Maude asked.
"Yes mama, I did." Cassie replied.
"So what you are telling me is that not only do you want to pay for Rebecca's defense, you also want to buy Corrigan's place and have Victoria's father run it."
"That is one way to make sure her father will let her live her life in peace. He will never be faced with the loss of his land. Plus is a way to help all the smaller places that were forced to sell their land to him. He stole those places Mama."
"That will probably take a lot of money."
"I know. That is why I wanted to talk to you first. You are half owner and it would be half of your money that would be used to but the land. I needed and wanted your permission before I talked to Alex. Before you decide, you need to know the money we would be using is what had been set aside for a couple projects daddy had in the works. It means that it might be another couple years before we get the new pipes installed in the barns."
"Cassie, ever since you have taken over running the ranch, you have made sound business decisions. We have gone this long without having pumps in the barns and pastures. We can wait a bit longer. But, remember this, no matter how good your intentions are, you can not save the world."
"I do not want to save the world, Mama, just one little corner of it to keep Victoria safe."
"I understand, Cassie. Go ahead. I trust your judgment. See what you can do to help."
"Thanks Mama. Did you call Alex?"
"I did. He will be here shortly. Have you told Victoria any of this?"
"Not yet. I did not want to get her hope us in case this did not go through. Would you call the bank? Alex will need a bank draft to take down with him. I am not sure how much he will need until after I speak to him."
"All right. Anything else I can do for you while you wait?"
"Maybe a coffee. Where is Victoria now?"
"She is with Granny. Do you think her father will be able to run both places?"
"I think so. She has five brothers to help out."
"Good Lord. Five?"
"Plus Corrigan must have had ranch hands to take care of his place, so it is not as if he would not have any help. Someone had to be taking care of his place while he was gone. I will have Alex talk to the authorities while he is down there. That also means we will have to keep Victoria's father here until Alex returns."
"Is that wise?"
"I don't know. If he goes back to Virginia before Alex returns, this may not work."
"As long as you are not planning on having him come out here to stay while we wait for Alex. That was not what you were planning is it?"
"No Mama. I am hoping Coop can keep him in jail until then."
"Would you like me to call him also?"
"Please. As soon as Alex get here..."
"I will send him right up. Would you like me to have Victoria return?"
"Only if she is ready. She said she needed to talk to Granny. There are things that Granny can help her with."
Maude picked up the breakfast tray and started for the door. "You rest until Alex gets here." She told Cassie. Maude stopped and told Cassie, "I know it has only been a day since you were hurt, but I am impressed by how well you are taking this forced inactivity. Victoria is good for you."
"Mama, that is not it. Well she is not the only reason I am not giving everyone a hard time."
"I know, Cassie. Doc scared the living daylights out of you."
"It is not that." Cassie argued.
"You know better than to lie to me. Of course it is the reason. Cassie, only a fool would not have been scared by what Doc said. You are no fool. What Doc said scared you."
"You are right Mama. I am scared." Cassie admitted.
Maude put down the tray she carried. "Would you like to talk about it?"
"What am I going to do if my vision does not return?"
"It will return, Cassie. You have to believe it will."
"It is hard to believe when the world is dark."
"It is dark now, just like on a cloudy night, but the dawn comes and with it the light of the sun. Everything always seem worse in the dark. The sun will come out and chase away the demons that hide in the dark." Cassie took a shaky breath as she listened to her mother. "You rest, take care of yourself, do what Doc tells you to do and your sight will return. It may not be today, or tomorrow or even the day after that, but it will return. I believe that, Cassie and you should too."
"I will Mama." Cassie said softly.
"We take it one day at a time, Cassie. Now you rest."
In the quiet after her mother left, Cassie thought about her plan. It would be an expense, but hopefully it will be worth it. It would tie up a lot of capital. Money that we need to keep the ranch running. If the rain did not come soon, we would have to send not only the four year old steers to market, but also the three year old. that would affect next year's profits. Was it worth the risk? Everything depended on the rain. If and when it would come. Would it be enough to bring the fields back in time?
She sighed as the thoughts filled her mind.
Their lawyer arrived and was ushered into Cassie's room. He was a middle aged man with grey flecked dark wavy hair that curled around his cherub face. He had a full beard and mustache and carried a batter briefcase. He had been their lawyer for years. Maude and Cassie trusted him to handle all their financial and legal matters. Cassie hushed the dog as he walked into the room.
"You look as if you were back kicked by a mule, Cassie." He stated as he sat in the chair by the bed.
"You should see the other guy." She joked, "How are you Alex?"
"Quite well." He replied. "You mother said you have some work for me?"
"Three things actually."
He pulled a pad and pencil from his briefcase. "Okay, what is number one?"
"Rebecca Lewis needs a good attorney."
"She killed four men, Cassie."
"I know that, Alex. She killed them to save Victoria's and my lives."
"She has already pleaded guilty. There are also several witnesses that saw her shoot those men."
"There were special circumstances, Alex. I am not asking for miracles. Just do your best."
"I will have my brother Jayson handle it. He is a cracker jack criminal lawyer."
"Good. The second thing is I need you to do is go to Virginia."
"From what I understand, Corrigan had a stranglehold on the small land owners. Now that he is dead, with no living relatives, his land will probably be divided into smaller parcels and sold, or left whole and sold to someone who could be just as bad as he was."
"How much do you want to spend?"
"What is the going rate for about two thousand acres?"
"That depends on the area. If it is developed it could cost you around ten thousand dollars."
"Damn that much?"
"I am afraid so. If the area is not developed the cost would be much less."
"You do what you need to do."
"You are accumulating a lot of acreage. What d you plan on doing with it?"
"I plan of working it. Not me personally, but I want to offer Victoria's father the position of overseer. I am not sure if he will accept it, but I will make the offer."
"You have got to be kidding?"
"Not at all. The third item I need is a contract."
"If you are serious, I will draw up the contract and have it ready, when I return. Give me the particulars."
"Just a standard contract. Have it say that he will be overseer of the place and be paid what ever the standard fee is. Check on that while you are there. In return, I expect a monthly statement of expenditures, and that they treat the land as if it were their own. The water will be there for anyone who needs it free of charge. When it comes time to take the stock to market, he will get half of the total profit from the sale. That will be divided up between any of his sons that work my land. The ranch staff that stays on will continue to be paid whatever amount they are being paid."
"Half of the cattle sale, Cassie? That could be a large sum of money."
"I know, but it is a cheap price to pay to keep Victoria safe."
"Does Maude know what you want to do? She has a say in how you spend ranch funds."
"Talked to her this morning. She has approved. I will also need an inventory of the stock and equipment so that I will know what we are dealing with. If it is at all possible, find the contracts that Corrigan forced the small owners to sign and give them back their land."
"Give?" He asked. Cassie nodded "Sure thing."
"I need this done as soon as possible. I have no idea how long the Sheriff can keep Victoria's father in jail. There will be a bank draft waiting for you to take."
"I will leave on the afternoon train. I will talk to Sheriff Cooper and Jayson before I leave. It could be a week or two before I return."
"Do what you can Alex."
He stood up. Cassie heard the door close when the lawyer left. She was alone in her dark world, yet she smiled. Despite the slight headache and the fact that her vision was still messed up, she felt good. Despite the soreness in her broken ribs, she felt good. She laid her head back on the pillows and closed her eyes. She drifted off to sleep.
Victoria spent the morning with Granny while Cassie was with the lawyer. They worked to sort and prepare herbs. Granny took Victoria to her storeroom. Victoria marveled at the amount of herbs and plants that Granny had ready to use. Rows and rows of neatly labeled jars at her disposal. She explained some of their uses.
"This one," she pointed to a jar, "is the one I gave you last night for dreamless sleep. These," she pointed to several more jars, "all work to bring down a fever. These," she pointed to another set of jars, "will help quiet a cough."
"Granny with all these herbs and plants do you have anything that will help me forget?"
Granny took a deep breath and reached for a jar the top shelf. "Yes there is. This one will help you forget. It is very dangerous. You would lose more than just a bad memory. There are times when the cures can be worse than what they are supposed to cure. There are risks to these cures and have to be considered carefully before using."
"What would happen?"
"There is no way to pick just one memory to forget. You would end up losing all your memories. There are other ways, but they too are very dangerous. I have prayed for guidance. So far I have no clear answers."
"Can you tell me what the other ways are?"
"I will tell you. Come out to the porch." Victoria poured them each a glass of lemonade before she followed Granny. She placed both glasses on a small table and sat next to the older woman. Granny was silent for several minutes as she collected her thoughts.
"When a person has something their mind has trouble dealing with, in you case, your attack, there is a way for someone who has been fully trained to enter the person's mind and help them past those memories. Sometimes herbs can be used to put the person in a light sleep so their minds are relaxed and easier to enter. It can also be done by putting the person in a trance. These are just temporary fixes and eventually the memory will resurface. It could come back at any time. A smell or taste, a look, anything could trigger the memory to come back. It does not matter if the mind is ready to accept them, the memory will return. All the horrors will return. People have been known to lose their minds and even take their own lives just to erase the memory. I would not want that to happen to you."
"So there is nothing I can do?" She asked as tears once again filled her eyes. "I am a patient person, but I do not know how long I can stand the memory of his hands on me."
"There is always something we can do. The only really safe ways to dim those memories are with time, patience, trust and love. All of which you will find right here. Cassie is a woman of her word. She will never pressure you into anything you are not comfortable with. She has a large amount of patience although you would not not it from her restless spirit. If it is something she truly wants, she has an infinite amount of patience. She is a person you can trust. If you open your hearts to the love that is starting to show itself, you will get past this. Just remember that no memory, no matter how bad it is, can stand up against the power of love. Especially when it is freely given and received from two pure hearts." Victoria smiled at Granny's words. "Come over here." Granny stood and walked to the railing. She pointed down. "Do you see that rose bud right there?"
"Yes." Victoria answered.
"Think of that bud as your mind because the bad memories are still fresh. Right now your mind is as tight as that bud. It is closed and tight. But, you add love and care along with sunlight and water, and in time that bud will open to become a beautiful rose. I do not know when it will happen but it will. I promise you it will. When it does, you will pick that rose to give to Cassie. When it opens you will be ready to move past the memories. You must take very special care of that rose."
"I will. Thank you Granny." They sat together for a short time and watched as the day unfolded until Maude joined them..
"Alex left while you were in the storeroom. I looked in on Cassie and she was sleeping. Before you worry, it is normal for a person with a concussion to sleep a lot. You should get some rest also. I will make lunch shortly." She told Victoria.
"I am a bit tired." She said as she walked into the house. Maude walked to the porch railing and looked down at the rose bud Granny talked about.
"What you told Victoria about the bud was beautiful. We must take special care of this one. That will be Victoria's rose."
"Yes. When it is ready and she gives it to Cassie, their hearts will be one." Granny said.
To be continued...
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