Monday, March 16, 2009

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter 32

Paula Annette Evans came into the world on the afternoon of April 6 at a Chicago hospital. Labor pains had begun at daylight that Thursday morning with contractions soon occurring nearly every ten minutes. Marguerite knew from her mother's experience that it was time to prepare for the birthing. Paul managed to find a hackney driver who delivered them to the hospital quickly.

Upon Marguerite's admittance, a nurse called Paul aside. "It will be quite a few hours until the birth since this is her first. You may as well leave for your work, or go home."

Paul immediately became incensed, "Nothing doing, I'm staying here until the baby arrives, and my wife is out of danger."

"You can stay with her until the last hour or so, then you'll be required to leave."

Marguerite's pains became closer and closer as the morning hours passed. When the doctor checked her at noon, he said, "Perhaps in the next two or three hours. She is doing fine and is beginning to dilate."

Shortly after one p.m. Marguerite complained, "The contractions are getting harder and longer. Oh Paul! Call the nurse, my water has broken and I'm flooding the bed."

The nurse cleaned her up and put fresh soakers under her. Then she washed Marguerite thoroughly with a disinfectant. She turned to Paul, "I think you had better leave now. This child will be here quite soon, far sooner than we expected. I'll get the doctor now."

Three hours later when Paul was called to the room, he found Marguerite proudly cuddling the baby to her breast. She smiled weakly, "Our daughter is going to be called Paula Annette Evans. Annette is for my Mother."

Paul was in rapture as he leaned over to admire the child. He laughed, "I agree! If it was a boy I was to name him. If a girl, it was to be your choice. But where did you get the name Paula?" He was still smiling.

"It just seemed right somehow," she teased. "Now, I'm going to take a nap. Paula doesn't seem to want to nurse much."

"They seldom do at first," the nurse replied. "Within hours your breasts will fill more. Then you'll find a hungry child."

Marguerite and the baby stayed in the hospital five days before leaving for home. She found her breasts provided more than adequate sustenance for her baby. Paul's mother, Grace, eased her work the first few evenings at home, arriving in time to help with supper. Marguerite was relieved when nothing was said about the early delivery. It seemed accepted as a fact of life.

A month passed and she became impatient to return to her artwork. She brought the subject up several times, but Paul discouraged her. "Marguerite, we don't need the money and you've a baby to care for. She's the most important thing."

"Yes, Paul, but I'm cooped up in this small house day after day. It's time we bought a horse and buggy. We have the barn behind the house -- hay and oats aren't that expensive. I've plenty of experience at handling a horse or even a team. Besides, we can use my painting money and it will allow Paula and me to get out into the sunshine. It's June, and the weather is so warm and delightful."

He mused over the idea for moments, and then smiled. "Fine, that's a good idea. I had been thinking it time to have our own rig. I'll see about a good buggy horse, but not a young one. Buggies are quite reasonable, and a horse shouldn't cost more than one hundred dollars."

In July Marguerite found a reliable woman to baby sit Paula on afternoons; she threw caution to the winds, accepting a commission to paint two young children. Paul grumbled a bit, but withdrew his objection when she presented him with a check for four hundred dollars.

He shook his head, amazed, "My gosh, Marguerite. It takes me three months to make that much money." He smiled ruefully, "It seems I've married a gold mine."

Their love and commitment was strong and she agreed to limit her work to an occasional painting. She often slipped over to the Institute to take in an afternoon class, always careful to return home early, in time to make supper.

She began a serious study of the old masters, but never copied their paintings. She marveled how they found material to make their various colors, especially the brilliant ones. Nowadays, paints came already prepared, stored in small lead tubes.

Near the end of August Paula weighted nearly fifteen pounds. She was alert and followed light and sound with her eyes, and would lift her head when spoken to. Marguerite had misgivings about Paula's light hair. She had not inherited the dark hair from her mother's side of the family. She realized Paul's hair was a dark brown, but perhaps Paula's would darken later. Her daughter's facial features were much like her own, showing little evidence of Charley. She definitely had a light golden tone to her skin, an indication of native ancestry. Marguerite determined she would protect this birth secret to the grave.

As the months went by, both Paul and Marguerite became immersed in their everyday work. Paul was promoted to supervisory position in the company offices and Marguerite found herself specializing in painting children. A loving bond grew between them, and on Saturdays and Sundays their time was spent with Paula.

Although Charley had rented out his farmland along the border, his official business became so pressing that he found little time to share work with his partner. It bothered his conscience, but John never complained.

On January 13 the new brick courthouse was finished amid much fanfare. Later that spring the new schoolhouse opened. A massive flood of the Red River had begun. The railroad tracks from the Y to St. Vincent were soon under water.

On one of his many trips to the courthouse Charley heard a rumor his friend Nelson E Nelson, the telegrapher, had been offered $10,000 for his farm just southwest of town, an enormous price at the time. He decided to stop by on his way downtown to rub him.

"Nels, maybe we both better sell out. Are you really going to accept that offer? Where did you find a chump like that?"

Nels smiled modestly, "It's on the up and up Charley. I'm going to do a lot of thinking on it. Say, are you going after that lothario, Joseph Fay?1 I hear he's got a young schoolgirl pregnant."

Charley laughed, "He's already in our new jail at the courthouse. He might get away with it if he marries her."

"How come you didn't move into the sheriff's quarters they built in the new courthouse? I hear it's plush."

"My old place over the bar is handier. 'Sides, the river is mighty high for April; it'll bear close watching. The Selkirk steamboat is already busy moving freight over to St. Vincent, even carrying cargo to the railroad Y east of town."

"Yup, word on the telegraph tells me several houses in Fargo are floating around. It's far worse there, still all that water is coming our way.”

Late on the afternoon of August 18 John Mager staggered into Charley's bar. One side of his head was covered with dark, ugly, caked blood. One of his pant legs from thigh downward was also saturated with blood. The man appeared weak and exhausted. "Charley, I shot a breed over at Walhalla today in self defense. I've come to turn myself in!"

Charley realized this man needed immediate medical attention. "We’ll get you over to the dentist’s room at the hotel; at least he'll be able to stop the bleeding until we can get Doc Harris from the fort. Some of you fellows give me a hand."

Mager's buggy was just outside, so Charley drove Mager to Geroux's after Mager was carefully lifted to the seat. Fortunately, the dentist was available and quickly began to clean up Mager. It was an hour before Charley was able to piece together the story from the distraught Mager. It came in bits and pieces as Dr. Harris arrived and began treating Mager’s wounds.

"Charley, some of the land I bought in Walhalla is now being surveyed as a street. There's a new hotel going up and years ago a few breeds buried people nearby. I had planned on moving the few graves on my land as it is private property, part of the Emerling Estate townsite. Antoine Valle and his brother brought a child over and insisted on the burial being on my property, even though there is a cemetery just adjoining. I refused to allow them to bury the child on my land and he became enraged. He seized an axe and came at me. I drew my gun and fired shots into the ground to distract him. But then he hit me on the head with the axe, the calf of my leg, then my thigh. He was crazy, he would have killed me, and so I shot him. He's dead."

Charley tried to calm him, "Why don't you stay here in the hotel tonight; if you feel able, tomorrow we'll go back with Justice Armstrong to hold an inquest. I know the temper of some of the breeds, especially if they've been drinking. We'll sort it out tomorrow. You probably were well justified in your action. Will you be comfortable here? If so, I'll see your horse is cared for at Mason's Livery. We can leave tomorrow, say about 9:00 a.m. Of course it'll depend upon Armstrong's being available and you feeling fit.”

At four p.m, the next afternoon Charley, Dr. Ross, and Justice Armstrong held a brief inquest on the body of Valle at Walhalla. Charley subpoenaed several witnesses since the final case would be tried at the courthouse in Pembina.

In late October the railroad line from Grafton to Winnipeg was finally completed, to be open soon. An imposing depot was built in Pembina to house a customs office, and telegrapher, with adequate storage for freight under-bond.

Dr. Charles Harris was contemplating moving into town from the fort, as a new commander and doctor were scheduled to arrive in October or November. The new commander was to be Lt. Col. Henry L. Chipman, the doctor, Captain Perley.

He discussed it with Charley. "I've learned a lot out there and they've treated me well. Still, I feel out of place; I was never meant for Army life. Granted, the teamsters out there took me anywhere I wanted to go and it was all-free. Still, I plan on getting a room at Geroux's. I'll have to purchase a horse and buggy too."

"You'll need a sleigh for the winter, also robes for travel. You might as well use mine until you can find something within reason. Mason's good on rentals too, he’s a fair man.”

"Eugene's taking good care of my Mother and the girls, but Susan wants to start nurse training at St. Boniface. I told her to go ahead. I can handle the expense."

Charley laughed, "Good thing too. She's been thick with that fellow, Clement, who is working with the government survey party. She's still pretty young for matrimony."

Charles smiled, "My thoughts, exactly!"

1 - Fay, after his release from jail was tarred and feathered, tied to a pole and left on the south road toward the Fort. Dr. Harris took him to Joliette to Storms house to clean him and treat his burns. He left the Territory.