A Trapper’s Infallible Instinct – Extended Epilogue

Zadie looked out over the property around the former Orwell House, now known as the Jeanell Crippman Home for Wayward Women. It was a beautiful spring day, and Zadie had high hopes of seeing her husband Roddy riding up over the hills. At the foot of the Rockies, the property was removed from crowded Denver without being isolated from it.

Zadie didn’t like having Roddy away from the house, but business had required him to sign papers and do other things to secure other business interests that Wymann Orwell had left unfinished or lingering.

Roddy had spent the previous two years rebuilding the house as well as Orwell’s business portfolio. One by one, he eliminated the illegal trades, particularly those regarding guns and human beings. He fended off those who hadn’t yet heard of the change in businesses and came expecting to buy or sell things that had no place at the Crippman Home, as it was commonly called. Slaves were always bought and, of course, freed, in accordance with the laws of God and man. These were often women, sometimes Mexican children. All were welcome. But traders were encouraged never to return under threat of death, and not one of them had ever challenged the policy.

With Roddy gone, Zadie felt especially vulnerable. They did have a young man to guard the place, Randall, a black boy who’d been on the run from white men with a grudge. He was all of sixteen years old, and he wasn’t much to stand against any number of on-comers. But the needs were what they were, and it was only a matter of two days or so before Roddy would be back.

In the meantime, Zadie couldn’t help looking back on her short time at Orwell House before events came crashing down on it and everybody inside. It was a night she’d never forget, no matter how hard she tried or how much good they’d put the place to. Both she and Roddy had agreed that the place, which was up for grabs after Orwell’s death that fateful night, should be put to a useful and sociable purpose. They both wanted to go on improving the future and helping others escape their pasts.

But her time as a prisoner of the place lingered in her heart and her mind. She’d been condemned to stay there for the rest of her life to appease a ghost, and was only rescued by that ghost and another, her own husband’s first wife.

At least, that’s the way it had seemed. There was no way to know for sure just what had happened that night, or in the weeks leading up to it. It was hard not to be convinced that something supernatural had happened, that events had been organized and manipulated by two lost souls seeking everlasting peace and solace.

And they’d found it, Zadie felt certain. They’d found succor in what Zadie and Roddy were doing, if they’d ever truly longed from beyond the grave at all. Zadie’s belief in God had never been stronger, and so she could not say that, while God existed, angels or demons or even the devil himself did not. Zadie had to rely on her faith in God to see her through the rest, and on her love for Roddy and their new child to see her from their world to the next.

And it at last seemed possible. The horrors of the past were just that—of the past. The present was pleasant, and the future seemed bright.

She looked at the faces of the women in her charge. They were slowly regaining their spirit, their will to move on and lead new and exciting worthwhile, to help others just as they’d received help themselves.

It was a good life, a noble calling, a worthy way to put Orwell’s resources to good purposes. It could not have been a coincidence, Zadie felt certain. More and more, she felt that there were no coincidences, that every action and reaction had purpose beyond those whose intentions seemed to be plain.

Zadie put a hand on her belly. The moon had been in its ascendence before he left, and Zadie felt certain that a new life was growing inside her. Her old intuition was telling her so, and it had never been so strong or so rewarding. Finally, they were heralding a great new epoch for her family. She was excited, her skin tingling.

There was another feeling too, however, one that was eerily familiar. It was the old warning of danger again, as she hadn’t felt in a long while. She wanted to chalk it up to her new family way, but she couldn’t fool herself.

Something bad was coming, and at just the wrong time.

“Missus? Missus!” Zadie knew the tone of Randall’s voice, and she crossed to the rear of the property, where a lone rider was coming out of the forest and riding straight toward the house. The women noticed in clusters, a worried hum passing from one to another.

“Get in the house,” Zadie said, already doing the same, “everybody in the house!”

The women did as they were told, huddling together as Zadie pulled the Winchester out of the gun cabinet. She checked that it was loaded, then took the second gun belt, loaded with two Colts, and strapped it around her waist.

Zadie passed the women and stepped out onto the back porch as the rider neared. She cocked the rifle and looked up to see Randall aiming his own rifle at the rider.

The man stopped and looked at Zadie from atop his saddled paint. “I hear you take in women,” he said.

“We do,” Zadie said. “State your purpose.”

“Karen Hill,” the man said. “She’s my wife, I’m Marvin Hill.”

Zadie turned to glance through the door as Karen stepped forward. Her brows were arched, wrinkled in her pale, freckled brow. She mouthed, No, please no!

Zadie turned to face Marvin. “Your wife lives here now. Be on your way.”

“No,” Marvin said, “I ain’t havin’ that! She’s mine an’ I want her… now!

“Only thing you’ll get is a bullet,” Zadie said, “if you don’t be on your way.”

Marvin looked around, then up at Randal on the second-floor balcony before returning his attention to Zadie. “I hear’d tell you got a man? Bring him out?”

Zadie was afraid this would come up. If the man knew Roddy was gone, he’d be emboldened to act. “You deal with me,” she said. “I don’t know how things are in your world, Marvin, but around here women aren’t just tools to be used for one purpose or another. Making your dinner or making your children, that’s about all you think we’re good for. And that you can take who and which you want, just because you have strong arms and loaded guns and toadies to do your filthy bidding. But we don’t live that way around here, Marvin. Around here, a woman’s life, and her free will, are every bit the equal of any man’s.”

“I don’t see any man here at all,” Marvin said. “Just a bunch of scared women and some li’l sambo. Now send my wife out, ‘fore I gotta come in and get her.”

Zadie lined up her shot. “What makes you think I won’t blast whatever passes for your heart out of that flabby, worthless thing you call a chest?”

“’Cause I ain’t alone.”

Zadie turned to see that another man had ridden up from the front of the property and taken a position unseen. A second glance at the other side of the house revealed a third man, and she knew a fourth must have been positioned at the front door to prevent escape.

“Now, I got three men with me, and we can take away just as many women as that. Or, you wanna stand back and let the laws of man rule, we’ll take my wife and … and only one other, then we’ll be on your way. That’s about as fair a deal as I can offer.”

The women muttered their fear, drawing together and sharing the same terrified glance. Zadie could only give them cause. She and Randall had no way of fending off all of them. And with the two of them dead, Karen Hill and every other woman of the Crippman Home would be vulnerable.

“I can’t give you any of the women in this place,” Zadie said. “But you can take me, if you like.”

Randall said, “No, missus!”

Marvin looked her over. “You seem like kind of a wildcat t’me. I like a more… docile filly.”

“Really? Lookin’ at you, I’d take you for a man who likes a little bit of a fight.”

Marvin huffed. “Y’might not be too far wrong. Okay, you an’ Karen, the rest remain in peace.”

“No, Marvin,” Zadie said, “me alone.”

He seemed to be considering the offer, sizing up Zadie’s obvious physical gifts.

“You put that rifle down, come on over here, we’ll talk.”

Zadie turned to Delores, another of the wayward women of Crippman Home. She gave Delores the rifle, and the girl asked, “Are you sure about this, Zadie?”

Zadie took off the gun belt and handed it to Delores. “No. If things go wrong, take out the one on this side. Randall’ll shoot at the husband. After that, I dunno.”

“Pray?”

Zadie sighed. “Do that now… while there’s still time.”

She stepped out of the house and toward Marvin on his horse. He watched her approach, looking her up and down and emitting a stream of ugly clicks and wet sucks with his tongue.

“Uh-huh, yeah, you got the goods, lady, I’ll give you that.”

“It’s a deal, then?”

Marvin looked at the house, up at Randall, then back at Zadie. “Seems too easy t’me. You ain’t got any man, that seems sure. An’ you can’t give herself off to every man comes fer his wife, who you stole from him! Must be a trick.”

“A trick? Honey, I grew up in a saloon! Tricks were my stock ‘n trade. Forget Karen, she’s a nothing. I can make your ears spin and your toes curl, big man.”

Marvin seemed tempted, but his caution was more prudence than Zadie had been expecting. It had been years since her time at the Colorado Belle, and in any case she’d never had to seduce a man. They’d always been lined up and ready for her.

Marvin reached down in a flash, amazing speed for a man of his girth. His fingers craned around her hair, roots stinging as he pulled her closer and drew a Colt from his gun belt. He pointed the gun at Zadie’s head and said, “New rules! Send out my wife, we’ll take ‘em both and go.”

No answer came back, and Marvin gave Zadie’s hair another yank to relieve his frustration.

“What do you women care what happens to this one or my wife? How well do any of you really know each other? Yer all just a bunch of stray cats, hissin’ and scratchin’ at the furniture. My pappy’d’a put you all in a sack and drown’t ya as kittens, but we’re too late for that now, ain’t we?”

Bickering female voices leaked out of the house, and Zadie knew just what they were arguing about. Karen stepped out, but Delores stood to block her, rifle in hand. “I won’t let you do it,” Delores said.

Karen called to Marvin, “Turn her loose and I’ll go with you, Marvin!”

“No,” Marvin barked back, “too late. You two can keep each other company on the ride back. The rest got ten seconds ‘fore yer all dead! Alphie? Show ‘em what they’re in for!”

Zadie turned to one of the other men, riding up closer to the house. He pulled out a red stick of dynamite with one hand and held up a sulfur-tipped match in the other.

Marvin called out, “You send out my wife or we’ll blow you all to kingdom come!”

Delores said, “You’ll be first to die.”

Marvin looked at Zadie, then back at Delores. “Second, I’m guessin’, an’ fer sure not last.”

Bang! B-bang! The shot was not close, and when Zadie opened her eyes and looked around, she knew she was still alive. Another shot rang out, and everybody’s attention turned to the side of the house where the second horseman snapped back. Roddy came riding around to the back of the house. He’d ridden up from the front and taken out the guard there and went on to do the same to another.

Zadie looked up to see Marvin moving his gun from her head to aim it at Roddy. She moved fast, her hands acting out of pure instinct. They grabbed the Colt in Marvin’s hand and pulled down hard, yanking the gun into a harmless misfire and bringing Marvin down off his horse.

Zadie found herself locked in an intimate struggle with the big, smelly man, who was grabbing her neck, her arm. She kicked into him, unable to free herself. Another gunshot went off and Zadie looked up past Marvin’s shoulder to see Randall cocking the rifle. But the fact that he was in no hurry meant he’d taken out the third man.

Zadie’s view of him was quickly blocked by Roddy himself, on top of Marvin to pull him back and off of Zadie. Once she could, Zadie scrambled backward and to safety. But the two men were then entangled, and Marvin couldn’t be shot at without risking killing Roddy.

But Zadie wasn’t willing to stand there and see her husband killed in close combat. She jumped on Marvin’s back to pull him off. Delores soon appeared and joined her. Karen Hill launched herself into the mix, too, and the three of them finally managed to pull Marvin off of Roddy. He struggled, but the women had him.

Roddy looked up at Randall. “Ride into town, bring back the sheriff… and the mortician.”

“Yes suh, mistah!” Randall ran into the house and Zadie knew he’d soon be off.

The other women gathered around Marvin, one or two starting to kick him in the waist and ribs and face.

“No, stop,” Zadie said, letting go of Marvin’s arm. He lurched for freedom, but another woman replaced her and their big interloper was secured. His cohorts were dead.

Zadie ran into Roddy’s arms and they shared a tight embrace. She pulled him tight and he did the same. They’d come close to losing the thing each loved most, the other. After all they’d gone through, all they’d accomplished, they’d very nearly lost it all.

Though faith and courage had seen them through, it was a fearful reminder that the good they did would bring them up against others whose desires were contrary to the couple’s intent. This would not be the last dangerous encounter.

But Zadie was confident that, with God’s help and Roddy’s love, and her own pluck and courage and that blessed intuition, she would prevail.

Roddy glanced around. “So… anything happen here while I was away?”

Zadie cracked a little smile and pulled him close. “Jack rabbit on the lawn yesterday.”

“That so?”

They hugged each other tighter and glanced at the man Marvin, surrounded by the women pinning him and guarding him.

“What’s your business here, stranger?” Roddy asked him.

Marvin glanced back at Karen, sneering at him from behind. “This one’s my wife.”

“I’m not your wife,” Karen hissed at him, “not anymore! I’m a free woman and I can live as I please and go where I please. These people, this fine couple and these young women, they’re my family now!”

The other women grunted their agreement, nodding to punctuate her point.

“You have no hold on me,” Karen insisted, “not you or any man!”

The others tossed up an even louder chorus huffs and grunts.

Marvin said, “Fine, okay, you made your point. I’ll be on my way; you can live as you please.”

“It’s too late for that,” Roddy said. “You’ve violated the sanctity of my land. You threatened my wife’s life. You’ve committed crimes, mister. In this country, a man ain’t free to do whatever he pleases, stealing women and enslaving people. That era’s over, and it’s not coming back… at least not here.”

“Gimme a Christian chance, mister!”

“You’ll get a trial,” Roddy said. “We’ll state the facts as we know them. The law will see to you as it does all men, and women too. That’s what makes this country great.”

Zadie looked at her husband, so noble and upright, she fell in love with him yet again. She seemed to fall in love with him anew with every illustration of his amazing strength of character. He was every bit the man he appeared, and he appeared to be every bit the man he was. Zadie was relieved for his return, once again he had saved her life. But he was more than her rescuer, and she was more than his damsel. She stood as the savior of those women from that moment forward, their personal savior. And their loyalty to her and gratitude for her would be evident in every word and deed to ever happen at the Crippman Home.

Roddy asked Zadie, “Anything else I need to know?”

Zadie smiled and reached over, gently moving his hand from her waist to her belly and pressing it flat. Roddy seemed to know immediately what she was telling him. And his smile told her all she needed to know about his welcome of the blessed event. It would be a fine child, a boy, and it would not be the last.

The new era was in bloom, at the Crippman Home and across the country. It was a time of promise, of rebirth, a new spring in a new year with a new century about to begin. It would be the American century, and that would be thanks to families like Zadie and Roddy’s, to men and women of their grit and pluck and courage… and above all, their faith.

THE END


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31 thoughts on “A Trapper’s Infallible Instinct – Extended Epilogue”

    1. A true redemption story with a snake crawling out from every rock. I appreciate the grace of God being displayed throughout the book until the very end.

    2. This was another awesome story ,with everything you could want in a story and then some. I was very intrigued with the twist and turns from the kidnapping to the escape from one bunch to another. I continue to look forward to the next one,they are always awesome.Thank You again! Keep up with the next story .Linda

    3. Derek, this is the best western I’ve read in a long time! It had me hooked from page one. My favorite part was when Roddy realized he was a redeemable soul. Zadies intuition was spot on at first sight that she had found the man she had been dreaming and praying for. And from then on it only got better. Thanks a lot.

  1. Exciting adventures and true love. What else can one hope for
    as Zadie and Roddy worked their way to happiness. Amazing cast of characters with each adding such color to this story.

  2. I saw glimpses of a really great potential here but it didn’t make the mountain top for me. Gypsies with murderers, spirits, questionable angels, not my idea of a Western novel. I didn’t bother with the Epilogue. Maybe the next book will be less convoluted…I love Western intrigue so I will read again when next release is available.

  3. Another great book !! I truly enjoyed it. Keep them coming i’ll never tire of reading them .

  4. Have read a lot of other westerns, usually filled with 20-30 outlaws and everyone getting shot in the head and women doing stupid things. Nice to read a good story with substance. Looking forward to reading another one of your books.

  5. I really liked this adventure you took me on through this story. True redemption. I especially loved the scriptures you included. I will continue reading all your books.
    Pat

  6. Great book. I was saddened with the deaths of a couple of the bad guys but still a wonderful book. Thanks Derek

  7. Another wonderful story from you. I enjoyed it from beginning to finish. Keep up the good work, I look forward to the next one from you…… 👍

  8. This book was absolutely wonderful, and I loved it, could not put it down, so I didn’t! This stoty was so great with lots of mysteries solved, lots of drama throughout and lots of drama, exciting moments and characters, lots of action packed scenes, lots of fun and entertaining moments of sadness and despair, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying it this Author who has you captured from the first chapter to the end, which bring you to the extended epilogue, where you will be surprised by how this ends! Actually it’s just the beginning of a wonderful life and lots of interesting people who make the story great, so don’t miss this one, it’s wonderful, you won’t want to put it down! I didn’t, an neither will you! 📚🎭😉🤠🐝🎶

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