Vengeance for the Seven Miners – Extended Epilogue

Walker Chatfield Darwin didn’t much enjoy the waistcoat and tails, and he knew his twin brother Tommy absolutely hated them. They both preferred the more casual wear even their father favored, when not in a formal meeting. As the principal officer of the Stillwater Mining Company, he was often traveling to Chicago, even Washington, often with the family in tow. So, it was hard for Walker to feel like he had to impress the kids from Fallon.

But their mother had insisted. Despite being fourteen years old, very nearly adults, she loved to dress them up for such things. She was careful to instill in them the manners they’d need to impress anybody at any time, the social graces which separated a real man from an ape walking upright.

Walker could hardly count the times she told them both that young women were impressed with culture and grace and not by mere action. Though her husband and their adopted father, William Buck Darwin, was no stranger to action. Though he’d settled into a civilized life of a mining tycoon, among the wealthiest men in the new state of Nevada, Buck Darwin’s exploits had long become legend. Visitors and townsfolk often made mention of it. A writer even came to town hoping to write a series of books with Buck as the hero, but the offer was gratefully and respectfully declined.

Dad would know how to handle this, Walker told himself as they stepped into the yard behind the schoolhouse. Candles gave the yard a glowing touch of elegance in the evening gloom. The night smelled of storksbill, a hoot owl calling in the distance. The other boys and girls were also dressed in their finest, a small mariachi band playing under the trees.

“A cotillion,” Tommy muttered, “how ridiculous.”

“It’s a good chance to practice.”

“Practice what? Looking like a fool, or feeling like one?”

“Both.”

They shared a little chuckle, Tommy fidgeting with his jacket. “It’s too small.”

“It’s supposed to fit that way.”

“I feel like a dandy.”

“A dandy,” Walker repeated, rolling his eyes. “You’ve seen Pop pull it off. You wouldn’t call him a dandy!”

Tommy nodded. “I’m not the man Pop is.”

“And you don’t have to be. Just be the man you are. You know we have to be able to handle situations like these, all kinds of places. You remember Washington, New York.”

“Of course, I do,” Tommy said. “But this isn’t Washington.”

“Think of the prize, Tommy. She’s more than worth a room full of stodgy old delegates.”

Tommy huffed. “Still, I’d rather be out riding, even hunting.”

“Think of it that way then. You’re here on a mission, tracking the trickiest and most dangerous game of all. Love.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Tommy said. “You’re quite the wit, as usual.”

“It’s the best way to settle an argument,” Walker said, “and to prevent a fight.”

Tommy nodded. “I know what Pop taught us. Anyway, I’m not here to have a fight.”

“I shouldn’t think so. But you’d better be ready for one in any case.”

Tommy nodded as he considered. “Maybe it’s … it’s a misguided campaign, to begin with. I mean, all these people here.”

“True, there’s a risk.”

“I could just tell her in private, after church services perhaps.”

“Yes, you could. But you haven’t been able to do it yet. That’s why we decided this was best. You won’t have to speak, Tommy. Remember, we decided that wouldn’t be best. Take it slow.”

“Then this is a mistake,” Tommy said, “it’s too soon. And what about George?”

Walker scanned the crowd, the girls looking especially pretty and the boys especially awkward. One girl was instantly recognizable, sixteen-year-old Samantha Norbert. She’d blossomed into a redheaded beauty, graceful and lithe and very pretty, her milky skin lightly freckled. Walker tapped Tommy on the shoulder. “There she is.”

“I know,” Tommy said, “I see her. I saw her as soon as we walked up, looking like a pair of lawn jockeys.”

Walker chuckled. “Just relax, Tom. You’ve known her all your life!”

“As friends, Walker, as friends. Besides, she has a boyfriend.”

“George Johns? That jackanape? We owe it to her as her friends not to be taken in by that bounder. You’d make a much better suitor. And if you keep waiting, she’ll marry that idiot or someone just like him.”

“I’m not ready, Walker!”

“No,” Walker said, “to get married? No, you’re not ready for that.”

“Oh, look who’s talking! You’re no readier than I am!”

“And I’m not courting. But, after being friends for so many years, you have to start changing the direction of things. In a few years, when you’re sixteen and she’s eighteen, it could be a different story.” Walker put a reassuring hand on his twin brother’s shoulder and gave him a little shake to instill confidence. “That story’s yours to write, Tommy. All you have to do is ask. You know she won’t refuse.”

Tommy rolled his eyes. “A pity dance. I’ll be a spectacle.”

“Sure, you will. Dancing with the loveliest girl at the party? I should think you will be… the envy of every fella, the desire of every gal. Not to mention me.” Seeming to take Tommy by surprise, Walker explained, “Well, how am I supposed to feel, a twin standing alone, while you’re dancing with Samantha Norbert?”

Tommy cracked a little smile. “Ridiculous, I should think.”

Walker gave Tommy another little tap, and sent him on his way. He watched as Tommy made his way nervously through the crowd. There was little in Fallon which could fluster either of the twins, except the one thing that no boy could contend with.

Love.

Young Nancy Moss stepped up to him, dressed in a very lovely, light spring dress. She offered a little curtsy, a twelve-year-old debutante. “Mister Chatfield Darwin.”

Walker assumed a formal position, then offered her a little bow. “Miss Moss.” Walker extended his hands, Nancy took them, and they stepped out into the yard where the dance floor had been designated.

Nancy was cute and a good friend, far too young to be anything like a romantic match for Walker. Though he did have to admit that the same advice he’d given his brother would hold true for him as well. Who knows, he had to entertain the notion, maybe when I’m nineteen and she seventeen, that’ll be a whole new story two.

But until then, there was time enough simply to revel in the joys of being unfettered, irresponsible, young. Though adulthood lay just beyond the bourn, they could still cling to those last vestiges of childhood. They were fast-fleeting; and once they were gone, they would be gone for good.

They were dancing close enough for Walker to see his brother’s expression. He had fallen hard for their lifelong friend Samantha, and he’d been dreaming of that dance for months that Walker knew about and probably years before that. To see him take that step on his own road could only make Walker feel freer himself. As twins who had lost their father early, the twins had clung to one another. But it was time for each to begin finding their own way in life. It wouldn’t be easy, as each was called to work the family business, and each wanted to. It seemed that life had paired them together, for purposes they couldn’t know. But their parents had instilled in them the need for family, the invaluable importance of siblings and loved ones, those who could be trusted without a doubt.

“S’cuse me.” Walker and Nancy stopped dancing, and so did Tommy and Samantha, as George Johns walked through the crowd. The music kept playing, and people kept dancing, though the tall, lanky fellow was instantly the center of attention. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

Samantha said, “Just a dance between old friends.”

George looked Tommy over. “Not old enough, I’d say. Go take a bath, short-pants.”

Tommy stood his ground, and so did Walker and Nancy, lingering just a few feet away. Walker could see what was coming, and he knew he’d have to join the fight if one was started. Walker could only hope that his brother would handle it the right way. But whichever way it went, the twins would stick together, against any and all comers.

Tommy looked up at George, three years older, a foot taller, and thirty pounds heavier. “I think you mistook me for someone else.”

“I know who you are, think yer somethin’ special ‘cause yer parents are so well off.”

“It’s not being a part of my family,” Tommy said, “but not being a part of yours.”

“What’d you say, half-man?”

“I was raised not to be a loud-mouth,” Tommy said, “and to know how to deal with them when I have to. It doesn’t seem as if you’ve had that advantage, so I simply thought how fortunate I am.”

“Is that so?”

“It is.”

George glared at Tommy. “You talk like yer better’n everybody else.”

“But I’m not,” Tommy said, “and I truly don’t think I am. I’m not wise, like my brother. I’m not graceful, like Samantha or Nancy. I’m not funny, like Herbie Harris, or athletic, like my friend Glenn Toddson. I’m only what I am, no more and no less.”

“So, you admit it!”

“Of course,” Tommy said. “What else? Should I go around acting like something I’m not, making a bigger man out of myself? Why should I? You’re already doing that enough for all of us.”

The crowd chuckled into their palms. Nancy’s fingers dug into Walker’s sleeves, but he stood his ground and held her back just a bit, his arm blocking her from a desperate and ill-fated charge.

Samantha held her hands between the two boys. “Now, now, this is all a mistake. George, he’s just fourteen, you’re twice his size.” She turned to Tommy and said, “You don’t have to prove yourself, Tommy, not to me.”

“Why,” George asked, “’cause yer sweet on him?”

“George, stop it, you’re upset.”

“Darn-tootin’ I am,” George said. “I won’t be made to look a fool in front of all my friends by some boy barely outta swaddlins!”

“Where would you prefer?” More giggles rose up from the crowd.

George pointed his finger as if it were a loaded gun. “That’s what I mean! You won’t be talking out of both sides of your face once they’re both black and blue.”

“If you feel like a fool,” Tommy said, “it’s because you’re acting like a fool. Do you think you’re winning Samantha’s respect? Do you think this is the kind of man she’d want for her husband?”

George snarled, “You think yer such a man?” George broke out laughing, but he was the only one.

Nancy pulled at Walker’s sleeve, a wordless bid that he should intervene. But Walker shook his head and both went on watching. The time wasn’t right to step in, and Tommy needed to fight this fight for himself.

“What kind of fellow are you,” Tommy said, “that you should be courting my friend here? She’s far too fine a person, too smart by double your letters, with a grace you couldn’t possibly appreciate.”

George peeled off his waistcoat, the crowd gasping and knowing what would come next. “Let’s see how much you can appreciate then.”

Nancy pulled hard at Walker’s sleeve again, but he held his position. With the first serious strike against his brother, Walker would be in the fight. Until then, he had to let the boy take a blow or two if he could. He respected his brother too much to interfere.

Samantha said to George, “Enough of this ridiculous display, George! Put on your coat and go.”

“I will, once I’m done with this yapping puppy dog.”

“Do it now,” Samantha said, “while you’re still in control of your senses.”

“She’s right,” Tommy said. “It won’t be long before the chaperones notice.”

“Say one more thing,” George said, “and all the chaperones in the state won’t be able to save you!”

Tommy glanced at Walker, wordlessly conferring. Each knew the other’s mind, and Tommy turned back to George. “Woof-woof,” was all he said.

George lurched forward and Tommy ducked back. Samantha stepped back, Walker easing Nancy back as well. The band stopped playing and all the kids stopped dancing to watch the contest. Walker was tense, ready to join the fight and hoping it wouldn’t come to it.

He looked around to wonder where the chaperones were, but realized they were probably enjoying the rite of passage from afar, or were otherwise distracted by things needing chaperoning of their own.

George swung again, but Tommy was far too fast. Smaller and quicker, Tommy ducked and turned, drawing George toward him. George lunged again, the crowd gasping as George nearly struck the younger boy. Samantha stood agape, pale, Nancy clinging to Walker’s sleeve.

“Georgie Porgie,” Tommy said, his eyes fixed on his bigger opponent, “pudding and pie.”

George growled and lunged again, the two swings a pair of wild misses as Tommy ducked and turned to draw George away from the crowd and back toward him. Walker knew Tommy’s strategy, one taught to them by their own father. He had to admit, it was amusing to watch, particularly considering his opponent’s temperament.

Tommy went on, “Kissed the girls and made them cry.”

George charged again, overtaken with rage. It was easy enough for Tommy to sidestep the charge and trip George up with a quick turn of his foot. George collapsed facedown into the grass, some of the kids gasping and others breaking out in a ridiculing chuckle.

The bigger fighter was clearly embarrassed, disgraced, and increasingly frustrated. It was just what Tommy intended, and Walker was proud of his brother’s masterful handling of his bigger adversary. Like David fighting Goliath, Tommy was fighting his own fight, and the Lord was clearly on his side. It was brain versus brawn, faith versus strength. Walker already knew what the outcome would be.

George pushed up from the ground and charged again, this time grabbing Tommy and sending them both scurrying across the yard. The kids gasped and backed up, Walker fighting every impulse to interject himself into the conflict. But Tommy didn’t need him yet, and he needed something else even more; independence, self-sufficiency, pride.

Manhood.

Tommy pedaled backward as the two approached a big oak tree in the yard. Tommy turned at the last minute, letting George smash himself into the tree. He grunted and let go of Tommy falling back. He bent forward, holding his head, swaying but not falling.

Tommy went on, “When the boys came out to play …” George grimaced, his eyes fixed on Tommy as the rhyme came to a close. He lurched forward, Tommy ready to face him. But Walker was already there, standing with his brother.

“That’s enough,” Walker said.

George looked at Walker, then at Tommy and back. “I’ll kill you both for this.”

Nancy stepped up and clung to Walker’s arm. “You’ll have to kill me too.”

Samantha stepped forward too. “And me.”

“You? Samantha?”

“I’m sorry, George, but … this is a part of you that you just can’t control and that I just can’t love. I’m sorry, but … it’s over.”

George turned his hatred back to Tommy. “You did this, you little snake!”

“No,” Samantha said, “you did this, George. And until you learn to control yourself, to tame that … that raging beast that dominates your soul, you’ll do it time and time again.” George looked at her, and at the rest of his peers. They all looked at him with sad eyes, respectful silence.

“I’ll change, Samantha, I … I will, I promise.”

“I’m glad, George,” Samantha said, “but that’s going to take time, perhaps the rest of your life.” After a long, sad pause, she added, “I hope you manage, and that you have a good and a happy life.”

George stood there, clearly knowing what everybody else also clearly knew. George was humiliated, undone, rejected. His standing had been shattered by his own selfishness and ill-temper. Walker looked at Tommy, never prouder of his twin brother. He’d played it perfectly, and nothing would stop the young man from prevailing. Walker was sure of it. He’d never have to worry about the young fella again.

Georgie turned and staggered out of the yard, never to be seen or heard from in Fallon again. In his wake, Tommy said only, “Georgie Porgie ran away.” The crowd chuckled and the music struck up again. Tommy turned to Samantha and held his hands out. Samantha nodded and curtsied and they resumed dancing along with everyone else.

Walker turned to Nancy and they shared a relieved smile. Nancy had handled herself perfectly and demonstrated what kind of caring, dedicated wife she would be.

In the years to come, all four would become adults, the differences in years wiped away by the strength of their love and affection. Walker would marry Nancy only six years later when Nancy was eighteen. Tommy and Samantha would already be married, and the proud parents would stand at the altar. William and Minnie would be there, with proud mother-in-law Nancy Moss, who had never remarried. The widows of the Stillwater Range were there, having remained close friends during all the years which had passed since that fateful day when they lost their husbands to the Stillwater mines.

But all had to agree in retrospect that it had been the will of God, at least in some part. For nothing could happen despite His mighty intentions. If it happened, it happened because He allowed it, because He intended it.

There were years between those generations and the night of the cotillion, when the course of those four lives changed forever. It was a night they would always remember, one they’d share with their children and grandchildren, one they would savor as the mariachi band played on and young love bloomed in the balmy spring desert sky.

THE END


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24 thoughts on “Vengeance for the Seven Miners – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I really wondered if I could finish this story. At the beginning it was horrifying to read of the miners deaths, and then there seemed to be so much confusion in everyone’s minds about what it meant.
      Relief came with the entry of the hero Buck, and the happy outcome for the twin boys in the epilogue.

    2. I loved the book!! Left me breathless oh my gosh! I want more or Minnie n buck n the twins. The twins honestly took after buck I forgot he wasn’t there father! Great story great family

    3. I loved this book.
      It was very well plotted and the bad guys got what they deserved. You kept us wondering if things would turn out right. And it did. Thanks for another great book.

  1. Twists, turns to a multi person psychological thriller set in the Old West. Even the Epilogue wrapped up details in what can happen with faith. Other than a few guffaws of calling hero brother instead of cousin to the villian book was superb.

  2. A great story with a beautiful ending. The mine cave in was bad with no hope for their wives and children. By the GRACE of GOD, Buck came to the rescue for everyone including the town.

  3. Excellent reading with enough suspense to keep you reading so you can get to the next action scene.
    Easy reading and engaging story.

  4. I could not put the book down until I finished it what a story.you have one halve imagination so please keep them story’s coming

  5. The book was absolutely wonderful, I loved it and was able to put it down, finished of course! Definitely a must read, excitement galore, lots of mysteries solved and wonderful moments and characters, a town that works together for their friends and families went through with their own personal decisions when help was need! The extended epilogue was the icing on the (cake), one wonderful story, so don’t miss this one, but don’t listen to me, read it and enjoy! 🌬📚🤠🐝🎶

  6. Great book. What started off as a tradgety (and it was) ended in triumph for the who!e towm. Good job Derek!!

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