Everyone, I apologize for the gap of time between now and my last posting. I'm fine...work is...unusually busy. When I have more time, I will go back and respond to your last reviews. Thank you for continuing to read the story. Monica
Abel Cartwright opened his eyes, looked around without moving his head, and then closed his eyes quickly. Opening them in thin slits, he had to make sure where he was. He huffed, rolled his eyes upward, then rolled over and slipped off his bed in his own bedroom in his own house. Pushing his lips out as he tried to remember how he got in his own bed in his own home, he finally shrugged and gave up.
He ran down the hallway to the room at the end of the hall and stepped in, going to the…"What did Pa call it?" He shook his head. It didn't matter what his pa had called it. He had to use it…and he did.
Yawning and rubbing his eyes, he walked back down the hall to his mother and father's bedroom and crawled into bed with his father. He did remember his mother wasn't with them. Curling up against his father's back, his last waking thought was that he now understood why his mother slept curled up against his pa. His pa was really warm.
Abel rolled onto his back, and promptly went back to sleep. In reality, he didn't realize he'd woken up for a split second.
Adam spoke louder, "Abel! Wake up!"
Abel licked his lips, but never opened his eyes. They flew open when he felt hands around his body, shaking him.
"Wake up, Son," Adam said quietly with a laugh in his voice.
Rubbing his eyes again, Abel said, "Pa?"
"Mm hm," came his father's voice from somewhere very close.
"How did I get here?" Abel asked with his eyes opened just a slit.
Adam's eyes moved upward toward the ceiling. "Well…." Twisting his mouth and scratching his neck, he said almost to himself, "It's too soon for that."
"For what?" Abel whispered.
Adam chuckled. "We picked you up from the Slater's on the way home yesterday. You were already asleep, so we let you sleep and put you to bed when we got home."
"Oh." Abel's eyes flew open. "We? Mama's here?" he asked excitedly.
Shaking his head, Adam said, "No, Abel. Mama's not coming here. We're going to Mama."
"It's just you, me and Beau," said Adam.
"Oh yeah," Abel said, disappointedly.
"You don't like Beau anymore?"
"I like Beau. But he's not Mama," said Abel, moving to the side of the bed.
Standing at the wardrobe and selecting a shirt, Adam said, "Go on and get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast. We have to go back into town today."
"Am I staying at Robbie's?" asked Abel just as he walked out of the bedroom door.
"No," Adam answered a little louder. "You're staying with me or Beau today."
Sticking his head back in the door, Abel asked, "What happened to your arm?"
Adam looked at his arm just before he pulled his shirtsleeve over the bandage there. "I got tangled up in a rope."
Abel's shoulders rose as he grimaced. "Rope burns. Yuck."
By the time Adam turned to look, Abel was already running down the hall. Once he was finished dressing, Adam whistled as he walked down the stairs and looked into the dining room. "Beau, have you seen Abel?"
"Last I heard, he was still upstairs," said Beau with a chuckle.
"Last you heard?" said Adam with an amused curl of his brows.
Beau looked around him as if he was making sure no one was around to hear what he had to say. "He was singing," he whispered.
"Singing!" Now, Adam's nostrils were flared. He certainly wouldn't prevent any one of his children from doing anything they wanted…within reason. But Abel…his oldest…with Shiloh, that is. There was part of him that wanted Abel to be more interested in carrying on the family business. "I'll be right back."
"Abel! What are you doing?" Adam yelled from the bottom of the stairs.
"I can't get my britches buttoned. The bottom one is…I can't push it through the hole," yelled Abel.
By that time, Adam had come up the stairs and was standing at Abel's bedroom door. He moved to the bed, sat down and opened his arms.
Abel stood in front of him and looked down at his fly.
Sticking his tongue in his cheek, Adam stifled a chuckle as he finished buttoning Abel's fly. "This is hard to button. There now. All done. Breakfast is waiting, so shall we go downstairs?"
After a big nod, Abel took his father's hand and led him to the dining room where, after both were seated, Adam picked up the newspaper waiting for him on the table.
Beau and Abel were preparing their plates when Adam sat straight up. His lips were pinched tightly together and his nostrils were flared as he stared at the prior day's newspaper.
"What's wrong?" asked Beau. Both he and Abel shared an expectant look at their father as his eyes narrowed.
Adam looked from one son to the other. "Nothing. Eat your breakfast."
Beau and Abel looked at each other for a moment, but when Abel shrugged and began to eat, Beau looked back at Adam who was paying close attention to whatever he was reading.
When Adam folded the paper and laid it next to his plate on the table, he suddenly felt eyes upon him and looked up. Though his brows were still furrowed, he looked Beau in the eyes, then slightly shook his head as he nodded toward Abel.
Nodding, Beau knew his father might still share what he'd read, but he would not do so within earshot of Abel. And if he didn't share, Beau resolved to find a copy of yesterday's paper on his own. Little did he know he wouldn't have to. Those in the office would have read yesterday whatever was bothering their boss.
The ride to the city was unusually quiet, the silence broken only by Abel who talked about everything and nothing as little boys sometimes do. He would be going to the office with Beau and his father and would be kept busy by virtually everyone there. Everyone enjoyed the days when Abel was in the office. He was a very smart little boy and his presence broke up the monotony of office work.
Adam was relieved when Beau volunteered to keep Abel busy for the morning. He directed them to a lonely desk and drawing table and provided paper and pencils before he went toward the private offices and tapped on Robert's door.
"Come on in," said Robert.
Adam tossed the paper onto Robert's desk. "Did you know about this?"
"Well, not yesterday in the office. Evelyn had the paper waiting for me when I got home. She was quite upset, so I read it immediately."
"Hmph!" Adam grumbled as he sat on the chair in front of Robert's desk.
"There's not a lot of detail there, Adam. And it was the culmination of a lot of different people's rumors."
Adam picked up the paper and rifled through the sheets. When he found what he was looking for he read aloud, "We all heard it was Isabella Whitney in the private car. After the Indian attack, we all heard that she was helping the Pinkerton's fight the savages off. That she was at a window in her car shooting right along with the men."
Robert could see Adam's jaw working as he ground his teeth. "Now, Adam. Would Shiloh be shooting out the windows of the car at Indians?"
Adam's eyes squinted as he stared at Robert.
"Oh, well, maybe she felt she had to defend the children," said Robert quietly. "The article does say there were hundreds, if not thousands of Indians, and that they had removed some of the track."
"If she was shooting out the windows, who was taking care of Aaron and Anna?" Adam posed.
"Why...Amalee," said Robert. "But don't jump to conclusions. Did you read the entire article?"
"I didn't need to. This," Adam said, waving the paper in front of him, "is exactly the kind of thing Shiloh would do."
"I'm sure she would…to defend her children," said Robert, becoming a bit angered. "Read to the end of the article, Adam."
After Adam looked up from reading, Robert said, "This Agent Allen refuted the rumors."
"That's only because he knows who she is. I'm telling you, Robert, Shiloh took two rifles, her revolver and plenty of ammunition with her. She'd be using them."
"Apparently, she's alive and well, as are the children and Amalee. So, there's nothing for you to worry about."
"I'm not worried in the least," barked Adam as he stood and left Robert's office, closing the door just a little too quickly.
The ferry trip across the Missouri River was both exciting and nerve-racking. Shiloh was used to boats and ships. But the children had never been on a ship smaller than one of the Sacramento River steamers between Sacramento and San Francisco, and on those trips, they were mostly asleep. The ferry was crowded and loaded down with luggage and was moving across the river rather than down which made it a bit rough. The children cried at every dip of the boat while their little faces where buried against the one holding them.
Shiloh took a deep breath and let it out when her feet were finally on solid earth in Council Bluffs, Iowa. From here, she and the musicians who travelled with her would ride for three days in three Pullman Delmonico sleeper cars disembarking in New York where Edwin Booth would meet them.
Shiloh, Amalee, and the Cartwright children would occupy private accommodations at one end of one of the cars, while Titus occupied the private 'room' at the other end of the car. The musicians drew matches for the other four private rooms which really wouldn't be very private with three men staying in each of the four rooms.
The difference in these Pullman cars was the staffed kitchen on each car. Shiloh wouldn't have to worry about feeding her children as she was assured the kitchen staff would prepare meals appropriate for the children.
With Amalee, Aaron and Anna safely aboard in their room, Shiloh waited to board while Titus made sure every one of their musicians had boarded. Last, she bought a newspaper before she looked back across the river they had crossed, just to see if she could fathom the distance they had already travelled. She blew a kiss to the ones she'd left behind, then at the final whistle, boarded the train that would finally take her to New York and Edwin.
Their first evening on the train, after the children were sound asleep, Shiloh unfolded the newspaper and began to read. She stopped on the second page after reading about a foundry fire in San Francisco and the man who saved workers from molten metal and fire, barely getting out himself as the building collapsed around him.
Though her berth was very comfortable, she slept little that first night.