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       Revenge Requires Two Graves, p.1

           George Emery Townsend
Revenge Requires Two Graves


  George Emery Townsend


  Disclaimer: The persons, places, things, and otherwise animate or inanimate objects mentioned in this novel are figments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to anything or anyone living (or dead) is unintentional. The author humbly begs your pardon.

  Cover design by Ian Townsend

  Editing by Dawn, Steffi and Zoe Townsend

  Book design by George Emery Townsend

  All rights reserved.


  Many books start with a dedication to family, friends or an interesting life experience. When I thought about a dedication, I wanted to do something different, to stand out somehow, and to make this book really zing with new revelation. After great battles with my inner soul, torment over what was real and what was fiction, my mind was made up. I decided that this book was solely created because of my family, friends, and interesting life experience.

  Thank you to Dawn: for spending your entire life at my side, through the good and bad. You are a woman to ride the river with. Parents: you are responsible for the way the little boy turned out and for the strong Midwest attitude and morals I carry today. Brothers: I was always the one following, looking up to my big brothers. Thank you for never letting me down. My sons: the characters in this book are dissections of everything wonderful about each of you. I had the privilege of watching my children grow into strong men. My girls: you were my inspiration for creating strong, intelligent woman to stand tall within the pages of my book. My friends: you helped make me who I am, helped form the way I think and react and gave me all those interesting life experiences.

  Thank you all.


  Copyright © 2009 by George Emery Townsend

  Table of Contents

  The Mill

  Heading North

  The Diversion

  Turn Around is Fair Play

  Going Home

  Larry’s Family


  Hired Guns

  Laurie and Richard




  Pawnee Camp

  Ft. Kearney

  Closing the Mill

  Jack Smoot

  The Mill Lives Again

  Fort Laramie

  Revenge Requires Two Graves

  Ida Potts

  A Comrade Lost

  Our Day Off

  Meeting the Sisters


  The Sioux

  Deep Creek


  The Kiss

  Straight Ahead

  The Sierras

  Mrs. Cooper



  Marshal William Larsen

  Fort Sutter


  The Search


  Two from San Francisco


  The Cabin

  The Confrontation

  Lost Herd

  Chapter 1

  The Mill

  “BANG! BANG! BANG!” Loud pounding at the front door awakened Ray, almost knocking it off its hinges and Ray from his bed.

  “Emery, Emery, wake up damn it!” came Skip's voice from the other side of the door.

  As the lantern light in his parents’ bedroom flickered on, Ray could hear his Pa graveling his usual groan as he raised himself from the bed. “Hold your horses, Skip, I'm coming!”

  Swinging open the front door, Emery shouted, “What the hell is so important that it can't wait ‘til I get to the mill?”


  Emery Cooper worked at the lumber company as a timber cruiser. His job was to search the back woods, evaluating and recording the types and sizes of the timber for future cuttings. It was during these searches that Emery hoped to find a small section he could claim for himself. A place he could go where he no longer worked for the Foster Timber Company. The land was to be a sort of legacy he could hand down to his family. As luck would have it, Emery found such a place while exploring the North Woods. The land consisted of small rolling hills rich with timber, fed by a large flowing river that would be the route for cut timber heading down stream to the mill. Crystal Lake, pristine in its stillness, sat to the east edge of the property and was surrounded by game. It was the perfect place for Emery to live out the rest of his life knowing that his family would be looked after once he was gone.


  “You don't understand, Emery. They’re headin’ out to cut your timber!” cried Skip.

  “Who’s headin’ out to cut my timber?” questioned Emery.

  “The guys from the mill, Emery, they’re on their way to cut down your timber!”

  “Like hell they are!” yelled Emery as he turned into the house. “Ray, Mildred, wake up. We got trouble.”

  Wiping the sleep from his eyes and listening to Skip and his Pa, Ray was reminded of when this conflict first started one month ago.


  It was lunchtime at the mill and, as always, Ray could be found sitting with his Pa. He enjoyed listening to the conversations between Pa with his friends, but he really liked the stories they would tell Ray about his Pa and the early days.

  With the dining hall filled with tobacco smoke, most of the men had moved outside to eat their lunches while sharing lies and exaggerated stories with each other. Ray remembered the men suddenly falling silent when they saw the foreman approach.

  Chewing a dirty cigar in the corner of his mouth, he shouted out to Ray’s Pa to put together a crew of men to go up to the property next to Crystal Lake.

  “What the hell are ya talkin’ about Gus? That land is recorded in my name and I paid for it. No one but me is gonna be cutting any of that damn timber! And you can be sure of that!” Emery warned.

  Gus stopped a few steps in front of Ray’s Pa, leaning forward with his left hand resting on his left knee and the right hand resting on the sore back he never had because he never worked a day in his life. With his head wobbling on his shoulders Gus said, “Well by God that ain’t the way Mr. Foster sees it.” Every sentence Gus said always started with “Well by God”.

  “Well that's just too damn bad for Mr. Foster. I've done enough cruising for that man and his mill to keep the lumberjacks busy for years.” Ray’s Pa said as he set his feet and crossed his arms. “He'll just have to forget about my land.”

  “Well, we’ll see about that ya sons a bitches,” Gus yelled as he rocked his head back and forth and turned to leave the porch. He also always said “sons a bitches,” instead of “son of a bitch”.

  Ray remembered his Pa turning his back on Gus and started walking slowly back towards the group of men that had been listening to the argument. “Go to hell, Gus!” Pa yelled.

  “Don't worry about that scrawny piece of crap, Emery. No way can they touch your land. Everyone here knows that's your property,” Skip called from the group of men.

  Weeks had passed since the argument between the foreman and Emery. It seemed the problem had been forgotten.


  “How do you know they’re after my timber?” shouted Emery. Skip rushed into the house and started to close the door behind him, leaving a crack just big enough to be able to continue to look around outside.

  “Emery, I saw a crew headin’ out early this mornin’.” Skip was nearly out of breath. “I caught up to um and asked Jim Matheson what they were up to. He told me none of them were told they were headed up north to fell timber off your land ‘til after they left the mill and then they weren’t allowed to come warn ya. I was lucky to get away from the group and get back here. Emery, Jim said to w
arn ya that there would be trouble if ya tried to stop 'em.”

  “Skip, I sure could use you and the boys’ help protectin’ what's mine,” requested Emery.

  “I knew you were gonna ask that,” said Skip as he looked away. “Damn it Emery, ya know I’d do anything for ya. But you’re askin’ too much. I'm afraid this is all I dare do. If they find out I warned ya they’d throw my family and me out of the mill. We'd starve, Emery. I got a family to think of.”

  “Take it easy Skip, I understand. Sorry, but I had to ask,” said Emery with a dismissing wave of his hand.

  “Can't you just find another section of timber?” begged his friend. “They'll kill ya if ya try to stop that crew”.

  “No, that won’t work either. Foster would just get around to lumbering that section too, once he finished lumbering Crystal Lake. Besides, I sunk all I had into that property. It's got to end right now, one way or another.”

  “What’re ya gonna do?” asked Skip nervously as he watch Emery load his gun.

  “Whatever it takes. My response won’t exceed the push. But I'll tell ya this, no one but me and mine are gonna be timbering my land as long as I’m still breathing.”

  “Emery, did you think about the fact that it could be your friends that ya have to shoot and kill?”

  Emery looked at Skip painfully then glanced across the room to Ray and Mildred.

  “Pa I'm ready to go. We'll think of somethin’,” Ray said standing next to his Ma.

  “I'm sure we will son," Emery said reassuringly as he crossed the room to his family.

  Emery looked into Mildred’s tear filled eyes, “Don’t worry sweetie. We’ll only shoot at 'em if we have to.”

  “I’m not worried about them, I’m worried about you and Ray getting killed,” cried Mildred as she broke away and ran into the kitchen.

  Emery followed Mildred into the kitchen catching her arm and pulling her close to him. He placed his hand on her cheek; flushed red against her porcelain complexion. He stroked her chestnut brown hair curling a strand around his finger. Damn he loved this woman fiercely, even after thirty years. He whispered softly into her ear, “Please don’t worry about Ray and me. I know what I’m doin’ and you and I both know we have no choice. That land is for this family to have a new start, out from under the mill.”

  “I know Emery, but I just have a bad feeling something awful is about to happen,” cried Mildred as she pushed herself away from Emery and wiped her tears.” Now go on with ya, I’ll pack you some food for your trip.”

  Mildred turned her back to Emery and began making herself busy in the kitchen.

  Emery smiled knowing he had made the right choice all those years ago when he asked Mildred’s father for her hand. She was a woman to ride the river with.

  Returning to the main room Emery answered the questioning look on Ray's and Skip’s faces, “The first thing I'm going to do is see Mr. Foster.”

  “Emery, that ain't gonna do you no good,” Skip paused. “You'll be lucky if he doesn't just shoot you.”

  “I have to try,” said Emery. “Ray, open the door for Skip. Thanks for the warning. You’re a good friend.” Emery said kindly to Skip.

  Skip lowered his head as he stepped out the doorway and onto the porch. “Well you’re right Emery. I best be off now before someone sees me. Best of luck to you and yours,” Skip reached out a hand. Emery clasped it, shaking it soundly. Then Skip extended his hand to Emery’s son. “To you too Ray. Watch after your Pa for me”

  “I will, Skip. We'll see you in a few days,” Ray said with a forced smile.

  “I sure hope so boy,” responded Skip, as he stepped off the porch. “Goodbye Mrs. Cooper,” Skip called out to Mildred who was busy in the kitchen starting a pot of coffee while she alternately prayed for her men and cussed the Foster family.

  Shutting the door behind him, Emery walked into the kitchen. Ray could hear him talking softly, reassuring Ma. “Don’t ya worry about this Mildred, I’m sure it all can be worked out. But just in case, could you put together enough grub for say, a week?” Emery kissed her cheek.

  “Already started, husband. By the time you get the horses saddled I’ll have some breakfast ready, too,” said Mildred, making herself busy to avoid worrying. "I don’t plan to take Ray unless my visit to the Foster’s doesn’t pan out. Then I’m afraid I will need him,” Emery said quietly to his wife.

  As Emery walked to the door and threw his coat on, he noticed Ray putting on his coat as well. “Now where do ya think you’re goin’? You just stay here until I get back from Mr. Foster's house, son.”

  “No way, Pa, I'm going with ya.” Ray protested.

  “It could be dangerous.”

  “That's why I need to go. Someone has to watch your back Pa.”

  “Well I guess that land’s goin’ to be as much yours as it is mine. I reckon at sixteen you’re man enough for the challenge, but do as I say and do it quick,” warned Emery.

  “Yes sir,” Ray said standing by the door.

  Running toward the door, Mildred threw her arms around Emery’s neck, holding him tight. Seeing Ray with his coat on, she pulled him into her hug with Emery.

  “Don’t ya worry darlin’, we’ll be back either in a few minutes or a few days, it’s all up to Foster. But don’t ya go worryin’ about us, we’ll be home before ya know it,” smiled Emery.

  “Don’t tell me not to worry. This isn’t like you’re going off to work. There’s going to be shooting. I just know it,” cried Mildred.

  “Listen, we’re gonna be all right. You have to trust me,” smiled Emery holding Mildred’s face in his work callused hands. “You do trust me don’t ya?”

  “Of course I trust you. It’s the Foster’s I don’t trust.”

  “I’m sorry to have to put you through this, but Ray and I will be fine. Now give your ol’ husband and son another big hug.”

  After getting the horses saddled Ray and Emery ate their breakfast quickly. Venturing outside into the cold morning air Ray held the horses as Emery tied the bags of grub onto the back of the saddles. Swinging up onto their mounts, they headed for the Fosters’. When they reached the house on the other side of the mill town, Emery and Ray dismounted their horses and tied them off at the front gate. Standing at the door they could hear a lady’s voice yelling orders with the plans of the day to the servants.

  After knocking hard on the door it swung open, revealing a sturdy woman whose girth filled most of the doorframe.

  “What am I to do for you gentlemen?” asked the large woman.

  “I want to see Mr. Foster, right now!” Emery demanded.

  “A lot of people would like to see Mr. Foster right away, but that don’t mean it’ll happen. What's your business with Mr. Foster?” The woman said pertly.

  “Just tell him Emery Cooper is here to see him!"

  “He’s just sitting down to his breakfast and cannot be disturbed.” With that she moved to slam the door in their faces.

  Now, Emery was a fairly patient man, slow to anger, but once he got mad, he was like a wounded bear. Unfortunately for the woman, he had reached that limit.

  Emery stuck his foot into the doorjamb to stop it from closing, and with his shoulder against the door he pushed his way into the hallway. With eyes wide open, the woman moved back to allow Emery in. Ray simply followed the storm into the entryway.

  “Now I’m going to say this just once. Either you tell him that he has company or I will,” Emery said, in a controlled, fierce whisper.

  “It's okay Sandra,” came a calm voice from down the hallway, “I'll take care of this.”

  “Thank you Mr. Foster, thank you. I'm so sorry for the disturbance Mr. Foster. He just pushed right in,” apologized Sandra.

  “Go back to the kitchen, Sandra. I'll take care of my guests,” said Mr. Foster with an air of arrogance. “Gentlemen, follow me. We can talk in the study.”

  Emery and Ray followed Mr. Foster through the open door and into the warmly li
t room. Stopping in front of the fireplace, Foster turned to face the two men. Emery was standing to Ray’s right, breathing hard, with a look that could kill.

  “Now gentlemen, what is this disruption all about?” wheeled Mr. Foster.

  “You fat son-of-a-bitch, you know exactly what this is all about. You sent a crew to my land to begin removin’ timber. Now either you tell them to turn around or you pay me full price for every tree you pull off my property,” Emery seethed as he spat out the words.

  “Now, Mr. Cooper, you knew when you claimed that land you were working for me, and while in my employ, any land you claim is Company Land,” Mr. Foster said with a condescending glare.

  “That's bull-shit and you know it. When I claimed land for the company I was on company time and used company money to register it. But I found that land on MY time and used MY own money to register MY land on Crystal Lake, and anyone who steps foot on MY land will be shot for trespassin’.”

  Turning towards the door Emery looked at Ray. “Come on son. We're leavin’.”

  “Are you tryin’ to threaten me, Mr. Cooper? You and your boy there?”

  Emery turned and walked towards Mr. Foster, stopping just inches from his pudgy face. “I'm not threatenin’ you Foster, just givin’ you fair warnin’.” With that Emery turned and headed out of the over-furnished study.

  Following close behind, Ray could hear Mr. Foster yell, “You’re fired, Cooper!”

  Emery laughed and spat over his shoulder, “I wouldn't work for you for all the money in Wisconsin. You can go straight to hell, Foster.”

  Moving toward the front door, Ray spotted a girl standing not five feet from the study. She was beautiful, wearing a long white dress that fell smoothly over her hips. Her blond hair was held behind her head in a bun with small curls cascading down onto the sides of her face. Ray looked into her eyes and her glance seemed to climb to the back of his head, straight down through his throat and tore into his heart. She had heard her Pa yelling, but had not moved to intervene and Ray could see from her expression that she felt sorry for them. Not wanting her Pa to hear, she spoke in just a whisper, reaching out a hand that she did not want taken.

  “Please be careful; he hurts people that get in his way,” and as suddenly as she had appeared she was gone. The young man’s heart had climbed well up into his throat and was trapped there. Ray knew he would have to see that girl again.

  “Son, let’s go,” ordered Emery standing in the open front door way.

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