The following story is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and events in it are products of the author’s imagination and are used as fantasy. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
It was a couple days before Anna could gather herself enough to return to the saloon. When she did, she had Clint by her side for support. The girls were very understanding as was Sam the barkeep.
"You just take your time Anna. Me and the other girls can keep the place running till you are ready to return." Sam said.
"That's just it, Sam...I'm not sure I can come back. I mean I might be able to serve drinks downstairs here, but I don't think I can go back up there anymore." she said looking up the staircase.
"What are you saying Anna, are you quitting the saloon?"
"Well it wouldn't be fair to the other girls if I took all the work down here and left them to deal with the pawing and groping upstairs. Besides, there's a fair amount of it that goes on down here too! I think I need to take some time off and think about what I want and get past what happened. I love you all and I loved working here, but what happened..."
"I understand, Anna. We will miss you around here, but we will be ok. Of course you are welcome to stop by and say hi anytime, and I want you to promise that if you ever want to come back you will."
"Thanks Sam. I will stop by and if I do decide to come back someday I will be sure to let you know." Anna said giving him a kiss on the cheek.
She left the saloon with Clint and they walked in silence back to the boarding house. As they climbed the steps of the porch, Clint spoke.
"Anna tomorrow I have to run to San Antonio for some supplies for Miss Kitty. Want to come with me? I think a change of scenery will do you some good. We will be gone for a couple days, but I think it would do you good to get outta town for a spell."
"I'd love to go with you, Clint. And now that I don't have to work at the saloon anymore, I can."
"Good. We'll leave at first light. It'll take the full day for us to get there."
"I'll be ready." she said.
The next day Clint pulled up front with the buckboard a little before daybreak when it was just getting light enough to see. He helped Anna up on the wagon and then took a seat himself. A slap of the reigns and they were off. The horse pulled the wagon easily and they made pretty good time. Ann had packed a lunch for them and around noontime they stopped along the trail to rest a bit and to eat lunch. They pulled up under the shadow of a big oak tree and let the horses graze while they ate lunch themselves.
Anna had brought an old blanket that she laid out for their picnic lunch. They sat and ate the lunch that she packed and then laid back on the blanket to rest a bit and let their lunch settle before moving on. After about an hours rest Clint sat up. "Well we'd better get going if we want to get to San Antonio by nightfall."
He helped Anna get back up into the wagon and they headed on down the trail. It was a long, hot, dusty ride but they made San Antonio just after sundown. They stopped at a little hotel on the outskirts of town.
"We can get a room here for the night. Tomorrow, we'll pick up the supplies as soon as the store opens and head straight back. I'd like to get back home tomorrow evening - I don't like being so far away from the other girls." Clint said.
"That'd be fine."
Clint went inside to make the arrangements and then returned to the wagon a few minutes later.
"They only had one room left, Anna, so you take it and I'll bunk with the horses for tonight."
"Don't be silly, Clint. I can't let you sleep in the stable with the horses. You can sleep in the room with me...after all, it isn't like we just met or anything!" Anna said looking down shyly and blushing a bit.
"Yeah. We haven't had a minute to ourselves since I rode into town!" Clint said. "And now that we are so far away from anyone we know..."
"Yes." Anna said smiling coyly.
"Well we will have to go in as a married couple - otherwise they won't let us stay together in the same room."
"Why Clint Roberts! Are you proposing to me?" she said giggling.
"Is that what it's going to take to sleep in a bed tonight?" he asked playing along.
"Well, I don't know...I am a lady now you know! I've given up on my sinful ways!" Anna said with a sparkle in her eyes.
"Yes I know...and a right pretty one too!" he said.
"Ok, that got you a bed for the night!" she said kissing his cheek.
"Well if that got me a bed..."
"Clint!" she said feigning shock. "Sugar, you don't gotta ask..." she said taking his hand. He helped her down off the wagon and they went in together to secure the room. Once they had the room and he had settled her in it, he went to put the horses away for the night in the stable behind the hotel. Then Clint came back into the room to find Anna already in bed waiting for him.
"Come here cowboy!" she said pulling the covers back for him. Clint smiled and proceeded to get undressed. He slid into bed next to her and she wrapped her arms around her beau and they kissed and cuddled, enjoying each other as they hadn't in a long while. Exhausted from the long ride on the rough buckboard, the two fell asleep in each other's arms, happy to be in each other's company and alone at long last.
The next morning came earlier than either would have liked. Clint was the first to arise and dressed quietly so as not to wake Anna any earlier than necessary. He slipped out the door and went down to hitch up the horses to the wagon. When he was finished, he went back upstairs to wake his traveling companion. Anna was already awake and dressed when Clint got back to the room.
"I see you are awake, sleepyhead!" he said.
"Well I did sleep very well last night thanks to someone keeping me warm and safe!" she said smiling.
"My pleasure ma'am! Are you ready to get a bite to eat?"
"Yes, I'm starved!"
"Let's go then. After breakfast we need to get down to the general store and get the supplies so we can get started back home." They went downstairs and ate a good breakfast knowing that they wouldn't eat well again until late that evening. Anna packed them a lunch that they could eat on the way home like they had done yesterday. Then they rode down to the general store and began the process of loading the wagon.
Loading up the supplies went smoothly, although it took longer than Clint would have liked. He was anxious to get started back home. He didn't like being this far away from the boarding house and the other girls. He was responsible for all the girls, not just Anna, and he wanted to get back so he could watch over them too. He took his job and his responsibility seriously and being a full days ride away from home made him "twitchy".
Once the wagon was loaded, Clint and Anna headed out of town. The ride back was a little slower because of the loaded wagon but they still made decent time. They stopped for lunch under the same old oak that they had lunch for on the way to San Antonio and arrived back in front of The Yellow Rose. They pulled the wagon around back and unloaded the supplies, storing them in the boarding houses' large pantry until they could be put away properly. Once the wagon was unloaded and the horses put back in the stable and fed, Clint and Anna had a chance to relax in the living room for awhile before turning in to bed. Anna had gone into the bathroom upstairs to prepare for bed when Miss Kitty called for Clint downstairs.
"You called for me Miss Kitty?" Clint asked coming downstairs.
"Yes, Clint. Come with me into the office. We need to talk." she said leading the way to her office. Once inside she shut the door. Clint, I didn't want to say anything in front of Anna because I didn't want to worry her, but while you two were gone, A couple of the McClintock boys were in town sniffing around and trying to find out what happened to their brother Billy. Now these McClintock's are not ones to give up easily. They'll be back and when they find out that you were with Billy when he fell out the window...well there's bound to be some trouble."
"I see. Well there's not much I can do about it. Billy is gone and the McClintock boys will just have to accept that. It was an accident - even the sheriff said so. He was upstairs attacking Anna. I did what I had to do. I didn't throw him out that window. I just hit him square on the nose and he backed into the window. The sheriff took my statement and said it was an accident. And if anything Billy is to blame for attacking Anna in the first place!"
"You don't have to sell me, Clint. I know you didn't mean to kill Billy. But I'm not the one you got to convince."
"Yeah I suppose. Well I'll keep my eyes peeled for them. And if they show up, I'll just have to explain."
"Be careful Clint. Those McClintock boys are a might irritable!"
Clint left Miss Kitty's office mulling over what she had said. Clint would have to keep an eye out for these brothers. He went on upstairs and went to bed, tired but glad to be in his own bed again.
The next morning, he rose like usual and took the girls - minus Anna - to the saloon. It was strange not to be walking with her and all the other girls felt the same. Without Anna, their little group was missing something and the feeling of loss was evident to all of them. No one spoke of it until they got to the saloon. Clint dropped the girls off, said his howdy to Sam, and turned to leave the saloon. He got back to the boarding house and was about to begin chopping some wood in the back yard when he heard a commotion from out front. He came through the house and just as he was about to step out the front door, Miss Kitty stopped him.
"Clint, don't go out there! The McClintock boys are outside waiting for you. They say they want to talk to you, but their idea of talking always leads to someone getting hurt."
"Well I can't just hole up in here and let them stay outside shouting and raising hell in front of your boarding house, Miss Kitty. I gotta go out and face them and try to talk some sense into them."
"Clint Roberts don't you dare
set foot out there!" a voice from behind him said. It was Anna - she had come downstairs upon hearing all the noise and Miss Kitty talking.
"You are NOT going out there to face those troublemakers. That's what they want you to do. There are three McClintock brothers left and they are all out there looking for the one who killed their baby brother."
"But I didn't kill Billy...he fell out the window on his own! And if he hadn't been upstairs there doing what he was in the first place..."
"That's poor comfort when you are shot full of holes, Clint. I have plans for you mister, and they don't include burying you!"
"Well I have to do something!" he said, and he turned to go outside.
"Clint!" Anna screamed again "Stop! please! I love you!"
Clint stopped upon hearing those words, but started for the door again. He went outside and down the steps to face the three McClintock brothers.
"Are you the one that pushed our brother out the saloon window?" one of them asked.
"I didn't push him. I hit him in the face because he was all over Anna and she needed me to get him off of her. But I didn't push him."
"That don't make no nevermind. You hit him and he fell out the window. The way I see it, you killed him. So we are here for you."
They took up a stance, ready for a fight when the upstairs window opened and Miss Kitty leaned out the window with a rifle in hand. Next the sheriff and the deputy came around the sides of the house and stood there ready. Lastly Sam from the saloon came up behind the boys toting his bar shotgun. With the three boys seriously outgunned at this point they relaxed their posturing. As they stood there facing each other, the door to the boarding house opened up and Gramps, the old man boarder that kept to himself and was rarely seen outside, came shuffling slowly up to the McClintock boys.
"Brett, Travis, and Jude...You boys know who I am. I was your fathers riding partner for most of his life. I was there when each one of you boys was born and I helped bury your dad when he died. I seen you boys grow up. What do you think your father would think of all this? And what do you think he would say about Billy and what he was doing in that saloon that night? Now you three turn around and leave these people alone. What happened to Billy was a terrible accident, but he should have never been up there to begin with. I don't want to see anymore people getting hurt over this, and I don't want to see anyone go to jail neither." Gramps said.
The three McClintock boys turned then and walked away peacefully, after the sheriff warned them the next time they came to town to start trouble he would arrest the lot of them - no matter what the Mayor had to say about it! Gramps turned to go back to his room again walking past Clint and patting him on the shoulder.
"Thanks, Gramps." Clint said.
"You just keep looking after my girls." he said as he walked past. He went back upstairs slowly and Miss Kitty met him and the front door of the boarding house to help the old man back upstairs to his room. The sheriff and his deputy returned to their office and Sam went back to the saloon to check on the other girls. Clint stood where he was until the McClintock boys had gone out of sight. Anna came running out of the boarding house as soon as the McClintocks had put some distance between them and Clint.
"Oh Clint! Oh I'm so glad you are safe!" she said running up to him. He put his arm around her as they watched the troublemakers disappear in the distance. As soon as they were gone, Clint turned to his Anna.
"I don't think we'll be having any more trouble with those McClintocks anymore." he said.
"I hope not." she said, holding onto his arm tightly. The pair then turned and walked back inside.
* * * * * * * * * *
It was about a week after the run in with the McClintocks. Anna had been looking for work and had talked to a couple people about going to work for them. She had inquired at the General Store but they didn't need any help at the time. She had inquired at the Post Office, but again they had all the help they needed. It was dinnertime at the boarding house and everyone was at the table except for Gramps - he always took his meals upstairs since it was so hard for him to get up and down the stairs anymore. The girls had set the table and dinner was ready.
"How is your job hunt going, Anna?" Miss Kitty asked as they sat down and began eating.
"No luck so far. I have asked around a couple places but no one needs help right now. I have a couple more places to look yet though." she said. "I want to check and see if maybe the school could use someone and I want to see if the bakery needs help. After that, I don't know what I'll do."
"Well I hope you find something, Anna." Miss Kitty said.
"So do I."
Late that night, there was a tragedy at The Yellow Rose.
The still night air was split by a woman's voice. "Clint! Oh Clint come quick!" Miss Kitty called. Clint was up in a shot wondering what was going on now. He rushed into the room where the screams were coming from.
"It's Gramps...he's...dead." she cried. He looked at the old man's body laying on the bed in the room. Some of the girls, hearing Miss Kitty's cries, came running and Clint headed them off before they got in the door.
"Don't go in there girls. It's Gramps. He's passed on. Tracy, go get the doctor. Lisa, you go fetch the sheriff." he said taking control if the situation. The two girls went off to their assigned tasks, while Clint used the bedsheet to cover Gramps body. Miss Kitty took the other girls went downstairs to the living room where Clint joined them once Gramps was taken care of.
The sheriff arrived first, since his office was closest. Clint took him upstairs and he examined the body and the room, but found nothing out of the ordinary. The doctor came in as the sheriff was wrapping up his investigation and determined that Gramps had simply died of old age. Clint went downstairs as the two men finished their work. He sat with Miss Kitty at the dining room table, making arrangements for the funeral.
It was two days later that the funeral for Gramps was held. Clint was surprised at the turn-out...apparently Gramps had quite a few friends in town despite being a shut-in since Clint had known him. The McClintock boys showed up, but they were well-behaved. The ceremony was beautiful and it went smoothly. The procession led out of town to the cemetery. Once they had laid old Gramps to rest, Clint, Miss Kitty, and the girls hosted the wake back at the boarding house.
The day after Gramps funeral, things slowly returned to normal. Anna went on trying to find a job with no luck. The school didn't need any help and the bakery was doing fine as well. Anna was at a loss.
"Clint, I don't know what I'm going to do! I can't find a job anyplace in this town. I may have to go back to working at the saloon!" she told him exasperated.
"Well, don't worry Anna...something will turn up." he said reassuring her.
That something was already in the works. Unbeknownst to everyone in the little town of Medina, a letter from back east was working it's way towards them that would resolve Anna's employment woes. The letter arrived about two weeks after Gramps funeral to the boarding house, and was addressed to Miss Kitty. When she got the letter and had read it, she called everyone at The Yellow Rose together that night.
"I suppose you are wondering why I have called everyone together tonight." she started. "Well I received this letter today from My sister back in Philadelphia. It says that my father is ill and that I should try to get back to see him...before..." she said looking down.
"Oh Miss Kitty!" Maria said. "I'm so sorry!"
"Thank you Maria. I will be leaving for Philadelphia the day after tomorrow on the stage. I won't be coming back. Once I am there I will be staying to take care of my father and God forbid, his estate should he not get well."
"Oh no, Miss Kitty! Oh that's just awful! What will we do without you here?!" Paula said visibly distraught.
"Well, I have thought about it. Not just lately, but off and on for some time. And a lot more since Gramps passed." Kitty said "and I want one of you girls to take over running The Yellow Rose."
"Who, Miss Kitty? Who could run the place like you do?" Tracy said.
"Not me!" Maria said. "It's way too much for me to handle!"
"I don't think I could do it either." Lisa said. "I've seen some of what you do and it's more than I can deal with too."
"Well, I agree with you Maria." Miss Kitty said. "You are the youngest of the girls and I couldn't ask you to be saddled with such a big obligation. And Lisa, love you like I do, you are just too scatterbrained to deal with such responsibility, girl! Why you have a hard time deciding what to wear every morning!" she said laughing.
"Paula, you haven't been here that long and you wouldn't know how to handle all of the affairs of running The Yellow Rose, so I can't ask you. And Tracy, well you could do it, but you already have a job at the saloon that you enjoy." Miss Kitty said.
She turned to Anna and Clint. "So that leaves you, Anna. And I am hoping that you will take over running The Yellow Rose. You and Clint could run this place without much trouble - hell, Clint already does more than his fair share around here. All this place really needs is a woman's touch to keep it looking nice. Clint here does all the manual labor and you, Anna know all about how the business part works. I would really like you two to take over running the place. I don't know if I will be coming back this way again so I will give the place over to you. I don't need the money - I've got more money than I know what to do with. So if you will agree to taking over, I will have the papers drawn up so you are the new owners."
"I...I don't know what to say!" Anna said dumbfounded by this news. She looked at Clint for direction.
"Miss Kitty, we would like a little time to discuss this before we give you our decision." Clint said.
"Of course. This is sudden I know but I just found out today myself. I won't be leaving for a couple days And I will draw up the papers just in case you decide to go ahead. If you decide it's not for you, I will have the bank take over ownership and whoever wants to can buy the place from the bank. But I am hoping you and Clint will take it so I know it's in good hands. This place has been good to me and I want it to go to good people."
"Miss Kitty, I have been here for almost five years, now, and I have loved every minute of it. You are like family...all of you...and I have never been happier than I have here. I don't know what I'll do without you, Miss Kitty. But us girls will make sure this place stays just like you leave it and Clint here will help with the man work." Anna said.
"Thank you Anna. And I know you girls will do a good job helping out the new owners - whoever they may be. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do to get things in order." Miss Kitty said, hugging each of the girls and then Clint. With the tears wiped away the girls returned to their rooms while Clint and Anna went outside to sit on the porch and discuss Miss Kitty's offer.
"What do you think, Clint?"
"Well it would sure cure your looking for work! I don't know Anna, do you think we could pull this off?"
"I have seen Miss Kitty do her books and how she takes care of the place. And you are pretty handy with a hammer. We have the other girls here that would help out some I am sure." Anna said.
"Yeah, and we don't know what a new owner would do to the place...or if we would even want to stay if they changed things a lot."
The pair talked about the offer Miss Kitty made for three or four hours before reaching their decision.
Clint and Anna called everyone back together to break the news to everyone. Once Miss Kitty and the girls had gathered together in the living room, Anna stood up to speak.
"Miss Kitty, Clint and I have talked it over and we have made our decision. With the help of the other girls, we would be happy to take over the running of The Yellow Rose." she said.
Clint then stood up. "With one condition..." he interjected. He turned to Anna. "Anna, it wouldn't be right for us to take over the running of The Yellow Rose and live here together the way we have been. It sets a bad example to our tenants. So.." he knelt down on one knee as the girls all gasped, realizing what he was about to do. "would you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I would like to get hitched while Miss Kitty is here to see it."
Anna was flabbergasted. She looked down at Clint and then over to Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty smiled broadly clapping gleefully.
"Say yes, silly!" Tracy said finally breaking Anna's stunned silence.
"Yes, Clint! Oh yes!" Anna said.
Clint and Anna made arrangements for a quick western wedding. And two days later, Anna became Mrs. Clint Roberts. Later that day, Clint and all the girls bid Miss Kitty a fond and tearful goodbye as she boarded the stage to head to Philadelphia with promises to "write when you get there!".
So The Yellow Rose changed hands and with the help of the other girls that lived there, the boarding house prospered and grew, adding rooms in the back to double in size and take in more boarders. Clint and Anna lived together happily for the rest of their lives and eventually built their own house on property that went with the boarding house. They had three kids - two boys and a girl - and life in their small Texas town was good.
This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than Lushstories.com
with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/the-drifter-part-2.aspx">The Drifter part 2</a>