Well I hope you all have enjoyed this short tale. Let me know what you think of the ending. I and my family wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. -PG
Nate was in the paddock with Ronan and Colm, teaching them how to throw a knife when he saw Ainsworth’s buggy and his old friend, Bill Mulligan. ”
“Boys, you go in the house and get yer ma, then you stay inside and look after yer sister. I’ll show ya some more skills after I’m done with these men.”
“Yes sir, Uncle Nate.” The two took off at a run straight to the cabin. Nate walked over to the fence post and pulled his Bowie out of the circle he’d drawn for a target and sheathed it. He headed towards the two city fellas and could hear Ainsworth screeching from where he was pointing right at him. “That’s him, Sheriff, that’s the man who tried to kill me. Arrest him right now.”
The sheriff looked at Nate and gave a slight nod, which Nate returned. “That man walking towards us is the one who TRIED to kill you? You’re certain?”
Ainsworth blew up then. “What is wrong with you people? Can’t you understand plain English? YES, that man right in front of us. I want him arrested.”
“Mr. Ainsworth, if that man there wanted you dead then I’d not be talking to you right now. As a matter of fact, if he’d tried to kill you you’d be dead and no one would ever find your body on this mountain or anywhere else for that matter. He don’t try to do anything, he either does it or he don’t.”
Nate walked up in front of Ainsworth and stopped. “Well, Mr. City Lawyer, did you bring me that telegram you claimed to have gotten?”
“I did not, my correspondence with MR. Ryder is none of your business.”
The sheriff tugged on the lawyer’s sleeve. “Jonathan, do you know who that is?”
“Of course I do, that’s Mrs. Campbell’s Uncle Nate. He and his wife came to help her out.”
The Sheriff looked at Nate. “Is he telling the truth, Nate, are you Moya’s Uncle?”
Nate looked right at the lawman. “I’m as much her uncle as I am your boy’s uncle, Bill.”
Bill started coughing to cover the laugh that tried to escape his mouth. Nate turned back to Ainsworth.
“So, Johnny boy, you ain’t got no telegram from Mr. Ryder to show me? That’s alright ‘cause I got a telegram to show you.” Nate reached in his pocket and pulled out the telegram he had received from Smythe the day before.
“It’s from a Jefferson Smythe, Esquire, from New York City. I reckon you know him, don’t ya?”
Ainsworth snatched the telegram from Nates hand. “Of course I know him, he is Mr. Ryders New York lawyer. How do you know him?”
Nate pointed to the name the telegram was sent to. “Well, see, I make it a point to get to know the people who work fer me. I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced yet. Bill, you want to make the introduction or shall I jest do it myself?”
“Oh no, Nate, allow me please. Ainsworth, meet your employer David Nathaniel Ryder, known to most as Nugget Nate and to a few as Uncle Nate.”
Nate reached out and took the telegram and handed it to Bill. “Look here. Bill, as long as yer here, my man in New York says that Mr. Ainsworth here hasn’t transferred the sale of my crop to my accounts this year. I’d like to have him arrested fer stealing from me.”
“Now Mr. Ryder, Sir, let’s not be hasty. There is no reason to arrest anyone. I have your funds. I was just waiting to send them to you until I had removed the dead weight from the farm and procured a more profitable sharecropper for you.”
“Well then, let me make a few things plain to ya, Ainsworth. First, you’ll send my money to Smythe the minute you get back to town or tomorrow I’ll kick your overweight butt to the jail myself. Secondly, yer fired, I no longer have need of your services. I refuse to do business with cruel and dishonest men and you, sir, are both. Finally, I don’t reckon when Bill and I tell the rest of the people of Harlan how you’ve treated my interest and the widow Campbell that there will be any need fer yer services in Harlan. So you be gone by sundown tomorrow or I’ll make sure that the old sayin’ about Harlan is true fer y’all.”
Ainsworth looked like he was fit to burst. “What old saying?”
Nate pulled his Bowie out and punctuated his every word with a poke at the overweight lawyer’s center vest button. “You’ll never leave Harlan alive!”
Ainsworth turned to Bill Mulligan. “You had to hear him that time, he just threatened to kill me again.”
Bill shook his head. “Ainsworth, I promise you that what Nugget Nate just said wasn’t a threat. If you are still in town sundown tomorrow it will be a fact.”
Nate sheathed his knife and then pointed down the road. “Now get off my land, Bullfrog, or I might not wait ‘til tomorrow.” Then he turned to Bill, “Would you mind staying a few minutes, Bill. I’d like ya to witness a business transaction for me.”
“Sure, Nate, be glad to help.” The two men shook hands like the old friends they were as they headed to the cabin where Penny and Moya stood on the porch. Penny caught Nate’s attention and pointed behind him. Nate turned and saw the lawyer just standing there with his mouth open. Nate pulled his revolver and fired it just in front of the lawyer’s feet, causing him to jump. “I said, git so GIT!” and he cocked the revolver again. Ainsworth waddled as fast as he could to his buggy. And took off in a cloud of dust.
Thanksgiving arrived before any of those on the farm were ready for it to. Nathan and Ronan had spent most of the week in the forest hunting and trapping. Nathan had even helped the younger boy shoot the turkey that his ma had cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Nate had filled up Moya’s pantry and between him, Nathan, and Ronan, they’d filled up the cellar with enough smoked meet to get the family through the tough Appalachian winter. There were a dozen chickens in the newly built chicken coop, two horses and a mule in the barn, and enough firewood to get Moya and the boys to spring when they wouldn’t need it except for cooking. Nate had made a visit to his old pal Jack Daniels who had sent two hundred pounds of seed corn to the Widow so she could plant come spring. Nate had also talked to a couple of local boys who agreed to help Moya with both the planting and harvest for a fair wage.
Moya looked at the spread of food on her table and the three new friends who had become family to her in such a short time. Then she looked at the chair everyone had left empty at the head of the table. The place where Niall would have sat if he were still alive. Then she knew she had so much to be thankful for. A simple prayer cried out in desperation had brought Nugget Nate Ryder to her and the man had followed God and saved Thanksgiving.