Listen With Your Heart

The Judge

"Robert E.!" Grace shouted over the clanging he was making.

"What?" he said putting his hammer down.

"I can't believe you," she said angrily.

"Me? You can't believe me?"

"That's what I said. You told Dorothy a lie. Hank was almost put in jail."

"So what? He's gonna end up there one way or another," Robert E. said his back to her.

"Listen here, you mind your business when it come to me and Hank," Grace said her hands on her hips.

"Me and Hank? Since when?" he asked trying to keep his voice low.

"Since this morning when you were spying on us," she said matter of fact. "I thought you were better than the rest of this town, Robert E.."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I didn't think that you would spread vicious rumors like that, but I guess I was wrong."

"I just wanted everyone to finally see what kind of man he really is."

"You don't know him."

"I know he's a thief," Robert E. shouted.

"Yes, he cheated you out of some money but you know you are terrible at poker. So you're both at fault!" Grace shouted back. "Hank is more of a man than you'll ever be. He would never tell a lie to hurt someone I love."

"You love him? That's funny," Robert E. said with a laugh.


"Ain't no rich white man gonna ever love you."

"Listen here Robert E., from now on you keep your bitter and cynical self away from me and Hank. You don't get to go around saying hurtful things just because no one is ever gonna love you," she said before she turned on her heel. She stopped suddenly and marched back toward him. "White or black," Robert E.'s mouth fell open. Grace lifted her chin, pulled her shawl tight, turned and headed back toward the Cafe.

It had been two weeks since Grace had been back in Colorado Springs. She had all but forgotten about her misadventure. She and Hank had been courting and she was finally completely happy again. That was until she saw Sheriff Cooper walking past the cafe with an elderly man dressed in black.

'The judge,' she thought to herself. She wasn't ready to relive every horrible thing that had happened in those woods. She wasn't ready for the townspeople to know about her torment. She ran to the fence and watched as Matthew and the judge disappeared inside the Sheriff's office.

Hank watched as Matthew and the man he assumed was the judge went to the office. His mind instantly went to Grace. He threw his cigar in the road and strode toward the cafe. He found her standing at the fence just staring.

"You alright?" he asked quietly.

"I'm fine," she said meeting his eyes briefly before walking away.

"I don't believe that," he said passing through the gate.

"Why not?"

"Because I know you're afraid."

"Of what?"

"The judge takin' one look at those boys and droppin' the whole thing," Hank said grabbing her arms. "It ain't gonna happen."

"You don't know that," Grace said looking down at the ground. "They're white, Hank. That judge ain't from Colorado Springs."

"I won't let him," he said sternly. "They gon' get what's comin' to them."

"Don't go doing something stupid," she said wiping her eyes.

"Listen to me, people are on your side," Hank said tilting her head to look at him. "They ain't gonna let the judge just drop it. That meddlin' Micheala wouldn't give him the satisfaction." Grace smiled as he wiped her tears away. "I love you, I ain't gonna let nothing bad happen to ya."

"I love you too," she said as he kissed her sweetly.

"I'm gonna make sure this trial is still on. You get ready for breakfast, alright?" Hank said as he hugged her. She returned his hug and reveled in the feel of his strong arms around her. "I'll be back," he said breaking their hug. She watched him as he strode off toward the Sheriff's office.

Hank swung the door of the Sheriff's office open to find the old man sitting behind Matthew's desk.

"What's going on?" he asked looking at the young sheriff.

"Hank Lawson, this is Judge Dumford," Matthew said.

"Is he leavin'?" Hank asked glancing at the man.

"He just got here," Matthew answered.

"I don't want you lettin' him leave and not hearin' this case, Matthew," Hank said loudly.

"Calm down. I just told you he just got here."

"That ain't tellin' me he's stayin' around," he yelled. "Them boys deserve to hang for what they did."

"Hank! Calm down," the sheriff said putting his hand on the tall man's chest. "Judge Dumford and me were just talking about when the trial was gonna start."

"What?" Hank asked calmly.

"He ain't leavin'," Matthew said.

"You ain't leavin'?" the blonde man asked the older gentleman.

"Not until I've heard this trial, no," Judge Dumford said. "Are you close to the case?"

"Somethin' like that," Hank said his eyes on the Crowfelds in their cell. "You just make sure you do the right thing." he said turning to the judge.

"I'll do what's fair Mr. Lawson," Judge Dumford said extending his hand to Hank. He looked at it briefly before shaking it.

"You better," Hank said gruffly before exiting the office. As he strode toward the saloon, Jake caught up to him.

"What were you doing in there?" Jake asked as they entered the saloon.

"Checkin' on something."

"What's going on in here?" Jake asked as he looked around the bar. Even though it was daytime the lanterns burned bright. The round tables sat in even rows with white tablecloths on them. His spot at the bar didn't have it's usual inch of dust on it. The top of the bars was sanded and smoothed, no water rings.

"What are you talking about?" Hank asked as he grabbed two shot glasses.

"It's...clean in here," he said. "It doesn't smell like old whiskey know."

"Right," Hank laughed as he poured the whiskey.

"So what's going on?"

"I did it for Grace," he muttered.

"What was that?" Jake asked amused.

"I did it for Grace, alright?" Hank said aloud. "She didn't like comin' in here." Jake almost fell off his stool laughing. "What's so funny?"

"You! Hank Lawson being run by some woman," Jake laughed. "I never thought I'd see the day! I've gotta tell Loren," he said getting off his stool.

"Jake!" Hank called but it was too late, the saloon door was already swinging.

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