Chapter 29 Marry That Girl
Sheriff Bowman was in no mood for a Maverick this afternoon. That didn't stop the oldest one, Bret, from rushing into the jail and heading back to see his brother without so much as a 'by-your-leave.' "Where do you think you're going?" Mort blocked the hall into the cell area. Bret stopped abruptly and looked right through him.
"I'm going to break into a jail cell, Mort," was the reply.
"Not funny and not this time of day," the sheriff answered.
"It wasn't meant to be funny and why not this time of day?" Bret had about enough of this lawman who did everything but look for actual criminals.
"Because it's supper time and I don't want anybody in here now."
"I'll remember that if I'm ever in your jail," Bret said cynically.
"I can arrange for that right now if you'd like."
Bret heard that tone in the voice that said 'you've pushed this too far.' He decided it was time to be a little less demanding and a little more accommodating. "I'm sorry, Sheriff Bowman. I didn't realize it was time for supper. I hate to bother you but I have to leave town again and I really need to talk to Bart before I go. Can I have five minutes? I promise that's all it will be."
'That was a little more like it,' thought the sheriff. 'I deserve some respect around here.' "Alright, Maverick, go on back. FIVE MINUTES."
Bret forced a smile to his face, said "Thank you," and went back to Bart's cell. Bart was eating what looked to be Harry's beef stew but stopped as soon as he saw his brother. "Any luck?"
"Some. Maybe. What was the name of the hotel you stayed at in Barker Corners?"
Bart put down his fork while he thought. "Ah yes, a lovely little establishment called the Barker Corners Arms. Not the best accommodations I've ever had, but it was clean and cheap. Why?"
"Did you meet anybody while you were there?"
"I must have spent a total of 30 minutes in the hotel. Most of the time we were there I was at the Gambling Hall playing poker. No time to meet anyone. Not even of the female persuasion." Sure that Bret didn't have any more questions for him, Bart picked his fork back up. He was about to take another bite of stew when Bret interrupted his meal again.
"Are you sure? A cowboy, a ranch hand, another card sharp? Anybody?"
"Now that you mention it, there was a fella at the bar who kept watching me. Kept my eyes open just in case but the next time I looked in his direction he was gone. Who are you looking for?"
Bret shook his head. "Not exactly sure. There's a chance that Meyers or one of his running mates was at the hotel where you stayed. What did this man look like?"
"Let me see. Tallish. Youngish. Sandy hair. Kind of scruffy looking. Now that I think of it, I thought I recognized him from somewhere. I thought I'd played poker against him. But it wasn't that, really. There was something familiar about him, but not familiar at the same time. That doesn't make any sense, does it? I'd seen him but I can't place him. That wasn't Meyers, was it?"
"No, I don't think so. But it could've been one of the Sanborns. Don't have time to explain, but there's a reason I believe it was. I'm riding back to Barker Corners to find out."
"Now?" Bart asked him. "It's almost dark."
"Yes it is," Bret answered him, "and the judge and prosecutor arrive tomorrow. There's no time to waste. I have to go now." He reached through the bars of the cell and grabbed Bart by the shoulder. "Hang in there, Brother Bart, I'll be back soon."
"Sure, Bret. Be careful."
Beau sat in the office an awfully long time after Jody left. He'd told her he was going to marry her mother and she hadn't even flinched. She just gave him an ear-to-ear smile, walked around the desk and kissed him on the cheek. "I'm not calling you Father," was her parting shot to him as she left the room.
What had he done? 'Calm down, Beauregard,' he thought to himself. 'Marry. Hmmmm. Marry. Married. Husband and Wife. Mrs. Beau Maverick. Mrs. Beauregard Maverick. Mr. and Mrs. Beauregard Maverick.'
The more he said it the better it sounded. Uncle Beauregard had extracted a solemn vow from Bret and Bart that they wouldn't marry until they were thirty-eight, but Beau had made no such promise. And Beau didn't know that Bart had broken his word due to a life-or-death promise made to Samantha Crawford.
Would it be so awful to be married? To be able to spend every minute of the day with a beautiful, exciting woman? Who just happened to be Georgia Mayfield?
Jody didn't seem to have a problem with it. She saw the way he looked at her mother. He held her hand, escorted her everywhere like a lady, treated her with the utmost respect and courtesy. And worked side by side with Georgia to build the saloon into an honest gaming house. Anybody who thought the Mavericks were a lazy bunch didn't see how much time they spent trying to convince people of that. It was an illusion they created for the public and their own amusement. He was loyal, charming, quick witted, and handsome. And family meant everything to the Mavericks. No, she had no problem with it at all.
By the time supper time rolled around Beau was quite happy with himself for having thought of it. Yes sir, he would marry the woman and stay in Silver Creek. There was enough action in the saloon to keep him happy most of the time, and he and Georgia could take the train or stage coach to Denver whenever he got restless. He'd be fine staying in one place. Then why was there this churning in his insides whenever he thought of settling down?
He chose to ignore the warnings his body was giving him and closed and locked the upstairs office. He went downstairs to see Georgia but her office was still empty. 'Not like her,' he thought to himself. 'I wonder what happened.'
Alvin was still tending bar and when Beau pointed to the office door with a questioning look Alvin's shoulders replied 'I don't know.' Beau settled his hat on his head and pointed at the front door to the saloon. Alvin acknowledged the silent 'I'm leaving' by nodding. Harry would be there soon to assist with the evening business and Beau wanted to see if he could find Georgia.
He headed down the street in the direction of the Mayfield house but when he got close enough he could see there was no light in the windows. That meant no one home, so he turned around and aimed instead for the jail. At the last minute he ducked into the hotel and headed upstairs to his room. It wouldn't hurt to clean up and change clothes; maybe the knot in his stomach would go away. A short time later he left the hotel and resumed his walk to the jail.
He was surprised to find Willis again on duty instead of Bowman. It was unusual for Mort to be absent from 'his jail' in the evenings and Beau wondered what caused the change. When Beau turned the corner of the short hall that led to the cells he was startled to find Jody sitting there with Bart, but no Georgia. As always, he tipped his hat to Jody. The Mavericks were nothing if not a courteous bunch.
"Beauregard, I was just about to leave. You can have your cousin all to yourself, lucky dog." Jody stood up, patted Bart's hand through the bars, kissed Beau on the cheek, turned and was gone.
"That little girl is a force of nature," Bart remarked.
"That's not a little girl," Beau replied.
Bart chuckled. Beau was right, and if Bart didn't feel very protective of Jody he might have considered doing something about it. She was his sister, as far as Bart was concerned, and emotional family ties were just as binding as physical ones.
"So Cousin Beau, what brings you here twice in one day? Not enough to keep you busy at the saloon?"
"You're in fine form tonight, Cousin Bart. What's put you in such a good mood?"
"Bret came by earlier and took off on another lead in Barker Corners. Didn't share much with me but he thought it was urgent. So, you're on your own again with the saloon. Sorry I can't help. I'd like nothing more than to be sitting at a poker table right about now."
"I'd be happy to accommodate you if I could. But since I can't, I'd like to talk to you about something."
"Sure," answered his cousin. "What's so important that it couldn't wait tilll morning?"
Beau was slow to answer. "I was looking for Georgia, actually, and ended up here when I couldn't find her. Have you seen her today?"
"No. But then I don't get around much anymore. Have you lost her?"
"What?" Beau was plainly distracted and Bart wondered just what was on his mind. "I want to tell you something."
Bart was still trying to kid his cousin. "Go right ahead, Cousin Beau. You have a captive audience."
"I'm going to marry Georgia." There, he'd said it out loud to someone other than Jody. He waited for Bart's reaction.
Now it was Bart's turn. "What?"
"I'm going to marry Georgia Mayfield."
Bart shook his head in disbelief. "When did you decide this?"
"Any particular reason?" Besides the obvious, Bart meant.
"Because it's the right thing to do. And I love her."
Bart sank to his cot and looked up at Beau standing outside the cell. "You were so envious of my little prison here that you decided you wanted one of your own?"
There was silence in the jail. The only sound that could be heard was Deputy Willis softly snoring. Beau just stood there, not having an answer. Bart finally spoke again.
"I notice that you put the obligation ahead of the emotion."
"What does that mean?"
Bart had to tread carefully here, lest Beau misunderstand him. "You didn't mention love first. You talked about obligation, then love. Do you really love her or have you become dependent on her?"
That thought hadn't crossed Beau's mind. It was something to consider. If he was actually still considering this.
Beau answered as truthfully as he could. "I love her."
Bart waited for a moment before he answered. "Aha. I see." He paused and then said something unexpected. "Then all my best to you, Cousin Beau. I hope you and Georgia will be very happy."
That was it? Beau anticipated one of Uncle Beauregard's long lectures on the evil pitfalls of marriage. But Bart was always more like his mother than his father, and unbeknownst to Beau, had a very different way of looking at matrimony. Beau was secretly pleased that he didn't have to listen to 'the world according to Beauregard Maverick Sr.' right now. He knew that he loved Georgia and wanted to be with her; what he was unsure of still was the 'forever' part of it. But he'd made a choice and was sticking to it.
Bart was not about to try and change Beau's mind. His cousin seemed to have experienced a difficult time in the last months in Silver Creek and he would do what he wanted, whether it was the best thing for him or not. Bart discovered a long time ago that a man is going to do what a man wants to do, regardless of any and all advice he may receive to the contrary. Beau would either come to his senses or marry Georgia, and Bart intended to play no part in the decision.
"Well, then, no advise to give?" Beau asked tentatively.
"Absolutely none," was his cousin's answer. "I'm not really in a position to dispense great wisdom, am I?"
"Thanks, Bart." Beau stuck his hand through the bars of the cell. "I appreciate the restraint."
Bart shook hands with Beau. What else could he do? "See you in the morning?" he asked.
"As usual, Cousin Bart, as usual." Beau hurried off to look for Georgia.