Mr. Buckner's Badge and Olivia's Courage

The Boarding House Journal
Date: November 1912
Room Number: 5
Guests:  John and Olivia Buckner

The Texas Rangers!!!  For Gods sake, what happened last night?  Everyone was talking at once and looking at me like I should know the Who What and Where's of the Sheriff's parting words.  Which of course, I did.  Chairs commenced to push away from the table as the guests began their departure either for the day or until the next time they were in town.  Everyone was on their way except for the Buckners.

Mrs. Buckner's hands covered her face and she was visible shaken.  In all the commotion I didn't notice her overturned tea cup or the effect that my husbands announcement had on her.

 Come Olivia, the buggy is waiting.  We'll talk about this after you see Doc Powers.  The Rangers arrival won't change a thing. 

Her composure regained,  she pulled on her gloves and lowered the netted veil from the brim of her hat and expressed her concern over the Lady Grey spill on the tablecloth.  "Do not concern yourself Mrs. Buckner, the tea stain will come out...you just take care of yourself," I assured her as she took her husbands extended arm.  I watched as Mr. Buckner helped her in the buggy, and if it hadn't been for the west wind whipping his Long Duster aside, I would have missed the Mexican Loop Holster.  I wasn't surprised to see he was armed especially after this mornings news, but I was curious about the Badge.

Mother, what happened last night?  Why are the Rangers coming and why did Pa load the Winchester?  Please Sarah, let's clear away the breakfast dishes, and I'll tell you in the kitchen. 

Your Father shot and killed two Mexican railroad workers last night.  A band of Mexicans from the railroad  have been at the Saloon for several days drinking and gambling.  They disarmed the constable and were shooting at him when the Sheriff got there.  When the smoke cleared, two were dead and six were injured.  There is fear of repercussions, everyone is ordered off the streets tonight and the Saloon will be closed until the Rangers get here.  I imagine they will be staying for awhile.  We should get Room # 6 ready for them.

Just before noon, Mr. and Mrs. Buckner returned and quickly went to their room, and in a few minutes the 'Bell Pull' jingled in the kitchen.  Sarah put on the teapot while I went to their room.  Mr. Buckner met me at the door and requested a pot of tea for Mrs. Buckner and if it wasn't too much trouble a light lunch. "I'll be away for a few hours this afternoon while Olivia rests.  I wonder if you could check in on her," he asked.  "Yes, of course, and I will bring the tea and lunch shortly."

Olivia, as she asked me to call her, is dying, and Doc Powers confirmed the diagnosis of the doctor in San Antonio.  He did however, give her hope for maybe another year with rest, proper food and continued dosage of the Elixar, which she can only tolerate with hot tea. 

I measured two teaspoons of the Elixar and poured tea while Olivia spread plum jam over the still warm from the oven bread.  My mother made plum jam. There was a plum tree behind our house.  Mother would send my sister Mary and me to pick the ripest ones for canning jelly.  Thank-you Emma for your kindness.  She took the offered tea and began her story.

Mary was killed by Yankee soliders at the end of the war.  It was after midnight, but their torches lit up the night and their gunfire was deafening.  Mary hid me in the secret panel under the stairs and told me not to come out until she came for me.  They rode their horses right up on the porch,  and shot out the windows.  Then they were in the house.  I could hear Mary telling them to take the food and livestock and leave.  They took everything.  They took Mary.  She didn't come back for me.  I found her the next morning on the porch lying in a pool of her own blood.  She had not been shot.  She was my only living kin.  Our father died at Shiloh and Mama of consumption the year before.  I was ten years old.

With a fresh cup of Lady Grey, minus the Elixar, Olivia continued.  As she spoke, I could see her eyes fill with tears and hear the pain in her voice as she talked of another Mary in her life.  The life she bore. The Mary of her heart and soul and the daughter she could not claim as her own.

I was but sixteen when my Mary was born.  Her father was a charming, but reckless man ten years older who had survived The War and carried the scars of battle on his once handsome face and on his once innocent soul.  We married because of Mary.....A light rap on the door interrupted her story, and she quickly dabbed at the tears as Marshall Buckner entered room number five.  His Badge now in plain sight.  The Mexican Loop Holster held a pearl handled Colt. 

He wore a Badge of the Law.  She wore a Badge of Courage.

I'm standing outside Room number five.  The tears I've held for more than two hours are flowing freely. She was wrong. Her story not only will weigh heavy on my mind, but on my heart and soul for the rest of my days. 

...to be continued...

Authored by Sandra Sue Pittman
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