Saturday, September 12, 2009

Seven #2.8

Cassius and Seven continued heading north away from Ransomville and away from where Tara and Nicholas were. "Where are we going?" Seven asked, panting.

"We're going to Smallwood," Cassius said. "While in jail, I got a vision. A friend needs our help there."

"Why? What's wrong?"

"I don't know."

"Okay. I've never heard of Smallwood," Seven said.

"That's because it doesn't exist," Cassius said.

Nicholas and Tara were given jobs in Indianola in exchange for living with the Vieux's. Nicholas was placed in the massive Robideaux General Store and a part-time toll collector on the bridge. Tara was placed in the hotel working part-time and also helping Samuel Vieux's wife, Mary.

Nicholas was working in Robideaux's Store when Vieux and another man, Ernest deBoissiere, entered the store. "George? Have you noticed a decline in consumers over the past couple of days? Ernest here has noticed a sharp decrease of bridge travelers," Samuel asked.

"I have," Robideaux said, "and it's because of Uniontown."

"Uniontown? Never heard of it," Samuel said.

"It's a new town ten miles to the south. The government started it so military personnel wouldn't have to pay to cross the river," Robideaux explained.

"That can't be. The government promised that Indianola would have the only crossing on the Legionnaire River," Vieux said. "It was part of the treaty."

"The government broke the treaty," deBoissiere said "and that means war!"

"A Town Called Smallwood"
Years ago, Smallwood was organized by three men: William Horner, A.J. Mowry and J.S. Cox. Horner and Mowry came up with a plan to swindle the state out of money. Mowry got 240 names out of an old Westport city directory, made sure they were all registered voters in their fake county and held an election where Mowry and his friends were easily elected to all the county offices. The county seat was located at a town called Smallwood.

To make everything look official, Mowry, Horner and Cox appointed a census taker, who was easily persuaded with a bribe. For two weeks, he walked and rode several hundred miles on the prairie gathering the names of 600 people which he sent to the governor's office. The governor then declared the county organized.

The county commissioners then issued over $126,000 in bonds to start building a courthouse, bridges, roads and schools. The government decided to investigate and found no people and only a wooden shack near a small pond. The organization of the county and of Smallwood was declared to be a fraud.

Several years later, after the war, Major Lorimar Beam was inexplicably drawn to where Smallwood was located and it was here Major Beam settled, building a huge stone house and using the old shack as a small barn.

Cassius and Seven approached the stone house, which stood out from the prairie. The house was miles from civilization and Seven was uneasy about being here.

An old man was out front of the house, chopping wood. Cassius raised his hand and shouted, "Major Beam!"

The old man looked up and smiled. "My Lord! Cassius? It's been years!" the man stopped chopping wood and began walking to meet them. "What are you doing up here?"

"I had a vision that called me up here," Cassius said. "This is Seven. I met up with him and a couple of his friends in Cassoday."

"Where are the friends?" Major Beam asked.

"They should be in Indianola, waiting for us. How is everything here?"

"Everything is fine, why?"

"My vision showed me a battle--or an attack. In this area," Cassius said and looked around.

"Everything's peaceful here. My closest neighbor is twenty miles on each side, except for Ransomville to the south. Maybe it has something to do with the Lady," Major Beam said.

"The Lady?" asked Seven.

"The Lady of the Lake. She's the one who told me to move here," Major Beam smiled.

A small crowd of business owners had now gathered in Robideaux's store. All were complaining of the government's usurping of business and travelers.

"What they did is an act of war!" shouted blacksmith shop owner Jebidiah Lundgren.

"I hear they're gonna receive money from bonds to build a stone bridge!" Rome Klaxton, a stonemason, said.

"We need to think this through calmly," Samuel said, raising his hands in silence. "They may not even realize what they are doing. The treaty was signed over thirty years ago. We should get a team down there and talk to them. I'm sure they will listen to reason."

"Well, who should go down there?" shouted one man.

"It has to be someone powerful!" shouted another.

"I will go down," Samuel reassured "and if they'll go with me I would like to have George Robideaux and Ernest deBoissiere accompany me."

"Yeah, we'll go," they said simultaneously.

"We should leave now. We'll still have most of the day when we get there," Samuel said. "Don't worry. We'll get this figured out."

The Lady of the Lake and a war begins.