Part 1: Chapter 101: 1893 Red Deer, Alberta

Archie's Sentencing

Bye, Ma," Colleen said as she hugged her mother tightly at the train station. Nathan also embraced her in a hug. He was almost to her height. At this point, James had begun to suspect that Nathan would be taller than himself.

"Tell Dad that we love him," Colleen added.

Nathan rolled his eyes and sighed in frustration. Ophelia looked each of her children in their eyes and demanded they behave for Edith. All without saying a word.

"We'll be fine," Colleen promised.

"I will keep her in check," Nathan added. Colleen smacked his arm for that comment.

Both smiled at their mother and uncle as the conductor called for them to board. James helped Ophelia onto the train steps before pulling himself up.

Ophelia looked down at the train ticket before glaring up at James in reprimand for the cost.

"At least it's not a sleeper car," James retorted, knowing why she was upset.

Ophelia rolled her eyes much like Nathan did when he had no patience for people around him.

"Only because it doesn't take that long on a train to get to Calgary," Ophelia responded. James smiled in response.

James helped Ophelia find the car they would be staying in as they traveled. Ophelia sat down as James put up their small luggage bags. Ophelia took out her knitting. James was watching the fields pass by.

"During the sentencing, Archie will be given time to speak on his behalf. I will also be able to voice my suggestion to Archie's sentencing. But it is ultimately up to the judge as to how he is to be punished. You may also speak up on his behalf, but it isn't necessary," James told Ophelia about halfway through the train ride to Calgary. Ophelia finished her row of knitting before she looked at James and stashed her needles in her bag.

"Is it unusual for the family not to speak?" Ophelia asked.

James shrugged.

"Yes, and no," James started to explain, "with a lot of men who are active thieves they don't have a lot of family that would vouch for them that aren't part of their criminal proceedings. But for the odd family man, their wives try to explain why they should get a lesser sentence."

Ophelia nodded her understanding.

"I don't want to speak up for Archie, when I saw this coming. But I also feel like I need to say something," Ophelia explained.

James nodded his agreement.

James led Ophelia to the hotel they would be staying at in separate rooms. Ophelia unpacked her bag and looked around once she was alone. She looked down at her wedding ring and sighed heavily.

'Archie, I'm furious at you,' she thought as angry tears escaped her eyes. She cried in frustration. 'I don't know what to do with you.'

Ophelia sat in her room alone and allowed herself to feel her emotions without the fear of her children seeing her. She was allowed to sit by herself until James came knocking about the time that they needed to report to the courtroom for Archie's sentencing. James gave her a smile and a head tilt of acknowledgement as he saw her face. Ophelia sighed heavily, but followed him into the hallway and took James' arm. He patted her hand in comfort and to clearly show that he had her back no matter the circumstances. Ophelia let James lead them to where they were going.

The courtroom that Archie's sentencing would be placed in, was a small courtroom. The lawyers were setting up their evidence. Archie had no lawyer and was standing with handcuffs behind the defense table with a Mountie escort. James led Ophelia to sit a few rows behind Archie in the long benches to serve as space for the witnesses. James sat across the row and close enough to support Ophelia should she need it.

Archie met both Ophleia's and James' looks. He seemed to be settled to his fate. He gave her a loving look, before giving a head tilt to acknowledge James. Everyone's attention went to the judge when he entered. He called the court in session.

The prosecutor said that Archie should get the max penalty due to how many families in Red Deer he had swindled. Ophelia flinched at the exorbitant amount the prosecutors wanted Archie to pay back, while he was in prison. Archie's and James both narrowed their eyes at the prosecutor.

Then James was called up to give his opinion.

"While I believe what Archie Grant did to his town is wrong, and he needs to be punished, I also believe that as it is his first offense, and I think that there is an argument to be made that his boss led him down the path that he ultimately ended up on, Archie knows that he did wrong by confessing to the charge. I don't suggest the lightest penalty, but I also don't suggest the harshest," James explained.

The judge nodded.

Archie was called forward.

"I know I did wrong," he said to the judge. "I know I need to pay the price. But I ask that it be me who pays it. Not my family."

Archie sat back down when he was finished.

"Anyone else who wants to speak on the defendant's behalf. Ophelia stood up and met the judge's eyes.

"Who are you?" the judge asked.

"Mrs. Ophelia Grant," she replied.

The judge motioned her to come forward. Ophelia stepped up.

"Archibald Grant is my husband. As his wife, I get a firsthand account of my husband's vices everyday they impact us. I know my husband has debt issues. I know it has caused him to make ill advised choices. I will not argue that he is not in the wrong, when he clearly is. What I am arguing for is for you to put into your decision the impact on my children your sentencing will be. My daughter is 12. My son is 10. Both have had to deal with an absentee father as his problems got larger. My son has already been doing his father's chores. I don't think it is fair to them, to charge them for money owed while Archie is in prison and can't work. I ask you to not punish my children for their father's choices," Ophelia said, as her chocolate eyes pleaded with the judge. The judge barely met her gaze, but he was taking notes on her request.

Archie looked down when Ophelia turned her gaze at him. James nodded his support of her statement.

In Red Deer, Edith was hosting a sleepover with Thomas and Nathan. Colleen was practicing her cooking with Rachel. Thomas and Nathan were making paper air gliders and having an air glider war. Edith was watching the war with amusement. Sally was sitting with her. Molly was part of the game.

"Alright! Alright! I give up!" Thomas bellowed as Nathan and Molly bombarded him with a never ending barrage of paper. Nathan and Molly high-fived each other, before Nathan smiled widely at Thomas.

Thomas shook his head in defeat, but was also beaming at his friend. Edith was imprinting everything to memory to paint the scene later. Nathan and Molly both sat down near Edith. Thomas sat across from Nathan.

"Chess?" Thomas suggested.

Nathan nodded his agreement. The two boys went to Uncle James' chess set and started placing the pieces in the correct order. Thomas was white and moved first. Nathan followed. Thomas responded. Nathan took out Thomas' bishop. Thomas frowned and moved again. Nathan took Thomas' queen. Thomas sighed heavily as he saw how easily Nathan would defeat him. Nathan smirked at Thomas. Thomas and Nathan exchanged 3 more moves before Nathan beat Thomas, and Thomas was certain that Nathan was being nice in allowing him to make more than four moves.

Nathan smiled at his friend.

"Best out of three?" Nathan asked as he put the pieces back in their original position.

Thomas nodded his agreement.

"Are you worried about the sentencing?" Thomas asked as he made his first move.

Nathan shrugged.

"Dad needs the consequences to be worse than losing us," Nathan said.

"Oh, so he is 'Dad' now, is he?" Thomas pointed out Nathan's slip of the tongue.

Nathan glared at Thomas.

"Every time I call him Archibald everyone else glares at me for being so formal," Nathan pointed out before making his own move.

Thomas watched the chess board.

"He needs to know that consequences stick. He is the one entirely responsible for his behavior and that he is not excused from the hurt he caused others through his actions. I feel like this sentencing has been a long time coming. I am more worried about how the ruling will impact Ma, Colleen, and me. My gut is telling me that we as Grants will be responsible for his actions," Nathan explained.

Thomas looked at him.

"I pray that you are wrong," Thomas added as he moved his next chess piece.

Nathan nodded in agreement.

"But our luck has never really gone the way we pray," Nathan observed as he examined the chess pieces.

"Ain't that the truth," Thomas muttered.

Nathan smiled at Thomas before making his next move.

"Nathan, I will help you and Colleen when your Ma gets back, I promise to do everything in my power to make this easier for ya," Thomas said as he met Nathan's look.

Nathan looked back into Thomas' brown eyes to see the sincerity of the look. Nathan knew that this was a promise that would be kept. Nathan gave him a grateful smile in return.

"But you also need to promise to be willing to accept the help," Thomas added.

Nathan's surprised eyes darted back to Thomas. Thomas looked at him with a serious expression on his own face.

"What do you mean?" Nathan asked.

"What if your family is responsible for the money to be returned? You can't afford that without a paying job and you promised Ma that you would stay in school," Thomas pointed out.

Nathan sighed heavily as he was thinking through what Thomas had pointed out. This was the thing that worried him the most. He was terrified of being held responsible for his father's actions, because he was a son. Nathan ran his fingers through his hair before answering, "I hope I am wrong."

"But you never are," Thomas pointed out. "I want to give you some of the inheritance money I got for my birthday last year. It will help you guys out of some of the financial pickle you are in. It would be considered an investment into services not yet rendered," Thomas explained.

Nathan looked at his best friend in shock and horror.

"But that is your money," Nathan stuttered to argue.

"And it is mine to do with as I see fit," Thomas argued back. "Money is literally the answer to your family's problems. I have an excess of it. It seems like the best way to help."

Nathan sighed heavily, "are you certain?"

Thomas nodded.


Nathan ran his hand through his hair twice as he thought through his response.

"I agree to let you help for the sentencing. But beyond that I don't want you to buy everything for us," Nathan added.

Thomas smiled his agreement.

The two boys shook their hands on the deal before Nathan went back to whopping Thomas in chess.

Edith had heard the exchange between the boys and smiled proudly to herself. Nathan had learned that humbling yourself when in need is the better option than going down a dangerous path and getting into more trouble. Archie hadn't learned that yet. Edith would have James remind Ophelia as well. There was no way she would agree to letting Thomas give such a generous donation to the Grant's and she and James could very easily afford to gift that money away.

Ophelia was leaning against the train window trying to fall asleep after a long and trying week away from her children. Nathan and Colleen made her world better and she was truly lost without them. James had let her process everything in silence on the way back. For once she wished the train ride would take longer because she needed the time to figure out how to tell her children what their father's punishment was. But the conductor came through shouting Red Deer, Next Stop. Red Deer, next stop! Before she even had a chance to truly process the time she spent at Archie's sentencing.

Ophelia sighed as James folded his paper neatly, placed it under his left arm, and stood up to help Ophelia to the exit.

After helping Ophelia down, James gave her a look of contrition.

"I hope you know that wasn't what I had hoped for, either," James said as he escorted her to the fort.

Ophelia nodded, "I don't blame you, James. You didn't do anything wrong."

They both went into the yard, then into the cleaning room. James was out faster than Ophelia. Edith had only to look at James and read that the sentencing was harsher than James would have liked.

Ophelia followed next.

"Where are the children?" Ophelia asked.

"They are not home from school yet," Edith said.

Ophelia nodded and crossed her arms across her chest as she stood looking out the parlor window. She closed her eyes as she remembered what had happened at Archie's sentencing.

"Archibald Grant, you have confessed to stealing from your bank to pay off your gambling debt. I have heard and taken into consideration all the suggestions about your sentencing. While I agree that as this is your first crime, that you shouldn't be given the full extent of the law, I also disagree with the idea that you shouldn't be paying back the money you have taken from your boss and also your peers in Red Deer. The people you stole from also have families. Also have money problems. So, they should be reimbursed the money you took from them. So, I charge you with larceny and give you a 15 month sentence in Medicine Hat prison. I also expect you to pay back within 24 months of this date," his judge said.

James looked at the man in anger. Ophelia felt her world crashing around her once more. There was no way that they could pay the debt off that quickly. And it would be the family who had to work. Ophelia glared at both the judge and Archie.

Ophelia let out a shaky breath as one tear ran down her cheek.

Edith looked between her husband and Ophelia.

James looked at Ophelia, asking for permission to tell the story to Edith.

Ophelia nodded.

"Archie's sentence was overly harsh for a first time offender," James explained. "He was sentenced to 15 months in Medicine Hat, which is normal. But he was then ordered to pay back everything he stole within 24 months. And he is not allowed to work away the debt while he is in prison."

"What?" Edith shrieked.

James nodded.

"How are they supposed to pay that off in such a short amount of time?" Edith asked in anger.

"They aren't. The judge is being unreasonable with this part of the sentencing," James added.

Ophelia nodded her agreement.

"Ophelia," James and Edith both took one of her elbows.

Ophelia looked at them both.

"We will pay off this stupid debt," Edith insisted.

James nodded his agreement.

"And I don't want to hear one word of it being paid back," Edith added.

Ophelia nodded her acceptance of the terms. But she was also sobbing and ended up crying in Edith's arms.