Mount Up with Wings, as Eagles…''
[ Three Tales of Two Cousins - Second Tale, Part Two - Jess' Tale]
a Laramie/Wagon Train Crossover Fan Fiction-Series by Roniyah Gabrielle Caitrin Bhaer
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength , they shall mount up with wings as eagles they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint"KJV/Isaiah 40:31
Author's Note: This is where I could be saying : 'you asked for it.' Because I have been asked to write some Wagon Train and or Laramie fanfiction for the enjoyment [ I hope] of the RFFD list. But I won't say that, honestly. I'd rather just say, please enjoy, please let me know what you think of this latest effort of mine,. But my sole intent is to offer you some enjoyable reading, along with some of my own ideas about the Laramie and Wagon Train characters.
So, you actually SHOULD consider this story as existing in a PARALLEL UNIVERSE , an alternative one to the one presented by those two classic westerns, with some notable variations. And please excuse the liberties I've taken, my 'poetic license', as it were with events, dates, and even names in the lives of the well loved characters in this story. And I took some literary liberties with 'facts not in evidence' in the series as it aired, too, along the lines of things we didn't see or hear on-screen
But if I haven't made it clear enough, as yet, this story wouldn't have been written, without the friendships and fun and such I 'lucked onto' on the Robert Fuller Fandom list. And so because of that, I want and need to genuinely thank all my recently made friends there. I … was grateful just to find all y'all… and now that gratitude is, I hope, clearly shown in these pages
Special thanks go to the Twins, to Moira, Elaine and Yvonne, for reading, saving story files on a regular basis, and encouraging this effort. Very Special thanks go to Cat, for her good words, wonderful feedback, reading and encouragement. Extraordinary thanks, though, must go here to an incomparable friend, Barb T., whose unflagging support and willing 'ear', and much more than constructive feedback, especially on this part of MUWWAE has gone far beyond the call of any sort of duty. In fact, if I thought she'd take it, I'd give the woman half the by-line on this as my way of saying, this story of that other 'obstinate black-haired, black Irish Texan', wouldn't be here without your help, Pard! And, for those who don't' know, she's done all that and much, much more this fall and winter, by email, from the 'other side of the Pond', as those Brits, like Barb T like to say!
Oh, and in case you haven't guessed it, these 'tales' wouldn't exist in any form without the wondrous inspiration of the following amazingly gifted, and tremendously generous people: Barbara Stanwyck, John McIntire, Spring Byington, Hoagy Carmichael, Frank McGrath, Terry Wilson, Denny Miller, Michael Burns, Robert Fuller, and John Smith. My constant gratitude to them will hopefully be apparent in the following pages.
Disclaimer : None of the onscreen characters from Revue/Universal's 'Laramie' or 'Wagon Train' belong to me. And I'm prett nigh onta busted up about that, too. Instead they all belong to the creative minds, and the estates of the late John Champion and Howard Christie, and all the gifted writers, directors, producers, and actors of those two classic, classy Westerns. Sigh. No copyright infringement or profit taking is intended by this work of fiction, so don't sue me please, the studio/company, etc attorneys have 'many, many things' better to do.
Roniyah Gabrielle Caitrin Bhaer Winter-Spring , 2007-08
Eugenie Pascale's Wyoming mansion, near Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory the 1870s
''I told you, Eugenie, all is in readiness, just as we've discussed, to the nth degree, for the next sortie as regards our endeavors.'' Lee Henry Morrissey repeated, a third or fourth time, he was rapidly losing count, and losing patience.
'' The final sortie, as regards our grand endeavors, Lee Henry.'' she corrected him, but in an absent, distracted tone, which only served to annoy her twin brother all the more. She was far more intent right now on the two figures/spirits who haunted her more and more of late: The gallant warrior-husband she'd adored and the brilliant younger brother she'd all but raised herself when Isabelle Mariamne Danvers Morrissey died. Eugenie Pascale's bereavement was something she wore almost as a badge of honor, although she'd ceased wearing deep mourning nearly a year ago now.
''Napier and Neddy don't care to see me in my 'widow's weeds' any longer.'' she informed her brother and anyone else who'd listen. 'They much prefer I celebrate their heroism, and their lives by rejoining the world, harsh as it may be. And they greatly prefer I don my own favorite silks in mauve and lilac and silver-grey. Napier says those colors wash my face with a fine, rosy cast, And Neddy says they play up my eyes to a fine advantage. Neddy, dearest boy, you should be saying that sort of thing to some sweet, innocent, gently bred young ladies, not to your fond, foolish 'genie, now.
'' Isn't that what I said? Didn't I say, our final sortie, our grand endeavors?'' Morrissey asked, now, slumping into a chair by her tea-table, immensely weary from almost a fortnight's travel. In his estimation, over the past three years, he'd traversed enough miles to take him around the world at least twice. And in most instances, it was for no purpose remotely as pleasant as sight-seeing.
'' Lee Henry, you sound awfully tired out. '' Eugenie Pascale noted, finally looking at him. '' And you look almost worn to a nub, Twin. I don't know, I truly don't know why you insist on exerting yourself to this extent. Surely our people could take on the more arduous tasks, surely that's what they're meant, and what they wish to do.''
Suddenly, it was on the tip of Morrissey's tongue to lambaste the woman right out of her pleasant, flatteringly colored fantasies! No one in the living world could make him as angry as Eugenie, and no one understood him half so well.
When she understands anything, he thought. Sometimes, nowadays, just lately, in fact, her mind, that was bright and sharp and clear as a cut lead crystal chandelier, is dimming, and flickering like a nearly burnt out candle, like a lantern, running out of oil. And seeing her, hearing her like this, is very nearly enough to make me as mad as 'genie!
Swallowing his anger, Lee Henry Richard Morrissey, named for the Revolutionary War hero, took another moment to regain the calm demeanor she preferred. ''Dear Twin, what I exert myself to do involves matters I would never entrust to menials, to servants.'' He then told her.
'' For example, sister, do you imagine I should let 'our people' make contact with those persons whose services we may require for this final sortie? Would you deem it wise, then, to place into a servant's hands, the records used in our grand endeavors? Or perhaps you think I should have your Jaimey and your Phillips take on the maintenance of discipline and morale within the Company?''
''Oh, no, no, I take your point, brother. Our dear Solomon wouldn't fancy that arrangement one tiny bit, now would he? '' Eugenie answered, nodding. ''And I believe somehow, I do provoke him, as it is, from time to time. Still, his devotion to Napier remains unwavering. And Napier would take it very badly, if I let Solomon go.''
'' Yes, certainly he would, 'genie.'' Morrissey sighed. For just one half of one moment, she sounded rational, aware, and in the present. And then she drifted off, again. More and more she remained within a happy, antebellum dream world, or wholly caught up in the nightmare years of the Conflict. The former, he could hardly blame her for wishing back again, where the latter only showed the ruin of her mind. And as mad as she was, as sickened by many of their endeavors as he was, Morrissey could not of his nature, truly gainsay her now.
'genie, genie, leave those scraps and tatters for just a moment, won't you, Twin?'' Morrissey said, crossing to his sister, pulling her gently away from her pastime of piecing mementos in a keepsake book.
''Why, surely, Lee Henry. Whatever did you wish, Twin?''
[ I wish to cease wading up to my kneecaps in blood and hatred, in vengeance and in horror, after three years of it, 'genie] her brother thought of saying. But he didn't.
'' I wish you to go for a ride with me, 'genie, this evening, when it's cooler and, watch the sunset together. And 'genie, I heartily wish we could do that, could go riding, without the accompaniment of Jaimey and Phillips, or any others. Surely you and I need neither chaperones nor bodyguards in each other's company. Grant me my few, simple wishes, won't you, sister?''
''Why, why, surely, Lee Henry, surely. You talk as if I were a Fairy G-dmother. And I think I rather like it! You are the dearest brother, to think of a treat like that, and then ask me so prettily! '' Eugenie beamed at him, like a schoolgirl, and then grew pensive. '' You have something you wish to discuss with me in private, Lee Henry, don't you?''
''Several things, 'genie, yes, I do. And none of them would be the better for an audience. So, I thank you, Twin, I truly do. I miss you, greatly sometimes, 'genie.'' [ I miss the fiery, funny, genuinely loving open-hearted girl you were, so long ago. I miss her terribly, surely as much or more than 'genie claims, these days, to miss 'our dearest Neddy'! ]
Abruptly now, Eugenie looked up at him, and smiled as if they shared a secret.
'' You're thinking of our Neddy, aren't you Lee Henry?'' she asked, and it didn't surprise him. All their lives they'd had a way of knowing each other's thoughts.
" And how kind of you! You're thinking his poor feelings might be badly hurt if we don't take him riding with us. Well, never you mind, I told Neddy I would only permit him to exercise in the cool of the morning. When he does otherwise, it quite enervates him, and he knows that. And he knows I shall be altogether unforgiving, if he does not comply with my wishes. I shan't sit with him at dinner or at supper for a fortnight. I shan't dance with him for a good two months! And I shall not … well, perhaps I will still allow Neddy to come read to me, of an evening. He reads Mr. Shakespeare's poetry so very nicely, really, like a true gently bred, well learned Southron gentleman must do.''
''When you and I were young, sister, we'd read poetry together, for parties and tableaux.'' Morrissey reminded her. The bleak, bereft, bitter envy that still rose in him, over of her obsession with 'our Neddy', was back again, eating at him.
''And it was very pleasant. I always thought we did it well. We were very nearly inseparable, in those old days, Twin. And even when you wed Napier, I felt our bond would never break.''
''My, my, you are in a gloomy, pensive mood, aren't you?'' Eugenie asked, and nearly broke his heart in the next instant, reaching up to smooth back his hair, and gently touch his face, as she'd been wont to do, in years past.
'' Yes, I suppose I am. And I'm… travel weary. I'll leave you, sister, with your kind permission, to get cleaned up and rest a bit, before supper. '' He said and turned to leave her room.
'' Lee Henry, wait, please, wait a moment. '' she asked, so softly he almost didn't hear. ''You did say all is in readiness, did you not, for our final sortie?''
'' Yes, 'genie.'' Morrissey nodded. '' Every person, every preparation, and every precaution is in place, now. There will be no mistaken identification, not this time. There will be no mistake of any kind, insofar as I can prevent it. And then, the thing will finally be over!'' he finished, more fervently than he'd meant to.
Eugenie had turned back to leaf through her piece-work. Now she turned to face him, and Morrissey knew he'd awoken the lioness again. Her eyes were wide and dark as moonlit pools, her whole affect was taut, was tense. Her features had become a mask of ice, hiding once more the girl he'd known, and mourned.
''Why, brother-mine, do you without prior notice evince so much relief, regarding the end point of all our grand endeavors?'' she asked but didn't give time for his answer. ''Why are you abruptly so desirous of 'the thing being over'? And why do I suddenly sense an inconceivable reluctance in you, for the very thing I have sought, and worked, planned and sacrificed to achieve?''
''Sacrificed, 'genie, you've sacrificed?'' Morrissey echoed, his own temper at last slipping its bonds. ''You've worked, you've sought? I'll grant you, Twin, you certainly did plan all of this. And then you came to me, sister-mine. Three years after our poor brother died in the French…''
'' YOU DO NOT DARE! YOU CANNOT CONCEIVABLY DARE! YOU DAST NOT SAY THAT IN MY PRESENCE! YOU WILL NOT SAY THAT IN OUR NEDDY'S HEARING EVER! NOT EVER, DO YOU HEAR ME? '' Pascale screamed, and Morrissey flinched at the sound, reminded of the shrieks she'd uttered on hearing 'her Neddy' was found dead in New Orleans' infamous French Quarter, barely two years after the Conflict's end. Her descent into genuine madness, Morrissey knew, started then.
He'd taken that 'journey' himself, the Louisianan knew, at much the same time, on learning his oldest son Daniel Eamon was in fact among the Confederate prisoners who died at the Union's Elmira prison camp. He'd sought not vengeance, nothing that exact, but retribution in full, from any source that came to his hands. He'd taken beaten, embittered men like Solomon Howell, left from Napier Pascale's old command, as part of the 9th Louisiana Infantry, and to them added some wartime companions of his own lost sons, a hodgepodge from Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia regiments, and finally allowed some of those men's sons and younger brothers to 'sign on'.
And from them, even though Eugenie called them 'her' Company', Morrissey knew he'd made this guerilla-style command his own. Never at any time had his 'Company's roster held more than two thirds of the hundred the organization of the old, Regular Army, or any other formal armies required for a company. And worse, just as in the last months and weeks of the Conflict, it's numbers waxed and waned. At the outset, more than one hundred some former general officers, wild youths, crazed veterans and green boys made up the ranks. And even more than during the late Conflict, the temptations and the needs of families and homes elsewhere drew the 'boys' away.
More than that, Morrissey acknowledged, if only to himself, and only now, they'd all been worn out, fought out and burnt-out before they well began Eugenie Pascale's 'grand endeavors'. But they'd begun, he'd begun, glad at first, to have some causus belli, some new reason to ride and fight and 'give some serious hurt back to some Yankees', when they could. They'd sought, they'd robbed and beaten, questioned, and tortured some 'enemies' and 'persons of interest.
And they'd killed along the way, driven by a common need to take the kicked, wounded, bleeding, and dying inside feeling of 'the '65' out of their own guts and make someone else feel it, too. Morrissey knew he'd done all these things more for his own reasons than any of Eugenie's. He'd wished for nothing more than retaliation and perhaps the quietus of his own death at some enemy's hand, while his own grief tore and raged within him, for three sons.
Daniel Eamon, aged 22 lay dead and buried in a frozen pit outside Elmira, New York , for Jeremy Beauvais, was 18 when he died at Chancellorsville, and Andrew Darcy, barely 16 when he died at Franklin. Now Morrissey knew it was only because of his youngest, Lee Edward Robert, the only child of his third marriage, that he'd come even halfway back on that nightmare path. Looking at and listening to Eugenie now, he also knew she'd never taken a single step back towards even the minimal sanity he seemed to have regained.
''I hear you, 'Eugenie. I hear you very well. And half the countryside around can hear you, just as clearly, Twin, when you forget yourself, that way. '' Morrissey answered, feeling wearier by the minute of the multiple pretenses she wanted, she insisted be kept up, constantly in her own and in 'Neddy's' presence.
''And you know better, or you should by this time, than to provoke my entirely righteous wrath to that extent, Twin.'' Pascale answered, her voice as icy now, as it had been fiery, the moment before. '' You seem to have lost your fervor for our great work, Lee Henry. You almost seem … although I frankly cannot credit this, ashamed of what we've done.
And I do not choose to credit such an idea. No, that can't be so. You were completely, you were utterly willing to take up these grand endeavors. You told me you more than understood what I sought for. You told me you knew I needed you as my Twin, my brother, but also as a soldier, a commander, to take the field and destroy in detail our most bitter, most treacherous foes!''
''Yes, so I did. And yes, in all honestly, Twin, I am ashamed, now. I've done things, and ordered things done no honorable soldier, and certainly no officer could conceivably, ever condone. I've ordered things done and done things no General Orders and nothing that can be found in the Rules of Engagement, or the Manual of Arms permits. I've made 'war', for the sake of 'your Neddy,' for the sake of your vengeance, 'genie, on women and children and elders, sister-mine.
I've become a bloody-handed, bloody-minded brigand, and all the while reasoned with myself it was for our family, for our honor, for those we can never, never hold again, except within our hearts. But it was not that, it was never that, 'genie! It was nothing but revenge and robbery and rampaging against innocents! AGAINST INNOCENTS, I SAY! I set my feet upon a path so steeped in blood and in disgrace it reeks to heaven, Twin! And you, 'genie', having never been a soldier, possibly still cannot understand what it means, when a soldier, when an officer finds he's broken every oath, and shattered every duty, except the final one, G-d willing he's given the time and the leisure for it, to fall upon his sword! ''
''Lee Henry Richard Morrissey , whatever can you be speaking of?'' his sister asked, her affect completely calm again, which change in her frightened him all the more. '' Are you practicing for some sort of dramatic exercise? Are you perhaps preparing to enact the part of Brutus, having lost all… having given all, and having done all the worst things for all the best possible reasons… ''
''I never quite managed to assassinate the tyrant, no, 'genie.'' Morrissey answered, numbly. ''Mr. Booth had that 'honor' and the bloody, appalling consequences thereof, I believe. But what I have done, for what I told myself, over and over, and yet over again these three years now, was to madly chase after your damned, damnable vengeance, Twin! And in all that time, while I and numerous others sought to carry out your grand endeavors, your mad endeavors, would be a better way to put it, I came within striking distance, more than once, sister, of losing my only remaining child! My son, My Neddy is nearly eighteen, 'genie'
And while I did your bidding, while I sought your vengeance for you, Twin, he's lived with murderers and madmen, reprobates and villains, learning to admire and emulate the worst, the very worst among them! You're the boy's aunt, Eugenie! And he adores you! But have you spared a moment for your brother's son, while your brother was away on your bloody business? Have you talked with him, have you looked for him amongst the Company? Would you so much as recognize the boy if he stood here between us?''
'' You never should have called the child Neddy, brother.'' Pascale answered. ''You should not have! Was that thoughtful, Twin, was that considerate of you? Had you nothing in mind when he was born except to stab me with the bitterest lies told of me in my entire life? Have I seen or talked to or sought to find your Neddy, brother? No, indeed I have not! I cannot bear to look upon him!''
''Because he's not your Neddy, Twin? Because I named him with no meaning other than to honor our late brother? No, then perhaps, because
the differences between the two are as night and day? Is that why you so despise my son? Or is it because our dearest Napier never deigned to stay home long enough to create an heir?''
Now she strode across the room to him, very much like a lioness on the hunt, he thought. Raising her arm, she made as if to strike her twin. Raising his own, he grasped her hand, denying her the pleasure. ''You are despicable! You are contemptible! You are…'' she hissed, trying to pull away. She couldn't.
''I am your twin, 'genie.'' Morrissey almost chuckled. '' So we're not that much different, not you and I. And being that much alike you already know I will never be dissuaded from reaching my goals. Do you have any idea how very simple, how very common and conventional my goals are? I want my sole, surviving son as far away from here, from you and from the Company as it's possible to send him. I want his livelihood safeguarded, as well as his life. And I want no interference, none of any kind, ever with his inheritance.
And, actually, sister, all these are things, I've already accomplished. Neddy is gone, Twin. He's nowhere you will ever find him. And for the last, which I know may somewhat disappoint you, Neddy's inheritance is completely out of my hands, and even farther out of yours. You'll recall the bequests our late father made as regards any and all of our progeny?
I thought so, it's likely another reason you hate my son. Well, drawing from that, trusts have been created, blind trusts for the most part, to which neither you nor I will have access. In fact, Eugenie, starting now, you will never have an instant's access to Neddy's person, to his schooling, to his trusts or to his future. Moreover, if you in any way, ever attempt to harm the least hair on my only son's head, I will see you in prison, or I will see you dead, my dearest Twin.''
''And I'll see you in hell!' ' she cried out, backing away.
''That's as may be. I don't really have much interest in an afterlife. Well, come, Eugenie, aren't you going to ask me what I will do, what I have done, in exchange for Neddy's safety?''' Lee Henry asked her, releasing his hold on the madwoman.
' What, then? 'Do you propose to become a hostage for my good behavior, Lee Henry?'' she laughed, a touch hysterical.
''No, I propose to go on, as I have for three years now, shielding you legally. I propose to ensure there is not one scintilla of evidence, linking you to the Company and it's various sorties. And I propose to keep you from making those first two impossible. In other words, dearest Twin, you will stay here while the final sortie of your grand endeavors is taken to its' conclusion. This last 'endeavor', if you are to remain 'above the fray' and off of a gallows, will remain in my hands and in my hands alone.'' Morrissey finished and gave her a taut smile.
''Have you gone stark, raving mad, now, brother-mine?'' Pascale shrieked.
''It's entirely possible I have, sister-mine.'' Morrissey nodded, knowing his calm affect infuriated her. '' I can't say I'd be surprised to find I have lost my wits entirely by this time.''
''Well, Twin, let me assure you, you have!'' Pascale scowled. '' I'm to stay here? I'm to wait here like some medieval countess or duchess while you keep me legally sheltered? I'm to take no active part in the culmination, as you said yourself of three years toil? Well, you are patently insane, you are mad, sir! I will not be denied the final sortie! I will not suddenly turn into a biddable, brainless, female, brother. And I will never be cheated of my Neddy's revenge!
You, you say you christened your youngest in that way to honor my Neddy? No! You have no shred of honor in your entire person! Worse, you have no respect for our Glorious Dead! And worse still, you have no concept, it now appears, of righteous retribution, in a case where your own brother, your own flesh and blood cries out from his grave for true vengeance, true justice at last! Well, sir, I hereby disown you entirely!
You may leave my home and my Company, forthwith! I have no need in either one for traitors or sentimental cowards, ever. Your Neddy, your only surviving son, you say, your sudden descent into some nightmare involving your paternity would be comical, brother if it were not so complete a fraud! I care not where your whelp' s gone off to, brother. I care not one whit where either of you go! But be assured, I will be riding westward come morning. Be assured I will avenge my brother, my Neddy, on the man who demonstrably caused his untimely death! ''
''genie', you read Neddy's journals as many times as I, perhaps more often.'' Morrissey said, as quietly as she was loud, when she stopped railing.
'' And having read his own words, you know it was the drugs he was given for his pain and anguish, and those drugs alone that killed Neddy, And in this we agree,he was lost long before his time. And when you are calm and reasonable, Eugenie, you know this as well as I, it was the Conflict that took our younger brother, as it took three of my four fine, strong, gallant, exceptional sons, Daniel Eamon, Jeremy Beauvais and Andrew Darcy, as it took so many others. The only difference was, we thought to have Neddy home, safe and sound, once he got out of hospital.
But he was never again safe or sound. And we have, or more precisely I have, Twin, waded in blood to the tops of my lower extremities, waded in blood and madness these past three years, sister-mine to learn for you what you demanded to know. I have the blood of nearly thirty young men and women, and some elders, Eugenie, on my hands, because you had to know who took Neddy to that hospital, probably thinking to save his life. ''
'' NO! NO! '' she screamed. '' No one in their right mind would think such a place had any such capacity! No, Neddy, my Neddy, was carted into that damnable place, that so-called hospital in Atlanta, and abandoned there, Lee Henry! He was taken into that nightmarish place! Neddy was too ill. He was given no choice by his so called comrades! And he was subjected to terrible things, all in the name of getting him well!
We knew better, we knew how many boys died in those awful places! '' Pascale shouted, past weeping, past anything but raging.
''Neddy was to come home to us, not to go anywhere near those pestholes. He was to come home! But for reasons I've never comprehended our Neddy's comrades in arms gave our boy not into the welcoming arms of his family, but into the bloodied hands of strangers! And knowing all that and what transpired afterwards, you still would deny me and thus deny Neddy and our family, our just recompense? Well, Twin, you should truly know me and know me far, far better than that!
I will ride from Cheyenne, tomorrow. I will learn, brother-mine if you actually have made the preparations you claim. And I will exact revenge on the man who ensured how and where my Neddy would die! I will repay with interest the man you failed to find or to bring to my hand. And when I have done, that man, that Jess Harper will understand fully, in his own person, and in the minutest detail what he did to my Neddy. And then, my dearest, most cherished Neddy will, finally, know honor and peace. ''