Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N-Special thanks to my beta, LisaCA707 for her betaing help! Here's a cup of coffee for ya, babe! The word "Texian" is the correct spelling, according to Wikipedia. I'm sure I've made plenty of historical errors, but I'll live with it. This is the entry that I submitted to einfachmich and writersouixchef for Fics for Nashville.
Jasper Masen- 1836
Our life was complete Texas. Our farm, the open range, the horses, the livestock, everything was perfect. My sisters had been married off to other local Americans who had come south past the US/Mexico border to claim land after the Louisiana Purchase.
It all came to an end in 1835 when General Antonio López de Santa Anna abolished the Constitution of 1824 and made a new government. To call it unpopular would be an understatement. Being fifteen at the time, I decided to run away from home to defend my family and America by joining General Sam Houston in the Texian Army. At first, no one would let me serve, seeing as I was so young I didn't even have peach fuzz on my face. I used my vocabulary and eloquence that Ma made me learn and before I knew it, I had convinced the other men that I was man enough for the Texian Army. I was offered $24 cash to serve for the year, eight-hundred acres of land most importantly, citizenship in the Republic of Texas. But, the funding was short and little of it ever came through.
We were allowed to come and go as we pleased. I served during Christmas, and after fighting, I went home to visit my family who lived right outside San Antonio.
I was welcomed home like the Prodigal Son that February of 1836. My little brother Edward had grown almost a foot and had gotten stronger. He had had cholera over Christmas, but survived. My sisters, Bree and Susan, came over to see me from their husband's lands once our workers carried the news. They brought their children to see their uncle.
Ma, Bree and Susan had just served the most delicious supper I had ever eaten that night.
We were simply sitting out on the front porch in the evening darkness, Pa and me smoking tobacco pipes to ward off the mosquitos, Ma, Bree and Susan were sewing, and Edward was playing the piano in the parlour while the children played with dolls in the dim lantern light. It was a beautiful night- the Texas sky was filled with stars, the land going on for miles and miles as the moon came up, the sound of the livestock rustling behind the house.
That's when we saw them- a group of drunken Mexican soldiers stealing through our land on horseback, screaming like wild Indians.
I knew it was an attack. This was a war, after all- soldiers lived off whatever land they came across, even if they had rape and steal to get it. I sent my sisters, mother, nephews and nieces into the house to hide in the basement, and Pa got out our rifles.
Edward's hands shook as Pa handed him the rifle, but he didn't refuse. We blew out all the candles and gaslamps and lanterns, waiting for them. Pa gave a rifle to Ma, but that was only a last resort. They hid away in the basement hoping we'd get rid of them before they got in the house. Ma wasn't exactly a sharp-shooter.
We heard the sound of drunken laughter and saw the livestock let out of their pens. Our heifer was even be lead out. They'd slaughter her and destroy our calves for the next year.
I loaded my shotgun and took a deep breath. They were coming for the house. I don't really remember who fired the first shot, Pa or them, but before I realized it, they'd found us. We were outnumbered three to eight.
I ran to get my horse, hoping mobility would aid me against them once they got into the house. There was screaming- and I knew they had gotten to the women.
I remember feeling sick for a moment, realizing how terrible this could be- and then the house was then lit on fire.
I saw my little niece run out, screaming, but one of the soldiers shot her.
My heart broke. Like a man possessed, I took a shot from my horse, and struck the Mexican's head. A few came after me, and I realized I had to reload- fast.
Right as they got to me, I heard a gunshot.
Edward stood there, his hands shaking, holding the rifle. A Mexican was coming up behind him, about to hit him with a feed bag that contained heavy, probably metal objects, and I took that moment to shoot.
After a few minutes of firing and shouting, the smoke cleared- I was alive, but six of the Mexicans were lying dead, the house and the barn alight in flames, and the animals were running away. The last two Mexicans had escaped.
I found Edward in a tree, holding his rifle. I climbed up into the tree with him and we waited until dawn to see if they'd come back with reinforcements.
As the sun came up that morning, the fire died out. We sorted through the ashes of the house to see the charred bodies of what we assumed to be our parents. Our nephews and nieces had been killed as well, but we never found the bodies of our sisters. We could only assume they had been kidnapped by the Mexicans and probably killed later.
Edward was silent the entire night, in shock.
I took him by the shoulders and shook him. "Edward," I said. "Listen to me."
His eyes finally met mine, his chin trembling. "What do we do, Jasper?" he asked in a shaky voice.
What could I tell him? "We have to bury the bodies first," I said. "And then..." And then what? I could not even guess. "And then we go back to Sam Houston's Army. You'll come with me."
"I'm joining the Army?" he asked. "I'm only thirteen!"
"In the times of peace, you're still a boy. In the times of war... you're old enough to be a soldier." I reminded him. His face paled. "We have to stay together," I reminded him. "I'll keep you in my unit until... until this war is over. And then... Then we'll go west. They need men outwest. Josiah Thomas is planning to take people out to the California territory once this is over here in Texas. We'll be all right, brother."
We gathered what little was left and packed our satchels on the horses. I showed Edward the way back to Sam Houston's Army to finish the Texian Independence War.
Dr. Carlisle Cullen- 1845
Everything was perfect- the perfect ball, the perfect party, the perfect couple.
Only I stood alone, watching as the unmarried girls were whisked away by the men on their dance cards. Despite all the subtle hints, I had not signed for a single spot card at all tonight.
The band stopped and began playing a waltz.
I saw her at the top of the grand staircase.
Esme Platt had been my patient four years ago at age thirteen, one of my first. A twisted leg, she had been climbing a tree, lost her grip and had fallen out. Luckily, it wasn't broken. She had matured into a beautiful young woman. And tonight was her engagement party.
I had heard rumors about Charles Evenson around town. Small towns held a lot of rumors. That shy, quiet Esme was being married off to Charles because her father was in such debt, a marriage of his daughter was his only way to get out- even if she was married off to a drunken brute with a violent reputation. Arthur Platt was in debt and the entire town knew, but never spoke of it. It was no one's business if she was a financial pawn. I knew I was the last person that it mattered to, but, she still meant something to me.
Miss Esme may have lacked in external beauty and charm- but underneath that, she was attractive in a quiet way. She had good manners and would make a good wife. Yet, there were much prettier girls that weren't married yet at this party with rapidly filling dance cards. I still needed to sign myself onto their dance cards for later tonight before they were completely filled. Everyone asked me why I hadn't married yet at age twenty-nine, yet I told them I had adventures waiting for me. I didn't know what they were, but I went to sleep at night, dreaming about the places I'd visit, the paths I'd forge.
I watched as Charles took her arm and led her around the dance floor. She missed a few steps, and I swore, as they spun past me, that he was squeezing her arm quite uncomfortably.
I needed to ask a young, unmarried lady to dance before Captain Barrett dragged me into a mind-numbing conversation about building houses on the backs of the Irish in this town, that would work for less than a Black.
Miss Scarlett Hambliss was standing alone. She was quite sad-looking and unattractive. I knew she needed to be asked for once. "Miss Scarlett?" I asked properly as Captain Barrett was walking in my direction. "Would you like to dance?"
Her face lit up. Of course. I offered my hand and she picked up enough of her skirt so the hem was slightly off the floor.
The band began to play and I took her towards the middle, she continually stepped on my toes. Miss Scarlett obviously had not taken enough dance lessons. She was only thirteen. She had time to learn.
I caught a glance at Charles and his fiancée. He was still gripping her arm so tightly that I wouldn't be surprised if she were bruised under her wedding gown in the morning.
"Thank you, Miss Scarlett," I said as the music ended.
"My pleasure, Dr. Cullen," she said. "I've got a few spaces on my dance card left."
"I'll come back later, just in case," I said, lifting her hand to kiss her fingers.
I had no intention of dancing with her again. My toes could not take it.
I followed a few men down to the patio where they were smoking their pipes while Captain Barrett was droning on. "It's inevitable; we'll gain the west, out to the Pacific. We just need to push those troublesome Injuns back up North and out of the way, just like those Spaniards. And then we'll be free to take over, from coast to coast. Manifest Destiny, it's called."
Sometimes I wondered if the Indians were as terrible as everyone said they were and if we could live together in peace and harmony. I decided this was not the conversation for me.
I went in the butler's pantry and down the hallway. I heard a low voice just slightly over the din of noise from the ballroom.
"... And you can trust the next time you speak to me out of turn, I will cut your tongue out."
I could see through the crack of the door- the young Miss Esme was pressed up against the wall, Charles was pinching her jaw and still holding her arm. "A silent woman is the best kind of woman," he continued. "Stay that way!" He let go of her, just to slap a hand across her face.
In the dim gas lamp, I could see the fear flash in her eyes as she gasped. The flush of her breathing was so loud as he pressed her jaw against the wall. I wanted to intervene, but I was frozen.
He was to be her husband. I didn't know the whole story. But then again, she was a quiet, gentle soul. How had she offended him? Women were to be kept in their place and serve their husbands, but he was threatening her. I tried to remember the Bible passages Father had insisted I learn as we worked around his church. A woman was to be treasured above her husband's own life, just as much as she was to serve and please her husband. Wasn't she?
I stepped back and the floor squeaked under the weight under my feet. His head turned. Caught.
"Not a word," he whispered.
The door flew open and Charles was standing, holding Esme's hand. The girl looked flushed and embarrassed, much like I felt.
"Dr. Cullen," he said, giving me a jovial smile.
"I'm sure the entire party is looking for the guests of honor." It was the best lie I could come up with, as if I hadn't seen a thing.
"I was just having a conversation with my fiancée," he said. "We must always keep our women in order, shouldn't we? Just getting a head start with Miss Esme."
I nodded. "Of course."
He took the girl by the hand, tugging her roughly. She would not meet my eyes. "We must be going. You'll be at the wedding tomorrow?"
I was left alone in the hallway.
Miss Esme was scared of him. That was no way to live her life. And we were all standing idly by as this brute terrorized her.
As the music continued, the spirits flowed and Charles Evenson and his friends became more boisterous together, talking about what to do with a wife.
My childhood had been kind, I never once witnessed my father harming my mother. It had been a difficult choice when I became a doctor and chose not follow the family business and become a minister. My father had almost written me out of his will. I hardly received anything at the time of his death. Most of the goods in our family to the Church, to my brother and to my cousins.
Women like Miss Esme were not in control. She was middle class, and with her father's reputation for poor business sense, they would shift down in class if she did not go through with this marriage and the entire family would risk being sent to the workhouse. I felt some regret for her situation- always dependent on a husband.
It was getting late. Miss Esme would be going to bed to wake up early in the morning for her mother and cousins to get her dressed in a white gown and for her father to walk her down the aisle to a new life with a man who was willing to handle her so horribly. She was such a sweet girl. So good.
The band was slowing down and the lamps were dimming. This was getting late for the young girls. They needed to get to bed for the wedding tomorrow. It was the big event in town tomorrow. I wished I knew what would happen to innocent little Esme Platt.
"Pardon me, Dr. Cullen. I was wondering if you'd... if you'd ask me to dance?"
I turned to see who was making such a bold admission. Miss Esme was standing behind me, her eyes cast to the floor, cheeks crimson. If anyone had heard her, she would be ruined.
"Miss Esme," I said. "Would you dance with me?"
Her face paled as I held out my hand. She took in a deep breath and placed her hand in mine, holding out her dance card.
How had she summoned up the courage to do such a thing? I would not speak a word of her asking me to dance, but if anyone else knew of it, she'd be shunned. Charles would likely kill her for daring to speak to me out of turn.
"You know that if anyone heard you, you'd be ruined," I said as we took step with the music.
"Yes," she said, her dark eyes looking up into mine.
Her tongue darted over her lower lip. "It was easier," she said. "I wanted to dance with you all night."
I realized that her feet hadn't touched my toes yet tonight. For all my misgivings about disrupting her marriage, I saw that she could dance very well. She'd never dance again in this society if he took her as his wife. Her feet would be as good as broken.
"Do you want to get married tomorrow?" I asked.
"Honestly?" she asked. "No. Not to him."
My heart ached at that moment. It was edging on breaking for her. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said. "Anyone but him."
"Why are you telling me this?"
She bit her lower lip. There was a long silence between them. Was it because she wished I had been the one to court her? Instead of this conveniently arranged marriage to a bastard like Charles Evanson?
"Because you have kind eyes, Dr. Cullen," she whispered.
"Miss Esme, you must understand that I cannot dance with you," I said. "You're engaged."
She pressed her lips together and drew her gaze away from mine.
"Miss Esme," I whispered. "If you change your mind... for any reason... I'll be in your back garden waiting for you."
"You will?" she cried. "When?"
I glanced at the clock. "At two. If you want to go with me," I said. "I've been wanting to go out West since the first wagon trains departed- I read about it in the newspapers."
"Yes, I want to see the Pacific Ocean. Come with me? We'll bot have to work hard, but you'll want for nothing."
The music ended and we had to applaud the band.
"Please- leave a lamp burning in your window if you want to come with me. Miss Esme, I see how Charles treats you. I'd never speak to you like that. You have a choice."
Her lips pressed together. "All right," she said. "Meet me."
I waited in silence behind the treeline at the Platt's house. The yard was tiny and tidy and my hand was shaky as I pulled my pocketwatch out on the chain to check it in the moonlight. Five minutes until two. The party had continued until eleven before the guests were escorted out to their carriages.
I did not want to watch this innocent girl exchange vows with this horrific man. He'd crush everything out of her; every dream, everything she could be would be destroyed. But, I had done my part and opened a gate for her. If she came with me, it was going to change her entire path.
I checked my watch again. It was one minute until two.
Please. Put the lamp in the window. I'll take you away.
I fidgeted for a moment and saw it.
A gas lamp was lit by a single match in the upper right hand window on the second floor. I saw a glimpse of Miss Esme in the moonlight. She was watching out her window, waiting for me.
The window slid open and Miss Esme's head appeared.
"Can you get out?" I asked.
She glanced around and nodded. "My trunk is packed. It's in the parlour, ready to go to Charles's."
"I'll come up to help," I said. "Let me in."
She closed her window and the lantern was blown out.
As she came downstairs, I realized something- I would have to make her my wife so we could go to Independence City together. It wouldn't matter so much as we cross the Plains, but she was so young, her reputation would be ruined if we made our way to the Pacific together. The only way I knew to do it was to go to a justice of the peace in the next town over, come morning. Just stealing away with me in the night was enough. I had to make her an honest woman. I wondered if she knew this and was all right with marrying me. Of course, she had asked me to dance, very boldly. She called my eyes 'kind.' I swore I'd marry a Spaniard's daughter when I got to the Pacific, but could she possibly be- could she ever be in love with me? It seemed cruel to me to marry someone you didn't love, but I could love her, I realized. Why else would I have asked her to run away with me?
In that long moment of waiting, she opened the back door for me, letting me in. She and I went to the parlour, where her trunk was. "Let me help you," she whispered. I tried to lift the trunk on my own, but it was entirely too heavy. I let her pick up her end of the trunk and we took it out the back door to my waiting carriage very slowly so as not to wake her family. Her family had no idea and I certainly didn't want to make them aware of it by making unnecessary noise.
"Are you ready to do this?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "I'll go with you. Anywhere, Dr. Cullen."
"Carlisle," I said. "Call me Carlisle."
"Carlisle," she said. She took my arm boldly. "Just call me Esme. Let's go out west- have an adventure."
I whipped the horse reins and the carriage was set in motion.
George Brandon- 1945
Everything I had had in New Orleans was gone. Our shop where I fashioned wagon wheels had gone up in flames, destroying my chances at a living. My second wife had buried three babies, and two of my three remaining children ran away to join Sam Houston's Texian Army to become heroes in 1935. They both died in combat.
All that was left was my wife and my only remaining daughter, the apple of my eye, my little angel, my Mary Alice.
When I could no longer pay the mortgage on our house, my wife, Lydia and I decided this was it. We took the last of our money, sold our house and a majority of our possessed and took a train up to Missouri Country, to Independence City with our last remaining child.
Mary Alice was a small handful. She had been sickly and ill as a child, yet she had survived. The first moment I held this little one after she was born, she smiled for me and I knew she was my little girl. She had grown up, and we kept her in the house to keep her from getting injured or sick, and she had come to love sewing and reading. She was quite witty and sometimes sarcastic, which a paddle cured her of early on, but it was always there.
We arrived in Independence City, MO in December of 1945, and I worked in shop as a wheelmaker so I could inquire about going out West. There were several Party Leaders, asking for eighty dollars a head to lead West. Eighty dollars was a lot of money. Some of them seemed like sideshow barker, but I didn't side with them.
One of the other men in the shop, a man named Swan, had three children and was looking to go West for a while. Like me, he was wary of the Party Leaders, yet we became friends.
Charles Swan was a Police Constable in Missouri before the Indians had raided his town and burnt it to the ground, killing one of his children last summer. He took his wife and children up to Independence in hopes he'd find a reliable Party Leader to bring him out to the Pacific. We became good friends and decided we'd take our families together.
A few others in Independence City banded together with us. A farmer boy from Tennessee named McCarty and his wife, a Catholic from Ireland who was with child.
One morning after church, a pair of brothers from Josiah Thomas's expedition were in the chapel. It was the talk of the town after the party had been pretty much slaughtered by Creek Indians, yet these two boys had survived.
"George," Lydia said that night in our hotel room. "I've been speaking with the other ladies, and they tell me those boys from the Thomas Expedition are going to lead a Wagon Party to the Pacific!"
"Do you really think two boys could take us? If I were them, I'd never go back out that way again after what I've heard," I said.
"They know the lands," she said. "Which territory is Creek, which is Lakota, they know. They can keep us safe on the trail."
"We don't even know if they're taking anyone, dear," I said.
"It never hurts to ask," Lydia said. "I always tell Mary Alice that the only silly question is the one never asked."
The last second, a Doctor from New York State arrived with his young wife and was looking for a party to head out west with. Charles found them one afternoon inquiring about wagon costs.
"We need a good doctor on the trail," Charles said. "He'd be a good addition to the party."
"We're not taking just anybody," I said. "We haven't found a single Party Leader that's not charging less than sixty a head. Beggars can't be choosers."
"Renée heard about a pair of brothers. Ones that were in the Josiah Thomas Party," Charles said. "She wants me to ask them to lead us. Offer them fifty dollars a head."
"We hardly know these brothers!"
"We hardly knew you," Charles said. "Yet we're friends, now."
"Do you think they're trustworthy?" I asked.
"I do. Let's approach them with our offer."
We found the two Brothers- by the name of Masen- in the Inn, eating supper.
"Pardon our interrupting your meal," I began. "But my name is George Brandon, of the Brandon Wheelmakers in New Orleans. I'm representing a party of settlers who wish to go out west, we're looking for guides. We heard the two of you were part of the Josiah Thomas party."
The blond one raised his eyes to look at me. "Sit down, join us for a meal, Mr. Brandon."
"Thank you kindly. This is my friend and fellow party member, Charles Swan. We're looking to go to the Pacific."
"The Pacific?" the boy with the rust-colored hair snorted. "The Spanish threw us out and sent us home."
"Not all of it," the blond said. "They're losing area. The Oregon territory is going to be annexed by the US from England. We're already claiming the area between the 42nd and 54th parallels, although England just can't give it up."
"Can you take us there?" I asked, remembering hearing Fifty-four Forty or fight! in the papers. "We'll pay a fair price."
"We are interested in your offer. The name's Jasper Masen, and this is my brother, Edward. It's nice to meet you both."
"What are you offering?" Edward asked.
"We'd like for you to take us out there for fifty dollars a head," I said.
Both the Masens laughed. "Fifty dollars a head? Surely you jest, sir," Edward said.
"No, we are not," I said. "We just need a guide. I'm a master wheelmaker, and Charles is quite experienced as well. We could work off the difference on the trail."
"Most are asking fifty-five," Jasper pointed out. "And they don't even know the trail."
"We do," Edward said. "We're worth at least sixty a head. At least. But that's insulting to us."
"Fifty-two a head," Charles said.
I turned in surprise. "Fifty-two?" I repeated.
"Yes," Charles said.
"Fifty-eight," Jasper said.
"Fifty-five is our final offer," Charles said. "Or we'll find someone else."
The brothers exchanged a glance. "Fifty-five it is," Jasper said.
"We've have a deal," Charles said.