Fictional Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897):
Different Journeys, Of A Sort
August 6, 1880
Me and the Mrs. just got back from a just less than 2 month trip in which we went to her birthplace in Denmark. and later to her paternal grandparent's home in Maastricht. The old battleaxe, her mother, is breathin' fire because I wouldn't take her and pay for her to come along on the trip. My sentiments was to take that dang mother-in-law to Denmark and leave her thar', but the old Norse fisherman might have mistook her blow and harpooned her for a whale. (But don't tell the wife I said so.)
In fact, just before the trip me and the Mrs. had words regardin' her mother, and I was perfectly content to spend my last $1500 from rewards and savin's I collected that I was savin' here in the States for the kids and any needs they had while we was gone, I was willin' to spend all that just to buy the wife's mother a very nice small place that she could manage herself for up to $500 gold in Denmark, pay $200 in advanced taxes, and leave her the rest or $800 and say "Good Riddance", as I get tired of her blamin' me for not payin' to send her and her whole family back to Denmark, as if I had 20 times what I've got.
While I enjoyed seein' Denmark, after a brief day and night stop in London with some sight-seein' first, still I really enjoyed seein' Denmark by rail car with the wife snuggled close in for near the whole way, and then visitin' her Danish family awhile before driftin' about to see how the town and harbor was.
I was taken aback at how curious they was of a stranger, especially one from the States dressed the way I was: normal, unlike these gazin' harbor foreigners who seemed more dressed for whale huntin' and blubberin' than just normal fishin'. I found myself havin' difficulty communicatin' as alot of the fisherman wonderin' who I was, as so many of them seemed to speak a real old Germanic dialect I wasn't familiar with. Apparently, the language some of these fishermen from the islands and Jutland was usin' was itself dated back as far as the Vikings, I came to find out. Luckily, Lars the Blacksmith and my Mrs. and her late father (when he was alive) taught me just enough Norwegian to make myself understood, and they also used that Norwegian language to make themselves known to me, although more than half the time I had no idea what they was talkin' about and didn't quite make out so many of the words, even after gettin' the rhythm pattern they was speakin' in. Even a big 7 foot 2 inch giant Swede did the same in comin' over and speakin' to me in Norwegian and happily makin' himself my new friend, and we were only able to functionally abide in communicatin' by way of Norway. The palm of his hand was so big, I thought it was almost as big as my whole face when he held it out in front of me and said somethin' about his callouses and knowin' the wife's uncle by way of his business at the wharf. (He had seen me and the Mrs. greet them, and one of their family had already passed the word before we arrived that we was comin'.) In fact, these Danish and other nationalities of fishermen accepted me so well, afore I knew it, I was crowded in and grabbed and pushed into a bar, and soon found myself buyin' near 30 of them 5 or 6 rounds of drinks (and the giant Swede near 20 steins of beer he glugged down in just under a half an hour all by hisself) before I could wrest my way out from those overly friendly folk slappin' and rubbin' up against me with their fish slime.
Of course, I came back nose clogged up, red faced tryin' and red nosed from constantly blowin' my nose out, smellin' like fish and booze (even though I only had perhaps a sip of just one drink of Schnapps, which the rest of it spilled all over me as they slapped my back red), and the wife saw red. She got hold of a more than 20 pound fish that someone in her family just brought home and left on a barrel in front of the place, and did she let me have it: first with a cricket swing in the mouth and cheek that picked me right up off my feet and back another 5 or more down onto my rump! What little I do remember after that whack upside the mouth with that big foul tastin' slimy fish, was that as soon as my back end hit the ground, I looked up and she was wieldin' it like a sword, following through with a couple quick steps even as she half eight circular motioned it round and over her head, and like some sort of Viking Warrior Queen crashed it down so hard on my head, all I know is the next mornin', I was already bathed and redressed and on a train goin' to another set of her relatives who recently moved from thar' and south to a part of the Country taken over by Prussia some decades earlier or somethin'. All I know fer sure is that it almost took me 3 days to come full back to my senses to know more than half of where I was and what was goin' on around me. The swellin' knot on top of my head was near 3 inches high, and her relatives kept wantin' to treat it and nick-name me the "knot-head" of the family.
Then after less than 2 day later, we made our way to Holland, and visited the wife's Dutch grandfather, whom I thought I got along real well with. He was of the old Dutch Guard, and a Garrison Commander or somethin' at one point for King William I. But that part of Holland called Limburg thought themselves somewhat more akin to Belgium, but this was where the wife's paternal grandparents moved after havin' come from family livin' at the dikes and windmills outside Amsterdam at various towns and settlements along the ocean for 300 years and more.
While the wife's father's father and me was out shootin' the breeze, walkin' up a small road through a field between two woods, we saw this bearded grandfatherly lookin' fella with someone I took to be well along and carryin' child at first to be his grand-daughter, and then the way they was actin', that didn't quite appear to be correct. It was something other than that they was blood kin. She got tired and since I was carryin' a stool for the wife's grandfather, and a large goat wineskin of water with just a touch of wine to make it safe for me to drink, we saw the poor gal get the wobbly legs. So we rushed over and gave her the stool to sit upon, and the Mrs. grandfather produced two collapse-able silver cups, and I poured them both 4 or 5 cups as we talked a while. It was one of the nicest and polite chats I've had in quite a long time, and we spake about all sorts of things from the weather, to Holland, to what I saw in Denmark and how life was back in the United States, a bit about the wife and kids, and even a little about the Great War. Somewhere in thar' the gent spoke about baby names, and the young lady says that if it's a boy they will name it Willem, and if it's a girl, she shall be Willemina. They both obviously were extremely happy and had a close bond of happiness just lookin' at one another. I reckon it was close to an hour, if not more, as we enjoyed a very soft and comfortably partly cloudy and fine sunny just right in coolness day. Then the wife comes from one direction and bows and curtsies, and stay down with her head bowed. It was the Dutch King, Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk (William II) and his 41 years younger wife, Emma.
The wife's grandfather bowed and begged his majesty's pardon, as the beard was only a recent thing, and he only remembered him with always a clean shaven face and smart mustache. The good king smiled and gently laughed, being happy and fully amused, and touched the Mrs. grandfather and spoke how he had recognized him from many years ago, and on many occasions havin' seen him since when he too was a young man, but could not help findin' not bein' known by him right off so delightful (and I think the good king even said that he even found it "delicious", if I heard him correctly).
Then from out of a wood from one direction, a troop of 20 Cavalry, and from the other another 30 with a horse and carriage from some other place of concealment. He then shook my hand and then gently patted me on the lump still on top of my head and said, "You're a good boy" as he wife gave us a "Bless you" afore they was helped by their military guard and servants and rode off. After he rode off and was long out of earshot, I turned to the wife and her grandfather who were also standin' up, and said, "You hear that? He called me boy! Not a good man, but boy!"
The wife replied, "Well, what do you want ME to do about it? Either stomp your foot now or grow up, I don't care." Then she turned to her grandfather and invited him back to the house, and told me after I called out for her to "Wait" that I was not invited, and to go have supper in Maastricht and be back no later than 2 hours after dark if I know what's good for me. I pulled a sling shot her grandfather and I had just made that earlier that day out of my pocket, and then I grabbed a smooth stone from the other pocket, and I was tempted to aim for the wife's rump. I debated this in my mind for perhaps 20 seconds. But alas, instead, I threw the slingshot and the rest of the smooth stones I had in my pocket away, and then looked at them goin' further and further away.
So I stood thar' and watched as she and her grandfather marched off arm and arm, and when she was out of sight, I went to the big city, and ate at a place where there was nothing but music and singin' of a lot of songs I never knew, and learned a few of. Most all of Maastricht is into Popery or Roman Catholicism. And of all things, I saw a hungry couple of priests who was prayin' for bread or somethin', and bought them not only enough for themselves, but enough to take back to more than 4 others they made hints regardin' to one another. I thought we would be able to talk religion and history, but they wasn't interested as I wasn't "Catholic" I wasn't one of them. But they was at least grateful for the food, and did pray I find my way, or somethin' or other.
I went astray on my bearings, and spent an extra two hours tryin' found my way back to the Mrs. grandfather's place in the dark, and arrived about two hours after midnight, and as the door was bolted shut, I pitched myself a bed in a haystack. I found the wife's homelands fertile and a well-watered green and saw many places for good livin', but I wasn't free like I was back in the States, and I wasn't a block that would fit in the wall of citizenry for either of her childhood countries. And in many ways, I think the wife knew after livin' in the States and becomin' a Citizen through marriage, and bein' free herself, she no longer was totally at home in either place here in Europe as well. She found that by goin' home to a home country most of her closest relatives that she left behind as a child weren't so close to her as they once was, so that home wasn't really home anymore; but it was with me, and the children, and her nearby mother and sisters and brothers and cousins and aunts and uncles and the like. It took her thousands of miles and weeks of travelin' back to find we was her real home now, and at the first, it was very unsettling to her, and took most of the way back home afore she could finally let it all go (in spite of her mother's refusal to do the same). For her to realize this and to settle that down in her mind was worth every penny and every hour we spent away.
We got back to town and settled in, and on the mornin' of August 4th I was back to work as a Deputy Marshal assistin' the town Sheriff, so that Marshal Jackson could also get revenue on the side for arrests I would bring in (usually bein' mostly gamblers and rowdies of all types passin' through).
About 7 in the mornin' I was lecturin' a group of 10 year olds on how NOT to get rid of a bee-hive, such as with the brick. I really don't know how young 'uns get such ideas as the one of them who intended to use a brick on a huge wasp bee-hive from 10 feet away. The wife's mother came by in a carriage and said some things to me in Danish that really set me off. When she laid into profanities, the children saw her rage and flingin' spit as she chewed those words out like she was a mad cow chewing the cuds, and ran away. Then, Sheriff Bond passed me at a trot goin' one direction and the old battleaxe seein' him passin' and lookin' went in the other direction with a vengeance, whippin' the horses furiously, leavin' a trail of dust one would think a witch would leave behind ridin' through the night sky on her broom-stick in a child's tale or somethin'. I was so mad. I fumed there for about half a minute, maybe more. Then, in a fit of rage, I took that brick, and flung it full force right into that wasp's nest fom near 15 feet away. It was a loud crack and a "POP!" sound, and then a huge black cloud with that angry buzzin' hum. I ran like blazes west toward out of town, and hurriedly warned Sheriff Bond "Sink spur! Nest of wild bees a comin'!" He sunk spur, but I guess I outran his horse. Afore I knew it, he was off his horse divin' into a water trough, as his horse was stung to death more than 800 times (I was later told).
About a half hour later, the Marshal himself angrily brought me into court at gunpoint, and a puffy faced Sheriff Bond who was stung 43 times, refusin' as yet to see a doctor, glared at me as he cocked his revolver and kept half-pullin' it from his holster and puttin' it back. Judge Hollister berated me for actin' like an overgrown child in bein' so stupid as to toss a brick at a Wasp nest like I did. Then he gave me 6 suspended sentences, and fined me $100 payable immediately to the Sheriff for the 19 year old horse Sheriff Bond was ridin', another $50 payable to him for any medical expenses and sufferin', and 30 days or $30 for disturbin' his honor's afternoon nap. Although yesterday on August 6th I made the money back gunnin' down 2 rustlers of U.S. Army horses and arrestin' 3 more and collectin' a reward of $50 a head on these, still it would have been nicer to have had a $250 profit than just $70. But I can't complain, as the average field labor earns only about 70 to 75 cents a day, and very few not in business for themselves or card sharps will earn more than 8 or 10 dollars in a good week. After two days the wife has forgiven me, and liberated me of $50 of that $70 profit. Most likely, as I always pay all the bills myself, I'd bet that of the $50 I gave the wife, it's almost all goin' to that old battleaxe who upset me enough to through that dang brick into the Wasps nest in the first place.
-- Deputy B.