The Man Who Saved Christmas! page 3
by: Robert Yance Newton
Like a giant Jack-O-Lantern in the snowy night, the orphanage loomed ahead of him. Lantern light brightened every window. But Hambone dismounted at a distance and tied off his horse. From there he snuck, cautiously, through the snow, under cover of brush and trees, toward the old homestead.
Inside the barn, Virgil woke, head throbbing, tied to the same post as the two US Cavalrymen. Virg was gagged to silence, with Bad Bob's own handkerchief. The fancy red one that he wore. It was an Outlaw-Mask, for "special" occasions, such as parades, ribbon-cuttings, newspaper interviews and such as that. That Bob had used it as a gag, proved to Virgil Newton that Bad Bob Bobbit was growing desperate!
"Stop! Stop!" 'Widda-Maker' was screaming as he clamored to the seat again. "Stop ya derned fool!"
By the time Pid realized there was no "hold-up" and that 'Widda-Maker' had wanted him to merely stop..., the team was in an all-out, white-eyed run..., unstoppable! There was only one thing to do.
Pid leaped from the wagon seat to the closest horses back. Then carefully made his way toward Jake the team leader. Hanging on for dear life, it was the only chance to stop the horses. It's a fact, Pid Newton risked his life for the orphans presents that night. When, finally at Jake's back, between the lead teams rear ends, he leaped. It was a desperate thing Pid Newton did, trying to make it to old Jake's back. But he did it! Sorta!
'Widda-Maker' Thorndike watched it all. Pid was up on old Jake's back, then over his shoulder, then off into the snow! Pid had over-shot the horse!
Well, the wagon rocketed past him as Pid rolled head-long through the snow, in his Santa suit.
"Oww! Ouch! Yaaa!" 'Widda-Maker' heard him yelling but could be of no help to Pid now. The reins were lost to the Marshall. They were on the ground trailing in the snow behind the run-away horses.
If it hadn't been for the sudden arrival of 'Miz Glenda' and 'Lady N', all would have been lost. Even the General and his men, who were in hot pursuit, admitted that.
The women overtook the Conestoga, riding side-saddle, in flowing dresses and cloaks, catching, then slowing, and finally stopping the awkward over-sized wagon. Then the General and the soldiers came, surrounding them all.
"It's all right Lieutenant!" the General called out. "Just some run-aways!" Then he turned to the women as J.T. Thorndike shakily dismounted the wagon.
"Splendid job ladies. I just can't believe I saw what I saw." He commented. "Where did you come from?" He was astonished.
"We've come for Bad Bob Bobbit! He owes us some money. And we aim to get it!" 'Miz Glenda' smiled innocently.
"We are the nannys to his son, Bad Bob Bobbit the Second! And he owes us a years wages!" 'Lady N' said.
"Our sister is caring for the boy at our home on the Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, while we come to demand our money!" She concluded.
"He knows we're here and he's hiding out from us." 'Miz Glenda' put in. "So we figured to catch him at his job." Then it was a quivering voice they heard.
"Well..., looks like everthin' is awright." Marshall Thorndike said as he shakily walked from around the back of the wagon, where he had gone to relieve himself, after the harrowing ride.
"Good thing Virg took that wooden Indian over to the orphanage yestidy. It would have broken sure. Er fallen out! Never would a made that ride!" He said.
"Well..., " General LaMont took over. "Where's Pid?"
"Feared he's dead Gen..., " the Marshall began.
"I ain't dead ya derned fool! Why'd ya go ta yellin' 'hold-up' fer?" Pid was bruised, his britches torn and he was snow-wet all over. "Ya shoulda just said stop!" Dressed in what was left of his Santa suit, he stormed toward the knot of people at the wagon.
Back at the orphanage, Hambone Hackman had captured, one by one, all of Bad Bob's men. He had freed Virgil Newton and the captive soldiers, with a plan. So, by the time the toy wagon finally pulled into the yard, Hambone was ready.
Everyone in the house was asleep but for Willa..., and Bad Bob, who now held her captive.
"Outside!" Bob snarled. Pointing his silver .44 at her.
The surprise was sudden. Bob came out holding Willa as a four hundred-fifty pound shield, holding the silver plated .44 at the ready.
"Everbody, drop yer guns!" Bob gruffly ordered. Surprised, to a man, they did as Bob ordered.
"Boys! C'mon out!" He hollered. But there were no "boys" and no sound either.
"C'mon out boys!" Bob waited. Then, growing impatient, "Aly, Aly Auction Free!" He hollered finally..., half-mad.
"There ain't no boys, Bob!" It was Hambone Hackman. He came from around the side of the house. "Except these!" Then Virgil Newton, and the soldiers, each came out from their positions to show themselves. Bad Bob was surrounded.
"You owe us, Bob!" 'Miz Glenda' was mad. "You let that poor woman go and pay up!" Off her horse she came and stormed right at Bob. All five-foot-four, one hundred pounds of her. Shaking an angry finger and flashing angry eyes.
"Pay up. You dead-beat bum!" 'Lady N' was off her mount and storming his way also.
Bob backed up toward the only opening left to him. Toward the wagon shed.
"We've raised little Bob, and doctored him, and loved him for you, Robert Bobbit. And you owe us. He's your child!" 'Miz Glenda' grabbed Willa's big arm.
"Let her go so I can talk to you!" She demanded and, Glory be..., Bob did!
"Now, Sis!" He pleaded. Watching each now, with frightened eyes."You're my sisters..., it's your job!" He sniveled. "I've had a run a bad luck!" He claimed as the women backed him up. "Yew girls has gotta realize...!"
It was at the wagon shed that it happened.
Bob felt it, hard at his back and it stopped him in his tracks. The feel, like a cold hard gun barrel, made him raise his hands and drop his gun in the snow.
"It's over Bob!" Hambone Hackman said sternly from the yard.
"It's over Robert!" Said 'Lady N' seriously, gently.
"Your dern-tootin it is!" Said 'Miz Glenda'.
So Bob and his boys spent Christmas in jail that year. Bob was finally arrested. But only because, he thought that carved-out wooden Indian, that Virgil had left in the wagon shed, had been someone holding a gun to his back. But it was only a wooden finger pointing West!
Well, the orphans had the best Christmas ever, with gifts galore. And Om got better in time.
Om and Willa's orphanage was saved by the donations of cash from the generous folks from all over the area.
Pid Newton did play Santa, even though his outfit was torn and dirty from the leap over the horse's back, and the kids gave "Santa" all the sympathy he deserved.
'Miz Glenda' and 'Lady N' sold the gang's horses to Hambone Hackman, to pay-up Bad Bob's back child support. Then they left on the first ship back to San Francisco.
The Conestoga, of course was damaged, so yes..., Virgil got to "keep both pieces," as promised. Though it cost him $50.00.
General Elgee LaMont was promoted and sent back East to Washington. Though he left his heart with Willa.
And Hambone Hackman, the used wagon salesman, went down in local history as the man who saved Christmas.
Merry Christmas To All Of You God Bless!
(And..., Thanks, Hambone!)