Dear Angus - Summertime
by  Sprite


Rating: G

Warnings: None

Summary: Murdochís Letter

Thank you to Cat - who devoted a great deal of time, effort and understanding.

I know I am infringing on someone elses copyright, but I mean it in the best possible way.

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Dear Angus-

            Despite what I may have written before I want you to know, my sons are idiots.  I'm not sure I have the words to express just how absolutely frustrated I am. The only thing I'm grateful for is that I can proudly say I didn't raise these two intellectuals.

            I wouldn't be surprised if the news has spread all the way to Inverness by now.  My sons, my two well respected, open, hard-working children have robbed a train.  I just can't believe that either of them would do anything so amazingly stupid.

            Do you remember when I wrote you about that disaster with Johnny and the stallion and how he almost left home? I admitted that I was as much responsible for that as he was and after a few days of walking on eggshells we worked it out. Things got back to normal and we were again working hard and getting back to the business of business.

            Since then things have been going along well.  Both my sons are well liked in the community, and Johnny had made friends with a family named Poe, who owned a small farm just a few miles down the road. A man named Marks claimed that the ownership of the land was invalid and that he held the rights and was forcing people off their land.

            He was no different than Pardee, only he had a Judge in his pocket and was attempting to make his land grabbing look legal. Johnny was at the P- farm when M-sí men served a notice to evict. Somehow, Johnny and Mr. P- ended up in jail.  It was a minor offence, but Judge Homer Ord, in an attempt to blackmail me, trumped up the charges to attempted murder. All M-s deeds have been proven false and he sits in the county jail awaiting trial. Judge O-ís trial is at the end of the month in Sacramento in Federal Court. Testifying against him is not something I want to do, but something I feel I need to do.  He was once a friend, or so I thought.

            So, my eldest son arranged a jailbreak and the three of them with the help of another man held up a train, blew open a safe, and stole the documents.  Now I'll admit that they brought the papers back to me, and stood up tall as they defended their hair-brained notion of justice over law, but I refuse to admit that I was happy with them.

            I am, however, forced to admit that the boysí delaying tactic was a good idea.  In the long run, not having to untangle the legal mess of those documents having been filed at the county seat made it much easier to solve the problem. However, just once, I'd wish that the two of them weren't so zealous.

            But it all worked out in the long run.  Judge Tolliver determined that there were extenuating circumstances and reduced the charges for stopping the train and the jailbreak to misdemeanors. They both made heartfelt apologies to the court and stood stoically as Judge T- paroled my two road agents into my custody, which I have determined they feel is only a small step better than being locked in a dungeon.

            For sixty days my two sons became effectively house bound.  At first I believe that Johnny had resolved to make me suffer as much for his incarceration as he was.  He spent three days underfoot, asking me to make every little decision for him. It was an amazingly effective form of torture.  Something I'm sure Iain would have dreamed up. I clarified that they were restricted to the ranch not the house and sent them out to clean the chicken coop.

            Scott is more like you.  I'd like to think he's like me, but the truth is he's like you and his mother.  He took his confinement stoically and has made no request to go to town.  Although the night of the Baxter's barn raising I almost caved in and let them go as Scott stood on the front patio and stared quietly down the road. He, however, never said a word and I held my ground. The next thirty days are going to be difficult, as much for me as for them. 

            I am enclosing a copy of the Cattlemen's Association Newsletter with a description of the events. I'm sure you'll get a great deal of amusement out of it and I'm sure that the day after you get it, the news will spread all the way to Aviemore and I can already hear Uncle H- roaring with laughter. 

            Now that I have laid my sorrows on your doorstep let me tell you what else has been going on.

            Teresa has doubled the size of her garden, a matter of necessity, as my sons are about to eat me out of house and home.  I am beginning to believe that Scott has a hollow leg.

            Scott has quite an interest in politics, local, state and national.  Supper in the evening can be a lively affair.  I've only paid attention to politics as it relates to ranching and the local economy, but Scott is much better at seeing the big picture. I never expected Johnny to have much interest in politics, but as he says he's seen it at its worst, now he likes being part of the process.  This year was his first time to vote in an election.  Every night we would sit and discuss the issues and the ramification of each. 

            Johnny can be very astute, and I think his naturally cynical nature makes him look past a politicianís pretty words.  Like a dog with a bone he worried over every ballot and bill until he understood it completely.  After a month of this process, I admit I had changed a half dozen of the votes I was going to make, too.

            We will be expanding the bunkhouse and increasing the forge this year. These two undertakings have needed doing for years, but never seemed to get done.  I've also had to take on the task of hiring crews again.  With Pardee gone the ranch is back in full swing. I have hired everyone on as short help and am letting them compete for the ten winter jobs. 

            Two for sure will be staying, having proved their dedication and loyalty to the ranch and most especially to Scott and Johnny. I hold loyalty very high, and Frank and Walt have a job with me for as long as they want. 

What else is there to tell you?  Business is good and time seems to be flying by.  It seems such a short time ago that I was boarding that boat and sailing half a world away, and now I'm here, with everything I've ever dreamed of and so much more. I think of where I would be if I'd stayed in Scotland and I must admit I never imagine having there what I have here.

         The days are long and the boys get up before first light and are gone as soon as breakfast is off the table.  Most days they don't make it back before dark. They must be home, in their beds each night, but I donít intend to let their work suffer.  I have found that with my sons required to be home at night I have another happy parental indulgence. I watch my children sleep.  I know that this sounds absurd, but I can't help it.

It was easy in the beginning.  Not just the fact that Johnny was medicated practically into unconsciousness, although that did help. But each night I pushed open the bedroom door to my son's room and watched him sleep, illuminated only by the pale moonlight.

         Johnny, at first, with the bullet in his back, accepted my nocturnal vigils.  More than one night he would wake in the early hours and we would sit and quietly talk.  Never of anything of much importance, but it was our time. The early mornings are still our time. We will share a cup of coffee before the day begins, usually on the front patio, and discuss those many minor things we find to talk about.

Scott and I have found our time, too. He was not an early riser before coming here.  He will confess that the only time he ever saw the sunrise was if he hadnít made it to bed yet.  But since coming to the ranch heís mended his ways, although he still struggles out of bed in the early hours.  We have our time after the day is done.  We will sit and discuss most anything, from the ranch to politics to whatever news article has caught his attention.  With regret, I donít let the subject of the past come up. I know I should, but the wounds are too raw for all of us. Itís too soon.

So each day we go on. Johnny and Scott and I. Teresa there, helping, in that way she does, as she has taken over Paulís duties as my voice of reason.  The days are good, Angus. More good days than bad. The summer grasses are high, lush and green.  The rivers, streams and creeks are flowing smoothly.  The herds are getting fat and healthy on that very same grass and clear water. The garden is well maintained and the larder is full. 

Johnny has promised that tonight when they get home he will bring home a brace of some kind of bird.  Iím hoping for pheasant, but I suspect it will be chukar or grouse. 

             I will confess to you that at this stage in my life I am mostly content, despite all their half-baked, harebrained, foolish notions on what constitutes legal. I have a good life here. So donít feel sorry for me out here in the wilds of California. 

Isnít your youngest boy, Calum, about to start University? Perhaps heíd like to take up the study of law and then come to California to practice. Iíd be more than happy to sponsor him.  Iíll even have Johnny and Scott send the next few monthsí pay to help pay for his passage. 

            Send all my love to your family. 

                                     Your brother,

                                     Murdoch

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The End

Dear Angus- Summertime

By: Sprite (T. Fischer)

June 2003

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