Jem sighed as he clattered down the wooden steps of the sheriff's office in Goldtown. This morning, once again, he had awakened to find that the fences on the south side of his property had been torn down. The visit to the sheriffs hadn’t helped much either. Mr. Barnes, his neighbor, had put in a request for a lawyer and appealed to a higher court.
But Jem couldn’t figure out why.
Ever since his father had died two years before, Jem who was twenty-five at the time, had taken over the family ranch. Just six months ago he had bought the 125 acres to the south planning to expand the ranch. Nothing but trouble had followed. Time and time again he had ridden around the property only to find fences torn down and cattle missing. He had finally ridden over to his neighbor to see if he had been having the same problem. That was when he learned the problem.
Mr. Barnes yelled at him, saying that Jem had bought his property. Jem talked to him and even showed him the map that clearly stated whose property it was. But Mr. Barnes wouldn’t listen.
And it had come to this. He would have to hire a lawyer, not to mention having to travel to San Francisco for the hearing.
As he walked down the boardwalk, the familiar pounding and jingling of the stagecoach entered the town and pulled up to the Wells Fargo office.
Jem crossed the street as the driver called out. “Hey there, Jem. Done brought your sister back safe and sound.”
Jem grinned as he walked around the side of the stagecoach. There were only two passengers on the stagecoach. Stuart Keith, who was the new schoolteacher, and Ellie.
Jem opened the door and reached out a hand to help Ellie down. “How was your visit?”
Ellie’s eyes sparkled. “Oh, it was grand! Aunt Rose hasn’t changed much and Nathan’s little one is adorably cute!”
Jem smiled. “I’m glad you had a good time. It seems hard to believe that it’s been eight years since they moved back east. “
Ellie nodded. “So how are things going here?”
“Well, other than the fact that I need to hire a lawyer, travel to San Francisco for the hearing, and repair the fences once again, everything is great.”
Jem nodded. “I just found out this morning. I have no idea who is a good lawyer!”
Um, excuse me. I might know one.”
Jem turned toward the voice. “Why sure, Stuart. Any help would be welcome.”
“I just returned from the conference in Fresno. While I was there, I met a man named Justin Carter. He is a lawyer, and from our talks I gathered that he is a good Christian as well.”
Jem rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Carter . . .why does that sounds familiar? Well, never mind. Thanks for the information. I’ll look into it.”
Jem opened the door for Ellie as they entered Justin’s office in Fresno, California.
“May I help you?” Asked the clerk.
“Yes, I’m Jem Coulter and I have an appointment with Mr. Carter.”
“Splendid! Right this way.”
He opened the door to the office. “The Coulters, sir.”
Justin nodded politely, and pulled out two chairs for them to sit on. “I’ve been reviewing your case,” he said, as he resumed his seat behind the desk. “It shouldn't be too hard to win. I’m not quite sure why your neighbor is doing what he is, but I am confident we have a solid case.”
Jem nodded “Thank you, sir. You’ve been more than kind, especially on such short notice. Is there anything else we should do?”
Justin smiled. “Not really. We just need to wait for the hearing. . . which will be in about a week, I believe?”
“Meanwhile, enjoy your stay in Fresno. And how would you like to come and meet my family? Come over for dinner on Saturday?”
Jem stood, “Sounds wonderful! What do you think, Ellie?”
Ellie chuckled, “I wholeheartedly agree!”
“He seems like nice enough man.” Ellie remarked as they stepped out into the lobby.
“He certainly does.” Jem agreed.
They had just exited the building when suddenly a young girl careened around the corner. Seeing them, she stopped abruptly. A boy ran up behind her, and not realizing she had stopped, ran into her, knocking them both to the ground.
Jem chuckled and offered a hand to the girl to help her stand.
|Andi and Cory and Taffy . . . best friends!|
“We’-we’re sorry. I didn’t see you.” she stammered. “This is my brother’s office. My name is Andi, Andi Carter, and this is Cory.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you two,” Ellie said with a smile. “It looks like you are having fun.”
“Yes.” Andi smiled sheepishly. We’re having a race to Justin’s office.”
Jem smiled. “That reminds me of what Ellie and I would do when we were younger. Did you say Carter? Are you Justin’s siblings?”
“Andi is. We’re not brother and sister.” Cory was quick to explain. “Just good friends.”
The door to the office slammed. “Miss Andi, are you disturbing your brother’s clients?” Tim asked in an exasperated voice.
“No, I'm not disturbing anyone. I just need to see Justin.”
“Justin is working on a very important case right now and cannot be disturbed,” said Tim.
Jem, sensing this was something not to get involved in, tipped his hat to Andi then steered Ellie out and onto the street.
To be continued . . .