Part 3, the conclusion:
Mitch tore into town. “Sheriff, where is the sheriff's office?” he yelled.
Several people turned to stare at him. One man pointed to his left. “Sheriff's office is right here. What's it you be needin’?”
“Our stagecoach was robbed about five miles from here and my sister and another passenger were kidnapped.”
The sheriff, hearing the commotion, came outside. “What’s the problem?” he asked looking around.
Mitch repeated what he had just said. The sheriff went back into his office, grabbed a gun and recruited some other men. Then Mitch and the sheriff rode off hastily. When they neared the place where the robbery and kidnapping occurred, a gun sounded off in the distance. Mitch slowed his horse down
“That’s them!” he yelled and then took off in the direction of the gunshot.
The riders slowed as they neared the trees.
“Let’s spread out,” the sheriff commanded. “Mitch, you come with me. We’ll go straight in. You others spread out and follow us slowly.” He turned back to Mitch, “Do you have a firearm?”
When Mitch shook his head, the sheriff un-holstered his pistol and tossed it to Mitch. Then he took his rifle out of the saddlebag and placed it on the saddle in front of him.
They rode in slowly. When they were about fifty feet away, the sheriff motioned for Mitch to dismount from the horse. Mitch obeyed, then hurriedly tossed the reins around the branch of a tree.
On their hands and knees, they crept closer to the clearing. Suddenly, the sheriff stood and raised the rifle. “Everyone hands up and down on your knees!”
To Mitch’s confusion, he quickly lowered it and walked into the middle of the clearing. Mitch followed the sheriff and saw a weeping Ellie in Chad’s arms. Jem was talking with Andi while keeping a watch over the stagecoach robbers, who were tied to a tree. The sheriff went over and handcuffed the robbers and got ready to go back into town as the deputies came into the clearing.
“Thanks for your help sheriff,” said Jem.
“Not a problem, that’s what I’m for,” replied the good natured sheriff. “if you ever be needing me again, just give me a holler.”
Two hours later they arrived in San Francisco. Mitch hurried mother and Melinda off to Aunt Rebecca’s house while Justin, Jem and Ellie hurried over to the courthouse, accompanied by Chad and Andi who had come along to watch. The courthouse was this big, but old and beautiful building at the edge of the town. Inside, Justin went to the front of the room accompanied by Jem and Ellie, while Chad and Andi took seats near the door.
“Chad, do you think it would be alright if I went and watched Justin for a while? Last time I was in a courthouse. . .well . ..”
Chad grinned. “What? It wasn’t under the best of circumstances?”
Andi looked down. “That would be an understatement.”
Chad nodded. ”We got here pretty early, so it should be alright. Just be quick!”
Andi nodded and hurried down to the table where Justin was busily laying out the papers for the case.
After asking Justin a few questions, she went back up to sit with Chad.
About five minutes later the judge walked up on stage and called the courtroom to order. He then gave a background story of what the case was all about and then called for Mr. Barnes’ lawyer, William Finney, to come speak.
Mr. Finney walked up to the stand. “Honorable Judge Mason, I can give you proof that the land truly belongs to Mr. Barnes--”
The judge broke in. “So you’ve said, but so far I have seen no proof.”
Mr. Finney took a paper out of his stack, walked forward and placed it on the judge's desk.
“This map, you will see, clearly marks the boundary line between Mr. Barnes’ property and Mr. Coulters.”
The judge took the map and studied it. “It does, quite clearly, in fact.”
Jem gave Justin a startled look. No one had said anything about a map!
“Is this all you have to say, Mr. Finney?”
“Thank you. Mr. Carter, would you like to cross examine Mr. Finney?”
“Yes sir I would, thank you.”
“Mr. Finney, I have never seen this map before, so how do I know it is for real?”
Judge Mason broke in, “Mr. Carter, you may come and look at the map.”
Justin walked over. The map indeed looked as real as could be. “This is very interesting, thank you. I have no further questions.” Justin sat back down at the table upon finishing his cross examination and collected his papers for his coming speech.
Judge Mason looked at Justin. “Mr. Carter, would you like to give your speech now?”
“Yes, your honor.” Justin went up and took the stand.
“I am in fact very startled by this map, I was never shown it until just now. I believe that because this map was not at the land office and because Mr. Coulter legally, and in his and the office’s best knowledge paid for this land, the land should remain in his possession. Judge, would you like to see a copy of the legal document that says clearly that Mr. Coulter paid for the land?”
“Yes, that would be helpful.”
Justin went and handed the copy of it to Judge Mason, who took it, then said. “Would you like to continue speaking, Mr. Carter?”
“Yes, just a second longer if you will.”
“Certainly,” Judge Mason replied.
“I would like to close with the reason that the land should remain in Mr. Coulter’s possession. And that reason is that Mr. Coulter legally paid for this land, thank you.”
“Mr. Finney, would you like to cross examine Mr. Carter?” asked the Judge.
“No sir, thank you.” replied Mr. Finney.
Judge Mason arose. “I now call for a recess, court will rejoin in fifteen minutes.”
During the break Justin decided to go visit with his family, because he didn’t feel like sitting at the table worrying about something he couldn’t change. He whispered a quick prayer. “God, please let this case turn out in favor for Jem.”
Court was rejoined at the hour and everyone was in their places, with the exception of Ellie, who was tired and had remained home.
“I have come to a conclusion, “ stated the Judge. “the map that I was shown during this court session is liable. My decision, that I believe will be fair to both parties, is this. Mr. Coulter will have the one hundred and twenty five acres to the north of his already owned land. Mr. Barnes, on the other hand, will have his original one hundred twenty-five acres returned to him. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and will be sure that the land office is notified, since they are legally liable for this incident.”
Mr. Barnes walked over to Jem. “I’m really sorry for all the trouble, I just didn’t know how else I could get anyone to listen to an old man like me!”
“Oh, it’s alright. Personally, I would rather not have had to go to court, but that’s behind us now!” he turned to the Carters. ‘Besides, this gave us the opportunity to re-unite with old friends. And,” he gave Chad a meaning look, “maybe find some new family!”
The stay in San Francisco was pleasant. One day, the morning before the Coulters were to leave, Chad turned to Ellie, “would you like to go on a walk?” At Jem's look he said, “Not far, just around the town.”
Ellie nodded. “That would be pleasant.”
While she went to get her shawl, Andi went to Chad. “What are you planning?”
Chad gave her an innocent look. “Me? Why nothing!”
Andi gave him a knowing grin and walked into the parlor as Ellie descended down the staircase.
“Well, Chad. We’ve had a nice walk. And I’ve really had a great time getting to know your family!”
“It’s been nice to get to know you a little bit better too.” Chad agreed. Suddenly, Chad pulled her to the side underneath the branches of a weeping willow tree. “Ellie Coulter, today I've realized just how much you mean to me. After almost losing you . .” Chad's voice broke. “It would have been too much to bear. So, since I can't stand to be parted from you, will you marry me?”
Ellie blushed as she replied. “Of course, Chad. Yes, I will marry you!”
They hurried home to tell the family the news. Everyone was overjoyed and happy for them. Just then the dinner bell rang and everyone hurried into the dining room. After the meal, Andi pulled Chad aside.
“You think you'll be able to handle Ellie?” She grinned, “She can be an awful lot like me!”
Chad smiled, “I think I'll be able to handle her. But it’s a mystery to me that, out of all the girls I've had around in my life, only my sister Melinda is the perfect lady!”