Debby K's Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Fan Fiction

Post-Revolutions


by Debby K

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Post-Revolutions
by Debby K

"Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we chart our course by them."
Carl Schurz

************
Chapter 1
************

"Oh, Sully," Michaela could not contain her anticipation after boarding the train in New York, bound for Boston. "I can't wait. I simply can't wait."

He rested his chin lightly on their sleeping daughter's head, "Me either, Michaela."

A gentleman sat down opposite them, "I was stretching my legs and couldn't help but overhear your conversation. You two sound like a couple of children awaiting Christmas."

"In a way we are," Michaela smiled.

"My name is Schurz," he tipped his hat. "Carl Schurz."

"A pleasure," she nodded. "I'm Dr. Michaela Quinn. This is my husband, Byron Sully and our daughter Katie."

"She is very beautiful," he smiled.

"Schurz," Sully repeated the name. "Why's that sound familiar?"

"Do you follow Washington politics?" the man crossed his legs.

"As little as possible," Sully spoke sarcastically. "I used t' work for the Interior Department."

Schurz chuckled, "Used to?"

"It's a long story," Sully shifted Katie's weight on his lap. "I disagree with the way the Bureau of Indian Affairs is run an' the government's policy toward the Indians in general."

"I see," he nodded.

"I discern an accent, Mr. Schurz," Michaela noted. "Are you German?"

"Yes, I am," he replied. "I'm an American citizen now, however."

"Why'd ya wanna know if we followed Washington politics?" Sully rubbed his lip.

"You might find this an incredible coincidence," Schurz grinned. "But I'm the new Secretary of Interior."

"What?" Michaela and Sully spoke simultaneously.

************

"Colleen! Andrew!" Elizabeth called. "Where's Matthew?"

Colleen approached her grandmother in the sitting room of the elegant Quinn home, "He's still upstairs, Grandma."

"I told him to be ready to leave for the train depot at noon," Elizabeth grew more impatient.

"He knows," Colleen assured her.

Elizabeth held Josef on her lap, "He looks absolutely adorable in this outfit."

Josef shyly placed his index finger in his mouth.

"Thank God, good news awaited us upon our return to America," Andrew sighed. "When Matthew arrived in London, then your letter followed, we...."

"I based my letter on the original wire I received from Michaela," Elizabeth interrupted. "Katie had been kidnapped, then found dead."

Colleen took a deep breath, "Well, of course, we hurried home with Matthew as quickly as possible."

"Matthew!" Elizabeth called again. "Five minutes! We leave in five minutes!"

************

Sully became sullen.

"I would be interested in speaking with you in greater detail about the government's policy toward Indians, Mr. Sully," Schurz observed.

"Why's that?" the mountain man attempted to gauge his sincerity.

"Because I am in agreement with you," he replied.

"Ya are?" Sully eyed him skeptically.

"I am extremely displeased with the entire Bureau of Indian Affairs, not to mention its commissioner John Q. Smith," his voice charged with energy.

"You can change the names," Sully shrugged. "Won't change the policies."

Michaela interjected, "Mr. Schurz, my husband and I have witnessed the most heinous atrocities and crimes committed against humanity by our government."

"I can see that you hold strong beliefs," the Secretary stated. "Where have you witnessed this?"

"Primarily in our home state of Colorado," Michaela pointed out. "But we also saw the aftermath of Washita."

Schurz tensed, "Terrible. Just terrible."

"I got no use for the politicians in Washington," Sully's eyes were cold.

"There's a new administration there," Schurz argued. "President Hayes recognizes...."

"How'd he get in?" Sully countered quickly.

"Well, a committee settled the disputed election results, and...." Schurz realized it was a rhetorical question. "At any rate, I am going to do my best to improve the administration of the Indians and to recommend other reforms, as well. I believe that government jobs should be based on merit, not on whom one knows."

"That sounds like an encouraging start," Michaela tried to see the positive.

The Secretary smiled, "May I ask you something?"

"Certainly," she rested her hand on her husband's arm.

He inquired, "You said you're from Colorado. Why are you bound for Boston, particularly with such anticipation?"

Michaela smiled broadly, "We're being reunited with our children."

He pointed, "You have more than this little one?"

"We have three adopted older children, Matthew, Colleen and Brian, a little boy, Josef who's two and a half, and our Katie who's nearly six years old," she responded. "Colleen and Matthew have been in England, and Brian...."

"Got kinda borin' back there," Brian sat down beside Carl Schurz.

She continued, "And Brian was in the back of the rail car watching the Massachusetts countryside. Brian, this is Mr. Schurz, the new Secretary of Interior."

"Nice t' meet ya, Mr. Schurz," he shook hands. "Pa used t' work for...."

"Ah, yes," he cut in. "We've been discussing that. You say your older children have been in England?"

"It's rather complicated, but to summarize," she folded her hands. "Our family had been planning a trip to Boston in February to visit my mother and sisters."

"It's April," Schurz wondered. "Why the delay?"

"Before our departure, my husband was called upon to do some work regarding the approval of a mining company in Colorado Springs," Michaela resumed. "Josef was in need of some minor surgery on his trachea, and I had already made the arrangements for his operation in Boston."

"I ain't so sure Mr. Schurz is interested in all this, Michaela," Sully doubted.

"On the contrary," the Secretary raised his hand. "I am very interested. It's quite difficult to be separated from those you love."

"Our daughter Colleen and her husband Andrew have been in England for several months, and Matthew planned to go from Boston to visit them," Michaela continued. "With our delay in Colorado Springs, and Josef's surgery already scheduled, we decided to have Matthew take our little boy to Boston, where my family would be with him until we could join them a week later. Matthew then proceeded on to England."

"I'm still puzzled," Schurz wrinkled his brow. "You said that was in February. What delayed your trip to Boston for two months?"

"Katie was kidnapped," Brian answered.

"It was a terrible ordeal," Michaela teared at the memory. "She was abducted, and we believed her to be dead. Then we discovered that she was alive and in the possession of a man in Mexico."

"We went after her an' brought her home safe an' sound," Brian smiled.

"During that time, I wired my mother to look after Josef," Michaela further explained. "Initially because we did not know if it was safe for him to return, then because we were searching for Katie."

Brian picked up on it, "When Ma's mother heard Katie was dead, she wrote t' Colleen and Andrew in England. Her letter arrived just after Matthew got there, an' they rushed back t' the United States. Then they got word that Katie was okay. So, now we're goin' t' see all of 'em."

"My goodness," Schurz's eyes widened. "You have been through an ordeal. No wonder you are eager to be reunited."

Katie began to waken at the conversation.

Rubbing her eyes, she yawned, "Are we in Boston, Poppy?"

"Not yet, honey," Sully stroked her head. "Pretty soon."

************

"Sorry, Gran'ma," Matthew bounded down the steps. Spotting Josef, he tickled his side, "How ya doin', little brother?"

The child quickly turned away, shyly clinging to his grandmother.

"Hey," Matthew leaned closer. "Aren't ya glad t' see me?"

Josef did not respond.

"Why is he acting like this?" Andrew noticed.

"Like what?" Elizabeth saw nothing out of the ordinary.

"Reserved," the young physician stated.

"I believe he's merely overwhelmed by all of the company," the older woman rubbed his back.

"We aren't company," Matthew was hurt. "I'm his brother."

"Come, we'll be late," Elizabeth handed Josef to his nanny. "Diana, if he fusses, put him down for his nap."

"Yes, Ma'am," the nanny nodded.

"Aren't we takin' him with us?" Matthew was surprised.

"Certainly not," his grandmother turned up her nose. "Train depots are terribly filthy places. Besides...."

"But Ma and Sully will wanna see him, Grandma," Colleen sympathized. "It's been two months."

"And a little while longer won't matter," she headed for the door.

************
Chapter 2
************

"There they are!" Colleen saw her parents stepping from the train.

"Ma! Sully!" Matthew rushed to them.

"Mattew!" Katie recognized a familiar face.

Enthusiastic hugs were exchanged as Carl Schurz stood back observing the family's reunion.

"Mother," Michaela's eyes darted about the depot. "Where's Josef?"

"He's at home," she smiled. "I didn't think it wise to bring him here with all of the noise and dirt."

"Oh," her voice hinted at disappointment.

"Well, you will soon be reunited," Elizabeth beamed. "Let's get you home. You must be exhausted from your trip."

Katie begged for attention, "Gran'ma!"

"Hello, my darling," Elizabeth caressed her hair. "It's wonderful to see you again. And I thank God for your safe return to us."

"Where's Joey?" the child was anxious.

"We'll see him very soon," Michaela informed her. "Colleen," Michaela slipped her arm around her daughter, "I want to hear all about England."

"It was real educational, Ma," the young woman tilted her head against her mother's. "We'll have plenty of time to get caught up. I'm just so happy to see you."

"And I you," Michaela glanced over her shoulder. "You, too, Andrew."

He smiled uncomfortably and followed.

"Mr. Sully," Carl Schurz tapped his arm. "I know that being with your family is very important to you right now, but if you change your mind about the government, would you get in touch with me? I would listen to your opinions with respect."

"I'll think about it," Sully answered. "Nice meetin' ya."

************

Michaela burst through the doors of her old Beacon Street home the moment Harrison opened it.

"Welcome home, Miss Michaela," he bowed.

"Where is he?" she breezed past him. "Where's my baby?"

Diana stepped forward as the other members of the family entered the foyer, "He's resting, Ma'am. I just put him down for his nap."

"I don't believe we've met," Michaela removed her hat.

"I'm Diana, the young master's nanny," she curtsied.

"Nanny?" Michaela was surprised. "Why does my son need a nanny?"

"Your mother, Ma'am," Diana replied. "She thought it would be best for...."

"I suppose he was too much for Mother to handle," Michaela smiled at Sully. Taking her husband's hand, she started for the stairs, "Come, we'll see him."

"Michaela," Elizabeth nearly scolded. "Let him sleep. I don't like for his routine to be disturbed."

"His routine?" Michaela was incredulous. "Mother, we haven't seen our son in two months."

"I won't wake him, Gran'ma," Katie reassured.

"Well, I suppose just this once," Elizabeth gave in.

"I'll show you to his room," Diana volunteered.

Sully scooped Katie into his arms, as Brian and Michaela followed up the steps to the nursery. There, in an elaborately ornate Victorian crib, lay Josef, sleeping peacefully.

"Oh, look at him, Sully," tears streamed down Michaela's face.

"Gran'ma don't let Joey's hair grow," Katie noticed.

Sully set his daughter down and lowered the crib railing.

Diana interjected, "Sir, Mrs. Quinn wouldn't...."

Sully silenced her with a look, then lifted his son from the bed. Tenderly, he handed the little boy into the anxious arms of his mother. Michaela gently planted a soft kiss on his forehead. Brian lifted Katie to observe her little brother.

"Sure has grown," the young man wrapped Josef's fingers around his thumb.

"Yep," Sully felt a lump in his throat.

Elizabeth reached the bedroom, "What are you doing? Let the child sleep."

"Mother," Michaela protectively reacted. "I need to hold him."

"And so, you have," she motioned toward the door. "Now, let him rest."

"I'm going to ask Harrison to move his crib in with us," Michaela asserted.

"The child has seen enough disturbance in his life," Elizabeth's voice rose. "I'll not permit you...."

"Mother!" Michaela could not hold back.

"Shhh," Sully took the baby from his wife's arms. "Let's have this discussion somewhere else. I don't want the kids hearin' it."

"Very well," Elizabeth exited.

"Sully," Michaela stroked Josef's stomach as he returned him to the crib.

"It'll be fine, Michaela," he pulled up the railing again.

************

Michaela and her mother resumed their argument in the sitting room. The rest of the family occupied Katie in the conservatory, while Sully stood near his wife.

"Now, let's be calm about this, Michaela," Elizabeth sat down. "Josef came through his surgery well, but he has had to make many adjustments."

"Mother, so have we all," the daughter folded her hands. "Being separated from him all of these weeks has been pure torture for us, but now that Katie is back with us and...."

"How many times have I told you that Colorado Springs is an unsuitable place in which to live?" the mother debated. "It's all well and good that you moved there when you were on your own, but now that you have a family, I hope you've come to your senses."

"Come to my senses?" Michaela was puzzled.

"It is no place to raise your children," Elizabeth asserted. "You nearly lost your daughter, and I'll not let my grandson return to that...."

"Elizabeth," Sully had heard enough. "Michaela an' me can't thank ya enough for what ya done for Josef. Knowin' he was safe here with you took a big burden off our shoulders when we were searchin' for Katie."

"I'm happy to see that at least you agree with me, Sully," the mother smiled slightly.

He folded his arms, "You know that Michaela an' me live in Colorado, an' that's where we're gonna raise our children."

"I must strongly object to....." Elizabeth felt short of breath.

"Mother," Michaela hurried to her. "Are you all right?

"Yes," she closed her eyes. "It's nothing."

"What does your doctor say?" Michaela felt her pulse.

"He says I should not have any undo stress or strain," she retorted.

"Elizabeth," Sully knelt down. "We're movin' Josef's crib in with...."

"Sully," Michaela interrupted. "Perhaps we should discuss this later."

"But..." his blue eyes questioned.

Suddenly a little voice crying from above them was heard.

Michaela rose quickly, "It's Josef."

"Diana will get him," Elizabeth noted.

"But I want him to see me when he wakens, Mother," she felt slighted. "Surely, he must have been anticipating our return for him."

"As a matter of fact, I didn't tell him," she was feeling better.

"What?" Michaela filled with disappointment. "Why not?"

"I told you, he's been through enough," Elizabeth stated. "Why upset him further?"

"Upset him?" her face flushed. "We're his parents."

Diana descended the staircase with Josef in her arms. His hair had been neatly parted and combed. He held his finger in his mouth as they neared Michaela and Sully.

"Hello, Sweetheart," Michaela stretched out her arms to him.

The little boy turned away.

"Josef," Sully tried. "How's my big boy?"

No reaction.

Michaela stepped closer and placed her hands around his waist.

"No!" Josef swatted them away.

"Sweetheart, it's me," she tried to maintain a smile. "Mama."

Josef shook his head no, and hugged Diana tighter.

"Sully?" Michaela felt as if her heart would break.

He stepped around to face his son, "Hey, Joe, know who's lookin' forward t' seein' ya? Katie."

Again the child gave no response.

"Mother, how long has he been like this?" Michaela queried.

"He's been rather quiet for several weeks," she answered.

"Quiet?" the doctor was upset. "He's retreated into a shell."

"I attribute that to the change in surroundings," Elizabeth waved her hand. "He'll adjust."

"Diana," Michaela directed. "Please ask Harrison to put my son's crib in our room. And, while I appreciate all that you have done for him, your services will no longer be needed as...."

"Beggin' your pardon, Ma'am," the nanny feared an argument. "But Mrs. Quinn's the one who hired me."

"It's all right, Diana," Elizabeth gave in. "Tell Harrison to move the crib. I'll speak with you later."

"What about Josef, Ma'am?" she rubbed the child's back.

"I'll take him," Michaela reached out.

"Bring him to me," Elizabeth ignored her daughter.

The nanny stepped forward and set Josef on his grandmother's lap. He lay back lethargically, finger still in his mouth. Michaela felt nearly faint at the sight of her child in such a state.

Sully thought a different approach might work, "I'm gonna go get Katie."

Before he uttered another word, the little girl skipped into the room, "Mama, Poppy, Gran'ma's got beauful flowers."

Elizabeth smiled, "Thank you."

"Joey!" Katie rushed to the baby. "You're awake!"

She reached out to hold his hand, but he quickly slapped it way.

"Josef!" Michaela reprimanded. "Don't hit your sister."

"No!" he shouted and turned away.

Katie's lower lip began to quiver, and she turned to her father.

"It's okay, Kates," he lifted her into his arms. "Josef's just gotta get use t' us again."

"Don't he love me anymore?" her eyes saddened.

"Sure he does," Sully swallowed hard.

"If you'll excuse me," Michaela could barely contain her emotions. "I'm going upstairs to lie down. Would you like to join me, Katie?"

"Okay, Mama," she hugged her father.

Sully set her down. Hand in hand, mother and daughter slowly climbed to the second floor.

"Elizabeth," Sully's jaw tensed. "We gotta talk."

************
Chapter 3
************

Michaela tucked Katie beside her on the bed. Stroking her curls, the mother tilted down to kiss her daughter's head.

"Mama," Katie glanced up. "Is Joey sad or somethin'?"

"Perhaps," Michaela's eyes were red.

"We gotta make him happy," the little girl reasoned.

"Katie," she took a deep breath. "You'd tell me if you had any more of those bad dreams, wouldn't you, Sweetheart?"

"'Bout the bad men who took me 'way?" Katie surmised.

"Yes," Michaela nodded.

"I'd tell ya, Mama," the child yawned. "I don't dream about 'em since after you an' Poppy bring me home."

"That's good," she caressed her cheek. "Do you remember how you were very quiet for several days and wanted us to hold you?"

"I 'member," Katie spoke low.

"Perhaps that's how Josef feels," Michaela thought.

There was a soft knock at the door. Michaela felt no reaction from Katie and knew that her daughter had fallen asleep. Rising from the bed, she opened the door. There stood Harrison.

"Where would you like the crib, Miss Michaela?" he kept his voice down.

"Right here, by my bed," she directed.

With the assistance of the footman, the butler placed it in the bedroom and departed.

************

"Sully," Elizabeth anticipated. "I don't believe there is anything physically wrong. Josef will be his old self soon."

Deciding then and there to take action, he bent down to be eye level with his son. He reached for him, and this time, Josef did not balk at the idea of being lifted into his father's arms. Sully did not speak at first, preferring to close his eyes and savor the feel of his son. He cradled the child in his arms so that the baby could see about the room.

Then, stroking his cheek, Sully calmly stated, "I'm takin' him up t' his Ma."

"But..." her protest went unheard as her son-in-law exited.

************

Another soft knock came. Michaela thought perhaps Harrison had forgotten something. She opened the door to see Sully standing with Josef in his arms.

"Thought he could use some time with his Ma," he stepped into the room. "Katie asleep?"

"Yes," she whispered.

Uncertain about any physical contact with the baby, she folded her hands.

"I thought maybe we should have some time alone with Josef," he explained. "Just hold him, talk low, let him be around us...."

"It could work," she searched her son's face. "He seems so unresponsive to everything."

"Least he didn't cry when I picked him up this time," he thought it hopeful.

Michaela went to her trunk and pulled out a wrapped package, "We brought you a present, Josef."

At first, he simply stared at her, but then he reached out for it. Sully set the little boy on the bed. With her husband supportively stroking her back, Michaela handed their son the gift.

Josef slowly tore off the paper wrapping, then shook the box.

"Open it, Joe," Sully encouraged.

The child lifted the lid and beheld a wood carving of a wolf, crafted by his father.

"Woh," Josef's voice spoke.

"That's right," Sully smiled. "Wolf's waitin' for ya back home."

"Papa made it for you," she smiled.

Josef's mood quickly shifted, and he threw the wooden statuette onto the floor.

"Jo..." Michaela stopped herself and turned to her husband.

"That's okay," Sully bent down to pick it up. "This kinda wood can be real slippery."

"Sully, he didn't...." she instantly caught herself.

************

"Colleen," Matthew sat beside his sister. "Did ya see how Josef acted around Ma an' Sully?"

"I saw," she bit her lower lip.

"Is there a medical reason for it?" the young man attempted to discover.

"Sorta reminds me of when Ma was shot," Brian drew a parallel.

"How so?" Andrew recalled.

"How she kinda shut everyone out," he explained. "Like she didn't wanna be hurt ever again."

Colleen remembered, as well, "How soldiers often experienced that sort of reaction after battle."

"Right," Andrew concurred.

"But Josef's just a baby," Matthew folded his arms. "Not even two an' a half."

"He was, however, thrust into strange surroundings," Andrew speculated. "He was with people he didn't know."

"With Gran'ma," Brian clarified.

"He only met her once, right after he was born," Matthew articulated. "He ended up with servants, a nanny, no one he knew."

"What can we do?" Brian brought home all of their thoughts.

"I don't know," Matthew sighed.

************

"Sully," Michaela walked toward the fireplace in the bedroom. "Do you remember how Josef reacted when we went to Montana last year?"

"I remember," he nodded.

"He's reverting back to that behavior," she noted. "He bounced back from our absence fairly quickly then. Perhaps...."

Sully held up his hand, "He was only a year old then. We done this t' him twice in his young life now."

She swiftly turned away to conceal her tears.

"I'm sorry, Michaela," he realized his words had cut. "I didn't mean it t' sound like that. It's just...."

"He's too young to understand why we acted as we did," she glanced toward their son.

"I reckon all we can do is just let him see how much we love him," Sully pulled her into his embrace.

"But I need to hold him," she spoke of her longing. "I need him to want me to hold him."

"He'll come around," Sully was unsure of the truth of his words. "Our kids have been through a lot in the last few weeks, Michaela. But one thing's for sure. They know we love 'em."

"I pray that you're right," she rested her head against his chest.

"First thing I think we gotta do is get Josef back t' Colorado Springs," he announced.

"But we just arrived," she pulled back. "We haven't even had time to visit with Colleen."

"I think she'll understand," he stated. "I'll book us a return trip t'morrow"

"I fear Mother's reaction," she cautioned.

"That's another story," he responded.

"I'd rather not mention it to her until morning," she dreaded the discussion.

"It's up t' you," he rubbed his chin.

************

By late evening, following a tense meal, all had gone to bed. Sully and Michaela sat in her childhood bedroom watching their children. Katie had drifted off in their bed, and they were finally able to get Josef down in his crib.

The flickers from the fireplace were nearly hypnotic. Both parents began to feel more relaxed from the day's events. Michaela leaned back against her husband's chest. Linking their fingers together, they warmed at the other's touch.

"What if Josef doesn't respond to us as he once did, Sully?" she vocalized her innermost fear.

"He's bound to, sooner or later," he assured.

She felt a moistness on her cheek, "Perhaps we should take him to a physician here in Boston."

"Ya think somethin's physically wrong with him?" Sully had not considered the possibility.

"I have done some reading on neurasthenia," she recalled. "It's a condition caused by a physical exhaustion of the nerves. Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell has created a therapy, a rest cure, to combat it. In fact, his book "Fat and Blood," is all the rage. He has established an Infirmary for Nervous Diseases."

"You sayin' we oughta take him t' some infirmary?" Sully found the notion upsetting.

She sighed, "I'm simply trying to point out our options. Colleen informed me that Mother said his appetite is irregular, he has trouble sleeping, and...."

"Michaela," Sully put it in simple terms. "Our boy needs his Ma an' Pa. He needs t' be home again. His recovery will come."

At that moment, they heard Josef stir. The baby began to whimper low. Instantly, Michaela was at his side. She reached down to lift him.

"Shhh," she cupped his head to her cheek. "Mama's here, Josef."

Suddenly, the child burst into tears. Loud sobbing shattered the calm of the Quinn household.

************
Chapter 4
************

Josef's face began to turn beet red as his wailing echoed through the house. Sully swiftly lifted Katie and stepped into the hallway, hoping to fend off the family members and servants who might come.

Alone with her son, Michaela swayed back and forth holding his body against her bosom. Still, he would not calm. She set him on the bed and began to examine him for any physical ailments. None could be found, and his tears showed no signs of ebbing.

In frustration, she leaned down and resting her elbows on the bed beside him, began to softly hum one of his favorite lullabies. Within a few moments, that did the trick. The little boy's face almost suggested a smile as he listened to the tender timbre of his mother's voice. She gently stroked his arm while continuing to hum. Josef began to glance about the room, not seeming to focus on any one thing.

The calm prompted Sully to return with Katie.

"Joey stop cryin', Mama?" she held her ears just in case.

"Yes," Michaela did not look up.

Sully was pleased, "How'd ya get him t' stop?"

"I hummed," Michaela felt as if she had made a minor breakthrough.

"Want me t' sing for him?" Katie offered.

"Not now, Kates," Sully set her down on the bed near her brother.

Although his crying had ceased, Josef remained unresponsive to his family.

"I believe it's a start, Sully," Michaela looked up wistfully.

"He remembers you singin' t' him," he smiled.

Then Josef's brow wrinkled as he gazed back and forth, first at his mother then at his father. His breathing quickened.

Sully positioned himself near the child, "What ya thinkin' about, Joe?"

He was silent.

Sully swallowed hard and stared intently at his son, "Josef. Your Ma an' me are never, ever gonna leave ya again."

For a second, there was the suggestion of a reaction, but it quickly passed.

"Maybe Joey wants a pickle," Katie leaned against her mother's arm.

"Would ya like a pickle?" Sully raised his eyebrows.

"Gwan'ma say no," he quietly answered.

"She didn't let ya have pickles?" Katie was surprised.

"Do ya want one?" Sully repeated.

Josef nodded, "Pwease?"

Michaela felt a tear tickle down her cheek. The poor child had even been denied his favorite treat.

"Kates, ya feel like comin' with me t' the kitchen?" Sully raised up.

"Yep," she shifted toward him.

They left on their mission. Michaela, eager to not jeopardize this tiny bit of communication, said nothing. By her presence near her son, she hoped to convey her love and support.

Finally, unable to contain her counsel any longer, she spoke softly, "What Papa said is true, Josef. We'll never be apart again. We love you so much, my darling."

"Love?" he seemed to beg for the words to be true.

"Love," she smiled and nodded. "Sweetheart, the reason that you've been staying with your grandmother is because something very bad happened to Katie. Papa and I needed to help her. But we didn't forget about you. We thought about you every minute."

"Katie?" his eyes saddened.

She slid her hand closer to his, "She's fine now. And we're all together again."

He pointed to the carved statuette that his father had made, "Woh."

"Wolf missed you, too," she told him. "All of Colorado Springs did. Miss Dorothy, Miss Grace, Robert E, everyone."

"We go home?" his blue eyes reminded her so much of Sully's.

"We go home," she affirmed. "But first, how about that pickle?"

"'Kay," he agreed.

************

"Andrew," Colleen stood at the doorway. "Should we go to them?"

"It appears Josef has stopped crying," he commented. "Michaela would let us know if she needs our help."

She sat down on the edge of the bed, "It breaks my heart to see my little brother like this."

Andrew nodded, "I know."

"It wouldn't surprise me if they wanted to take him back to Colorado Springs right away," her voice saddened.

Her husband picked up on it, "Would you like to go back, too? For a visit, I mean."

"Now that my medical studies have concluded, I would like to return...." she hesitated. "But for longer than just a visit."

"You mean to live?" he gathered.

"Yes," she hoped he would be receptive. "What would you think of going back to practice medicine?"

"In partnership?" Andrew pondered it. "With your mother?"

"You once wanted to stay there," she reminded him.

"I know," he recalled.

"Well?" Colleen asked.

"Can we sleep on it?" he requested.

"I guess so," she slipped under the covers. "It's just that seeing my family all together again...."

"You miss them terribly, don't you?" he smiled.

"Can you understand?" she glanced at him.

"Of course," he replied. "We'll talk about it tomorrow."

************

"Matthew, did you go back t' sleep yet?" Brian whispered.

"No," he squinted in the darkened room.

"I wonder how they got Josef t' settle down," the younger brother voiced his concern.

"I heard someone in the hall a few minutes ago," Matthew mentioned.

"Do ya think there's anything we can do?" Brian was worried.

"Not at the moment," he smiled. "It's gonna take a while t' get Josef back t' his old self."

"If he gets back," Brian feared.

"He will," the older brother yawned. "You know Ma an' Sully. They find a way t' overcome everythin'."

************

It was at the breakfast table the next morning that Michaela broke the news to her mother.

"Leave?" Elizabeth was incredulous. "You've only just arrived. What about Colleen and Andrew? You haven't seen them all these many months?"

"Please don't upset yourself, Mother," Michaela patted her hand. "We believe it's best for Josef to take him home immediately."

"Best for Josef?" she waved her hand. "He and Katie could have the best of everything here. Servants, nannies, schools, clothes."

"Not meanin' t' sound disrespectful, Elizabeth," Sully interjected. "Those things are nice, but Josef needs t' be home now, an' that's in Colorado."

Michaela for once was glad that the children were eating in the kitchen and not within earshot of the debate.

"What if Andrew and I came with you?" Colleen blurted.

"Colleen," Andrew became uncomfortable. "We haven't fully discussed this."

"I know but..." she stopped when her mother spoke.

"Sully and I would love to have you come with us," her eyes lit up.

Sully noticed Andrew's demeanor, "Elizabeth, how 'bout you an' Michaela continue this discussion in the parlor."

"Discussion?" Elizabeth's tone was biting. "My daughter and granddaughter seem to have made up their minds already."

"It's not a matter of making up my mind," Michaela corrected. "We're doing what's best for our son."

Sully sighed and stood up, "I'm gonna go check on the kids."

"If you'll excuse me," Andrew rose, as well.

"I'll come with you," Colleen followed him.

"So, it's just you and I, Michaela," Elizabeth's glance was daunting.

Michaela decided on a new tact, "Mother, do you recall what you told me when Sully and I were last here?"

"I told you many things," the mother stated.

"You told me that Katie was more special than any of your other grandchildren," she thought back. "You said there is a spark in her.... a spark which Sully and I put there."

"I remember," Elizabeth conceded. "But what does that have to do with this? Katie still has that marvelous quality, and now you have Josef, too."

"But Josef's spark is lost," she felt her emotions rise. "His cheery disposition is gone, and I will do anything to help my son get it back. I believe the starting point is to give him back the security of his family."

"I'm not suggesting that he doesn't need you," the older woman defended. "To the contrary, I...."

"You're suggesting that we remain here," Michaela softened her tone.

"And what's wrong with that?" she protested.

"There is nothing wrong with wanting to have your family close," the daughter explained. "However, Boston is not my home anymore, Mother. Nor is it Katie's or Josef's. Please try to understand."

There was silence.

Michaela stood up, "We're leaving this afternoon. I would like for our visit to be pleasant in the interim."

"Just like that," Elizabeth stiffened her back.

Michaela chose her words carefully, "I can never repay you for all that you've done for me. You once told me of the incredible experience I would have as a mother, and you were right."

"I suppose I'm being selfish," her mother sighed.

"You're being..." Michaela hesitated. "You're being you, and I love you."

All rancor left Elizabeth, as she acquiesced, "You'll write me?"

"I promise," she embraced her mother.

************

"Sully," Michaela tapped her husband's arm. "Did you notice how Colleen and Andrew have barely said two words to one another since we boarded the train."

"I been too busy noticin' how Josef's actin'," he replied. "He seems t' be warmin' up t' Katie again."

"I think Colleen an' Andrew are fightin'," Brian contributed.

"Really? About what?" Michaela pried.

"Michaela," Sully folded his arms. "It ain't our business."

"She's our daughter," she justified.

"Only thing that can come from our meddlin' is trouble," he came back.

Michaela turned her attention to their son, "Josef, are you enjoying the train ride?"

"Katie play," he held up his carving of Wolf.

"I been makin' a sound like a Wolf," Katie smiled.

"Is that what that was?" Sully chuckled. "Thought it was my stomach tellin' me it's time t' eat."

Brian returned to the topic of is sister, "How long ya think Colleen an' Andrew will stay in Colorado Springs?"

"Why don't ya go ask 'em, little brother?" Matthew nudged him.

"Tryin' t' get rid o' me?" Brian grinned.

"Nope," Matthew laughed. "Come on, I'll go with ya."

The two stood and worked their way back to their sister, swaying with the movement of the train as they walked. Suddenly, the peace of the rail car was shaken by a mighty wail from little Josef.

Michaela instantly pulled him into her arms and stroked his head, "What's wrong Josef?"

"Wolf cut him," Katie pointed to his finger.

"Cut him?" Michaela held his hand close to the window for better light.

"Let me see the carvin', Kates," Sully took the statuette. "Looks like there's a little edge I didn't sand."

"I see a splinter," Michaela tried to allay the little boy's fears. "I'll take it out, Sweetheart."

"Huwt," he made a face.

Michaela opened her medical bag, retrieved some tweezers and gently removed the sliver of wood from the child's finger. Soon she had it bandaged. Then she kissed the dressing.

"Is that a little smile I see there?" she indicated the corner of his mouth.

"Mama make ya feel better, Joe?" Sully caressed his head.

He nodded shyly.

"Joey," Katie leaned closer. "Ya really oughta thank Mama."

"Tanks," he obeyed.

"You're welcome," she was beginning to see a little more of the real Josef.

************

Brian and Matthew were instantly aware of the tension between their sister and her husband.

"Everyone in Colorado Springs is gonna be real happy t' see ya," Brian tried to open the conversation. "Wait 'til ya see all the changes."

The uncomfortable silence remained.

"Wanna see the journal I kept when we went t' rescue Katie?" the young man changed the topic.

"Maybe later, Brian," Colleen glared at her husband.

"Looks like Josef's startin' t' come around," Matthew informed them.

"That's good," Andrew commented.

"You two wanna be alone?" Brian supposed.

"Not particularly," Colleen's words were as much for her husband as for her brothers.

"For what it's worth, I know you comin' with us means a lot t' Ma an' Pa," Brian spoke from the heart.

"Thank you, Brian," Colleen smiled. "It means a lot to me, too."

"Hope ya can enjoy the rest o' the trip," he said. "Otherwise, it'll seem a lot longer."

"I'm certain it will seem very long," Andrew aimed his comment at his wife.

************
Chapter 5
************

"Dr. Mike! Sully!" Horace observed the passengers disembarking from the train. "Didn't expect t' see ya back so soon."

"We felt it important to be home," Michaela smiled as she held her son close.

"Colleen an' Andrew, too!" Horace greeted them. "Gosh, it's good t' see ya. How long ya stayin'?"

"That's a matter for discussion," Andrew replied. "Not that we're very good at discussing things."

"Look how little Josef here has grown," Horace leaned down. "Your Ma an' Pa sure missed ya."

Josef turned away.

"He must be tired from the trip," the telegraph operator assumed. "Where's Ka...."

"Here, Mr. Bing," Katie jumped onto the platform from the last step of the railway car.

"Careful, Kates," Sully prevented her from falling.

"You always save me, Poppy," she looked up at him adoringly.

Brian and Matthew were the last off the train.

"I'll book a room for us at the Chateau," Andrew stated to his wife.

"I insist that you stay with us," Michaela overheard.

"I appreciate your offer, Michaela, but..." Andrew was interrupted by his wife.

"Of course, we'll stay with you, Ma," Colleen asserted.

Soon the family departed for the homestead.

************

Relieved to be home after their long journey, Michaela and Sully prepared for bed that evening. As his wife brushed her long tresses, Sully lay in bed contemplating a diplomatic way of telling her what was on his mind.

"You seem deep in thought," she noticed. "Are you upset?"

"Upset?" he looked up. "No."

She set her brush on the vanity and removed her robe. Strolling to the bed, she slipped under the sheets to snuggle against his warm form. Sully instinctively pulled her closer.

Michaela raised a finger to caress his jaw line, "We're finally all together again, Sully."

"Yep," he smiled faintly.

"Aren't you happy about it?" she worried.

"Sure," he nodded. "Josef seems t' be doin' a little better each day."

"Is there something else on your mind?" Michaela toyed with a lock of his hair.

"Sort o'," he rolled onto his side to face her. "Michaela, I been watchin' how ya are with Colleen."

"How I am with Colleen?" she was puzzled.

"Ya treat her like your Ma treats you," he came out with it.

"What do you mean?" she was taken aback.

"Ya know how your Ma tells ya what t' do, rather than ask?" he began. "How she has her mind set on how things oughta be, rather than thinkin' about how you might feel or want things done?"

"I know that Mother can be rather domineering," she admitted. "But what does that have to do with my relationship with Colleen?"

"Ya act like Andrew ain't even there," he specified. "Maybe Colleen needed t' talk with him about comin' here, but...."

"Don't you want them here with us?" she jumped to conclusions.

"'Course I do," he took a deep breath. "I ain't talkin' about them stayin' in the house. I'm talkin' about them comin' t' Colorado Springs."

"I'm afraid I don't understand, Sully," she became defensive. "Andrew voiced no objection to their coming here."

"He didn't have the chance," her husband retorted.

"My wanting our daughter to visit with us makes me domineering?" her temper was simmering.

"I guess I ain't sayin' this right," he sighed. "Maybe with Josef so much on your mind right now, ya can't see what you're doin'."

"What AM I doing?" she was now angry.

"I reckon you're gettin' mad at me," he knew.

"I'm not angry with you," she folded her arms.

"Yes, ya are," he grinned.

Her eyes watered, "Please try to understand, Sully."

"I do understand," he touched the first tear as it trickled down her cheek. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't've said anythin'."

"If you believe that I'm acting improperly, you should point it out to me," she stated.

"Improperly?" he chuckled. "No, that ain't how you're actin'."

"Why are you laughing?" she protested.

His tone became tender:

"I dare not ask a kiss,
I dare not beg a smile,
Lest having that, or this,
I might grow proud the while.
No, not the utmost share,
Of my desire, shall be
Only to kiss that air,
That lately kissed thee."

"It's been a while since you recited poetry to me, Mr. Sully," she relaxed.

"It's been a while since I did a lot o' things for ya," his gaze spoke of desire.

"Was that Keats?" she referred to the poet.

"Herrick," he informed her.

Michaela played along, "What haven't you done for me?"

"You know," he played with the strap of her nightgown.

"I'm sorry I haven't felt like..." her emotions soared again.

"Here, now," he melted. "No need t' apologize, Michaela. We been through hell the last few weeks. The last thing I'd expect us t' think about would be...."

"You've been so patient with me, Sully," she turned to face him. "When I blamed you for Katie's kidnapping... when...."

"I told ya it was only the hurt talkin'," he was sincere.

"But even after bringing Katie home, I haven't been in the mood for us to be... intimate," she lowered her voice.

"You were worried about Josef an'...." he paused. "Can ya think o' any reason why we can't be.... intimate now?"

"No," she turned up the corner of her mouth.

"Me either," he ran his finger along her lips. "Mind if I kiss ya?"

"Mind?" she raised an eyebrow. "I'd mind if you didn't."

"Think we still might remember how t' do this?" he teased.

"Sully!" she tapped his side.

Feather light kisses followed, and their passions were instantly ignited. It had been weeks since they permitted themselves to be lost in their desire for one another, and each caress only fueled their ardor. As their pulses began to race, there came a light tapping at the door.

"Sully," Michaela knew he had not heard it.

"Mmmm?" he trailed his kisses down her neck.

"The door," she tried to steady her breathing.

"What door?" he was reaching the point of no return.

"I heard someone knocking," she did not want her husband to stop.

"They'll go away," her scent was driving him mad.

"No," she gently pushed him back. "One of the children might need us."

He sighed in frustration, "I'll check."

When he opened the door, there stood Katie.

"What's wrong, honey?" Sully knelt down.

"I think Joey's havin' a bad dream," she whispered.

Michaela heard her words and reached to quickly put on her robe. As Sully lifted their daughter, Michaela rushed ahead into the nursery. There lay Josef, his covers kicked off, his body steeped in perspiration and his face tormented by a nightmare. The little boy was barely audible, but Michaela thought he was saying, "Mama, no go. Mama, no go!"

She tenderly placed her hand against his cheek and spoke low, "I'm here, Josef. Mama's here."

The boy awoke with a start. Disoriented at first, he looked up. Sully lit the lamp to illuminate the room and calm his son.

"Mama," Josef reached up for her.

Michaela pulled the toddler into her arms, "It was only a dream, Sweetheart. Mama's here. Papa's here."

"No go?" he pleaded.

"No, Josef," she rested his head against her cheek. "We're not going anywhere. Nor are you. We're together."

Michaela could feel his tense body start to relax. Placing his finger in his mouth, the weary child closed his eyes.

"Maybe ya oughta take Joey in your room," Katie suggested. "He's scared."

"How 'bout you, Kates?" Sully stroked her hair. "You okay?"

"Yep," she nodded. "But it's hard t' sleep with Joey."

"You're a wonderful big sister, Sweetheart," Michaela smiled at her daughter. "Thank you for letting us know that Josef was frightened."

"You're welcome," Katie climbed into her bed. "Maybe we get some sleep now?"

Sully tucked her under the covers, "'Night, sweet girl."

"Poppy," she asked. "Do I need t' say my prayers again?"

"Do ya think ya should?" he left it up to her.

"I guess I should say a couple for Joey," she folded her hands.

"I know he'll appreciate it, Katie," Michaela touched her arm. "Good night, my darling."

"'Night, Mama," the little girl began her prayers.

************

Michaela held Josef on her lap at the breakfast table.

When she heard Sully descend the steps, she informed him, "I believe he has a slight fever."

Sully felt his son's forehead, "Seems all right t' me."

Michaela held each spoonful of food to her son's lips, and he lay back against her, sluggishly accepting what she offered.

"How ya feel, Joe?" Sully bent over to look into his eyes.

"'Kay," he said between mouthfuls of food.

Sully stood for a moment observing mother and son. Michaela was beginning to pamper and baby the child to the point that he did not have to lift a finger.

"Is Katie still sleeping?" Michaela kissed Josef.

"Yep," he nibbled on some bacon. "Colleen an' Andrew, too."

"Brian went to school," she continued the small talk.

Sully took a deep breath, "Wanna come help me in the barn, Joe?"

Josef clutched his mother's blouse, "No, Papa. No go."

"Hey," Sully smiled. "It's okay. Mama'll still be here when we come back inside."

"No, Papa," the toddler began to fuss.

The look of terror in the child's eyes alarmed his parents.

"Come here, Joe," Sully reached for him.

"Mama," the little boy clutched her more tightly.

"Josef, Sweetheart," she stroked his head. "Let Papa hold you."

"No go?" his little brow wrinkled.

"I'm right here," she nodded. "Go to Papa."

Josef tentatively turned, and Sully lifted him up.

"That's my big boy," Sully spoke calmly. "Wanna touch the ceilin'?"

"No," Josef embraced him with a firm grasp.

"All right," Sully looked at his wife with questioning eyes. "What ya wanna do t'day? Your Ma an' me will do whatever ya want."

"Wanna hold," he beckoned his mother.

Michaela stood up and went to them. Both parents hugged the little boy, attempting to reassure him with their love. Suddenly footsteps were heard on the stairs.

"Wonder who that is?" Sully raised his eyebrows.

"Mornin'," Katie reached the bottom step. Then she caught sight of her little brother. "Joey!"

He turned his head into his father's chest.

"Mornin', Kates," Sully sat down and pulled her close.

"I hear fightin'," she kissed her father and mother.

"Fighting?" Michaela prepared breakfast for the little girl.

"Yep," she climbed into a chair. "Colleen an' Andrew."

************
Chapter 6
************

"Will you lower your voice?" Andrew spoke tersely. "Surely we can have a civil conversation without resorting to shouting."

Colleen finished dressing, "A discussion involves more than one person, Andrew. You're not willing to listen to my viewpoint."

"Yes, I am," he was flustered.

"Look," she put her hands on her hips. "From the moment I saw how Dr. Mike healed folks, cared about them, even tried to save my Ma's life, I wanted to be a doctor."

"And now you are," he pointed out. "Why must that be a source of disagreement?"

"Because now I want to come back home to work with her... to make a difference in people's lives like she has," she pulled her blonde tresses back.

"Colleen," he shook his head. "I thought we agreed to stay in Philadelphia."

"No, Andrew," she countered. "You assumed we would do that. You never once asked my opinion."

"Well, a wife should stay where her husband is," he stated firmly. "My practice is in Philadelphia."

"So what do we do now?" she folded her arms.

"I don't know," he looked down. "Perhaps I should get a room at the Chateau. You obviously don't want me here."

"Why would you say that?" she failed to follow his logic.

"This is your parents' home," he sighed.

"You know they like you," she rolled her eyes. "You know you're welcome here."

"They have enough on their hands with Josef right now without having to deal with our difficulties," he explained.

Colleen paused to consider his words, "Maybe you're right."

"You'll join me at the Chateau?" he requested.

"All right," she consented.

************

Loren sat at his favorite table at Grace's Cafe enjoying his morning cup of coffee. Hank spotted him and walked over.

"Fall asleep, ol' man?" Hank quipped.

"It's temptin' if you're gonna be talkin' t' me," Loren shot back.

"Very funny," the bartender sat down. "I hear Michaela an' Sully are back."

"Yep," Loren nodded. "Colleen an' Andrew, too."

"Think they'll be expandin' the Clinic now?" Hank wondered.

"Never thought o' that," he answered. "Ya think we got enough sick people t' keep all them doctors busy?"

"Town's growin'," Hank leaned back.

Jake saw his friends in conversation, and he carried his daughter over to chat.

"Mornin'," the barber sat down propping up the little girl on his lap.

"Got enough blankets around your kid?" Hank pointed.

"It's kinda chilly this mornin'," he responded.

"The way ya keep her bundled, it's a miracle she don't suffocate," Loren shook his head.

"What's wrong with us?" Hank chuckled. "Time was, we had a lot more interestin' things t' talk about than Jake's kid an' her blankets."

"Well, what do ya wanna talk about then?" Loren asked.

"I don't know," Hank shrugged. "I leave town for a few weeks an' miss all the excitement."

"Ya mean Katie's kidnappin'?" Jake spoke up.

"Yea," the barkeeper leaned his elbows on the table.

"It sure was excitin'," Loren's eyes brightened.

"You wasn't even there," Jake said.

"I was at Dr. Mike's party when she was taken," he was offended.

"Yea, but ya wasn't buried up t' your neck in...." Jake began.

"If I hear that story one more time, I'm gonna croak," Loren rolled his eyes.

"Well, now that I'm back, I'm lookin' forward t' some more action," Hank saw Grace approach. "Not much has been goin' on around here, an' it's gettin' borin'."

"What would you men like?" Grace poured coffee for Hank and Jake.

She took their orders and departed, passing Dorothy with her latest edition of The Gazette. The redhead handed Loren a copy.

"Reconstruction Ends," Loren read the headline aloud. "What in tarnation happened?"

"President Hayes pulled all the Federal Troops out o' the South," Dorothy summarized.

"So, what's that mean?" Jake asked.

Grace returned with their eating utensils, "Prob'ly means things'll go back like they was."

"Slavery?" Loren found it hard to believe.

"Not out an' out slavery," Dorothy shook her head. "That's illegal now, but I think Grace's right. There'll be a lot o' back slidin'."

"So, anythin' excitin' comin' up accordin' t' the social calendar of the paper?" Hank quipped.

"Why are you so hell bent on..." Loren was interrupted.

"Don't use that kinda language around my kid," Jake objected.

"Ya think the child can hear us through all them blankets?" Loren motioned.

"Never know," Jake replied.

Loren directed his comments at Hank in a lower voice, "Why are you so he... heck bent on somethin' excitin' happenin'?"

"I just am," Hank responded. "Maybe I'll make my own excitement."

"Now ya got me worried," Jake rolled his eyes.

************

"Leave?" Michaela responded to her daughter's pronouncement. "Why would you and Andrew want to pay Preston to stay at his Chateau when..."

"Michaela," Sully stopped her. "They got their reasons, an' maybe it's got nothin' t' do with us or with money."

"I only meant...." she caught herself. "I see. Well... would you at least join us for dinner this evening?"

Colleen looked toward her husband. He nodded.

"We'd love to, Ma," she embraced Michaela.

"I'll help ya load your trunks on the wagon," Sully offered.

The two men went upstairs, leaving Michaela with her daughter. There were no words exchanged at first. Michaela stepped away to observe Josef and Katie playing with Wolf.

"Is there anything you'd like to discuss with me, Colleen?" Michaela turned to face her.

"Not right now, Ma," she answered. "I need to talk with Andrew, and it would be better if we did it away from folks."

"I suppose the opportunity didn't present itself on the train ride here," Michaela was almost sarcastic. Then she regretted her tone, "I'm sorry, Colleen. I shouldn't have said that."

"It's okay, Ma," the young woman hugged her. "We'll be back for supper. Maybe with some good news."

************

Michaela tiptoed from the nursery after settling her children down for their naps. She was met in the hallway by Sully.

"They sleepin'?" he whispered.

"Yes," she sighed.

"Ya sound like you could use a nap, too," he guided her into the bedroom.

Removing her shoes, he helped her lay back on the bed.

"Thank you, Sully," she relaxed at his ministrations.

"Things are gonna be okay, Michaela," his voice was soothing.

She reached out for his hand, "Thank you for putting up with me."

"Humm," he looked up at the ceiling. "It's a tough job."

"I mean it," she insisted.

"I know ya do," he stretched out beside her. "I love puttin' up with ya. I couldn't live without ya."

Linking his fingers in her's, he pulled them to his lips.

"You know, we were interrupted last night," she was finding his touches irresistible.

"I seem t' recall that," he teased.

"May I offer my sincere apologies?" she smiled.

"You may offer anythin' ya want," his intense look awakened her desire.

"Why is that?" she caressed the hair behind his ears.

"'Cause you're the most beautiful woman in the world," his voice was low.

"I never tire of hearing you say that," she retorted.

He leaned so close, his lips nearly touched her ear:

"For she was beautiful--her beauty made
The bright world dim..."

"Was that Byron?" she uttered.

"Shelley," he kissed her ear lobe.

Every nerve in her body tingled, "Oh, Sully. I love you so much."

"I love you, too," he whispered.

Michaela clasped his face between her hands and passionately kissed him. Sully's blood suddenly surged through his veins like an electrical current. Breathlessly, they began to remove one another's clothing until their mutual want was apparent.

"I need you," his urges were overwhelming.

"As I need you," she could not hold back.

Weeks of abstinence had created a hunger which took control of their bodies. Sweet touches transformed into pulsating desire. The synchronization of their movements soon culminated in an energetic joining of their bodies. Wave after wave of their physical appetite was finally quenched.

His tender kisses to her temple assured Michaela that their love making was as fulfilling as ever. In the private ways that only they two knew, they communicated their gratification.

"I been missin' you somethin' awful," he grinned.

"I noticed," she kissed his chest.

"Based on what just happened, I'm thinkin' you feel the same way," he joked.

"Most definitely, Mr. Sully," she kissed him again.

He enfolded her in his arms, "Think ya can get that nap now?"

"I believe so," she shut her eyes and allowed the scent of him to fill her senses.

************

"Andrew, my friend!" Preston greeted his former employee. "What a pleasant surprise! And Colleen, too."

"Preston," Andrew immediately felt uncomfortable.

"What brings you here?" Preston dispensed with pleasantries.

"We'd like a room," the young physician requested.

"Having a tiff with the in-laws are we?" the banker jabbed.

Colleen could not hold her tongue, "Is it your business to ask such questions of your guests?"

Preston grinned, "Like mother, like daughter."

"Are you going to rent us a room, or shall we go elsewhere?" Colleen was losing patience.

"Of course, you're welcome to stay here," Preston backed down. "I think you'll find that we compare favorably with some of the establishments in Philadelphia."

"Certainly not in your preregistration questions," Colleen could not resist.

Preston elbowed Andrew, "You've got your hands full here, Andrew."

Andrew cleared his throat, "If you'll excuse us."

"Welcome home," Preston tipped his hat and exited.

"How could you have ever worked for that man?" Colleen shook her head.

"He paid me well and provided me with top quality equipment," he answered.

"I remember when he wouldn't let you treat Mrs. Morales," she thought back.

"Rest assured I treat whomever I want now," he closed the topic.

************

Katie knocked on her parents' bedroom door, "Mama, Poppy."

Michaela yawned and saw that her husband was still sleeping. She smiled, then rose from their bed.

She opened the door, "Up from your nap already?"

"It's Joey again," Katie informed her.

Swiftly Michaela went to the nursery, only to find her son displaying the same anxiety which had wakened him the previous night.

Sully soon joined them, "We gotta do somethin', Michaela."

"I'm at a loss to know what," she lifted the trembling baby into her arms.

"I got an idea," he told her.

************
Chapter 7
************

"What can we do, Sully?" Michaela placed soothing kisses on their son.

"I wanna take him t' Cloud Dancin'," Sully said.

"Cloud Dancing?" she considered the idea. "I thought he returned to... you're not suggesting that we take him that far, are you?"

"I think it would be best for you t' stay here," he recommended. "An' Cloud Dancin' ain't that far away."

"You want me to stay here?" she was offended. "Why?"

Sully stepped closer and gently rested his hand on her shoulder, "'Cause you're too close t' things right now."

"What do you mean?" she stiffened. "I'm his mother."

"Exactly," Sully noted. "Ya might not be able t' see everythin' he needs."

"He needs me, Sully," she teared up.

Josef became agitated as his parents debated, "Mama."

Sully spoke in a soothing voice, "Let's talk about this later." Reaching for his son, he smiled, "Wanna go find Wolf, Joe?"

"Woh," the little boy smiled. Then returning his glance to Michaela, his brow wrinkled, "Mama?"

"That sounds like fun, Sweetheart," she forced a smile. "Go find Wolf."

As Sully exited with the children, Michaela ran her hand along the railing of Josef's crib. Her heart filled with remorse for what had happened to her son. She felt a lump in her throat as she attempted to deny her feelings of guilt, but they were too overwhelming.

Hearing the laughter of her children, she began to compose herself.

"Perhaps Sully is right," she thought aloud. "I... I cannot be objective where Josef is concerned. I know and respect Cloud Dancing's ways."

Then she was overcome by a new wave of guilt. Guilt for not being with her child when he most needed her. Guilt for what had happened to Katie. Guilt for how she had pressured Colleen to return with them.

Sully appeared at the doorway, "It ain't your fault, Michaela."

"Oh, Sully!" she rushed to him.

He drew her into his embrace, "It's okay." Stroking her hair, he repeated. "It's okay."

"Perhaps he does need Cloud Dancing's help," she felt safe in her husband's arms.

"I'll take him t'morrow," he responded.

***********

"Now what?" Colleen sat down in their Chateau room. "We're here, away from my family."

Andrew stammered, "I... I think we should discuss our future."

"All right," Colleen agreed. "Why don't you tell me what you'd like for us to do, and we'll see if there's some common ground?"

"Well..." he sought to put his feelings into words. "I would like for us to go into practice together. We've spent enough time apart during your days at the college."

"Agreed," she nodded.

He continued, "And... I would like for it to be where we can have access to the finest equipment and facilities."

"So you prefer a city," she responded.

"I didn't say that," he raised his finger.

"Are you suggesting something like Preston's Clinic?" she frowned.

"It had its advantages," he pointed out.

"Advantages?" she questioned. "You dispensed medicine that was mostly alcohol to rich people who came here with nothing seriously wrong."

His temper rose uncharacteristically, "I also saved your mother's life in that Clinic!"

She was stunned, "I.... I'm sorry, Andrew. I know that you did."

"I'm sorry, too," he looked down. "It's just that we need to learn to discuss things before a decision is made. You didn't give me that opportunity before telling your mother we'd come here."

"We did discuss it," she indicated.

"No, we SAID we'd discuss it," he clarified. Sighing, he returned to the subject. "So, what do you want to do?

************

Josef rushed to his mother when she joined the children downstairs, "Hold, Mama."

"I love to hold you," she smiled as she lifted him into her lap.

"Mama," Katie approached them. "Joey poked Wolf in his eye."

"He did?" she raised an eyebrow. "You shouldn't do that, Josef."

The gentle correction by his mother instantly triggered an outburst of tears from the little boy.

"Sweetheart," she rubbed his back. "There's no need to cry."

Sully entered the living room, "What's wrong?"

"Poppy," Katie put her hands on her hips. "We gotta do somethin'."

As Michaela stood up and carried Josef upstairs, Sully plopped into a chair in frustration. His daughter approached him and silently climbed into his lap. Sully grinned as the child leaned her head against his chest.

"He just needs t' know we love him, Kates," Sully could still hear his son's sobbing from overhead.

"Why don't he know that?" she tried to understand.

"I guess 'cause we hurt his feelin's," he confided.

"We did?" she opened her eyes wide.

"Not you, sweet girl," he assured her. "You didn't hurt him."

"Did you an' Mama?" she wondered.

"Without meanin' to, I think we did," he felt his heart grow heavy.

"Ya know what ya gotta do?" she sat up straight.

"What?" he adored her expression.

"Ya gotta tell Joey you're sorry," she instructed.

"Okay," he smiled. "We'll do that."

Katie pondered their exchange, "Poppy, are you an' Mama gonna hurt my feelin's, too?"

He took a deep breath, "Sometimes without meanin' to, we hurt the feelin's of the people we love the most. When that happens, we gotta remember that we still love each other, an' that love'll get through the hurt."

"Did Joey forget we love him?" she tilted her head.

"Maybe," he stroked her blonde tresses.

She amended her counsel, "Then ya gotta tell him that ya love him, AN' you're sorry ya hurt his feelin's."

"That's real good advice, honey," Sully heard his son finally cease his crying. "Sounds like your Ma got him calmed down."

"Good," she reached to play with his beads.

"Katie," his tone was serious. "I'm gonna take Josef t' see Cloud Dancin'. Do ya think you could take care o' your Ma while we're gone?"

"Well," she considered it. "I'll take care o' her, but ya know she's gonna miss ya."

"How 'bout you?" he tickled her side. "You gonna miss me, too?"

"Yep," she giggled. "Bran an' Matthew are gonna be home soon, so ya better cheer up."

Sully kissed her, "You did a real good job o' cheerin' me up."

************

As the coach neared the homestead, Colleen expressed her feelings to her husband, "Andrew, I'd like us t' be near Colorado Springs again. Being in this familiar setting again makes me realize how much I've missed it."

"I see," he pulled the horse to a stop.

"Is there some way we can compromise?" she implored.

He helped her down from the carriage, "It's worth consideration, but please, let's not mention anything to your family?"

"All right," she nodded.

************

After dinner, Colleen helped her mother with the dishes as Matthew and Brian sat for a game of checkers. Sully and Andrew sat nearby watching over Katie and Josef.

"How is he doing?" Andrew motioned toward the little boy.

"He has good moments and bad," Sully stated. "See how nice he's playin' with Katie? That could change in an instant, and he'd burst into tears. He's gone from not wantin' Michaela or me t' hold him t' constantly clingin' t' us."

"I see," Andrew was at a loss.

"I'm takin' him out t' see Cloud Dancing," the mountain man informed him. "Maybe he can help."

"Away from his mother again?" the young physician questioned.

"He can't be around his Ma twenty-four hours a day," Sully noted.

"I realize that," Andrew commented. "However, at this crucial stage in his readjustment, I'm not certain it would be advisable to separate them again."

"Thanks for your advice," Sully was firm. "But I'm takin' him t'morrow mornin'."

************

Michaela noticed her older daughter's quiet, "Have you and Andrew resolved what's bothering you?"

"Seems like something's always bothering us," the young woman smiled. "We're talking anyway. That's a start."

"Yes," Michaela dried the last plate. "Communication is important."

"It sure is good to be home," Colleen embraced her.

"And it's wonderful to have you here," Michaela smiled. "After what you experienced in England, however, I wonder how our provincial little town compares."

"It compares just fine," Colleen smiled. "What a different life the Royal family leads though."

Michaela sat at the kitchen table. "I can only imagine."

"Andrew and I visited Windsor Castle on a few occasions," she joined her mother. "Queen Victoria was very hospitable. I think she must have a million grandchildren!"

"A million?" Michaela felt herself lighten in mood for the first time since their return home.

"Well, she had nine children," Colleen continued to amuse her mother. "Her husband Prince Albert died in 1861, and the poor woman has been in mourning ever since."

"Did you meet all of these grandchildren?" Michaela queried.

"I met most of them, I think," she recounted. "There was one little girl, who I really liked. There was something very special about her. Even the Queen treated her that way."

"Who was that?" Michaela was enthralled.

"Well, Ma, they give those royal kids four or five names, but her's I do remember," Colleen joked. "Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice, Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt. She's only four years old."

"Four years old, and she made quite an impression on you," Michaela patted her hand.

"Oh, yes," Colleen's eyes gleamed. "Her mother calls her 'Sunny.' She has the merriest disposition, always laughing, and a dimple in one cheek."

Suddenly Michaela's eyes saddened. That could have been a description of Josef.

Colleen realized the effect of her words and returned to the subject, "Now, the Queen's oldest son, the Prince of Wales, is quite a source of gossip."

"Oh?" Michaela raised an eyebrow.

"The family calls him Bertie," the daughter went on. "He's only 35 years old and very much a lady's man."

Michaela presumed, "Well, I imagine he's the most eligible bachelor in Europe."

"That's just it, Ma," Colleen lowered her voice. "He's married."

"And he behaves like that?" Michaela was shocked.

"It upsets the Queen. That's for sure," the young woman observed.

"And what of your medical studies there?" the mother asked.

Before Colleen could respond, Andrew appeared, "I think it's time for us to return to the Chateau, Colleen."

"A topic for tomorrow," Colleen smiled at her mother.

************

Michaela stared blankly into her vanity mirror as she brushed her hair. From the bed, Sully watched her, loving the smooth and graceful movements of his wife. Finally, she completed her evening ritual, removed her robe and climbed silently into bed.

"Wanna talk about it?" he stroked her arm.

"I was thinking about your leaving with Josef tomorrow," she said.

"I hope ya ain't upset with me for...." he was interrupted.

"I'm not upset with you, Sully," she stopped him.

He sighed, "I know ya don't wanna be separated from Josef."

"Is that wrong of me?" she defended.

"'Course not," he ran his finger along her cheek.

His touch instantly stirred her. She did not think it possible at a moment like this. At a moment when she was so overcome with concern for her little boy, his father could by a mere touch, arouse her. She felt ashamed at the reaction of her body, and a tear formed in the corner of her eye.

"Please don't cry," he touched the moist drop.

"I'm afraid I can't help myself," she fought her feelings.

"I promise I won't keep him away long," he vowed.

"I know you won't, Sully," she fought her feelings. "I know that you only have his welfare in mind."

"Then why are ya cryin'?" he struggled to understand.

"Because of you," she lowered her eyes.

"Me?" he was confused.

"What you do to me," she clarified.

"I... I don't understand," his brow wrinkled. He pulled back a lock of her hair, "I don't mean t'...."

"No," she ran her finger along his lips. "What you do to me when you touch me."

"Oh," he grinned. "Why's that make ya cry?"

She confided, "Because it's not appropriate for me to have... those kinds of feelings at a time like this."

"Humm," he leaned closer. "I think it's only natural when we're this close."

"But I shouldn't feel this way when Josef needs me," her emotions were jumbled.

"Michaela," he whispered. "Josef's sleepin' right now. Besides, he's not the only one who needs ya."

Her tears began to dry, "His father needs me, too?"

"Even after all these years," he teased.

"Nearly seven years of marriage," she finally permitted herself to relax.

"I want ya even more now, than I did that first time," he grinned.

"You do?" she was amazed. "But our first time was so magical."

"Oh, it was," he began to caress her thigh. "But ya know, things have only gotten better."

"Indeed they have, Mr. Sully," she let down all reserve.

"Michaela," his voice made her heart skip a beat.

He pulled her so close, she could feel every contour of his body. His need for her equaled her desire for him. Slowly, sensuously, they touched one another, heightening each sensation, giving pleasure upon pleasure. Her final touch caused him to nearly burst.

"Shhh," she stroked his hair. "Shall we?"

"We shall," he could scarcely say the words.

Their bodies entered into a union of incalculable delight. Rhythmically merging together, they were nearly blinded by the ecstasy of the experience. Her hands held onto his back, inviting him further until his body was spent of all energy.

She thought to herself, how could she have felt guilty for wanting Sully so much? The profound effect he had on her body and soul was nothing short of miraculous. It was this incredible energy which had enabled them to conceive four children.

But it was more than procreation. It was the overpowering sense of completeness she felt when she gave herself totally to Sully. It was the way he gave himself to her with such intensity and passion. The more they gave, the more they received.

Shortly after her marriage, Michaela had questioned Dorothy about whether there might be something wrong with her for so frequently wanting to be with Sully. Her friend had assured her that it was perfectly normal, but deep within herself, Michaela sensed that the bond she had with this man transcended what most married people would ever share.

Now, filled with the warmth of his love, she vowed to never again permit herself to feel such culpability for desiring her husband.

"I'm glad," she locked into his gaze.

"About what?" he ran his hand up and down her back.

"I'm glad Josef's father needs me, too," she smiled.

"He always will," he spoke of himself in the third person.

She pulled herself against him, "Good night, Sully. I love you."

He felt her relax in his arms and recited:

"What is better than wisdom?
Woman.
And what is better than a good woman?
Nothing!"

He assumed she had fallen asleep when she offered no guess as to the poet.

"Chaucer" he kissed the top of her head. "I love you, too."

************
Chapter 8
************

"Who ya think put it up there?" Horace joined the throng of townsfolk gawking at the roof of the school just after dawn.

"I think the better question is how'd they get it up there?" Loren folded his arms.

"I never saw the likes of it," Robert E shook his head.

"How we gonna get it down?" Horace asked.

"Teresa's gonna be mad as a hornet," Jake was flustered.

"Miss Teresa?" Robert E thought about it. "What about Preston?"

Hank saw the crowd and approached, "What's goin' on?

"Don't tell me ya didn't notice," Jake pointed to the roof of the school house.

"Looks like one o' the Chateau's carriages up there," the bartender calmly stated. "Kind of a strange place t' park it."

"You have somethin' t' do with this?" Jake turned to Hank.

"Me?" he chuckled. "I got better things t' do than put that up there. 'Sides, even if I was crazy enough t' wanna do it, I couldn't do it by myself."

"Who's gonna help me get it down?" Jake eyed the gathering.

"Wait!" Dorothy interjected. "I wanna get a drawin' of it for The Gazette."

"I can see it now," Hank laughed. "Front page story in the paper. Headline: 'School Days or School Neighs.'"

************

"What do you mean you can't find it?" Preston screamed at his front desk manager.

"It's missing, sir," the poor man cowered.

"Then send someone to find it!" he blustered.

"We still have the larger one," the man hoped to calm him.

"I SAID FIND IT!" the banker raged.

"What's wrong?" Andrew approached.

"This idiot has misplaced a carriage!" Preston seethed at his employee. "If it's not found by noon, he can pack his things and consider himself unemployed."

Colleen observed the exchange and spoke low to her husband, "I still don't understand how you could ever have worked for him."

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," he shrugged. "Shall we have some breakfast?"

************

Michaela put on her bravest face for the sake of her son, but her heart ached as she packed a travel bag for him. Descending the steps, she caught a glimpse of her husband speaking to their children. Then she observed Josef, quietly sitting on the floor next to Wolf.

Sully had told her that it would be best for them to be very matter-of-fact about the departure. She resolved to use her calmest voice and hope that the little boy would not fuss.

Michaela handed Sully the small bag, "I believe this will be sufficient for him."

He smiled, "Knowin' you, it'll be enough for a week."

She turned to glance at their son, "I'll speak with him."

"No good-byes," he reminded her.

She knelt down beside the little boy, "How is Wolf doing this morning?"

"Good," he ran his hand along the animal's fur.

"Papa has a nice idea," she raised the topic.

"What?" he looked up.

"To go see one of your very favorite people," she smiled. "Cloud Dancing."

"We go?" he recognized the name.

"You and Papa, yes," she waited for his reaction.

"You come, Mama? his blue eyes begged.

She leaned closer and whispered, "I think Papa wants you to help him bring me a surprise, so I'd better stay here to wait for you."

"Pwease come?" he implored.

"Papa needs your help, Sweetheart," she forced a smile. "If I come with you, that will spoil his surprise."

Josef became silent, then stood up, "I help Papa."

"That's my darling," she embraced him. "I'll wait right here for you."

"Home," he looked about the room.

"Home," she rubbed his tummy and kissed his cheek. "See you later?"

"'Kay," he kissed her.

************

"I imagine that you would like to spend the day with your mother," Andrew finished his breakfast.

"Yes," she sighed. "Sully's taking Josef to see Cloud Dancing today. Who knows how long they'll be gone?"

"I'm not so certain that Cloud Dancing can help him," he predicted.

"Why not?" she asked. "You've witnessed his healing."

"Medicinal cures, yes," he agreed. "But Josef may need some other type of help."

"Are you coming with me?" she invited.

"If you don't mind, no," he smiled slightly. "I think perhaps it would be better for you to visit your mother without my being there."

"Do you feel uncomfortable?" she speculated.

"To tell you the truth, Colleen, I've always found your mother to be a bit intimidating," he averted her gaze. "She opposed our marriage in the first place, and...."

"She came around," she reminded him.

"I know, and please understand," he mentioned. "I have the utmost respect and admiration for Michaela."

"But you'd rather not come with me," she concluded.

"It will be good for the two of you to visit," he advised. "I'll join you for dinner."

************

Sully held Josef close as the two rode along. The familiar landscape gave the loving father a sense of peace. Knowing he would soon be reunited with his Cheyenne brother was also a source of comfort. He glanced down at the little boy, tucked in his saddle and supported between his arms. Under normal circumstances, Josef would have been full of questions and wonder as they journeyed along.

"Ya okay, Joe?" Sully caressed his son's cheek.

"Yep," he looked up at his father. "We spise Mama?"

"Surprise her?" he hesitated. "Ah... yea. We sure will."

Sully felt the child lean back against him and kissed the top of his head. "I love you, Josef."

He made no reply, but clasped his father's hand.

The gesture filled Sully's heart. He knew this would work. It had to work. Then he spotted Cloud Dancing and speeded up the gait of the horse.

"My brother," the Cheyenne medicine man greeted him.

Cloud Dancing observed Josef, quietly clinging to his father, "The little one is in need of my assistance."

"He was real affected by bein' away from us so long," Sully explained.

"Come," Cloud Dancing pointed. "We shall make things ready for his healing."

************

"Loren," Jake stepped into Bray's Mercantile. "Gotta tell ya somethin'."

"What is it?" he stepped closer.

"Guess what I found behind the Gold Nugget," the barber whispered.

"What?" he had no idea.

"Couple o' big wooden planks," Jake looked around.

"So?" he was still clueless.

"So," Jake became impatient. "If ya take them planks an' put 'em so far apart, lean 'em up against the school...."

"You could push the carriage up there," Loren nodded. "So ya think that proves Hank did it?"

"Sure looks like it t' me," Jake responded. "Had some help, I reckon."

"So now what?" Loren shrugged.

"So, now we give him a taste o' his own medicine," Jake grinned.

************

Andrew decided to spend the day traveling around the outskirts of Colorado Springs. He had forgotten the breathtaking view of Pike's Peak.

"No wonder Colleen loves it here," he said to himself.

As he rode along the Old Post Road, he saw a familiar face.

"Dr. Cook," Glenn Varley smiled. "Is it really you?"

"Yes," Andrew smiled shyly.

"It's good t' see ya," the farmer tipped his hat. "Are ya back t' stay?"

"Just visiting Dr. Quinn and her family," the young doctor replied.

"I never did thank ya enough for what you an' Dr. Mike did for me an' my wife," he stated. "We got a healthy little girl, thanks t' you."

"Dr. Quinn delivered the baby," Andrew deferred.

"While you kept me calm," Glenn chuckled. "Means a lot t' folks around here when people do somethin' like that."

"You're more than welcome," Andrew acknowledged.

"Well," he nodded. "Good seein' ya. I best be on my way."

"Nice to see you, too, Mr. Varley," Andrew spurred his horse onward.

************

Cloud Dancing and Sully sat on the ground. Surrounding them was a grove of trees, and nearby was a meandering creek. Josef sat tucked between his father's legs, listening but not reacting to the words of the Cheyenne medicine man.

Cloud Dancing's eyes brightened as he leaned close to softly speak, "Josef, all living things, whether they have two legs, four legs or the plants of the earth.... all have life, and all were given a spirit by the Creator.

Sully tried to gauge the response of his son.

Cloud Dancing added, "Children have a joyful energy. That is why plants for melancholy are picked by children, in order that these children's lives and joy become part of the plant that is picked." He paused for effect, then continued, "All must live together, respecting the balance of life and passing on to new generations valuable lessons about how to be a guardian of the world in which they live."

"Do ya understand, Joe?" Sully lifted his son to gaze into his eyes. "You gotta take care o' all livin' things 'cause you're part o' everythin' on the earth."

"We go home, Papa?" the child became anxious.

"Not yet, big boy," Sully hugged him. "We got a lot t' learn."

************

Michaela and Colleen heard a ruckus overhead.

"Katie!" Michaela called. "What are you doing up there?"

"Just playin'," came the reply.

"What was that noise?" she queried.

"I gotta ask ya somethin'," the little girl's voice grew closer as she came down the steps.

Michaela smiled at Colleen, "She's taken lately to getting into my clothes and trying them on."

"She wants to imitate you, Ma," Colleen smiled.

"Or grow up more quickly than her father and I would...." she stopped suddenly when she saw what the little girl was wearing.

Over her own dress, Katie had put on her mother's negligee with its suggestively low cut neckline. Michaela began to turn red as Colleen chuckled.

"Mama," Katie put her hands on her hips. "I really like this dress, but I think they left somethin' out up here."

"Um...." Michaela attempted to compose herself. "Yes, Sweetheart. That's why I keep it in the back of the drawer. What were you doing in there?"

"Just lookin'," she replied. "Maybe if ya wear a big necklace, it could cover up this empty part."

"That's a wonderful suggestion," Michaela smiled nervously.

"Did ya ever wear this someplace?" the little girl persisted.

"Well... ah...." the mother hesitated.

Katie lowered the straps and stepped out of it, "I don't think Poppy would like ya to."

Colleen's laughter increased as Michaela's shade of red became more pronounced.

"What's so funny?" Katie smiled at her sister.

************

"We're gonna get even t'night," Jake looked at the assembled men.

"What are we gonna do?" Horace asked. "I don't wanna be out late. My bunion tells me it's gonna rain."

"I told ya," Jake rolled his eyes. "We're gonna teach Hank a lesson for what he pulled at the school.

"Why don't you simply inform Hank that you know he did it?" the Reverend contributed. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

"Inform Hank that we know he did it?" Jake mocked. "First off, he'd deny it. Second, he's gonna keep it up 'til we pay him back in kind."

Robert E attempted to reason, "I don't know if this is such a good idea."

"Look," Jake tilted back his hat. "For this t' work, I need all o' ya t' help."

"Even me?" the minister was surprised.

"Yea," Jake allowed. "By keepin' quiet about what we're doin'."

************
Chapter 9
************

As Dusk was falling on their clearing in the woods, Cloud Dancing built a fire. Preparation for Josef's healing required Sully and Cloud Dancing to fast, but the child was fed. The little boy even seemed slightly more outgoing after eating, venturing closer to permit the medicine man to hold him.

Sully looked on with love as his best friend counseled his son. He found it altogether fitting that the man who had once given him back his spirit would be the one to lead Josef out of the dark place he was in.

Could Dancing spoke tenderly, "Josef, do you know where you came from?"

"Home," he answered.

The medicine man smiled, "Do you know who made you?"

Josef pondered it a moment, then replied, "Mama an' Papa?"

Cloud Dancing pointed to his chest, "And inside of you, your spirit... where does it come from?"

Josef scratched his head, then shrugged, "Don' know."

The Cheyenne softly began his education, "We come from the Creator, who helps us in our life journey. The Creator can take any form, human or animal."

Josef looked up, "Cweator Mama?"

He smiled, "The Creator may be our mother or father, our grandmother or grandfather. He can even be our friend."

Josef absorbed the words carefully.

Cloud Dancing resumed the lesson, "We must listen and watch very carefully to learn what the Creator teaches us. When I was a boy, there was an old man of our tribe who had gained so much knowledge about things, I used to sit and listen to him, thinking I would like to be like him."

"Like Papa," Josef pointed.

Sully smiled.

"This old man could even understand the dogs when they would bark," Cloud Dancing informed him.

Josef's eyes widened, "Woh?"

"Yes, the wolf and all animals," Cloud Dancing nodded. "Animals give us messages that can protect the community. But we must listen without fear."

In the distance, the faint sound of a mountain lion was heard, prompting Josef to jump up and run to his father.

Protectively, Sully embraced him and kissed his cheek, "It's okay, Joe."

"See? The mountain lion speaks to us ," Cloud Dancing told him. "Look, Josef. Look around you. The plants, the animals tell of a storm that is coming."

"Tunder?" Josef's brow wrinkled.

"Yes," Cloud Dancing told him. "There will be thunder and lightning."

"Home, Papa," the child clutched his father's jacket.

"The creatures of the earth have given us this warning so that we might prepare for it and not be frightened," Cloud Dancing patted the little boy's hand. "The rain will bring nourishment to the earth."

************

"Dinner was delicious, Colleen," Michaela complimented her daughter.

"My wife is a great cook," Andrew wiped the corner of his mouth on his napkin. "You must have taught her well, Michaela."

Michaela smiled, "I believe her real mother had the greater influence in that department."

"Storm's comin'," Brian announced.

Matthew looked out the window, "We better secure the animals."

"Okay," Brian followed his brother out the door.

"And we should return to the Chateau," Andrew stood. "Thank you for your hospitality, Michaela."

"You're family," she replied. "I love having you."

"Mama," Katie stood. "Maybe Colleen could fix your dress."

"Did you rip your dress?" Andrew innocently inquired.

"It's a long story," Colleen tapped her husband's arm. "Let's go. 'Night Ma. Katie."

They embraced, and the Cooks departed.

"Mama," Katie approached her mother. "Are ya okay? Poppy said I need t' take care o' ya."

She lifted her daughter, "I'm fine, thank you. But we need to have a little talk about your getting into drawers."

"I figured somethin' was on your mind," the child anticipated an impending lecture.

************

"Josef," Sully smiled at the little boy's attempts to help them build a lodge. "You're doin' real good."

"We hide, Papa?" the child wondered.

"No," he knelt down. "This'll keep us dry when the rain starts."

"And we shall use it later for the sweat lodge ceremony," Cloud Dancing revealed.

They finished the structure just as the rains began. Safe and warm inside, Josef yawned.

"The little one is sleepy," Cloud Dancing noted.

"He got a brief nap on our way here," Sully stroked the child's head. "But he ain't been sleepin' real good. He wakes up with nightmares."

"Josef," the medicine man held his gaze. "Tell me about your dreams."

Josef suddenly rotated toward his father's chest and rubbed his eyes.

"Tell your Cheyenne father," Sully gently guided him to look at Cloud Dancing.

"Mama go 'way," his little voice trembled. "Papa go 'way."

"I see," said Cloud Dancing. "This frightens you."

"Tell him how ya feel, Joe," Sully encouraged.

"I sad," Josef responded. "Scared."

"You are a special child," the medicine man reached out for him.

Josef looked up to his father. Sully nodded, and Josef tentatively approached Cloud Dancing.

"Children have a unique bond with older people," he cradled Josef. "You are a link to the future, and we must pay special attention to your dreams."

************

Katie contritely lay in bed awaiting her mother's arrival. When Michaela entered the nursery, she glanced momentarily at her son's empty crib.

"I miss Joey, too," the little girl looked up.

"Your Daddy and Cloud Dancing will take good care of him," her statement was more wishful thinking.

"Was I bad, Mama?" Katie spoke what was on her mind.

"Bad?" she was puzzled.

"For gettin' int' your clothes," the child played with the edge of her blanket.

"No, Katie, not bad," Michaela comforted her. "But.... do you know how we tell you to knock before coming into our bedroom?"

"Yep," she remembered. "Sometimes you're doctorin' Poppy."

"Well," Michaela cleared her throat. "The point is, there are some things that are private."

"Private?" Katie repeated.

"The older you get, the more you'll appreciate privacy," Michaela pointed out. "There are some things that we don't want others to know about or see."

"Like a secret?" she compared.

"Yes," Michaela nodded. "Rather like a secret."

"I don't like secrets," the little girl recalled her father's surprise party for Michaela.

"Sweetheart," Michaela sighed. "It's important to respect other people's wish for privacy."

"But why can't I look at your clothes, Mama?" Katie persisted.

"You are welcome to look at my clothes, my darling," she touched her nose playfully. "But out of courtesy, it's important that you tell me what you're doing and obtain my permission first."

"That takes away the fun of explorin'," Katie grinned.

"You sound like your father," Michaela smiled. "Say your prayers now."

************

"Jacob," Teresa finished feeding Maria. "Where have you been?"

"Ah..." he fumbled for an excuse. "Just out takin' a walk."

"In the rain?" she doubted.

He picked up their daughter, "How's this pretty little girl?"

The five month old infant gurgled and grinned at her father.

"What's she doin' up?" he caressed the baby's dark hair.

"She was frightened by the storm," Teresa replied.

************

"Papa!" Josef covered his ears at the loud clap of thunder.

"It's okay," Sully encircled his son in his arms. "That's just the storm lettin' us know where it is so we don't go out."

"Pwease, Papa," he buried his head in his father's chest and began to sob. "Want Mama."

Sully looked toward his friend, his expression reflecting concern and frustration.

"All will be well, my friend," Cloud Dancing's words were comforting. "The Spirits will hear his cries."

Sully stroked his son's head, speaking low, "It's okay, Joe. Papa's here. You're gonna be all right."

************

Michaela settled into bed, and picked up her latest medical journal. Unable to concentrate, she rolled onto her side and stroked the empty pillow beside her.

"Oh, Sully," she sighed.

She closed her eyes and let her thoughts drift. Soon, she was asleep.

Then the dream came. It had been many years since she dreamed about her father. He was dressed all in white. They were in his office. She looked around the familiar room, filled with the same sense of awe and love that she always experienced in her father's presence.

"Mike," his strong voice echoed in her mind.

"Father," she reached out to touch him.

"I'm here," he smiled. "Your son will be all right."

"You know about Josef, Father?" she was surprised.

"Of course," he smiled and stroked his beard. "I know everything about you. Thank you for naming him after me."

"I miss you so much," she could feel his image fading.

"I'm always with you," he touched her hand.

Michaela's entire being tingled, a sensation that instantly jolted her awake.

"Father!" she looked around the room.

Somewhat embarrassed for speaking his name aloud, she lay back again. The dream gave her an odd sense of warmth and calm. It was if her father had spoken directly to her. In her newly relaxed state, she was able to fall into a deep sleep.

************

"Andrew," Colleen tapped her husband's arm.

"Mmmm?" he awoke. "Something wrong?"

"I've been thinking about our decision," she told him.

"And," he rubbed his eyes.

"I think I've come up with a compromise, if you're willing to listen," she stated.

"I am," he grew more alert.

"Denver," she said simply.

"Denver?" he was curious.

"What if we began a practice in Denver?" she clarified.

He paused, "It's worthy of consideration."

"You could have your city practice, and I could be near my family," she shared her logic. "But I must tell you, Andrew, my preference is to call on patients in the outskirts of the city. I don't want to...."

He raised his hand, "I understand."

"So, what do you think?" her brown eyes widened.

"I think it's a good compromise," he put his arms around her.

************

Hank Lawson finished buttoning his vest as he stepped toward the door of his saloon. Outside, the morning sun reflected on the pools of water from the previous night's storm. Then he noticed his windows. They were all white. He stepped onto the front walk of the Gold Nugget. White everywhere.

"What the hell?" he thought he was dreaming.

He walked into the street and looked up. On the roof of his establishment was a horse trough, from which overflowed millions of soap bubbles.

Jake approached him, "Give the place a bath, did ya?"

Hank turned quickly, "This your idea of a joke?"

"Me?" Jake feigned ignorance. "Why'd ya think that?"

"Someone's responsible for this mess," the barkeeper put his hands on his hips. "An' when I find him...."

"Mornin', Hank," Loren called.

"You know who done this?" he shouted back.

"What's all the fuss?" Dorothy opened the door of The Gazette. "My land! What happened?"

"That's what I'd like 't know," Hank grew angrier by the second.

Horace rounded the corner and immediately felt uncomfortable.

Hank noticed, "How'd they rook you int' this?"

"Int' what?" Horace tried to stay calm.

"There's a reason why my whole buildin's soaped up," he shot back. "Whoever done it's gonna be damn sorry."

************

"Sully," Cloud Dancing spoke softly. "It is time."

The mountain man awoke. Spooned against him was his sleeping son. Josef had cried most of the night. Cried for his mother. Cried to go home. It tugged at Sully's heart. But now, today, he felt hopeful that there would be a true breakthrough. He prayed that the sweat lodge ceremony would give him back the happy little boy who was the joy of his family.

************

Katie knocked on her mother's door, "Mama."

"Come in," Michaela rolled over to look at the clock.

The child climbed up onto the bed, "Bran's up."

"Is he now?" she arranged a lock of her daughter's blonde hair.

"Did ya sleep good?" Katie snuggled closer.

"I did," the mother embraced her. "And you?"

"I sorta miss Joey," she smiled. "It was real quiet."

"I know what you mean," Michaela kissed her. "Let's go make breakfast for Brian, shall we?

"Yep," the child slid out of bed.

************

With Josef awake, Cloud Dancing spoke to the father and son, "All living creatures have souls and communicate with each other. When Josef has his dreams, the Spirits are speaking to him. It is the duty of his family and his friends to help him find the meaning of the dreams and to guide him along the journey of life.

"Help?" Josef pointed to the medicine man.

"I will help you," he smiled. "So will your father."

Sully felt the tension in his son's body lessen a bit, "We're gonna have a special ceremony t' help ya, Joe."

"Cemony?" he attempted.

To initiate the rite, they shed themselves of their clothing. Cloud Dancing began to position hot rocks in a depression at the center of the ground within the lodge. He threw water onto them to create the steam. Josef flinched at the hissing sound.

"Shhh," Sully assured him. "It's okay."

Cloud Dancing began to chant. Josef was mesmerized by his voice.

Sully related tenderly to his son what was happening, "He is calling upon the spirits of our grandfathers. He is asking the Great Spirit to hear our prayers."

As they continued, beads of perspiration formed on their bodies. Sully held his little boy close, wiping the moisture from his eyes.

Finally, Cloud Dancing extended his arms and summoned Josef. The child willingly went to him.

"Josef," he began. "You are one with all around you. Take this dirt into your hands."

The child cupped his hands together, and the medicine man placed some soil in his palms.

"This is Mother Earth," he explained. "She is with you wherever you journey."

Then he placed a leaf in the little boy's hands, "The plants bring healing and strength to our bodies. They, too, are always with you."

Next he included some animal hair, "This is the fur of the wolf. The Spirits speak to you through him. The wolf is of good nature. He will make you brave. You must listen to him."

"Woh," Josef repeated.

"Your name will be Ho'neoxhaaestse," the Cheyenne spoke. "Brave Wolf."

Sully felt a lump in his throat, "Brave Wolf."

"Do not be afraid of your dreams, little one," Cloud Dancing's voice was firm. "The Spirits sent them to remind you of those who love you, not to take them away from you. You are part of them.... part of everyone and everything around you, and all are within you."

Sully looked on as a remarkable transformation began to occur in his son. He no longer cowered and trembled. He stood straight and proud.

Josef held up his cupped hands and looked carefully at the contents placed there by Cloud Dancing, "Bwave Woh."

"Yes, Brave Wolf," the medicine man pointed to his heart. "Learn all that you can. The hopes of many are in you."

"Papa," Josef ran to his father.

Sully could not contain the overwhelming emotion he felt. He embraced his son and began to sway back and forth holding him securely in his arms.

Closing his eyes at the stinging tears of joy, he softly prayed, "Thank you grandfathers for healing Brave Wolf."

"We go home, Papa?" Josef leaned his head against his father's shoulder.

"We go home," Sully gazed at Cloud Dancing, his heart full of gratitude.

************

"Dr. Mike," Horace stood at the homestead door.

"Horace," she opened it wider. "Won't you come in?"

"Can't," his eyes were wide. "I come t' tell ya, they need ya in town."

"Has someone been hurt?" she asked.

"Hank," the telegrapher nervously replied. "He got shot in... a delicate area with some buckshot."

"What?" she was surprised.

"In his behind area," he felt uncomfortable.

"Is there something wrong with you, too?" she noticed.

"First time I been here since it happened," he peered inside.

Then she realized he was referring to his babysitting Katie on the night she was kidnapped.

"I'll get my bag and be right there," she informed him.

************
Chapter 10
************

Uncomfortably lying on his stomach, Hank lifted his head from the examining table, "Maybe ya oughta let Andrew do this, Michaela."

"I can assure you, I'm perfectly capable of removing them," she arranged a sheet around him.

"I know ya can do it. It's just...." he hesitated. "It's the location that's makin' me nervous."

"I've seen this.... area on patients before," she countered.

Hank couldn't resist, "Just make sure ya don't get too close t' my...."

"Hank!" she stopped him. "I would like to begin. First, I'm going to administer some chloroform to...."

"No need," he sighed. "I can take it."

"How did this happen?" she began to disinfect the area.

"God, Michaela!" he suddenly shouted in pain. "Ya, tryin' t' kill me?"

"I thought you said you could take it?" she removed the first pellet and plunked it into a basin. "That's one."

"How many more?" he cringed.

"There appears to be perhaps a dozen," she estimated.

"Maybe ya oughta knock me out, then," he began to perspire.

"If you talk, it will keep your mind off of it," she removed another.

"Talk?" he rolled his eyes. "Why d' women always wanna talk?"

"Why do men try to avoid it?" she countered as a third piece of lead was removed.

"All right, already," he sighed. "What do ya wanna talk about?"

"As I asked earlier," she retrieved another. "How did this happen?"

************

"I knew nothing good could come of this," Reverend Johnson leaned against his cane as he spoke to the group outside the Clinic.

"It was Hank's fault for startin' it," Jake excused.

"Who knew it'd lead t' this?" Loren folded his arms.

"I say, he deserved it," Preston snapped.

"He didn't deserve you shootin' him," Robert E accused.

"I thought he was an animal," the banker said.

"He was prowlin' around in the alley behind your bank lookin' for soap boxes," Jake raised his voice. "Most animals in town don't stand over six feet tall an' have blonde hair."

"It was an accident," the Reverend hoped to calm tempers. "But I hope this teaches you that an eye for eye...."

"I know," Jake cut him off.

Colleen and Andrew arrived at the Clinic and joined the group.

"We just heard what happened," Andrew dismounted his horse.

"Maybe ya oughta get in there," Jake recommended.

"Does Michaela need help?" the young physician reached for his medical bag.

"Prob'ly would make things more comfortable for Hank," Robert E predicted.

************

"Andrew, Colleen, I want to thank you for your assistance today," Michaela sat at the dinner table with her family. "I hope that this battle of practical jokes is finally over."

Matthew laughed, "Time will tell, but it sure was funny watchin' them try t' outdo each other."

"Mama," Katie requested. "May I be excused?"

"You've hardly touched your meal," she felt her forehead. "Are you feeling all right?"

"Yep," Katie walked to the window and sat.

"Lookin' for somethin', Katie?" Brian turned.

"Poppy an' Joey are comin' home," she stated.

"We don't know how long they'll be away, Sweetheart," Michaela went to her.

"There," Katie pointed.

Then Michaela saw, as well. The figures of her husband and little boy becoming clearer in the faint light of dusk.

"They're home!" Michaela rushed to the door.

The entire family gathered on the porch with Michaela speeding down the steps to meet Sully.

He pulled up beside her and gently handed down their sleeping son.

"Sully?" her voice was hopeful.

"He's gonna be okay," he smiled and dismounted his horse.

Encircling them in his arms, he kissed her, "Sure is good t' be home."

Josef opened his eyes and at first was uncertain of where he was, "We home?"

"You're home, my darling," Michaela hugged him.

"Mama," he grinned. "We spise ya?"

"Surprise," Sully clarified. "It's all he talked about on the way back. Suprisin' his Ma."

"Yes, Josef," she kissed him. "I'm delightfully surprised."

The family gathered around to welcome home the little boy.

Sully noticed that Katie had stepped back, and he knelt down beside her, "I sure could use a kiss."

She threw her arms around his neck, "I missed ya, Poppy."

"I missed my sweet girl, too," he lifted her up. "Did ya take care o' your Ma?"

"I sorta got int' some trouble," she confessed.

"What'd ya do?" he brushed back her hair.

"I found somethin' in Mama's drawer," Katie elaborated. "She said it was private."

"It's not good t' get int' things that don't belong t' ya, Kates," he advised.

"Mama told me," she looked down. "I just thought you oughta know, too, Poppy, in case ya open that drawer an' find it like I did."

"Thanks for the warnin', he grinned. "Let's go inside now. I'm starvin'."

************

Between bites of dinner, Sully rapidly described what had happened on their journey. Michaela smiled and listened attentively, all the while keeping her eye on Josef. No longer clinging to his mother or father, the little boy romped round the room, playing, giggling, teasing his sister, and periodically petting Wolf.

"Josef," she beckoned him.

Obediently, he rushed to her and smiled, "Mama?"

She lifted him, "Time for a bath, young man. I know your father did not give you one."

"We sweat," Josef grinned.

"Do you know how happy I am to see that smile?" Michaela kissed his cheek.

"Love, Mama," he kissed her back.

Colleen cleared her throat, "Before Andrew and I return to the Chateau, we'd like to tell you something."

Michaela's heart sank, fearing her daughter would announce their impending departure for Philadelphia.

Colleen stood and looked at her husband, "Andrew?"

He joined her, "Colleen and I have decided to make our home in Denver. We're going to practice medicine there."

"Denver!" Michaela was overjoyed. "That's wonderful news!"

"Andrew's going to work primarily in the city," Colleen described. "But... I want to be like Ma." She cast an admiring glance at Michaela, "I'm going to visit the areas outside of town."

Michaela was elated, "I'm so proud of you, Colleen."

"Thanks, Ma," she rushed to embrace her.

************

As they bathed the children, Michaela described the practical joke war that had taken place in Sully's absence.

"What's a practical joke?" Katie listened attentively.

"It's a trick to make someone laugh," Michaela defined.

"Can I practical joke?" Katie requested.

"Better not, Kates," Sully rubbed her damp hair with a towel. "Sometimes, the joke goes too far. That's how Mr. Lawson got hurt."

Katie suddenly giggled, realizing that her brother had tickled her, "Joey."

He darted away from her to hide.

"It's good to have him back," Michaela smiled.

"Even if he tickles me?" Katie put her hands on her hips.

"Don't you like for your brother to make you laugh?" Michaela smiled.

"He could take it too far, Mama," the little girl tilted her head to get the water from her ear.

"Josef," Sully could not find him.

"Where is he?" Michaela went to help him.

"Here," Sully finally found him beside Wolf. "Come on, Brave Wolf."

"We sweep, Papa?" he spoke.

"You sleep up in your crib," Sully raised him up to kiss his tummy. "Wolf sleeps down here."

"What did you call him?" Michaela overheard their exchange.

"Brave Wolf," Sully handed the child to his mother. "Cloud Dancing gave him his Cheyenne name."

"Do you have a Cheyenne name, Poppy?" Katie was interested.

"Yep," he lifted her and headed up the steps.

"What is it?" Katie asked.

"Ho'neohtseohtslstse," he spoke in Cheyenne.

"You never told me that before," Michaela followed them up with Josef. "What does it mean?"

"Wandering Wolf," he answered.

"So I have two wolves on my hands, do I?" Michaela teased.

"Three," Katie counted. "Papa, Joey an' Wolf." Then she thought about it further. "Do you have a Cheyenne name, too, Mama?"

Sully spoke with pride, "She was given her name by the great Cheyenne leader Black Kettle. He called her 'Medicine Woman.'"

"Good name," Katie made herself comfortable under her covers. "When can I get my name?"

"I'll have t' find out how t' say 'Most Beautiful Little Girl in the Whole World,'" Sully kissed her.

"That's too long a name, Poppy," she was serious.

"I'll ask Cloud Dancin' for somethin'' shorter then," he sat on the edge of the bed to tuck her in.

************

"I'm so relieved, Sully," Michaela embraced him in the privacy of their bedroom.

"I know," he swallowed hard. "Ya should've seen how good Cloud Dancin' was with Josef. Durin' the sweat lodge ceremony, when he called on the spirits of the the grandfathers, Josef stared payin' real close attention."

"Grandfather," she was reminded of her dream.

"What?" he removed his beads.

"Sully, do you know how Cloud Dancing taught us the significance of our dreams?" she unbutton her blouse.

"Yep," he removed his shirt.

"Josef's grandfather, my father, visited me in a dream last night," she related. "He told me that our son would be all right."

"Your Pa's watchin' over you an' the children," he told her.

"I know," she acknowledged.

"Cloud Dancin' says that there will be times when Josef might retreat back int' his shell," Sully cautioned. "But it'll happen less frequently. We just gotta be patient and guide him on his life's journey."

"I saw that spark in him again tonight," she smiled.

"Katie told me she got int' trouble for findin' somethin' in your drawer," he suddenly thought of her confession to him on the front steps.

"Sully," she blushed. "She found my negligee."

"She did?" he chuckled.

"Yes," she shook her head. "She thought it was defective with a sizable part missing."

Sully stifled a laugh.

"She didn't think you would want me to wear something like that," she raised an eyebrow.

"Too bad I wasn't here t' tell her what I really think," he pulled her close.

"Thank you, Sully," her tone changed. "Thank you for bringing back our little boy."

"Those kids are our treasures," he touched her chin. "I'd go through anythin' t' bring them back home t' us."

"I know you would," she kissed his finger. Then she caressed the hair on his chest, "Wandering Wolf."

"That was before I met you," he was becoming aroused at her gesture. "I don't wanna wander anymore."

He lifted her and carried her to their bed. Plying kisses to her neck and shoulders, he lightly ran his palms across her. Goose bumps appeared on her skin. Michaela arched her head back and quivered.

Continuing his movements, Sully positioned himself beside her.

"Perhaps," her voice faltered from the longing he stirred. "Perhaps, you should be called Wandering Hand."

"Ya like where my hand's wanderin'?" he grinned.

"Very much," she cupped his face. "I love you so much."

He cleared his throat, "Ya know, the last time I recited some poetry to ya, ya fell asleep."

"I promise to stay wide awake this time," she kissed him.

As Sully began, she drove him to distraction by caressing and kissing him in the places that she knew would stir his desire. But onward he tried:

"My heart is like a singing bird
Whose next is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit...."

He paused to catch his breath.

"You're makin' this hard t' finish," he clasped her shoulders.

"Do go on," she returned to her loving touches.

"My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love has come to me...."

His pulse had reached a dizzying speed.

"Was that Shelley?" she stopped for the moment.

"Christina Rossetti," he swallowed hard.

"You seem a bit distracted," she knew she had him.

"Michaela," his body ached for her. "I think ya stayed awake just fine that time."

"It's amazing what one can do when energized by love," she curled back his hair from his temple.

"Oh, I'm energized," he repositioned her to receive his love.

"Well, then?" she invited.

Their banter ended as they totally gave in to their passionate yearning. Awash with the love and warmth of one another, they conveyed their fulfillment to each other.

"By the way..." he kissed her tenderly.

"Yes?" she felt his heart beat against hers.

"I love you, too," he grinned.

THE END

EPILOGUE

German born Carl Schurz (1829-1906) has been called the "greatest American of German birth." Fleeing Germany after the Revolution of 1848, he settled initially in Wisconsin, where became a leader of the anti-slavery movement. After supporting Lincoln in the election of 1860, the president named him minister to Spain. He returned to America during the Civil War and distinguished himself as a brigadier general in the Union Army.

After the War, Schurz established the Westliche Post, a German language newspaper in St. Louis, MO. It soon became a powerful influence in the West. In 1869, he entered the United States Senate, representing Missouri. Although a Republican, he soon led the opposition against the measures of President Grant and declined his support of the President in the election of 1872.

President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him secretary of the Interior in 1877, a post he held for four years. As secretary, he argued for a fair treatment of the Indians and installed a civil-service merit system in his department. Later, he became editor of the New York Evening Post and chief editorial writer for Harper's Weekly.

Those who visit Manhattan may even recognize his name because of the park which bears his name. Carl Schurz Park overlooks the waters of Hell's Gate on the East River in the Yorkville section. Schurz is also honored by Karl Bitter's statue located at Morningside Drive and 116th Street.

By the way, Mrs. Carl Schurz (Margaretha Meyer), who immigrated to America with her husband in 1852, holds quite a distinction, as well. In Germany, she had been a student of Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the kindergarten. In 1856, Margaretha established a school at Watertown, WI, for the young German speaking children of immigrants. This school was the first kindergarten in the United States.

Colleen related the story to Michaela of meeting the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice, or "Sunny" as she was affectionately called by her mother. Little Alix grew up to marry the Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, last of the Romanov rulers. She converted from her native Lutheran religion and changed her name to marry the monarch. History knows her as Empress Alexandra.

Nicholas and Alexandra were among the most tragic figures in Russian history. In 1918, they were murdered along with their five children (Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia and Alexis) by the Bolsheviks. Only recently were their remains discovered and given proper burial. Until this discovery, controversy surrounded the identity of a woman who claimed to be Nicholas and Alexandra's youngest daughter Anastasia. DNA studies verified that among the bones discovered were those of Anastasia. However, this gives rise to a new mystery. The remains of daughter Marie and son Alexis are still missing.



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