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



A Stalwart


by Debby K


Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
A Stalwart
by Debby K

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

Charles opened his journal. With his bearded jaw set tightly, he made no effort to control his anger. Anger at his family, anger at the government, anger at life. He had known at an early age that he was destined for greatness. Yet, at every turn, it had alluded him. The bitterness within him was on the brink of exploding.

He walked to the window of his Washington boarding house room, hardly the abode of a man of his talents. After all, he was a distinguished lawyer. He had nearly single-handedly helped Mr. Garfield get elected. He had even written to the new President:

"Next Spring, I expect to marry the daughter of a deceased New York Republican millionaire, and I think we can represent the government at Vienna with dignity and grace. "

Obviously, Garfield had not received his note. So he had sent another:

"I called to see you this morning, but you were engaged. I sent you a note touching on the Austrian mission. I understand, wishes to remain at Vienna till fall. He is a good fellow. I do not wish to disturb him in any event. "

Charles cursed to himself. Garfield was not the man he had thought. The President was under the influence of Secretary of State James Blaine.

"Humff." Charles shook his head. "Garfield is a Half-Breed Republican, who has turned his back on his most loyal supporters."

Charles had written to the Secretary of State, as well:

"January last I wrote Garfield touching the Austrian Mission, and I think he has filed my application and is favorably inclined. Since then I have concluded to apply for the Consul-General at Paris instead. I spoke with Garfield about it, and he said your endorsement would help, will talk with you about it as soon as I can get a chance. There is nothing against me. I claim to be a gentleman and a Christian. "

Charles sighed. Again, there had been no reply, in spite of his persistent letters.

He looked down upon the busy street. In the distance, his view of the White House was clear. As he thought about Blaine again, a feeling of disgust welled in his stomach.

Determined to gain the appointment he deserved, Charles had approached the Secretary of State and introduced himself as the author of the letters.

Blaine had shouted, "Never speak to me again on the Paris Consulship as long as you live! "

Charles swallowed hard and took a drink of water. "So you gave the position to another. Betrayed me, but God will make you pay. You and Garfield."

Charles reached into his satchel and withdrew the .44 British Bulldog revolver he had purchased. "Yes, God will make you pay. I've chosen His instrument very carefully, don't you think? The ivory handle will look much better in a museum one day, in a place of honor."

Then, Charles lifted an unmailed letter he had composed and read aloud:

"To the American People: I conceived the idea of removing the President four weeks ago. Not a soul knew of my purpose. I conceived the idea myself and kept it to myself. I read the newspapers carefully for and against the Administration, and gradually the conviction settled on me that the President's removal was a political necessity, because he proved a traitor to the men that made him, and thereby imperiled the life of the Republic. This is not murder. It is a political necessity. "

Running his hand along the revolver, he nodded. "History will remember Charles Guiteau."

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

Sully leaned back into the cushioned seat of the train. The length of their ride from Colorado Springs to Washington had seemed endless, particularly while trying to entertain five young children. Michaela and he were exhausted.

Sully mused to himself. They had been on many train rides together, but none had seemed as eternal as this one. Michaela and he thought they had brought enough games and books to keep the little ones occupied on their cross-country trek.

The children had started out well enough. But then Hope's teething became a source of constant crying. Her irritability seemed to be contagious. Even the normally even-tempered Katie had been reduced to crying and quarreling with her siblings.

As the children filled their compartment with noise, Sully took a deep breath and sighed. He could not recall the last good night's sleep he had experienced.

Michaela placed her hand on his knee. He forced a smile.

She eyed her husband knowingly, "We're almost there."

Sully knew that in the morning, they were due at the Baltimore and Potomac Depot, where Brian would meet them. Michaela had booked them rooms at Willard's Hotel near the White House. That is where they had stayed on their previous trip to Washington, when President Grant's daughter had gotten married.

Michaela leaned against Sully's shoulder. He kissed the top of her head, knowing she was tired, as well.

He spoke low, "You lookin' forward t' a good night's sleep?"

She nodded. "You think the children will be better once we arrive in the capital?"

He grinned. "You're the one who said it would be educational for 'em."

Bridget shook her head. "They're gettin' an education, all right. They figured out every kinda noise ya can make."

Sully noticed the dark circles beneath the nanny's eyes. "I reckon you could use some sleep, too."

"Sleep?" Bridget joked. "What's that?"

Sully retorted, "Maybe we could turn 'em loose once we get there."

Michaela took him seriously, "I don't want my children running through the streets of Washington!"

"I was kiddin'," Sully assured.

Katie looked up from playing with Annie. "Are we there yet?"

"Not yet," Sully touched her nose.

Josef raised his hand. "I'm hungry."

Michaela noted, "You're always hungry, young man. I believe you've grown two inches on this trip."

"Ya think?" Josef was pleased.

Suddenly Noah pinched Annie, who promptly let forth a scream. Sully closed his eyes and rubbed his temples.

Michaela disciplined, "Noah! Why did you do that?"

"I no like Annie," he shouted.

At that moment, Hope began to cry.

As Sully reached for the baby, Michaela lifted a pouty Noah onto her lap.

Katie observed, "I used t' think ridin' a train was fun."

"Me, too." Sully winked.

Michaela stated, "Well, it can be fun, if you cooperate with one another."

"What's cooperate?" Josef queried.

"Cooperate," Michaela repeated. "It means to make an effort to get along with one another."

Katie observed, "It's hard t' get along when we're all in the same place."

Sully pointed out, "Well, ya don't have t' get along when you're not t'gether."

Katie questioned, "Mama, did you get along with your sisters when ya rode the train t'gether?"

"Of course," she answered. "We would never have dreamed of arguing with one another in such close quarters."

Sully was surprised. "Ya never fought with your sisters on a train?"

"Never," Michaela asserted. Then she added with a gleam in her eye, "Mother would have killed us."

Josef's eyes widened, "Gwan'ma would kill ya?"

"It's only a figure of speech, Sweetheart," Michaela added. "But we were taught to be obedient and well behaved in public."

Bridget wryly said, "I'll wager ya didn't ride on a train this long with your sisters."

"Well, that's true," Michaela agreed.

Sully kissed a now-contented Hope. "I got an idea, kids. Why don't ya make a list of things ya wanna do when we get t' Washington. Katie can write it down for ya."

As Katie found her tablet and pencil, Josef began. "I wanna see the White House.... an' that Washin'ton monument."

Katie informed her brother, "It's not finished yet."

"We can still look at it," Josef reasoned.

"I wanna see Wed Wocks," Noah chimed in.

Michaela clarified, "The Red Rocks are in Colorado."

"We go home?" Noah's eyes widened hopefully.

Michaela sighed.

Katie scribbled down, "I wanna see Congress. They make the laws, ya know."

"Me, too," Josef nodded. "I wanna see if they'll change my birthday."

Sully's brow creased. "What's wrong with your birthday, Joe?"

"It's too close t' Chwistmas," Josef replied. "Ev'body else has a birthday in Spring."

Michaela frowned. "You can't change your birthday, nor can Congress."

Josef folded his arms. "Then what good are they?"

"Lot's o' folks ask that same question," Sully chuckled.

Katie jotted down another item. "Mrs. Slicker said we should go t' the Smithsonian Institute. It's got lots o' things in it."

Michaela mentioned, "We could also ask Brian for suggestions."

Sully nodded. "Okay. Time for bed. Ya need a good night's sleep for a busy day t'morrow."

Bridget rose and rubbed her back. "Come on, wee ones. Let's turn down our beds."

Sully offered, "I'll do that for ya, Bridget."

The nanny nodded. "I won't be sayin' no t' that, lad."

Michaela instructed, "Come, children, let's get ready while Papa prepares your beds."

Noah pressed, "I wanna stay wiff you like Hopie, Mama."

Michaela glanced at her youngest son. "There isn't room, Sweetheart. You'll sleep in the same bed with Josef."

Josef took his hand. "Come on, Noah. Let's get the top bed."

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

Michaela returned from reading a story to the children. When she entered their compartment, Sully had turned down their bed, then had fallen asleep with Hope beside him.

Michaela lifted their daughter and cradled her tenderly in her arms. After gently kissing the baby's forehead, she whispered, "Try to sleep well, my darling." Then she placed the child in the crib.

Crawling into bed beside Sully, Michaela could not bear to pull up the sheet. The weather had been stiflingly hot, and even though Sully had put the window down slightly, there seemed to be no relief from the steamy temperatures.

She positioned herself on her back and sighed.

Sully opened an eye. "Too hot?"

"Yes." She wiped the moisture from her brow.

"Want me t' get ya some ice water?" he offered.

She turned slightly. "You don't mind?"

"I could use some, too." He crawled over her and drew on his buckskins and shirt. "Be right back."

"Thank you, Sully," she smiled.

He caressed her cheek. "You're worth it."

He slid open the door and left. Michaela sat up. Her gown was nearly drenched. Again, she wiped her face with her hand kerchief and stood up to be closer to the window. She opened it more to let the wind cool her.


Soon, Sully returned with a bucket of ice and pitcher of water. Pouring her a glass, he handed her the cool liquid. Michaela took a sip, then held the glass against her cheeks.

Sully removed his shirt and buckskins, and joined her at the window.

"Why don't ya take off your gown?" he suggested.

She hesitated. "I can't stand next to the window with nothing on."

"Why not?" he questioned. "It's nighttime, an' we're passin' through open country."

He had a point. With that, she lifted her shift over her head and continued to drink the water.

"Better?" Sully smiled.

"Much," she agreed.

Sully took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "The kids will be okay once they ain't cooped up."

"I hope you're right," she sighed. "I'm beginning to think it was a mistake to bring them. I can't imagine what it must have been like for pioneer families as they went west on their wagon trains."

He remarked, "That's how I went west.... on a wagon train."

She turned to face him. "You never told me."

Sully related, "I was just thirteen. Didn't have anyone t' go to."

"Though I was older, I know what you mean," she added. "It was a daunting experience heading into the unknown."

He smiled and reached for her hand. "I sure am glad you made it."

"Me, too." She caressed his cheek.

Sully kissed her palm, then reached for the bucket of ice. He scooped several cubes into his hand and began to rub it along Michaela's arms.

She quivered. "Mmm, that feels good."

Sully smiled at the timbre of her voice. "You're so beautiful."

She cast a glance over her shoulder at their sleeping daughter. "How long do you think the quiet will last?"

"I think...." Before he could finish, there was a light knock on their door.

Swiftly, Michaela donned her shift, while Sully pulled on his pants. He raised the light, then slid open the door.

There stood Josef. "I can't sleep."

"Somethin' on your mind, Joe?" Sully knelt.

Josef wiped his brow with the sleeve of his nightshirt. "Too hot, Papa."

Michaela reached out to him and let him sip from her water. "Let's take off your shirt, Sweetheart."

"I can't, Mama," he insisted. "I gotta be modest for the girls."

Michaela assured, "You still have on your drawers. I think that's modest enough."

The little boy requested "Can I have more water?"

"May I...." Michaela corrected.

Josef sighed, "You're tough, Mama."

"Tough?" She was uncertain.

The child explained, "Makin' me talk wright even on the twrain."

She embraced him. "I'm sorry."

"That's all wright," he kissed her. "I gotta learn sooner or later."

Sully rubbed his son's head. "Think you can sleep now?"

Josef delayed. "Could ya tell me the stowry 'bout how ya found out about me in Wash'ton?"

Michaela lifted her son onto her lap. "Well, Papa and I had gone to Washington for a wedding."

Josef was familiar with the story. "Pwresident Gwrant."

"His daughter. That's right," Michaela gently rocked the child.

The little boy went on. "The doctor told ya you was gonna have me."

She recalled wistfully. "It was wonderful news. I had been hoping for a little boy."

He looked up at her. "Jus' like me?"

"You were exactly who I was hoping for, even though I hadn't met you yet." She smiled.

Josef turned to his father. "You, too, Papa?"

Sully rubbed his son's belly. "Me, too, big boy. When your Ma told me we was gonna have ya, I was real happy."

"Ya pwroud o' me?" Josef hoped.

Michaela quickly assured. "You know we are. Very proud."

"Maybe...." Josef hesitated.

"Maybe what?" Sully anticipated.

"Maybe we could go see that doctor," the little boy requested. "You could show him how I turned out."

Sully chuckled. "We'll see, Joe. Now, you think you can get some sleep? The train's gonna pull int' the Depot kinda early."

"Would you take me t' the pwrivy, Papa?" the child asked.

"Sure." Sully scooped him up. "Say good night t' your Ma."

Josef leaned toward her for a kiss. "'Night, Mama. Thanks for the stowry."

"You're welcome, my darling." She embraced him. "Sleep well."

With that, they departed.

Michaela removed her shift again and positioned herself atop the sheet. Closing her eyes, she was asleep before Sully returned.

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

Brian yawned as he glanced toward the clock beside his bed. He had tossed and turned restlessly all night in anticipation of his family's arrival. Though he had to work this morning, it turned out that he could combine that with a welcome for his family. Harper's Weekly had assigned him to cover President Garfield's departure for a holiday from the same train depot where Brian's family would be arriving.

Yawning again, he ran his fingers through his hair, then spotted a photograph of his loved ones across the room. He smiled, imagining that his younger siblings had grown.

Rising, he affirmed to himself, "I best get moving. Ma and Pa will be here soon."

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

Michaela awoke beside Sully, his back toward her. She smiled and softly kissed his shoulder.


"Mmm," he sighed. "That feels good."

Rolling over, he drew her into his arms.

She kissed him softly on the edges of his lips. "Did you sleep well?"

"You didn't hear the baby," he mentioned.

She sat up worriedly. "Is she all right?"

"Yea," he gently guided his wife back into his arms. "Hope whined a little after I took Joe t' the privy. Then she went back t' sleep."

"You should have wakened me." Michaela felt guilty.

Sully explained, "You were tired."

"As are you." She knew.

"I figured at least one of us should get a good night's rest." He kissed her again.

"Just think. Before the morning is through, we'll be with Brian." She ran her finger along the line of Sully's jaw.

He grinned. "An' first thing you'll wanna do is feed him 'cause you'll think he's too thin."

She shrugged. "I'm afraid I can't help it. His letters have become less frequent because he's so busy. I can only assume that if he's busy, he's not eating properly."

Sully teased, "I love your logic."

Michaela turned up the side of her mouth. "I suppose we should get up."

He sighed. "I like bein' here just like this."

"As do I, but we need to get the children ready," she tapped his side.

Sully did not move. "Remind me again why we had all these kids?"

She laughed. "Because you appreciate my enthusiasm."

He smirked. "Oh, yea. I reckon we'll have t' keep 'em then."

She nodded with a deadpan expression. "Yes, I'm afraid we can't send them back."

Sully took a deep breath, then pulled himself up. "Okay. I'll get dressed first."

Michaela positioned herself back on the bed and yawned. "Good."

He noticed her closed eyes. "You goin' back t' sleep?"

"Just for a few minutes.... until you're ready...." She drifted off.

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

Charles awoke early and dressed quickly. After eating his breakfast, he headed for the Baltimore and Potomac Depot. As he neared the location, he thought about his earlier aborted attempts to assassinate the President. Previous efforts had been abandoned owing to the fact that he did not wish to harm innocent people or that weather conditions were not right. On one occasion, it was because Garfield was accompanied by his wife Lucretia, and Charles did not wish to cause her undue anguish.

But today would be it, he assured himself. He spotted a newspaper and noted the date. July 2, 1881. Charles knew that from this day forward, he would be remembered as a great man.... the man who ridded the nation of an ungrateful tyrant. He was merely the instrument of God's will.


After arriving at the Baltimore and Potomac Station, Guiteau sat to have his shoes blackened. Then he strolled toward the row of hack drivers outside of the depot.

He approached the lead man. "Is this a good team?"

The man replied, "Fastest you'll find in the capital."

"Good," Guiteau handed him a tip. "I shall be needing it shortly. Don't engage any other customers until I return."

"Yes, sir." The man tipped his hat.

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

At six feet tall, James Abram Garfield was strong, athletic and energetic for a man of 49 years of age. On the morning of July 2, 1881, he was in great spirits. Before departing for the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Depot to embark on a vacation and class reunion at Williams College in Massachusetts, he had joked and done handstands for his sons.

The Secretaries of State and War had arrived to escort the President and two of his sons, James and Harry, to the railroad depot. When they arrived at the station, the road bustled with travelers.

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

Brian sat on a wooden chair in the depot and glanced at the clock. 9:15. Hoping to catch the President before his departure and perhaps jot down a quote or two, he withdrew his tablet and pencil from his pocket. Brian decided that if his family arrived before Garfield, he would quickly explain to his folks, then attempt to meet with the President.

Suddenly, the activity in the depot seemed to quicken. Then Brian observed the President's arrival and approached him.

Garfield put his hand on Blaine's shoulder and turned to Officer Patrick Kearney to ask, "How much time do we have?"

The policeman responded, "About ten minutes, your honor."

They turned to make their way through the ladies' parlor toward the departing trains.

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

Sully supervised their luggage as Michaela and Bridget helped the children disembark the train. Annie and Noah clung tightly to their mother's dress, intimidated by such a large and loud assortment of trains.

Finally, with a porter wheeling their trunks toward the interior of the depot, Sully joined them. "Welcome t' Washington, kids."

Michaela lifted up on her tiptoes. "I don't see Brian."

Sully assured, "He's prob'ly waitin' for us inside."

Michaela held Hope securely. "Come, then. Let's find him."

The porter cleared the way for them. "We'll go through the ladies' parlor."

Sully remarked as they stepped inside, "Looks like someone important's arrivin'."

Josef pointed to himself. "We're important, Papa."

Brian spotted his family. "Ma! Pa! Over here!"

"Brian!" Michaela waved.

President Garfield strolled in their direction.

Michaela recognized him from photographs. "Look, children, it's...."


Suddenly, two shots rang out, striking Garfield in the back. Sully instinctively shielded his family as he pressed them to the ground.

The President exclaimed, "My God! What is this?"

Beneath her father's arm, Katie was frightened. "What's happenin', Poppy?"

"Shhh," he replied, his heart racing. "Stay real still, Kates."

Michaela's pulse quickened. "Children, are you all right?"

Spotting the man with the pistol, Sully lunged for the assassin.

Michaela screamed to her husband, "Sully! No!"

With Sully grasping him tightly, Charles Guiteau exclaimed, "Let my arms down, damn it!"

A mob soon surrounded them, hoping to lynch the shooter on the spot.

Officer Kearney rushed forward to help Sully.

Guiteau informed them, "I did it and want to be arrested. I am a Stalwart, and Arthur is President now. I have a letter here that I want you to give to General Sherman. It will explain everything. Take me to the police station."

Kearney frowned as he led the gunman away, "You don't give the orders."

Secretary Blaine yelled, "Rockwell! Where is Colonel Rockwell?"

Michaela turned to Bridget. "Please keep the children here while I check on the President."

"Aye, lass." She nodded. "Be careful. Ya don't know if there's more than one gunman."

Josef offered, "I'll come with ya, Mama."

She cupped her gloved hand to his cheek and directed, "Stay here, Josef."

With that, she left their side and soon was joined by Brian.

"Ma!" Brian embraced his mother.

She questioned, "Did you see what happened?"

Brian answered, "That man shot the President.... twice in the back. I saw the whole thing. You best take a look at him, Ma."

Michaela was the first physician to arrive. After embracing Brian, Sully joined Michaela.

She knelt down to assess Garfield's condition. "I'm Dr. Michaela Quinn from Colorado. If I can be of service...."

One of the men attending to the President dismissed her. "We sent for Dr. Bliss and other physicians, Ma'am. Don't trouble yourself."

She counseled, "If I might just take a look at the wounds...."

At that moment, a male doctor stepped forward and opened his bag. Retrieving some spirits of ammonia, he administered it, plus some brandy before Michaela could object. The President quickly vomited.

An administrator for the railroad line offered, "We can take the President upstairs to the superintendent's office. I'll have some men bring a mattress from one of the Pullman cars."

Within minutes, Dr. D. W. Bliss and several other physicians arrived on the scene. Carefully, they placed the President on the mattress and transported him up the steps and into the superindendent's office.

Sully encouraged, "Michaela, ya oughta go with 'em."

Brian chimed in, "Yea, Ma. You're the best doctor I know."

"I'm afraid they won't want me there," she replied.

Sully quipped, "That never stopped ya before."

She remarked, "Thus far, I've been unimpressed with their treatment of Mr. Garfield."

Sully placed his hand on her shoulder, "Even better reason for you t' go check on the President. We'll take care of the kids. You go on."

With that, Michaela lifted her bag and headed up the steps.

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

Sully and Brian made their way back to Bridget and the children, who had endless questions for their father and brother.

Sully lifted Hope and kissed her cheek.

Katie became fearful. "Poppy, where's Mama?"

"She went t' help the President," he explained.

"That's who got shot?" Josef reasoned.

"Yea," Sully swallowed hard.

Josef shook his head. "Jus' like Lincoln. What's wrong with this town?"

Sully consoled, "You can find bad men everywhere, Joe. But the President ain't dead. There's a chance he might live. Let's hold on t' that hope."

Taking his father's remark literally, Noah spoke up. "You hold Hope, Papa."

Katie informed her youngest brother. "Poppy means we gotta pray that the President will be okay, Noah."

The little boy promptly knelt down and folded his hands.

"Now I play me down t' sleep,
I pway the, Lord, my soul t' keep;
Fi should die afore I wake,
I pway the, Lord, my soul t' take.
God, pwease help the shot man. 'Kay? Amen."

Sully gently patted his son's head. "That's a good prayer, No-bo."

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

When Michaela reached the room to which they had carried the President, she was stunned at the number of people who had crowded around the nation's leader.

Colonel Robert Ingersoll made his way into the room.

Garfield extended his hand. "I am glad you have come."

The Colonel was concerned. "Mr. President, are you in pain?"

He returned, "I... I feel a prickly sensation in my feet."

Michaela spoke to the man beside her. "I'm afraid that means the bullet has damaged his spinal cord."

Ingersoll felt the President's forehead. "No fever."


Dr. Bliss noted, "He was shot in the shoulder. That wound does not appear to be dangerous, but the other wound.... I think it advisable to search for its location."

Dr. Bliss removed a metal probe from his bag and began to insert it into the President's back wound.

Michaela spoke up, "Doctor, you should cleanse that with carbolic acid first."

"Shhh." The man beside her raised his finger to his lips. "Dr. Bliss is the leading physician in Washington."

What Michaela saw next was even more horrifying. Bliss began to insert his unwashed finger into the President's wound.

Garfield moaned. "Doctor, if I'm going to die, just.... please...."

Bliss spoke up, "Sir, it is not necessarily mortal."

Garfield requested, "My wife. Someone should contact her."

Another man in the room added, "We've sent a telegram to New Jersey, sir. Arrangements will be made to get her to Washington as soon as possible."

Bliss assured, "We're going to take you back to the White House, Mr. President. We can care for you much better there."

Garfield nodded solemnly as Michaela stepped back into the hallway, tears running down her cheeks. She felt her stomach grow increasingly nauseous. The doctors were not taking proper care of the President, and she feared he would soon succumb to infection.

Colonel Ingersoll preceded the President into the hallway and saw her. "Ma'am, you shouldn't be here."

"I'm a physician," she asserted. "What I have just seen appalls me. There is no observance of even the slightest procedures to prevent infection."

Ingersoll looked at her, his brow creased with worry. "Ma'am, Garfield is cool and brave, but I fear the hand of death is laid upon him. I know death when I see it, and I think I saw the shadow of death upon his face."

Michaela advised, "You must not let them probe any further without observing safeguards to prevent infection, or surely he will die."

Another physician overheard her and spoke low. "The President will die. The symptoms are very bad. He has twitching of the feet and does not bleed. This is all bad."

At that moment, Postmaster-General James added, "I greatly fear that the wound is mortal."

Downstairs, the crowd had grown, and the press assembled for updates on the President's condition. Sully had managed to hail a carriage for Bridget and the children to take them to the Willard Hotel. Brian and he remained at the depot to wait for Michaela.

Soon, they saw the President being carried down the steps and quickly rushed away in an ambulance. Noticing her husband and son, Michaela made her way to them.

Sully embraced her, noting her still-reddened eyes. "You okay?"

"Yes," she nodded stoically.

"Is the President going to be all right, Ma?" Brian questioned.

She shook her head in a negative response.

Sully ran his hand up and down her back.

Then Surgeon-General Woodward stepped forward to issue a statement. Brian jotted down his words as quickly as the man spoke.

"I did not examine the President's wound, but Dr. Bliss and Dr. Barnes gave me the explanation of it. The President was shot from the right as he entered the ladies' reception-room of the depot with Secretary Blaine. The ball entered above the third rib, but whether it has taken its course towards the spine has not yet been ascertained. The wound was probed by Dr. Bliss, who reports that in inserting the probe, the course of the ball did not extend towards the spine but it is not certain it did not. It is the unanimous opinion of the physicians that what was needed for the President was not the probing of the wound, but rest. More can be told as to the seriousness of the wound after the President has urinated and had a movement of the bowels. It will be some hours yet, and may be a day, before it can be definitely settled whether the wound is or is not mortal."

Sully looked at his wife. "You ready t' go t' the hotel?"

"Yes." She glanced around. "Where are the children?"

He replied, "We sent them ahead with Bridget t' the hotel."

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

A pall fell over Washington, as the public awaited news of the President's condition. Anyone over the age of twenty-one could recall the assassination of Abraham Lincoln sixteen years earlier. Though Garfield had only been in office for a few months, the thought that something like this could happen again seemed unfathomable.

After filing his report at Harper's Weekly, Brian joined his family at the hotel for dinner. He enthralled them with story after story of his adventures in the nation's capital. Sully smiled, recalling how his son had grappled over the decision to accept the job in Washington. Now, Brian truly seemed in his element.

Michaela was uncharacteristically quiet throughout their meal. Sully placed his hand atop hers and gave it a tender squeeze. Michaela glanced at him, her eyes reflecting the concern she felt for the President's medical treatment.

He leaned over and spoke low, "Ya did all ya could."

Michaela felt a lump in her throat. "I did nothing."

"Sometimes, things just ain't in our control," he counseled.

Katie noticed her parents in quiet conversation. "Is somethin' wrong, Mama?"

Michaela assured, "No, Sweetheart. I'm just a little distracted."

Josef sensed, "Ya thinkin' 'bout the Pwesident?"

She nodded. "Yes."

Brian offered. "How about Miss Bridget and I take the kids for some ice cream? I know a place that has the best in town."

The children's eyes lit up as they implored their parents' permission.

Sully grinned. "Sure."

As Sully began to pull some cash from his pocket, Brian interrupted. "My treat, Pa."

Sully retorted, "It's a lot of treatin', but if you say so."

Michaela glanced at her son. "Thank you, Brian."

Bridget lifted Hope from her high chair. "I'll take the babe with us. She'll probably wear more of the ice cream than eat it. Don't worry, Dr. Mike. Things will work out the way they're meant to, Darlin'."

The waiter approached their table. "Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?"

Sully paid him. "No, thanks. Supper was real good."

When the man left them, Sully linked his fingers in Michaela's, then raised them to his lips. "How 'bout you an' me take a walk?"

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

As the children quietly ate their ice cream, Brian thought he would give them a little history lesson. "Did you know that President Washington loved ice cream? He often served it at presidential dinners, even bought a machine to make it at Mount Vernon. The story goes he spent $200 on serving guests one summer."

Josef's eyes widened. "Is that how much this costed you, Bran?"

He chuckled. "No."

The man who had served them spoke up. "A milkman named Jacob Fussell opened this parlor back in '56. He already had a successful one in Baltimore."

Annie's mouth was covered with the sweet treat. "I like this stuff."

Brian chuckled, "I thought ya would."

Katie tilted her head. "Brian, do ya think Mr. Garfield's gonna be all right?"

He touched her cheek. "I hope so, Katie."

Annie frowned, "Who Gawfeld?"

Katie explained, "That's the President's name. He got shot t'day."

Josef remarked, "I seed the whole thing. Papa jumped on the bad man."

The ice cream man commented, "You folks were there?"

Brian nodded in the affirmative.

The man informed them, "Guiteau's the fiend's name. They oughta hang him."

Bridget attempted to change the subject. "So what would you leprechauns like t' see t'morrow?"

Josef replied quickly, "I wanna go see the Pwesident."

Noah contributed, "I wanna see hangin' guitar."

Brian corrected, "Guiteau, not guitar, Noah."

Bridget grinned, "Aye, 'tis good t' see some humor on a day like this."

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

Sully and Michaela walked across the street to the White House. Troops surrounded the building. A crowd had gathered, keeping a vigil and hoping for encouraging news about the President.


Sully spotted some men whom he recognized from the depot. "There's some reporters. Maybe they heard somethin'."

They made their way to the men.

One of them remembered Sully. "You were there today. You held on to Guiteau."

Sully queried, "That's the man's name?"

Another reporter added, "Charles Guiteau. He claims he's a lawyer from Chicago."

Michaela asked, "Is there any word on the President's condition?"

The man stated, "We talked to a few doctors. They all give a different account as to whether they think he's going to live. They can't find the bullet. One says it's in his pelvic cavity. Another told us his pulse is 112, and he's got internal hemorrhaging."

A second reporter added, "Surgeon-General Barnes said that the ball has not been found, that the President is spitting blood and that there is no hope."

The first reporter read from his notes. "Senator Beck, after coming from the White House, stated that the President had rallied some and that there are hopes."

An Army officer approached them. "The best opinion now is that the ball is in the intestine cavity. We were told that the President has been conscious all the time.

Michaela questioned, "What about Mrs. Garfield?"

The officer reported, "The Pennsylvania Railroad telegraphed all stations to clear the track for the special train that was bringing Mrs. Garfield. Then we got word the engine broke a piston rod, so they had to send another. We expect her to arrive shortly."

At that moment, the Surgeon-General approached the reporters. Swiftly, they took out their notepads, anticipating another update.

He cleared his throat and read, "The President is again sinking, and there is little hope. Mrs. Garfield and their family are with him."

Michaela looked at her pocket watch and noted the time. "Eight twenty-five. We should get back to the children, Sully."

He put his arm around her. "I reckon Brian will wanna come here t' get the news first hand."

With that, they departed.

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

When Michaela and Sully arrived at the Willard, they found that Bridget and Brian had bathed the children. Hope and the twins were already asleep.

After being updated on the condition of the President, Brian bid them good night. Then Michaela entered the children's room.

Katie smiled at her parents. "It's good t' sleep in a bed that's not movin'."

Michaela drew back a lock of the her daughter's blonde tresses. "Sleep well, my darling."

"Mama...." Katie paused. "Is President Garfield gonna be okay?"

Michaela replied, "We'll have to wait and see."

Katie shivered slightly. "I never saw someone get shot like that before. Now I know why Poppy doesn't carry a gun."

Josef remarked from the bed he shared with Noah. "I want a gun."

Sully's eyes widened. "Why?"

Josef affirmed, "T' pwotect my fam'ly from bad men. Does Pwesident Garfield have a family?"

Michaela informed him, "Yes, he does. He has a wife and five children."

Josef asked, "Are they little kids?"

Michaela pondered, "I believe I read that his youngest son is around your age."

Josef's eyes widened, "That poor li'l boy. He might lose his papa."

Sully rested his hand on Josef's belly. "All we can do is hope that the Spirits will protect the President, Joe."

"I hope they pwotect his kids, too," the child added. "Do ya think that Guiteau man will twry t' kill them?"

Michaela cast Sully a glance, suddenly aware that their children were more affected by what they had seen than she had realized. "The bad man is in jail now, Josef. He can't hurt anyone anymore."

Josef folded his hands atop his sheet. "We almost lost our Papa. Maybe we could go see them Garfield kids."

Katie speculated, "I don't think they'd let us in, Joey. They'll be guardin' the White House a lot."

The little boy frowned. "Why they guardin' him after he's shot? They should've done that before."

Sully smiled and kissed his son's forehead. "You gotta use the privy before ya go t' sleep, Joe?"

"Nope," he responded. "But I think nex' time we get ice cweam, you an' Mama oughta come. You'd like it."

"No doubt we would," Sully smiled as he rose to kiss Katie. "'Night, sweet girl."

Michaela kissed them, as well. "Good night, my darlings. We love you."

"You, too." Katie smiled. "Oh, an' Mama...."

Michaela paused. "Yes?"

The little girl noted, "You would have helped the President a lot better than those other doctors."

Michaela felt a tinge of regret. "Thank you, Katie."

Sully lowered their lamp, and shut the door behind him as they exited.

Michaela took a deep breath and sighed.

When she had finished putting on her night gown, Sully came up behind her and began to massage her shoulders. "Want me t' have 'em bring a tub for ya? A bath might make ya feel better."

She replied, "No, thank you. I think I'll just go to bed."

Sully turned her around to face him. "Talk t' me."

"I am talking to you," she said.

Sully peered deeply into her eyes. "I mean really talk t' me. You're bothered a lot by all this, an' ya need t' let it out."


Michaela's lower lip trembled. "If I let it out, I'll cry, and I don't want to cry. The children might hear."

"We can go for another walk," Sully offered.

Michaela closed her eyes, then felt the salty taste of tears streaming down her cheeks. "Oh, Sully. I can't believe this has happened again to our country."

"I'm real sorry the President got shot," he paused. "But it don't feel like it did with Lincoln. Maybe because Garfield's only been in office four months."

She shook her head. "What does it say about us? About our humanity?"

"You an' me both know from how the Indians were treated, there ain't much humanity in this world," he noted sarcastically.

"The children...." she hesitated. "They saw a man get shot, Sully. Our children were witnesses to the probable murder of the President of the United States."

"They're all right," he assured. "I don't think Annie an' Noah realize what happened. We'll help Katie an' Josef cope with it."

"Josef." She shook her head. "He wants to have a gun now."

"All little boys go through wantin' a gun," he reacted. "I'll talk with him about it." Enfolding his wife in his arms, Sully assured, "The kids will be okay. It's you I'm worried about."

"Me?" She was uncertain.

Sully explained, "I remember after Washita how ya held in your anger an' pain. Back then, you were frustrated over not bein' able t' do anythin' t' help. I wanna make sure that don't happen again."

"That was different, Sully," she countered. "That was our dear friends. We don't even know President Garfield."

He caressed her cheek. "It's still a human bein' that ya wanna help."

"Perhaps I can...." The thought occurred to her.

He tilted his head. "How?"

"I want to write a detailed account of how I think the President's wounds should be treated," she explained. "I'll take it to the White House from a concerned physician and sign it 'Michael A. Quinn.'"

Sully offered, "You write it. I'll take it for ya."

"I'm perfectly capable of taking it," she frowned.

Sully stroked her arm. "I know ya are, but if they think it's from a woman, they might discount it. Right, 'Michael?'"

"But...." She stopped herself. "You're right."

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

Michaela glanced at her watch, then continued to pace, awaiting Sully's return. She knew that her notes for the President's care had been thorough, but.... what if she had left something out? What if she had not considered some small detail? Even worse, what if Garfield's physicians ignored her recommendations?

As that last thought crossed her mind, the door opened, and Sully entered the room.

She rushed to him. "Well? Any word? Were you able to give the notes to...."

He raised his hand to quiet her. "I gave it t' the Surgeon General Barnes himself. He was talkin' t' the reporters with another update on the President's condition. Brian was there. When he saw me give the envelope t' Barnes an' heard what I said, Brian played along an' said he had heard of the eminent Dr. Quinn of Colorado Springs."

Michaela smiled for the first time all day. "Thank you, Sully."

"For what?" he asked.

She stepped closer and kissed his cheek. "Thank you for not discounting my professional capabilities."

He slid his arms around her waist. "You got lots o' capabilities."

Michaela's expression told him that her mind was elsewhere.

Sully came to her side. "Michaela, ya did everythin' ya could. I know it's hard t' stand back when things are outa your control, but that's what ya gotta do.... if not for yourself, for the kids."

Her brow creased. "The children? Do you think my distraction is adversely affecting them?"

"Not yet," he advised. "But they pick up on things real quick when you or me is outa sorts. There's nothin' we can do about President Garfield now, but there is somethin' we can do with our kids. We came t' see Brian."

She added, "And now he's covering the story on the President."

"It don't look like Garfield's gonna make it," Sully expressed. "Just a matter of time."

Michaela glanced down and sighed.

"Hey." Sully lifted her chin. "It ain't your fault. If they can't find the bullet...."

Her anger boiled anew. "People can live with a bullet in them, but after how I saw them probing for it, he'll die of infection for certain."

Sully rested his hands on her shoulders. "How 'bout ya stop bein' a doctor for a little bit?"


"And be your wife?" The side of her lips curved upward.

He sweetly kissed her. "That ain't so bad, is it?"

"Not so bad at all." She lifted up to kiss him. As she drew back, she mused, "Katie was right."

"About what?" He was curious.

Michaela unbuttoned her husband's shirt. "It will be nice to sleep in a bed that's not moving."

He raised an eyebrow and retorted, "We could make it move."

Michaela chuckled softly. "Mr. Sully."

At that moment, a gentle knock at the door to the children's room could be heard. Sully stepped closer and opened it.

There stood Annie, her finger in her mouth and her stuffed elephant in her hand.

Sully scooped her into his arms. "What are you doin' up?"

"Can't sleep." The little girl tilted her head against her father's shoulder.

Sully stroked her back. "Why not?"

Michaela came to them and touched her daughter's cheek. "She feels warm."

Sully suggested, "Maybe she could use a drink of water."

"Water," Annie repeated.

Sully handed the little girl to Michaela and went to pour a glass of the cool liquid for the child. Annie took a few sips, then rested her head against Michaela's cheek.

Michaela swayed with her and began to softly hum a lullaby. Sully watched them, his heart filling with love. Soon, Annie was asleep. Michaela carried her back into the children's room, then returned to Sully.

He inquired, "Think she's okay?"

"Yes," Michaela assessed. "I opened the window. It is rather warm for them."

Sully nodded. "I guess this ain't the best time o' year t' come t' Washington. This heat prob'ly won't break 'til September."

"We couldn't very well bring the children during the school year," Michaela pointed out.

Sully smiled. "Seemed a lot simpler when it was just you an' me."

"Do you miss those days?" She posed the question.

Without hesitation, he replied, "Nope. You know I love our kids, but...."

Michaela wondered why he stopped. "But what?"

He resumed, "But, we've had kids since I met ya. Charlotte's, then ours."

She was uncertain of his meaning. "Sully, you don't regret...."

He cut her off. "'Course not. I just meant that we've always had more than ourselves t' think of."

She probed, "Does that bother you?"

He denied, "No, Michaela."

"Then why are you bringing it up?" she asked.

Sully took a deep breath, then exhaled loudly. "I guess I'm just tired. We didn't get any rest on the train ride here, then with what happened t'day.... I reckon I'll turn in."

Michaela watched him prepare for bed, concerned that he was feeling fenced in by the pressures of fatherhood. He was working so hard, too proud to use her inheritance for their expenses. Then she thought back to when she had met him. He had been such a loner, not wanting to be tied down, free to come and go as he pleased. Was he longing for those days again?

His voice interrupted her thoughts. "You comin' t' bed?"

"Yes." She lowered the lamp and began to undress.

When she crawled into bed beside her husband, he embraced her and softly kissed her. "I love you."

"I love you, too." She relished his tenderness.

As if he knew her thoughts, Sully added, "An' I love those beautiful children of ours, too. I don't for one second regret havin' 'em."

She relaxed in his arms.

His roaming hand slipped beneath her gown and cupped her breast. "You smell good."

Amazingly, her fatigue quickly vanished. "You do, too."

"I sure have missed holdin' you like this." He kissed the lobe of her ear.

She was melting. "Me, too."

Sully's feather light touches began to awaken her. They had not made love since before their departure from Colorado Springs, and they had missed the intimacy which energized their marriage.

Michaela kissed his chest, tasting and teasing in the ways he enjoyed. Sully groaned softly, feeling his body respond to her overtures. She smiled, pleased at his reaction. Sully repositioned himself and smoothed back her hair to kiss her face. Michaela closed her eyes, relishing his tenderness.

Suddenly, another knock at the door broke their mood.

Sully sighed as he rolled over and pulled on his drawers, "Where's Bridget?"

"Sound asleep, I'm afraid," Michaela drew up the covers. "That might be why the children keep waking up. She's snoring rather loudly."

"Maybe we oughta get her a room of her own." Sully raised the lamp, then went to the door.

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

When Sully opened the door to the children's room, he found Josef and Noah standing before him.

Josef spoke up, "I told him this was a bad idea, Papa."

Sully knelt down. "What's wrong?"

Noah motioned with his index finger for his father to lean closer. "Papa, I scawed."

"Scared?" Sully enfolded his young son in his arms. "Why, No-bo?"

Josef answered for his brother, "He thinks someone's gonna shoot us."

Sully stroked Noah's hair. "Nobody's gonna hurt ya. I'll protect ya."

Michaela beckoned. "Come here, boys."

Sully brought them to the bed, and Michaela situated them on her lap. "Mama and Papa know that you saw something terrible today. It's all right to talk about it, and tell us how you feel."

Noah was uncertain. "What tebble mean?"

"Terrible," Michaela corrected. "It means.... something that scared you."

Josef revealed. "I seed the blood on the floor, Mama."

"Yes," she admitted. "It's like when you cut yourself. There was blood."

Josef persisted, "Is he gonna die?"

Michaela hedged, "He's alive right now, Sweetheart. We don't know what will happen."

The boy looked at his father. "We thinked Papa died, but he was okay."

Sully smiled. "You're stuck with me, whether ya like it or not."

Josef's eyes widened. "I like it!"

Noah added. "Papa get bad man."

Michaela glanced admiringly at her husband. "And, as Papa said, he'll protect us, too. The bad man is in jail, and he cannot hurt anyone else ever again."

Josef turned to his brother. "See, Noah? I told ya."

Noah embraced his mother. "I no scawed."

Michaela kissed the top of his head. "Good."

Sully ruffled Josef's hair. "Think you boys can sleep now?"

Both children replied in unison, "Yep."

"Good." Michaela kissed them.

Sully escorted his sons to the door, then paused to look at Michaela. "Remember where we left off."

Then he pivoted and took the boys into the children's room. Within a few minutes, he returned to bed.

Sully grinned. "You were right about Bridget. The walls are shakin' from the sound of her snorin'."

Michaela chuckled, then cuddled closer to him. "I think we handled that well."


"You did," he amended. "You got a special way with our kids."

She smiled. "I was thinking the same of you."

Sully ran his hand down her side. "You still in the mood?"

"Well, we haven't heard from Katie and Hope yet," she retorted.

Sully pulled her closer. "I'm willin' t' take my chances, if you are."

Michaela kissed him. "I am, but first I want to say something."

"What?" he anticipated.

She stroked the hair at his temple. "What you did today was incredibly brave, but it was also dangerous. You could have been shot, too."

He kissed her sweetly. "Good thing I got a doctor who takes care o' me."

She traced the line of his jaw with her finger. "I love taking care of you.... especially when you're not hurt."

Sully's hand outlined her form. "You sure are beautiful for an old, married woman."

"Old?" She raised an eyebrow.

Sully teased. "Experienced?"

She frowned. "You could have left out the 'old' part."

"Okay, let me try this again." He peered deeply into her eyes and spoke sincerely, "You sure are beautiful."

"Much better." She smiled.

Sully cupped his hand to her cheek, then recited:

"Come away, come, sweet love,
The golden morning breaks,
All the earth, all the air
Of love and pleasure speaks,
Teach thine arms then to embrace,
And sweet rosy lips to kiss,
And mix our souls in mutual bliss."

"Was that Byron?" she ventured.

He said with a gleam in his eye, "No, it was from a song by John Dowland."

"Why didn't you sing it?" She teased.

"Recitin's faster," he answered.

Michaela teased, "You want it to be fast?"

Sully kissed her. "I want the part before we do 'it' to be fast."

With an abiding love that had only been enriched by their years together, Michaela and Sully began to make love. Their tender prelude gradually began to build in intensity until they united, body and soul. The heat generated by their union soon surpassed the temperature of the room. Both lay in each others arms, risking no covers, if one of the children should enter the room.

As their bodies began to cool, and they murmured tender words of love to each other, they were interrupted by another knock at the door.

Sully sighed. "Who taught them t' knock?"

Michaela quickly donned her cotton shift. "Be grateful they do."

He pulled on his drawers and went to the door. When he opened it, he was surprised to see Bridget.

Sully ran his fingers through his hair. "Somethin' wrong, Bridget?"

The nanny whispered. "Sorry t' bother ya, lad, but I heard ya.... an' well.... I wondered something."

Michaela was anxious. "You heard us?"

Bridget clarified, "I heard ya with the little ones. They been up an' down all night."

Sully nodded. "I know. It's this heat."

The nanny returned to the subject. "Or it's all the upset over the President. Is there any news?"

Michaela informed her, "The last we heard, the President is still alive, but his prognosis is not good."

"'Tis a shame." She shook her head ruefully. "Ya just lost your president not long ago, an' now this."

A thought occurred to Sully. "Bridget, he's your president, too. Ain't he?"

"No," she acknowledged. "I'm not a citizen."

Michaela's jaw dropped. "You're not?"

Bridget was puzzled. "That's not a problem, is it, Dr. Mike?"

"No," Michaela assured. "Of course not. I suppose I just assumed you were, after how long you've been in the United States. Would you like to become one?"

She considered, "I.... never really gave it much thought, Darlin'. Been too busy with lookin' after wee ones."

Michaela apologized, "Bridget, I'm so sorry. We've been very selfish of your time. Our children keep you so busy, you must want...."

Bridget interrupted, "I don't mind, lass."

She persisted, "No, really, after this trip, we'll give you more time for yourself. In fact, we can start in Boston. You must have many old friends whom you'd like to contact while we're there."

"A few," Bridget admitted. "But I want you an' Sully t' have a nice visit with your family. I love takin' care o' the leprechauns."

"Sully and I don't mind." Michaela glanced toward her husband.

He nodded silently.

Michaela added, "And if you would like to become a citizen, we can take care of that, as well."

"I'll think on it," Bridget pledged.

Michaela noted, "You'll be able to vote for the next president.... even for our next town council."

"Ah! See, Bridget?" Sully teased. "She's just wantin' your vote. Politics is a dirty business."

"Sully!" Michaela took him seriously.

Bridget laughed. "Well, I best try t' get back t' sleep."

Sully smiled. "'Night, Bridget."

When she left them, Sully quietly closed the door. Returning to bed, he noticed Michaela deep in thought.

"What ya thinkin'?" He tenderly ran his fingers up and down her arm.

"Citizenship," Michaela answered. "I'll send a telegram to Matthew in the morning. Perhaps we can even have it taken care of while we're here."

Sully pointed out, "Bridget only said she'd think on it. You're gettin' ahead o' yourself."

She frowned. "You don't think she wants to become a citizen?"

"I didn't say that," he replied. "But sometimes ya initiate things before folks are ready."

"Like when?" She became defensive.

He knew he was in trouble. "Like.... I can't think of an example at this moment, but...."

"Then why did you say it?" she probed. "You must be thinking of a specific instance."

"Michaela," he paused. "It's late, an' I don't wanna argue. You an' me just made love. Can't we just hold each other?"

She quieted, but Sully could tell that she was still stewing over what he had said.

He touched her cheek. "I'm sorry."

She looked at him with reddened eyes.

Sully felt guilty. "Hey, what's this? I didn't mean t' make ya cry. Michaela, please."

She leaned her head closer and let her tears flow freely. "No, Sully. It's not you. I think it's just everything that's happened today. Seeing the shooting.... it made me think...."

"Think what?" He stroked her hair.

She composed herself enough to say, "Think about how I almost lost you. Poor Mrs. Garfield and their children. I know what they must be feeling."

"Shhh," Sully comforted. "Maybe he'll be okay. Maybe...."

"No," she knew. "He won't survive this."

"More than once, ya must've thought the same about me," he reminded. "But your love brought me back."

"It's just so senseless," she stated. "Why would this man shoot the President?"

"He said he was a Stalwart," Sully recalled.

She reasoned, "And Garfield is a Half-Breed. Ever since the Republican Party split into these factions, it's been nothing but trouble, particularly in sorting out government patronage jobs. Oh, Sully, you're right. Politics is a dirty business."

He drew her closer and kissed her temple. "Except where you're concerned. You hold people accountable. Ya don't let 'em try anythin' dirty."

"You truly think so?" She found his words comforting.

"Truly." He smiled. "Ya know, I told ya before that you always make me wanna be a better man. An' havin' our kids makes me wanna create a better world for 'em. But that's somethin' you been doin' since I met ya. Always tryin' t' make the world a better place."

She spoke ruefully, "I'll never understand why people see things so differently in politics."

He reasoned, "It ain't just in politics."

She turned up the corner of her lips in a smile. "What about us?"

"What about us?" He grinned.

She played along. "I can think of nothing about which we disagree."

He replied, "Money."

She sighed. "Well, you're simply unreasonable when it comes to my inheritance."

He eyed her sternly. "I'm unreasonable for wantin' t' provide for my family?"

She stiffened. "It's OUR family, Sully. Am I not permitted to provide for them, as well?"

He countered, "You bought the kids new clothes so they'd fit in when we get t' Boston."

She raised her volume. "Don't you want them to dress appropriately?"

He sat up and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.

She softly touched his back. "You're right."

He turned to look at her. "About what?"

"No two people see everything the same way," she repeated. "Not even us."

He positioned himself beside her again. "One thing we do agree on."

"What's that?" She was curious.

"We like makin' up after we disagree," he mused.

She kissed him deeply. "Yes, we do."

He caressed her chin. "It feels so good with you, Michaela."

She rested her head against his chest to feel the steady beat of his heart. "I treasure all that you have given me."

He enfolded her in his arms and felt the tension begin to leave her. Michaela became so still, he assumed she had fallen asleep.

Suddenly, she spoke in a whisper, "Sully?"

"Mmm?" He ran his hand along her shoulder.

"I changed my mind," she uttered.

"About what?" He was uncertain.

She lifted her head to gaze into the blue eyes she adored. "You're not unreasonable."

He smiled.

Then she kissed him sweetly. "I love you."

He spoke low. "I love you, too. Let's get some sleep. Kids'll be up before we know it."

She remembered their earlier conversation. "And you don't mind that we have so many children?"

"Mind?" he assured. "You know better than that. They came from our love, Michaela. I can't imagine our life without 'em." Then, after a beat, he added, "I just wish they had better timin'."

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

Brian met his family for breakfast in the dining room of the hotel. From his stubbled face and darkness beneath his eyes, they could see that he had been up all night. Michaela insisted that her son eat more than merely coffee and a biscuit.

There was no more talk of the President's condition in front of the children, but Michaela discerned from her son's expression that the nation's leader had survived the night.

When they had eaten, Bridget took the children upstairs to wash up and prepare for the day their parents had promised to fill with activities.

After watching them exit the room, Michaela anxiously turned to Brian. "Well?"

"The last report we had was after midnight," Brian divulged. "The President seemed to rally. The Secretary of War informed us that the President's temperature and respiration were normal."

"That's good, ain't it?" Sully assumed.

"Yes, it's hopeful," Michaela confirmed.

Brian added, "You know who his Secretary of War is, don't ya?"

"Robert Lincoln," Michaela answered. "The former President's son. What irony that he was with Mr. Garfield yesterday morning."

Brian recalled, "I was just a kid, but I still remember the day Ma told us Lincoln had died. It was my sixth birthday."

"I was in Boston," Michaela thought back. "We learned of his death not long after it happened. Though he was shot on Good Friday, he passed away the next morning, the day before Easter. Father had taken the day off, and we went to church to pray."

Brian looked at Sully. "What about you, Pa? Do you remember?"

He nodded silently.

Michaela touched her husband's hand. "Sully?"

His jaw tensed. "I was with the Cheyenne. Didn't hear about it 'til I saw a newspaper weeks later."

Brian related, "It's amazing the number of newspapers that have reporters here. They're from all over the East Coast. More will be comin' from the West."

Michaela encouraged, "I know that Harper's Weekly will have the best coverage."


The young man informed them, "We have a special edition coming out on July 8. It will have a wood engraving of Guiteau on the front cover. In fact, I got a print of it right here."

Sully observed, "Don't seem right that Guiteau should be the one gettin' all the attention."

Brian explained, "That's the way the journalism works, Pa. Give folks what they want to see. No one even knew what the man looked like. They already know Garfield's image. But don't worry, there'll be more on Garfield than the shooter."


He handed his parents additional drawings. "These are two engraved images that will be printed in the special edition. They show scenes right after the shooting. The one on the left is titled 'The Tragedy at Washington: Scene in the Upper Room at the Depot Immediately After the Shooting.' The right image is 'Removing the President from the Depot to the Ambulance.'"

Sully inquired as he put his hand on Brian's shoulder. "You gonna be able t' get some rest?"

"No," Brian looked down. "I'm afraid they have me working all day. It means...."

With disappointment in her voice, Michaela concluded his sentence. "You won't be able to spend the day with us."

Brian felt a lump in his throat. "I'm real sorry, Ma. Maybe tomorrow. I want to catch up on everyone in Colorado Springs."

Michaela hoped to lift his spirits. "Yes, tomorrow, we'll go on a picnic. How does that sound? Remember when we were here in 1869? Perhaps we can find that same spot."

Brian smiled. "I remember." He stood and donned his hat. "I'm afraid I have to get back to work. But I'll really try hard to spend tomorrow with you."

Sully grinned. "Meanwhile, got any places you'd recommend for us t' take the kids?"

The young man pondered. "Something the general public hasn't even seen yet, the National Museum. It's not officially open yet. They've been working nearly day and night to get it ready for the public. I have a pass you can use."

Michaela tilted her head. "Do you mean the Smithsonian?"

Brian clarified, "It's part of the Smithsonian, but it's new. They held President Garfield's Inaugural Ball there."

Michaela's eyes saddened. "That poor man."

Sully clasped his wife's hand. "Thanks, Brian. We'll take 'em there."

Brian leaned down to kiss his mother and gave her the pass. Then with a shake of Sully's hand, he was off.

Michaela felt tears welling. "Look at him, Sully. All grown up, working hard."

"Maybe too hard," he added. "Can't have a life when your work consumes your whole day."

She defended, "These are extraordinary circumstances. I'm certain that he doesn't do this every day. It's much like being a physician."

"What about Mary?" Sully posed the question. "That girl thinks Brian's gonna come home t' her."

Michaela raised an eyebrow. "Do you know something I don't?"

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

Sully clasped his wife's hand. "All I know is that life's too short t' be separated from people ya love."

Michaela's eyes grew misty. "Yes, it is. So.... why don't we join the children and set off on our adventure in the National Museum?"

He leaned closer to kiss her. "Good thinkin'."

After paying the bill, Sully helped his wife from her chair. When they entered the lobby, they spotted a congregation of reporters including Brian.

"I wonder if there is more news," Michaela speculated.

Sully encouraged, "We can head over their way t' find out."

When they reached the group, Brian spotted his parents. "Ma, Pa, we got more information on Guiteau."

Michaela was interested. "What did you learn?"

Brian handed her his notes, and she read aloud to Sully:

"Charles Jules Guiteau is a native of Illinois and is 39 years of age. He is the son of L. W. Guiteau, deceased. He resided at Freeport, Ill. About twenty-five years ago his father, accompanied by his son, left Freeport and joined the Oneida Community in New York State."

Brian tilted his head. "Didn't they practice complex marriage?"

Sully was curious. "Complex marriage?"

Michaela explained, "Every man was married to every woman. Needless to say, it was highly controversial."

Sully grinned. "Especially on anniversaries."

Michaela returned to her son's writings. "The older man remained with the Community a short time and then returned to Freeport. Charles stayed several years and then went to Chicago, where he began to work as a lawyer. He visited Washington about two years ago, and lectured in Lincoln Hall on Second Adventism. At that time, he claimed to be a dedicated follower. Some who heard him speak labeled him a lunatic on the subject of religion."

Brian added, "Apparently, he's sent letters requesting jobs to just about everyone in the government. He owed a lot of money to the lady who ran the boarding house where he was living and told her he was expecting a consulship to France."

Michaela questioned, "Any word on the President this morning?"

Brian returned, "No, but I do have bad news."

A crease appeared in Michaela's brow. "What?"

The young man informed her, "The whole city's shut down. I don't know if you'll be able to get into the National Museum."

Sully assured, "Well, if we can't, we'll find another way t' keep the kids busy."

Again, Brian embraced his mother. "I'll talk to you later. I'm going over to the White House to see if there's any updates."

Michaela and Sully turned and walked toward the steps. When they reached their rooms, they found the children waiting impatiently for them.

Josef stepped toward them, then put his hands on his hips. "What took ya so long?"

Sully lifted his son and tickled his side. "Your Ma an' me were discussin' what we're gonna do t'day."

Josef anticipated. "Let's look at Katie's list."

Michaela lifted Hope. "I know what we'll do. We're going to.... take a walk."

Katie probed further. "Where to?"

Sully eyed Michaela, then said, "Well, it's a surprise."

Annie smiled broadly. "I like sapwise."

"Good," Sully set his son down. "Let's go."

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

With the news that the President had made it through the night and was stable, Spencer Fullerton Baird, Curator and Secretary of the Smithsonian, had decided to open the doors to the National Museum for the occasional special guests who came to visit.


Officially, the museum would not open to the public until October, but he did make exceptions as each exhibit was readied. Perhaps someone might come today to escape the dreadful news of the past 24 hours.

Thoughts of the President brought back memories of that beautiful evening of March 4. It was a long journey from the inception of this building to that night.

In 1876, Philadelphia had been the host of the U.S. International Exposition to commemorate America's centennial. After the event, a large number of exhibitors donated their displays to the federal government. To house these objects, the Smithsonian had commissioned the United States National Museum, a red brick-and-sandstone structure designed by Adolph Cluss.


This second Smithsonian museum was finished in 1881, just in time to host President James Garfield's inaugural ball on March 4. It had been held in the East Hall, and wooden flooring had been temporarily installed for the occasion. Seven thousand people had attended with music provided by John Philip Sousa.

Baird glanced up, remembering the bunting that had hung from the balconies and garlands which had draped from the ceilings and walls. The seal and flags of each state had been displayed on the lower walls.


A statue "America," holding an electric torch above her head, had been installed for the event. In addition, two electric lights in the rotunda and 3000 gas lights had been located throughout the building to illuminate the celebration. He had even coordinated building 10,000 bins for hats and coats.

Then came the real work.... preparing the museum for the public. Permanent flooring had been laid. Massive specimens of marine mammals had to be lifted into place. Next was construction of mahogany exhibit cases designed to fit the architectural contours of the building and to allow for easy movement. The cases were dust-proof and insect-proof with unique Yale locks and electric alarms.

When completely ready in just a few short months, the building would host exhibits on geology, metallurgy, zoology, medicine, anthropology, art, history and technologies such as ceramics, printing, transportation, textiles, fisheries and agriculture.

Baird stepped toward the doorway, admiring the name "United States National Museum" engraved above the entrance. He hoped visitors would not confuse it with the first castle-like Smithsonian Institution building nearby. But this structure is different, he thought. It is a 300 foot square, with four identical facades. Each facade has a tower at the central entrance and long arcades connected to square pavilions at the corners. The statue of Columbia protects the seated figures of Science and Industry at the north entrance.

He walked into the central rotunda, still marveling at the windowed ranges, along with covered courts with skylights and cleretory windows that illuminated the interior. The gray stone was a bit drab, but he envisioned the day when improvements would be made to add color.

Baird's mind drifted back to how this glorious building was conceived. He recalled the plan by General Montgomery C. Meigs, first submitted to Congress in 1877. The architects Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze had to wait two more years until the money was appropriated for construction in the high Victorian style. Ground was finally broken on April 17, 1879, and the structure was completed two years later, on schedule and under the budgeted price of $250,000. No wood was used in construction, to ensure fireproofing.

Baird sighed in contentment. This building embodied all of his hopes and dreams. He had been stalwart in his efforts to see the building come to fruition, acquiring 62 boxcars of materials in 4000 cartons over the years. Now, they finally had an 80,000 square feet home.

Of course, none of this massive endeavor would have been possible without the efforts of his Assistant Secretary, George Brown Goode. Goode's knowledge of ichthyology and history were superb. He envisioned these objects for the museum as windows to the past. And of course, there were the men who had gone out in search of our nation's past. Kennicott and Dall had amassed collections for the museum, as had John Wesley Powell.

Then there was the Cheyenne Indian, Tichkematse. He had worked for the Smithsonian from 1879 and only recently departed.

A woman's voice interrupted Baird's reverie.

Michaela spoke, "Excuse me, sir. We were wondering if we might take a tour."

Baird answered, "I see you have a rather large family."

"Yes," Michaela nodded. "We've come a long way from Colorado Springs to visit our son. He works for Harper's Weekly. He provided a pass for us."

Baird eyed the youngsters. "You'll keep them under control?"

"Of course," Michaela pledged. "I have a tremendous respect for museums and history."

Baird added, "We're not finished with preparing all of the exhibits, but... I suppose it would be all right."

Sully nodded, "Much obliged."

Baird studied him, "You're not an Indian, yet you dress as one."

Sully returned, "I lived with the Cheyenne for several years."

The curator's eyes lit up. "I was just thinking about the Cheyenne.


One of their tribe, a man named Tichkematse, worked here for a couple of years."

"Squint Eyes," Sully interpreted the name.

Baird raised his eyebrow. "You speak Cheyenne, as well."

Sully nodded. "Tell us about Tichkematse."

Baird relished the opportunity. "He was part of a group of Plains warriors who had been captured by the Army and held as a prisoner of war from 1875-78."

Sully's jaw tensed, but he did not speak.

Baird continued, "He learned to speak English from his captors, then after being released, attended the Hampton Institute in Virginia. They trained him in taxidermy of birds and mammal species."

Katie inquired, "Excuse me, sir, but what's taxidermy?"

Baird was impressed with the child's respectful question. "It is.... putting certain chemicals in a dead animal to preserve it for display."

Sully reminded, "You've seen some at Mr. Bray's store, Kates."

"Oh, yea," she remembered.

Baird went on. "Tichkematse was so capable, he went on an expedition for us to counsel with the Seminole Tribe in Florida. He collected many bird specimen for the museum. When he returned, he quite often spoke with and guided visitors through the Smithsonian."

Katie had another question. "Can we.... May we meet him?"

Baird shook his head. "I'm afraid he's not here anymore."

The little girl was curious. "Did he go back with the Cheyenne?"

"At the moment, he's at the Grand Canyon procuring information on the Havasupai Indians," Baird informed her.

Michaela smiled. "Do you have any exhibits on medicine?"

"Yes, we do." Baird gestured for them to follow him. "Dr. Beyer of the Navy is organizing it. We have specimens of animals, vegetables, products of fermentation and distillation, inorganic products, all sorts of medicinal forms. We are even in the process of acquiring a collection of Chinese medicines."

Michaela inquired further, "Do you include Cheyenne or other Indian medicines? I have found them to be especially useful."

Baird was curious. "You know about Cheyenne medicine?"

"I'm a doctor," Michaela revealed. "Michaela Quinn," she introduced as she extended her hand. "This is my husband, Byron Sully, our children's nanny Bridget and...."

She stopped.

Sully followed her gaze. "The boys...."

Michaela became flustered. "Bridget, did you notice where Josef and Noah went?"

The nanny shook her head. "No, Dr. Mike. I was listenin' t' the gentleman."

Sully sighed as he took off. "I'll find 'em."

Baird became nervous. "Your sons.... are they destructive?"

Michaela hedged, "I.... I don't believe they'll do anything but explore. You know the natural curiosity of children."

Baird wiped the perspiration from his face. "Perhaps I should summon some of my security guards."

Michaela hoped to allay his fears. "I'm certain that my husband will find them. He's.... ah.... very good at tracking."

Baird remarked, "From his days with the Cheyenne?"

She smiled nervously, "Yes." Then she turned to her daughters. "Did either of you see where your brothers went?"

Each girl pointed in a different direction, neither of which had been taken by Sully.

Bridget suggested, "Why don't we split up and look for them?"

Michaela agreed, "I'll take Katie and Annie. You take Hope."

Baird uncomfortably stuck his finger between his collar and neck. "My God, I hope they don't do anything."

Michaela assured, "I'll pay for any damage, Mr...."

"Baird," he introduced. "Spencer Baird, and Dr. Quinn.... you could not possibly afford to replace anything that is damaged."

Katie interjected, "Mama's got a lot o' money."

"Katie," Michaela spoke disapprovingly.

Bridget advised, "We're wastin' time. Let's go, an' meet back here in 20 minutes."

With that, they headed off in different directions.

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

Sully approached a large animal skeleton. Workmen were busily suspending it from the ceiling.


His eyes darted around the open space. His instincts had guided him in this direction, and they rarely misled him when he was tracking.

One of the workmen spotted him. "Can I help you?"

Sully spoke up, "You seen two small boys around here?"

The workman answered in the negative and returned to their tasks.

Attempting to calm himself, Sully took a deep breath. His emotions wavered between anxiety over where the children could be.... to upset over the fact that they would wander off.... then to anger with himself for not noticing.

He continued through the large rooms and stopped. Tilting his head, he listened carefully for any hint of his sons' voices. A sense of foreboding began to build within him. What if they had fallen and were hurt? What if they had become stuck in some out-of-the-way spot where he wouldn't hear them?

Sully swallowed hard, hoping that wherever they were, they would remain calm. He neared a darker area where the windows had been covered. Pausing, he tilted his head to listen again.

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

Michaela walked briskly down the corridor, hoping for any sign of her sons. She tried to tell herself that they could not have gone far. Or.... perhaps Sully had found them by now. She knew one thing. The boys were going to get quite a lecture when she finally caught up with them. But.... what if they were injured? What if they had exited the building entirely and gone into the street? They would not even be able to provide an address for a stranger to bring them back.

Panic gripped her. What if a stranger found them and kept them? Her mind flashed back to her trip to Washington years earlier when Batson had drugged and abducted her.

"Dear Lord," she prayed silently. "Let them be all right."

Katie's voice brought her thoughts back. "Mama, you're goin' too fast. We can't keep up."

Michaela paused momentarily. "I'm sorry, Sweetheart. Perhaps I should have left you back there."

Katie insisted, "We wanna help find 'em."

Michaela tried to keep her voice calm. "I know."

The little girl perceived, "You're scared. Aren't ya?"

"Not scared," Michaela fibbed. "I'm just.... perplexed."

Annie asked, "What mean porpexed?"

"Puzzled," Michaela reworded. "Let this be a lesson to what can happen when you don't stay with Mama and Papa."

Katie pointed out, "But we did stay with ya."

Michaela inhaled deeply, then forced an uncomfortable smile. "Yes, you did. So, let's continue to look for your brothers."

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

Bridget held Hope close to her bosom as she swept down the hallway. The leprechauns had outdone themselves this time, and she knew they would get a talking to when they were found.

Hope pointed to various objects as they proceeded, questioning each time, "What is?"

Not pausing to look, Bridget tried to give her a brief answer to pacify the child's curiosity.

Then the nanny stopped. She could not imagine the boys had gone down this way, as it was quite dark. Too dark to see anything.

"They must've covered the windows down here," she spoke softly to Hope.

The little girl pointed up. "Dawk."

"That's right," the nanny agreed. Figuring she had nothing to lose, Bridget called out, "Josef! Noah! Where are ya, lads?"

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

Sully returned to the rotunda area, only to find no one there.

He sighed in frustration. "They must've gone t' look for the boys themselves."

Closing his eyes, he willed his spirit to connect to his sons. At that moment, he heard the boys laughing.

When they reached him, Sully knelt down and embraced them. "Where ya been?"

Josef spoke, "Noah had t' go, Papa. We found a place."

"Found a place?" Sully was uncertain.

Josef nodded. "They had a pwivy inside."

Noah extended his arms for emphasis. "It was big!"

Sully exhaled in relief. "We were worried about ya. Why didn't ya say somethin'?"

"That museum man was talkin'," Josef pointed out. Then he noticed, "Where's eveyone?"

"Lookin' for you." Sully stood up.

Josef suggested, "Let's go find 'em."

"No," Sully replied quickly. "We'll wait here for 'em t' come back."

Josef added, "I hope Mama don' worry. Ya know how she gets."

Sully folded his arms. "I want you t' promise ya won't wonder off anymore. If ya gotta go, just interrupt your Ma or me."

Josef returned, "We pwomise. When we gonna see the zibits, Papa?"

"Zibits?" He was puzzled.

The boy explained, "That man said they got all kinds o' zibits. I never seed one."

Sully chuckled. "That's exhibits, Joe. When your Ma gets back with the rest of 'em, we'll look at the exhibits."

Just as he finished speaking, Michaela rushed into the rotunda to embrace her sons. "Where have you been?"

Josef again explained, "They got a big pwivy inside, Mama."

She began to ask the same questions Sully had earlier. Then she scolded, "I don't want you to ever, ever leave us again. Do you realize what might have happened?"

Josef answered innocently, "Yea, Noah could go in his pants."

Michaela frowned, "Don't be insolent with me, Josef Michael Sully."

Katie whispered to her brothers, "Mama's mad. She's usin' big words."

Noah stepped forward to his mother and smiled. "No be mad. We's good."

Sully spoke up, "Where's Bridget an' Hope?"

Michaela gestured, "They went that way to look for the boys."

At that moment, they heard footsteps approaching. Soon, Baird came into view.

He was relieved, "Well, I see you found the lost waifs."

Michaela apologized, "We're terribly sorry for the trouble, Mr. Baird. When Bridget gets back with our youngest, we'll begin our tour."

He nodded. "Yes, well, see that you keep your children under control."

She pledged, "We shall."

Then he added, "And please remember that some of our exhibits are works in progress." Then he handed her a map. "Here, this should help with your tour."

Katie queried, "Aren't you comin' with us, Mr. Baird?"

"Goodness, no." He waved his hand. "I have too much to do. Good day now."


As he departed, Michaela looked at the map. "This doesn't say what's completed and what's not."

Sully read over her shoulder. "North Hall, South Hall, East an' West."

She noted as she pointed to the map, "There are ranges and courts. They certainly have enough space."

Josef tugged at his father. "Let's see dead stuff, Papa."

Katie requested, "What all do they have?"

Michaela began, "Dinosaurs, mummies, whales...."

"You my mummy." Annie looked at her mother.

"That's Mommy, Sweetheart," Michaela corrected. "A mummy is an ancient Egyptian who has been.... preserved."

Josef tilted his head. "Like stwawberry pweserves?"

Sully and Michaela chuckled.

As they laughed, they heard Bridget's voice. "Well, I'm glad someone finds this amusin'."

Sully reached for the baby. "Hey, Bridget. Glad you're back."

Hope put her arms tightly around her father's neck. "Papa. Papa."

Michaela filled her in, "We were just examining a map of the museum and exhibits."

The nanny put her hands on her hips. "An' where were the two lads?"

Josef answered, "In the pwivy. Biggest one I ever seed."

The nanny sat down on a bench. "Whew. Well, it wore me out lookin' for ya."

Noah went to her and crawled into her lap. "Sowwy, Miss Bwidget."

She embraced him. "Leave it t' you boys t' stir things up."

Michaela offered, "Would you prefer to rest here while we look at the exhibits, Bridget?"

The nanny replied, "If it's all right with you, Dr. Mike."

"Certainly," Michaela assured. "Perhaps we could get you some water."

Bridget shook her head. "No, thanks, Darlin'. I'll be fine. You take the wee ones, an' have a look around."

"If you're sure...." Michaela said.

After lecturing the children about their manners and staying close to their parents, they began the tour.

The entire family was fascinated by everything from orangoutangs to oxygen. There were textiles, looms, meteorites, ships, relics from Presidents, including a lock of Lincoln's hair. There were ships, Oriental carpets, metals, and the boys' favorite, a whale skeleton.

They watched as their children absorbed the displays. There were Indian costumes and casts of their heads. Then there was the George Catlin collection of drawings and paintings representing virtually every American Indian tribe.

It saddened Sully to see the Native American artifacts, not yet organized for display. The photographs of all of the tribes and their leaders brought back many painful memories, especially when he recognized one of the Cheyenne chiefs.

Michaela noticed her husband's demeanor and put her hand on his back. "It hardly seems possible, does it?"

His jaw tensed. "I never thought the only place my children would be able t' see Indians was in a museum."

Michaela reminded, "They can still see Cloud Dancing and the children at the school, Sully."

He sighed, "It ain't the same, an' you know it."

Noah reached for his mother to hold him. "Wanna see whale again."

Michaela kissed his forehead. "I believe we've seen enough for one day, children."

Katie observed, "I think you need more than one day to see everythin' in here. It's all the knowledge of the world in one place."

Michaela noted, "That's what museums are, Sweetheart, and it's why we should always take care of them."

Katie suggested, "You oughta start one back home, Mama."

Annie raised her arms toward her father. "Hold, Papa. I tired."

Sully knelt down to hoist her up. With Annie in one arm and Hope in the other, he suggested, "I reckon it's time for lunch."

Michaela glanced at her watch. "More like dinner. We lost track of time in here. Poor Bridget must be wondering where we are."

With that, they headed back toward the rotunda. The moment they arrived, they noticed the nanny with her head down. Her snores echoed through the hall.

Sully quipped, "That reminds me, we were gonna get her a room of her own t'night."

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

Brian was able to join his family for dinner, and using his press credentials, he procured another room in the hotel for Bridget. The nanny was grateful for the peaceful slumber that the evening promised. Along with slightly cooler temperatures, she anticipated a good night's sleep and went to bed right after dinner.

Joining his parents in their suite, Brian sat and yawned. With Sully in the other room telling the children a bedtime story, Michaela took the opportunity to speak with her son.

Michaela observed, "You must be exhausted."

Brian nodded. "But I got a lot done today. It's a good tired."

She touched his cheek. "You truly love what you're doing. Don't you?"

"Yep." He smiled. "When I'm on the trail of a good story, or covering something as monumental as the President's shooting.... I can't describe the feeling."

Michaela described, "Exciting.... exhilarating.... challenging...."

He perceived, "That's how you feel about medicine."

"Yes, it is," she responded. "And it took some time for me to learn the balance."

"Balance?" he questioned.

"Do you remember how Matthew, Colleen and you would often be upset when I was late at the Clinic?" she asked.

He reflected, "I remember. We missed you."

She nodded. "You know how much I love you, Brian. There were so many mistakes I made as a parent." She paused to gesture toward the other room. "Since those little ones arrived, I've realized that I needed a balance between my profession and my family. Medicine is quite important. It's challenging and rewarding, but.... well, seeing my children take their first steps and speak their first words.... those are even more important to me. Granted, I can't predict the timing of an emergency at the hospital, but now there are other doctors on staff. It's not totally on my shoulders."

Brian smiled wistfully, "You didn't make that many mistakes with us, Ma. Being a birth mother has changed you."

"What do you mean?" she questioned.

"I mean that you seem to be at peace with the demands on your time," he observed.

"Nearly losing Sully has given me a new perspective on where I should be." She felt a tear trickle down her cheek. "And my inheritance has given me the opportunity to take on many new and challenging projects, as well. I am still passionate about the same things. It's just the order I place them in my life has shifted somewhat. Love does that."

"I guess so," he commented.

She raised an eyebrow. "Have you kept in touch with Mary?"

"I've exchanged a letter or two with her." He shifted uncomfortably.

Michaela smiled. "Am I prying?"

He grinned. "You're just being you."

Her eyes gleamed with affection. "You're all grown up now, Brian. But... that doesn't change how much I care about you and want you to be happy."

He looked at the floor. "Maybe I'm like you. I have to follow my professional passion before I can find a balance with love."

At that moment, Sully entered the room. "Kids are finally asleep."

Brian looked up. "Your stories still have that effect?"

Sully sat beside his wife. "The white buffalo does it every time."

Brian returned to the subject. "I do have feelings for Mary, but.... I need to establish my career first."

Sully counseled. "A good woman's hard to find, son."

Michaela pretended to protest, "We found each other rather easily."

He retorted, "Easily? I had t' follow ya across the continent, ward off dozens of other suitors an' nearly get myself killed before ya said you'd marry me."

Her eyes widened. "You were the one who wasn't ready for a serious relationship."

Brian chuckled. "Some things don't change." Then, he stood up. "I best be going. I'll see you around noon for our picnic."

Sully questioned, "Are they still gonna have an Independence Day celebration t'morrow?"

He answered, "The police chief has ordered no fireworks because of the President's condition."

With that, the young man bid his parents good night and departed. Sully and Michaela remained on the sofa, reluctant to move.

He stared at the door to the children's room. "So, which one will be up first?"

Michaela leaned her head against his shoulder. "I believe they'll sleep through the night. They were worn out from our excursion into history."

When Sully did not reply, she looked at him. He seemed lost in thought.

"Sully?" She wondered if he was upset. "Are you all right?"

He took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "I'm okay."

She sensed, "The Indian exhibit upset you."


"You remember the Catlin paintin' of that Cheyenne chief in the museum?" he asked.

"Yes." She anticipated more.

Sully detailed, "His name was Né-hee-ó-ee-wóo-tis, Wolf on the Hill. I remember hearin' stories about him when I lived with the Cheyenne. He was a man of great honor an' respect. They said he was noble an' dignified, too. His wife was Tís-se-wóona-tis, She Who Bathes Her Knees. Not everythin' Catlin put in the paintin' was genuine Cheyenne.... like her jewelry."

She rubbed his shoulder. "Turn around."

"What?" he wondered.

She whispered near his ear. "You're tense. Perhaps I can help."

He smiled faintly. "Okay, Doctor."

Sully repositioned himself on the sofa, so that his back was to his wife. Michaela began to massage his shoulders and back.

"You're quite tense." She suggested, "Take off your shirt."

He raised an eyebrow. "How far you goin' with this helpin'?"

She whispered near his ear. "I'm going to see that you relax and don't worry over things you cannot control."

He chuckled. "Is that my Michaela talkin'?"

She worked on a particularly knotted spot on his back. "Yes, this is your Michaela talking. You've taught me a few things, Mr. Sully, and one of them is to recognize when we have the power to change things. Like with the President?"

He sighed, "I don't have any power when it comes t' the Cheyenne."

Michaela wrapped her arms around his neck. "Yes, you do. You and Cloud Dancing are doing something very noble. The school will help the young to adhere to their culture. And one day, Sully, I just know that our government, our people, will acknowledge the wrongs they have done."

"One day...." he repeated. "An' will there be any Cheyenne left t' hear their words?"

"Yes," she assured. "Because of the school."

She felt his shoulders begin to relax.

Then she added, "And our children will know. Children are the future. They hold people accountable for their actions."

He chuckled. "First we gotta keep 'em from wanderin' off in public buildin's."

She remarked, "I'm relieved it was nothing more serious than having to use the privy."

Sully turned and drew her close. "I feel a lot better now."

"Good," she gazed into his eyes adoringly.

Sully stifled a yawn. "I think ya got me too relaxed now."

"Why don't we go to bed then?" She rose and tugged on his hand to follow.

Sully obliged. He removed his buckskins and settled into bed. He watched Michaela lower the lamp and get undressed. Soon he felt her form next to his.

Resting her hand atop his chest, she asked, "Still feeling relaxed?"

He did not respond.

"Sully?" She whispered.

Again, there was no answer.

She smiled, then kissed his cheek. "I love you."

Soon, sleep claimed her, as well.

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

Sully awoke with a start. He thought he had heard one of the children crying. Sitting up, he listened intently. Nothing. Pulling on his drawers, he tiptoed to the children's door and quietly entered their room. They were all peacefully sleeping. Returning to his bedroom, he went to Hope's crib and stroked the little girl's back.

When he returned to bed, Michaela drowsily asked, "Are they all right?"

"Yea," he answered. "I thought I heard one of 'em."

She snuggled closer. "I told you they'll sleep through the night."

He slid his arm beneath her shoulder and kissed her temple.

Michaela appreciated the gesture and asked, "Can you go back to sleep?"

"I doubt it," he sighed.

She queried in concern, "Are you having dreams again?"

He described, "Kinda.... It's more like a feelin'."

"What kind of feeling?" she anticipated.

He assured, "Nothin' t' worry about."

"Sully...." Her voice implored.

He knew she would continue to probe if he did not tell her. "I can't really put my finger on it. It's just a feelin' that somethin'...."

She wondered why he stopped. "Something what?"

He assured, "Really, Michaela, it's nothin' t' worry about. Could be I'm just outa sorts from President Garfield's shootin', or maybe I'm reactin' t' what happened with the boys t'day."

"Are you certain that's all it is?" she asked.

The feeling compelled him to warn, "Just.... be careful while we're on this trip. Okay?"

"So your feeling is that something bad will happen?" she questioned further.

He kissed her sweetly. "Nothin' bad will happen. I'll protect you an' the children."

"You always do," she complimented.

He guided her back. "Now, you need your sleep."

"What about you?" she queried.

He stroked her arm. "Don't worry about me."

It did not take long for Michaela to drift back to sleep. Sully remained awake, however. He turned his head and glanced out the window at the crescent moon, framed by the muntins. His sense of hearing was heightened as he anticipated something.... anything that might mean danger to his family.

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

As he contemplated what his senses were telling him, Sully heard the door to the children's room open slowly, then close. He faintly discerned the top of his youngest son's head as he made his way toward the bed. Noah paused beside his father's prone body.

Sully lifted up on his elbow. "Can't sleep, No-bo?"

"Nope," the little boy replied simply. "I sweep with you, Papa?"

Sully smiled and gently lifted him. Spooning the little boy beside him, Sully whispered. "Your Ma's asleep. So, let's be quiet."

Noah agreed, "I be quite."

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

As Independence Day 1881 dawned over the nation's capital, all would wonder again about the condition of the President and if he had survived the night. Businesses and government offices would be closed in observance of the holiday, but the usual pomp, parades and joyful celebrations would be canceled out of respect for Garfield.

Michaela awoke as the first rays of morning filtered into their room. Her first sensation was Sully's arm draped across her, his hand resting on her abdomen. When she was pregnant, she used to relish this tender gesture of love for their unborn children. When she was not expecting a baby, the touch stirred other feelings in her. She cast a quick glance at the clock. The children would be up soon.

Sully moved his hand slightly, evoking stronger sensations in her. Michaela felt her cheeks flush and pivoted to face her husband.

She did not want to waken him but knew that once the little ones were up, they would demand their parents' full attention. Michaela smiled. Perhaps Sully would be in the mood for some intimacy before the children arose.

There was a time when such boldness would never have occurred to her. But over the years, making love with her husband had become such an invigorating part of her life, her inhibitions had long vanished. When she was first discovering the joys of marriage, Sully had told her he appreciated her enthusiasm. Such words of encouragement had emboldened her.

Michaela stroked the hair around his ear. Sully's nose twitched. Michaela smiled, enamored further by his incredibly handsome features.

She uttered near his ear in an unmistakably inviting voice. "Good morning, Mr. Sully."

He muttered something but did not waken. Michaela began to run her hand along his torso.

Sully smiled, yet kept his eyes closed.

Michaela guided her hand lower until she found his most sensitive area.

Instantly, Sully's eyes opened. "Michaela!"

"I thought that might get your attention," she mused.

He gulped, as she continued her movements. "We.... uh.... we.... can't."

Michaela lifted her hips slightly to pull up the hem of her shift. Scooting even closer to him, she asked, "Why not?"

Her hand had been powerfully effective, and Sully found it difficult to speak. Finally, he mustered the willpower to say, "Noah's in bed with us."

Her eyes widened in embarrassment. "What?"

Sully's voice had a slightly higher pitch. "He.... came in here last night."

"What was wrong?" she grew concerned.

Sully struggled to calm his body. "Nothin'. Said he couldn't sleep. Once he was in bed with us, he drifted right off."

She whispered, "Perhaps we can put him back in the children's room before they waken."

Sully pointed out, "You're gonna have t' do it. Ya got me kinda.... worked up here."

Michaela rose from the bed and went around to the other side of Sully. Lifting Noah into her arms, she paused to see if the little boy wakened. He did not. Quietly, she carried him to the door of the children's room. She opened it and entered the room.

Sully lay still, wondering if she would be successful. He closed his eyes tightly, not knowing if his present condition would be satisfied or if he would have to.... Michaela reentered the room.

She came to his side. "They're still sleeping."

"Good." He linked his fingers in hers, then lifted them to his lips.

She leaned closer to kiss him. "Are you still.... worked up?"


He grinned and lifted the sheet. "See for yourself."

Michaela retorted, "It was a rhetorical question."

"I love it when ya use big words." He reached for the hem of her gown.

She stepped back, teasing him. Slowly, she removed her shift. Then she temptingly remained standing beside the bed.

Sully was amazed at how far she had come in their marriage. She was still a proper and modest woman in front of their children and the public, but when it was just the two of them, she savored beguiling and enticing him.

"Mmmm," Sully observed. "You're the most beautiful woman I ever saw, Mrs. Sully."

She retorted, "After all these years?"

"Especially after all these years," he agreed. "Care t' join me?"

"You don't want to wait?" she teased.

He chuckled, "You're the one who started this."

"I suppose I should finish what I started then." She positioned herself beside him.

Sully began to kiss her. "Mmmm. That's better."

Michaela found herself melting as he wakened her senses. "Do you know how much I adore you?"

He grinned, "I kinda feel the same way about you."

Beneath the sheet, she lowered her hand and found him still in the mood for love. Boldly, she roused him further.

Sully moaned softly. "Michaela."

He touched her inner thigh, letting his fingers drift higher. Then unable to hold back any further, they succumbed to their passions. Afterward, as they lay in each other's arms, they tenderly kissed.

Sully gazed lovingly into her eyes. "I never thought someone like you could ever love me."

She kissed his chest. "I can't imagine loving anyone but you."

He reminded, "You did once."

"As did you," she pointed out. Her expression was serious. "But I never truly knew what love was until you. You've given me everything, Sully."

He joked, "Remember that when we're around your sisters in Boston."

"What do they have to do with it?" She was curious.

He detailed, "All their fancy houses, china, furniture, clothes.... You gave up a lot."

She ran her finger along the line of his jaw. "Mr. Sully, need I remind you that I chose to come back to Colorado Springs? I gave up nothing compared to what I have gained."

His expression changed as his blue eyes penetrated to her very soul. "Ain't a day goes by that I'm not grateful for that. I.... I don't know where I'd be if you wouldn't've said you love me."

She studied his countenance, then caressed his cheek. "Well, you need not think about that. You've been stuck with me for eleven years. But there is one thing you have forgotten to do that pleases me immeasurably."

He raised an eyebrow. "Michaela.... I could've sworn that you.... ya know, had the same reaction as me just now when we made love."

She chuckled softly and tapped his side. "Yes, of course. You know I did. What I mean is that you forgot my poetry."

"Oh." He glanced toward the ceiling to ponder what verse he might share with her. Then, he directed his loving gaze toward her, saying:

"You came, and the sun came after,
And the green grew golden above;
And the flag-flowers lightened with laughter,
And the meadow-sweet shook with love."

She snuggled closer to him. "Mmm. I like that. Was it Whitman?"

"Swinburne," he identified. "Happy now?"

She ran her finger around his chin, then across his lips. "Blissfully happy. How did you sleep last night?"

"Ya mean before ya got me all worked up?" he teased.

"Yes," she smirked. "Did you have any more feelings that something bad is going to happen?"

He joked, "Not when I get woke up like this."

She tenderly placed her hand against his cheek. "Seriously, Sully. Did you have any further disturbing feelings last night?"

"No," he assured. Then he grinned. "So, how 'bout you an' me stay in bed all day?"

She sighed. "Though I'd love that, you know we'll be interrupted very soon."

He kissed her sweetly. "I got a good idea. Why don't we wake the kids up first? Show 'em how it feels."

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

Sully was able to find the exact spot where they had picnicked on their trip to Washington with their older children many years earlier. After they ate, Sully and Brian occupied the children with games, while Michaela and Bridget watched over Hope.

Michaela commented, "I feel somewhat guilty, laughing and enjoying our time together, while the President lies in bed suffering so."

Bridget observed, "There's nothin' you can do for him, Darlin'. I say enjoy your family while ya can."

She touched the nanny's hand. "I know you lost your family in the famine, but.... now you're part of ours."

Bridget smiled. "Sully an' you have made me feel that way, Lass."

Michaela was curious. "Do you ever have a desire to go back to Ireland for a visit?"

"Now an' then," she admitted. "Éirinn go deo," Bridget spoke wistfully.

Michaela smiled nostalgically. "Ireland forever."

"You know Gaelic?" Bridget was surprised.

Michaela revealed, "My father's parents came from Ireland. I used to love the stories they would tell me. Perhaps one day, we could travel there."

Bridget's eyes lit up. "Aye, Lass, that would be grand. Ya said your father's family hailed from Ireland. What about your mother's folks?"

"Her family had been in America since the 1600's," she replied with a chuckle. "I think they followed the Mayflower over. Mother often spoke to my sisters and me about about our ancestor, Edmund Weston, but I don't recall how many generations back he goes."

Bridget observed, "So ya come from pure New England stock."

Michaela caressed Hope's cheek, "I suppose so. But I don't think their pedigree matters much to these little ones."

Their conversation was interrupted by Annie, who came to her mother's side. "I tired, Mama."

Michaela put her arm around her daughter. "Then you should rest."

Annie positioned herself beside her mother. "Boys wear me out."

Bridget commended, "I think ya kept up with 'em real well, Miss Annie."

The little girl pointed. "Katie playin'."

Michaela suggested to her daughter, "Would you like some water?"

"Yes, pwease," Annie replied.

Bridget poured the child a glass. "There ya go. Drink up."

"Tanks," Annie responded without prompting.

Michaela stroked her daughter's blonde curls. "We're going to eat soon. Would you like to ask the others to join us?"

Annie nodded, then wiped off her mouth. "Hey, kids! We eat!"

Bridget smiled. "That oughta do it."

Sully and Brian scooped up Josef and Noah, and with Katie following, they arrived at the table cloth on which their lunch had been laid out.

Sully wiped his brow. "Looks good."

Michaela dampened a napkin to wipe off her children's hands. They began to eat with gusto.

Sully offered to his wife, "Why don't I hold the baby while you eat?"

She returned, "Thank you, but after all of that activity, you're much hungrier than I."

He needed no further coaxing and savored the menu they had brought.

Brian observed, "Not very many people here, like there would normally be on July 4."

Michaela noted, "It would be a tragic twist of fate if the President passed away today. Three former Presidents already have that distinction."

Katie was fascinated, "Three Presidents died on Independence Day?"

Michaela detailed, "And two of them were even in the same year. Ironically, the two men most responsible for this day died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence."

Josef pondered, "Can I guess who?"

Sully encouraged, "Go ahead, Joe."

The little boy scratched his temple, as if that would help his concentration. "George Washin'ton an' Tom Jeffson."

Michaela's face beamed. "You're correct about the one who wrote the Declaration, Sweetheart. Jefferson did indeed pass away on the Fourth of July. Now think again about who the other might be."

Katie raised her hand. "John Adams?"

"Right," Michaela smiled. They both died thinking the other was able to attend the anniversary celebration in Philadelphia."

Katie calculated, "So they died in 1826."

The mother quizzed further, "The third President who died on July 4 was also connected to the Revolution. He was a soldier in the War and was seriously wounded in battle. But he survived to become our fifth President."

Noah raised his hand. "Abe Link?"

Sully tickled his son's side. "That's Lincoln, No-bo."

"Not Lincoln," Michaela corrected. "But that was a good guess. Any others?"

Sully raised his hand, playing the student.

Michaela was amused and called on him. "Byron?"

He eyed her sternly, "Just Sully, Ma'am."

She retorted, "What is your guess?"

Sully counted on his fingers. "Let's see. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison.... Monroe! He was our fifth President."

Michaela raised her eyebrows, pleased. "Very good.... Byron. President James Monroe died on July 4, 1831, just five years after Adams and Jefferson."

Sully teased, "What's my reward?"

She maintained a serious expression. "The satisfaction of knowing that you were correct."

Brian laughed. "I sure have missed all of you and the fun we had back home."

Sully winked. "We still do have fun. I'll work on that reward later."

Michaela patted her husband's leg, then turned to her son. "Well, Mr. Cooper, you know you're welcome to join us in Colorado Springs whenever you wish."

He contemplated, "I figure I should be able to come home for Christmas."

There was a hint of disappointment in her voice. "Not Thanksgiving?"

He shook his head. "I doubt it."

Josef suggested, "Ya oughta quit that job, Bran."

Brian smiled. "Have you quit pokles?"

Josef's eyes widened in horror. "No! I love pokles!"

Brian compared, "And I love my work. For now, that means I have to stay here in Washington." Then he tickled his brother's side playfully. "But it doesn't mean I don't miss you."

Sully finished eating and reached for Hope. "My turn with this little girl."

Hope giggled and clapped her hands together. "Up, Papa."

"Up?" Sully pointed toward the sky. "You wanna fly?"

"Yep." The little girl nodded.

As Sully lifted Hope above his head, Katie implored, "Tell us the story about when you tried t' fly, Brian."

He laughed, "Gosh, looking back on that, I can't believe I did it."

Michaela shook her head. "And I can't believe I let you. You've always had a fascination for flying machines."

"I still do," Brian added. "There's a new book out by Frenchman Louis Mouillard. It's called Empire of the Air.

Michaela was interested. "I've never heard of it."

Brian went on, "Mouillard thinks that gliders should be designed with fixed, chambered wings like bird's have. He says that aviators should practice their flying skills to pilot the gliders better."

Katie wondered, "Do you think people will be able t' fly like birds someday?"

Michaela answered, "I believe so, but not for long distances."

Brian contributed, "It takes a lot of dedicated work to learn how to fly."

Katie turned to her father. "What d' you think, Poppy?"

Sully gently rested his lips on the top of Hope's head. At first he was silent, then he spoke, "I think someday they'll make flyin' machines big enough t' carry a lot o' people all over the world."

Josef's eyes widened. "Well, ya won't catch me in one o' them."

Michaela smiled. "I believe Noah will be our daredevil."

Bridget laughed. "Will be? Darlin', he already is."

Brian took a sip of lemonade, then mentioned, "I had a letter from Matthew a week or so ago. He sounds real happy with Emma and the baby, but.... well, I know Colleen's been going through a rough time."

Michaela's eyes saddened. "She's truly a lost soul. One minute, I think she might reconcile with Andrew. The next, she seems to back away and be more inclined to court Lewis. But I don't know how she would even find time to court since she spends most of her time at the hospital."

Sully quipped, "We found time."

"That was different, Sully," Michaela noted. "I knew that I loved you. I wasn't torn between two men."

Sully's eyes widened, "What? Let's see.... first there was William Burke. Then David came back from the dead...."

She interjected, "Well, I made up my mind, and I haven't regretted my choice."

Sully winked. "Good answer."

Brian turned to his father. "What do you think Colleen should do, Pa?"

Sully pondered, then answered, "Maybe there's another path she should take."

Michaela tilted her head with interest. "Another path?"

Sully thought back. "Michaela, you remember when we was thinkin' about...." He paused to see that the children were occupied in eating and could not hear. "When we was thinkin' about havin' another baby? Then Frank Wellington showed up offerin' t' build ya a new clinic with all the finest equipment? You agonized over what path t' take. Do ya remember what ya did?"

She thought back. "I.... went to the cabin to contemplate by myself. Do you think that's what Colleen should do?"

"Ya can work through a lot o' things when ya give yourself peace an' quiet," he counseled.

Michaela offered, "Perhaps we should speak with her about just that when we return to Colorado Springs."

Josef tapped his mother's arm. "Mama, can we go see doctor now?"

Sully's brow creased. "What doctor?"

She reminded, "Remember the doctor who told me I was expecting Josef?"

Sully grinned. "Oh, that doctor."

Josef implored, "I wanna meet him."

Michaela directed, "If his office is still there and if he's even in today since it's the Fourth of July."

Josef's eyes saddened. "I hope so."

Soon they finished their meal and loaded into the three seated surrey that Sully had rented. With Bridget and Katie in the back seat to care for Hope, Brian occupied the twins in the middle seat. Michaela and Sully positioned Josef between them in the front, and off they went to fulfill the little boy's request.

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

Sully slowed the carriage to a stop at D Street and 6th. A chill shot through him as he remembered this as the place where Michaela had been abducted and drugged. He glanced over at her beside him on the seat. He could tell that she, too, was disconcerted by the location. But Josef was persuasive, and they could not resist his request.

Josef gazed at the building in awe. "This is it, Mama?"

She acknowledged. "Yes." Noticing a woman exiting the doorway and seeing the physician's name above it, she noted, "It appears that Dr. Abbott is in."

Josef began to step from the carriage. "Good. Let's go meet him."

Sully stopped him. "Hold on, Joe. Wait for us."

Brian offered, "I'll stay here with Bridget and the kids while you go in. No need to overwhelm the good doctor with all of us."

Michaela smiled as she gathered her skirt up to disembark from the carriage. "Thank you. We shouldn't be long."

Sully helped her, then lifted Josef down. "Okay, let's go."

Josef rushed to the door, then held back to wait for his parents. Sully opened the door for his wife and son. They soon found themselves before an unsmiling female receptionist.

Assuming the trio had walked in without an appointment, the woman scowled. "I'm sorry, but Dr. Abbott is seeing his last patient of the day. You'll have to schedule an appointment in advance."

Michaela spoke up. "I'm Dr. Michaela Quinn of Colorado Springs. If you would mention to Dr. Abbott that I'm here, I'm certain he would agree to see me."

"He's closing early because of the President," she asserted. "You can come back tomorrow."

Michaela wondered, "Has President Garfield's condition worsened?"

"No," the woman folded her arms. "But Dr. Abbott is doing this out of respect."

"I'm leaving for Boston tomorrow," Michaela countered. "Please, ask him. I promise we won't be long."

"Is this an emergency?" she probed.

Josef stepped forward and smiled. "'Cuse me, Ma'am. But I wanna meet the doctor."

The receptionist's cool demeanor warmed a bit. "You? Why?"

Josef whispered, "'Cause he told my Mama that she was espectin' me."

The woman gazed up at Michaela, then the boy. "I'll.... see what I can do." With that, she rose from her desk.

"Thank you," Michaela smiled. Then she glanced down at her son. "You're quite persuasive, Josef."

"Is that good?" He was uncertain.

Sully put his hand on his son's shoulder. "Where a woman is concerned, it is, Joe."

The receptionist, now with a softer expression, returned. "The Doctor will see you as soon as he finishes with this patient. You may have a seat over there."

Josef grinned. "Thanks."

The excited little boy, positioned himself between his parents as they sat. He nervously looked at the clock, then at his mother.

Then the boy whispered, "Ya think he'll remember me?"

Michaela smiled. "Josef, he never saw you."

"Oh." His shoulders slumped.

Sully encouraged, "He'll remember tellin' your Ma she was gonna have ya, Joe. That's the important part."

The child probed further. "Ya think he'll like me?"

Michaela assured, "I'm certain he will, Sweetheart."

After several impatient minutes, Josef slid from the chair and stood beside his mother. "Mama, I kinda feel like I been here before."

She speculated, "Perhaps it's because you've thought of little else except meeting him since we arrived in Washington."

At that moment, the door to Dr. Abbott's office opened, and he escorted out a woman who brimmed with excitement.

Before introductions could be made, Josef rushed to the physician. "I'm Josef Sully. 'Member me?"

Dr. Abbott was clearly caught off guard. "Uh.... well, I...."

Michaela stood up quickly and went to them. "Dr. Abbott, I'm Dr. Michaela Quinn."

His eyes brightened with recognition. "Dr. Quinn, how nice to see you again. Let's see, it's been about seven years since...."

Josef interrupted, "Now do ya 'member me?"

Michaela apologized, "I'm afraid my son is rather impatient to meet you."

Suddenly, the physician realized, "So this young man is the one you were expecting back then?"

"That's right." She smiled. "We've told him the story many times of how I learned I was expecting him, and he wanted to meet you."

Sully had been standing back until this moment. "Dr. Abbott, it's good t' see ya again."

The man extended his hand. "Mr. Sully, it's good to see you. I'm happy that this little boy turned out so well." With that, the Doctor knelt before Josef. "I must say, you're a fine looking young man. I'm glad there were no ill effects from...."

Fearing he would mention her being drugged with morphine, Michaela interrupted, "We didn't tell him quite everything about my experience, Dr. Abbott. I'm sure you can understand."

Josef was puzzled. "What didn't ya tell me?"

Dr. Abbott hoped to recuperate. "Well, I'm certain they didn't tell you how radiant your mother looked when she learned she was expecting you."

Josef scratched his head. "Radiant?"

Sully explained, "It means beautiful, Joe. Your Ma looked beautiful."

The child nodded in agreement. "Yep. Mama's beauful."

Dr. Abbott stood up and kept his voice low. "A normal delivery?"

Michaela mused, "I wouldn't say that, but Josef himself was perfectly healthy."

"I'm happy for you, Dr. Quinn," he replied. "I know how much you wanted another child."

Josef added, "We got lots o' kids now."

"Do you?" Dr. Abbott raised an eyebrow.

Josef took his hand and guided the physician to the front window of his office. "Lookie there. We got Bran, Katie, Annie, Noah an' Hope."

Dr. Abbott turned and looked at Michaela. "Well done."

Sully noted, "Come on now, Joe. We've taken up enough of the doctor's time." Turning to the physician, he commented, "Thanks for seein' us, Doctor. We're much obliged for how ya helped Michaela."

He shook Sully's hand, then Michaela's as he spoke. "I love happy endings. It was a pleasure seeing you again." Then he extended his hand to Josef. "And it was a special pleasure to meet you, Josef Sully."

"Thanks," Josef grinned from ear to ear. "I'll tell the kids about ya."

Dr. Abbott folded his arms and smiled as the family departed.

When they approached the curb, they noticed Noah in the front seat. Brian stepped down to help his mother into the carriage. Before she could step up, Noah suddenly released the brake and flicked the reins. The horses broke into a rapid clip.

"Noah!" Michaela shouted as Sully and Brian instinctively bolted after the carriage.

Watching them in horror, she knew they would not be able to catch the runaway carriage on foot.

Before Sully's mind, flashed the terror of losing his children. Was this why he had been feeling uneasy about their visit? The thought quickly vanished, replaced by the panic of knowing another tact was needed to intercept them.

In the back seat, Bridget and Katie frantically attempted to reach for the reins, but the speed and jostling of the vehicle caused them to lose their balance and fall against the cushioned back seat. With Hope and Annie crying, Noah realized his curiosity had turned dangerously scary. The little boy, too, began to wail with fear.

Hearing the cries of his children, Sully spotted a wagon hitched to a horse along the curb. Without asking permission, Brian and he quickly climbed aboard and took control. With a flick of the reins, Sully guided the horse to follow.

Then he shouted, "Brian, take the reins. Get as close as ya can t' the carriage."

The young man realized what his father intended to do. He also knew that if he got too close, it could cause the wheels of the wagon to entangle with the carriage wheels. Both vehicles could be overturned at the slightest wrong movement.

With fear in his eyes, Brian gazed at his father. Beads of perspiration dotted Sully's worried face.

Sully's heart nearly pounded out of his chest. "Easy, now. We're catchin' up."

Within seconds, they had drawn along side of the carriage.

Through his tears, Noah spotted his father. "Papa! Papa!"

"Hold on tight!" Sully counseled.

With that, Sully jumped toward the speeding carriage. He lost his balance and clung to the side, barely able to keep his feet above the brick street below him.

Brian exclaimed, "Pa!"

Sully yelled to him, "Pull the wagon.... in front.... try t' slow us...."

With Sully grasping the side of the carriage, Brian sped up and began to steer the wagon in front of the carriage. Then, he gradually slowed down, hoping the horses drawing the carriage would, too.

Turning around to see what was happening, Brian observed that Sully had finally pulled himself up to the front seat and taken hold of the reins. Working together, father and son were able to slow the vehicles to a stop.

Sully turned and quickly found himself surrounded by Noah, Annie and Katie. Embracing them tightly, he silently vowed to never let them go again.

Brian jumped down from the wagon and rushed to their side.

Sully turned his attention to Bridget, who had not yet spoken. "You okay?"

The nanny quipped, "Jesus, Mary an' Joseph! This ain't exactly how I wanted t' see the city."

Sully finally began to relax just as Michaela and Josef arrived.

Michaela rushed to embrace her family. "Is everyone all right?"

Sully was still catching his breath. "They're just scared."

Josef spoke excitedly, "I wish I was widin' with ya."

Katie scolded, "No, you don't, Joey. We were almost killed."

Michaela frowned at Noah, "You are in big trouble, young man."

Noah contritely retreated back into the seat. "I sowwy."

Sully's jaw tensed, "Sorry ain't enough this time. Katie's right. You all could've been killed."

Brian gestured, "I'll return the wagon before its owner calls the police. How about I meet you back at the hotel?"

Sully answered for all of them, "Sounds good."

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

While Brian and Bridget kept the children occupied in their hotel room, Michaela and Sully sat with Noah in their adjoining bedroom. The little boy had said nothing on the ride back to the hotel. Neither Sully, nor Michaela had discussed what they would do with him. In fact, they were not certain. They wanted to discipline Noah for his action, without prompting him to think they did not love him.

Michaela looked to her husband to initiate their discussion.

Sully cleared his throat and sternly eyed Noah on the bed. The little boy put his finger in his mouth, unsure of what his parents would do.

Sully broached the subject, "Noah, your Ma an' me are real upset with what ya did t'day. Your behavior could've gotten everyone in the carriage hurt real bad, an' we gotta punish ya."

Michaela picked up from there. "You must understand, Noah, that there are consequences.... bad things that can happen to other people when we only think of ourselves. That's what you were doing. Thinking only of yourself."

Sully added, "We know you're curious.... always wonderin' about things.... an' that can be good. But ya gotta stop before ya act on your wonderin'. Stop an' think if you or someone else could get hurt by it."

"I no tink," the child repeated.

Michaela studied her son's expression. "Do you understand that what you did was bad?"

"Uh-huh," Noah looked down sadly.

Sully questioned, "Do ya understand what could've happened?"

"I kill," Noah replied solemnly.

Michaela explained, "Do you know what it means when someone is killed? When they die?"

"Yep," the child responded. "Papa die an' come home."

Sully corrected, "No, son, I wasn't dead. Folks only thought I was. If I was really dead, I'd never, ever come home. That's how serious it is."

Noah looked at his father, his eyes misting with tears. "No come home, Papa?"

Sully resisted holding his son. "Noah, we don't ever wanna lose you or your brothers an' sisters. Can ya understand that?"

Noah reached out to his father. "I don' kill no more, Papa."

Michaela stroked her son's back, then whispered to Sully, "What should we do to punish him?"

This time, Sully embraced the boy and kissed his temple. He held the child close for a moment, then working up his resolve, set his son on the bed again. "Now, Noah, you're gonna come up with your punishment."

Michaela tilted her head, surprised at her husband's idea.

Noah pointed to himself. "Me?"

"Right," Sully nodded. "What would be a good punishment t' teach ya a lesson?"

Noah contemplated, "Hit me?"

Sully responded, "No hittin'."

Again, Noah thought. "Go t' bed?"

"What would ya learn from that?" Sully questioned.

The boy had no answer.

Michaela prompted, "What would teach you how important it is to look after and protect your family?"

The child suggested, "I play with 'em."

Sully frowned, "That ain't a punishment."

Noah reassessed, "I not play with 'em?"

Sully agreed, "That might teach ya how important they are to ya.... Give ya a feel for what it's like without 'em around. Now, decide how long ya won't play with 'em."

Noah had little concept of time. "One?"

Sully prompted, "One what?"

Noah's brow creased. "Umm. One year?"

Michaela stifled a smiled. "That's a very long time."

Again, the little boy pondered. "One week?"

Sully recommended, "How 'bout you spend ten minutes away from your brothers an' sisters?"

Noah knew that ten was bigger than one. "Ten? Long time, Papa."

He replied, "It'll seem like it."

Noah looked down and sighed. "'Kay."

Sully stated firmly, "You stay here on the bed for ten minutes then."

With that, Michaela and Sully walked toward the children's room, leaving Noah to contemplate his behavior.

When they joined their family, they were bombarded with questions from their offspring about how they were punishing their brother. Michaela and Sully answered diplomatically and kept a close eye on the time.

Katie informed them, "I'm glad ya came in. Joey was on his fourth time tellin' us about meetin' that doctor."

When ten minutes had elapsed, Sully nodded to his wife. They returned to their room to find Noah in a prone position on the bed, crying. The parents sat next to him.

Noah lifted up, his face red. "I sowwy. I don' like alone."

Michaela enfolded him in her arms. "You're not alone, Noah. But you mustn't to do things that are dangerous to yourself or to others. Do you understand?"

"Don' leave me?" The child cried.

Sully felt badly. "We didn't leave ya, No-bo. We were in the next room."

Michaela took her handkerchief from her pocket to wipe her son's nose. "Blow."

Noah did not squirm as he normally did when Michaela tried to get him to blow his nose. This time, he obeyed without resistance.

Sully ruffled the child's hair. "I got an idea. Why don't ya go see your brothers an' sisters now?"

Noah's eyes widened. "'Kay."

With that, the little boy slid from the bed and rushed into the other room.

Michaela posed the question, "Do you think he learned his lesson?"

"Seems like it.... this time," he remarked.

She sighed.

Sully gently squeezed her hand. "He's still gonna test us t' see what he can get away with."

Her eyes watered. "When that carriage took off.... I was so frightened, Sully."

"I know." He drew her closer. "Me, too."

She spoke against his shoulder, "Your feeling last night.... perhaps, it was a premonition of this."

"Maybe." He nodded.

It was at this moment, that she noticed blood on her husband's shirt. "Sully, you're hurt."

************
Chapter 9
************

"It's nothin'," Sully dismissed his injury.

"Let me look at it," Michaela requested.

He rolled up his sleeve. There was a three inch abrasion surrounded by dried blood just above his left wrist. Michaela went for her bag. Returning, she began to gently minister to the wound.

She advised, "It doesn't appear to need stitches."

He retorted with a smile, "Told ya it's nothin'."

"Still, it doesn't hurt to be careful," she advised. "You know how easy infection...."

Sully understood why she stopped. "You thinkin' about the President?"

Her eyes reflected an appreciation for his sensitivity. "I'm thinking about you."

Brian rapped softly on the door. "Okay if I come in?"

Michaela stood up. "Yes, please do."

The young man informed them, "I best be going back to the office. I'll try to stop by tomorrow morning before you leave."

Michaela embraced him, tears forming in her eyes.

She framed his face in her hands. "Our visit was much too brief."

He controlled his emotions. "I know. It's hard saying goodbye."

Michaela requested, "Promise you'll write more regularly? And eat more, as well. You're too thin."

He grinned. "I promise. Oh, speaking of writing, I have a letter for Mary. Would you give it to her for me?"

"Of course," Michaela replied as she watched him reach into his jacket for the envelope.

Then Brian extended his hand to his father. Sully hugged him. "You take care."

Brian nodded. "I will. I'll come home for Christmas."

With a heavy heart, Michaela watched her son step toward the door and exit the room. She opened her trunk and set the letter in the top drawer. Then, lowering her head, she closed her eyes.

"Hey." Sully stepped forward to enfold her in his arms. "It ain't like we'll never see him again."

"I know." Her tears began to flow freely. "But Christmas seems so far off."

Sully ran his hands up and down her sides. "He's a man now, Michaela. He's independent, hard workin' and respected. That means we did a good job raisin' him."

"It also means we see so little of him," she lamented.

He comforted, "I know. Maybe it gives ya a new appreciation for how your Ma felt when ya went t' Colorado Springs."

She pondered his words, uncertain of his intention. "What do you mean?"

Sully explained, "When we're young, we wanna set out.... create a path on our own. We don't always think about how it affects the folks we leave behind."

She considered, "I know that Mother was upset and worried when I left home. I suppose I never knew quite how it felt until I became a mother myself."

"Elizabeth loved ya enough t' let ya go," he reminded. "But when ya needed her, she was there for ya. An' you were there for her later when she got so sick. That's what family is all about."

Michaela softly stroked his cheek. "You didn't have anyone to worry about you when you set off on your own."

He teased, "That's why I married ya. So I'd have someone t' fret about me."

A faint smile appeared on her lips. "I'd rather not fret about you or miss you so much when you go away."

He leaned in to kiss her tenderly. "Then reckon I'll stay with ya."

She savored his warm gesture. "All of your days?"

"Just like I promised when I proposed t' ya," he answered with a gleam in his eye.

After kissing him, Michaela stepped back. "What a day. We had better prepare the children for bed."

He gently pulled her back into his embrace. "Then maybe you an' me can have some time alone?"

She spoke wistfully, "With five children, I'm beginning to wonder if that's possible anymore."

He retorted, "Maybe we oughta put 'em t' work in one of them New England mills while we're in Boston."

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Sully, don't joke about such matters. I've seen the results of child labor."

He regretted, "I was only kiddin', Michaela. In case ya forgot, I had t' work as a child."

Her shoulders slumped. "I know. I'm sorry. I suppose I'm just on edge from all that's happened since we arrived in Washington."

He sympathized, "I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't go teasin' ya."

Michaela lamented, "I wish we could spend more time alone, too, but...."

He gently touched his finger to her lips. "Shhh. My turn will come."

At that moment, there was a soft knock at the door. Both parents sighed, then smiled.

Sully stepped to the door.

There stood Noah. "Stowy, Papa?"

Sully lifted his son and kissed his cheek. "Sure." With a backward glance at Michaela, he winked. "Wouldn't have it any other way."

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

Aboard the train bound for Boston, Michaela devoted much of the time explaining to the children what they were seeing. From geographic features to history, she wanted them to appreciate the trip.

Josef scratched the top of his head. "This is like bein' in school, Mama."

She counseled, "You must find value in all that you see and do, Josef. There is no greater goal than the attainment of knowledge."

Katie posed the question, "What about love?"

Michaela assured, "Well, of course, that is of utmost importance."

Katie's contemplated, "Which is more important? Knowledge or love?"

Michaela smiled, "Philosophers and poets have debated that through the ages."

The little girl turned to her father. "What d' you think, Poppy?"

"Love," Sully answered without hesitation. "It gives meanin' t' everythin'."

"Mama?" Katie anticipated. "What d' you think?"

Michaela nodded. "I agree with your father."

Josef straightened up. "Good. Then we don't gotta learn all this stuff about his'twry an' gogwraphy."

Michaela raised a finger. "But that does not negate the importance of education. I wouldn't be a doctor if it were not for the knowledge I gained in school."

Josef glanced at his father. "Papa didn' go t' school much, an' he's smart."

Sully added, "I still read an' try t' learn new things, Joe. I've learned a lot just from your Ma's talk t'day."

Josef sighed, "I'll never know as much as you two."

Sully advised, "Don't sell yourself short, son. Just take every opportunity t' learn. Before long, you'll know lots o' things. Look at the twins an' Hope. Remember when they were newborns? Now look at what they can do."

Michaela admitted, "Perhaps my presentation is not as interesting as it could be. I tend to lecture, I suppose."

Bridget stood up to stretch her legs. "How much longer 'til we arrive in Boston?"

Sully looked at this pocket watch. "Couple hours."

Josef glanced out the window. "Ya figure someone might get shot when we get t' Boston?"

Michaela's eyes widened. "Josef, what happened in Washington doesn't occur every day."

The little boy reasoned, "I still wanna get a gun."

Sully lifted Josef onto his lap. "Joe, you can get in a lot o' trouble with a gun."

"I won' let anyone hurt my family if I have a gun," the child affirmed.

Sully attempted to explain, "There's ways t' protect your family without usin' a gun." Sully pointed to the top of his son's head. "Use this."

Josef commented, "My hair?"

"Your brain," Sully clarified. "Think about how t' avoid danger. That's what got Noah int' trouble with the carriage."

Noah spoke up. "I no tink."

Katie observed, "Didn't President Garfield use his head?"

Michaela answered, "One cannot always protect himself from a madman. Even if the President would have been armed, I doubt if what happened to him could have been prevented."

Josef worried, "I reckon folks should jus' stay home."

Michaela countered, "Then they would miss all that life has to offer."

Sully counseled, "Ya can't live your life in fear. Ya just gotta be careful."

Katie noted, "But you've been through a lot, Poppy. Ya been shot, fell of a cliff, blinded.... lots of bad things have happened to ya."

He stated, "An' am I hidin' from life?"

"No," the little girl replied.

Sully stroked his daughter's golden curls. "I've taken a lot o' risks in my life, Kates. I did some things I ain't proud of, but your Ma got me through. That goes back t' the importance of love."

Josef noted, "I hope love helps Pwesident Gawfield."

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

"Michaela!" Rebecca called when she spotted her sister in the Boston depot.

"Rebecca!" Michaela rushed to embrace her sister. "It's so good to see you."

"And you." Rebecca kissed her. Then she noticed Sully holding Hope. "The baby! Oh, Michaela, she's beautiful. And look at how these other darlings have grown."

Sully kissed his sister-in-law's cheek. "Rebecca. Thanks for meetin' us."

She explained, "I'm afraid I'm the only one here. We're all summering in Eden, Maine. The weather in Boston has been intolerable. I'll take you up on the morning train tomorrow."

Josef sighed, "Another twrain wride?"

Sully gently covered his son's mouth with the palm of his hand.

Michaela apologized, "I'm sorry, Rebecca. The children are rather tired. Perhaps a good night's sleep will change their outlook."

Rebecca smiled, "Well, they can each have their own bedroom tonight in my home. Most of my staff is on Mount Desert Island with the family, but Martha is here."

Michaela was delighted. "Martha! I can't wait to see her again."

Rebecca smiled. "And it's wonderful to see you again, Bridget. How have you been?"

"With these five leprechauns?" Bridget chuckled.

Rebecca recalled, "I remember when you were with the Andersons. They had eight children."

Bridget retorted, "I was younger then."

Rebecca gestured, "Come. I have a carriage waiting for us."

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

With the children in bed, Bridget took the opportunity to visit a family for whom she used to work.

Rebecca sat with Michaela and Sully in the parlor. As they sipped tea, the sisters caught up on each other's lives.

Rebecca concluded, "And Peggy is expecting her third child."

Michaela was pleased. "Another grandchild for you."

Her sister remarked, "And one for you, too. How is Michael?"

Michaela nodded. "He's just starting to walk. He's a healthy and happy little boy. Matthew and Emma are wonderful parents."

Rebecca calculated, "Michael and Hope are about the same age?"

"Yes," Michaela returned.

Rebecca admired her sister's beauty. "Grand motherhood hasn't aged you. You look very well."

Sully chimed in with a grin, "I agree."

Michaela's looked down demurely. "Thank you. You obviously don't notice the strands of gray in my hair, owing more to my children than my grandson."

They laughed.

Then Rebecca turned to her brother-in-law. "Michaela wrote to me about what happened earlier this year. We're so grateful that you're all right, Sully."

"Thanks," he accepted. "I reckon that's another reason for a few strands of gray in Michaela's hair."

Michaela directed a question to her sister. "What time should we have the children ready in the morning?"

"We should be at the depot by ten," Rebecca stated. "I have all of your tickets. Claudette and Maureen will be happy to see you when we arrive."

"And I them," Michaela acknowledged.

Rebecca glanced at the clock. "Well, if you'll excuse me. I'll retire to my room. Would you like for me to ask Martha to waken you at a specific time?"

Michaela declined, "It won't be necessary. At least one of the children will have us up early. Of that, I'm certain."

"Good night, then." Rebecca left the room.

Michaela stepped to a cluster of photographs beside the fireplace.

Sully observed his wife's pensive expression. "You glad t' be back in Boston?"

She smiled wistfully, "If only for this one night. It seems strange, staying at Rebecca's instead of Mother and Father's home."

"We could take a walk past there," he suggested.

"No." Michaela felt a twinge of nostalgia. "I think it would be rather difficult to pass by, knowing someone else lives there now."

"So tell me about this Eden place," he requested.

"Oh, Sully, you'll love it." Her demeanor changed. "It's a port on Mount Desert Island just off the coast of Maine. I haven't been there since I was a teen, but my parents rented a cottage there every summer. Father would come up when he could get away from his practice. Some of the fondest memories of my youth were spent there. The beauty of the mountains and greenery are unsurpassed."

"I can't wait t' see it," he smiled.

She added, "I can't wait to see it with you."

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

Spooned against her husband, Michaela lay awake, a sadness weighing heavy on her heart. This was her first time in Boston since the death of her mother three years ago. Though they were not sleeping in Elizabeth's house, her mother's presence could be felt, even in Rebecca's home. Pieces of Elizabeth's life surrounded them, from furniture to artwork scattered throughout her sister's dwelling.

Sighing, Michaela sat up. Rebecca was right. The heat was intolerable. The cooler temperatures on Mount Desert Island would be a welcome relief.

Suddenly, she felt Sully's hand on her back. "You okay?"

"Yes," she replied. "Just warm."

He began to rise. "I'll get ya some ice water."

Michaela turned to face him. "No, that's all right. Go back to sleep. I'll be fine. Thank you."

He sensed, "Somethin' besides the heat on your mind?"

She confessed, "I was thinking of Mother."

Sully sympathized, "First time back must be hard."

"Do you think we might visit my parents' graves before we leave in the morning?" she requested.

"Sure." Sully ran his fingers along her arm.

Michaela's shoulders slumped. "Oh, Sully. There's not a day that passes when I don't think of them."

He noted, "They lived long enough t' see ya become successful. It must've meant a lot t' them."

"I always had Father's approval," she admitted. "Mother's came late."

"'But not too late." He spoke softly. "I saw how she looked at ya when we were here for Colleen's graduation from Harvard. She admired ya."

Michaela added, "And she admired you."

He grinned. "I reckon Elizabeth finally figured I was good enough for her daughter."

"Perfect for me." Michaela situated herself beside him again, resting her palm lightly against his chest.

Sully drew her hand to his lips. "You still warm?"

The side of her mouth curled in a smile. "A different kind of warm."

"Oh?" He repositioned himself on his side to look at her more fully.

"Mmm-hum." Her tone made him tingle.

After kissing her, Sully whispered near the lobe of her ear:

"Thy mouth is made of fire and wine,
Thy barren bosom takes my kiss
And turns my soul to thine
And turns thy lip to mine,
And mine it is."

They gazed intently at one another, a palpable desire building.

Sully caressed her neck, then slipped his hand beneath the neckline of her shift. Michaela caught her breath as his fingers tantalized her. When he pulled the material open further, he leaned in to kiss her.

"Sully...." The way she spoke his name immediately heightened his passion.

"Mmm?" He continued to kiss her.

Michaela closed her eyes, enraptured by his lips on her skin. How was it possible that the mere timbre of his voice.... his slightest tender touch.... the gaze of his eyes locked on her own, could arouse such stirrings in her? Time had not diminished the impact he had on her, physically and emotionally.

Sully inhaled deeply, delighting in the scent of his wife. It was an intoxicating blend of lavender and vanilla. When he was this close to her, it seemed that their very souls melded. He adored everything about her beautiful shape, as if it were made for him. How was it possible for two such unlikely people to share such a profound connection? She completed him. She was his harbor, his anchor, his heartsong.

Stroking back the damp hair from her face, Sully situated himself above her. Then ever so slowly, they came together. She rose to meet him. The contact sent electrifying shivers through their bodies. Rhythmically, they began to move in magical harmony with one another. Reaching the peak of their pleasure, they clung to one another, united in every way.

Her sad thoughts of Boston disappeared as his love coursed through her. With their desires fully satiated, and their hearts slowing to their normal cadence, they sweetly kissed.

Sully continued his pleasing caresses. "I love you."

She smiled. "I love you, too."

"An' the kids didn't interrupt us," he joked.

"You forgot something again," she whispered.

He was uncertain, "What?"

She specified, "To tell me the poet."

"Oh." He kissed her again. "Swinburne."

Michaela was moved to say, "Have I mentioned how happy you make me?"

His hand touched her neck. "Just so happens, that's how you make me feel, too."

She sighed in contentment. "And tomorrow, we'll begin our new adventure."

Sully spoke low, "Every day's an adventure with you."

************
Chapter 10
************

Michaela and Sully escorted the children through the even rows of tombstones at Mount Auburn Cemetery until they reached a large granite one that stood taller than those around it. The name Quinn was engraved on it.

Michaela held Hope near as she knelt down before the towering memorial. The other children looked at their father for guidance. Sully nodded for them to follow their mother's lead. They, too, knelt. Katie placed the flowers that she had picked in a metal vase at the base of the headstone.

Tears filled Michaela's eyes as she set the baby down. Hope was uncertain about how to act. Gently, Josef guided her to kneel, but the little girl preferred to sit. Hope leaned toward the flowers to smell them.

Sully stood behind them, resting his hands on Michaela's shoulders. Beneath his palms, he could feel the trembling of her weeping. He was suddenly reminded of how he had once taken Michaela and Katie to the spot where his mother had died, hoping to feel Katherine Sully's presence and to let her know that he had found happiness.

Noah extended his hand toward the letters engraved on the granite. "What say?"

Katie read for him, "Joseph Michael Quinn, 1797-1867 and Elizabeth Anne Weston Quinn, 1798-1878. 'Give all to love'-Ralph Waldo Emerson."

Michaela began to regain her composure. "Children, I wanted to bring you here to pay respect to your grandparents.... Your grandfather never got to see you, but I know he would have loved you with all of his heart." Caressing Hope's hair, she added, "And your grandmother never got to see this little one."

Michaela stopped again, unable to control her tears.

Annie leaned against her mother. "Don' cwy, Mama. Noah be good."

Michaela could not help but smile. "Yes, he's being very good."

Josef eyed his little brother. "For now."

Katie surmised her mother's intention. "I think Mama wants to show us t' Grandma and Grandpa, cause we're closer to heaven here."

Noah spoke up. "Why Mama cwy?"

Katie replied, "'Cause she misses 'em."

Sully spoke softly, "Let's leave your Ma be for a minute, kids."

Josef protested, "Mama will cwry more."

Katie reasoned, "Maybe she wants t' talk with them alone."

Sully nodded and guided them toward the carriage. He sensed rightly that Michaela would want Hope to remain with her.

They could not hear the words, but they knew their mother was speaking to her parents.

Michaela helped Hope to stand up. "Mother.... Father.... look at her. Look at them. I know you would be so proud of my children. They're loving and considerate. And so bright." She paused a moment to watch her daughter, then she addressed her parents again. "I just want to say that I love you. I know that you sometimes disagreed with my choices, but you inspired me to stand on my own and to follow my dreams. Those dreams led me to the most incredible man, who gave these beautiful treasures to me."

Slowly, she stood up with Hope in her arms. With one last glance at the graves, she pivoted and returned to the carriage.

Sully took Hope from her and helped Michaela step up to the cushioned seat. "You okay?"

"Yes," she touched his cheek. "Thank you."

"For what?" he set the baby on her lap.

She leaned over to kiss him. Then, sitting up straighter, she answered, "For giving me our family."

He grinned, "I thought you gave 'em t' me."

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

Thousands of years ago, glaciers formed Mount Desert Island in roughly the shape of a shrimp.

One of the first Europeans to see it, Frenchman Samuel Champlain in 1604, named it L'Isle des Monts Desert . On the northeast coast of the Island, the settlement of Eden was chartered in 1796. In the mid 1800s, the area gained public attention when artists began to use its landscape as a subject for their paintings.


The wealthy, in particular, were drawn to the cooler summer temperatures and rustic beauty of the nation's third largest island along the Atlantic Coast. "Rusticators," they were called. Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Morgans, Astors and Pulitzers built "cottages" that would qualify as mansions to most people. The locals, mainly fishermen and farmers, began to rent out their dwellings to city folk, and tourism on the island was born. By the 1880s, Eden (later named Bar Harbor) boasted over 30 hotels.

When they stepped from the steamboat onto the dock at Eden, the Sully children were fascinated by the hovering seagulls. Tamed by indulging tourists who fed them, the birds approached the youngsters. So amazed by the birds were Katie, Josef and the twins, they did not want to get into the carriage that had arrived to transport the family to the "cottage" which Rebecca had arranged for them.

Sully's awe of the landscape quickly dampened as they turned onto a street showcasing one ostentatious house after another. When they stopped in front of a Victorian structure, his stomach began to turn.


Michaela was impressed. "Rebecca! This looks more like a hotel. Are you certain that you have the correct address?"

Rebecca chuckled, "Of course. This home belongs to my husband's family. They're in Newport this year."

Casting his wife a disapproving glance, Sully helped his family from the carriage.

Rebecca escorted them into the home as she explained, "There are over twenty rooms in the house, and you'll have two acres of gardens and trees to enjoy. There are more than enough bedrooms for all of you, along with fireplaces, sitting rooms, dining rooms, reception rooms, a den and a staff to serve you."

"Michaela...." Sully started to speak.

She interrupted, "Ah.... Rebecca, this is really...."

Rebecca, in turn, cut off her sister. "I know you think it's far too much. But, well.... let me spoil you a bit while you're here. Indulge me."

Sully replied, "Indulge you?"

Rebecca put her arms through Michaela's and Sully's. "You have hosted me on more than one occasion, and now it's my turn. You're invited to dinner this evening. Claudette and Maureen will be there, along with their husbands and some other guests."

Michaela glanced at Sully. He reluctantly nodded.

She smiled at her husband. "We'll be there. Seven?"

"Yes," Rebecca returned. "That gives you and the children plenty of time to explore the place."

Sully mused, "Maybe just the first floor."

The children immediately commenced their exploration. Michaela cautioned them to be careful not to break anything.

Sully loosened his tie and undid his top shirt button. Sighing, he stepped out onto the curved verandah at the side of the house. Wicker rocking chairs provided a comfortable view of the shore. He sat and inhaled the clean air to clear his head.

Michaela gazed through the door at him.

Bridget's voice spoke from behind her. "You go on out t' him, Lass. I'll introduce myself to the staff an' keep an eye on the leprechauns. I imagine after they each claim a room, they'll want t' nap."

She turned. "Thank you, Bridget."

Then Michaela knocked on the door frame and spoke to her husband. "Mind if I join you?"

He glanced over his shoulder. "I'd mind if ya didn't."

She approached him, then sat in the adjoining chair. For several minutes, they were silent.

Finally, Sully mentioned, "Nice view, mmm?"

"Yes, very," she agreed. "I recall hearing that atop of Cadillac Mountain, you can even be the first in the United States to see the sunrise."

He tilted his head. "Cadillac Mountain?"

She gestured over her shoulder. "That way. It's over 1500 feet up."

"Nothin' like Pike's Peak," he noted with a grin.

She paused, then retorted, "It's not a competition."

His was curious. "So tell me more about this island."

She linked her fingers in his. "Perhaps we should do some exploring of our own. There are fresh water lakes, both sandy and rocky beaches, cliffs and even a fjord."

He queried, "What's a fjord?"

"A deep valley formed by a glacier," she answered. "It's Somes Sound."

"Sounds interestin'," he commented with a pun.

"Oh, and there's a place called Thunder Hole," she added. "When the tide is just right, it hits the rocky shore and creates a tremendous burst of water along with the sound of thunder."

"Think the kids might like it?" he wondered.

"Yes, I do," she nodded. "Perhaps we can take a picnic there."

He smiled. "How do ya do it?"

"Do what?" she asked.

"How do ya make me relax when I'm surrounded by all this wealth?" he clarified.

"When in Rome...." she answered.

He chuckled.

"What?" She wondered at his reaction.

Sully leaned closer to kiss her. "That's what your Ma said t' me when I came t' court ya in Boston."

"I recall your telling me about that," she nodded. "Oh, Sully, let's enjoy this place without worrying about the outside world. You deserve it after the year you've had."

He amended, "We deserve it."

"So you won't object to Rebecca's pampering us?" She raised an eyebrow.

He pledged, "I won't object."

She kissed him again.

He drew back and caressed her cheek. "Maybe we could watch that sunrise on Cadillac Mountain while we're here."

She imitated his dialect, "Sounds interestin'."

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

Sully glanced at Rebecca's cottage when their carriage slowed. "Will ya look at this one? It's even bigger than the house we're stayin' in."

Josef requested, "Can we explore it, too?"

Michaela cautioned, "I want you on your best behavior. In all likelihood, you children will be dining in a separate room."

Katie questioned, "Why can't we eat with you?"

Michaela explained, "In Boston society, the children usually don't eat with their parents when guests are present."

Josef pointed out, "This ain't Boston."

Michaela shuddered. "Isn't Boston."

The little boy reminded, "Papa says 'ain't.'"

Sully supported his wife. "That doesn't make it right, Joe. Your Ma wants ya t' speak proper while you're here."

Josef frowned. "But they won't even hear me talkin' if I'm in another room eatin'."

Michaela took a deep breath to steel her nerves. "Children, your Aunts Claudette and Maureen will be here, as well. It would be nice to not have to worry about any lapses in behavior."

Sully teased, "Theirs or ours?"

Michaela gently prodded her husband's side with her elbow. "Be polite and speak only when spoken to."

Josef put his hands on his hips. "But...."

Once again, Sully gently covered his son's mouth with his hand. "That's enough, Joe. Do what your Ma wants."

The little boy looked up at his father. "Why?"

Sully answered, "Two reasons."

Josef queried, "What's the first?"

"Ya respect your Ma," Sully answered.

Michaela was curious. "What's the second?"

Sully winked. "'Cause a happy Ma is a happy family."

She lowered her voice suggestively. "And a happy Pa."

Sully grinned. "All right, kids, let's go in."

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

Dinner was not as bad as Sully feared. His sisters-in-law, Claudette and Maureen, were actually cordial. Maybe Rebecca had influenced their behavior. In addition, their husbands seemed congenial, as well. Maybe it was this place, Sully speculated. He had to admit that Mount Desert Island had a lot of charm. For the first time in his life, Michaela's family did not make him feel uncomfortable.

The evening was not totally calm, however. The children interrupted their meal for various reasons. Josef had to use the privy. Noah was temporarily lost, but Sully instinctively knew to look in the pantry. Sure enough, the little boy was there exploring. Annie developed the hiccups. Hope's teething prompted a brief crying spell. The only one of their children who seemed to complete her meal without ado was Katie.

While Michaela enjoyed discussing the children with her sisters, Sully began conversing with one of the guests. In fact, that was another reason he was enjoying the evening.

The man with whom he was speaking was George B. Dorr. The twenty-seven year old Boston native intrigued Sully with tales of the Island.

Dorr's parents had built Old Farm on the Island in 1876, and the young man had fallen in love with the area.

He remarked to Sully, "This place is a wonderland of marine mammals, amphibians and reptiles. There's white-tailed deer, well over 200 species of birds.... everything, Mr. Sully."

"Sounds like it," he smiled. "Folks seem more relaxed here, too."

"Oh, indeed," Dorr agreed. "It's quiet and much healthier than the city. One can take long walks, never even seeing another human being. I'm always discovering new things about the Island. And there's something about swimming the ocean daily that rejuvenates the body."

Sully commented, "Maybe you should live here all year long."

Dorr chuckled. "Well, the winters are quite harsh, but yes, I would like to do that."

Sully posed the question, "What's the most interestin' thing you've seen here?"

Dorr paused to ponder. "I believe it would have to be the Wabanaki Indian artifacts."

Sully sat up straighter with interest. "What kind o' artifacts?"

"Primitive tools and weapons," Dorr replied. "One of our summer residents, Dr. Robert Abbe, has a small collection."

Michaela overheard. "Abbe? By chance, do you know where he's from?"

Dorr identified, "Yes, New York City. Do you know him?"

"I've heard of his work at New York Hospital," Michaela stated. "And.... if I'm not mistaken, he had a brother who died from wounds sustained at the Battle of Gettysburg."

"Yes, that was his brother William." Dorr nodded. "All of his other brothers have gone into various scientific fields. Robert is a brilliant man with an inquisitive mind and tremendous organizational skills."

Sully wondered, "Is he here on the Island? I'd be real interested t' see his collection of artifacts."

Dorr offered, "I'm not certain if he is in residence at the moment, but I can find out."

Sully smiled. "Thanks. Seems like this area has a lot t' offer."

The young man sighed. "The more people find out about it, the less likely it will retain its pristine condition."

Sully suggested, "Why don't ya do somethin' about it, then?"

"Something about it?" he was curious.

Sully folded his arms. "I've done a lot o' work for various departments an' agencies in the government dealin' with savin' the land."

Dorr asked, "You believe I should work for the government?"

"Not for 'em.... with 'em," Sully claimed. "Ya got money an' a lot o' rich neighbors. Why don't ya enlist their help t' save this Island for future generations.... like folks did with Yellowstone?"

Dorr rubbed his chin. "Interesting idea, Mr. Sully."

"Just Sully," he amended.

The young man considered, "It is an opportunity to develop and preserve the wild charm and beauty of this unique spot for future generations."

Sully nodded. "Right."

Dorr extended his hand. "Mr..... Sully, I appreciate your suggestion. You are a man of vision."

Michaela leaned over and touched her husband's arm. "He is indeed."

Sully turned to Dorr. "You got any maps of roads an' hikin' trails? Ya got me real interested in explorin' the Island."

"Yes, of course," he returned. "I'll have my caretaker bring them over tomorrow morning."

"Thanks," Sully replied.

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

Back in their Island residence, Michaela and Sully tucked in the children and retired to the den. The dark wooden walls of the room were adorned with stuffed deer heads, and on the floor lay a black bear skin rug. Between the shelves of books was a display of guns.

Sully scanned the book titles, then brought his attention back to the rifles. "Rebecca's family likes t' hunt."

Michaela drew a shawl around her shoulders. "Yes, her husband is an expert marksman."

The lower gun caught his eye. "They ain't all for huntin'. This one's from the War."

Sully moved on to the billiard table and picked up a cue. Michaela was amazed at how quickly he shot the balls into the pockets.

He looked up with a grin. "It's hard t' see huntin' as a sport."

She explained, "Well, they do eat what they kill."

He gestured, "Then why d' they put the heads on the walls?"

Michaela redirected their conversation. "You and Mr. Dorr certainly had a lot to say to one another at dinner."

Sully smiled. "Changin' the subject on me?"

She shrugged. "I suppose so."

"It's nice t' meet someone who recognizes the importance of savin' land for future generations," Sully acknowledged.

She approached him. "Yes, it is."

It was at that moment that he noticed her shawl. "You cold?"

"A bit," she admitted. "Evenings can be quite chilly, even in July. There's a saying here that there are two seasons, Winter and Independence Day."

Sully laughed as he enfolded her in his arms. "Maybe we should do somethin' t' warm ya up."

"A glass of warm milk?" she teased.

He kissed her. "Not exactly what I had in mind."

"What do you have in mind, Mr. Sully?" Her voice was enticing.

************
Chapter 11
************

Sully arose at sunrise, anxious to pour over the maps that George Dorr would be sending to him. Michaela noticed him sitting on the edge of the bed, his back to her.

She yawned and touched his bare back. "What are you doing up so early?"

He turned and leaned closer for a kiss. "I thought I'd map out all the places t' take the kids t'day."

"Why does it have to be squeezed into today?" she wondered.

Sully kissed her again. "'Cause I wanna squeeze in some things with their Ma tomorrow."

She raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

Sully slipped his hand beneath the sheet to lovingly fondle her breasts.

Michaela was instantly warmed by his touches. "Is this the kind of squeezing you have in mind?"

He kissed her neck as he guided his hand lower. "You're so beautiful, Michaela. I reckon I have a hard time keepin' my hands off of ya. Hope ya don't mind."

Michaela closed her eyes. "Mmmind?"

Sully smiled at her reaction, then drew his hand away. "I best not start somethin' I don't have time t' finish."

Michaela took a deep breath to calm her rapidly beating heart. She knew her cheeks were flushed. Sitting up, she pulled up the sheet to cover herself.

Sully softly stroked her cheek. "When's the last time I said I love ya?"

She toyed with a stray lock of his hair. "Last night."

He linked his fingers in hers. "Then I better say it this mornin'. I love you, Michaela Quinn."

"And I love you," she uttered. "So where do you want to go today?"

He reached for a tablet on the night stand.

Michaela smiled, "You wrote it down?"

He teased, "You're not the only one who makes lists."

She read aloud. "Thunder Hole, Jordan's Pond, Sand Beach. I know the children and I will enjoy these."

"Hey....." A thought occurred to him. "If you wanna stay here an' visit with your sisters, I can take the kids myself."

"Thank you." She clasped his hand. "I'm rather torn. I do want to talk with my sisters, but on the other hand, I want to watch the children's faces when they see all of the sights."

"Maybe ya could do both," he reasoned.

She was puzzled. "How?"

"Invite your sisters t' come with us," he proposed.

She considered, "Rebecca might consider it, but.... I'm not sure about the others."

"Ya won't know until ya ask," he pointed out.

Michaela nodded. "Very well, I'll ask them."

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

At the breakfast table with this siblings, Josef glanced at the silverware. "Why we got so many spoons?"

The female servant standing nearby offered, "So that you may have a clean spoon with each course, Master Sully."

Josef looked up at her. "What's a course?"

Bridget simplified, "It's a dish of food."

Michaela entered the room and greeted her children by circling around the table to kiss them, "Good morning, my darlings."

When she reached Hope's high chair, she lifted the baby and situated the little one on her lap.

Josef gestured, "Mama, make sure ya got 'nough spoons."

Michaela wondered, "Spoons?"

Bridget explained, "He's noticin' all the silverware, Dr. Mike."

Katie inquired, "Where's Poppy?"

Michaela detailed, "He's mapping out a wonderful day of exploring for us. I've sent notes to your Aunts asking if they would like to come along."

Katie requested, "Can I ride a horse?"

"May I," Michaela corrected. "And, you'll have to ask your father. Some of the trails may be too narrow."

Josef contributed, "I don' think Aunt Claudette an' Maween will like explorin'. I can't see them gettin' dirty."

At that moment, Sully entered the room. "Mornin', kids."

Bridget joked, "Second childhood for me."

Sully winked at her. "Me, too."

"Hol', Papa." Hope extended her little arms upward.

Sully scooped the baby into his arms and kissed her. "So, are ya ready for our adventure?"

The children greeted his question with enthusiastic shouts of "Yes!"

Katie repeated her question, "Poppy, may I ride a horse?"

Sully replied, "For part o' the way. We'll see about a carriage for the rest of the family."

Katie immediately felt special. "Thanks."

Sully touched her cheek. "Ya know t' be careful."

"Yep." The little girl beamed.

Josef folded his arms and frowned.

Sully sensed his son felt left out. "I'll need someone t' help me with the reins on my horse while I look at the maps."

Josef's face instantly brightened. "Me, Papa!"

"Thanks, Joe," he grinned. "I was hopin' you'd volunteer."

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

The green vistas of Mount Desert Island were breathtaking. Bountiful evergreens mixed with deciduous trees. Sully and Michaela marveled at the abundant wildlife and crystal clear creeks. They could understand why artists found the locale so appealing.

Along the ocean's edge at Thunder Hole, the children ventured close to the rocky shore to watch the ocean water shoot up forty feet as it hit a curved cave in the granite.

The sudden burst of a thundering sound which it produced prompted Hope to cry.

Michaela held the baby. "It's just the waves, Sweetheart. See? Papa and your brothers and sisters aren't afraid."

Maureen remarked, "I don't know why we ventured down here just to see a spout of water."

Rebecca reminded, "We ventured here so that we could visit with Michaela."

Claudette forced a smile for their youngest sister. "Michaela, I see that your mountain man husband still has a weak spot for nature."

Michaela countered as she observed her husband with their children. "I don't consider it a weakness."

Claudette remarked, "Still, it's only water."

Michaela bit her tongue to avoid an argument.

When another burst of water spouted upward, Hope clapped her little hands together.

Michaela kissed the top of her daughter's head. "That's right, my darling. Isn't it pretty?"

Rebecca admired, "Hope is a beautiful baby, Michaela. We're so grateful for your visit so that we could meet her."

Claudette observed, "She doesn't favor your other children in appearance."

Maureen smirked, "Yes, it makes one wonder."

Michaela did not catch her meaning. "Wonder what?"

Maureen clarified, "Wonder if she's Sully's."

Michaela's eyes widened. "Maureen! How dare you insinuate...."

The sister raised her hand. "I was only making a joke, Michaela. Of course, she's Sully. I know how devoted you are to your husband."

Rebecca sympathized, "We know it's been a challenging year for Sully and you, Michaela. I'm sorry we couldn't be there to help you."

A tear began to form in the corner of Michaela's eye. "It was a very difficult time. He grew quite thin from his ordeal."

Rebecca cast an admiring gaze at her brother-in-law. "He seems quite fit now."

Michaela attributed, "It's his work. He is responsible for planning the parks and planting the trees for Colorado Springs. Though he has a crew of men who work for him, Sully usually labors right beside them."

Claudette commented, "So, he makes a living planting trees. Well, I suppose that your inheritance enables you to...."

Michaela interrupted, "Sully won't let me use my inheritance to support our family. My husband works long and hard to provide for us."

Maureen tilted her head in curiosity. "He won't let you? That doesn't sound like our spirited and independent-minded sister."

Michaela smiled. "We do make compromises."

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

The Sand Beach of Mount Desert Island was a stark contrast to the crags of Thunder Hole. The soft tan shoreline was in a cove, but on either side, the outcrops reappeared. The location of Sand Beach was almost like an oasis of softness amid the harsh, hard rocks.

While her sisters remained in the carriage, Michaela and Sully removed their shoes to let the children frolic barefooted in the sand.

Maureen sighed to her sisters, "Look at them. They'll have sand all over everything."

Rebecca chastised. "And what if they do? It's the first time the children have ever been to a sandy beach. It's quite a novelty for them."

On the shore, Michaela held Hope and used her other arm to shield her eyes against the sun.

Sully grinned at his wife. "Wanna go in the water?"

Michaela was surprised. "It may look warm, but it's not."

"Afraid?" Sully challenged.

"Of course not!" she replied. "But we're not dressed for it."

Katie implored, "Please can.... may we, Mama?"

"You'll catch a catarrh," Michaela cautioned.

Sully defended, "No, they won't. Come on, let's go in."

"Sully!" Michaela resisted. "We haven't anything to wear."

"Ya got your undergarments," he pointed out.

"What will my sisters think?" she continued to hesitate.

Sully kissed her. "They'll think you're crazy."

"Precisely," she nodded.

Sully winked. "So they can think you're crazy, or your husband can think you're afraid."

"I am not afraid," she insisted.

Sully unbuttoned his shirt. After removing it, he leaned over to take off his shoes.

Michaela kept her voice low. "Sully! You're not serious."

Gently taking Hope from her, he called out, "Come on, kids, let's check out the water."

Katie clasped her mother's hand. "Are you comin', too, Mama?"

Michaela cast a glance at her sisters.

Returning her gaze to her daughter's imploring brown eyes, Michaela smiled. "Yes."

With that, Michaela undid her blouse and skirt. Clad only in her undergarments, she helped the children strip down to theirs, as well. Then, they all approached the water.

In the carriage, Claudette's mouth dropped. "Are they doing what I think they're doing?"

Maureen was aghast. "I don't believe it. How...."

Rebecca cut her off, "How fun."

Claudette was surprised. "You approve of this?"

Rebecca smiled. "Why ever wouldn't I approve? Look at them. They're enjoying themselves immensely."

Maureen frowned, "They're behaving scandalously. Look at Michaela. She hardly has on any clothing."

Rebecca shook her head. "She's with her family, not on public display. It's almost tempting to do that myself."

Claudette raised an eyebrow. "You? Rebecca, have you taken leave of your senses, as well?"

"No, I haven't," she admonished. "You two were very well behaved at dinner last night. Can't you continue a little longer?"

Maureen pursed her lips, then spoke. "We're not the ones misbehaving."

Sitting beside them, Bridget had endured enough of their gossip and suggested, "Miss Rebecca, why don't we go back t' the house t' get them towels an' a change of clothin'?"

Rebecca nodded. "A wonderful suggestion, Bridget." Then she called to her sister, "Michaela, we'll go back to the house to bring some towels and change of clothing. Be back shortly."

With that, the carriage departed.

Along the beach, Michaela laughed as her children splashed her with the cold ocean water. Sully cradled Hope so that the baby would not become too wet. Michaela, on the other hand, was thoroughly drenched.

Sully kept an eye on his children, cautioning, "Not too far out, kids. Only up t' your knees."

Fortunately, the sun was warm on the sand, and when they finally tired of being in the water, the temperature was pleasant.

Sully could not help but notice his wife's beautiful features as her wet undergarments clung to her.

He stepped closer. "You best hold the baby."

"Why?" She was puzzled.

He whispered. "T' cover yourself 'til your sisters get back with some dry clothes."

"Oh." Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "Come to Mama, Hope."

The little girl giggled and went into her mother's arms.

It was at that moment, that they noticed their other children rolling around, coating themselves with sand.

Michaela sighed, "Oh, no, Sully."

He chuckled. "It's okay. We can rinse 'em off when your sisters get back with the towels."

She mused, "You know they disapprove of this."

He leaned closer to kiss her. "That makes it even more fun."

Michaela watched their children. "They are enjoying themselves."

"Good," he nodded. "Most of their trip has been centered around trains an' tragedy. About time they had some fun an' exercise."

She agreed, "Yes, this is a very healthy and invigorating place."

"Invigoratin'," he repeated. "I like that word."

"You would." She smiled enticingly, "Now, where is our next adventure?"

"Jordan Pond," he informed her.

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

Jordan Pond is over 100 feet deep, even along its serpentine shoreline. The water is full of salmon and trout, a fisherman's paradise.

In the distance, the North and South Bubble Mountains guard the lake like two connected, inverted stone bowls, blanketed with greenery.

As the family approached the lake, a large wooden house, nestled among the trees, became visible.

Rebecca noted, "Jordan Pond House. They have a tradition of serving tea and popovers at 4:00 p.m."

Josef was puzzled. "Why we gotta be dwressed up t' dwrink tea?"

Michaela turned to her children. "It's a formal affair."

Rebecca informed him, "That's tradition, as well."

Sully and Katie stopped their horses, and the carriage, too, halted. Sully withdrew his binoculars and scanned the landscape.

Something on the South Bubble Mountain caught his attention. "Will ya look at that."

Katie was curious, "What is it, Poppy?"

"It's a big rock," he identified. "Looks like it's gonna fall off the side."

Rebecca identified, "That's Bubble Rock. It's been balanced like that forever."

The children each wanted to look through their father's binoculars, though Annie and Noah were not at all certain what they were seeing.

When the family entered the restaurant, they were immediately impressed with the decor. The structure had birch dining rooms with stone fireplaces.

As they waited for a table, Michaela leaned over to speak with her children. "I want you to observe your very best behavior and manners here."

Katie spoke for them, "We will, Mama."

Josef whispered, "I gotta ask ya somethin'."

Michaela anticipated, "Go ahead."

"What's a popover?" the child questioned.

Michaela answered, "Well, it's rather like a hollowed out roll. It's made from milk and flower, along with other ingredients."

The little boy persisted, "Why's it hollow? That means we gotta eat air."

Sully chuckled, "Ya won't be eatin' air, Joe. I reckon ya can put butter an' jam in it."

Josef's eyes widened. "How 'bout a pokle?"

Rebecca gestured, "Come. Our table's ready."

************
Chapter 12
************

Sully and Michaela retired to the den after the children had been tucked into bed. They sat close and sipped tea while they watched the crackling logs in the fireplace.

Michaela commented, "We didn't have to have a fire, you know."

He grinned. "I didn't want ya t' be cold. I like it when ya don't have a shawl on."

She raised an eyebrow in surprise. "You don't? Why not?"

He smiled impishly. "'Cause I can see more of ya."

She snuggled closer. "It was a beautiful day, Sully. Thank you for planning it for us."

His lips lingered near her temple, warming her beyond what the fireplace could accomplish. "It was nice seein' the kids havin' a good time. You, too, even if it was scandalous."

She sat up to look at him fully in the face. "My sisters will never let me live it down."

He slid his hand along her form. "Think ya can spare one more special day, just you an' me?"

The upturn of her lips suggested approval. "What do you have in mind?"

He traced the line of her jaw lightly with his index finger. "Well, I thought maybe you an' me could climb up t' the top of Cadillac Mountain, sleep up there overnight, then watch the sunrise."

Michaela warmed at the suggestion. "It sounds very romantic, Mr. Sully."

"It's been a while since I romanced ya," he whispered.

She tingled at his nearness. Running her hand along the arms which enfolded her, she leaned back and closed her eyes.

Sully was curious. "What ya thinkin'?"

"How fortunate I am," she replied. "As much as I love my sisters, I wonder sometimes if they could possibly be as happy as I."

He smirked, "I reckon they're happy in their own ways."

"Poor Marjorie wasn't," Michaela knew.

He reminded, "She found love in the end, even if was brief."

"All too brief," Michaela thought back.

Sully suggested, "Rebecca seems happy."

"Always being the peacemaker," Michaela remarked.

He pondered, "Makes what we got even more special when we compare it t' your sisters."

"I dare say that our love is incomparable to any couple I have ever known," she observed.

"'Cept maybe the Brownin's," he noted with a gleam in his eye.

Michaela pivoted to look at him. "Who?"

"Robert an' Elizabeth Barrett Browin'," he clarified.

She smiled. "Or perhaps Percy and Mary Shelley."

"Nah," he shook his head. "Too scandalous."

She mused, "Well, I am scandalous. Remember?"

Sully lifted her fingers tips to his lips, caressing them with his tongue. Michaela felt herself melt.

Then he uttered, "We best get a good night's sleep so ya can keep up with me climbin' that mountain t'morrow."

She countered, "Are you certain that you can keep up with me?"

He chuckled, "I'll do my best. You are right about one thing, though."

"What?" she anticipated.

"There's no couple whose love is like ours." He leaned in to kiss her.

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

After explanations to the children that their parents would be away for the next day and explicit instructions as to what expectations they had for the children's behavior, Michaela and Sully set out with their gear to climb Cadillac Mountain.


George Dorr's maps proved to be exact and easy to read. They ascended on the North Trail, where breathtaking vistas of Frenchman's Bay and the many islands that dot it could be seen. Distance wise, the path was just over two miles, and Michaela and Sully reached the summit before sunset.

They beheld the surrounding islands and breathtaking view of the town of Eden.

Hand in hand, they stood in awe of the pristine beauty below them.

Finally, amid the rocky summit, Sully found a suitable place for their campsite.

Michaela teased, "I won."

"Won what?" he looked up from a kneeling position.


"I reached the top first," she bragged.

He smirked suggestively, "You like bein' on top?"

Her cheeks flushed, "Sully!"

He embraced her. "Okay, okay. You tired?"

"Rather," she conceded. "You?"

He teased, "Rather. So, how 'bout I fix us some supper an' we get t' sleep early? We can be rested up for that beautiful sunrise."

She added, "Unless the fog rolls in."

"Fog?" he frowned.

Michaela linked her fingers in his. "It happens rather frequently around here. In the midst of a sunny day, suddenly, you can't see your hand in front of your face."

He sighed, "It better not get foggy after all we did t' get here."

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

Sully lay on his back gazing at the stars. Michaela had fallen asleep the moment she leaned against his shoulder. They both had slept soundly, but he had awakened in anticipation of the imminent sunrise. The sky was crystal clear with no sign of fog, which heightened his anticipation of a beautiful sunrise.

Sully turned his attention to his wife and whispered, "Beautiful."

"Mmmm?" Michaela stirred slightly.

He drew back an errant strand of her hair. "I said you're beautiful."

She was still drowsy. "Thank you." Then her face cringed.

"Somethin' wrong?" Sully noticed.

"My foot." She pointed. "It's asleep."

Sully sat up and threw off their blanket. "Let me rub it."

Gently, he began to massage her foot. At first, his movements were focused on ending her discomfort. Then, she detected a change in his intent. His soft kneading went beyond her arch and toes. They continued up the calf of her leg. He bent closer to kiss her toes.

"Mr. Sully...." A warmth was kindling within her. "I think my foot is quite awake now."

"Good," he grinned as he continued to arouse her. "Now I'll work on the rest of ya."

Soon, his hand was against her skin, tantalizing every pore of her being. Michaela closed her eyes, and arched her neck back, inviting him to continue. His exploring hand was having the desired effect. She reached down to undo his buckskins. Their kisses continued, and soon, casting their clothing aside, they were flesh against flesh.

Sully stroked her hair. While his hands continued to electrify her, he spoke softly:

"Love, love only, forever love with its torture of bliss;
All the world's glories can never equal two souls in one kiss:
Love, and ever love wholly; love in all time and all space;
Life is consummate then solely in the death of a burning embrace."

Michaela's emotions had reached a fever pitch. "Was.... that.... uh.... oh, I don't care who it was."

Sully laughed, "Ya don't?"

Michaela wrapped her arms around him, peering deeply into his eyes. "There's only one thing I care about at this moment."

He enjoyed their banter. "What's that?"

Her voice quivered, "Loving you."

Her tone intensified his attraction, but he maintained control long enough to say, "James Thomson."

With her heart pounding nearly out of her chest, she kissed his neck. "Now, Sully."

Their repartee ended. Their eyes locked. With the tenderest of touches, they began to make love. Their hearts beat in perfect union as their bodies began to fuse into one. Just as their synchronous movements began to reach a climax, magnificent reds, golds and indigos of the morning burst through the clouds and illuminated the sky.

Breathlessly, they glanced at the scene.

Michaela kissed her husband's chest, "Magnificent."

"The sky?" he joked.

"And us," she smiled while drinking in the dawn. "Did you deliberately time this so that we would reach.... well, you know, to coincide with the rising sun?"

He grinned. "'Course, I did."

As they lay enfolded in each others arms, they silently marveled at the growing, glowing orb in the heavens.

Sully whispered, "I love you, Michaela, an' I love us bein' here like this."

"That's exactly how I feel," she whispered. "And this was incredibly romantic."

"Well...." He paused playfully. "It ain't like our mountain back home, but it's pretty close."

She gestured with wonder. "Look at that incredible sight, Sully."

His eyes never left her face. "Like I said before.... beautiful."

She gestured. "I'm speaking of the sunrise."

"That, too," he retorted.

Michaela sighed. "You're incorrigible."

He grinned, "I thought I was incredibly romantic."

"That, too." She snuggled closer.

He felt her tremble. "You cold?"

"Well, my clothes are over there," she pointed out.

Sully joked, "You mean I ain't keepin' you warm enough?"

Before she could answer, they heard someone or something approaching.

"Sully!" Michaela tensed.

Swiftly, they drew up the blanket and Sully called out, "Who's there?"

A man ascended from the path, recognizing the mountain man's voice. "It is I, Mr. Sully. George Dorr."

Michaela's face reddened. "Sully! What will he think?"

Sully advised, "Just stay calm. The blanket's coverin' us."

Dorr approached, unaware of what they had been doing. "Well done! I see that you were able to view the sunrise."

Michaela nervously spoke, "Uh, yes, Mr. Dorr.... It was.... lovely. We've.... that is.... we...."

Sully completed her sentence, "We never experienced anythin' like it."

Dorr finally noticed the blanket over them. "You must be cold. I can fetch some more wood for your fire."

Sully raised his hand. "Uh, that won't be necessary. We were just gettin' ready t'.... uh.... go back down the mountain."

Michaela looked at her husband with widened eyes. "We were? Uh.... are?"

Dorr insisted, "Let me at least make some coffee for you."

Sully ran his fingers through his hair, "Uh, George, you didn't climb the mountain in the dark, did ya?"

"No," he informed them. "I reached the apex just before sunset."

Sully assumed, "So you spent the night."

Michaela nervously took a deep breath. "Where did you sleep, Mr. Dorr?"

Dorr indicated, "About 50 yards from here."

Sully articulated, "Not exactly at the top o' the mountain like us."

Dorr tilted his head quizzically. "No. But I did see the sunrise."

Michaela spoke under her breath. "Was that all he saw?"

An idea occurred to Sully, "You say you got a camp over there, George?"

"Yes, I do," he answered.

Sully requested, "Ya mentioned coffee. We forgot t' bring some."

"Of course," Dorr pivoted. "I'll be right back."

Sully smiled. "Uh, tell ya what. How 'bout you fix it at your camp? Give us about ten minutes t'...."

He fumbled on how to word the rest of his statement.

Michaela picked up on it. "To get dressed.... I mean wake up."

Dorr put his hands on his hips. "There is a charm about this place, isn't there, Mrs. Sully?"

She smiled uncomfortably. "Yes, charm is a perfect word for it."

Sully returned to the subject. "How 'bout you get started on that coffee, an' we'll join ya?"

"Splendid." Dorr clapped his hands once. "I'll see you shortly."

With that, he left them.

Michaela was mortified. "Sully, he had to have noticed our clothes strewn about. He knows what we were doing."

"So?" Sully reached for his buckskins.

She was incredulous. "So? Is that all you can say? So?"

"What d' ya want me t' say?" He stood up to finish dressing.

Michaela continued to be flustered. "You could say.... I don't know.... you could say that a skunk sprayed us, and we had to...."

He bent over and slid his hand beneath the blanket to caress her breasts. "No skunk I ever saw like this. Kinda reminds me o' them Bubble Mountains."

She slapped his hand. "Sully! How can you make light of this? My body is not some toy for you to...."

He pulled back to look at her with all seriousness. "Toy? Michaela, I don't think that. I respect you more than anyone I ever met. I just.... I love touchin' you.... an' makin' love t' you. We got nothin' t' be embarrassed about. We're in love. We're married. We were alone."

"We were not alone." She was still agitated. "Mr. Dorr was fifty yards away."

Sully smirked. "We make love at home with Bridget an' our kids a lot closer than that."

"And thick walls between them and us," she added. "What if he heard us? What if he...."

His patience was waning. "You sayin' it was wrong for me t' make love t' my wife as we watched the sunrise?"

"Yes...." She grew more worked up. "No, I don't mean it like that."

Now fully dressed, Sully knelt down to the level of her eyes. He reached out to cup his palm against her cheek. "We didn't do anythin' wrong, but I know you're embarrassed, thinkin' Mr. Dorr knows we made love. For that, I'm sorry, Michaela. But we can't change what happened between us."

Her tone softened. "I.... I wouldn't want to change what happened between us."

He pressed against her for a kiss. "Good answer. Now.... Not that I mind lookin' at ya like this, but.... ya wanna get dressed?"

"Would you hand me my clothes?" she requested.

He reached for them, still keeping them out of her grasp. "For one more kiss?"

"Sully!" she implored.

"Please?" His eyes were irresistible.

With her index finger, she motioned for him to lean closer. When he did, she clasped the sides of his face and passionately kissed him deeply.

Sully was losing himself to her. He felt himself transported as his respiration rapidly intensified. Forcing himself to pull back, he shook his head. "You ain't playin' fair."

The edge of her lips turned up in a smile. "Perhaps Mr. Dorr won't notice your.... condition."

Sully knew that his arousal was not totally obscured by his buckskins. "For someone who's embarrassed, you sure are a riddle."

Michaela began to dress while Sully took some deep breaths of the cool morning air. Then he rolled up their bedrolls and doused the remnants of their campfire.

Within ten minutes, they had both finished their tasks.

Michaela held out her hand for him. "Ready for our coffee?"

Sully glanced down at his pants. "I reckon."

She smiled flirtatiously, then stepped closer for another kiss. "Oh, there was one good thing about this morning."

"What?" he paused.

"No fog," she replied.

"Only one good thing?" He sounded disappointed.

She lifted up to kiss him. "Two."

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

Josef entered the den, fascinated by the animal heads arraying the wood-paneled walls. With his insatiable curiosity, the little boy explored every nook of the room. Then something caught his attention. Rifles above the fireplace. He knew that Papa kept one on their mantel at home, but he was never allowed to touch it.

That was before the President was shot, Josef reasoned. The world was a much more dangerous place now. He felt a tug in his heart. He knew that Mama and Papa did not want him to handle a gun, but.... how could he ever protect his family unless he learned how to shoot it? Besides, they didn't have to know.

Neither seeing, nor hearing anyone nearby, the little boy scooted a chair toward the fireplace. Positioning it just right, he was able to stand and barely reach the lower gun.

With the firearm in his hands, he stepped down onto the floor again. The weapon was heavier than he imagined it would be. He ran his hand along the cold, smooth barrel. Then he raised it awkwardly to line up the sight as he had once seen in a drawing of Daniel Boone. He took aim at a deer head on the wall.

"Bang!" He pretended to fire.

At that moment, Annie entered the room. "Joey, not 'lowed. No gun."

Josef whispered, "Shhh, Annie. Don' tell on me. I'll put it back."

"You be bad," she frowned. "Mama an' Papa be mad."

He turned to implore his younger sister to be quiet. Suddenly, his foot caught on the bearskin's head, and he tripped. As he fell forward, his finger discharged the loaded gun. Annie collapsed onto the floor.

************
Chapter 13
************

The smell and telltale cloud of gunpowder filled the room when Bridget arrived in the den. "Saints preserve us! What hap...."

She spotted Annie on the floor in a pool of blood. Falling to her knees, Bridget cradled the little girl.

Josef knelt on the floor. His eyes were wide and his mouth open in shock.

He finally found his voice. "Miss Bwidget. Is Annie...."

Bridget saw the gun in his arms. "Put that down an' run for the caretaker. Quick, Lad!"

Josef got up and went to his sister. He touched the blood. "I shot her, Miss Bwidget. I killed Annie."

Bridget spoke sternly. "Listen t' me, Josef. We gotta get help for your sister. I need ya t' get the caretaker, so he can fetch a doctor. Do ya understand?"

"Uh-huh." His voice choked.

"Go now!" Bridget asserted.

With that, Josef sprinted from the room.

Bridget's hands trembled as she took a clean kerchief from her pocket to apply pressure to Annie's wound. "Please, Dear Lord, please let this baby live."

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

It was late afternoon, when Michaela and Sully returned to their Island residence. They anticipated being greeted by their children. Instead, they found Rebecca, subdued and pale.

Michaela smiled. "Well, hello. I didn't expect to see you here. Where are...."

Rebecca interrupted, "Michaela, something has happened."

"What?" She suddenly felt a wave of fear.

Sully put his hand on his wife's shoulder. "What's wrong, Rebecca? Where are the children?"

Rebecca took Michaela's hands. "It's little Annie. I'm afraid...."

Michaela interrupted, "Annie? Where is she?"

The sister tried to explain. "There's been an accident."

Michaela's heart raced. "An accident? Dear God, is Annie...."

Sully spoke softly, "Michaela, let her speak."

Rebecca felt her throat become dry as she attempted to inform her. "She's been shot."

Michaela's face paled. "Shot? My God, how.... where is she?"

Sully's heart ached. "Tell us where she is, even if...."

Michaela cut him off, "No, Sully, don't say it. We just need to see her."

Rebecca nodded. "She's with the doctor upstairs, but...."

Neither Michaela nor Sully heard the rest of her sentence. They bounded up the steps. When they neared Annie's room, they observed a man with the white sleeves of his shirt folded up and blood covering his hands.

Michaela reached the room first, pausing when she saw the petite form of her daughter lying lifeless on the bed.

The man whispered, "She's sleeping."

Michaela finally took a breath. "You're a physician?"

He nodded, "Dr. Robert Abbe."

Sully inquired, "What happened?"

The young physician returned, "From what I understand, your son shot her."

Michaela's eyes widened. "Noah?"

Abbe replied, "The other boy, Josef."

Michaela went to her daughter's side and, with a trembling voice, asked, "What's the extent of her injuries?"

Abbe stated, "I understand you're a physician, so I'll be explicit."

While he washed his hands, he described the wound and what he had done to treat Annie. Michaela checked her daughter's vital signs as he spoke.

Sully watched and listened intently, gleaning that the bullet came from a rifle and had created a lacerated wound to Annie's right side. Mercifully, it had touched no organs. Michaela asked several questions and was satisfied that the physician had taken proper precautions to avoid infection. Fortunately, he had also reached the residence in time to prevent a fatal loss of blood.

Abbe concluded, "I believe she'll sleep for several more hours. As you know, she will be in considerable pain when she awakens."

Michaela felt tears streaming down her cheeks. "Dr. Abbe, we don't know how to thank you."

"I'm glad I was here to help," he remarked. "I'll leave Annie in your good hands now. I can see myself out."

Sully stepped into the hallway and kept his voice low. "How much do we owe ya, Doctor?"

"No charge," Abbe smiled. "I'm vacationing."

Sully swallowed hard. "Much obliged."

Sully joined Michaela at Annie's bedside. They each clasped one of their daughter's hands.

Michaela stroked back her blonde curls and kissed the child's pallid cheek. "Be strong, Annie, my darling. Be strong for Mama and Papa."

"Papa," Josef stood contritely at the doorway. "Mama, is Annie...."

Michaela pivoted, her tone terse. "Josef Michael Sully, what have you done?"

Josef lowered his head, then bolted from the room.

Michaela immediately regretted her harshness. "Josef, I'm sorry...."

Sully touched her arm. "I'll talk with him."

Sully headed down the hallway and observed his son at the end, leaning against the wall. His little shoulders were slouched, and his body trembled.

As Sully approached him, Katie stepped from her room. "Poppy, is Annie okay?"

Sully caressed her cheek. "She's gonna be all right, sweet girl. Your Ma's with her."

Katie gestured, "Joey's pretty upset."

He nodded. "What about you?"

"I'm worried." She put her arms around her father.

Sully gave a comforting hug, then asked, "Where's Noah an' Hope?"

"Miss Bridget's got them in Noah's room." She indicated. "They're takin' a nap. You best talk t' Joey now. He needs ya."

Sully kissed her forehead. "I'll be here if you need me, too."

"I know ya will." She retreated back into her room.

Sully cleared his throat and sat on the window seat near Josef. "Wanna talk, Joe?"

Josef rushed to his father. "Oh, Papa, Papa, I'm so sowwy."

Sully kissed the top of his head. "I know ya are, son."

"An' now Mama hates me," he cried.

Sully comforted, "She don't hate ya, Joe. She's just...."

"Worried?" the little boy finished.

Sully embraced him. "Yea. Now, why don't ya tell me what happened?"

Josef's eyes brimmed with tears. "You was wright 'bout guns. I didn' listen, Papa. I wanted t' pwrotect my fam'ly, but look what I did."

Sully rubbed his son's back. "How'd it happen?"

Josef detailed, "I getted a chair an' lifted the gun down. Then I pwetended t' shoot it.... ya know, t' pwactice. But Annie came in. Nex' thing I know, I twripped an' the gun went off. That's the truth, Papa. I didn' mean t' do it."

Sully inhaled deeply, then nodded silently.

Josef embraced him. "Please don' be mad at me, Papa. Please."

Sully's heart went out to his son. "Joe...."

The child began to hiccup from his crying. Josef lowered his head into his hands as the tears flowed unabatedly.

Suddenly, Josef felt a soft hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see the tearful eyes of his mother.

Her expression was gentle and forgiving when she knelt down beside him. "Josef."

The little boy rushed into her arms. "Please forgive me, Mama. I'm sowwy."

"Shhh," she cupped her hand to the back of his head. "I forgive you. I know you didn't mean to do it."

His hiccups began to subside. "I'm bad, Mama. Annie said it."

Michaela was curious, "Annie said you were bad? Is that why...."

Sully interceded, "The gun went off by accident."

Josef explained, "Annie saw me holdin' the gun. She knowed you'd be mad, an' said I was bad. She's wright, Mama. Please take care of her. If Annie lives, I pwomise I'll go 'way an' never bother ya again."

Michaela embraced him more fully. "We don't want you to go away, Josef. We love you. Annie does, too. She'll want her big brother there when she wakes up."

The realization hit the little boy. "She's gonna wake up?"

Sully assured, "Yep."

Josef glanced at his father, then his mother to convince himself of the truth. Then he questioned, "God ain't gonna punish me?"

Sully affirmed, "I reckon you've done enough punishin' yourself."

"I d'serve it, Papa," Josef stated.

Michaela stood up and took his hand. "Why don't we go see your sister?"

Josef joined his parents in keeping a watch over Annie. Katie made periodic checks in the room, sometimes bringing Noah with her. The twin did not want to leave his sister's side. When he attempted to climb up on the bed with Annie, Michaela did not allow him, but she did permit him to hold his sister's hand.

Rebecca and Bridget took care of Hope and the other children when they were not in Annie's room. Maureen and Claudette stopped by to check on the little girl, as well.

By sunset, Michaela's emotions were frayed. She went over and over in her mind the procedures that Abbe had used, hoping that she had not missed something.

She touched Annie's cheek and thought back to the day the little girl was born, so tiny and pink. Her bond with Noah amazed the family, yet the twins were not at all alike in temperament or personality. Annie was their quiet one, ever helpful, kind, considerate and eager to please. Other than her night terrors, the little girl rarely caused a fuss, and they were hardly Annie's fault.

Rebecca entered the room. "Can I get you anything, Michaela?"

"No, thank you," she continued to hold Annie's hand.

Rebecca sat down beside her. "No change?"

Michaela silently shook her head.

The older sister sighed, "Sometimes I wonder."

"Wonder what?" Michaela queried.

Rebecca folded her hands in her lap. "I wonder what God has in store for us. We go along, living our lives in relative happiness, then out of the blue, something like this happens."

Michaela had rarely heard her sister speak of anything negative. She was normally such a positive person. "I don't know. My family has certainly had its share of misfortunes."

Rebecca cited, "Rather like Job in the Old Testament, one wonders how much he or she can endure. I admire you, Michaela. Through it all, you've been unwavering."

Michaela countered, "Believe me, I've wavered. But like, Job, I've been blessed, as well."

Rebecca looked at Annie, "Yes, many blessings."

"You seem different," Michaela observed. "Is there more on your mind than what's happened to Annie?"

"Not especially," Rebecca smiled faintly. "Maybe I'm becoming more philosophical in my old age."

Michaela quickly assured, "You're not old."

Rebecca placed her hand on her sister's shoulder. "I'm nearly old enough to be your mother."

Michaela mused, "But you're not at all like Mother. You were always the one who held the sisters together, Rebecca. You kept harmony among us. And I admire you, too."

Rebecca added, "The harmony was not without price."

"What?" She anticipated.

"Sometimes I think I sacrificed my own happiness and sanity," Rebecca was candid. "But.... this is neither the time nor the place to discuss such matters. We must keep all thoughts positive for our dear, sweet Annie."

Pondering her sister's words, Michaela nearly missed the faint movement in her daughter's hand.

Quickly, she leaned closer. "Annie? Sweetheart, it's Mama. Can you hear me?"

Rebecca rose from her chair. "I'll get Sully."

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

As the sun was setting, Sully entered the den. He glanced toward the guns, noting that the weapon Josef had discharged had been returned to its place on the wall. Sully went to the rifles and searched them to see that none was loaded. He shook his head in disbelief that anyone would leave a loaded rifle in a house.

Pausing, he envisioned what had transpired in this room. Kneeling down, he saw remnants of Annie's blood on the floor. Suddenly, he realized this was what his dream had warned him about. The foreboding feeling he had experienced in Washington had come to pass.

Tears began to fill his eyes as he touched the reddened area on the boards. He was struck by how the Spirits could so quickly change a life. Garfield, Noah and Annie.... healthy, energetic people.... in the blink of an eye coming so close to death. Moved, he gazed up to silently thank the Spirits for sparing his young daughter's life.

At that moment, he heard a voice.

"Sully." It was Rebecca.

He looked at her, his eyes glistening with tears.

She observed his expression and touched his shoulder. "Annie's waking up."

"Thanks." He rose and quickly exited.

When Sully arrived in the room, he went to his daughter's side. "Hey, darlin'. How ya doin'?"

"Papa," her voice was barely audible. "I huwt."

Michaela informed him. "I've given her something for the pain. It should take effect soon."

Sully smiled and gently stroked the little girl's hair. "Mama's gonna make the pain go away, honey."

Annie tried to focus. "Where Joey?"

Michaela replied, "I'll get him."

Within seconds, Josef entered the room.

Tentatively, he approached the bed. "I'm sowwy, Annie. I didn' mean t' huwt ya."

Annie's brow wrinkled. "Joey."

He stepped closer and clasped her hand. "You were wright, Annie. I be bad."

She weakly squeezed his hand, then closed her eyes. Once again, sleep claimed her.

In concern, Josef pivoted to look at his mother. "Mama, is she...."

"Sleeping," Michaela assured. "It's the medicine."

Josef sighed. "Look at her. I did this t' my li'l sister."

Sully's heart went out to his son. "Joe, we're real lucky Annie's gonna be okay. But now ya know what I meant when I told ya about guns."

The little boy tilted his head. "How ya know, Papa?"

Michaela wondered how much Sully would divulge to their son.

Sully spoke low. "I'll tell ya more about it someday. Just remember that when your Ma an' me tell ya not t' do somethin', it's for a good reason."

Josef pledged, "I never do somethin' ya tell me not to again."

Michaela embraced him. "I wonder how long that will last."

Josef assured, "Forever, Mama."

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

When Annie awoke again just before midnight, Sully and Michaela were there to offer tender words of comfort and support. Off and on through the night, the child awoke in pain. Each cry was like a dagger in her parents' hearts.

Michaela would lie beside her until she fell asleep again.

When the concerned mother checked the bandage for any sign of infection, Sully's stomach churned at the sight.

Michaela informed him, "She'll have quite a scar, but Dr. Abbe minimized it as best he could. His suturing skills are excellent, but not all of the wound could be closed with stitches."

He assumed, "'Cause the edges are jagged?"

"Yes," Michaela nodded. "That also means it will take longer to heal than a puncture wound."

Sully felt helpless. "I wish I could change places and take her pain away. How long is this kinda pain gonna last?"

"At least a few days," Michaela replied. "If it heals properly."

"If?" Sully noticed her use of the word. "You said Dr. Abbe took precautions."

Her lower lip trembled. "He did, but so many things can go wrong. The next few days are crucial to her recovery. We must watch for swelling and redness, indications that it's not healing properly. And to minimize reopening the wound, we can't let her move around a lot."

"Anythin' I can do?" he questioned.

Michaela encouraged, "Your being here is important to allay her fears."

He queried, "What'll ya do if it becomes infected?"

She paused, then answered, "Let's just do everything we can to make certain that doesn't happen."

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

At sunrise, Michaela assessed the condition of Annie's wound.

Sully was alarmed when he observed the area covered with red spots. "Michaela?"

************
Chapter 14
************

Michaela assured her husband, "It's normal.... in fact, it's good."

Sully was puzzled, "It ain't infected?"

Michaela explained, "No. When the bottom of the wound has small red elevations with healthy pus covering them, it means she's healing properly."

He turned up his nose. "Healthy pus?"

"These elevations are called granulations," she explained. "Gradually, they'll become new flesh."

He was relieved, "So she's outa danger?"

"No," Michaela answered. "But it is a good sign."

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

For the next week, Annie convalesced. As her healing progressed, her pain lessened. Eventually, she was able to take short walks and began to regain her strength.

By the second week, Michaela deemed it safe for her daughter to make the trip back to Colorado Springs. The day before they were to depart was one of packing and coordinating their travel plans.

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

Michaela and Bridget finished folding the children's clean clothes and placing them into their trunk.

Bridget joked, "Let's see how long they'll keep 'em clean."

Michaela touched the nanny's shoulder. "Bridget, I've been meaning to have a talk with you."

"About what, Dr. Mike?" she questioned.

Michaela bit lightly on her lower lip to keep her emotions in check. "About what you did for Annie."

Bridget was puzzled. "Twernt I who did anythin'. It was Dr. Abbe who...."

Michaela interjected, "I know that it was you who stopped the bleeding before he even got here. I'm sorry I haven't told you sooner how grateful Sully and I are. With all that's happened...."

Bridget patted her hand. "There, Lass. Everythin's gonna be fine. An' the sweet babe will be back t' normal before ya know it."

Michaela informed her, "I don't know what we'd do without you. In many ways, you're more a part of my family than my own sisters."

Bridget chuckled. "They're an interestin' lot."

Michaela smiled. "Claudette and Maureen certainly are."

Bridget suggested, "Why don't we go check on the leprechauns? It's way too quiet downstairs."

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

Sully shook George Dorr's hand. "Hope I'm not botherin' ya. We're leavin' t'morrow, an' I wanted t' stop by t' say good bye."

Dorr was pleased, "I'm so glad that you did. I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your encouragement and to let you know that the seeds you planted may soon be taking root."

"Seeds?" Sully was unsure of his meaning.

Dorr explained, "I have been thinking about your suggestion of protecting this island. My family has a considerable fortune, and.... well, I am thinking of buying even more land here."

Sully smiled. "That's good news."

"Now all I have to do is get my rich neighbors, as you call them, to do likewise," he joked. "It may take many years, but I'm a stalwart when I put my mind to it."

"Stalwart," Sully pondered.

Dorr was puzzled. "It means...."

"I know what it means," Sully indicated. "It's just.... well, it made me think o' that man who shot the President."

"Charles Guiteau?" Dorr considered. "Oh, yes, he was a member of the Stalwart Republicans."

"With all that's happened t' my daughter, I haven't even thought about President Garfield. Have you heard any news?"

Dorr replied, "He's still alive, poor fellow. The papers tell of his suffering."

"I reckon they'll execute Guiteau," Sully reasoned.

"No doubt," Dorr concurred.

With that, Sully shook his hand again. "I best be goin'. I have one more person t' see before we go."

"Oh?" Dorr was curious. "Who's that?"

He smiled. "Dr. Abbe."

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

Michaela sat in the sun room of her Island residence with her sisters while they sipped tea.

Rebecca smiled. "It was wonderful to see you again, Michaela. I'm sorry for the circumstances, but I'm glad your visit was longer than originally planned."

Michaela studied the faces of her sisters. "I appreciate all that you did for us."

Maureen remarked, "Annie seems much improved."

Michaela mused, "She'll be able to play with her siblings soon."

Claudette noted, "Just think. We sisters didn't even quarrel."

Rebecca chuckled, "Perhaps we're too old for that. After all, our baby sister here is approaching fifty."

Michaela recoiled, "Please! I still have two years."

Claudette amended, "One and a half years."

Maureen commented, "I think we should come to Colorado Springs to celebrate your half-century mark."

Michaela agreed, "You know you're welcome any time."

Claudette wondered, "Why not have the party here?"

Rebecca pointed out, "It's easier for us to travel since our children are grown."

Maureen inquired, "So, Michaela, are there any more babies in your future?"

Michaela nearly choked on her tea. "Maureen, why would you ask that?"

Maureen smirked, "You seem to be on the every other year plan. It's as if you and Sully feel the need to surpass the total offspring of the rest of us."

Michaela reminded, "Not long ago, you were wondering if Hope was his."

"You know I was teasing," Maureen returned.

Claudette probed, "So, do tell. Are you and Sully going to keep up your little baby marathon? I mean eight pregnancies in nine years is some sort of record among us."

Rebecca defended, "I can't believe you two. This is a private matter between Sully and Michaela. You're behaving like a couple of gossipers."

Claudette laughed, "It's gossip when you discuss it behind someone's back. We're asking Michaela outright."

Michaela sighed, "This reminds me of my youth, when I would listen to you all talking about your romances."

Maureen leaned in. "And now that we're interested in your relationship with a man, you feign surprise. You should be honored now that we're including you."

Rebecca attempted to change the subject. "What time do you have to leave in the morning?"

Claudette raised her hand. "Not so fast. Michaela hasn't answered our question."

Michaela sat back. "If you must know.... it's unlikely that we'll have any more children."

Maureen assumed, "You've begun the change?"

"No," Michaela's voice filled with emotion. "I have scar tissue in my uterus from where I was stabbed and from the Caesarian procedure I had with Hope. There were life-threatening complications with her birth because of placenta previa. It was a miracle that I was able to conceive and carry her to term at all."

Claudette regretted, "I'm sorry, Michaela."

She accepted, "Sully and I have been blessed with the family we have. The only new babies I anticipate are grandchildren."

Maureen recalled, "Matthew adopted a baby, didn't he?"

"Yes," Michaela smiled. "Our first grandchild."

Claudette turned up her nose. "But he's an Indian, Michaela, not your flesh and blood."

Michaela tensed. "I didn't give birth to Matthew, Colleen and Brian , but I still love them as my own flesh and blood."

Rebecca supported, "Of course, you do."

Michaela calmed herself. "I don't want our visit to end on a sour note. Can't we simply get along and appreciate one another's differences?"

Rebecca chimed in again, "Splendid idea."

Claudette folded her arms. "I suppose the next time we're all together, we'll be discussing grandchildren."

Rebecca leaned over to embrace her youngest sister. "Well, Michaela and I shall."

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

Sully entered the home of Robert Abbe.

The young doctor greeted him. "Mr. Sully, it's nice to see you again. I hope all is well with Annie."

Sully acknowledged, "She's doin' real good, thanks t' you."

He dismissed, "Not at all. It's your wife who has provided her with all of the proper medical care. She's a fine physician."

"That she is," Sully agreed. "But still, I feel I oughta pay ya for what ya did."

Abbe refused, "I appreciate your offer, but no. Let's consider it a professional courtesy to my colleague."

Sully acceded, "All right."

Abbe added, "I know that Annie is going to have quite a scar. Once she has healed, if you happen to find yourself in New York City, I might be able to do something about it. I've become quite interested in plastic surgery techniques."

Sully informed him, "Michaela did some surgery like that on a man back in Colorado Springs. He was a train engineer who was burned in a fire."

"Amazing," he rubbed his chin. "Is there no end to your wife's talents?"

Sully chuckled, "Not in my opinion. I don't know how she balances runnin' a hospital an' takin' care of our large family."

His eyes reflected an understanding. "I come from a large family, so I can relate to the situation. I'm the youngest of five sons, and I have two sisters."

Sully spoke in admiration, "From what I hear, you're quite an outstandin' physician, too."

Abbe shrugged, "It helps to have an unquenchable curiosity. Sometimes I fear that my life will not last long enough for me to learn all that interests me. Archaeology, photography, art, poetry, even making three-dimensional maps."

"George Dorr mentioned your interest in archaeology," Sully noted. "He said you've started a collection of Indian artifacts."

"Yes," Abbe smiled. "Would you like to see it?"

"I was hopin' you'd ask," Sully's eyes widened. "I lived with the Cheyenne for a few years between the time I left the Army an' got married."

Abbe escorted Sully into his study, where he had several glass-top cases of arrow heads and primitive tools. "Every time I'm here on the Island, I find new remnants of the Wabanaki tribe. It's fascinating."

A thought occurred to Sully. "Ya know, we met a man when we were in Washin'ton, DC visitin' our son. His name is Baird. He's the curator of the National Museum."

"Yes, I've heard of him." Abbe nodded.

Sully continued, "They got a lot o' Indian artifacts, too. I reckon a museum's the only way future generations are gonna know anythin' about them."

"You admire them, don't you, Mr. Sully?" Abbe observed.

"The Indians?" he clarified. "They're some o' the finest people I've ever known."

"And it saddens you to see their heritage become lost," Abbe reasoned.

Sully nodded. "Yea, it does. But I reckon museums have their use. Maybe ya should think about givin' your relics t' the National Museum. You could write t' Baird."

"Or start my own," the doctor voiced.

"Start your own museum?" Sully was surprised, "I imagine it would be pretty expensive. At least Baird has Congress t' pay for things."

"Mr. Sully," he paused. "My father is a philanthropist, and my mother an heiress to the Colgate Soap Company. If I want to start a museum...."

Sully laughed, "Any poor folks live on this Island?"

Abbe retorted, "I suppose they are the ones who live here in winter. At any rate, you have given me something to think about."

Sully extended his hand, "Good luck to ya."

"And to you," Abbe acknowledged.

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

Sully and Michaela sat on the porch at dusk. Annie was sitting on Sully's lap, and Hope was on Michaela's. Katie, Josef and Noah were running through the meadow just beyond the house collecting fireflies.

Sully tenderly kissed the top of Annie's head. "Look at the sunset, honey."

Annie pointed toward her brothers and sister, "I help 'em?"

Michaela replied, "Not yet, Sweetheart. It will be a while before you can run and play like that."

Annie leaned back against Sully's chest.

Sully wrapped her small fingers around his thumb. "I bet they'll catch some for ya."

The little girl looked up at her father with the distinctly mismatched eyes of her mother. "Ya tink so?"

No sooner had the question been asked than Josef approached them. In his hands was a glass jar full of lightning bugs. He held one hand atop it to keep them from escaping.

When he ascended the steps to his family, he went directly to his sister. "Annie, look what I got ya."

Her face brightened. "For me?"

"Uh-huh," Josef smiled. "We can put a lid on it so they can light up your room t'night."

Sully advised. "I'll poke some small holes in the lid, Joe."

"Then they get out," he reasoned.

"Small holes," Sully repeated. "They gotta have air."

Annie took Josef's hand. "Tanks."

"You're welcome." He leaned closer to kiss her cheek.

When he left them, Michaela turned to her husband. "Quite a sight, isn't it?"

Sully glanced a her. "The sunset or our kids?"

"Both," she expressed. "I'm glad we came here rather than staying in Boston."

"Me, too," he concurred. "I met some real fine an' dedicated men. Kinda gives me hope for the future."

"I thought our little ones give you hope for the future," she mused.

He kissed Annie. "Them, too."

"You're speaking of Mr. Dorr and Dr. Abbe, aren't you?" Michaela assumed.

"Yep." He noticed Annie falling asleep as he rocked. "They made me realize somethin'."

"What's that?" Michaela was interested.

"I know I've given ya a hard time about your inheritance," Sully paused. "I guess, deep down, I feared that havin' money might change you. These men are rich, too, but they ain't pretentious about it. They use their money t' do good works, just like you. I reckon bein' around Preston an' his schemin' so much has given me a bad impression of havin' money."

Michaela voiced, "Not all rich people are as altruistic as Mr. Door and Dr. Abbe, nor are they as Machiavellian as Preston."

Sully winked, "Nor as beautiful as you."

She blushed. "Thank you."

He reached for his wife's hand. "What I'm tryin' t' say is that I'm not gonna fuss over your money anymore."

She raised an eyebrow. "Does that mean you won't object to my buying things for us?"

His jaw tensed. "Can ya put limits on it?"

She noticed. "I'll always respect your wishes in that regard, Sully."

He grinned. "You've come a long way, Michaela Quinn."

"I've had a marvelous guide," she returned.

Sully tilted his head toward hers. With their sleeping daughters on their laps, they kissed. Then they turned to view the last remnants of the setting sun over Mount Desert Island.

THE END

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

EPILOGUE

On September 19, 1881, President James A. Garfield died. It had been an agonizing 80 days for him since the shooting. Thanks to the poking and prodding of attending physicians, what started as a three inch deep wound became a twenty-inch-long infected, pus-filled gash that extended from his ribs to his groin. His weight dropped from a healthy 210 pounds to only 130 pounds upon his death.

On July 26, 1881, Alexander Graham Bell had brought a metal detector to the White House to locate the bullet. Unfortunately, he had been unsuccessful since he was looking in the wrong part of Garfield's body. In addition, springs in the President's bed likely caused the electromagnets in Bell's device to be inaccurate.

The physicians' obsession with finding the bullet was also misguided since they could not have performed the dangerous surgery to remove it anyway.

President Garfield's case is considered one of the most botched in medical history. To make matters worse, at the time, the U.S. government had no health insurance. Garfield's inept physicians' billed the government $90,000. The government paid the expenses, but not in full.

Another interesting tidbit I came across was that the cartoon cat, Garfield, was indirectly named after the President. Jim Davis, the creator of the imaginary feline, named it after his grandfather, James Garfield Davis, who in turn, was likely named after the President.

Though clearly mentally unstable, Charles Guiteau was tried as a sane man. He maintained that he was of sound mind throughout his trial, which began on November 4, 1881 and ended May 22, 1882 with a guilty verdict. Guiteau's family and several neurologists implored President Chester A. Arthur to spare his life on the grounds that Guiteau was mad, but the new President signed the writ of execution. The Stalwart was put to death by hanging on June 30, 1882.

The National Museum is today called the Arts and Industries Building. It is the second oldest of the Smithsonian structures on the Mall in Washington DC. At the time of my story's writing, it is my understanding that the building is closed for renovations. Its future is uncertain because of its deteriorating condition. In 2006, the National Trust for Historic Preservation labeled it as one of America's Most Endangered Places.

Spencer Fullerton Baird was the second curator in the history of the Smithsonian Institution. When he took on that position, the museum had 6000 specimens. Upon his death, it had over 2.5 million artifacts and specimens in art, history, anthropology, and science.

George Bucknam Dorr is known as the "Father of Acadia" (originally called Lafayette National Park) because of his Herculean efforts to preserve vast stretches of Mount Desert Island in its pristine condition. His passionate vision led him to enlist others to help with his cause. Among them were Charles W. Eliot, president of Harvard. They formed a public land trust that began acquiring land to preserve its natural state. By 1919, they had gained Congressional support for Acadia, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. They continued to acquire land up until 1943. Another patriarch of the park was John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who built 45 miles of carriage roads to prevent the invasion of automobiles in this stunningly beautiful terrain.

By the way, when George Dorr passed away in 1944 at the grand age of 90, he was broke, having spent his fortune purchasing land to donate to the Park.

Dr. Robert Waldo Abbe, too, was a passionate supporter of Mount Desert Island. He was sometimes called "the best-loved summer resident of Bar Harbor." With the help of Charles Eliot and George Dorr, he was able to realize his dream of establishing a museum to house his Indian artifacts. Today, there are two Abbe Museums on the Island. A small one with Indian relics is in Acadia National Park, and a newer, larger one is in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.

Most of Abbe's esteemed medical career was spent at St. Luke's Hospital in New York, where he laid the groundwork for plastic surgery (Today, their plastic surgery laboratory bears his name). In addition, he is considered a pioneer in testinal anastomosis and spinal surgery. His vast and varied interests also took him to France to study radiation under Marie and Pierre Curie. For his research on using radiation as a treatment for cancer, Abbe is considered the founder of radiation oncology. Ironically, it was most likely his exposure to this which led to his anemia and ultimate death in 1928 at the age of 76.

I must acknowledge a wonderful web page, where I found several photos for this story, called Prints Old and Rare-James Garfield Page.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge a very special group of friends, with whom I visited Mount Desert Island this summer. They share my love for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and permitted me to use a few of the photographs they took of this beautiful setting.



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