Wallace loves braggin' on Levi!

Austin, Texas,  fall of 1844 Wallace Rusk put his coffee mug down and nodded toward the saloon’s swinging doors. “Hey, that’s got to be that lady reporter. Remember? The one from New York City the Major told us about.” Levi didn’t turn around, only grimaced. The woman slipped into the empty chair and set her journal on the table. “Captain Baylor, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that the Major Williamson arranged this interview.” “It isn’t official yet.” “What’s that?” “The promotion. I’m still a sergeant.” Wallace Rusk waved his friend off. “Don’t pay Mister Humble no never mind, ma’am, will be soon enough.” The lady adjusted her spectacles. “You must be Sergeant Rusk, right?” “Yes, ma’am.” The woman pulled a stubby pencil from her hair bun and faced Levi. “So Captain Baylor, what’s the most interesting thing about you?” He shrugged. “I’m not interesting at all. You’d be wasting your time to interview me, Ma’am.” Wallace slapped the table. Obviously startled, the lady almost jerked out of her seat then turned toward him. “Is there something wrong, Mister Rusk?” “Yes, but call me Wallace. The captain ain’t going to brag on himself. Levi, why don’t you mosey on over to the trading post and buy something.  I need to talk with this lady.” He scooted his chair back and stood. “Love to.” He tipped his hat. “Ma’am, it’s been a pleasure.” Then he strolled out the door without a look back. The lady reporter stared at his backside then recoiled once he disappeared through the doors. “Well! I never!” “Easy, ma’am. You  best be talking to me anyway. Levi Baylor? That man ain’t ever blown his own horn.” “Fine, but  it’s the Captain I want to hear about. You see, I’ve already promised my editor –” “Oh, yes, ma’am. I can tell you without reservation that the most interesting thing about my friend is the high level of his integrity. I mean, he ain’t a saint or nothing, but I’ve never known him to lie. If he tells you a rooster can plow, and you need your field laid by, best hook the booger up.” She scribbled a while then raised her head. “What does he do for fun?” “Me? I know how to have a good time. But not Levi, too busy keeping our hair.” The lady’s face screwed up. “Combed?” “No, ma’am, doing our best not to get scalped.” She was a case and just a little blue at the mizzen. “Well, he does poke fun at me some, but the man is way too serious. I can’t get him soaked for nothing, even when he needs it.” “So he doesn’t drink?” “Oh he’ll have a beer, but never enough to get… You know, have some fun.” Her pencil flew over the page, making funny little marks he couldn’t make heads or tails of. Without even bothering to look up, she kept right at it. “What does Captain Baylor put off doing because he dreads it?” “He don’t dread nothing I can think of. Well, we both hate doing our own wash I suppose. That month we were running Buffalo Hump and his band of merry men, we didn’t even bother to change clothes, much less wash anything.” “That was before or after the Battle of Plum Creek?” “After.” “What’s he afraid of?” Wallace chuckled. “You’re going to have to come up with some better questions. Levi Baylor ain’t afraid of nothing.” He put his hands up then pointed at her. “Hold it. There is something he fears—disappointing his Aunt Sue or Uncle Henry. She raised him after he got orphaned.” “Very interesting. What would you say he wants out of life? More than anything.” Leaning his chair back onto two legs, he pondered that a bit, then slammed the floor with the front two. “Peace. A nice little spread with a few head of cattle. A good wife and some little Baylor babies running around.” “Paint a pretty scene, Sergeant. What’s the one most important thing to him?” Wallace smiled. “Already told you. Hanging onto our hair, so we can keep on watching over Texas. This here is our personal Promised Land, ma’am. That’s what he calls it all the time. And we’ll do whatever it takes, Comanche, Mexican, Yankees, don’t matter, someone threatens the Republic, we’ll handle ‘em. Single handed if we have to.” The lady stared at him a while. Seemed she couldn’t decide if he was yanking her chain or not. He raised an eyebrow, and she looked away. Oh, well. “Does the captain read? What are his favorite titles?” He laughed. “No time to...

It's Hard to be Thirteen

It's Hard to be Thirteen

Rebecca fumed silently. Nothing could be better than having Daddy home, except if Levi had come with him. After the third full day’s work and once Mary Rachel and Gwendolyn’s breathing eased into a rhythmic chorus, she turned up her lamp and carried it to her desk. She retrieved paper and ink, then dipped her quill and wrote in a swoopy loopy cursive. She loved how pretty she could write. May 29, 1836 Levi Bartholomew Baylor –             Why didn’t you come home before you lit a shuck to join the stupid rangers? Daddy’s been home three days, and it’s taken me this long to calm down enough from being mad at you to write.             When I first looked out and saw him riding in alone—without you—my heart stopped. I thought you were… Never you mind what I thought. You should have come home! We prayed for you and Daddy every day and night. Do you know how worried we were?           The night breeze caused the light curtain to dance. She looked up and gazed out the window at the stars, then sighed. She wasn’t really ever worried…            Well, as you know Mama always says worrying only hinders every promise of God, but you know what I mean. Of course we trust God to watch over and keep you—even if you are nothing but a heathen. And now you’ve gone and signed up to put yourself in more danger. I hate it! What’s wrong with you?            I hate you being gone. And I hate how angry I am with you that you made me think for even one minute that you were…           Oh, bosh! That’s all I’m writing tonight because I know all I’m doing is gripping and complaining. Mama told me men folk don’t like that and even the Bible says it’s better to live in the corner of an attic, than in a big house with a nagging woman! I’ll write more when my insides are calmer.           I had something I really wanted to talk with you that I’m all balled up over, but now you’re not here and you’re not coming home. You best be proud I love you so much, ’cause if I didn’t, I’d hate your guts for sure and certain.                                                              Your teenaged sister, Rebecca  What would he think about her being in love? Lifting the partial page of writing, she waved it in the air, blowing gently on it while she corked the inkwell. She wanted to ask him about the best way to tell Chester Robbins how handsome he was, and how wonderful she thought he was. Once the ink dried, she folded the paper, stuck it inside her novel, and climbed into bed next to Mary Rachel. Sure would be nice to have her own room.  June 7, 1836            Me again. I guess I’m not angry with you anymore, but I’m still very sad. I don’t know when Daddy will want to post my letter, but I’ll keep writing until he does. May be my first book! He says we have to send it to the Ranger Office at Washington-on-the-Brazos, and you can pick it up when you’re by there. So I guess I won’t know when you might actually get it.            I can tell I am not going to like this arrangement. I miss you so much every day. Things here are getting back to normal. Nothing will ever be normal again though without you here.                                                     Can’t you just come home?          Daddy’s working on the house again. Him and Mama said I could go ahead and move into your room if I’ll box all your things. That’s a benefit to you being gone, but I’d rather have you here even if Mary Rachel is a terrible bed partner, rolling and kicking and climbing over me all night. Best hurry back or you won’t have a room to come home to. She dipped her quill again. What did she want to tell him? What might he find interesting? How she could possibly persuade him to come back home and forget rangering altogether? What was it that caused men to like fighting and danger, wars and the like? She hated it all and wanted everyone to mind their own business...

Daddy's Home from the War

May 26, 1836… After the tears and shouts, the celebration and heartbreak of Levi not returning home but being alive, Rebecca Ruth Baylor Buckmeyer snuggled her two oldest little sisters up close. Instead of a bedtime story though, she unfolded her brother’s letter Daddy brought home to her. May 8, 1836            My dearest little sisters, Bitty Beck, Mary Rachael, and Gwendolyn Claire…I’m sure Baby Ce Ce could care less only eight weeks old. Or has it been nine now? The four-year-old popped up. “That’s me! It said Mary Rachael.” “That’s right. It’s from Levi. He didn’t come home from the war with Daddy, so he sent us a letter.” She turned to the two –year-old on her left. “You remember Levi, don’t you Gwen?” The little one shook her head against Rebecca’s chest. “No!” She didn’t chide her baby sister for the bad attitude in her tone. Mama never should have let her start sleeping with her and Baby Cecelia while Daddy was away.            Well, we did it! We’re all Texians now! Don’t know rightly what I expected, but it was unbelievable. Everyone charged shouting, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” It was like one huge roar, and before I could imagine, the battle ended. The Mexicans fired a few shots, but they all turned tail and ran. You’d never guess it, but you are the real hero of the Battle of San Jacinto. Well, Her? What in the world could he be talking about?           Yes, you. Remember that morning we left and Blue Dog was torn between staying home with you and going? You convinced him to go. Remember? “Do you, Becca? I don’t remember.” Mary Rachael stopped twirling Rebecca’s hair and looked up. She loved her little sisters, and the little girl’s beauty almost took her breath away looking so much like her Daddy. “I do as a matter of fact. I told Old Blue that he needed to go help win Texas’ independence and make sure Daddy and Levi got home safe.” Gwen sat up, pulled her thumb out of her mouth, then wrinkled her nose and stuck out her tongue at her slightly older sister. “Now, that wasn’t very nice, was it? You two shush and be good, let me read the letter. I want to see how I was the hero, don’t you?” She started the new sentence over.             Well, Blue is the very one who tracked Santa Anna and found him the next day! No telling what might have happened if the general got away. We might still be fighting. But the defeated cockroach signed the treaty, and Texas is now a Republic! Independent, free from Mexico’s rule! Isn’t it wonderful?             President Lamar is forming a rangering company. Wallace Rusk and I joined up, so now I’m a ranger. How about that, Bitty Beck? Don’t be upset with me for not coming home. I’m sure I’ll be back before you know it, and bring my new friend with me.            Did Uncle Henry tell you about Wallace yet? We found him walking along just outside of Nacogdoches. First said he was eighteen, but I found out he’s only big for a sixteen year old. He had to lie again to get in the rangers with me. He’s had a sad life. Never knew his father like me, but his mother left him an orphan last February. Said she was a sporting lady. Rebecca gasped. “Oh my.” “What’s a sporting lady, Becca?” “Oh, uh, you know. Like marbles… Or racing horses.” How brilliant, Levi Baylor! A little warning might have been nice. Hadn’t the thought entered his mind that she may be reading his letter aloud? Well, at least it wasn’t in front of Mama or Daddy. Surely the little sisters wouldn’t say anything. “Be quiet, now, and let me read the rest.” She read silently until she got past the part about his friend’s mother. Just like him to put the keep it quiet after the bad part. What a clown.              Don’t say anything about that, it should be just between you and me – or about his real age, either.              I know Uncle Henry and Aunt Sue planted all that extra cotton and hate it that I won’t be there to help. This is something I feel I must do. As a man. Lamar is sending all the rangers to Comanche Springs so we can...