Read The Shining Badge Online

Authors: Gilbert Morris

The Shining Badge

© 2004 by Gilbert Morris

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Bethany House Publishers is a Division of

Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Ebook edition created 2011

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners.

ISBN 978-1-4412-7055-9

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Cover illustration by Bill Graff

Cover design by Danielle White

TO NANCI ANDEREGG—

When I was a child I was taught to sing a little chorus that

contained the words “Brighten the corner where you are.”

Since those days I have been aware of a few individuals

who exemplified the words of that song—

and you, Nanci, are not the least of these!

Thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks for

brightening the days of me and my family.

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

PART ONE

Jenny

1. Ghosts

2. Jenny Makes a Call

3. A Time to Be Born

4. Three Are Better Than One

5. Promise to a Mother

6. Campaign

PART TWO

Sheriff Winslow

7. Sheriff Winslow’s First Day

8. A Veiled Threat

9. The Front Page

10. Hummingbird Cake

11. “How Long Does Love Last?”

12. The Raid

PART THREE

A Proposal

13. The Sign of Jonah

14. A New York Yankee Bites the Dust

15. Kat Has Her Say

16. A Matter of Kin

17. Setting the Trap

18. “Take Her Out!”

PART FOUR

New Beginnings

19. A Matter of Guilt

20. “I’ve Missed Too Much!”

21. A Changed Heart

22. There’s Always a Harvest

23. Clay Finds the Way

24. A Christmas Love

About the Author

CHAPTER ONE

Ghosts

The ancient Studebaker truck shivered violently, then came to an abrupt halt as Lewis Winslow jammed his foot down on the brake. As soon as the truck stopped, steam boiled out from under the hood like a miniature geyser. Shaking his head angrily, he beat his fists against the steering wheel. “Worn-out piece of junk! I’d like to dump you in an automobile graveyard, wherever that is!”

Knowing little about cars or engines, Lewis sat there tensely, halfway expecting the engine to blow up. He’d had a difficult trip nursing the truck to town, and now as he sat waiting as the steam slowly subsided, he thought back to the time when he and his family had left New York in this very vehicle. He’d lost every dime he possessed in the stock market crash. After having enjoyed a life of affluence, the Lewis Winslow family had been forced to move south in this pickup truck, carrying little besides the clothes on their backs. Raw memories brushed across Lewis’s mind, but he suddenly leaned back and stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I shouldn’t be angry at you, old girl,” he said patting the seat as if it were a faithful dog. “If it hadn’t been for you and Clint, we’d probably be in the poorhouse back in New York right now.”

When Lewis opened the door, its creaking squeal raked across his nerves, and he thought back to the expensive cars he had owned when he had been a wealthy stockbroker. He had given his family everything they wanted, but in October of ’29 when the market crashed, he’d become a pauper. He
remembered clearly the desperation that had seized him then and how relieved he had been when his daughter Hannah had discovered the title deed to a farm that had belonged to his first wife’s family in northern Georgia. Now, gathering his packages from the seat, Lewis felt a moment of intense gratitude and said aloud, “Thank you, Lord, for pulling my family up and giving us this beautiful place to live.” Slamming the door, he turned toward the house, but as he did, he was struck in the legs by a huge dog that suddenly reared up on him and licked his face.

“Get down, Stonewall!” Lewis protested. He tried to shove the animal away, but nothing pleased Stonewall more than to sit on someone’s feet. For some reason the animal delighted in it, and now he put all one hundred and sixty of his pounds on Lewis’s feet and looked up adoringly.

“Get off of my feet, you monster!” Since Stonewall weighed almost as much as Lewis himself, it was all he could do to shove the animal away with his knees. Stonewall stared at him reproachfully, then at once reared up on him again.

“Stop that!” Lewis commanded and then shoved him away with his hip. He started toward the house, and Stonewall persisted in getting right in front of him, making progress almost impossible. “Why in the world did you take up with us?” Lewis moaned. The dog had simply showed up one day, battle scarred and fearful to look at. Kat had discovered him and claimed him for her own. Despite all protests from Lewis and his wife, Missouri Ann, Kat had begged and pleaded until finally the dog had been allowed to stay. He was as strong as a bull and would try to fetch anything, including a six-foot fence post. He also loved to swim, but most of all he loved to sit on people’s feet. He was tremendously loyal toward all of the Winslow clan, but strangers were often taken aback at the sight of the huge dog facing them with fangs bared when they approached one of the family.

Lewis turned to follow the beaten path that led to the back door into the kitchen. As he passed by the chicken pen, he
heard a sound and stopped quickly. Foxes had been known to get into the chicken house, but that did not seem likely in broad daylight, not with Stonewall roaming loose. He waited for a moment, heard a cry again, and this time he recognized it as the voice of his wife. Dropping the groceries, heedless as they spilled out on the yard, he ran toward the fenced yard and opened the gate. The door to the hen house was open, and as he stepped from the brilliant sunlight into the dim light of the hen house, he paused for his eyes to adjust. His eyesight cleared, and with a start he saw his wife on the floor.

“Help me, Lewis, I’m stuck here!”

Missouri Ann Ramey Winslow had been Lewis’s wife for just over a year, and she was eight months pregnant. She was a large woman, strong and active, but now one leg was doubled under her and the other disappeared in a hole in the floor.

“What happened?” Lewis demanded as he moved toward her and knelt at her side.

“Oh, I come out to gather the eggs, and this foolish board broke. I can’t get out.” Missouri Ann spoke calmly and showed no sign of strain. She was a woman of great faith and said, “Don’t worry, now. Just go get Clint, and you two can hoist me up.”

Lewis felt a flicker of fear. Missouri Ann was thirty-nine years old, older than most women care to have a baby. He had grown to love her dearly, and despite his shock at becoming a father at the age of fifty-seven he had found himself more and more grateful for Missouri Ann and for the child that was to come. Ignoring her protests, he reached down and snapped off the rotten board, enlarging the hole. Then, moving around behind her, he put his hand under her arms and said, “Come on. Up you go.” He heaved, and Missouri Ann pushed with her free foot, and her leg suddenly appeared.

She laughed and turned around to face him. “Well, you didn’t carry me over the threshold, but I guess this is about the same thing. I’m big as a house anyway. Thank you, dear.”

Lewis took her kiss, but he was still concerned. “You’ve
got some scratches on that leg. We’ve got to go get it taken care of. I’ll get the wheelbarrow and wheel you inside.”

Missouri Ann laughed. She was not a beautiful woman, but she was striking. Her hair was jet black except for an inch-wide silver streak that began at her brow and went to the tips of her long tresses. The silver track was so startling that everyone’s eyes always went to it first. She had large, expressive blue-gray eyes and well-formed lips. She was a large woman at five-eleven, one inch taller than Lewis, and had been shapely before the child had ballooned her out. Now she reached out and touched Lewis’s face affectionately. “Well, don’t be silly. I’m not riding in any old wheelbarrow. I can walk.”

Lewis ushered her out of the hen house, and when they passed out of the fenced chicken yard, he looked up to see Stonewall eating the bologna Lewis had brought back from the store. “Let that alone, you no-count mangy hound!”

Stonewall came at once and tried again to sit on his feet, but Lewis shoved him away. He quickly gathered up the groceries scattered about the yard and carried them into the house. As they entered through the back door, his daughter Hannah turned from the kitchen and cried at once, “What happened, Ma?”

“Oh, I’m so big I broke through the floor in the hen house.”

“Her leg’s all scratched up, Hannah. Put something on it, will you?”

Hannah Winslow Longstreet, little more than a bride herself, came at once. She had brown eyes and auburn hair pulled back in a simple knot. “You sit down here, Ma, and I’ll take care of you.”

“You go on about your business, Lewis,” Missouri Ann said. “Hannah can take care of this. I’m all right.”

Lewis put the groceries down, commenting sourly, “Stonewall ate the bologna.”

“That’s all right. You go along, Dad.” Hannah smiled. She watched as Lewis left and then turned to her stepmother.
“That’s the last time you get out of the house until this baby comes,” she said firmly.

“Reckon you’re right about that, Hannah. I didn’t tell Lewis, but it scared me a little. Not for myself but for the baby.”

While her stepmother recounted the incident, Hannah cleaned the scratches and applied iodine, which caused Missouri Ann to open her eyes and exclaim, “Ouch, that burns!”

“You gave Dad a fright. He’s scared enough about becoming a father at his age. He’s afraid people are laughing at him.”

“Why would they laugh? He’s a good, strong man, and fifty-seven—why, that’s not old at all. My grandpa, he lived to be ninety-three and was hale right up to the very end.” Her eyes grew soft, and she reached out and touched Hannah’s hair. “God’s been right good to give me a family. I thought I was done with havin’ young’uns, and then one day the Lord just told me that He would bring me a husband and we’d have children.”

Hannah smiled, remembering how Missouri Ann had, on her first meeting with Hannah’s father, announced, “God sent you to be my husband.” Later she had announced that they would have children together as well.

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