Doc Ch. 20bykingkey©
They spent the rest of the week at the ranch doing minor chores and basically just resting up, after their long ordeal. Then the weekend rolled around, and it was time to go to town for supplies.
While the women were shopping, I decided to check in with Judge Mitchell. After going to the courthouse, I was told that the judge was over at the restaurant, having breakfast.
Walking into the restaurant I immediately spotted the judge. After I went to the table, he invited me to join him.
"I thought I should stop in and report to you on the status in Deadwood."
"I received ongoing reports from the townspeople of Deadwood. That was a great job you did there. The only negative report I got, was that some of them were concerned that you were a little pushy about the Hickok assassination."
"When I got there, they had Hickok's body set up as a sideshow, while that film-flam man, Soapy Smith, was selling pieces of an Indian scalp. I ran Soapy Smith out of town, letting people know that selling what was claimed to be an Indian scalp, was a good way to start another Indian war. Furthermore, I made sure that Hickok had a proper burial.
"I also met with the town leaders, about that so-called miner's court that they had on Jack McCall. I told them that these kangaroo courts were illegal. He should have been held for a proper trial and transported here in front of you."
"That's great! Did you get a chance to talk to them about setting up a Town Marshal, and a proper City Council?"
"I did mention it, but I hadn't gotten too far into it when I discovered a little girl that had a case of smallpox. That took precedence. I was immediately just too busy trying to keep it from becoming a full-blown epidemic, to worry about politics."
"Well, I can't really blame you, there. Like I said, you did an outstanding job. After speaking with Dr. Timmins and the townspeople there, I was very surprised that there weren't a lot more fatalities than there were."
"Thank you, Sir. We did the best we could. However, I am still awful tired. I'd like to see patients here, for the next couple of days, just to rest up. Then we'll head out again. I still haven't gotten to most of the towns and camps around the area. I'm sure that if I'm not needed as a lawman, I will be as a doctor."
"Don't push yourself too hard, Clay. The last thing we need is for you to come down sick or injured, because you're too tired. Just make a slow circuit of the camps without pushing yourself too hard. Come back safe."
"I will, I was planning on just taking it easy. I'll see a few patients here for the next couple of days, until it slows down. Then we'll move on up to Deadwood for a couple of days, doing the same thing. After that; we'll hit Lead, Silver City, Spearfish, and maybe even Sturgis. Just to let you know, I'm also going to be checking on the Indian camps in the area. I'm not sure how long this circuit will take, but I should be back within three weeks to a month."
"That's fine. You can check in with me by telegraph if any of the towns or camps are connected to the telegraph system."
"I'll try to do that," I said.
I finished my meal, and went to the front counter to pay.
After leaving the judge, I headed back behind the general store to find my ladies, there, surrounded by angry townsfolk.
I shouted, "Just what the hell is going on, here? "
An elderly, heavyset, prune faced woman, was standing beside a small mousy man.
"We just came through Deadwood! The preacher there said that you were heathens and the spawn of the devil. He said that if any of us good God-fearing Christians had anything to do with you, we would condemn our souls straight to hell. We don't think you should be allowed in our town."
This seemed to anger most of the other people waiting to be seen as patients.
"The preacher in Deadwood is a fool! There was an outbreak of smallpox in Deadwood. One of my wives and I treated the patients. We were there for nearly two months straight. We had a fatality rate of less than twenty percent. That same preacher was there, also trying to help. He told me that he was a surgeon's assistant during the last war. I found out that about all he was good for was cleaning the dead bodies out.
"He was of the opinion that the people survived because of his sermons and his praying over them. Mostly, he was just in the way. We seemed to get along okay until he found out, just before the end, that I have more than one wife. That's when he got all high and mighty and started denouncing me as doing the work of the devil. I don't know how much you know about smallpox, but the normal fatality rate is over seventy percent! So, I actually don't feel that we did such a bad job, there."
This seemed to calm most of the people, although that same woman and her husband stomped off.
"If all the ruckus is over, and if you still want to see me as a doctor, I'll start seeing patients in about an hour. If you still see me as a heretic spawn of the devil, then like I told you before, that same preacher up in Deadwood was a surgeon's assistant. So if you'd rather see him, be my guest, although I wouldn't recommend it."
My wife and I, after checking to see that things were ready to start seeing patients, went into the general store. I wanted to talk to the storekeeper, to find out what had been going on in the area while we had been busy.
Upon entering, Mr. Miller the storekeeper came over and said. "I'm glad you're back. Most of your orders came in about three days ago. I had them stacked in a back room for you. I heard about the great job you did in Deadwood, with that small smallpox epidemic. I'm sure glad that you were there before it got out of hand otherwise, it could've wiped out most of the towns around here."
He then took us to his back room, and showed us a pile of crates.
I thought, 'Where are we going to store all this stuff?'
The pile of crates was larger than the inside of the medical wagon.
After getting help carrying everything outside next to the wagons, I hired a couple of teenage boys to help uncrate, and carefully unpack everything, so that we could put everything away.
I was surprised that we got everything to fit, until Mr. Miller told us that the rest of the things we ordered should arrive in a week or so. I told him that after we left we'd probably be gone for at least a month, and he should just put anything else we received in the cabin. We'd get to it after we got back.
I spent the next three days seeing patients, and just relaxing. There weren't quite as many patients as I thought that there would be. I was guessing that some of the people were staying away, because of what that fool preacher was saying. Others may have been staying away because they thought that their ailments were minor, and that they were saving money.
After three days, we packed up, and headed back to Deadwood. Just after we arrived and started setting up the wagons next to the office that I had rented at the grand Hotel, I heard a ruckus. Looking out and saw the preacher standing on a crate preaching once again that I was the spawn of the devil and that my wives were just a bunch of Heathen Whores.
This was the last straw I walked up to him and promptly knocked him on his ass.
"I really don't care what you think of me. However, when you start calling my wives whores, or mean-mouthing them, you had better be ready to back it up with either your fists or guns! It doesn't matter much, which, to me. In addition, your preaching to these people about not seeing me for medical advice is going to get somebody killed.
"These are all God's children! I will not have my flock consorting with someone who goes against the teachings in the Bible!"
"What the hell are you talking about? Just where did I go against any of the Bible's teachings?"
"You have more than one wife! That goes against God's teachings!"
"Against God's teachings? I ask you, have you ever read the Bible? The Old Testament? It states right in there, Abraham, David, and several others had multiple wives. Not to mention the fact that it says that King Solomon had over three hundred wives. Look it up! It's in that same Bible that you keep on preaching about. I suggest you read it, sometime."
"It's still against good moral values. A man should only have one wife."
"There is no law against having more than one wife, as long as he can support them. However, there is a law against manslaughter. That is basically what you're doing, by trying to prevent these people from seeking medical help when it is available, by your own prejudiced views."
"I'm not hurting them in any way by telling them not to see you. You forget I was a surgeon's assistant during the war, so I do have some medical experience! Besides I heard that there was a new Doctor in Spearfish!"
"Until you produce a medical license, I suggest you quit giving medical advice! A surgeon's assistant was little more than an orderly! You were a cleanup boy! You have little or no medical training at all!"
"I'll have you know I worked closely with the surgeons will they were treating the wounded!"
"And what did you do for the surgeons besides clean up after?"
"I helped bring in and out the patients, got the surgeons their instruments and supplies, and assisted in keeping the patients comfortable!"
"Those are all the duties of an orderly. An orderly has no medical training, and is not allowed to treat patients. So my advice to you is to stop giving medical advice before you end up killing someone!"
"And if I don't?"
"If you don't, I'll arrest you and have you run out of town as being a public nuisance! And another thing... if I hear one more word about you talking bad about any of my wives, I will beat the shit right of you!"
"You can't talk that way to me! I'm a man of God! You will rot in hell!"
Hearing all this, the crowd started drifting away, but some still stayed close enough to hear. "You're a man of God? Just what church do you represent? Do you have any papers that say you have the right to represent their interests?"
"I got my calling, while among all the pain and suffering during the war. I received a sign from God that I should go out spread his holy word."
"That's a fine thing to do. To go out and spread God's word. However, don't you think it would be a good idea to read the Bible to find out what God's word is, before you try to spread it to others, instead of just spreading your own opinions?"
After seeing that the crowd had left, the Rev. Smith just glared at me and left himself.
I then went into the general store where my wives were shopping, to see what the storekeeper had in stock. After buying a bolt of muslin cloth to use for bandages and a few things that my wives had picked out, we went to the front counter so it could be tallied up.
After he tallied it, he said, "That will be $7.50 added to your previous balance of $126.35. That will be $133.85."
"$133.85? Just what the hell are you talking about? Last I heard I had a $283 balance here! What happened to all it? "
"It went for all those supplies that you ordered, while providing for the sick."
"I paid for the first load, only. You were supposed to get the rest of the money from the town merchants and leaders."
"I tried, but they didn't seem to want to contribute. So, since you had that balance, I went ahead and took it from that."
"So you thought that since I paid for the first load and was contributing my time and effort to try and save all these people, that I should have to foot the bill, too? I'll tell you what... First you put all my money back into my account, before I arrest you as a thief. Then you go out, and you round up all those merchants and civic leaders. You have them here in one hour, or I will make it one of the sorriest days of their lives!"
"Okay, Doc, I'll get them and be back as soon as possible."
"Before you go, I have another question. That total bill adds up to almost $400. I know this is a gold camp and everything, but it still sounds a little high. Just how much did you contribute?"
"I figured since no one else was contributing, why should I? As for the $400, that is the price that I would sell those items for. Otherwise why would I be in business?
"Why, you little skunk! Besides being a cheap son of a bitch, what do you think these other business owners are going to think after they find out that besides not contributing, you made big profits out of their sicknesses? I'll be surprised if they don't tar and feather you, before they run you out of town! The least you could have done for your contribution, was to be providing supplies at cost."
After the hour was up to, I returned to find the general store was crowded with the other town merchants and leaders.
"I've had you called here for a couple of reasons. First I'm very happy that so many people lived through the smallpox epidemic. I really don't think it's fair, though. It's not enough that you expect me to donate my time and trouble fighting this epidemic, oh, no! It seems that you expect me to pay for everything by myself, as well!"
It seemed to confuse most of the people, and one man... obviously the leader... said, "What are you talking about, Doc? No one approached us to help pay for anything? No one even approached us to help take up a collection to pay for your services, let alone any supplies?"
I turned and glared at the storekeeper and said, "I paid for the first load of supplies and the tents as they would need to be destroyed after the smallpox epidemic was over... to keep it from reoccurring. I paid the storekeeper, here. After selecting a few items that I needed, today, he presented me with this huge bill. I found it that he expects me to pay for this whole epidemic, out of my own pocket, while he makes a huge profit on the items sold.
"Also it seems that the preacher has convinced all you 'God-fearing souls' that I must be the spawn of the devil, since I have more than one wife, and that I should not be allowed to practice here. Now, if this is the way that the town feels about things, maybe I should just stay away from Deadwood, entirely! "
"No, Doc... Don't do that... I will personally see about going around taking up a collection to not only pay for all the supplies, but also to pay your fee. As far as the preacher is concerned, we will see about making him shut up about all the rumors he's trying to spread about you. Just don't leave us without a doctor! You've done a fantastic job, since you came. We know that if you had not been here, many more of us would've died of the smallpox."
"I kind of figured it was like that. I think the storekeeper just got lazy about trying to collect from all of you. Since I had so much credit was on the books, he just thought he would take everything out of that. I'm not even sure if he had the tents and bedding destroyed. I would appreciate it if you would make sure that they are destroyed.
"I am planning on continuing my circuit through the area. Unless something occurs, I'll continue coming to Deadwood. Another thing you need to consider is that I'm only one man. You need to find someone to act as town marshal and another as deputy. I talked with Judge Mitchell, and he said to try and get the towns to hold elections for mayor, city council, and to try to appoint town marshals."
"We'll do that, Doc. We need to have some law around this area. That's a good idea. How long are you planning to be in town this time?"
"I should be here three or four days, depending on the needs. Then I am going to Lead, Spearfish, and circle through Sturgis and Silver City, before I head home to Hill City. I will probably come back through here every three to four weeks, depending on the needs. In an emergency, you can always send a rider after me."
"That's great, Doc, as long as you keep coming back through."
I spent the next three days treating patients for minor accidents and illnesses. It seemed like a lot of people just stopped by to thank me for treating a member of their family. Most of them brought a little something to show their appreciation: a couple of cookies, or pies, etc. A few of these people that came around had lost a loved one. They still told me that they appreciated the effort that we had gone to, to save their loved ones.
Just before we were getting ready to leave, the spokesman of the town merchants approached me, along with another man.
He handed me several gold double eagles and said, "This is what was left over from the collection, after we paid for the supplies. We'd like you to accept it as your fee. We had an election, as you said. I was elected mayor. This gentleman beside me is Dave Tucker. He was elected town marshal, but we don't know what to do. Does he have authority outside the city limits?"
"That's easy. Dave, raise your right hand and say after me: 'I swear to uphold the laws of the United States of America, and the laws of this territory, so help me God.'"
After he had said that, I congratulated him. I went to my saddlebags get a badge.
I told him, "I hope you make a good marshal for this town. If you have any trouble, you know where Judge Mitchell is, in Hill City. He will get back to you. Or, you just get ahold of me. Just be careful. Mostly, just use common sense."
"I'll do that, Doc. I'll be seeing you in around a month."
After that we headed out for Lead. Lead wasn't much more than just a gold camp. However, I knew from history that as soon as they discovered the Homestead Mine, which would turn out to become the richest gold mine in the world, the town would grow.
After spending a couple of days there we went on to Spearfish. There I met with the man that the preacher had referred to as being a doctor. I found that he was a veterinarian, and only treated humans in cases of emergency.
While in Sturgis, Running Deer and Little Doe were both nauseous the first thing in the morning. Thinking it was just a small case of the flu, I had them relax. But, when on the second day, Dawn and Moon both were nauseous, also, I started to get concerned about all four wives being sick. I knew that both the Chinese and Indians had little resistance to disease, so I cut my trip short. We headed for Silver City. After spending just one day in Silver city, we headed back to the ranch.
Dawn approached me and asked. "What is wrong, Clay? What is it that has you acting so worried?"
"I'm just worried about all you girls being sick, every morning. Though none of you are running a fever, or even seem very sick, you're still having nausea."
"That's because we are not sick!"
"What do you mean you're not sick? You all throw up every morning!"
She started laughing really hard.
"And you call yourself a doctor! We throw up in the mornings, not because we are sick, but because we are all having babies! "
I just stared at her, with my mouth hanging open.
Babies! All four of them pregnant at once!
I knew then, that grandpa would never let me hear the end of it.
Edited By TeNderLoin
The OLD FART