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The Strange White Man 57

Tags: wedding, gifts,

The end of October was only a few days away and that meant so was the wedding of Carpenter and Holly. In Sinking Wells, the blacksmith known as Styles had just finished securing the packs on his mule.

"Kinda sorry to see ya go," the owner said.

"I have family matters that need my attention," Styles lied.

"If ya ever get the notion to return you will be welcome."

Styles mounted his horse and the owner handed him the reins of the pack mule. He thanked the man then pointed his horse in the direction of Springwood. His long hair and beard quite disguised him so he should have no problem getting into town undetected.

On the two day ride, he thought about the final confrontation with the dance hall girl and the wedding would be the perfect time for it. He imagined the look on the faces of the Marshall and his Deputies when her true face was finally revealed, they would owe him an apology.

Meanwhile back in Springwood:

Brother Sebastian woke from his day's sleep and was amazed that he was not craving blood. He picked up the bottle containing steer's blood and took a deep sniff. The smell was pleasant and familiar to him, but he didn't require any at this time.

He then drew the conclusion that the secret formula belonged to one of his kind. It was a way to defeat the need for blood and avoid detection. He still had all his strength and other gifts, but not the craving for blood.

He had recorded the exact time that he drank it and would keep records on how long the effects lasted. He then rewrote the formula in Latin in case it fell into strange hands. He would show Carpenter how to make it and then give him a copy of the formula so he could make it himself.

The town was preparing for the upcoming wedding of Carpenter and Holly. Decorations had been ordered and slowly being put up. The front of the saloon received a new coat of paint and interior had been cleaned like it had never been cleaned before.

A large barbecue had been dug out back and early tomorrow morning the steer and pigs would be placed on the spit. Whatever else was needed had been ordered and stored until the happy day.

Carpenter had reappeared from his cave and spent the day wrapped in Holly's arms. When night fell, they awoke and talked about the upcoming marriage celebration.

They would ride into town separately. Holly would meet up with her friends from her saloon days.They would do her hair and help her dress. Carpenter would collect the Monk and then head to the saloon. The marriage license was ready to be signed by all parties.

Finally, the big day had arrived and Holly left shortly after she had awakened. Carpenter would leave for the train yard shortly after that. Brother Sebastian was glad to see Carpenter and they had a toast of brandy.

"I have some presents to give you after the ceremony," he told Carpenter.

"That is not necessary," Carpenter answered.

"Yes, it is, more than you know."

They arrived at the Cactus Flower amid cheering and were escorted inside. The piano player began the bridal march and Holly descended the stairs. Her gown was all satin and lace and it fit her perfectly. Not since his beloved Princess had he seen so beautiful a woman.

The owner filled in as the father-of-the-bride and walked her to the makeshift pulpit that had been set up in the center of the room. The Monk called for quiet and began the simple marriage ceremony.

He had just pronounced them man and wife when a small explosion rocked the saloon. When the smoke cleared, there sitting on the back of a stallion was Styles. He had trimmed his hair and shaved off his beard and looked as he did when he was told to leave town.

The Sheriff recognized him immediately and ordered his men to arrest him. Styles produced a small pocket pistol and shot each man in the leg. He then tossed his lasso around Holly before she could move and pulled her toward his mount and hoisted her across the saddle.

He then wheeled his horse about and took off at a high gallop toward the edge of town.

"I'll see ya all at sunrise on the road to the old Delgatto mine," Styles yelled over his shoulder.

Now Carpenter could have leapt at him and knocked him off his mount, but there would be too many witnesses. Holly could have easily snapped the ropes, but again she would be pressed to explain how this was accomplished.

Styles had played his hand well. He knew that she or her manservant could do nothing with so many people watching. Now all he had to do was stay hidden until daybreak.

"Calm yourself," the Monk said in a low voice to Carpenter, who was getting ready to give chase.

"He plans to expose her to the sunlight," Carpenter responded struggling to keep his voice calm.

"Then he will be in for quite a shock," the Monk responded.

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