There is certainly every reason to believe that Aunt Louise's
version of the story is true as she has always been a woman of
impeccable reputation and a beloved resident of the seaside
settlement in which she lives.  Aunt Louise said that the
wealthy merchant ordered Jake to go to the back door of the
mercantile store to make sure it was locked.  When Jake
reached the back door he found it open with a number of
papers scattered over the threshold and drifting outside with
the late afternoon sea~breeze.  As Jake was stooping down to
gather the papers (he had no idea what they were but they did
appear to him to be of some importance) he heard the loud
crack of a pistol shot and felt a burning sensation in his right
flank.  Clutching his side and falling to the floor Jake looked
up and saw the wealthy merchant standing over him, smoking
gun in hand with a mocking grin upon his face.  The wealthy
merchant was a heavy set fellow, wide as he was tall and
tightly wrapped in the most fashionable duds of the day.  He
had a gold watch chain dangling from his light, brown vest
pocket and patent leathers that strained to shine beneath the
thin film of silt and dust which covered them.  Wiping sweat
from his large, oval shaped bald head with a chubby,
short~fingered hand he said, "Sorry to have to do this to you,
Jake, but I came up the hard way in a hard world and I've
learned to do whatever it takes to get what I want.  You don't
think I became so wealthy by being timid or ethical, do you?  
Maria Rothschild is going to be mine, Jake.  I know that you
and Maria have a sort of friendship.  A close friendship.  Closer
than one of her society should be having with young man in
your poor position.  She's young, Jake, just like you and she
can't understand reason.  There's no talking sense to one as
young and naive as Maria, so I had to get you out of my way,
Jake.  Don't worry, you'll live.  I just grazed you.  A mere flesh
wound, my boy.  I shall put in a good word for your character,
as everyone knows you've been good help to me, and that will
keep you out of the gallows.  You'll do a few years hard labor
over at the state work camp in Tallahassee and then you'll be
released to resume your life as a convict and commoner.  
They'll probably put you to work on the railroad.  Consider this
a life lesson, Jake.  Hardship is what taught me and it will
teach you."  
       With that, the merchant struck himself with a brisk blow to
his own forehead with a silver tipped Penang lawyer causing a
trickle of blood to snake its way down his face.  He then
stepped on and crushed his own spectacles and laid the
walking stick across Jake's lap.  By this time, drawn by the
loud sound of the pistol shot, a group of townsfolk were
running around behind the mercantile store to see what the
matter could be.  The wealthy merchant staggered and
stumbled out amongst them crying for help.  Jake was
subsequently arrested and tried for using a cane as a deadly
weapon in an armed robbery attempt.  During Jake's trial, the
wealthy merchant claimed he caught Jake trying to steal the
valuable antique Colonial instruments of trade from the
mercantile store safe in the back room and when he attempted
to stop him, Jake swung the Penang lawyer across the
merchant's head.  The wealthy merchant continued his
fabricated statement by insinuating that had he not been in the
habit of carrying his pistol in the hip pocket of his trousers for
just such an alarm, he was sure that Jake would have
bludgeoned him to death with the walking cane.  The merchant
did speak in chambers with the judge and the all male five
member jury about sentencing Jake to hard labor instead
public hanging.  Of course the judge and jury were to the
wealthy merchant all old acquaintances and fellow founders of
the settlement which would become Fort Walton, so Jake's trial
had been one of those so~called kangaroo courts, a mere
formality to appease the locals.  Jake wasn't destined for hard
labor in Tallahassee, however, for about this time hot, flying
rumors of the impending Civil War were resulting in men being
recruited for military service all through the South and Jake
was literally pulled from the prison bound stage coach and
press ganged into duty aboard the Confederate Sailing Ship
Alabama.  While Jake was at sea, the place of his wretched
misfortune was built into Camp Walton.  Camp Walton was
constructed shortly after the Civil War began in 1861 and
renamed Fort Walton after the war.  The town was named after
Colonel Walton who also resided there and whose father had
been the 56th to sign the Declaration of Independence.  After
the war, Aunt Louise had arranged this job as a cow poke for
Jake over Panama City way to get him out of Fort Walton and
the local scorn which naturally would have plagued him for the
rest of his life.  It was onboard the CSS Alabama that Scribb
met and became acquainted with Jake.  By this time Jake's hair
had bleached from a medium brown with an almost auburn
tinge to a golden blond in the sunshine of the Gulf of Mexico.  
Living with his Aunt Louise and her good country cooking, he
had been putting on weight around his middle but life at sea
had slimmed his six foot frame to a lean, coarse, sinewy
outline like that of a stretch of beef jerky.  Jake's skin was
roasted bronze and his thoughtful gray eyes picked up the
color of the sea and looked a deep, reflective blue.  
Yvette's ~*
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*~ Scribbner's Ghost ~*
                         *~page two ~*
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