The Payne-Armstrong Secret

Christian Armstrong had a family secret he was supposed to keep. He told his wife, Eliza and best friends' George and Vanessa Payne. One day bandits barged into his house demanding the secret. Eliza sacrificed herself so he could get away. He found out the Payne's were also killed except their daughter Beatrice. The Payne's gave Christian all custody of Beatrice and once he found her he adopted her.
The bandits found them and tried to kill Christian but Beatrice gave them a false map to the secret. Ten years had passed since the bandits left and Christian and Beatrice made regular visits to California to make sure the secret is safe.
Beatrice is now 20 years old and she meets a cowboy named Jessie Holmes. They fall in love and Christian gives them his blessing. The bandit, Charles don't join his bandit brothers and find out they died in a blizzard. He dedicates his life to finding Christian and Beatrice to make them pay for what they did.

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1. Chapter 1

The year is 1816, twenty years before Texas’ independence. And one evening bandits charged in while Christian and Eliza Armstrong were eating dinner.  They demanded Christian divulge his family secret. Or they'd kill his wife and their friends the Payne's. Eliza kissed Christian and sacrificed herself as Christian said “I love you”. The bandits planned to followed her. Once they were gone Christian raced out back to the stables and galloped away on his horse. He heard a gunshot in the distance and raced to the Payne’s house. The Payne’s were dead, they left a letter that read.

 

“Our dearest Christian,

If you’re reading this that means George and I have died. I fear someone has come after us for the secret. George and I promised to never tell another soul and we’re not about to start now. If someone has come for us Beatrice would have ran away. Promise me you’ll find and protect her at all costs. She should have got to Coke county to stay with a friend. She’ll be with Tom and his favorite green turtle.  He also loves cacti so they’ll be somewhere near them. Please keep her safe Christian. My Beatrice will be scared and hurting, try to comfort her. I know you have trouble comforting people, but please try your best she's a child. Try to imagine what she's going through. Her parents died, and depending on how evil the people were she may have seen us get tortured. Stay safe and give Eliza our best.

Yours, Vanessa and George Payne”

 

Christian explained the details in a letter nestled in the pages of Beatrice’s favorite book. Which he left at the grave sight for her to discover. Christian returned several days later to discover Beatrice teary-eyed gazing at the gravestone. “Beatrice are you ok?" he murmured as he crouched down. She stopped crying for a bit to look at him, then she got up and run away. He yelled, “Wait Beatrice it’s me, Mr. Christian.” She stopped, turned around, began to walk back, and asked, “Why did those men kill both my parents?”. He said, “Those men are after my family secret. My wife and your parents were family so they had a right to know.  They died protecting us.”  She started to cry again and leaped into his arms.

 

A year passed and they had moved to Tom Green County. They begin to live life again. Christian has adopted her as his own and she loves him like he was her birth father. They became the Payne-Armstrong’s. While Christian was at work, the bandits walked in and he tried to remain calm and asked, “Hello, what can I do for ya’ll today”?  The leader, Ralph acknowledged him and said, “Hello, do you have any saddles for sale?” “I sure do. Right this way”, he motioned for them to follow. “If you don’t mind me asking, but what happened to your last saddle sir?”  “Well Charles over here,” Ralph said as he smacks Charles on the shoulder, “decided he wanted to lose it in a game of poker.”  Charles shrugged at Ralph's remarks and straddled a saddle for comfort and asked, “How much?”. “I’d ask about 50 silver pieces, but for you 30.” Christian said. The bandits paid and left with the saddle. A moment later Beatrice arrived and saw his worried look.  “What’s wrong?”  “They found us and we need to get out of town now.”

 

After hearing that Beatrice began to worry she looks exactly the same.  And she wasn’t sure if any of them had seen her back then. Christian and Beatrice packed everything the could into their wagon. They’d planned to leave that night.  Night fell and the town was bustling with people going to the saloons. Christian and Beatrice got into their wagon and began their journey.  They passed a saloon the bandits were in and Charles recognized the girl.  He told Ralph and they all got on their horses and followed after them.  Christian stopped to set up camp and a fire.  Once the fire was up, the bandits attacked.

 

The bandits held Christian and Beatrice’s arm behind them. “I thought you looked familiar, you’re the missing girl”. Charles grabbed Beatrice and held her arms behind her back to keep her from moving.  The two other bandits held Christian the same way.  Ralph began to torture Christian to give up the secret, but he wouldn’t budge.  Beatrice feared for him and she didn’t want to be an orphan again.  So she acted . "STOP!” she wailed which caught the attention of everyone.  “Please I can’t lose another parent, please Pop let me tell him so he’ll stop this madness.”  Ralph looked at Christian to see his response.  Christian couldn’t catch his breathe so he nodded yes.  With that confirmation Ralph walked over to let her go.  Beatrice Beatrice and said, “Now sweetheart, you better tell me or I will kill you both.”  She said “I’ll tell you if he’ll let me go.”  “Now why should I do that?” he said putting his hand around her neck “Because I’ll hand you the secret."  He let go of her neck and nodded letting Charles know he can let go of her arms. She pulled out a piece of paper and said it was a map.  “It heads to the Armstrong gold mine in California." She handed it to Ralph and he said, “Gentlemen let’s get rich”.

 

Beatrice went to check on Christian, but he already began to pack. Christian became upset thinking about how she gave the map away. Beatrice said, “They’ll never see the goldmine.” Christian asks “And why is that, you gave them a direct map to the mine”. “Not exactly, at school teacher taught us about the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Teacher said the snow starts about August way up there and how people can get caught and die. Well, it is November. So I redrew the map today.” Christian thought about how smart that was and smiled, then they left to head back to Tom Green County.

 

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