The door at the back opened and an elegant and sophisticated woman entered. Even dressed in black mourning clothes, it was obvious that she was a very attractive woman. She carried herself with the quiet confidence of someone born and raised in the upper crust of society.
The crowd settled down as she approached the podium and took her place in front of the assembly.
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Last week, I received a telegram addressed to my late husband. When I read the contents, I knew that I was obligated to make this trip.
"I met Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry three years ago in a little town called Apache Springs, where my husband had been sent to negotiate with the Cherokawa Indians. My husband was a government servant, dedicated to improving relations between white settlers and the natives of the area.
I am here to tell you that, after my late husband, Mr. Heyes was probably the most honest man Iıd ever met. He told me the truth about my husband, something even I hadn't seen. He recognized my husband's integrity and his commitment to doing his job in an honorable manner. Traits that Mr. Heyes himself exhibited by carrying out the job that he and Mr. Curry had agreed to do for Mrs. Rangely. They agreed to take on a very dangerous job for her, retrieving buried gold dust in dangerous Indian territory. They could have kept the gold and ridden off, but they kept their word and brought it to her. She didnıt trust them, so she only gave them one section of the map at a time. It turns out, considering who he was, Mr. Heyes could have opened her safe and stolen the gold dust and the other parts of the map, but he didn't.
"Mr. Heyes also told me the truth about myself. Something I didn't like hearing, but needed to hear. You see, I'd been behaving in a rather spoiled and selfish way. I'm not proud of that, but it was true. After my husband returned to Apache Springs, things began to change between us. I guess you could say I grew up and my husband and I began to appreciate and respect each other."
She paused and smiled as though remembering a happier time. A man toward the back of the room broke the silence and called out, "Did the Indians murder your husband, maıam?"
Mrs. Fielding looked up and the smile faded from her face. "No." She stated bluntly. "You see, some politicians in Washington, D.C., went back on their promise to the Cherokawa. They didn't keep their word. Soldiers were sent in to forcibly remove the people from the land they had been promised. My husband feared that many would be killed so he went to warn them. There was a fight and many of the Indians, and my husband, were killed.
"My husband always believed that the reliability of a man's word revealed his character. Gentlemen of the press," she looked pointedly around the room, "the wrong men are in prison here. I am asking you to help see that justice is done. Thank you."
She stepped down from the podium and walked through the crowd to the back, where she warmly greeted Sister Grace and her husband, and then took her seat with the others.