A Good Change:

Prologue:

Sweetwater, Oregon 1859

"Marshall... please, don't take it that way. Please, just listen to me for a minute." cried Ellen Logan as she tried to catch up with her brother while holding back warm tears. "Marshall, I can't have you staying here if your going to live your life as you've chosen to do as now." Ellen paused to take a deep breath, hopefully giving her brother a chance to say he understood her concern and he'd change.

"Just think of what kind of example that'd be to Grant. Why he's almost courting-age, Marshall. I can't believe you'd do this to him. To all of us. Your so different now, brother. So very much."

"So, what, Ellen. You gonna give me a lickin' if I leave?" cackled the young man.

"If you leave... which that's up to you... but, I'm not going to lie to the children. I'm not going to cover for you. Not this time."

"And what if you have no choice?" threatened Marshall, taking a step closer to his timid sister.

"I lied to all my friends about Father when they'd asked was Mama and Pa's relationship over. I covered for him... for our family's sake. But what good did it do? They all know now. If I cover for you, then I'll just be adding to the gossip."

"Ellie, please. Calm down. You're gettin' yourself all beat up over nothin'." laughed Marshall, obviously drunk, as he smirked at his younger sister.

"Do you truly think this is acceptable? Do you think it's okay?"

"Well... yeah... sure I do." He playfully answered.

"Don't you hear everyone talking, Marshall? As if one bad example isn't enough." cried the young girl.

"Do you think I care what other folks say? I mean, really Elli-"

"Obviously not."

"You'd better hush, girl. Don't be back-talking me." strongly stated Marshall as he took a big step towards Ellen. "Why can't I live my life the way I want to, Ellie? What's it to you? Why do you have to be so hard on a man?"

" I'd barely call yourself a man, Marshall. You can't even take care of your family, much less yourself."

"Why am I taking lip from my little sister? Why don't I just do what I want and leave you be?"

Ellen stood in silence, pondering her next words.

"Because... you're scared." wept Ellen.

"I'm not scared of nuthin. And you'd best be hushin' up." said the young man.

"I can't believe you'd... after witnessing this firsthand... that you'd do this to us... to Mamma. She has five children to care for." Marshall started intently in his sister's blue eyes, her tear-stained face.

"You are not my brother, you selfish swine!" By now Ellen was hysterical. She ran opposite the house into the darkness of the town.

Marshall ran to catch up with his sister, all the while yelling, "Ellen!"

"What... what could you possibly want from me?" Ellen cried in frustration trying to take her brother's hold off of her.

Smack! Marshall threw his sister onto the dusty ground. The girl quickly rose and rushed to the house, scared of what her older brother was capable of.

"Ellen... Ellen! Wait! I didn't mean it." He yelled, realizing how he'd just hurt the only person that would think of listen to what he had to say. Slinging open the front door after Ellen had slammed it shut, Marshall stood in the doorway, peering around for his sister.

"Don't you move, boy." spoke a voice from behind Marshall. Sheriff Ray cautiously moved so that he was facing the young man; and to his surprise, he saw the very boy he expected to never to see while on duty. He took his hat off his head and placed it on the table beside him.

"Jeanne's boy, ain't you?" asked Sheriff Ray, both of the men dumbfounded. "What's your name, son?"

"Marshall Logan." quickly stated the young man; sweat starting to form on his suntanned brow.

"Good name. Not too long to remember how to write on a contract." laughed the Sheriff. "I'm supposing you know who I am?"

"Yes, sir. Your Sheriff Ray Steppes." Marshall managed to utter.

"Good guess."

"What brings you out here, Sheriff?" he asked.

"A man by the name of Roger Williamson ran over to me and said he saw some man dis'pecting a lady. He said the young man was hittin' the young miss." Sheriff Steppes stared intensely into the young man's eyes.

"Well, I'm sorry to be wasting your time, Sheriff. I ain't hit no lady."

"Alright."

"My baby sister and me was out while ago, she was cryin'. That's all." lied Marshall.

"What's your sister's name?"

"Ellen."

"What had the miss cryin', son? You hurt her?" Sheriff took a step closer to the boy.

"Sheriff... I already told you I ain't never hit no lady, nor am I ever goin' to, sir. "

"Well... then I suppose it was something that made the miss cry. Mr. Williamson told me the lady was all to pieces."

"Yes, Sheriff. You see, I just told her of our Aunt Peggy's passing. She and my Aunt Peggy were awful close. She's just grieving, Sheriff." lied Marshall.

"I'm sorry to here that."

"Yeah. She's pretty upset."

"Well... I guess I should be going, right, son?" stated the Sheriff, placing his weathered hat atop his head. He paused for a moment to light up a cigar that had long been calling his name. "Good night to you, son. Tell your Ma that I stopped by." he said as he tipped his hat while he left himself out.

Marshall stood there for a minute, thinking about how close he'd come to being caught. Jeanne Logan walked into the small room where her son stood.

"Marshall, who was that?" she asked, concerned of who would be showing up at the house at this time of night.

"Just a drunk. I told him to get lost."