At sunrise on Monday morning, May 2, 1887, fifty-year-old Dan Haddock awakened in the bedroom of the apartment above his furniture store in Denver, Colorado.
Dan rubbed his eyes, rolled over in the bed, and glanced at the large window, which was on the east wall of the room. The eastern horizon was rose-flushed and golden. Above the glowing rim of the sun, the intense purity of the blue sky was a sight to see. “What a beautiful world You made, Lord,” he said in an appreciative whisper.
The owner of Haddock’s Furniture Store rubbed his eyes again, and this time when he opened them, his line of sight settled on a ten-by-twelve-inch framed picture that sat on the nearby dresser. Suddenly, as
he focused on the face of the lovely woman in the photograph, Dan was overcome with emotion. His eyes filled with tears as he stared with infinite tenderness at the face. He swallowed hard. “Oh, Rebecca, darlin’. I miss you terribly!”
Suddenly his mind was filled with precious memories. Dan thought of the day he first met Rebecca Jardine when they both attended a tent revival in Jefferson City, Missouri, in June of 1856; he was nineteen and she a year younger. When the evangelist who preached the meeting finished a powerful gospel sermon, both had walked the aisle and had received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Both were baptized in the church that had sponsored the tent revival and attended the serviceswhenever the doors of the church were open. They began seeing each other on a regular basis and soon fell in love. They were married in October of that same year, after he turned twenty and Rebecca nineteen.
Dan thought of when they moved to Denver in July of 1871 and opened the furniture store. They very much loved their new church in Denver and enjoyed serving the Lord.
His mind then went to March of 1885, when his dear wife came down with a serious case of pneumonia and, despite the excellent care she received from the doctors and nurses, died in April at Denver’s Mile High Hospital.
Heavy of heart and missing Rebecca so very much, Dan sat up in bed and lifted his Bible from the nightstand. Needing comfort, he turned to Revelation 21:4 and read about the future of the saved people in heaven’s holy city, the New Jerusalem: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Tears spilled down Dan’s cheeks, and he sniffled. “Oh, Rebecca, sweetheart, when you and I are together in heaven, God’s going to wipe away all our tears. There won’t be any more crying—” He choked and brushed the tears from his cheeks. “There won’t be any more crying, darling, because there’ll be no more death, no more sorrow, and no more pain.”
Dan drew a shaky breath. “Oh, dear Lord, I’ll be so glad when Rebecca and I are together again. Of course, Lord Jesus, when I first get to heaven, I want to see You,
look into Your eyes, and thank You in person for dying on the cross for me and for saving me that day at the tent revival… Then I want to see my dear Rebecca and hold her in my arms again.”
This time Dan used the bed sheet to dry the tears from his eyes and face, then rose from the bed and made it up. After shaving and grooming himself and dressing in one of his business suits, he went to the kitchen and cooked breakfast.
At eight thirty, Dan descended the stairs and entered his furniture store through its rear door. He had swept the store clean after closing late Saturday afternoon, and as he made his way toward the front door, he smiled as he looked around and admired the tidiness. When he reached the large front windows, he lifted the shades and
waved at a man and his wife who were walking along the boardwalk toward their clothing store. They smiled and waved back. Dan then flipped the Closed sign on the door window to Open and unlocked the door. He was ready for the new business day.
Just as he was turning away from the door, he noticed a young man ride up on a white horse and pull rein at the hitching post. His face looked vaguely familiar, but Dan couldn’t think of where he might have seen him before. He was probably going to do business in one of the other stores.
As Dan walked toward the counter, he smiled. “Thank You, Lord, for helping Haddock’s Furniture Store do so well since Rebecca and I opened it here almost sixteen years ago.”
His smile faded as Dan thought of Rebecca again. He missed her so very much. However, as he walked behind the counter, he reminded himself that whenever it was the Lord’s time to take him to heaven, he would be with Rebecca again…and this time forever.
Dan then bent down to get into the safe below the counter. He glanced at the .45-caliber revolver that was on top of the safe as a security measure, then quickly turned the dial, working the correct combination. When the dial gave off its satisfying click,
he opened the safe’s door and lifted out a bag of currency. He took a specific amount of money from the bag and placed it by denomination in the various sections of the cash register’s drawer. He placed the rest of the money back in the safe, closed the door, and spun the dial.
Just then the front door opened, and Dan looked up to see the vaguely familiar young man step into the store with a fierce look in his eyes. Dan’s eyes immediately took in the revolver in the man’s hand as he closed the door behind himself. Fear gripped Dan’s heart, black and cold. He recognized the man now. He was an outlaw named Hank Kelner. Dan had seen his face several times on Wanted posters on the big board in front of chief United States marshal John Brockman’s office at the federal building in the center of downtown Denver. Dan’s blood froze.
The look in the outlaw’s eyes was even more piercing as he rushed up to the counter, pointing his gun at Dan. He spoke harshly, through his teeth. “I’ve been watchin’ you through the window, mister! I saw you put that money in the drawer, and I know you have more down there behind the counter. I want it all. Give it to me now, or I’ll kill you!”
Dan’s chest was tight, and he could only breathe shallowly, but anger welled up inside him. He leaned down as if reaching for the other cash and grabbed his .45-caliber revolver. As he raised the gun, Kelner fired first. The roar of Kelner’s weapon thundered throughout the store. The bullet struck Dan in the chest, and he collapsed behind the counter.
Kelner hurried around the counter to the safe. As he gripped the handle, he knew immediately that it was locked. Realizing that someone on the street might have heard the shot and called for the law, Kelner opened the cash register drawer, grabbed the money there, stuffed it in his pockets, and dashed out the door. He swung into the saddle on his white horse and galloped away.
Excerpted from Outlaw Marshal by Al and JoAnna Lacy. Copyright © 2009 by Al and JoAnna Lacy. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.