..and then BOTH UW and Gonzaga made it to the sweet sixteen via televised games and there were lovely spring-ish days to distract story writers from doing their duty by their characters, you know, the usual...
The very evening of Joe's murder found Bill trying to swallow a dinner that tasted like sawdust. He couldn't tell what was more unappealing, the food on his plate, or the company at his table. He had agreed to escort Katherine west in search of her brother, but the search had taken an unexpected turn. His orders from Atkinson were specifically to keep Katherine from going in the direction she now decided to go. When he left the table, he could feel Jack and Katherine staring at him as he walked away. He had exited under the guise of securing supplies for the trip, and he knew that when he returned he would have to have a plan.
Bill found everything he required at Slate's store. He ran through his detailed mental list and Slate scurried around the store as he tended to both Bill and a tall stranger who seemed rather serious about his armament. On any other occasion Bill would have been curious, but tonight his thoughts were his own. He purchased his own ammunitions, blankets and supplies, and when Slate offered him a hell of a deal on an old springboard, he took it just for the faint flickering vision he'd had of Katherine riding in relative comfort on their trip.
When he got back to the hotel, Bill felt a strange sense of accomplishment. He went up the stairs to tell Katherine that they would be able to leave first thing in the morning, and when he knocked on her door she answered. The way her expression changed when she saw him made Bill's heart fall. He knew in an instant that it wasn't him she'd been expecting to see. He was, however, secretly glad that she was in her room alone. She blocked his entrance, but Bill saw over her head into her room and noticed that there was a mess of papers covering her bed. When he craned his head for a better look Katherine moved to block his view again. He locked eyes with her for a moment and she gave him a steely thank-you and good-night, then Bill went to his room.
Bill woke well before dawn and went downstairs. He had somehow managed to escape news of the carnage of the night before and walked quickly to the barn. He was surprised to see Jack already there. Most of the horses had been cleared out after folks had heard about Joe Conway's murder, and because of all of the excitement of the previous evening their three horses appeared nervous and ready to go. Bill realized with a bit of a mental growl that Katherine must have spoken to Jack late last night because Jack was already in the barn and had the roan saddled, his own black gelding set in the springboards traces, and Katherine's pony was tethered behind the wagon. He untied his horse from the post just as Katherine entered the yard. She gave Bill a faint polite smile as she loaded her few bags into the wagon and allowed him to give her a hand up to the benchseat. Later, Bill would remember that as the finest point of the day.
They left St. Louis as the sun was rising. None of them bothered to look back on the city, their path was set ahead of them