There's a chance of rain today, I have to mail two of my books out this morning and ask a few questions before I mail out two more (this time to the Library of Congress!) and I teach two writing classes this afternoon and I'll be selling at least two more copies of my book. Should be plenty busy. :)
If you are reading this post because you are a fan of The Unexpected Request, you should know that this is the last week I'll be posting this story! If you want to read the rest you can purchase the book. (You would get to read the rest of the story much quicker because if I continued to post it would be the 2nd week in March before it would be finished!) Also, if you read this part you will be on page 225 in the book.:)
I will be going back to my regular posting schedule of only posting on Fridays. At least until either December (I might post randomly as I did last year) or until I have a lot of Triple Creek Ranch written and not posted.
I see that my Short Stories page is growing in popularity. :) I hope my readers are enjoying the stories. As you read you might want to keep in mind what stories you like and think should be in my first book of short stories. I'll be posting more about that another day.
Here is the very last western to be posted. Enjoy!
All night Ty remained on the cliff. As the first grey of dawn appeared, Ty looked up and whispered, “Pa, I ain’t givin’ up. I’ll find her.” He stood with bared head, and a look of firm conviction on his face. “God helpin’ me, I’ll do it!”
When Sally awoke, she found Ty sitting beside the fire while their breakfast was cooking. For a moment she just lay there and watched him. There was a new look on his face. In some respects he seemed older, more sure, while in others . . . Sally couldn’t quite figure out the difference.
Just then Ty noticed she was awake. “I was beginin’ ta wonder if’n ya were goin’ ta sleep all mornin’.”
Sally sat up. “Ty, what . . .” she paused unsure of what to say.
With a smile, Ty reached out and gently squeezed her arm. “Everything’s all right now. I reckon we’ll jest keep on goin’ from town ta town ‘till the Good Lord tells us different. An’ Sally,” he added softly, “yer right, it does help ta pray.”
“Oh, Ty!” Nothing else needed to be said.
That morning, for the first time since they had left their own cabin months before, Sally unwrapped the family Bible from it’s place on one of the pack horses and read aloud a few verses marked by their mother’s hand so many years before.
In silence, Carson listened, recalling those days of long ago when Jake’s Ellen would read from the Bible.
After that, everyone was more cheerful, more hopeful. They continued asking at each town, each village and each lonely farmhouse or shack, but it was always with the same unsatisfying answer: “Never heard a them.” The days followed days turning into weeks which in turn turned into months. They had left the mountains and were now in the lower desert lands heading more west than south. The year was rapidly drawing towards a close. Up in the mountains the snows of winter already held the small towns prisoner; however, down in the desert, the weather, though cooler during the night, was pleasant and the traveling was comfortable for the most part. They would have made better time if they hadn’t stopped so often, but no one seemed to mind the stops.
“Ya know,” Carson remarked one day after three days of only coming to one small shack at which no one was home, “I reckon we ought ta’ve reached the Nevada border by now.”
“’Crossed it some days back,” retorted Ty.
Carson snorted. “How’d ya know?”
“Jest did,” Ty answered. Then, seeing his older friend’s look of disbelief, he added, “Asked the last man we saw how far it were. I reckon you were already on yer horse.”
“Well, I don’t care if we are in Nevada or not,” Sally sighed. “I just wish we’d find a town. I’m growing tired of riding day after day and not getting anywhere.”
“Sure seems that way!” Ty agreed with his sister. There was not a lot of variety in the semi arid lands they were now riding through. Plains and hills dotted with scrub trees and bushes. It was nothing like the rugged, towering mountains they had just come through nor yet like the vast expanse of prairie they had glimpsed on their ride to Fort Laramie on the eastern side of the mountain ranges.
Mile after mile the trio rode onward. Suddenly Sally screamed.
“What is it?” Ty exclaimed, half drawing his gun while Carson began scanning the nearby landscape to see what had caused Sally’s fright. “Sally! What’s wrong?”
Sally’s lower lip was trembling and she clutched her locket. Looking up into her brother’s concerned face she wailed, “Ty, tomorrow is Christmas! I don’t want to spend Christmas out here in the middle of no where!”
Releasing his breath in a long sigh, Ty pushed his gun back in its holster. “Ya sure had me thinkin’ somethin’ was wrong, Sis.”
“There is,” persisted Sally. “Don’t you think we can reach some town tonight?”
Ty looked over at Carson.
“I ain’t sure jest how far we are from Sagebrush, but I reckon it won’t hurt ta try. If’n we can get these here horses ta move faster’n a turtle.” So saying, Carson nudged Flint, and the horse, not objecting to a faster gait, obliged willingly.
“There’s Sagebrush,” Carson called back to his companions as he reached the top of a hill and saw the few building lying before him.
“It’s ‘bout time,” Ty called back. “I were startin’ ta think the sun were goin’ ta set ‘fore we got there.”
Already the sun was fast slipping down towards the western horizon. They were all tired, having ridden for ten days, and the last hours they had pushed their mounts on faster than usual, for the thought of spending Christmas Eve alone under the stars was not appealing.
Riding into the town, Carson and Ty kept a lookout for a hotel, but to their amazement, there wasn’t one. “What’s this?” Ty grumbled. “Ain’t they even got a hotel or some such place for travelers?”
Carson shrugged. “I reckon maybe they don’t get travelers enough ta build one. Shall we spend the night at the liv’ry?”
“Ty,” Sally rode up beside her brother and touched his arm. “There’s a church over there. Listen! Ty, it’s a Christmas Eve service. Oh, do let’s go!” Sally had pointed to a small, wooden structure which was obviously a church and before which several horses stood tied to the hitching posts and multiple wagons waited in the growing dusk.
Ty looked at Carson who nodded. “All right. Perhaps we can find a place ta stay too, else we’re goin’ ta be sleepin’ outside ‘gain even if’n it is Christmas Eve.”
The service had already started when the trio of friends slipped in the door. The room was quite full with men standing in the back, and seemingly every seat full. But, somehow one was found for Sally.
Does it make you want to read the book to find out what happens?