Here is the prologue to my western novel, tentatively titled Westering Home (borrowed from an old Scottish song my late father taught me). Set shortly after the end of the Civil War, it’s the tale of three young people whose lives are thrown together by an act of violence. I hope it piques your interest!
The novel should be available on Amazon as an ebook by September, 2015. Look for further details!
Willy hated the emigrant from the moment the canvas-topped wagon lumbered into view. It stirred up a cloud of dust, almost obscuring the lone cow that ambled behind with a bell clanking mournfully around its neck.
From his perch high above the trail, the red-bearded miner crouched on his haunches, shook tobacco into a square of brown paper and twisted it before clamping it angrily between his teeth. The unfairness of it all—of life—made him nearly chomp through the cigarette. Here he squatted, pockets empty, amidst the tall weeds and fallen rocks of the Southern Cascades while everyone else was pulling bucketsful of silver out of the mines or setting up prosperous farms in the valleys beyond.
Now along rolled this cocksure emigrant, a darned foreigner from the looks of the ruddy face and thick blond beard, big white teeth grinning as if life was spread out before him like a banquet. It was the wife sitting beside emigrant, though, who fired Willy’s envy into white-hot envy. Her bonnet had fallen back so sunlight glinted off her golden hair, and the blue calico dress, faded from months of travel, displayed a trim figure.
Willy sucked harsh tobacco smoke deep into his lungs. How smug the man looked with his barrels and fat bags of seed lashed to the wagon. Must be plenty more goods inside. Maybe even a chest filled with banknotes, or gold coins. And that pretty wife….
He ground out the stub of the cigarette under the heel of his boot and held chapped-knuckled hands toward the small greasewood fire, dimly aware the burning resentment was unjustified. Hundreds of other wagons passed this way every year. This was just a straggler, no different from the rest. Truth be told, life was probably just as hard for the farmers as it was for him, but as Willy shivered in his threadbare coat, misery left no room for sympathy.
A plan was hatching itself. Soon a grin spread across his wide, sunburned face.
For two days he followed the wagon. While the couple unwittingly made camp below, he tethered his horse in the hills, squatted, and watched. Finally, he thought, Willy Ratzel was going to have his due.