Wednesday, March 18, 2020
RIDE THE WILD RANGE--by Cheryl Pierson
It's funny what "pops up" on Facebook and how it triggers memories--things you might have completely lost track of. Recently, a memory from a few years ago showed up of where I had shared my "latest" publication--RIDE THE WILD RANGE--with Prairie Rose Publications.
This story had come out as a compilation of three novellas in the Texas Legacy series: RED EAGLE'S WAR (BOOK 1), RED EAGLE'S REVENGE (BOOK 2), and TEXAS FOREVER, (BOOK 3).
I started to write this tale as a short story, but it wasn't long before it turned into a novella. But after I wrote the novella, I realized I wasn’t done with the story…so I wrote two more. These stories really wouldn’t be classified as “romance”, since there’s no sex and very little romance--not really even any spoken words of love between Jacobi Kane and Laura, who later becomes his wife.
I did this on purpose, since the stories are told from the point of view of a young boy, Will Green. That stuff would be too mushy for him to think about for too long! No, these stories were more action-oriented, and being told from the first person viewpoint, it was necessary to keep a high level of feeling to the forefront.
Will Green is the young boy who tells the stories. In RED EAGLE'S WAR: TEXAS LEGACY BOOK 1, we meet him at the age of 9, almost 10. His parents and older sister have just been murdered by the Apache, and he has been kidnapped as they torch his home. But a few days later, just as he’s given up hope, a fearless man walks right into the Apache camp and rescues him. Jacobi Kane has a mysterious past that he isn’t too keen on discussing with Will, though Will senses a kind of kinship between the two of them as they travel toward Fort Worth and safety. Kane harbors a terrible secret that might force Will’s hero worship of him to turn quickly to hatred…or of understanding, that Kane is a man who does what he must. But will that realization be enough, and is Will mature enough to come to grips with what Kane had to do?
In RED EAGLE'S REVENGE: TEXAS LEGACY BOOK 2, Will continues to learn more about Jacobi Kane’s past when a group of law officers seek Kane’s help in capturing some of the same Apache Indian band that killed Will’s family. Kane resists going because he is now re-married, with a new baby on the way and tells the lawmen he’s turned in his badge for good—years ago. But a promise he made in the past keeps him hungry for vengeance, and his new wife urges him to go and see an end to it all. Of course, Will is not going to be left behind. Jacobi might need him!
TEXAS FOREVER: TEXAS LEGACY BOOK 3 wraps up the trilogy with a surprise visit from a man Will had never expected to see—his ship-building magnate grandfather from Boston, Robert Green. His grandfather first tries to intimidate him into returning to Boston with him, then falls back on honesty only when he must to convince Will to come back. Will vehemently refuses, but when he hears two of his grandfather’s men planning to murder his grandfather, he knows he has to go at least part of the way—to the first stop, back where it all started—the little burned-out cabin where his family was murdered over two years past. Jacobi is out there, trailing them for protection, unseen and silent, but then Will learns a secret that makes his blood run cold. A man that Jacobi thought of as a friend is also caught up in the plot—but Jacobi doesn’t know the tide has turned. He’s in as much danger as Will and his grandfather are.
Livia J. Washburn did all my wonderful covers for these PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS books, and I just love them all.
My question for today is, what is the most memorable youngster you've read about in any story? I have several--Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the "most" memorable young character, but what about Bob Starrett in Shane? So many, it's hard to choose!
Here's an excerpt from RIDE THE WILD RANGE:
THE SET UP: Thirteen-year-old Will and his grandfather are having a meeting of the minds as they travel up to Indian Territory from Fort Worth. Surrounded by men who want to kill both of them, they find themselves at odds in this conversation where Will tells his grandfather some things about himself that his grandfather didn't know.
I had learned a lot from Jacobi. And by the way my grandfather looked away and fell silent, I knew there was a mighty big hole in the story somewhere.
"What is it you're not tellin' me, old man?" My voice was strong but quiet. I wasn't sure if this was some kind of family secret or somethin' he didn't want Jack Wheeler, riding a few paces behind us, to hear.
He gave me a sharp look. "You may call me Grandfather, William. There's no need for disrespect."
"No need to tell half the story, either."
At first, he looked at me from under his eyebrows like he'd like to take a strap to me. But I looked right back at him. Finally, he nodded and glanced away.
"I've been so desperate to find you because…you're my only living heir. I built a ship building dynasty for my family, Will, and there's no one left but you." He cursed as the wagon hit a hole and jolted him sharply.
"My sister married a man, Josiah Compton, whose wife had died. He brought two sons to the marriage, but he and Margaret never had any children together. The boys are men, now, of course. George, the eldest, is a pastor. But Ben, the younger of them, is quite a wastrel. He has squandered his inheritance and is looking for more. If you weren't…alive….well—everything would fall to the two of them. And though George is not the type to seek gain, Ben is quite a different story.
"Ben knows I won't be around much longer. But you will always be a threat, Will. I'm afraid this is going to end badly for one of you."
I thought about what he'd told me. It seemed like maybe he needed me to say somethin'. It bolstered my confidence to know that somewhere out there, Jacobi was ridin' along easy, keepin' a eye out on us. Especially, now that I'd learned this part of the story.
I looked at him straight in the face. "I'll tell you one thing. It ain't gonna be me that ends up dead."
"I didn't say that—"
"It's what you meant though, ain't it? When there's a pile of money to be had, somebody's always worried it'll get taken away from 'em. Even if he knows I don't want it, he'll be worried about it. I've killed before. I'll do it again, if need be."
His expression turned to one of shock. I went on with what I was saying. "Ain't nobody gonna take my life over somethin' I don't even want."
He studied me openly, as if he were trying to decide what he should say. I saved him the trouble.
"I know you're wonderin' about it, so I'll tell you." And I did just that, from start to finish, from the day Papa and I had been out working together and seen the Apaches ride up all the way through when Jacobi had rescued me and we'd ridden out of the Apache camp together.
"We rode as long as we could, until I fell off the horse. Then Jacobi picked me up and we rode some more. When Red Eagle caught up to us, Jacobi and him fought." My throat dried up just thinkin' about how I'd felt to see Red Eagle and Jacobi locked close together, fighting with everything they had, and knowin' one of 'em was gonna end up dead.
"I killed Red Eagle. Shot him dead."
Grandfather was quiet.
"I ain't sorry for it, either. It felt good. Every time I think about what he did to Papa and Mama, I know it was the right thing. But mainly it was right because he was so dang pure evil."
I'm really proud of this story, and it's amazing to me to think it came from a short story idea. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to write the story to the length it really needed to be. And you know...I think there is more to Will's story that needs to be told. So, I'm wondering, what DOES happen between Ben, the evil relative, and Will when the time comes?