Here's something that needs more polish, so I'm offering it up for your emery compound and buffing wheel (and I might do a little editing of my own as I put this in).
Bill awoke with an uneasy feeling. As he sat on the edge of his bunk, he paused before pulling on his second shoe. What was bothering him? It didn't take much pondering to know that the path he had planned for his life had gone terribly wrong: Marie Owen was promised to that wretched farm boy, Tom Morgan. That was enough to bother
"Tom," he growled, yanking on his shoe. "What a puny excuse for a man!"
He tied the brogan, rose, and slammed his hat onto his head. Why did she choose Tom Morgan? Doesn't she know how I feel about her? Anger battled grief in his body, his heart pounding like galloping hooves on a hardpan road. He took several deep breaths, trying to get the emotions under control so he could get about his day, but the sense of wrong, the sense of foreboding wouldn't leave him. Maybe something else was gnawing at him.
Try as he
A heavy hand came down on his shoulder from behind, and immediately the hoarse sound of Chico Henderson's morning voice cut through a bit of his reflective fog.
"Sorry I was a porcupine last evenin'," Chico said. "You don't usually take my money so handily."
Bill attempted to add a light tone to his reply. "You're a sore loser, Henderson." He failed. His voice grated in his ears as though he were drawing a rasp over a tin washboard. He clamped his jaw shut.
"I ain't so much, old son. You were on a winning streak the likes of which I ain't seen before." Chico sat in the chair next to Bill's and lifted his mug toward his mouth. "It took me by surprise, I got to say." After a slurp or two, he cut his eyes toward Bill. "What's tuggin' on your brainpan?"
"Somethin' has you befogged. Out with it."
"I can't say." He shrugged again. "I don't know." He bit his lip. "How could she up and get herself promised to that lump?"
Bill hesitated. Then, realizing Chico was the closest thing to a good friend that he had in this country, he blurted out, "It didn't get that far along. I was hoping, but--" He stopped short when the cook, Sourdough Smith, slapped a plate of eggs and beans onto the table before him.
Chico waited until Sourdough stepped back to the stove. "Uh-huh?"
"I had no chance to speak to the girl."
"She went on that little expedition with her pa and the boys."
"She come back."
"Maybe so, but
"You sayin' you ain't much of a mountain climber?"
Bill snorted derisively. "Chico, you trying to make me smile? I'm not in a smiling mood."
"I'll say you ain't!" Chico took a plate from Sourdough's hand and shoveled a mouthful of eggs beneath his moustache. Then he mumbled through the food, "You oughta talk to her. Speak your mind."
"You think Rod Owen would stand for that?"
"The ol' man don't got to know."
Yes, I've got Bill pulling on shoes instead of boots, because not all cowhands of the period wore boots. However, I'll have to check for consistency. If he wore boots in The Man from Shenandoah, he'll have to wear boots in Spinster's Folly, as well. Maybe someone can look that up for me. I'll give you a shout-out in the acknowledgements. :-)
Copyright 2012 Marsha Ward