Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample - Nov 24, 2012

Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Samples. The great news this week was the arrival of a box of books: Spinster's Folly. It's beautiful! Autographed copies are available at my web site.

Today's sample is a scene from Chapter 19 of Spinster's Folly. Bill Henry is part of a search party that was raised to find Marie Owen. Here we see interplay between some of the principal members of the group:

When Old Man Owen and Mr. Hilbrands returned from their foray into the rain, Bill couldn’t help noticing the sour expression shared by both men. Mr. Hilbrands carried a pot smelling of beans and pork, which he apportioned out to the men.

Bill sat crosslegged on the floor beside Rulon, Chico, and Sourdough. They ate plates of beans and hunks of bread from a loaf Mr. Hilbrands had taken from inside his coat. He’d said the food came from his hotel restaurant.

Chico looked up, his mouth full of half-chewed beans. “You reckon Hilbrands will pass a cup for us to pay for this here grub?” he mumbled over the food.

“Humph,” Sourdough grunted, sopping bean juice with a crust of the bread. “The bread’s stale. I wouldn’t pay a penny for it.”

“It’s wheat bread,” Bill observed.

“It ain’t decent wheat bread,” Sourdough claimed.

Bill managed half a smile at the outrage in the cook’s voice.

After the meal, he stood beside the open door, watching the clouds to the west brightening a bit just before the sun went down. He turned away. Mr. Bates and the stable hand were lighting lanterns.

Rulon, who was sitting against a wooden upright in the open alleyway between the two rows of stalls, beckoned to him, and he walked over to join him.

“Thorne ain’t anywhere in the town,” Rulon said as Bill took his seat on the floor. “Nobody has seen him since he left here in the company of the Dominguez boys a couple of days ago.” Rulon rubbed his thigh. “Pa says there’s some talk he was forced out of town.”

“Any idea why?” Fear clutched at Bill’s throat, and he swallowed a couple of times, trying to clear it off as he waited for the answer.

Rulon’s face had darkened in the lamplight. “Something about mistreating a girl.”

A thick chill swept over Bill. “We should leave tonight,” he muttered.

He started to get to his feet, but Rulon put a hand on his arm and pulled him back down.

“There’s no sense freezing yourself in that rain. You’ll be cold enough tomorrow when we head out for Denver City.”

“Early?” Bill heard in the pitch of his voice the fear, the anger he was trying to hold back.

“I reckon. Pa will leave plenty early. Bunk down and sleep.”

Bill shook his head, meaning to reject the advice after all, but Rulon persisted, and he finally agreed.

As Bill wrapped his blanket around himself and began to wiggle a space for himself between Chico and Sourdough on the floor of a stall, raised voices attracted his attention.

Old Man Owen and Mr. Hilbrands sat in a stall across the alleyway, consulting with their Virginia comrade, Mr. Bates. They spent the next half hour in a discussion that frequently escalated toward an argument.

Bill tried to block out their voices by tying his neck scarf around his ears and pulling his hat further down onto his head. Then he attempted to find a bit of sleep atop the dusty hay, jammed in among other men trying to achieve the same goal.

When the search party mounted up early the next morning, it was evident that Mr. Hilbrands had no plans to continue onward. He and Mr. Owen exchanged a few heated words, then they parted ways as the mounted men rode into the teeth of the wind-swept rain.

The initial rainfall let up toward midday, but began to came down again in fits and starts during the afternoon. Riding in the wet was pure misery to Bill. The only things keeping him going despite his sodden exhaustion were recovering the girl and taking vengeance on the man.

He found himself riding alongside the boss a few minutes later, and was surprised to recognize the same ends reflected in his haggard, tightly set expression.

He is her pa. If Marie was my daughter, I reckon I’d take it mighty hard to have her stolen away.

The possibility that the vile scoundrel had taken the girl’s virtue crossed his mind. Anger flashed with the power of lightning through his veins at the repugnant thought of another man, especially that man, possessing Marie against her will. He knew he’d been avoiding letting the idea out into the open, realizing that rage would paralyze him. As he struggled to concentrate on the obscure trail ahead, he thrust the fury down into his gut where he could bring it out later for examination.

The rain ceased again late in the day, about the time they found a wide spot in the road that consisted of a pair of saloons, a couple of bathhouses, and a few outbuildings. The Old Man called a halt.

As Bill climbed off his horse, he noticed a peculiar rumbling sound. It was not loud, but continuous, like a chorus of men humming at a low pitch.

Rulon and Mr. Bates accompanied the boss into one of the establishments while he and the other men looked around for accommodations for the night. Quiet, persuasive Clay got them the use of a stable behind a bathhouse, and found Bill and Chico together near one of the saloons.

Clay imparted the news, then added over the low rumble behind him, “They call this Boiling Springs, on account of the noise the gas makes rising up through the water. Folks come here to sooth themselves and drink the water. It is plenty tasty.” His morose expression didn’t harmonize with the good cheer in his words. He showed them the way to their lodgings.

Rulon came later, and drew Bill out of the stable where they could talk in private. He bore a visage carved from equal parts of anger and despair.

Bill’s limbs began to quiver as he eyed Rulon. “What did you learn?”

Rulon’s voice came slow and steady, but with an edge of steel. “He called himself Thornecroft hereabouts. Set up a poker table in one of the saloons for a spell.”

Bill sensed there was more, and waited for it with a feeling of dread.

“They say he’s cold, not right in the head.” He paused, gazed at his toes, then raised his chin and looked Bill in the eye. “He abused a girl so bad it killed her.”

Bill reached behind him, feeling for the stable timbers to hold him up as his legs threatened to fold.

“They was fixin’ to string him up, but he got away clean and headed south. I don’t reckon he’d come back this way, nor head to Denver.”

“You argued that to your pa?”

“I did. He’s seen the error of his ways.”

Bill sucked in air through clenched teeth.

Rulon gestured toward a stall. “Rest up. We’re turnin’ south at first light.”


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  1. I felt I was right beside your characters with this sample.

    1. Thanks, Sherry! I try very hard to make my characters come alive, through their actions and motivations. I appreciate your visit. :-)

  2. I'm completely caught up in this story and looking forward to finding out what happens next. I love these characters. So real.

    1. Thanks, Sandy! During Monday's Cyber Monday Sale, Spinster's Folly ebooks will be half-price at Check back here on Monday for the coupon code.

  3. I so want to know what happens! I cannot wait to read this! Now I just have to decide whether to buy the e-book or get the signed print copy. :)

    1. Both are nice options, Jenna. I'm having a Cyber Monday sale, with half-off ebook versions from I'll reveal the coupon codes on Monday. gets you an autograph. Or order a copy from my website and I'll sign it in real ink.

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. Your sample is full of all kinds of emotions; I can almost feel it churning up from each of the characters. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

    1. Oh good! I'm glad you felt all that emotional upheaval, Laurel-Rain. Thank you for reciprocating the visit.

  5. Your characters resonate with authenticity. This goes on my TBR pile.

    1. Thank you, Elaine, on both counts: the compliment and the intent to purchase. I appreciate your visit and comment, too!


I welcome your comments.

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