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 Category:  Western Fiction
  Posted: March 7, 2020      Views: 182
Chapters:
2 3 4 5 6... 

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 FORESTPORT12 
IN PRINT 






 ABOUT
FORESTPORT12 

I've had some interesting years on this big blue dot in the solar system. Syracuse area for the past twenty years. Twelve years in Texas. Married for twenty six years. Five children and two grandchildren.

Since winning a publishing contr - more...

He is an accomplished novelist and is currently at the #13 spot on the rankings.

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Chapter 2 of the book The Spirit of the Wind
After Jane's cabin is burned by the Indians, she digs in.
"For Land's Sake" by forestport12

Background
Newlywed homesteader Jane and Josh Taylor settle in western Nebraska territory 1862. But in their first winter, her husband is killed in a poker game. Jane is pregnant and gives birth in early Spring.


Continued from Chapter One

Falling into the fresh air, fiery debris rained down. My cabin was going up like a torch. I retreated to the outhouse where I might not be seen if the Indians lingered. Then I heard one of them circle it. I feared I may have smothered my own son. I was about to plunge into the crapper with my gun at the door. I would be moved no further. Then it grew silent. No wind.

When it was safe I unwrapped my son, wiped the soot from his face. He smiled that smile, like his father. I sighed and shifted us over to the old oak tree. I laid him down beside his father's grave with my shawl as a blanket. With smoke billowing from what was left of the cabin, I craned my neck to see the McCords racing toward us from the sandhills.

I took my son into my arms. "Don't fret yourself none, my son. We didn't come all this way just to inherit the wind."

Chapter Two
For Land's Sake

As the winds spun our way, the smoldering remains of the cabin stung my nose and eyes. My child buried himself into my breast until the winds shifted and swept away the burning cloud of smoke.

I took stock of what I had left: my life, my son, my powder gun, and the soil beneath our feet. The Indians took our only horse and plundered what could be easily carried. The rest of my earthly possessions were charred and ruined in the fire.

The McCords and their ranch hands raced across the prairie like a stampede of desperation to reach me. I must have been a sight for sore eyes, covered in soot from head to toe. Jake was ahead of the pack and flew off his horse toward me. The others flanked us and kept an eye out for Indians.

Relief washed over Jake. "I thought for sure you were a gonner."

"I hid us like moles under the cabin. Then the fire..."

"Is the young 'un alright?"

Weak-kneed and trembling, I passed the child to him. It was none too soon, as I doubled over and coughed from my packed lungs.

Jake barked at one of the ranch hands for water from the well. He placed the child over his knee and palmed his back, until his lungs cleared and a healthy shrill cry boomed across the prairie. The cleansing sound awoke in me how desperate and desolate my isolation from others had become.

Jake was not good at masking his feelings for us. His sharp blue eyes pierced what veil of pride there was left in me. "I can't stand the thought of losing you both."

Tears pressed against my eyes because it was then I knew he loved my boy as if he were his blood.

Others looked on from their horses, pretending not to pay attention. But between the shock and the looks of men, I wished I could crawl into a hole like a gopher and sneak out from some other side.

Jake's father stepped off his horse with hawkeye that could see in a thicket. "Mrs. Taylor. This is no country for rogue men or young widows."



It kindled a fit of anger inside me. "Mr. McCord, a widow's place is on the land of her blood and sweat. In time, if need be, dig a grave next to my husband's. I won't cut and run."

Jake looked on with astonishment while the babe dribbled on his shoulder. I owed him to see I could be quick-tempered.

The weathered elder slipped from his horse and rubbed the stubbles of his chin. "I don't think you know how close you came to being carried off, Jane." He choked up with tears. He took me by the shoulders. "What the Sioux do to captive women would make a hole in the ground feel right nice."

The yolk of my burdens spilled. "No disrespect Mr. McCord. I don't where I'd be if not for you and your son."

Jake struggled for words. "I...I will help you work the land. You have sandy soil, better than gold, the best for miles."

Poor Jake proved love was blind. He could have had any girl he wanted this side of the Missouri River. I couldn't figure why he fussed over a young widow like me. "I've been too proud. The Lord dealt me a humbling hand. Losing my husband and home in one year. If not for my son, I'd be a blithering fool."

The elder McCord hugged me as if to save me from crumbling. "I think of you as the daughter I never had." Then he dabbed at his eyes and started toward his horse.

The hired men looked away and some acted as if they had saddle sores like they had a rash they couldn't itch. I reckoned they hadn't seen a widow so young rise from the ashes. Or it might have been they'd never seen Mr. McCord so vulnerable.



Mr. McCord mounted his horse. "No one will take your land. I've seen the gravel in your eye. But as you know, scores of Indians feel trampled on, maybe cornered. We build fences where they want to hunt. For now, rest easy at our place."

I held the child between us on Jake's horse as we rode beneath a pale blue sky of thin clouds. The others rode on ahead with eyes on the rolling hills toward the homestead. The tepid wind would sometimes create waves in the tall grass and make the men think Indians lurked.

Jake would move heaven and earth for us, but I didn't know how I could love him the same as my husband. I closed my eyes and leaned into him where the warmth of my cheek nudged his backside. All the innocence of youth was gone like a shrouded morning mist in the heat of the sun.

And as time would tell, grit and faith were like split rails held together by the same destiny.


Book of the Month contest entry

The book continues with Shelter In Place. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I changed Shane's first name to Jake McCord.
The first chapter can be found in the original short story as a preview to the novella.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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