Chapter Twenty Two

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Friday Morning – First Week

Bright and early on this day, Cort and Morgan made their way to the Mercantile for more ammunition. The topic of the day: the arrival of Renn Frayne and his men and why they were in town.

“I think I’ve heard of this guy Frayne.” Morgan noted.

“Yeah, he was quite a gun fighter years ago. I remember Herod meeting up with him for some job. But they didn’t get along—both were too headstrong.”

“Should we be watching him more than Virgil suggested?” Morgan asked.

“No, I think once he got married and settled down, he pretty much hung his guns up. This threat to her ranch has him worried. Still, like Virgil said, he and his men can’t be doing anything illegal even if they catch up with the rustlers. Just don’t engage him in a gun fight,” Cort advised. Morgan whistled sharply.

“Oh, no, not me. I don’t engage anyone in a gun fight!” he said vehemently. Cort laughed.

“Wise decision.”

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Chapter Twenty One

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Thursday Afternoon – 1st week

Frank Myers pushed open the doors of the saloon with a single purpose in mind. He was going to finally ask Rosalind Harris to a dance. He had admired her beauty and brains for a long time; but hadn’t ever the nerve to ask her. They’d had conversations; and she was always a lady. Frank discovered that Rosalind was well read. She could speak Spanish besides. He always felt a little sorry for the women forced to work as bar girls; although, both Rosalind and Seth treated the girls with respect and didn’t abuse them as many saloon owners did.

Looking around, he saw Rosalind sitting at one of the back tables looking over some books. He approached her, hoping for the best. Rosalind looked up and smiled. Her beauty almost took his breath away.

“Why, hello, Frank. How are you doing?”

“Very well, Rosalind.”

“And how is Penny?”

“She’s doing very well. She’s floating on air because Morgan asked her to the dance.” Rosalind’s smile grew wider. Her lips had a light pink shade of lipstick. “I came here to ask you to the dance tomorrow night. I don’t often see you there….” His voice trailed off as he saw the smile melt from her lips.

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Chapter Twenty

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wanteddeadalive

Well, it was settled.

Tommy Lillard sat at a table in the saloon, staring at the woodgrain of the table, nursing the whiskey he’d poured for himself. He was going back to San Francisco. The room around him buzzed with talk about tomorrows impending dance. He was pretty sanguine about not attending after all. Sarah Prescott had been one sweet angel, but an afternoon spent with her showed him he might be reaching much too far out of his league. They’d parted with kind words, but Tommy got the distinct feeling there’d be other suitors lining up to see her, and he wasn’t too interested in sticking around to play the game…even if it meant Morgan would swoop in for victory. He’d say howdy to her on the street, but they belonged on different paths.

There’d be plenty of girls in San Fran that he could look at settling down with, Tommy thought. That would please his best friend, Rabbi Avram and his bride more than anything. But for now, he still liked his freedom.

The Earp brothers and Cort had pretty much forgotten him, which was fine, but Tommy knew any move he made toward confronting the rustlers himself for his own justice would raise their hackles all over again. It was his word against theirs and they’d pretty much poisoned the well. Nope…sticking around here wasn’t in the cards for him. He’d get his gear together and slip out of town while the others played. Be best if no one noticed.

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Chapter Nineteen

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Seth just finished doing the weekly books for the saloon. It had been another very profitable week. When the Crystal Palace opened, he did worry a bit. But Rosalind assured him that most of the men in town didn’t want to pay exorbitant prices for cheap liquor. Nor did they care about crystal glasses or linen napkins. As always, Rosalind knew best.

As Seth was wiping some glasses, he saw a tall, blonde stranger enter the saloon. The man looked around and headed for the bar.

“Howdy,” he said smiling. “I’m Grady Long and I’m a gambler. I don’t cheat. I have a Colt; but only use it to defend myself. I’m not a drinker, I’m not loud, and I’m not mean.”

Seth extended a large hand. “I’m Seth and I run the place. I appreciate your honesty. As long as you play a clean game, you’re more than welcome.”

“Good.”

“Are you planning on staying awhile or just traveling through?”

“I’ll be darned if I know,” Grady shrugged. “When I was young, all I did was travel. I thought if I stayed in one place too long, I’d never want to leave. Now I seem to like lingering in a town for a few days.”

“What’s wrong with staying put?”

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Chapter Eighteen

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Thursday afternoon, first week

Judging by the banner stretched across the street proclaiming the next evening’s dance, residents of Tucson were engrossed with the prospect of frivolity. Renn Frayne had other things to occupy his mind, namely a new surge of rustlers intent on disrupting the fragile peace he and Holly’s knights of the range had established at Ripple Ranch. It was bad enough the fight to keep the ranch solvent in cattle was still ongoing; but then no one at Ripple Ranch, least of he and Holly, were under the illusion that conquering McCoy’s and Saunder’s men was the end of their troubles. No, Renn’s cold fury was for the hombre that had him traveling far away from New Mexico, something he had sworn not to do once he had married the beautiful Spanish-American lady that reigned back in San Marcos.

It was mid-day when he and his compadres made their way into the bustling down town of Tucson. Jackson, Santone, and Cherokee were there to give extra weight to his mission, but they were more than who Renn needed. He had wanted them all to stay and watch over Holly – even one of the band that patrolled the Ranch leaving her was too many, especially since Holly was expecting, but Britt hovered like an old hen, and Renn knew nothing short of himself was going to have to deal with this situation. At least this way someone would be able to go back home if things got bad.

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Chapter Seventeen

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Thursday Morning – First Week

“And as we depart, dear friends,” Viola Kingsley waxed lyrical, “reflect upon the magnificence of a culture that ensures its literature and refinement in knowledge, of societies that decay when ignorance is allowed to run rampant. We must enjoin the nobler hearts of our community here to cement and establish our natural desire to conquer that ignorance through a library.”

A murmur of assent went through the room.  Several gloved hands created muffled claps and not a few highly pitched exclamations were made in approval.

“Sure, an’ you’d have thought she’d invented the idea of libraries,” said someone behind Chloe, a voice with soft Irish lilt and confident in its ability to speak sotto. Chloe put her hand up to her mouth to cover the smile that threatened to bloom – it was exactly what she was thinking.  Leave it to Mrs. Kingsley to milk her audience for all it was worth.

Mrs Kingsley was not finished.

“I also hope you will impress upon your husbands and friends the desperate need of new schoolbooks.  As you know, our store house burned not long after…well, not long after the Incident.”

Sympathetic nods and murmurs of well-worn shock over the past of the previous teacher’s indiscretions (whatever they had been.)

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Pony Express: Newspaper

I can’t tell you exactly when I became a fan of Zane Grey. It might have been the television show that starred Ed Harris, “Riders of the Purple Sage;” it might have been a mention by someone who saw that I liked reading Louis L’amour. In any case, Grey’s novels have become a highly prized collection item for me, and it wasn’t too long ago that I hit the jackpot in a local antique/old book store. Turns out that in spite of the information age, and in spite of the fact that everything else has been reproduced and sold on the internet, Zane Grey’s books have managed to escape the frenzy. He wrote lots more than “Riders.” He was prolific in the stories that documented and illustrated a dying breed and disappearing age that was already getting shunted into history by the 1920s. If you wanted a glimpse into the ‘real’ world of cowboys, you couldn’t do wrong by picking up one of Grey’s books.

One of those books was “Knights of the Range,” and if you check the updates in the page listing our male characters, you will find a new entry for Renn Frayne. But that’s not what this post is about. I’d like to share with you a website that I have had the fortune to find: Zane Grey’s West Society. If you share the passion for this author’s storytelling, you couldn’t do wrong by joining them. They are also on Facebook.

“The purpose of Zane Grey’s West Society is to promote interest in and knowledge of the eminent American author, Zane Grey and his works; to revive interest in the writings of Zane Grey and preserve the sites of his writings so that future generations may realize the contributions made by Zane Grey toward the development of the adventure story in American literature.”

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