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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    Headstall
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Sidewinder - 15. Chapter 15 Larkspur

Matthew 6:21

From where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

                                                                                                                                                                                *****

Larkspur

 

 

The sun was up, but hadn’t traveled very far across the bright, blue sky. Boone reckoned it was near nine in the morning, or thereabouts. They’d gotten an earlier start than usual, anxious to reach their destination, and while they’d talked a bit during the ride, the tension of the previous night was still there. That was until they rode up on the east end of Larkspur, and had their first view of the town spread before them. It sat in a shallow, picturesque valley, bordered by mostly-treed hills beyond half-mile strips of grassland to the north and south.

“Sure is a pretty town,” Coy said with the first real enthusiasm he’d shown that morning.

“It surely is. Lots of green to look at compared to Red Bluff.” Boone slowly took in everything in front of him as they proceeded down the wide, hard-packed main street. The first place they passed was the livery, a solid looking frame building with its doors wide open, and a number of corrals in back. “Some places you can see for miles, and notice we ain’t kicking up any godforsaken dust?”

Coy laughed before giving Boone a wide and warm smile. “Does that mean you’ll stop complaining about it now?”

“I’ll stop as long as I don’t have to cough it up no more,” he answered with his own chuckle. “Look! There’s the Government Land Office… and the bank… and there’s the telegraph… that line’s coming from the southeast.”

“Must be another town in that direction. We’ve got lots to learn about this new territory.”

Boone nodded as he continued to observe. “We sure do, but I like what I’m seeing so far. Looks downright prosperous.”

There were people going about their business on the wide, low boardwalks on both sides, and lots of horses and wagons were tied to the hitching rails lining the street. There was still plenty of room for traveling down the middle. They got friendly nods from each rider and driver who passed them by, and some even tipped their hats. No doubt about it, they were getting curious looks from the townsfolk.

“There’s the mercantile… and “The Blue Flower Hotel.” Wonder why it’s called that?” Coy asked.

“I reckon it’s because larkspurs are blue flowers… and a lot of them were growing alongside the road on our way here.”

“Those tall ones? Those weeds grow everywhere,” Coy said, his head constantly swiveling.

“Yep. I’ve seen them other places too, but not near as many as I’ve seen the last couple of days. I remember an old cowboy saying they could poison a cow if it ate too many.”

“Suppose that’s handy to know around here. So… what do we do first? Should we go to the livery? It’s back there,” he said, pointing behind them.

Boone chuckled at the excitement he heard in his friend’s voice. “Don’t see a need. Just be wasted money since we’ll only stay long enough to get some answers.”

“And some supplies? We need a bunch.”

“Yep… supplies for sure.” They were, at that moment, passing “Alan Bright’s Mercantile,” and Boone’s mouth watered at the fresh vegetables on display in wooden crates under the store’s green striped canvas awning. “Wouldn’t mind some potatoes and carrots and onions, even if they’re old. You want to go in there while I go see the Land Agent?”

“Hell no! I want to hear what he has to say too.”

“Sorry… of course you do. We’ll do everything together. First the agent, then the bank, and then we can restock. Sound right with you?”

“Yep.”

“Let’s ride through to the end and then turn around. Well, look at that… a barber shop. That’ll come in handy.”

“What do we need that for? We’ve been cutting each other’s hair just fine since we met.”

Boone pulled Daisy to a stop and tipped his hat to two ladies crossing the street in plain dresses and straw bonnets. Coy did the same and they received ‘good mornings’ from both of them. “We have been, that’s true enough.” Glancing over, he saw a stubborn look on his friend’s face.

“And you give as good a shave as any of them barbers do,” Coy insisted.

The man wasn’t getting that everything was going to change once he moved on, but Boone smiled. “You got a steadier hand for me than you do for yourself.” His smile turned to a chuckle. Coy’s dark beard was as thick as his eyelashes, and when he shaved hisself, he more often than not left blood behind. “You’re lucky you haven’t sliced your throat clean open.”

“Came close a few times, I reckon,” Coy said with a snort, his head still twisting from side to side, taking in the sights.

“Is that… that looks like a sawmill down at the end, don’t it?”

“No doubt about it. I can see part of a water wheel. Never had one of those in Red Bluff… had to go ten miles west out of town for sawn wood.”

Sure enough, as they got closer, Boone noticed the wide bridge across a narrow, fast-moving river at the end of town, one whose power the mill obviously harnessed. Peering between buildings, he could see where it was diverted upstream at a spot of higher elevation into a wooden trough which fed the water wheel. He got excited at the thought of being able to get lumber for building. While he intended to make his house from logs, sawn wood would make life easier for so many things—floor boards for one. “Let’s stop in and see what it costs for milling.”

They didn’t have to go in, though, because a man came out to greet them before they even dismounted. He instantly reminded Boone of Sherriff Willard, with the same stature and measuring eyes. “Howdy,” he said in a friendly enough greeting.

“Howdy,” they both responded in return.

“You the owner?” Boone asked.

“Sure am. You fellas just passing through?”

“Sticking around if I can find a place to farm.”

“Farming, eh? Suppose we can never have enough farmers with the town growing like it is, and the government’s making more land available all the time. Hear the south will soon be opened. Seen some surveyors working there in the spring.”

“Much for sale now?”

“Far as I know,” he drawled in response. “There’s some parcels to the northwest of town. Plenty hilly out there, with lots of trees, but fertile enough the farms produce good crops once it’s cleared.”

“I heard that from folks a while back. I’m not afraid of hard work, and I don’t mind a few hills.”

The man examined him with those keen eyes before turning his attention to Coy. “What about you, young fella? You looking to take a turn at farming too, or just keeping your friend company?”

Boone watched Coy’s eyes widen before he answered. “Not rightly sure. All depends… but I am here to help my friend, and I don’t mind farming good land.”

“Well, just keep in mind it takes a strong back and a strong will to make a go of it, here especially. I’ve seen some show up with big plans and turn tail after the first year, even back when the land came free. Some get scared off and some get beaten down.”

Coy shifted in his saddle. “Well, I got both, mister, and I don’t turn tail,” he said as he met the man’s direct gaze with one of his own, not flinching as a few seconds passed.

There’d been a slight edge to his voice that sounded defensive. Boone heard it clear as a church bell, but hoped the mill owner hadn’t.

A nod finally came from the big man. “I can see you’ve both got the steel it takes, if I’m any judge.” His face lit up with a broad smile. “The name’s William Merrick, proud proprietor of “Merrick Mill and Quality Lumber,” but you can call me Will.” He stepped forward and offered his hand. Boone shook it as he introduced himself, and Coy did the same when he stepped up to Mouse’s side.

“Nice to meet you… Will. Had a brother named Will.”

“Had?”

“Yep… he died about two months back.”

“Sorry for that.”

Coy gave a slight nod before looking away.

“So, what’s the price for milled lumber?” Boone asked, eager to change the subject and move the attention away from his friend.

“Plenty, if you don’t bring your own logs. Don’t cost nothing but half the wood if you provide the trees. Two to three cents a board foot if you don’t like that deal. Cheaper to mill softwood than hardwood. More if there’s a lot of big old knots that wear my blades down.”

“So, if I bring you ten logs, you keep five and I get five milled for no cost?”

“That’s the truth of it. I can do a little better for good quality trees, but that’s what you can count on. It’s what most folks do if money’s short, but don’t bring me punky wood, cause I’ll turn it down.”

“Sounds fair enough.”

“You’ll find most people hereabouts are fair. We all want the same thing, for this town to grow and prosper, and maybe someday get a railway line.”

“Think there’s a chance of that?” Boone asked.

“There’s talk, and it sure would make moving goods quicker and easier. Town’s growing fast, but it needs to get a little bigger yet. Railway wants to be guaranteed it’ll make money, so I suspect we’re a couple of years away.”

“Something to look forward to, I guess. Sure looks to be a nice town from what we’ve seen so far,” Boone said. “Thanks for the information, Will. I’ll… we’ll be seeing you again.”

“Always look forward to new business. Hope you find a place you’ll want to settle, and if you’re looking for a good team and a wagon built sturdy enough for hauling logs, stop by again and I’ll give you directions to old man Corker’s place, and a note you can give him. Can you read?”

“Yep, we both read respectable.”

“That makes it easier… he’s got no voice, but he can write. He’s got a well-trained pair I’ll vouch for. Saw him put ‘em through their paces a few times, and there’s no on better for getting a team going. One’s still a stud, but he’s docile as a lamb. Might be willing to take that mule as a trade in… looks good and sturdy.”

Boone frowned at the mention of trading Blue in. “A team might be what I’ll need. Thanks, Will.”

“Been a pleasure, fellas.”

“Nice to make your acquaintance,” Coy said before he turned Mouse and Buttercup around. They rode back through town, and this time tied their horses in front of the Land Agent’s office.

“Thinking about Will?”

Coy spoke for the first time since they left the mill. “Can’t say I am. Lots of Williams in the world.”

“True enough, but you got quiet all of a sudden.”

“Yep.”

“Did Merrick rile you?”

“Truth is, I didn’t like him judging me so quick like he did, but no, he didn’t mean nothing by it.”

“I think you’re right, he didn’t mean nothing by it, but he did seem a mite challenging. I suspect he’s a talker, and he was taking your measure… mine too.”

“Reminded me some of Sherriff Willard.”

Boone chuckled as he got off Daisy and made sure Blue was well tied… the mule was a mite challenging too. “It’s those eyes… they look right through you.”

“Put me on edge, they did, and I’m all over prickly lately,” Coy admitted with a hangdog look after he dismounted in his usual way, front first.

“Don’t fret, Coy. You’ve been through a lot the last few months… we both have, but we’re here now. We made it to Larkspur, so let’s see what the land agent has to tell us.”

“Looking forward to it. So… you thinking about trading Blue?”

“Nope.”

 

The agent was the opposite of Will Merrick. He was short, balding, obviously surprised at their presence, and wore thick spectacles that made his eyes look bigger than goose eggs. Their boots made a clomping sound on the slightly bouncy wood floors as they approached the counter he stood behind.

“I’ll be with you in one minute, gentlemen,” he said as he quickly donned his bowler hat. Picking up some papers from the counter, he disappeared through a doorway behind him. Boone heard the shuffling of more papers before the man appeared again. “Now, how can I be of service?”

“We heard the government opened more land in these parts,” Boone said, the excitement of the moment hitting him in his gut.

Those big eyes blinked a few times behind their lenses. “You know it’s not free, don’t you? No such thing as free land anymore, I’m afraid.”

“Yep, we know that,” Boone answered.

“And there’s no dollar an acre policy anymore… the government needs funds.”

“We know that too.”

“Well, well, and here I thought it was going to be another slow day. Which of you is looking to purchase?” His eyes darted back and forth between them.

Boone glanced at Coy. He wasn’t going to speak for him. “I am, for sure.”

“Good. Good. What about you, young man? You interested in owning a majestic piece of the American dream?”

“Might be. It all depends.”

“On price? The bank is lending money for new farmers… and the government allows—”

“Won’t be needing lending,” Coy said abruptly. “What is the price?”

“Reasonable. Quite reasonable. Now, of course prairie land would cost you five or six dollars, even ten dollars an acre, depending on where you settle, and I’m here to tell you land in the southern regions is absolutely exorbitant. The land here is a tougher proposition, of course.”

“Meaning what exactly?” Boone asked.

“All the land opened to the northwest of Larkspur has been priced at three dollars, fifty cents per acre, cheaper because of the challenges of clearing the land, but the government allows you to pay in four installments. That, of course, means you don’t have to pay all at once, and gives you a chance to get a crop in before final payment’s due.”

Coy looked at Boone. “Well, it’s not four dollars.”

Boone nodded. “No, it’s not.” He turned his attention back to the agent. “How much land is available?”

“Well, there’s no minimum on lot size. Because of the hilly terrain, and natural boundaries such as a steep and deeply forested valley on the north side, the parcels left are irregular and range in size from around fifty acres to one hundred and thirty acres. It seems folks can’t afford the larger parcels the government used to offer, and insisted on, so there’s been a change of policy.”

“And are there plenty to choose from?”

The agent blinked rapidly before responding. “I should inform you there are plans in place to open more land in the next few years, south of Larkspur, and some land to the northeast towards Bearpaw Lake. That’s about forty miles from here, and a relatively new settlement. However, the land is much the same as what’s available now… meaning much of it will have to be cleared. Of course, you can expect prices to rise… they always do.”

“I’m interested in buying land now, in this area, and I expect to be clearing it,” Boone said decisively.

“In that case, we have a number of good plots scattered to the north and west. Would you like to see the survey map?”

“We surely would,” Boone answered. Coy nodded when the man turned his owlish gaze to him.

“I’ll be right back.” The man disappeared again, but was quick to return with a large rolled up paper in his hand. Setting it down, he stuck his hand over the counter. “I’m Phineas Lemon, official Land Agent for the Government of the United States of America. Any contracts entered into with me, once stamped with the official seal, will be binding.”

Boone shook the offered hand, and was surprised at the softness of it. “Boone Dixon.”

“Coy Diamond.” Coy shook his hand next, and shot Boone a quick look.

Spreading the map out on the counter, Phineas placed paper weights on the corners. “Please don’t touch this official document.” Picking up a short, perfectly rounded stick, he pointed to one spot on the map. “This is where you are now… the town of Larkspur. Can you gentlemen read?”

Coy said, “Yes,” and Boone nodded, his focus on figuring out the map.

“What do the numbers mean?” he asked.

“Each parcel is numbered, and they match up with corresponding documents… the deeds. Now, the parcels stamped with the small red dot have been purchased. The others are the ones of interest to you.”

“This one, number two eighty-two, the farthest one from town, it looks larger than most of the others. Is this accurate?”

“Yes, Mr. Dixon, the map is absolutely accurate. There is a list of acreages on the side… here… two eighty-two is one hundred and thirty-two acres, so it is the largest available. There are, of course, a number of larger farms in operation. Those parcels were bought up first.”

“What’s it like, and why is it still available?”

“I can’t really say, other than it is bordered on one side by the river. I’ve never walked the land, but I have many of the others, at least partly. As to why it’s still available, it’s quite far from town at the road’s end. If you’ll notice, most of the parcels left are those to the west as well… they might be more heavily treed, and possibly less fertile, and of course, more expensive because of their size.”

Coy pointed to the property bordering it. “Says on the list this one has eighty-two acres, is that so?”

“Let’s see. Yes, that’s correct. Now, keep in mind there are some smaller parcels closer to town which are less of a financial burden. Number one-seventy-five is fifty acres, and one-seventy-six is fifty-four acres, which is considerably cheaper, and they are in a more populated area.”

“They all front the same road, do they not?” Boone asked.

“Yes, all are to the north of the road, which runs for a good part alongside the river—it’s the same river that runs through the end of town before curling south and west again—and all four survey stakes for each property will have these same numbers on the inward side.”

“What about the other side of the river?”

“The other side? Ah… there are no plans to open up that land. The surveyors have deemed it unsuitable for farming. You’ll see for yourself it’s much too hilly and uneven, with sections of bog and lower areas subject to some flooding, I’m afraid, whereas the land to the south and east of Larkspur is much the same as these available parcels. ”

Boone nodded his understanding. He’d already seen some of the land to the south. “We’ll investigate the available ones today, if that suits you.”

“Certainly, but I’m afraid I can’t accompany you. I must… well, I should be present in the office, but I recommend you take a good look at one-seventy-five and one seventy-six. Excellent properties, those, and I’m sure you can be successful with either one.”

“We’ll be sure to include them. Can we camp the night on one of the parcels if we’re not done exploring?”

“Of course, as long as it’s not land already settled. Take whatever time you need. Now, would you like me to write out a list of the available acreages? It would take me but a few minutes.”

“That would come in handy for sure. Thank you, Phineas. We’ll just head over to the bank now, and pick it up when we’re done.”

“Superb. I’ll get it ready immediately.”

 

They left the bank half an hour later, after providing the codes for their accounts and signing some documents. They were assured their funds would be accessible the following day, once the telegraph transfer was made. Boone requested all his money be moved to the Larkspur branch, and Coy was quick to request the same. They could choose National Bank paper notes, now widely trusted, or gold coins. Boone didn’t like being charged half a percent on any gold withdrawn, but it was still favored by many. The single eagles, worth ten dollars, and double eagles, worth twenty dollars, would often get you a better deal when you bought something. Liberty coins, silver or gold, were also dependable currency.

Phineas Lemon not only gave them a list—he’d also sketched out a surprisingly accurate map in the short time they’d been gone. Once again, he made recommendations for a few more plots closer to town, including one that was sixty-one acres he pointed out enthusiastically. Eager to get going, they thanked him and left to pick up supplies.

The mercantile was well stocked, but they were in a hurry. Boone figured they had nine, maybe ten hours of daylight, and it was going to take time to check out each parcel of land. Coy didn’t need to be prodded, and had gathered up supplies quickly, including a few candles, and a newfangled kerosene lantern and fuel. All the while, the curious shopkeeper asked questions. Coy was cheery and forthcoming, and the man seem pleased they might be sticking around.

Coy had gotten carrots and potatoes first, and that made Boone smile. He pointed out the small red apples, and his friend nodded. While Coy handled the food supplies, he picked up a couple of items himself, including a long handled shovel, and after shaking hands with the very friendly Alan Bright, the proprietor, he gathered up the supplies and left Coy to settle up.

Next stop was the Merrick Mill, and once again, as if he’d been waiting for them, Will came out to meet them with the promised directions and a note for old man Corker in hand. He wished them luck, and they were on their way.

“What did you get the shovel for? You planning on burying me?” Coy asked as he looked back at Blue’s pack.

“Not while I need your strong back,” Boone answered with a chuckle. “You and me are going to dig us some holes.”

“What would we do that for?”

“To make sure I don’t buy a big piece of rock. There needs to be three or four good feet of soil for planting.”

“Ah… smart thinking. Are you getting excited?”

“Ready to burst.”

Coy snorted. “Me too.”

“You are?”

“Yep, I truly am. Ever since I saw the map. Boone, you get the feeling Phineas was steering you away from two hundred and eighty-two?”

“Yep… and from two hundred and eighty-one. His eyes got to twitching when you brought it up.”

“Lord, them eyes are big. Saw the same thing. Why do you suppose that would be?”

“Can’t say, but he wasn’t good at hiding it. He pushed a few more parcels when he gave us the list, yet he said he didn’t know what the other two were even like.”

“Think maybe the land’s no good?”

“Could be, but my guess is he wants it for himself or someone else. Might have steered others away too. Seems to me the river would be good for floating timber to the mill. Anyways, we’ll find out. Won’t do to have the whole acreage forested, or the river able to flood it in spring. Had enough of rising water to last me a lifetime.”

Coy nodded. “Ain’t that the truth. Timber’s going to be worth something if the south gets opened soon… maybe he wants the timber?”

“Smart thinking, Coy. Might be that parcel would be a good place for a future mill. River right beside it, one that winds its way to town.”

“Didn’t he say the valley on the boundary was forested?”

“Heavily forested, he said. You got me thinking now.” Boone reached over and clapped his friend on the shoulder. “I might be farm smart, but you’re the clever one.”

Coy laughed, a truly happy sound, and in unison, they moved their horses into a fast trot.

 

 

*

Well, we made it all the way to Larkspur. I hope you've enjoyed the journey so far. If you have, please recommend the story in the box provided on the story page, and if you would be so kind as to leave a story like there as well, it would be appreciated. These optional steps help bring new readers to a story that is close to my heart. :)  Cheers, and let me know what you thought of Coy and Boone's arrival.

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20 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

I thought they were out west not north. 🙂

Keep up, Ivor :P I can be forgiven for thinking they were naked under that bed-roll but directions; well they're black and white. :funny:

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9 hours ago, Bard Simpson said:

Keep up, Ivor :P I can be forgiven for thinking they were naked under that bed-roll but directions; well they're black and white. :funny:

I think @Ivor Slipper likes to stir the pot with bad dad jokes and groany puns... he's a lot like me... he's smarter than he looks. :P 

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18 minutes ago, Headstall said:

 @Ivor Slipper. he's a lot like me... he's smarter than he looks. :P 

That's not difficult in my case!

Edited by Ivor Slipper
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5 minutes ago, Ivor Slipper said:

That's not difficult in my case!

Nor in mine. :unsure2:  :P  Merry Christmas, Ivor! :hug: 

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4 minutes ago, Headstall said:

Nor in mine. :unsure2:  :P  Merry Christmas, Ivor! :hug: 

LOL!  And a Happy Christmas to you too, Gary.

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2 hours ago, Headstall said:

I think @Ivor Slipper likes to stir the pot with bad dad jokes and groany puns... he's a lot like me... he's smarter than he looks. :P 

Hahaha. Oh I get it now! 🤓 🤪. Duh!

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12 minutes ago, Bard Simpson said:

Hahaha. Oh I get it now! 🤓 🤪. Duh!

We give time to those who need it. :P 

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I don't trust that Phineas guy one bit. He is  wishy washy. As for Boone pushing Coy away, Coy needs to just give Boone a wakeup wet dream with something warm and wet giving him pleasure. Then maybe Boone will stop pushing him away! lol Just saying! I am so naughty! lol

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3 minutes ago, Story Reader said:

I don't trust that Phineas guy one bit. He is  wishy washy. As for Boone pushing Coy away, Coy needs to just give Boone a wakeup wet dream with something warm and wet giving him pleasure. Then maybe Boone will stop pushing him away! lol Just saying! I am so naughty! lol

Yes you are naughty, Sherye.  I think we all are, just a little bit. :P  Boone is expecting the worst and trying to guard his heart, but right now he is excited for the chance to find himself a home. Phineas is a typical government guy, looking out for his own interests when he can, but he still has to follow the rules. :)  Thanks and cheers, my friend. Gary... :hug: 

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Uh-oh, I hope 🍋 isn’t a future threat to the duo. 

Larkspur seems to have a good effect on our boys’ moods, so that’s a good sign. It’s also nice to finally meet new people, after having Boone and Coy as the only featured characters for a long time. 

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The wide streets of Larkspur reminds me of Bathurst NSW, When we visited in 1983, the town had a Wild West feeling to it with wide roads, but then we went onto Sofala which was a gold mining town maybe a bit like Red Bluff 100 years later in time. 
 

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7 hours ago, nix said:

Uh-oh, I hope 🍋 isn’t a future threat to the duo. 

Larkspur seems to have a good effect on our boys’ moods, so that’s a good sign. It’s also nice to finally meet new people, after having Boone and Coy as the only featured characters for a long time. 

Lol. Lemon is just a bureaucrat with a possible ulterior motive. 

Reaching their destination has perked these boys up for sure. It's been a long journey, but now there are new things to look forward to. I made the decision to only have the two characters for the journey(if you don't count Blue and the river), because I wanted to show just how isolated it could be in those times. People often went for months without seeing another soul. It could be a very lonely existence.

So far, the guys are liking what they're seeing. Larkspur is siuch a difference from Red Bluff, and that is both the reality, and kind of symbolic. :) Cheers and thanks, my friend. :hug:  

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2 hours ago, Bft said:

The wide streets of Larkspur reminds me of Bathurst NSW, When we visited in 1983, the town had a Wild West feeling to it with wide roads, but then we went onto Sofala which was a gold mining town maybe a bit like Red Bluff 100 years later in time. 
 

Hey, Bft. I'm glad you could relate to the imagery. I had hoped readers got the stark differences between Red Bluff and Larkspur. :D  The settings in this story are very important... a lot is left behind in going from place to place, and it serves as symbolic of their personal journeys in some ways. :) Thanks, buddy... cheers... Gary.... :hug: 

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Well, I'd say everything sounds promising. Knowing you, there will be twists.

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1 hour ago, aditus said:

Well, I'd say everything sounds promising. Knowing you, there will be twists.

Yep... they made it to Larkspur, and things are looking good so far. Twists? I have no idea what you mean, buddy. :P  Cheers! :hug: 

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Well...we've arrived in Larkspur. The mill owner seems a decent sort, maybe a replacement for Sheriff Willard as a trusted friend. Interesting that Mr. Lemon seems intent on directing our boys away from certain plots of land, and that Boone and Coy both picked up on it and will likely make a beeline straight for them!

I know I'm fairly close to the end of the tale (and only a mere three months behind everyone else in getting there!), and I've very much enjoyed it this far. I figure you won't disappoint at the end, either.

Several years ago I was reading a book, and the phone rang. I stuck a piece of paper in the book and put it on the shelf, and went to get the call.

A few months later I happened to notice the book on the shelf with the paper hanging out the top of it, retrieved it, remembered then I had been reading it, opened it up, and picked up right where I had left off.

So don't feel at all that this delayed reaction stuff is new to me! :)

 

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30 minutes ago, Geron Kees said:

Well...we've arrived in Larkspur. The mill owner seems a decent sort, maybe a replacement for Sheriff Willard as a trusted friend. Interesting that Mr. Lemon seems intent on directing our boys away from certain plots of land, and that Boone and Coy both picked up on it and will likely make a beeline straight for them!

I know I'm fairly close to the end of the tale (and only a mere three months behind everyone else in getting there!), and I've very much enjoyed it this far. I figure you won't disappoint at the end, either.

Several years ago I was reading a book, and the phone rang. I stuck a piece of paper in the book and put it on the shelf, and went to get the call.

A few months later I happened to notice the book on the shelf with the paper hanging out the top of it, retrieved it, remembered then I had been reading it, opened it up, and picked up right where I had left off.

So don't feel at all that this delayed reaction stuff is new to me! :)

 

Great to hear from you, Geron. I've done the same thing. As an adult, I should clarify. As a kid I seldom put a book down, and even read under the covers with the proverbial flashlight. Now I can be the like the dog that sees a squirrel. :) 

Thanks for bringing me back to Larkspur, and this chapter. Will Merrick was someone who intrigued me right from the time he entered my head. He's an entrepreneur who cares about the success of the town. I suspect he gets respect from just about everyone. He was obviously testing Boone and Coy's(especially) mettle. Did he sense an uncertainty in Coy? A difference in the two of them? Who's to say, but I bet he's a very perceptive man... like Sheriff Willard.

As far as disappointing you, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well this western was received, so I have some confidence you'll like what's coming. Thanks, buddy... you've made my very dreary and quiet day. Cheers! :hug: 

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On 3/27/2021 at 5:20 PM, Headstall said:

Great to hear from you, Geron. I've done the same thing. As an adult, I should clarify. As a kid I seldom put a book down, and even read under the covers with the proverbial flashlight. Now I can be the like the dog that sees a squirrel. :) 

Thanks for bringing me back to Larkspur, and this chapter. Will Merrick was someone who intrigued me right from the time he entered my head. He's an entrepreneur who cares about the success of the town. I suspect he gets respect from just about everyone. He was obviously testing Boone and Coy's(especially) mettle. Did he sense an uncertainty in Coy? A difference in the two of them? Who's to say, but I bet he's a very perceptive man... like Sheriff Willard.

As far as disappointing you, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well this western was received, so I have some confidence you'll like what's coming. Thanks, buddy... you've made my very dreary and quiet day. Cheers! :hug: 

This story would have worked just as well in a different time, with a different world around it. It's a good story first, and a good western second. Any good story about people is that way! :)

 

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1 hour ago, Geron Kees said:

This story would have worked just as well in a different time, with a different world around it. It's a good story first, and a good western second. Any good story about people is that way! :)

 

I'm pleased you think so, and would agree for the most part(I do get what you are saying, and I accept the compliment gladly), but I think Coy is essentially a product of that time period. Maybe not so unlike others even today, but... whoops. I almost posted a spoiler so had to erase what followed. Suffice it to say, religion was important to folks back then in a unique and distinguishable way which fascinated me... as was the respect for those who raised you. There is a certain innocence I see in that time period which flies in the face of the easy violence that existed. I guess what I'm trying to say is I wouldn't have written this in a different time, and that is probably because, as a writer, there is so much more to the story and its details in my head. I'm just happy readers seem to enjoy the little idiosyncrasies I feel are present.  :)  Cheers!

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15 hours ago, Geron Kees said:

This story would have worked just as well in a different time, with a different world around it. It's a good story first, and a good western second. Any good story about people is that way! :)

I too was thinking a werewolf setting would have been perfect 🐺

But now that it has been written, it's impossible to imagine it any other way. These scenes are too indelibly etched into the mind:

The opening saloon scene, Boone's tender years growing up in the brothel, and the whole life outdoors panning for gold, the Sheriff's office scenes and of course, Boone's main driver, to ranch in the wilderness and the whole trip North (east).

I think a significant part of the story was directed specifically towards how life may have been for homosexuals growing up in the wild West. It would be interesting if Gary managed to unearth anything recorded about that, as part of his research.

From what we hear on TV, it seems that at least some Native American communities openly embraced their gays, in those days.

Edited by Bard Simpson
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1 hour ago, Bard Simpson said:

I too was thinking a werewolf setting would have been perfect 🐺

But now that it has been written, it's impossible to imagine it any other way. These scenes are too indelibly etched into the mind:

The opening saloon scene, Boone's tender years growing up in the brothel, and the whole life outdoors panning for gold, the Sheriff's office scenes and of course, Boone's main driver, to ranch in the wilderness and the whole trip North (east).

I think a significant part of the story was directed specifically towards how life may have been for homosexuals growing up in the wild West. It would be interesting if Gary managed to unearth anything recorded about that, as part of his research.

From what we hear on TV, it seems that at least some Native American communities openly embraced their gays, in those days.

Hey, Bard! What a nice testament to the impact of this story on you. I agree about those scenes... and for me the scene about the Ten Commandments and how Boone sees himself in his relationship with God as a gay man is one I will always remember. In fact, I enjoyed writing each and every exchange of dialogue between Coy and Boone, starting with the saloon scene. It was often a dance, but these men didn't play games.

I did do a lot of research for this time period, but there wasn't much I could find about homosexuality. There are a lot of old photos those that show the closeness of some men. Men who were, in my mind, obvious couples because of the way they were touching, or sitting on laps... or holding hands. There was much I found about religion's role, though, and how important it was to some folks. Churches were a big deal to most towns, and I believe most had a deep need for faith in a vast and dangerous world.

Yes, Native Americans had an interesting outlook on homosexuality, calling gay men 'two-spirits' in some nations and even considering them good luck to their tribes. To have a male spirit and female spirit in one body was considered a blessing. It goes to show how wrong it was to consider these first Americans 'savage.' They were anything but in their approach to life and their respect for their ancestors.

Thanks for this. I always love being brought back to a story... it keeps it alive for me. Cheers!  

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I suspect that while most communities had their holy Joe's, most townsfolk were hard pressed to make ends meet and had their fair share of family skeletons locked in the cupboard. Husbands and possibly wives who were given to lapses of drinking, infidelity and whatever else that the town parson may have preached about, as inappropriate, from the pulpit. 

So I imagine there was a good deal of tolerance of things that were kept out of sight and mind. No one wishing to cast the first stone. Folk would know of some spinsters and bachelors who had lived together most their lives and had never got married. It would have been easier and more Christian, to imagine they were unfortunate enough to never met the right partner or were too pre-occupied in their work.

The fact that there was little or no evidence of a witch hunt of gay people in itself suggests that they were largely left to themselves. 

Edited by Bard Simpson
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6 minutes ago, Bard Simpson said:

I suspect that while most communities had their holy Joe's, most townsfolk were hard pressed to make ends meet and had their fair share of family skeletons locked in the cupboard. Husbands and possibly wives who were given to lapses of drinking, infidelity and whatever else that the town parson may heve preached as inappropriate, from the pulpit. 

So I imagine there was a good deal of tolerance of things that were kept out of sight and mind. Folk would know of the spinsters and bachelors who had lived together most their lives and had never got married. It would have been easier and more Christian, to imagine they'd never met the right partner or were too pre-occupied in their jobs.

The fact that there was little or no evidence of a witch hunt of gay people in itself suggests that they were left to themselves. Only a fool would declare that they didn't exist then.

Absolutely there were difficulties in eking out a living in those times, but town folk and rural farmers were different. The farmers were at the mercy of the elements as well as a native threat in some cases. Those were the god fearing folk Coy comes from. He tried to follow their path... whereas Will chose another. Coy and Boone were happier on the river, away from town and it's seedier side. But, towns were a necessary evil. A place to buy and sell goods, and of course a place for crime to thrive. 

I agree there was tolerance and an out of sight out of mind attitude, but I would go one step further in that a lot of folks never thought much on two men or women living together... because of religious confines and not entertaining 'impure' thoughts. It's hard to explain, but it comes back to that innocence of the time. There were some things men and women didn't talk about, and sex was most definitely one of them... I doubt 'cornholing' was ever mentioned in most homes. 

I'm not sure I'm done exploring this time period. It's one thing for a couple to be isolated, but what was it like to live in a town as a gay couple? Would it be accepted? Food for thought. :huh:

So yeah, it might have been easier to be left to yourselves out in the country... there was always a way to reason it away as something relating to workload or safety... or eccentricity. :)  Cheers! G. 

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25 minutes ago, Bard Simpson said:

No one wishing to cast the first stone. Folk would know of some spinsters and bachelors who had lived together most their lives and had never got married. It would have been easier and more Christian, to imagine they were unfortunate enough to never met the right partner or were too pre-occupied in their work.

Yeah, this edit is exactly the point I was making in my response just now. Being Christian meant something different back then. I think they paid more attention to their own conduct rather than another's. Of course, that would change if it affected your own family, as in Maysie Diamond's case, who saw it as her Christian duty to steer her son from a perceived sin. She should have concentrated more on Will than Coy. :yes: 

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