A Journey To Colorado eBook #30
A Journey To Colorado
by Raymond Cook
© 2018 (All Rights Reserved)
Page Length: 256
Word Count: 93,000
About This eBook
A Journey To Colorado © 2018 by Raymond Cook, is a 256-page western romance story about Andrew McCloud, his wife, Nolita, and their ten-year-old daughter, Caroline, as they journey along the Mormon Trail. When they reach Marble, Colorado, they start a new life in 1891. It was the journey made by thousands of other pioneer families, hoping to obtain 160 acres of good land, under the Homestead Act of 1862.
They’d face discouragement, wildfires, dangerous river crossings, rattlesnakes, lost children, drought, tornadoes, dust storms, and treacherous mountains to get over. Families had to buy a good quality covered wagon and have the canvas bonnet soaked in cottonseed oil to make the cover waterproof. Most families brought along everything they owned, so there wasn’t any room inside to sleep.
Canvas tents were used to sleep on the ground, though some families brought their mattresses with them. It wasn’t long after leaving Nauvoo, that those families who were bringing heavy furniture or stoves were forced to abandon them alongside the trail, because the extra weight was tiring their horses or oxen. Some families brought along two, fifty-gallon water barrels for the long journey.
But this proved a bad decision, because their livestock needed water to drink. Sometimes creeks, springs, or rivers the wagon train came to were dried up, or the water was undrinkable. The more expensive eighty-gallon water barrels were what a family needed to buy. Rattlesnakes were a danger to both people and livestock. Prairie dog holes could sprain someone’s foot. If a horse or oxen sprained its legs, a family could be stranded and left behind. This is the story about the McCloud’s journey along the Mormon Trail to Marble, Colorado.
As they were walking towards their cabin, they saw a lone rider coming to their farm. They stopped where they were and waited. When the rider was close enough to see, Andrew didn’t like the looks of him. He handed the basket of eggs to his wife, and said in a low voice, “Take this basket. You two go inside the cabin, and don’t look back.” The tone of her husband’s voice filled her with worry. She did as she was told, and she and her daughter began walking. Nolita glanced up at the stranger, as he passed them. She didn’t like the look in his eyes, either.
The moment they were both inside the cabin, she closed the door and set the basket of eggs down on the floor. Then, her daughter watched her pick up the Winchester rifle. But she didn’t know what to do next. “Momma? What’s wrong? Why are you holding the rifle? Is that man gonna hurt, pa?” Caroline asked, almost in tears.
Her ma peeked through a window curtain and saw the man had stopped his horse near her husband. She saw him tip his hat. “Good afternoon. You and your wife have a nice farm. I saw it from the road and am headed for Marble. I left Redstone this morning, and my horse is thirsty. Being it’s a hot day, I was hoping you wouldn’t mind if my horse drank some water?” asked the stranger.
Andrew didn’t believe a word he said. His horse didn’t look sweaty, or tired. He couldn’t see from where he stood, that the man in the saddle, rest his right-hand over the handle of the pistol in its holster. But from the window, Nolita did. Before Andrew could tell him, the water trough was in the corral, the man asked, “I don’t suppose you have a couple of days’ worth of work, needing to be done? I sure could use a good meal, and I’m happy to sleep in your barn.”
Andrew didn’t trust the man. “No, we don’t have any work that needs to be done, mister, sorry. The water trough’s over in the corral. Help yourself, and be on your way,” Andrew said in a firm voice. Then, he pointed his hand towards the corral. Nolita took the gesture to mean her husband was telling the man to leave. “Stay inside the cabin, Caroline, I mean it,” her mother said in a firm voice.
Then, she quietly opened the door, stepped out on the porch, and held the rifle in both hands. Suddenly, she saw the man draw his gun, and point it at her husband. “I’d be much obliged if you’d slowly unbuckle that gun belt, let it drop, and step back,” the desperate man said. His voice sounded like he’d kill Andrew if he didn’t obey. Slowly, he did as the man ordered, and then, stepped back.
Nolita put the rifle into her shoulder and lined the sights up with the man’s head. “Drop that pistol, mister, or I’ll put a bullet in your head!” Nolita shouted. The man looked towards the house and saw the man’s wife had a rifle aimed at him. “Toss that rifle down on the ground, or I’ll make you a widow!” threatened the man on his horse. He didn’t drop his pistol, and Nolita didn’t toss down her rifle. Andrew didn’t know what his wife would do next.
“I ain’t telling you again, woman; throw that rifle down on the ground, or your husband’s a dead man!” shouted the man. He only wanted to steal a horse and their money. “You might shoot my husband, mister, but before he hits the ground, you’ll be just as dead. Now, drop that pistol!” shouted Nolita. The man didn’t hear any fear in her voice. Though she was scared for her husband, from that distance, she knew she wouldn’t miss.
Suddenly, she saw him swing low in his saddle, using his horse as cover, and fired a shot at her, as she fired her rifle. Both of their shells missed. Before the man could shoot again, Andrew ran up to him, grabbed onto his arm, and shoulder, and tried to pull him off of his horse. The man’s boots were in the stirrups. The horse was startled and off balance.
Andrew pulled so hard on the man, the horse, and the man fell to the ground. By now, Nolita was running towards both men as she reloaded. Caroline ran to the window, and pulled the curtain back, as tears rolled down her cheeks. The horse had fallen on part of the man’s legs, but his hand still held onto his pistol. Andrew fought to take it away from him, as he pulled the trigger two more times.
As the horse got to its feet, another shot was fired. That bullet hit his horse, and it fell to the ground again, and stayed there, kicking its feet. Both men were evenly matched in height, and weight, as they fought for the gun. As Nolita looked on, she couldn’t risk her husband being killed. Caroline couldn’t see her pa, because of the horse on the ground, and was scared to death; he’d been killed.
Nolita lined up her rifle sights and shot the man in the side. He let go of his pistol right away. But Andrew’s gun belt was within his reach. Before Nolita could shoot the man again, Andrew fired twice, and the man lay dead. She rushed up to her husband, knelt down, and dropped her rifle. Then, she hugged him and sobbed. “I thought he was going to kill you. I knew he’d kill me next, and probably rape our daughter. I wasn’t about to lose you, after everything we’ve been through,” cried out Nolita.
Andrew nodded as he tried to stand up. At that moment, both of them heard their daughter scream out, “Pa!” They both looked towards the cabin and saw her running to them, as fast as she could. She stumbled, and fell to the ground, but was back on her feet, and running again. When she reached her momma’s side, her parent’s saw her forehead and nose were skinned up, as she tried to catch her breath.
Then, she knelt down, and hugged him, as if her life depended on it, and cried. She stood up first and helped him to his feet. Then, everyone looked down, as they heard the man’s horse suffering. Andrew drew his colt and shot the horse in the head. He handed his wife the man’s pistol, walked over to his gun belt, leaned down, and put it back on. Then, he looked down at the dead man.
He walked up to him and turned him over, face up. Then, he went through the dead man’s pockets. He also checked his vest pockets. He didn’t find any money, not even a pocket watch. When Caroline saw the blood on the dead man, she turned her head away and cried, as she hugged her mother. When her pa stood back up, he looked at his wife, and said, “He didn’t have a dime on him. He probably figured he had nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
Nolita nodded as she wiped her eyes and patted her daughter’s back. Then, the couple heard their daughter cry out, “I’m sorry for not staying in the cabin, momma, please don’t punish me.” As they both looked down at her, her mother said in a caring voice, “I’m not gonna punish you.”
Andrew told his wife, “Those saddles I bought will come in real handy, now, because we’ve got to drag that carcass as far from this ranch as possible. We don’t want any bears, mountain lions, coyotes, or wolves around our ranch.” Nolita nodded. He told his daughter to go back in the cabin and stay there, until they came inside, too.
Caroline nodded, ran back to the cabin, and shut the door behind her. Andrew leaned down and picked the Winchester rifle up off of the ground. Then, she saw him grin. “I didn’t think you had it in you, to stand up to a man, and if you had to, shoot him,” Andrew told his wife proudly. “Darling, we gave up everything we owned back in Nauvoo and risked our lives crossing the plains, to have this farm, and raise a family. I wasn’t about to let that bastard take it all away, by killing you,” Nolita said in an angry voice.
Then, she saw her husband’s smile disappear. He asked, “Were you going to wait for that fella to shoot me before you shot him?” Nolita smiled from ear to ear, as she let out a laugh. “No, sweetheart, I was already set on shooting him in the head, to save your life, but he ducked in his saddle before I could shoot him,” Nolita told her husband. He handed her rifle back to her.
5-Star Review From Reader’s Favorite
July 21, 2018 5-Star review by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite. A Journey to Colorado by Raymond Cook is a western romance, set in 1891, the story of a couple and their daughter who decide to make a change for greener pastures. After much debate, Nolita gives in to her husband’s decision to leave Nauvoo. So they sell everything they can and together, with their ten-year-old daughter, set out on the journey along the Mormon Trail to Colorado. This is supposed to be a fresh start for them, with the promise of 160 acres of good land under the Homestead Act of 1862, but is this journey worth it?
First off, this narrative begins with a strong premise — a family deciding to leave behind the world they have known for years and setting out on a journey through unfamiliar terrain and towards an uncertain future. The reader is introduced to the conflict right from the very first page of the narrative. They want to see what happens next to this family, and they are interested at the conflict taking place within Nolita. She is doubtful, undecided, and afraid. The family dynamics come out neatly throughout the narrative and the author brilliantly integrates elements of adventure and romance into this story.
Another thing that arrested my attention throughout the narrative is the author’s deft handling of setting. There is no doubt that the book is well researched and historical elements, as well as the geography – including the harsh conditions of the journey to Marble, Colorado such as the difficult terrain, wildfires, dust storms, tornadoes, mountains, drought, and rattlesnakes – are woven into the story and they become part of the conflict. The reader keeps on wondering, as they turn from page to page, if the families on this journey can survive. Raymond Cook creates a strong character in Andrew McCloud, and it is interesting to follow him and a cast of other characters dealing with everyday challenges of a difficult journey. The prose is beautiful and highly descriptive and the plot is well written to keep readers interested. A Journey to Colorado is suspenseful, laced with realism, and the humanity of the characters comes out in an unmistakable manner. An enjoyable read, indeed!
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