A Post-Civil War Western Adventure
Crooked Creek, Montana Territory—May 1866
The Silver Creek Express stagecoach rolled over rough roads against a backdrop of some of the most spectacular vistas Clara had ever seen. She was no stranger to lush meadows, but the green fields of Connecticut paled in comparison to the thousands of acres spread out on either side of the dusty road.
Her smile widened at the sight of a pair of eagles dancing overhead. Clara’s hand pressed against her chest when a herd of horses basked in their freedom as they ran across the abundant fields.
“I see them, Alice.” She expertly reached for her daughter before she fell on the passenger opposite them. Clara peeked around Alice to see out the window on the opposite side. Antlered animals, too many to count, moved as one against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
“What are they?” Alice asked.
“I believe they’re elk. Do you remember the photographs from the book we brought? Tonight we’ll take a look.”
Alice turned to the man across from him. “Do you know?”
The man’s brow shot up in apparent amusement. “Your ma is correct. They’re elk.” He looked to Clara. “You’ve come a long way.”
“It is that evident?” With a pleasant smile on her face, Clara smoothed the lines of her gray-and-white striped traveling dress. Gideon had told her it highlighted her smoky blue eyes, though in hindsight, it might be a bit too elegant for their destination. Then again, she had not risked everything and ventured out west to relinquish all holds on her cultured upbringing.
The gentleman’s mouth quirked. “Are you headed to Salt Lake City or Denver? Maybe even San Francisco?”
“We’re going to Montana.”
The man’s eyes traveled the length of her, and his face reddened beneath his gray whiskers. “I don’t reckon Montana’s a place for a lady like yourself. It’s a mite different from what I reckon you’re used to.”Clara only smiled again and gazed out the window. “I do believe it’s the perfect place.”
End of Excerpt
"Clara of Crooked Creek" will be released on 2/1/2016.
"Clara of Crooked Creek"
The war is over between the North and South, but the battles at home are just beginning.
No longer willing to allow society’s opinion to influence her life, Clara Stowe sought a change, and what better place than the frontier. With her young daughter by her side, she embarks on an unexpected undertaking to the Montana Territory. With grit and determination, they arrive in Crooked Creek to shape the life Clara had always dreamed of and honor the memory of the one they lost.
CLARA OF CROOKED CREEK is the fourth short story installment of the Crooked Creek series set in post-Civil War Montana.
Western Short Story: Approx. 13,000 words
"Clara of Crooked Creek" Excerpt ©MK McClintock
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