Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another excerpt from "The Stranger From The Valley"

This is another scene in the saloon, where a confrontation is brewing between the Henberrys and Wesford, from Chapter 8.

     Chappie ignored them and ate his bacon and bread finally, and chased it with a glass of beer. He was watching Cramer wipe down the bar, wash a couple of glasses, and walk from one end of the bar to the other then back again. Cranky finally turned around and arranged some bottles on the shelf behind, then went and struck a match to the three kerosene lamps, one hanging by the front door and one at each end of the bar.
    The door opened and in walked Bishop Thorneycraft and Counselor Carlson. The men at the table stopped whispering. Chappie turned around as Cranky with a surprised look stared at the new customers all dressed up in suits and ties.
     "By golly!" Cranky exclaimed. "If it ain't the Bishop and Mr. Carlson. Howdy-do, gentlemen. What'll it be, sarsaparilla? And what brings you gents in tonight?"
     Thorneycraft looked at his assistant, then surveyed the group of men at the table, looked at Cramer, finally rested his eyes on Chappie.
     "Evening, gentlemen. Counselor and I saw all the horses out front as we left my house, so we came by to see what the occasion was, in addition to doing our duties for the town. We're glad you're all here so we can ask you to spread our message this evening, which is, as most of you may already know, our annual Fourth of July Celebration. We're hoping that everyone around comes into town to enjoy themselves and take part in the church picnic in the field behind the church building under the trees. We announced it in  church last Sunday, but we didn't say anything about a special guest coming to town to help us celebrate. So we ask that you all take this message home and tell everyone you meet."
     Turning his attention to the barkeep, he continued, "And, Mr. Cramer, we've come to present a petition to you on behalf of everyone who signed it to please stop selling hard liquors and beer to our citizens. The wives have been complaining that their husbands spend too much time and money on your evil, spirituous libations and come home drunk too many times. And you will see as you read it, that not only wives have signed it, but husbands, too, some cases, and even a couple of Utes have put their marks. And, I'd like to add on behalf of all the righteous citizens of this town, that the church must protest the continued practice of serving hard liquors and may be looking to force the shut-down of your establishment if such paractice continues. And, with that, we'll take a non-alcoholoic drink of some kind. Thank you!"
     Chappie stood up and applauded, and everyone joined in, even Cranky.
     "Mighty fine speech, Bishop!" said Chappie. "Any idea who this special guest is going to be?"
     "I don't rightly know, Chappie, but there's a rumor flying around that started with the feller that drives the mail wagon, Angus MacDougald. He said he heard something about a big uppity-up coming to Utah Territory for somethig or other. Didn't rightly know who or what or when. Said he could be coming any day, though. That's all I know."
     Jim Henberry spoke up, "Pa was talking about some darn politician coming to Utah that he read in the papers he gets, but said the feller's name sure wasn't familiar to him. Didn't say a thing about coming here, though."
     "Why would one of them people want to be coming to Altveel for? I'll bet you it's something to do with the Ute tribe. That's what it always is!" Oakley said.
     This set all the men to talking among themselves, and Chappie found it hard to get a word in edgewise, but he didn't have anything to add, anyway. He watched as Cramer set an old bottle labeled 'Sarsaparilla Made From the Finest Old Recipe Available" on the bar for Thorney and Carlson with two glasses. He thought it looked suspiciously like good malt and barley whiskey, but he knew that they wouldn't drink any had liquor, not even after dark.
     He glanced at the one front window and caught little Charlie's eye before the boy ducked out of sight. About five minutes later, Esther B igknife came in the front door. Conversation stopped as she looked around the room glancing from one hat to another, finally resting her pretty, dark eyes on Cranky. She said, "Thanks for the use of your buggy, Cranky. I put it back in the stable." Then turning her attention to Milt after a quick glace at Chappie said, "Milt, I've go some fresh-made oyster stew waiting, if you'd care to help Charlie and me eat it. Sorry, gents, I only got enough for us three."
     "Now, Esther, you know I'm drinking with the boys, and...," Milt began, but Jim interrupted, saying, "Widow Bigknife, if you're trying to keep Milt from causing a ruckus tonight, you don't have to worry about that, does she Milt? We're heading out as soon as we finish our drinks, aint' that right, boys?"
     Oakley and Wonder shook their heads up and down in the affirmative. Milt and Mike just sat there watching Esther.
     The Bishop thought he had better say something, so he spoke up, "Mrs. Bignkife, you can see we're just having a friendly drink to celebrate our upcoming holiday and the fact that there'll be a special guest coming  to town to help with it. Why don';t you have a sarsaparilla with us? Cranky, put a glass up here for Mrs. Bigknife.
     "If she's going to give that stew to that feller later," pointing at Chappie, "I'm going to go eat it," said Milt, rising up from the table.
     "Why would she do that?" asked Chappie. "I just ate some bacon and bread and I'm full, and just finishing my drink before I help the Bishop and the Counselor deliver the news."
     "I don't believe that feller for a minute," Milt said. "Where's he staying, anyway?"
     Chappie was growing a little tired of Milt's attitude. He stood up, looked directly at Milt, and said, "I don't believe it's any concern of yours where I pitch my tent, Mr. Henberry. If you're having a little trouble accepting my presence in town, maybe you ought to try running me out."
      This put a burr under Milt's saddle and he came at Chappie in a rush, but Esther stepped in tween them before he had gotten very far.
     "Milt! Stop! Chappie, quit egging him on! Don't you men have any sense at all?" she yelled.
     "Get out of my way, Esther!" Milt ordered. "I'm going to teach him a lesson he'll never forget! He'll never want to come back here!"

Whew! What happens next? Do they kill each other? Does Mrs. Bigknife get hurt? Does Cranky set 'em up again? Does Chappie ......Does MIlt......Does the Bishop do anything?  You'll have to Read it to find out! ORDER IT NOW FROM AMAZON.COM OR IUNIVERSE.COM!


  1. If you had just added a N in Cramer it would have been perfect!

    Hey, first time leaving a comment here but I enjoy this blog (and the excerpts) and will be back.

    Best of luck on the book.

  2. Thanks, Mr. Cramer, woops, CraNmer! Picking the names to use usually comes out of a hat or just pops in to my thinking machine. I've enjoyed reading The Education of a Pulp Writer on occasion,too.

  3. Lots of questions! Good luck with the book and I'll be looking forward to reading more of your blog soon. Jo - ps thanks for visiting mine :-)

  4. Your welcome, have added your blog to my list. Have seen references to it in a couple of other blogs and enjoyed reading a few posts this morn.
    You opened with Lots of questions! Are they about the book or...?

  5. I was agreeing with the last bit of the post. The excerpt does bring up a lot of questions. LOL

  6. I hope the questions raised a bit of curiosity about it, like enough maybe to buy it or read someone else's copy. Thanks for becoming a follower, Ms. Walpole.

  7. Ms Walpole? How formal. Just call me Mr James. LOL Only kidding. Jo (ps that only makes sense if you know I write as Terry James)

  8. I have to confess, Mr. James, Jo, I had noticed the books on your blog, but didn't catch the name, and I have to say that, so far, I haven't read any by Terry James, or maybe I've read one or two through the years, but forgot the author and probably the book, too. I'll standby for the 30 lashes and never forget the name again.

  9. Only two westerns so far as Terry James - Long Shadows May 09 and Echoes Of A Dead Man coming 2010. I had a couple of romances published before that as JW so no lashes for you this time. LOL :-)

  10. I'll put them both on my "to-git" list! Just read the excerpt of LS on Blackhorse Express, off to an exciting start.