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They were riding on the rim of a ravine, and the sky was overcast, when all of a sudden, lightning struck the ground not too far from where they sat their horses. The whole sky lit up, and the thunder clapped around them. The horses bolted and the girls couldn't control them. The raiin came down in torrents, and the runaway horses ran down the steep path to the bottom of the ravine, with the girls hanging on with all their might. When Seth and Riley finally got control of their horses, they rode to where they saw...
They were riding on the rim of a ravine, and the sky was overcast, when all of a sudden, lightning struck the ground not too far from where they sat their horses. The whole sky lit up, and the thunder clapped around them. The horses bolted and the girls couldn't control them. The raiin came down in torrents, and the runaway horses ran down the steep path to the bottom of the ravine, with the girls hanging on with all their might. When Seth and Riley finally got control of their horses, they rode to where they saw the girls disappear. They stopped on the edge of the ravine and looked down. There was a full-fledged flood raging down the ravine, and the girls were nowhere in sight,.
The trial for Rusty Gabe and Ralph Leeman was over and done with, and the jury in Hardin found them guilty and they were hung. Lester Belcher was sentenced to a life sentence along with Brink Waters, and they were transferred to the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie, Wyoming. Jack Belcher was found guilty of fraud, conspiracy to murder and for being a ring leader of murderers, thieves and outlaws. His sentence was carried out and he too was hung by the neck until dead.
Thinking of all that happened brought tears to her eyes as she thought again of her parents. They were so young when they were killed, and Macee still couldn't bring herself to forgive those that took her parents from her.
She heard the bunkhouse door shut and knew she had to help Cookie with breakfast. She so enjoyed her morning solitude and was always sad when she had to get busy. Tyree was the first in the dining room and when Macee came in from the kitchen with platters of food to set on the table, he got up and went to her and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek.
"Hey, what is this all about?" Macee asked. "I just wanted to show you some appreciation of all you do around here and that you would be sorely missed if you should ever leave." Tyree stated. "And where do you think I would go, Tyree, and why would you say anything like that anyway?" she asked. "I have seen the way Dave looks at you, and I think he is more serious about you than you think. I don't know what his plans are Macee, but as of now you are only sixteen, and I think you should be aware of his feelings. I don't want to see you hurt, and if he is serious, I think it would be best if you wait to marry until you are at least eighteen."
Tyree finished talking, took his cup of coffee and went outside. Macee stood there just staring after him, not knowing what to say or think. She really respected her older brother's opinions and decisions about ranching, but he made her feel as if she didn't have sense enough to control her feelings or the situation at hand with Dave. She started for the door to tell him about what she thought of all he said, but just then Dave came up on the veranda.
"Morning Tyree, looks like another great day." Dave said. "Sure enough Dave," replied Tyree. "I think we should ask Trey and get his opinion on taking the herd to the fall pasture. We can leave them there until October and then bring them closer to home for the winter. The other hands have been putting up hay, so we can feed them during cold wintry months."
After everyone had eaten, Tyree asked Trey about his opinion on what he had discussed with Dave. "I think you are right, Tyree," said Trey, "I'll get the hands together and we'll do it today." They saddled up and as they were leaving, Tyree told Macee they wouldn't be back until supper time.
Macee and Cookie were busy cleaning up after breakfast when there was a knock on the door. She was surprised at seeing a woman standing there. Macee saw that the woman had rented a buggy from the livery and she was dressed in very fashionable clothes, with a parasol to match. "I am sorry, I forgot my manners," Macee said, "what can I do for you?" "Is this the Skylar ranch?" the woman asked. "Yes, it is," said Macee, "won't you come in and have coffee?"
"Forgive my rudeness, my name is Emma Reed and I am the daughter of Cain and Lois Reed, the couple that Brink Waters had killed for the land. My parents sent me to Philadelphia five years ago to attend "Finishing School for Young Ladies". I didn't want to go, but mother insisted, saying she never got the chance to study about etiquette or how to use it and when. I lived with my aunt there and six months ago she passed away. She was my mother's sister, and the only relative I had left. There was no one on father's side, so I had no place to go. My Aunt left me financially comfortable and going through her estate, I found the deed to the ranch which is now called the BWSlash. I guess my mother sent the deed to my Aunt to keep safe for me, knowing I would eventually come across it. When my folks sent me back East, I was just fourteen. I know where my folks settled but I hadn't been this way before, so I am impressed at what Alex Skylar has built here. I guess what I am trying to say, is that I want to come back and try to make my folks' place a working ranch again."
Macee just sat there, looking at Emma, with her long soft black hair hanging loosely down her back, and her eyes of dark brown that showed her inner feelings when talking about her parents and Aunt. She was a petite woman, with a pert nose that had sprinkling of freckles and a very pretty smile. Macee liked her right off. "I am so sorry about what has happened to your family," Macee told her, "we lost our parents about a year ago. They were murdered also. That's why Tyree, Riley and I came here to be with Uncle Alex, so we have a lot in common."
"Everyone is out right now bringing the herd from the high meadows, and to take them to the fall pasture. Why don't you stay and have supper with us? Also, where are you staying?" "I have rented a room at the boarding house for now," answered Emma. "I would love to stay for supper." "Great," said Macee. "It is nice to have a woman to talk to. Let's go and unhitch the horse and let him drink and we'll put him in the corral and hay him. I'm sure when you get ready to leave, someone will be glad to help you with the horse."
It was six in the evening when the hands got back to the ranch. They were all dusty and tired and very hungry. When they were seated at the table, Macee said, "I had a visitor today and I invited her to stay for supper. She'll be right in, so I want all of you to mind your manners." When Emma entered the dining room, all heads turned to look at her, and they all stood up at once. The empty chair was next to Tyree's, so he pulled the chair out for Emma. As she sat down, Tyree looked at the others and they all had grins on their faces, and this made Tyree blush and feel uncomfortable.
"Emma," Macee said, "the fellow that just helped you is my older brother Tyree. Next to him, my other brother, Riley, then Seth Andrews, Dave Steele, Trey Beal, the foreman, Greg Ort, and finally, Uncle Alex. Guys, this is Emma Reed. Her folks were killed for the place that joins Uncle Alex. Let's eat and we can talk after supper."
Tyree was very attentive to Emma throughout the meal. He noticed how small she was, and was very pretty, and laughed and joked and seemed quite at ease with all of them. After supper, Tyree asked Emma if she would like to have coffee on the veranda with him, since it was a beautiful clear warm night, she gladly accepted.
After they were settled in the swing, Tyree asked, "So why is it you came back, Miss Reed?" "I have been living in Philadelphia with my Aunt, and she passed away six months ago, and I had no other place to go," Emma said, "I need to find out where I stand, as far as the ranch is concerned. I have a deed to the ranch, but after everything that Brink Waters did, I don't know if I have any legal rights to claim the ranch as my own. I came back here in the hope of settling down, and to make an honest living on the ranch. I know I'll need help, and I wonder if you would be interested in filling the position of manager.
First thing tomorrow I am going to find a lawyer and have him look over the deed I have, and hopefully it will prove I am the rightful owner. Think on what I have asked you Tyree, and we'll discuss it later. Now, I need to be going. I really would appreciate your help in hitching that old bay to the buggy for me." "Sure thing, Miss Reed," said Tyree. "Please, call me Emma as "Miss" sounds so old fashioned," said Emma.
When Tyree brought the buggy around, she noticed he had tied his horse to the buggy. Macee came out to see Emma off, and she said to Tyree, "We'll see you in the morning for breakfast. Good night, Emma, and I hope we will see a lot more of you." " I am sure you will Macee," Emma replied.
On the way back to town, Tyree said "Emma, if you need help, I know Dave would be more than willing to help you legally. He is a lawyer and I know he can find out about the deed. Also, we could go riding tomorrow and look over the place, if you want me to go with you." Emma glanced at Tyree and saw what she liked. He was very handsome, with a dark tan and slightly curly hair and dark brown eyes. He was very muscular and always polite.
"If you want to ride with me tomorrow, I would love to have the company," said Emma, "and also you can help me find the boundaries to my place." "I'll come in and pick you up at around eight, and we have a gentle horse I'll bring for you to ride," stated Tyree. "Sounds great to me, Tyree, and I have guessed you know that I haven't ridden very much, so thanks for the offer of the gentle horse, and I'll be ready at eight." said Emma.
Tyree stopped in front of the boarding house and helped Emma down, told her good night and took the buggy to the livery. Jed Peterson, the stage line proprietor was just coming out of the livery and saw Tyree unhitching the horse.
"Hi," said Jed, "sure is a nice night to be out riding, and with such a beautiful girl." "You are right about that," answered Tyree, "but I guess I haven't seen you around here before." "No, sir, you haven't, and I guess my manners aren't too good. My name is Jed Peterson and I run the stage line here. I have been in Laramie establishing a route from Keeline to Fort Laramie, and on down south to Cheyenne, Wyoming. You must be Tyree Skylar, as I have heard a lot about you, and the description fits." "You are right, and I am glad to meet you. When I'm in town next time, I'll buy you a drink," Tyree said. "I'll look forward to that. Guess I better turn in. Good night," stated Jed.
When Tyree left Keeline and started for home, he was deep in thought about Emma. Why did she come back now, and why did she think the deed wasn't good? All the while she had been away awful happenings went on. Tyree was taken in on her honesty and her beauty, and he hoped that what she wanted now wasn't out of her reach. He couldn't imagine that Brink Waters had legal claim to her property, but only time would tell. He would talk to Dave about looking into the legal affairs for Emma.
The next morning found everyone cheerful and looking at Tyree with questioning looks. "Hey, you guys," exclaimed Tyree, "what is the third degree for?" "I guess what we are silently asking Tyree, is, what time did you get home, and did you and Emma have a good time?" asked Riley.
"Yes we did," Tyree said, "and we talked about riding today hoping to find the boundaries, and have Dave check the deed to make sure it is legal."
"With pleasure Tyree," replied Dave, "and by the way, I have rented a room at the boarding house to set up my law business. I am going there today to open, and put ads in the Keeline Weekly. My business hours will be eight to five, Monday through Friday. If Miss Reed would like to make an appointment, she can leave word with Agatha Montreal, the proprietor of the Montreal Boarding House. Mrs. Montreal said she would be glad to help me in getting my practice started, and I accepted."
"Sounds great Dave," stated Tyree, "and I'll tell Emma today about your willingness to help her."
Macee sat quietly listening to all that was said. She spoke at last and said, "Tyree, why do you think Emma has come back at this particular time? I feel there is more about her appearance here than what she lets on. Please be careful when you are with her."
"You might have something there, Macee," stated Tyree, "I feel there is more to this also than what Emma is telling us. We should all be careful since we know nothing about Emma or what she is really here for."
When Tyree went to saddle his horse, Sky, Riley and Seth came to the corral. "Tyree," said Riley, "please be careful and watch your back. I have this feeling that Miss Reed has more up her sleeve than she is letting on. I just don't want you to get suckered in by her charms."
"I feel the same way that Riley does," implored Seth, "I have been around a lot of women in my time, and believe me they can really make jack asses out of you, and get by with it! Just make sure she is on the up and up."
Tyree stepped into the saddle and said adios, and with the mare, Lady, on a lead rope, headed for town to pick up Emma. He was thinking of what Riley and Seth were warning him about, but couldn't put Emma in the place of a deceitful person, or out to hurt anyone. He really liked her, and until anything else was proven different, he just knew she was only trying to find out if her property was really hers. He would be wary and watchful of her moves, but knew she was not using him in any way, and he felt he could trust her with his life.
When Tyree reached town, it was only a quarter to eight, so he decided to stop and talk with Sheriff Madison. "Morning Sheriff," Tyree said, "looks like things are pretty quiet around here." "Yep," said Sheriff Madison, "but last night was pretty lively. I had to throw a couple of drunks in jail for disturbing the peace, and I ran two more out of town because they thought they could out shoot and outsmart me. They were so into themselves they didn't even know when I helped them on their horses and led them down the road. I took them about ten miles out and told them to keep going, and that I never wanted to see them in Keeline again. Sure was a long night."
"Did you know either of them?" asked Tyree. "No, I didn't, but one of them looked familiar. I'll try and remember where I have seen him before," answered Sheriff Madison. "What are you in town so early for Tyree?" asked Madison.
"I came to pick up Emma Reed, planning to have breakfast this morning, and if it doesn't get too late, we may ride out to her place later," said Tyree. "Why don't you join us for breakfast, Sheriff?" "Glad to, Tyree. I'll meet you at the Trails End Café in about ten minutes," replied the Sheriff.
Tyree went to Emma's room and knocked on her door. "Just a minute," Emma answered, "if that is you, Tyree, I'll meet you at the Trails End Café." "I'll wait here and escort you, Emma," said Tyree, "and I want you to know that Sheriff Madison is going to join us for breakfast." "Oh," Emma exclaimed, "I guess that will be fine." She opened the door and Tyree saw that she wore a brown split riding skirt with a bolero over a white blouse, with brown gloves, and a brown, wide brimmed hat and riding boots with spurs and carrying a quirt. "I am ready, Tyree, and I think it is going to be a splendid day for an outing," she stated. "Yes, and you look lovely," Tyree said.
As they went past the Mercantile on their way to the Trails End, Tyree noticed a young boy sitting on the edge of the walk. He had never seen this boy before, and as the boy looked up at them, Tyree couldn't help but notice the sadness in the boy's eyes. "Emma, did you notice that boy we just passed, and did you happen to look in his eyes?" asked Tyree.
"Yes, I did," Emma said, "and I have never seen such unhappiness in a young person like that before. I wonder who he is and what he is doing here." "Maybe Sheriff Madison will know. We'll ask him at breakfast," said Tyree.
Sheriff Madison was already seated at a table and having coffee when Tyree and Emma entered the cafe. "Sheriff Madison, I think you remember Emma Reed. I know it has been some years since you have seen her, but if you recollect, she went back East for schooling," said Tyree. "By gosh, you are right Tyree," exclaimed Sheriff Madison, "I was a friend of her folks, and I remember Emma as a young girl. I knew her folks sent her back East to stay with her Aunt while she attended finishing school. Golly, Miss Emma, it is nice to see you again." "I remember you also, sheriff," replied Emma, "and I am so glad you helped in finding who murdered my parents. It seems so unfair that they were killed because they owned the land, but I am glad that justice was served." As they sat and ate, Tyree reflected on the death of his parents. It all seemed so senseless that it had happened.
Excerpted from The Skylars by D. E. Miller Copyright © 2012 by D. E. Miller. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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