It has been far too long since I posted here, but with a few hours “release” from hauling fuel … well, take every opportunity to do what you really want.
Here are the first few words from my latest release. It has been quite some time since it was released but it still makes a gift for the reader, those who like a little history and geography hidden within their entertainment. With these first chapters it can give one an idea of what they might be getting either in print versions or in one of the digital formats that can be rushed to someone on-line.
And here is a link to the introduction I posted when Jake was first introduced.
Paying the Price for Rape and Murder
Jake McTavish came out of the winter twenty pounds lighter and a whole lot meaner. Perhaps not meaner than he had been the fall before but definitely more than he had been before his wife had been murdered. That had been slightly more than four years in the past but he had not forgotten anything about it. The more he brooded here in the wilderness the more he detested the company of his fellow man.
That meant it was his fourth year taking furs from the
Finlay River country, and the fourth year he wasn’t
going to have any cash money once he re-supplied for the coming season. He had
collected fur, but not much more than it would take to pay for supplies and
He was leaning against the door frame of his cabin, morning coffee in hand, gazing down toward the river, when he said, “Maybe I’ll just have t’ shoot somebody. That way the government will have t’ feed us ‘til they punch my ticket and bury me.”
Jake wasn’t paying much attention to what he was saying. The words were just noise to fill the empty cabin; and his only companion, the blue tick hound on the floor by the stove, always agreed with him.
After four years of talking to few but the hound Jake was beginning to think the animal understood. Having experienced the intelligence of the animal he had also begun believing he knew what the dog was thinking.
“Yeah, I know, problem with that is we’d have t’ find somebody to shoot,” Jake continued, and then added, “
, we gotta take them furs t’ the fort.
Maybe there’ll be somebody there that’s worth a five-cent bullet.” Chester
If Jake had been serious about shooting someone, perhaps he would have paid more attention to his surroundings. Had he done so, he might have saved himself from an attack on his life. However he did notice the hound briefly lift one eyelid and quickly let it close. Another person viewing his always serious expression probably wouldn’t have believed it but Jake found
’s reaction humorous. They had been out
before dawn checking the few trap sets still near the cabin. The mornings were
still cold and Jake was sure Chester was enjoying the heat of the fire. He also
thought that over the course of the past few years Chester had heard enough of his master’s growling
that he was extremely comfortable ignoring it. Chester
Jake spent the rest of the day closing up camp. He had already tripped any open traps that morning and only had four fresh hides - three beaver and a martin - to set out on drying frames. The few supplies that had managed to make it through the winter he put up in his cache cabin - a solid tree house built high between two pine trees. He gave his canoe a very careful check for damage and placed it in the water, tied securely to the log dock.
He decided to take the fresh hides laced in their drying frames by setting them on the three small bales of furs he would load in the canoe. It was precarious, considering some of the white water he would have to shoot, but he could tie them in place. The alternative was to leave them to be included in next years take, but he thought he needed everything he could get this year. Besides, if he left them he would probably find them ripped up by coyotes or wolves when he returned. Leaving them in the cabin or cache would fill those structures with enough stink to attract a grizzly. Given enough incentive a silver tip would break into anything.
The first part of the trip went as Jake had planned; and since it was his fourth trip down to
this was not a particular surprise. It had
been a short, mild winter and he was late enough in the season that he saw very
little ice, except for a few small pieces melting away from their perches on
driftwood where they had been forced by the earlier heavy run off. The water
was still high enough that he could avoid portaging, but low enough that he
managed to keep the canoe upright with his cargo inside the craft. Ft. St. John
Some stretches of river did create heart pounding moments. Jake was not one to admit it, even to himself, but adrenaline flowed and he worked hard to avoid rocks and whirlpools.
, in his assigned space at the front of the
canoe, put his chin on the ribbing and his paws over his nose. Chester
There was just enough light for Jake to shoot the last rapids on the Finlay, and enough dark that he could steer wide around the settlement of Finlay Forks without attracting attention. Everyone stopped at the landing. After a winter in the bush most men wanted company and conversation. Jake wanted neither. He also didn’t want to put up with fur traders trying to deal him out of his pelts for less than top price.
Two men did see him from the dock as he turned into the
Peace River. One was known as Sam Twice. He had been
born into the Beaver Nation but was accepted at no lodge, including that of his
own family. The other was Martin Prentice, a man who definitely was wanted. He was wanted by the law in
both the State of and the New York . The town police in Province of Ontario and Winnipeg would have also liked to talk to him, but
they were not aware he was the one who had committed the crimes. Calgary
In the twilight Sam Twice made a flicking motion with one finger toward the silhouette out on the water. “Him maybe got fur,” he said.
“I expect he does,” Martin agreed. He took a swig from the jug he held and passed it to Sam. “Perhaps he also has a small poke of gold he’s panned out of streams.”
“Why him not come in?” Sam asked. He flicked a finger toward the large cabin that served as store, saloon, and hotel as long as one wasn’t too particular about prices, liquor quality, or sleeping on the floor. He took a swig from the jug which the two had purchased at the store. Sam didn’t care about the quality of the refreshment since he had never had anything better.
“I expect he wants more than half price for his pelts,” Martin replied. “He’ll take them down to
where he’ll get as much as he can get in
this country.” Ft. St. John
“Don’ like that man boss that
place,” Sam said. “He marry Beaver girl.
She nice girl, one time.” Fort John
Martin looked at Sam a moment. He knew there was much about Sam’s past that he didn’t know, but he didn’t really care. Sam was useful from time to time, and that was all the mattered. “I heard his wife was Cree, but what do I know? I’ve never even seen the woman.”
Sam grunted, giving Martin no idea what he meant.
Martin waved toward the silhouette of man and canoe fading into the gathering darkness. “Now, that pilgrim will undoubtedly stop for the night. Tomorrow he’ll go on to
. If we were to float down the river right
now we could be at Portage Mountain to meet him.” Portage
“I like maybe stay here an’ drink,” Sam objected. He wasn’t one to hasten toward any effort that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
“How would you like to have a nice canoe?” Martin asked.
Sam looked at Martin with hard, cold eyes. “I get canoe an’ you get fur?”
“No, no,” Martin objected. “We split the furs and you get the canoe. After all, I already have a canoe.”
Sam nodded several times, then placed the cork in the jug and hit it with the heel of his hand. “We go.”
There was no question about pulling out of the water upriver from
. Even in late August, when the water flow
may have dropped several feet, no one in their right mind would try to shoot
the Portage Mountain . Peace Canyon
It was mid afternoon of their second day of travel when Jake pulled in to the river bank.
jumped out onto dry ground and ran to the
nearest aspen where he lifted his leg. Chester
Pulling the canoe up so the current couldn’t take it, Jake said, “Mighty fine idea,
. You’re a smart dog.” Chester
Jake unloaded his canoe and dragged the craft up onto dry ground.
sat on his haunches, looked at the bales
of furs and supplies, swung his gaze up the trail, and then looked back at the
“We ain’t in a hurry,
. We’ll spend the night here. Go see if yuh
can find a rabbit.” Chester
At the start and end of any portage there are well-used camp areas; and if the trail to more water is long enough, more stopping places along the way. The
trail - a long walk without carrying a pack - was no exception. There were several
sites that had been used on the upriver end. Jake chose one of the spots as far
back as possible from the trail end and riverbank and started his fire. If
there were other travellers, he wanted to avoid company if possible. He didn’t
mind carrying a little water. Portage Mountain
While the fire burned down to coals he moved his freight and canoe up to the camp site. Gathering firewood, he noticed a small aspen sapling and cut it with his knife. Back at the fire he skewered a piece of moose meat with the green stick and drove the butt end of the stick into the ground so the meat was suspended over the coals.
As the meat was heating up to a sizzle he mixed up some bannock batter, wound it around another piece of green stick and propped that over the fire.
“You’re getting lazy, old man,” Jake said. “First smell o’ cookin’ meat an’ you come back.”
He turned his gaze to the hound and saw the relaxed, satisfied look and the long tongue licking lips.
“I apologise, old man. I don’t know what you mighta found t’ eat on this pile o’ rocks, but you’ve found somethin’.”
When he finished eating and washing up, Jake threw a couple of sticks on the fire and propped the canoe up so it would collect and hold the heat for his bed. He propped himself up against a dry log, loaded his pipe and leaned back puffing contentedly.
“Nothin’ wrong with this, Ches. Nice warm night.”
Surprised at his master’s good mood,
During breakfast the next morning Jake decided to continue taking it easy. Even though the two bundles of furs were not very large he would pack them around the mountain one at a time. The four fresh plews had not been properly treated, but they were dry so he decided to tie them on to one of the bundles. He pulled a bag full of string and sinew from his possibles pack and wrapped the hides in place, cutting the ends of sinew off and putting them back in the bag.
He was already on the trail when he realized he hadn’t put his knife back in the sheath. He hesitated, decided he would pick it up on the next trip, and started off again.
He had only taken a few steps when he heard
off the trail to his right. There was the
beginning of a bark followed by a howl that was abruptly cut off. Jake swung
the pack of furs from his shoulders, dropped it to the trail, and stepped into
the brush. Chester
There was blinding pain from the back of his skull. He saw a light as bright as the sun. Then he fell into blackness.