Chris Scott Wilson Writer
‘Stay there, Ruth,’ Kate Lantz commanded without turning.
‘Why?’ the girl whined.
‘Do as I say.’ On hearing the firmness in her mother's voice the girl ducked back inside the Concord stagecoach. A muttering could be heard, then the door swung open again. A dark-skinned man in a business suit stepped down, glanced at the smoking building, then his eyes fell on Josh stooping over the man. He came to stand next to Kate Lantz and laid a hand on her arm.
‘Señora Lantz, I think perhaps it would be better if you returned to the coach.’
Kate turned to look at him blankly but his face showed no emotion. ‘Mr Servada?’
His shoulder moved. ‘Señora, there may be others.’
‘It's not like this where I come from,’ she said weakly as he gently turned her away from the staked body. He smiled apologetically.
‘Unfortunately, Señora, this is still the frontier and alas it is yet wild. One must expect these things.’
‘Perhaps you are right,’ she conceded, absurdly thinking how gentlemanly this Mexican was. He was obviously wealthy and therefore must be an important man. It shocked her that she should be thinking this way when a drama had just occurred. She accepted his offered arm and stepped back up into the coach.
Inside, her daughter's face was inquisitive. ‘What's happened, mama?’
Still thinking of Mr Servada, Kate answered. ‘Someone has attacked the station. There's a dead man out there.’
‘Indians, must be Indians,’ the coach's last occupant blurted. Kate Lantz looked at him. He was a drummer, a traveling salesman in ladies' underwear. His name was William Loving (no relation, he confessed, to the other famous Loving, the Texas cattleman) and during a short stop-over at Fort Smith in Arkansas he had tried to interest her in a whalebone corset. She had declined, quite offended he thought her figure required support. Now he was agitated, brushing at the trail-dust that had seeped through the window onto his grey checked suit, then consulting his watch that hung from his vest chain or smoothing the rim of his derby hat, lifting it away from his thinning fair which was carefully smoothed across his sweating scalp.
‘Indians, I knew it,’ he repeated. ‘I shouldn't have taken this job. Should never have listened. Frontier women don't need our garments. Now this. Indians. I knew it, I knew it. They're savages. We'll all be killed.’ Towards the end hysteria had begun to creep into the edge of his voice.
‘Shut up,’ Kate Lantz said quietly, with an underlying tone that said she meant it. When she caught his eye she glanced meaningfully at her daughter Ruth and he caught her drift.
‘Quite,’ he said, looking again at his watch.
He was right, Kate Lantz thought. As their days had passed in mutual discomfort inside the bucking coach she too had been wondering whether she had done the right thing. But the letter from her sister, Emily, had implored her to go to Tucson. Emily had reasoned the new country would make Kate forget the death of her husband, James, all the quicker. At the time she had thought perhaps it might, but looking at the land that stretched away on either side of the stage trail she had begun to realize how small her world had been. Her little house in a suburb of St Louis with its handkerchief-sized yard full of flowers she had planted while James ran the sawmill. Her life had been happy and fulfilled, secure until the accident had happened. Then her days had become a haze of meaningless hours, held together only by the need to care for Ruth. But this country out here, it was so wild. Desert and mountains, the
The Fight at Hueco Tanks
“ Chris Scott Wilson does a fine job of interpreting historical research and weaving it into an exciting novel, The Fight at Hueco Tanks. Wilson credibly depicts the mind-set, fears, and prejudices of both the white and Native American cultures during the turbulent Apache wars era of the 19th Century, American Southwest. His final product is an interesting and stirring account. If you want to read an intriguing story of the West with a touch of realism and a bunch of adventure, The Fight at Hueco Tanks is well worth your time.” Randy D. Smith, author