JOHNSTONE’S AMERICA. THE GOLD STANDARD.
From the acclaimed chroniclers of the Old West comes the epic saga of the great American Gold Rush—and the boldhearted dreamers who made it all happen. . . .
THEY CALLED THEM THE FORTY-NINERS.
In January of 1848, the discovery of gold at Sutters Mill in California sparked a nationwide frenzy, fueling the dreams of Americans from coast to coast. By 1849, hundreds of thousands of fortune hunters from across the globe headed west to stake their claim. Armed with pan or pickaxe, driven by greed or glory, every last one of them was determined to strike it rich—or die trying. . . .
For Cord Bennett, it was more than a dream. California was his destiny—even if he didn’t know it yet. Forced to leave his family farm in the Ozarks, he reluctantly joins his two older brothers on the treacherous journey west. Together, they would endure harsh weather, fierce tribal attacks, and roving outlaws. But their biggest challenge comes when they reach the gold-rich canyon of Rio Oro. This small makeshift town is barely more than a campsite for prospectors—but the men who control it are as ruthless as any big-city criminals. And twice as deadly . . .
This is the story of the men and women who risked their lives to make their fortunes in a boundless land of opportunity. But sometimes, all that glitters is not gold. And where there’s gold, there’s gunfire . . .
Release date: February 20, 2024
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
Print pages: 368
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William W. Johnstone
Cord Bennett laid his cheek against the smooth wood of the rifle stock, peered over the barrel at his target, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger.
The old flintlock boomed and kicked hard against his shoulder. Gray smoke gushed from the barrel. For a moment, Cord couldn’t see what he’d just shot at.
Then the smoke cleared, and he spotted the small, furry shape lying on the ground at the base of the tree. A moment earlier, the squirrel had been standing on a branch, chattering away.
The critter was dead now, head clipped clean off by the ball from Cord’s rifle. That left the body intact for skinning, cleaning, and plunking in the stewpot.
Along with the other three squirrels Cord had shot earlier during his tramp through the woods, they would make a nice mess of vittles. Enough to feed Cord, his pa, and his two brothers for a couple of meals, anyway.
Cord walked over to the trees to pick up the squirrel he’d just shot and add it to the bounty in the sack slung over his shoulder. He was glad it had been a productive jaunt and he wouldn’t come home empty-handed.
Whistling a little tune, Cord started to walk off, but then he stopped. Even though there was nothing all that dangerous in these woods, a smart man reloaded his rifle as soon as he got a chance after using it. An empty rifle wasn’t worth a blamed thing unless the threat got close enough to use it as a club. It was just a burden.
Once the flintlock was ready to fire again, Cord started home. In his early twenties, he was of medium height but appeared slightly stocky because of the heavy muscles he had developed working on the farm. His back and shoulders stretched the fabric of the homespun shirt he wore.
He had no hat, so the sun beat down on the thick shock of light brown hair on his head. His face was open and friendly, often smiling, an indicator of his stubborn determination to make the best of things, no matter how bad they got.
And here lately, they had gotten pretty bad.
He emerged from the trees and came out at the top of a bare slope overlooking the little mountain valley where the Bennett family farm was located. Smoke curled from the stone chimney at one end of the log cabin.
Beyond it was the shed where the milk cow and the two mules were kept, and past that was the hog pen. Chickens pecked futilely at the bare ground between the cabin and the shed and pen. Maybe they thought they saw some bugs, but Cord was pretty sure they were mistaken.
The fields stretched off to the left, toward the head of the valley. They looked pretty pathetic. The corn was dying from the hot, dry weather. The fruit trees in the little orchard had produced what looked, earlier in the summer, like it might be a pretty good crop.
But now the fruit was shriveling up, too. Nothing could grow worth a lick in weather like this. Even the hog pen had just about dried up, and the hogs were covered with crusted dirt instead of mud. They looked miserable.
And the worst part of it was, this was the second summer in a row with such prevailing conditions. The relief the area had gotten during the previous fall and winter hadn’t been enough to allow things to recover.
Cord shook his head and told himself not to dwell on such things. You had to take the world and do what you could with it. You sure couldn’t reach up to the sky and shake the rain out of it, no matter how much you might feel like doing that.
He saw no sign of his older brothers Flint and Steve and didn’t know if they were inside the cabin or off somewhere else. Not that it mattered. Cord couldn’t blame them for not working. What could they do . . . what could anybody do . . . in weather like this.
A moment later, his pa come out of the cabin and walked around toward the shed and hog pen. Verne Bennett was tall and rake-thin, with white hair under his shapeless old hat and a white beard. Cord saw the sun flash off something his pa was holding and realized Verne had a knife.
He was going to butcher one of the hogs, Cord thought, thinning the bunch even more. Eventually the hogs would all be gone.
That wasn’t necessary today, not with the bounty Cord was bringing in. Cord leaned the rifle against a nearby tree and cupped his hands around his mouth to shout, “Pa, wait!” The words echoed from the hills that surrounded the valley.
Verne halted and looked around toward the hill where Cord stood. At that moment, Cord caught a flash of movement from the corner of his eye and turned his head to the left to look along the valley.
Dust rose in that direction. After a second, he spotted the buggy heading toward the farm. He waved his arm so his pa could see and then pointed in that direction.
That was a stroke of luck. Verne turned away from the hog pen so he could greet the visitor, whoever that might be. Mountain hospitality wouldn’t allow him to do any less. That would give Cord time to get down the hill and let his pa know about the squirrels in his sack.
It rankled a little, knowing Pa hadn’t had any confidence that he’d bring back some game.
By the time Cord reached the bottom of the hill, the buggy had stopped in front of the cabin. He saw sunlight flash again, this time on fair hair, not the blade of a butcher knife. His heart gave a little jump in his chest as he recognized Caroline Stockton on the buggy seat.
Cord had been sweet on Caroline for almost as far back as he could remember. Her pa had a much more successful farm than the Bennett place in the next valley over, and Hiram Stockton also owned several businesses in the nearby settlement of Wilbur. He was rich, at least according to Boston Mountain standards.
And he wasn’t fond of the idea of his daughter getting mixed up with a hardscrabble farmer like Cord.
Luckily for Cord, Caroline didn’t seem to feel the same way. She’d been friendly ever since they were kids, and as they got older, that friendship showed signs of maturing into something deeper.
Cord sure hoped so, anyway.
As he walked up, his father was standing beside the buggy horse, holding the animal’s headstall while Caroline sat on the seat. She turned to Cord with an excited smile and said, “There you are! I was hoping you’d be here.”
“Where else would I be?” Cord asked, then immediately felt like an idiot for saying that.
“Why, off tramping around in the woods, of course. You like to do that better than anything else, don’t you?” She gestured toward the sack slung from his shoulder. “And I see that’s exactly what you’ve been doing.”
Cord glanced down at his side. Blood from the squirrels had soaked through the cloth and was dripping slowly from the bottom of the sack. He was embarrassed that somebody as refined as Caroline had to witness such a crude spectacle.
He muttered, “Let me do something with these,” and started to turn away, but his pa stopped him.
“What you got there, boy?” Verne asked. “Squirrel or possum?”
“Squirrel. Four of ’em.”
“Well, give ’em here. I’ll tend to ’em whilst you talk to Miss Caroline. I expect it’s you she come to see, more’n me.”
She said, “I always enjoy visiting with you, Mr. Bennett. You know that.”
“Mebbe so, but I’m a better hand at cleanin’ critters than Cord is, so I’ll handle that chore.” Verne took the sack that Cord handed him and added, “Boy’s a better shot than me, though, I’ll sure give him that.”
Still feeling a little awkward and embarrassed, Cord watched his father walk around toward the back of the cabin and then said, “Pa’s the one who taught me how to shoot, so if I’m any good at it, he deserves the credit.”
“Along with your natural talent,” Caroline said. She waved a slim hand. “But I didn’t come here to talk about shooting squirrels. I came to see if you’d heard the news.”
Cord didn’t care about any news Caroline might have brought. He would have been content just to stand there and look at her, with her curly blond hair under a blue sun bonnet. She wore a matching blue dress that was store-bought, not homemade, and tight enough to reveal the appealing curves of her figure. Her blue eyes twinkled, and her red lips curved.
Cord had never seen a prettier girl.
Things might have gotten even more awkward if he hadn’t realized that she was waiting for a response from him. He tried to look like he was interested as he said, “What news? We don’t hear much of anything out here unless somebody comes by, and you’re the first one in days.”
“Joe Dalrymple, you know, the man who has the freight wagon, he delivered a load of goods to my father’s store this morning. He’d been up in Springfield and heard all about it there.”
“Heard all about what?” Cord asked, shaking his head a little in confusion.
“Why, the gold, of course.” Caroline’s voice held a note of awe and excitement as she went on, “They’ve found gold in California. Tons and tons of gold!”
The tavern on the settlement’s outskirts didn’t have a sign or even a name, officially. Folks just called it Abijah’s Place, after the owner, Abijah Spencer. A squat building constructed of logs and stone, it had several tiny log huts behind it where Abijah’s brood of daughters worked.
From time to time, the pastors of the two churches in Wilbur—Baptist and Methodist—tried to rouse the righteous fury of the townsfolk against the sordid enterprise Abijah ran, but they never got very far with the effort. Too many of the settlement’s upright male citizens liked to slip out to Abijah’s place of a night and pay an occasional visit to his girls.
The tavern wasn’t very busy in the middle of the afternoon like this, but it was a hot day, and half a dozen customers were in the place, seeking refuge from the sun. The heat was like a fist in the face to any man foolish enough to step outside.
Flint Bennett picked up the big cup of beer in front of him and swallowed some of the bitter, brackish stuff. It wasn’t good, but it was wet, and if a man drank enough of it, it dulled the desperation somewhat.
On the other side of the table, Steve Bennett reached out with his empty cup to scoop more beer from the bucket the brothers had bought earlier with the last of their coins. Flint curled his lip in a snarl. Steve pulled his hand back without filling the cup.
“Sorry, Flint,” he said.
“Don’t go gettin’ more than your share,” Flint said.
“Didn’t mean to, I swear. Reckon I, uh, just forgot how much I’d had.”
“Never lose track of how much you’ve had to drink.” As the oldest Bennett brother, Flint regarded it as his job to dispense such bits of wisdom. “You want to get just drunk enough to take the edge off, but never so drunk that anybody can take advantage of you.”
Steve nodded. “Yeah, I’ll remember that.”
He probably wouldn’t, though, Flint brooded. Steve had never been very bright. He had gotten the size in the family, towering over Flint and the youngest brother, Cord, but not the brains. Flint was the one who had gotten the smarts, and Cord had gotten the shooting eye, along with a stubborn, annoying sense of right and wrong.
Cord didn’t know how to look at things from a practical standpoint. Flint did.
Life just hadn’t given him enough chances yet to demonstrate that ability. But sooner or later it would, Flint believed, and then he would show everybody how much a man with ruthless drive and determination could achieve.
Until then, he thought wryly, he would sit here and drink beer in this squalid tavern and whorehouse.
“You reckon all of Abijah’s girls are asleep?”
Flint didn’t realize at first that his brother had asked him a question. He gave a little shake of his head to break out of his reverie and then said disgustedly, “It’s the middle of the day. Besides, those cabins don’t have any windows. Shut the door and it’d be like an oven in there.”
“I don’t care if the door’s open.”
“No, you wouldn’t. But we spent the last of our money on the beer, remember? Anyway, we have other things to do.”
Flint’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the table where four men sat playing cards. He recognized three of them: a farmer from up in the hills foolishly losing what little bit of money he’d saved up, and two store clerks from here in Wilbur. They were losing steadily, too.
The fourth man, the stranger, was the only one who appeared to be winning regularly. He’d built up a nice pile of coins in front of him. He was dressed well enough in a suit and beaver hat that Flint took him to be a traveling gambler. Those other fellas at the table never really had a chance. They should’ve had more sense than to play with him.
But if everybody had good sense, the world would be a tougher place for a smart man to survive in.
“I’m out,” the farmer announced as he threw in his cards. The sigh he let out held all the weariness in the world. “I’m plumb busted. My wife ain’t gonna be happy.”
“My condolences, friend,” the stranger said, not sounding the least bit sincere. “How about you other two gentlemen?”
Both clerks folded. One of them said, “That’s the last money you’ll take from me today, mister. I’m done.”
The second clerk nodded.
The stranger began stacking up the coins from the pile. “Well, then, better luck next time,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed our game and will gladly give you a chance to win back some of your funds any time you’d like.”
The other men just stood up, shook their heads, and started toward the open door.
From behind the crude bar, Abijah called, “You gents want me to go wake up the gals?”
One of the clerks said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Spencer. I don’t have any more money.” He waved toward the gambler. “This fella done took it all.”
The gambler spun one of the coins on the table and said, “I’d be willing to stand you to a bit of female companionship, lad. As a gesture of goodwill, let’s say.”
The young clerk just shook his head, muttered, “Too blasted hot,” and followed the other two out into the sunlight.
Behind the bar, Abijah sighed in regret at the missed business. But the day was far from over.
The gambler packed his winnings away in a leather poke and slipped it inside his frock coat. Abijah asked hopefully, “Want some whiskey or beer, mister?”
“No, the best thing to do in weather like this is to sleep it away,” the gambler said as he got to his feet. “I have a room at Mrs. Kent’s boarding house. I believe I’ll see if I can catch a breeze, and a few winks, there. But I’ll be back later.” He glanced across the room at the table where Flint and Steve sat. “Unless you gentlemen would be interested in a game . . . ?”
“We’re broke, mister,” Flint said in a flat voice.
The gambler shrugged and went out.
Flint and Steve had continued to drink. The bucket was empty now except for the dregs. Flint picked it up, drained the last of the beer, and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. He stood up. Steve did likewise, because Steve always followed Flint’s lead.
Abijah didn’t even try to talk them into staying. He knew he’d gotten all he was going to get from the Bennett brothers today.
Flint picked up the pace as he turned and followed a path that ran behind the buildings along Wilbur’s main street. Even though Flint was almost trotting, Steve’s height and long legs allowed him to keep up with ease.
“Where are we goin’?” Steve asked. “It’s kinda hot to be runnin’.”
“You’ll see,” Flint said, panting a little from the heat.
They reached the back of a house with a number of trees around and behind it that provided some shade, anyway. Flint hurried through the side yard. He came up to the corner just as the beaver-hatted gambler turned off the road and started toward the house’s front door.
“Hey, mister,” Flint called softly.
With a surprised frown on his lean face, the man looked toward Flint. A look of recognition appeared. He recalled seeing Flint at Abijah’s place a few minutes earlier.
“Change your mind about that game? Perhaps Mrs. Kent would allow us to use her parlor—”
Flint let out a bark of laughter that interrupted the suggestion. “That old biddy don’t hold with gambling. If she knew you make your living with a deck of cards, she never would’ve rented you a room. What’d you tell her you do?”
The gambler strolled closer and grinned. “I told the lady that I’m a traveling salesman, which happens to be the truth.”
“Oh? What do you sell?”
Flint chuckled. “I get it. The hope of winning at cards against you. But there ain’t much chance of that, is there?”
“There’s always a chance. Anything can happen in this world.”
“Yes, indeed, it can.” Flint glanced at the street. Nobody was in sight. No surprise there. Nobody moved around much in weather like this. “You want to make some real money?”
The gambler looked suspicious, of course. “How would I go about doing that?”
“My brother and I have a horse, a racehorse. Mighty fast, but the thing of it is, just to look at him, you wouldn’t think he could run a lick. We’ve been going around the state, matching him against horses that the locals think are fast, and of course they always bet on their own nags. We’ve been cleanin’ up.”
The gambler nodded. “Sounds like a lucrative enterprise, all right . . . but one that’s necessarily limited, too. Word’s bound to get around about what you’re doing, and then you won’t get any takers.”
“I know,” Flint said. “In fact, that’s already started to happen. That’s why we’re lookin’ to take on a partner, somebody who can front for us while we lie low for a spell. It’s worth a third of the take, if you’re interested.”
The gambler stroked his chin and frowned in thought. “It seems that I’d be running all the risk,” he said after a moment. “I believe I should have two thirds.”
“Two thirds!” Flint repeated. “But the horse belongs to us.” He considered for a moment, then went on, “Half. And my brother and I will split the other half.”
“We have a deal . . . potentially. However, I have to see the horse first and make sure I believe the scheme is feasible.”
“Well, of course,” Flint said. He jerked a thumb toward the rear of the property. “He’s in the trees back there. You can take a look at him right now.”
The gambler hesitated, then shrugged. “All right. Show me.”
“Come on.” As the three men started toward the trees, Flint added, “This is my brother, by the way.”
“Howdy,” Steve said.
The gambler just nodded.
As they entered the trees, Flint glanced over his shoulder toward the house. The windows were empty. Nobody was watching. The heat had dulled everybody’s senses, including the gambler’s. Flint had made up the story as he went along, spinning it out of whole cloth, but the stranger had accepted it, even though Flint thought it wasn’t one of his better efforts.
The trees grew thicker and closed around them. Flint said, “The horse is right up here—”
He fell silent as the gambler stopped short and then took a quick step back so that Flint and Steve went on ahead a few feet before coming to a halt. When Flint looked around, he saw that the gambler had produced a gun from somewhere.
It was a short-barreled revolver, the sort where the trigger dropped down into sight when the hammer was pulled back, as happened now when the gambler cocked the weapon.
“How stupid do you think I am?” he demanded. “Did you honestly believe I would fall for that ridiculous story? Obviously, you made it up on the spot so you could lure me back here and rob me of the money you saw me win in that squalid tavern. And in broad daylight, no less! The only reason I played along with you was to see how far you’d push this farce.”
“You’ve got it all wrong, mister,” Flint said. “We really have this racehorse—”
“Bah! Don’t heap insults atop more insults. I should just shoot you both and be done with it.”
“Mister,” Steve spoke up, taking both the gambler and Flint by surprise, “what kind of gun is that? I don’t reckon I ever saw one like it before.”
“What? Why do you . . . This is what they call a Baby Paterson. It’s a five-shot revolver, so I have plenty of rounds for both of you, if you force me to use it.”
“What caliber is it?”
The gambler looked even more confused. “It’s a twenty-eight caliber—”
“Mister,” Steve said, “you could shoot me with all five rounds from that little bitty gun, and it wouldn’t come close to stoppin’ me before I got my hands on you.”
Hope jumped up in Flint again. He said, “And once my brother gets his hands on you, he can twist your head right off your shoulders in the blink of an eye. So just go ahead and shoot, if you want to be sure of dying.”
The gambler looked a little scared now, and a lot less confident that the gun would protect him.
“How . . . how about if I shoot you instead?”
“Oh, well, then you’d die for sure,” Flint said with a grin. “My brother would see to that. Wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah,” Steve said, “I’d kind of have to.”
“Well, then . . . then . . . what in blazes do you want from me?” the gambler asked as he started to back away.
“Don’t run,” Flint warned him. “That’ll just get my brother worked up even more. Somebody runs away from him, and he can’t help but chase ’em. As for what we want . . . we’re not unreasonable men. How much did you win in that poker game?”
“I . . . I’m not sure. Around sixty dollars, I think?”
“All right. Give us forty of it. A three-way split, just like I first suggested about the racehorse.”
Steve said, “I thought we agreed to half and half.”
“That was before this man pulled a gun on us,” Flint said.
“Oh. Yeah. That was kind of a mean thing to do, mister.”
“You want me to just give you forty dollars—”
“You still get to keep twenty,” Flint said. “That’s a good day’s work. And you’re alive to move on and fleece some more gents somewhere else.”
“But that’s robbery!”
“I call it a good deal.”
“What’s to stop me from giving you the money and then reporting your crime to the law?”
“First of all, the town marshal is sixty years old and don’t take kindly to being disturbed. And you don’t know who we are.”
“I don’t know your names, but I know you’re brothers, and how many men around here will fit your descriptions?”
“You’re still thinkin’ that folks in these parts will cooperate with you,” Flint said. “These are the Ozarks, friend, and you’re an outsider. Nobody’s gonna care about you. We could kill you and take all the money and leave you in these woods, and nobody would raise a fuss. So . . .” Flint extended a hand in front of him. “Do the smart thing. Hand over that poke.”
“You said you’d take forty dollars!”
“And that’s what I intend to do. I’ll count it out so you can see.” Flint grinned. “What, don’t you trust me?”
The gambler sighed, lowered the gun just a little, and fished the leather poke from his coat with his other hand. He tossed it to Flint, who caught it deftly and laughed.
Five minutes later and forty dollars richer—Flint had kept his word—the brothers walked through the woods toward the valley where the Bennett farm was located.
Steve asked, “You reckon that fella will try to make trouble anyway?”
“No, he’ll consider himself lucky and clear out of Wilbur as fast as he can.”
“You’re sure smart, Flint. You always know what folks will do.”
“Most of the time,” Flint said. It bothered him that the gambler had managed to pull a gun on them like that. He had believed he’d fooled the man. But Steve, bless his heart, had played things just right. All he’d done was tell the truth, of course—that little gun wouldn’t have stopped him—but it was the right moment to do so.
A few minutes later, Steve said, “Flint . . . ?”
“We don’t really have a racehorse, do we?”
Flint laughed and reached up to clap a hand on his brother’s broad shoulder. “No, we don’t, Steve. But maybe one of these days we will. One of these days.”
“Gold?” Cord echoed as he looked up at Caroline. “In California?”
“That’s right.” She held out a hand to him. “Help me down, so we can get out of this sun, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
He wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to hold her hand, even if it was only for long enough to assist her from the buggy. When she was on the ground, he risked continuing to grasp her hand as he led her toward the big shade tree at the far end of the cabin.
“I can get you a dipper of water from the bucket if you’d like,” he offered.
“No, I’m fine. I just wanted to see you, Cord.”
He glanced toward the cabin. His pa was nowhere in sight. Probably still around on the other side, messing with those squirrels.
“You don’t know how happy I am to hear you say that, Caroline.”
“Oh, I think I can make a good guess,” she said, the sparkle in her eyes growing more mischievous.
He knew she was friendly and flirtatious, that was just her nature, not prim and proper and stiff-necked like most girls. But there was something special in the way she acted around him, like it wasn’t just a pose but rather her genuine feelings.
“I suspect you’ll be even happier to hear this,” she went on, as she turned toward him in the shade of the leafy branches and rested a hand on his chest. “I’d very much like for you to kiss me right now.”
Cord had to grin for a second, but then he got serious and obliged her.
Nothing tasted sweeter than Caroline Stockton’s lips, and the heat of the sun paled next to their warmth. Cord put his arms around her, reveling in the feel of that lithe, slim body in his arms, and kissed her until his heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was about to bust clean out of his chest.
Both of them were a little breathless when they finally pulled away from each other.
“I really shouldn’t allow you to be so forward,” she said in a mock-scolding voice.
“I seem to recollect that it was you who suggested doing that,” he reminded her.
“Well, one of these days I’m liable to suggest something else, and what are you going to do then, Cord Bennett?”
He wouldn’t have thought it was possible for his heart to slug any harder in his chest, but sure enough, it was. He cleared his throat and said, “I, uh, I reckon we’ll find out.”
Caroline laughed. “Yes, I reckon we will. But for now, I want to tell you about the gold!”
“It was found several months ago, at a place called Sutter’s Mill. As I understand from what Mr. Dalrymple said, a man was building a sawmill on the American River, wherever that is, and he found gold nuggets in the stream. Big chunks of gold, fabulously valuable! When people started looking around, they were able to dig more nuggets right out of the ground. Except for the places where they were just sitting out in the open!”
“Chunks of gold, sitting out in the open,” Cord said.
“Sounds pretty far-fetched to me.” He didn’t want to throw cold water on Caroline’s enthusiasm, but what she was saying didn’t seem like it could be real.
“Well, I haven’t seen them with my own eyes, of course,” she said, her tone a little cooler now, “but Mr. Dalrymple said that he’d read numerous accounts in the newspapers, and they all claimed the same thing. It’s the most fabulous discovery of wealth in history.”
“If that’s true, I bet there’ll be a heap of people flocking to California, all of them hoping to lay their hands on some of that gold.”
“Of course there will be. Why, if I wasn’t a girl, I’d be tempted to go myself!” She shook her head. “Not that my father would ever allow such a thing. But it sounds like a grand adventure, doesn’t it?”
“If you’re the sort who likes grand adventures,” Cord allowed.
She stared at him in amazement and said, “But who doesn’t?”
Well, him, for one, he thought. He’d never been the sort to want to go off gallivanting across the country. That was all well and good for other people, but he’d always been content to live right here in the mountains and work on the farm.
Of course, life had been a mite less satisfying after his ma passed away from a fever several years earlier. That had taken a toll on his pa and his brother Steve, too, although Flint seemed to bear up under the loss just fine. Flint wasn’t much for sen. . .
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