Follow the paths of Sarah and Will (or Sam) as they tell their stories of trust, secrets, and betrayal on the frontier in the old West. Their pioneer spirit helped to fuel the expansion into the Western territories of the United States. The two are historically on their separate journeys, yet they remain intimately connected. Through the fictionalized Western frontier tale of Sam and Sarah, the author, Beverly Scott, was inspired to reveal rumored secrets from her family history.
In 1878, Will is on the run after killing a man in a barroom gunfight. He escapes the Texas Rangers by joining a cattle drive as a cook headed to Dodge City. He struggles with the dilemma of saving his life or attempting to return to his pregnant wife and five children. Just when he thinks he might be able to return home, he is confronted by a bounty hunter who captures him and plans to return him to Fort Worth, Texas to be hanged.
Although Will changes his name to Sam, he remains an irresponsible, lonely and untrustworthy man on the dodge from the law who abandons the women he loves. He ultimately seeks redemption and marries Sarah.
In 1911, Sarah, a pioneer woman and widow with five children struggles to find the inner strength to overcome betrayal, loneliness, fears, and self-doubt. Her husband, Sam, thirty years her senior, died with a mysterious and defiant declaration, “I won’t answer!”. Despite poverty and a crippling illness, she draws on her pioneer spirit to hold her family together and return to Nebraska to be near her parents and siblings.
When Sarah returns to Nebraska she receives staggering news which complicates her efforts to support her children. She is shocked, angry and emotionally devastated. Since she is attempting to establish herself in the community as a teacher, she believes she must keep her secret even from her own family. Will Sarah find forgiveness in her heart and the resolve to accept her new life alone?
Chapter 2: Afterwards
In the afternoon, I gently washed Sam's thin body. His ribs had pushed against his skin. His knees looked like knobs on sticks. He had wasted away in the last weeks. I held his hand and stroked his withered finger, injured during the War. My tears and sadness flowed all over him as I washed him and whispered goodbye. I told him that despite his rough edges, he was good to me. I would miss his wisdom, his care and support, his companionship. Then I dressed him in his best pants and shirt. His black hair was only flecked with gray even now. I stared for a long time remembering the dark handsome man I married almost twenty years before.
Afterward, I stepped outside. The winter light was fading. From the door, I could just barely see the rocky brown hills. They seemed rude, pushing up through the dry grasslands, demanding that I notice them. No sign of human disturbance in this barren landscape except for our animal shed.
I felt myself shiver. The wind was unusually still for New Mexico, but the air was crisp and cold. I went back inside. I wanted to feel the heat from the fire in the stove. I wanted to be warm, really warm. I sat down in my rocking chair rocking slowly. The coldness inside moved up my back and tingled at the nape of my neck. I fingered the piece of Wyoming jade Sam had given me when he pro-posed, remembering that he promised steadfast love.
“I'm a widow,” I said aloud. I was alone, completely responsible for the children, not just for a few weeks or the winter season until Sam returned. I felt cold, flat. I opened my Bible, hoping for solace. I began to survey the landscape of my mind, much as I had the landscape outside. My mind was a closed book with all the memories of my life with Sam shut away. “I am alone.” There were no images of the future. But to my surprise, I also felt a sense of calm and relief.
I stopped rocking. Was my relief because Sam was no longer suffering, or because I no longer felt torn between his demands and the children? I had known that he would leave me a widow given the thirty-year age difference be-tween us. I thought I had prepared myself to face many years without a husband. Now, I was annoyed that he had left me with five children, including an infant, with no means of support. Could I cope without him?
I straightened up remembering how I had steeled myself against my fear of being alone when we lived in Oklahoma. I had learned to cope with his long absences to meet with the government agent about his Veteran's pension. I reminded myself, that I had also loved my independence when I was young. Now, as I thought back to those times alone in Oklahoma facing the challenges of sick children, wandering livestock or bitter winter storms, I felt a calm and growing confidence that I could handle this challenge.
I rocked quietly now, continuing to feel the mixture of relief, sadness, resentment and fear. I felt the smoothness of the jade in my apron pocket again. It had rough edges which Sam had compared to himself.
Soon the children would be home from town and Patricia would wake from her afternoon nap. The familiar knot in my back tightened. Being a woman alone with five children would be hard. It would be even harder to make ends meet. Would we even have enough to eat? Could I keep Daniel, Joe and Charlie from going off on their own and maybe getting into trouble? But I couldn't let myself get discouraged. They're good boys.
I reassured myself that I could handle this. I had to. I sat up straight. Together, as a family, we would be strong
About the Author
Bev specialized in serving executives and managers as a leadership coach and organizational consultant for over thirty-five years. She taught organization psychology and founded The 3rd Act, a program whose mission supports positive aging. As she grew into her own third act, she started a genealogical journey to uncover the details of her grandparents’ lives. She concluded that the story needed to be told as fiction using the known facts as her framework.
“Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness,” Bev’s debut novel, is the culmination of her long-held desire tell the family story and confirm the whispered story about her grandfather.
Bev previously focused on publishing non-fiction work, including the second edition of “Consulting on the Inside,” which she co-authored with Kim Barnes, published in 2011. She has written numerous professional articles and contributed to “70 Things to Do When You Turn 70,” edited by Ronnie Sellers and Mark Chimsky. Bev blogs on several sites, including her own, “The Writing Life” on www.bevscott.com.
Bev enjoys traveling, visiting with friends, reading and spending time with her grandsons. She lives with her spouse in San Francisco.