Terry C. Johnston
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The wild and free world of the mountain man is quickly fading into the past. For Titus Bass, leading his family north to winter with the Crow people, the journey is a sad one. He must save an old friend from death and rescue his daughter Magpie from cutthroat traders. He will try to free a wagon train of innocents from its unscrupulous leader, and he will try to come to terms with his long-lost daughter Amanda, bound for a new home in a faraway land Bass himself will never see.
But when he arrives in the land of the Crow, he finds old friends–and old ways–dying out. Determined to live out his final years in peace, Bass comes to realize that on the changing frontier, survival is never a certain thing. Soon he will face his greatest lesson and hardest challenge of all–one that might cost the last of the legendary mountain men his life.
Harris’s eyes for several moments as the old mountain man and one-time confederate of William Sublette peered about suspiciously. Suddenly Harris threw out his arm and snagged hold of Hargrove’s elbow. They reined up together. “Where’s Shadrach Sweete?” Harris demanded sourly as he rolled his longrifle over the head of his hammer-headed cayuse. “He ain’t here.” “He ain’t?” “I ain’t gonna lie to you, Harris.” The two of them whispered where they sat atop their saddles, just out of earshot.
thin, bony hands to the young couple. Slowly he raised their arms in the air with his and gave a wild, shrill cry. All around their small circle the many hundreds lifted their voices, drunk with triumph and celebration. Men yipped exuberantly, women trilled their tongues in victory calls, and children screamed and laughed, suddenly freed to dart in and out of the crowd, shrieking joyously in play. Turns Back seized his new bride, clutching her against him tightly as they both gushed with
Shadrach. Day at a time,” Titus said. “Just like us: a day at a time.” That snowy, hoary night back south along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Scratch had convinced himself that no one was going to stop Shad’s relentless bleeding. But old as he was, despite all that he’d seen out here in these wild and mysterious places—Titus Bass was in for an experience he never could have imagined he would witness right before his eyes, especially back in those days when he was young and far too
camp guards whooped at that call to action, causing some of their ponies to jostle and shimmy in nervousness. From the corner of his eye, Scratch saw how Waits signaled him with that particular look in her eye. “Where is my son-in-law, Turns Back?” Titus asked. “The last I saw of him,” Don’t Mix answered, “he had just returned from the hills with a deer and was dressing it out over beside his lodge.” “And my daughter?” Don’t Mix smiled as he looked first at Waits-by-the-Water, then back to
“That’s the way they let everyone know Hargrove is getting ready to start.” “Fixin’ to start in on Shad an’ me,” Titus replied. “Maybeso we should leg on over there,” Sweete suggested. “Since these doin’s got to do with you an’ me.” “Got everything to do with me too,” Burwell said as he stepped around the edge of the fire pit. “Your families are with mine—so I think I got some say in this vote.” “Vote?” Titus repeated. Amanda stepped up to loop her arm inside her husband’s elbow. “Hargrove