A Tucson Kid Western #5
In Lone Horseman, a young woman, Nora Eddington, narrates the exciting saga of her meeting with the Tucson Kid on a cattle drive she was taking with her father from Nevada to Arizona. A band of outlaws want the herd, and they are willing to kill her father and his crew of drovers to get it. Nora's world is shattered when she passes through a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood as the Tucson Kid battles to protect her, her father and their herd.
I have debated with myself for some years as to whether or not I should write this book. It is not a question of if the story should be written, but of whether I am capable of doing the subject justice. About fifty years ago, when I was a young girl of eighteen, I met an extraordinary man. He was a man who helped me to become a woman, and who brought about tremendous change within me and in terms of my perception of the world that was previously unimaginable.
I am now approaching old age; my husband died a little over a year ago and my daughter and son have grown children of their own. It seems to me that if I am ever going to write this story now is the time—while I still have the capacity. Also, at my age I am no longer concerned with who might be offended by some aspects of the story, and it could serve as a final testament to who I am and how I came by my world-view.
Of course, I have always tried to live each day in such a way that what I learned on a cattle drive as a girl was there for all to see. But perhaps by telling my tale I can answer more questions, and create for my readers an image of a remarkable man who showed me what is possible if one has the strength and the courage to become who one is.
Then, too, there is the question of depth. Over the years, after the man and I parted company, I made every attempt to follow his subsequent career—through newspaper and magazine articles that would recount one or another of his adventures. There have even been several novels written that were purportedly based on certain of his escapades, of course properly sensationalized for a mass readership. But while those articles and books focused on what he did, in my view they utterly failed to communicate who he was. I do not claim to hold the key to this man’s being, but my hope in writing this story is to reveal to the reader his essence.
And therein lies the deeper reason for my hesitation.
After graduation, I taught creative writing at the college from which I graduated and in addition, I have written quite a few novels of my own. My efforts met with some little success and I have never had to rely on anyone else for support. Indeed, the steady income from my teaching and writing helped my family to survive in the early days of my marriage when my husband was still building his business.
With my creative background then, why, you ask, is there this hesitancy to put pen to paper in the writing of this story? Quite frankly, what daunts me is the greatness of the subject; the fear that in spite of my gifts, I may not be able adequately to convey to the reader the colossal strength and power of the man I met fifty years ago almost by chance. At least, I believed at the time that it was chance.
He strode into my life like a giant and overturned everything I thought I knew and believed. He existed in a world of strength, risk and power where only the strong survived; it was also a realm in which the possibilities for achievement were literally endless. He took me by the hand and guided me to that world, and then helped me to overcome the terrors of entering it. If by writing this story I can help the reader to glimpse some of his greatness, his strength, his consummate skill at what he did, his intellectual depth, then I suppose my efforts will have been worthwhile. At the same time, if the reader can see that a young, inexperienced girl can enter and thrive in that universe then it should be obvious that others can achieve it also.
The scenes are beginning to rise in my mind now, memories as finely etched and vivid as if it all happened only yesterday. I remember pleading with my father to take me on the cattle drive he was planning from our ranch in Nevada south to an Apache reservation in Arizona. There had been a plague that had wiped out much of the cattle in Arizona, and the agency in charge of the reservation was willing to pay considerably above market price for whatever beef my father could get to them.
It was the last summer before I was to go off to college in Chicago; the cattle drive was a chance to get some real life experience—instead of merely reading about it in books—and to spend some final time with my Dad, a good man who I loved dearly. It was my mother, who always seemed to take my side, who finally persuaded Dad to let me go along. With both of us against him, he had no choice but to give in.
So my story begins on a hot, dusty afternoon in summer about a day’s ride from the Nevada-Arizona border ...