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Ty Calder, last of his powerful family, is tempted to sell the vast coal reserves under his land in order to save his ranch, the Triple C
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Janet Dailey is the author of scores of popular and uniquely American novels, including such bestsellers as Scrooge Wore Spurs, A Capital Holiday, The Glory Game, The Pride of Hannah Wade, and the phenomenal Calder saga, including the newest title in the series, Shifting Calder Wind. Her romantic fiction has also been featured in a story anthology, The Only Thing Better Than Chocolate. Since her first novel was published in 1975, Janet Dailey has become the bestselling female author in America, with more than 300,000,000 copies of her books in print. Her books have been published in seventeen languages and are sold in ninety countries. Janet Dailey's careful research and her intimate knowledge of America have made her one of the best-loved authors in the country and around the world.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The windswept Montana plains rolled with empty monotony beneath a freeze-dried sky. Along a fence line that stretched into the far-flung horizon, old snow formed low drifts. A brooming wind had brushed clean the brown carpet of frozen grass that covered the rough-and-tumble roll of the plains and held the thin layer of soil in place.
There was no room in this bleak, rough country for anyone not wise to its ways. To those who understood it, its wealth was given. But those who tried to take it eventually paid a brutal price.
Its primitive beauty lay in the starkness of its landscape. The vast reaches of nothingness seemed to go on forever. Winter came early and stayed late in this lonely land where cattle outnumbered people. The cattle on this particular million-acre stretch of empty range carried the brand of the Triple C, marking them as the property of the Calder Cattle Company.
A lone pickup truck was bouncing over the frozen ruts of the ranch road, just one of some two hundred miles of private roads that interlaced the Triple C Ranch. A vaporous cloud from the engine's exhaust trailed behind the pickup in a gray-white plume. Like the road, the truck seemed to be going nowhere. There was no destination in sight until the truck crested a low rise in the plains and came upon a hollow that nature had scooped into the deceptively flat-appearing terrain.
The camp known as South Branch was located in this large pocket of ground, one of a half-dozen such camps that formed an outlying circle around the nucleus of the ranch, breaking its vastness into manageable districts. The term "camp" was a holdover from the early days when line camps were established to offer crude shelters to cowboys working the range far from the ranch's home buildings.
There was a weathered solidness and permanence to the buildings at South Branch, structures built to last by caring hands. Stumpy Niles, who managed this district of the ranch, lived in the big log home with his wife and three children. A log bunkhouse, a long squatty building set into the hillside, was not far from the barn and calving sheds in the hollow.
The truck stopped by the ranch buildings. Chase Calder stepped from the driver's side and unhurriedly turned up the sheepskin collar of his coat against the keening wind. Like his father and his father's father, the reins of the Triple C Ranch were in his hands. His grip had to be firm enough to curb the unruly, sure enough to direct the operations, and steady enough to ride out the rough patches.
Authority had rested long on his shoulders, and he had learned to carry it well. This land that bore his family's name had left its mark on him, weathering his face to a leather tan, creasing his strong features with hard experience, and narrowing his brown eyes which had to see the potential trouble lurking beyond the far horizon. Chase was on the wrong side of thirty, pushing hard at forty, and all those years had been spent on Calder land. It was ingrained in his soul, the same way his wife, Maggie, was ingrained in his heart.
The slam of the pickup's passenger door sounded loudly. Chase's glance swung idly to the tall, lanky boy coming around the truck to join him, but there was nothing idle about the inspection behind that look. This sixteen-year-old was his son. Ty had been born a Calder, but he hadn't been raised one, something Chase regretted more than the trouble that had driven Maggie and himself apart nearly sixteen years ago.
Those had been long years, a time forever lost to them. Her father's death had aroused too much bitterness and hatred toward anyone carrying the Calder name. He hadn't tried to stop her when she left; and he had made no attempt to find out where she went. There had been no reason to try -- or so he had thought at the time. But he hadn't known of the existence of his son until the fifteen-year-old boy had arrived, claiming him as his father. As much as he loved Maggie, at odd moments he resented that she had never told him about Ty. During their years of separation, Ty had grown to near manhood in a soft environment of southern California.
All this land would be Ty's someday, but precious years of training had been lost. Chase was nagged by the feeling that he had to cram fifteen years of experience into Ty in the shortest period of time possible. The kid had potential. He had try, but he was only greenbroke, like a young horse that wasn't sure about the rider on its back or the bit in its mouth -- or what was expected from it.
With school out of session for spring break, Chase was taking advantage of the time to expose Ty to another facet of the ranch's operation -- the ordeal of spring calving. For the regular cowboys, it was a seven-day-a-week job until the last cow had calved in all the districts of the Triple C Ranch. Since Stumpy Niles was shorthanded, Chase had brought Ty to help out and, at the same time, learn something more about the business.
As he stopped beside him, Ty hunched his shoulders against the bitter March wind rolling off the unbroken plains. In a comradely gesture, Chase threw a hand on his son's shoulder, heavily padded by the thick winter coat.
"You met most of the boys here when you worked the roundup last fall." Chase eyed his son with a hint of pride, not really noticing the strong family resemblance of dark hair and eyes and roughly planed features. It was the glint of determination he saw, and the slightly challenging thrust of Ty's chin.
Ty's memory of the roundup wasn't a pleasant one, so he just nodded at the information and held silent on his opinion of "the boys." They had made his life miserable. The worst horses on the ranch had been put in his string to ride. When "the boys" weren't throwing their hats under his horse, they were hoorahing him for grabbing leather when the horse started bucking or they were slapping his hands with a rope. If he forgot to recheck the saddle cinch before mounting, it was a sure bet one of them had loosened it. They had told him so many wild tales about the tricks to catch a steer that Ty felt if they had told him to shake salt on its tail, he would have been gullible enough to believe them.
They had pulled more practical jokes on him than he cared to remember. The worst had been waking up one morning and finding a rattlesnake coiled on top of his chest. It had been hibernating and the cold made it too sluggish to do anything, but Ty hadn't known that. He had damned near crapped his pants, and all "the boys" had stood around and laughed their sides out.
It was like being the new kid on the block. Of course, Ty never used that phrase around his father. His father had the opinion that city life made a man weak. More than anything else, Ty wanted to prove to his father that he wasn't weak, but he didn't know how much more of this endless hazing he could take. A couple of the old-timers, Nate Moore for one, had told him that all new men went through this, but it seemed to Ty that they were doing an extra job on him.
The hand on his shoulder tightened as his father spoke again. "Stumpy's probably in the calving sheds. Let's go find him and get you settled in."
"Okay." Stirring, Ty reluctantly lifted his gaze to the sheds where there was a suggestion of activity.
A pigtailed girl about ten years old crawled between the railings of a board fence and ambled toward them. A heavy winter coat with patches and mismatched buttons gave bulk to her skinny frame, as did the double layer of jeans tucked inside a pair of run-down and patched boots. A wool scarf tied her cowboy hat on her head, a pair of honey-brown braids poking out the front.
"H'lo, Mr. Calder." She greeted Chase with the proper respect, but it was that of a youngster toward an elder rather than any degree of servility.
"Hello, Jess." A faint smile eased the tautness around his mouth as Chase recognized Stumpy's oldest child.
From the start, Jessy Niles had been a tomboy. Stumpy always claimed it was because, when she was teething, they'd let her chew on a strip of braided rawhide rein. She played with ropes and bridle bits when other girls were playing with dolls. She preferred tagging after her father to helping her mother in the kitchen or looking after her two brothers who followed her in succession.
There was never any little-girl cuteness about her. She'd been like a gangly filly, all arms and legs, and skinny to boot.
She wasn't homely, but her features were too strong -- the cheekbones prominent and the jawline sharply angling. Her coloring was bland, her hair a washed-out brown, and her eyes an ordinary hazel -- except they gleamed with intelligence, always direct, and sometimes piercing.
"I saw you drive up," she announced as she turned to size up Ty. "I told my dad you were here, so he'll probably be out shortly."
Ty bristled faintly under her penetrating stare. Even though he had become used to adults measuring him against his father, it was irritating to have this child slide him under her microscope. He gritted his teeth. He was sick of having to prove himself to everyone he met.
"You haven't met Stumpy's daughter, have you?" Chase realized and made the introductions. "This is Jessy Niles. My son, Ty."
She pushed a gloved hand at him, and Ty grudgingly shook it. "I heard about ya," she stated, and Ty bitterly wondered what that meant. It didn't sit well to think of some pigtailed kid laughing about some of the dumb things he'd done. "We've got a lot of first-calf heifers this year, so we sure could use the help." Jess spoke as if she were in charge. "Do you know anything about calving?"
A response seemed to be expected of him, from both his father and the young girl. Ty knew better than to claim knowledge he didn't possess. "No, but I've helped with a lot of foaling," he answered tersely.
The youngster wasn't impressed. "It's not quite the same. A mare's contractions are a lot more powerful than a cow's, so the birthing doesn't take as long." The information was absently tossed out, as if it were something everyone should know.
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Book Description Thorndike Pr, 1984. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110896215032
Book Description Thorndike Pr, 1984. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0896215032