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The Storekeeper: Short Frontier Tale

Updated on March 18, 2016
Dog-typical mongrel. Sarah's dog Buddie looks something like this.
Dog-typical mongrel. Sarah's dog Buddie looks something like this. | Source

I don’ know what got our newspaper lady, Sarah, lookin’ to find a big story ‘bout the new store keep, a muleskinner, name of Gustaf Hanson. Sarah publishes the town weekly paper, the Carbon Creek Sentinel which she took it over after her uncle was kil’t. Give ‘er credit though, she can usually spot a story and she hangs on to it like a bulldog. Nice lookin’ gal, probably in her twenties. Most gals ‘rond these parts is married long ‘fore that age. If fen I was a bit younger, might try to court her meself. Anyway, the muleskinner had been hauling loads to and from our town for a couple years. Lately he got the notion to just haul supplies for his own self and open a store, kind of general stuff. Ya know groceries, hardware and what not. Ever thin’ has to be hauled in from the railroad which is a good days ride from here.

It would be normal for the paper to do a story on the new business opening, but Sarah’s instinct was for somthin’ bigger. The thing is this Hanson feller wants to start a general store. Figurin’ he knows merchandise, knows where to buy his supplies and is experienced at haulin’ them, he ought to make good. He leased a building, in a good spot, from me. What could go wrong?

Everythin’ it seems. Sarah has had to report some instances of theft or vandalism at his store every week lately. ‘Cause Hanson has to take trips Galestown where the railroad drops off his supplies. Accordin’ to Sarah, every time he is gone somthin’ happens.


Our newspaper lady ain’t about to sit back and wait for the story to come to her. Naw, that ain’t her style. She gits the paper to bed, as news folk call it, on Wednesday so as the town will get it early Thursday. Danged if Thursday morning she ain’t hitching up her team to go to Galestown where the railroad is. Buddy, the dog she inherited with the newspaper was probly a cross ‘tween a bunch a’ breeds. Kinda short, white, friendly and liked to ride with Sarah. She also rode with a Winchester rifle and a scattergun for protection. She been practicin’ some with it lately, too.

Sandy wanted to go along with her but she told him “absolutely not.” She seemed to think there might be some danger and because he was still a young boy she didn’t want him to take the risk. Sandy is a deaf boy who helps me tend my horses and is a part time apprentice on the paper. Truth be told, Sarah should know that Sandy wouldn’t miss out on the action.

Sarah made a point early on to get to know the folks on the papers in the nearby towns so as to pick up news and facts iffen she needed it. She, of coarse, traded off what she new that they could use. They warn’t really competin’ ‘cause they both got their own readers.

She did find that they was people who didn’t want Hanson to succeed. Cause Hanson had made deals with vendors to give him a break on price if he give ‘em larger orders and delivered his own stuff. That means both the other vendors and some muleskinners might stand to lose some business. But is it a big ‘nough amount to bother them a whole lot? Don’t seem likely. What then?

Sarah’s friends told her wagonloads of goods passed thru and around town at odd hours of the day. They were headed north of town. When she asked what was out that way she found there was a couple of ranches and an old dried up mining camp. The mines played out and the miners left. They was still some buildings standing, such as the mine office an’ maybe a few miner’s shacks.

Sandy is ‘bout as hardheaded as Sarah. He warn’t bout to be kept out of a story. Soon as I got back to my ranch I knew Sandy had took off. Both him and his also deaf dog were nowhere around. Also his favorite horse was gone. Nobody knew where he was. My bet is that he went to Galestown and would show up in the middle of whatever trouble occurred. Well, Sandy wouldn’t be Sandy if he didn’t have a strong mind of his own and a stubborn streak. Where he got his information, I don’t know. Bein’ deaf he was very good a picking up meaning from people’s gestures and the way they formed words with their lips when the talked. Folks is always giving out signals even when they doesn’t know it.

Hearing Sarah tell it, I gather she and Sandy were headed out to the old mine ‘bout the same time, only he got there a bit before she did.


The Mining town secret

When she got to the mining town Sarah saw a wagon filled with boxes outside an old building which were most likely a warehouse in the mining days. She took the Winchester rifle from the boot attached to the buggy seat and went to look ‘round. As soon as she got a bit closer she could see a U. S. gu’munt insignia on the boxes.

“Alright lady drop that rifle.” Sarah said she tossed it so it hit a plant and she hoped it would be easy to for her grab when she needed to. She turned to face the gunman and asked what was goin’ on there.

“Not much,” he told her. “ Me an some friends a jes’ storing some left over supplies.

“Drop your gun an’ leave the lady alone.” It was Sandy. ‘though he’s deaf he has larned to talk some. He had a shotgun, ‘parently the second gun on Sarah’s buggy. The gunman dropped his weapon.

Sarah saw another gunman move around the corner of the building and take a bead on Sandy. From what she tole me she jumped toward the bush whar her rifle was, fell to the ground and shot the guy trying to kill Sandy. She couldn’t hardly member doin’ it.

Sandy and Sarah with a bit of help from Sandy’s dog Spot rounded up the rest of the men. They had been stealing and smuggling Army supplies since the war. They were starting to smuggle other supplies as well. They thought iffin they drove Hanson out than the trains wouldn't stop in Galestown. They'd set up thar own store to sell the smuggled goods.Anyway, Sarah does seem to know when they is a good story to get. The store and storekeeper was it.


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Sweetie 1 Thanks for the complement.Where I have lived I believe small stores change sometime back in the 1960's.When I grew up they were family owned and they lived in the neighborhoods.Later the stores I used to know were bought by people who appeared not to understand business or the customers.I would say that no one under 40 would have had the experience of buying in stores where the owner lived as a neighbor and knew you by name.

      I think women who lived on the American frontier in had to be strong or they would not have survived.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • sweetie1 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Hi dahoglund, you are a very good story teller. We still have small shops and though now for say last 5 years big stores like Big Bazzar or More are trying to eat up their market and it would be a sad day for India when they finally do. Small shops employ millions more than these bigs stores can and thus give back to society so much even if they sell little expensive because of small volumes. About your story well if a woman do not stand up for her rights, then she wont get anything but if she is prepared to fight , then she can win time and again.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you. I appreciate it.

    • daydreamer13 profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent writing here! Bravo!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Glad you liked it. Thanks for your comment.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      7 years ago from Summerland

      Great job on this short story, dahoglund. I really enjoyed it!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for the comment and well wishes.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and thanks for sharing.

      Take care


    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate the complimentary comment. I'll do my best to meet expectations.I like your musical hubs.I started out here writing about some musicians I like.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      7 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Very well done as we all come to anticiapte from you. I do 'ppreciate the western slang carefully written. Nice tale and it is nice of you check in on my site too.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the feedback. I do think the town is growing some.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      That was a good tale,DA and a believable one for the times that you depict. I like the way you weave your growing list of town characters into each story and how you stay in character with the dialect when you are telling it. Good work! WB

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It was at that.Thanks for commenting.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      life was tough in those pre wal mart days- well done, nice story

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment. Sarah is tougher than she looks

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 

      7 years ago

      Great story and it goes to show---them thar women could stand up with the best of them.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading it.I appreciate the comment.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great new story!


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