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Western Short Story - The Quest, Chapter Five

Updated on August 22, 2011

Chapter Five




The decision to return to the ranch proved to be the right one. They left at first light in Jacob’s wagon, with the riding horses tied on behind. It was a rough quarter of a mile down to the old mine road, but the snow was not too deep. From there, it was a steep downhill slope to below the snow line, and then, the main road to the ranch. The drifts were deep, but narrow, and the draft horses were rested and ready. Even then, it was afternoon before they entered the ranch yard, scattering chickens and Uncle Charlie’s pet goats.

He helped Bonnie down, and she stood looking all around. At last she turned to him, and her face was bright with delight.

“It’s beautiful! Oh, Chancy, I see why you love it so!”

He had never really thought of the ranch as beautiful, but now that she mentioned it, it was a serene oasis, with its tall cottonwoods and expansive lawns. The large, main house had a covered porch on three sides, an arrangement his mother had wanted, so his father and his uncle had it done. It was rumored that his Uncle Charlie, who never married, had also courted his mother, but finally lost out to his father. Chancy had never asked the old man about it.

Bonnie’s words of praise gave Chancy reason to take a new look at the ranch, and he liked what he saw. It was sprawling affair, situated in a long, low, valley, surrounded on three sides by majestic peaks, snow covered most of the year. The land was dotted with cattle, and several streams ran through it, fed by snow melt. Bonnie was right. It was beautiful.

A door slammed, and his Uncle Charlie was walking across the ranch yard, his old eyes taking in the wagon, Chancy, and Bonnie.

“I sent Slim and Pecos up to the cabin yesterday to check on you, and here you are with a lovely young woman and a strange wagon.” He paused, touched the brim of his hat, and nodded at Bonnie, a smile on his leathery face. “Pleased to meet you, ma’am.”

Chancy explained the situation to his uncle, and turned to take care of the horses while the old man escorted Bonnie to the house. He was just finishing when he heard a shout from up the road. He shaded his eyes and recognized the two hands returning from the cabin, with a third man riding between them. As they walked their horses into the ranch yard, Chancy recognized Jacob Cross, who weakly raised a hand to him in greeting.

The three men lifted Jacob off his horse and carried him into the house, placing him on a bed. Jacob gripped Chancy's hand for a moment, and whispered his thanks. Chancy turned around, and saw a weeping Bonnie standing in the door. He stepped aside, and she rushed to Jacob, sobbing and kissing his face. He walked away, relieved, but strangely empty.

Slim Baker and Pecos had found Jacob up and around, weak, but able to fend for himself. He had availed himself of the pot of rabbit stew, and the cabin was warm and cozy. He told them of Chancy’s quest to see to Bonnie’s safety, despite the impending storm, and the two hands nodded. That described Chancy Dolan to a ‘T’. They decide to bring him to the ranch, a ride that exhausted the already weak man.

Supper that night was a joyous affair, with Bonnie happily chatting away with Uncle Charlie, and the hands. Jacob had eaten some soup and had fallen into a deep, healing sleep. Chancy joined in, nodding and smiling with the rest, but his Uncle Charlie noticed that he was unusually subdued.

After supper, Chancy excused himself and retired to the porch swing, where he pulled out his pipe and was preparing to light up, when Bonnie came and sat softly beside him. For a moment, they sat in silence, and then she began to speak, so quietly that he strained to hear.

“I must ask you something, Chancy Dolan, and I know you will think me bold for doing so, but I must hear it for myself, before saying anything more. A woman knows when a man has feelings for her, but she must hear it from his own lips. So I ask you straight out, do you have feelings for me Chancy Dolan?”

Astonished at the sudden question, he caught himself nodding, before he realized what he was doing. “Yes, I do Bonnie, but…”

She pressed her finger against his lips for silence. He watched her face in the moonlight, and saw the reflected glow in her eyes.

“When you told me Jacob was alive, my knees went weak, and I collapsed with relief. But when you picked me up so effortlessly and carried me to my bed, I was suddenly very aware of you. I felt the hard muscles of your arms around me, your breath on my cheek, and I even caught your scent.”

She looked away, suddenly embarrassed. After a moment, she turned back to him, and placed her small hand on top of his.

“I realized that I was thinking and acting the fool, and I desperately did not want to do anything to cheapen myself, so I built a barrier that I knew you would not cross, even if I succumbed and invited you. I almost did you know. I even put on some powder and combed out my hair.”

“Yes, I know.” He looked away miserably. “I noticed everything you did that night.” He turned back to her. “But you were never in any danger from me. I would never bother a married woman.”

“Yes, I knew that, Chancy. I knew what sort of man you were right from the moment you put me in that bed and then walked away. It wasn’t you I feared. It was me, so that’s why I put a barrier between us that I knew you would never cross.”

She smiled and lifted his hand, first to her cheek, and then to her lips. Then she pulled his arm over her shoulders, and leaned against him.

“I must ask you to forgive my deception, Chancy. You see, Jacob is not my husband. He’s my brother."

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    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Barbara, and thank you my friend!

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      what a gorgeous love story!! a love of nature, woodworking and of a couple! fantastically rendered!!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Maggie-May, and thank you!

    • Maggie-May profile image

      Nadine M AuCoin 6 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      YAAAAAA!!! Love happy endings!!!!! Your writing is phenomenal!!!!!!!!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, Suzie,

      Glad you liked it!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Aw - a happy ending after all. Loved this story. Rated up and awesome!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Clairepeek!

      Chapter stories don't seem to do as well, so I think I'll just publish all at once from now on.

      Glad you enjoyed it, and thank you!

    • Clairepeek profile image

      Clairepeek 6 years ago

      Hi Will!

      Well alright... I am a bit of a cheater for I quick printed the entire story so I could read it at once (hope you don't mind)... and I did yesterday evening, as a bed time story ^_^. I love happy endings! Getting ahead of myself though here...

      Your descriptions are absolutely breath-taking and the way you built the tension with the storm/blizzard... a tension that does not come from people but from nature: I love that. I was there with Chancy and his two horses crossing 5 miles to get to Bonnie. The end was a very good surprise ^_^

      You are such an amazing story teller and I loved that story. Thank you.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      LOL, Fred! Thank you, my friend.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 6 years ago

      Nicely done, Will. I took my time on this one--something I don't always allow myself to do--and enjoyed the plunge down out of the snow, through the "deep but narrow" drifts...(yep, the "...") immensely.

      Now that a whole host of your most rabid fans are onto your "...", let's hope they never look at my stuff too closely...where I use the "..." constantly...for no good reason other than feeling like it! LOL!

      Voted Up and Stuff:)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Coach!

      I'm still one of the 'little people' too! :-)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Will, you are one popular dude! I just had to read the many comments left by your fans and followers. They alone are bonafide proof that this is a masterpiece! I love it! Remember us little people :)

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, quester.ltd, and thank you!

    • quester.ltd profile image

      quester.ltd 6 years ago

      up and awesome on all chapters - told hubby it was his sister - in the mountains one can never tell however. Better than an old man saying that his wife is his sister . .

      good job

      q

    • AlabamaGirl86 profile image

      AlabamaGirl86 6 years ago

      Awesome story, voteed up and awesome.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, marcoujor!

      Thank you for reading. :-)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      My kind of ending, Will! Bravo-- I enjoyed every word, good sir!

      Voted UP & ABI and have a great night, mar.

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Heh, heh.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      Then I got to find myself a cowboy.;-)

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Sueswan!

      Cowboys don't cheat! :-)

    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      Hi Will

      I was hoping that Chancy and Bonnie would get together but I didn't want to see Jacob get hurt either.

      I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Jacob was Bonnie's brother.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, G-Ma Johnson!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 6 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      She caught him yaaaaay!!!!!...Reading it from beginning to end was really a treat, I waited to do this and spent my time well...:O) Hugs G-Ma

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Nan Mynatt!

    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Will a chapter book is what the kids used in school. That is the first book that they read that goes from story to story. They like to read from chapter books, because it has different chapters for every sequence. So with all your short stories you would have chapter 1,2,3, & etc. and then a new story. You tell a lot of stories so when you publish your book, put all of your chapters into one book. This way they would add up to a lot of stories. You had (5) chapters in this story, if you put all of your stories together they would be a very good book. Kids love chapter books, and adults too!. They get bored if they had to read the same story with a slight variation on the end of each story. WE ALL like a quick ending and then a new book. I hope you got the idea. Check out the library and see how excited the kids get from reading chapter books. As a teacher I just learned this from a 7 year old. (Keep it simple).

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, as always, Diane.

    • profile image

      Diane 6 years ago

      I don't know how you keep coming up with all these wonderful tales of the old west. I

      think it is a gift from God and you are very blessed indeed. Thanks Will and I'm ready for the next one. I like happy endings too!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi, bethperry,

      I do have a couple of works in progress, and I may submit a compilation of these short stories.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi drbj, and thanks for reading!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Just Ask Susan, and thank you!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

      Yes, brother..the plot thickens!

      I'm loving this story, Will. Do you have other stories or novels you've considered submitting to a publisher?

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      I do hope, Will, that Jacob is Bonnie's natural brother and not a step-brother.

      Great twist, my friend.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a wonderful ending to a great story!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Cardisa,

      And you thought I couldn't be romantic! :-)

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi PenMePretty!

      Good to see you!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Amy, and thanks for reading!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Nan Mynatt!

      "Where is the chapter book?"

      I'm not sure what you mean?

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi John, and thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi TimBryce!

      Kindle reportedly now has a digital spot for short story authors, but I can't find it. Know anything about that?

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Dex, and thanks!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      I clicked every button except for the red one!

      I knew it would happen but I must say I am shocked at the twist! I thought Jacob would pass on and Bonnie would be widowed and need a shoulder to cry on.

      Wow, what a shocker! Her brother! wooowoooo!

    • profile image

      PenMePretty 6 years ago from Franklin

      Awwwwww soooooo good. I love it!

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Dang, I should have started at the beginnning! Now, I know too much! Great story, Will. You write with such authenticity, I always feel like I'm back in the wild west. I love the landscape photo, too!

    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 6 years ago from Illinois

      What a ending, here comes the bride! You built a happy ending, and we were taken by surprise. Where is the chapter book?

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      You da' man Will, you be da' man!

      Loved the ending, sorry it ended.

      John

    • profile image

      TimBryce 6 years ago

      Will -

      You ought to take this and upload it into the Kindle library. Would be easy to do. Let me know if you need help.

      All the Best,

      Tim

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Great story, Will! Voted up, up and away!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Brenda,

      Actually, I took it as quite a compliment that my readers were all trying to figure out where I'm going this time.

      How cool is that! :-)

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Will, really I hoped but was not certain. You wrote it so well. It is not your fault that you have so many readers who literally read every word and become Sherlock Holmes trying to figure out the twists and plots..

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi SubRon7,

      I wanted my heroine to be a woman with a conscience, so I had her hesitate a little when she fibbed to Chancy about being a married woman. Some very alert readers picked up on that, a self-created hazard, from employing so many twists!

      In other words, I got caught! :-)

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Absolutely great story, Will, and I completely missed what these commenters are talking about.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you, Becky! Perhaps you should write some of your own!

    • profile image

      Becky 6 years ago

      I saw it, just didn't say anything. Good story Will.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi FitnezzJim!

      Yup!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Nell Rose!

      I'm not sure who got whom, but isn't that the way it always is? :-)

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 6 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      So it's true, the guy keeps on not chasing the girl until she catches him.

      Great Story.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Will, this was a lovely ending! I must admit I never saw it either! so the man got the girl! yeah! lol great stuff! cheers nell

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you for reading me, kirutaye !

    • kirutaye profile image

      kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK

      LOL...You had me there. Brilliant twist in the end. Well written.

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Ginn

      Well, I can't have my readers 'whuppin'" me so...!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Brenda!

      No, I like happy endings too!

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 6 years ago

      Will, its a good thing you put Chancy an Bonnie together at the end with another one of your great endings for I would have just had to find my way out of these West Virginia hills and come back to Phoenix and ---whup-ya. Loved it!

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Mike,

      No, I think that's a wrap on this one.

      Maybe. ;-)

    • WillStarr profile image
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      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi MartieCoetser,

      The problem with writing an occasional twist is the suspicious readers who smell a rat! :-0

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      YEAH! Did you write that happy ending just for us girls? sigh Oh, Will this is a great story, adventure combined with danger and emotional drama, just perfect. And the setting is great, those awesome mountains and that cabin. Oh and I loved how the horses were ready for exercise. Had they only known! Nothing at all should ever be changed, this is a perfect read.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 6 years ago

      Dang it WillStarr, I never saw that one coming. What a great twist this one was. I presume we will be seen a few more chapters to this story?

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Wow! Cross my heart and hope to die, I did not take a peep. Excellent plot, Will!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hey! Thanks sandwich!

      Hi marellen, and thank you too!

    • profile image

      marellen 6 years ago

      Wow....I didn't see this coming. Well done Will. A happy ending for us folks. Thumbs Up....

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Will...Using my typical cultural reference source "Pulp Fiction"...you have a true "Bonnie Situation" on your hands! Awesome Job!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Sunnie and Chris!

      Yup, that Brenda got me. No more: ...!

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      AWW!, those "...." I use them all the time...and I took them for granted!!...I just went back and .... BOOM! there they are!!!! "...."

      I zoomed right over that!!...dog gone it!

      Good Job .... Brenda!!

      :)

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Boy did Brenda nailed this one...what a great story..happy ending and all..loved it

      Sunnie

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi writer20!

      I have to admit...it's a real joy to write these stories.

      Thank you!

    • WillStarr profile image
      Author

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Chris!

      In chapter four, Bonnie hesitated slightly when she said Jacob was her husband, a fact picked up by only one reader...our sharp-eyed Brenda! :-)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Will, this can make a wonderful book - had to vote up. More please.

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      YOU DID IT AGAIN!!!!!

      I was HOPING this would turn out for ol' Chancy....din't see the brother thing coming!!

      I read chapter 1 through 4 on my lunch break...and just had to sneak ch 5 in.....to see how this was going to play out....

      once again..........good stuff!

      :)