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A Grave Every Mile: A Pioneer Western Adventure
Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail, Book 1
by David Fitz-Gerald
Embark on a harrowing trek across the rugged American frontier in 1850. Your wagon awaits, and the untamed wilderness calls. This epic western adventure will test the mettle of even the bravest souls.
Dorcas Moon and her family set forth in search of opportunity and a brighter future. Yet, what awaits them is a relentless gauntlet of life-threatening challenges: miserable weather, ravenous insects, scorching sunburns, and unforgiving terrain. It's not merely a battle for survival but a test of their unity and sanity.
Amidst the chaos, Dorcas faces ceaseless trials: her husband's unending bickering, her daughter's descent into madness, and the ever-present danger of lethal rattlesnakes, intensifying the peril with each step. The specter of death looms large, with diseases spreading and the eerie howls of rabid wolves piercing the night. Will the haunting image of wolves desecrating a grave push Dorcas over the edge?
With each mile, the migration poses a haunting question: Who will endure the relentless quest to cross the continent, and who will leave their bones to rest beside the trail? The pathway is bordered by graves, a chilling reminder of the steep cost of dreams.
A Grave Every Mile marks the commencement of an unforgettable saga. Start reading Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail now to immerse yourself in an expedition where every decision carries the weight of life, death, and the pursuit of a brighter future along the Oregon Trail.
Our three teams of oxen, led by Hardtack and Scrapple, stand ready to do their job. It takes a while before it’s our turn to begin pulling, with fifteen wagons ahead of us. When the wheels of the wagon before us begin to turn, Larkin cracks the bullwhip and shouts, “Hi-yah!” He snaps the whip again, and the poor beasts lumber forward.
The broody hen squawks in her box. Straps hold the cage in place on a shelf on the wagon’s exterior. Ridge, the devil-eyed goat, blats in protest as the rope that ties her to the back left corner of the wagon drags her along. I can’t see Blizzard, tied to the other corner of the wagon. The children and I begin on foot, following closely behind Larkin.
I hate it when people are cruel to animals. I should hold my tongue, but I cannot. “Must you snap that whip so sharply? It’s barbaric. We should thank the oxen, not whip them.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Dorcas. I’m not whipping them. I’m whipping the air above them. You know that. We can’t get to Oregon if the oxen don’t move. Don’t carry on like a child.”
Of course, he's right. Somehow, dressing a deer doesn't phase me. I can snap a chicken's neck and pluck its feathers, but the idea of hurting beasts of burden saddens me. “Couldn’t you just tap them lightly on the rump rather than scare the poor creatures?”
“Look, see, we’re already falling behind. We need to drive the oxen faster if we want to get to Oregon before winter.”
“That’s enough, Dorcas. Don’t pester me anymore.”
My molars tighten against each other. I know a woman shouldn’t bicker, argue, or nag. Usually, Larkin doesn’t complain about having a garrulous wife. Still, it rankles when he tells me not to pester him.
After walking alongside for half an hour, Dahlia Jane says she is tired. One mile down, one thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine miles to go. I lift the child into the wagon. Fortunately, she is content to play quietly by herself.
I walk for a while beside Blizzard. He always seems to listen and understand me when I share my troubles, worries, and complaints. His coat is sleek beneath the palm of my hand. I can never resist stroking his neck. "We’ll take a ride together soon. I promise."
Dahlia Jane hasn’t moved from her nest in the back of the wagon, so I return to walk with the other children. I’m surprised to find Christopher where Larkin was. Larkin is missing. I glance about and don’t see him anywhere. Andrew smiles and says, “Nature calls.” Rose slaps her forehead and looks at her hand to see if she squashed a bug. Christopher seems to have mastered snapping the bullwhip above the oxen, and it makes me cringe even more than when Larkin does it.
After half an hour, Larkin tells Rose it’s her turn. She had been complaining about boredom and appears to have come alive as Larkin calls out her name. “Alright, Rose. Here is the whip. Hold it high and flick it hard with your wrist so that it snaps in the air above the kine.”
Rose asks, “What if I accidentally hit them with it?”
Larkin answers, “Don’t worry. It will not hurt them. They have thick skin and dull nerves.”
I can’t help but say, “Larkin, how do you know how they feel? Please don’t beat our animals.”
Larkin replies, “We’ll try, but the children must learn how to drive them. If you can’t bear to watch, may I suggest you visit our neighbors?”
“Very well, then.” It doesn’t make it any better knowing they whip the beasts while I’m gone, but I pluck Dahlia Jane from her burrow and wander back to the next wagon.
This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
David Fitz-Gerald writes westerns and historical fiction. He is the author of twelve books, including the brand-new series, Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail set in 1850. Dave is a multiple Laramie Award, first place, best in category winner; a Blue Ribbon Chanticleerian; a member of Western Writers of America; and a member of the Historical Novel Society.
Alpine landscapes and flashy horses always catch Dave’s eye and turn his head. He is also an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked to the summit of the range’s highest peaks. As a mountaineer, he’s happiest at an elevation of over four thousand feet above sea level.
Dave is a lifelong fan of western fiction, landscapes, movies, and music. It should be no surprise that Dave delights in placing memorable characters on treacherous trails, mountain tops, and on the backs of wild horses.