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Historical Fiction
by Aleta Kay

Fawn Jackson lives in post-Civil War West Virginia in a holler where most of the property is owned by a local state senator. The mineral rights have been graciously granted to the tenants. Someone is after the mineral rights to her property. Someone caused the accident that killed her mother and her favorite horse. Who wants the mineral rights and why? Who can she trust? Is it a stranger or is it a friend? "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter One
The Funeral

Fawn Jackson stood as straight and tall as her five foot, five and a half inch frame would allow and tried hard not to look as if her black mourning clothes were swallowing her alive. She would not allow her sobs to break forth. If she had learned anything at the finishing school Senator Browning had sent her to, it was that a lady kept her emotions in check when in public. She had just received the telegram the day before, urging her to return home immediately. Holding the tears and fears in check was n...


The snare was set. Now he just had to be patient and wait. He had the clear fishing twine looped around the hornets’ nest. It wasn’t tight yet. That would come later. He trailed the trip on the ground and across the dirt road, then tied it to a sapling. When the buckboard got close enough he would be there waiting for it. He would be in the shadows of the trees in the thicket where he would see it coming. Then he would pull the twine. It would look like an accident. The patience would be in comi...

Chapter Two
A Visit to the Neighbors

Fawn looked at the wagon tracks that had sent her favorite horse and her mother to their deaths in the creek. Arctic Sun’s leg had been broken and his neck twisted as his head apparently hit the rocks. Nana had said Lottie (her native name had been Laughing Eyes) had been thrown from the seat and strangled in the harnessing. It seemed like an accident. No way, Fawn thought. There seemed to be nothing wrong with the bridge as they crossed to go home. There had been no recent rain to cause the creek...

Chapter Three

The scent of pine and juniper mingled with the new blossoms of rhododendron as Fawn approached the embankment. This would have been a lovely day of solitude and reminiscence had it not been for the nagging feeling that something was amiss. There had to be a reason why the horse went down the embankment. There had to be a reason for the hornets swarming.

Keeping her feet sideways to avoid slipping she made her way down the embankment. Something was glistening on the rocks near the broken harness. Cl...

Chapter Four

After the doctor left Fawn closed and bolted the door. She fixed Nana a cup of tea, then went upstairs to put things back in order.

The upstairs was also the attic. Two bedrooms were divided by the stairs. Each room had a curtain that ran the length of the room, hiding it and its occupants from each other. Fawn’s room was on the left. Gray’s had been on the right. The walls were sloped and hung with blankets made from animal skins which had been passed down by her ancestors. Each...

Chapter Six

It had been three days since Jason Gardner had been to the Jackson residence. It was planting and branding season. He had helped his dad get the livestock chores done, and had planted the seedlings of sunflowers around the perimeter of the vegetable garden. His mom had been seeding it the day Fawn had come over. Now he came galloping up the the Jackson’s place, giving his horse his head, feeling the excitement of spring coursing through his veins. Plus, he wanted to see Fawn. I know she doesn&rsquo...

Chapter Seven

Fawn heard the commotion in the barn. She looked over her shoulder at Nana as she grabbed the lantern and shotgun, and headed out the door toward the barn. "I'll be back in a minute, Nana," she called. Midnight Sun never acts like this unless something is wrong.

Her auburn hair was coming out of its coiled restraints as her running feet jarred it loose. What could have spooked Midnight Sun? With the shotgun straight out in front of her in her right hand, she approached the partially op...

Two Scenes Of Unknown Placement

The crescent moon floated in and out of the gray clouds dotting the late night sky. Two owls called to each other, punctuating the chinks of the shovel's digs at the rocky soil. The lantern beside the fresh pit under the season-old pine straw was the only steady light as two sets of eyes watched from a distance. One pair of eyes was unaware of the other.

It was dusk, almost dark, just light enough to see without a lantern. A gentle breeze occasionally rustled the leaves of the...

Chapter Fourteen

While the Gardners were visiting Fawn and Nana, Joel Taney was in an alley between the mercantile and the bank. Bobby Lilly was with him, a toothpick stuck between his teeth. Bobby was twenty-one and cocky. His thick brown hair was wavy and unkempt. His sideburns ran three fourths of the length of his jaws. His clothes were dusty. His black shirt, black pants, and silver-buckled belt gave the impression he was trying to look good. He leaned against the side of the mercantile, one hand in his pants pocket...

Chapter Fifteen

Fawn was in her room. It looked so much better since Jason and his dad had repaired the walls and furniture. Ellen Gardner had even brought a new wash basin and pitcher. She sat on her bed, reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” What did it mean? Was it betrayal by a lover? Had the author been mocked by a trusted friend? What had Jason meant when he said to really see Angel?

She, Jason, and Angel had grown up together in this holler. Senator Browning had hired a tutor to teach a...

Chapter Sixteen
Senator's Home Office Ransacked

The office was a mess. Lanterns were knocked over. The fabric on the chairs had been ripped. Desk drawers were open and their contents strewn around the room. A note was left on the senator’s desk.

“Your daughter owes me money, two thousand, one hundred and sixty seven dollars. I looked for it in your office. Obviously it is in a safe somewhere. She knows how to get it to me. If I don’t have it in twenty-four hours, I’ll collect it by other means. You won’t like it...

Chapter Seventeen
A Rock Through The Window

Nana was asleep in her room. Fawn was still rummaging around, trying to find that newspaper clipping. She had looked everywhere and it had not turned up. Where could she have put it? Why do I have to be so absent minded? She thought. She found her owl fetish, clasped it in her hand, and prayed that it would help her find the newspaper clipping. She sat on her bed, closed her eyes, and tried to remember what she did when she held the paper in her hand.

Where would I have put it? Did I hide i...

Chapter Eighteen

Fawn hated Sunday mornings. Nana always wanted to go to church. Fawn’s church was outdoors on horseback. Now that her mother was gone, she didn’t want to let Nana make the walk by herself.

It was a white clap-board building with a gabled edifice topped by a bell tower. There were about fifty people in attendance, the women on one side, men on the other.

Fawn was unfamiliar with the hymns while Nana sang them with a passion in a quavering alto voice. I do like the music, Fawn thoug...

Chapter Nineteen

It was an hour before supper time when two young boys played kick-the-can along the dirt road outside their house, and about a quarter of a mile across from a large open field. They had been kicking it back and forth down and across the street. The last kick had it stopped by a mound of dirt that had been tamped down by recent rains, yet was still about four inches above the ground.

“What do you suppose is in there” Tommy Lilly asked. He stood straddle legged at the side facing away fro...

Chapter Twenty

It would have to be a rainy day, wouldn’t it? Fawn thought.

Thunder awakened her, followed by silver flashes of lightning that had Midnight Sun stomping and snorting in the barn. She dressed hurriedly and threw on a mackintosh and galoshes. There wasn’t time to fuss with her hair and the rain would ruin the coil anyway.

She dashed down the stairs to find Nana sitting on the couch with a cup of hot tea in front of her.

“Are you alright, Nana?”

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Chapter 22

Angel drove the Browning brougham, pulled by a pair of matching chestnut Morgan horses, to Fawn’s house. Today was Fawn’s birthday and Angel was determined to make it memorable.

She carefully alighted from the conveyance, smoothed her dress and made sure her hat was still on straight. Reaching into the seat of the buggy, she picked up the package and swung it jauntily from her hand as she approached the front door.

Fawn was drying her hands after putting the clean dishes away. &ld...

Chapter Twenty-Three

Nana and Fawn had an early breakfast of bacon, eggs, and grits. As soon as breakfast was finished Nana bustled about, as well as she could with her cane, going through her wardrobe. There had to be something that wasn’t threadbare. Her bed was littered with discarded dresses that were deemed not fit to wear for a first meeting with what she considered fancy people.

Fawn finished washing the dishes, drying and putting them away. She sang as she worked, a strong alto voice. She liked the mounta...

Chapter Twenty-Four

Angel sat with Joel as he drove the matched chestnut geldings while Fawn and Nana sat inside the carriage.

Nana fluttered the lace ruffle on her blouse front. Then she tapped her cane on the floor of the carriage and patted her hair with her free hand. “I do hope I’m presentable,” she murmured to Fawn. “Goodness, what will they think of a country bumpkin like me?”

Fawn hugged her grandmother. “They will love you, just as I do.” She smoothed her own sk...

Chapter Twenty-Five

The conversation swirled between the three occupants as they drove back to the Jackson residence. Joel was driving the team pulling the carriage.

Angel’s eyes danced with glee. “Fawn, I’m sure you are going to love those people. They already seem taken with you.” She sat with her back in the corner of the seat, her knees facing Fawn. She leaned forward and whispered, “You never know who you might meet once you get settled into a routine.” She actually winked.



Jason rode back to the Jackson residence the next morning. His mother was taking care of Nana, making sure she was comfortable. She sent some freshly made biscuits with a jar of honey and another jar of homemade blackberry jelly from the previous autumn.

He knew where she would be. He knocked on the barn door. No one answered. There was no sound at all, not even a nicker from Sun. He cautiously opened the door which creaked on its hinges. Still no sound. He strolled through the barn, calling Fawn ...

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Joel visited Fawn every day while her house was being rebuilt. Jason, his dad, the men from Pipestem, and a few other men from Lerona gathered together to get the job done. Trees were cut down,logs split and notched.

Joel saw none of this. His focus was one Fawn. How had he come to this juncture? He had a job to do, but more and more he was beginning to wish things were different. Fawn was beautiful but seemed not to know it. She was innocent, in spite of all life had dealt her. She just needed mo...

Chapter Twenty-Nine

To Sheriff Clyde Bonnell:

There is a dead body buried on Foggy Lane next to the abandoned well. It’s been there a while so it’s liable to stink. Might not be much left of it.

The unsigned note had been tacked to the outside of the door. Deputy Dewey asked the shop owners around town if they had seen who had put it there. They all shook or scratched their heads in wonder and said they had not. It must have been done after dark when the shops were closed. Well, the...

Chapter Fifty-Eight

The doctor had followed the wagon back to the Gardner residence, helping Jason to get his dad back inside the house. Dan was given a dose of pain reliever once he had been laid on his bed and made as comfortable as possible.

He slept soundly for a couple of hours. His thrashing and moaning brought a hurried intrusion from Ellen. He was turning his head, flailing his arms. “No. Nooo. Don’t push. Get back.”

“Melanie, run to the water spout and wet a washcloth. Hurry.&rdq...

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