Sometimes I think I write vile, evil characters better than my heroes and heroines. Here’s a quick little excerpt from Grace be a Lady–my favorite Western with a delicious twist! And on sale for just $.99 for the next few days. Step into Grace’s world…
“Now, luv,” Lonnie said, cleaning his nails with his pocket knife, “I’ll explain to you ’ow this is going to work. The train ticket in my pocket,” he patted his chest, “will take you all the way to Misery, Wyoming.”
A twitch in Grace’s eyebrow betrayed her reaction to the name.
“Yes, Bull picked the town out just for you, luv. Said he ’oped it delivered. Anyway, you will get off the train there and not before.” He snapped the knife shut and leaned forward. “If you don’ check in with Misery’s lawman, luv, Hardy will be shipped off to some boarding school in Paris. Or maybe Rome. Possibly even Timbuktu. Do you take my meaning, luv?”
Grace’s heart broke as the threat sank in. Her chin quivered and the lump in her throat tried to explode into a sob. Completely out of hope, she could do nothing but pray.
She prayed she would dance on Bull’s grave one day soon.
Falling back on the loathing that Lonnie so readily evoked in her, Grace raised her chin. “Don’t call me ‘luv’.”
Yesterday I created a post that was exclusively for my newsletter subscribers and was password protected. I meant for the notice not to go out until tomorrow and ONLY to the subscribers. Many, many of you have written to me asking for the password. I’m so sorry to be a tease. I hope you’ll forgive me.
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Lilian Heath. Such a demure name.
She was anything but.
In the 1880’s, Lilian’s pa got her a job assisting Dr. Thomas Maghee, the physician
in the wide-open rail road town of Rawlins, WY. A petite little thing still in high school, Lilian was pretty fearless, but not stupid. She dressed like a man and carried a .32 when she went on calls late at night. She and the doc did everything from deliver babies to reconstruct a man’s face after his failed suicide attempt.
The nursing position set Lilian’s destiny. She graduated high school, and, with her father’s blessing and Dr. Maghee’s recommendation, headed off to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Keokuk, Iowa. She was one of only of three women in the class. After completing her training, she returned to Rawlins to practice medicine and was well-received … by the men folk. The women in town were another story. Catty, and jealous, they whispered behind her back, accused her of being a know-it-all, a few even refused to pay Lilian for services rendered. Lilian’s mother Calista wasn’t thrilled with the vocation either, believing her daughter had over-stepped her bounds as a woman.
Maybe, but if a man lay dying of a gunshot wound 30 or 40 miles way, Lilian put on her big girl breeches and made the ride.
Clearly, being a trained female physician was a bad thing, because you could, you know, save lives.
Lilian met her husband, Louis Nelson, in Rawlins and they were married in 1898. He was a painter and a decorator. Go figure. Lilian practiced medicine for fifteen years and then quietly retired, though she kept her medical license current much, much longer than that.
Unfortunately, you can’t read any article about Lilian that doesn’t mention her “connection” to an outlaw. In 1881, while Lilian was still in high school and a candy-striper, for all intents, Big Nose George Parrot was lynched for murdering a deputy. When no one claimed the body, Doctor Maghee stepped up. Curious to see if the bandit’s brain was somehow deformed, he dissected the man’s head, in the name of science. Lilian assisted with the autopsy and was given Big Nose George’s skull cap as a souvenir. She kept it for years, using it for everything from a door stop to a pipe holder.
Reporters loved to mention that story, as if it was her greatest achievement.
My guess is, there were a few other heads she would have liked to use as doorstops.
But she didn’t let the claws or the snipes get to her. Lilian never gave in, never backed down, never lost faith. I say thanks for paving the way!