The scar-faced man grabbed Mandy's bridle. Ellen kicked Mandy in the flanks. The little horse could barely run with the transient clinging to her side--but managed to drag the heavy man a ways farther through the meadow grass toward the river--then the transient got hold of Ellen's foot--pulled her off of Mandy, onto the grass. Ellen could hear the other three men laughing, as the scar-faced transient, breathing his heavy, stinking breath, pawed her body and began pulling off pieces of her clothes so he could have his way with her. Without warning--Joseph, on horseback, shot out of the trees--his black stallion at full gallop. Without slowing his horse--he reached down, grabbed the scar-faced transient by the belt, dragged him, kicking and screaming, until they reached a large waterhole cut into the bank of the river. Joseph threw the scar-faced man in, then wheeled his horse about--withdrew the bullwhip from his saddlebag--went after the other three men.
THE TIPS of Alexander Standish's long fingers slowly worked the holes of his red-lacquered bagpipe chanter as he played a snappy tune. His bare knees methodically moved up and down with the loud music as he marched in place on the long, green grass, to a Scottish highland composition. The brisk May breeze firmly pressed his hardy middle-aged body slightly backwards as it suddenly whipped through his red beard and rustled through the patch of his red hair that protruded under his stylish Scottish tam-o'-shanter. For this brief ceremony every spring, he was always dressed in the customary tartan wool plaid and kilt that his family's Scottish Sept had proudly worn for many centuries in faraway Scotland.
His twelve-year old daughter, Ellen, matched his cadence at his side, in her pretty, blue and white dress and black leather jacket. She didn't know why she stubbornly marched in place; that was just the way it had always been since she was a little girl, whenever she and he had come there, like now, to their high hill that overlooked the river valley on their huge southern Idaho ranch. She vaguely remembered that they had always performed the ritual bagpipe ceremony after the daisies had thoroughly spread their beautiful violet carpet across the vast valley.
She ardently loved to see the large meadows, filled with their bright-violet blossoms, quietly stretched out below. Some-times she would slowly ride her palomino pony, Mandy, down to the bottomland along the silver river where the daisies were thickest, then joyfully walk through them, pick several and eagerly smell their delicate scent. She always liked to take a handful home to her brother David; and this time, since it was her mother's birthday, she desperately wanted to take a bunch home to her, too, but she had already learned from sad experience that her sullen mother would throw them into the trash as soon as the stems gently touched the palm of her firm hand. Then she would sharply chastise Ellen for wasting time picking them.
Alexander eventually finished his annual musical march to spring and let the chanter of his bagpipe rest freely against his chest. He stood still, looking out over his healthy valley, and then again out over the wide Bear River that was slowly snaking its way down through the fertile bottomlands, far below.
He occasionally thought of the unfathomable sea lochs, precipitous cliffs and dense thickets that had forever insured the grandeur of the rugged landscape near his old, but grand, stone home in Scotland.
He occasionally thought how different the land in Idaho was from his native Scottish Highlands and at the same time, in many ways, the same—but he'd never regretted his decision to join up with the poor missionaries and boldly bring his middle-aged wife and young family of twelve, across the rough Atlantic by sailing ship to America, then by train to Idaho.
After arriving in Idaho, he'd immediately invested his considerable wealth wisely, in the same way his father had in Scotland.
Already, five years had quickly passed since they had immigrated—it was now the spring of 1928 and he was extremely rich by any standard.
From where he and Ellen stood at the north end of the valley, he owned all of the lush land on both sides of the river, as far as the unaided eye could see toward the south.
The hundreds of head of fat beef cattle that now eagerly fed on new spring grass in the luxurious meadowland below were also his, as were the thousands of healthy sheep that frequently could be seen grazing along the forest timberline on the far side of the river.
Sheepherder camps dotted the grassy hillsides. A lazy haze of blue smoke from their campfires aimlessly drifted among the trees, which protected the smoke from being scattered by the breeze. The low-lying smoke made the early morning air in the valley look heavy.
Ellen held tightly onto her new flat-band yellow straw hat as the soft breeze vigorously tried to tear it from her grasp, quickly roll it to the next county. The ends of the red silk ribbon, that delicately ran under her youthful chin and securely held her hat down, flapped wildly in the light wind.
"Papa—why is mother so angry all the time?" she asked, not taking her eyes from the broad valley below.