Monthly Archives: November 2015

Nugget Nate Saves Thanksgiving pt 3 of 3

Well I hope you all have enjoyed this short tale. Let me know what you think of the ending. I and my family wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. -PG


Nate was in the paddock with Ronan and Colm, teaching them how to throw a knife when he saw Ainsworth’s buggy and his old friend, Bill Mulligan. ”

“Boys, you go in the house and get yer ma, then you stay inside and look after yer sister. I’ll show ya some more skills after I’m done with these men.”

“Yes sir, Uncle Nate.” The two took off at a run straight to the cabin. Nate walked over to the fence post and pulled his Bowie out of the circle he’d drawn for a target and sheathed it. He headed towards the two city fellas and could hear Ainsworth screeching from where he was pointing right at him. “That’s him, Sheriff, that’s the man who tried to kill me. Arrest him right now.”

The sheriff looked at Nate and gave a slight nod, which Nate returned. “That man walking towards us is the one who TRIED to kill you? You’re certain?”

Ainsworth blew up then. “What is wrong with you people? Can’t you understand plain English? YES, that man right in front of us. I want him arrested.”

“Mr. Ainsworth, if that man there wanted you dead then I’d not be talking to you right now. As a matter of fact, if he’d tried to kill you you’d be dead and no one would ever find your body on this mountain or anywhere else for that matter. He don’t try to do anything, he either does it or he don’t.”

Nate walked up in front of Ainsworth and stopped. “Well, Mr. City Lawyer, did you bring me that telegram you claimed to have gotten?”

“I did not, my correspondence with MR. Ryder is none of your business.”

The sheriff tugged on the lawyer’s sleeve. “Jonathan, do you know who that is?”

“Of course I do, that’s Mrs. Campbell’s Uncle Nate. He and his wife came to help her out.”

The Sheriff looked at Nate. “Is he telling the truth, Nate, are you Moya’s Uncle?”

Nate looked right at the lawman. “I’m as much her uncle as I am your boy’s uncle, Bill.”

Bill started coughing to cover the laugh that tried to escape his mouth. Nate turned back to Ainsworth.

“So, Johnny boy, you ain’t got no telegram from Mr. Ryder to show me? That’s alright ‘cause I got a telegram to show you.” Nate reached in his pocket and pulled out the telegram he had received from Smythe the day before.

“It’s from a Jefferson Smythe, Esquire, from New York City. I reckon you know him, don’t ya?”

Ainsworth snatched the telegram from Nates hand. “Of course I know him, he is Mr. Ryders New York lawyer. How do you know him?”

Nate pointed to the name the telegram was sent to. “Well, see, I make it a point to get to know the people who work fer me. I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced yet. Bill, you want to make the introduction or shall I jest do it myself?”

“Oh no, Nate, allow me please. Ainsworth, meet your employer David Nathaniel Ryder, known to most as Nugget Nate and to a few as Uncle Nate.”

Nate reached out and took the telegram and handed it to Bill. “Look here. Bill, as long as yer here, my man in New York says that Mr. Ainsworth here hasn’t transferred the sale of my crop to my accounts this year. I’d like to have him arrested fer stealing from me.”

“Now Mr. Ryder, Sir, let’s not be hasty. There is no reason to arrest anyone. I have your funds. I was just waiting to send them to you until I had removed the dead weight from the farm and procured a more profitable sharecropper for you.”

“Well then, let me make a few things plain to ya, Ainsworth. First, you’ll send my money to Smythe the minute you get back to town or tomorrow I’ll kick your overweight butt to the jail myself. Secondly, yer fired, I no longer have need of your services. I refuse to do business with cruel and dishonest men and you, sir, are both. Finally, I don’t reckon when Bill and I tell the rest of the people of Harlan how you’ve treated my interest and the widow Campbell that there will be any need fer yer services in Harlan. So you be gone by sundown tomorrow or I’ll make sure that the old sayin’ about Harlan is true fer y’all.”

Ainsworth looked like he was fit to burst. “What old saying?”

Nate pulled his Bowie out and punctuated his every word with a poke at the overweight lawyer’s center vest button. “You’ll never leave Harlan alive!”

Ainsworth turned to Bill Mulligan. “You had to hear him that time, he just threatened to kill me again.”

Bill shook his head. “Ainsworth, I promise you that what Nugget Nate just said wasn’t a threat. If you are still in town sundown tomorrow it will be a fact.”

Nate sheathed his knife and then pointed down the road. “Now get off my land, Bullfrog, or I might not wait ‘til tomorrow.” Then he turned to Bill, “Would you mind staying a few minutes, Bill. I’d like ya to witness a business transaction for me.”

“Sure, Nate, be glad to help.” The two men shook hands like the old friends they were as they headed to the cabin where Penny and Moya stood on the porch. Penny caught Nate’s attention and pointed behind him. Nate turned and saw the lawyer just standing there with his mouth open. Nate pulled his revolver and fired it just in front of the lawyer’s feet, causing him to jump. “I said, git so GIT!” and he cocked the revolver again. Ainsworth waddled as fast as he could to his buggy. And took off in a cloud of dust.


Thanksgiving arrived before any of those on the farm were ready for it to. Nathan and Ronan had spent most of the week in the forest hunting and trapping. Nathan had even helped the younger boy shoot the turkey that his ma had cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Nate had filled up Moya’s pantry and between him, Nathan, and Ronan, they’d filled up the cellar with enough smoked meet to get the family through the tough Appalachian winter. There were a dozen chickens in the newly built chicken coop, two horses and a mule in the barn, and enough firewood to get Moya and the boys to spring when they wouldn’t need it except for cooking. Nate had made a visit to his old pal Jack Daniels who had sent two hundred pounds of seed corn to the Widow so she could plant come spring. Nate had also talked to a couple of local boys who agreed to help Moya with both the planting and harvest for a fair wage.

Moya looked at the spread of food on her table and the three new friends who had become family to her in such a short time. Then she looked at the chair everyone had left empty at the head of the table. The place where Niall would have sat if he were still alive. Then she knew she had so much to be thankful for. A simple prayer cried out in desperation had brought Nugget Nate Ryder to her and the man had followed God and saved Thanksgiving.



Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Book Reviews


Nugget Nate Saves Thanksgiving pt.2 of 3

Here is part two as promised. If you missed part should read it first here. I hope your enjoying this little Nugget Nate Adventure. Please comment below and let me know what you think of this story so far. PG


Nugget Nate and Nathan rode back into Harlan. Nate knew that it would take no time to get a shoe and handful of nails to replace the shoe that Penny’s mare had thrown. But even though the pull of the Callin’ was still centered on the old homestead, Nate decided to take care of a couple of things that were sort of fighting for equal room in his thoughts. “Nathan, why don’t you take this money bag and head over to the Mercantile and grab a couple of saddle bags full of camp staples. Flour, canned fruit and veggies, coffee, sugar, beans, and hard tack; you know the stuff we need. Also get some trap twine and more ammo for our rifles. I get the feeling that once we get back on the mountain were gonna need that stuff.”

“Okay, Grandpa, where will I meet up with you when I’m done?”

Meet me at the blacksmith shop. I’m gonna go to the telegraph office first. I want to send a wire to Smythe and see if he’s heard anything about the Campbell’s, something ain’t settin’ right about them. Oh, and don’t know why, but grab an axe while yer shopping and a cover fer the head.”

“Yes, sir.” Nathan turned Thunder towards the store while Nate headed further up the street towards the railway depot where the telegraph office was. Nate entered the telegraph office,  grabbed a pencil and telegraph form.

To Jefferson Smythe Attorney at Law New York, NY STOP

From Nate Ryder STOP

In Harlan KY STOP

Any word from Campbell STOP

Answer quickest STOP


Handing the paper and a quarter to the operator Nate settled in to wait on an answer. “Hey Mister, are you asking about Niall and Moya Campbell up on Catron’s Mountain?”

“Yes, sir, that’s them. You know something?”

“Well, I heard that Niall got himself killed a few months ago. Far as I know Moya and the kids are still up there. Can’t reckon it’s easy on her trying to provide for them three little ones. What are they to you?”

“I’m the land owner. How did Niall die, do you know?”

“Word was a tree fell on him right before harvest season. Left Moya with them two young boys and a three month old baby.”

“Wonder why my men didn’t let me know about that?”

“Don’t know. I know that Solicitor Ainsworth was up there at the end of harvest season. He ain’t sent word to your man Smythe yet about the harvest either.”

Well I’m going to head down to the blacksmith for a bit. I’ll check fer a response before I leave town. I need to get up the mountain quick. If I don’t get a response by then I’ll send someone to check for me tomorrow. Be a young boy about 16.”

“Sure thing, Mister Ryder. Do you want me to let Mr. Ainsworth know you’re here?”

Nate handed the operator a double eagle. “No, I’m gonna pay you to make sure none besides you knows I’m in town.”

The man looked at the twenty-dollar piece. “Yes, sir. Ain’t seen hide nor hair of Nugget Nate Ryder since he left here seven years ago.”

Nate smiled. “Good, keep it that way.”

With a new horseshoe and nails procured and Nathan back with bulging bags, Nate stopped one last time by the depot before heading back up the mountain.

“Did I get a reply yet?”

“Yes, sir, let me get it for you.”

The operator handed over a yellow telegram. Nate thanked him and neatly folded the sheet and slipped it in his pocket. The response had been six words. “No news. No funds reported yet.” Nate decided to get back up the mountain and get Penny back on horseback, then check in with the Widow Campbell. Once he was sure that things weren’t dire he would be finding this Lawyer Ainsworth and having a few words with him.

He stepped into the saddle and looked over at Nathan. “Let’s go boy, reckon yer grandmother ain’t gonna wait all day on us.”

He kicked Lightning into a trot and by the edge of town both horses were at a full gallop. The sooner they got there the sooner Nate could get the answers he needed.




Two hours later Nate and Nathan were at the spot where they had left Penny. Like he had expected that woman hadn’t waited on him. He could tell from the signs where she had gone. He looked over at Nathan; here was another chance to see how well his lessons in surviving in the wild had paid off. “All right, boy, looks like she done gone and wondered off. Track her down fer me.”

Nathan looked at him. “Me?”

Nate looked around. “Well I don’t see no one else round here, do you?”

“No, Sir.”

“Then get to it, boy. Daylight’s a wastin’.”

Nate watched as the boy looked around and swelled with pride as he picked up the signs and started out in the direction of the homestead. Figured that Penny would know exactly where the farm was, and knowing his wife, she’d already learned everything about the situation and had a solution planned out. Within half an hour Nathan lead them straight to the farm that Nate had grown up on. Sure enough, in the paddock was the mare Nat had bought for Penny in Lexington. “Good Job, Nathan. You led us right where we were going and you followed your grandmother’s signs as good as I could’ve.”

Nathan smiled as he slipped out of his saddle.

“What are you doing, boy?”

Nathan looked over his shoulder. “Going to the cabin to see if Grandmother is in there.”

“Stop! How can you follow sign like a injun but forget the most important thing about riding up to an unknown camp?”

Nathan stopped and looked back at Nate just as he put his hands to his mouth and yelled out, “Hello the house!”

The door open and out walked Penny. “Hello, yourself, you old mountain goat. What took you so long, couldn’t follow my simple trail?”

“Wife o’ mine, the day I can’t follow any trail you make will be the day they plant me six feet under.”

Well, I got tired of waiting in those woods and found my way to this farm. The lady of the house has been kind enough to allow me to wait for you here. Did you get what you need to shoe that horse?”

Nate took in his wife’s demeanor and realized that she didn’t want him to announce himself as the farm’s owner yet. He reckoned from what his Callin’ had shown him and what the Telegraph Operator had said that if he did so the widow would be afraid he was here to evict her. “I did, and if the lady of the house would be obliged to let me and Nathan rest a minute then I’ll get right on that.”

The young widow had appeared in the doorway behind Penny. “Of course come in and rest I’ll have one of the boys fetch some water for your horses and for you and your grandson.”

“No need, Young Nathan can see to our mounts and bring me a cup when he’s done. Thank’ee much, Ma’am.”

Nate slid from Lightning’s back and walked over to the woman and held out his hand. “Name’s Nate, I’m much obliged fer y’all looking after my Penny in her time of need.”

“It’s been a pleasure. We’ve been having a good time chatting and getting to know each other. We don’t get many visitors this far up the mountain this time of year.”

“Well, let me offer to pay you something for the help you gave my wife today.”

Nate stifled a laugh as the woman looked at his ragged buckskins and the almost too short ones on Nathan and judged them as poor mountain folk. “Oh, that isn’t necessary. I didn’t really do anything.” She directed him towards the house. As he entered he took in the piddly stack of firewood beside the hearth and the two scrawny boys sitting at the table shoveling apples and fritters into their mouth like it was the best thing they ever ate. His heart broke over all that this woman had endured, and then angered at the fact that she endured it at the hand of his man in his name. Nate climbed onto a stool by the fire and propped his moccasins up on the hearth. Penny introduced Moya and her three kids and Nate did what only Nate could do to make everyone comfortable. “Hello, young fella’s. How you like growing up in these here mountains? You know I grew up in this here parts too. I was abringin’ my grandson up here to show him some of the places I had my first adventures. Why, just up that there mountain a ways is where I kilt my first bear. It’s also where I met Davey Crockett fer the first time and saved his life.”

Penny saw the boys eyes grow big but she also saw a flash of recognition on Moya’s face. “Nate,” she cautioned but it was too late.

With a hitch in her voice, Moya asked “Nate? Are you Nugget Nate?”

“Yes, Mrs. Campbell I am called that on occasion.”

She turned to her boys. “Ronan take Colm and see if Nathan can use help with those horses.”

“Yes, Mama,” The older boy took the younger by the hand and outside they went.

Mr. Ryder, please don’t make me leave today. If you will just give me a little time to contact my family in Ireland we will be gone from your farm.”

Nate stood and looked at the broken woman who was holding in tears that were threatening to spill over her eyelids.

“Now who said anything about you leaving? I reckon iffen you want to leave that’s all well‘n good. Do Ya?”

“No, but we didn’t meet the share quota this year and Mr. Ainsworth said he figured you’d make us move.”

Darlin’, you didn’t make the quota because yer husband died leaving you with them two young lads and a newborn. Not his fault from what I heard tell, just an unfortunate event. Every farm has years when crops go bad. What I want to know is did this Ainsworth know your husband died at the start of the harvest season?”

“Well, yes, everyone around here knew when Niall died.”

“Then I want to know why he didn’t hire some men to come and take care of my crop? I know you can’t answer that but he will, you mark my word. Now tell me how much seed corn do you have for next year?”

“None. Mr. Ainsworth took everything we got harvested.”

“He didn’t leave you any seed?”


Penny stepped in then. “Nate, he didn’t leave her anything; no seed and no corn for those children and her to eat.”

Nate strode over to the door, yanked it open and bellowed, “Nathan get them saddle bags and come here.”

He continued to stride outside and around the side of the house. By the time Nathan got the four saddle bags unloaded and he and the Campbell boys toted them to the porch, Nate had made a complete circuit of the farm house.

He took the four bags and then looked at Nathan. “You think you can do some hunting on yer own, Nathan?”

“Yes, sir. I saw some deer tracks while following Grandmother’s trail a few miles back.”

“Good. You get yer rifle and don’t come back without some meat.”

“Yes, sir.” Nathan walked over to his saddle and drew the rifle out of his saddle boot. He reached into his saddle bag and pulled out a revolver and holster and emptied half the cartridge rings, filling them with rifle cartridges, then strapping the belt and gun to his waist. He placed the rifle in the crook of his arm and took off into the woods, back the way he’d come earlier.

Nate watched and then motioned to the Campbell boys, “Help me carry these bags inside, youngsters.”

He strode inside again and once they were all in he handed the bags to Penny. “Here, take them two young’uns and go unload those in the kitchen, Mrs. Campbell and I have business to discuss.”

Penny smiled. “Of course dear, just don’t let your anger at that man flow onto her. She’s as fragile as my tea set right now.”

Nate nodded and kissed his wife’s cheek. “Thank you, dear, you’re right.”

He turned to Moya. “Let’s you and me go walk around the farm and have us a chat iffen you don’t mind.”

“Oh but I can’t leave your wife with both the boys and Róisín, too.”

Penny stuck her head out of the kitchen. “Oh, don’t you worry about that, Moya. I can handle them and if I can’t I’ll send Ronan to find you.”

Moya’s voice trembled with fright at what the legendary Nugget Nate might want to talk to her about. “Oh, okay, if you think it will be alright.”

Penny walked over and hugged the woman. “Go on, dear, and don’t your worry; Nate never bit a woman. Way he is today I wouldn’t count on that snake Ainsworth not losing an ear or finger but not you.”

Moya exited the house to walk with Nugget Nate Ryder who held her and her children’s fates in his hands. All she could do was pray that he would understand more than he already had.



Nate whispered a quick prayer to the Almighty as Moya Campbell walked over to where he stood by the well. He stalled a few minutes by drinking from the bucket as he asked God to keep his temper at that fool lawyer in check while he dealt with this scared filly. He sighed and made a show of wiping water from his beard and mustache as he smacked his lips. “I tell ya, Moya girl, I know just what King David meant when he told them Mighty Men of his that he long for water from his home well. Been all over this great country and ain’t no water sweeter than that from right here on this mountain.”

The young woman smiled a nervous smile at her landlord. “It is very satisfying when you’re thirsty.”

Nate motioned for her to walk along with him as he headed for the barn. “Been noticing that you’re down to almost nothing here, girl.” He raised his hand as she began to explain again. “No, I’m not accusing you or Niall of anything. But it does lead me to ask you this question before we get too far into things. Now answer me honestly here, you mentioned contacting your family earlier. Is that what you want to do? Contact them and leave here?”

Moya couldn’t help but look behind the house on the hillside where a relatively new grave sat beside two older ones. “No, Sir. My Niall is buried right up there beside your folks. I don’t want to leave him here alone with some stranger.”

“Okay then, tell me, can you run this farm?”

“I’ve already explained that I couldn’t bring in the harvest so you know the answer is no.”

“I don’t know any such thing. Lookee here, your husband had just died, you had two young’un’s that weren’t big enough to be much help and a new born to look after. I see a wagon and a plow but no animal to pull either of them. So this harvest don’t count. Let me ask y’all another way. If you had everything you needed to work the land could you run this farm?”

“Mr. Ryder, I know how to run a farm. I grew up on one in Cork County and worked every day along side Niall here, but even if I had a team and seed I couldn’t plant, nurture and harvest and take care of those three children.”

“If ya had help during planting and harvest could ya?’

“Yes, of course, but I don’t.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, girlie. In a world where money wasn’t your concern, could you make this farm back into a success?”

Moya straightened herself and with fierceness Nate had been looking for, simply stared at him as she said one word. “Yes!”

Nate nodded, “Tell me what you would do.

She looked around. “If money wasn’t an issue I’d first get two mules and plow under the fields. There is corn that’s rotted that could be used to fertilize the soil just sitting there going to waste. Then I’d put up a second fence on the far side of the barn and get a couple of pigs. A boar and a sow. By this time next year we’d have sucklings and could keep raising hogs to help feed us in the lean times and sell in the not lean times.”

“Sounds smart, but pigs are hard work and they smell up a place.”

“Not if we cleaned the pin weekly and used the waste as fertilize on the fields.”

“All so a two purpose to pigs then.”

“Three actually. They eat what is left over when nothing else can be done with it.”

“What else?”

“Chickens, a dozen to start. would build the coop behind the barn. Eggs to eat and sell. Chicks to hatch and sell or replace those that needed to be eaten.”

“What about a crop?”

“I know that corn, wheat, potatoes and tobacco all are grown around here. I also know that we’ve only grown corn because you have a buyer for all the corn we can produce.”

Nate stopped and turned to the widow, shocked. “I do but how do you know that?”

“Because Mr. Daniels came by two years ago to talk to Niall. He wanted us to plant a different verity of corn. He said it made his product taste smoother. I asked Niall what that product was and he refused to tell me. Anyway Mr. Daniels gave Niall a hundred pound of seed in exchange for the seed corn we’d put up so we made the switch. I guess I’d need to find out where Mr. Daniels is and see if I could buy more seed off him.”

Sounds like you know what you need, so here’s the deal, girl. I made a deal with yer husband to run this place fer me and split the profits 65/35 with old man Adams as my legal representative. Now I don’t know how this Ainsworthless feller got involved but I ain’t impressed with him. So here’s what were a gonna do. You and I are gonna go back ta the cabin. We’re gonna draw up a new agreement without that worthless feller involved. I’m gonna set you up with everything we jes talked about and a few more things I think yer gonna need. I’m also gonna put a set fund in the bank fer ya. You use it in an emergency iffen you need to and you use it to hire men to help with the planting and the harvesting. Unlike what I did with yer man, I’m going to list you as a 50/50 partner of this here farm. If things go well I’ll even put in a clause that you can option to buy me out in ten years. You can dissolve the partnership at any time before that iffen you want to. Only thing I ask is that you send quarterly reports to my lawyer in New York. I’ll get you his information before were done. You agree to those terms?”

“I’d be a fool not to,” Moya said as tears began to slip past her eyes, “but why, Mr. Ryder, why would you do this?”

Nate shuffled his feet, a bit embarrassed at Moya’s tears. “Well there are four reasons really. The first one is that the Good Book tells us to take care of the widows and orphans; this is my way of doing it. Iffen you’d wanted to leave, I’d have helped ya do that. Which leaves the second reason; those three young’uns of yourn deserve a place to call home. This one stood me well growin’ up, I reckon it will stand them well too. Third reason is you showed you had the grit it takes to make it in these Mountains. My mama was widowed on this farm, too. She never let it stop her and I see a bit of her in you. Finally, fellers like that new lawyer make my blood boil and I want to stick it to him fer treating you and yourn like you was worthless. It’s fellers like him that are worthless and I have a plan to light a shuck to him. Now let’s get back to the house, Penny should have all the foodstuff unpacked by now and she’ll need you to tell her where to put it. I’ll draw up the paper we need while you do that and by then my grandson should be back with some venison. Oh, gonna have to fix the smokehouse and show ya how to use that before we leave. And tomorrow Nathan and I’ll ride into town to get you a team and some mules as well as look for chickens and pigs. Plus I noticed that tree that fell hasn’t been cut up so we’ll get a cross cut saw and we’ll get it turned into firewood for you. And I saw a couple more widow makers up by the fields, we’ll drop and chop them up before we leave.”

“How long do you plan to stay, Mr. Ryder?”

“We’s partners now, Moya girl, it’s Nate or Nugget Nate until that lawyer feller comes around, then its Uncle Nate ‘til I says otherwise. As for leaving, well let’s see. Next Thursday is Thanksgivin’. I promised Nathan’s parents I’d have him home for the holidays so I need to leave here the end of November. By then we should have you back on your feet and able to hold out here ‘til spring.”

“I don’t know what to say, Nate, except thank you. I was so sure you’d come to run us off. That was what Mr. Ainsworth said you’d probably decide.”

Nat pulled his coonskin cap off and flung it on the ground. “See, that there’s what gets my goat. Where does this snotty waste come off, speakin’ fer me? He ain’t never met me or even conversed with me in writing. I worked too hard to build an honest and fair reputation to have some low down legal snake in the grass ruin it like this.”

He picked up his cap and thrust it back on his head with one hand while his other had crept down to the worn handle of the hatchet he was wearing. Moya kept her mouth shut but thought she didn’t envy Mr. Ainsworth when Nugget Nate finally got hold of him.

As they stepped on the porch Nathan called out to them. He was half bent over with the carcass of a buck on his back. Nate hurried over to help the boy. “Good job, Nathan, let’s go hang this in the barn and get it skinned and some of it to the women to cook up fer supper.”

“I got three rabbits and I set some slip traps along the trail that we can check tomorrow, too.”

“That was good thinkin’. Reckon yer getting sneaky on me, didn’t see you grab the trap line.”

“I didn’t, but when I started seeing signs of rabbit and squirrels I pulled some young grape vine and set some up along their trails.”

Nate beamed and slapped the young man on the back. “We is gonna make a right good Mountain Man outta ya yet, Nathan.”

Nathan smiled and he and Nate set to work. Soon they had the hide off of the carcass and Nate set Nathan to skinning the rabbits while he started butchering the deer meat. Once the rabbits were skinned, Nate had Nathan take them and a hunk of the deer inside to the women. They finished the butchering and Nate went to the edge of the woods and quickly cut some young saplings and wove a hide frame and stretched the deerskin on it. Then taking his Bowie knife he began scrapping the rest of the meat off the hide. He’d have to move it into the barn at nightfall to keep the animals off of it, but it would make a good piece of leather that would make one of the boys a pair of trousers. If he and Nathan could get a few more deer they could have Penny make both boys a new set of clothes. His thoughts were interrupted by Penny walking up to him and Nathan, who had started scrapping the rabbit hides. “Dinner is ready, boys, and then we need to decide what we’re going to do about sleeping arrangements. That cabin isn’t set up for all of us.”

Nate nodded. “First things first. Let’s go watch them young’uns fill their bellies and fill ours, too. Then I got to get that agreement written up so I can take Moya to town tomorrow to get it witnessed.”


As the sun rose the next morning Nugget Nate woke Nathan and the two of them took the cross cut saw and two axes up to the tree that had fallen and taken Niall’s life. First off, they trimmed off the limbs so that all they had was a pile of limbs and the trunk. Then, Nate measured out a length the size of the planks he needed to fix the smoke house. They cut that length off and then cut the planks they needed. Next, they sawed the rest of the trunk up to split for firewood. Nate took the planks and went over to replace the missing and broken ones on the smokehouse. He set Nathan to chopping firewood. If they could fall the other three dead trees then the Campbells would have plenty of firewood. Ronan was using a hatchet to cut the trimmed limbs into kindling. His little brother was taking the kindling and stacking it beside the woodpile that Nathan was stacking as he split it.

Nate was on the roof of the smokehouse when he saw a short, overweight man in a suit driving a buggy enter the farm’s clearing. The man looked right at Nate and started waving his arm as he tried to climb out of the buggy. “You, You there! Hey you on that shed.”

Nate turned toward him, “Who me?”

“Yes, You! Stop what you’re doing.”

“Ain’t got time to stop. I need to get this smokehouse roof fixed so I can smoke the deer we got yesterday.”

“You will stop this instance. Who told you to make improvements to this place?”

Nate had a good idea who this was but decided to play along a little while longer. “No one, I jest saw it was missing some boards so I went to fix it. A smoke house full of holes ain’t gonna do anyone no good.”

The dandy finally got to the ground and stomped over towards Nate. As he came Penny and Moya came out of the cabin. Moya’s face went a bit pale at the sight of Jonathan Ainsworth. “Mr. Ainsworth, what are you doing here?”

“Mrs. Campbell, who is that man on top of that building?”

“You mean my Uncle Nate?”

“That man is your Uncle?”

“That’s what I said.”

“Well, tell him to come down immediately. I have received word from Mr. Ryder that we need to discuss.”

Moya stepped past the lawyer and looked up at Nate. “Uncle Nate, can you come down here please. This is Mr. Ainsworth, he works for Mr. Ryder. He says that he has word from Mr. Ryder for us.”

Nate stood and dusted the sawdust and dirt off of his buckskins, then jumped down as easy as if the smokehouse roof wasn’t a good ten feet off the ground. “Is that right? Well, why didn’t he jest say that?”

“I don’t owe you any explanation, sir,” the lawyer said, looking Nate up and down with disgust. “My business is with Mrs. Campbell and no one else.”

“Then why did ya interrupt me in my work?”

Ainsworth turned and faced Moya “Perhaps we can go inside and discuss our business in private, Mrs. Campbell.”

“Anything you have to say to me can be said in front of Nate and Penny. They came to help me get back on my feet again.”

“Well then, let me just be frank. I received a wire from Mr. Ryder this morning. Because you didn’t meet your sharecrop quota this harvest you are to vacate the property immediately.”

Nate’s face froze as he tried to control the anger building in his body. With the steel that made hardened outlaws tremble plain on his face, he walked up to Ainsworth. “Let me get this straight, Mr. Lawyer. Y’all is saying that you received a telegram from Mr. Ryder this morning telling Moya to leave this here farm?”

“Yes, you ignorant hick, that is exactly what I’m saying.”

“Show it to me.”

“Excuse me?”

Nate grabbed the lawyer by the front of his suit coat and pulled him right up to his face. “I said show me that telegraph, you self-important bullfrog.”

“Now see here, you aren’t doing your niece any favors, man. I don’t have the telegram with me. It is in my office in Harlan.”

Nate’s other hand joined his first one on the man’s jacket and he proceeded to drag the overweight man towards his buggy. When the man’s backside connected with the buggy, Nate took his hands off him. “Go get it and bring it here.”

“I will do no such thing.”

Nate’s left hand streaked to his Bowie knife while his right grabbed Ole’ Davey’s hatchet. The knife stopped at the man’s belly and the hatchet at his hair line. “Well, then you decide bullfrog. Do I gut ya first like my friend Jim Bowie would have or do I scalp ya like my brother Sittin’ Bull would?”

Penny placed a restraining hand on Nate’s shoulder. “Nate, not in front of Moya and the children.”

Nate looked at Moya whose hand was at her chest in fear. “Well, Penny my dear, you better get them in the cabin then because I’m gonna get this bullfrog ready for plantin”

“No, Nate, I think the civilized thing to do would be to give this young man another opportunity to consider his options.”

Nate slid a quick wink at Penny then blew out a breath like he was aggravated. “Fine, but it ain’t gonna do anything but delay the inevitable. I’m gonna has to kill ’em before the day is out and you know it.”

“Maybe not, Dear, Mr. Ainsworth looks like an intelligent man. I’m sure he sees the wisdom of your request. Isn’t that right, Mr. Ainsworth?”

The lawyer glanced up at the hatchet then down at the knife poised to plunge into his ample stomach and swallowed hard several times as his mouth opened and closed without any words coming out. Finally he was able to squeak out a simple, “Yes, Ma’am I believe I have.”

Nate sheathed the knife and pulled the hatchet away from the man’s head. He didn’t put it back in his belt, though, but used it to point at the buggy behind the lawyer. “Alright then, git and don’t come back without that telegram.”

The man scrambled up into the buggy and turned it back to town. He looked back over his shoulder and yelled, “I’ll be back this afternoon and I expect you to be packed up and ready to leave when I get here.”

Then he grabbed the buggy whip and gave the horses several hard licks to get them galloping.

Moya looked at Nate, “Why didn’t you just tell him who you were?”

Nate smiled, “And miss all the fun. Did ya see his eyes when I threatened to gut and scalp him? Ain’t had that much fun since Ole Davey and Jim went and got themselfs kilt in Texas.”

“But he’s going to come back with the sheriff, you know that don’t you?”

“‘Corse he will, and won’t he be surprised when Bill tells him who I am.” “Then we can get Bill to witness them there papers we wrote up last night.” He patted Moya on the arm. Don’t you worry none, girl. I done dealt wit harder nuts that Mr. Ainsworth. Before this day is done he’ll done been cracked and rolled over to show me his soft belly. That y’all can take to the bank.” Now go get that meat dressed up. I’ma gonna nail down that last roof board and start stoking the fire to get that meat smoked before it turns on ya.”

Nate walked off to finish and heard Moya asking Penny. “He wasn’t really going to scalp and gut Mr. Ainsworth, was he?”

“Well, I don’t think he would have done it in front of you and the children but I can’t be certain of anything when he gets like that.”

Nate smiled. Oh, his wife was as diabolical as any Comanche warrior he’d ever counted coo with or fought against. Nathan caught up with him just before he climbed back on the roof. “I’ve got all the wood split and the boys are stacking it. I thought I might go check the trap lines and see if I can get another deer or a couple of turkeys, after all Thanksgiving is less than a week away.”

Nate nodded, “That’s fine, but be back here before supper. I expect to have dealt with that lying lawyer by then and I want to get an early start tomorrow. Want to get them dead trees down and then we’ll need to go into Harlan and see about getting the things Moya and the boys will need to make a go of it.”

“,Yes, sir. I’ll be back by supper hopefully with a bag full of game.”

“I know them lil’ boys are gettin’ on yer last nerve, Nathan, but they just want to learn whacha know. So maybe when you get back you can show Ronan how to skin the game and both of them how to clean the hides.”

Nathan sighed, “Alright, Nate.”

“Tomorrow you should take him with you and show him how to check and reset the traps. It will be something he can do to help his family with food.”

“Yes, sir.” Nathan’s shoulders drooped a little at knowing that his solitude and place of peace wouldn’t happen tomorrow.

“Don’t worry, boy, you’ll have lots of time to get tired of them two young’uns. Nate chuckled, “Think of it this way, you’re their Nugget Nate. What you teach them will be the type of men they become. So teach ’em well, Nathan.”

Nate knew Nathan got it because he could see the weight of his declaration settle on his spirit. Nathan turned and without a word grabbed his rifle and headed back into the woods. “Yep,” Nate thought, “He’ll do.”

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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Book Reviews


Nugget Nate Saves Thanksgiving part 1 of 3

I wanted to offer my readers a treat for Thanksgiving so I sat down and wrote the first full short story since my Third Stroke. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

For those that have read all my books and the books By Sophie Dawson that have Nate and Penny in them this story takes place immediately after the events of Giving Love by Sophie Dawson which you can get Here

It isn’t necessary to have read Giving Love to enjoy this story it just provides some backstory. Any way enjoy part one.



by George McVey


Moya Campbell sat at her kitchen table trying not to cry with her sons in the room. She had just gone out to the root cellar to see what was left food wise. All she found was three ears of corn, a couple of pounds of dried apples and two cups of cornmeal. If only Niall hadn’t died then they would have plenty of corn and some meat in the smokehouse. One rotten tree and one freak windstorm three months ago left her without a husband and her three young’uns without a Da!

Tears started to flow as she felt the ache in her heart where the safety and love that was Niall had once been. She didn’t know how she was going to feed her kids let alone provide them with the meal at Thanksgiving they were used to or any kind of a Christmas. She’d be lucky if Mr. Ainsworth did show up any day and tell her that Mr. Ryder needed her to leave. Even if she could convince them to let her stay this year’s crop had mostly rotted into the ground and she had only half of what she was supposed to give the owner’s lawyer to sell with none left for next year’s planting and feed the children and herself. At least Róisín wouldn’t starve yet. As long as her body kept producing milk the infant would be fed. But she couldn’t imagine that her milk would continue to produce when she herself was starving. Let alone what would she feed Ronan and Colm. She could give them corn, fritters and apples tonight but after that, there was nothing left. Ronan was too young to hunt alone. He had been a few times last year with his father but a six year old didn’t need to be stalking game on his own. It was just too dangerous. She couldn’t go because she couldn’t leave Róisín and Colm for Ronan to watch. If that tree hadn’t killed her husband and their donkey, she would hitch the wagon and take the children to town. As it was now they might have no choice but to walk out in the morning. The ten miles would be nearly impossible for the boys to walk and close to that for her carrying the baby. If she could make it to town she didn’t have money to stay. She might be able to scrape up just enough to send a cable to her parents in Ireland but then she would have to find a way to survive the month it would take for them to come and get her and the children. She laid her head down on the table and wept knowing that her boys would wake soon and hear her and become worried. She couldn’t stop, she just wept all the harder as she wailed out “Jesus, please, please help me.”



Still crying but more under control Moya was startled to hear a female voice outside. “Hello in the house.”

She hadn’t been expecting company. She swallowed her worry and tears, quickly wiped her face with a dishcloth, and ran her fingers through her hair. Not expecting anyone, she pulled Niall’s Henry rifle off the mantle and ratcheted a round in case this was trouble. She exited the house to see an older woman in a velvet riding skirt and jacket leading a horse close to the well. “Oh, hello dear. My name is Penelope. My horse threw a shoe a few miles back and my husband and grandson went back to town to get a new one. Would you mind if I wait for them here?”

Moya took in the woman’s auburn hair streaked with grey underneath the cream-colored hat that was pinned to her head with a gold pin that looked like a jewel incrusted peacock feather. Her hazel colored eyes were full of kindness and though it was obvious she was society and not from the mountains, she seemed friendly enough. “Certainly, Ma’am, you can put your horse in the coral if you want and I’ll draw him some water for the trough.”

“Thank you very much. As much as I like the mountains, waiting alone on a trail was not my idea of a good time.”

The two women worked together in silence as the woman removed the sidesaddle she had been riding from the horse and placed it and the saddle blanket on the fence rail of the small corral. Then she led the mare into the paddock and shut the gate behind her. In the meantime, Moya drew several buckets of water, carried them over and dumped them in the feed trough, which was dry and empty.

As they finished, Moya turned to the woman and asked, “Would you like to come in and rest ‘til your husband and grandson return?”

“Why thank you dear, that sounds wonderful. Your husband won’t mind having strangers in your house?”

“My husband passed away a few months ago during a storm.”

“Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I’d do if my Nate was taken from me unexpected like.”

“It has been hard. He died right at the start of harvest season. My sons and I tried but we only got about half the harvest in that we needed and that isn’t even enough to cover our sharecrop payment. Now I don’t have anything left for us or to plant next year.”

Darlin’, that sounds horrible. I would expect if you told the owner that he would waive this year’s payment to make sure that he got one next year. If not, then he will lose more than one year’s, crop. By the way, I don’t know your name dear.”

Moya was fighting back tears knowing that the children would be up from their nap soon. “Oh pardon me, I’m Moya Campbell. As for the landlord, I’ve never met him. My Niall only met him once. His Name is David Nathaniel Ryder but we’ve always dealt with his lawyer in town, Mr. Jonathan Ainsworth. He has made it plain that Mr. Ryder expects a good return on his investment every season. I haven’t seen him since he arrived last month to pick up the crop and he wasn’t too happy when he left. He told me he needed to contact Mr. Ryder and see what he wanted done about our failure. I tried to explain that me and my two sons just couldn’t pick any more than we had. He told me that excuses were a poor answer for laziness and that I should have either made sure the crop got in before it rotted or hired someone to do it. I don’t even have an animal to pull my wagon or plow. I couldn’t get to town to hire anyone if I had the money to hire them anyway.”

Penny placed her arm around the young woman and seethed inside. Just wait ‘til Nate got here and heard this woman’s tale. This lawyer was gonna get a piece of Ryder justice and if Nate wouldn’t hand it out then Penny would take his hatchet and Bowie knife and dish it out herself. No gentleman should ever treat a woman like this Lawyer Ainsworth had treated Moya, let alone no Christian should ever treat a window the way she was treated. If he had been so worried about Nate’s crop getting harvested then he should have come and helped harvest it himself. She knew that Nate had not been informed of the Campbell’s misfortune; he would have been here himself to see to the crop. No, he’d only received one of his Callin’s a week ago after they had left Cottonwood. They had been taking Nathan home to be with his family for the holidays when Nate suddenly asked to be uncoupled at the next station. He had them hooked to a southern bound train for Lexington where they had left their Pullman and the three of them had been riding for Harlan, Kentucky. Once they got there, they checked into the hotel and Nate let her and Nathan know that they’d be heading up Catron’s Mountain in the morning. “Don’t know why yet but feel like we need to go check in on them Campbells that’s a running the old home place. That Callin’s screamin’ at me about them folks. Reckon they might be in a bit of trouble or bout to be.”

Now that she knew what was a going on she would see to it that Nate helped this young widow out either by hiring her some hands to work the next season or help set her up somewhere else if she wished it.

As they entered into the cabin there came a cry from the bedroom and Moya indicated that Penny should make herself at home as she headed for the bedroom. Penny looked around and seated herself by the fire that had burned down to just embers. She placed a log on the embers and stirred ‘til she had the flame going. When she stood and turned to find a seat she saw two little boys standing behind her. The younger one was half-hidden behind his brother with his thumb in his mouth. The older one stood with his arm out like he was protecting his brother. “Who are you and where is my Mama?”

Penny knelt down and smiled at the little blonde haired boy. “I’m Penny and your Mama is in the bedroom. She invited me in to wait for my husband to come and get me. I hope that is alright with you.”

“If my Mama invited you in then that’s okay.

“Good then. Now what are your names?”

“I’m Ronan and this is my brother, Colm. He don’t like strangers though.”

“Well, that’s smart. I don’t like strangers either, that’s why I introduced myself to you so we wouldn’t be strangers.”

Just then Moya came out of the room carrying little Róisín in her arms. “Ronan, you and Colm leave Mrs. Penny alone. Go and bring in some more firewood so we can think about fixing dinner in a bit.

“Okay, Mama, but there ain’t much wood left out there.”

“Well you go bring in what is out there and we’ll figure out something about more later.”

The two boys shuffled out the door. As they left Moya swallowed the sob that threatened to escape. Penny wasn’t fooled one little bit. She stood and walked over to the poor and took the infant from her. “Here now come sit and I’ll look after this little one. You go ahead and get it out but if you want to stop the tears just think about these three lovely children the Good Lord blessed you with.”

“Yes Niall and I were blessed Ronan and Colm were the pride of Niall he kept saying they would grow up to be strong and godly men. He always was calling Róisín his wild Irish rose. I think he thought the sun rose and set on her.

“ I’m sure he did, good fathers are like that. How bad is it, Moya? If your firewood’s running that low, what else is low?”

The young woman shook her head.

“Now don’t you go lying to me young lady. I’ve been around long enough to know that a widow of three months with no man around and three young mouths has got to be at just about the last of everything. So now how much food do you have left?”

Moya couldn’t hold it back any longer; the tears started to flow and with them she began to weep.  “There’s nothing. I can make the boys some corn fritters and apples for dinner and then there’s nothing.”

“Hasn’t anyone even been by to check on you?”

“Only person that’s been here since the funeral is Mr. Ainsworth and he only came to collect the harvest. I expect he’ll be back soon to tell me we have to leave since we didn’t meet the crop quota this year.”

“Well when my boys get back we will see what we can do to fix some of your short term needs. They can cut wood and do some hunting and once they get my horse shod, if you will let me, I’ll take your wagon and see if we can’t get you some staples from the Mercantile I saw in Harlan.”

“Oh, Penny, I can’t let you do that. I could never repay you.”

“Honey, you don’t have to repay us. The good book says that it is our duty to care for widows and orphans and that’s what you and these three precious children are. We will do it and be blessed by blessing you. But if it makes you uncomfortable then I say we leave it up to my Nate. If he suggests any or all of what I proposed when he meets you then we’ll figure God must want us to bless you. If not, then I won’t mention it again.”

Moya agreed to Penny’s proposal. Deep inside she didn’t know if she wanted Penny’s husband to suggest those things Penny had mentioned or not. On one hand, food would help keep her children fed for a few more days, but on the other, she would feel like a charity case. But she had agreed so now it was up to God, or fate, or pure blind luck.

*********** To Be Continued Tomorrow*******

Leave me a comment on what you liked or didn’t like or how you think it’s going to go. And from the McVey clan to you and yours  Happy Thanksgiving.


Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Book Reviews


It’s all about your point of view!

Statue-of-Liberty-torch-in-nightThe world is going crazy all around us and you can’t watch T.V., or even get on Facebook without another talking head shouting about the refugee status. We have people Cheering the Governors who are refusing to allow any in their state. We have people screaming at them too. We have Senators and Congressmen passing laws that have been written in fear of what happened in Paris happening here. We have Senators and Congressmen condemning those that are introducing and voting on those laws. Even as Christians we have a serious divide on this issue. I thought I knew which side I was on until a little trip to my Heart Doctor today.

Now to be open honest and fair here my Heart Doctor is a naturalized citizen, meaning that he was born outside the U.S. to non-American parents. He came here on a student visa and then took the test and became an American Citizen. He loves his country and it shows in his office. There are patriotic touches everywhere. What country was he born in you might wonder and so would I have until my appointment today. He walked in the exam room and asked how I was feeling and then asked what I thought about the situation in Paris and the results it was having here in my town. For those that don’t know we are one of the cities that are going to receive refugees 150 of them.  I was honest with him and said I think we as a country have gone a bit crazy on this subject. That while I understand the fear that is feed this I have to stand by my faith too. Which tells us to help the widow and orphan. To feed the hungry and clothe those without clothes. To lift up the downtrodden.

That was when my doctor pulled his phone out of his pocket. He fiddled with it a little bit and then showed me a picture of two young girls about my grandsons ages. They were filthy and standing in front of a large green canvas tent. Like those being used in the refugee camps. They were his nieces. With tears in his eyes he told me how his brother and family have been in those camps for two years while they were vetted every way they could be so that they could come to Charleston to live near him. He explained to me how they’d had background check after background check, physicals, mental evaluations and even had the C.I.A. investigating them. Now after two years they were finally on the list to come here and be safe.

Then he scrolled a couple of photos and showed me another photo one that burned itself into my brain; a photo taken by his brother just before they escaped to the refugee camp. It was a photo of hundreds of Children shot to death and laid in a mass grave. He said to me “This is what they are fleeing. People are scared and reacting to 127 people getting killed by ISIS terrorist who were all citizens of either France or Belgium.”

Suddenly I was the one apologizing, not because I agree that we need to open our borders wide. No, because I’d never once thought about those being used a pawns in this war. People like my doctors nieces. Children who just want to go to sleep and not worry about being shot before they wake up or when they wake up.

Was my views changed by that short time with my Doctor? No not completely ,but what I did realize is that we are all reacting without finding out the facts for ourselves. Where we come down on this issue and most others I thought on my way home is all about our personal point of reference. If we close our borders to those seeking what we are supposed to have, peace and security, then ISIS wins without ever having to fire a shot. Do you honestly think that will keep the terrorist out of the U.S.? We know it won’t if they want to come here and kill then they will find a way.  But I for one after sitting with the man who literally might end up with my heart in his hand one day can’t say keep those Syrian’s out not when I’ve seen those two little girls with fear in their eyes.  Why don’t the media and the government tell us about all the screening these refugees are going through? Maybe because to do so would tip ISIS off to how to beat that screening.  But now I know two years of screening for this one family. Maybe we need to change our point of reference before we jump to a decision. Remember the mess that made for us after September 11?

Let’s take some time and remember the poem on the Statue of Liberty and think about what America is supposed to be. “

The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.

From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command


The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“”Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Book Reviews