Lucien Maxwell, single largest landowner in New Mexico Territory, stepped from the Middaugh Mercantile porch into early June sunlight and gazed unseeing across the green valley. On the flanks of Baldy Mountain, construction workers scurried like ants around a long wooden aquaduct-like structure. When finished, the flume it held would carry water from the Red River’s source to Baldy Mountain’s base. Then high pressure hoses would spray the sides of the gulches that drained the mountain, flushing out gravel and the gold the miners hoped it contained.

They were calling the flume the Big Ditch. It was a first for New Mexico Territory. Maxwell was a major investor, likely to make a substantial return both from water sales and from men wanting to buy mining rights. Yet all he could see was the letter in his hand.

Kit Carson was dead. Kit, the companion of so many of Lucien’s wilderness adventures, always so full of energy, so confident in his quiet-spoken way, with his sixth sense for trouble and how to meet it. Yes, Kit had been ill, but it was still incomprehensible that he could be gone. Lucien Maxwell gazed at the men scrambling across the hillside opposite and could feel no joy in their activity and its outcomes. It all seemed rather hollow, somehow.


Copyright © 2016 Loretta Miles Tollefson


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