Visit the series page to learn more about what's coming next and an abridged history of Whitcomb Springs.
In the spring of 1865, a letter arrives in Whitcomb Springs for Evelyn Whitcomb. The Civil War has ended and the whereabouts of her husband is unknown, but she doesn’t give up hope. With courage, the help of a friend, and the love of a people, Evelyn finds a way to face—and endure—the unexpected.
“Whitcomb Springs” is the introductory, stand-alone short story of the Whitcomb Springs series set in post-Civil War Montana.
Coming March 15, 2018
Excerpt from “Whitcomb Springs”
June 15, 1860
“I wanted adventure, Daniel, but I do believe you’ve gone too far this time.” Evelyn dabbed her handkerchief against her neck. The air, still cool on the early summer day, warmed by degrees the farther they rode. It was her first time riding a horse outside a manicured park or gently sloping pasture, and the rough terrain proved to be more difficult than she’d originally credited.
Their guide, who went only by the name of Cooper, promised them what they’d see at the end of the trail would be worth the two days’ ride to get there. Evelyn had seen beautiful scenery, but nothing so far as to make her trust the man whose appearance was as untamed as the trail on which they now traveled.
“We’re almost there, Evie,” Daniel said. He urged his horse forward so he rode beside his wife. “Didn’t I tell you the West was spectacular?”
“Yes, you did.” They were blessed with so much and yet they’d lost what was most important to them. Two children—sons—passed away shortly after their births, one year apart. They suffered together, mourned together, and dreamed together of a life far removed from their sorrows. He promised her adventure in a place grander than anything she’d ever seen. His promises were based on stories and reports of western expansion, and she loved him enough to believe in his dream as much as he did.
After weeks of train travel, cramped stage coaches, and a few months’ extended stay in Helena, Evelyn had endured enough dreaming. “Daniel, please tell our guide we must stop and rest.”
Daniel pulled his horse to a stop, called out to Cooper, and helped Evelyn down from the saddle. The muscles in her back and legs were of little help to hold her upright. Daniel kept her steady, and she leaned toward him. He stood half a foot taller than her five and a half feet. Never one to be considered strong, he was lean and in excellent health from years of horse riding and exploring the Pennsylvania hills. When he asked if she wanted to remain in Helena while he joined the scout, she’d been quick to assure him she could handle the journey.
Four days of stage, wagon, and horseback, and she’d kept her silence until now. As though sensing she didn’t want to get back on the horse, Daniel positioned an arm at her waist and told their scout they were going for a walk.
Cooper lifted the saddle off his horse and moved to do the same on the others. “Be sure you stick to the trail and don’t go so far I can’t hear you shout.”
Evelyn glanced back at Cooper, wondering what event would require them to shout, and thought better of asking. She walked alongside her husband, staying on the trail as told. A steady rushing creek followed the trail as it widened, then narrowed. When they turned a bend around a copse of pine trees thick with branches and lush green needles, Evelyn stopped.
“Daniel.” Her voice was a reverent whisper. She dropped his hand and stepped forward, her eyes moving back and forth over the landscape so as not to miss anything.
“I promised you, Evie.” Daniel stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Whitcomb Springs" ©2018 MK McClintock
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