The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis

THE FLEECING 

OF FORT GRIFFIN

by

PRESTON LEWIS

Genre: Western Humor 

Publisher: Wild Horse Press

Date of Publication: May 19, 2016

Number of Pages: 234


2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:

Best Creative Work on West Texas


Scroll down for the giveaway!


 When the young Englishman Baron Jerome Manchester Paget arrives in 1878 Fort Griffin with a satchel full of money to start a buffalo ranch and find a bride, a horde of colorful swindlers from throughout Texas arrive to help themselves to a rich serving of his naiveté to frontier ways.  

  With a passel of oddball characters and more twists and turns than a stagecoach trail, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin pits the baron against crooked gamblers, a one-eyed gunfighter, a savvy marshal, conniving females, a duplicitous cavalry officer and a worldly stump preacher. 

   To stay rich, the baron must stay alive!  And to stay alive, the baron must rely on a fourteen-year-old orphan and a rooster that serves as his guard animal.  Even so, the odds and the cards are stacked against the Englishman and his bold vision of becoming the baron of bison in West Texas. 

   Written by Spur Award-winning author Preston Lewis, a master of western plot twists and humor, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin takes readers on an unconventional and uproarious journey through the Old West and some of its unsavory characters.  

PRAISE FOR THE FLEECING OF FORT GRIFFIN:


“… a work of colorful and humorous fiction,”

                             Albany Review

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis of San Angelo is one of the funniest westerns I’ve ever read.”

                             Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads

“If you’re looking for a delightful tale, check out The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.” 

                             Bryan Eagle


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“Buzzard Bait”

Excerpt from

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin

“Whoa,” said Ike Mann, holding his hand up.  “Trouble!”

The baron reined his roan in.  “It shouldn’t be too much trouble, not with the Army behind us?”

Mann pointed to dozens of circling buzzards.

“Vultures?” asked the baron.

“Buzzards,” Mann answered, “mean something’s dead or dying.”  The buffalo hunter stood in his stirrups, studying the terrain ahead.  “Whatever’s in trouble is over that rise.”

Settling back into his saddle, Mann slowly pulled his Sharps Big Fifty buffalo gun from its scabbard.  “Just in case,” he said.

“Me too, governor,” the baron replied, slipping his hand under his coat and pulling out his .22-caliber revolver.

Mann grinned.  “Flash that artillery around too much, English, and you may scare off the cavalry.”

The baron nodded.  “I’m ready.”

Mann laughed and nudged his horse forward toward the rise, the pack mule following reluctantly.  Near the crest of the hillock, Mann pulled back the gelding’s reins and rose slowly in his stirrups, then sat back down, sliding his buffalo gun into its scabbard.  “It’s only Cat Tails,” Mann sighed.

“Cat Tails?” the baron asked as he rode up beside Mann.

“That crazy Tonkawa that hangs around town and clips the tails off stray cats.”

The baron stared at Cat Tails spread-eagled upon the ground more than a hundred yards away.  In addition to the buzzards overhead, a half dozen on the ground cautiously approached the body.

“These vultures, governor, they eat carrion?” the baron asked.

“Whenever they can get it,” Mann replied.

The baron lifted his revolver.  “I cannot abide such an indignity, even for an aboriginal.”

Mann pointed toward the baron’s pistol.  “Put the peashooter away, English, and just watch.”

Reluctantly, the baron complied.  “I protest that such an indignity can be allowed upon the body of even an aboriginal.”

“Just watch Cat Tails.”

The baron shrugged and studied the buzzards approaching Cat Tails, occasionally spreading their wings as if they might take to flight.  They would stride in, then back out and put their heads in a clump as if they were deciding how do divide up lunch.  One by one, they would advance toward Cat Tails, then back away.  With their red pimpled faces and their black gangly wings, they were ugly, ungraceful birds.  They kept inching closer to Cat Tails, making short advances but shorter retreats, winding up just a little closer to the body with each advance and retreat.

“What’s the fun in this, governor?” the baron asked.

“He ain’t dead, English.”

“What?” the baron shouted.

“Shhhhh,” Mann answered.  “If you scare the buzzards away, Cat Tails might kill you.”

The baron gulped.

“I seen this once before.  Cat Tails trying to catch a live buzzard.”

“But why?”

“Who knows the mind of a Tonkawa?”  Mann’s voice turned to a whisper.  “Those buzzards are getting close.”

Two buzzards advanced within Cat Tails’ reach.  They paused, looked at one another and then stepped closer, one moving in toward the head and shoulder, the other approaching the armpit and chest.

Mann let out a low whistle.  “I don’t know how that damn Indian can hold his breath so long.  That close, the buzzards have got to see him breathe.”

The one advancing toward the armpit, got within pecking distance of Cat Tails’ chest.  For one brief instant, Cat Tails and the two closest birds were frozen.  In the next instant, Cat Tails exploded with his arms springing like a steel trap at the bird beneath his armpit.  The bird spread its wings to fly, but Cat Tails grabbed its leg as the other startled birds took to wing, squawking and rejoining the buzzards circling above.

Cat Tails held the buzzard’s twitching leg and fought the buzzard’s thrashing wings.  The wings flapped against his chest until Cat Tails fell to the ground, pinning the bewildered buzzard.  The buzzard’s flapping wings pummeled his face and chest before he jerked his knife from its scabbard and sliced at the bird’s neck.  The bird went limp.  Cat Tails jumped up, lifting his knife and his trophy above his head.  Cat Tails whooped and hollered and danced, finally bending over the bird carcass, plucking a handful of tail and wing feathers and shoving them beneath his headband.

“He finally got his buzzard,” Mann said, “but I figure the bird was old, blind, or as crazy as Cat Tails himself.”

“A strange ritual, this aboriginal display,” the baron said.

            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, a western caper published by Wild Horse Press.  Fleecing won the 2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 

     Lewis is best known for his comic novels in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series. 

Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in the well-received series that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 

           Blood of Texas, Lewis’s historical novel on the Texas Revolution, received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to his two Spurs from WWA, Lewis has earned three Elmer Kelton Awards from WTHA.

       Lewis’s novels have appeared under the imprint of national publishing houses such as Bantam, Zebra and HarperCollins and of regional publishing companies like Eakin Press and Wild Horse Press.  His short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, True West, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times

       A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor and Ohio State universities.  He earned a second master’s degree in history from Angelo State University.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  

Website ║ Facebook ║ Goodreads

Amazon Author Page 


———————-

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Choice of Any One Book from the H.H. Lomax Series
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