Falcon MacCallister never thought he'd wear army brass. But Colorado is about to join the Union--and the would-be state has just made him Lt. Colonel in its Home Guard. Then, before his military career can take off, Falcon loses one of his men and two deadly new Gatling guns to a murderous ambush. Falcon is going to get those Gatling guns back--before they kill the wrong people.
Tracing the missing guns to Eastern Montana, Falcon teams up with a scout named Isiah Dorman. Falcon and Dorman are spearheading a battle against the Sioux--in the shadow of the disastrous Little Big Horn slaughter. For the two men, survival along the Little Bighorn is going to mean breaking rules, standing strong, standing together--and holding off a deadly onslaught with only a few guns against many...
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
August 03, 2009
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Bloodshed of Eagles by William W. Johnstone
June 25, 1927
Falcon MacCallister had met Zane Grey two years earlier when the author attended a banquet given by the Governor honoring Falcon as "A true treasure of the state of Colorado; a man whose exploits and heroic deeds will echo down through the corridors of time."
At that banquet, Zane Grey asked Falcon if he could interview him, to write a story about him. As nicely as he could, Falcon said no. He could still remember the many awful "dime novels" that had been written about him and other notables back in the days when Falcon was most active. All were highly exaggerated tales of derring-do, and the truth was, had any of the pulp writers of the day stopped to do some research, they would have discovered that Falcon's actual exploits exceeded anything the writers ever portrayed.
It was because of those books that Falcon had turned Zane Grey down. Later, however, as Falcon read some of Zane Grey's books, he realized that the author was not of the "penny dreadful" ilk. On the contrary, Zane Grey's books rang true with a respect for people and Western life, as well as wonderful descriptions of the beauty of the country. Falcon became an immediate fan of his writing, and that was why, when the author contacted Falcon by telephone three days ago requesting permission to call on him, Falcon agreed.
"Big Grandpa, do you really know Zane Grey?" Falcon's great-granddaughter asked. The young girl was actually named Rosanna, after her great-great-aunt, but everyone called her Rosie. "He's very famous. He's a writer like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald."
Falcon looked over at the young girl who had been named after his sister.
"Zane Grey is fine, but aren't you a little young to be reading Hemingway and Fitzgerald?"
"I'm sixteen," the girl insisted. "That's not too young."
Falcon thought back to his own youth, and how many sixteen-year-olds he had known who were on their own, some of whom had fought in the Civil War at that age.
"I guess it's not too young at that, darlin'," Falcon said.
Rosie stepped up to the window and looked outside. "Oh, here comes a car. I'll bet that's him!" she said excitedly.
Falcon walked out onto the front porch of his Colorado home, then stood there as the big green Packard sedan glided in stately fashion around the curved brick driveway. Zane Grey stepped out of the car and smiled up at Falcon.
"Mr. MacCallister, thank you for agreeing to see me," the author said.
"It is my pleasure, Mr. Grey. My first impression of you was wrong," Falcon replied. "I've read some of your books, and I have enjoyed them very much."
"Well, I thank you," Grey said. "All of my Western heroes are fictional, but praise coming from an authentic Western hero like you is flattering indeed."
"Would you like some coffee? It used to be that when a man visited your camp, you'd offer him coffee from the pot hanging over your fire. There is nothing better than coffee brewed over an open fire, but I'm afraid you are going to have to deal with coffee brewed in an electric pot."
"The price of modern living," Zane Grey replied. He looked back toward the car. "I have someone with me. It's an old friend of yours."
"By all means, invite him in as well," Falcon said.
"It isn't a him, it's a her."
Falcon looked surprised. "And you say she is an old friend of mine?"
"Come, we'll help her out of the car," Zane Grey said.
Falcon followed the author back to the car, then stood to one side as Grey opened the door and stuck his hand in to help his passenger exit.
The small, gray-haired woman stepped out of the car, adjusted her hat, and looked at Falcon.
"Hello, Colonel MacCallister," she said. "It has been a very long time."
"Libbie Custer," Falcon said, gasping in surprise.
"Big Grandpa, I baked some cookies this morning as soon as I learned that Mr. Grey was coming," Rosie said after they all moved inside. "Would you like me to serve them?"
"Mr. Grey, Mrs. Custer, this is my great-granddaughter, Rosanna," Falcon said.
"What a lovely thing you are," Libbie said.
"Thank you," Rosie said, blushing at the compliment.
"Rosanna, is it?"
"Yes, ma'am. Well, that's my real name, but everyone calls me Rosie . . . I'm named after my great-great-aunt. She was a famous actress," Rosanna said.
"Oh, indeed she was," Libbie said. "Autie and I saw her and her brother on stage in New York. And they even came to Ft. Lincoln to perform for us there . . . You look just like her, by the way."
Rosie frowned. "She is very old."
Libbie laughed. "I mean you look just like her when she was very young and very beautiful."
"Oh," Rosie said.
"Some cookies would be nice, darlin'," Falcon said.
"All right Big Grandpa, I'll go get them," Rosie said, starting back to the kitchen.
Falcon, Zane Grey, and Libbie Custer were sitting in the parlor. This was the same house that Falcon's father, Jamie, had lived in--it was the same house where his mother had died, shot down on the front porch. And the room that Falcon was using as a parlor had been used for the same purpose when his parents lived here.
There were some major changes, of course. Instead of candles and kerosene lanterns, the parlor, indeed the entire house, was now illuminated by electricity. Some of the furnishings were the same--a rocking chair and a couple of armchairs, for example. The rug on the hardwood floor was the same also, but the sofa was new, and the record player and radio were also new. A telephone hung on the wall near the door.
"Falcon, Mrs. Custer told me something that I had never heard before," Zane Grey said. "She told me that you were with her husband when he was killed."
"I wasn't with him at the exact time he was killed," Falcon said. "I was with Benteen and Reno when the general was killed."
"Falcon, anyone who had anything at all to do with that last scout has written a book or an article about their experiences-- some have done quite well and made a good deal of money out of it. Why haven't I heard this about you before?"
"Because my being there was an accident of sorts," Falcon said. "A lot of good men gave their last full measure of devotion on that day. I've never felt it was right to detract from their honor by interjecting myself."
"And I have respected you for that," Libbie said.
"As you know, it has been fifty-one years today since that terrible event. I wonder, Falcon, would you share the story with me now?" Grey asked.
"So you can write a book about it?" Falcon replied.
"I would love to write about it," Grey said.
Falcon shook his head. "In that case, no. I won't share my story with you."
Zane Grey sighed, then picked up his coffee cup and took a swallow. At that moment, Rosie came back into the room carrying a tray of cookies. She offered them to Libbie first.
"Oh, thank you," Libbie said, smiling at the young girl "Oh, these look simply heavenly. And you baked them yourself?"
"You are not only a beautiful young lady, you are also very clever," Libbie said.
Rosie served Grey and her great-grandfather as well; then she withdrew from the room. Zane Grey had not spoken since Falcon told him he would not share his story.
"All right," Grey said. "I will make a deal with you."
"What kind of deal?"
"If you tell me your story, I won't write it."
Falcon chuckled. "Well, if you don't write it, what good will it do for you to hear the story?"
"I am more than a writer, Falcon. I am also a hunter, fisherman, explorer, and even an archaeologist of sorts."
Zane Grey laughed. "As well as a dentist and one-time baseball player, though at neither of them did I enjoy much success. But mostly, I am a man with a consuming curiosity. And it is that curiosity that has allowed me to realize what accomplishments I have achieved. So I am appealing to you to please satisfy that curiosity for me. Tell me the story. I swear to you, I will not write it."
Falcon looked over at Libbie.
"It's your call, Mrs. Custer."
Libbie put her cup down. "Falcon," she said. "In the years since my Autie was killed, I have written books and articles, I have lectured, I have granted interviews, and I have answered letters--all designed to tell the truth about what happened. Of late, there have been articles printed which would disparage my husband's good name. You are a man of honor and integrity--anything you might say to add to the story could only help to promote my cause.
"I not only approve of you telling the story, I am asking you to please do so."
"It's been over fifty years," Falcon said. "And I've never told this story to anyone before. I'm not sure I can do it justice."
"Big Grandpa, I've heard a lot of your stories. You tell wonderful stories," Rosie said. "You can do it justice."
The others laughed at the young girl, who, after having served the cookies, had come back into the room and was now sitting quietly over in the corner.
"There you go, Falcon, validation from an unimpeachable source," Zane Grey said.
"I warn you, it is a long story."
The author laughed. "I'm a novelist, Falcon, I deal in long stories. Please, go ahead."
Falcon finished his coffee, then put the cup down. "The year 1876 was what historians will call an eventful year," he began. "In Philadelphia, they celebrated our country's centennial. Colorado became a state, they invented the telephone, and at a lonely place in Montana, General Custer and two hundred sixty-five brave men were killed.
"But in order to tell my role in all this, I suppose I need to go back six months earlier, and start with an attempted stagecoach robbery."