Each Saturday this month, I’ll share a scene from one of my books.
This week’s featured book is Tad’s Treasure.
Tad took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh spring air wafting in his workshop window as it blended with the scents of his saddle-making trade.
Even after years of working with leather, he never tired of the smell or the supple feel of it in his hands.
As he guided his knife along the line of the pattern he’d drawn to cut out the cantle of a saddle, he wondered if the coffee he’d put on had heated yet.
He set aside his knife and wandered into the front of his shop. After pouring a cup of the steaming brew, he took a long sip, pleased that his ability to make coffee had vastly improved over the years. In fact, a few of the old timers liked to drink coffee and flap their gums as they perched in chairs around his stove when it was too cold for them to sit in front of the general store and play checkers.
Tad took another swig of the coffee then turned and stared out the front window.
For all appearances, it looked like another peaceful spring day in Baker City. He stepped closer to the window and gazed across the street, noticing Posey Jacobs’ wagon parked there, although the woman was nowhere in sight.
A frown burrowed into Tad’s brow as he wondered if she’d taken Nate along with her. The little boy was a handful on a good day, but she always brought him with her to town. Most women who’d taken a turn keeping an eye on the rascal rarely did it more than once or twice. To give Posey a few moments of peace, Tad often watched Nate at his shop while she hurried to the mercantile, post office, or took care of other errands.
He was about to turn back to his work when movement down the street caught his eye. He watched as Nate swished a tin cup in a watering trough then carried the vessel full of water over to a spot where he’d created a mud puddle. The little boy hunkered down and stirred the water into the dirt, creating an awful mess.
Since he wasn’t bothering anyone, though, or into trouble, Tad decided to leave him be. He sipped his coffee and watched as Nate carried over a few more cups of water. The boy used his teeth to tug up his shirtsleeves to keep them out of the mud before he started working it again.
The youngster formed what appeared to be a mud pie, tamping it into a bent tin pie plate. Tad wondered where Nate had acquired the tin kitchen pieces, but the boy could have found them most anywhere.
Nate carried the pie tin over to a set of finely tooled saddlebags draped over the hitching rail outside one of the saloons. Tad knew the saddlebags were well made because he’d been the one to craft them.
Before he could holler at the boy to stop, Nate opened one side of the saddlebag and slid the pie tin inside.
Tad clunked his coffee cup down on the counter, yanked the front door open, and jogged across the street. Unfortunately, Joe Lambery, the owner of the saddlebags, rushed out of the saloon, bellowing at Nate to get away from his things before Tad reached the boy.
While most children might cower in fear, Nate simply glanced up at the infuriated man with an impish grin.
“Gee, mister, I just thought ya might like a mud pie. My mama always likes it when I make them for her.” Nate proudly handed the man the muddy tin cup in his hand.
“Why, I ought to…”
Tad stepped in front of Nate and put a restraining hand on Joe’s arm as he raised a fist toward the boy.
Most people thought twice before entering a scuffle with Tad. Despite a peaceable demeanor, his quiet strength and broad shoulders made him a formidable foe if someone riled his temper.
“Mr. Lambery, the boy didn’t mean anything by it,” Tad said, clamping a hand over Nate’s shoulder before he could scamper away.
“I don’t care! That little devil just ruined my new saddlebags! You know they were expensive, since you made ‘em. I spent all winter freezing my toes off up in the hills to make ends meet and that little monster made a mess of something that cost me dearly.” Joe made a grab for Nate, but Tad stepped between them.
Tad had to work to hold back a laugh when Nate leaned around him and stuck out his tongue at Joe.
You’ll find Tad’s Treasure on sale right now for 99 cents on Amazon. Or get it free when you sign up for my newsletter!