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Sagebrush is a work of fiction. Cities and towns are used in a fictitious manner for purposes of this work. All characters are works of fiction and any names or characteristics similar to any person past, present or future are coincidental.

Chapter One

The Indian Attack

Wheels turning through the virgin sod of the Great Plains and the prairie grass brushing against the bottom of the wagon had lulled Michael to sleep. When he awoke, his parents were sitting on the buckboard, and he heard them talking about the vastness of the open space. The wagon bumped and jostled as the horses pulled it over clumps of grass. He lay back on his blanket and fell asleep.

Horses running and people yelling awakened him. He looked up and saw an arrow penetrate his father’s chest, and then watched his mother being dragged from the wagon by two Indians. She was fighting them with all her might until one of them struck her with his tomahawk. She fell from the fast-moving wagon and disappeared from his sight and his life forever. Robert McBain, Michael’s father, fell backward on the floor of the wagon, the arrow still protruding from his chest. His eyes were open, but he was seeing nothing. He had died instantly. He was a skilled frontiersman and an excellent marksman, but he didn’t even get a chance to fire his gun.

The attack happened so fast that the horror of what Michael had witnessed had not yet registered in his young mind. Fear, combined with the desire to go to his mother’s aid, filled his heart. The faces of two Indians fighting his mother were seared in his mind forever. One of them was a big man with a strong, muscular body, wearing only a loincloth. His stringy, black hair hung over his face and he had a long, purple scar on his right cheek. The other man had a high-beak nose, with black scowling eyes that looked out from under craggy brows. His mouth was just a thin purple slit across his face. His vicious smile showed that he enjoyed killing. Michael would never forget those faces.

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