A Prairie Tale

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Chapter 3: The Rancher

That ranch at Faith’s Freedom; known by the locals as a peaceful and soothing area. Home of the Withers family, a trusted and pleasant family living in a calm area where they make their living.

Irwin Withers is outside, enjoying nature’s grace with his son Colin, milling grains. The other side of the family were inside, with Irwin’s wife Virginia and their daughter Melissa. Both looked similar with their tatty leather overalls, except one looked older than the other. They both were cooking, and it was a regular venison shank.

When Irwin and Colin were finished, Virginia called them over, and they both looked exhausted. All four of them were gathered round the table, talking to each other. Virginia said, “Are you tired from today’s work? You look more worn-out than usual.”

“Pa and I were just doing our jobs for us to all live here. Isn’t that right?” Colin said in a pleasing voice. Irwin replied,
“You’re right, son. It is a Saturday, so we both were working harder, with more time on our hands and all.”

“I hope this meal worked out for you boys. Good deer doesn’t come naturally.”

“Damn rustlers. A one man wrecking crew took 5 of our cows yesterday. He seemed his talent with herding, but if only the act was only for good. We were just travelling around selling our granite bringing some money in!”

Virginia was slightly worried. Irwin’s granite mine was infested by deadly scorpions and spiders, though it didn’t seem weird to see them seeking shelter in an old mine. She then responded,

“I do wish you don’t go near there again!”

“Not until we get an entire herd by this week!”

Though Virginia was cautious, Irwin still wanted to risk his life for the well-being of his family. Irwin then exclaimed,

“Alright. I’m off to bed. You get some rest when you like. It is just I need to be up energized tomorrow morning. I have got to check any leftover ores in the morning tomorrow. Goodnight.”

“Father should stop risking his life. One day, he may not get out from that mine alive.” said Melissa, nervously.

“Would you stop it, sis? Pa is a hero to us. He is brave, determined and strong. He won’t let us down on his life.” answered Colin.

Everyone then strangely went silent. Virginia then was unsure on what to say, she stuttered for a few moments, then caught her trail of thought again.

“You two should go to bed as well. I am sure your father wants you working at the corn fields tomorrow.”

“Mother’s right.” said Melissa

“We should head on up. See you tomorrow mother.”

Melissa and Colin then went upstairs to their rooms leisurely and silently, with Virginia cleaning pots and pans. She then observed out the window, noticing a small bright light, burning in the darkness. She was still unclear on what this was, but she presumed a small blaze or a bonfire. Virginia finished all of her washing, and headed up to her room herself.

The next day, Irwin grabbed his pickaxe and left without a sound. He left a note at the dining room table, and Colin woke up and went downstairs 2 minutes after he left. Colin was shocked on what the letter said. It wrote:

Dear beloved family,

You may hear this message quite disturbing, as I am leaving our house. At least not until we make each other’s lives equal and hit big dollars again. I heard about our granite mine flourishing with rich veins of the stuff, along with many other gemstones. It went in deep, so I will explore and excavate every last chunk of valuable profit. Not just here, but all around the prairie. You may not see me in around 3 weeks, or never again. I will miss you dearly,


The thoughts of prosperity overwhelmed Irwin Withers, and thus setting off for big claims. After hearing the news, Colin rushed upstairs to tell Virginia and Melissa, and they both were upset by Irwin.

Meanwhile near the mines, Irwin was a strong miner, and tried to claim every bit before any others take that from him. He entered near the outskirts around his mine and started looking for anything else useful in the area.

Irwin’s land was also a reliable resource for semi-precious stones floating about near small pools. There was no warranty, so if you found one, you can sell or keep it. Alas, Irwin looked around tirelessly and found only a few; many taken by travellers. This time of year wasn’t right for them to make an appearance, so it would make a bit of sense.

He got a few starters, so he decided to jump in for his main objective. Irwin ignored the first few spots when he entered, and began digging down beneath the sharp precipices.

His search was not pointless, as everywhere he went; granite and iron flooded his every area. He even hit areas with a weak but prized gold source. Pleased and grateful, he was doing his work with glee.

But something was tickling his arm; it then stung. Horrified, Irwin noticed a spiders’ nest behind him, and he was standing on a fully hatched egg. While still shaken, he stomped and slapped all the spiders off. This didn’t work, and the situation got even worse.

Spiders were crawling up his leg, and trying to bite his flesh. Some even tried getting to his highly exposed face. Eventually, the spiders swept Irwin on the floor, with him yelping.

Just when everything felt lost, a man in a white fedora with parting blonde hair and a dusty black coat appeared, wielding a Winchester. He fired many shots, causing the spiders to retreat. Still breathing heavily, Irwin was amazed someone saved his life.

Then the rifle was pointed at his face, and he said in an angry resilient voice, “You seem to have a nice place here. Don’t like the spiders much though, but I’m taking it anyway.” The man pulled his Winchester at Irwin, and he crawled back.

“Who are you? I need to know what you are doing here.” Irwin said startled.

“…A business proposition.”

Irwin didn’t know who this man was, but seemed foul and vulgar by his attitude. He didn’t know what to do with this man, and what shall he do, even if his life depends on it.

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