Maybe I was a mite too pleased with myself.
By that night in April 1861, I had spent three of my thirtyfour years answering to the name Matilda Summerhayes, or as
most folks call me, Matty. I was getting used to it.
The last thing I ever wanted was to run a horse ranch, but I reckoned I was finally getting a grasp on it. I was so full of myself I was pondering how soon I could put that ranch so far behind me it would seem no more than a puff of forgotten dust like you find under a bed.
All that day, the relentless spring wind had seemed intent on sweeping the ranch—if not the whole of New Mexico
Territory—straight into the Rio Grande. But the blowing always went still at sundown, which had a way of gladdening the heart.
So, I was sitting, an orchestra.
I could almost hear the trill of a piccolo.
A tremendous loud crack, like a felled tree before it hits the ground, sent me bolt upright. A bloodied face, mouth like a jagged hole in the dark beard, was staring blindly through the window. He tilted toward me and sagged slowly, his head grazing the pane, leaving a bloody smear.
My heart near stopped dead inside me.