Some extracts from Lee Raintree's novel. Prologue Sam Southworth lay dying, and it was the right day for it, dark and drear with lowering clouds and the far-off muted drumbeat of thunder. There should be whip-crack lightning and louder crashes, Ellie thought, a more fitting tribute to her father and the life he had lived. But then there ought to be so many things — white-hot suns and sandpapering winds, and a way to show dry-mouth thirst and belly-flat hunger. But how could this mournful sky be painted with the pain and sweat, the other dyings on this land, the blood? ‘The ranch,’ he whispered, the tone and words slipping downhill together, ‘the land, Ellie. They want to drill holes in my land, my daddy‘s land. They – they want to stink up the air and spoil the water and turn the grass black. Don’t —‘ His eyes blinked shut and opened with the struggle. ‘Don’t let them do it to this land. Promise me that, daughter.’ ‘Yes,’ she said, her eyes squeezed shut and a raw-hide band tightened across her chest. ‘Yes, Daddy – I promise.’ And inside, she pleaded with a God who must be listening, who must now be very near, that she might keep her word. Chapter 1 She saw him coming across the parlour, tall and browned as any cowhand, sun wrinkles already gathering of the corners of his eyes. Ellie moved slowly to meet Jock Ewing, thinking he’d never really been young, that even as a child there must have been a kind of quiet desperation to him, a drive that set him apart and turned him lonesome. If only they knew, these women already turning dumpy and smug. Had a single one of them being loved right out in the bright sunshine, loved so deep and hard and long that the world wobbled around and you didn’t give a damn if you fell off? And how many of her classmates had known the delicious frightening secrecy of a lover slipping so daringly, into her bedroom, with Pa snoring only a wall away? He knew a woman, Willard ‘Digger’ Barnes did, knew her from the nape of the neck to the soles of her feet. He knew to be gentle, to be lingering and loving when other men might go gruff and wall themselves in. And Lord, couldn’t he make a woman aware of every throbbing inch of her body, and so proud of its doings? Thinking on that, Ellie went all warm and touchy, then turned some shamed to be dwelling on such happiness when her pa’s body was laid out fresh in his box. Lifting her face, she looked across the room and saw Jock Ewing staring at her.