Trials and Trails
Can two men that just met join forces and travel the terrain of the west and learn the lessons that people today might want to emulate? Understanding, prejudice, overcoming adversities, Leroy a former slave and Johnny B a Sioux Indian, become fast friends as they learn many lessons, teach others tolerance, understanding and kindness to strangers along the way.
Watch as they teach some young men how to break horses, train them in order to be able to ride them. Slow, methodically and carefully, Leroy takes on the job with the help of Johnny B teaching those that are skeptic and think they will fail. Next, they meet up with a family in the Badlands, the hospitality is great, and the stay is short. Where will they wind up next?
Things take on a different turn when they meet Able and his family who at first, they thought were good people. Upon a closer inspection they learned at various times that they were not what they appeared to be and one son, David, was into some cattle rustling while Stephen was shunned by his family for other reasons. The daughter and mother were far from innocent and the father enjoyed strong arming others and keeping business for himself holding things over the heads of others. Leaving them required that Stephen might join them on their next ride and report his findings but what would be up to him.
Next a shotgun faced them as Alice threatens them but Leroy manages to explain that they just wanted to save her cow and the calf that was coming and this would create a huge part of their lives as they decided to remain with her to help during the winter, the bringing in the cows, helping with the new calves and much more even though she was a widow and the sight of two men of color might bring gossip from her neighbors or worse but she did not care.
The issues of prejudice, kindness, justice, fair play, understanding and showing that two men of different races can work side by side with others who are different too, are important factors brought out throughout this novel. The trails are long and the trials difficult and the result of their journeys yet to be revealed.
The next stop is a town where someone is accused of killing the Mayor and the town and the prosecutor are bent on hanging him. With the astuteness of Johnny B and his brilliant upbringing by the judge who took him in, what you see is a trial that will surprise readers as this Sioux Indian stands up against all odds and defenses Howard hoping to free him from the result the hangman’s noose. Calm, cool and very resourceful he and Leroy plan it all out and their next stop will be a long journey to another town as more lessons are learned and the judge’s words about being fair, justice and not accusing someone so fast, and not claiming you saw something when you are not sure ring in his mind.
The incident that stands out in my mind is the one with the Sioux and the soldiers regarding the buffalo. Guns drawn and the cool and calmness of both Johnny B and Leroy helped to diffuse and situation that might have been deadly, proving violence can be avoided if cooler heads prevail.
They traveled quite a distance and met and old man who died. Turned out he was an elderly Indian whose death they honored and later would meet someone close to him and give the person a precious possession to remember and cherish.
Some towns are not quite calm and the next one presented difficulty as some people do not understand that a former black slave and an Indian could team up and be friends.
Friendships are fragile and when two men spent years fighting over the memory of a woman that left and was not coming back, the plot created was filled with hard lessons, humor and the result two friends were no longer at odds. Leaving this town and coming to Eureka they meet more people and, in each place, some welcome them while others do not. Virginia City was breathtaking, but the open road seemed to have its own allure and the next stop might be their final or was it?
The author created a storyline with many different subplots and lessons in life that could be learned by young adults, teens, younger children and even adults dealing with tolerance, understanding, hard work, pasts that made you stronger, friendships that were formed and two men of different races that prove that differences can make life better.
Lives change as a result of this story as both Lee/Leroy and John/Johnny B grow in many ways as men and as people. Teaching a young man to apologize for being rude to a young lady and learning that we don’t hit girls or women is a vital lesson that so many men should learn today and women in reverse too.
The trails took them far and wide until they finally realized some realities about people when they decided to try their hand at mining. Greed, power and money reigned in the minds of many and one young man named Benjamin learned the same lessons that Johnny B learned about anger and control as they decided to try their hand at ranching and building a life for both doing what they loved and did best. But first we have a heart wrenching seen where Lee talks about his past and his life as a life to a young man named Robert who was deserted by his family and left to fend for himself. Lessons in life are hard to comprehend and becoming a part of their lives made all the difference in the world as he worked for them, went to school and learned that he has value, worth and he mattered to there two men and to everyone he met. Meeting Martha he was not sure how much about his life he should share until Lee shared his past in the present.
The letters from Alice to both and theirs to her were heartwarming as the link and closeness even from far away never left. Friendships were born, their lives took many turns as author Jim Halverson teaches everyone that you can change who you are, make a difference in the lives of so many others, help those in need and find that the trials might be hard and you might be tested and the trails you follow have obstacles and straight paths but it’s up to you to decide how to live your life, find the respect for yourself and others that matter and realize that everyone a place in this world and everyone matters. Told through many viewpoints as we hear the words of both John and Lee and Alice, the author reminds us that picking your battles wisely, learning form others and overcoming prejudice you too might find you own trails and over the trials and succeed.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/mj Magazine/MJ network