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When Worlds Collide

by Kelly Warman-Stallings

~ Prologue ~

The large, looming mountains were magnificent in height and exquisite in their lustrous beauty. It was a hot, humid day as the summer sun scorched the earth with its fierce rays of sunlight in the Territory of Colorado where the fierce Ute tribe warriors roamed the vast, endless range of the Rocky Mountains that seemed to beacon, yet mock, the lone rider that sat abreast of his chestnut stallion.

Most men these days, who the lone rider had passed in his travels from Missouri, wore the look of greed upon their countenances, while others bespoke of smugness and triumph, as well as desperation and failure. It was as if the lone rider had entered into another world, so devoid of human emotions and affection; the mere thought made the lone rider flinch.

What manner of emotion caused a man to shoot another for merely breaking the handle of the other man’s pick? Why does one pan the river for a scarce bit of gold dust from sun-up until sunset? Such lusting of wealth was commonplace among mankind since the great gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1849.

Now a new discovery of gold in Colorado Territory in 1858 had made man even more greedy to strike it rich. That was only last year, the loner rider thought derisively. Would he, the lone rider who sat gazing at the magnificent mountains forlornly, become another greedy, lusty fool in a frantic race for wealth?

“Hell, no!” the young nineteen-year-old man spoke aloud in denial, disrupting the silence, not long after leaving the Great Planes landscape behind and entering the Rocky Mountains vista.

Nicholas Weyrich would never again bow down to anything, man or mineral, that could possibly inflict such misery and loss of pride! Indeed, he was much older and stronger and definitely wiser now. Nicholas had grown up fast and learned with shocking clarity just how hard it was to survive in a world filled with hatred and greed. He had found out very quickly how uncaring and unscrupulous fellow man could be.

Nicholas had always felt as if he had led a fairly quiet and somewhat normal childhood while growing up on Alexander Clark’s large tobacco plantation in Miller County, Missouri.

His mother, Susannah Weyrich, had served Mr. Clark and his portly wife, Sarah Clark, as their housekeeper and overseer of the household slave staff for as long as he could remember. He recently discovered that he had been mildly tolerated by the Clark family while growing up there. If not for his mother, whom the Clark family adored, he would have been homeless. He realized this now. A sorrowful sigh escaped at this thought and Nick sat up straighter in the saddle of his faithful stallion. 

It had been just a few weeks since his mother had died from the unknown sickness; even the doctor had no idea what claimed his mother’s life. But, Nicholas remembered well how the sickness would wretch her head in agony and the many nights he sat beside her bed and dabbed cool rags upon her forehead to help soothe her pain.

Nicholas frowned darkly as bitterness engulfed him. Not even a week had gone by after burying his mother when Alexander Clark informed a young, distraught man that he would have to move out of the main house; the only place he had ever called home.

“You know, Nick, my daughters are coming of age and with the many suitors coming around, I think it would be best if you move down to the slave quarters until you are able to find your own place.” Clark had casually informed him.

Thank goodness for Nettie! he thought fondly. Nettie had been the main house servant for the Clark family and his number one confidant. While the majority of house slaves lived in the main house, Nettie was allotted her own small shanty house in the slave quarters.

She had been the one to open her door and welcome him with open arms into her small space and allowed him to sleep upon a pallet she had made on her dirt floor. It was Nettie who had encouraged him to make this trip.

“Yo' momma ah’ways wanted you to leave this here place and make sumthin of yo'self, Massa Nick.” Nettie had told him the day he left, then had walked over to her straw mattress and put her hand under it, pulling out one of the rags she always wore on her head.

As she handed him the head-rag, which Nicholas discovered was heavy in his hand, she had continued. “Miz Susannah done gave Nettie more than half them wages Massa Clark done give her for many years now. She goes a tellin' me if’fen she dies I’se gotta give it to you.”

Nick had been quite surprised to find a large sum of cash and coins inside Nettie’s head-rag and emotionally choked up when he had hugged her tight, then said. “Oh, Nettie, thank you for keeping your word to my momma. I miss her so much!” After the tears had dried up, Nettie pushed him “outta the nest” and told him to go far away and make “sumthin’of yo' life”.

Nick snapped out of his reverie when he remembered that Nettie had also given him something else that day. A letter from his mother; a letter that still burns holes in his breast pocket when he thought of the message she had written in her familiar feminine script. Nick took a deep breath to contain the anger that burned within his inner soul.

Spurring his chestnut horse with determination, Nick rode towards the Rocky Mountains that stood in grand majesty before him. The mountains held all the promises of wealth and the secrets of fools.  


While the lone rider travels towards his Rocky Mountains destination in 19th century America, one hundred and forty-eight years into the future of 21st century America, an enraptured ten-year-old girl sat in front of the wide screen television captivated by one of her favorite western movies.

Unlike other girls who were playing with dolls, or enjoying their video games, Leatha Jane Loveall was satisfied to watch ‘Cowboys and Indians’ for hours on end. She knew she was different from other children, with her extreme white hair and pinkish colored eyes. She had been teased and bullied her entire life, but as long as she could watch her favorite movies she didn’t care.

“Hey, young lady,” Uncle Silas interrupted her thoughts as he entered the living room. “Want to help me brush the horses?”

“Sure!” Leatha chirped merrily, jumping to her feet and turning off the television. “I’ve seen this Clintwood movie many times!” Leatha happily followed Silas Loveall from the two-story house and trailed behind him as they headed for the barn.

Leatha was always ready and willing to help when it came to their prized horses. She had no idea that she had a special alliance that allowed her to connect with the horses, but Silas Loveall did, he thought with a smile.

Later that evening, while Leatha helped Aunt Rachel set the table for supper, her aunt reminded her. “You know Elizabeth Anderson's birthday party is Saturday and we still haven't gone into town to pick up a gift for her.” Rachel Loveall heard the sigh that escaped from her niece and looked at her questioningly.

“Do I have to go?” Leatha asked forlornly. “Hannah Best will be there, and she always talks about my hair, or my eyes or how horrible it was to lose my parents in that terrible accident.”

Aunt Rachel sighed inwardly at her mocking intonation but said with a comforting smile. “I know Hannah can be obnoxious, but I'm sure she doesn't mean to be cruel.”

Leatha just rolled her pinkish colored eyes as she continued to lay out the silverware. Then the white-haired girl said very seriously. “If she says one thing to me about my hair, my eyes or my parents, I'm gonna knock her flat on her butt!”

“Well, good grief, girl!” Uncle Silas spoke up as he entered the dining room. “Didn't I teach you that fighting is only acceptable when you are fighting for the right cause? And fighting for the right cause usually does not involve your fists.”

Leatha sighed audibly again. “Yes, Uncle Silas.”

“Good!” he chirped merrily, as he sat down at the table. “Then let's eat! I'm so hungry I could eat a bear!”

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