They Came for Revenge – Extended Epilogue

Three Years Later

Robin Jackson trembled with both delight and apprehension as she lifted the letter from the post office box.  The envelope said it was from Dunlop and Rhodes Publishing, located in Chicago. She recognized the name because that was where she had sent her first novel after multiple revisions.  Her husband, Ben, had jokingly told her that she was perfectionist. “Every ‘t’ really had to be crossed and every ‘I’ dotted,” he’d say.

She smiled because she knew what Ben said was true, or at least ninety percent true. Every scene had to move the narrative forward and must add some new information to the story.

Her hands shook as she put the letter in her purse.  The envelope was a little thick. To her, that indicated the publishing company had not sent her back a rejection slip. If so, there would have been a thin envelope, holding the basic rejection slip and nothing else. But this envelope was thick.  She wasn’t going to open it at the post office. She was going to open it at her house with Ben.  She tried to control her anxious breathing as she walked toward home.

Sheriff Ben Jackson, her husband, was still at home when she arrived, although he had just put on his gun belt to go to the sheriff’s office. When Sheriff Townsend resigned the year before, the town council was unanimous in approving Ben as the new sheriff. The elevation, which came eight months after their marriage, frightened her a bit because she knew being a sheriff could be a dangerous job. She constantly prayed for his safety and for a crime-free town.  While the town wasn’t totally crime-free, it had been remarkable peaceful during the time Sheriff Ben Jackson had been wearing the sheriff’s badge.

Robin almost ran to the door when she turned off the sidewalk and walked onto the cement path to her door. She hastily twisted the knob and ran indoors.

“I got a letter from the publisher!” she cried, waving the letter in her hand. “It’s fat. It can’t be a rejection slip.”

Jackson was ready to head for the sheriff’s office but he was almost as anxious as she was to read the contents of the letter. He waited and watched as she opened it.  She pulled out the first page of the letter.

“Yes! Yes!” she yelled, as she jumped up and down. “They accepted my novel!”

“Fantastic!”  Ben crowed with joy.

She ran to him, letter in hand and he hugged her.

“What does it say, what are the specifics?” he asked, rushing to get the words out of his mouth.

Robin, shaking with joy, stretched out her hands. “Okay, okay. I’m going to remain calm.” She took a deep breath and read the letter to Ben:


Dear Mrs. Jackson,  

The company is pleased to inform you that our editors think very highly of your western novel, A Hard Road to Vengeance.  We believe it is one of the best first novels we have ever read. We are enclosing a sample contract. If you agree to the terms, please inform us quickly and we will send a final one. Our editor, Mark Tuttle, is reading your book and has almost finished. We are sending this letter of acceptance because he was impressed with the first chapter and by every other chapter he read, so the company is buying the novel without knowing the ending yet. But Mr. Tuttle said it would save us some time to simply buy the novel now. And we agreed.

We do like to meet our authors. We know that travel is often difficult for some of our writers, so Mr. Tuttle will travel to your town to say hello, if you don’t mind.  He enjoys travel and, as noted, we like to meet our authors face-to-face. He is scheduling a trip to your town in two weeks.  If this is inconvenient, please telegraph and suggest another day. He will also review the novel with you if we have any concerns about it.  Currently, he said he will suggest some very minor changes that he thinks will improve the narrative. But, of course, we like authors to know and be content with any changes we suggest, so we are more than willing to work with you to find agreeable adjustments to the narrative.

This is a very gripping and excellent story told in very fine prose. We congratulate you and send you our best wishes.

Henry Sheffield

Vice President

Dunlop and Rhodes Publishing


“Gripping!” Robin said, throwing up her arms.

“And excellent!” Ben added, also throwing up his arms in the air.

He kissed her. “Write them back and tell them you accept. I have to get to the office. And I’m going to tell everyone my wife is a published novelist.”

She waved goodbye as he walked out the door, then sat down to give the letter a second and, thorough, read.  The second page had notes from Mr. Tuttle about the novel. Most of them were approving, but he had one or two questions for her and asked one or two questions about western life. And he did wonder if the novel was based on real events.  He thought it might be and wondered if his hunch was correct.

She smiled. Her novel was indeed based on real events.  The villain in the novel was definitely based on Jackknife Bellows and, roughly, on Bellows’ life and his bloody history. Some of the events were based on reality, but a few were totally fictional. But if someone had lived in the county all his or her life, the reader could distinguish the events based on truth.

She smiled and eased back in the chair. She had hoped for months the company would like the novel and want to buy it. Her dream had come true. Now she felt as it the wind had been knocked out of her. It was almost too much to take in.  She knew she would re-read the letter for most of the day.  She also knew she had to reply and say she accepted the contract and give her thanks for buying her book.

“Shucks, before I accept the contract, I should read it,” she said.

The contract was just two pieces of paper laying out the details of the sale. She thought the payment was more than generous and the terms were eminently fair.  She thought about running into the street and shouting that she was an author.

“But that would be a bit unladylike,” she said. “But I can tell the newspaper and it can let the town know. That’s almost as good.”

She shouted once again, just for the fun of it, then walked into the kitchen to make a pot of tea when she heard the knock on the door.

She looked through the window and saw the carriage belonging to Sarah, who had become her best friend.

“Come in!” she yelled. “Do I have news for you!”

Sarah Masters, wearing a big smile, opened the door and walked in. “Hello, what’s your news?”

“Remember the novel I was working on and sent out to publisher in Chicago?”

“Or course, I remember it. I read most of it while you were writing it. I’m so happy it had a good ending. I like books with happy ending.”

Robin laughed and grabbed the company letter.  “It’s been sold. Just got the letter today!”

“Really! Congratulations!”

Robin raised the letter. “Sit down and read this. I just got it about five minutes ago. And read it at the kitchen table. I’m making a spot of tea. How’s everything at the ranch?”

“Going well. Although I still think Alex enjoys being a deputy to being a ranch manager.” She laughed. “I finally told him to go to Ben and asked for his old job back. Told him we have a foreman and Sam also takes care of things on the ranch and that he should go back to being a deputy. So help me, if there is such a thing as a born lawman, I think it’s Alex.”

She sat down and begin reading the letter.  Robin poured two cups of tea, put them on a tray and set it on the table.

“How’s little Adam?”

“Crawling fast and furious. When he starts walking, I will have to keep an eye on him every second. Fortunately, after he wakes up, has his breakfast, and crawls furiously for two or so hours, he sleeps for a couple of hours. That gives me a chance to come to town while Mayna is with him. So, help me, he is looking like Alex more every day, even at such a young age.”

She sipped the tea and began reading the letter. Occasionally, she gave a yelp of approval.

“Very good,” Sarah said. “Sounds like you really impressed them.”

“I would hope so,” Robin said, sipping some of the tea. “After all, I worked and worked on that novel, and rewrote it at least once.  I think it would have been easier to write a completely fictional novel than one based on true events, which this one was. And the villain was, of course, based on a real man.  But I think readers might have trouble understanding just how…er…Jackknife Bellows really was. He loved his son but besides he didn’t have many human virtues.”

Sarah nodded. “But as the pastor might say, we’re in a fallen world, and perhaps some people are a little more fallen than others.  But there is a difference in life when you get ride of people who are in that category of more fallen others. Do you know this is one of the most peaceful counties in Texas now?  Think over the past several years. Has there been a lot of crime or nastiness?” She shook her head and answered herself, “No.”

“Yes, that’s true. Which I deeply appreciate because Ben is the sheriff. The last thing I want is a crime-ridden city. He has said often things are so peaceful that he catches a nap at his desk. I doubt former Sheriff Townsend ever said something like that, although he can take naps now.”

“How is he? Have you seen him and Martha recently?”

Robin nodded.  “Just like week. They’re doing fine. Both of them looked well and sounded well. Martha still has that amazing laugh. It’s contagious. She laughs and you just want to laugh with her. It’s amazing. Dan is getting older. He has a little grayer in his hair and walks a bit slower, but he still looks good and rides every day. The town gave him a pension for having put up with so much hassle during the Jackknife Bellows’ days.  He did a great job. It was very difficult being sheriff in those days but he kept the county from a range war. The county and the people around here owe him a debt of gratitude and more.”

“Yes, the outcome here could have been a lot worse and, although we had some violence, the bloodshed could have been far worst.” She sipped some tea and shook her head. “You know he was a fearsome man. A lot of people thought that when he walked, the ground shook…but now no one much remembers him, or perhaps just don’t want to remember him. We put his grave in a plot that borders the property. No one ever goes there. Not even Sam. He’s alone in death and fewer and fewer people even remember him. Other people don’t want to remember him. Times move on. Jackknife wanted to leave an empire belong. And all he did was inherit the wind, and the wind doesn’t know your name nor care about it.” She was silent for a moment. “Oh, did I tell you Ted Watson dropped by the other day?”

“No, how is he?”

“Fine, he looked good. He was passing through and just wanted to say hello and he thanked us again for paying him for the trouble Jackknife caused him. We didn’t do it but we felt we owed him. He was very appreciative and he looked good and sounded good. Think he’s getting his life back after his encounter with you-know-who.”

Robin took another sip of tea. “You know the town is getting it’s life back. Have you noticed that it’s growing and there’s a lot of new people every day? The town has built a new town hall, which is very nice, and we added a library and a community center for events. I enjoy dancing and Ben and I took in the square dance last week. You notice there’s laughter and smiles in the town now. There really wasn’t much of them during the Bellows days. That’s a huge plus. You want to raise your children in a place of decency, integrity and laughter. You don’t want fear hanging over them.”

“That’s certainly true. This is a much better place than it was three years ago. You hate to think a death has improved a town or a county but, to be honest, the death of Bellows was a good thing for the county.  And the subject of one or two sermons from the pastor. Now I think we have a good town council, a mayor who loves the town and the people and enjoys being mayor.  And we definitely have a good sheriff.”

Robin laughed. “Yes, we do!”

“And the pastor’s church seems to be filled up every Sunday morning. You used to be able to get a seat in there.  Now it’s only the back rows that are open during Sunday services. You know usually it’s the front pews. Have you noticed that? People don’t seem to want to see in the first two or three pews. But now they’re full.”

“That’s right. I’ve noticed that too. But it’s not that any more. Not at Pastor Martin’s church. I’m saying that’s another good sign for the town. Most people are in church on Sunday, and in the first pew.”

“Yes, that’s impressive. A good town council, a good mayor, a good sheriff and a good church.” Sarah raised her finger to emphasize her next point. “And we have a woman who is going to become a famous writer.”

“Well, I’m not sure about famous. I think I might be content with published.”

“Okay, will be a published and famous author,” Sarah conceded. “Don’t forget, I read your novel. It is very good. It will become a classic. People like to read about the West. Look at all those dime novels. Eastern people read those all the time, with all the purple prose and the screaming outlaws and the Indian raids.”

Sarah sipped some more tea and nodded to herself. “I think it is very beneficial to have a realistic book about the West published, and I hope it is well-read. People back in the East should know the real, true story of the West and of the people and the hardships and the joys. And your novel, Robin, tells it all. To be honest, it’s historical fiction at its best and I’m glad the publishing company agreed.

“I think when your book is published, Robin, it will be another great day for the town.”


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34 thoughts on “They Came for Revenge – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I really enjoyed the plot and the characters. It easily kept my attention as the community sought pull itself from the clutches of a truly evil man.

      The only difficulty with your story is the horrible spelling and grammatical errors.

  1. What a roller coaster. Fantastic read as always read in one sitting , its a must!
    Some misspelling though Lang or Lange, Sacks or shacks, and a few other minor ones, sorry.
    Thank you for such wonderful entertainment

  2. A good story and a page turner for me There is a lesson in the story A person reap what they do want leave vengeance to God

  3. Great book! It was hard to put it down once I started reading it I did spend a lot of time correcting the spelling. I would suggest a spell-checker. I’ve much work to do, but this truly was a terrific book. Thank you!

  4. What a good plot and action abounded!
    However i think you need to get a better proof reader as there were so many spelling mistakes that it made it hard to read.

  5. Your story line was absolutely excellent and I enjoyed the book. However, I started writing down the typo’s, misspelled words, names that got changed or were missing letters from when it was written before. I would have to read sentences over just to get the meaning of them. I could not give you more than one star because of that. If you had an editor who would have looked over your material and caught the biggest share of those mistakes, your book would have been so much better. The thing is, there were sometimes 3 and 4 mistakes on just one page.

  6. Really enjoyed your story but I think it would improve the reading of it if you took a little time editing. It has an awful lot of errors in wording that detracts your attention. Take a little time and reread and I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about. Other than that keep the books coming.

  7. Very good story,lots of action and of course in learning the difference between right and,wrong.Also in leaving he nag ends to the Lord. Enjoyed this book alot. Thanks!

  8. Very good book. Keeps you in the action the whole way through. Did not want out of down. Could not wait to read what happened next. Very good read!!!!

  9. The storyline was excellent and it was a very good read. However the editing was atrocious and disconcerting.. I have read other books by Mr Levine that were well edited and I enjoyed them as well. I will continue to read your books.

  10. Mr. Levine,
    I tried to read: They came for revenge because I liked the storyline, BUT for some reason the grammar was terrible! I had to substitute continuously or insert things like pronouns, articles, whatever to make sense of it. i asked for the epilogue to simply get to reply.
    I have read your next book so i know you aren’t that poor of a writer. So please check for your own sake what went wrong. So sorry but I figured you would want to know.

  11. Great book as are all your books I’ve read. I rank you close to Luis Lamar and he was the greatest western author I have read. I hope you continue to write for many years.

  12. A great read and kept me reading until the very end. Bellows was quite the bully but bullies always lose in the end. Yes, there were quite s few grammatical errors, but I was able to ignore and still get the gist of the story.

  13. Not familiar with your work, Mr. Levine, but will tell you I was extremely pained to read such an excellent story line with so many grammatical errors. Hopefully, as stated in the story, this was your first, and “the one that should have been thrown away”. I won’t hesitate to purchase another of your books in the future, but will expect to see improvement before counting myself as a fan.

    1. Thank you for your honest words and support Doc. My team is working hard to improve the proofreading department, which is extremely hard. Stay tuned because I have more coming!

      1. This was a fabulous storyline but the errors were so glaring that it was really difficult to read. Often reguired reading the same line many times. I’d love an explanation. Was this book not EVER proofread? And nhow is that possible? You state that the proofreading I’d difficult to achieve. I don’t understand that! Anyone with a small bit of knowledge of spelling, Grammer, and verbs should have been able to do something with this excellent storyline. I wanted to grab a pen and start making corrections. If it had been in printed form I probably would have done so. Sadly the final effort of this book is truly deplorable when it is an outstanding storyline. For shame!

        1. Thank you for your comment, Kathleen.

          Glad that you enjoyed the book! I really appreciate your kind and honest feedback! It’s always welcome, as it helps me become better and better.

          I’ll check with my editor about these.

          Have a lovely day!

  14. Great book but poor editing. Many wrong words and typo errors but kind of fun determine what the author really ment. Can’t complain too much, the book was free.

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