Over thirty stories set in Old New Mexico, many based on actual people or events. Includes:
That Damn Mule. A green-broke mule balks at the rain-slicked shale on a narrow mountain path.
That’ll Teach ’Em. A group of trappers encounters Apaches in the Gila wilderness.
They Were My Friends. A tale of friendship and betrayal during the Taos uprising against American occupation.
Decisions. A young woman must find a way to cross cultural barriers and marry the Pueblo man she loves.
Obsessions. An Episcopal Methodist missionary interferes in Maxwell Land Grant Company politics and suffers the consequences.
Author Information: Loretta Miles Tollefson grew up in the American West in a log cabin built by her grandfather. She lives in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains, where she researches the region’s history and imagines what it would have been like to actually experience it. She blogs about her research and other aspects of Old New Mexico at lorettamilestollefson.com.
That Damn Mule
The new mule has already objected to the steep switchback trail of dirt and fist-size rock. This next section is really going to flatten her ears. Old Pete looks back at her, then leans forward and studies the path ahead as he absently pats the more experienced Hepzibah’s gray shoulder.
A narrow rain-slicked shelf of fragment-covered black shale juts out of the mountainside over a precipitous drop and a tree-obscured ravine below. Old Pete grunts and glances to his right. A wall of granite and shale frowns back at him. He grimaces. The trail is narrow here and the section behind long and twisted. He has no choice but to move forward.
He slips off Hepzibah, works his way back to Sandy, and strokes her light brown neck consolingly. “We’re almost out o’ this,” he says. “Just hang on a mite longer and then we’ll be back on real dirt.”
Well, not entirely dirt. But at least it won’t be slick wet shale. Sandy jerks her muzzle at him and Pete chuckles. “Just a mite longer,” he says again, as much to himself as the mule. He circles her, checking her pack load of supplies and beaver plews, then tightens the knot on her halter rope and maneuvers back to Hepzibah, playing out the rope as he goes.
He stands between the gray mule and the wall of rock and studies the ledge of shale. It’s as wet now as it was ten minutes ago. Better not try riding across. Even Hepzibah’s likely to object to crossing this with a man on her back. Old Pete shrugs and begins looping the end of Sandy’s lead rope around the older mule’s saddle horn. It’s not an ideal arrangement, but he can’t very well lead both animals at the same time. Hepzibah turns her head and nods at him.
Pete chuckles. “You just know what I’m thinkin’, don’t you?” he asks.
The mule twitches her gray ears, nickers, then turns her head to peer at the ledge. She snorts disparagingly.
“I know, I know,” Old Pete says. “Don’t you go naggin’ me, too. That Sandy’s bad enough.”
He studies the looped rope, then thinks better of it and ties it properly with a bowlin knot, just in case he needs to release it in a hurry. Then he touches the knife at his waist, confirming it’s there, and makes sure his rifle is well seated in the scabbard lashed to Hepzibah’s saddle.
He lifts the bridle reins over her head and holds them loosely as he steps out onto the ledge. The mule pulls back slightly, as if questioning his judgment, . . .
 The bowlin, also spelled ‘bowline’, is an ancient knot originally invented to facilitate tying ships to mooring posts. It’s easy to tie and untie if it hasn’t been pulled too tightly.