Prologue

The two women looked down their noses at me in distaste when I introduced myself to them as we stood on the train platform. I didn't shy away from their obvious contempt. I get a lot of that in my line of work. It comes with the territory I guess. See, I'm a muleskinner, and about the best there is I reckon. I jerk a twelve-mule hitch pulling tandem wagons the Studebaker brothers up in Ohio custom made for me. Think what you want about my mules and me, but when I'm riding that lead mule holding the jerk line, your freight couldn't be in better hands. That's what I was trying to explain to those two prissy women there on the train platform.

It didn't seem as if they were buying what I was selling though; put off by my youthful looks mostly I'd wager. Finally I had enough with arguing and threw up my hands in mock surrender.

"If you ladies decide you want me to haul your freight come see me. I'll be in either the livery stable or the saloon. Leastwise I'll know that wherever that I am, either my mules or the dance hall floosies have enough sense to listen to me."

Now I'm not a hard man to get along with. Heck, I am as easy going as they come. I suspect that's why I am such a good skinner. See, a man with a bad nature can't get a mule to do diddlie-squat. Mules are smarter than a horse ever thought of being. They are smart enough that they have to be led, not pushed. So I tipped my hat to the tight-jawed, priggish women and ambled over to the Broken Spoke Saloon. My mouth was suddenly watering for a shot of tequila and my hands itching for a grab at Miss Corrina's ample haunches. I smiled at the thought of Corrina; she was a big old gal, almost as big as me ... and she thought the sun rose and set on my muley butt.

My name is Jeremiah Ezra Brock but I go by Jeb. Other muleskinners and the freight captains call me Georgia Jeb. Amongst muleskinners nicknames like mine are the handle upon which your reputation is hung. I am twenty-five years old and I've led what some might call a charmed life in that I have eluded the scythe of the Grim Reaper on more occasions than I care to remember. Now unlike most teamsters, I'm not a boastful man but I can tell you that I've lived a life of adventure few men twice my age can match...

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