I do remember my first love, Mad Carter MacRae recalls in this memoir of his early life. Her name was Estrella O’Sullivan. I met her the summer I turned sixteen, back in 1873. She was part Mexican, part Irish, with a face that rivaled Helen of Troy’s. Her first name meant Star, and I told her that she shined brighter than any start on the clearest Kansas night. Don’t think my description of her is exaggerated. I may be a stove-up cowboy suffering from gout, arthritis, poor eyesight, and other ailments that come with too much chewing tobacco, too many chuckleheaded horses, and too many years in the saddle, but my memory concerning her hasn’t faded on whit, and Estrella O’Sullivan was prettier than any girl I’ve seen or known since. The summer of 1873 marked my last drive up what these days they call the Chisholm Trail. It was the first time I tasted oysters, and the only time I pinned on a badge. It was a summer of miserable heat, of friendship and betrayal, and of murder. In the end, it was the summer the whole world came crumbling down on our United States. My world crashed, too. See, the summer of 1873 was the year I watched a bunch of men die. One of those men, I killed. You never forget that, either. The memories came flooding back, as they are prone to do, only this time I picked up a pencil and that Schoolmate tablet…then started scribbling. But I figure it’s too personal, more for a sky pilot than a publisher. It’s about crossing the Red River on Sad Sarah, my long-dead mare, with eighteen hundred head of June Justus’s steers. A notion struck me that this’ll help me understand what all happened, and why.