I've finished Chapter 1 of the fourth Owen Family novel, and here's a bit of the last scene:
Marie shooed Julianna into the cabin, and saw that someone had informed Rulon and Mary of the family meeting. The couple huddled together on the periphery of the family circle at the table, Rulon's arm around Mary's shoulders. She bounced their infant daughter in her arms as Roddy circled the occupants of the room, still riding his stick horse.
Ma sat in her chair, her face pinched and white as though she knew something horrible was in the air.
Pa stood at the head of the table, his forehead drawn into severe lines above his grey eyes. He waved Marie and Julianna into the room, then waited silently while they approached and sat down. He took one deep breath, then another, and began.
"I have hard news. Your brother has taken it into his head that he's not welcome here, and rode out a few minutes ago. He said he'd try his hand at mining. Mining! He's not cut out for going into a hole in the ground." He accented his words by bringing his fist down on the table with a startling thud.
Rod's words caused no little stir among the family members. Marie listened to the hubbub without adding to it, clenching her hands into balls in her lap.
Rulon leaned forward. "You can't be serious, Pa. He'll ride around a while and come back, leaving his troubles in the wind."
At the same time, Albert asked, "Can I have his cabin?" at which Clay cuffed him on the side of the head, yelling, "You ornery son of a--" then bit his lip before he got his own cuffing from Rod.
Julianna had burst into tears, crying out, "That's not fair! James said he'd take me rabbit hunting."
"Hush, Jule!" Ma said sharply, then dissolved into tears herself, throwing her apron over her head, which served to muffle her sobs somewhat.
Pa bent over Ma, awkwardly patting her shoulder and making shushing sounds. He looked up and glared at Albert and Clay, who were rolling on the floor, punching each other.
Marie hid her face in her hands, overcome with the selfishness of her younger siblings . . . and herself. Oh James, she thought, will I ever see you again? It was wrong of me to think only of Ellen's happiness and not see your side of the hill.
The usual disclaimers apply: fresh first draft work subject to change, my copyright, comments very welcome.