WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH — one of my best selling books — is going to be — sometime this week — released by Amazon in e-book format. And although we authors might never admit to having a favorite book, well…gotta say that this book is one of my favorites. So, I thought I’d tell you a little of the background that went in to the making of that book.
WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH starts with my love of a rather spoiled, head-strong heroine — one who is really quite soft-hearted, but for reasons explained in the book, she harbors opinions that are far from flattering. In the story, the heroine, Katrina, is blond-haired, stubborn, almost out of funds and is demanding her inheritance in order that she might marry into royalty. She has also grown up without ever knowing her parents — who perished out West — or her uncle, who holds the purse-strings to her inheritance.
In other words, she has some reason to be spoiled, because she’s grown up without love — with a succession of nannies.
There are problems — mainly that her uncle will not release her funds until she comes West and parades her fiance in front of him for his approval. I must admit that it really is a lot to ask of a young woman who has known only the comforts of New York City — still it was rather fun to play around with her outrage.
Of course her uncle doesn’t show up at the scheduled rendezvous — he sends his friend — who is almost like a son to him — White Eagle — to bring her to him.
Of course the story goes on from there — spoiled, rich-girl meets handsome, yet determined young Indian warrior.
Now, the truth of the matter is that the character of Katrina was patterned after my daughter, Trina, who is definitely not blond. Not that Trina is spoiled, but at the writing of this story, Trina was a teenager — about nineteen, I believe — and she definitely had her likes and dislikes. Off to the side here is a picture of Trina with her daughter and my granddaughter, Lila. But patterning the heroine after my daughter really gave me a deeper understanding of my character, Katrina’s, personality — it also helped me to love this character, even when she is at her wit’s end.
In writing this book, I often had pictures of clothing and what the heroine might have looked like at that time. Off to the left here is a picture of that period’s clothing. I love this clothing, I must admit and sometimes wish we could go back to an age where women looked so very feminine. Now this picture to the left really — in my mind — has the look of my heroine at this time. A little bored, a little spoiled, always well dressed and trying to do the right thing — although in the West, my heroine’s efforts are sometimes clumsy and humorous — as she tries to “fit in.”
As for the hero, another one of my loves — I’ve always held a passion for a hero who brooks no argument, yet who is kind and generous — and who is waiting patiently for the heroine to come to her senses.
There is one scene in this book that I particularly like. It was a scene where the hero, along with his friend, concoct a scheme to send Katrina’s fiance packing. At the writing of this book, I had just the previous year, married my husband, Paul. When I married Paul, however, I also discovered that he was extremely close to his brother, Bob — this picture to the right is of Bob and Paul — Paul is the one sitting down. But this particular scene was about these two fellows and what they would do if they were there to rid themselves of this very unwanted person, and send him packing for home.
Interestingly, that “friend” of White Eagle is Night Thunder who has a book of his own — next in this series.
WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH
By Karen Kay
It took the Indians less than an hour to fabricate the boat, it being scantily constructed of several buffalo hides stretched over a crude framework of willow branches, the willow being the closest wood to hand. A paddle had been made from a few tree limbs, too, and within little time, Katrina observed many of their party’s supplies neatly stowed within the bull boat, although Katrina took note that it was only the marquess’s things.
White Eagle motioned the marquess forward just as Katrina began to set foot into the boat. But White Eagle motioned her away, despite her protest, making signals to his friends to bring forward the marquess…and his dogs. White Eagle turned to Katrina. “You will ride in the wagon across the river.”
“But I don’t wish to wet my dress, and I might if I don’t…”
White Eagle looked sternly at her, and she fell silent, as he clearly had meant her to. She watched as the marquess sauntered toward them.
“Ah, finally,” the marquess said to White Eagle as he stepped into the boat, “you savages are recognizing your betters. It is about time.”
“Humph!” was the guttural response from White Eagle as he motioned to his friends, and, at a signal, the marquess’s hounds joined him in the crude structure.
White Eagle beckoned to Good Dancer to come forward, and after some counseling, Good Dancer strode toward the water, taking the rope of the boat in his hand and leading the craft into the water.
He began to swim ahead of the boat, tugging the craft out into the swirling currents.
No sooner had the marquess set out in the boat, when White Eagle directed both Katrina and Rebecca into the wagon.
The women seated themselves and immediately, upon doing so, the marquess’s two men—who had been driving the wagon—started the horses forward, into the swift-rushing currents. This being done, White Eagle and Night Thunder took hold of the rest of the horses and began guiding those animals, too, across the water.
No one appeared to notice the bull boat being led farther and farther downstream, away from the main party; not even the marquess, who, it would seem, was busily engaged in gazing at the sky and sipping the wine he had managed to bring with him.
Trouble hit without warning. One of the ponies pulling the wagon stepped into a pool of quicksand and jerked on his bridle, unseating the drivers and shooting them forward. The horse next to it reared, becoming entrenched, itself, in the mire and only the fast action of the two drivers saved the wagon from the same fate. The men righted themselves and whipped at the ponies, cursing them in a more colorful language than Katrina would have liked to hear, but the driver’s efforts were to no avail; the poor ponies could not extricate themselves, not with their burdens of bridle and harness.
One of the horses tried to rear again, its action tilting the wagon off kilter. Off slid the marquess’s baggage and particulars as well as her Saratoga, all tossed into the sandy murk of the quicksand and, had the two women not been holding on to their seats, they would have been flung overboard, too.
Katrina screamed; Rebecca, also.
The two women held onto one another as readily as they did to the wagon, and Katrina, as the wagon sank deeper and deeper, decided it would be better to jump for freedom, rather than sink into the muck of the sand.
“We’re going to jump off this wagon,” she yelled above the noise of the ponies and drivers’ cursing.
“I can’t,” came Rebecca’s reply. “I’m afraid.”
Katrina took her maid’s hand. “We’ll do it together, all right? It’s better than staying here. Now, ready, one, two, three.”
The two of them jumped, landing in the sandy marsh instead of sanctuary, their feet sinking quickly into the wash.
Both women shrieked.
Suddenly it was over. Strong hands caught hold of Katrina and pulled her out, bringing her up and onto a horse.
Barely able to hold on to the pony, she looked up into White Eagle’s face. She didn’t say a word, nor did he, as he nestled her against him.
“She is fine. My friend has her. Hold on to me,” he said, and as soon as he ensured she had a firm grip upon him, White Eagle whipped the pony into the fury of the river, forcing the animal to swim against the current and, it would seem, against all odds.
Onward, across the river, defying the swirling water and eddies, they swam, the pony’s body, except for his head, completely submerged.
The currents unseated them, and White Eagle barely held on to the pony by its tail, though he never took one arm from around her.
Soon, the other shoreline beckoned, and, within moments, the pony leapt to its feet, White Eagle able to do the same almost as quickly.
But he didn’t waste any time. “Wait here,” was the only instruction he gave her as he spun back toward his pony, the animal heaving with exhaustion. Still, White Eagle jumped back onto his mount and guided it once more into the water, Katrina watching him cross over, to the other side.
Good Dancer and Night Thunder had already rushed to the wagon, Night Thunder having deposited Rebecca safely on solid ground much as White Eagle had done with Katrina but, rather than chance the danger of the river, Night Thunder had settled Rebecca upon the safety of the eastern shore of the river, the opposite shore from where Katrina now stood.
Katrina looked around her to see if she could find any sign of the bull boat, but there was nothing to be found; as best she could tell, the marquess had not landed upon this same shoreline.
Yet there stood Good Dancer, trying to extricate the wagon. And he had been the one leading the bull boat. Where were the Englishman and his dogs? Had they been set adrift?
Far from being alarming, the thought was…amusing.
Katrina returned her attention to the ponies and the wagon.
It took the labors of all three Indians and the marquess’s two men finally to extricate the animals from the quicksand.
But they did it at last, with the least possible damage to the wagon, the ponies or the men…although much of the marquess’s clothing sank further and further into the sandy wallow.
The Indians and the two servants sprawled for the moment upon the sandy shore…but on the opposite side of the river. And no one seemed in any hurry to see to the marquess and his concerns, wherever he was.
Almost an hour passed, an hour during which the Indians sat up and smoked, working over something, while the white men rested. Katrina had tried to communicate to them all by shouting across the distance of the river. But it was almost impossible—nothing could be heard over the noise of the river. The most she learned was that Rebecca remained unhurt.
Finally, the Indians arose; to go in search of the marquess, she supposed.
More time passed, White Eagle no longer within sight, and Katrina’s clothes had almost dried upon her by the time the Indians returned, the marquess and his dogs trailing behind them. But what had happened to the marquess? He stood drenched from head to foot, while the Indians, in contrast, remained amazingly dry.
And then she saw that White Eagle did not return with the others.
“Where is White Eagle?” Katrina yelled across the stream, but no one could hear her.
She tried again, “Has something happened to White Eagle?”
Panic rose up within her. Surely, he wasn’t hurt, was he?
Without realizing what she did, she started toward the river, more willing to face it than remain in ignorance. She had no more than stepped foot in the water when from behind her, came a voice, saying, “Stay here.”
She recognized that baritone timbre and she turned.
“White Eagle,” she breathed out in relief, “you are all right.”
He nodded. “I am here. I am unhurt.”
“And the others?”
“They are fine.”
“But what are they doing over there, on the opposite shore? And why aren’t they crossing the river?”
“They are not all coming.”
“What? Not coming?”
“The Englishman refuses to travel any further.” White Eagle smiled slightly. “He said something about the expense of his suits and his silks and not liking all this adventure. They are turning back.”
“I see. I’m not surprised.” She paused, a thought occurring to her. “Did the marquess mention how he intended to pay for his stay upon returning to Fort Union?”
White Eagle shrugged.
“And what about Rebecca? Why is she still over there? When will you and the other guides be bringing her across the river?”
White Eagle looked off in the distance, avoiding Katrina’s eyes. He said, “Your friend will be going back to the fort, too.”
“No!” Katrina responded at once. “You can’t, she can’t. She has no one to watch over her and protect her there. Either I must go with her or she must be brought to me.”
“Night Thunder has promised to keep her safe.”
“Night Thunder? But he—”
“He will guard her and see to her needs.”
“Someone must go with the Englishmen and guide them back to the fort. They are as helpless as newborn babes.”
“But what has that to do with Rebecca? She must stay with me. I would worry about her otherwise, and—”
“Have you not noticed the looks shared between my friend and yours? It is better they stay together. Do not worry. Night Thunder will be with her. This I can promise you.”
“Do you? I still don’t like this, and what do you mean by the looks shared between them? I—”
“It has been decided.”
“Well, you can un-decide it.”
White Eagle, his lips turning up into a grin, seemed to be amused by Katrina’s determination. “Do you worry about a chaperon? Is that what bothers you? Do not. Good Dancer and his wife will join us as soon as the others have started back to the fort.” White Eagle crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you think I would take you on this long trip without another female companion? And with us as yet unmarried?”
“Humph,” was all the answer she received from this man.
“Perhaps it is for the best.” Katrina looked away from White Eagle, glancing out across the river. “This trail could well prove dangerous, and I wouldn’t want Rebecca risking her life unnecessarily. So mayhap you are correct in your judgment.”
“Humph,” he uttered again, and though she was fast beginning to tire of this standard response from him, she said nothing about it, gazing instead toward Rebecca and calling out, “I will miss you.”
Katrina waved, and Rebecca returned the gesture.
“I will miss you too,” Rebecca cried back. “If I could, I would be with you.”
Katrina smiled and mouthed the words, “I know,” and, turning about, she began to follow White Eagle up the steep incline, to the bluff just above the river.
They were dodging stickers and thorny plants when she heard White Eagle say, in a rather offhand manner, “Did I mention to you that your Englishman agreed, giving me his word of honor, to end your engagement and promised not to cause you any further trouble over this?”
Katrina could barely believe that she was hearing correctly. She opened her mouth to say “No, you did not,” but nothing issued forth. And so she did the only thing afforded her in her situation.
She stared at his back as he moved ahead of her, simply stared…
WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH
Well, that’s all for today.
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