Yummmmm… Autumn — crisp air, scented delicately with falling leaves and the smoke from wood stoves; Cinnamon and fresh apple cider, pumpkin pie, turkey and cranberry sauce, apple pie, the last of the corn on the cob…
And what about the “feels” of autumn? Traipsing through leaves, racking them up and jumping in them; picking up a leaf and tracing its pattern; warm days, cool nights, the pleasure of feeling Mother Earth prepare for a few months’ sleep.
And how about the sounds of autumn? Cold nights and warm blankets, football games announcing the players; the sounds of cheerleaders and marching bands; long practices — even the quiet sound of leaves falling to the ground. How I love it.
Of course, to the people who lived close to the earth in our not-so-distant past, these senses that declared this time of year were all very beloved, much as they are loved today. So much was this the case that the Iroquois devoted an entire festival of fun and merriment to autumn — and that festival was called the Harvest Festival.
Naturally, we are all pretty much aware that our Thanksgiving comes from the Eastern Indians, and in particular Squanto — and if you didn’t know about Squanto, I would highly recommend the movie, Squanto, starring a young and dreamy Adam Beach. Sigh…
Autumn was very much loved by Native Americans. In fact, it was one of many, many ceremonies honoring the seasons of the earth, and Thanksgiving (still a few month’s away) was part of an ancient celebration of the American Indians to give Thanks to He who is known as the Creator.
Now this autumn ceremony was common to all Eastern tribes. And as I’ve already mentioned, these ceremonies tended to follow the different seasons.
The Iroquois celebrated six festivals, wherein they gave thanks to the Creator for all they had. These festivals would open usually with speeches by leaders, teachers, and elders. And of course there was much dancing, which was done not only for the fun of simply dancing, but it was also a sense of worship. It was thought that because the Creator needed some sort of amusement, He gave the people dancing. Let me tell you a little about some of these celebrations.
In spring — early March — it was time to collect together tree bark and sap – this was needed to repair houses and other things, such as canoes, bowls, etc. Spring was also the time for planting. This was the maple festival. Next was the Planting festival. Here prayers were sent to the Creator to bless their seed.
The Iroquois’ main food source was corn, beans and squash (the three sisters), and of course deer meat or other meat when available. Family gardens were separated by borders that were broad and grassy — they would even camp on these borders and sometimes they were raise watch towers.
The next festival of the Iroquois was the Strawberry Festival. This is where the people gave thanks to the Creator for their many fruits (like strawberries). It was summertime. The women gathered wild nuts and other foods, while the men hunted, fished and provided various meats for cooking. Again, each festival was greeted with much dancing and merriment. Did you know that the some Iroquois believed the way to the Creator was paved with strawberries?
The festival after that was the Green Corn Festival. Again, the people thanked the Creator for the bounty of food that had been raised all through the summer. Dancers danced to please the Creator and musicians sang and beat the drum. Again there were many speeches to honor the people and the Creator. There were team sports. Lacrosse was the game that was most admired and it was played with great abandon by the men. Women played games, too, and often their games were as competitive as the men’s.
The festival following that was…are you ready? You’re right — The Harvest Festival. By this time the women had harvested the corn, beans and squash. Much of it would be dried. Much went to feed families. Husks were made into many different items. Dolls, rugs, mats. Did you know that the dolls didn’t have faces? Now was the time to gather more nuts and berries. Men were busy, too, hunting far away. Bear, moose, beaver were all sought after and hunted. Again, there was much celebration. Dancing, speeches, prayer. And of course — food. It was this particular festival that was shared with the newcomers to this continent.
Can you guess what the next festival was? Although this is a Christmas tree, it was not a celebration of Christmas — but if you guessed this, you were very close. The next and last festival of the year was New Year’s. At this time, a white dog was sacrificed as a gift to the Creator. This was also a time for renewing the mind and body. (Does that not remind you of our New Year’s resolutions?) At this time, the False Face Society members would wear masks to help others to cleanse themselves of their bad minds and restore only their good minds. There was again much celebration, much dancing, much merriment and enjoyment as each person would settle in for the long winter ahead of them.
The First Americans indeed did give this country very much, not only its festivals which we still remember to this day, but also it gave to this nation a fighting spirit for freedom. In these times when there seems to be a forgetfulness about our American roots, it is wonderful to remember that the American Indian and the Love of Freedom went hand-in-hand. What seems interesting to me is that our Thanksgiving festival still honors the custom of giving thanks for those gifts that He, The Creator, has given us. To the American Indian all of these festivals contained this special element — that of giving Thanks to our Maker.
Perhaps it’s only because this one festival — Thanksgiving — was shared by American Indian and Colonist alike that set the tone of Thanksgiving for future generations. And I do believe that the love of autumn and giving thanks for that which belongs to us has its roots in The Harvest Festival, so beloved to the Eastern Indian Tribes.
I love Autumn. Love the scents, the colors, the fall into slumber for trees, the shrubs, the grass, the ever-flowering plants (and the bears). : ) It’s such a beautiful time of year, that it’s hard to stay inside, isn’t it? Doesn’t it make you want to get out there and rake leaves and then, of course, jump into that pile?
I grew up in the Mid-West, where autumn was long and gorgeous with golden, yellow, orange and brown leaves and fresh scents. But…I didn’t know/hadn’t experienced the absolute beauty of the East in the Fall of the year. My goodness! Orange, sugar maples, deep red-leaf maple trees, Japanese maples, ash, oak and golden birch trees, just to name a few. Takes one’s breath away.
But that’s only using one of our senses to describe this time of year. How about the scents of falling leaves, the smell of smoke and wood-burning stoves, the cinnamon-ie smells of baked goods, apple cider, the knowledge that Halloween and dress-up is around the corner? The feel of the earth beneath your feet as it, too, gears up for the winter ahead? The cool fragrance? The touch of tree bark and leaves, the sound of leaves falling? What beauty.
One of my series’ — the Iroquois series — is set in the fall of the year. When writing that series, I deliberately placed the story in the autumn because in my consideration there is no where in the world like autumn in New England, and the Iroquois Confederation was, of course in New York, deep in the area of the Adirondack Mountains. A couple of those covers show off the beauty of New England.
Those books are Black Eagle and Seneca Surrender. And to the left here are those beautiful covers — one cover from Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and the other from Prairie Rose Publications.
Yes, there will be a give-away today and in celebration of this event, I’ll be giving away three different e-books (please refer to our Giveaway Guidelines). One of those books will be BLACK EAGLE, since it is set in the Fall. I’ll also be giving away the e-book, The Princess and the Wolf and the e-book, Brave Wolf and the Lady. Those covers are off to the right here:
Now because there is a scene in both BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER that describes the fall of that year, I thought I would leave you with an excerpt of that scene.
From the book, BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER
By Karen Kay, writing as Gen Bailey
White Thunder rested his weight upon his flintlock, looking west, toward the sky, where the sun was a low, half pinkish-orange orb on the horizon, announcing its departure from the day in glorious streaks of sunlight. Shafts of light, streaming from the clouds, beamed down to the earth, looking as though heaven itself smiled kindly upon the land. And what a magnificent land it was. The birch trees were yellow, the maples red, and the oaks announced their descent into a long winter’s sleep with browns, oranges and golds. The hills were alive with autumn hues, while the air was filled with the rich, musky scent of falling leaves.
It was a beautiful time of year, when the days were still warm, but the nights were cool. But it wasn’t the beauty that was set off before him that had drawn him toward the lake this day. He’d been hunting, when something had called to him upon the breeze. Perhaps it was the rustle of the water that had announced that there was a subtle difference between the lake environment of yesterday and how it was today. But what?
Stepping quietly toward the lake, he squatted and set his musket onto his lap as he bent over to partake of a drink from the water’s cool depths.
Instantly he sat up, alert. From out the corner of his eye he caught the movement of something, and, glancing toward it, he recognized a piece of clothing. A woman’s skirt? Rising, he stepped toward it to get a better look at the thing, if only to satisfy his curiosity.
That’s when he saw her. She was a white woman, blonde-haired and slim.
Was she alive?
After hauling himself onto the rock where she lay, he stepped toward her and bent to look at her. He placed his fingers against her neck, feeling for a pulse. Her body was so very cold, and he was more than a little surprised when he felt the sure sign of life within her. The pulse was weak, but it was still there.
Turning her slightly, he was intrigued by her pale beauty. Of course, being Seneca and from the Ohio Valley, he’d had opportunity to witness the unusual skin color of the white people. But it wasn’t as familiar a sight to him as one might reckon.
Who was she? How had she gotten here? And what had happened to her?
Glancing in all directions, he took in the spectacular sights of the forest. Where did she belong? Who did she belong to?
There was nothing here to answer him, nothing to be seen, no other human presence to be felt. Nothing but the ever expansive rhythm of nature.
Using his right hand to brush her hair back from her face, he noted again how cold she was. However, he couldn’t help but be aware of how soft her skin was, as well. Putting his fingers against her nostrils, he felt the weak intake and outflow of breath. She was alive, barely.
Did he dare take her away from here? A white woman?
He hesitated and waited. He watched. Nyoh, he was the only one here, the only one to settle her fate.
That decided him. If she were to live through the night, he had best take care of her. She needed warmth, nourishment and a chance to heal.
Bending at the waist, he laid his hands over her torso. Depending on the type of injury he might discover, he would either nurse her here or take her to a more protected spot. He ran his fingers gently over each of her arms, including her hands and fingers. He felt for anything broken.
He could detect nothing. Widening his range, he sent his graze over the sides of her ribs, ignoring her ample breasts. Though his scrutiny was fast, it was thorough. Were there any bruises? Was anything broken? Amazingly, he found nothing.
He continued his search down each of her legs. Surely, there must be some clue that would tell of her recent history. Perhaps she had broken her neck, or back? With an easy touch, he tested the theory, sending his fingertips down over the muscles and bone structure of her neck. Nothing. Nothing substantial to indicate a problem that would claim her life. Turning her lightly onto her side, he felt along her spinal column. Several bones were out of place, but nothing was broken. Her body seemed intact.
He frowned. Again, he wondered what had happened to her.
Was it the spirits of the water? The falls? This was a dangerous area. Had the force of the rapids claimed another victim?
But why would she have been near the falls? A white woman in the woods alone? His jaw clenched. There had to be someone close by. Glancing up and looking around again, he realized that the puzzle of her appearance would not be solved here. His examination of her had at least established one fact. She was fit to travel.
Taking her into his arms, he was more than aware that she felt light in his grasp. He stepped down off the rock. Not knowing exactly how she had come to be here, he kept his attention attuned to the environment, listening for a sign of other life, anything to indicate the presence of another in the surroundings. She was a beautiful woman. Whomever she belonged to would miss her.
Again, he could sense nothing unusual in the environment around him—not anything that would give him any idea as to what had happened.
Enough. She required care.
Gathering her in his arms, he rushed toward the security of the woods. If someone were here watching, the trees and bushes offered sanctuary. At least there he could hide himself and her, as they fled deeper into the woods. But where would he take her? He hadn’t yet constructed his own shelter for the night, and it was already late in the day.
If his memory served him correctly, there was a cave nearby that might lend itself well for their purposes, provided that a bear or other animal hadn’t laid claim to it. It was a quiet place, if he remembered rightly, away from the all-seeing eyes of the forest. Plus, it was little known by his own and other tribes. Long ago, his grandfather had shown it to him, indicating it might serve well if ever he were in trouble.
As White Thunder hurried toward that spot, he gazed down into the pleasing features of the woman, realizing that his curiosity about her hadn’t abated. However, there would be time enough to discover who she was once they were safely sheltered. For now, he had best make haste to see if the cave were occupied or vacant.
Balancing her weight and his musket into more secure positions, he darted through the forest, disappearing into it.
Below is the cover of SENECA SURRENDER by Samhain Publishing, as it was going to be published before Samhain closed its doors. It’s a beauty and I thought I’d share it with you. Please leave a comment and let me know your memories of this time of year. I’d love to talk to you.
Few things have made such a huge impact on our lives than the movie industry. I don’t know about you but I love sitting in a dark theater and watching magic unfold on the screen. I’m drawn into the story and love watching how the actors chose to portray each scene. Some are excellent and I lose myself to the magic to the point where I’m up there in the story with them. It’s a beautiful thing and deeply personal.
Roundhay Garden Scene was the first recorded short silent film in 1888 by a Frenchman named Louis Le Prince. It’s definitely the oldest surviving one. Amazing!
Thomas Edison started capturing motion on film around that same time. Everything was very short, approx. a minute or two.
The first film with a sustained plot was a 12 minute one titled The Great Train Robbery. Suddenly America had a new form of entertainment. They called those early films flickers and I’ll bet you can guess why.
They were all silent as no one had figured out yet how to record sound. The theaters hired men and women to play the piano while the movie showed. Slow songs, fast songs, medium songs designed for the biggest impact.
They built huge movie palaces with ornate lobbies, crystal chandeliers, and luxurious carpet. Instead of hiring one pianist, they had orchestras and they hooked the American public.
I recently watched an eight part documentary that Robert Redford made called The American West and it was so interesting. I found it on Amazon Prime. Redford started at the end of the Civil War and showed each step in the progression of the settlement of the west. President Grant actually opened up the west and offered cheap land as a last ditch effort to keep another Civil War from starting and hold the country together.
I didn’t know that.
At the end of the documentary, was a clip of Wyatt Earp on a film set in Hollywood. He was 80 years old and a young John Wayne (21) was working as a prop boy. John Wayne was enamored by the man he idolized and hanging out with Earp forever changed John Wayne. He imitated Earp’s manner of walking and talking and he adopted the Code of the West that Earp lived by.
Wyatt Earp must’ve been drawn to movie making. I’d love to have known what he thought. He was often found on movie sets and that’s where John Ford, the director met him. Ford got Earp to draw on paper exactly how the gunfight at the OK corral happened and he used the sketch to film the gunfight scene in My Darling Clementine.
Wyatt died in 1929 in Los Angeles and cowboy actors Tom Mix and William S. Hart were pallbearers.
Can you imagine a world without cinema? I can’t. I’m sure glad they invented sound though.
Tell me—do you like to go to the movies? If so, what is it that draws you? Maybe it’s the popcorn. Or what is one of your favorite movies? I’m giving away a copy of either To Catch a Texas Star or Gunsmoke and Lace to two people who comment. In addition to title, winner chooses either print or ebook. I’ll draw the winners on Sunday.
Hello everyone. Please welcome Heather Blanton to the Junction. Heather is sponsoring a very generous 4 item giveaway today – three individuals will receive her e-book box set of the Romance in the Rockies trilogy and one will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. So join in the discussion by leaving a comment to get your name tossed in the hat for your chance at one of these prizes. Now, let’s hear from Heather:
Legends, myths, ghost stories. Experts say they are all rooted in at least some fact. Recently, I had the honor to see some Spanish ponies—genetically-proven descendants of horses left in the West by Spanish explorer Coronado in 1519. Five hundred years ago.
Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to hear the stories the braves and the medicine men and chiefs told about seeing those amazing, beautiful animals for the first time.
The initial sightings did, indeed, spawn some amazing tales. I heard a few of them when I was in South Dakota this summer, and my favorite is the Legend of Swift Blue One.
One day a brave was out hunting, and he saw a horse draped in flowing, blue raiment with a man covered in shiny metal on its back. Afraid, but determined to show courage, the warrior shot an arrow at this amazing animal. It struck a crack in the man’s metal and he fell to the ground. The brave rushed up and was going to shoot again, but, the stallion, a mystical blue-gray color, pawed angrily at the ground, screamed, and bared his teeth when the brave approached.
The brave wanted very badly to possess this animal, but each time he came near, the blue horse chased him away. Through signs, the man on the ground said if the warrior would save his life, he would teach him to talk to the horse called Swift Blue One.
The warrior agreed, and he and the man rode the horse back to his tribe, amazing everyone in camp at this spectacle. But the horse was fierce, kicking and attempting to bite anyone who came too close. The man taught the young brave how to talk to blue horse, but soon died from his wound. The only other one who could ride the magnificent animal, the brave still did not remove the covers that draped around Swift Blue Horse. He believed they kept the stallion from harming anyone in camp.
The blue horse was the fastest creature the tribe had ever seen. They said he had lightning in his hoofs. When the brave died in battle, though, the elders turned the horse out for no one else could talk to him. For a long time they would see him racing about, kicking up his hoofs, calling for others to join him.
Soon, Swift Blue One had gathered many horses to himself and was chief of them all. His herd grew large and his offspring were many. His descendants still roam the great plains of the West today. Some say if you look hard enough, you will see the ghost of Swift Blue One running among his children, his blue raiment flickering in the sun.
I love that story. During a visit to the Black Hills Wild Horse Preserve I saw the Spanish ponies——and the Swift Blue Ones were there, too.
Click on cover to learn more
There is an old poem in my forthcoming release, Daughter of Defiance, that a reader gave me about a horse with four white socks. Supposedly, not a good thing.
I am giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and digital copies of my Defiance books—all of which were just optioned by a movie producer! To WIN, just comment with any story, old wives’ tale, or legend you know about a horse. I’d LOVE to hear them!
Gold is found in tough clay. To dissolve the clay the miner fills a pan made of sheet-iron or tinned iron, with a flat bottom about a foot in diameter, and sides six inches high, inclining outwards at an angle of thirty or forty degrees. At a river bank, he squats down, puts his pan under water, and shakes it horizontally. Once the mass is thoroughly soaked, he picks out the larger stones, mashes up the largest and toughest lumps of clay, and again shakes his pan. When all the dirt appears to be dissolved, allowing the heavier gold to move to the bottom, he tilts up the pan a little to let the thin mud and light sand run out, until he has washed out all except the metal, which remains in the pan.
The arrastra, a Mexican contrivance, rude, but effective, was used in the early days to pulverize the ore. Winnowing, or “drywashing” was also practiced by the Mexicans where the ore was found too far away from a sufficient supply of water to make any other practice possible. The wind bears away the dust and light particles of earth, and leaves the gold dust, which is heavier.
The rocker resembles a child’s cradle. On the upper end is a riddle, made with a bottom of sheet-iron punched with holes. This is filled with pay dirt and rocked with one hand, while, with a dipper, the miner pours water into the riddle with the other. Being agitated, the liquid dissolves the clay and carries it down with the gold into the floor of the rocker, where the metal is caught by traverse riffles, or cleats. The mud, water, and sand run off at the lower end of the rocker, which is left open. The riddle can be removed, allowing the miner to throw out the larger stones mixed with the clay.
The chief want of the placer miner was an abundant, convenient supply of water not always readily available. One resolution was an artificial channel about two miles long. After eight years, six thousand miles of mining canals supplied water to all the principal placer districts of Nevada and furnished the means for obtaining the greater portion of the gold yield.
Where the surface of the ground furnished the proper grade, a ditch was dug. Where it did not, flumes were built of wood, sustained in the air by framework that rose sometimes to a height of three hundred feet in crossing deep ravines, and extending for miles at an elevation of 100-200 feet. Aqueducts of wood, and pipes of iron, were suspended upon cables of wire, or sustained on bridges of wood; and inverted siphons carried water up the sides of one hill by the heavier pressure from the higher side of another.
In Nevada, a total length of 6,000 miles of canals and flumes were created. The largest mine, the Eureka, had 205 miles of ditches, constructed at a cost of $900,000. As placers were gradually exhausted, the demand for water and the profits of ditch companies decreased. Flumes, blown down by severe storms, carried away by floods, or destroyed by the decay of the wood, were not repaired.
The sluice was a broad trough from 100-1000 feet long, with transverse cleats at the lower end to catch the gold. With a descent of one foot in twenty, the water rushes through it like a torrent, bearing down large stones, and tearing the lumps of clay to pieces. The miners had little to do save throw in the dirt and take out the gold.
In Hydraulic mining a stream of water is directed under heavy pressure against a bank or hillside, tearing the earth down and carrying it into the sluice to be washed. The force of a stream of water rushing through a two-inch pipe, under a pressure of two hundred feet perpendicular caused hills to crumble as if piles of cloud blown away by a breath of wind. When dried by months of constant heat and drought, the clay becomes so hard, not even the hydraulic stream, with all its
momentum, could steadily dissolve it. Often the miner would cut a tunnel into the heart of his claim, and blast the clay loose with powder, so that it yielded more readily to the action of water.
The erection of a long sluice, the cutting of drains (often necessary to carry off the tailings), and the purchase of water from the ditch company, required capital; and the manner of clearing up rendered it impossible for workers to steal much of the gold. Thus, the custom of hiring miners for wages became common in placer diggings.
Even today, men continue to search for gold and some manage to find enough to keep them going. Others give up and return home. I found gold once, at Knotts Berry Farm in California. I was eight years old. I wish I still had that miniscule vial of gold flakes, but it was lost long ago.
Priscillais Book 1 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series. It is on preorder now and will be released on 9/15. There will be 17 books (or more) released the first and fifteenth of each month. Book 2, Blessing, by Caroline Clemmons is also up for preorder. There are ten authors: Charlene Raddon, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbot, Tracy Garrett, Christine Sterling, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Pam Crooks, Kit Morgan, Margaret Tanner, and Kristy McCaffrey. The series is about a Utah gold mining town in which the mine has been destroyed, killing off most of the men and leaving the women and children destitute and at the mercy of a greedy mine owner who also owns the town. To save their town they must remarry. Forty-six strong, determined women set out to save their town and find love at the same time.
After losing her father and husband in a mine disaster, Priscilla Heartsel faces poverty and eviction from her home by a heartless mine owner. Tricked into a bank robbery gone wrong, Braxton Gamble finds himself shot and unconscious in Priscilla’s bed.Can they survive long enough to find a love more precious than gold?
Charlene will be giving away two e-books.
One will a be copy of her brand new release – Priscilla (delivered 9/15). Another will be the winner’s choice of any of her backlist titles.
You can find all of her books listed on her websitehere. Leave a comment for a chance to win!
When courting a woman don’t ask advice of a bachelor.
-Cowboy Charm School
I’m excited that my next book Cowboy Charm School will be published September 4th (but can be ordered now.) I played with the idea for four or five years before I actually got around to writing the book. Book ideas generally come to me in scenes. I’ll suddenly visualize someone atop a runaway stagecoach or scrambling over a roof and then have to figure out who, what, and why.
The scene that popped into my head for Cowboy Charm School was a wedding scene with a handsome stranger running down the church aisle yelling, “Stop the Wedding!”
It took me awhile to figure out that the man was Texas Ranger Brett Tucker, who thinks he’s saving the bride, Kate Denver, from marrying an outlaw. He’s mistaken, of course, but the groom jealously jumps to all the wrong conclusions and the couple breaks-up.
Brett feels terrible for what’s he’s done and is determined to set things right. Since the hapless groom hasn’t a clue as to how to win Kate back, it’s up to Brett to give him a few pointers–and that’s when the real trouble begins.
For a chance to win a copy of the book, tell us the best or worse advice anyone ever gave you. (Contest guidelines apply.)
Although the title doesn’t say it, I will be giving away a free e-book of BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, so read our guidelines for giveaways — off to the right here — and leave a comment.
So…steamboats — for all practical purposes, they opened up the West. Starting with the first Steamboat, The Yellow Stone, they traveled up and down the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers, bringing people back and forth, and carrying on a business in terms of trade and furs and many, many other items. George Catlin traveled on the first steamboat, The Yellow Stone, in 1834. In his book, Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and conditions of NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS, Catlin word paints the time and place, as well as the details of travel upon the Steamboat at that time. He makes it come alive.
In my newest book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, as well as the book, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, there are scenes aboard a steamboat at that particular time and place. Both scenes go into some detail on the very real danger of travel aboard these boats. Another of my books that involves a steamboat is WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH. The Commerce of a growing Nation flowed over these rivers during this time period, and these boats provide a rich look at a by-gone river culture.
So I thought I’d post an excerpt that takes place aboard the steamboat, Effie Deans. Enjoy!
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY
The scent of fishy, muddy water overwhelmed all other odors in this place, Mia thought as she climbed the necessary stairway that allowed her to gain access to the highest point on the steamship. Every day, as had become her routine with Brave Wolf, she arose early so that she might welcome in the new day with prayer. Ascending to the upper deck of the boat, she took up a position that looked eastward, toward the light, silver sky. Briefly, she said her prayer, then shifted her position, strolling toward the starboard side of the boat, gazing out westward. It was here on most every day that she hoped to see Brave Wolf, always wondering if he might still be out there, following the boat. Today was no different.
The day was only beginning, yet already the warmth of the early morning sun beat down upon the top of her bare head, for she wore no hat. However, its heat did not bother her; the gentle wind that was created by the forward motion of the boat blew into her face, causing the loose tendrils of her hair to fall back behind her ears. It was a cooling breeze and it seemed kindly, animated, as if it endeavored to cleanse her spirit.
But such friendliness was wasted on her. Her life had forever changed. Too much had happened in this last month to allow the naivety of her former life to regain a foothold over her again.
Was such a shift of personality for the good, or was it bad? She couldn’t be certain.
Where was Brave Wolf, she wondered. Then she answered her own question. He would be setting a trail for his home; he would be hastening back to the arms of another woman….
Would Walks-in-sunshine welcome him home with love in her heart? She would do so if she were wise. Trustworthy, honorable men like Brave Wolf didn’t happen along every day.
“Ma’am,” hailed the captain, a Mr. Wentworth. He raised his hat to her as he stepped by her.
Jerked back to the present moment, Mia smiled, hoping that the gesture covered her surprise. She had been so lost in her own thoughts, she hadn’t noticed the captain’s approach.
“Ye look so sad, ma’am. But don’t ye fret. We’re only a couple of weeks out from Leavenworth. We’ll make it thar all safe and sound, don’t ye worry.”
“Yes,” she replied, as she forced herself to look happy. “I believe that we shall.”
“How did ye get yerself all stranded in this part of the country, ma’am, if’n ye don’t mind me askin’?”
“I…my husband and I were part of a wagon train heading for the Oregon Territory when our party was attacked by—”
“No, sir, although I did think so at first. But the butchers turned out to be men dressed up as Indians. They killed my husband. Indeed, I fear that they murdered all the people on that train except me. I don’t believe that they saw me at first.”
“But they did discover yerself?”
“Undoubtedly, they did.”
“Pardon, ma’am, but then how did ye escape? Did ye play dead until they left?”
“No, sir. Real Indians came to my rescue.”
“Real Injuns? Ma’am?” He grabbed his hat from his head and whacked it against his knee. “We’s at war with them Injuns in these here parts. Cain’t imagine one of ’em rescuing ye.”
“I know. Yet, what I tell you is true. The man who bought that ticket from you is the same one who not only rescued me, but who brought me here so that I might return home.” She paused for a moment, then added, “I think, sir, that you might have cheated him regarding the cost of that ticket.”
The accusation, though softly spoken, was met with silence, and she let the complaint stand without further explanation. Captain Wentworth seemed honestly surprised; however, at last he uttered, “I’m right sorry about that, ma’am. But I’m under orders t’ charge high enough fees so that them Injuns don’t beg an easy ride. I’ll return the full two hundred dollars to ye, ma’am.”
“That would be most appreciated,” replied Mia, “for I lost all of my possessions at the wagon train fight. But, although I appreciate your kindness, please ease your mind. It is unnecessary. I have enough food to sustain me until we reach Fort Leavenworth, and my clothing washes well. Besides, once we arrive at Fort Leavenworth, I can send word to my father, who will ensure that I am taken care of and escorted home safely. Keep your money.”
“No, ma’am. Couldna live with myself if’n I was to do that,” he said. “Wait here, ma’am, while I get yer two hundred dollars.”
Mia nodded and watched Captain Wentworth’s departing figure as he disappeared down the stairs, taking two of them at a time. She breathed in deeply, and was about to lean out over the railing, when two incidents happened at once.
A wet, nearly nude, but achingly familiar body knocked her to the deck at the same time a bullet whizzed by her. The whir of that discharge, and its ugly blast splintered the wood at the exact place where she’d been standing, its impact showering her and her rescuer with the sharp fragments.
“Stay down!” ordered Brave Wolf. She could do little more than that, for he lay over her, using his body to protect her. Only a single instant passed before another deadly shot shrieked past them, this one aimed lower than the first.
Then came another round of gunfire, followed by a slight pause, then more of the same. On and on it roared, the howl of the noise and the racket going on for so many minutes that Mia felt as though the entire world were engulfed by the barrage. Suddenly, as quickly as it had started, it stopped. No shots. No backfire. Nothing.
“He…reloading. Quick, follow me!”
Brave Wolf plopped off of her, scooting onto the deck. Lying flat on his stomach, he used elbows and hips to inch forward; Mia followed, using the same manner of crawling, and could see an open cabin door ahead of them. This must have been his destination. But what followed next precluded all attempts to attain safety.
A huge man, who might have been twice the size of Brave Wolf, fell upon her. She screamed, then again, and she kept on shrieking as he raised a knife. Even while she yelled out, “No,” she felt certain that this moment spelled the end of her life. It might have been true, too, but for an arm that came up to block that blow.
“Go! Move! Run to cabin!” shouted Brave Wolf.
But she couldn’t get away from the monster, for he held her down; he was probably three times her weight. She squirmed, she tried to get away, but she couldn’t shake him off her.
What followed could only be an act of God, for it was humanly impossible. Yet, as she watched the events unfold, she saw Brave Wolf rise up as though with super-human strength; he picked up the man as though this two-hundred-and-fifty-pound bully weighed little more than a feather. Instantly, she was free, but it wasn’t over. Brave Wolf hurled the monster across the deck. The fiend’s weapon, his knife, fell to the deck, but not so the beast’s gun.
As quick as an instant, the would-be assassin slid his pistol from his holster. He pointed it straight at her head, for she had not run away.
In a fraction of a second, Brave Wolf executed a quick, high leap, landing on the assassin and pushing him down, forcing him into a sitting position. Taking hold of the man’s pistol-carrying arm, and forcing it high into the air, Brave Wolf ensured the bullet shot harmlessly into the sky. The two men wrestled with that gun, their muscles straining under the assault, and the struggle that waged between the two of them outlined every muscle in Brave Wolf’s body.
Boom! Crash! Blast!
What was that? It sounded as if it were an explosion on the below decks of the boat? Was it? Was the boat, itself, under attack?
What could she do? How could she help? She couldn’t leave Brave Wolf to fight this monstrosity all on his own. Or should she?
Was she in the way? Should she leave here as quickly as possible?
But no. She couldn’t leave him, even though he had told her to. As she had often said to herself: whatever Brave Wolf’s fate might be, so too would be her own.
This decided, she darted into action, and, sprinting toward the wrestling figures, she jumped up into a flying leap, and added her weight against the bully’s arm. The momentum of her fall caused the beastie’s grip to come apart and loosen. The pistol flew out of his grasp, but the firearm was cocked, and it fired as it hit the deck…
…Away from them.
In a show of power and brute force, the monster flung Brave Wolf off, and Brave Wolf rolled as he landed, coming up onto his feet, unsheathing his only weapon, his knife. Then, without even a fraction of a second passing, Brave Wolf hurled himself forward, attaching himself to the fiend’s backside, his knife at the bully’s throat. But the monster threw off Brave Wolf’s grip, and the knife fell harmlessly to the deck.
It wasn’t finished, and what followed, Mia could hardly believe. Weaponless, Brave Wolf used feet, hands, fingers, teeth and his jaw as weapons. He spit, clawed, bit, scratched and threw his arms around the assassin’s neck while his nails bit into the brute’s face. Though the beast tried to shake him off, he couldn’t budge Brave Wolf.
Mia watched, shocked, as Brave Wolf bested the man who was as big as a bear. Like a weasel, he scratched the swine, bit him, choked him and kicked him as he wrestled him to the ground. The bully couldn’t throw a punch; in fact, it looked as though he could hardly breathe. Already, his face was turning bright red, then it was blue.
All at once, it was over. The monster drew his last breath. He flopped to the deck and lay there unmoving. Brave Wolf, however, didn’t wait to examine the result of this struggle for life or death. He grabbed up both his own, and the bully’s knife, seized her by the hand and sprinted toward the ship’s railing, dragging her with him as he fled port-side.
Mia ran as fast as she could, though she was stunned, having never witnessed such a bare-handed, tooth-and-claw fight against such uneven odds. Brave Wolf was easily the smaller of the two men by a hundred or so pounds, yet he had won and…what was probably most astounding, she was still alive.
Boom! Crash! Blast! Crack!
Another explosion from the below decks shook the boat, and she realized the craft was blowing out from within. Huge bits of wood flew everywhere, the shower of deadly and heavy splintered logs a real threat. Worse, a massive fire licked to life only a few feet away from them; it was swiftly consuming the deck on which they stood. The floor was going to give.
“Oh!” Mia gasped. Had Brave Wolf won the struggle, only to lose the war? If the floor beneath them gave, they would be swept below as it crumbled; they’d be impaled and crushed beneath fallen rubble and knife-like timber.
Frightened into immobility, Mia could only stare. But not so Brave Wolf. He swept her up into his arms and sprinted around a corner, ignoring the deck crashing about them. He endured the burning heat, and somehow he kept ahead of the ever-rushing fire, veering toward the port side of the boat, the side away from the paddle wheel. Still holding her in his arms, he scrambled up onto the railing, and without hesitation, he knifed feet first into the river, taking her with him.
Down, down they shot into the mildly cool and welcoming, but muddy water. Brave Wolf didn’t wait to touch bottom. Kicking out, he swam down deep underwater, heading north, away from the boat. A deadly tow pulled at him, yet he evaded it, and dove down deeper only to have a whirlpool tug at them, threatening to drown them. Yet it didn’t happen. Brave Wolf forded the underwater death trap with what appeared to be so much ease that one might have thought he were part merman. He held her by the waist now and pulled her along with him. Once he surfaced for air and she gasped in the needed oxygen; a bombardment of bullets met them from the shoreline, and he dove down, down deep, deeper, kicking out in a stroke that propelled them to the bottom of the river, swimming as fast as the water would allow him. She felt the path of a bullet as it nicked him, for it was to that arm where he held her. Although the shot didn’t draw blood, it must have stung him. But if it did, he showed no signs of feeling it.
Faster they swam, she kicking out now to help him. North and east they fled, away from the deadly assassin bullets. But how long could she hold her breath? She felt as though she were turning blue, and she tapped Brave Wolf on the shoulder to indicate that she needed air. Once again, although this time more cautiously, he came up for breath, but he allowed her only a second to suck in that air before he dove back under the surface, knifing toward the very bottom of the river once again.
Surprisingly no one appeared to be following them beneath the waves, and she was reminded of the danger of the deadly whirlpools, currents and underwater tows beneath the surface of the Big Muddy River. It had claimed many a man’s life. It had tried to take theirs. Was this why no one was giving chase?
Those deadly traps confronted Brave Wolf over and over. She felt their pull, was certain she and Brave Wolf would never survive this. Yet, they did. How he managed to use these dangers to his advantage, she might never know, for he swam through the tows as though he danced a jig with them. They pushed onward, Mia having to remind Brave Wolf on more than one occasion that she needed to breathe air, not water.
It felt as though hours had passed as they shot through these muddy depths, although it was probably not longer than minutes. Always it seemed to her that they headed north and, she hoped, out of range of those assassin’s bullets. She was aware that Brave Wolf could hold his breath longer than she could, and he seemed to forget that she was not part fish; many more times than she could count, she had to tap him on the shoulder as a reminder. At last, when they surfaced for air, it appeared that they had put enough distance between themselves, the shoreline and the steamship, for nothing met them but the smoke of a boat that would never sail the Missouri waters again.
They both looked on at the wreckage, which was even now still afire.
“Why did the boat explode?” she asked softly, more to herself than to Brave Wolf.
But he answered her quickly, saying, “Man who try kill you use fire to blow up boat.”
Shock caused Mia to remain silent, and, when she didn’t answer at once, Brave Wolf calmly dove again beneath the waves.
I just returned from my first trip to the West in four years – two weeks of mountains, lakes, seeing friends and family, and experiencing a bit of local history. Today I’d like to share with you a bit of that history.
On one of the days of my trip, my nieces and I visited the oldest building in Idaho, the Mission of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Cataldo Mission, located in Old Mission State Park located 28 miles east of the city of Couer d’Alene. The mission, located on a picturesque hill overlooking the Couer d’Alene River, was built between 1850 and 1853 by Catholic missionaries and members of the Couer d’Alene tribe. Next door to the mission is the restored parish house where the Jesuit missionaries lived. Also located on the park property are a cemetery and a visitor center where you can visit an exhibit titled Sacred Encounters: Father De Smet and the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West. The exhibit details the history of the Jesuits’ interactions with the Couer d’Alene and Salish tribes of the area. The site’s historical significance led to it being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
The establishment of the mission came about in a different way than many such structures. It was actually the Nez Perce and Flathead people, who had heard about the white man’s “Book of Heaven,” who sent representatives to St. Louis to find out more. Eleven years later, Father Pierre Jean De Smet responded by traveling to the area. Other brothers and friars picked an original location for the mission, but it was later moved due to the first’s tendency to flood. In 1850, the mission was taken over by Italian Jesuit missionary Antonio Ravalli, who oversaw the building of the current building. He had the local tribes build the structure so they would feel a part of the church. Not a single nail was used in the construction. Visitors today can see some of the exposed wattle and daub that was used instead.
Because of the mission’s remote location, decoration of the structure required some creativity. Newspapers were painted and put on the walls. Tin cans were fashioned into chandeliers. And local huckleberries were used to create the blue used to stain the interior wood.
It’s a lovely, peaceful place to just sit and admire the surrounding landscape as well. If you’re ever in Northern Idaho, it’s well worth a visit.
Hello Petticoats & Pistols! I am honored to help Linda Broday by joining you today. (Have fun at RWA, Linda!) For those you don’t know me, or may have forgotten, I’m western romance author, Julie Lence, blogging about a subject I knew nothing about and had fun researching: Mules Working in the Coal Mines.
In the summer of 2016, the Pastor of our church retired and our other priest was transferred to a different parish. We welcomed a new Pastor and another priest and looked forward to getting to know them. During their sermons, each priest will sometimes mention something from their childhood or personal experience to tie into the day’s Gospel. One such Sunday, one of them began talking about mules living in coal mines. My first thought was comical, and my second thought was this would make for a great blog. I’ve never heard of a mule living in a coal mine and wrote a quick note to research.
Throughout civilization horses and mules have been used to help man with lifting or hauling something heavy. This practice was carried over in Montana when it came to working in a coal mine. Pulling carts laden with ore was hard labor for man, so mules were brought down into the mines to help. Horses couldn’t be used, as the cages used to get to the bottom of the mine were small. A typical cage proved difficult trying to cram in six men, but could hold one mule. To get the mule onto the cage and to the bottom required a few days planning. The initial step involved not feeding the mule or giving him water for three days because there was a risk the mule would succumb to a ruptured bladder or suffocation while being lowered. Before being led into the cage, the mule was blindfolded so he wouldn’t spook and his legs were bound in a leather truss to keep him still. The mule was placed inside the cage on his rear and lowered to the bottom. Sometimes, he tried to kick, but usually he settled down to the quiet of the mine and rode the cage just fine.
Once down at the bottom, mules were put to work pulling the ore carts. They worked their eight-hour shift and then were taken to a lit stable inside the mine for food and rest. Muleskinners cared for the animals, and along with their food, made sure the mule had a tub of ice water to drink each night. The muleskinner also scrubbed the mule’s hooves with soap and water to rid him of the deadly copper water he plodded through during the day. The copper was capable of eating away at the hoof and if this happened, the mule would end up useless.
Mules adjusted well to the mines, with many knowing the mine better than the minors. Tales abound of many a mule saving miners from fires and other dangers. One such tale involved a miner who made a hole through a wall the size of his head to see what was on the other side. He discovered a lake but thought nothing of it until the next day. His mule began acting strange, and cutting him free from his job, the mule took off for higher ground. Knowing a mule’s instinct was good, the minor and his coworkers were able to escape quickly when, at the same moment the mule dashed off, the hole the miner had made crashed open, with water gushing toward them from the lake.
Though a mule labored beneath the ground, he wasn’t left there his entire life. If a mule was injured or sick, he was brought above ground immediately. The same applied to the duration of the mine shutting down for vacation or the miners going on strike. And mules weren’t treated cruelly. Miners and mule skinners learned early on to care for the mule. If treated poorly, the mule usually got even with either kicking a man in the ribs or head, or squeezing him against the wall. Trained mules were valuable, worth as much as $200, and always received medical treatment and rubdowns when needed.
The use of mules in mines pulling ore carts came to an end in December of 1965. An Act of Legislature outlawed the underground stable, making it illegal to house animals in mines.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by and read about the mules. They truly were exceptional in that time period. To connect with me and learn more about my writing, you can catch me here:
As an added bonus, I’m giving away 3 ebook copies of my 1st book, Luck of the Draw. To be eligible to win, leave a comment here regarding your favorite thing about the old west. Until next time, have a great day.