Did you know that I have often referred to the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, as my “musical?” No, not like a musical you might see on television or the movies — if you open up the book, it doesn’t play a song, and yet, in many ways, I’ve often thought of it as my musical. Interestingly, it is also based on a myth.
SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, from the Legendary Warriors Series, is inspired by a myth of a hunter and a daughter of the Star People. The book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE actually starts with the hero and heroine and the legend as it is told in Native American lore. Interestingly, I found this myth not in just one tribe — but several — and the thing is, it was told almost (but not quite) identically, tribe to tribe. The legend I’m about to tell you is from the Shawnee.
I believe that the name of the hero (it’s from a children’s book that I’m quoting) is Red Hawk, and the name of the book is RED HAWK AND THE SKY SISTERS by Gloria Dominic and Charles Reasoner. Again, this legend is repeated in several different tribes — although the hero’s name is often different.
Red Hawk is a great hunter. But he is puzzled because he sees the same print of a circle in the grasses of the prairie each time he goes to hunt. It is a perfect circle, but there are no paths leading up to it — or going away from it. There is evidence that something was there and made the circle — but how? Red Hawk decides to spend the night, hiding himself from view.
And so he does. He discovers by hiding himself, that a basket gently falls to the earth and that there is singing from feminine voices. As the basket comes to land softly on the earth, three sisters alight from the basket and dance around it in a circle. Red Hawk watches this for many nights until one night he realizes that he has fallen in love with one of the sisters — the youngest I believe. And so, once again hiding himself, he waits until the sisters are about to get into the basket and go back into the sky — but suddenly he jumps out from his hiding place and captures the woman of his heart.
They marry and are happy, but she misses her home in the sky (she is a star). They have a child and she wishes to take the child and return to visit her home in the sky. Our hero lets her go, but keeps the child with him, hoping that the child will be enough to cause her to return. When she doesn’t return, our hero again captures her, and she falls in love with him all over again and they live happily ever after.
I did find that the ending varies a bit from tribe to tribe, and I’m uncertain of how this book ends the story — I have this book, but of course, needing to find it for this post, the book eludes me.
Now, what does this have to do with music and with a song? Well, maybe a lot. This book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, starts out with a song and the legend, and it ends with a song, incorporating, also, the legend.
In my youth, I used to watch Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movies on television. I was enchanted with them, and with their music, which is operetta. Not full opera, but a light taste of it. My characters, I must admit, are drawn from both Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy’s personalities. Sometime in the future I might do a blog on these two people. They were in love, but never married, and it appears as if they were prevented from marrying. Perhaps that’s only a theory, but there appears to be some truth to it.
But that aside, I thought I’d leave you all a link to some great Native American music. The group is Brule’. This is a band of the Sioux tribe. It is extremely inspiring music, and so I’d leave you this for today. Please enjoy.
I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE today to some lucky blogger, so I would encourage you to leave a comment — please see the Giveaway Guidelines over to the right here for our rules that govern giveaways, and be sure to come back in a few days to see if you are a winner.
What do you think? Is it possible to create a musical with text?
Welcome to the New Year! May this new year bring all good things. Did you make any new New Year’s Resolutions?
Must admit that I have not done so, yet — mostly because my schedule is rather long each day and rather intense. Somewhere along the line this year, I hope to garner out a little bit of free time in which to think about the last year and what I’d like to do differently.
But, be that the case, if you have made resolutions and would like to share them, I would love to hear about them. Might give me some ideas.
Well, today I thought we might talk a little bit about our pets — today and yesterday.
Did you know that many of my pets help me to write books? It really is true. Over to the left here is my little boy, Georgie. Georgie is a rescue that I found when I was away from home, in Florida. He was so tiny when I found him, I realized that something must have happened to his mother. He was living by eating the plant life in the area, and he was completely wild.
So I sat with him outside (he, always at a distance) and fed him and talked to him each night. Then one night he followed me into my rented room, and that was it. He’s been with me ever since.
Georgie helped me to write the book, BLACK EAGLE. He helped by lying next to me as I was writing, and by listening to me as I explained the plot to him. Sometimes he’d give me weird looks if he didn’t understand something, and I’d go in an “fix” that section.
Then we have Midnight Thunder. Midnight was another rescue that my brother-in-law found at a gas station. Midnight was begging for food, and he gained not only food, but a home. My brother-in-law gave him to me. Midnight sat with me through the writing of the book, NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE, and in fact that title was picked because my brother-in-law found Midnight Thunder at night, thus the title of the book is inspired by Midnight, or maybe it was the other way around — not sure. Although he is no longer with us, he was lost to us twice, and each time we found him. But the last time we found him, he had been found and taken to a shelter. We discovered him there. But in order to take him back from the shelter, he had to receive a round of shots, which disagreed with him very much. He was already rather old, and he got very sick after receiving those shots, I’m afraid, and…well the rest doesn’t need to be stated. He was quite a wonderful cat. He got on well with all of our neighbors, including dogs and cats. In fact, many of our neighbors didn’t know us well, but they certainly knew Midnight. We miss him to this day.
Next we come to Sierra. Sierra was originally my daughter’s pet, but she was unable to keep her while she was in college, and so she gave her to me. Sierra acted like a princess and we even called her princess. Do you see in this picture that there is a crown above her head? We didn’t put that there. Interesting that the photograph captured that. Sierra helped me write the book, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF. The personality of Princess Sierra in the book was, indeed, drawn from the personality of Sierra.
Then there is Kali. The picture to the left is of me as a child, with a cat on my lap. Many of my early photos include me holding dogs or cats. Well, this picture isn’t of Kali, but the only online picture I have of Kali is on my website under tours — and all that info is protected and so I can’t lift it — but here is the url: http://novels-by-karenkay.com/tours-photos/booktour-and-special-friends-july-2003/. If you scroll down, Kali is the calico in a basket.
The heroine in the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE is drawn from Kali. The heroine’s name is Kali and the character’s personality was caught not only from my cat, but from a movie actress from the 30’s that I admired very much. Kali was another rescue — again from Florida. She had been abandoned by her family when they moved. I was out for a walk and she followed me 8-9 blocks to my motel. She became mine, and was with us many, many years.
Over to the left here is Robere. Robere was another rescue by my husband from the pound. Unfortunately, he was with us only a little while and he died fairly young. We believe that he might have been poisoned by our neighbors, but we aren’t certain. All we know is that one night he got sick, and the next day he was gone.
He was a sweet, sweet, sweet, beautiful boy. His legacy is caught in my new book, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY. That main character is a combination of Robere’s personality and an artist that I admire very much, who was known to be a very sweet and kind gentlemen.
Then we have our dogs, both of them were rescues from the Blackfeet reservation. These dogs discovered us while we were on the reservation with a project called, SOMETHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT. They adopted us, and when it came time for us to go home, we couldn’t leave them behind.
Yoda, the one in front, had almost died on the reservation when he bit into an electric cable. My husband brought him back around, and he was never far from my husband’s side after that. Wolf, as we call the rather large collie — who also has some other breed of dog that’s very big — is a sweetie pie. So sweet, in fact, that he loves everybody. To this day, there are two female dogs in the neighborhood that claim Wolf as their own sweetheart.
In the world of the North American Indian, there are many accounts of pets. I’ve read of pet deer, pet wolves, pet coyotes, pet birds, and of course some of smartest horses ever known. I’ve even read of Crows who have been known to have saved several different war parties from harm by warning them of the enemy.
One of the most interesting accounts of those long-ago pets is that of a pet wolf who went out with his master on war raids. This was the inspiration for the wolf’s personality in the book, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed our little get-together today. I’d love to hear your stories of your pets and how they have influenced you. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve be giving away an e-book of the winner’s choice to some lucky blogger. So come on in and leave a message.
It’s Christmas Time! It’s a season for giving. And today I will be giving away not only a free e-book of my latest release, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, but I’ll also be giving away another free e-book of the first in this series, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF. So come on in, leave a comment, and also please sure to check back here for the winners on either Wednesday or Thursday evening.
One of my most favorite Christmas memories is being told a story the night before Christmas in an attempt to get me to go to sleep. It didn’t work very well (getting me to go to sleep). But it is a wonderful memory.
And so I thought I’d regale you with this beautiful story, an ancient, timeless, American Indian Legend. I was late today making the post, and so I’ve posted the legend that I told you last year, but this year, because I’m late, I’m first going to tell you a beautiful story of The Gift of the Creator. This story is taken from the book, LEGENDS OF THE IROQUIOS, by Tehanetorens. Enjoy!
Long, long ago, an old, old man came into an Iroquois Village. He was tired and hungry, and his clothing was tattered and torn. As he walked through the village, he came first to a longhouse of the Turtle Clan. Pulling on the entryway, he asked for food and lodging for the night. But he was turned away because he looked to be an old beggar, and he was instructed to go away.
Next the old man came to the longhouse that had the symbol of a snipe on the house — a snipe is a kind of wading bird. Again, he pulled back on the entryway and he asked for food. But like before, he was scolded and turned away. He moved on.
He walked on to the longhouses of many of the other clans, including the Wolf, the Eagle, Beaver and more. Each time he asked for food and lodging, but each time he was turned away.
Exhausted now, the old man came at last to the very last longhouse in the Iroquois Village. Pulling back on the cover across the entrance, he was met by an old woman. Again, he asked for food and lodging for the night.
However, this time the old woman took pity on him, and asked him to come inside, where she treated him to a hearty meal, and invited him to stay for the night. She made him welcome, giving him warm clothing and warm bedding.
However, the next day, the man was very ill, and he asked the woman to please help him by going into the forest and gathering the roots of a plant.
This she did for him. When she returned, he guided her on how to make a soup and a tea from the plant, which he then consumed. Soon he was well. But it wasn’t long before he became ill once more, and again, he instructed the woman to go out into the forest and to gather the stalk of yet another plant. This she did. Again, he instructed her how to make a tea of it, which, when he drank the tea, he became well.
Over and over again, the man became sick, and sent the woman into the forest to pick different herbs and plants, and each time, when he drank the tea, he became well. One day, the woman came home to the longhouse and found that the old man had become a handsome, young man.
The old woman became frightened, but the young man told her to be calm. He told her that he was the Creator, and that because of her kindness to him, he was going to bestow upon her, and the Bear Clan, a wonderful gift: the gift of healing. And so it came to be. The old woman became the most respected member of that tribe, and from that day forward, the Bear Clan, and all within it became the Keepers of the Medicine. The lesson learned is that kindness, empathy, and good-will are always rewarded. We may not always see it, as did the old woman in this story, and yet, we will, in our own way, be rewarded.
And now comes the story that is so beautiful to read about at this time of year.
This is the tale of a girl who married her one, true, love, a man who was a star. It’s origin is Sioux — I don’t know if that’s Lakota or Dakota or Nakota. All three are Sioux, just different dialects. By the way this story comes to us from the book, Favorite North American Indian Legends, printed by Dover. Before I start, I wanted to say that this story reminds me of a legend from one of my books, Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, which is now in e-books. Although the story of Soaring Eagle’s Embrace is based on a similar legend as the one I’m telling you today, it is a little different. Mainly in Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, it was the young man who fell in love with a star. Okay, that said, let’s pretend we are sitting around a fire in a warm, warm teepee. The scent of smoke is strong in the air, and loved ones surround us as we wrap ourselves in warm blankets. And so the storyteller begins:
Long ago, there were two sisters, one whose name was Earth and the other’s name was Water. This was at a time when all people and animals were in close communication with each other and so the animals supplied the sisters with all their needs.
One night the sky was clear and beautiful and both sisters looked up to the sky through their wigwam — comment, now we know that this was most likely the Dakota since they were living in Wigwams — anyway, they looked up through the hole in their wigwam and admired the beautiful stars.
Earth said to her sister that she’d had a dream about a handsome young man and that she thought he might be a star. Water responded saying that she, too, had seen a man in her dreams who was a brave man.
The sisters chose stars that they thought might be these men that they had dreamed of. Water chose the brightest star for her husband. Earth chose a little star that twinkled.
Then they slept. When they awoke, they were in the land of the Sky. The stars were, indeed, people. Now it happened that the man that water chose was an older warrior and that the man that Earth chose was a young, handsome man. Both sisters married these men and they were very happy.
One day the sisters went out onto the plains to dig turnips (a much favored food at this time in history). Both of their husbands warned them not to strike the ground too hard. But Earth, in her haste to dig the turnips, struck the ground so hard that she fell through the sky to the ground.
Earth was found and cared for by two older people who tried to help her. But she was so upset about losing her husband that all she did is cry. She could not even see her husband in the sky because he had blackened his face because he was now a widower. Earth waited and waited for him to come to her, but he could not. However, he did give her a most precious gift.
That night when she went to sleep, she dreamed of a beautiful red star. It had never been in the sky before. She knew at once that it was her son.
When she awoke, she found a handsome boy by her side — her son. Although Earth’s husband could not come to rescue her, and though he loved his son deeply, he gave to his wife the only gift that he could — their son, Star Boy. It was a gift from his heart..
‘Tis the season of giving. I hope you have enjoyed this story, short and simple though it is. I thought it was quite beautiful.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY to some lucky blogger. I’ll also be giving away a free e-book of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF to some lucky blogger. Please do read the Giveaway Guidelines that govern our give-aways — off to the right side of the page.
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY is my most recent book. By the way, the paperback is reduced in price from $14.99 to $11.99 for the Holiday season.
THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF is on sale for the Holiday season for $.99, and the paperback is on sale for $11.99, as well.
The picture below and to the right is of myself and my husband with Chief Mountain in the background, the setting in the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE — on the Blackfeet reservation.
And so from my heart to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! And, or, Happy Holidays!
In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving and the start of the Holiday Season, it seems to me it would be a good idea to give away a free e-book of my most recent release, Brave Wolf and the Lady to some lucky blogger. All that needs to be done to enter into the drawing is to leave a comment here. By the way, please refer to the Giveaway Guidelines that govern all our giveaways. It’s off to the right here.
Well, today I thought we might talk about love, seeing as how this is the season of love — what’s it all about? At this time of year, with the holidays and all the out-of-mind busy-ness that we seem to get in to — I thought it might be good to take time out and have a look at a subject that we all…well, that we all love. Love.
It seems to me that there’s all sorts of different kinds of love. There’s the obvious kind — the kind that we all write about, the absolute beauty of love and romance and the coming together of two souls to create new life. I’m speaking of course about the love of a man and a woman, the love of family, the love of children. May this love always flourish and prosper in our society — I only say that because, it’s become my opinion that the family is really under attack. But I digress. Oh, by the way the picture to the left is of myself and my husband and the background is the Grand Canyon.
Okay, so are there other kinds of love? I think so.
There’s of course the love between friends? That’s love, too, isn’t it? I know you’ll all agree that we would, indeed, be strange beings if we didn’t have a close circle of friends that we love with all our hearts. But it’s different kind of love, isn’t it? However, just because it’s the love between friends doesn’t make it any less a deep and abiding love.
There’s also the love for mankind in general — the love of those in other parts of the world that might be having a difficult time. For instance, many of our American Indian people on the reservations.
And how about the love we have for other life forms? Our pets, for instance. That’s most definitely love, too.
Love. If I were to define love, I’d take a page from friend and author, L. Ron Hubbard, and say that it seems to me that it is an intense feeling of admiration directed toward someone or something. It doesn’t ask for anything, it is either freely given or it’s not really love. It’s not a dominating or controlling force. Not love. Not by definition.
It’s more about giving than receiving, sharing instead of using another.
But so far I’m leaving out one of the greatest love stories of all time. Can you guess what story that is?
Our joy at this time of year is because of this love story. Even our calendars are a celebration of this love story and of this one man’s life. It has been said and shown through historical writings that because of this man and because of his teachings of love, that he freed a whole people from bondage, a people who had been utterly enslaved. It’s said and it’s written that he brought a true civilizing force to the world, and that this force was to love and to treat ones fellow man, even ones own enemies, as one might like to be treated oneself. It’s said also that he saved mankind itself from doom because of this love story. One of my prayers at this time of year will be that the world at large learn again this lesson, a lesson given so freely so long ago …
Love… I’d really like to hear your own love stories and your thoughts in general about love, so please do leave a message. By the way, the picture below is of myself and the one man in my life whom I love with all my heart. May you all have a very, happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!
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.
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.
How exciting! A new book out and just put up in paperback on Amazon. Will be giving away a free copy of the e-book to one of you bloggers, so do come on in and leave a comment. We’ll start with the blurb so that you know the general story line of the book, and then the blurb.
Hope you enjoy!
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY
Book 2, The Clan of the Wolf Series
He saved her life, then stole her heart….
To escape an arranged marriage, Mia Carlson, daughter of a U.S. senator, instead elopes with the man she loves. As they are escaping from her Virginia home, heading west, their wagon train is brutally attacked, leaving Mia alone and in grave danger. Rescue comes from a most unlikely source, a passing Lakota scouting party, led by the darkly handsome Indian, Brave Wolf.
Although Brave Wolf has consented to guide Mia to the nearest trading post, he holds himself apart from her, for his commitments lie elsewhere. But long days on the trail lead to a deep connection with the red-haired beauty. Yet, he can’t stop wondering why death and danger stalk this beautiful woman, forcing him to rescue her time and again. Who is doing this, and why?
One thing is clear, however: Amid the flurry of dodging assassin bullets, Brave Wolf and Mia come into possession of a powerful love. But is it all for naught? Will Brave Wolf’s obligations and Mia’s secret enemy from the past finally succeed in the sinister plot to destroy their love forever?
Warning: Sensuous romance and cameo appearances of Tahiska and Kristina from the book, Lakota Surrender, might cause a happily-ever-after to warm your heart.
Brave Wolf and the Lady
She hobbled a little to try to catch up with him. He turned back toward her, squinting at her.
“You…find…leather of shoe?”
“I…I did not. I searched for it everywhere. But…”
He stepped back toward her, retracing his path. As he came up level with her, he commanded, “You…stay…”
“I am no dog, sir, to be told to sit, stay or roll over.”
He grinned at her. “I not…confused about that.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “I looked and looked for the sole of my shoe, but I couldn’t find it.”
“I will…find it. You…here…stay.”
“No. I’m afraid to be left alone.”
His fleeting look at her was enough to cause Mia to realize that her defiance frustrated him. After four days of travel with this man, she had become used to witnessing the tiny nuances that told of this young man’s emotional moods. Years from now, she reasoned, he would most likely master those miniscule flickers of concern.
For now, she was glad to have acquired some means to recognize his frame of mind. She said, “Please don’t be upset with me. The pea vines and other prickly bushes are constantly stinging me and tearing at my dress. It’s so much easier to find a piece of my clothing hanging from a bush, than it is to find the bottom of my shoe stuck in the mud somewhere. The tall grass alone makes it hard to find, for when I bend to look to try to find it, I get pricked.”
He nodded. “You speak…true. This…why I go…find it. Easier for me. You…stay…here.”
“I can’t. I can’t be without you.”
For a moment, she caught a surprised light in his eye as he regarded her.
“Don’t you see?” she went on to explain. “What if something happened to you? What if you didn’t return? I would rather be with you and face what you face, even if that be death, than to stay here on my own, unknowing. Without you, I would die here in this world of grass and vines.”
The curious look was gone, and in its place was a glimpse of what? Was that admiration?
He said, “Understood. Will try to…teach you way…of prairie. Then not be…afraid.”
“Good,” she acknowledged. “I would appreciate that, but that’s in the future. For now, I must go with you.”
He drew his brows together in a frown as he stepped toward her. Nevertheless, he uttered, “Then walk…low to ground. Like this…” He bent over double.
“All right, I will. But why must we spend so much time trying to find this? What difference does the bottom of a shoe make? Truly, who’s to see it in this environment of dirt and grass?”
“Land full…” he waved his hands out and away from him, “…of Indian to?wéya, scouts. If find shoe…they follow…our…trail. Us they kill…maybe.”
“Oh,” she frowned. “I see. Is that why you’ve had me go back over the trail so many times to find the pieces of my dress when I’ve torn it on the bushes?”
“It is so.”
She sighed. “Then I had better help you, I suppose, and be more careful where I step, for it was in a muddy patch of ground where I lost my shoe’s sole.”
“Wašté, good. Itó, come.”
Mimicking him, she grappled with the rifle to find a comfortable position, then she bent over at the waist, following him as they made a slow progress back over their tracks. Amazingly, she had no doubt that he would find that stray piece of leather, and he did not disappoint. Within a relatively short time, he held the wayward sole of her boot in his hand.
She limped toward him, and reached out for it, but he did not immediately give it to her. Instead, he made a sign to her, and, turning away, he indicated that she should follow him again, traveling once more in that bent-over position.
Shutting her eyes on deep sigh, she realized she had little choice but to do as he asked.
The deeply colored green grass waved above them in the prairie’s ever-constant breeze, while a hawk circled above them, as if curious about the goings-on below. Crows flew here and there, their caw-cawing echoing loudly in the warm breath of the wind. Everywhere about them was the scent of mixed grasses, mud and sweet earth. The sun felt hot, since it was now in its zenith, but the surrounding shrubs and grass provided some shelter from its direct heat. Only moments ago, they had stopped on a piece of ground where a few large rocks littered the terrain. He sat on one of those slabs now; she resided on another, facing him. He held her boot in one hand and the sole of that shoe in another, and he examined the footwear and its missing bottom from every possible angle.
As she watched, she basked in the relief of simply sitting. Sadly, she’d left her bonnet behind in her wagon, and, in consequence, the sun glared down on her bare head, while the wind whisked locks of her hair into her eyes. With an impatient hand, she pushed those strands behind her ears.
She gazed away from him, not focusing on anything in particular. Simply, it seemed a better option than looking at him. Something about his hands, something about the delicate way he handled her shoes was devastating to her peace of mind. She sighed.
Frankly, she was fascinated by him. Too fascinated.
She rocked back, and let her aching calf muscles relax as a feeling of tranquility settled over her. It was the first time since Jeffrey’s demise that she wasn’t constantly reminded of that loss, and for a moment, if a moment only, the hurt subsided, but only a little.
It had been earlier in the day when she’d lost the sole of her shoe. At first, she had said nothing about it to Mr. Lakota. But, after discovering that blood had covered her hosiery and the sole of her foot, she’d at last confessed her problem to him.
She’d expected his anger, for it meant that the object would have to be found, which would only serve to slow down their progress. But he’d shown none of that. Instead, he’d calmly asked her to go and retrieve it. It had seemed a simple request, for she was accustomed to backtracking to retrieve bits of her dress after the material had caught and torn on a branch or vine. But this was different; she had delayed telling him about it, and the underside of her shoe might be as far back as a mile.
He might not fully realize it, but she would never go so far away from him. Not even during the day. It frightened her to be alone in this vast expanse of prairie.
Her thoughts caused her to stir uneasily, and she brought her gaze back onto him. At last, he looked up at her and muttered, “Cannot fix.”
Her heart sank. What did that mean? That she was doomed to walk over this muddy, sticky and stone-littered ground in her blood-soaked, stocking feet?
All she said to him, however, was, “Oh.”
“Better I make…moccasins…for you…walk in.”
“Moccasins? You could make them? Here? That would be superb, indeed, if you could. But how is that possible?”
“Cannot fix…this. So…put together moccasins…for you.”
“But to make them?”
“Hau, hau. You…cannot walk…prairie without moccasins to…protect feet.”
“That’s true. But I suppose what I don’t understand is how is it possible that here on the prairie you could assemble moccasins? Do you have the proper materials?”
“Hau. Hold out foot.”
When she didn’t comply at once, he stated again, a little more softly, “Hold out foot.”
Still, she hesitated. Was it unseemly to raise her skirt so that she could extend her foot toward him? Perhaps it was, but the rights and wrongs of such behavior seemed the lesser of two evils. With a shrug, as if she were releasing a weight from her bosom, she did as he asked. At once, she realized her mistake, for as he took hold of her by her ankle, placing it on his lap, her heart skipped a beat.
What was this sensation of delight? This craving for more of his touch? No, oh, no. This mustn’t be happening to her. Yet, if she were to be honest with herself, she would have to confess to a frenzy of excitement that was even now cascading over her nerve endings.
No! Please no, she cried to herself. This was all wrong.
What was the matter with her? She should feel embarrassed because he was touching her, not elated. She gathered her skirt around her legs in an effort to minimize the exposure of the rest of her calf muscle from his view. But it was a wasted effort; he showed no interest in looking at her there.
Taking one of the bags from around his shoulder, he brought out a moccasin and placed it up against the bottom of her foot. She gasped a little, for as soon as he touched her toes, tiny sparks of fire shot over her, from the tip of that foot to the top of her head.
Luckily, it appeared that he didn’t notice her strange behavior, and he explained, “These moccasins…made for me…by Walks-in-sunshine. On journey…like this, need…many moccasins. I…cut this for you.”
Mia, who was more than a little upset with the waywardness of her conduct, glanced away from him, speculating as best she could on what could possibly be the cause of her body’s rapture. Truth was, she’d barely registered what he’d said.
Instead, her attention centered inward as she admonished herself. Perhaps Mr. Lakota reminded her of Jeffrey. Could this be the reason for her misguided reaction to him?
Yes, yes. That was it; it had to be, for she was in love with Jeffrey, would always be in love with Jeffrey.
Still, cautioned an inner voice, this man didn’t look at all like her deceased husband; he acted nothing like him, and she wasn’t at all confused about who was who.
Or was she?
Wasn’t it possible that some deep and uninspected part of her was a little muddled? After all, Mr. Lakota was a young man, and she had been a newly married woman. Plus, Mr. Lakota had rescued her from what would have been a gruesome death. It was only natural, wasn’t it, that she might place her emotions for Jeffrey onto this other man?
Yes. It had to be.
Yet, she countered her own thoughts; she was more than aware that her reaction to Mr. Lakota was not simply emotional. It was sensuous, perhaps a little wanton in nature. Was it possible that her body was simply flustered by the presence of this man? And that it was her body’s reaction to him, not her own?
She sighed deeply. This was more than likely the truth. What she was experiencing was little more than a physical reaction.
Yet, again that inner voice cautioned, if it were no more than physical, if it were purely platonic, why was it that she was experiencing the joy of his touch?
Enough! Her thoughts on the matter were more troubling than the action of his touch.
Still, she wondered, what should she do? Should she withdraw into herself? Mentally lock herself away from this man’s influence?
Nice thought, but hardly practical. Given their situation, and seeing that her life depended on this man’s ability to get the two of them safely across the prairie, such introversion would hardly be possible.
All at once, he placed her foot back on the ground, ending their physical contact. Relieved, she breathed out slowly, expecting that the lack of his touch would improve her problem.
But it hardly mattered. Her body still tingled from the contact. Modestly, she shook her skirt free to place it over her ankles, hoping against hope that the action would settle her.
But it didn’t.
Only the quickness of a moment passed, however, before he reached out toward her again, and said, “Need…other foot.”
“Oh,” she articulated. “Of course.” She gulped.
She lifted her skirt up again, and guardedly placed her other foot in his hand. Abruptly, a similar thrill of excitement raced over her nerve endings.
She swallowed. Hard.
She needed a distraction, she decided. Perhaps conversation might prove to divert her attention. It was worth an attempt, she reasoned, and so she asked, “Did you say that someone called Walks-in-sunshine made these moccasins for you?”
“Oh. Is she somebody special to you?”
Mia’s stomach dropped, and she felt as if those words had delivered her a blow. So, this man was spoken for. Of course he would be, she reckoned as her thoughts raced ahead. He was young, he was kind and he was also handsome. What female worth her weight wouldn’t do all she could to make this man hers?
She sat back as she asked, “Could you tell me about—what was her name? Walks-in-sunshine?”
He paused, and, as he glanced up to survey her, she thought his look might be wary. Nevertheless, after his initial hesitation, such watchfulness seemed to disappear from his countenance, and he said, “She…beautiful. Wait for me. We.promise to…marry.”
“To marry?” Mia almost choked on the words. She glanced away from him. She felt…jealous.
Was he aware of her reaction to this news? How embarrassing it would be if he were.
But he was continuing to speak, and he said, “She…I…love since we…children.”
“I see,” Mia responded. “Then what will she think if you cut up these moccasins for me? They are so beautifully made, and were especially sewn for you. Might that not upset her?”
Would she? Mia couldn’t help but speculate that Mr. Lakota might be wrong about that. If this man were her own, she would care.
He was continuing to speak, however, and he uttered, “She…not understand…if leave…someone…hurt when could…fix. Give me other…boot.”
“We…cache these.” He held up her boots.
“Bury them. Leave no…trace of us here.”
He had set himself to work over the leather, and she felt odd as she sat before him, watching him cut the moccasins down with a knife and a sure hand. His fingers were strong, long and handsome, and she wondered how they might feel upon–
Abruptly, she pulled up her thoughts, and she asked, “Might I help?”
“Know how use…taka?, sinew and…bone?”
“Sinew? Bone? Have you no thread and needle?”
“One not…find needle…thread in nature.”
“Oh,” was all she said. Then, “You have none of the finer things in your tribe? Since your mother is white, I had thought perhaps she might keep something of the European culture around her.”
“Mother…white, but…Indian through marriage. What mean…finer things?”
“They are items made by the white man’s hand—like needle and thread—things that make life a little easier. I see you punching holes there in the moccasin and then threading the hole with the sinew. It looks to me to be slow and painstaking work. A sharp needle with thread would make your work easier and less time consuming.”
“No…need for…finer things, when have…nature all around.”
“Yes, I suppose I can understand that viewpoint. But think for a moment of a woman’s joy over acquiring a new gown in a silken fabric that shimmers with each step she takes—gowns are clothing, by the way.”
“What need of…gowns…when have soft animal skins?”
“Perhaps this is only a feminine reaction; a pleasure that only a woman would understand: To wear something that she knows makes her look pretty.”
“Walks-in-sunshine already pretty.”
“I’m certain she is. And it is kind of you to say so. But there are other goods that might be considered ‘finer things’. For instance, a sewing machine could make this work fly by.”
Without raising his eyes to hers, Mr. Lakota jerked his chin to the left, and said, “This slow…because I…little time…spent doing it. Walks-in-sunshine…quick.”
“Yes,” agreed Mia. “I’m sure that she is.”
“Give me foot…again.”
She hesitated, yet she did as he requested. However, instead of gazing at him directly, she looked up above his head. The tall grasses bent and waved in the warm, summer breeze, as though all of nature were performing a dance. She tried to concentrate on that.
Yet, as he touched her foot, the warmth of his fingers produced again that recognition of a thrill she wished she didn’t feel. Suddenly, he produced a piece of buckskin from one of his bags, and, wetting it, he proceeded to wash the bloody bottoms of her feet.
Oh, my. The sensation produced by this act of kindness was exquisite, and as excitement swept over her nerve-endings, she became aware of a stirring of awareness within her.
Surprise shot through her. And so upset was she over her reaction to him, she could barely speak. Gulping hard, she knew she had to talk again, if only to try to dispel the guilt she felt. Changing the subject, she asked, “Why is the wind so constant here?”
“No thing to…stop it.”
“But no trees. No…hills…mountains. Nothing to…block it.”
“At home, we of course experience the wind. But never so on-going as what the prairie offers. Here, it is always blowing.”
She noticed that he had come down on his knees before her, as he fit a moccasin to first one foot and then to the other. It reminded her that Jeffrey had proposed to her from a similar position. But before she could explore that thought, he gazed up at her, and with one eyebrow cocked, he asked, “Have trees?”
“Have hills or…mountains?”
“That why. Stand now.”
She was only too happy to do as he asked, and she rose up to her feet. As she did so, he pressed a finger over where her big toe hit the moccasin, then, as though he found fault with the shoe, he adjusted the back of it, his fingers tickling her there, creating havoc within her.
She swallowed grimly, for she almost answered him with the honesty of her wayward emotions. “They are perfect,” she replied in a voice barely over a whisper.
“Wašté, good,” he acknowledged, echoing the word with a motion of his hand out and away from his chest.
“Does that gesture of your hand mean something?” she asked.
“Mean good. It good.” He rose up to his feet, and came to tower over her. He said, “Take few…steps.”
He had positioned himself dangerously close to her, and she could barely control the impulse to throw herself against him. She took a few steps away from him instead.
“Why?” she queried, although she did as he requested, and spun around in a circle.
“Moccasins must be…comfortable,” he explained. “Still feel good?”
He nodded. “Then we…continue. Must find…shelter for night. Hópiye unyánpi kta!”
“What did you just say?” she asked as she glanced up at him.
“Said… ‘all right, let’s go’.”
“Yes. Yes, that would be good. We should keep moving along.”
He smiled at her then, and seeing it, as well as his so-obvious approval of her, she almost swooned. But she didn’t. Instead, her thoughts turned inward once more, and she admonished herself. Briefly, she wondered why her sense of moral right and wrong was not standing her in good stead against this man.
At least he seemed oblivious to what was happening to her. She bit her lip, wishing that she were blind to it, as well. Unhappily, it simply was not to be.
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY
Well, that’s all for today. Come on in, leave a message and I’ll leave a link to the book here.
Good luck to you all in the drawing. Remember to check back by Wednesday eve to see if you are the winner. Also, please be aware that the drawing is for US residents only and that you must be 18 or older.
Wild west. What kind of image do those two words bring to mind? Gunslingers, cactuses, and tumbleweeds? If so, you’re in the majority. But that holds true for the nineteenth century. Let’s rewind time and travel back to the 1700’s, when the wild west was no farther than upstate New York.
During the mid-eighteenth century, a war was raging in the far west of what was then Colonial America. The French and Indian War is often glossed over in a U.S. History class. It wasn’t just between French fur traders and Indians. The truth is Native Americans fought on both sides of the skirmish, for the British and the French—which is who the war was really between.
But don’t panic…no stale history lesson here. I’ve got a tale to share from this period that inspired me to write The Captured Bride.
A legend sprang up during the years of the French and Indian War, first spread by word of mouth then finally being put to print in an 1875 Ohio newspaper. Apparently there was a shipment of French gold being moved from Fort Duquesne to Fort Detroit. Both were French forts, so it doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Wrong. Danger lurked in those wilds, and for the French, that danger was British red coats.
Naturally, the French contingent was on high alert during their trek, scouting ahead and behind, making sure no one took them by surprise. One scout brought back word of a possible attack, either by British sympathizing natives or the British themselves is unclear. Either way, it spooked the soldiers, so they knew they had to do something drastic to survive.
Turning back wasn’t an option. Neither was forging ahead, hoping to outrun whatever trouble might be upon them. Lugging a shipment of gold around makes for very slow going. But what to do?
They decided to bury the gold then hide until the threat passed. The men took great care to painstakingly mark exactly where they buried the treasure. Relieved of the extra weight, they took off—putting space between them and the gold—and hid until the danger passed.
When they went back to retrieve their cargo, they followed their directions with utmost care. But when they got to the spot where the gold was buried, it was gone. But where did it go?
To this day, no one knows.
Many have looked, going so far as to dig up farmers’ fields and surrounding lands. But no luck. And the search continues. Recently there was a news story about another search about to take place.
I can’t tell you where the gold is, but if this legend piques your interest, I can recommend my latest release, an adventure in the wilds of upstate New York.
A war-torn countryside is no place for a lady—but Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause…to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.
Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he’s offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he’s the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.
Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?
We’d love to find out! Michelle has graciously offered a copy of The Captured Bride, ebook or paperback, winner’s choice. To enter, leave a comment below.