I hope everyone is enjoying this fall weather. I just love the slower pace and hunkering down in the winter. For some reason colder weather and gray skies act as a spring-board for long writing days. Weird, huh? But with little to do outside, I can focus on my story.
Over the years, I’ve written about characters helping women caught up in bad situations with nowhere to turn. But the most recent is A Cowboy of Legend that came out in April. Grace Legend rescued a lady of the night and got her out of that life. She helped her find redemption and she ended up with her family, painting pictures again. Grace and Deacon also work to save the street children and open a home for them.
In real life, a lot of women fell into a trap and got caught in prostitution or ended up pregnant with no hope of finding a way out. One couple, Reverend James T. and Maggie May Upchurch, began their crusade in social work in Waco, Texas in 1894 after encountering women working in the “entertainment” profession. There they started the Berachah Rescue Society.
The relocated to Arlington, Texas in 1903 and founded the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls. It was a home for “fallen” and unwed women in the family way who had nowhere else to turn.
The Upchurch’s had one rule for their pregnant residents—they were required to keep their babies. No children were given up for adoption.
The couple provided room and board and taught these women a skill of some kind where they could become a productive member of society.
But they didn’t limit their help to just women. They spread their gospel to the street corners and opened their hearts to the homeless street children. They truly were an inspiration and instead of scorning those who’d taken a wrong path, they helped them rise from the gutters, treating them with compassion and love.
At the Berachah home that was funded by donations from businessmen, the women were taught parenting skills in addition to providing a way to make a living and be independent. The Upchurch’s erected a chapel, a handkerchief factory, infirmary, print shop, and school on the property. In 1924, there were 129 women and girls living there with the average age of 17. The home close in 1935 due to donations drying up and the residents were relocated to other places. Today, a Texas Historical Marker stands there to commemorate the groundbreaking work of the Rev. and Mrs. Upchurch.
Deacon Brannock and Grace Legend in my story could’ve been the Reverend and his wife. I love it when what I think is fiction turns out to have really deep roots in history.
The Rev. and Mrs. Upchurch changed so many lives that would’ve been forever lost. I would love to sit down with them and ask them what the biggest challenge was and also the biggest reward.
My question: If you could sit down with any person in history, who would it be? And what would you ask them? I’m giving away an ebook copy of A Cowboy of Legend to one person who comments.
The heroes in my two-book connected series, THE MERCENARY’S KISS and HER LONE PROTECTOR, are soldiers. Mercenaries, specifically. They were soldiers for hire who commanded a handsome price from the War Department to fight for America’s freedoms in their own way. Undercover, nonconforming, but no less effective.
Both educated in West Point Military Academy, their dreams to be a soldier in the traditional sense fall apart, but they remain fierce patriots. They travel throughout the world to fight with skills and daring few soldiers could imagine. Their life isn’t easy–or safe. They battle betrayal, harsh environments, malaria . . . and emerge victorious.
Soldiers throughout the nineteenth century didn’t have it any easier. Worse, most likely. Oh, my, many of these soldiers were young. Late teens, fresh-faced, and eager to serve. It wasn’t long before their determination is tested, for sure.
A typical routine for a calvary on the march would be like this:
4:45 am – First Call. No hitting the snooze button. Soldiers had to get up and moving NOW.
4:55 am – Reveille and Stable Call. They came to order, saddled the horses, and harnessed the mules.
5:00 am – Mess Call. Breakfast, both prepared and eaten.
5:30 am – Strike Camp – meaning take down tents and store equipment.
5:45 am – Boots & Saddles – the soldiers mount up.
5:55 am – Fall In – Calvary is assembled and ready to march.
6:00 am – Forward March!
An hour and fifteen minutes to accomplish all this! No dawdling allowed.
Some days, they traveled thirty, maybe sixty miles. Imagine sitting in the saddle that long! The men rode in columns of four when the terrain allowed. Single file, if it didn’t. If the wind and snow blew hard, they rode hunched in the saddle, their eyes slitted against the stinging wind, their hats pulled low over their eyes.
At night, they might have to sleep on snow. If they didn’t die of pneumonia, frostbite and gangrene often set in, and Army surgeons chopped off blackened fingers and toes. In the South, the heat was brutal, water scarce, and the flying insects merciless. The feared threat of an Indian attack was constant.
Fresh meat was in short supply. Soldiers reported the meat putrid and “sticky”. Yuck! Clean water was a precious commodity, too. Soldiers suffering extreme thirst desperately drank water wherever they could find it, even if it was green with slime, which only brought on instantaneous vomiting when they were already weak and dehydrated.
Even if decent water could be found, their canteens were lacking.
Wooden canteens tended to leak and/or dry out.
The water in India rubber canteens tasted terrible.
Tin canteens were probably best, but in extreme heat, the water got hot.
If a soldier was pulled out of the field and ordered to a post, amenities were minimal. Barracks at a fort were small, overcrowded, poorly constructed, poorly ventilated, cold in winter and hot in summer. Privacy was non-existent for most. Privies were outside and bathhouses rare. In fact, despite the War Department’s stipulation that the men should bathe at least once a week, one officer reported that after 30 years in the Army, not once had he seen a bathhouse at a fort.
Still, not every soldier thought his time in service to his country was endlessly miserable. One young lieutenant wrote his mother, “I could live such a life for years and years without becoming tired of it. There is a great deal of hardship, but we have our own fun. If we have to get up and start long before daybreak, we make up for it when we gather around campfires at night. You never saw such a merry set as we are–we criticize the Generals, laugh and swear at the mustangs and volunteers, smoke our cigars and drink our brandy, when we have any.”
I like his attitude, don’t you?
What is the farthest you’ve ever traveled? Have you ever had a miserable trip?
A number of years ago, to celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I traveled to Cape Cod in the fall, hopeful to see the beautiful colors. Alas, it had been too warm and rainy that year, and we didn’t see a SINGLE leaf that had turned color. Worse, on the way home, more stormy weather cancelled flights, and we were forced to spend the night at the Boston airport. I can still remember those creaky cots they gave us to sleep on. Although my husband slept, I couldn’t relax out of fear someone would steal our luggage. I was in tears checking my watch constantly. I can’t remember being more miserable, and that night is still vivid in my memory.
Let’s chat, and I’ll give away an ebook copy of THE MERCENARY’S KISS to a winning commenter.
As I was working on my current manuscript this past weekend, I found myself needing to do a research check on the role of a wrangler on a 19th century ranch. I knew they dealt with horses, but I didn’t know if the term wrangler only applied during cattle drives or if it would be applicable in a ranch setting. So I pulled up Google prepared for a quick, fast-checking search.
Well, at first all I found were Wrangler brand jeans. Not exactly what I was looking for. So I added “19th century” to my search about what a wrangler did. That search still didn’t pull up what I was looking for, but what it pulled up instead was an incredible story about a woman breaking academic barriers in mathematics. With a daughter who graduated with degrees in Math and Computer Science who is working on a PhD in a field dominated by men, I was immediately intrigued and dove head first d own the rabbit hole.
Cambridge University was considered the center of academic achievement and learning during Victorian times. Those who excelled at Cambridge went on to have amazing careers and were considered some of the greatest minds of the age. All of whom were, of course, men. During the Victorian era, the predominant medical opinion was that women were delicate, fragile creatures, unable to achieve greatness in academics or athletics. For a woman to dedicate herself to strenuous study or exercise was to run the risk of mental illness or sterility. Medical experts believed that the body could only handle a set amount of development and since a woman’s reproductive system was so much more complicated than a man’s if she diverted too much energy to academic study, her development in other areas would suffer. Not only that, but women’s skulls were smaller than men’s, so there brains were therefore smaller and unable to comprehend the complexities of high academia.
Near the end of the 1800’s however, the suffrage movement had picked up momentum and more and more women were seeking opportunities for higher learning. Women’s colleges began to appear, including Girton, a college associated with Cambridge. A handful of women proved to have very capable, bright minds. One such woman, Agnata Ramsey, even managed to take top marks on the Classics exams in 1887, besting all of the men from Cambridge. While a remarkable achievement, this accomplishment did little to sway the men at the time to consider women their intellectual equals. You see, women had been achieving similar scores to men in many academic subjects for years. All save one–mathematics. Men always placed higher in this exam. Victorian-era scholars believed women’s minds incapable of the complex logic required in advanced mathematics since everyone knew they a woman’s nature was based on emotion.
Enter Philippa Fawcett.
Philippa was the only child of Henry and Millicent Fawcett, two people who were extraordinary in their own rights. Millicent was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement and Henry, though blinded at age 25, became a minister in the British government. Such forward-thinking parents no doubt aided Philippa’s rise to greatness. She showed an early talent for mathematics, and her parents eagerly aided her growth. She earned a place at Newnham College (another women’s college associated with Cambridge) and took courses in pure and applied mathematics at University College London, a more progressive school that allowed females to take courses alongside males. Despite access to collegiate coursework, nothing could adequately prepare her for the extremely rigorous 8 days of exams known as the Cambridge math tripos. This exam was created to be nearly impossible. Those who did exceptionally well managed to complete 2 of the 12 papers. Results of the test were announced in numerical order. The group with the top scores were known as Wranglers. And the top scorer for the year was known as the Senior Wrangler. Female students from Cambridge’s sister schools of Girton and Newnham were allowed to sit for the same exams as the men. However, their ranking was kept separate. When the results were read, they would be announced as falling between the men’s ranking. So if a women scored higher than the 18th position and lower than the 17th, her result would be “Between the 17th and 18th Optimes (Optimes were the group below Wranglers).
The man who earned the position of Senior Wrangler was guaranteed a stellar career in academia and a great deal of prestige. Students would hire tutors and study up to 20 hours a day for months. As you can imagine, this led to health problems and mental breakdowns. In 1890, when Philippa sat for the exam, she took a much more measured approach. She worked with a tutor but kept to a strict schedule, rising at 8:00 am every day and never staying up later than 11:00 pm. She would study for 6 hours a day. Not only was she an orderly, self-disciplined person by nature, but she was well aware that she was being scrutinized by society within and without academia. She was determined to give them no fodder that could be used to denigrate the role of women in higher learning.
On June 7, 1890 the results from the Cambridge math tripos were announced and the world erupted. When the women’s results were read, Philippa Fawcett’s name came last, and her result – Above the Senior Wrangler! She scored 13% higher than the top man. The news spread worldwide and challenged traditional beliefs of what a female could achieve. Her remarkable accomplishment paved the way for equal opportunities for women at institutions of higher learning around the world.
It took significant time for change to reach the hallowed halls of Cambridge, however. They didn’t allow women to pursue degrees alongside men until 1948. (In the United States, Yale did not admit women until 1969 and Harvard until 1977.) Thankfully, Philippa lived long enough to see this day. She died at age 80 after a long career teaching at Newnham College. Her death came one month after Cambridge finally opened its doors to women, and 58 years after her society-rocking achievement of being ranked Above the Senior Wrangler.
What area of gender equality are you most thankful for today?
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, these were all the beauties of autumn, also. So much was this the case that an entire festival of fun and merriment was devoted to autumn — and that festival was called the Harvest Festival.
Of course 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…
But what was this festival called Thanksgiving? Did it happen just this one time? Or was this Thanksgiving part of an ancient celebration of the American Indians to give Thanks to He who is known as the Creator.
Thanksgiving was one of several festivals amongst the Eastern Indians — in particular I’m talking about the Iroquois. However, these ceremonies were common to all the Eastern tribes. There were many festivals throughout the year, and they tended to follow the seasons.
The Iroquois celebrated six festivals, wherein they gave thanks to the Creator for all they had. These festivals would open 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 Fesitval. 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 season 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 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.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this.
Now, with this said, I’d like to mention that I do have a new release which can be puirchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, ITunes and Google Play. And, I’ll be giving away a free copy of this book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER to one of you bloggers today. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment.
Be sure to leave a comment to be entered into the free give-away. Giveaway Guidelines are off to the right here on this page.
Don’t you love visiting places that capture your heart?
It’s funny, way back in 2017 I was writing a series about pioneer towns in South Dakota (my favorite place to write about). I needed 7 towns for the 7 seven sisters to live in. Each would showcase the beauty and wonder of the Black Hills. Well, I ended up with a lot more than 7. And Belle Fourche, though it was on the list, didn’t make the cut for that first series.
That was my mistake.
Little did I know readers would eventually beg me to write more in this sleepy little town. But what makes one town better than 7 others? I mean, I had Deadwood, Keystone, Custer… some of the more famous towns in SD. Surely those would be more sought after? Nope, Belle Fourche still tops them all.
It’s all about the feeling.
Belle Fourche is a town that still has history right around the corner. You can drive through and see the new roads and big bridges, but just off the main road there are quiet streets and salt-of-the-earth people. It wasn’t hard to build that community feeling, because they never lost it.
A bridge to Yesteryear
Belle Fourche claims to be the Geographic center of the US. I later found out there are about three monuments just like this, and they all fight for the “actual” claim. I’ll just say the monument is cool to go see, no matter where the actual center is.
Right next to the monument is an original house from the town, preserved for viewing. It’s even smaller than you would expect, smaller than my current living room, and someone lived there whole lives there.
It’s really no wonder some people had severe wanderlust, if you lived in a home with everyone you loved (even if you loved them very much) practically on top of you…maybe that need to go west where there was more wide-open space is better understood through that lens.
As I wandered through the monument and museum. Wait, I didn’t mention the museum? Yeah, that was a highlight of my trip!
When history is less of a mystery
Oddly, I’d already written three books in my Belle Fourche series before I visited, other than via Google. I always research a town before I write about it. I was so afraid that I’d gotten it wrong though. *Secret writer fear: We can’t always travel and we’re always terrified that we didn’t get a town quite right.
I wandered through every display with my traveling companion, a fellow reader who had joined me for Wild Deadwood Reads and toured Belle Fourche with me. We both enjoyed the history and feel of Belle Fourche.
Best of all, I was so glad that I left feeling like I got it right and had to write more books, which I did.
But even that wasn’t enough. I still get emails asking for more. Who am I to complain? If a reader loves a series enough that they can’t get enough, I’ll find a way to add more! So, coming in 2022, readers can look forward to a new Belle Fourche series, The Belle Fourche Chronicles.
The next logical step
I love taking real history and making it relatable and helping people “live” through a period of history that they enjoy but would never want to actually live through, I mean, the necessary was a necessity but who wants to use one when it’s 40 below? We do live in the great white north.
As I work toward plotting this series, I want to figure out the main goal. What are some of your favorites? I love a family vs. family drama, or the need to build something that will change the town for the better… but Belle Fourche already had rail and a clinic in the first series.
What are your suggestions? I’d love to hear what you’ve read for long series that you’ve loved.
I plan on digging deep into my research books over the next week and maybe something you suggest will make my eye catch on a bit of history that would be perfect.
Please join me in welcoming guest author Krystal Anderson to the Junction.
There’s something about standing in front an old western fort that brings that bygone era to life. The chipped stone walls and thick timbers tell a story of conflicts withstood, the battlements and gun ports atop eighteen-foot walls a sense of strength and security.
For many traveling through America’s untamed west, forts were among the only places of safety from Indian attack and harsh elements and were utilized by mail carriers, stagecoach operators, and weary travelers alike. Some, such as Fort Vancouver in Washington, weren’t even established with defense in mind, but industry and commerce. Others served as way stations along main travel routes, such as Fort Benton along the Missouri River in central Montana, or Fort Bridger, Wyoming, which became a vital resupply point for those traveling the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.
In my little corner of Utah there are plenty of old forts to explore, some only remains of crumbled stone wall, that were constructed to protect the herds and homes of local settlers during the Black Hawk War (1865-1870). Recently I took my children to explore historic Cove Fort in central Utah and boy, did it fuel my imagination! Details from that visit will likely carry into many of my future stories.
Cove Fort is rectangular in shape and made of volcanic rock with six rooms on each of the long sides, each with its own chimney. A central courtyard opens in the center, and when those thick wood doors were closed, I don’t see how anything or anyone could have gotten through. Just outside the fort, which also served as a ranch, was a bunkhouse, vegetable garden, ice house, blacksmith shop, derrick, livestock barn, and supply store. It was to imagine how people were able to labor and live in such a place, but I’m certain it was immensely difficult. The women spun their own thread and fashioned rugs and blankets on a loom, scrubbed the laundry, and tended to the fort’s guests in addition to their own families. Years of harsh winters were spent enveloped in the fort’s cold stone walls. Do you think you would have possessed the fortitude to live in a remote, rugged western fort without many of the comforts of the day?
With that fort in mind, I created a fictional fort on the coast of Oregon for my latest story titled Her Keeper’s Heart. Fort Donnelly, I called it, stationed somewhere in Tillamook County. The book’s heroine, a mail-order bride named Orissa, is making her way to the Oregon coast from Connecticut via sailing around Cape Horn when catastrophe strikes. I won’t divulge the details (no spoilers here!), but she and the sailors find sanctuary at industrious Fort Donnelly. And that’s not all she finds there…
I’d like to give away a signed paperback copy of Her Keeper’s Heart to one of you lovely people. To enter, tell me something you couldn’t live without should you have been called upon to man an old western fort. I look forward to reading your responses, and thank.
HER KEEPER’S HEART
Living as the assistant keeper at the Puffin Point lighthouse for four years, Leonard Tarby admires everything about his coastal home: sweeping ocean seascapes, lush, tangled forests, and unobstructed views of the stars he enjoys charting. There was only one thing Leonard would change, and that is the absence of a loving bride by his side. Certain the only way to achieve that goal is to send for a bride through the mail, Leonard sits back to wait for her arrival, dreaming of a life of wedded bliss soon to come.
The young lady is soon on her way to Puffin Point but goes missing en route. Is there foul play involved or did she simply get cold feet? Will Leonard ever have a bride of his own?
Find out in this sweet historical romance full of dangers, intrigue, and love, all beneath the ever-watchful beam of a Pacific lighthouse.
Welcome to another terrific Tuesday! Hope y’all are doing well today.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER today. You only have to leave a thought on the post in order to enter into the drawing.
And I thought I’d leave you with another excerpt from the book. Hope you’ll enjoy it!
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER Excerpt
The Season of Festivals
The Forks of the Big and Little Piney Creeks
As he stood within the great circle of the many camps, the boy, Maká Cí?ala, Little Skunk, squared his shoulders and raised his head, ready to receive the honors that were due him. As was tradition, all the tribes of the Lakota people were gathered together for the summer races, games and festivals. Although it was only midday, all of his family surrounded him in the center of the circle, and, as was also tradition, his band’s highest chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, Good Fight, held the two eagle feathers that Little Skunk was to receive.
Little Skunk was proud both of himself and his nation, the Hú?kpap?a, which he represented. Although he was only twelve winters old, he was already acting as a man—he’d been a scout for several of the war parties this summer and had brought many honors to his family. But this… This was an accomplishment a boy of his age had never before won: for the past two days, he had competed with adults in his tribe’s foot races, and he’d won every event.
It was a bright day, and a warm one, with the afternoon sun shining upon him as though to touch him with the care and respect of a father. He felt the tender sunlight on the top of his head and shoulders, and he held his head high. Then, the drums began to beat, and the singers commenced to chant the honoring song.
Holding up the two feathers to the wind, the chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, said, “Today, Maká Cí?ala becomes a man. He has gained the highest achievement in our foot races, and, because he has bested even the greatest men amongst us, he has won the right to earn himself a new name. In honor of this great occasion, Maká Cí?ala’s grandfather, Waki?ya? Paza Tosa?, Blue Thunder Striking, has given his name to his grandson, who shall bear his name with great honor.”
The old chief paused as Little Skunk’s mother stepped forward to offer the chief a newly-made blanket, which the chief accepted. He nodded and, opening the blanket, threw it around Little Skunk’s shoulders before offering the two eagle feathers to him. “Blue Thunder Striking,” the chief said, “we of the Hú?kpap?a know that, from this day forward, we will look to you for many good deeds. I give you these feathers to forever tell of your accomplishments.” The old chief smiled at Little Skunk, then said in closing, “The honoring ceremony is now done.”
Blue Thunder’s mother and aunties stepped forward to give him the hand-stitched quilts that had been several months in the making. Blue Thunder smiled and accepted the many gifts from them. Traditionally, these blankets were not his to keep; rather, he was to give them to the people to honor his deeds this summer. Stepping lively toward the side of the circle where people were sitting, he paced around it, offering the gifts to as many people as he could reach until all but one of the gifts was left. This present was special, for he had made it himself. This gift was for her.
Ci?cá Wací, Dancing Child, was about two winters younger than he. But, though the distance between their ages might have been great for their young hearts, Blue Thunder couldn’t recall a time when he hadn’t loved her.
Her mother came from the Brulé band of the Lakota. However, because her mother didn’t live with the Brulé, he saw Ci?cá Wací only during the summer when she was visiting her grandmother.
He still remembered the first time he had seen her. He had been seven winters that summer and she, five, and he remembered it as a great occasion, for her grandmother had made a miniature lodge and given it to Ci?cá Wací:
She had invited him to play with her in the miniature tepee, and he’d accepted his role in her game as being her pretend husband. That day, as soon as he’d ducked down to enter the lodge, he had seen that she had placed two different dolls upon small, buckskin blankets within the little tepee.
She had cautioned him to remain silent, since the dolls were “sleeping.” Then, she’d gone to the women’s side of the tepee and had made a “soup” consisting of water and berries which she had served him in a large turtle shell. From her tanned skin to her nearly-black eyes and the two dark-haired braids which fell down her back, she had captivated him, and his young heart had rejoiced.
They had played then, pretending to be married, and had continued their game into the coming days of summer. Indeed, at summer’s close, he had begun to think of her as his wife in reality. And, on that late summer day when she had told him she was to leave the next day, he had been so distressed, he’d said to her, “Since you are my wife, I would like to give you a gift before you go.”
She giggled and looked away.
“Well, what do you say?”
She stared up at him, her black eyes round and big, and smiled at him. “I would like that.”
He didn’t know what to give her and, in the end, handed her the only possession that was truly his—a single strand of white deerskin with an image of a lone, blue prairie flower upon it. He had, himself, painted the picture of the flower on the slender string.
Taking hold of the deerskin from her, he tied it as a necklace at the back of her neck, then said, “It is yours now. I will never ask for it back.”
As she smoothed her hand over the necklace, she said, “I will love this and treasure it all my life.”
“Wa?cá Skúya, Sweet Flower; it is your new name in honor of this gift. I give it to you. It is a good name and is a better name than Dancing Child. Tell your people. It is your new name.”
“You give me great honor, and I will tell my people.”
From that day forward he had addressed her as Sweet Flower. That her own people had still called her Dancing Child hadn’t caused him any worry, for he’d always known someday he would make her his wife, and, when that day came, she would become known as Sweet Flower.
At last, he found her in the crowd of people and, stepping near her, grinned at her.
She smiled while looking down, then said, “I am very proud of you.”
He laughed. “As well you should be.”
Once again, she smiled.
Taking her hand in his, he led her toward the side of the crowd, out of view from most of the people. As soon as they reached a private spot, he turned to her and said, “I have a special gift for you.”
Her smile widened, and she looked down as a proper, young Lakota maiden was expected to do, her demeanor shy.
“Hold out your hand,” he said, reaching into a bag and extracting something from it.
She did so, and he placed two strings of blue, white and pink-beaded earrings in her hand.
“Hau, hau. There is a woman from the Oglala tribe who makes the owi?la like these. When I saw the earrings she was creating, I knew I had to make a pair for you. She taught me how to do it.”
“They are very beautiful, and I love them,” she said. “I will always love them because they are so pretty and because you made them for me. But, since I thought you might win today, I made something special for you, too. If we go to my lodge, I will show you what I crafted for you this day.”
“Hau, hau,” he said. Then, because a man must always lead a girl and never walk behind her, he added, “Follow me.”
She did as he instructed. As soon as they entered her little tepee, she stepped to the back of the lodge, and, turning so she faced him, she presented him with a recently-picked bouquet of flowers. They were prairie violets and were very pretty.
As was the Indian way, she stared down at the floor of the tepee, which was little more than grass and dirt. When he took the flowers from her and their hands touched, he felt so good inside, he knew he would love Sweet Flower always.
He said, “Have you any water, for I would keep them alive so they will always remind me of you.”
She laughed, then said, “I do have water, and it is in a pouch. It will be perfect for them. I give you not only the flowers, but my own parfleche bag.” She giggled a little and looked away from him.
Carefully, he placed a finger under her chin and turned her face toward his own. “Tell me, when we get older, will you marry me?”
Still not looking up at him, she said, “I will, if you would still want me to.”
He brought her chin up so she was forced to look into his eyes and said, “I will always want you to be my wife, for I would spend my life with you. You are first in my heart, and I swear it will always be so.”
“Ha?, ha?. I feel the same as you.”
He grinned at her. “Then let us commit ourselves to one another. I wish we could marry now, but we are still too young. Our parents would never allow it.”
“I know what we might do.”
“Hmm…” He frowned.
“Let us tattoo one another with our own design,” she suggested. “In this way we will always know we belong together.”
“This is a fine idea.” He smiled.
She grinned back at him, then said, “I have a sharp bone that I use for sewing. My grandmother gave it to me. We might use it to prick our skin.”
“This is good,” he replied. “And the violets you have given me will make a blue color for the tattoo. But what design should we make?”
She shook her head.
“It should be simple, perhaps four small dots,” he said. “One dot would show that we are of one mind; another could say we are of one heart. The third dot might be one to indicate we will be of one body when we are older, and the fourth dot should be to signify that we have met soul to soul.”
She laughed and said, “What you say is pleasing to me.”
“Do you agree?”
“Oh yes,” she laughed. “Always I will love you.”
“And I, you.”
“Stay here,” she said, “while I go to my grandmother and ask her to give me the sharp bone I use to sew.”
“I will. But where should we put the tattoo?”
“Perhaps on the neck?”
“Maybe. But, wherever we decide it should be, it must be in a place on our bodies that will be hard for others to see, for it is to be our secret…at least until we marry.”
“I know where we could put it: we will place this tattoo on the upper back, close to and within the hairline, so it will not be seen by others. Yours will be on the right side, and mine will be on the left.”
She smiled up at him shyly. “I will go at once to my grandmother and ask for my sharpened bone. Will you wait here for me?”
“Hau, I will.” He looked at her longingly. “I would wait a lifetime for you.”
She giggled and bent to leave the little lodge to run to her grandmother’s tepee. Soon, she returned with the prized bone she used for sewing.
As the afternoon turned to evening, they etched their tattoos onto each other, the small dots hidden by their hairlines. When, at last, it was done, he reached out to take her hand in his own.
“It is done,” he said. “We are married now, and someday soon we will be old enough to live together so others will know we two are of one heart.”
Shyly, she smiled at him and said, “Ha?, it is done, and I am glad of it. With all my heart, I will always love you.”
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER is now on sale at Google Play for 20% off with the coupon: GUGZUW22LH4U1
Hope your weekend was great! I must admit that with a new release, there is so much to do, I feel slightly scatterbrained. So please bear with me, if you please.
I will be giving a free e-book of my new release, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, to one of the bloggers here today. I hope you’ll leave me your thoughts on the excerpt I’m about to give.
So, without too much fanfare, let me leave you the short blurb of the book and an excerpt.
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER
He rescued her from danger. Then she stole his heart.
Working as a trick rider for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Blue Thunder of the Lakota Nation joins forces with two Assiniboine warriors in their mission to stop a hidden enemy who means to destroy the American Indian people. As a child, he’d witnessed the massacre of his friends and family, including the girl, Sweet Flower, whom he’d vowed to marry. The loss has left him with a burning ache and a prejudice against the white man. So how can he fall for a woman like Marci Fox?
Something terrible happened to Marci when she was a child; something that keeps her from remembering her early life. She jumps at the chance to travel from England to New York with her friends working with the Wild West show. But a last minute hitch means the only way to get there is to pretend she’s married to Blue Thunder. Her attraction to him is deep, yet something stands in the way of true happiness—the ghosts from his past and his commitment to a mission that could get him killed.
But soon, Blue Thunder and his friends must discover who the true enemy is and stop his evil plans before he can harm more of their people. Could uncovering the treachery get Blue Thunder killed? And, even if he survives the threat, can Blue Thunder and Marci overcome their past and discover the sweet flower of true love?
Warning: A sensuous romance that might stir one’s heart to look for, discover and ignite a soul-stirring, forever love.
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER
It was around ten o’clock in the evening, and the show’s last performance of the day was over for the night, although the arena was still lit. It was interesting to see how the new electric lightbulbs could throw such a glow over the performance area. Looking outward and up, Marci could barely see any stars, for the reflection of the light dimmed the brilliance of the stars and moon.
It was a cool, clear evening, though it was also humid, and, as Marci sat on the bleaching boards which were sheltered under the canvas tarp, she thought back to their performance this evening. Her own and Blue Thunder’s performance had, once again, gone over well with the audience. And, this time both she and Blue Thunder had stayed behind after the others in order to accept the applause from the crowd.
At present, however, Marci was looking out upon the arena, and she was not pleased. She was seated in the southeastern section of the stands, in the third row up, watching as Blue Thunder and his friends performed an American Indian–style song. Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing while Iron Wolf accompanied them with his flute. Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder also appeared to be the ones who were setting the rhythm for the song, Wind Eagle utilizing a handheld drum and Blue Thunder shaking rattles.
But, it wasn’t their singing that bothered Marci. Indeed not. Rather, it was the usual crowd of women surrounding them who were causing her displeasure. Was the young lady whom Blue Thunder had “rescued” last night one of those girls?
Soon their song ended, and the young ladies stepped into the arena and flocked toward the three young men. Holding up their programs for an autograph, the women’s giggling and laughter sounded gay and free and could be heard all the way up to where Marci sat. However, their enthusiasm was causing the opposite sentiment within her. Worse, Blue Thunder and his two friends looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying the feminine attention.
As Marci sat on the sidelines frowning at them, she was engrossed in her own thoughts. Neither Luci nor Jane was here with her. Both of them were attending to and watching their children, and, although Luci also performed with the show, since she had given birth to her son, she had taken to hurrying home as soon as the show ended, leaving her husband to attend to their horses.
“They are most popular, are they not?”
So engrossed was Marci in her thoughts, she jumped at the sound of Shooting Star’s voice. She had almost forgotten that the pretty, young maiden had come to sit down beside her.
Glancing to the side, Marci smiled at the girl who had already become a good friend. Marci answered her question, saying, “Yes, they are quite popular.”
Astutely, Shooting Star stated, “But, it is easy to see they love their wives, and so there should not be jealousy.”
“No, there shouldn’t be,” agreed Marci as she glanced away from her friend. “But, sometimes I simply can’t help it.”
“I think it would be difficult for me to see all the girls around them, too, if it were my husband down there.”
“Yes, and look at the blonde woman.” Marci’s voice sounded hard, even to her own ears. “Do you see she is putting her hands all over my husband’s chest? She’s touching him everywhere as though she were making love to him in front of everyone.”
“Yet, he does not seem to like it.”
“Doesn’t he? I don’t see him shooing her away, and he is, after all, a man.”
“But, he knows he is your husband, and he has been brought up traditionally, and in the old ways. He loves you very much. A woman has only to witness the way he looks at you to know you are in his heart.”
Marci was silent. Yes, she was in his heart…in second place. True, he had confessed this almost from the beginning and without much fanfare, but this didn’t mean her heart was not now a little grieved over it.
But, she wasn’t about to tell this story to another person, even if Shooting Star might understand. He wasn’t to blame for feeling the way he did about Sweet Flower, anyway. He had loved and lost her, and it had happened in as terrible a manner as possible. She understood why he would still love the young girl from his past.
What she still didn’t understand was why he had escorted another woman home last night. Although he claimed his action was innocent and that he was only helping the woman and her escort, Marci still didn’t know what she was going to do about it…or about him.
As she glanced down into the arena, she could see the young lady—a pretty blonde—still touching Blue Thunder, and, although he wasn’t acting in a return fashion, he also wasn’t putting her away from him or turning his back upon her.
Marci could no longer watch this without feeling a seed of revolt rising up within her. And, when the blonde began to touch him in a downward fashion, her fingers moving toward his breechcloth, Marci stood up, ready to leave. She couldn’t stay here and watch this; she also couldn’t interfere down there without causing a scene.
Or could she? Why shouldn’t she create a stir? Indeed, why shouldn’t she let all these women know she had a rightful claim upon this man? She wouldn’t be spiteful or mean about it. She would simply let it be known.
“Are you going somewhere?” asked Shooting Star, looking up at her.
“I am,” answered Marci. “I’m going down there to stand next to my husband.”
Shooting Star giggled. “This is an excellent idea. If I were the one having to endure this, I think I would do the same. Indeed, I think I will sit here and watch. I might learn something.”
Marci laughed. “Unless you’d like to come with me.”
“Thank you, but no. I will enjoy looking on as the other girls come to understand he is not free to give his love.”
Marci grinned at her friend, then, looking forward, she stepped toward the stairs which led down into the main arena.
It didn’t take Marci long to find her way onto the field and become part of the crowd of girls surrounding the three men. Threading her way through the throng toward Blue Thunder, she eventually came to his side, and, with the blonde on one side of him and she on his other, Marci stepped in toward him as closely as possible and said loudly, “Do you see how they ooze all over you?”
He looked down at her and grinned. “I am glad you have come here, my wife.”
“Wife?” The word echoed on the air around these young women.
Marci placed her hand upon Blue Thunder’s arm and murmured in as husky a voice as she could manage, “I am tired of hearing these people talk about how handsome you are, and oh-so strong.” Marci looked up at him, fluttered her eyelashes and frowned. “And the gifts they bring you. ‘I will have to bake you a cake so you will notice me…or maybe I’ll make you an apple pie.’ And then they hug you like this.” She cuddled up to him.
Although Blue Thunder was still signing the programs from the young women around him, he broke out with laughter. “How could I not notice you, my wife?”
“I don’t know,” she replied in a smooth voice. Looking toward the other side of him, she noticed the young and pretty blonde had ceased to caress him and had even backed away. “You seem to be able to do it well, my husband.”
“Indeed, this is not so.” He was still laughing, although, after a moment, his chuckling turned to a smile.
“It is how I see it,” said Marci.
“Then let me show you how I see it.”
These words, however, did not prepare her for what happened next. After Blue Thunder finished signing a program, he turned to Marci, took her in his arms and swung her around and around, even within the crowded space.
Settling her down in front of him, he murmured, “Tell me now that I take no notice of you.”
“I cannot do it now, my husband.”
“I am glad to hear it,” he said. “But”—he smiled at her suggestively—”I think we should leave here at once and attend to other ‘things.'”
“No,” she replied easily as she scooted out of his arms. “Not tonight. Maybe not tomorrow night, either. But, there are others here who seek your attention, if you dare to challenge the convictions of my Faith again this night and accompany one of these women home….”
Again, her comment was met with a round of Blue Thunder’s laughter, which appeared to be contagious, for she heard other masculine hilarity, as well. Marci looked quickly around the crowd and could see that both Wind Eagle and Iron Wolf were trying without much success to contain their own good humor.
“Do not bother coming home,” she warned Blue Thunder, “unless you intend to sleep outside our lodge…again.”
Although she knew she was teasing him relentlessly, she was yet surprised when he gave her highly-padded rear end a quick whack with one of the programs he held. When she turned around to scold him, she was met with his much-too-handsome and crooked smile. Indeed, so caught up was she with his good looks, she forgot what she had been about to say, and, instead of speaking at all, she turned her back on him and gave her long hair a quick shake as she walked away, ensuring her hips were properly wiggling.
His laughter was like music to her ears.
Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Please do leave me your thoughts and please do come on back tomorrow evening to see if you have won the free e-book.
On sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, ITunes and Google Play.
The book I’ve spent most of the summer working on takes place during World War I. Before I decided to write this story, what I knew about “the Great War” could have fit in one short sentence.
I spent three weeks immersed in research and, as tends to happen when I’m writing something historical, I fell down the research rabbit hole and Captain Cavedweller wasn’t sure I’d ever resurface.
Reading about the people who sacrificed so much (soldiers, those who served in any capacity, and those at home), just leaves me heartsore, yet so incredibly grateful they were willing to do what they did. Not only were these people in the midst of a world war, but also a worldwide pandemic with the Spanish flu.
As I waded through the research, I discovered something interesting about the doctors from America who served in World War I overseas. Eleven of them were women.
During World War I, the U.S. military would not accept women physicians into the Army Medical Corps, but they would allow them to serve as contracted personnel. This meant they were considered civilians who worked for the Army medical department and were paid a lower salary without military rank or benefits. In total, 56 women physicians became contract surgeons during the war, but only 11 went overseas where they mostly worked as anesthetists.
One of those women was Dr. Anne Tjomsland, who inspired much of the medical part of my story. Born in Norway in 1880, Dr. Tjomsland earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees from Cornell. She became an American citizen in 1917. She interned, and then worked at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Hospitals around America began forming base hospitals and training prior to the United States officially entering the war in the spring of 1917. The first fifty base hospitals were organized by civilian institutions (medical schools, hospitals) and funded significantly by donations.
The very first base hospital was founded at Bellevue in 1916 and became known as Base Unit #1. They began training that year, anticipating the United States entering the war. When the unit was mobilized in November 1917, Dr. Tjomsland was initially barred from joining as a physician because she was a woman. Since the base commander considered her essential, he fought for her to be appointed as a contract surgeon and won.
Dr. Tjomsland wrote a book in 1941, Bellevue in France, of her experiences that provided so much rich detail, I could easily picture her journey from American doctor to wartime physician.
The ship she traveled on to cross the Atlantic was the RMS Olympic, a White Star luxury ship and sister ship to the RMS Titanic. The ship that had once been known for such luxury was converted to a transport ship during the war. The grand old dame was given a dazzle, or razzle dazzle, paint job that supposedly made it harder for German submarines to lock in on a target. The paint design consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes using contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other. If nothing else, some of the patterns painted on ships looked as though they may have made the enemy dizzy.
Base Unit #1 traveled to Liverpool, England, then traveled by train to Southampton, where they boarded another boat to cross the English Channel, landing at Le Havre, France. From there, they rode a train to Paris, but found the tracks had been bombed, so they had to backtrack and found an alternate route to their destination of Vichy, a spa town known for its healing waters as far back as the time of Roman emperors. A railroad ran through Vichy, making it easy to get to, and it was far enough away from the front to make it relatively safe.
Once in Vichy, Base Unit #1 took over several hotels. Their first patients were recovering French soldiers who were quickly moved elsewhere to make room for wounded American soldiers. The hospital would treat anyone, civilians included, who needed assistance.
By reading Dr. Tjomsland’s book, and the stories of women who served as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and other positions in war-torn France, I did my best to convey not only the historical details but also the heart-wrenching emotions they experienced in my story.
I often get requests from readers to tell the story of a secondary character. One that has received requests too many to count has been Sadie from my Pendleton Petticoats series. She first makes an appearance as a tough eight-year-old in the book Marnie. Readers get to watch her grow and mature (and torment a boy named Harley John) throughout the rest of the series.
Now it’s time for Sadie and Harley John to get their own story. Sadie releases August 26, but you can pre-order your copy now for just $2.99!
She yearns for far-flung adventures. He longs for the home he’s found in her heart. Will a world at war tear them apart, or draw them closer together?
For most of her life, Doctor Sadie Thorsen has imagined seeing the world on grand adventures. When America joins the war raging across the world in 1917, it seems her dreams are about to come true. She travels overseas as a contracted physician, eager to do her part to help the war effort. Endless streams of wounded push her to the limits of endurance, then she receives word Harley John Hobbs, the man she’s loved for years, is missing in action. Unable to bear the thought of life without him in it, she refuses to let go of her hope that he’s alive.
The day Sadie Thorsen shoved Harley John Hobbs down on the playground was the day she marched off with his heart. He spent years doing everything in his power to become successful, determined to have more than himself to offer Sadie if she ever returns to their eastern Oregon town. Conscripted to join the American Expeditionary Forces, Harley John answers the call and heads to France. Wounded and alone, he clings to the promise of seeing Sadie one last time.
Can deep, abiding love withstand the tragedies and trials of a world at war?
I thought you might enjoy a little excerpt from Sadie today. In this scene, she’s infuriated with the men who refuse to let her go to France.
The temper Sadie had, to this point, kept in check reached full boiling force. She knew she should leave before it erupted, but instead, walked over to the table and slapped both hands on the surface, causing all four of the men to jump.
“Lieutenant Colonel Grimes, if you could please, for a moment, come down off that high horse you’re riding and forget the fact I’m a woman, you will see I have been working alongside doctors since I was thirteen. I’ve patched up men who’ve been in knife fights, gun fights, dog fights, fist fights, and even a few who were impaled with arrows. I’ve worked on every kind of wound you could imagine, treated burn victims, even assisted with amputations. Because of my varied and vast experience, and the fact I am willing to stubbornly forge onward when others surrender is exactly the reason I should be among those who are with this base hospital in France. I can and will help the soldiers there. If you won’t accept my skill and talents, I’ll find someone who will. I don’t care if I have to row my own boat across the Atlantic, I will get there!”
“Doctor Thorsen, you’re temper fit is exactly the reason why women are not fit to serve in military conditions and times of war.”
“Not fit to serve? Not fit to serve!” Her raised voice bounced off the walls. “Sir, you have enlisted any number of nurses for this venture. Won’t they work alongside the doctors to do whatever they can to help the wounded? Are they not females being thrust into the midst of military conditions in a time of war? Are they not fit to serve? Of course, they are! They are fit to serve, and so am I.” She wanted to reach across the table and shake some sense into the man staring down his long, thin nose at her.
As she did when she was truly angry, she lost the cultured speech she’d worked so hard to acquire and resorted to the language she’d used when Marnie and Lars had first adopted her. “If you’re just too dad-blamed bullheaded and addlepated to see it, then I’m questioning why the Army has declared you fit to serve. I’ve encountered more mulish, malefic, muddleheaded men in the past four years than any woman would ever want to think about meeting, but I do believe, sir, you ought to be crowned King Uppity over them all.”
If you were in Sadie’s shoes, what would you do?
Also, if you haven’t read any of my Pendleton Petticoats books yet, get this boxed set with the first three stories while it’s on sale for 99 cents!
Welcome to another terrific Tuesday. Hope y’all are doing well in this ever changing world.
It’s the 10th of August. In just 7 more days, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER will be released. And, for a short time, it is on a pre-sale order for $3.99. On its release date (or shortly thereafter), the book will go on sale for $4.99. So, go ahead and order your copy today.
Well, I thought I’d leave you with another excerpt of the book. If you have read the other books in this series, you know by now that it’s called The Wild West Series because all of these books are set against the backdrop of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The young heros in these three books — two Assiniboine Indians and one Lakota — become the most popular “act” in the Wild West Shows and often are surrounded by women (which actually did happen — mostly abroad). And so the scene I’m about to post is about the “Attack Upon a Settler’s Home,” which truly was an act performed in the show. The hero in the book and the heroine are at odds when this scene happens. So here we go. I hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt.
BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER
It was afternoon and the first show of the day was in progress. The bleaching boards—which were set up beneath the canvas tents—were full of spectators, with several people having to stand on the sidelines of the field to watch the show. Oddly, some of the conversations of the crowd could be heard even down into the arena. Perhaps this was because the day was overcast, cold and dark, which suited Blue Thunder, for he was not in a good mood.
He watched as his wife took up her position in the act’s “Indian encampment,” his anger slowly becoming a boiling chaos of fury within him. Earlier, he had told her she was not to perform in this skit, which would involve a white man “rescuing” her. The enactment would necessitate the cowboy’s raising her up from the ground and settling her before him on his horse. And, the cowboy’s arms would be around her—his wife.
Yet, there she was, getting into position for the performance. Apparently, it had been at the suggestion of the maiden, Shooting Star, to substitute Marci for one of the cowgirls…something Marci had failed to mention when he had seen her earlier today.
But then, she wasn’t speaking to him.
Unfortunately, his role in the new exhibition was not that of her captor. And this was another problem for him. His role in the enactment was simply to be one of the warriors fighting with the soldiers because this kind of engagement was his specialty.
As he now stood at the eastern side of the arena, he watched his wife’s Indian ‘captor’ bend down to sweep her up onto his pony, placing her in front of him and hugging her closely to him. Was he, Blue Thunder, supposed to watch this and do nothing?
As another bout of rage stirred within him, he knew this was a casting mistake. But, he was incapable of doing nothing. Whether there was a crowd watching or not, whether his role in the enactment was different or not, he was not going to stand to the side of the arena and do nothing.
Luckily, he held the reins of his favorite pony in his hand, and, as he jumped up to his seat on the horse, he spurred his pony—a fast-running American paint—toward his wife and her captor.
Since Marci was a substitute for the cowgirl originally cast in this part, she had missed the practice which would have shown her how to accomplish this stunt properly. At present, all she knew was the advice from one of the other performers: let it happen. Do not do anything; her captor knew what to do.
So it seemed to her she was doing well since she hadn’t made a mistake. Her Indian captor had sped toward her, had lifted her up off the ground and had placed her before him on his mount. At present, she was fighting to keep her seat on the pony, and perhaps that was why she didn’t see Blue Thunder racing his own horse toward them.
But, within minutes she became aware of another pony running up to and next to her own. What was this? This wasn’t in the script. No sooner had the thought materialized, however, when she felt a strong, masculine arm come around her waist, gathering her up and lifting her off the pony she was on, and then settling her none too gently upon another pony…his pony. And, this new captor had the audacity to race away with her.
Concern and anger stirred within her; this was not a part of the act, and, in reaction, she physically fought her new “captor.”
It was Blue Thunder’s voice.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “Buffalo Bill will be furious. This is not the way this scene is supposed to be played.”
“It’s the manner in which the skit is going to be done from now on.”
But, Blue Thunder hadn’t reckoned with the other Lakota actor who was supposed to be her “captor,” and soon the original Indian who had raced away with her caught up to Blue Thunder, and, reaching out, grabbed her back onto his own mount. Blue Thunder, however, was not to be outdone.
Speeding his pony right up to the other actor’s mount once again, Blue Thunder shouted, “This is my wife. I am doing this scene. Chase me if you like, for it will add more drama to what we do, but she stays with me.”
“Hau, hau,” came the response from the other show Indian as he allowed Blue Thunder to steal Marci again and settle her onto his paint, a chase between the two of them resulting from the confusion.
“Blue Thunder, you’re going to get me in trouble,” Marci shouted above the noise of the horses.
“Wašté!” he responded. “Then maybe they’ll get someone else to play your part.”
“Blue Thunder, please don’t do this! I want to be in the play.”
She felt more than heard his sigh before he murmured, “If it be truly your wish to be a part of this, then I will not stand in your way, but I will be the one to capture you. No one else.”
“Only if Buffalo Bill approves of it.”
“Do you think I care if he approves? I will do the stunt. He will have to bow to my wishes, not the opposite.”
Blue Thunder galloped his little paint into the “Indian encampment,” and, reigning in his mount, allowed Marci to slide down off the horse. Shooting Star was already there within the “encampment,” and, in very little time, both she and Marci were enacting the pushing-and-pulling fight scene between them.
Blue Thunder started away, leaving the two women to their performance, when suddenly Ted Bigham rode into the “Indian encampment,” his mount a medium-sized roan. Worse, Bigham reached down to lift Marci up, off her feet, and placed her onto his own mount in front of him, embracing her within his arms.
Was this supposed to be part of the skit?
As he watched Ted Bigham’s “rescue” and stared at Bigham speeding away with this wife, Blue Thunder’s jealousy spun out of control. And, as the green envy of possessiveness filled his head, he knew he had to act.
She was his wife, and he didn’t want any other man’s hands upon her. This particularly included Ted Bigham.
Although Blue Thunder knew his part in this scene was to fight a soldier, fall off his horse and “die,” he decided the only man he would wage war with was no longer within the staged Indian encampment, as was called for in the enactment. No, he would fight Ted Bigham. No other.
As he jumped onto his waiting paint, Blue Thunder urged the pony into top speed, heading after Ted Bigham, and, catching up to him and his wife, pulled Marci off Bigham’s roan. Instead of depositing her onto his own pony, however, he set Marci on the ground as gently as was possible, given the fury of his mood.
Then, turning his steed back toward Bigham, he made a quick decision: if Buffalo Bill wanted a fight, he, Blue Thunder, was going to give it to him. But, this was not going to be some fake battle; this would be the real thing. And, perhaps a fight for real might cool Blue Thunder’s fury.
As Blue Thunder sped his pony up to Bigham’s, he heard the other man shout out, “Hey, don’t fight me! Not fer real! I’m not romancin’ yer wife! It’s part of the act.”
“You were with her last night!”
“Only cause she needed some em ta help her! Did ya wish me to let her roam the campground alone at that time of night? Think! My interest is in someone else!”
Even through his rage, Blue Thunder realized the truth of Bigham’s words. He’d seen the looks the other man had bestowed upon the Indian maiden, Shooting Star.
“That may be,” shouted Blue Thunder, “but, I will play this scene with my wife, not you! You are not to touch her!”
“Ya got it, partner.”
“Wašté! I am glad to hear this! Let’s make a good fight between the two of us! Let Buffalo Bill see our own script!”
They each one galloped their ponies a little apart until they were facing each other, and, like the jousting knights of old, set their horses into a run toward each other. Waving fake swords and spears in the air, and with Blue Thunder screaming his war whoops, he and Bigham set upon each other, knocking one another from their seats.
As they each one jumped to their feet, they began to wrestle and fight as though it were truly in earnest. All at once, Blue Thunder shouted out, “You will have to be the one to ‘die.’ Not I. Do you understand?”
“I do, and ya got it, partn’r!”
Then, with a simple swipe of his wooden knife, Blue Thunder took Ted Bigham down, the man lying upon the ground as though dead. Blue Thunder didn’t hesitate a moment, but jumped back onto his paint and set it racing back to where Marci stood, who he assumed had witnessed the entire scene. She didn’t try to run away. Instead, she stood still, making it easy for him to pick her up and deposit her behind him. Then, giving the traditional Lakota war whoop, he sped out of the arena with his prize neatly settled behind him.
As soon as he’d settled his pony to a halt, he felt his wife slip off the horse. He jumped down, also, and, with a few steps, came to tower over her. Without another moment passing by, he swept her into his arms and kissed her, long and hard.
Pulling away, he gulped. She did, also. And, then he kissed her again, this time sweeping his tongue into her mouth, his intention to fill her senses with his own scent and taste. She was his. No one else’s.
He took a moment away from the kiss to say, “You are mine, do you hear? If you are to be in the play, I will not forbid it, but I will be the one to capture you; I will get you as a prize. No one else. Do you understand?”
Suddenly, and to his astonishment, his wife smiled at him. And, when she uttered, “Yes, my husband. As you say, my husband,” Blue Thunder had to admit her response pleased him.