Category: History – General

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME — New Release & e-book Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!

Big news!  At least for me.  THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME has just been released.  Am not going to say too much about it, except to say to be sure to leave a comment, cause I’ll be giving away a free e-book to one of you bloggers.

This is a rather long excerpt (Prologue and First 2 Chapters).  So without further ado, here is the blurb and excerpt (prologue and first two chapters).  Please enjoy!

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, by Karen Kay

A vision foretold his tribe’s doom.  Is the flame-haired beauty the trickster or his true love?

 

Lucinda Glenforest’s father, a general who’d fought in the Indian Wars, taught his flame-haired daughter to out-shoot even the best men the military could put up against her. When Luci’s sister is seduced and abandoned, it’s up to Luci to defend her honor in a duel.  Although she wins, the humiliated captain and his powerful family vow vengeance. The sister’s only hope is to flee and hide until their father returns from his overseas mission.  Out of money, Luci hatches a plan to disguise herself as a boy and use her sharpshooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has a terrifying vision, that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe.  He enlists Charles Wind Eagle to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in hopes of appealing to the President of the United States for help, and to find and stop the deceiver. When Wind Eagle is paired with a girl whom he knows is disguised as a boy, he believes she might be the deceiver.  Still, she stirs his heart in ways he must resist, for he has a secret that can never be told, nor ignored.  And Luci can never forget that her father would destroy Wind Eagle if she were to fall in love with him.

Forced to work together, they can’t deny their growing attraction.  Will Luci and Wind Eagle find a way through the lies to find true love?  Or will they be consumed by the passion of deception and slander?

Warning:  A sensuous romance that might cause a girl to join the rodeo in order to find true love.

Excerpt:

 

PROLOGUE

 

The Wild West Series

Book One

The Assiniboine Sioux Reservation

Northeastern Montana

May 1884

 

 

 

          “Run!  Run to them!  Help them!”

          Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, couldn’t move.  It was as though his feet were tied to the ground with an invisible rope.  He attempted to lift his feet one at a time.  He couldn’t.  Bending, he struggled to remove the shackles that held him prisoner.  It was impossible.

          Straightening up, he looked down into the Assiniboine camps from his lofty perch upon a hill, and he watched as a cloud of dust and dirt descended from the sky to fall upon the children of the Assiniboine.  Helpless to act, he stared at the scene of destruction as each one of the children fell to the ground, their bodies withering to dust.  Still, he stood helpless, unable to act in their defense.  He heard their cries, their pleas for aid.  He reached out to them, he, too, crying.  But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t save them.

          The cloud lifted.  The children were no more; their bones had returned to the earth.  Instead, in their place arose a people who appeared to be Assiniboine outwardly, but within their eyes, there showed no spark of life.  They appeared to be without spirit, without heart; they were broken—mere slaves.

          From the cloud of dirt came the sound of a whip as the people cowered beneath its assault.  Then arose the lightning strikes and the thunder.  One by one even those soulless people fell to their knees—a conquered people, their heads bowed in fear.

          And, then they were no more.  All was lost; all was gone.

          What force was this?  Who or what was this faceless power that had killed the Assiniboine people and their children?  He knew it not.

          He cried, his tears falling to the ground, but even the essence of this, his body’s grief, was barren.  His proud people were no more.

          Jerking himself awake, Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, chief of the Rock Mountain People, sat up suddenly.  His sleeping robes fell around him and sweat poured from his body.  Tears fell from his eyes as he came fully into the present moment.

          At once, he realized that what he had seen had been a mere dream, and, while this might have comforted a lesser being, Horned Headdress knew that there was more to the nightmare.  It was a vision, a warning from the Creator: this was what would come to pass if he and his people didn’t act.  And now.

          But, what was he to do?  He didn’t know who this enemy was.

          It was then that, wide awake, he beheld a vision unfolding before him as the Creator spoke to him in the language of the sacred spider.  And, as the spider weaved his web, pictures of a future time appeared upon that maze, as though it were a backdrop for the images.

Astonishment and fear filled his soul.  But, he soon came to realize that the Creator had not warned him in vain, for, upon that same web appeared visions of deeds that would thwart that future evil, if he could but do them.

He must act, and with speed.  This he vowed he would do.  But how?  He was no longer a young man, conditioned to the rigors that would be required.  He could not perform the skills necessary to accomplish what must be done.

But there are two youths among our people who can.  The thought came to him as though it were his own, but he realized that the words were from the Creator.  Moreover, he saw with his mind’s eye, that there were, indeed, two young men who were strong enough and proficient enough to undertake this task.

With a calmness of purpose, Horned Headdress knew what he would do, what he must do…. 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

May 1884

 

 

“Our way of life is endangered, and our people might well be doomed, I fear—all our people—unless we act.”

Twenty-year old, Wa?blí Taté, Wind Eagle, of the Hebina, the Rock Mountain People of the Nakoda tribe, listened respectfully to his chief, Horned Headdress.  The chief held an honorable war record, was honest beyond reproach and was known to be wise at the young age of fifty-two years. On this day, Wind Eagle and his ?óla, Iron Wolf, were seated in council within the chief’s spacious sixteen-hide tepee.  There were only the three of them present: Horned Headdress; himself, Wind Eagle; and Macá Mázasapa, Iron Wolf, the chief’s son.

“The White Man is here to stay,” continued Horned Headdress.  “Many of our chiefs speak of this.  Already we have seen changes that are foreign and confusing to us, for their customs are not ours.  I have asked you both to this council today because I have dreamed that our people will not long exist if we do not act as a united people.  But allow me to explain.

“As you both are aware, the annuities, promised so easily in treaty by the White Father, did not arrive this past winter to replace the hundreds-of-years-old food source, the buffalo.  Because of this, too many of the young and the old did not survive the harsh snows and winds that inflicted wrath upon this country; a worse winter cannot be remembered, not even by the very old.   All our people are grieved, for every family amongst us lost loved ones, and, I fear that if we do not become like the beaver and act in a fast and well-organized manner, we, as a people, will perish from the face of this earth.

“The Indian agent is partly to blame for this; he put us at a terrible disadvantage, for our men of wisdom and experience, who have always ensured that our people remain alert to future dangers, were rounded up and placed in an iron cage that the agent calls jail.  He used Indian police to do this; they were young men from our tribe who listened to this agent’s poisonous tongue, and, feeling they knew best for our people, acted for the agent and not us.  They helped him to disarm us, not realizing that their people had need of their guns and their bows and arrows not only to defend their families, but to hunt for food.   Later, these same young men lamented their actions, for they learned too late that the Indian agent is not our friend.

“Some of our young men, like yourselves, escaped by hiding until the danger passed.  Then, stealing away into the night, these men left to find food and bring it back to supply us with needed rations.  But in many cases, the food arrived too late, and the evil face of starvation caused the death of too many of our people. 

“We have heard this agent laugh at our plight, but what are we to do, for we have no one else to speak for us to the White Father?  We chiefs have spoken often of this matter and have pondered who among us might seek out the White Father and express our grievances.

“Recently I received a vision from the Creator.  I have now seen that the danger is not in the past; I have learned that our children have a terrible fate and we might lose them all if we remain here and do nothing to change our future.”

          Wind Eagle nodded solemnly; no words were spoken, as befit the purpose of this council.

          “I believe I know what must be done,” continued Horned Headdress. “I have seen in vision that there is a white man whose name is Buffalo Bill Cody, who is now visiting our Lakota brothers to the southwest of us.  I am told that this man, Buffalo Bill, is not a bad man, though he pursues fame and approval, as well as the white man’s gold.  Further, I am told that he searches for those among us who can perform feats of daring, because he would take the best that we have and parade those youths before the White Man.  It is said to me that this is the manner in which this man purchases the necessities of living.

          “I have discovered that he offers a home for those whom he chooses, as well as the white man’s gold and silver which can be traded for clothing, food and other comforts. He is soliciting youths who can perform trick riding, or who can run as fast as the wind or those who can shoot with precision.  He also is asking for young men who are unparalleled in tests of strength and brawn.  Wind Eagle, you have proven yourself to be unequalled in shooting the arrow straight, accurately and with a speed that no one in all the nations can match.”

          Wind Eagle nodded silently.

          “And you, Macá Mázasapa, my son, are the best horseman in all the Nakoda Nation, performing tricks that even the finest riders of the Plains, the Blackfeet, admire.”

          Iron Wolf dipped his head in acknowledgement.

          “I am now asking you to act for me on behalf of your people; humbly, I would implore you both to travel to the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and enter into those contests sponsored by this man, Buffalo Bill.”  Horned Headdress paused significantly as though he were choosing his next words with care.  “I have seen in vision,” he continued, “that the White Father, or a man representing him, will attend one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.  If I could, I would go in your place, but there are reasons why I cannot.  I am no longer a youth who might compete against other youths.  Also, I am needed here to counsel our sick and our needy and to act against this Indian Agent on behalf of our people, for this man is still here, is still corrupt, and every day denies our people the food and supplies that have been promised to us by treaty.”

As was tradition in Indian councils, neither young man spoke, both kept their eyes centered downward, in respectful contemplation.  Not only was it the utmost in bad manners to interrupt a speaker, but it was a particular taboo to volunteer one’s opinions with an elder of the tribe unless asked to do so.  At length, Horned Headdress continued, saying, “I have seen into the future, and I believe that both of you will be accepted by this showman.  I ask you this: when the White Father or his representative comes to this show, ask for a private audience with this man, who I believe will grant your request.  But beware.  I have also seen that all will not be easy for you, for there is a deceiver there.  You may come to know this person by being part of Buffalo Bill’s show.  Have a care, and do your work well, for this deceiver might be the greatest threat to all the Indian Nations.  This trickster, if not recognized and stopped, may bring about death and destruction to our children in ways that our minds do not comprehend.  Look for this person, discover who it is, man or woman. Be alert that if we do not learn from what tribe he or she hails, this deceiver could bring disaster not only to us, but to all the Indian Nations, and we, as an Indian people, might die in spirit forever.  Identify this person as quickly as you might and disarm him or her, for I do not speak lightly that the fate of our children rests with you.”

He paused for a moment.  “And now,” he continued, “I would hear what you wish to say about this burden I ask you to shoulder, for I would know if each one of you stands ready to pit your skills against this ill wind of tragedy for our people.”

Now came the chance for each young man to speak, and they both agreed that they would be honored to bear this responsibility.  They would go at once to their Lakota brothers in the south, and yes, they would use all their cunning and strength to prevent any future harm that might befall their people.

Horned Headdress nodded approval.  “It is good,” he acknowledged, before adding, “Seek out another young man from your secret clan, the Wolf Clan, once you have been successful in joining Buffalo Bill’s show.  Take him into your confidence, for I have also seen that three is oftentimes better protection against evil than two.”

Both young men nodded.

Wašté, good.  Now, listen well, my young warriors, and I will tell you what I wish you to say to the white man’s representative, and what I wish you to do.…”

***

Wind Eagle looked out from his lofty perch upon a stony ridge, which sat high above the winding waters of the Big Muddy, or as the white man called it, the Missouri River.  He faced the east, awaiting the sunrise, his face turned upward, his arms outstretched in prayer.  Below him unfolded numerous pine-covered coulees and ravines, jagged and majestic as they cut through the mountains, a range which appeared to never end.  The huge rock beneath his moccasined feet felt solid and firm, and, as he inhaled the moist air of the morning, he gazed outward, welcoming the beauty of the Creator’s work.

He sought a vision to guide him on this vital quest for his people.  Also, he hoped to ease his troubles, for as Horned Headdress had so elegantly said, the shared tragedy that had destroyed so many of their people had also struck Wind Eagle personally.

It was true that starvation had been the ultimate weapon employed by rogue forces within and without the tribe.  Because both the Indian Agent and the Indian police had acted against the people, Wind Eagle’s grandfather had died in those cages the white man called jails.  At the time, Wind Eagle and his father had been gone from the village on the hunt for food.  But game was scarce, causing his own, and his father’s, absence to extend for too long a time.  When they had returned to their village, they had found that many of their friends were now gone.  Even his beloved grandmother—the woman who had raised him—had been weak when Wind Eagle and his father had returned.  For a short while, it had appeared that she might recover, but it was not to be.  Too soon, she had left this life to travel to the Sandhills, where she would join her husband.  At least, they would journey on that path together.

It was only a few days past that Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, had spoken to himself and Iron Wolf, setting the two of them into action.  Quickly, they had made their plans and had talked of nothing else for the past two days, and, if they were both picked by the Showman to be a part of the show, each individually knew what his part would be in this vital task.  Failure was no option; the life of their people must continue.

Because no delay could be spared, they were to leave this very night to set out upon the trail to the Pine Ridge reservation.  They would travel by horseback, the both of them taking two or more of his ponies with him.

But no such journey could commence without first seeking a vision, for only in this way could a man communicate with his Creator.  And so Wind Eagle began with a prayer:

“Waka?tanka, hear my plea.  I come before you humble, having given away my best clothing to the needy.  As is right for my appeal, I have bathed myself in the smoke of many herbs, and have spent many days in prayer.  Show me, guide me, to see how I might best aid my chief and my people.”

Then he sang:

 

          “Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya, (Creator, I pray for them)

          Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya,

Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata, (Creator, I call thee by name)

          Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata,

          Waka?tanka, unkákí japi. (Creator, we suffer)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya. (Creator, help me)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya.”

 

He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply as the sun peeped up from above the horizon.  Already, he could feel the sun’s warming rays, and he sighed.  It was good, and he became quiet, merging himself with the spirit of Mother Earth, hoping that he might be gifted a vision.  Perhaps Waká?ta?ka was attuned to the cries of His people, for Wind Eagle was not left long to linger.  As he opened his eyes, he beheld a pair of bald eagles—his namesake—dancing in the cool drafts of the air.  Beautiful was their courtship ritual as they climbed ever higher and higher into the airy altitudes of the sky.

Then it happened, the dance of love: locking talons, they spun around and around, spiraling down toward the earth in what might seem be a dive to their death. Still, neither let go of the other, embracing and holding onto each other in their twirling spectacle until the very last moment.   From that courtship dance, the pair would mate and form a union that would last their lifetime, and out of that union would appear a new generation of bald eagles.  So it had been for thousands of years past; so it was now.

Entranced by the exquisiteness of this show of nature, he didn’t at first see what was before him, didn’t realize the two eagles were now hovering in the air, within his reach.  The sound of their flapping wings, however, was loud in the cooling mountain breeze, and, lifting his vision to encompass them both, they spoke to him:

“We, the eagle people, are sent here from the Creator to tell you that He has heard your plea.  He has told us to say this to you.

“Learn from us, for we, the eagle people, marry but once, and for all our life.  Heed the advice of your heart, since it will lead you on a path that will ensure the well-being of your people.  Beware the past mistakes of others. Beware also the one or the many who would hide within the cloak of deceit.  Be strong, remain alert, for the way to help your people will be fraught with great danger.

“Opportunity will soon be yours, for your skill is the best in all the Nations.  Use this to learn about your peoples’ secret enemy, for it will be through this venture that will appear the chance to free your people from a coming darkness.  If you are successful, your acts of valor will be spoken about throughout the Indian Nations.

“Trust your heart, for there is one there who might help you to find peace within your mind and spirit.

“We have spoken.”

 

Wind Eagle outstretched his arms toward the eagles, and he might have sung his song back to them, but the two birds had already lifted away from him, soaring higher and higher into the sky.  Once more, the eagles locked talons, repeating the ancient courtship ritual dance.

Breathing deeply, he watched their magnificent show with respect, until at last the eagles plummeted to the earth, breaking away from one another before striking the ground.  Coming together again, they climbed high over the rocks, alighting at last upon their nest.  Here, they would love, ensuring that their species survived well into the future.

What was the meaning of their verse?  He would relay his vision to his chief, of course, for only in this way could he assure the success of his task. But, before he left, he sang out his thanks in prayer, saying:

“Waka?tanka, I thank you for the vision you have given me.

“Waka?tanka, I honor you.  I honor your messengers.

“And now I would seek out my chief that I might ensure I understand fully your instruction to me.”

So saying, Wind Eagle stepped back from the ridge and retraced his steps to his camp.  The day was still young, and he felt renewed with purpose.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

An infamous dueling field outside Bladensburg, Maryland

May 20th, 1888

 

The early morning’s cool, gray mist hung low over the dueling field’s short grass and the woods that surrounded it.  The lawn and woods-scented air was heavy and moist here at the Bladensburg contesting grounds; and, because this notorious spot lay only a few blocks from Washington DC proper, the atmosphere was further flavored with the scent of smoke from the fires and the wood-burning stoves of the numerous houses in the city.  The earth felt mushy and wet beneath her footfalls, and the grass both cushioned and moistened the leather of her boots, as well as the bottom edge of her outfit.  There was a chill in the air, and Lucinda Glenforest wore a short jacket of crushed velvet gold over the flowery embroidered skirt of her cream-colored, silky dress.  Her bonnet of gold and ivory velvet boasted a brim that was quilled, and the satin bow that was tied high on top, fell into inch-wide strings that tied under her chin.  The color scheme complemented her fiery, golden-red hair that had been braided and tied back in a chignon that fell low at the back of her neck.  The entire ensemble had been strategically donned in the wee hours of the morning to allow for freedom of movement, which might be more than a little required for the sedate “battle” which was to take place.

Beside her reposed Lucinda’s fifteen-year-old younger sister, Jane, whose condition being only a few months in the making, was, for the moment, hidden.  But soon, in less time than Lucinda liked to consider, the consequence of Jane’s ill-fated affair would become evident.

“Don’t kill him, Luci.”

          The words served to irritate Luci; not because of Jane’s concern for the swine who had done this to her, but because of Luci’s involvement in a situation that should rightly involve male members of their family.  But their father, General Robert Glenforest, had left for the Island of Hawaii on the urgent business of war, and this, because their family had no brother to uphold its honor, left only Luci to contend with the problem.  The fact that she possessed the skills to tackle the dilemma was hardly the point.

          Being the eldest child in a military family, Luci had been fated to mimic her father’s profession, for General Glenforest had made it no secret that he had hoped his firstborn would be a boy.  To this end, he had carefully schooled Luci into the more male occupations of war, of shooting, of defense and of strategic planning.  Luci’s own inclinations—which had included dolls and pretend dress-up—were of no consequence to her father.  With the feminist movement in full swing, General Glenforest had found favor in openly proclaiming that he hoped Luci would follow in his footsteps, or if this weren’t quite possible, to marry a soldier as like-minded as he.  He went further to state that he hoped his daughter would thereafter advise her husband wisely.

          As Luci had grown older, she had protested, of course, but it hadn’t done her any good, especially since she enjoyed and stood out in the sport of the shooting gallery.  Her prowess in these matches had earned her many a trophy over her male counterparts, and, as time had worn on, she had gone on to win and win and win, even those matches where the man she was pitted against was years older than she.

          Now, while it might be true that Luci enjoyed the thrill of shooting matches, it was not factual that she shared other traits of the male gender.  After all, she was well aware that she was not a man, and outside of the marksmanship that she excelled in, she held few common threads with the male of the species.  Indeed, she often found a boy’s rather crude sense of humor extremely gross and very unfunny.

So it was that she had mastered a defense against her father, her resistance being to dress up and to act in as ladylike a manner as possible. Indeed, she flaunted her femininity, had done so even as a child, especially when her father was in residence.  Her rebelliousness had earned her a treasure, though.  She had come to love the manner in which she adorned herself.  Even her day dresses protested the current trend of the dark colors of black, brown and gray; none of that for her.  Her clothing consisted of vivid hues of blue, coral, pink, yellow, green and more.  Indeed, she flaunted the style of the walking dress, cutting her version of that style low in the bodice.  Tight waists, which hugged her curves, ended in a “V” shape over her abdomen in front and the beginning arc of her buttocks in back.  These and other attributes of her clothing asserted her female gender quite vividly.  Her bustles were soft and feminine, and were generally trained in back, adding to the aesthetic allure of her costume, while the overall effect of her skirts, draped in gatherings of material, fell like a soft waterfall to the floor.

That this style was considered to be a woman’s attire for only evening gatherings bothered her not in the least.  Although she had often heard the whispered gossip doubting the truth of her maidenhood, no one dared to repeat such lies to her face. 

Her father, when he was in residence, accused her of playing up her feminine assets too well.  But when he had gone on to criticize her too greatly, Luci had merely smiled at him; revenge, it appeared, was sweet.  Truth was, left to her own devices, Luci might have made much of her own inclinations, for her heart was purely girlish.  Indeed, secretly at home, she enjoyed the more womanly chores of baking, cooking and sewing.

It did bother her that her abilities with a gun appeared to frighten suitors, for at the age of nineteen, she had never known the amorous attentions of any young man; no boyfriends, no male interest in her as a young woman.  She’d not even experienced a mild flirtation with a member of the opposite sex.  Indeed, it might be said that she was nineteen and ne’er been kissed.

          So it was with reluctance that Luci answered her sister’s plea to “not kill him,” saying, “I promised you that I wouldn’t, Janie, and that’s all I can assure you.  You must admit that the brute deserves no consideration whatsoever.  If father were here, you know that he would demand a Military Tribunal for that man, since both our father and that viper are military.  Even a firing squad would be too good, I’m sure.  To think, that skunk told you he wasn’t married—“

          “He did propose to me.”

          “How could he?  Janie, he was married when he proposed to you.  He’s nothing but a lying thief.”

          “He’s not a thief!”

          “He took your maidenhood, didn’t he?” Lucinda whispered the words.  “Once lost, it’s gone forever.  You must see that he deserves to be killed.”

          Jane blushed.  Still, she persisted, entreating, “Please don’t do it, Luci.  Please.  I love him so.”

          This last was said with such urgency and dramatics, that Luci’s only response was a sigh.  If it were up to her…

          She still remembered back to a few weeks ago, and to Janie’s confession.

 

          Luci had found her blond and beautiful fifteen-year-old sister locked in her room, grieving.  On enquiry, Jane had confessed her problem.  “I’m pregnant, Luci.  We had planned a June wedding.  But now?…”

          “Pregnant?  Had planned a June wedding?”

          “He’s married.  I didn’t know.  I swear I didn’t.  He told me he loved me, and that we would be married in June.  But when I came to him to tell him of the child, he laughed at me.”

          “He laughed?  You’re telling this to me truly?  He honestly laughed?”
          Jane cried and seemed unable to speak.  She nodded instead.

          “Who is this man?”

          Jane hiccupped.  “I…promise me that you won’t kill him.”

“How can I say that to you in view of what has happened? And with Father gone.  Now, tell me, who is this man?  You know I’ll find out one way or the other.”

“I suppose you will.  But please, I can’t reveal his name to you unless I have your word that you won’t kill him.”

Luci paused.  She could force the issue, but she would rather not.  Perhaps it was because Jane was more like a daughter to her than a sister, for Luci had taken on the role of “mother” at the age of four, when their own mother, shortly after giving birth to Jane, had passed on to the heavenly plane.  Plus, their father had never remarried.  Luci uttered, “I will do my best not to kill him, Janie. But that’s all I can promise.”

Sniffing, Jane blew her nose on the dainty handkerchief in her hand, then at length, she admitted, “I guess that’s good enough.  I think you might know him.  It’s Captain Timothy Hall.  But please, don’t be angry at him.  I love him so.”

          Of course Luci knew the worthless snake.  He had once courted Abagail Swanson, one of her best girlfriends, who also had been underage at the time.  Luckily for her friend, she had discovered the truth of Hall’s marital state before he’d been able to inflict permanent damage on her.

What was wrong with the man?  Was his twenty-year-old wife already too old for him?  Was he a pervert?

          Oh, what she would like to do to him if the society around them would only allow it.…

 

          Well, that was all in the recent past; what was done was done.  Today was the day he would pay.  Today, that no-account slime would contend with her, and Luci pledged to herself that her sister’s honor, as well as that of their family, would be avenged.

Once again, she thought back to the last few weeks.  In less than twenty-four hours after her talk with Janie, Luci had challenged the bearded, black-haired degenerate, and had done so in as public a place as possible, a garden party.  He had laughed at her, of course, when she had confronted him, and, using her gloves, she had slapped his face.

 

“You’re a two-timing scoundrel, Captain Hall, and I challenge you to a duel.  Make no mistake, I will protect and defend my family’s honor.”

“You?  A woman?  Dueling me?”  He snickered.  “I wouldn’t stoop so low.” 

“Low?  Are you a coward, then?  Is your problem that your spine runs yellow?  You know that no man has ever bested me in the skill of the shooting gallery.”

His answer was nothing more than a loud hiss.

“My second will act at once, setting the time and place of the duel.  And hear me out, if you don’t show, I will ensure that all the country in and around Washington DC, as well as your wife, will know not only of your misdeeds, but also of your cowardice.  And this, I promise.”

 

          Still, she thought, he might not come.  For now, she awaited her second, as well as those in Hall’s party.  She picked up her pistol—a Colt .45—checking it over carefully, swearing to herself what she would do to him if the wicked man didn’t show.…

***

          “The rules for this duel are as follows,” declared Sergeant Anthony Smyth, a tall, dark-haired gentleman, who was Luci’s second.  Smyth was an excellent marksman in his own right, which was one reason why Luci had picked him to preside over the duel. That both he and his wife were close family friends had aided Luci in making the choice.  But Smyth was continuing to speak, and he said, “The match continues to first blood, and, regardless of how minor the injury, the match then ends.  No further shots are legal, and will not be tolerated. The twenty paces, which were agreed upon in writing, have been marked out by a sword stuck in the ground at each side of the field.  When I drop the handkerchief that I hold in my hand, you may each advance and fire.  Lieutenant Michaels is on duty as the official surgeon.”  Sergeant Smyth glanced first at Luci, then at Captain Timothy Hall.  “Are there any questions?”

          When neither she nor Captain Hall spoke up, Sergeant Smyth continued, “Then it is begun.”

          Luci glanced down the field, estimating her distance, as well as determining where exactly she would place her shot.  Having already decided that a shoulder injury would be the easiest to heal, she calculated the precise angle that would be required to obtain that “first blood,” and end the match.  Next to Captain Hall stood his older brother, James Hall, his second.

          Behind Luci, well to her rear and out of shooting range, sat Janie, who had brought a blanket to cushion the soft ground upon which she sat.  Refreshments of cinnamon rolls and coffee, with plates and coffee cups, decorated a table next to Janie.  As was expected by the rules of conduct for all matters concerning dueling, both Janie and Luci had brought the refreshments for the participants today, including that serpent, Captain Tim Hall. 

Luci hadn’t easily consented to the early morning snack, but her friend, Sergeant Smyth, had already determined that the duel would follow the rules of personal combat exactly, making her obligated to provide the food and drink.

          She sighed as she awaited the signal to begin, but she never once glanced away from her target.  To do so might be fatal.

          Smyth dropped the handkerchief, and both duelists fired at will.  Luci’s shot hit Hall in the shoulder, as she had intended, while Hall’s volley missed her entirely.

          “First blood has been taken,” called out Sergeant Smyth. “The match now ends as formerly agreed upon.  All participants are to put down their weapons, and all are invited to coffee and rolls, which they will find at the far side of the field.  A surgeon is on hand to deal with your wound, Captain Hall.”

          Luci turned away, setting her gun down on the table next to her.

          Blast!

          The explosion was unexpected.  The match was finished, wasn’t it?  If so, why was Captain Hall still firing at her?

          Boom!

          Hall’s next shot hit her in her left upper arm.

          “Stop this at once!” shouted Smyth.  “Halt! This is illegal!”

          But Luci ignored her second in command; she was in a gun fight and under attack; his words didn’t even register with her.  With the quick reflexes of one who is in command of her weapon, she grabbed hold of her Colt, turned, and carefully aimed her shot to do the most damage to Captain Hall without killing him.

          Blast!

          She sent her answering bullet at Captain Timothy Hall, placing the slug high up on his thigh, intending the bullet to miss, yet graze his masculine parts.  His loud cry indicated she had been successful.  She turned her pistol on Hall’s second—James Hall—who had picked up his own gun, as though he might consider using it against her, also, illegal though it was.

          “Captain Hall, you and your brother must cease this at once.  You will be reported.  You and your second will likely be court martialed if you continue firing,” Sergeant Smyth yelled, as he hurried toward Luci, his own Colt drawn and aimed at the two culprits. But his threat fell on deaf ears.  Hall had fallen to the ground, his shrieks indicating he was in too much pain to be of any more use in a gunfight.  Hall’s brother, James, however, looked ready to continue the match, except that when he espied Luci’s Colt pointed directly at him, as well as Smyth’s drawn weapon, James Hall instead dropped his gun and held his hands up in surrender.

          Luci nodded.  But that was all that she did.  Without letting her guard down, she kept her weapon trained on both the Hall brothers as she paced to where Jane sat at the side of the field. Bending, Luci grabbed hold of her sister by the arm and pulled her up.  Then, without turning her back on Captain Hall and his brother, she made her retreat toward the street, where her coach awaited.

          “Make a report of this at once,” she instructed Smyth, as well as Lieutenant Michaels, the military surgeon.  “Let all know what a cowardly slime Captain Hall truly is.  My father must be informed, and he will thank you both for doing so.”

          Without cause to do more at the moment, Luci and Jane slowly withdrew, Jane leading the way to their coach, for Luci never once turned her back on her opponent.  That the screams of Captain Timothy Hall wafted through the air was music to Luci’s ears.  By measured retreat, they gained the street and the carriage, and Jane practically flew into her seat within.

          “Driver!” yelled Luci as she quickly followed her sister into the conveyance.  “Take us to the army telegraph office as quickly as possible!”  Seating herself with care, she continued, declaring to Jane, “We must send Father word of this at once.”

“Why, you’re hurt!”

          It was true.  The exact extent of the damage was yet to be determined, and it was only now, within the relative safety of their coach, that Luci realized her arm hurt unbearably.

          Yet, to Janie, all she said was, “It is only a scratch, soon healed.  But come, Jane, please tear off a part of my petticoat, and give it to me to tie, that I might stop this bleeding, for I fear it is staining my blouse.”

          “Leave it to you to consider only the damage to your clothing,” scolded Jane as she did as instructed.  It was also she who tied the tourniquet. “As soon as we arrive at our home, I will summon our surgeon to attend to you at once.”

“After we send that telegraph to father,” amended Luci.  “I fear we have not heard the last of Captain Hall and his brother.  Though I feel assured that Mr. Smyth will also telegraph word to our father on any channel available to him, he may not be able to do this at a speed that could be required to ensure our good health.”

          “What do you mean?”

          Luci sent her sister a cautious glance.  With the duel having gone as badly as it had, it was not in Luci’s nature to instill even more alarm in Jane, especially considering her delicate condition.  Nevertheless, a word of attentiveness might be in order.

          To this end, she patted Jane’s hand, smiled at her and said, “When Captain Hall heals from the wound I inflicted upon him, he might feel compelled to seek us out for daring to expose his base nature to his fellow military officers.  A man who would flaunt the rules of honor cannot be trusted.  And I fear—”

          “Luci, please,” Jane cried, tears in her eyes.  “What he has done is wrong, so very, very wrong, but please do not keep degrading his character to me.  A scoundrel he is, I have no doubt, and I feel terrible that he has hurt you, but I am, after all, carrying his child.  I wish I weren’t, Luci, but it is done, and I must bear the consequences of my actions.  However, I fear that, as he is the babe’s father, he may have rights that even I don’t understand. I should try to discover a good trait he might possess, for I fear that I may have to deal with him in the future.”  She pulled out a hanky from her purse and blew her nose.  “Is it possible that he might have some logical reason as to why it was necessary to continue to fire at you when he should have stopped?  Perhaps it was a reaction he could not control?”

“He fired two illegal shots at me, Janie, not one.”

“Oh, how hard it is to love a man so much,” Janie uttered with so much heartfelt passion that Luci was reminded of her sister’s youth—and the hardship of being pregnant at so young an age.  “I know it’s true enough that he lied to me, but that doesn’t make him all bad, does it?  I once found good in him.  It must still be there.  Oh, Luci, it hurts to love him so.  It hurts.”

          Momentarily, Luci felt at a loss for words.  She made up for that lack by patting Jane’s hand instead.

“It will get better,” she assured Jane at last.  “I know it might seem now as though the hurt will never heal.  But it will.” She sighed.  “It will.  And perhaps you are right.  Maybe in the future we might be dealing with a good man.  I guess one could say that only the future will declare the truth of his character.  We can hope, Janie, we can hope.”

Luci averted her gaze to stare at the closed, royal blue curtains that fell down over the windows of the carriage.  Enough said.  She would send this telegram to their father, then wait and see what might unfold.  Reaching over to pull that blue, velvet curtain away from the window, she watched as the sun came up in the east.

Buy THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME on Amazon!

Updated: February 11, 2020 — 8:21 am

Laura Ingalls Wilder Trivia and Fun Facts

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the death of Laura Ingalls Wilder and in her honor I thought I’d share a bit of trivia about her life and accomplishments.

 

  • Laura was 65 when the first of her Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. It was 11 years later, when she was 76, that the 8th and final book in the series was published.
  • Laura received her teaching certificate at age 15 and taught in one room schoolhouses until she married Almanzo Wilder at age 18.
  • The Little House books were not her first paid writing accomplishments. At age 42 she went to work for the St. Louis Farmer as their poultry columnist. She eventually went on to write columns for the Missouri Ruralist, McCall’s Magazine and The Country Gentleman. In order to give her writing more credibility with male readers, her columns were published under the name A.J.Wilder.

 

 

  • As a young child, she lived through a devastating invasion of over 3.5 TRILLION locusts. It was one of the worst natural disasters the country had ever faced to that date, causing an estimated $116 billion worth of damage and causing near starvation for many settlers,, including her own family. The culprits, the Rocky Mountain locusts went extinct about 1902, though no one knows the reason why.
  • Laura had some interesting leaves on her family tree. One ancestor, Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier, was hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.  She was also related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt through her great grandmother, Margaret Delano Ingalls.

 

  • She was once told that writing for children was a waste of time. I’m so glad she ignored that advice! Her Little House books have remained in print continuously since the 1930s and the series has sold over 60 million copies and have been published in 26 languages.
  • Laura received lots of fan mail over the course of her writing life. After her Little House series took off she averaged about 50 pieces of mail per day. In fact, on her last birthday she received over 1000 bits of correspondence.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was established in 1954 by the American Library Association. Its purpose was to honor authors and illustrators whose children’s books have made a major impact on children’s literature. Laura was, of course, the first recipient. Since then, other recipients have included Theodor Geisal (Dr. Seuss), Maurice Sendak and Beverly Cleary. However, the organization announced in June 2018 that it planned to change the name of the award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award due to the way Laura portrayed Native Americans in her books. In their statement the organization added this caveat: “Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder’s works or suppress discussion about them. Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children.”

  • Prior to the establishment of her namesake award, Laura had already won Newberry Honors on four of her Little House books.
  • A fun little bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder trivia – In the summer of 2017, Laura (in her young pig-tailed girl persona) was sculpted in butter at the Iowa State Fair in honor of the 150th anniversary of her birth.
  • Laura died on February 10, 1957, just 3 day after her 90th birthday. She was survived by her daughter and only child, Rose. Rose never had any children of her own, but Roger MacBride whom she met when he was a teenager and who later became her lawyer and literary agent, became her heir. He inherited an estate  that has a present day value of over $100 million and was responsible for licensing the television rights to the Little House books.

So there you have it, some interesting tidbits from the life of one of the most beloved of children authors. Were any of these new to you? Do you have some fun facts of your own to add? Have you read the books yourself?  

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

An Eccentric Texan

Texas has it’s share of eccentric millionaires, but there was one in my hometown who raised the bar for others…not just for his philanthropy, but because of the art work and creativeness he gave to our community even after his death.

Stanley March 3, notice not a Roman Numeral III. He said the III was way too pretentious for his liking.  He was well-known for his outrageous art projects. The one that earned him national notoriety is the 1970s Cadillac Ranch. If you’ve ever driven on Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo you can’t help but notice the Cadillacs planted nose-down in a field to the south of the highway. The trunks and tail-fins of these former gas guzzler’s extend above ground, like whale flukes that become visible just before the big mammals dive…all colorful and personalized by millions of travelers and locals.

Although Marsh had to move the project to stay clear of our urban sprawl, Cadillac Ranch is still open to the public. In fact, visitors are encouraged to participate in the project by spray-painting graffiti on the rusted hulks. Periodically, some are painted in a solid color, so new art work can be added by travelers. It’s a must see when visiting our area.

I can’t help but post a picture of my youngest grandson, who is now in high school, at the ranch in front of one of our famous tumbleweeds a/k/a Russian Thistle. This proves everything in Texas is bigger than life.

Another roadside sculpture closer to Amarillo on the Frying Pan Ranch, one of the original ranches in our area, commissioned by Marsh is the “Two vast and trunkless egs of stone”. It was inspired by the work of British poet Percy Shell, in his 1818 sonnet, Ozmandias. It consists of two legs–one 24 feet tall, the other 34 feet. Like Marsh’s Cadillac Ranch, this art project on their ranch is subject to the occasional gratuitous paint job, and the feet have been seen adorned with sports socks.

The third unique thing that Marsh added to our city are hundreds of bogus highway signs proclaiming surprise announcements or posting questions, such as “What is a village without village idiots?”. They showed up unexpectedly in people’s yards, as well as public places, although many are gone now. Marsh was quoted as saying, “Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well.”.

Do you have anyone in your own who is eccentric enough to leave their footprints all over the area?  I’d love to hear about them.

To two winners who leave a comment, I will give them an eBook of my latest Contemporary Romance Out of a Texas Night.

 

 

Updated: February 1, 2020 — 4:00 pm

Baker City Mining

 

Admittedly, the history of mining isn’t something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about or researching. And then I happened to include a setting of mines in not one but two stories and dove into researching hard rock mining in the Baker City, Oregon, area at the end of the 1800s.

I knew before I started that there were many, many mines in the area from the 1880s through the 1890s and on into the new century. Dozens of little mining towns popped up on the horizon and just as quickly faded one the mines closed. 

From 1880 through 1899, Oregon produced more than $26 million dollars in gold and silver with more than $18 million of it coming from Baker, Grant and Union county (which are all in the Baker City region). 

To say mining was a big deal at the time is something of an understatement. It was a huge business.

Thankfully, the Baker County Library has an incredible digital library of thousands of old images. I found many that illustrated the mining business and aided my research more than I can even say. 

As a visual person, it was fantastic to look at these images, read the descriptions and picture how things would look at my fictional mines. 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This advertisement was such a help to me because the illustration lets you look inside the various levels of the mill and see how they were built into the hills. 

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This is an image of the Eureka & Excelsior Mine mill building in the Cracker Creek District, Oregon. You can see how it’s built into the hill, quite similar to the illustration in the advertisement. 

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This image shows the vanner room at the Bonanaza Mine, which was one of the top producing mines during the mining heyday in the Baker City region. It was located four miles from Greenhorn City which straddled both the Baker and Grant county lines.

Vanning is a process of separating the material of value from that which is worthless. Typically, a powdered sample of orestuff is swirled with water on the blade of a shovel and then given a series of upward flicking motions. The heavier ore is tossed up through the water and appears as a crescent shaped patch at the top of the charge with the lighter material that is unusable below.  In the 19th century, the process was automated and used to separate ore on an industrial scale. The Frue Vanner was a widely-adopted machine, invented in 1874 by W.B. Frue in Canada. 

With a Frue vanner, a continuous rubber belt (usually 4 feet wide and about 27.5 feet long, shown in the center of this photo) passed over rollers to from the surface of an inclined plane. The orestuff was concentrate on in the belt and the belt traveled uphill from three to twelve feet per minute while being shaken anywhere from 180-200 times. Crushed orestuff from the stamps fed onto the belt. As it traveled uphill, it met small jets of water which gradually washed the gangue (the commercially valueless material in which ore is found) off the bottom of the belt. The heavier ore adhered to the belt as it went over the top roller and passed into a box containing water where the ore was deposited. To make this work, anywhere from three to six gallons of water per minute was required. One machine could treat approximately six tons per twenty-four hours of orestuff.

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

 

This is a photo of the stamping room at the Golden Gate mine, also located near Greenhorn City. There are ten stamps shown here. The stamp is a large mechanical device used to crush ore and extract minerals. Repeatedly, the stamps and raised and dropped onto ore that is fed into the mill, until the coarse ore is reduced to a finer material that can be further processed. The number of stamps used depended on the size of the mill and the amount of ore being taken out of the mine.

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

The Red Boy Mine (also located near Greenhorn City) boasted it’s own laboratory, at least in this 1902 photo. On-site labs were considered to be a strategic value to a mine. Among the work done there was testing and sampling to derive critical operational, metallurgical, and environmental data needed to make the most of mining and mineral processing production.

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This amazing photo (undated) was taken at the Bonanza Mine.  Five men are working in a tunnel wielding four-pound hammers that were called “single jacks” and steel drills. Note the candles on a wire stuck in cracks in the walls to provide light.  Total production at this mine from 1899-1904 was just shy of a million dollars. It was mostly a gold mine, although they did find some silver. Reports show total production from the mine totaled $1.75 million dollars. 

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

And this awesome image is taken inside the superintendent’s cabin at the St. Anthony Mine in 1901.  One might assume the woman in the photo is the superintendent’s wife. Many of the mines refused to allow women in the camp and were called a “boar’s nest.” 

If you’d like to read more about mining in this region of Oregon, there’s a lot of detail in this digital report

And if you’d like to read about the adventures of my characters at the fictional mines that exist only in my head, you’ll find Graydon (Grady) Gaffney at the Lucky Larkspur Mine in Gift of Hope.

 

When his affections are spurned by the girl he plans to wed, Graydon Gaffney rides off in the swirling snow, determined to stay far away from fickle females. Then a voice in the storm draws him to a woman and her two sweet children. Despite his intentions to guard his emotions, all three members of the DeVille family threaten to capture his heart.

Giavanna DeVille holds the last frayed edges of her composure in a tenuous grasp. In a moment of desperation, she leaves her sleeping children in her cabin and ventures out into a storm to release her pent-up frustrations where no one can hear her cries. Much to her surprise, a man appears through the blinding snow. He gives her a shoulder to cry on and something even more precious. . . hope.

Can the two of them move beyond past heartaches to accept the gift of hope for their future?

You’ll also find the characters of my latest book Dumplings and Dynamite (releasing tomorrow!) at the Crescent Creek Mine, up in the hills out of Baker City. 

Widow Hollin Hughes doesn’t care how long it takes or the depths of deception required to discover how her husband really died. She’s determined to unearth the truth and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. Then a new dynamite man arrives at the mine and throws all her plans off kilter.

With a smile that makes females of any age swoon, Deputy Seth Harter can charm his way into or out of almost anything. When he’s sent undercover to Crescent Creek Mine, even the cranky cook seems entirely immune to his rugged appeal, making him wonder if he’s losing his touch. Eager to get to the bottom of a series of unexplained deaths, Seth counts on catching the criminals. He just didn’t anticipate a tempestuous woman claiming his heart in the process.

Brimming with humor, tidbits from history, and a sweet, unexpected love, don’t miss out on a heartwarming romance packed with adventure.

And here’s a little excerpt from the story:

A flash of pity swept through him for the baby’s mother who lost her husband and was now working for the contemptible Eustace Gilford. He had no doubt the woman had to rise in the wee hours of the morning to be able to cook a big breakfast for a camp full of miners. It had to be challenging to cook and care for such a newly-born child.

Mrs. Parrish hurried back into the kitchen, saw him holding the baby, and her pale skin blanched white.

“What are you doing?” she asked in a harsh, quiet tone. She moved across the room and took the baby from him with such haste, he had no idea how she’d managed to reach him in so few steps. He couldn’t be certain, but he thought maybe she’d forgotten about her limp.

“I hoped if I held her, she’d stop crying. It worked,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets, although he moved a step closer to the widow. “What’s her name?”

“Keeva.”

“I’ve never met anyone named Keeva. Is it a family name?” he asked.

The woman merely nodded. “It was her great-grandmother’s name.”

“Then I’m sure she’d be proud to have a beautiful little granddaughter to share it with.”

The woman looked at him over her shoulder with an uncertain glare, as though she couldn’t quite figure him out, before she turned back to the baby. “Breakfast is on the table. The men will be in soon. If you want something to eat, you best get out there. If Mr. Gilford didn’t mention it, the men pack their own lunches from the food on the tables near the door.”

“He did say something about that. Thank you, Mrs. Parrish.” Seth tipped his head to her then made his way to the dining room where men began trickling inside.

Eustace directed Seth to a chair at the far end of the long table. When everyone was seated, he pointed to Seth. “Meet our newest employee, Seth Harter. He’ll be drilling and blasting.”

Mrs. Parrish nearly dropped the pot of coffee she carried at this announcement but quickly recovered. Seth wondered how hard he’d have to work to charm the truth out of her. In spite of her appearance, something about her made him look forward to trying.

Although Dumplings and Dynamite releases tomorrow, you can pre-order it today!

If you were a miner back in the 1800s, what kind of mineral would you have been searching for? Gold? Silver? Quartz? Copper? Lead? Something with a little more sparkle? 

Marilyn Turk: No Iced Tea?

The fillies are handing a big hey welcome to guest blogger Marilyn Turk! Come on in!

When I began planning the menu for the Cowboy Café in my new novella, Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café, I was pretty sure I knew what foods would be served. After all, my main character, Sarah Beth Taylor, is a southern belle who hails from a Georgia plantation not far from Savannah. Since I, too, am a southern belle, (ahem), I’m familiar with southern food, and I was certain she’d serve iced tea.

But when I discovered our setting in Crinoline, Texas was in 1868 west Texas, I had a problem getting ice to her café. After years in the food service business, I had to rethink how they managed food preservation in 1868. How did they keep things cool in hot, dry Texas? Some of the gracious western writers on this blog offered solutions like spring houses, wells and basements. But ice? Now that was another matter.

Researching the history of commercial ice, I discovered that natural ice was originally harvested in the winter from frozen lakes, ponds and rivers in the north and stored in icehouses through the summer. Frederick Tudor of Boston began the ice trade in 1805, shipping ice blocks stacked with wood shavings and sawdust for insulation by ship or train. By 1847, ice was shipped to 28 cities in the United States, including those in the South like Savannah and Galveston. From there, the product was shipped inland via train or wagon.

As demand grew for natural ice, so did the competition. In 1851, Dr. John Gorrie of Florida (of course) invented mechanical refrigeration and the first ice machine. By 1876, the process had been perfected by other inventors. And in 1877, Elisha Hall and R.R. Everett established the Houston Ice Manufacturing Company, then other ice companies followed. Most ice plants produced 300-pound blocks of ice. Once made, block ice was delivered to homes and commercial businesses, first by mule or horse-drawn wagon. Of course, these wagons were not refrigerated, so they couldn’t travel too far from the ice plant and keep their ice frozen.

But Crinoline Creek was too far to get deliveries by wagon and there was no train there yet. It never got cold enough for the lakes and rivers to freeze, so they couldn’t cut ice from them. So, Sarah Beth couldn’t get ice in 1868 and she couldn’t serve iced tea. The best she could do was make lemonade as long as the general store could get lemons, or maybe order some bottles of sarsaparilla and hope to keep them cool in the well. I’m sure that eventually, ice was available in Crinoline Creek and the Cowboy Café could finally offer iced tea to its customers.

Hey guys, Marilyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of this marvelous book (I know that because I love these authors!!!!) Leave a comment, an opinion, or a pithy remark below about how you’ve managed to “make do” without something you’d like to have over the years? It could be ice… or chocolate?

No. 🙂 Not chocolate! Let’s see what you’ve got below!

Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café” by Marilyn Turk

A refined but feisty southern belle inherits a saloon she plans to convert into a genteel café. Even though her lack of cooking skills threatens disaster, she rejects the town banker’s advice. What will happen when the two lock horns and an unlikely romance simmers on the back burner?

 

A “literary archaeologist,” Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction flavored with suspense and romance for Barbour Books, Winged Publications and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. One of her World War II novels, The Gilded Curse, won a Silver Scroll award. She has also written a series of novels set in 1800 Florida whose settings are lighthouses. In addition, Marilyn’s novellas have been published in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and Crinoline Cowboys. Marilyn also writes for Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts Devotions.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Word Weavers International.

When not writing, Marilyn and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, playing tennis or visiting lighthouses.

Marilyn is a regular contributor to the Heroes, Heroines and History blog. https://www.hhhistory.com). Connect with her at http://pathwayheart.com, https://twitter.com/MarilynTurk, https://www.facebook.com/MarilynTurkAuthor/, https://www.pinterest.com/bluewaterbayou/, marilynturkwriter@yahoo.com.

Tenacity – The Stuff of Cowboys, Pioneers, and Persevering Women

The fillies welcome guest blogger Pamela Meyers!

The title may sound like a odd mix of people-types in the title, but think about it. The cowboys of old were a rare breed as they engaged in cattle drives while moving their herds to market. In the old west they had to deal with wild animals and attacks made by the area’s first dwellers, the American Indians. Today’s cowboys who rodeo (it’s used as a verb in the rodeo world) have to possess a lot of tenacity in all the events, but most of all, bull riding. They get on a 2,000-pound animal with nothing to hold onto but a loose rope tied around the bull. They have no idea if they will end the 8-second ride still astride the wild brute, or on the ground in one piece. And even if they are injured, they get back on a new bull the next week. I’ve seen cowboys ride with casted legs and arms. Tenacity at its best.

I can’t imagine the strength and tenacity that the pioneers of the past had to have to load their meager belongings in a covered wagon and travel west to begin a new life in a part of our country they had never experienced. Like the cowboys who drove their herds across the land, the pioneers had to face possible attacks along with bad weather that could delay them for days.

I’m currently writing historical stories set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that used to bear the nickname “Newport of the West.” It sounds strange today to think of a small town and lake in southeastern Wisconsin as “the west,” but back in the late 19th Century it was considered our country’s west. At that time, only the bravest souls had moved on past the Mississippi to the far-flung actual west

My four-book series called The Newport of the West, follows a fictional family who is displaced by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 as they move north to Lake Geneva, the same way many of Chicago’s wealthy did in real life after the fire.

Each book focuses on the daughter of the fictional couple in the previous book. Each heroine, beginning with Anna Hartwell in Safe Refuge (Book 1) possesses tenacity as they face obstacles, some real and solid ones as well as emotional ones. And along the way they come to lean on the Lord’s strength more than their tenacity to get them through. Anna had to deal with not only her family losing everything in the fire and having to start over in Wisconsin, but also faces the will of her parents when she was set to marry a terrible man in an arranged marriage.

 

The urgency of dissolving the arrangement before the nuptials take place is heightened by her falling in love with a wonderful God-fearing Irish immigrant. A totally unsuitable match in her mother’s estimation.

Is tenaciousness a trait you like to see in the heroines of the books you read? Can you share about a favorite fictional character that exhibits this trait in a way that has kept you turning the pages? Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for either “Safe Refuge” or “Shelter Bay”– I am absolutely delighted to hear what you think!

Pam Meyers has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Her novels, set in and around her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, along with Safe Refuge, and Shelter Bay.(Books One and Two in the Newport of the West Series.) Tranquility Point, Book Three, will publish in April 2020.

Pam resides in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats, only an hour or so away from Lake Geneva where she often is found nosing around for new story ideas. 

Photographer on a Sidesaddle

with guest blogger Regina Scott.

 

I love researching for a new novel, finding those unique nuggets that are going to bring a character or setting alive. In my recent release, A Distance Too Grand, my heroine Meg Pero is a photographer who wrangles her way onto a survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1871, only to discover the Army captain leading the expedition is the man she once refused to marry.

 

That doesn’t stop her. Meg’s used to being a woman in a man’s world. She followed her late father as he shot pictures of everything from a Civil War battlefield to Niagara Falls. Now she has to lug heavy cameras and deal with the harsh chemicals to prepare the glass plate negatives and develop the pictures. On such a rugged expedition, I thought surely she would ride astride.

 

Nope.

 

At that point in American history, except for a few daring or practical ladies out west, most ladies still rode sidesaddle. If Meg wants to be taken as a lady and a professional, she has to ride sidesaddle too. Which means, she needs a riding outfit.

 

And not just any riding outfit. For a two-month survey, Meg has one small trunk and two saddlebags in which to place all her personal belongings. If she wants to change her underthings, she has room for about two outfits. These outfits have to allow her to mount and dismount easily and climb into her photography van to set up her negatives. She must clamber over rocks, duck under trees, and venture out onto ledges to get the perfect shot. Nothing is more important to Meg than getting the shot.

 

Typical riding habits would not work. They were usually designed to look more like men’s wear, with tailored jackets and long, often tight sleeves. They also featured long skirts that could drape over the side of the saddle and hide the lady’s legs. Many of these skirts were so long they trailed on the ground when the lady was standing. All that would make it challenging for Meg’s work. 

 

However, as early as the 1830s, it was possible to purchase a riding habit that came with breeches or even trousers that were worn under a modest skirt. The short pants buttoned just below the knee. The longer trousers extended down over the boots and had a strap that went under the instep to keep them in place. If you look at this picture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can just see the hem of the trouser peeking out under the skirt on the right. Meg brings two such habits with her—one navy with brass buttons and one cream-colored version like what you see on the cover.

 

So, would you have been daring enough to wear breeches under your riding habit or even, ahem, ride astride? Comment below for a chance to win a print copy of A Distance Too Grand.

 

 

 

Regina Scott is the award-winning author of more than forty-five works of warm, witty historical romance. She and her husband live in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. Her fascination with history has led her to dress as a Regency dandy, drive a carriage four-in-hand, learn to fence, and sail on a tall ship, all in the name of research. You can learn more about her at http://www.reginascott.com or connect with her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorreginascott) or Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/reginascottpins

Online Dating in the 19th Century

With guest blogger Becca Whitham.

Online dating is not a new phenomenon…at least matching two people over a distance before they meet in person isn’t. During the 1800’s, it manifested itself as mail-order brides. The Telegraph Proposal is the final book in what Gina and I call our “mail-order brides gone wrong” series. We wanted to explore pitfalls of modern online dating using an historical setting. In our first story, The Promise Bride, we looked at what happens if the person you’ve been corresponding with was lying with malicious intent. The second story, The Kitchen Marriage, explored what happens when the family of the person you’ve been dating thinks only desperate and dishonest people resort to matchmaking services. And the final book looks at what happens when the dating service matches you with someone you not only know but don’t like.

Our research turned up fascinating stories which, if you changed the dates and a few particulars, read like they were ripped from today’s news stories. Women were often lured away from home with the promise of something better only to find themselves lost in the underworld of drugs and prostitution. There were stories of individuals falsely representing themselves to get money. Here’s a quote from The Chicago Tribune (which we added to the opening of The Kitchen Marriage): “…(Here’s) a fact that all women who ever answered a matrimonial advertisement or ever intend to answer one should remember: No man who has the ability or the means to support a wife in comfort needs to advertise for one.” The article was written December 28, 1884, but doesn’t it sound like advice you hear today?

 

To combat the perception that only desperate people would advertise for a spouse, services bloomed to help vet prospective candidates. Today we have Match.com, eHarmony, ChristianMingle, and others. My husband vetted someone. He was a pastor in Washington State at the time, and one of our congregants had been corresponding with a woman in Florida. Her pastor called my husband and said, “Okay. Tell me about this Greg fellow. Is he who he claims to be?” My husband was able to assure the Florida pastor that Greg was indeed telling the truth about himself. A few months later, after the woman had come to Washington for some in-person courting, my husband performed their wedding.

In the 1800’s, matchmaking agencies offered vetting services. For The Telegraph Proposal, our principal characters were tricked into a correspondence courtship by a well-intentioned but deceptive member of such an agency. However, instead of letting the ruse stand, we blew it up early in the story. I don’t know about you, but I hated how the movie “You’ve Got Mail” ended. Had I been Meg Ryan’s character, I would not have lovingly wrapped my arms around Tom Hanks’ neck and kissed him on that bridge after discovering how he’d tricked me. I’d have slapped his face and stomped off! So that’s what happens in The Telegraph Proposal. Our characters had to learn how to find their way back to love after such a disaster.

This skill is something we all need. My husband and I have conducted close to a hundred marriage retreats, and we always talk about how couples need to learn how to fall in love with the person they actually married as opposed to the one they thought they had. Some couples figure it out before marriage, others—like my husband and me—must figure it out afterwards. The opening sentence of The Telegraph Proposal sums it up: “Marriage did not make women experts on men.”

Becca Whitham (WIT-um) Award-winning author, paper crafter, and Army wife, Becca and her twelve-foot long craft cabinet follow her husband of thirty-five years wherever the army needs a good chaplain. She thinks the cabinet should count as a dependent. So far, neither the army nor the IRS is convinced. In between moves from one part of the country to the other, she writes stories combining faith and fiction that touch the heart. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. You can find her online at http://www.beccawhitham.com

 

Ruthy here: Becca has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Telegraph Proposal! Leave a comment below to be entered… and tell us what you think of online dating. The good… the bad… and if you’ve got a great story to share (like Ruthy’s nephew and his lovely wife, married 12 years and three kids, met at Match.com) we’d love to hear it!

LAKOTA SURRENDER, 25th Anniversary Edition Now on Sale

Howdy!

Good Morning (or afternoon or evening) and welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Well, I have some good news.  I hope you’ll find it good news.  My very first book ever, LAKOTA SURRENDER, which has been out of print for 26 years, is now going back into print.  At present it’s only in e-book format, but soon (very soon, I hope), it will be released once again in paperback for the first time in 26 years.  It’s a big deal for me.  Lots of editing (once again) to hopefully make it a tighter book.  The story line hasn’t changed at all, it’s only that it’s a bit of a tighter book, I think.  Here’s the cover.

 

I love this cover.  As I was doing the final look through on the edits, I had at the same time just received the cover for the first time.  It blew me away.  What do you think?

So I’ll be giving this e-book as a gift to one of you bloggers today who leave a message, so do leave a message, if you please.  So, with this book newly out in print (hopefully soon), I thought I’d post the blurb and an excerpt.  Hope you enjoy.

LAKOTA SURRENDER

by

Karen Kay 

25th Anniversary Edition, publishing November 1, 2019

Forbidden love…

Lakota, Book 1

As she travels west to join her cavalry officer father at his Kansas outpost, Kristina Bogard eagerly anticipates new adventures—and her first glimpse of wild Indians. She has long dreamed of flashing black eyes, skin-covered lodges and buckskin and leather.

What she finds in Fort Leavenworth, though, is a far cry from her Indian nanny’s thrilling stories. What few natives she’s encountered have been broken shadows of their proud past. All except one. A handsome warrior who stands tall and proud. A warrior who stirs up an entirely new set of dreams and emotions for Kristina.

Tahiska can’t take his eyes off the green-eyed beauty whose graceful hands are fluent in his native sign language. But he can’t afford to let anything distract him from avenging his father, who was murdered by two white soldiers.

Though anger fills his mind, Kristina steals into his heart, igniting a wildfire passion that must remain their desperate secret. For soon comes the day of reckoning, when justice will be served…or a travesty will shatter their love.

This is the 25th Year Anniversary Edition of this book

Warning: Sensuous romance for the romantic at heart

 

LAKOTA SURRENDER

by

Karen Kay

An Excerpt

 

Fort Leavenworth

July 4, 1833

 

The sun had scarcely been up an hour. The grass was still glistening with dew. The scents of early morning and of breakfast permeated the air.

Kristina brushed her forearm over her brow, her hand gripping the musical tuning fork. She was glad she had already consumed her morning meal. This tuning of the piano was requiring more time then she had anticipated. Soon the fort would come alive with soldiers and traders. She would like to have the piano tuned before it became too crowded.

She was seated at the instrument in the open air, on an erected, foot-high platform. As with most young women her age, Kristina had been taught music at a young age. But, while others played only at small, quiet gatherings, Kristina openly defied convention and played with the cavalry band.

The piano had been moved out of the church last night and set here at the head of the main courtyard, but she’d had little opportunity to tune it last evening. Besides, she had justified to herself, it was better to let the piano sit overnight. The adjusting might hold better.

She worked as quickly as she could. Because it was the Fourth of July, there would be a grand celebration today and the piano was needed to fill in with the band, not only for the raising of the flag, but also for the party afterwards.

She glanced toward the sun in irritation. Already she was warm and the day had just barely started.

She leaned over the instrument, played a middle C, then a C one octave higher, turning the wooden peg until she was pleased with the sound. She hit the tuning fork once again and struck the two notes. Satisfied, she advanced to C sharp.

The sound echoed through the fort, creating a hollow twang whose eerie song had never before been heard by the three pairs of Indian ears.

***

Tahiska and his two companions were awake and alert long before the sun became a red orb in the eastern sky. The journey to the soldier fort took usually a full moon, but the three young warriors, anxious for revenge, had traversed the distance in three weeks, changing mounts often, traveling into the night and sleeping little.

Tahiska’s heart was saddened still, and, though anger coursed through his veins, he couldn’t deny that there was an excitement about this day that eluded him. Perhaps he would meet his own death today. Perhaps. But he did not think so. A premonition stirred his soul; a feeling that an undertaking of importance was to happen today. He knew it. He could feel it. He had sensed it even as he had hunted and eaten a breakfast of berries and fresh meat. Yes, today was a good day.

The three young warriors had prepared themselves earlier in the morning and had washed in a creek close by, praying to Wakan Tanka, the God of all, for courage and bravery in the face of an enemy they had yet to meet.

Tahiska had formulated his plans well. He did not intend to wage his war against the entire fort. Though his emotions urged him to kill any white person available for atonement, his personal ethic would not allow him to commit such an immoral act. And, he schooled himself to think clearly. He would kill the two who had committed the crime and none else. Such was the courtesy he would show the white man. So it was for this reason that he and his friends would not wear the customary war paint into the fort. Only after he had singled out the two murderers would he prepare for battle.

No, first he would meet with their chief and ask for the murderers to be turned over to his own party. If this failed, and he had no way of anticipating the actions of the white people, he had other plans.

They dressed this day for council, not for war, and, leaving their horses hobbled in their camp, they made their way to the fort on foot. They stood outside the gates, awaiting entry.

They were, each one, dressed richly in elk and deerskins. Their shirts were made of delicate, soft leather, each one fringed and decorated with ornamental porcupine quills. Their leggings were fringed and fell to their moccasins, which in their own turn were adorned with beads and colorful quills. Slung horizontally across their backs were their bows, quivers, and shields. Their lances they held in their hands. While his two friends were dressed in tan, Tahiska was wearing white, and, when the white man acknowledged their presence, it was Tahiska to whom the soldiers addressed their inquiries.

But the white man’s tongue was strange, and only through a long dissertation of repeated signs was Tahiska able to tell the white soldiers that he and his party had come to speak with the fort’s chief. While Tahiska was stunned to learn that the soldiers were in ignorance of the language of hand signs, which was so common and well known on the plains, good manners kept his scorn carefully hidden.

They waited for permission to enter the fort. To an outsider their expressions would seem dour, but courtesy forbid them to show any emotion; their anger, even their contempt at being kept waiting in the ever-increasing heat of the day, was shrouded behind their eyes. They stood patiently, not making a move at all.

It was more than an hour later that the strange notes carried over the garrison walls. The sound was eerie, mysterious, and the Indians began to wonder if Wakan Tanka had heard their prayers this day.

***

As was the custom at the fur company, so too, at the fort, the Indians’ weapons were placed in an arsenal. Tahiska demanded, and was allowed, possession of his bow. Tahiska sought out the soldiers in the white man’s building and was at last able, through painfully crude sign language, to convey to the soldiers that he desired a council with the white man’s chief. Just as crudely and with great deliberation, the white soldiers told the Indians to return when the sun was at its zenith. Today was the Fourth of July, a holiday. The white chief could see them no sooner. The Indians nodded understanding and turned to leave.

As they strode back into the sun, Tahiska quickly scanned the fort. It took only a second, but his practiced gaze missed nothing—the two women to his right, one hundred yards away; the three soldiers, each carrying one firestick and a long knife; the two guards parading the planks of the garrison walls, each armed with one firestick and another long knife. He sized up the men as opponents, observed that there was no other exit but the gate they had just entered through, and wondered at the buildings along the road. The area around him was practically deserted, though there were sounds of movement elsewhere within the fort.

Tahiska was astounded at the late hour in which the fort commenced to do business. Had he been at home, he could already have hunted for himself and another family. But his thoughts were not revealed on his face, his expression guardedly blank.

There it was again. That sound. The eerie song they had heard over the fort’s walls that morning. It shrieked through the morning air, its sound more disturbing than the cry of a raven. Tahiska’s gaze searched the sky for the cause, but he could see nothing. He had no indication his medicine was bad this day, yet this melody made him uneasy.

“Spread out, investigate each tepee, each home,” Tahiska commanded, “Wahtapah, you on this side and you, Neeheeowee, on the other. I will see what sort of bird sings this song. I will see if it is good medicine or bad. When the sun is high, we meet here. Now go.”

***

Kristina sat at the piano bench, hunched over the instrument. She had one leg beneath her, one leg on the floor, and her skirts settled around her. The job of tuning the piano was almost done and she was feeling quite pleased with herself. Just two more octave notes and she was finished. She played one, then the other, turning the peg until she was satisfied. This done she moved farther down the piano and began to play a song.

An odd sensation swept over her skin, leaving goose bumps along her arms and a prickly feeling at the back of her neck. She played a few more notes, then cocked her head to the side, her peripheral vision catching a glimpse of a white-clad figure. Thinking her senses were playing tricks on her again, Kristina started to turn away when the clean scent of prairie grass caught at her breath. She stopped, her fingers in midair, as the earth beneath her seemed to reel. To counter the sensation she set both feet on the ground and spun around.

She had to look a long way up to meet the black eyes that were watching her intently. Her breath caught in her throat, and Kristina had to force herself to exhale. Perhaps, she decided, it would be best to stand.

Clutching the piano with her hands behind her, she stood, noting with a mixture of dread, plus an odd sort of excitement, that this Indian stranger stood a good head taller than she.

She stared into his face. He looked foreign, wild, and yet oddly familiar.

She tried to smile, but it was shaky. “Hello,” she tried.

He said nothing, his expression registering nothing, as well, and he looked her directly in the eye.

Kristina, unused to such open scrutiny, blushed, not understanding that he gazed at her so openly because he was uncertain if she were friend or foe. Where have I seen him before? Nervously, she wrung her hands, then gestured toward the piano. “I…I was just tuning it for the…ce…celebration today.”

His glance had left her eyes, was now roaming slowly, meticulously over the golden tan of her hair, the soft oval of her face, her nose, her lips, then downward toward her neck, stopping at the material of her gown as it clung to her shoulders.

His gaze jerked back to hers. Quickly he signed a greeting and Kristina visibly relaxed, for she knew this language well.

She moved her hands, motioning a response, but also asking, “Where are you from—what tribe?”

He didn’t answer, but instead trod to her side, next to the piano.

Kristina noted several things about him all at once: the fluid way he moved, as though it took no effort; the lone tooth dangling from a leather cord around his neck; the beaded earrings hanging from both earlobes, giving him not an air of effeminacy as one would have expected, but a sense of potent strength. His hair was quite long, reaching way past his shoulders, and Kristina was startled to note that it did not detract from his allure. He was probably the most handsome man she’d ever seen.

“What is this?” he signed, indicating the piano. He hadn’t looked at her, but when he turned back to her, catching her scrutiny of him, Kristina felt so embarrassed she couldn’t control the flush that warmed her face. Realizing her cheeks were awash with color, she averted her gaze.

“It’s a piano,” she stated, stumbling over what to sign in reply, finally settling for “song-maker.” “Pi-a-no,” she repeated, pointing to it.

She pressed down on a key; then another and another.

“See, when you finger it, it sings.” She attempted another uncertain smile. “Here, I’ll show you.”

She invited him with gestures to tap a key, but he was not cooperative, and his face revealed no expression whatsoever.

“Here.” She touched his hand. At the contact a sudden tremor shot up her arm, causing her to gasp.

She pulled back, her eyes darting up to his, but she couldn’t easily read his thoughts. His stare was unwavering, and she wondered if she were the only one who had felt it—the shock.

“I…”

He silenced her with a sign.

Neither one spoke. Neither one moved. And, for a moment, a short space of time, she felt her world stop.

The sun beat down its warmth upon them, and its tawny rays caught a fiery red highlight in his hair, reminding her of fire and passion. All at once, Kristina thought she might burst.

She turned away, but this time, he reached out toward her. It was a light graze, lasting only a moment, its intent clearly to keep her from leaving. A simple gesture. That’s all it was. Yet Kristina felt a jolt all through her body.

He motioned her to sit.

She complied, almost without thinking.

“Sing,” he motioned.

“Sing?” she asked aloud.

He gestured towards the keys, signing again, “Sing.”

“Oh, I see. You want me to play.” She fingered the keys lightly, not pressing down on them. “Like this?”

With one hand, he motioned, ”Yes.”

She played then, her attention not on the notes, but rather on the man who stood at her side. Without thought, her hands moved over the cool, ivory keys in the haunting melody of Pachelbel’s “Canon”; Kristina closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on what she was doing, not on the virile Indian watching her intently. It made no difference. Every other sense she had was alerted to him, from the clean scent of him to the muffled sound of his soft, white-bleached clothing as he moved.

Moved? Kristina played the last note and opened her eyes to find the Indian not at her side as she had thought, but in front of her, the height of the piano between them. She gazed up at him, over the piano, catching a look in his eye that might have been—admiration? She couldn’t be sure because it was so quickly gone that she wondered if she had only imagined it.

“Kristina,” Julia exclaimed, bursting onto the scene. “Come quickly. There’s news that…there’s…” Julia’s words gradually slowed. “That…there…are wild Indians… Kristina, I think you’ve discovered this for yourself.”

“Yes,” Kristina said. She glanced down as she rose from the piano. She had to get away. She wasn’t sure what had happened to her just now and she needed time alone to consider it. Without stopping to think, she quickly signed a good morning to the Indian, smiled unsteadily in his direction, and dashed toward Julia. The tingling sensation at the back of her neck told her the Indian’s gaze had never left her.

What had happened? Why did he look so familiar?

***

Well, that’s it for now.  Please do leave a message and let me know what you think about the cover and also about the excerpt.  But most of all, have a beautiful day.

https://www.amazon.com/Lakota-Surrender-Warrior-Book-ebook/dp/B07ZW9FSLG/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=lakota+surrender+by+karen+kay&qid=1572920639&sr=8-1%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: November 4, 2019 — 9:25 pm

Where The Deer and the Buffalo Play

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  The prairie.  When we drive through the prairie in our modern day times, we see lots of farming, and, of course, very flat land.

The prairie is so much a part of the West, it’s hard to think of the Western without the prairie.  In Kansas and Missouri, the prairie had grasses sometimes so tall that a man on a horse would disappear into the grass.  Did you know that?  I think it was when I was first researching the West and the Prairie that I came across that info.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY was a 2018 release.  One of the reviewers of that book made a comment that the book was really about the Prairie and the feeling of being there on the prairie at that time when the story takes place.

Very intentionally I wrote about my fascination about the prairie, and it was wonderful to see that someone else appreciated it, too.

One of the sources of research that I like most is George Catlin, who in 1835, sailed up the Missouri on a steamboat in order to paint the Indians.  Here’s a quote from Catlin from around 1835 concerning the prairie seen on the Missouri,the Platte and the Arkansas Rivers.  He’s talking about a Prairie Fire here.

“But the burning plain has another aspect when the grass is seven or eight feet high and the flames are driven by the hurricanes that often sweep over the meadows of the Missouri, the Platte, and the Arkansas. This grass is so high that we were obliged to stand in our stirrups to look over its waving tops.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 199). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

In doing some research for the book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, I traveled over the Prairie of Kansas and along the Arkansas River, where my story was to take place.  Sometimes, one can visit some of the off-the-beaten-track places, where they have preserved the prairie as it once was.  Many travelers at that time called it the sea of green — constant and flowing and seemingly never ending.

I soaked up the feeling of the prairie, trying to imagine what it would have been like at that time for the hero and heroine.  Loved reading about the Santa Fe Trail and all the adventures that the pioneers had along the way. 

This book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, is about that prairie, as well, and about those that traveled on The Santa Fe Trail.

Here’s another quote from Catlin’s book:

“The high grass, being filled with wild-pea vines and other impediments, render it necessary to take the zigzag trails of the deer and buffalo.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (pp. 199-200). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

In another book, my very first book, LAKOTA SURRENDER, I make mention of and have an entire scene wrapped around a prairie wild fire.  Again, the idea was sparked by a prairie wild fire that Catlin was in, and almost didn’t escape.

Here’s what he says:

“White man,” said he, “see that small cloud rising from the prairie. He rises. The hoofs of horses have waked him. The Fire Spirit is awake; this wind is from his nostrils, and his face is this way.” He said no more, but his swift horse darted under him, and he slid over the waving grass as it was bent before the wind. We were quickly on his trail. The extraordinary leaps of his wild horse occasionally raised his shoulders to view, then he sank again in the waving billows of grass. On the wind above our heads was an eagle. His neck was stretched for the towering bluff, and his thrilling screams told of the secret that was behind him. Our horses were swift and we struggled hard, but our hope was feeble, for the bluff was yet blue and nature nearly exhausted. The cool shadow advancing over the plain told that the sun was setting. Not daring to look back we strained every nerve. The roar of a distant cataract seemed gradually overtaking us. The wind increased, and the swift winged beetle and the heath hens drew their straight lines over our heads. The fleet bounding antelope passed us, and the still swifter, long legged hare, who leaves but a shadow as he flies. Here was no time for thought, but I recollect that the heavens were overcast, the distant thunder was heard, and the lightning reddening the scene, and the smell that came on the wind struck terror to my soul. The piercing yell of my savage guide at this moment came back on the wind, his robe was seen waving in the air, as his foaming horse leaped up the bluff.

Our breath and our sinews were just enough, in this last struggle for life, to carry us to the summit. We had risen from a sea of fire. Now looking back, still trembling from our peril, I saw beneath me a cloud of black smoke which extended from one extremity of this vast plain to the other, and seemed to roll over the surface of a bed of liquid fire. Above this mighty desolation the white smoke rose like magnificent cliffs to the skies. Then behind all this we saw the black and smoking desolation left by this storm of fire.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 202). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

What an amazing accounting.  Sometimes, I think when we pass through this country, it’s wonderful to remember how it once was.  And so, the tall grass prairie is something that I think is thrilling to add to a story.

What do you think?

I’ll be giving away one of these e-books to one of the bloggers here today.  She can have her pick as to which one.  Thanks so much for coming here today, and thanks for participating.  Be sure to leave a comment

 

Above here, are me and my brother-in-law in a short grass prairie in Montana.  And below here is my darling husband, also in a short grass prairie in Montana.

 

 

Updated: October 7, 2019 — 8:16 pm