Fireplace Etiquette and a Give Away!

I know I’ve talked about the duties of servants, maids, odd beauty secrets and old West etiquette in Petticoats and Pistols before, but let’s face it, it never gets old. Especially since much of the advice given back then was so outlandish it bears looking at (and laughing at) again now and then. I have an extensive research library and have collected some fun “field-guides” on these subjects ranging from the late 1700’s to the early 1900s.

It’s interesting to note that not all of them were written by women. Did you know there was a Mr. Walsh who wrote a manual of domestic economy in 1856? The book was then updated in 1873. He wrote extensively about household management.

One tip I found from his book was this advice for women whose clothes have caught fire. Usually from standing too close to a fireplace, something a lady should never do. According to Mr. Walsh you should first:

1. Call for help by ringing the bell. A servant should come. (If one doesn’t than you better start praying your socks off. My thought, not Mr. Walsh’s.)
2. Rip off the clothes that are aflame and pour water on the clothing. The servant should have water in your room for this reason.
3. If this doesn’t stop the flames sit down on the floor in an upright position.
4. Roll oneself in a rug. Every room should have a rug in case of flaming females.
5. Stop wearing fine muslin.

Easy for Mr. Walsh to say, and where are the instructions for flaming males? That’s what I want to know. Maybe men never caught fire. And why would they when there was an etiquette rule that dictated gentlemen should never put their backs to the fire while conversing with others. And if one does put their back to a fire, it was considered extremely impolite to warm one’s derriere by raising the coat flaps at an angle of 45°, while the rest of the company in the room was freezing.

The queen of these tomes on cooking and domesticity was, of course, Isabella Beeton. Mrs. Beeton lived from 1836 to 1865. She was the original domestic goddess and published her famous Book of Household Management in 1861. It sold 60,000 copies in the first year, and 2 million copies by 1868. What’s interesting is that her commentary on servants, household management, and cooking are still used as primary sources today. Unfortunately, Mrs. Beeton died in 1865 from an infection during childbirth. Her husband, Samuel Beeton who was also her publisher, kept up the idea that she lived on, since her name was a large source of income. Spinoffs and abridged versions of her book were published to keep up the image that a matronly Mrs. Beaton was still alive and well. To my knowledge, she didn’t include anything about flaming skirts in her her book.

I have a maid, Betsy, who works for Mayor Vander and his wife Mercy. Characters from my town of Independence which is featured in my holiday mail order bride series. She’s the kind of servant that would throw a bucket of water on you if your skirts caught fire or roll you up in a rug herself. Mayor Vander wouldn’t care if he conversed with his back to the fireplace or not. That’s the thing about manners and some of the other things the experts of the day wrote about. Out West folks didn’t pay as much attention to such things. Unless of course they were from back east and brought their manners and etiquette with them.


Have you ever read or seen a book on manners, etiquette, or household tips from the 1800s? They’re hilarious to read! I’ll pick a random person from the comments below to receive a free e-book copy of Love in Independence which introduces the town and its quirky characters along with Betsy the maid.

Book Blurb: They say love covers a multitude of sins, and for matchmakers Mercy, Martha, and Maude, it’s a good thing! Fearing the town’s new pastor is lonely, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and order him a mail order bride! Imagine his surprise when he finds out? Only he doesn’t! Mercy, Martha, and Maude see to that!

Winnie Longfellow has spent years caring for her sick mother, and now that she’s passed, has nowhere to go but her Aunt Eugina’s. But her aunt has other things on her mind, other problems to deal with, and so Winnie accepts a proposal from a pastor out west looking for a mail order bride. Little did she know, he was looking for so much more, anything more! He had no idea he’d sent for one! Now Winnie finds herself at the mercy of three madcap matrons, determined that love will find a way. Despite multiple misunderstandings, a horrid bully/gossip, and a woman she’s sure her intended will marry instead of her, Winnie discovers some things about herself, and finds that love really does find its way …

Mary Connealy has THREE WINNERS!!!

The winner of an audio version of Braced for Love is

Kellie

The winner of an ebook version of Braced for Love is

Ginny Perkins

The winner of a print version of Braced for Love is

Deb Volkman

Deb, I’ve emailed you using the email address attached to your comment on our blog. It’s bounced twice now. Please contact me at mary@maryconnealy.com and I’ll connect with you to arrange to send your book.

I will contact each of you and

get you your book in the correct format!

 

Mary Connealy, author of romantic comedies with cowboys

History of Bicycles with Charlene Raddon

Everyone grew up riding bicycles, right? Wrong. At least not successfully. I was a terrible rider, so nervous I kept falling into parked cars. At least, that was better than falling into the street and being run over by a car.

In my latest book, Gage (Ridge), Cupids & Cowboys Book 7, my heroine rides a bicycle in 1900 Montana. As it turned out, she didn’t do so well either. My hero, Marshal Ridge Givens (one of the triplets born in Barclay, Bachelors & Babies Book 1) went to the train station to pick her up. Instead of stepping down from a rail car as would be expected, she drove an automobile off a flatcar with a bicycle strapped to the back and wearing bloomers. No one in Cutthroat, Montana, had seen a motor car until then. She became the talk of the town.

Honora Keane came to Montana to fetch her orphaned niece, but being a dime novelist, she also hoped to get some first-hand experience in the ways of the quickly disappearing west. Of particular interest was the elder Gage Givens, Ridge’s uncle, though she soon decided Ridge would make a good hero too.

When the bank was robbed, and Ridge and Uncle Gage went after the gang, Honora begged to go along. Ridge said no. Well, being a modern woman and a suffragist, Honora ignored his decree. Not having a horse or knowing how to ride one, she did the perfectly logical thing—she rode her bicycle to follow the men into the mountains. Her experiences on that trip proved pretty hilarious.

Naturally, all this required research. I learned that several men claimed to have invented bicycles (called running machines or Draisines) as early as 1500, but Baron Karl von Drais, a German civil servant, created the first verifiable model in 1817. Being constructed almost entirely of wood, the draisine had no foot pedals, which required the rider to push it along with his feet (hence running machine).

New names came into use with later models, such as “pedestrian curricle” and “velocipede.” However, the public preferred “hobby-horse,” after the children’s toy or, worse still, “dandyhorse,” after the foppish men who often rode them. In the summer of 1819, the hobby horse became the craze in London. John Keats referred to it as “the nothing” of the day. A French metalworker, around 1863, added rotary cranks and pedals to the front-wheel hub to create the first pedal-operated “bicycle.”

From 1820 to 1850, tricycles and quadricycles appeared on the streets in a variety of designs, using pedals, treadles, and hand-cranks. Most suffered from high weight and high rolling resistance until Willard Sawyer of Dover built a range of treadle-operated 4-wheel vehicles and exported them worldwide in the 1850s.

The first mechanically propelled two-wheel vehicle is believed to have been built by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839. A nephew later claimed that his uncle developed a rear-wheel-drive design using mid-mounted treadles connected by rods to a rear crank, similar to the transmission of a steam locomotive. The first bicycle with pedals was invented in 1853.

 

Developed around 1863, a French design sparked a brief fashionable craze during 1868–70. It used rotary cranks and pedals mounted to the front wheel hub. Pedaling made it easier for riders to propel the machine at speed, but this design’s rotational speed limitation made it unstable and uncomfortable, leading to the large front wheel of the “penny-farthing.” It wasn’t easy to pedal the wheel used for steering. The use of metal frames reduced the weight and provided sleeker, more elegant designs and mass-production. Different braking mechanisms were used depending on the manufacturer. In England, the velocipede earned the name of “bone-shaker” because of its rigid frame and iron-banded wheels that resulted in a “bone-shaking experience.” Later improvements included solid rubber tires and ball bearings.

The bicycle’s popularity grew on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1868–69, the craze was going strong in rural areas. Velocipede rinks became popular, and riding schools opened in many cities. Essentially, the velocipede proved a stepping stone, creating a market for bicycles that led to the development of more advanced and efficient machines. By 1870, the bicycle remained in favor only in the UK.

The high-bicycle was the logical extension of the boneshaker, the front wheel enlarging to enable higher speeds (limited by the inside leg measurement of the rider), the rear wheel shrinking, and the frame being made lighter. Frenchman Eugène Meyer is now regarded as the father of the high bicycle. Meyer invented the wire-spoke tension wheel in 1869 and produced a classic high bicycle design until the 1880s.

A later invention called the “ordinary bicycle” replaced this type of bicycle, eventually being nicknamed “penny-farthing” in England (a penny representing the front wheel, and a coin smaller in size and value, the farthing, meaning the rear). They were fast but unsafe. The rider sat high up in the air and traveled at great speed. If he hit a bad bit of road, he could be thrown over the front wheel and seriously injured (two broken wrists were common, in attempts to break a fall) or even killed. “Taking a header” (also known as “coming a cropper”) was not at all uncommon.

The rider’s legs could be caught under the handlebars, making it impossible to fall free of the machine. The danger limited cycling to adventurous young men. Older men preferred the more stable tricycles or quadracycles. Women’s fashion of the day made the “ordinary” bicycle inaccessible.

My neighbor owns a high bicycle, and it’s interesting to watch him climb onto it and ride off down the street. I wonder how many of you ride bikes today? They don’t seem to be as popular as when I was a kid (back in the stone age).

And to read more about Ridge and Honora, order their book today!

For a chance to win an e-book copy of Vella

or an e-book copy of Gage,

post your answer to these questions :

Did you ride a bike as a child? Do you still ride one?
Did you have any wild adventures while riding your bicycle?

 

Bestselling author Charlene Raddon began writing in 1980 after waking up from a dream she knew had to appear in a book. She dragged out a portable typewriter and began writing. That book took nine years to write, as she learned her craft at the same time. A time travel, it has not yet been published. Next, she wrote Tender Touch (Brianna), entered it into the Colorado Gold contest, historical division, and won. That victory prompted her to enter the RWA Golden Heart Contest and Tender Touch became a finalist. She acquired an agent and a year and a half later, signed a three-book contract with Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Books.

In 1999, when the historical market plummeted and western romance became almost impossible to sell, she took a hiatus from writing, but her imagination wouldn’t leave her alone. Eventually, she got back into the game. In 2011, she won back her rights to her books and had them released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. In 2012 Tirgearr released two of her books in print, Taming Jenna and Tender Touch.

In 2011, Charlene’s artistic nature prompted her to try a different path and she began designing book covers. Today, she has a long list of clients and her own cover site, silversagebookcovers.com where she specializes in historical romance covers, primarily western.

Her writing and graphic arts business keeps her mightily busy and happy. But she always has time for family, travel, and helping other authors. Connect with Charlene on her website: https://charleneraddon.com/

Audio books?

Does anyone ‘read’ audio books?

I’ve been walking on my new treadmill daily and because I’m half mad during it with boredom I’ve been listening to one of my books (the only one I could lay my hands on) as an audio book. The Accidental Guardian.

So I’ve never listened to many audio books before. Even less my own. Twice before I’ve put an audio book on and listened. Once on a drive to Minneapolis. The book lasted all the way up and all the way back.

Is that right? I mean it wouldn’t have taken me that long to read it. I question whether it took me that long to WRITE it!

And then a few years back I had a detached retina.  I’m sure I whined about it here at the time….BECAUSE I WHINED ABOUT IT EVERYWHERE. I had to (after surgery) lay FACE DOWN FOR TEN DAYS!!!) A very weird experience.

I had My Cowboy go to the local library, where, when I get my usual free copy of each and every one of my books in audio form…I donate them.

He brought home the whole Wild Women series. I got each of them listened to…one per day (three books). So that kept the madness at bay for three of the ten days.

My children introduced me to podcasts, well anyway, I digress…

So I’m been listening to The Accidental Guardian on audio book and I’m wondering if anyone likes them because, for the first time EVER, part of getting an audio book is I get a couple of free downloads.

Does this mean I don’t get an actual physical disk packet? I have no idea. Hmmmm Sorry about that library.

Anyway, I’m giving one away today. Would anyone like an audio book? All I’ve got is some code thing.

Whoever wins, I’ll send you the instructions to collect your audio copy of Braced for Love. And hope you can figure out how in the world to make them work. There are instructions…I’ll send those along with your code.

Shaking my head. Together we WILL succeed, I vow it!!!

In the comment section, tell me yes or no, do you listen to audio books…I’ll throw in a regular print copy and an ebook, too, just so whichever is your favorite, there’s something for everyone.

Three winners, three formats.

Hey, it’s almost my birthday. I’m feeling like giving presents is right!

Reviews are coming in for Braced for Love.

Don’t Blink–A Bookish Blog

Fueled by Faith and Caffeine

Read Eat Repeat

Braced for Love

Buy at Baker Book House

Buy on Amazon

Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life.

But danger seems to track Kevin along the way, and he wonders if his half brother, Wyatt, is behind the attacks. Finally arriving at the ranch, everyone is at each other’s throats and the only one willing to stand in between is Winona Hawkins, a nearby schoolmarm.

Despite being a long-time friend to Wyatt, Winona can’t help but be drawn to the earnest, kind Kevin–and that puts her in the cross hairs of somebody’s dangerous plot. Will they all be able to put aside their differences long enough to keep anyone from getting truly hurt?

THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS–LEARNING HISTORY THROUGH SONGS #1 by Cheryl Pierson

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, “story songs” were very popular. Even though radio stations had their “3-minute limit” for song length back then, there were some exceptions. And many of these songs were amazingly concise, able to tell the story, and also evoke emotion from the listener. It didn’t hurt to have a catchy melody to keep us all tuned in, or to be certain we’d run out and buy a 45 single record to have for our very own!

Many of these ballads were connected to movies—whether the theme or other music that was used in conjunction with a movie release.

Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton were two of the most prolific balladeers of those times, and two of my favorite singers. I’m not sure in this case what came first—the “chicken or the egg”—because I was just a tyke when many of these songs gained popularity, so of course, I loved those singers and the songs, as well.

One of the most popular songs of this type was The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton. If you’ve ever tried to sing along, you will know this is NOT the easiest song to perform!

The importance of the Battle of New Orleans (January 8, 1815) was not in the outcome of the War of 1812, but in the morale of the American forces as they were able to push back the British and keep them from gaining control of a major American port. This song contains the “high points” and is fun to sing (or TRY to sing!)—and easier to remember than memorizing names and dates from a history book. It was the battle the propelled Major General Andrew Jackson to national fame, and the last major battle of the war of 1812.

The song was written by Jimmy Driftwood, and received the Grammy for Best Song of the Year (1959) and Best C&W Song. Who was Jimmy Driftwood, you ask? According to Wikipedia, here’s the scoop on the melody and the lyrics, and a school principal who wanted to make learning history more interesting:

The melody is based on a well-known American fiddle tune “The 8th of January,” which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmy Driftwood, a school principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set an account of the battle to this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history. It seemed to work, and Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was “discovered” in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually was given a recording contract by RCA, for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including “The Battle of New Orleans.”

The Battle of New Orleans has been covered by many other artists, including Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, but none achieved the level of success that Johnny Horton’s version did. With a rasp in his voice, a twinkle in his eye, and his enthusiasm for the song, it’s easy to understand why The Battle of New Orleans skyrocketed, where it spent six weeks at number one on the popular charts, and ten weeks at the top spot on the country charts!

“The Battle Of New Orleans”

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

We looked down the river and we seen the British come
And there must have been a hunnerd of ’em beatin on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales ‘n’ didn’t say a thing

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Old Hickory said we could take ’em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets till we looked ’em in the eye
We held our fire ’till we seed their faces well
Then we opened up the squirrel guns and really gave em
Well we

Fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

We fired our cannon till the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with cannonballs and powered his behind
And when we touched the powder off the gator lost his mind

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4
Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4
Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4

This song is included (of course!) in the 1960 album by Johnny Horton called Johnny Horton Makes History, containing all his other story-songs about different actual historical events and those that “might have been”—a wonderful collection.

Here’s a video of Johnny Horton performing his chart-topping song, and having a little fun with it. Do you remember this song? Does anyone love these story-songs like I do?

https://youtu.be/mjXM6x_0KZk

Winners! Winners! Come Have a Look!

Winners!  Winners!

Indeed, everyone who came to the blog yesterday will be gifted with the e-book of LAKOTA PRINCESS.  It’s coming to you via Bookbub and all you have to do to get your copy is to email me privately at karenkay(dot)author(at)startmail(dot)com.  I’ll provide the link in order to claim your book.

Meanwhile, we have a winner for the free paperback of LAKOTA PRINCESS, an that winner is:                                                         LOIS IMEL

Lois, I’ll need you to email me privately and provide me with a mailing address for you.

Many thanks to y’all who came to the blog and left a message.  Very appreciated.

LAKOTA PRINCESS, Anniversary Edition, Excerpt & Give-away

Howdy!

Welcome to a wacky Wednesday.  Well, not too wacky.

LAKOTA PRINCESS, the 25th Anniversary Edition, is just out in e-book and print.  The book has been re-edited and an updated Anniversary Edition cover given to it and best of all, it’s on sale for $.99.  Yay!

Let me tell you a little about this unusual “Western” romance.  First, it’s set in England.  So, we brought the West to that little island empire, England.  Next, it’s set during the Regency period (early 1800’s) and so it has a bit of that time period within its pages, as well as the customs of the Lakota Indians before the Europeans came into their country and changed things.  Then, it also entails some interesting facts about the Royal Family, and indeed, the Royal Family becomes a character — so to speak — in the book.

Hope you’ll enjoy the following blurb and excerpt:

A love that defies the ocean.  A secret deeper than blood.

 Lakota Princess, Book 3

Driven from her home in England by hostile political forces, Estrela was little more than a girl when she came to be raised by a far western Lakota tribe.  On the wide, sweeping plains she grew tall and strong, and won the love of a handsome warrior.

But on the eve of their marriage, she is torn away from her native family, torn from the man she loves, and forced to return to a place that feels more like a foreign country than her home.  There she merely exists, haunted by her love’s sweet kisses and heated embrace, yearning for his unforgettable touch.

Black Bear has braved the ocean to find the woman whose beauty has captured his soul.  But no sooner has he arrived in England than he is called upon to save her life.  Who in their right mind would want to murder such a gentle spirit?

As Black Bear comes between her and death time after time, Estrela wishes they could both just disappear back to the plains, and bury the secret she has long hidden –- even from him.  A secret from which only their love, truer than blood, can save them.

Warning:  Sensuous romance that contains separated lovers who will let nothing come between them…not oceans, her mysterious past, or a murderer bent on destroying their future.

LAKOTA PRINCESS, an Excerpt

by

Karen Kay

She wore the pink, transparent creation into the breakfast parlor after all, and was rewarded for her efforts by a frown from Black Bear. The gown’s lines trailed downward from an empire waist, and Estrela smoothed the outer filmy material down with a self-conscious gesture of her hand. She hadn’t wetted down the undergarments as was the current custom, it being thought by those who ruled fashion that if the material beneath looked wet, it would allude more to the feminine form; something which, it would appear, was most desirable.

Her shoes of soft, pink satin peeked out beneath the hemline of the dress as Estrela paced forward, and all at once, she felt the heat of Black Bear’s piercing scowl.

She peered down at herself. It didn’t matter if she hadn’t wetted down the undergarments; the dress still made her look practically nude. She looked up then, and away, her cheeks awash with unbecoming warmth; she felt suddenly inadequate.

It also didn’t help, she realized, when she looked at the other women seated around the breakfast table and found them to be dressed in a much more risqué fashion than she. They didn’t appear to bother Black Bear.

He scowled at her alone.

She advanced into the room.

“Ah, Lady Estrela.” The Duke of Colchester arose from his seat and smiled at her. “So good to see you this morning. Did you enjoy your morning of exercise?”

“Yes, Sir, I did,” she replied, sweeping her lashes down over her eyes to study the Duke without his knowledge. The man had been most kind to her. Did he mean more by his question? She couldn’t tell.

“Ah,” the Duke continued. “I must admit that I was concerned after that dreadful event yesterday. But, I see that you have recovered most splendidly. Jolly good of you to join us, I say.”

Estrela smiled. “Thank you, Sir,” she replied, and, treading down the long length of the breakfast table, took the seat that a servant held out for her.

She smiled at the servant, then at the Duke as he, too, sat down.

She glanced around the table noting that the Duchess of Colchester chatted gaily with her daughters and with Black Bear, who, after his initial glare at Estrela, hadn’t looked again in her direction.

There were other people here, too, women she did not recognize and a few other men. The Royal Duke of Windwright must have spent the night, for he sat just opposite her at the table.

He glanced at her now, and, clearing his throat, said, “So good of you to join us, Lady Estrela. I say, did you sleep well?”

Estrela smiled at him. “Yes,” she said, “quite well, thank you.”

Black Bear glowered at her down the length of the table, but he said nothing and Estrela wondered if Black Bear intended to discipline her—and if he did, what form would it take?

Well, she wouldn’t think of it now. She had done the right thing for him. In time, he would see this. She only wished that time would elapse quickly.

“I daresay, old man,” the Duke of Windwright addressed the Duke of Colchester. “Must retire to the country soon now that Parliament is out of session. Can’t afford to miss the fox hunt, you know.”

The Duke of Colchester chewed upon a long cigar, not daring to smoke it in the presence of ladies. As it was he bordered on committing a social faux pas just by bringing a cigar into the same room as a lady.

He leaned forward across the table and leered at the other Duke. “I say,” the Duke of Colchester said, “geese are in season now. Do you fancy hunting geese? Could make a trip to the country, we could. I say, there, Black Bear.” He turned his attention to the Indian. “Have you ever hunted geese?”

Black Bear glanced down the table, glaring first at Estrela, then turning his solemn gaze upon the Duke. He didn’t smile and his features revealed nothing at all. At length, he said, “Geese are many in my country. I have hunted them, yes.”

“Well, I say, old chap,” the Duke of Colchester said, “would you quite fancy taking to the country with us to hunt geese?”

Black Bear didn’t scowl, but he didn’t smile either. He stared at the Duke of Colchester, then at the Duke of Windwright. And, as he studied the two men, his brows narrowed. At length he answered, saying, “I would greatly honor the chance to hunt with you. But it is autumn, the season to make meat, and I think we would do better to hunt deer or elk so that the women can fill the food stores for the season when the babies cry for food. Does your country have—tatá?ka—buffalo?”

“Make meat?” It was the Duke of Windwright who spoke.“I daresay we have no buffalo, my fine fellow, but the deer are aplenty and we could hunt them, too; however, shooting geese or any fowl is more the sport this time of year.”

The Indian nodded. “Then we will hunt geese,” he said, returning his grimace once more to Estrela.

Estrela glanced away.

And Black Bear, after a quick survey of the people sitting around the table said into the quietness of the room, “There is old Indian legend told in my country about geese.”

“Is there?” It was the Duchess of Colchester who spoke. “Oh, how exciting. Won’t you tell it to us, please?”

“Yes, please.”

“Oh, do tell us.”

Black Bear smiled, and, shooting Estrela one last glare, began, “It is said that—”

“I say, young fellow,” the Duke of Windwright interrupted, “what is ‘making meat’?”

Black Bear’s gaze leaped to the Duke.

“Oh, do be quiet,” the Duchess of Colchester said, perhaps without thinking first. “Can’t you tell that…?” She stopped, and, glancing quickly at the Royal Duke, carried on, “Oh, so sorry, Your Grace. It’s only that the Indian is telling us a story and I thought that you were my husband or that—I mean—perhaps I—”

“’Making meat,’” Estrela spoke up, thereby “saving” the Duchess, “refers to the necessity in an Indian camp to ensure there is enough food in store to get the people through even the harshest of winters. Usually in the fall, there is one last buffalo hunt during which the women will take what meat they get and dry it and pound it into wasná, which is a mixture of pounded meat, fat, and chokecherries. It is an important venture since, if there is not enough food to get through the winter, the people will starve.”

Estrela glanced at Black Bear, and nodding, returned her attention to her breakfast.

The Duke of Windwright snorted.

The Duchess of Colchester fluttered her eyelashes and her husband, the Duke of Colchester, brought his attention onto the Indian.

“I say,” the Duke of Colchester started, “I believe I would like you to tell that story you were about to begin—the one about the geese.”

“Oh, by all means.”

“Please do continue.”

“We want to hear it.”

Black Bear smiled. “There is a legend,” he said, relaxing back into his chair, “about the geese in my camp. For you see, the geese tell us much.” He gazed at the Duchess a moment before sweeping his attention around the table. And, seemingly satisfied, he fixed his glance once more upon Estrela, his stare a sulky glower. “Those birds’ habits announce the season change,” he continued, “and we look upon the geese as good food when there is no buffalo to feed our women and children. But, their meat has too much fat, though the taste—good.” He paused, and, with his glance clearly on Estrela, said, “It is well known that geese mate for life, something a wise person will study.”

Estrela choked on the bit of sausage she had just swallowed while the Duchess of Colchester exclaimed, “Oh, how endearing. Tell us more!”

“Yes, please, tell us.” The women’s enthusiastic voices re-echoed the plea around the table.

And Black Bear, ever ready to continue, said, “This story is about the female goose who could not select just one mate.” He stared directly at Estrela, who, in turn, moaned, closing her eyes.

Obviously enjoying her reaction, he continued, “Once there was a family of geese.”

“I say, young man.” It was the Duke of Windwright speaking again. “Do you force your women to work, then? You have no servants, no slaves? You make your women—”

“Your Grace,” the Duke of Colchester interjected. “This young man is trying to tell us a story. Perhaps you could ask your questions later.”

“So sorry, I didn’t mean to—it’s only that—well, who would hear of it, after all? Forcing women into physical labor? I mean, after all, are all their women merely servants?”

“The women,” Estrela spoke up, if for no other reason than to stall for time, “work, but the work is not great and there is much time to talk and to tease. Mayhap one could compare it to the fine ladies at work over needlepoint.”

And, although the Duke of Windwright merely “humphed,” and scoffed, he said no more.

“Black Bear—please.”

“Yes, do continue.”

He smiled. “Most geese have many children,” he said, satisfied, “all of them dedicated to the continuation of their race, and…”

Estrela glanced away, trying to concentrate on something else besides Black Bear. She knew the story was told for her benefit, alone. He believed he spoke about her; this form of storytelling was probably one of the more severe forms of discipline he would administer. The Indian, regardless of Western belief, rarely punished his children. Estrela realized that most people who did not know the Indian in his own territory, did not understand Indian logic: that he did not scold his children, did not physically punish them in any way, and did not even raise his voice to a child, a mild look of disapproval sufficing to correct any bad behavior.

“…but this female bird was beautiful, her feathers most fine, more colorful than any other, her squawk more pleasing to the ear,” Black Bear was saying. “She did not wish to have only one mate, it is said, and she did not feel she should be confined to merely one husband. Nor did she have to. There were several young ganders who sought to have her under any condition.”

Estrela moaned.

And, Black Bear did not take his gaze from her.

“There was one gander, one male who loved her more than any other…”

“Why don’t you,” the Duke of Windwright cut in, “hunt for two or three years at a time, or raise the animals for slaughter, or…”

All the rest of the table groaned except for Estrela, who was only too glad for the interruption.

“The Indian does not wish to disturb the balance of nature,” Estrela said. “And so, he takes only what he needs and leaves the rest.”

“Bad show, I say. Jolly bad show.”

“Yes,” she said, “we could discuss the economics of the Indians and—”

“Wí?ya? Ho Wa?té,” Black Bear snapped at her. “I am telling a story.”

“Yes, well, I—”

“Please continue.”

“I want to hear more.”

“Yes, pray, finish your story.”

Black Bear grinned, the gesture not sitting well with Estrela. “The goose,” he carried on, “the beautiful goose could not decide on just one gander. And, the one who loved her most of all was but one among the many and she wanted many. And so, she took many to her, not realizing that the gander seeks only one mate.”

He paused, and his focus on Estrela was such that he didn’t even notice the gasps from around the table at so delicate a subject.

But no one stopped him. All, except the Duke of Windwright, seemed entranced with him. And, whether it was his deep baritone or the unusual content of the story that mesmerized them, Estrela could not tell. She only knew that he held the attention of most all seated around the table.

“Yes, she had many,” he continued.

“Bad show, I say,” the Duke of Windwright spoke. “Jolly bad show, making your women work—actually work—why I’ve never heard of such a thing—except servants, of course, but then—”

“The gander,” Black Bear continued as though the Duke weren’t at that moment speaking, “will allow no competition with the mate that he seeks and so one by one the males vying for this beautiful goose’s favor fought among themselves until not one male bird lived. And, she looked in vain for the one gander who had loved her more than any other. But, he had gone to seek his mate elsewhere believing that she, like the sparrow, could not be satisfied with only one mate. And so died out her race, not because of man hunting her, not because of the wolf or bear who would seek her meat, but only because the female goose sought to have more than one mate.”

He paused and glanced around the table. “And so it is,” he said to his entranced audience, “that we learn from the geese that a woman must seek only one husband. And, the more beautiful the bird, the more careful she must be to ensure she chooses only the one.”

“Dare I ask, young man,” the Duke of Windwright plowed right in, “are all your women servants?”

Black Bear ignored the Duke as did the others.

“Oh, that was lovely.”

“Tell us more!”

“Yes, please, more!”

Black Bear held up a hand. “I will gladly tell another story tomorrow at the morning meal, if you are all here again.”

And, while exclamations of joy and wonder resounded around the table, Estrela groaned.

It would be the same story, told again, a bit differently, said over and over until Black Bear determined that she’d been suitably chastised.

And, Estrela made a mental note to ensure she missed each breakfast meal in the future.

“Well, it is my belief,” the Duke of Windwright carried on, “that the Indians must be saved from themselves. Yes, I believe that—”

“I think the gander acted most irrationally.” Estrela’s quiet statement, said amid the Duke’s meanderings, had the effect of silencing all other chatter at the table, including the Duke’s, and, as Estrela glanced down the table’s length to peer at Black Bear, she noted that every single pair of eyes were turned on her.

“And what would you have him do?” Black Bear asked, each person at the table looking to him. “Wait until the silly goose decided she wanted him more than any other?”

“He could have waited,” Estrela countered, recapturing the attention of everyone present. “Had he truly loved her, he would have waited.”

“Waited for what? She was taken. Before he even had a chance to take her, she was taken.”

“Who was taken?” the Duchess of Colchester intervened. “Did I miss something in the story?”

“He could have understood,” Estrela replied.

“Understood what?” the Duchess interrupted.

Black Bear nodded in agreement, repeating, “Understood what?”

Estrela snorted. “If he believed in her, he would have known—he just would have known.”

“He’s a bird,” Black Bear said. “He’s incapable of thinking.”

“Known what?” It was the Duchess who spoke.

“Then why tell the story if the gander is such a fool?” Estrela asked.

All heads turned back toward Black Bear.

“Because the story has a moral,” Black Bear said, each word clipped. “We are supposed to learn from such a story. Most people do unless they have the morals of a sparrow.”

Estrela flushed, and, looking down the length of the table, saw that each person present gazed at her as though they watched a fox surrounded by hounds.

“Well,” she said, “I think you should pick a more intelligent bird in the future, unless you want your characters to act so…so…stupidly.”

And with this said, she jumped from the table, upsetting her plate and knocking over her cup of tea.

“Oh! See what you’ve done?” she addressed Black Bear.

“I’ve done… You are the one who—”

“How could you?” Estrela threw down her napkin just as a servant came up behind her. “Why don’t you use swans next time, or wolves—at least they have a certain intelligence that I find sadly lacking in the gander.”

She spun about, upsetting the servant, his tray of food and the tea. But the servant was well-trained and caught the tray before any damage could be done.

Black Bear watched her leave, but only for a moment before he, too, arose. And, though his movements were slower than Estrela’s, he still moved quickly to follow her.

Too quickly.

The servant stood behind him. The tray of food and tea crashed to the floor, most of its contents spilling innocently, except for the tea, of course, which landed on the Duchess of Colchester.

And as she, too, jumped to her feet, wiping at her dress and holding it away from her, one could hear her say to an oddly silent room, “Oh my, oh my, did I miss something from that story?”

The only response to her question was complete and utter silence.

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My Worst Date Ever

By Laura Drake

I know, Valentines is over, but Karen Kay’s romantic ‘meet’ story last month reminded me of mine, and it was very different than hers.

My Southern California apartment manager set me up. Really. This woman I hardly knew except to pay rent to, called me out of the blue telling me that a guy in the complex had noticed me, and asked if she’d introduce us. My silence must’ve telegraphed stunned, because she rushed on to say that he was a successful businessman, polite in the old-school way, and kind of shy. He was raising his two kids all on his own… Before she could launch into a saving-kittens-from drowning-story, I said, okay, half to make her stop, half because I was curious to meet this throwback.

She knocks on my door that afternoon, introduces him and takes off. There I stood, not knowing what to do with this shy, good looking man on my doorstep. He invited me out that night, and I said yes, because I couldn’t say no to that cute, little-boy smile.

He took me to dinner, and proceeded to drag me through every detail of the horrific divorce he’d just gone though . . . for TWO HOURS. I’m sitting there thinking, He may be cute, but I’m so out of here.

Then he tells me his goal is to be married within the next year. Wow. Really? I NEVER planned to marry again. And he has full custody of his two kids. I’d never had kids – never wanted them. I couldn’t wait to get home.

He dropped me at my doorstep, and looked like he wanted to kiss me, but didn’t.

Then he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle that weekend. He has a motorcycle? I LOVE motorcycles! The wind in your face, the thrill of speed, wrapping your arms around that strong chest . . .

Okay, so one more date. At least he couldn’t talk about his divorce while we were riding, right?

Luckily, I didn’t find out until after we were engaged that the apartment manager felt sorry for him, and was setting him up with random single women from the complex – he hadn’t noticed me – he didn’t even know what I looked like!

That shy guy and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this month!

He went from the worst date I’d ever had to my best friend. Who knew that could happen?

I’d love to hear your first date stories in the comments!

Julie Benson’s Winner!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk and laugh about what item of technology we’d miss most if we lived in the Old West.

The winner of today’s giveaway is:  Denise Holcomb.

Congratulations! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you to everyone who spent part of your day with me discussing how hard it would be to live without modern conveniences. Stay safe out there!

Julie

Guest Post by Sally Britton!

Howdy Petticoats and Pistols Readers!

I am absolutely thrilled to have an opportunity to chat with ya’ll – as well as share my first ever Historical Western Romance. You see, I spend most of my time writing sweet love stories set in the English Regency. That’s the Jane-Austen-era for those unfamiliar. But the truth is that my first love in the world of romance is Inspirational Historical Westerns. In fact, it was Karen Witemeyer’s “Archer Brother” series that brought me back to that love only a few years ago.

As a girl from Texas, descended from ranchers and farmers alike, when I started writing I knew that I’d have to tell a story set under a big blue western sky. I grew up on Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Janette Oke. When I began my writing journey, I was fortunate enough to move to Arizona for five lovely years. Years spent reading about the local history, visiting historic Tombstone, and falling in love with the clear night sky.

This is where my novel takes place, near present-day Fort Huachuca, and not far from Tombstone. I found this area gorgeous, as it’s surrounded by tree-covered mountains. When most people think about Arizona, picture a desert with saguaro cacti as the only sign of life.

But Arizona is incredibly diverse in its plant and animal life. Living there made me love it.

Courtesy of the Empire Ranch Foundation

The setting for my book is loosely based on the historic Empire Ranch, which was founded by an Englishman and Canadian in the 1870’s. I was fortunate enough to tour and explore as it’s still a working ranch! And the Englishman involved in getting it started left a wonderful legacy of letters home to England, full of his Arizona adventures. This collection of letters inspired me to do something a little different with my hero.

Courtesy of the Empire Ranch Foundation

Evan Rounsevell is an Englishman who attended the Buffalo Bill shows put on for Queen Victoria’s court, and became so fascinated with the American West that he dreamed of running off to be a cowboy. When the opportunity to make a dash across the Pacific comes, Evan jumps aboard a ship with the goal of walking the path of Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill. Except Arizona isn’t the lawless place it used to be, and Evan runs out of money and into trouble.

Thankfully, he meets my heroine, Daniella Bolton. With great reluctance, she gets him a position on her dad’s ranch, and Evan’s dreams become reality. A reality that is difficult, dirty, and full of its own troubles. But Evan finds himself falling in love with the Arizona sunsets and the woman who took a chance on an English stranger.

In my book, Silver Dollar Duke, the ranch is named after the founder, who is the father of the heroine. It’s the KB Ranch. I really enjoyed bringing the characters and ranch to life.

What do you expect from a book set in this part of the country?

Writing a Historical Western Romance challenged me, since I’m more used to stories involving our fictional friends across the pond, but it was a labor of great love.

I’d love to know what you think of the novel, of Arizona, and of a Regency author trying something new. Please drop some comments! I’d love to chat with you lovely readers.

Thank you for spending time with me today!

P.S. Oh – and I’m putting together a giveaway! The lovely hosts here at Petticoats & Pistols have offered to run it for me. I’ll be giving away TWO signed copies of my book, Silver Dollar Duke, And a grand prize gift box with some Western-themed goodies to ONE lucky winner. Socks. Pens. Candy. Yes. I know I had you at candy. That’s the grand prize. To clarify: Three prizes. One big winner. Two winners of signed paperback copies of my book!

Silver Dollar Duke is available NOW in paperback and will release on March 1st, 2021, as an ebook on Amazon.