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Shirley K. Wolford
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Ellen Schuyler and Doan Brady are passionately in love, but itâ€™s 1862 and everything has to be put on hold while Yankee and Rebel fight savagely, with no regard for the personal lives of the soldiers.
Ellen, who has been forced by her fatherâ€™s decision to stay in Mexico City, expects Doan to help her with the Schuyler wagon train and all the difficulty of traveling up the trail known as the Jornado del muerto (Journey of death), but he cannot because his obligation to the man who brought him up has forced him into the Rebel army.
And, with a skeleton army guarding settlers, Indians burst out of their reservations to burn, pillage and rape. Ellen is kidnapped by a band of Hostiles and Doan, out of his mind with fear for her, joins his Rebels to a Yankee detachment and together they rescue the hostages.
The war drags on another three years, but Ellen and Doan manage to get married between expeditions he makes as a "Galvanized Yankeeâ€.
Two days out of New Orleans, on the last wearisome leg of its long voyage from New York to Galveston, the three-masted schooner, Arcadian Belle, wallowed into stormy weather.
Doan Brady, balancing precariously at the bow of the ship, watched the sky darken as ominous thunderclouds blackened the southeast and gusty winds topped blue-green Gulf waters with shifting whitecaps.
The old shipâ€™s timbers pitched agonizing complaints and the wind-filled canvas sails shrieked and rattled, brisk air sprayed salty mist and covered Doanâ€™s face with a thin sheet of water. He pulled his tan slouch hat further down over his eyes, but didnâ€™t move from the bow. Around him, sailors kept wary eyes on the worn rigging as the thirty-odd passengers swarmed onto the pitching deck, greeting the threatening spectacle with an outpouring of relief. After nineteen days of sultry May-June sameness, there was now something to think about besides secession and Fort Sumter or slavery and Statesâ€™ Rights, cotton and burned naval yards. Or any of the other damned contentions they had been arguing about in the salon every night that might cause war to break out any minute.
The wind gusted fiercer; spray lashed up to douse all on the deck. A surge to staterooms for raingear stopped dead at the sight of a sun-bleached sail starkly outlined against the black horizon.
"Yankee, sure as shootinâ€™.â€ someone muttered.
A round-faced man, a drummer by dress and manner, said stoutly, "Shouldnâ€™t matter if â€™tis. We ainâ€™t at war. Leastwise, sâ€™far as we know, we ainâ€™t.â€
No one seemed encouraged. Wet didnâ€™t matter as all eyes tried to pierce the distance.
Nervous minutes passed; the sails loomed larger, then, obscured by coils of wind-whipped clouds, dipped into the waves. Erasing distance, lengthening time, the ship loomed inexorably closer. It doubled in size, then doubled again.
First Mate Ledder lowered his telescope, looked around, nodded his head and grinned at the assemblage. "Itâ€™s a Yankee gunboat, right enough.â€ He tucked the glass under his arm and sauntered away, ignoring the tense questions that trailed after him.
Doan stretched his six-foot, three-inch height and looked deliberately, searchingly at the ship. The extra crinkles around his dark blue eyes suggested that he was used to squinting into vast distances.
Two men joined him at the bow. They looked around nervously as the schooner crested a wave and made its long, slow descent into a trough. Doan settled back, pulled off his slouch hat and shook it to get rid of the water that had accumulated around its brim. Immediately his dark blond hair was just as wet as the rest of him, which was pretty damned wet. He ran fingers through the tangled mass, swore softly, then put the hat back on; at least the brim shielded his eyes. The smallish, wrinkled man who clung fiercely to the wet rail on his left yelled, "Well, what is it?â€
Doan looked down over his shoulder. "The Mate wasnâ€™t ribbing,â€ he answered. "Itâ€™s a Federal gunboat, right enough. And if it means to catch us, it just about already has.â€
The approaching schooner rose and fell several more times. When it crested again, Doan compared the gunboatâ€™s position with where it had been only a short time ago. He nodded his head, wet dripping from his hat brim. "It does mean to catch us,â€ he said. "Itâ€™s bearing down under full steam and sail.â€
The small man groaned. "I wish to hell we knew why. "He added hopefully, "It could be nothinâ€™ a-tall. Nothinâ€™ important, that is.â€ He lowered his head. "And it could be one of two things.â€
I used to be a big city girl--after all, I lived in Los Angeles and graduated from New York University. In case you donâ€™t know, NYU is slap-dab in the middle of New York City. So, of course, I met a tall, blond, good-looking Texan on a blind date and got engaged to him four days later. We had a Christmas wedding and lived happily ever after.
And for a wedding present be gave me a revolver. Never was even close to one in my whole life before. But he taught me to shoot and do all the other things that befitted the wife of a Texan. It was fun.
Cross off big cities. One of the things we found we had in common was writing. Of course, we expected to write the GREAT American novel. Didnâ€™t work out that way, but we had some successes.
The Southern Blade sold to Columbia Pictures and became a "Bâ€ movie called A Time for Killing. We sold westerns steadily--one every two years, while working.
He made industrial motion pictures, and I taught English and American history.
Book Publisher: Wings e press
No. of Pages: 328
Paper Weight (lb): 13.6
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