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Mary Jean Kelso
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Katrina (Kat) Sturdivant’s young life has been a struggle to survive under harsh conditions in a dangerous mining town during the “Bad Man of Bodie” days. She has lost her mother and baby brother and, now, her father has been killed. She is convinced his death was not an accident and sets out to find his killer. Kat, the pursuer, soon becomes the pursued.
It seemed that every outlaw in the territory was moving to Bodie, California. One could barely walk down the dirt street or board sidewalk without the threat of running into one of the “Bad Men of Bodie.”
Life was tenuous, at best. If it weren’t for illness and natural disasters, now everyone had to be on guard against these evil men that preyed on the weak and sought out the strong to confront and better them until one or the other lay in their grave.
For young Katrina Marie Sturdivant, life was hard and the best she could hope for was to grasp what little happiness she could and hang on.
Katrina’s best friend, Polly Schaffer, shook snow from her cape and entered the house where the girls were to attend a sewing bee. She balanced on one foot while she removed her boot from the other and announced excitedly, “The Seeress of Washoe is in town!”
Kat, as Polly called her, looked up from her sewing and handed her needlework to Mrs. Bean for inspection.
Mrs. Bean, a miner’s wife who was teaching the two fifteen-year-old girls to sew, studied the stitching. She nodded to let Kat know it was correct, then shook her head at Polly’s gossip.
“Eilley Bowers is just another woman, like any of the rest of us. If she’s got powers to predict the future, I’ll—I’ll—well, I just don’t believe it!”
“One of the miners said Mrs. Bowers once had a visitor that she suspected of being a murderer!” Polly let the words drag out in a nasal voice.
“So? What happened?” Kat pressed her anxiously.
“Well…” Polly again stretched time and then hurried on, “she left the room, and when she returned the man was gone; pieces of crystal from her peep stone lay scattered across a marble table top where the glass ball had sat, and a fine powder of dust was on her highly polished floor!”
“And do you think it exploded or that the man smashed it?” Kat was curious about this woman that was said to have so much power.
“Oh, go on, Polly,” Mrs. Bean chided good-naturedly. “You learn too much from your brother and his working for that newspaper. I swear, I think that boy fancies himself another Mark Twain and it’s rubbing off on you!” She shook her head, again, and turned back to her needlework as she thought about the man who was becoming famous for his stories up in Virginia City.
But Polly was Kat’s best friend and Kat was intrigued with her story.
Later, when the two girls left Mrs. Bean’s house, Kat quizzed Polly further and Polly delighted in sharing her embellished tales about the fortuneteller.
They walked close together, tight against the building fronts where they could dodge inside a store if they heard gunshots or saw someone that appeared to be causing trouble.
“Here’s my dad’s store already, Kat. Are you sure you can go on home safely alone? Maybe Sam could walk you to your house.”
While Kat would have enjoyed Sam’s company on her way home, she had something else in mind.
“No, I’ll be careful. I’ll run to a neighbor’s house if I see anyone coming that frightens me.”
“Stay close to the other buildings until you get near your house, promise?”
“Yes.” Kat tucked her sewing bag under her arm and waved at Polly as she opened the door to Schaffer’s General Store and went in.
As soon as Polly closed the door, Kat went alone to the Bodie Hotel to visit the Seeress of Washoe.
Kat placed all the coins she had on the table next to a large crystal ball. Then she sat quietly listening as Eilley Bowers predicted her future. She was absorbed in the details of her life as the cold winter wind whipped snowdrifts against the hotel, giving credibility to the chill that ran along her spine from Eilley’s prophecies.
“I see in your future,” the portly Mrs. Bowers droned in a monotone, “that you will travel far.”
Kat listened intently, not taking her eyes from the smooth crystal ball the miners called “Eilley’s peep stone.” How she wished she could see the secrets held within that glass for herself!
"I love stories by Mary Jean Kelso. She always pens well-written tales that keep me entertained and on the edge-of-my-seat. Kats Cradle is no exception. I found Kat extraordinary the way she suffers through so many bad times and she still stays strong, even though inside she is brokenhearted and hurt. She stays focused on the matters at hand. The wide range of emotions that stirs within Kat with her father’s accident just tore into my heart. I am glad she had her friends. Sam was good for Kat, and I loved his character. No matter what has been thrown in Kat’s lap, I noticed she stayed true to her family.
She was never disrespectful and love for family was most important to her. The adventure she shares with Sam, to find justice for her father’s death, was quite admirable. This is a compelling tale that I truly loved." 5 Angels!
Reviewed by: Linda L. Fallen Angel Reviews
"This isn’t a romance but a mystery. Kat ends up having adventures in her haphazard quest for the truth and pursuit of justice. The only romantic element involves Sam, Polly’s brother. He is a couple of years older and believe it or not, I found Sam providing most of the romance to the story.
Quite a switch.
Kat’s Cradle covers most points of a good story, you care for the main character, you want her to succeed, the mystery gets solved and there’s a happily ever after. For a novella, what more can you ask?" – Long And Short Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 156
Paper Weight (lb): 6.8
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