by Toni Cantrell
Print ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-34-9
Editor: Jodi Lee
Publisher: Belfire Press
Cover Price: $11.00
Order Direct: CreateSpace
E-book ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-35-6
Formats: html, js, mobi, epub, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt
Kindle ISBN-13: 978-1-926912-36-3
Coming soon to Diesel.
The Gazebo – Book One is the first person account of Abigail Russell, daughter of a time traveler and an unwilling time traveler herself, and her life in Colonial America just prior to and following the shattering events of 1776.
She meets and falls in love with Black Jack Bolton, a Colonel in the 2nd Pennsylvania Militia. Abby faces each challenge with wit and courage and comes vibrantly alive on the page as her life in 18th century America unfolds.
The Gazebo – Book Two, also a first person account, is about Jemima Coulter, a young woman from the 21st century who travels to 1800 Philadelphia to meet Abigail and her son John. She and John marry but are menaced by a time traveler from the distant future – Steven Cooper, a man determined to seek revenge for the unsolved disappearance/murder of his ancestor, Nicholas Tarleton, in 1783.
What they’re saying about The Gazebo:
My name is Abigail Marietta Russell, known as Abby to my family and the others in our settlement. I’m almost fifteen, the year is 1774, and some exciting things have been happening in our country for the last several years.
We have lived west of the Mississippi River since before I was born, in what my mother says will someday become the state of Arkansas. Our settlement numbers nearly thirty people, including myself. Mostly young people, all in an absolute frenzy to get back east, to be in the thick of things.
The news we receive way out here is infrequent and woefully incomplete, sometimes even distorted by the time it reaches us. The most incredible stories have come west with the few trappers and hunters who come through Hot Springs. Tales of a disturbance in Massachusetts called the Boston Massacre, in which several colonists were killed and injured. Something called the Boston Tea Party took place less than a week before Christmas just last year, 16 December, 1773.
That news had come to Philadelphia some ten days later, thence to the ears of John Washington, my foster grandfather. He sent word of the occurrence to us by a special messenger. What is going on with those people in Boston?
Since this is my journal, let me give a description of myself and my family. I’m the youngest child of Matthew and Rowena Russell, originally of Walnut Hill, a farm northwest of Philadelphia.
Tall for a girl at 5’6”, I favor my mother to the point of confusion: same reddish hair, hazel eyes, quite freckled from the sun. Ma says I’ll grow into the long legs and will hopefully acquire a semblance of female shape, although I have none yet. Pa says if I grow up to look like Ma, I’ll be beautiful. I do believe he’s a bit prejudiced.
I love to ride, hunt, fish, take care of our animals, all the things I can do out of doors with my older brothers. I’m not so fond of sewing, washing, cooking, candle making, etc.; all domestic chores a young ‘lady’ is supposed to love.
My brothers, John Mark and Lucas William, called Luke, are sixteen and fifteen. They are big, good-looking young men; black haired, broad shouldered, eyes like gray smoke, younger copies of my father. At forty-two he is still handsome, even if he is old. My aunt Julie Thorne calls them ‘hunks’, which term always earns a frown from Ma, which Aunt Ju always ignores, laughing.
John Mark and Luke were both born while Ma and Pa still lived in Pennsylvania. I was born after we reached Hot Springs, on 26 November, 1759. Having grown up in a primitive wilderness, I’ve never known anything else, but my elders, Aunt Ju in particular, tell me tales of a world on the other side of the ‘big river’—the Mississippi—tales that fire the imagination, stir the blood.
She even let me read Ma’s manuscript, though we had to sneak to do it. Ma would have a conniption if she even thought I knew about that collection of papers, much less had read it. It tells the story of my mother’s arrival in the eighteenth century, sent here by Aunt Ju herself. In a way, it’s Aunt Julie’s story, too.
They call it If Ever That Time Come. Now and then, one or the other of them will say that, and they’ll both laugh like crazy. Ma thinks none of us children know what they’re talking about, but I’ve known since I was ten.
I realize it sounds fantastic and unbelievable, but Ma and Aunt Ju have never lied about anything as far as I know, and they’d have no reason to lie about how they came to be here.
Aunt Julie, who was medicine woman for her tribe of Manaquan Indians in the late 20th century, accidentally sent Ma back in time to 1756, where she met and fell in love with Pa. Told you it was strange.
I’ve overheard several conversations the past few months between the adults of our settlement. They persist in talking in our kitchen, all of them seated around the big table, drinking tea, eating Ma’s apple tarts—made from our own apples and flour and precious, expensive sugar brought overland by wagon. They usually ignore their children, several of whom are eavesdropping in the hall.
Those discussions almost always get extremely animated, sometimes even heated. Pa, Uncles Will and Robin, and Tom and Big Elk are all ready to go back to Walnut Hill and fight the British. Their women folk argue to stay here, safe, away from all the battles and bloodshed. We all know who is going to win that contest.
I remember Ma stomping about the kitchen during one of those hotly argued ‘talks’, her voice angry and determined. “I can’t believe you bull-headed men! You practically dragged us all out here fifteen years ago. Now, all we hear is you want to go back! I wish to heaven you’d make up your minds.”
“Seems to me, Rowena, we’ve stayed put goin’ on fifteen years. I reckon that’s long enough to live in one place.”
What a surprise to hear calm, reasonable tones from my father, seldom the one to advocate family harmony, at least aloud. I knew, as did everyone else, that it was his idea to come here; Ma had almost let him come alone. She didn’t want to leave her new home at Walnut Hill. Her doubts notwithstanding, they’d packed most of what they owned into wagons and rafted their way west, furniture and all.
I think if a stranger came and asked Ma would she do it all over again, she’d say, ‘Yes, of course.’ and stare at him as if he’d lost his mind. ‘I couldn’t let Matthew roam all over the continent without me, could I?’
I’ve never seen two people as much in love as my mother and father. It’s wonderful to see, even after almost eighteen years of marriage. He’ll kiss and hug her on his way out of the house in the morning. She goes out of her way to smooth his hair or rub his shoulders when she passes through the room where he happens to be. All that love has spilled over onto their children, too.
In spite of not having any luxuries as we were growing up, we had all we needed to survive; food, clothes, friends close by and a log cabin to live in that was filled to the rafters with warmth and affection. She spanked us and hugged us with equal fervor, and loved us all with all her heart.
I heard her tell Aunt Ju once, years ago, before I was really old enough to understand what she meant, “I’ve never regretted coming back, Julie. Even though we weren’t sure, sometimes in the beginning, if we’d make it as a couple, given our different backgrounds, I’ve got Matthew now, and my kids, and they’re all I’ve ever wanted.”
I had wondered what ‘kids’ she meant, for we had no goats. Aunt Ju had laughed till she cried when I finally asked her what ‘kids’ were, if they weren’t four-footed.
“Oh, Abby, have you got a lot to learn! Kids are what you and your brothers are—small people, children, kids.”
She yelled at Ma, “Rowena, have you been neglecting your daughter’s education again?”
“If you mean have I been teaching her vulgar slang from before, no, I have not.”
Ma stood, hands on hips, glaring at us as though we’d been caught with our hands in the cookie jar. Not that there were ever many cookies in that jar, but—
“I’ll thank you not to fill her head with that nonsense, Julie. She’s going to live her life here, now, and I don’t want her to have to guard her tongue the way we’ve always had to do!”
“Yeah, except with each other.” Julie had stretched out a hand, they had linked fingers, smiling at one another with perfect understanding. “Remember new age music? Mosh pits? Raves? Dawson’s Creek, Friends, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic?”
Ma jerked her hand away and spoke sharply, “Will you hush? If she doesn’t hear it, she won’t know what all that means!”
“Well, excuse me! They’re gonna find out about it sometime, Ro, how we got here. Why not tell her now?”
“She’s not ready, Julie. Let’s just drop it, okay?”
It was shortly after that talk when Aunt Julie showed me the famous manuscript. I practiced my reading skills on those fascinating pages. There was a lot of it I didn’t quite comprehend, and I was scared to ask Ma about it, or Aunt Ju. I had the funny feeling they might not be able to answer my questions anyway.
Julie’s husband, Robin Thorne, had been our school master. He had taught school briefly before joining the British army, and as we settlement children grew, he taught us to read, write and do sums. But I digress.
That fateful conversation we overheard had taken place not long after news came of that tea party in Boston. All the grown-up men were in a fever to get back. All the women were equally determined we’d all stay here. I could never understand why Pa and the others were so crazy to go east to a tea party. I’d been to a couple and they were really boring.
Our men folk had their way, of course, and the whole settlement was on the way back to Walnut Hill before the spring floods had fairly subsided.