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Hannah’s heart ached with sorrow as she walked down a two-track road toward the old red barn. She kicked at a stone, and it rolled into the dirt, resting in the charred remains of a once green and growing field. She peered across the countryside at what had once been verdant trees but that now bore stubby arms that were shrouded in soot. Looking up, she missed her footing and nearly stumbled over an animal’s charred remains. A porcupine had been unable to escape the flames. He lay lifeless in the dirt. Hannah sighed and turned up the lane toward the old red barn where she had stashed Seth’s supplies after he left.

Then she stopped. She gulped, staring at the world with saucer eyes as the reality of what lay before her gripped her mind. Mounds of rubble lay across the land, charred and ruined. A heap of ashes marked the site where the building had stood. One particular pile of debris caught Hannah’s attention, unrecognizable except for the iron pot—black and wasted and lying on its side. The young woman stood transfixed, an empty ache gnawed at her soul.

She thought of her neighbors, beating back the flames with shovels and blankets and old rugs, keeping the fire from eating her home. She thought of Faith Ann and Bobby, dousing the sparks that flew into the hay… and she thought of Seth. Where was her brother? Had he found shelter? Was he safe, or was he dead like the porcupine that lay along the road? What terrible thing had he done that prevented his coming home?


Footprints Under the Pines cover

The following is an excerpt from Footprints Under the Pines. Order your copy today. Available in Print and Kindle editions.

It was early December and Katherine lay in her bed, reflecting on her good fortune to have moved into the Beasley house. Her new home had everything her family would need for the winter. To her right were the cupboards, a little brown with age, but when she finished decorating they would gleam in shining white. In the middle of the room stood the table with a red-and-white oilcloth she’d bought at Hitchcock’s. And she’d fallen heir to a beautiful Hollister range with chrome trim and a large reservoir and warming oven. In the spring Frank would return. He’d renovate the rest of the place, and her family would live happily ever after.news item signing

In the pantry the girls slept soundly. Although there were still difficult times, Katherine’s relationship with Hannah had improved a great deal. She lay quietly, listening to the stillness of the winter night, the crackling of the fire as it died down to a warm glow. A tide of peace settled upon her soul, and she closed her eyes, drifting happily off toward sleep.

Suddenly she was jarred into wakefulness. She thought she heard a noise in the woodshed.

She lifted herself onto her elbow, listening—straining. There it was again, a clunk and a scrape just outside the wall. Then the doorknob turned. Someone was trying to break into her home! Katherine lay still, terror paralyzing her muscles. She thought of her girls sleeping in the pantry, and realized she dared not run for safety.

Thump, thump, thump. The sound of footsteps thundered on the deck.

Katherine swung her legs over the side of the bed, preparing to defend her home. A loud crash echoed through the night. The door shuddered and creaked, as someone threw himself at it. The planks trembled in mortal combat with the hasp that Uncle Ned had installed. Bang, slam, thud. The air was filled with profanity. Another crash and the door shivered on its hinges. An oath rang out and then a loud bellow. But the door held. Thank goodness for Uncle Ned’s hasp!

Footsteps pounded down the steps, and the night grew still. Hardly daring to breath, Katherine peeked out the window to see the silhouette of a man walking away from the porch. He was tall, probably six feet, and thin and wiry. The man disappeared around corner of the barn.

Katherine lay in her bed, trembling. The flannel sheet beneath her was soaked with sweat. What would she have done if that man had broken in? She was alone with two young girls to defend. She rose and tiptoed to the pantry door, peeking in to find her young ones sleeping soundly. What would she do if that man came back? It was well into the wee hours before Katherine fell asleep.


Front and back cover images of Pioneer PotpourriThe following is an excerpt from Pioneer Potpourri.Order your signed copy today. Print Only.

As the winter season neared its peak, the swale at the bottom of the steep hill became piled with brush, and the snow on the side hill was traced with logging trails. Many of the great trees on the summit had been laid low.

The steep grade of the hill made the job a dangerous one for horses as well as men, and it had been necessary to install a machine at the top of the hill to let the logs down the hill gradually by means of a steel cable.

It was a bright Monday morning and the horses were feeling high and flighty after a day of rest, but the logging was going on at a good pace just the same. Load after load was lowered from the top of the hill to the bottom, where the cable was unhooked. At this point the team turned left to move the load down the valley toward the decking yard.

The road had been sanded at the top as it was every morning. This was done to provide traction for the loaded sleighs as they were moved into position and the cable attached. It was still quite early in the morning when Old Meanie and Brownie were brought into position with their first load of the day.

Old Meanie was a black that could always make some kind of trouble, although he was capable of a lot of work when kept in control. Because of his experience he had been paired with Brownie, who was new and needed an older horse to keep him in line.

Brownie, who was a beauty, had a disposition that gave great promise of his becoming a really great lumbering horse. This made him the object of everyone's admiration and affection.

When Brownie and Old Meanie came into position, Old Meanie was still smarting from a "tuning up" he had received to quiet his ornery behavior. He was dancing and throwing his head around, keeping the driver busy in an effort to hold him in and at the same time prevent Brownie from getting nervous. So the load passed beyond the sandy spot before the cable operator could hook onto the load.

The sleigh—two eight foot bunks hooked together—was loaded as high as possible with those great logs and the push behind the horses was immense. Though the men tried valiantly to hold steady, and the driver sawed desperately on the lines from his seat high on the load, the 45 degree grade made control a hopeless task.

Finally, when the load was about half way down, the driver recognized the uselessness of it and made a great leap, leaving the load and the horses to their fate.

It was a terrible sight that one could hardly bear to watch. Yet the men could not tear their eyes away. Frozen in their tracks the crew watched, as the load ran up on the horses leaping from hump to hollow like some live thing. 

The horses, ran and screamed in fear, but were unable to loose themselves from the monster that followed in relentless pursuit, leaping after them in a fury. It seemed like a nightmare that would never end.

But the end came all too soon. As the horses reached the bottom of the hill, they could not make the turn. They hit the bend with full force and took one final leap high into the air, hurtling over a great brush heap and landing in a tangle of brush, logs, sleighs and horses.

For a moment the quiet was like a shock to the ears of the men, who were standing like figures in a wax museum. The only conscious thought was a hopeless wish to see Brownie emerge unhurt.

Several minutes passed before any movement was seen. Then from the tangle a horse was seen getting to its feet. In a moment more they could see that the survivor was the veteran, Old Meanie. The men looked in vain for any movement from the heap that used to be Brownie.

Old Meanie stood slowly to his feet, stood a moment with his head hung low, as though he too mourned. Then he shook himself free of his harness and started on a trot to the barn.

The incident was over, and another load now pulled into position for the double hook. The driver was safe and even though one horse was lost, Old Meanie would take many more loads down the hill.