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Authors: Judith Pella,Tracie Peterson

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Distant Dreams

BOOK: Distant Dreams
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Distant Dreams
Copyright ©1997
Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson

Cover by John Hamilton Design

The song opening Part One is anonymous and was taken from
Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in
American Folksong
by Norm Cohen, University of Illinois Press.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Pella, Judith.

Distant dreams / Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson.

p. cm.—(Ribbons of steel ; no. 1)

ISBN 978-0-7642-0691-7 (pbk.)

I. Peterson, Tracie. II. Title.

PS3566.E415D57          2009

813'.54—dc22                            2009007639

And the Iron Horse, the earth-shaker;
the fire-breather . . . shall build an empire
and an epic.


JUDITH PELLA has been writing for the inspirational market for more than twenty years and is the author of more than thirty novels, most in the historical fiction genre. Her recent novel
Mark of the Cross
and her extraordinary four-book Daughters of Fortune series showcase her skills as a historian as well as a storyteller. Her degrees in teaching and nursing lend depth to her tales, which spin a variety of settings. Pella and her husband make their home in Oregon.

Visit Judith’s Web site:

TRACIE PETERSON is the author of over seventy novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.

Visit Tracie’s Web site at


Summer 1835

1 / Enter the Beast

2 / Repercussions

3 / Kindred Spirits

4 / At the White House

5 / Granny

6 / The Banker and His Son

7 / Railroad Man

8 / Lace and Locomotives

9 / Reaching an Understanding

10 / Evening at the Baldwins’

11 / Two Sisters

12 / York Adams

13 / Business Proposition

Fall 1835

14 / The Hour of Reckoning

15 / York’s Return

16 / Shattered Dream

17 / The Cost of Fear

18 / Joseph and Margaret

19 / Oakbridge Tutor

20 / York’s Good Fortune

21 / Touching a Dream

22 / The Houseguest

23 / Shaky Beginnings

24 / Misunderstood

25 / Truce Between Friends

26 / A New Subject

27 / Something to Think About

28 / A New Venture

Spring 1836

29 / Elections and Revolutions

30 / Tea and Confusion

31 / Nighttime Dispute

32 / Indecision

33 / Coming of Age

34 / No Longer a Child

35 / Discord

36 / The Proposal

37 / The Morning After

38 / The Ship

Late Spring 1836

39 / A Waking Dream

40 / Along the Way

41 / Philip Thomas

42 / Unexpected Companion

43 / Change in Plans

44 / Uncomfortable Questions

Summer-Fall 1836

45 / Hampton Cabot

46 / Advances

47 / Talk With a Friend

48 / Conversation on the Porch

49 / Leland’s Schemes

50 / Wedding Plans

51 / Fever Strikes

52 / Loss

53 / Broken Hearts

54 / The Letter

55 / Carolina’s Hope

Part I

Summer 1835

Away, away, o’er valley plain
I sweep you with a voice of wrath;
In a fleecy cloud I wrap my train,
As I tread my iron path.

My bowels are fire and my arm is steel,
My breath is a rolling cloud:

And my voice peels out as I onward wheel,
Like the thunder rolling loud.


Enter the Beast

The whistle blast, shrill and frightening, broke through the festive atmosphere of the crowd. Heads turned and a momentary hush fell over the noisy throng as the black monster lumbered down the iron ribbon, hissing and panting like some ancient mythological creature.

Every man, woman, and child watched in awe, held captive by the fearsome mechanical cyclops. Then murmurs of fascination began to rise from the onlookers, some pointing, some daring to press closer to the strange beast. But others shied away, horrified at the hideous creation that man had wrought.

“What an awful smell!” declared a young woman in disgust, quickly lifting a scented handkerchief to her nose. She appeared as if she might faint.

Many in the crowd agreed with the woman, especially when the iron beast began to belch great plumes of black smoke that rose and tainted the fine blue sky. A man led his wife away, fearful that her delicacy might be compromised by the strain of such a sight. Children, who only moments before had danced in circles begging to be allowed to see the beast’s arrival, now sought the protective arms of their mothers.

“Have ya ever seen the likes!” murmured a man in a coarse woolen jacket and worn cap. “Why it’s a-sparkin’ the ground afire.”

“Don’t get too close!” a young mother warned her child.

The giant colossus inched closer while workmen waiting alongside cleared back the undaunted curious ones and put out the patchy fires. Then, with a final groan, the mighty contraption rolled to a stop, steam pouring out from spigots on its sides. Now even the bravest folk jumped back several paces.

One wide-eyed girl, however, did not move. Mesmerized by what she saw, Carolina Adams did not retreat but rather pressed forward. Her brown eyes never leaving the machine, her petite form straining on tiptoe to see through the crowd, Carolina was drawn closer. Caught in the spell of wheels and gears and sounds and smells, she hardly felt the gloved hand on her arm, restraining her curiosity.

“Carolina! You are a proper young lady and such a ghastly exhibition is quite beneath you. Besides,” Margaret Adams said with a glance around the crowd, “there are many fine young gentlemen here today. If you are to secure a good marriage, you should at least pretend to be refined.”

Carolina looked up at her mother with a frown. She had no desire to secure a good marriage, at least not yet. But despite her feelings, Carolina held her tongue, knowing Margaret Adams, the epitome of genteel womanhood, would brook no disobedience from her children—especially not in public.

“That pout is most unbecoming,” said Margaret, “and tells me your heart is not in obedience.” Her narrow gray eyes made it clear the matter was not open to discussion.

“She’s just a child, Mrs. Adams.” Joseph Adams, Carolina’s father, was the only one who dared debate the woman. “And this is a celebration.”

Margaret turned a frosty glare on her husband. “She is fifteen years old, Mr. Adams. She is hardly a child.”

“I simply meant . . .”

The conversation between Joseph and Margaret competed with the rising din of the crowd, and Carolina found it impossible to concentrate on what was being said. Besides, in spite of the fact that the discussion was on her behalf, she was far more interested in the activity around the machine. Trusting that her parents were preoccupied for the time being, she attempted to get closer to the track. With little thought to appearance, she elbowed her way through the crowd. Her heart was pounding. Through her mind raced a million thoughts and questions about the strange machine. Even her mother’s certain reprimand couldn’t dissuade her from drawing as near it as possible.

I must get a better look, she thought, forcing her small frame through the sea of bodies.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” A man dressed in a natty tweed suit and bowler hat had hopped up on a wooden crate. He lifted his hand with an exaggerated flourish. “I give you the future of transportation! Nay, the very future of America! The Locomotive!”

The crowd cheered.

“We are here this twenty-eighth day of August, in the year of Our Lord 1835, to celebrate the grand opening of the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad!”

Carolina felt her heart beat faster. The machine was nearly close enough to reach out and touch. What must it be like to ride on such a contraption? Were the railed tracks smooth or bumpy? Did the world just whip by you as you rode along, or did it seem to stand still in awe of man’s newest invention?

“Here at the foot of Capitol Hill, under the watchful eyes of thousands, we are honored to have Philip E. Thomas, President of the B&O Railroad, with us today.”

Just then one of the two train-bound bands struck up a chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” to which a hardy cheer followed.

Philip Thomas, gray-haired but lively, took his place beside the man. “I am pleased to announce the trip from Baltimore to this, our nation’s capital, was accomplished without incident, and, furthermore, we covered the distance of thirty-some miles in less than two hours and ten minutes.”

BOOK: Distant Dreams
6.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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