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Authors: RITA GERLACH

Surrender the Wind

BOOK: Surrender the Wind
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Surrender
the
Wind

Surrender the Wind
Copyright © 2009 by Rita Gerlach

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-4267-0072-9

Published by Abingdon Press, P.O. Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
www.abingdonpress.com

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form,
stored in any retrieval system, posted on any website, or
transmitted in any form or by any means—digital, electronic,
scanning, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without written
permission from the publisher, except for brief quotations in
printed reviews and articles.

 

The persons and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the
creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons living or
dead is purely coincidental.

 

Scripture taken from the
HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®.
Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

Cover design by Anderson Design Group, Nashville, TN
Cover illustration by Taaron Parsons

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gerlach, Rita.

Surrender the wind / Rita Gerlach.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-4267-0072-9 (alk. paper)

I. Title.

PS3607.E755S87 2009

813’.6--dc22

2009014259

Printed in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / 14 13 12 11 10 09

Contents

 

 

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Epilogue

Discussion Questions

Acknowledgments

Words seem inadequate when it comes to thanking all the people who have supported me in the completion of this novel. But let me assure you, these are not mere words on a page. They come from my heart.

To my husband and best friend, Paul, who at times acted out some of the colorful characters in this book and gave me a clearer vision as to their nature. His hilarious impersonations of the old and often confused seadog, James Bonnecker, and the odious Constable Latterbuck, often sent me into gales of sidesplitting laughter. For his support and encouragement, I am forever grateful.

To my sons, Paul and Michael, for their understanding when I forgot to take something tasty out of the freezer for dinner due to a day's immersion in my writing.

To my mother, Rose, who believed in me and prayed I would find a publisher.

To my editor, Barbara Scott, for taking a chance on me and championing this novel.

To the staff at Abingdon Press for their hard work and the designers at Anderson Design Group for producing a stunning cover.

To my friends at His Writers Writing Group for their boundless support.

To author Bonnie Toews for all the encouraging emails.

To Sandi Riggs and Mary Ann Quinn for their prayers and friendship.

And last, to all those who read this novel, many thanks. May this story bring you some respite from the hectic world we live in and inspire you to surrender your trials and troubles to the One who loves you with an everlasting love.

I hated all the things I had toiled for under the
sun, because I must leave them to the one who
comes after me. And who knows whether he will
be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control
over all the work into which I have poured my
effort and skill under the sun.
This too is meaningless.

—Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 NIV

Prologue
The Wilds of Virginia
October 1781

O
n a cool autumn twilight, Seth Braxton rode his horse through a grove of dark-green hemlocks in a primeval Virginia forest, distressed that he might not make it to Yorktown in time. He ran his hand down his horse's broad neck to calm him, slid from the saddle, and led his mount under the deep umbra of an enormous evergreen. Golden-brown pine needles shimmered in the feeble light and fell. In response to his master's touch, the horse lifted its head, shook a dusty mane, and snorted.

“Steady, Saber. I’ll be back to get you.” Seth spoke softly and stroked the velvet muzzle. “Soon, you’ll have plenty of oats to eat and green meadows to run in.”

He threw a cautious glance at the hillside ahead of him, drew his musket from a leather holster attached to the saddle, and pulled the strap over his left shoulder. Out of the shadows and into bars of sunlight, he stepped away to join his troop of ragtag patriots. Through the dense woodland, they climbed the hill to the summit.

Sweat broke over Seth's face and trickled down his neck and into his coarse linen hunting shirt. He wiped his slick palms
along the sides of his dusty buckskin breeches and pulled his slouch hat closer to his eyes to block the glare of sun that peeked through the trees. A lock of dark hair, which had a hint of bronze within its blackness, fell over his brow, and he flicked it back with a jerk of his head. Tense, he flexed his hand, closed it tight around the barrel of his musket, and listened for the slightest noise—the soft creak of a saddle or the neigh of a horse. His keen blue eyes scanned the breaks in the trees, and his strong jaw tightened.

Shadows quivered along the ground, lengthened against tree trunks, then crept over ancient rocks. Within the forest, blue jays squawked. Splashes of blood-red uniforms interspersed amid muted green grew out of earthy hues.

A column of British infantry, led by an officer on horseback, moved around the bend. His scarlet coat, decked with ivory lapels and silver buttons, gleamed in the sunlight, his powdered wig snow white. An entourage of other lower-ranking officers accompanied him alongside the rank and file.

Without hesitation, Seth cocked the hammer of his musket to the second notch and pressed the stock into his shoulder.

“Wait.” Daniel Whitmann, a young Presbyterian minister, pulled out his handkerchief, mopped the sweat off his face, and shoved the rag back into his pocket. “Wait until more are on the road. Wait for the signal to fire.”

Seth acknowledged the preacher with a glance. “Pray for us, Reverend, and for them as well. Some of us are about to face our Maker.”

Whitmann moved his weapon forward. “God shall not leave us, Seth. May the Almighty's will be done this day.”

Seth fixed his eye on the target that moved below. He aimed his long barrel at the heart of the first redcoat in line. No fervor for battle rose within him, only a heartsick repulsion that
he would take a boy's life, a lad who should be at home tending his father's business or at school with his mind in books. The boy lifted a weary hand and rubbed his eyes. The officer nudged his horse back and rode alongside the boy. “Stay alert, there!” The boy flinched, stiffened, and riveted his eyes ahead.

A muscle in Seth's face twitched. He did not like the way the officer cruelly ordered the boy. With a steady arm, he narrowed one eye and made his mark with the other. He moved his tongue over his lower lip and tried to control a heated rush of nerves. He glanced to the right, his breath held tight in his chest, and waited for the signal to fire. His captain raised his hand, hesitated, then let it fall.

Flints snapped. Ochre flashed. Hissing reports sliced the air. The British surged to the roadside in disorder. Their leader threatened and harangued his men with drawn sword. He ordered them to advance, kicked laggards, and shoved his horse against his men, while bullets pelted from the patriots’ muskets.

Seth squeezed the trigger. His musket ball struck the officer's chest. Blood gushed over the white waistcoat and spurted from the corner of the Englishman's mouth. He slid down in the saddle and tumbled off his horse, dead.

“Fall back!” Redcoats scattered at the order, surged to the roadside, slammed backward by the force of the attack. The fallen, but not yet dead, squirmed in the dust and cried out.

A redcoat climbed the embankment, slipped, and hauled back up. His bayonet caught the sunlight and Seth's attention. The soldier headed straight for Whitmann.

His hands fumbled with his musket, and Whitmann managed to fire. The musket ball struck the redcoat through the chest. A dazed look flooded the preacher's face.

Seth grabbed Whitmann by the shoulder and jerked him away. “Don’t think on it, Reverend.”

He shoved the heartsick minister behind him. A troop of grenadiers hurried around the bend in the road, their bayonets rigid on the tips of their long rifles. They faced about, poured a volley into the hilltop, and killed several patriots.

A musket ball whizzed past Seth's head and smacked into the tree behind him. Bark splintered, and countless wooden needles launched into the air. His breath caught in his throat, and he pitched backward. Blood trickled from his temple, hot against his skin. He rolled onto his side, scrambled to a crouched position, and slipped behind a tree. Beside him, Whitmann lay dead, his bloody hand pressed against the wound, the other clutched around the shaft of his rifle, with his eyes opened toward heaven.

“Retreat! Retreat!” The command from a patriot leader reached Seth above the clamor of musket fire. With the other colonials, he ran into the woods. His heart pounded against his ribs. His breathing was hurried.

He glanced back over his shoulder and saw that he must run for his life. Redcoats stampeded after him through the misty Virginia wilds. His fellow patriots scurried up the hill ahead of him and slipped over the peak. With unaffected energy, he mounted the slope to follow them and ran as fast as his legs could carry him over the sleek covering of dead leaves. He had to catch up. Exhausted, he forced his body to move, crested the hill, and hastened over it, down into the holler of evergreens.

Without a moment to lose, Seth leapt into the saddle of his horse, dug in his heels, and urged Saber forward. The crack of a pistol echoed, and a redcoat's bullet struck. Against the pull of the reins, the terrified horse twisted and fell sideways. Flung from the saddle, Seth hit the ground hard, and his breath was
knocked from his body. For a tense moment, he struggled to fill his lungs and crawl back to his fallen horse. His heart sank when he saw the mortal wound that had ripped into Saber's hide. Desperate for revenge, Seth grabbed his weapon and scrambled to his feet. But the click of a flintlock's hammer stopped him short.

BOOK: Surrender the Wind
7.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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