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Authors: Vanessa Royall

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The Passionate and the Proud

BOOK: The Passionate and the Proud
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Table of Contents

The Passionate and the Proud



A Gambler

Getting Where You Want to Go

Sea of Grass


Purple Mountains Majesty

Harbingers of Grief

Promised Land


A Question of Honor

Settling Down

Deck the Halls

Barbwire and Barbarians

Bitter Harvest

Darkness Falls


A Sweetness of the Flesh

The Beginning

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The Passionate and the Proud
Vanessa Royall

Diversion Books
A Division of Diversion Publishing Corp.
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 1008
New York, NY 10016

Copyright © 1984 by M.T. Hinkemeyer
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

For more information, email
[email protected]

First Diversion Books edition September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62681-417-2

Author’s Note

THE PASSIONATE AND THE PROUD is a story about the American frontier, a time of struggle and triumph that will never be seen again upon this earth. It is also a story of tempestuous love between Emmalee Alden, a proud but dispossessed young woman, and Garn Landar, who is just as prideful and just as ambitious. Emmalee and Garn learn many things as they seek their destinies, and from each other they learn the most valuable knowledge of all: Love is not surrender.

The driver of the wagon swaying through forest and swamp of the Ohio wilderness was a ragged girl of fourteen. Her mother they had buried near the Monongahela—the girl herself had heaped with torn sods the grave beside the river of the beautiful name. Her father lay shrinking with fever on the floor of the wagon-box…

She halted at the fork in the grassy road, and the sick man quavered, “Emmy, ye better turn towards Cincinnati. If we could find your Uncle Ed, I guess he’d take us in.”

“Nobody ain’t going to take us in,” she said. "We’re goin’ on jus’ long as we can. Going West! There’s a whole lot of new things I aim to be seeing!”

She cooked the supper … and sat by the fire, alone.

, Sinclair Lewis


It was just a creaky old logsled drawn through the wintry woods of southern Illinois by two huge, plodding horses. But to Emmalee Alden, bundled in blankets, half buried in piled hay, and pressed close to her beau, it might as well have been a royal sleigh.

“It’s too bad the others felt sick,” said Val Jannings, “but finally we’re alone together. It seems that I’ve been waiting forever for a day like this.”

“Ummm.” Emmalee smiled, closing her eyes, inviting him to kiss her again, which he did. She let herself drift with the kiss and its warmth, savoring the slow excitement building in her body, enjoying the tender pressure of Val beside her in the hay. She wanted to enjoy every moment of this January afternoon.

Indeed, Emmalee had feared that the Cairo Lutheran Orphanage’s annual sleigh ride would not take place at all. There had been no snow through December, and right after New Year’s Day everyone at the home began to come down with the grippe. But she hadn’t gotten sick, and when a sudden blizzard came howling down the Mississippi Valley, turning the whole world brilliantly white, Emmalee implored the Reverend Bowerly to let her take the horses out.

“I know it’ll be just Val Jannings and me,” she’d told the orphanage’s superintendent, “but I’ve wanted so much to have a bit of free time. And you know how generous the Jannings family has been to us here at the home.”

The superintendent, a gentle, careworn man, had smiled and given his approval. He respected and trusted Emmalee, who had been living and working at the orphanage, caring for the younger children, for almost two years. She had come limping into Cairo, Illinois, in the spring of 1866, a fourteen-year-old waif mumbling dazedly about “going west.” She had buried her father near Springfield, had lost possessions, wagon, and horses trying to ford the swollen Sangamon River. She hadn’t the strength to go a step farther, and so the Lutheran orphanage had opened its doors to her. She had been there ever since, gaining strength, growing up, and becoming almost indispensable. Here also she’d learned to read and write, acquired a knowledge of the country she meant to traverse someday.

“Of course you can have an afternoon off, Emmalee,” the reverend had said. “And I know you and young Mr. Jannings can be trusted. Just make sure that you’re back here by sundown. It can get mighty cold out there in the woods.”

True, the woods were cold, but it was warm and cozy in the sleigh and in Val’s arms. The sun was dropping swiftly now, a glowing reddish ball falling toward the prairie west of the Mississippi River, and the horses had turned toward home. Emmalee and Val kissed fervently, as she imagined that these two plowhorses were Arabian stallions, that this jouncing logsled had glistening silver runners, and that the sweet hay which covered them was a rich fur blanket, glossy and soft.

But most of all, she wished she was not an “orphanage girl,” with nothing to her name. Val Jannings, son of a wealthy merchant, didn’t seem to mind that, but Emmalee did.

“Em, Em,” he said, breaking off from the kiss and laying his cheek against hers. “Pretty soon you’ll be sixteen and free to leave the home. Free to do anything you choose. Tell you what. Pa is going to put me to work in his lumberyard, I’ll be making some real money of my own, and I was thinking…well, maybe
might start thinking about getting engaged…”

Reverie forged of sunset, sleigh ride, and slow kisses spun away in a flash.

“What?” she asked, drawing away to peer at Val. He was a strong-looking, sandy-haired boy with blue, serious eyes, which widened when he saw the way that Emmalee was studying him.

“Why, what’s wrong, Em?” he asked. “You look startled. Ail I said was that maybe we should think about getting married, seeing as how we get on so well. Haven’t you thought about it? I mean, hasn’t it…crossed your mind?”

“Well, I don’t know, I’d always thought…”

“Tell me, Em. You can tell me anything.”

She told him. “I guess I just always saw my future somewhere out west,” she declared. “It’s an…it’s an urge I’ve always had.”

Val laughed. “Oh, I know that, Em. You’ve talked about the west often enough. But there comes a time in this life when grown people have to settle for what’s best. Why, there’s no place on this earth that’s better than good old Cairo, Illinois. What grander future is there? And you know my parents adore you.”

Emmalee sat up and pulled slightly away from him. The horses plodded on, back toward the home. Stripped black trees cast long shadows on the snow; high, thin branches shivered in the wind.

He reached for her, and she let herself be drawn back to him. He was a good boy and she knew he loved her, but here he was talking about marriage, talking about his forthcoming job in the lumberyard, while she was dreaming of adventure and faraway places.

“Well, what
you going to do when you turn sixteen this April, Em?” Val demanded. “You say you want to go west. How? Do you have any money? That’s what it takes, you know. And what do you want to do out there, anyway?”

“I want to get some land. I want to have a farm, just like we did when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. If Ma and Pa hadn’t died on the trail west, I imagine we’d have that farm already.”

She spoke with such intensity that Val softened his tone. “I’m sure you would have, Em. And I’m just as sorry as you about what happened to your parents. But it did happen. We all have to make some compromises in this life. That’s what my father always says.”

“I—I guess I’ll have to think about it,” Emmalee said. It was always difficult to speak of one’s private dreams. So few people really listened, and even fewer understood. It was not that they were uncharitable; it was simply that visions were just so damned difficult to communicate to others.

Emmalee fell silent. Val believed that he’d convinced her about finding a glorious future in Illinois, a future with him. He pulled her to him for another kiss, and Emmalee responded. But Val was too much in love with her, with the Emmalee he thought he knew, to sense the great distance between them, a distance that Emmalee herself was beginning to ponder seriously.

It was not a regal sleigh but only an old logsled that pulled up in front of the stables at the Lutheran orphanage.

Val jumped down from the sled onto hard-packed snow, turning to offer Emmalee his arm. She grasped it and let him lower her. They stood there awkwardly for a moment of farewell.

“It’s Sunday evening,” Val whispered. “Ask the Reverend Bowerly if you can come to dinner at my home. My parents would love to have you.”

“I’d like to,” she said, “but a lot of the children are ill. I’m afraid I’ll have to get back to work. Maybe next Sunday, though? We’d better turn the horses over to Peter and say good-bye.”

Val looked disappointed. Emmalee turned away and started walking toward the stable door.

“Peter?” she called. “Peter?”

Peter Weller, the stableboy, usually came running out to take charge of the horses as soon as he heard their hoofs on the roadway. The big beasts were stomping in the snow, anxious to get to their stalls for oats, hay, and a rubdown, and the temperature was dropping by the moment.

“Peter?” Emmalee asked again, entering the stable. She saw the stableboy lying on a pile of straw, shivering in his heavy coat. “Peter, what’s the matter?”

“I—I think I’ve got the grippe, Em. I feel just…terrible.”

Emmalee had felt plenty of feverish foreheads during the past days and nights, and had carried more than enough basins and compresses and howls of soup. She knew the symptoms of grippe, just as she knew that, after a few suffering days, the victims would gradually be restored to health. But she noticed on Peter’s face a couple of blotchy scars similar to those she’d seen on the children with the highest temperatures.

“I’m afraid you’ve got it pretty bad,” she said gently. “Think you can make it as far as your dormitory bed? Val and I can see to the horses, and I’ll tell the Reverend Bowerly—”

“Oh!” exclaimed Peter, with what would have been urgency had he been fully alert. “The reverend wanted to see you as soon as you…as soon as you came back.”

“What’s going on in here?” asked Val, sticking his head in the doorway. “These horses are about to freeze. What’s wrong?” he demanded, alarmed, as he caught sight of Peter.

“He’s taken sick,” explained Emmalee. “I’ll walk him over to his dormitory. Val, would you lead the horses to their stalls, please?”

As Val went to bring the horses inside, Emmalee tried to help Peter to his feet. He groaned in agony and sagged against her.

“I’ll never make it to the dorm,” he said. “Just let me lie down.

Aware that she couldn’t carry him—indeed, she could barely support him—Emmalee eased him back down to the straw.

Val had unhitched the big Belgian horses from the sled. He led them into the stable, and they clomped eagerly to their stalls, to warmth and hay. He removed their harness, hung it, saw that they had water and oats. Then he joined Emmalee. They stared down, with growing alarm, at Peter Weller.

“He looks
,” said Val. “I think the two of us can carry him, though.”

“Peter, are you awake?” asked Emmalee.

It seemed, at first glance, that the stableboy had fallen asleep, but his face was oddly discolored and his breathing came in alarming snorts. Emmalee bent toward him, feeling the same combination of fear and knowledge that she had experienced once on the banks of the Monongahela River and again in a rain-soaked grove outside Springfield, Illinois. She could not rid herself of the feeling that, if she had not been afraid, Death would not have come to claim her mother and her father. Now she steeled herself, so that this time Death would not arrive to take Peter away with him.

“Emmalee!” exclaimed the Reverend Bowerly, ducking into the stable out of the frosty twilight. “You’re back. Hello, Val. What’s wrong with Peter?”

The superintendent pulled the stable door shut and strode quickly to the pile of straw upon which Peter lay.

“I think he passed out,” Emmalee said. She watched as the reverend bent to examine the young man. Superintendent Bowerly usually looked concerned about one thing or another, what with the lives of eighty-odd parentless children on his mind. But Emmalee had never seen him so starkly frightened.

“Miss Alden,” he said, standing up and addressing her formally, “have you felt ill of late? Fever? Chills? Anything like that?”

She shook her head. “Why, no…”

“I’m afraid we have something very serious on our hands here, and I have summoned Dr. Legatt from town. Seven more children in your dormitory fell ill after lunch today, and some of them are in an awfully bad way. They have—”

He decided not to say anything more. “I’ll look after Peter. Please go to your dormitory. Dr. Legatt and I will be there shortly.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” asked Val.

“I don’t think so, son,” said the Reverend Bowerly. “You’d best get home and see to your own health.”

Outside the stable, Emmalee and Val said a hasty, half-frightened good-bye.

“Maybe I should stay with you, Em,” he suggested.

“No. The superintendent is right. You go home. There isn’t too much anyone can do except take care of the sick, and I don’t want you coming down with the grippe. It’ll be bad enough if I do.”

Val started to protest but Emmalee shushed him with a quick farewell kiss. Their lips were cold.

“Go, now.” She smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Reluctantly, Val left, waving. She could hear the crunch of his boots in the snow.

Emmalee waited until he had disappeared into darkness, then turned away from the stable and dashed across the drifted snow on the orphanage grounds. Peter’s condition had upset her, and the reverend’s reaction to it had alarmed her even more. Night had fallen now, the hard, iron winter night, and all above her blazed sharp, cold, pitiless stars. For once Emmalee was glad of the dormitory’s close warmth.

The dormitory where Emmalee was in charge was a long, narrow wooden structure sheltering little girls, aged four to twelve. Bunks ran along the walls and a wood-burning metal stove crouched on a brick platform in the center of the room. During summer, with the windows open and cool air blowing, the dorm was pleasant enough. But in winter, with the stoked fire hot and roaring, the atmosphere became oppressive, the air dead and stale.

Emmalee entered, hung up her scarf and coat, and heard the sniffling, coughing, and crying of the sick children.

“Oh, Emmalee!” exclaimed Louise Bunyon, one of the older girls. “Somethin’ is fearfully wrong with little Tessie, and I’m askeerd.”

“Don’t worry, Louise. Dr. Legatt will be along shortly. Why don’t we go and comfort Tessie? Could you bring me a basin of cold water and some clean rags?”

Louise went to fetch those items, as she was told, while Emmalee made her way down the long line of bunks. Tessie Bailey, five years old, had been a favorite of Emmalee’s since her arrival at the home. Her parents had been drowned in a riverboat accident north of Hannibal, Missouri, when the little girl was still a baby. The only life she’d known was here at the orphanage, and Emmalee was almost like a mother to her.

Emmalee reached Tessie’s bunk, looked down at the girl, and stifled a cry of alarm that rose instinctively. Tessie’s eyes were open and she appeared to be conscious, but Emmalee could tell that her little pet was delirious. Tessie spoke soft, disjointed nonsense words, a reddish foam lined her dry, scarlet lips, and on her face were the same ugly blotches that Emmalee had seen on Peter Weller’s skin. The terrible sight triggered a memory. Now Emmalee knew what it was, understood what was happening and all that it meant…

Louise Bunyon came hurrying up with the basin and rags. Emmalee had just placed one of the cool cloths on Tessie’s forehead when Superintendent Bowerly and Dr. Legatt, the Cairo physician, strode into the dormitory. Dr. Legatt, a heavyset man with a red walrus mustache and a luxurious set of the newly fashionable sideburns, passed quickly from bed to bed, peering at each of the children. He grinned reassuringly at those who shrank away from him. They were afraid he might give them some foul-tasting medicine, and thus they were too alert to be truly ill. But he masked with a gentle smile the deep concern he felt upon examining children who were too weak even to respond to his presence. When he reached little Tessie Bailey’s bunk, he dropped quickly to his knees and studied her grimly. The Reverend Bowerly stood beside him.

BOOK: The Passionate and the Proud
8.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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