"Daniel Boone, you take that back!"
"Becky, the girl's not to be trusted. I don't care what she told you- "
"Are you a woman?"
Dan's green eyes were suddenly eclipsed by his lowered brows. "Now, Becky...."
"Well, are you?"
He laughed and tossed his head. "Well, for your sake, I hope not."
"Then you have no right to judge her. I tell you, someone has to be holding something over her. She was frightened to even talk to me." Becky's hands had sought their familiar spot on her hips. "And she does love Mingo."
Her husband's face darkened with controlled rage. "She sure has a funny way of showing it."
"Your wife is right."
He had almost forgotten the Englishman was in the room. Daniel turned and stared at him, still not certain he could trust the man. And yet his gut feeling was that he could. That he might have to if he was to see Mingo alive again.
"And why is that?"
Oldham smiled wearily. "Other than that your wife is a charming woman, and women are invariably wiser than men? I have known Rachel all of my life. I don't believe she would intentionally harm Kerr...Mingo." At Daniel's look, he shook his head. "I am at a loss Mr. Boone. When I awoke and she and Gerard were gone...." He fell silent, studying his hands.
"You knew nothing of this?"
Oldham glanced at him and the smile returned. "You have no reason to believe or trust me, but no, I didn't. Rachel came to me several months ago and asked that we take a last tour together before her marriage to John. The engagement itself was sudden and she seemed reluctant to surrender her independence. She asked to see the colonies, and though the escalating war made me hesitate, when she asked to come here-to the wilderness-I agreed."
"Didn't that seem a mite odd?" Daniel came to the table and sat opposite him. "A dainty thing like her, wanting to come here?"
"You have much fame, Mr. Boone. Both as a frontiersman and a rather-well, shall we say-notorious foe of the Crown. You are the talk of many a London parlor." He laughed at Daniel's expression and turned to Becky. "I see the thought does not bring your husband any joy...."
She walked over to stand behind Dan and put her hands on his shoulders. "And Mingo?"
"Ah, yes...Mingo." He leaned forward, knitting his fingers together. "I was with her that night. It took her no longer than me to add the sum. One of John's comrades had soldiered here last winter. He had seen the two of you. He recognized your Indian friend as Kerr from the Academy and was telling tales in the town." Oldham paused and leaned back. "From what I heard, Lord Dunsmore was not pleased."
"Well, Lord Dunsmore was not entirely pleased when I last saw him either," Dan said, remembering the look on Mingo's father's face when they had confronted him in the governor's mansion and out-witted him, undoing all his carefully laid schemes.
Oldham nodded. "I am glad to say that I am no longer in his debt, having inherited a modest fortune from my father some years ago."
"I thought you were the second son."
"I am. But my elder brother has no desire for possessions. He is a thinker and a dreamer. I think that was why he was drawn to diplomacy-as much for the romance as for the politics. I am afraid his naivete about humanity was a part of his undoing."
"You mean why he's in jail?"
"Jail?" Hugh Oldham stood and walked to the fire. He leaned on the mantel and paused, staring into it. A moment later he said quietly, "Mr. Boone, he is in prison awaiting execution for high treason against the Crown. He is innocent. And so is Rachel."
"Rachel?" Rebecca crossed to stand beside him. "They think she- "
"Was a party to his treason. I was not entirely honest before," he glanced at her and then met her husband's keen eyes. "About why we came to this wilderness...."
"You brought her here to get her away."
"I felt the danger in England far outweighed the threat of war and savages...." He fell silent then, lost in his own thoughts.
Daniel eyed his wife and then nodded towards the door. The children were coming up the path and he wasn't ready for the conversation to end.
"I'll get them, Dan. We'll go visit widow McGrady. She's been doing poorly and Israel promised to chop some wood for her." She fixed him with her bright blue eyes. "Now don't you go running off without letting me know what is going on."
Dan's brows brushed his brown bangs. "Me? Would I do that?"
He kissed her on her head and patted her rump. "I'll come fetch you in an hour."
She glanced at the Englishman who stood with his head down, and then back to her husband. "See that you do. And Dan...."
"Yes," he turned to watch her walk out the door.
"Bring Mingo home."
"Papers were found in my brother's possession pertinent to the security of the Crown, revealing troop movements in this area and indicating that he had been passing information to the French as well as the colonists. Charles has many friends, both here and on the continent," Oldham sighed, "and I will tell you, he is not discriminate about who he associates with. If a man is his friend, he is his friend-whether or not their countries agree."
"That's the way it should be."
The older man nodded. "But these are hard times, Mr. Boone. I, as an Englishman, may not agree with my King-but he is my King."
He stopped before the words left his mouth, but Daniel heard them. "And should be mine as well?"
"Now that I have returned to your country and have seen it from a perspective other than that of a British soldier, I begin to understand-not only your desire to rule yourselves, but Kerr's desire to stay. The very air here is different. Cleaner, somehow. Less conflicted. Things can be seen in black and white." He drew a breath. "In the old world, everything is colored in shades of gray, a charcoal wash of mixed loyalties and misunderstandings. My brother has many friends in France. Some of them are anarchists. Others are patriots. He does not distinguish between the two."
"And how does John Gerard enter into all of this?"
The other man shook his head. "That is a puzzle. Rachel and I were set to come here on our tour when John showed up at the pier. I thought he had come to bid her farewell, but found instead that he had booked passage at the last moment."
Daniel shifted in his chair and leaned forward, "Did Miss Cornell know?"
Oldham's eyes were troubled. "I am...not sure...."
"You think she did."
"Mr. Boone, I have known John as long as I have known the man you call Mingo'. He was a callous youth-to some extent they both were-but I...."
Oldham smiled. "I think your wife understands. In order to survive, he had to be. In order to play the part of Lord Dunsmore's son, he had to bury who he truly was."
"Were they friends?"
"Yes...and no. They shared a common heritage and Oxford brought them together, but in the end, they were rivals."
"Over Miss Cornell."
"Rachel among other things. Education. Skill at firearms. But, I believe, it was Rachel that drove the wedge between them. After Kerr left, John only spoke of him with contempt. I think he knew why he left. No one else ever did."
"Including me. I had my suspicions," the older man returned to the table and sat down again, "I believe he was 'found out'."
"You mean that he was part-Indian?"
"And that he was a bastard son. England has had a wealth of bastard sons that have become powerful men, but it still carries a stigma. And that was with a white mother...." He let the sentence trail off unfinished. Then he added softly, "You know in England we still see natives paraded on the stage in shows; sold into slavery and used like animals for the entertainment of their betters."
Daniel sat in silence, chewing the inside of his cheek. "You never answered me about Gerard."
Oldham's brow arched. "I don't know. I believe he has come here to destroy your Mingo, to break him, and to show Rachel how wrong she is to love him still. Beyond that...the man is clever, well-trained and well-connected. He is capable of just about anything that will further his own cause. And he is one other thing that is perhaps the most dangerous...."
"And what is that?"
"In love. In his own way, John believes he is in love with Rachel. And he will do anything to make certain she is his."
They had broken camp as the dawn light began to filter across the sky. By the time Mingo had had a chance to gather his wits, Rachel had been dragged from the tent and he had been gagged and thrust into the back of a wagon. A tarp had been tossed over him and moments later they had begun to bounce and jolt over the hard packed earth, making their ways through the trees toward an unknown destination. He still carried the scent of Rachel with him; a blend of rosemary, neroli and bergamot tinged with lemon, which she had worn since her early days in France. He closed his eyes and allowed it to take him back to that fateful day.
He could see her bright blue eyes watching him still, wary, uncertain of what was troubling him. How could he blame her? He had no words. How could he explain that a period of less than twelve hours had changed his life forever, altering his perceptions and his world?
How could he make her understand that he had finally remembered who he was?
At the time it had seemed like a sudden thing-as if a bolt of lightning had struck him from a clear blue sky-but now, as an older and wiser man, he knew it had been a long time coming. The uniform of the Earl's son had not fit him that first day, and destiny had declared it never would. It had simply taken him some time to recognize it; to learn why his stomach sickened each time his servants bent to buckle his shoes, and why his hands trembled with rage each time one of his peers abused or used the ones they owned. All the years he had lived in London and on his father's estate, he had thought he was the one who somehow did not understand. One night's momentary diversion had opened his eyes. And once open, he found he could not close them blindly again.
That-as much as the fear of the shame he would bring to the one he loved-was what had made him run.
The wagon rose and fell, jolting him so he moaned. Even though it was autumn, the day was hot and the lack of air beneath the heavy tarp made him sleepy. He closed his eyes and walked the land of dreams.
"Kerr. Kerr, are you here?"
Lord Dunsmore's son and heir lifted his head from his books and yawned. He had left Rachel some time before and had retired to his rooms to read, knowing as soon as his house-mates returned, any hope of actually enjoying it would end. Most of them regarded their rooms at Oxford as a place to entertain or just a bed to flop in after endless nights of dancing and carousing. The fact that he actually took pleasure from literature and wanted to learn was a mystery to them.
His eyes sought the pale figure leaning against the doorjamb as he closed the book. "John. I thought you had gone home for the week."
His friend entered his room. Gerard glanced about and then came to stand on the opposite side of the reading table, his hand on the back of a chair. He was smiling and his deep blue eyes seemed almost feverish. "I came back early. Father had some of his old regiment staying at the house, and while the manor is large," the young man yawned, "I could feel the boredom creeping down the halls, threatening to choke all of the fun out of life." He picked up a bread knife that lay on the table and opened the book with it, flipping through the pages. "Philosophy?" His eyes flicked to his friend's face. "Sometimes Kerr, you can be so dreadfully dull."
One dark eyebrow shot toward his neatly coifed bangs. "The exultation found in expanding your horizons in such a fashion has somehow, regretfully, eluded you, John. If just once you opened a book rather than using it as a door-stop, you might find something in it that was worthwhile."
"Ah," the other man flipped a few more pages. He was quiet for a moment and then he said, "But that is the very subject I have come to discuss with you."
Kerr leaned back in his chair. "That? And what is that?"
"Expanding your horizons. I want you to come with me," he paused and gazed out the window to the neatly trimmed lawn of the college, "Well, with us."
The dark head turned. "Us?"
"A few of the others-Huntington, Paisley-we're going into town."
"This late? Whatever for?"
"Well," John Gerard kicked the chair around and sat on it backwards, leaning his chin on its back, "The younger men who had accompanied my father's regiment to the manor were talking about this show they had seen." He smiled and tilted his tousled auburn head. "They said it was the most entertainment they had had in years. It's playing on the lower east side."
Kerr frowned. The usual fair in the East End of London was loose-skinned lizard men and dog-faced boys. "I've seen it before, John," he said, placing his hand on the table and starting to rise, "I'm not in the mood."
Gerard leaned in closer. His fingers continued to toy with the edge of the knife. "Ah, but that's where you are wrong: you haven't. This is special. In from Spain. Not meant for the weak or faint-hearted. I overheard the men say it was quite a blood-bath." He paused and rose to his feet as well. "Or is that English blood of yours too *blue* to enjoy brutality." An odd glint entered his eyes, "Or not blue enough."
The other man sighed. "Will you take 'no' for an answer?"
Gerard turned the knife point-down and drove it through the pages of the book, pinning it to the table.
A short time later they were on their way. There were six of them; three noblemen and three gentleman-commoners. Two carriages had brought them to the edge of the Whitechapel area and dropped them off. The drivers had been retained and were to return in three hours. Kerr pulled his collar close. The night was cold, but it seemed a deeper chill had taken hold of him. Once again he was struck with the feeling that he did not-and would never belong.
Ten years now he had fought it, as surely as any soldier battles a strong unyielding foe. And there were times when it seemed he had won-when he marched in parade or accepted another honor for his scholastic abilities. But at times like this, when the other young pups his age were drinking and whoring and seeking empty excitement, something deep within him reared up and demanded balance. Harmony.
He sighed as John waved him forward. They had lost two of their numbers to the ladies of the street and so it was he and John, with Paisley and Lord Huntington's son, who entered the dimly lit avenue which led to a small theatre from which the roar of excited voices ran like a rushing river. So strong he could feel it in his teeth.
John smiled at him and pointed, and there was something in his smile that made his hair stand on end. Kerr turned and looked at the bill posted beside the door-a brightly colored piece of paper already faded and torn, though the show had only just come to town.
He drew a breath and held it.
"See the savages," it said in lurid red letters six inches high, "come from the deepest darkest heart of the Americas; warriors who have walked the dark and bloody ground. See them challenge one another and fall in blood."
His eyes shot to John Gerard, but the other man had already turned and was drawing the others after him. At the door his hand lifted and he beckoned him forward.
Did he know?
"Wake up, savage!"
Mingo opened his eyes and sighed. The tarp had been withdrawn from him and he could see that a major portion of the day was gone. He had passed at least ten hours beneath it, sweltering in the heat, and now as the cool air of early evening struck him, he shivered with it and felt the breath of sickness whisper against his neck. A soldier stood ramrod straight before him, his bayonet at the ready. Still, he had no fear. He knew John did not intend an easy or a quick death for him, but one which would teach him his place and prove to Rachel that he was not worth the effort it took to pronounce his name.
"I am awake," he said as he began to rise.
The soldier immediately struck him, knocking him back down. "Speak when spoken to, Indian."
Mingo's brows rose to touch his jet-black bangs. "I believe that was what I was attempting to do."
The powdered wig turned toward him and he waited for another blow, but it never fell. Gerard had signaled he was ready and so, instead, he was bodily lifted from the wagon and hauled roughly across the uneven ground. Once there he was thrust to his knees. He glanced about for Rachel, but saw her nowhere.
He was not certain whether to be concerned or relieved.
"Gerard. I see ten years has not quenched your taste for brutality." He braced himself as the soldier raised his rifle once again. Gerard waited a moment and then nodded and the butt of the gun slammed into his shoulder. He didn't cry out. Still, his lip was bloodied from the effort it took to hold it in.
"You will listen, savage. And you will obey."
Mingo glanced at the soldier and then to Gerard.
The auburn head nodded. A smile kissed his thin lips. "Speak."
"Or what? You will kill me-?" His deep brown eyes fastened on the other man. "You know, John, how little that threat means to me."
"Oh yes, the noble savage. So righteous. So right." John shifted and stood. He walked forward until he stood directly before Mingo and then he knelt so they were eye to eye. "Do you know where Rachel is?"
Mingo shook his head. "No. You have not harmed her - "
"Not yet." He gazed into Mingo's eyes and the madness in them told the Cherokee warrior that this was a mind out of balance, out of harmony, as once his had been. "And if I have to harm her, it will be your fault."
Gerard smiled. "Yes."
"Where is she?"
"Safe. In hands that will keep her safe unless I tell them otherwise. Unless you fail her."
Mingo drew a breath. "What is it you want me to do?"
Daniel sat across the fire from Hugh Oldham. The older man had insisted on coming with him to track Rachel, and possibly Mingo, and finally he had reluctantly agreed. The problem was the Englishman was not a frontiersman, nor was he used to lengthy journeys by stealth or on foot. Still at the end of ten hours he was only slightly winded and footsore. They were taking a few moments to catch their breath, before setting out again.
As Dan absent-mindedly polished the barrel of his rifle, the older man lifted a mug of soup to his lips and sipped the hot brew. "This is delightful, Mr. Boone. Even aromatic. Is the average man of the wilderness this skilled at the culinary arts?"
"Oh, you learn here and there which roots and herbs add flavor. Really, most of what I know I've learned from Mingo. He's a good teacher." Dan's hand stopped. "And a good friend."
"I am sorry we have brought this trouble on you. Perhaps it would have been best if the past had remained buried. We seem to have unearthed the corpse, revealing everything that has become putrid and unholy."
"You really care about him, don't you?"
Hugh Oldham nodded. "I spent a great deal of time with him the first two years he was in England. After that, my duties made our visits fewer and more far between. Finally, I-along with everyone who knew the truth-was 'banished'; sent to the colonies or India, or one of the other myriad possessions of the British Crown." He sighed. "One thing I will say for Dunsmore, he was determined to spare Kerr any shame."
"Or himself," Dan said quietly.
The Englishman nodded. "Or himself. You said you had met him?"
"Briefly, last year, when he tried to take Boonesborough and all the land around here for the Crown."
Hugh smiled and took another sip. "I take it he didn't win."
"He was mighty steamed, but no, he didn't win."
He put the cup down. "You have made a powerful enemy, Mr. Boone. Respect and honor are all that matter to the Earl. And duty."
"He cared little about his duty to his son, it seems." Dan stretched his long legs before him. "If you had to raise him...."
"Lord Dunsmore had little time for any of his children, Kerr was not alone in that. He was often in the field, heading a mission, leading this or that campaign. I believe that in taking Cara-Mingo to England, he felt he had done all that was necessary." The Englishman paused, "I have no children of my own, Mr. Boone-Rachel will inherit everything that is mine-but I think few of us truly know how to raise up a child. If we have only our own limited knowledge to fall back upon...."
"Lord Dunsmore's father- "
"Was Lord Dunsmore. The same as he. And the same as his father before. By nature, he expected Kerr to fall in line." Hugh smiled. "Little did he know what he had sired. Deep waters ran in that boy."
"And in the man."
"Yes." He was thoughtful for a moment. "So what, Mr. Boone, is your plan? Do you have any idea where we may find them?"
"Well," Dan paused and began to polish his gun again, "I have a feeling there is more to this than just a jealous rival or an old school mate seeking revenge. Gerard works for the English?"
Oldham looked uncomfortable. "My own duty, Mr. Boone..."
"Is to that little boy you took from his mother all those years ago, don't you think?"
The Englishman sighed and then nodded. "John works intelligence. He has been an agent for the British, working to undermine the French is their continued efforts to find and retain support in this country. I don't know if that is why he is here...."
Daniel nodded. "I bet it has something to do with it. Anything else?"
If possible the older man looked even more uncomfortable. He remained silent a moment as if weighing the consequences of his possible words. Finally he opened his mouth. "All I can say, Mr. Boone, is that if I were you-I would sleep with one eye open and your finger on the trigger of that bright and shiny gun."
Rachel paced the floor of the one room cabin she had been confined in. The windows had been barricaded so she couldn't see out, but one piece of the wood had splintered and through it she could see light and catch a passing word now and then. And the words she had caught had been in French.
Wondering at the meaning of that she had walked off the few small crusts of bread she had been able to keep down, and now she found herself dizzy; so light she almost felt as if she were not a part of her body. Her father had been accused of collaborating with the French. So had she. And now, here she was, in a French encampment or settlement. And the only one around was John. A sick, hollow feeling had taken hold of her stomach and squeezed it and refused to let go. Why was she here? Was John working with the French?
And if he was? What did that mean?
She continued to pace like a caged animal until she heard the latch shift and the door began to open, allowing the light of a half dozen torches to flood in. A familiar figure filled the opening, and as she moved back, Gerard entered the room.
"I have someone for you to meet," he inclined his head and stepped away from the door just as a tall dark-haired figure was shoved into the room. The man stumbled and fell to his knees. When he looked up, Rachel gasped.
Gerard laughed. "Yes, it's Kerr." He stepped in front of Mingo and dropped the shorn locks of ebon hair on the floor before him. "This is the last of the warrior and the man. By the time I am finished with you, your people-your friend's people and the man whom you have walked beside these last few years-will curse your name." His eyes flicked to Rachel. "You wanted him back. Well, here he is. I'll give you a few minutes to say hello," he shoved Mingo so he struck the floor, gasping, "and goodbye." And with that Gerard walked out the door.
Rachel listened as he barred it behind him. She walked to the window and gazed out and saw he was actually going away. A moment later she returned to Mingo's side and knelt before him, running her fingers along his temple, across his ear and down his neck. He was dressed as an English gentleman, and though his skin was too tan and rough for a noble, he looked like any soldier or surveyor who had spent time in the open or on the road. Her hand touched his chest where bruising showed. "He hurt you," she whispered, her jaw tight. "Badly?"
"Not any worse than I have been hurt before. Gerard may be a bully, but he knows nothing about the finer points of torture." He winced and straightened up. "And I have been tortured by some of the best."
Rachel shook her head at him and rocked back on her heels. "How can you laugh?"
He looked into her wide blue eyes. A sad smile brushed his lips. "When we laugh, we cannot cry."
She laughed as she touched his face, and then a tear rolled down her cheek. He reached up to brush it away. "Now don't go making me into a liar...."
"He didn't strike your face." She looked at him closely, her pale brows furrowed. "Why is that?"
He caught her hand. "It's not for you to worry about. We need to get you out of here...."
"Kerr, what is it he wants you to do?"
The dark-haired man drew a deep breath and winced again. "I told you, you needn't concern yourself - "
"I am concerned," her voice was firm. "I am the cause."
One dark eyebrow arched. "I thought I was I who owed you."
She looked chagrined. "Oh, that." The young woman stood and moved across the room until she came to the window. She turned and for a moment, just looked at him. Then she drew a deep breath and continued, "Those were words John had written for me. You don't owe me anything."
He shook his head. "Oh, but I do."
"No. I will not let you betray your friends, your people...I will not let you die for me."
Mingo laughed. "Somehow, I think what you or I will or will not allow, is not uppermost in Gerard's head at this moment." He shifted and coughed. "He definitely has the upper hand."
She returned to his side. "What has he threatened you with?"
He looked up at her. Both brows rose this time. "What makes you think he has threatened me with- "
"Did he say he would kill me? Or leave me to rot in prison like my father?"
"Is your father in prison," he asked, hoping to distract her.
"Oh, yes." She glanced towards the door, "And I am beginning to suspect that perhaps John had a hand in sending him there. Did you hear the soldiers?"
He nodded. "They were French. Yes."
"So not only is he black-guard, but a liar, and perhaps a traitor as well."
"That depends on whose side you are on."
Rachel's golden head snapped towards him. Her tone was incredulous, "You defend him?"
"No. No, I am not defending John. I only meant to say that it is a desperate and dangerous game we play-this war. And in the end it is the princes and kings who win. And the husbands and fathers who die."
"Do you think I am a traitor?"
"Though I many not always agree with him, I believe in my King. He was once yours as well."
Mingo shook his head. "No one has a right to have power of that magnitude, to hold the destiny of more than half the world in their hands. No one. Each man is as important as the next."
She cocked her head and looked at him. "You do not sound like the young man I knew so many years ago."
He laughed and coughed again. "I am not the man you knew."
She knelt beside him and held her hand to his forehead as he shied away. "You have a fever," she said quietly.
He nodded. There was no purpose to lying. "I am not...well. The result of John's...attentions...as well as a night on the cold ground and exposure to the wind after being so long confined." He smiled grimly. "Perhaps death will have the last laugh and I will not survive long enough to carry out Gerard's mad schemes."
She placed her finger on his lips. "Don't say such a thing. I have only just found you once again." Her pale hands cupped his face and drew it close. "Kiss me."
"Rachel, there is no time..."
She shook her head and ran her hand along his freshly cut hair.
"There is no time but now."
Becky Boone stood on the front porch of her home, watching the full moon ride high in the sky for the second night in a row. Israel had come home late from an unexpected and unsupervised night-fishing expedition with a friend, soaked to the teeth. She had placed him in the bed she shared with Dan and laid warm stones all about him. Now she was waiting to see if she had managed to stave off the dangerous chill that could settle in a person's bones in an instant. She had sent Jemima to bed shortly thereafter, and that had left her alone with her thoughts. Lowering her form to the single step that led up to the plank floor Dan had laid, she laced her fingers about her knees. As she considered the choices she had made, the man she had married and the life she was destined to live, a tear ran down her cheek and struck her pale flesh near the soft edge of her muslin gown. She pulled the blanket Mingo had given them close and sighed, laying her head on her hands.
The voice was tentative. She thought about being stern, but instead tapped the boards beside her and said simply, "Sit down, Jemima. Keep me company."
"Why are you sad, Ma? Is something wrong?"
Becky looked at her daughter and taking her hand, laid it atop her own. "Wrong?" She laughed. "Everything is wrong. We live in a world where evil men hold sway, where the good and the innocent are often punished, and the wicked, rewarded for their evil ways." She drew a breath and continued, "Where man hunts man and kills man as easily as the animals that walk these woods."
"But," and she smiled as she said it, "we also live in a world where there are men like your father who would risk everything-who would give all-for a friend. And a world where that friend would do the same."
"Are you worried about Pa?"
The red-haired beauty looked at her daughter and laughed sadly. "If I worried about your pa, I wouldn't have a hair left on my head that wasn't gray. No, your pa can take care of himself. He always has and he always will."
"Mingo? Yes, I worry about Mingo. But not for the reason you think. Jemima, Mingo is a warrior. He is every bit as capable as your Pa, and if your Pa wasn't Daniel Boone, I would say maybe even more capable." She released Jemima's hand and rose, leaning on one of the posts that supported the roof. "I worry about Mingo because he feels too deeply. Because every choice, every battle is rooted in shades of gray. I worry that he will get lost in the shadows.
"But most of all, tonight. I am worried about our guest."
"Miss Cornell? I thought she ran away."
Becky put her arm about her daughter as she came to stand beside her. "Miss Cornell has been running away for a very long time. I hope that now-together-she and Mingo can finally stop and find what your father and I have." She kissed her daughter's brown hair and touched her shoulder. "Now, get to bed. I need to check on your brother."
Mingo's fingers lingered in the golden curls. Rachel had cried herself to sleep and he sat holding her, waiting for Gerard to come; waiting for the moment when he would be forced to choose between all he had held precious in the past, and all he held dear in the present.
Only one thing did he know for certain.
For him, there was no future to come.
Continued in Chapter Six