Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Kregel Publications (September 22, 2009)


Personal turmoil amid horrific conflict-these are the elements of a career-making headline. . . and a journey toward healing.

On assignment in Darfur, journalist Julia Keegan is determined to open the eyes of average Americans to the atrocities taking place there-and to distance herself from the dark shadow cast by her father, a man she's never really known. So when Joel Maartens, her father's young lawyer, shows up in Sudan, Julia is completely unprepared to respond. She has steeled herself against the horrors of genocide, but she isn't prepared to face her own past.
As Joel's and Julia's lives are redefined by the injustice and violence around them, both are forced to face truths they would rather leave concealed. Fighting for justice is no easy task, but learning to forgive in the face of hatred may be the resolution that Joel and Julia both desperately need.


Shannon Van Roekel has volunteered on the mission field in both Africa and Mexico and much of this novel is influenced by her experiences. She published works in Guideposts 4 Teens and The Upper Room and now lives with her husband and five children in British Colombia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (September 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825439221
ISBN-13: 978-0825439223


Dear Julia,

I want to die better than I’ve lived. So I ask you, please read this letter to the end.

It’s the only one I’ll send.

Cold, fluorescent light shone down on the metal desk where Fred Keegan sat. His hair was closely shaven along a massive neck between a pair of muscle-bound shoulders. He hunched over white notepaper, his right hand engulfing the pen.

A sigh escaped him, a moment passed, and then the pen scratched its way across the paper again:

If you receive this, it will mean I am gone from this world—so you can relax, I won’t come and disturb your life.

There are some things, however, that I’d like you to know about me.

One is that I’ve always loved you. I guess your mama didn’t spend much time talking about the father you probably had no trouble forgetting. I don’t blame either of you for having nothing to do with me. I was a real jerk. I was guilty, as charged, for the crimes I committed. That life, I am ashamed of, and I paid a high price. Thirty years in the slammer. And counting. I won’t bore you with the sorry-old-me stuff. Mostly, I want to tell you about the last eight years. Something important happened, and you should know not just who I was, but who I got to be and the Treasure I found. This is why I write to you.

I’ve got a picture of a cute kid taped to my wall. You’re missing your front teeth and have two of those pony things. You’re a cute gal and no mistake. Pretty, like your mama. The picture came in the last letter with the divorce papers.

Fred stopped, head bowed, eyes squeezed shut. The memories of that day still filled him with remorse. The rage he’d felt and his inability to control it. Two guards had taken the brunt, both of whom still carried scars marking the event. Two weeks in solitary was his punishment. Regrettably, not long enough to cure him of his anger-management problem.

Picking up his pen again, he gazed at the photo. The tape had yellowed with age. The girl never aged. She smiled back with sweetness and youth.

I guess you were seven in that photo. That means you’d be thirty-three now. I wonder if I’d know you if I saw you today. Can a man walk past his own kin and not feel the bond of blood that connects them? Recognize the spirit in the other who shares his same history, ancestors, and perhaps God? Maybe that’s why we get goose bumps. Maybe I’m a crazy old fool who’s had too much time to think about the inner workings of this thing we call life.

“Keegan, you got a visitor.”

Fred looked up as the guard unlocked the steel door and stepped aside, allowing a tall man access into his cell. His frown at being interrupted from his writing smoothed immediately into a grin when he recognized his guest.

“Mr. Lawyer, good to see ya.”

“Good to be seen, Keegan. How are you feeling today?” Joel Maartens returned Fred’s grin with one of his own.

“Feeling? I guess I’m fine. I’ve got things to do, and that helps keep my mind off the pain.” Fred tried to ignore the pity in Joel’s eyes.

“Let me guess, you’ve got new books?”

Fred followed Joel’s gaze as he glanced at the bookshelf on the opposite wall. His cell was compact: bed, desk, chair, toilet, sink. But the bookshelf reaching from floor to ceiling was the focal point.

“Nah! Not books this time. I’ve got a letter to write, and it’s not an easy thing to do, Mr. Lawyer.” Fred folded his large frame into a sitting position on the edge of his bed so Joel could take the chair. “That’s why I asked to see you. I need some help with its delivery.”

“You need a letter mailed?” Joel asked.

“Not mailed, delivered,” Fred explained.

“Got an address, Keegan?”

“Well, no. No, I don’t. But it’s to my daughter.”

Fred watched Joel, wondering how his lawyer would respond to his proposal. They had known each other for the last five years, and during that time, he had learned to value the man’s opinion. Joel seemed less like his lawyer and more like a nephew.

Joel leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his fingers laced together as he spoke.

“I wouldn’t think it should be too difficult. There’ll be a marriage certificate if your ex remarried—would she be the type to remarry?” As Fred nodded and grimaced, Joel continued. “And of course, school registration forms. Maybe with some help from the Web, I could find an address or addresses where you can send the letter—”

“No,” Fred interjected. “I don’t want to mail it. It’s taken me a long time, Joel, but now that I have something of value to offer her, I want to know that it’ll get put into her hands. I don’t know who else to ask. I thought this thing through till my head feels like I’ve got two tumors, not one, and I keep coming back to you. I need you to do this.

“My daughter, Julia, will be my only heir, and you will be the executor—if you agree to it, that is. This search shouldn’t be complicated, but if it is, you can take any funds you require for it from the inheritance provision that you will write up with my signature and a third-party witness. I’m not a rich man, but I’m not a poor one, either, thanks to some of the investments you’ve helped me with.” He stopped. His outburst had winded him.

Fred prepared himself for disappointment as he watched Joel struggle with the ramifications of his request. Things that should be simple and straightforward were sometimes the opposite. For a lawyer to take on the unknown with no guarantee was a leap, and Fred knew it.

Joel hesitated for a moment, then gave a quick nod.

“I’ll do it, Keegan,” he told him.

As they shook hands over the agreement, Fred sighed with relief. He knew Joel would see it through. It was enough.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Q: Our world is characterized by war, violence, and conflict, and many of us experience that conflict in our inner beings. What would you say to those who long for inner peace but wonder if it is possible to find?

A: I believe God wants us to find peace and will show us the way, if we are willing to accept it. But for many of us, the peace of God is elusive, and we are not sure how to accept it. How do we search for this peace? Should we isolate ourselves from the world around us by withdrawing and adopting an inward focus, that we might gain that peace for ourselves? Though this seems the obvious answer, I believe those who are in Christ should avoid the kind of self focus and withdrawal that would preclude us from being involved in the solutions of the many problems that confront us. Instead, we search for inner peace because we want to share it, that we may be able to help others. Inner peace, like life, is a gift from God that is for His glory—and it is meant to be shared.

Q: If God wants us to find peace, why is it so rare to meet someone who has truly found it?

A: Obviously, there are many difficulties, distractions, and hardships that stand in the way of our inner peace.

As Paul said to the Galatians, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law of Moses."

Paul says, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like."

Today there are some distractions Paul did not include such as: worry, self-preservation, hunger, lack of money, arrogance, competitiveness, criticism, and illness, to name a few. It is these distractions—whether due to circumstances or the attitudes of our hearts—that stand between us and the inner peace we crave.

Q: Who is the source of our inner peace?

A: The Bible clearly tells us, time and again, that Jesus Christ Himself is the source of that peace. In Romans Paul says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Again in Ephesians, Paul says, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility." In Colossians, we read, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace." And consider the words of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, found in the book of John: "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Jesus gives peace to every believer. But so often, we allow the distractions of our days and our choices to pursue sin instead of the character of Christ to prevent us from accepting that peace.

Q: Some Christians have been wary of the art of Christian meditation because they have associated the word "meditation" with Eastern religions. Why is meditation so vital to our search for inner peace?

A: We live in a strange and changing world shaped by banking collapses, recessions, wars, politics, famine, hurricanes, pollution, and diverse economies and demographics. How does this changing, strange world affect our daily decisions? Where does God fit into all of this? One of our biggest hurdles to hearing God's voice is the fact that we simply are not listening.

Many people wrongly believe that Eastern religions have the monopoly on "meditation." The truth is that meditating on scripture was a spiritual discipline valued by the early church fathers, and it is a practice the church desperately needs to return to today. Whereas the aim of eastern meditation is to focus on nothing (in effect, emptying the mind), Christian meditation is about filling the mind—focusing on Holy Scripture and Christ. With the constant stream of media, noise, commitments, conflicts, and other distractions, you will not likely find times of quiet, stillness, and spiritual reflection unless you are intentional, unless you pursue meditation as a discipline. Through prayer and meditation we can transcend all the distractions and difficulties of our days if we live by the Spirit and put God's love and presence first.

Q: What role does the Holy Spirit play in our search for inner peace?

A: God's Spirit is within us constantly. As we read in John, "We know that we live in Him and He in us because He has given us His Spirit." Therefore, because God is in Jesus, Jesus is in you, and you are in God. The Holy Spirit dwells in you at all times, and it is the Holy Spirit that connects you to Christ and to God, the power source that brings inner peace. Prayer and Christian meditation takes on a completely different quality when we realize that God knows us intimately from within. And God is love; within God's love are the seeds for inner peace. When God comforts and encourages our souls through His love and when we share that love with others, He is guiding us along the path that leads to inner peace.

Q: Because the practice of Christian meditation has been neglected for so long, many Christians aren't sure how to begin. Can you offer an example to get them started?

A: Start prayer and meditation by finding a quiet comfortable place, by closing your eyes, by breathing deeply until you are completely relaxed. Quietly and slowly open your heart and mind to a loving God whose Spirit is dwelling within you.

Breathe in love, breathe out anger.

Breathe in peace, breathe out despair.

Relax: let God's love into your heart.

Be calm. Be at peace. Take more deep breaths, and feel the stress, anxiety and fear drain from your bodies.

This exercise will prepare you to listen to God's voice as you concentrate on a scripture passage and to respond in prayer.

Q: What is the most important message you want to communicate in Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times?

A: If we seek inner peace we will find it. In the book of John, Jesus says "And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it." So many people don't experience inner peace because they haven't truly sought it. My hope is that through reading this book, people will commit themselves to that search for inner peace and share this peace to the glory of God.

Website for William Moss is here.
Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times
Author William Moss
Publisher: The Barnabas Agency (December 4, 2009); 64 pages
                                             ISBN-10: 0578042444
                                             ISBN-13: 978-0578042442
Available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Believers' Press.
Thanks to Audra Jennings and The B&B Media Group for providing press kit and a review copy of the book.

Monday, February 22, 2010

WHERE IS GOD? by Dr. John Townsend

Where Is God?
Finding His Presence, Purpose and Power in Difficult Times

By Dr. John Townsend

Hard times make us look for God.

Everyone has problems. But if we could solve all our difficulties ourselves, would we ever search for God? Psychologist John Townsend says "It is actually the very unfixability of our problems and our powerlessness to bring right results that keep us asking, 'Where is God?'"

With a compelling narrative, Townsend offers new insights into the pursuit for God's help and presence. Designed to give readers hope and meaning, he divides the discussion into three parts:

* Why does a loving God allow us to experience difficulties?
* How is God active in the middle of our hard times?
* How can I find God?

With powerful stories and practical applications, Where Is God? assures readers that even when it feels as though God is absent it is his nature to be in relationship, to connect with, love, and guide us. And when we seek him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he shows up in ways that transform us forever.

Visit Dr. Townsend's website.
Sugg. Price: $22.99 (US)

ISBN: 0785229191
ISBN-13: 9780785229193
published by Thomas Nelson Publishers
240 pages
Retail Price: $22.99

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard

England, 1818: It has been five years since Ariana Forsythe married The Paragon, Mr. Phillip Mornay. Now, Ariana's sister, Miss Beatrice Forsythe, is seventeen and determined to marry advantageously as well. (Surely Ariana's society connexions all but guarantee Beatrice's success-especially if Mr. Mornay is created a baronet by the Prince Regent!

But the Mornay's have disappeared from high society as they raise a family at their country estate. Can Beatrice persuade them to chaperone her in London? And what about her business with the curate, Mr. O'Brien, whom Beatrice rashly promised to marry years earlier? She is too sophisticated now to settle for a mere clergyman-despite his agreeable countenance and gentle, understanding ways. When Mr. Tristan Barton becomes tenant of the Manor House, Beatrice's hopes seem to have found their object. But when Ariana falls gravely ill, secrets come to light, motives are revealed, and pretenses that are easy to keep up in the darkness begin to crumble. As hearts are bared and truths uncovered, a country house courtship like no other cannot be far behind!

Fans of Linore's first books, Before the Season Ends, and The House on Grosvenor Square, will be delighted with final addition to the Regency Inspirational Series, as will all readers of historical romance.

Author's website is
Purchase links (Amazon, ChristianBook, BarnesandNoble,Website)

Buy from the author (autographed copy)
Buy from

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press (February 16, 2010)

[I'm sorry to say I haven't had a chance to read the book myself yet. I hope to buy it soon.]


Jeffrey Overstreet is the skilled author of Auralia’s Colors, twice-nominated for a Christy Award, and Cyndere’s Midnight. His award-winning film reviews have appeared in Image, Books and Culture, Paste, and Christianity Today, and his “moviegoer’s memoir” Through a Screen Darkly is a popular exploration of faith and film in the U.S. and Europe. His website––––draws many thousands of readers each month. Jeffrey has recently spoken to large audiences in bookstores and universities across the U.S. and The Netherlands, including recent appearances at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing. Jeffrey and his wife Anne live in Shoreline, Washington.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (February 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074673
ISBN-13: 978-1400074679




Auralia reached out to Cal-raven. As he approached, the flame of the candle he carried flapped like a flag in a hard wind.

Her smile was mysterious, just as he remembered it. That detail had proved most difficult. Other aspects had come easier as his hands sculpted the stone. Her humble stature. The tiny knob of her chin. Her feet—ten small toes emerging like a row of beads beneath a leafy skirt.

Cal-raven was not a tall man, and yet Auralia, slight for sixteen, had stood only to his shoulder. He could see her open hands pressing through the span of fabric that she offered to any visitor.

Almost a year had passed since he’d found her in the Abascar dungeon, wrapped in a magnificent cloak. Their fleeting conversation was burned in his memory more vividly than yesterday. Unflinching, Auralia had voiced her faith in phantoms dreamed and legends whispered––like the Keeper, that benevolent creature who haunted dreams, a silent guardian, a listener.

Cal-raven had sculpted, erased, and then reshaped Auralia’s lips, her eyebrows with their question pinched between them, her whole face filled with trembling hope that others would receive and understand her vision. She had been more than human. Or better, she had been more fully human than anyone around her.

The king’s hunting hound, his golden tail wagging, sniffed at the statue’s ankles. “Hagah.” The dog slumped down to the floor and sighed, resigned to wait.

That fabric the statue held––Cal-raven had not even tried to give it the textures and colors of Auralia’s cloak. How could he? Its threads had glimmered with colors no eyes in Abascar had ever seen.

“Tell the Keeper,” he whispered, “that I don’t know where to go from here.” He ran his fingertips along the span that spilled like a waterfall from her upturned hands. “When I was a child, I’d have called out myself. It was easier then to believe.”

Auralia’s expression did not change; it would not unless he changed it. Her polished eyes would not return his gaze for, in the tradition of House Abascar portraiture, they lacked detail. While each statue in the cavern was distinct––the beloved and the burdensome, the wise and the foolish, the soldiers and the miscreants––they shared that same indecipherable gaze, an affirmation of something altogether unnamable, inimitable. The mystery of the heart.

Embarrassed at his habit of addressing this likeness, he knuckle-knocked Auralia’s forehead. “Last visit. Watch over these worn-out people for me, will you?”

Something shifted in the cavern behind him. Hagah lifted his head and followed his master’s gaze through the long rows of statues.

“Wynn?” Cal-raven waited.

Hagah’s huge black nose emerged from flabby rolls of fur and sniffed. Then the dog set his chin back down on the ground.

“You’ll catch our pesky shadow in a dream, won’t you?” Cal-raven said, but he gave another look back.

Why am I so agitated tonight? he wondered.

Because some of them are turning against you, replied his father’s ghostly voice. It’s been almost a year. You’ve mentioned New Abascar, but you still haven’t shown them a plan.

The statues that crowded the Hall of Remembering listened. These extravagant stone monuments gave shape to Cal-raven’s promise that he would never let his people forget the lessons they’d learned and that they would build a new house to honor those lost in Abascar’s cataclysm.

But the name grudgers, once given to those who had rebelled against their previous king’s oppressive ways, now applied to people distrustful of Cal-raven. Grudgers objected to his embrace of the foolish along with the wise; his equal concern for the weak and the strong; his insistence that every person, no matter how “useful,” be fed and shown the care of their healer. Moreover, grudgers grumbled about the way Cal-raven gambled their futures on possibilities revealed to him in dreams.

Tonight Cal-raven had taken the fire walk. Lesyl’s turn had come, but he had offered to patrol the passages for her. He wanted to hear her sing the Evening Verse one last time before his departure the next sundown.

“I’ve written a piece that can only be played by two, ”Lesyl had said when the fire walk brought him to the chamber of Auralia’s gallery. Sitting against the wall decorated by an array of colorful weavings, she tuned the twelve stringed tharpe, a formidable, sonorous instrument. She seemed relaxed, even happy, and oblivious that this was a farewell.

“Here.” She picked up a wooden spiral. “You remember how to play the hewson-pipe, don’t you? Oh, come now, don’t tell me you lack the time. You need the practice. ”When he did not approach, she persisted. “Scared?”

“No,” he laughed. Yes, he thought.

He had torn himself away from that conversation to continue the fire walk for fear of losing his fragile restraint. Not now. Not yet.

So while she sang, he paced that routine progress, ensuring that torches would not spark any mishaps, that candles burned within the spheres prescribed, that everything was in its right place.

He had led these survivors through a hostile winter and a dispiriting spring. Just as they had begun to define a possible departure, a visit from the mage sent him scrambling in another direction. Tomorrow he would slip away and venture north to pursue the vision his teacher had given him.

The day will come, Cal-raven, when you’ll have no choice but to leave Scharr ben Fray’s imagination behind and live in the real world. His father’s fury buzzed in his ear like a skeeter-fly. If you don’t, the ground will crumble beneath you.

Facing his father’s likeness, Cal-raven felt his throat tighten. “Whose inventions plunged into the earth?”

Listen to me, boy!You’re too old for toys.Who will lead the people when I’m gone? Someone whose head is full of children’s stories?

“Show me someone better prepared for the task,” he said. “I do not enjoy the burdens you’ve left me. ”He took the shield from where it was draped over the shoulder of the king’s likeness.

The statue’s lips were parted, and a strange feeling of discomfort crept up Cal-raven’s spine. He did not know what scared him more—the thought of the stone speaking or the thought that his dreams might prove false.

Hagah’s inquisitive nose bumped the edge of Cal-marcus’s shield, and he woofed.

“You’re not waiting for him anymore, are you?”

A rough tongue exploded from the hound’s expansive smile, and his tail thumped against the floor.

“You’ve given up on them both.” Cal-raven’s gaze strayed to the statue of his mother. The runaway.

It was a good likeness, or so he’d been told. Jaralaine’s appearance seemed an echo lost in time’s clamor. But troubled scowls from older folk told him that they recognized this imperious beauty. He did remember occasional tenderness and sighs of insatiable loneliness before her disappearance. He also remembered a fury against any suggestion of a will greater than her own.

He found himself suspended between the gravity of these statues and the forested world beyond, which called to him like a feast to a starving man.

“We’re all ready to be runaways now, Mother. If we don’t leave soon, the bonds that bind us will break.”

Hagah sniffed the base of the queen’s statue.

“No!” Cal-raven shouted.

Disappointed, the dog lumbered off through the rows to settle on the lanky figure of a hunter known by his nickname—Arrowhead.

Go ahead, Cal-raven thought. Arrowhead was a grudger. He threatened my father’s life. Wouldn’t hurt him to take some abuse for a change.

Hagah would have merrily complied, but the sound of something slithering sent him bounding back to Cal-raven’s boots, fangs shining beneath his retracting lip. Cal-raven blew out and dropped the candle, held his father’s shield close, and knelt to withdraw the throwing knife at his ankle.

There was only silence. Cal-raven tiptoed through the statues, Hagah stalking low before him.

The dog led him to the western wall, where a corridor ran along the inside of the cliff. Hagah put his snout down to a crack in the floor, noisily drawing in air. His tail stopped wagging.

“What have you found, boy?”

Hagah stiffened. Then he began to back away from the fissure, a low, rolling growl changing into a worried squeal.

“Something nasty?” Scars like burns from rivulets of hot oil marked the floor all about the break. “Let’s go. This place is giving me jitters tonight.”

A puff of wind touched his ear and then––thung! He turned to see an arrow embedded in the wall beside his head.

He sprang forward, leaping over the dog, and ran through the corridor. Down the stairs. Through tiers of tunnels.

In the distance Lesyl sang the Evening Verse. But his pursuer—pursuers, he could hear their footsteps now—did not falter.

Hagah turned around snarling. “No!” Cal-raven knew the dog was no match for an arrow. “Run, boy!” He pointed, and the dog bolted ahead just as he had been trained.

Cal-raven did not follow. He faced the rugged wall, placing his hands against the rock. His fingertips sought hidden inconsistencies, and finding those points, he applied pressure and heat in a way he could never explain.

The stone awakened, rippling in a sudden wind.

Cal-raven’s body clenched like a fist, forcing energy out through his hands. Then he pressed himself through the wavering curtain.

A midsummer evening’s breeze cooled his burning face as the sand sealed itself behind him.

The grudgers are out of patience. He brushed grit from his garments. It would not take long for his hunters to find their own exit. They were watching.Waiting for me to be alone.

“Keeper, protect me,” he murmured. Crouching, he moved away from the cliffs into narrow paths through thorn-barbed thickets that blanketed the plains.

Several turns into that maze, he sat down to catch his breath. I must get back inside where it’s crowded.

He thought about standing up and calling for the guards on the tiers above. But they would not see him here in the brake. And what else might come in answer?

A strange wind moved through the shallow sea of thorns. Bramble bugs skrritch-skrritched across the plains. Something wriggled under his foot. He set his father’s shield aside, tugged off his boot, and shook loose a rock spider.

He looked up through the brambled frame. A shooting star scratched a line across the night’s black dome. As if excited by the mysterious sign, faraway wood dogs shrieked in song.

When he jerked his sleeve free of a bramble and stood, his rustling stirred up a cloud of twilight-suckers. These insects were always a help to hunters, for they uttered tiny shrieks of delight as they descended on fresh dung or carrion.

Sure enough, as the pest cloud dissipated, he saw two copper coins. He knew that reflective stare from a hundred hunts. A lurkdasher. A year ago the sight of this swift, bushy-tailed creature would not have surprised Cal-raven. Lurkdashers were common burrowers in beds of brush. But Abascar’s best hunters had been catching little more than weakened scavengers, rodents lean for lack of prey. Across the Expanse the land had gone quiet, as if emptied by some mass migration.

If Cal-raven had been out for any other purpose, he’d have thrown his knife so fast the dasher would have fallen mid sprint. But he stayed still. Something wasn’t right.

The lurkdasher vanished. Cal-raven stood in the quiet, just another secret in this complicated night.

Then he felt a chill. He could sense a presence, fierce and intent.

He turned his head slightly and drew in a deep breath. Only a stone’s throw to his right an enormous animal, many legged, lurked in the thick web of boughs. He held that breath and waited, eyes slowly translating the contours of darkness and deeper darkness all around him.

Like a mighty hand, the creature clutched the ground, tensing knuckled legs. The bushes around it shivered as the lurkdasher stole away, and like a spider the creature raised two of its front legs from the brambles, bracing the other five against the ground. It was as big as a fang bear. Cal-raven felt a faint tremor. Then he heard a hiss, and the creature shifted its weight slightly, turning those raised limbs toward him.

Considering the sword at his side, he flexed his hand.

A crush of branches sounded to his left. His heart fluttered, a trapped bird, frantic. He turned and saw the second creature—the very same kind—with its feet planted as if it might pounce. In terrified confusion he saw the wind disturb a canvas that the creature drew behind it, a dark black sheet covering the thorns.

He did not know these monstrosities. They looked like they could outrun a viscorcat. And the forest was a long, long run ahead of him through a narrow, winding passage that he could not see clearly. But the cliffs—he might just make it back to the wall. The solid stone wall.

Ever so slowly he planted his hand on the hilt of his sword. He stepped backward, placing his foot down soundlessly.

The creatures stood as still as sculpted metal.

He took another step, drawing his sword half out of its scabbard. No, he thought. The starlight. They’ll see the reflection.

At his third step the creature on the right planted its two raised feet down on the ground, digging in as if it might spring.

He heard movement behind him and felt a blast of air like a bellows. His feeble hopes went out. But something deeper than his mind, stronger than his will, unleashed a cry. He called out, as he had so many times in nightmares, for the Keeper.

The creatures leapt from the brambles and seized him. His sword never escaped the scabbard.

He had a moment to think of Lesyl, interrupted in her song, looking up to receive unexpected news, the hewson-pipe coiled beside her.

Hot limbs wrapped around him, and his feet left the ground. The creatures were shelled, bone-tough, their bellies cushioned with bundles of hair. He struggled, limbs flailing. He was falling skyward, upside down. The pressure did not increase. Nothing pierced or stung or bit. The ground, faintly chalked in moonlight, spread like the sky over his head, and beyond his feet the heavens glittered like Deep Lake at midnight. The creatures held him suspended, their vast canvases snapping in the wind as if they were wings.

And then he saw that they were wings, spread out from a towering creature.

His captors were not animals at all but hands. He hung unharmed in the clawed clutches of a monster and was carried up toward its massive equine head.

Its eyes, glassy spheres full of stars, were fixed upon the northern horizon. Flames lined its nostrils. Its mane wavered as if it were creating, not surrendering to, the night wind. And the scales on its golden neck caught more than moonlight.

A helpless toy in its hands, he watched its attention turn to him, and his fear turned to confusion.

He recognized this creature. This shape had been fixed in his mind since he first drew breath. It had moved at the edges of his dreams. In nightmares it had come when he cried out for help, and sometimes when he could not call at all. During the long days of learning, he had pillaged his father’s history scrolls and hunting journals for evidence.

Nothing had prepared him for this. The creature drew in a cavernful of air, the shield-plates of its chest separating to reveal a soft lacework beneath. It held that breath. He knew it was reading him, reading the night, the skies. Then the curtains of its eyelids came down.

Are you kind? he thought. Dreams…speak true. Let the Keeper be kind.

The creature was stranger than anything he had sculpted when imagining its shape and dimensions. He felt embarrassed by his simplistic appeals, his feeble prayers. He was a mouse in the talons of a brascle, and as the creature reared up on the pillars of its hind legs, wing upon wing upon wing unfolding from its sides like sails on a great ship, he waited for judgment.

A sound like deep recognition ran tremulous through its form. Calraven thought it spoke his name––not the name given by his mother, but the name given by the powers that had crafted him—and every thread of his being burned with attention. As the eyes opened again, the stars within were moving.

It exhaled a scattering of sparks, but gently. The sound was like the Mystery Sea, roaring as it received the river flowing out through the Rushtide Inlet.

The air about the creature shuddered. A wave of noise beyond the range of Cal-raven’s hearing stunned him, conveying a word as clearly as if the creature had spoken. He would not, in the aftermath, know how to translate such a word. But it provoked in him an immediate resolve, a reverent promise.

He would follow. What else could one do when commanded by the Keeper?

Smoke and spice clouded the air and dizzied him. He was passed from clawed hands at the edges of the creature’s wings to one of its enormous, rough-fleshed feet, which held him like a woman’s hand cradling a bird. The creature set him down within a footprint on the path, and a wind whirled fiercely about him. Squinting up through the storm, he saw that the creature had taken flight.

In the space of a sigh, it was gone, a succession of lights darkening across the sky, northward over the Cragavar forest. Cal-raven lay helpless and numb like a discarded doll in the Keeper’s footprint.

Breath burst back into his lungs. He heaved, folding and fighting, a bird shaking away the shards of a shell.

It came when I called.

Never more invigorated, never more single-minded in purpose, he smiled back toward the cliffs. He had been changed.

In that moment everything changed for House Abascar as well. It began with a jolt, not a tremor.

Tabor Jan had been yawning as he reclined atop a boulder and counted the brightening stars. Sleep, out of reach for many nights, had seemed almost possible.

But then the ground beneath him bucked like a furious steed.He scrambled to the path, unsheathing his sword as if he might smite the earth in reprimand. From deep within Barnashum came a sound like hundreds of drums. The shaking intensified. The refuge exhaled clouds of dust through shielded entryways.

“Not part of the plan,” he muttered.

Rubble spilled down the cliffs in the quiet that followed, dust sighing into the thickets below.

“Cal-raven,” he said. Another name came to mind. Brevolo.

Then came a distant cacophony of voices. Rivers of people were rushing out onto the open ledges.

Even as he scanned the scene for the woman he loved, Tabor Jan pushed his way through the crowds, shouting to soldiers that their first priority was to find Cal-raven.

Hagah bounded suddenly into Tabor Jan’s path. The soldier seized the dog’s flabby neck. “Hagah—Cal-raven!”

Thrilled by the command, the dog turned as if jerked by a chain and almost threw himself off the cliffs. It was all the captain could do to keep up with him.

He found himself running toward the sound of triumphant yelps beyond the base of the cliffs. Dog had found master. The king was alive.

Kneeling among the brambles, Cal-raven embraced Hagah, blinking as if he’d been knocked silly by a falling stone.

“Are you hurt?” Tabor Jan scanned the shadowed ground.

“Didn’t you see it?” Cal-raven pointed north toward the Cragavar.

“See it? I felt it. I think they may have felt it in Bel Amica. We may have cave-ins. I’m taking you back.”

“No, not the quake,” said Cal-raven, exhilarated. “Didn’t you see it?”

Tabor Jan braced himself. “See…what?”Then the exuberance of Calraven’s

expression triggered a spasm of alarm. “No! Don’t say it!”

“But Tabor Jan, I saw—”

“Swallow that story, my lord!” He would have preferred a beast man sighting. “Don’t speak of it to the people. Especially not tonight.”

“Not tonight! What could bring them more comfort than to hear—”

“If the grudgers hear you respond to this quake with some wild description of a phantom on our doorstep—”

“Grudgers attacked me tonight.”

“Did you see their faces?”

“No, but I became acquainted with their arrows.” He laughed. “I also became quite familiar with the Keeper. Nose-to-nose, in fact.”

Tabor Jan scowled. “I haven’t slept for so long I’m having nightmares while I’m awake.”

“It pointed me north, Tabor Jan! We’ve got to ride—”

“We’ll ride tomorrow, Cal-raven. Just as you planned.” He urged Cal-raven back toward the cliffs, and they clambered over piles of rubble newly shaken from the heights. A tumult of voices filled the sky.

Hurrying down a steep ridge, an enormous guard came stumbling to meet them.

“Bowlder, how many are hurt?”

“Cave-in!” he wheezed. “Must…dig out…three people.”

“I assume you’ve called for Say-ressa. Without her healing hands we…” Tabor Jan stopped, stricken as he read Bowlder’s expression.

He turned to Cal-raven, but the king was strangely preoccupied with the moon above the northern horizon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Literary Lapses 101: Lesson 6--Al or All?

I notice that a lot of people have a hard time deciding whether or not to mash a couple of words together. Now sometimes it may be a typing problem; I personally have trouble hitting the space key hard enough, so I have to constantly re-read and correct.  Today we look at the Als, proper and im--alot, already, altogether, and alright.

The big one comes first. Alot is NOT A WORD. There is a word allot, but every time I see this four letter word, it really should be TWO words--a lot. A lot of people misuse it constantly. I see it a lot in lots of blogs AND published books. In fact, this blog was prompted by a book I just read, one that was poorly edited. A lot of is a phrase equal to lots of. Interchangeable, but I don't know if that will help anyone remember.

Not interchangeable. Already means previously, at an earlier or time, or so soon. She's already asleep. I already finished my homework. Do you have to go already?

All ready means something "is prepared and completely set."  The plans for the house are all ready. The papers are all ready for your signature. 


Once upon a time I wasn't sure that both words existed, but they do. All together means 'all in the same place' or 'all at the same time.'  We were gathered all together in a tiny room. The crowd was working all together to find the earthquake victims.

This time the mashed word is more commonly used, and it is not equivalent to all together. Altogether can mean: with everything included; completely or  utterly; on the whole. And naked.  Altogether, that will be ten dollars. This adventure is altogether ridiculous. Altogether, it was a horrible tragedy. He got so drunk that he walked outside in the altogether. 

Alright is considered as a non-standard version of all right, but it is used so much that it is more or less accepted, at least for informal purposes. It is used as a synonym of okay or correct. That's alright with me.  Alright, I'll go.  

It's always safe to use all right. But if you insist on using alright, differentiates thusly:
Things that are honest and honorable are "all right," and that's "alright" (satisfactory or correct) with me!
All right is in proper working order or just average. Your engine is running all right now. The quarterback is all right, but not great. 

The sources I looked at posit that the use of alright grew from use of already and altogether, both of which are now acceptable for standard usage. This is one that I have often wondered about, but, as I stated, all right is always safe. Save alright for conversational and colloquial stuff.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

FORGIVING SEAN by Jessica Adriel

A teenage pregnancy, baby lost, boyfriend walks away, then pops up again two years later. A romantic triangle. If this sounds like the ingredients of a dozen other romance novels or romantic movies, they are. But it isn't really the same. This triangle has another element that really makes it a rectangle. That other element, one that changes everything, is God.

Forgiving Sean continues the story that began in Drawing Marissa, the first of three volumes in the Chatham Series. Apparently the first book followed a teenage Marissa Gladstone and her relationship with the slightly older neighbor boy, Sean. Sean was the very popular jock who went on to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs, but now he was coming home with his leg in a cast, his career possibly in ruins. The King returned, but no one was treating him with the deference he was used to. Even worse, his little brother Phillip (the real reason for Sean's return after two long years--Phillip was graduating) and his father had "got religion" so bad that his father didn't even drink any more. And Sean really wanted a drink--or several. Topmost on his mind was Marissa; he desperately wished there was a way to make up with her, but everyone was against him. And then he saw something he hadn't counted on--a serious rival for her affections.

In the two years since the baby died and Sean left her without a word, Marissa had healed physically and spiritually with another young man, Hawke, by her side all the way. As it turns out, Hawke had some deep wounds of his own. But the two of them had discovered the great healing power only God could give. And as they continued to heal, they were sharing God's power and love with the teens in their church. It looks like everything is going smoothly until Marissa sees Sean again. Old hurts reemerge as do old feelings, and Marissa fights an inward battle.

I always look for the meaning behind a title, and, as is often true, there are several levels of meaning here. Most obvious is that Marissa needs to forgive Sean, but Sean also needs to forgive himself and accept the fact that God will forgive him of every sin. Those who love Marissa also have to forgive Sean--even his own family. Forgiveness, then, is a major theme, as are healthy relationships, the love of God and Jesus, God's healing and the blessings of living by  God's rules.

This book targets a young adult audience, by which I mean teen and college age, not pre-teen. It  deals with some serious issues, like teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, and although Jesus is the answer, the story doesn't candy-coat or whitewash the struggles real people go through. As I understand it, this book and the first one have already had an impact on young people. I do hope and pray that they continue to not only entertain but influence readers.

Visit the author's website and

check out the Free Chapter Downloads.

Purchase Forgiving Sean at

Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Monday, February 8, 2010

CFRB February Tour: Forgiving Sean

Forgiving Sean
by Jessica Adriel

This month, CFRB presents Forgiving Sean by Jessica Adriel.

About the Book:

Marissa Gladstone has already buried her father and had one man walk out on her, so when her boyfriend Hawke Davies suddenly proposes, Marissa’s unsure things will last. Hoping that her quiet summer at home will give her time to think, Marissa forgets that her first love may be home for the summer. Before she can give Hawke an answer, she needs to find out why Sean disserted her. But when the competition heats up between the boys, Sean tries to win her back by making a staggering confession that links his former life to Hawke. Forgiving Sean may be the answer she has needed all along and allow her to choose the man she’s always loved.

About the Author:

Jessica Adriel is a licensed minister, author, mother and speaker. She spends her days penning books, preparing talks and delving into the world of teenagers. Her gifts of communication and compassion were noticed early on when she composed over 800 poems during high school and yet spent a great deal of time with volunteer efforts. A native to New England, it was Jessica’s tragic stint of car accidents, assaults and a four year career in modeling, that inspired her to write ‘real life’ novels that impact teenagers. Today Jessica inspires and ignites teens to find their God given purpose through her books and challenging seminars. Her stories provide a bridge between today's generation and the pressures of media and peer pressure which lead teens in the wrong direction. Armed with a plethora of stories and a deep love for God, Jesus introduces her audience to Christ in unconventional, yet very powerful ways.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Visit the author's website and

check out the Free Chapter Downloads.

Purchase Forgiving Sean at

Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Life of Washington by Anna C.Reed

Today's Wild Card author is:

Anna C. Reed

and the book:

Life of Washington

New Leaf Publishing Group/Attic Books (November 30, 2009)


A rare, faith-filled historic biography of America's first President, George Washington.

Pull back the dark shrouds of secular revisionist history, and meet the humble believer, godly leader, and devoted son who became a fledgling country's source of strength and inspiration. Constantly seeking to serve others and place God first in his life and in the struggle for American freedom. George Washington was a revered and reverent man.

In this special edition of a vintage 1842 original, readers will go beyond today's simple footnotes of this great leader, to discover the man behind the title of "Father of Our Country." From letters and personal accounts, a fuller and more accurate picture emerges of a man who lived by, and was led by, a deep and abiding faith.

Anna C. Reed, niece of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, authored this amazing work for the ASSU prior to 1850. Originally translated into over 20 languages, the book was among the most widely read biographies of Washington at that time. The ASSU, now called the American Missionary Fellowship, has been associated with some of America's most prominent citizens and religious leaders. Bushrod Washington, George Washington's nephew and heir of Mount Vernon, was vide-president of the ASSU until 1829. Other ASSU officers include Francis Scott Key, D.L. Moody, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and John Adams (descendant of both early presidents).

Product Details:
List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 299 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/Attic Books (November 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515786
ISBN-13: 978-0890515785





To give us the delightful assurance, that we are always under the watchful care of our almighty and kind Creator, He has told us that He notices the movements of every little sparrow; and as we are ”of more value than many sparrows,” He will surely ever care for us. It was His powerful and kind care that protected and guided Columbus, the once poor sailor boy, to obtain the favour of a great king and queen; and then to pass over the waves of a dangerous ocean, in a little vessel, and reach in safety an unknown land. The same powerful and kind care which protected and guided houseless strangers to a land of freedom and peace, gave Washington to their children, to lead them on to take a place amongst the nations of the earth. His history is as a shining light upon the path of virtue; for he “acknowledged God in all his ways.”

George Washington was the third son of Augustine Washington, whose grandfather left England, his native country, in 1657, and settled at Bridges Creek, in Virginia, where, on the 22nd of February, in the year 1732, his great-grandson, George, was born.

One of the first lessons which young Washington received from his faithful parents, was, the importance of always speaking the truth; and they enjoyed a satisfactory reward for their attention to this duty; for through his childhood, “the law of truth was in his mouth,” so that he was not known in one instance to tell a falsehood, either to obtain a desired indulgence, or to escape a deserved punishment or reproof. His character, as a lover of truth, was so well known at the school which he attended, that the children were certain of being believed, when they related any thing, if they could say, “George Washington says it was so.”

An anecdote is related of him to illustrate this trait in his character, which we introduce without being able to ascertain on what authority it is related. We hope it will not be supposed, however, that we regard such an incident as an extraordinary proof of an ingenuousness on the part of young Washington. We trust there are very few boys who would think of adopting any other course under like circumstances, and those who do generally find that “honesty is the best policy,” to say nothing of a quiet conscience and the law of God.

The story is, that he was playing with a hatchet, and heedlessly struck a favourite fruit-tree in his father’s garden. Upon seeing the tree thus mutilated, an inquiry was naturally made for the author of the mischief, when George frankly confessed the deed, and received his father’s forgiveness.

In all the little disputes of the school-fellows, he was called on to say which party was right, and his decisions were always satisfactory.

It is, perhaps, not out of place to remark in this connexion, that much of the injustice and oppression which are seen in the intercourse of men with each other, shows only the maturity of habits which were formed in childhood. At home, or in school, or on the play-ground, instances of unfairness and fraud are often seen, which, among men, would be regarded as gross violations of law and right. Washington in his boyhood was just.

When he was ten years old, his worth father died, and he became the care of an anxious mother, whose fortune was not sufficient to enable her to give him more than a plain English education. He was very fond of studying mathematics, and applied his mind diligently, in improving all the instruction which he could get in that science. As he grew up to manhood, he was remarkable for the strength and activity of his frame. In running, leaping, and managing a horse, he was unequalled by his companions; and he could with ease climb the heights of his native mountains, to look down alone from some wild crag upon his followers, who were panting from the toils of the rugged way. By these healthful exercises the vigour of his constitution was increased, and he gained that hardiness so important to him in the employments designed for him by his Creator.

Mrs. Washington was an affectionate parent; but she did not encourage in herself that imprudent tenderness, which so often causes a mother to foster the passions of her children by foolish indulgences, and which seldom fails to destroy the respect which every child should feel for a parent. George was early made to understand that he must obey his mother, and therefore he respected as well as loved her. She was kind to his young companions, but they thought her stern, because they always felt that they must behave correctly in her presence. The character of the mother, as well as that of the son, are shown in the following incident. Mrs. Washington owned a remarkably fine colt, which she valued very much; but which, though old enough for use, had never been mounted; no one would venture to ride it, or attempt to break its wild and vicious spirit. George proposed to some of his young companions, that they should assist him to secure the colt until he could mount it, as he had determined that he would try to tame it. Soon after sun rise, one morning, they drove the wild animal into an enclosure, and with great difficulty succeeded in placing a bridle on it. George then sprang onto its back, and the vexed colt bounded over the open fields, prancing and plunging to get rid of his burden. The bold rider kept his seat firmly, and the struggle between them became alarming to his companions, who were watching him. The speed of the colt increased, until at length, in making a furious effort to throw his conqueror, he burst a large blood-vessel, and instantly died. George was unhurt, but was much troubled by the unexpected result of his exploit. His companions soon joined him, and when they saw the beautiful colt lifeless, the first words they spoke were, “What will your mother say – who can tell her?” they were called to breakfast, and soon after they were seated at the table, Mrs. Washington said, “Well, young gentlemen, have you seen my fine sorrel colt in your rambles?” No answer was given, and the question was repeated; her son George then replied – “Your sorrel colt is dead, mother.” He have her an exact account of the event. The flush of displeasure which first rose on her cheek, soon passed away; and she said calmly, “While I regret the loss of my favourite, I rejoice in my son, who always speaks the truth.”

In his fifteenth year, he had so strong a desire to be actively employed, that he applied for a place as a midshipman in the English navy, (for our country was then under the government of Great Britain,) and succeeded in obtaining it. Full of youthful expectations of enjoyment in a new scene, he prepared ardently to engage in it, when he became convinced that by doing so, he would severely wound the heart of an anxious parent, and with a true spirit of heroism he denied himself, and in obedience to the command, “Honour thy mother,” he gave up his fondly cherished plan, and yielded his own inclinations, to promote her comfort. Thus, while his manly superiority to companions of his own age caused admiration, his filial tenderness was an example to them of compliance with the direction which is given to children in the word of God. “Let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents,” and they are assured that “this is good and acceptable to the Lord.” Washington proved the truth of this assurance; for, to the act of filial regard which “requited” the anxious cares of his mother, may be traced his usefulness to his country, and the glory of his character. If he had crossed his mother’s wish, and entered the British navy as a midshipman, it is not probable, that he would ever have deserved, or obtained, the title of “Father of his country.”

Being unwilling to remain inactive, young Washington employed himself industriously and usefully in surveying unsettled lands; and when he was nineteen years of age, he was appointed one of the adjutant generals of Virginia, with the rank of a major. At that time, the French nation had large settlements in Canada, and in Louisiana, and they determined on connecting those settlements by a line of forts; in doing this they took possession of a tract of land, which was considered to be within the province of Virginia. The governor of Virginia (Mr. Dinwiddie) thought it was his duty to notice this, in the name of his king; and it was very important, that the person whom he employed in the business should have resolution and prudence. Young Washington was worth of his confidence, and willingly undertook the perilous duty; as it gave him an opportunity of being actively employed for the advantage of his native province. The dangers which he knew he must meet, did not, for a moment, deter him from consenting to set out immediately on the toilsome journey, although winter was near. He was to take a letter from the governor, to the commanding officer of the French troops, who were stationed on the Ohio river; and the way he had to go, was through a part of the country that had never been furrowed by the plough, or, indeed, market by any footsteps, but those of wild animals, or ferocious Indians. Many of those Indians were enemies, and those who had shown any disposition to be friendly, could not be safely trusted.

The same day, (October 31, 1753,) on which Washington received the letter which he was to be the bearer of, he left Williamsburgh, and travelled with speed until he arrived at the frontier settlement of the province; and there engaged a guide to show him the way over the wild and rugged Alleghaney mountain, which, at that season of the year, it was difficult to pass. The waters to be crossed were high, and the snow to be waded through, was deep; but persevering resolutely, he arrived at Turtle Creek, where he was told by an Indian trader, that the French commander had died a short time before, and that the French troops had gone into winter quarters.

He went on with increased ardour, because the difficulty of his duty was increased; but he did not neglect the opportunity of examining the country through which he passed; wishing to discover the best situations on which forts could be erected for the defence of the province.

As the waters were impassable without swimming the horses, he got a canoe to take the baggage about ten miles, to the forks of the Ohio river; intending to cross the Alleghany there. In his journal he wrote, “as I god down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the rivers and the land in the fork which I think extremely suited for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twenty-five feed above the common surface.”

The spot thus described was soon afterwards the site of the French for Duquesne. It was subsequently called fort Pitt by the English, and from this the name of the town of Pittsburg was taken, which was built near the for, and is not a city, containing 22,000 inhabitants. Washington remained a few days in that neighborhood, for the purpose of endeavouring to persuade the Indian warriors to be friendly to the English. By a firm but mild manner, he gained friends among the inhabitants of the forest, and obtained guides to conduct him by the shortest way to the fort, where he expected to find a French officer, to whom he might give the letter from the governor, as the commander was dead.

He arrived there in safety, and when he had received an answer from the officer, set out immediately on his return, and the journey proved a very dangerous and toilsome one. Some extracts from his journal, which he kept with exactness, will show his disregard of self, when he was performing a duty for the benefit of others. He had put on an Indian walking dress, and given his horse to assist in carrying provisions; the cold increased very much and the roads were getting worse every day, from the freezing of a deep snow, so that the horses became almost unable to travel. After describing this difficulty, he wrote thus:

“As I was uneasy to get back, to make a report of my proceedings to his honour the governor, I determined to prosecute my journey the nearest way, through the woods, on foot. I took my necessary papers, pulled off my clothes, and tied myself up in a watch coat. Then, with gun in hand and pack on my back, in which were my papers and provisions, I set out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the same manner. We fell in with a party of Indians, who had laid in wait for us. One of them fired, not fifteen steps off, but fortunately missed; we walked on the remaining part of the night, without making any stop, that we might get the start so far, as to be out of the reach of their pursuit the next day, as we were well assured that they would follow our track as soon as it was light. The next day we continued travelling until quite dark, and got to the river. We expected to have found the river frozen, but it was not, only about fifty yards from each shore. The ice I suppose had been broken up, for it was driving in vast quantities. There was no way of getting over but on a raft; which we set about making, with but one poor hatchet, and finishing just after sun-setting; this was a whole day’s work. We got it launched, then went on board of it, and set off; but before we were half-way over, we were jammed in the ice in such a manner, that we expected every moment our raft to sink, and ourselves to perish. I put out my setting pole to try to stop the raft, that the ice might pass by, when the rapidity of the stream threw it with so much violence against the pole, that it jerked me out into ten feet water.”

In this dangerous situation he was saved by the protecting hand of God, and enabled again to get on the raft; and by the next morning, the river was frozen so hard, that there was no difficulty in getting to the shore on the ice. The remainder of the journey was very fatiguing, being in the month of December, and for fifteen days it either snowed or rained.

He arrived the 16th of January at Williamsburgh, and delivered the important letter to the governor. The answer of the French officer, which was contained in the letter, was such as to make needful immediate preparations for defending the frontier of the province. The resolution with which Washington had performed the duty entrusted to him, and the judgment he had shown in his conduct towards the Indians, gained the favourable opinion of the people of the province, as well as that of the governor, and he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel of the regiment which was formed to march to the frontier, in order to prevent the French erecting their forts on it. Ardent and active, he obtained permission to march with two companies, in advance of the regiment, to a place called the Great Meadows, he thought that in doing so, he would have an opportunity of getting early information as to the movements of the French, and of forming a treaty with the Indians, to prevent their joining them. On arriving there, he was informed, by and Indian, that the French commander had sent a party to stop the American workmen, who were erecting a fort; and that they were forming one for themselves, called fort Duquesne. The Indian also gave the information, that French troops were advancing from that fort towards the Great Meadows. The night on which this account was given, was dark and rainy; but Washington marched rapidly with his soldiers to the place where the Indian said the French would be encamped; and there he found them, and surrounded them so unexpectedly, that they gave themselves up as his prisoners. The chief officer of that part of the regiment which was marching slowly on, died; and Washington then had the entire command of about four hundred men. They joined him, and he directed them to form a shelter for their horses and provisions; when it was completed, they named it fort Necessity.

After placing the horses and baggage in it, Washington marched with his troops towards fort Duquesne, for the purpose of endeavouring to drive the French from it; but when had advanced about thirteen miles, an Indian told him, that there were “as many Frenchmen coming toward him, as there were pigeons in the woods;” and he thought it was most prudent to return to his little fort, and meet their attack there. He returned, and assisted his men in digging a ditch around the fort, and while they were thus engaged, about fifteen hundred French and Indians made their appearance, and soon began to attack them. The ditch was not sufficiently completed to be of any use. The Indians sent their arrows from behind the surrounding trees, and the French fired from the shelter of the high grass. Washington continued outside of the little fort, directing and aiding his soldiers, from ten o’clock until dark, when the French commander made an offer to cease the attack, if the fort would be given up to him. The conditions he first named, Washington would not agree to; but at last, the French commander consented to allow the troops to march out with their baggage, and return to the inhabited part of the province, and Washington then gave up the fort. He returned to Williamsburgh, and the courage with which he had acted, and the favourable terms he had obtained from so large a force, increased the confidence of his countrymen in his character. This occurrence took place on the third of July, 1754.

In the course of the next winter, orders were received that officers who had commissions from the king, should be placed above those belonging to the province, without regard to their rank. The feeling of what was due to him as an American, prevented Washington from submitting to this unjust regulation, and he resigned his commission. Many letters were written to him, to persuade him not to do so; and he answered them, with an assurance that he would “serve willingly, when he could do so without dishonour.” His eldest brother had died, and left to him a farm called Mount Vernon, situated in Virginia, near the Potomac river; he took possession of it, and began to employ himself industriously in its cultivation. While he was thus engaged, General Braddock was sent from England, to prepare and command troops for the defence of Virginia, through the summer. Hearing of the conduct of Washington as an officer, and of his reasons for giving up his commission, he invited him to become his aid-de-camp. He accepted the invitation, on condition that he might be permitted to return to his farm when the active duties of the campaign should be over.

The army was formed of two regiments of British troops, and a few companies of Virginians. The third day after the march commenced, Washington was taken ill, with a violent fever. He would not consent to be left behind, and was laid in a covered wagon. He thought that it was very important to reach the frontier as soon as possible, and he knew the difficulties of the way; he therefore proposed to General Braddock, who asked his advice, to send on a part of the army, while the other part moved slowly, with the artillery and baggage wagons. Twelve hundred men were chosen, and General Braddock accompanied them; but though not cumbered with baggage, their movements did not satisfy Washington. He wrote to his brother, that, “instead of pushing on with vigour, without minding a little rough road, they were halting to level every molehill, and erect bridges over every brook.” What seemed mountains to them, were molehills to the ardent temper of Washington. His illness increased so much, that the physician said his life would be endangered by going on, and General Braddock would not suffer him to do so, but have him a promise to have him brought after him, so soon as he could bear the ride. He recovered sufficiently, in a short time, to join the advanced troops; and though very weak, entered immediately on the performance of his duties.

General Braddock proceeded on his march without disturbance, until he arrived a the Monongahela river, about seven miles from Fort Duquesne. As he was preparing to cross the river, at the place since called Braddock’s Ford, a few Indians were seen on the opposite shore, who made insulting gestures, and then turned and fled as the British troops advanced. Braddock gave orders that the Indians should be pursued. Colonel Washington was well acquainted with the manner in which the French, assisted by Indians, made their attacks; and being aware of the danger into which the troops might be led, he earnestly entreated General Braddock not to proceed, until he should, with his Virginia rangers, search the forest. His proposal offended Braddock, who disregarded the prudent counsel, and ordered his troops to cross the river; the last of them were yet wading in it, when the bullets of an unseen enemy thinned the ranks of those who had been incautiously led into the entrance of a hollow, where the French and Indians were concealed by the thick underwood, from which they could securely fire on the English. In a few moments, the fearful war-whoop was sounded, and the French and Indians rushed from their shelter on the astonished troops of Braddock, and pursued them to the banks of the Monongahela.

In vain did their commander, and the undaunted Washington, endeavor to restore them to order and prevent their flight. The deadly aim of the enemy was so sure, that in a very short time Washington was the only aid of General Braddock that was left to carry his orders and assist in encouraging the affrighted troops. For three hours, hw was exposed to the aim of the most perfect marksmen; two horses fell under him; a third was wounded; four balls pierced his coat, and several grazed his sword; every other officer was either killed or wounded, and he alone remained unhurt. The Indians directed the flight of their arrows towards his breast, and the French made him a mark for their rifles, but both were harmless, for the shield of his God protected him, and “covered his head in the heat of battle.” His safely, in the midst of such attacks, astonished his savage enemies, and they called him “The Spirit-protected man, who would be a chief of nations, for he could not die in battle.” Thud did even the savages own a divine power in his preservation; and the physician, who was on the battle ground, in speaking of him afterwards, said, “I expected every moment to see him fall; - his duty, his situation, exposed him to every danger; nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him.” – This battle took place on the 8th of July, 1755. in a note to a sermon preached a month afterwards, by the Rev. Mr. Davies, of Virginia, (afterwards president of Princeton College) we find mention made by the author of “that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved, in so signal a manner, for some important service to his country.”

General Braddock was mortally wounded, and his few remaining soldiers then fled in every direction. But his brave and faithful aid, with about thirty courageous Virginians, remained on the field, to save their wounded commander from the hatched and the scalping knife of the Indians. They conveyed him with tenderness and speed towards that part of his army which was slowly advancing with the baggage, and he died in their camp, and was buried in the middle of a road, that his grave might be concealed from the Indians by wagon tracks. A few years since, his remains were removed to a short distance, as the great Cumberland road made by the government of the United States, was to pass directly over the spot where he had been laid. More than seventy-five years have passed, since the terrible scene of Braddock’s defeat. The plough has since furrowed the ground which was then moistened with the blood of the slain; but it is saddening to see on it white spots of crumbled bones, and to find amidst the green stalks of grain, buttons of the British soldiers, marked with the number of their regiment, even the brazen ornaments of their caps. “Braddock’s road,” as the path was called, which his troops cut through the forest, is now almost overgrown with bushes; and few travellers pass near to it, without stopping to look along its windings, and recall the time when it was filled with animated soldiers, who were soon to be silenced by the destructive weapons of war.

In writing an account of this dreadful defeat, Washington said, “See the wondrous works of Providence, and the uncertainty of human things!” he was much distressed by the loss of the army; and the officer next in command to General Braddock, instead of endeavouring to prepare for a better defence, went into winter quarters, although it was only the month of August. It was thought necessary to raise more troope immediately, and the command of all that should be raised in Virginia was offered to Washington, with the privilege of naming his own officers. He willingly accepted this offer, as he could do so without placing himself under British commanders, who were not really above him in rank. He immediately set off to visit the troops that had been placed in different situations along the borders of the province; and on his return to prepare for an active defence, he was overtaken by a messenger, with an account, that a number of French troops and Indian warriors, divided into parties, were capturing and murdering the inhabitants of the back settlements, - burning the houses and destroying the crops; and that the troops stationed there, were unable to protect them.

Washington immediately used every means within his power to provide for their relief; but it was impossible to defend, with a few troops, a frontier of almost four hundred miles, from an enemy that “skulked by day, and plundered by night.” While he was anxiously doing what he could, he wrote to the governor an account of the distress around him; and added, “I see their situation, - I know their danger, and participate their sufferings, without having the power to give them further relief than uncertain promises. The supplicating tears of the women, and the moving petitions of the men, melt me with deadly sorrow.” – It might have been expected, that the people in their distress would blame him for not protecting them better; but no murmur arose against him; they all acknowledged, that he was doing as much for them as was within his power.

He wrote to the lieutenant-governor the most earnest and-pressing requests for more assistance; but instead of receiving it, he was treated unkindly, as he related in a letter to a friend. – “Whence it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant, but my strongest representations of matters, relative to the peace of the frontiers, are disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and measures as partial and selfish; and all my sincerest endeavours for the service of my country, perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubtful, and uncertain. – Today approved, tomorrow condemned; left to act and proceed at hazard, and blamed without the benefit of defence. However, I am determined to bear up some time longer, in the hope of better regulations.” –Though disappointed in all his best formed plans, by the obstinacy and ill-nature of the person who had the power to control him, and pained by the increasing sufferings around him, which he was not enabled to relieve, yet he did not suffer to angry resentment to induce him to give up the effort of doing some good.

He continued his active and humane endeavours, and pleaded for the relief of his suffering countrymen, until his pleadings were called impertinent. In answer to this, he wrote to the governor, “I must beg leave, in justification of my own conduct, to observe, that it is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due; because no person can be readier to accuse me than I am to acknowledge an error, when I have committed it; or more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of being guilty of one. But on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favourable light.” – With calm dignity he endured a continuance of such vexations, without ceasing to toil in his almost hopeless work of humanity.

A new commander of the British troops was sent from England, and he listened to Washington’s opinion, that the frontiers could not be freed from the dreadful visits of the Indians, in connection with the French, until they were driven from Fort Duquesne; for that was the place from which they started on their destructive expeditions. When it was determined that this should be attempted, Washington advanced with a few troops, to open the way for the army; but before they reached the fort, the French left it, and the English took possession of it, November 1758, and named it Fort Pitt. As Washington had expected the possession of this fort prevented all further attacks on the frontiers; and when his countrymen were freed from the dangers which he had left his farm to assist in defending them against, he determined on returning to it. His health had been injured by his being exposed to severe cold, and being often, for many days, unsheltered from the falling rain; and he felt that he ought to use means to restore it, as he could do so without neglecting a more important duty. He resigned his commission, and the officers whom he had commanded united in offering to him affectionate assurances of regret for the loss of “such an excellent commander, such a sincere friend, and so affable a companion.”

Soon after his return to his farm, in the twenty-seventy year of his age, he married Mrs. Custis, a lady to whom he had been long attached, and who was deserving of his affection. She had an amiable temper, and was an agreeable companion; and in performing all the duties of a wife, she made his home a scene of domestic comfort, which he felt no desire to leave. Employing himself in directing the cultivation of his ground, and in the performance of all the private duties of his situation, he lived for several years in retirement, except when attending the legislature of Virginia, of which he was a member.

For the benefit of his health, he sometimes visited a public spring in his native state, to which sick persons went, with the hop of being relieved by using the water. At the season when there were many persons there, it was the custom of a baker to furnish a particular kind of bread, for those who could afford to pay a good price for it. One day it was observed by a visitor, that several miserably poor sick persons tottered into the room where the bread was kept, and looked at the baker, who nodded his head, and each one took up a loaf, and, with a cheerful countenance walked feebly away. The visitor praised the baker for his charitable conduct, in letting those have his bread, whom he know could never pay him; but he honestly answered, “I lose nothing, - Colonel Washington is here and all the sick poor may have as much of my bread as they can eat; he pays the bill, and I assure you it is no small one.”

All his private actions were as deserving of the approbation of his countrymen, as those of a public nature had been of their respect and praise; and those who were nearest to him, and know him best, loved him most.