Volunteer for Glory—Part 2

Here’s another excerpt of Volunteer for Glory, so that you can see whether it’s a book you might like to purchase.

Rupert’s Prairie, like most farming communities on a railroad line, had expanded from a single mercantile store, one saloon, and a church into a respectably sized town.  Two churches served the spiritual needs of the community.  In addition to the depot and telegraph office, were Puckett’s General Store, a smithy, a harness and carriage repair shop, two saloons, a doctor’s office, and Gallatin’s dressmaking establishment.  The sheriff’s office had three jail cells that were seldom occupied, for Rupert’s Prairie, despite its saloons, was rarely disturbed by anything more serious than a fistfight or an occasional dispute over land boundaries.

Further away, and opposite the schoolhouse, a grain elevator loomed against the sky.  Children looking out classroom windows could sometimes see sacks of pale wheat and golden corn being loaded into railroad cars.  Nearby stockyards held cattle and hogs awaiting shipment to big city slaughterhouses.

Jared Westbrook, his height and blond good looks betraying a Scandinavian heritage, was tying his team to the hitching post in front of Puckett’s Store when his attention was distracted by a rider whose mount threw up bits of snow.  Stuart Norcross was making his predictably flashy entrance.

Stuart dismounted, so near to Jared that the other man had to move aside to avoid being jostled.  “Papers in?”

“Expect so.”  Jared tossed a blanket over his team before joining Stuart who was already crossing the wooden porch that ran the length of the store.

Ian McGruder greeted them with unconcealed excitement” They’ve fired on our ship in Charleston Harbor. And more succession.  Mississippi, Florida, Alabama.” He ticked them off, one by one.

“Dang  ’em anyway,” observed one shabby fellow, aiming a stream of tobacco juice into a nearby spittoon.  “We ain’t gonna let ‘em bust the Union.”

Murmured assents arose from the men who sat, stood, or leaned on counters.  Stuart, adopting a careless pose, pulled his hat off, revealing thick dark hair. Isaiah Puckett, a mere raisin of a man, paused in his wrapping of a parcel to listen.

“Once we retaliate, there’ll be no going back,” Jared said slowly.

This comment roused both agreement and disapproval.  Though Jared was respected as an educated man for having graduated from the Bloomington Normal School, several men frowned and muttered among themselves.

“You can’t just let armed rebellion go by.  You have to admit that, Jared.”  Stuart leaned forward slightly, as though daring him to disagree.

But it was the elder Westbrook who spoke, shifting his weight on the wooden packing case where he sat.  As he placed his reading glasses into his jacket pocket, Ferris’s blunt kindly features creased with thought.

“Any of you been to war? It’s a bloody business, and it doesn’t take long to get a bellyful of dust and dysentery.  Keeping the Union’s a better cause than fighting the Spanish over Texas, but war doesn’t prove who’s right.  Only who’s strongest.”  His voice held authority for he had fought in ’47

“ They’ve dishonored the flag, and I say we give them a licking.” Stuart argued. “The way I see it, it’s a question of whether you believe in the Union or not.”

Ferris shook his graying head. “The Union must stand,” he admitted.  “And if it comes to a fight, I’ll defend her.”

“To the Union.”  Stuart raised his hand as though proposing a toast.  Then suiting his action to his words, he swept up his hat, and opened the door, inviting the assembly to join him. “Let’s wet our whistles at the Red Dog.  Arguing politics is mighty dry work.”

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 4:00 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yay! Glad I have my copy–I’m taking it with me on my vacation.

  2. Yay, Pat! Hope it’s good company!

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