I recently re-read this book, and remembered why I loved writing it. I think my admiration for the Lakota Sioux shows through in the storyline, as well as my unbiased portrayal of them as human beings who were lied to, cheated, and spurred to the defend themselves and their land based on their betrayal of the white man. I hope my shared excerpt today might stir your interest to read about Grace and Little Elk in this fictional historical romance.
Writing historical novels as provided me the opportunity to research and learn more about the genre I love. Even when I veered to contemporary, I managed to turn both books into time-travels that tie in with the old west. I'm just hopelessly in love with cowboys and Indians. :)
Excerpt: (This gives you an idea of how Cecile's life has changed as she deals with the death of the chief and the possible rise of her husband to the highest status in the tribe.)
The air inside the tepee grew hot and stagnant with the door flap closed, but Green Eyes sought solace from the sorrow that gripped the entire village. The morning fire lay in a heap of gray ashes, but veiled sunlight filtered through the smoke hole, providing light enough to see. Occasionally, one small ember with the circle of stone sizzled to life, but quickly faded.
The constant wailing of the four-day wacekiyapi, or worship ceremony, continued outside. The woeful chorus replaced the sound of cheerful children laughing and playing. Chief Broken Feather was dead, and the tribe mourned his passing.
Green Eyes rested against her willow backrest and braided her auburn tresses. Her thoughts turned to her mother-in-law, Singing Sparrow. She and Broken Feather had been married for over twenty years. Although he’d been a formidable leader, Green Eyes hadn’t known him very well. Sioux tradition placed men and women on separate levels, with the men meeting to discuss war, hunting, and visions, while the women cared for the children, cooked the meals, washed clothing, and tended to their husband’s needs.
Her mate rarely complained, and seemed to love her as much as she did him. Lone Eagle was her life, and she would do anything to please him...anything possible. Her only regret: She hadn’t yet given him a child. A son of his own. She heaved a loud sigh.
True, he claimed the child her first husband fathered, but Green Eyes still carried the burden of failure in her heart. Often, Lakota men turned to other women to produce more children, and even though Lone Eagle assured her she had no need to worry, she did. It was his right to continue his bloodline, but to lose or share him was incomprehensible. The idea turned her thoughts back to Singing Sparrow and the sense of loss she must feel. Green Eyes shuddered.
Vivid pictures of the past flashed through her mind. Fate had sent Lone Eagle to her rescue when her first husband, Walt, failed to return home and left her stranded alone in the middle of nowhere. Seriously injured and covered with blood, Lone Eagle had stumbled into her ramshackle cabin and collapsed at her feet. Thinking back, maybe she had rescued him. She smiled.
The past etched vivid pictures in her mind. When Walt married her, she barely knew how to cook or clean. Her skin, soft and unblemished, changed with her first attempt at real work—helping Walt repair the barn. With no gloves, her fingers blistered and split. She recalled how angry she became.
Her gaze dropped to examine her hands. Her once manicured nails were now jagged from hard work, and scraping countless animals hides had calloused her palms. Gone was the naive and helpless Cecile, and in her place, Green Eyes, a woman who decorated clothing with beautiful quills, made moccasins from softened hides, and even erected tepees.
During their trip to the village, Lone Eagle had kept assuring her she would be safe, but the Sioux’s reception made her question his promise. Curious at first, then angry, the villagers demanded to know why he had brought a white woman to their home. But, little by little she gained their acceptance, and found peace and contentment with the very people she thought hated her.
This excerpt shows a little more dialogue when Grace is brought to camp:
Green Eyes stood outside her lodge and spread three large rabbit pelts across her drying rack. A commotion caught her attention, and she crossed the compound to where a crowd gathered. She stood on tiptoes, looking over shoulders to see what caused the excitement.
Little Elk stepped aside, and the reason for the fervor became evident. Black Crow towered over a terrified young white girl who looked to be around sixteen. Her sobbing had no affect on him, and with eyes wide with fright, she cowered in the dirt at her captor’s feet.
Intent on helping the poor child, Green Eyes pushed through the crowd. She tapped Little Elk on the shoulder. “Who is this girl? Where did she come from?”
“Black Crow captured her. She will be his prisoner.” The young brave standing before Green Eyes hardly compared to the twelve-year-old orphan left behind by Spotted Doe. His body was no longer that of a child, and his voice boomed with authority.
His attitude angered Green Eyes. “What were you thinking? You cannot keep her against her will.”
Black Crow grabbed the white girl by her wrist and yanked her to her feet. He pushed Little Elk aside and glared at Green Eyes. “You have no say in the matter. It is not your place to question the actions of a warrior. Go away from me.”
Appalled at his behavior, she scanned the area for her husband but didn’t see him. She squared her shoulders and faced Black Crow. “I may not have the right to say anything, but your Chief most certainly will.”
Even as the words tumbled out of her mouth, she shivered in fear that she’d overstepped her boundaries. The young captive’s pitiful sobs tore at Green Eyes’ heart as Black Crow dragged her toward his mother’s lodge. Someone had to help the girl.
White Heart, Lakota Spirit is available on Amazon in both print and download as well as through the publisher, Eternal Press.