Before Justin can make answer Osman steps forward, and extending his hand, grasps the Captain’s in a firm but welcoming shake. “Osman Treat is my name, Captain, and my companion, Master Justin Thorne.”
The Captain turns to Osman is if noticing him for the first time, pauses to take a quick measure, then liking what he sees before him softens the eyes and widens his smile. “Macklin O’Donnell, Mister Treat. Good to meet you and Master Thorne”, he says with relish but casts little acknowledgement to Justin. “Did you enjoy your short river ride, then? How do you like my Rose?”
“Captain, words fairly fail me. Were I not on a mission of some importance, sir, I tell but the God’s honest truth, I would continue on that vessel to the end of the line, even if my position was one of cleaning the stalls and emptying night jars. It must take a devil’s own bargain indeed to be given so lofty a position in this world as river captain, and to spend your days in service to the wiles of so tantalizing a lady.”
Now Captain O’Donnell bursts forth in honest good cheer and full-throated laughter. “Well well, a river man as sure as God makes little green apples. You, sir, are a man of discerning tastes, and deserving of only the best in life, and I for one wish whole- heartedly that it comes your way.”
Osman with a smile stretching all angles of his broad face replies, “Thank you, Captain, for the good wishes. And I will take them as they come, but at present, I and Master Thorne are in need of quarters for the night and longer. Can you recommend an inn?”
“Recommend, is it? I will not only recommend, but I will lead the way. Ahh, here come your mounts and traps, now. Let us walk but to the top of yon small rise, to The Missed Way. There you will find the best and cleanest beds in the whole of the river, along with food to satisfy any hunger, good company and beer kept cool in a spring house against the day’s heat.”
“A missed way, you say? But…” Osman starts.
“Not a missed way, Sir Treat, but The Missed Way Inn. Oddly named, indeed it is, but second home to this river vagabond, and a house of warm welcome to all, even to the likes of us.”
The men trudge the rise away from the soft murmurs of the Ohio, and toward the red ivy-streaked walls of the inn. Justin walks just a bit out of step.
When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic.
Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. One's ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life's story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby's Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby's Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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