Dance on the Wind: A Novel

Dance on the Wind: A Novel

Terry C. Johnston

Language: English

Pages: 624

ISBN: 0553572814

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Sixteen-year-old Titus Bass fears one fate more than any other: never to experience the great wilderness or the wildness inside himself. So late one night he snatches a squirrel gun and a handful of biscuits, flees into the woods, and doesn’t look back. From Louisville past the Chickasaw bluffs and the Natchez Trace all the way to New Orleans, he plunges into the rough-and-tumble life along the banks of the Mississippi: a volatile, violent country of boatmen and river bandits, knife fights and Indian raids, strong liquor and stronger women. Yet beyond the great river stretches the vast, unexplored expanse of the Great Plains. And it is here that young Titus will seek his future, and risk everything to seize it.

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pair of pistols, including the woman, Titus had kept his tucked in the old sash tied at his waist. As he stuffed coins into the waistband he was sewing, he touched those pistols where they lay beside him. It reassured him now, to have such power—the longbarreled, big-caliber pistols, in addition to his grandpap’s rifle. He let his chest swell again as it had many times this day, just to think how he would turn away any would-be highwaymen by simply pulling out his weapons. And once more Titus

learn for himself the feel of filling a pipe’s bowl, to sense when it is packed tightly enough. Too tight, it won’t draw and you can’t keep it lit. Too loose—about the same problem, and it smokes too fast or goes out on you. Rest assured, this is one of the lessons in life that all young men like yourself are bound to learn. Among many, many others.” When he had loosened the tobacco and had it going, he drew in his first long pull of smoke. It bit and burned. Coughing, he flushed with

downriver from the young settlement of Rabbit Hash, he tarried long enough to see one last time what drew the common and uneducated rivermen to land and go ashore for more than fifteen years already. As time went on, word spread of the Big Bone Lick where the Ohio and Mississippi Navigator, a river pilot’s indispensable guide, stated a visitor could view remarkably large bones that must have belonged to some monstrous animal now extinct. Gazing down at those partially unearthed bones of some

was smiling at him again. That muzzle of hers pulled back over those big front teeth the way she did at times just like this. Almost as if she was laughing at him when here he had just been thinking he was the one so damned smart. “Why, you …,” the boy began as he dragged himself up to his knees, then to his bare feet in that moist earth chewed by the mule’s hooves and his work with iron pike and spade. On impulse he lunged for the fallen spade, swung it behind his shoulder in both hands. “Put

ordered from the bow where he had seized the gouger and was working it frantically back and forth to help Kingsbury speed the flatboat farther out into the current. Stuffing the rifle between two of the kegs filled with iron nails, Bass scrambled toward Zane. “Goddamned Chickasaws … goddamn, goddamn, goddamn,” the pilot muttered repeatedly. “That what they are? Chicka … Chicka—” “Saws. Goddamned Chickasaws,” Ebenezer grumbled as he twisted onto his side. “Take a look at the son of a bitch for

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