Authors: Eric Flint
When Adaline put her hand on his shoulder, he liked to fly out of the chair. But, to his astonishment, the dragon didn’t say a word.
Of course, if you could bottle the look in its eyes, you could probably freeze the whole chiefdom of Arkansas. And whenever Adaline so much as twitched a finger, the monster’s hiss was enough to freeze your blood.
Still. It was an awfully thrilling two hours, with that hand there the whole time. By the end of it, Cal was halfway reconciled to the inescapable chaos of existence.
“Mrs. Johnson,” said Sheff, sounding a bit timid.
“Yes, Captain Parker?”
“Ah…If I might ask, what’s the—I mean. What are we doing here?”
She bestowed on him a look that was a
warmer than anything she’d given Cal in at least two months. Just another example of life’s essential unfairness.
“Oh, that’s simple. I told my husband I’d have a portrait of us made up. Since it may be quite a while before we see him again. Mr. Wiedeman assures me he can have it shipped safely to Kentucky.”
“Oh, certainly,” said the artist. “Might be a problem a few months from now, of course.”
Cal almost choked. He leaned over a bit to get a good look at Sheff.
Sure enough. Amazing that a face that black could manage to look that purple at the same time.
going to be in the portrait?”
“What a ridiculous question. Of course you are, Captain Parker. Why else would you be sitting here?”
I told you! Not so close to the neck! For that matter, the session is over. Remove the hand, please. At once.”
All the ice cream you’d need for everyone in New Antrim, dawn to dusk.
“Is Daddy all right? He looks real sick.”
Driscol shifted the boy a bit farther into his lap. “He’s fine, Andy. A little sick, yes. But he’ll be fine by tomorrow. It might happen again, mind. You needn’t worry about it though, lad, because we’ll take care of it. Your father has many friends.”
The boy looked up at him uncertainly. Then, just as uncertainly, swiveled his head to look up at the carving.
“That’s Mommy, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
There was silence for a time as the boy settled his head on Driscol’s shoulder and stared up at the carving. Houston’s gentle snores were the only sound in the church.
Antoinette really had done a splendid job. It was Maria Hester, almost to the flesh.
“Will she go away again?”
“No, lad. She will not.” All the weight of the Ozarks and the Ouachitas was in that voice. Ireland, too, and the mountains of Spain.
“Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”
ALTERNATE HISTORY TITLES BY ERIC FLINT
(with David Webber)
Ring of Fire
1634: The Galileo Affair
(with Andrew Dennis)
1812: The Rivers of War
1824: The Arkansas War
The Belisarius Series (with David Drake)
An Oblique Approach
In the Heart of Darkness
The Tide of Victory
The Dance of Time
1824: The Arkansas War
is a work of fiction. Though some characters, incidents, and dialogues are based on the historical record, the work as a whole is a product of the author’s imagination.
Copyright © 2006 by Eric Flint
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Del Rey Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
is a registered trademark, and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
Map illustrations by Jeffrey L. Ward