Title: Unexpected Journey
Author: Christina St. Clair
Genre: Historical Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
Unexpected Journey is a historical novel set in England and colonial America in the 1730s.
A wide gulf existed between people from different social strata. Lenape natives in Pennsylvania felt no love for white people who'd forced them from their land. Rich English girls had no interest in brown-skinned natives in the colonies and certainly did not expect to meet any. Street girls eked out an existence any way they could, with no hope of fraternizing with the wealthy. Yet Gishuk, Rachel, and Anna are just such people--thrown together in a tale of adventure, friendship, and danger.
Book One: Shaman
In a dream, Gishuk saw the image of a shewanakw girl with skin as white as the blackberry flowers in spring. Her hair, glowing like the color of autumn leaves, tumbled down her back. Though still asleep, he heard the dogs howling outside, their cries rising balefully into the night. He stared at the floating image in his mind. Upon awakening, the girl's strange face remained etched into his psyche.
For a while he lay on his straw mat, looking at the bark ceiling. Had this girl somehow disturbed the dogs? But this made no sense. She was merely a phantom in a dream. Still, something was not quite right. The starless night contained not even a sliver of moon to make the dogs howl. A steady rainfall, smelling of leaves and earth, fell from the pitch black sky, pattering onto the thatch roof of his parents' house. It lulled him back to sleep where the shewanakw girl still hovered in his dreams. She seemed so innocent, but even in his sleep, anger and confusion arose in him. What right did any shewanakw have to appear to him when they had caused so much trouble to his people?
At daybreak, he soon forgot the dream, listening for the song of Tàskëmus who always got up first to take his bath alone in the pond in the center of the village. Gishuk loved Tàskëmus who was his great-uncle as well as the village medicine man. He sang like his namesake, the mockingbird, able to imitate many sounds. Often he tapped like a woodpecker seven times because this was a number from the heavens. Usually women were the ones called by the Great Spirit to become healers, but Tàskëmus laughed at such an idea and made Gishuk his apprentice. Yet this did not stop other boys in the village from making fun of Gishuk, especially that weasel Sàngwe. This eldest son of the village sachem acted as if he ought to be the chief. Gishuk also suspected Sàngwe of jealousy because he, Gishuk, was Grandmother's favorite. She'd even given him his secret spirit name.
Gishuk rolled quietly from his mat and crawled past his brother Tëme, who snorted but did not attempt to get up. As Gishuk crept by his parents, Kèkw smiled dreamily, snuggling closer to her husband, Tihtës, and pulling the turkey-feather blanket over their shoulders to keep out the damp. Outside, Gishuk watched his great-uncle swim steadily through the water, his muscular arms rising and falling with hardly a splash. At last he scrambled onto the shore near the Big House, allowing the water to drip from his body. He stretched his hands out palms-up to greet the day and began to chant.