Book Excerpt: “Voices From the Land” by Jan Marquart

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    Voices from the Land by Jan Marquart is a historical novel that tells the story of a small group of people and their incomparable ability to form a new town in the Southwest after President Lincoln freed the slaves in 1860. The story exposes the vicious hate of a lawless land juxtaposed against the generous compassion of the American people to attend to one another’s wounds. Despite the violence and mayhem in this vulnerable town, the indefatigable spirit of its inhabitants assures their survival.


    Father had gotten well enough to guide a group of businessmen
    across the country, even though Mama and I begged him to
    stay. We had become used to having him around, and now it was
    just me and Mama. I was scared. What if something happened to
    Mama while Father was gone? What would I do?

    Father said he would ask Wind Eagle to check in on us. Wind
    Eagle said he would be glad to do it, and although that was some
    help, it didn’t make me feel too much better. I didn’t let on though
    because everyone told me I was the man of the family while Father
    was away, and I wanted them to think I could handle problems,
    but I worried most nights and got little sleep.

    Father was right. The next time he came home was almost
    three years later, and I had already gotten married. I would have
    shown him my new baby girl, but my wife, Adelia was her name,
    had died in childbirth. A day later, the baby died, but no one in
    town knew why. Father was sad for me and Mama. We took him to
    where we put their graves next to Grandmother and Grandfather.
    Wind Eagle built a box big enough for the both of them. He
    thought we should burn them together so their spirits would join
    hands on their way to the Great Spirit. Instead, we buried them
    together because as hard as I tried, I could never get used to the
    thought of watching people I love be set on fire even though they
    were dead.

    I spent the next year in the woods grieving on the edge of
    town returning only to see Mama and Father now and then
    because Father gave up guiding at this point. He had taken to getting
    so ill in California that he almost didn’t return. We thought
    he had died and was just about to give up hope when he rode in
    one day nearly collapsing off his horse when he got to the door.

    Losing my wife and child was more than I could bear. I think
    I was sixteen or seventeen, and everyone told me I was too young
    to give up, but it was too late. I had given up.

    Then one day, Wind Eagle, who was getting quite old to ride
    so much, came for a visit. Mama and Father told them I spent
    every day, all day in the woods sometimes not coming home for
    weeks. They were worried and asked if Wind Eagle would talk
    to me.

    I was sitting under a tree looking up cursing the Lord for all
    the pain I was going through. As loud as I could, I yelled, “I hate
    you,” and I nearly screamed from fright when Wind Eagle stepped
    in front of me and chanted something in his language. I was furious.
    I stood up and the next thing I remember I was punching
    old Wind Eagle in the chest and crying and talking nonsense. He
    tried to hold me, tightening his grip while chanting the whole
    time. The more he chanted, the more I became a wild animal.

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