In the Face of Death
Click on image to enlarge.
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Category: Horror/Historical Fiction
Description: Madelaine de Montalia, the main character in "Out of the House of Life" in Yarbro's popular Saint-Germain vampire series, once again has her own book, set in America 1847-65. Born in France in 1724, beautiful and intelligent, she chooses to live among the Indians and record their culture, traditions and knowledge. In 1855 San Francisco she meets and falls in love with William T. Sherman, ex-Army officer now running a bank. Sherman is married, with children; and their affair must end. She is among the Choctaw in Georgia when the Civil War breaks out. But what will happen, now that Sherman commands the armies that are marching directly toward her home?
eBook Publisher: Hidden Knowledge, 2001
eBookwise Release Date: May 2005
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [572 KB]
Reading time: 405-567 min.
"...superb historical novel full of insight and romantic drama."--Bookpage
Excerpts from the journal of Madelaine de Montalia, February 1845 through August, 1847.
London, 18 February, 1845
...Spoke with the American journalist again, and he assures me that it is possible to arrange to study some of the Indians still living their traditional lives in his country. He does not know to whom I should apply to make such studies.... He has said that many of them are war-like and do not trust strangers, Indians or whites. Perhaps they have good cause for this, if what I have learned so far is true.
The journalist is eager to go to Egypt to see the Pyramids and report on a few of the expeditions there. He has many misconceptions about Egypt, both as it is now and as it was long ago. I have told him a little of my experiences at Thebes, and warned him that he may well encounter more corruption in the officials around him than he is used to. He answered that Americans are used to crooks in politics....
London, 23 June, 1845
...and I find I do want to learn more of the Indians in America while they are still alive to speak for themselves. Saint-Germain has warned me how quickly things and peoples may vanish. Surely, if all I have heard is accurate, the lives of these people are changing rapidly and many will soon be altered beyond recall. How can I turn away from this challenge, to study these people now, learn how they live, before they are gone?
How frustrating it is to be here, on the edge of learning and yet have no way to pursue the necessary information. So little has been attempted in assessing the lives of the Indians, or gathering accurate data about the Indians, and so much of what has been done is written with questionable motives, based on premises that are misleading. There is nothing much more I can do until I cross the Atlantic and meet these beleaguered people for myself....
The prospect of hardships does not deter me; how could it? Egypt taught me to endure many inconveniences, which subsequent studies have taught me to prepare for, and if all I have to fear is a lack of scented soap and a newspaper to read, then I am undaunted. I have come through worse than a lack of personal amenities, gaslight, and civilized company....
London, 4 November, 1845
...I am going to have to find someone who has met Indians, so that I may learn how best to go on when I am among them....
London, 26 March, 1846
...Geoffrey Prestigne has promised to introduce me to his Canadian second cousin, a fellow who has lived among the Indians for much of his life, and who has recently come to England to take up his inheritance. He cannot imagine how much I want to know about them. I hope he is not so contemptuous of these people as many of the Americans seem to be....
All society here is buzzing about India, and the Sikhs, who are trying to reestablish control of their own lands, or so it would seem....
London, 19 September, 1846
...After the performance of Don Pasquale, Geoffrey at last presented his second cousin to me: Reverend Daniel Maywood, a widower of thirty-eight years, well-read although not greatly educated, who stigmatized Donizetti's little farce as frivolous.... Geoffrey had already explained my purpose in speaking with him; he did his best to discourage me in this venture, stating that he felt I would not only be disappointed by what I saw, but that I could be in considerable danger. It is his opinion that most of the Indians would not look kindly on a white woman going among them. He was distressed when he learned I do not wish to go as a missionary, for that has been his work throughout his adult life....
London, 22 December, 1846
...I have spoken with Reverend Maywood again, and I am more certain than ever that the Indians will be a fascinating and rewarding study. I had no idea there was such diversity in their tribes as Maywood describes, which only spurs me to greater efforts, for I begin to see that the task I have set for myself is a larger one than I had first supposed, and more urgent. Yet the more I question him, the more reticent he becomes; this he excuses by saying he does not wish to encourage what he describes as my caprice. He is determined to dissuade me from going to America. I have admitted to some trepidation about such an undertaking but in truth, it is more the ordeal of a sea voyage that gives me pause than any reluctance to expose myself to the risks of living with Indians....
London, 5 April, 1847
...At last I have found someone willing to aid me. Captain Augustus Fowler of Savannah, Georgia, who has brought a vast quantity of cotton to the mills of Birmingham and Manchester on his ship Minerva, has been willing to listen to my inquiries without undue animadversions on the folly of my interests. He is like the other men I have met from the southern United States, very gallant and courtly, but fixed in his ways as many from the northern States are not.... He informs me that most of the Indians of the eastern coast are being moved off their lands and put on new territories in the western part of the country, and that those Indians living on the prairies have been much visited by missionaries. This, in spite of the United States currently being in dispute with Mexico. Such action will surely trap Indians between the warring nations. I recall what Saint-Germain told me of the peoples of South America, and that was more than two centuries ago. So much has been lost already, I fear I may already be too late to learn all I wish....
London, 30 July, 1847
...The house is leased out to a family for a period of twenty years. They have signed the papers and my solicitors have settled the whole matter of maintenance and payments with them to our mutual satisfactions. My furniture and other effects will be sent to Monbussy and the care of those tending my estate on the Marne. I will have my usual chests of earth with me, and have made arrangements to receive shipments of more every year or so, with provision for them to be delivered to ports of call to be determined at a later time. I have been warned that these cannot be reliably delivered west of the Mississippi, so I have arranged to have a second shipment made, in case one is not received....
I leave from Plymouth aboard the French four-masted bark Duc d'Orleans bound for Baltimore in the State of Maryland on the 18th of next month, less than three weeks from now, so I have much to arrange in the little time remaining here in London. There are funds to be transferred and certain expenses to be met in my absence, all this before I leave for the United States.
I have already warned Captain des Ciennes that I do not travel well over water and that I will remain in my cabin for most of the voyage. I have given him to understand that I am going to join my brother in America, to make my traveling alone less suspect than it might be otherwise, and he has been very well-paid to keep his doubts to himself. It would not do to have him inquire too closely about my life here, for he might find my longevity disquieting. I doubt he will do so, for he behaves as if he thinks my protestation of seasickness a polite mendacity to protect myself from unwanted attention: women going so far alone are often the targets of intrusive flirtations or greater affronts. Not that I am unable to take care of myself in such circumstances....
On the road to Plymouth, 8 August, 1847
...My preparations are made. Saint-Germain has been informed of where I will be, and how I may be reached, if that is necessary. My funds have been established in a letter of credit from my London bank in the amount of 100,000 that will serve me throughout the United States, or so I am reliably informed. I have purchased such maps as may be had of the known territories of North America. I am beginning to think it would be sensible to go all the way to the Pacific, to see what has become of the Indians there, where the Spanish have ruled for so long. Since I am going to be on that continent in any case, and I am free to set my own agenda, I must make the most of my opportunities, which may never come again....
I wish I enjoyed sailing.