Authors: Pamela Morsi
A REFRESHING NEW VOICE IN ROMANCE
" IS DESTINED TO BE A STAR OF THE '90s."
Praise for and her delightful novels…
Tulsa May Bruder thinks she's doomed to be the town wallflower .
until she looks at Luther Briggs and sees a face she's known forever in a whole new light
" writes about love and life with laughter, tenderness, and most of all, joy." —
Cora Briggs and Jedwin Sparrow come from
different parts of town. But when it comes to love, it doesn't matter what the neighbors say
"A book to get lost in!"
"Another treasure to be saved and savored!"
Sensible Esme Crabb set out to find a husband
and found the task more difficult than she ever expected. But falling in love with Cleavis Rhy was easier than she ever dreamed
"A story as warm and wonderful—and sexy—as a featherbed on a winter night."
"This one's a keeper!"
Titles by Pamela Morsi
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
Jove edition / August 1994
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1994 by .
This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission.
For information address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
200 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016.
A JOVE BOOK®
Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
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PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
With grateful acknowledgment for the work of
John A. Lomax, Alan Lomax, Carl Sandburg, and the hundreds of other folk song hunters past and present who have done what they could, where they could, to preserve our musical heritage.
And with special thanks to my favorite Ozarker
Mitch Jayne for making it all real to me.
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one least used by cows."
FROM THE JOURNAL OF
J. MONROE FARLEY
April 12, 1902
McBee's Landing, Arkansas
Arrived this noon on the steamboat packet Jesse Lazear. The trip was noisy, crowded, unclean, and uncomfortable. The local accommodations are no better. My portmanteau was wetted in the unloading, and I fear my wardrobe may not be the freshest. The Ediphone, however, survived the treacherous White River crossing intact and for that I am properly grateful
These Ozarks are an unkind, primitive wilderness, near hellish in isolation and solitude. As I watched the shoreline we passed, I was awed by its never-ending silence. It is eerie and unnatural. Were it not for the importance of my work and my strong desire to prove my thesis, I believe that I might, with great haste, return to the relative civilization of lower Missouri and the Mississippi river valleys.
Heard the word foment today uttered by a raggedy, unlettered farmer who had come riding to the packet with his crop. I was so startled, I fear that I must have stared at the man aghast. To hear such a beautiful old Elizabethan word on the lips of a backwoods man was concurrently joyous and profane. But surely it leads me to hope
The pilot, Captain Dochelin, assures me that these local inhabitants are far removed from the primitive people farther back in the woods. On the morrow I begin a mule
trek back into the darkest depths of the Ozark Mountains. And, one could say,
back into history itself. My heart beats wildly with anticipation and
wonderment. What songs and stories and long-forgotten words may I discover
"SOO-EEEE!" MEGGIE BEST hollered the standard hog call. The half-dozen lazy pigs continued lounging in the morning sun around the small mountain clearing that she and her father and brother called home.
"Soo-eee pig! Come on, now, I ain't got the blame day to idle."
Though her words sounded harsh, she was humming softly to herself and her heart was unusually light. She'd been mostly lost in a pleasant daydream all morning long. A daydream about a handsome prince who rescued a virtuous maiden from a life of boredom and drudgery in the lonely mountains. It was a wonderful dream. Her favorite. Even the lazing pigs couldn't mar her mood. She sighed aloud. The sweet romantic words of a fine old tune came to her lips.
"Well met, well met, my own true love,
Well met, well met, said he.
I have just returned from a journey long
And 'twas all for the love of thee."
Suddenly, as if nature itself had heard the longings of her heart, a strange thrill of expectation swept through her. Gooseflesh skittered across her skin. She stopped singing,stunned to silence, and looked across the clearing. A stranger, a man she'd never seen, a man she didn't know, stood beside the rail fence at the far side of the unpainted barn. Meggie's breath caught in her throat and tiny stars began to sparkle around her. She thought she might faint.
, the stranger, was speaking to her brother Jesse. The sun was at his back and it shone around him like a golden halo. Even from the distance she could see that he was handsome in a curious way. He was finely dressed and worthily shod. Real pince-nez spectacles of circular glass were perched upon his nose. And his trim form and deignful expression gave him a princely air.
Meggie's eyes widened. Her heart beat faster and the blood sped through her veins.
A prince. Her prince.
"Hey, Meggie!" Jesse called out. "Come and meet Roe. He's my frien'."
Unable to move, Meggie merely stared as the two young men walked toward her.
"He's lost his mule," Jesse continued. "I ne'er had a frien' afore, Meggie. Can we keep him?"
Jesse's question momentarily surprised Meggie out of her trance. Her brother was speaking of the prince as if he were an orphaned coon or whistle-pig pup.
"No, we can't
him, Jesse. He's no critter, he's a gentleman. Have you never seen one before?"
Jesse glanced over at the fellow on his left and shrugged. "Don't reckon I have, Meggie."
The prince offered a tiny smile to Meggie's brother and her heart expanded. She sighed loudly.
He took one step toward her and bowed formally from the waist. "A good day to you, Miss Best. Your kind brother has told me much about you."
His voice was low and cultured. To Meggie it sounded like a cross between the roar of distant thunder and the harmony of a church hymn.
The prince was tall, nearly as tall as Jesse, but there the similarity ended. While Jesse was as blond and fair as cornfields in October, the stranger was as dark as winter-green syrup and nearly as slick. She watched the long elegant movements of his hands as he reached for a snowy white handkerchief and patted the perspiration that had accumulated upon his brow.
He was not so terribly old, Meggie decided. He simply carried himself with a casual confidence unusual for a man still in his twenties. His smile, faint as it had been, revealed a small dimple in his right cheek and straight white teeth that gleamed in the sunlight. He was dressed in city duds so fine they would have outshone the Sunday best of the entire congregation of Marrying Stone Church. His skin, totally free of marks or scars, would be the envy of the local hill girls who religiously washed their complexions in soured buttermilk.