A failed army sergeant is given a last mission to escort a wagon train of orphans across the desert. But Apaches
steal their horses, leaving them stranded, and it is up to the sergeant to keep everyone alive until help can arrive.
Targeted Age Group:: 10-15
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I'm currently writing a number of young adult books about the Arizona Territory in the late 19th century.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
To paraphrase Flannery O'Connor, if you've lived through childhood, you've got enough characters to last you through the rest of your life.
SERGEANT TOTTENWOLD was 58 years old. At least that's what it said in the official papers. Actually he was 62, but like the old lady who lied about her age, he pretended he was younger so he would not be dismissed from the army. The army was his home. He had no other. He listed his home address as Washington, D.C., and did so with pride.
Years before there had been an illustration of him in a weekly news magazine. It was during the great War Between the States. It showed him bravely holding up the flag atop a fallen log, during an enemy attack. More recently his fellow soldiers — most too young to have served then — had peered at it and thought it wasn't him.
"Is that really you?" they jeered. And he had to admit, the picture wasn't accurate; if you hadn't known it was him, you might not have made the connection.
Yet he knew.
But recently he stopped showing the picture, or talking about it. He kept a copy stuffed in his locker to remind himself. He folded it and tucked it inside a book. Once in awhile he took it out to look at it. Yes, that was him. He had been a hero.
One year a captain, inspecting the men's lockers, had spotted it — Tottenwold had mistakenly left it out — and asked him about it. His face lit up. His heart beat faster. Maybe here was somebody who wanted to hear about him. But the man only nodded after a few words and passed on by. And behind him the other soldiers, who had heard him start to tell his story, just snickered.
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