Escaping the Civil War and slavery, three young men go West in search of freedom. Arriving in Independence, Missouri, they meet a teamster who hires them for his wagon train to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The teamster admires and becomes friend with the three. In Santa Fe they decide to keep heading westward to Tucson. Once there, they go their separate ways but eventually experience warm reunions.
This is a story of adventure as the fascinating characters search for freedom in their separate, yet together, ways. Many of the characters they encounter are true historical people and the landscape descriptions throughout are authentic, especially the Altar Valley of Sonora where the author once leased a ranch and bought and sold cattle. The same is true about other locations in southern Arizona where the author lived most of his life.
Homer Crane's eyes caught the low flicker of a campfire off to the right of the trail he had been following in the half moon's light. He turned and stopped; squinting to make sure he wasn't just seeing things. Lowering his head six inches he crouched as he made sure that it was a campfire he had seen and not some last-of-the-season fireflies on a late fall flight through the night.
Looking at the ground cover, Homer stepped cautiously toward the fire until he saw the young man about seventeen, the same age as himself, sitting cross-legged watching the flames lick the leg of venison that he had placed on two forked sticks to roast. Homer recognized the light gray uniform even though it was tattered. There were no shoulder insignia telling the world that the man who wore it was a commissioned officer in the Confederate Army. Homer wondered why the man wore an officer's felt hat.
Carefully Homer moved forward, enjoying the aroma of the roasting meat as the gentle breeze carried the smoke his way. The smell made his stomach ache and forced him to remember how hungry he was after four days of nothing to eat except some dried beef. The dried beef had lasted only two of the days he had been fleeing from the Union Army after the Battle of Antietam. His canteen had just a swallow of water left. Traveling at night through forests over narrow trails had not given Homer much opportunity to refurbish his food and water supply.
His right foot snapped a twig. The sitting soldier started, looked up away from the fire and toward the sound. Homer raised his rifle and stepped quickly to the edge of the clearing.
"All right, Johnny Reb, raise your hands high and don't reach for your rifle," Homer said, trying to make himself sound tough.
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