“Howdy, Sheriff. Mind if I put one a these here flyers on the post outside your office door?”
“Dunno, Clarence. How about you let me have a look see first?”
Jim Brennan rose from behind his desk and stretched a set of mighty muscles tightened from being seated for too long in one position. Immediately, the giant dog lying on the floor at his feet rose and stretched as well. Two strong and good-looking male animals, one human, one not; each imbued with a subtle hint of menace to any unwary someone in the mood for wrongdoing. The similarity between the two even extended so far as their coloring.
“Hey, Tucker, how you doin’, boy?” The visitor put out one hand for a friendly pat.
Everybody was acquainted with the sheriff’s long-haired familiar since the two were boon companions, and the townsfolk rarely saw one without the other. Everybody—except the miscreants—got along with him just fine, despite his size and ferocious appearance, because Tucker’s temperament could be compared to that of a well-fed pussycat.
Jim, casting a thoughtful glance at the pile of paperwork awaiting more attention, shrugged. There was the arrangement of daily work schedules for the five deputies whom the town of Silverstone had allowed him to hire, notices from surrounding communities, which listed the names and crimes of desperadoes on the loose, bills to be paid, and correspondence to be answered. One thing at a time. He would go to his grave buried under a comparable pile of paperwork.
“Here, y’ see? Got another troupe comin’ through. S’posed to stay in town for a week. Includin’ two weekends.”
Scanning the poster Clarence had shoved almost under his nose, the sheriff took in the florid phrases and masterly examples of la-di-da composition designed to draw in the credulous and unworldly.
Music Hall Extravaganza
to be presented by The Touring Theatre Company Extraordinaire
at Silverstone Theatre and Playhouse,
Twice Daily at 2:00 and 8:00 pm, July 12 through July 21, 1878,
Featuring the Spectacular Singing Voices of
The Multi-Talented Family Gleeson
and their program of a wide range of Musical Numbers
performed before all the Crowned Heads of Europe,
accompanied by Messrs. Herbert Demley, pianist,
and violin virtuoso Giovanni Russo.
Followed by Sebastian Dubois, Magician Extraordinaire,
and his beauteous Assistant, Miss Marceline
The Calico Quints Acrobatic Troupe
The Mimicry and Mystery of Lorenzo DeLucca
Handy and Dandy and their Prodigious Balancing Act
Tickets available at the door
“Huh,” he said, at last, handing over the notice illustrated with a flashy, fleshy female wearing scanty dress and a pouting, come-hither expression. “Looks like quite a grand affair, don’t it? S’pose we’ll all be expected to wear our best bib and tucker, too, if we show up.”
Clarence Albright, having turned to begin hammering away so that the placard might be attached, heard only the last. “Oh, yeah. Better figure Walton’s Haberdashery will be sold out of their stock, no doubt. ’Course, you look a darned sight purtier in your fancy duds than I do.”
His infrequent grin was one of Jim’s most attractive features, revealing as it did a deep cleft in each clean-shaven cheek and lighting a spark in both spring-green eyes. “Yeah, I am a real tap-dancer, I am. You puttin’ these flyers up all over town?”
“Tryin’ to. Big job, though, coverin’ the space that some ten thousand folks call home. Got some help, at least—there’s three more fellers workin’ with me.”
“Reckon the Strumpet will put in some kinda article to spread the news abroad, as well.”
Finished, Clarence sent a knowing wink toward the lawman. The Silverstone Trumpet was one of two newspapers serving the area. Being owned—and its articles and opinions manipulated—by an ultra-wealthy mining tycoon had earned the weekly periodical a less-than-stellar reputation. Thus, the widespread and disparaging play on an ill-chosen caption, which even its editorial staff had been unable to overcome.
“Yup, for sure. Well, Sheriff, gotta get movin’. Thanks.” Hefting his hammer, a small parcel of nails, and the stack of flyers, Clarence gave a nod and continued on his way.
Stretching again, scrubbing one hand through a tumble of thick curly hair the color of rich mahogany, Jim decided some fresh air would be in order. He could stand outside and observe the doings of his town until Deputy Titus Jones returned from his walkabout. Many minor little disturbances could be quelled with a minimum of fuss before minor became major (with injuries, damage to property and persons, and mayhem), he had long ago discovered, by the simple, deterring expedient of an authority figure’s slow amble up street and down street.
Jim tucked his palms into both back pockets of his trousers and drew in a deep, invigorating breath. Not too bad today. A slight breeze from the tallest peaks of South Dakota’s surrounding Black Hills carried the fragrance of pine and rushing water to counteract the dry scent of dust running from one city limit to the other and the more pungent odor of horse droppings.
Silverstone was his town, watched over, guarded, and nurtured during his tenure as chief lawman for the past four years. After the death of his father, and the parceling out of his family’s Colorado ranch to too many older sons that had left Jim with only a small inheritance, he had made his way north. He had gotten tired of dealing with changeable weather, stock declines, and fluctuating market prices, anyway. Here, a job offer put forth by the council, representing the interests of some ten thousand residents, had seemed the obvious solution as to a career path.
He and this bustling, thriving small city had ended up making the perfect fit.
Located very near the border between the Northwest (Dakota) Territory and the Territory of Wyoming, Silverstone was actually a similar but smaller version of its riotous neighbor some thirty miles, over rough terrain, to the south and east: Deadwood, which had begun life as Deadwood Gulch, and evolved.
The discovery of gold, on land awarded to the Lakota People, had given it birth, and within a few years, the place had grown into the wildest, rip-roarin’-est, most dangerous establishment in the whole Wild West. Aided by wagon trains bringing in supplies, miners, gamblers, and madams and their prostitutes, the population of less than a thousand had quickly soared to twenty-five times that.
Home to the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and his Dead Man’s Hand, Calamity Jane, and Wyatt Earp, the place reeked of lawlessness and crime, enough to overflow to surrounding areas.
All of which Jim, cognizant of their neighbor’s rich (if questionable) history, kept a wary eye on. He had enough petty criminals to deal with under his own jurisdiction; he didn’t want worse yet to spill out and engulf his town.
The dog, standing patiently and silently beside him, nosed at his thigh for attention, and Jim responded with a hand laid on the animal’s huge furry head. Strangers, seeing the two together, were sometimes taken aback.
And most assuredly cautious about getting anywhere within their vicinity.
Was that critter a bear down out of the mountains? A lion escaped from the circus? A giant wolf on the loose from his pack?
To all, Jim merely smiled enigmatically, leaving the answer up to the questioner’s imagination.
“You gettin’ hungry, boy?” he asked now, looking down at the alert brown eyes looking up. “Soon’s Titus heads in, you and I’ll go get us some chow, whaddya say? Maybe over to the Silver Spoon and see what’s goin’ on there.”
Tucker uttered an appreciative little woof. The Silver Spoon, whose owner, Bethann Kendricks, allowed him to sit quietly in the corner, was one of his favorite hang-outs. In fact, if the place were a private club with memberships handed out, his name would probably top the list.
Shifting position, Jim slowly surveyed the streets running north and south, east and west, watching the foot traffic, the buckboards and occasional surrey, the single horseback riders, for any sign of trouble. All seemed well on this sparkling midday in late June. Quiet. Just the way he liked it.
To add to his sense of well-being, he spied Titus swinging along toward the sheriff’s office.
“Well, now, Tuck. Got your appetite in gear? S’pose Bethann has some-a that beef stew she always cooks up so tasty?”
The dog gave a soft little whine and licked his chops.
With a laugh, Jim ruffled the animal’s fluffy ears. “Yeah, and I got no doubt she’ll put some in a bowl, just for you, you mangy hound. C’mon, time to eat.”
“I must admit I’m much relieved to be gone out of Deadwood,” admitted Lenora Gleeson, from her place on the seat of the family wagon.
Languidly she applied the pretty silk blades of her fan, not only to stir up an otherwise nonexistent breeze but also to keep away determined flying insects. An attractive woman in her mid-forties, with blonde hair artificially colored and curled and a figure roped in from its normal predilection toward too-ample curves by a tightly laced corset, she was ready to stop soon for a meal and a respite from their conveyance’s usual accommodation along rough roads.
Since no one of The Touring Theatre Company Extraordinaire appreciated the term “Gypsy Wagon,” the chosen description for their mode of travel was “Vardo Caravan.” The words meant the same, in fact, referring to the Romanichal Traveler of old, all across the European continent. But few were aware. And the preferred term certainly sounded more elegant.
“A little too wild and wooly, in my opinion,” continued Lenora. “Why, my gracious, we needed armed guards around us, night and day.”
“Worth every minute of it, Nora,” her husband, Matthew, disagreed. “No one got hurt, and we made a lot of money. Those miners loved everything we gave them on that stage and begged for more. Remember all those encores?”
The fan moved a little more energetically as the convoy proceeded through heavier woodland cover and a swarm of gnats. “They did, indeed, didn’t they?” She sounded complacent. “Still, I was grateful for the men with guns keeping everyone in order. At least some of the hooligans in the cheaper seats weren’t able to charge up onto the dais.”
Matthew, a practical fellow whose silver mustache and goatee matched his silver hair, chuckled. “The audience for a few nights tended to be mostly male. What can you expect when a woman-hungry populace is suddenly presented with all the attractive ladies—including you, my love—that make up so much of our entourage? They get rowdy.”
“Well, thanks to Mr. Entwhistle, all of us females escaped unharmed.” She sniffed. “And that’s a fortunate thing for you, Mr. Gleeson, that you weren’t required to fight for the honor of your daughters.”
“What’s that, Mama?”
Speaking of daughters, Annabel had just come riding alongside, astride her own mare, to catch the last part of that conversation. Her mother surveyed her with pride.
While Lenora’s prettiness had, not surprisingly, faded over the years, Annabel wore her beauty like a shining star. Thick curly hair the color of ripened wheat, a clear peaches-and-cream complexion, long-lashed eyes whose bright hue rivaled the summer sky, and a figure with out-swells and in-swells at all the right places. What more could any man want? Oh, and just to add icing to the cake, Annabel possessed intelligence, curiosity about the world around her, natural sauciness as part of her stage presence, and a compassionate and generous spirit.
Not the perfect woman, however. No. Because perfection could be boring.
The girl’s personality was geared toward independence and an ongoing fight against injustice of any kind. A bit too independent, in Lenora’s opinion. Marriageable men might be taken aback by—might even turn away from—such a lack of submission when it came to the virtues of wifehood.
While Annabel would never completely rule the roost of any male with whom she set up abode, she would always battle for her own share of responsibility and authority.
“How’s Marisa feeling?” she asked now. Then she laid a comforting hand on the muscular neck of her mount, who apparently, wanting only to run, disliked being held at such a slow pace. “Hush, Daisy. Have patience, do. I would think some fresh air might ease Marisa’s headache instead of being shut up inside that stuffy wagon.”
“I just looked in on her a while ago, and she’s still sleeping. Besides, the wagon is hardly stuffy, Anna. The shutters are open.”
In that the all-inclusive Touring Company might be considered gypsies since the whole group of them (as long as everyone remained on pleasant terms) traveled together from venue to venue, year-round, the caravan used colorful but practical gypsy wagons for their living quarters.
The Gleesons, both parents and two daughters, rode as second in line in their brilliant red wagon that immediately drew attention. Their two adult sons, Nathaniel and Oliver, owned their own team and wagon, less ostentatious and less ornamental but certainly quite serviceable. Considering the size of each of these conveyances in the train, they were surprisingly spacious and neatly arranged, with, as the saying goes, a place for everything and everything in its place.
Beds and divans covered with colorful pillows, walls, and interior ceilings painted in amazingly beautiful frescoes, a kitchen and dining area, and a pot-bellied stove typical of the times for warmth and cooking: each carriage was remarkably self-contained. Things had been hung from the rafters; things were scooted under shelves; things were tucked into cubbies. Because of constrained quarters, it was necessary for every item to have its particular location and to be returned to that location after use. Each interior was one large room, decorated with china plates and plenty of windows to the owner’s taste.
Such diversity, color, and eccentricity were not only points in favor of the uniqueness of each member of the troupe but also effectively caught the delighted attention of all spectators upon arrival. It was as if the circus had come to town.
The manager, Harlan Entwhistle, had taken the lead in his muted gold carriage with pennants flying up front. Second came the Gleesons. Several other wagons, belonging to and maintained by the remaining performers, followed along behind. One had been painted sky-blue, with bright yellow wheels; another boasted lime-green and purple trappings. Even that van drawing up the rear, holding guards, roustabouts, and more mundane essentials to put on a production—costumes, stage supplies, tools, and the like—was tricked out in orange paint and bright blue shutters.
Each evening saw a convergence, with the wagons drawing into a protective circle around a comforting campfire. It was a nomadic life, in between scheduled theatre performances throughout a somewhat unsettled and definitely uncivilized western world. Upon arrival at the next town, wherever that might be, most of the group—especially the women—were delighted to enjoy the temporary benefits of registering at a hotel. Ah, the conveniences of a dining room and restaurants, where someone else could prepare their meals, and the luxury of an indoor tub and facilities.
For the most part, however, this sort of wandering existence was all part of the charm of pouring forth their talents on a stage for an audience.
Annabel, glancing around now, decided to let her restless horse run off some energy. With a wave to her parents, plodding happily along, she gave Daisy free rein, and they trotted away.
No one worried overmuch about her safety. A trained markswoman and a dead shot, she carried both a rifle in its scabbard and a revolver holstered close. Besides, her brothers, both mounted, rode at the tail of the caravan, and the group was large enough to discourage bandits, attempted robbery, and any other trouble.
“All right, Daisy, get this out of your system. Then we’ll settle down.”
She was dressed for a run. She lived an unconventional life; she had chosen an unconventional career; she had grown up with an unconventional attitude, and she certainly dressed in an unconventional way. Today it was in an unladylike Stetson hat and a mid-calf-length divided skirt of lightweight navy wool.
Once the mare had charged ahead, putting full force into a canter, then a brief gallop, her restlessness seemed to be tamed, and Annabel could take her time. Rocking back into the saddle, she relaxed, looking over the scenery of this beautiful, if somewhat intimidating, Black Hills country through which the troupe was traveling.
So far, in this mid-afternoon on the tenth of July, the weather remained fair. But skies were darkening to the north, and a slight breeze had arisen to warn that rain might be on its way. The road she rode was a clear-cut one, paths of wagon wheels forming ruts to lead the way for travelers.
Annabel hoped to be under cover, whether in her own snug cabin or some building somewhere, if or when the storm moved in. Although few folks had ever actually thrown the term “Gypsy!” at her, she did feel like a vagabond. For the first fifteen years of her existence in this motley caravan, she had accepted both the restrictions and the freedoms. For the past five years, however, she had begun more and more to question what she was doing.
She, her parents, and her three siblings made up the sextet that was so widely and popularly received at every music hall to which they had been assigned. Each had his or her chosen part: soprano, alto, tenor, bass, giving their all to the current numbers of the day and receiving wide acclaim.
That, and the social interaction not only with her family and the troupe but with raving fans had been enough to provide pride and satisfaction in her work.
That, oddly, no longer held true.
“Oh, Daisy, now you’re hungry?”
For the mare, feeling a slackness of the reins in those young, strong hands of her rider had stopped on a grassy verge to begin tugging at the fresh, tender sod off to the side that just begged to be chomped.
Spruce, lodgepole, and juniper abounded on the higher terrain; closer to, spanning the track and trailing down into a slight valley and creek below, grew elm and cottonwood, boxelder and bur oak. A heavenly, poignant scent permeated the air. Could that fragrance be captured and bottled, Annabel idly reflected, even the great perfumeries of France would not be able to compete.
More and more, she was beginning to question what lay on the opposite side of the coin from her own choices. Especially after seeing the happy little family groups, with their sedate and settled non-nomadic lives in one small lamp-lit house in one small community in one small town.
Did that lack account for her own restless feeling (so akin to Daisy’s, even possibly including the chance to run)? That something more vital, more challenging, might lie just over the horizon to change her whole existence? That she might exchange her wayfarer lifestyle for one more traditional, more domesticated, more secure?
Of late, she had found herself thinking wistfully of the young women with whom she interacted so briefly, if at all, other than a friendly glance or a smile, in the audience of those theatres whose locations were becoming a blur in her mind. So much lay ahead for those ladies to pursue, so many possibilities abounded in their futures to explore.
By that, Annabel meant not only the social, educational, and religious outlets generally offered in any town, large or small. She also meant available men with whom to mix and mingle and eventually marry.
What chance had she of any sort of romance with their traveling troupe? The men were either unavailable, unsuitable, or uninterested.
Although she had noticed that, within the past six months or so, their accompanying pianist, Herbert Demley, had been stealing thoughtful glances her way. So far, he hadn’t acted upon any incipient interest, were that even a possibility. He cut a romantic figure, with his coal-black hair and neatly trimmed beard, especially dressed to perform in tailored evening dress.
Then, too, there was the dashing violinist, Giovanni Russo, tall and spare, with flowing locks that cascaded down over his collar when he raised bow to instrument. He, too, had been casting longing looks her way.
Two details in particular prevented Annabel from showing any signs of encouragement to these potential suitors. One was that she really had no interest herself in either of these two potential suitors—other than possibly a mild flirtation. The second was that she suspected both of their musical virtuosos might be married already and dodging their wives by the use of fraudulent identities and continual travel.
Who needed such complications?
Her parents, involved in following the careers they had chosen—or which had chosen them—had apparently given no thought to the professions their four offspring might seek. So far, none of their sons and daughters had complained much about the itinerant lifestyle, which seemed to prove things were to their liking.
Perhaps it was time for Annabel to stir up the pot a bit and take a private consensus of her siblings’ opinions. Perhaps their thinking was not so different from her own.
Perhaps a good frank discussion between the four of them might suggest some ideas for her own prospects and help carve out a pathway to her destiny.
“Matthew, what is the name of this town again?” asked his wife from her seat beside him in their wagon.
As the caravan made its slow and deliberately conspicuous way along Main Street the next morning, having packed up and left last night’s campsite a few hours before, there was, not surprisingly, a crowd already gathered in welcome. The welcome akin to that of visiting royalty. Small boys were racing along, yelling, and dogs large and small happily joined in the fracas. Matthew was already smiling and waving, tipping his hat occasionally, and calling out in return.
“This, my dear, is Silverstone. Decent place, from what our experienced manager has told me. It seems he’s been here before and decided to add this place to our usual circuit.”
The scattered groups waiting to greet this much-anticipated entertainment were a mixture of male and female. Thus, all four adult children of the featured Gleeson Group ended up on the receiving end of a swell of voluble admiration. The single ladies scattered up and down Main Street were more discreet, offering only sighs and flirtatious smiles when Nathaniel and Oliver, those handsome and well-built Gleeson brothers, rode into view. The males, single or not, voiced their appreciation for such feminine beauty in catcalls, loud whistles, proposals of marriage, and proposals of another kind.
At which point, the troublemakers were whisked out of harm’s way by several watchful deputies already on duty to forestall just this sort of unwanted demonstration.
“Ah, and there is the Silverback Hotel,” Lenora discovered with relish. “How wonderful to have a private room in which to rest for a whole day before our opening night performance. Thank the Lord Mr. Entwhistle does his job so well!”
“Well, darlin’,” drawled her husband, “I doubt we’d still be working with him if he didn’t.”
It took some time before the company was settled.
All the ladies, those more delicate creatures, were escorted inside the hotel, and necessary luggage was brought to their suites. While they snatched up some free time to loosen corsets, don comfortable wrappers, and send down orders to the Silver Spoon Dining Room for a whole banquet of delectables, the men assumed their usual responsibilities. This meant parking the wagons, secured at doors and windows, in a pasture several blocks away, and turning loose the teams and single horses into an adjoining corral. After that, they, too, could enjoy the respite and fine living offered by a hotel room with every amenity available.
To keep their adoring public at bay—and to add more than a spark of titillation for their initial appearance at the theatre, to engender more ticket sales—the troupe would remain incommunicado until Friday afternoon’s premiere performance.
Although that wasn’t the only reason. Despite their trying to walk a fine line in public, the females of the troupe had learned long ago, to their dismay, that the respectable women living in any stated town gave the Gleeson Group a wide berth in public. While infrequently mingling with the locals, Lenora and both her daughters dressed and behaved as decorously as some prudish maiden aunt, just to prevent any jealousy or gossip.
Still, unable to completely lay aside their stage presence of glitter and glam, sultry costumes, and heavy makeup, they were seen as just slightly better than street-walking strumpets.
An unfortunate comparison, to be sure. But there was little to be done about it. The feminine residents probably felt threatened by this clan of exotic beauties, in their high-stepping silk slippers, hideously expensive velvets and lace, luxurious jewels and scents, that flitted into a particular municipality like tropical butterflies, stayed a week, and flitted out again. Meanwhile, capturing the hearts and minds and racy daydreams of every red-blooded male in the area.
That, perhaps, was the biggest bone of contention. What average woman, wearing her everyday dress of cotton or wool and dogged responsibility, could possibly compare?
However, the show must go on, regardless.
And go on, it did. Suddenly it was show time, with the usual flurry of preparations adding to the anticipation.
Harlan Entwhistle, a man in his fifties with a long hound dog face whose sorrowful expression seemed never to change, had already inspected the theatre from top to bottom and reported his findings with great satisfaction.
“I knew it was a good omen to come here,” he told Matthew Gleeson over the bottle of bourbon the two traditionally shared after every new arrival in a new town. “Just had a feelin’ in my bones.”
“Looks good so far, Harlan,” Matthew agreed. Kicking back at a corner table in the hotel’s bar—The Silver Slipper, to be exact, which indicated the type of entertainment to be offered later on—he contemplated his surroundings. Very woodsy. Very log cabin-y. “But the proof will be in the take from the number of tickets we sell.”
“Oh, well, if you’re gonna be that way about it …”
Matthew chuckled. “Realistic, you mean? Here, let’s have another shot. My vocal chords could use some smoothing, and this is nice tasty stuff for a frontier town.”
“I thought the morning’s practice could have gone better.”
“Probably. That only means the afternoon’s performance will be stellar quality. Cheers.”
While the company’s leader and auxiliary leader were helping themselves to a few snootfuls—for motivational purposes only, in one case, and for medicinal purposes only, in the other—the three women of the Gleeson Group were dressing in stage attire that could be compared to an ordinary lady’s second-best.
Lenora was easing herself into the confines of a lavender silk dress, complete with a full hooped skirt and ruffled overskirt, wrist-length sleeves of double flounces, and a bodice trimmed in purple satin ribbon. The décolletage was low enough to provide interest for male theatergoers but not so low as to provoke irritation in her spouse. After all, stage or no stage, there was such a thing as modesty.
Although not quite so much for her daughters.
Marisa, her golden curls pulled up into a cluster at the back of her head, was wearing soft yellow in a sweet southern belle style, with short, puffed sleeves, a sweeping overskirt tucked up here and there above an underskirt of silk with green rosettes, and a daring bodice cut to frame an enchanting fresh young bosom. Definitely not so much decorum there, not even at the ripe old age of eighteen.
Annabel, meanwhile, was decked out in soft powder blue, whose three-quarter-length sleeves ended in a flurry of ruffles at the elbow, whose solid color side panels served to emphasize the delicate darker blue lace of the center, and whose square-cut bodice dipped low enough to display enticing curves and shadows.
All three, with their belled skirts and pretty pastel hues, resembled nothing so much as long-stemmed spring flowers, swaying slightly in the wind. Standing on stage in front of their formal stark black-and-white clad male counterparts and against the backdrop of the dark red velvet curtain, the trio would show clearly enough to any audience member in even the most remote of seats.
“Here, Mama, let me straighten that bow,” Annabel suggested, completing the task while Lenora critically checked her reflection in the cheval glass.
“Thank you, dear. That’s perfect. Marisa, I noticed your final note of our harmony in ‘Home! Sweet Home!’ was slightly too high. Please attend to that this afternoon.”
Marisa, who was clasping a string of maidenly pearls at her throat, nodded. “Of course.”
“And, Annabel, I do believe you might put more enthusiasm into the final chorus of ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers,’ don’t you?”
Sweet Annabel merely rolled her eyes. “Perhaps we ought to be carrying flags for that number and march in lockstep across the stage.”
“No need for sarcasm, dear. There is always room for improvement in any performance. And we want to provide our audience with a grand show.”
“By all means,” agreed both girls in dulcet tones.
The two o’clock presentation could be considered fairly well-attended, taking into account the time of day and the press of business for everyday laborers that would prevent their desertion from work. Theatre seats on the main floor and the mezzanine were occupied mostly by young mothers and older children; the balcony, whose seats provided a better view and thus incurred a higher cost, stood mostly empty.
Everything went off without a hitch. The company had produced their acts so regularly, so routinely, so frequently, that all details flowed together like well-oiled pieces of machinery.
It was not a rowdy bunch of people. That might possibly come at the evening performance when the wilder element showed up. Especially on opening night. No, for now, this assemblage seemed to appreciate this, their chosen entertainment: the music of the Gleeson Group, the magic acts and the tumbling acts and highwire acts which followed, the colorful costumes, the glimpse into a world far removed from their own.
The Gleeson singers certainly proved to be a hit, as they warbled their way through such numbers, in perfect harmony and accompanied by piano and violin, as favorite hymns (“I Need Thee Every Hour,” “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” “I Love to Tell the Story”), sentimental tunes of the day (“I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” “Rose of Killarney,” “Beware”), and even a few leftovers from the dark Civil War days (“Virginia Belle,” “Battle Cry of Freedom,” and “Dixie”).
Once finished, the family took their bows to a chorus of vocal approval and sustained applause, then a standing ovation, then more bows, then encore numbers. At last, they were released from the stage and could retire—back to their rooms, to rest, discuss proceedings, consume a light meal, arrange costumes and prepare for their next appearance in just a few hours.
“The Rhythm of Their Hearts” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Annabel Gleeson has the voice of an angel. Not only does she sing like a dream, but she looks like one too. Traveling from one place to another with the Touring Theatre Company Extraordinaire, she loves performing on one stage after another for delighted admirers. The town of Silverstone will prove to be more than yet another stop though. When Annabel meets a man who makes her heart flutter like never before, she will find herself at a crossroads, questioning her entire life…
Sheriff Jim Brennan is perfectly satisfied with his life. Never in his wildest dreams did he envision meeting the kind of woman who could make him reconsider his place in the world… until he sets eyes on Annabel. Smitten by her intelligence and humor, not to mention her appearance, Jim is determined to make the most of their fleeting time together before it runs out. When two separate robberies occur in Silverstone though, Jim will be faced with an unimaginable choice…
What begins as carefree flirtation soon turns into something undeniable, and Jim and Annabel will have to move mountains if they want to stay together. A web of misunderstandings, intrigue, and lies unfolds along their way to true love and happiness. Will they manage to trust each other and find a way to make their two worlds into one?
“The Rhythm of Their Souls” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.