Meet Theo — Excerpt from The Avenging Angel

B3 AA Cover Master1Book 3 of the Catahoula Chronicles Series is moving right along. Still planning on a summer publish date. The Avenging Angel takes place in 1866, a year after the war and during one of the most troubling periods in American history, Reconstruction.

Some old characters you haven’t seen in a while will be returning, but there will also be some new characters introduced in The Avenging Angel. In this excerpt you will meet one, Theogene Henri Leboeuf. Theo will have a profound impact on the lives of Rachel and Ethan.

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 Scene setup: Ethan is having a confrontational discussion with his neighbor, Melvin Norgood, and one of his sons, Owen, when they are interrupted by a third son, Billy.

“I caught him, Paw! I caught the little thief!” Billy yelled as he stopped at the bottom of the front steps. The kid he had by the arm was filthy dirty, his long hair was matted and tangled, and his clothing was mostly rags. Issuing forth from his mouth was a constant stream of curses that would make a sailor blush, mostly directed at Billy, but the old man got his share.

Norgood and Owen descended the steps, and I followed.

“Got ya this time!” yelled Norgood, who by then had lost interest in me. “I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll long remember. Billy, beat him good and make sure he never comes back here.”

I looked at Norgood. “You serious?”

“Hell yes! That kid has been a pain in my rear all summer now.” He turned back to Billy. “Beat him, I said! Beat him good and proper!”

“Wait! What did the boy do?”

Norgood turned and glared at me. “He’s a thief and ruffian. He steals from my kitchen, steals my chickens, and breaks my windows. And I’m sick of him.” He turned back to Billy. “What are you waiting for? Whip him, I told ya!”

Still holding the squirming boy with one hand, Billy unbuckled his belt with the other. And the boy wailed all the louder.

“Oh, no you don’t,” I said as I marched over and grabbed the boy and pulled him away from Billy. “You will not strike this child!”

He looked at me. “You gonna stop me?” And with that, to make his point with me, he backhanded the kid and sent him sprawling on the ground. As Billy turned back to me, I was ready and planted my fist in his face and sent him sprawling on the ground beside the boy.

The boy jumped to his feet and wiped a spot of blood from his split lip. Then he hauled back and kicked Billy in the shin.

Melvin went to draw his pistol.

“Not a good idea, Norgood,” I said as I drew my own Colt and pointed it at his head. “You aren’t fast enough to live through this.”

“And neither are you, Ethan,” said Owen with his Colt pointed at me.

I looked around at the three Norgoods. Billy was still struggling to stand, but the two other Norgoods had cocked pistols pointing in my direction. “Looks like we have a standoff, boys,” I said with a smile

“Looks like it,” said Norgood, “and I’m going to end this—for now. Ethan, I think you had better leave. And take that boy with you, and make sure he never shows up on my property again. If he does, I’ll kill him.”

Still holding my Colt on Norgood, I said to the kid, “Over by my horse, boy, and move it!”

“Yes, sir,” he replied before he stuck his tongue out at Norgood.

I pointed the pistol skyward and let the hammer down to half cock as I backed away toward Pepper and the boy. Norwood lowered his own and gestured to Owen to do the same.

Pistol holstered, I swung up into the saddle and, once situated, leaned over and extended my hand to the boy. He got the message and grabbed my arm, and I pulled him up behind me.

“You settled?”

“Yes, sir,” he replied as he put his arms around my waist to hold on.

“Good day to you, Norgood,” I said with a tip of my hat. He did not smile and made no gesture towards me.

I touched Pepper’s flanks with my heels, and we headed down Norgood’s drive for the road.

“What’s your name, boy?”

He seemed to hesitate before answering. “Theogene Henri Leboeuf, but you can just call me Theo.”

“Any relation to Corporal Antoine Leboeuf with the 1st Louisiana Brigade? From up around Jena?”

“He was my paw, and our farm was near Jena. You knew him?”

“I did. Wounded at Sharpsburg. Lost a leg and an arm as I recall.”

“That, he did. He come home that winter only half a man to find  my mother dead of pneumonia by just a week. That was a bad winter—a very bad time.”

“What happened after that?”

“He died ‘bout a year later. Kinda hard to manage a mule with only one leg and one arm. I tried to help, but it weren’t enough. The farm work finished off what the war started.”

*****

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