the owner of her parents' beautiful Iowa home,
two thousand sheep . . . and a huge debt that puts her
at the mercy of a scoundrel determined to take it
all the away. With barely a moment of hestation,
Susan heads for California to sell the sheep, and pay
the debt. Along the way she bravely faces the
hardships and excitement of the western trail,
and boldly ropes an American cowboy into
her scheme . . . and into her heart.
Author Biography: Theodore Taylor was born in North Carolina and began writing at the age of thirteen as a cub reporter for the Portsmouth, Virginia Evening Star. Leaving home at seventeen to join the Washington Daily News as a copy boy, he worked his way toward New York City and became an NBC network sportswriter at the age of nineteen. Mr. Taylor is the author of a dozen books for young readers, among them the award-winning The Cay. He lives in Laguna Beach, California, with his wife, Flora.
About the Author
THEODORE TAYLOR (1921-2006), an award-winning author of many books for young people, was particularly known for fast-paced, exciting adventure novels. His books include the bestseller The Cay, Timothy of the Cay, The Bomb, Air RaidPearl Harbor!, Ice Drift, The Maldonado Miracle, and The Weirdo, an Edgar Award winner for Best Young Adult Mystery.
Read an Excerpt
Not long after breakfast that mellow autumn dawn there was a banging on the front door and I dried my hands, shushing big Rufus's deep-throated barking, then went on down the dark hallway from the kitchen, wondering who might be visiting at such an hour.
Pinching his bloodstained right thigh, a gangling, long-armed stranger was what I found lurking on my wide front porch. Eyes pleading, whiskery face shingle long and about as narrow, he looked helpless rather than mean or threatening.
Behind him and the open gate was a new homemade prairie schooner with three yoke of oxen and one of cow hooked on. Heads of a woman and some small children poked out of the white hooped cover, gawking straight at me. Likely Mormon pilgrims on their way to Utah. Overlanders, to be sure, Salt Lake City-bound.
"Doctor home?" the man asked. He was positively pasty.
"Nope. Hurt yourself?"
"Sure did, li'l missus."
I was not a "missus," nor was I so little. In my glorious teens at that time, I was single, thank you. My eyes narrowed down to cautious slits.
He went on, "Spent last night 'bout two mile east
O'here. Cuttin' firewood at daybreak, an' I got it right in the leg."
"You do need se I'll do that for you."
Drawing back, ewing up. he said, "Wal', now, I don't rightly know...."
I just stood absolutely stock-still in that doorway, tempted to tell him to take his sainted Mormon leg on up the road.
"You're too young to be the doctor's wife," he blurted, frowning darkly at me.
"I'm his daughter, but I sure know how."
"You sure, are you?"
"Sure, I'm sure. Not much to sewing, is there?Just in and out. I've done it a dozen times." Well, six or eight, anyway.
Unhappily, he clumped after me into the doctor's office. Looking around, his eyes swept over the glittering surgical knives and forceps and saws, the splints and the big jar of hungry black leeches. His Adam's apple jumped when he saw several other jars containing body parts preserved in alcohol.
Well, what did he expect? This was not a candy shop.
The neat blue sign outside read, DR. Giddings Carlisle, M.D. Surgery and Physic in all Branches Sets Bones Draws Teeth. Bleeds. Advice Gratis
"I sure hope you know how," the skinny man mumbled.
Truth was, that Mormon didn't have much choice. My father, lone physician in Kanesville, Iowa, was far, far from these parts.
I ordered, "Now, take off your boots and pants, and crawl up on that surgical table."
I'd seen privates before, having assisted the doctor a number of times. My mother was always too squeamish, prone to fainting.
"Slip them right off," I demanded.
"Wal', I... I..."
Then he turned his back to me, and to ease his manly feelings I said, "I've got to go wash my hands, anyway." The doctor was always so careful before he did surgery.
When I returned, my patient was in his long johns, flat on the table, still pinching the right leg, fear etched all over his pastiness. "Just keep pinching it," I instructed.
My first chore was to cut the crimson underwear leg off up near the crotch, but no sooner had I reached for the scissors when he asked, "Why do you need those?"
I told him why.
The main job of that suspicious Mormon was to hold himself stock-still and not butt in. Finally, when I was over at the surgical tray, picking up the curved needle and spool of gut, he asked plaintively, "You gonna give me something?"
Lordy, this was the frontier! Not that fancy hospital down in Saint Louis. I said, "Nope, mister. just lock your teeth and hang on."
Mollycoddles needn't ever visit my table. There was chloroform and opium in the doctor's drug cabinet, but I did not know enough to fool around with them casually. I'd seen occasions when strong men had to hold a patient down while the doctor worked with quick, bold strokes of the saw even though whiskey and opium had been administered. This occasion was minor, in the splinter-removal category.
While in preparation, dipping cotton balls into alcohol, I asked, "You westering?"
"Yep. Gonna cross the river an' stay in Misery Bottoms till spring, then go on to Salt Lake in a wagon train." His voice was high-pitched and jittery.
"That's a good idea. Trail in the spring," I said, with a quick scan at the gleaming stitcher. I took a moment to hone it while he anxiously watched.
That done, I advanced on him and he looked as if he might jump off and run for the Big Muddy. His eyes were the size of walnuts, whites pulsating.
Standing beside him, I said, "Mister, I'm going to swab some alcohol on you, then do the stitching. This needle ought to go in and out real easy. Now, I'm going to count to three and you take your hand away and hold on to the table. Don't grab my arm or I might puncture you where you don't want to be. Understand?"
Already gritting his teeth, more pasty every second, he just nodded.
"One-two-three,"I said, and he let go of the wound, which was about the length of a standard ax blade. I daubed alcohol to it and I bet you could have heard that Mormon yell all the way to Keokuk.
"Hold still,"I ordered, swabbing his wound just as gently as I could.
Then I pinched down on the upper edge with my left fingers, to get a nice tuft, and began stitching. In went the needle and out came a long moan.To help calm him down, I said, "Hope it'll be a mild winter for you over there." Walking Up A Rainbow. Copyright © by Theodore Taylor. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was a really, really, really good book to read. I read it in one sitting. I liked it because it is about a girl trying to get along as an orphan.