It's 1859 in Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital, and unease is in the air as North and South grow apart. Still, most people are just trying to make a life, whether it's trading on the new C&O canal and railroad, farming, or as pioneers in a still young country.
Against this backdrop, Army Lt. Jeff Shirley strikes out on a secret mission along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal where he will encounter everyone from a mysterious and beautiful young woman to John Brown and his band of rebels. Along the way, he finds danger and faces situations that will test this young officer’s skills and courage.
What do these fall days hold in store for Jeff as he rides out of Washington up the canal toward Harpers Ferry? Read along and find out!
Includes historical photos of the real Tyrconnel and neighboring Covington Park farms.
Click HERE for a description of companion Teacher's Study Guide for classroom and home school use.
. . . On a whim, he rode a bit closer to the monument, dismounted, and pulled out his drawing kit from his saddlebag in order to capture the image of the partially built monument. Jeff had always loved to draw, and thanks to his engineering training, he was more comfortable with it now, and his skills improved with each sketch he did. His current assignment as an investigator for the Army did not call for much drawing but he looked for every opportunity to hone his skills. He was never without his compact drawing kit, which included a small smooth sketch board and small T-square, along with pen, ink, charcoal pencil, and parchment paper. Yesterday he had researched the areas he was likely to visit on the assignment, finding several maps of the Canal and the surrounding areas. He had taken the time to sketch several of his own versions and had a few tucked away in his saddlebags. . . .
. . . . When [AK and Jeff] started on their way again, they could see that even though they were still 30 miles from the accident, many Canal boats were anchoring along the sides. Clearly, traffic was backing up from the coal spill at Point of Rocks. The more boats he saw tied up, the more agitated AK became to be on the way. He ceased chatting and merely waved to the boat crews and lock tenders, most of whom he’d known for a long time. . . .
. . . Jeff waited and listened. Hearing no other riders in the vicinity, he walked along the road’s edge and picked up the package. It was wrapped in soft leather and neatly tied with thin leather straps. Worried that the pursuer would return, he quickly put the packet in a saddle bag, then again started down the road. As he passed some white buildings on the left, he heard more gunshots coming from between the buildings of the Horse Distillery. . . .
. . . Jeff waited while the she entered the bushes. [The old woman] returned and waved Jeff in. He took one of his unlit lanterns, checked again for his pistol in his belt and entered behind her, almost immediately running into her horse tied to the trunk of a large bush. He tied Sam next to her mount and they both returned [to the entrance]. . . .
. . . Jeff took his drawing kit out of the pack he had brought and began moving around the cavern sketching the equipment and taking notes on how he thought the operation worked. The further he investigated, the more impressed he was that although the equipment was certainly not built to last very long by normal standards, it had a short term effectiveness that was almost elegant in its simplicity. He also noted that safety was clearly not a concern.