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SHE HAD NOT SEEN THE HOUSE IN THE DAYLIGHT, as they had moved in in the middle of the night. But she knew that it was high on a hill and as remote as all the other places where they had lived during the past five years.
"I know ye're disappointed to be movin' again, darlin', but this time we be stayin' for a while."
"It's all right, Papa. I'm just tired." "Boone and Spinner will be bringin' in the furniture and helpin' ya get settled."
"Are you leaving?"
"I'll be back by noon tomorrow." He put his arm across her shoulders. The lamplight shone on his worried face as he peered into hers. "Ye're not afraid, are ye?"
"No," she said with a tired heave of her shoulders. "I'm not afraid."
"Boone and Spinner will be here and ye're not to be worryin'. Boone will be keepin' a sharp lookout."
"Why should he do that?" she asked sharply. "Are you expecting someone?"
"No. I'd not leave ya if I thought that there would be the slightest chance that ya'd be in any danger. Look over the house and see where you want things put. Boone will be settin' up yer bed."
An hour later Annabel lay in her bed with the covers pulled up to her chin and listened to the sounds of the men unloading the furniture from the twotrucks. They worked without speaking, but one time she heard one of them swear.
"Dammit to hell! This cabinet's heavy!"
"Ain't as heavy as them boxes with the jars of canned stuff and that damned iron cookstove."
"Horse hockey! The dang icebox ain't no feather bed." Annabel gazed out the window at the star-studded sky and tried to count the number of times she and her father had moved since her mother's death back in 1920. She knew the moves were necessitated by the circumstances of her father's business.
Soon we'll be havin' enough money to buy a fine house and ya can live in style. I always wanted it for yer mother but couldn't swing it while she was alive. But I'll get it for ya. I swear that I'll get it for ya.
Her father's words echoed in her head.
I don't have to live in style to be happy. I want to live in a place long enough to feel that I belong somewhere.
How could she make him understand? He was one of ten children born to a poor couple who had carried the stigma of "poor Irish trash." Hard work had sent them to an early grave. Murphy was determined that that would not happen to him or to his daughter. He knew the risks he was taking. The federal marshals would love to get their hands on him. Annabel had told him a hundred times that she would rather be dirt poor with him than rich without him. What would she do if something happened to him? There was money put away so that she would be able to get by; her father had seen to that. But she would be without another person in the world to care if she lived or died, except maybe Boone.
Annabel drifted off to sleep worrying, as she had done almost every night since she was sixteen years old, about what tomorrow would bring.
The house looked better in the morning light, even though it was badly in need of a paint job. It was a frame building with four large rooms, a loft, a small porch stretching across the front and one in the back. From the porch Annabel could see not only the winding road going south to Henderson, but in the distance, over the treetops, a portion of the mighty Mississippi River. Behind the house, beyond the barn, a shed and another ramshackle building, was a thick forest of trees.
The two trucks that had transported their belongings from Ashton to north of Henderson were nowhere in sight, nor were Boone and Spinner. While she slept, their furniture had been put in place. Her kitchen cabinet was set up against the wall, and the boxes containing dishes, utensils and food were sitting on the big square table waiting for her to sort and put in their proper places. A bucket of fresh water sat on the wash bench beside the door. She had no doubt that her father's bed and bureau were already in the other bedroom.
As she was getting out of bed, she had heard the chimes on her clock striking the hour. It was a comforting, familiar sound. Knowing how much she treasured the clock, Boone would have put it in its regular place on the library table, leveled it, set the correct time and started the pendulum swinging.
Sighing and not relishing the job ahead, Annabel dressed and slipped her feet into her shoes. When she went to the kitchen, she carried with her the oval framed mirror from her bedroom and hung it over the wash bench.
Looking at herself critically, she saw a woman who had celebrated her twenty-first birthday last Christmas day. Her dark brown wavy hair was cut to just below her jaw line, one side held back with a silver barrette. She thought that her green eyes, large and thick-lashed, were probably her most attractive feature. She was unaware that her mouth, with its short upper lip and full lower one that tilted up at the corners when she smiled, had caused many a man's eyes to follow her.
Annabel had resigned herself long ago to the fact that she was not a beauty, but she also remembered her mother saying that beauty lay mostly in expression and attitude, not God-given structure.
The cook stove had been set up in the large square kitchen and the chimney fitted into place. Boone had started a fire and the coffeepot was sending up a delicious fragrance of freshly ground coffee beans. The doors of the empty icebox stood open. Annabel washed in the warm water from the reservoir before she combed her hair and helped herself to the coffee from the granite pot.
Annabel glanced toward the back door. The man with the dark stubble of beard on his face was the only person in the world, other than her father, who she was sure truly cared about her. Spinner, she knew, was fond of her but, unlike Boone, kept his feelings to himself.
"Morning, Boone. Have you had breakfast?" "Me'n Spinner had a bite or two. If ya want anythin', we'll be in the shed."
"Did I see horses behind the barn?" "Yeah. The mare's real gentle." "Maybe I can ride her ... later." "No reason why not."
"How far are we from Henderson, Boone?" "Probably five miles as the crow flies. Ya wantin' to get somethin' from town?"
"Not just now. Later I'll need some groceries and ice." Long before noon, the kitchen was organized and Annabel was ready to cook a meal. It would take a while for her to get used to the arrangement in the kitchen. It was much larger than the one in the house they had lived in for the past eight months.
At noon her father returned and following him was a truck loaded with hay. He stopped his car beside the house, got out and waved the driver of the truck on toward the barn.
He came into the kitchen, looked around and smiled. "You're a wonder, darlin'. You're already settled in." Murphy Lee Donovan was a handsome man in his late forties. He was slightly taller than average, built solidly, with a head of thick dark hair. He didn't mind hardship or discomfort. The only things in the world he loved were his daughter Annabel and, to a lesser degree, outwitting the revenue agents. It was a game to him. He sometimes wondered if he would play at it even if there weren't a great deal of money involved.
"Whose horses are those out there, Papa?" "Ours. I've brought hay for them. I'll be in as soon as I help unload. The driver wants to get back."
The words were unspoken between Annabel and her father, but she knew that beneath the false bottom of the truck was a load of whiskey that had come down the river from Canada. Murphy Donovan was just one of a half dozen men along the river who warehoused the illegal liquor until it was dispensed to the bars and speakeasies throughout the states of Missouri and Illinois.
Annabel knew the reason for the horses was that they would need hay, and the hay would cover a load of liquor. Murphy was too clever to store the contraband here at the farm. A couple of cases would be left in the barn to act as a diversion should the marshals arrive. Finding it would lead them to believe Murphy was a small-time trafficker, and after disposing of it, they would be on their way. The bulk of the load would be stored in a cave or an underground storm cellar with a hidden door.
"Are the horses broken to ride?" Annabel asked as her father turned to go out the door.
"Gentle enough for you, darlin'. Just make sure Boone goes with you so you won't get lost." Murphy still, on occasion, reverted to the lilting brogue of his Irish parents. Her father's dangerous business was never far from Annabel's mind. Murphy knew that what he was doing was illegal, but he sincerely did not believe that it was wrong. "Darlin', the government ain't got no right to be tellin' folks what they can drink and what they can't. Prohibition is a stupid law. It can't last," he had said time and time again. "Folks is goin' to be havin' their drinks one way or the other. 'Tis best they be drinkin' fine liquor than swillin' moonshine made from rotten potatoes."
"But it's against the law and I'm afraid you'll be caught." "Don't worry your pretty head, darlin'. I'm not hurtin' anybody or stealin' from them. How can it be wrong to help some poor workin' devil ease the ache in his back with a glass of spirits at the end of the day?"
Annabel had heard the same argument over and over, and now it was seldom mentioned. Now and then her father drank some of the alcohol he distributed, but she had never seen him really drunk. He was generous to the men who worked for him and protective of her. She could have anything she asked for that he was able to give to her. She was careful, however, not to ask for anything except the necessities.
The things she longed for he could not give her at this time. She was lonely and yearned for friends. The few young people she knew back in Ashton, where they had lived before moving here, had been friendly, but she'd had to keep them at a distance for fear they would grow curious about her father's activities.
In her mind she considered this a holding period in her life. She was waiting for her father to do what he promised, give up this dangerous business when he had enough money to set them up in a house. It was hard to remember now that when she was younger and her mother was still alive, they had lived in Duluth, Minnesota, and her father had worked on the big ships that hauled freight on Lake Superior. One morning, a week after they had moved to the house on the hill, Murphy told Annabel to be ready in half an hour if she wanted to go to town. She was ready in fifteen minutes and climbed happily into the car when Murphy brought it around to the front of the house.
"Ya know what ya want from town?" "Of course. I've been making a list." A light breeze was blowing from the south. Annabel held on to the brim of her small hat and enjoyed the feel of the wind in her face.
"We have neighbors," she exclaimed when they passed a crooked lane leading to a house set far back in the woods.
"There's no one there ya be wantin' to know," Murphy replied sharply. "I wasn't told they were there when I bought the place."
"Why wouldn't I want to know them? It would be nice to have neighbors."
"'Cause they're hill trash, that's why." His mouth snapped shut, and Annabel knew he didn't want any more questions about them.
Henderson was a quaint village on the banks of the Mississippi River, with white picket fences and cobblestone streets. A white church spire rose high above the town. Murphy parked the car in front of the mercantile. Annabel went into the store while he walked on down the street to the barbershop. The man behind the counter greeted her with a friendly smile.
"Morning. I have a list for you to fill." She placed a sheet of ruled paper on the counter. "Do you know where in town I can buy gramophone needles and violin strings?" "I have the needles and maybe you can get the violin strings from Arnold Potter down the street at the drugstore. He's the conductor of our municipal band and he might keep a few on hand."
"Thank you." "Play, do ya?" "For my own amusement."
"Arnold will latch on to ya right quick." The storekeeper's eyes twinkled when he laughed, and his belly jiggled beneath the apron tied about his ample waist. "He's the beatin'est man for music. Lives for it."
"I enjoy it myself." "I.... ah, ain't heard of any new folks movin' to town."
"My father bought the Miller place five miles north of here."
"Ah ... the Miller place. Ah ... hummm. Not much land there if he's goin' to farm." The man stuck out his hand. "Luther Hogg."
"Annabel Donovan." She put her hand in his. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Hogg. Add a package of gramophone needles to my list. I'll be back as soon as I see Mr. Potter about the violin strings."
Arnold Potter was a man with a head of thick white hair and equally white eyebrows and mustache. He was as curious as Mr. Hogg about a stranger in town; and after Annabel told him about moving to the farm, she asked about the violin strings. Mr. Potter's blue eyes sparkled as they talked about music. He spoke at length about his band and he eyed, with pleasure, the slim girl in the blue cotton dress and the small-brimmed hat.
"I'd be most pleased to have you audition, my dear." "Thank you, but I've never played with a band. I was taught by my mother and play only for my own amusement." "We have a concert Sunday afternoon in the city park," he said while accepting the money for the violin strings, then added, "Need rosin for your bow?"
"No, thank you. I have some." "I'll look for you at the concert," he said as she went out the door.
Annabel crossed back to the mercantile. Mr. Hogg had just finished setting the items on her list on the counter and was totaling the bill.
"Did Arnold have the strings?" he asked. "He did. Thank you for sending me to him." Mr. Hogg chuckled. "Bet he talked your arm off."
"Yes, sir." Annabel smiled. "He got pretty wound up talking about his band."
The bell on the screen door tinkled when Murphy came into the store. He spied Annabel and came to the counter. "Find everything you need?" he asked, pronouncing the words carefully lest his Irish accent show. Annabel nodded. "Papa, meet Mr. Hogg. Sir, this is my father, Murphy Donovan."
"Howdy." After the two men shook hands, Murphy spoke to Annabel.
"Look around, darlin', and see if there's anythin' you want on that table of dress goods over there. I'll be here gettin' acquainted with Mr. Hogg."
Annabel moved to the other side of the store and sifted through the bolts of material. She found a blue-and-whitechecked gingham she could use to make a curtain for the kitchen door and the bottom half of the two kitchen windows.
Excerpted from High on a Hill by Dorothy Garlock Copyright © 2002 by Dorothy Garlock. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted May 16, 2003
This book was very exciting to read. The characters did dangerous things which make you want to keep reading to find out how it turns out. It is the kind of book that is hard to put down. One thing about the book I didn't like was there were a lot of characters to remember. The book takes place in a small town so everyone in the town is in the story.
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Posted January 5, 2011
Posted August 28, 2004
The characters were delicious. The bits of humor woven in are great. The ending is predictable, but the book will be worth your time. I took this book on vacation with me and enjoyed every page of it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2003
Well I must say that this book to me just wasn't as exciting as a place called rainwater or the edge of town. Do not get me wrong I am not downing the book because it was good just not as intent until toward the end, but once you get to that part it is hard to put down.
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Posted March 22, 2002
In 1925 bootlegger Murphy Donovan moves his operation to Henderson, Missouri. Accompanying him on his latest midnight move is his daughter Annabel Lee and his two employees Spooner and Boone. Though she knows better, Annabel hopes this is their last move as she would like to settle down anywhere. <P>Annabel helps ailing youngster Jack Jones, who was hoping to become a baseball star, with a hot meal and a bed. Through Jack and Boone she meets former law enforcement official Corbin Appleby, who has a message for Jack from his older sister. As Corbin and Annabel fall in love, he realizes that her father runs an illegal operation in Missouri and Illinois. What will happen to his chance for a loving relationship with Annabel if he turns in his future father-in-law. Adding to his ethical dilemma, he owes Boone for saving his life? <P> Award winning Dorothy Garlock shows why she is so highly regarded by readers and reviewers with her latest tale, HIGH ON A HILL. The story line is imbued with 1920s atmosphere that historical readers will enjoy very much. The lead couple is a delightful pair who provides the romantic elements. The support cast provides the historical feel that makes the plot a cut above the norm. Fans of 1920s novels will enjoy Ms. Garlock who will gain many new accolades. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 25, 2011
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Posted August 19, 2011
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Posted October 31, 2008
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Posted June 30, 2011
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