Dream River


By Dorothy Garlock

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The million-copy bestselling author of Wind of Promise and Annie Lash continues her breathtaking Wabash River Trilogy with this second exciting novel set in Arkansas in 1819. Amy Deverell joins Rain Tallman as he blazes new trails across the American frontier–and across her heart.



"I've not kissed any man but you," Amy confessed.

"Kiss me again." Rain's voice drawled those unreal words, and Amy lifted her hands to his hair, wound her fingers into it, and pulled his head down toward her uplifted face and ready-parted lips.

Rain set his mouth against hers. At first the kiss was gentle, sweet, hesitant, as if waiting for an invitation to deepen it. Amy's mind fed on the new sensations created by the feel of his body against hers, the firm but gentle lips, open and exploring and caressing. Her lips met his with a hunger equal to the hunger that heated her blood, and with a craving from some unknown thing that was her soul.

He made her world spin. A wild crescendo rose within her, and she knew that if he truly made love to her, if she became one with his rock-hard body, the world would stand still.


Book II of the Wabash Trilogy

"A sprawling, gutsy saga . . . the Wabash trilogy promises to continue a career of shining triumphs."

—"Ann's World," Hearst Cablevision


"Vivid and real . . . there is joy, laughter, sadness, and tears in these pages . . . a gripping, endearing, and exciting read that is full of surprises and written in Garlock's own magical style."

Affaire de Coeur on Lonesome River



Books by Dorothy Garlock


Almost Eden

Annie Lash

Dream River

Forever Victoria

A Gentle Giving

Glorious Dawn


Lonesome River

Love and Cherish


Midnight Blue


Restless Wind

Ribbon in the Sky

River of Tomorrow

The Searching Hearts

Sins of Summer



The Listening Sky

This Loving Land

Wayward Wind

Wild Sweet Wilderness

Wind of Promise

With Hope



Published by




An Imprint of Warner Books, Inc.

A Time Warner Company

DREAM RIVER. Copyright © 1988 by Dorothy Garlock. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

For information address Warner Books, Hachette Book Group, USA, 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017.

A Time Warner Company

ISBN: 978-0-7595-2282-4

A mass market edition of this book was published in 1988 by Warner Books.

First eBook edition: April 2001

Visit our Web site at www.HachetteBookGroupUSA.com



This book is dedicated to my readers:

The Anns, Betties, Margarets, Lindas, Beckys, Virginias, Marys, Berthas, Janets, Marians, Marcias, and Stephanies. Ladies, I cannot possibly name you all.

This book is also for: Gene Hoffman, Bob, Raymond, Lester, Ray, P.K., Paul, Merv, Carl J., and so on.

And for my bookseller friends: Jean, Marilyn, Linda, Dee, Glenn, Gloria, Paula, Connie, Beverly, Mary G., Jennifer, Francis, Mary Lynn and Len, Ellen, Genny, Odell, Barbara, Bea, Gayle, Nancy, Ann, Judy, and so many more.

With this dedication go my love and thanks.





Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Author's Note






2:30 A.M. December 16, 1811

Beneath a cloudless sky, all was quiet in the Indian village that lay along the banks of the Mississippi River in the Missouri Territory. No moon lit the night, but the stars shone brightly against the blackness. Under his warm robe, Rain Tallman, a youth of eighteen summers, slept peacefully in the weigius of his stepfather, John Spotted Elk.

Suddenly the earth shuddered. Swiftly, with a deep, terrifying rumble, the violent temblor shook the slumbering village. A hundred heads lifted at the fierce grinding sound, and panic struck the hearts of the bravest men. Clay vessels smashed as they hit the hard-packed earth; lodge poles came crashing down; screaming women clutched their children. Land birds roused from their roosting places and cawed in fright, flapping their wings frantically. Horses squealed with terror as they were thrown to the ground where they rolled about, unable to regain their balance. Herds of bison staggered to their feet and stampeded in panic.

The waters of the Mississippi River danced, great waves breaking erratically on the shores. The riverbank caved in and huge trees toppled in a continuous crash of snapping branches. Boulders broke loose on hillsides, cutting swaths through trees and brush as they hurtled into the valleys. Towering trees, uprooted by the heaving earth, overturned, meshing their branches in a giant tangle.

From the area where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi, where Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois come together, the ripples fanned out, splitting the earth, and huge tracts of land sank out of sight. Above the Indian village a tremendous bluff broke loose, crashed down, and swept the inhabitants into the muddy waters of the Mississippi River. The river swirled and eddied, hissed and gurgled, and flowed backward for a time.

At length, when the earth ceased its trembling, the face of the land was revealed—changed forever. Water covered thousands of acres of forests. Entire sections of land were inundated as others that once had been riverbed were left high in the air. Fish flopped away their lives on the muddy beds that remained after the water had been sucked from the river.

Rain Tallman woke with the first tremor. "Father! What is happening?" he mumbled, disoriented.

At that moment the lodge pole came crashing down. "Father!" he screamed and thrust out a hand to save himself.

He wrapped his arms around the pole as the earth beneath him began to slide. Terrified, he hung on to the pole as it carried him toward a solid black curtain. Downward he plunged into the expanding coils of pitch-black darkness.

From behind the black curtain he slowly emerged into another eerie darkness. He heard squawking and recognized the sound. Birds were circling in the darkness overhead looking for a place to roost. Gradually his mind cleared. He lay very still and waited for the earth to ripple beneath him again.

The faraway sound of a horse's whinny reached him. It was such a familiar, everyday sound that Rain almost cried out with relief. For in those first few seconds of consciousness, he was sure that only he and the birds had lived through the unfathomable horror. He lay on his stomach, his arms locked around the lodge pole, the lower part of his body buried in thick river mud.

Through the mist of his rising consciousness, awareness of danger penetrated. He was about to be sucked under that quivering mass!

In a near panic, Rain gradually pulled himself up out of the mud and onto the riverbank. He lay panting and holding on to his side for a moment. Then he pushed himself to his feet and stood swaying. The mud had sucked the knee-high moccasins from his feet and legs. He was barefoot and trembling . . . but alive!

Had John Spotted Elk, his stepfather, survived too? Scarcely daring to hope, Rain turned dazed eyes to the left and to the right and then to the sky, trying to determine his location by sighting the great North Star. It shone brightly, but he still didn't know where he was. He was sure the mudslide had carried him downriver, but how far? He sank down on the trunk of a fallen timber, tears of helplessness flooding his eyes.

Rain and his stepfather, John Spotted Elk, had been in the camp less than a week. The two of them had left the North Country a month before and had traveled south at a leisurely pace, enjoying each other's company and reminiscing about the past. John had shared his memories of the time he had bought Rain, a lad of three summers, and his mother, Caroline, from the Sioux who had raided a frontier village in the north, killed the men, and stolen the women and children to sell as slaves.

John had fallen in love with Rain's young fair-haired mother and she had returned that love passionately. Never again had she spoken of her former life. The boy's Christian name was changed to Rain Tallman because the day he and his mother were bought from the Sioux there had been a cloudburst, and because he was exceptionally tall for his age. John had raised the boy as his son. When Rain's mother lay dying, she had asked John to send Rain to their friend, Farrway Quill, who had a homestead on the Wabash River. She wanted him to live as a white man for a while so he could decide which world he preferred, the white or the Indian.

Rain recalled how reluctantly he had gone at age twelve to live at Quill's Station; but Farrway Quill and Juicy Deverell, an old mountain man, became his second family. He met Colby Carroll, the son of the man who had raised Quill, and Colby helped him to adapt to the white man's ways. In time he became so fond of his foster family that he found himself living between the two worlds.

When a war between the settlers and the Indian tribes seemed inevitable, Rain, unwilling to fight against either his white friends or his Indian brothers, had left Quill's Station. After this visit with John Spotted Elk, he had intended to go west into new territory.

Now Rain sat on the log, wet and shivering with cold. Minutes seemed like hours as he waited for dawn to break. A cathedral-like silence hung around him on all sides, broken only by the rustle of leaves as birds tried to make themselves comfortable in the few trees left standing and the hissing of confused snakes that had been routed from winter hibernation and were searching for warm dens. Rain broke a branch off the log he was sitting on and thrashed the ground around him to frighten away the snakes.

When light finally came, Rain looked upon a new world. Devastation was everywhere. Trees lay in a tangled mass for as far as he could see. Huge cracks in the earth had created streams where before there had been none. The river had changed its course. The water was thick with mud and debris of every description floated on its surface. Smoke rose in the sky from fires in the white village of New Madrid across the river. Two surviving horses stood enmeshed in the tangles of branches nearby. Making his way carefully on bare feet, Rain pulled away the branches and freed them. He mounted one, led the other, and began his search for his Indian father.

During the next two days he searched for John Spotted Elk. Of the one hundred people in the Indian village, no more than two dozen had escaped with their lives. When he was sure there was no hope of finding his stepfather alive, Rain turned north, his heart like a stone in his breast.

The earth had made the decision for him. From now on he would live his life as a white man. Those he loved were gone. His Indian way of life had vanished. He was on his own, he told himself. He would have to think his own thoughts and follow his own counsel. No sign of the constriction in his throat showed on his face as he looked back one last time on the desolate face of what had once been his home.

Rain followed the Wabash River north toward Quill's Station. Along the River of White Foam, as the Indians called it, the signs of devastation left by the earthquake were less severe. Occasionally he would pass a house or a barn that had collapsed. More often the well-built structures had withstood the tremors. Rain began to hope that all would be well with Farrway Quill and his family. He had to know if they had survived the quake before he turned his horse toward the western frontier. He was convinced the earthquake was the omen Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief, had predicted would unite the tribes against the whites. In a village where he traded one of the horses for moccasins and a blanket, the young men were preparing for war.

Two days' distance from Quill's Station, Rain's horse went lame and he turned it loose. He forged steadily northward on foot, sustained only by a fat partridge he had killed with his knife as it rose wobbling into the air on an injured wing. He thought about Liberty Quill, Farr's beautiful blond wife whom Tecumseh called the White Dove of the Wabash. And he thought about Amy, Liberty's young sister, and the kiss she had given him just before she was wed to Juicy Deverell. Her marriage to the eighty-two-year-old mountain man had been arranged to keep the father of the twelve-year-old girl from marrying her to a cruel and vengeful man. Juicy had married her to watch over the child and give her time to grow up. When he was gone, he had told them, Amy could choose her own man. Remembering now, Rain thought of the meaningful look Juicy had directed his way.

All these memories filtered through Rain's mind as he approached the station. The stockade was still standing, but parts of it tilted precariously. He went through the gate and up the path to the house, happy that it appeared to have withstood the earthquake without damage.

The door was flung open and Amy ran from the house. Like a long-legged colt, holding her dress up to her knees so she could run, her hair flowing out behind her, she ran to him and threw her arms around him.

"Rain! Oh, Rain! You've come back! Oh, I prayed you would! We were so worried about you."

It was Christmas Eve.





Christmas Eve, 1818

It was bitter cold and growing colder by the minute. The storm swept down across the Illinois plains with brutal intensity. Cruel winds raked exposed flesh with icy fingers and threatened to suck the air from the lungs of the big, wide-shouldered man riding the rangy, dun horse. He hunched his shoulders against the savage bite of the wind and pulled his beaver cap down over his ears. The sharp north wind beat at his face, and wind-driven snowflakes settled on the fur collar of his coat.

Glancing back over his shoulder, he looked at a white wall of snow. He turned the dun horse northeast and headed into the wind. It gave him little comfort to know that whoever was following him was also being battered by the storm.

"Come on, horse," he muttered. "We'd better find a place to dig in or we'll freeze to death."

Rain Tallman lowered his head to shield his face from the wind and patted the neck of the straining dun with his fur-gloved hand. When they came to a gully, the horse plunged belly-deep in snow. Rain lifted his head. The wind whipped at him, stinging his eyes. He forced the dun through the ice-covered brush. It slid and stumbled. When it regained its footing, he turned it east along a frozen creek bed whose high banks shielded him from wind.

He came to a drywash, followed it and soon found what he was looking for. A boulder, one that might have been heaved up by the last earthquake seven years before, had caught logs and brush as they washed downstream. When he pulled the brush away, he uncovered a cave of sorts, big enough for him and the horse. Rain led the dun inside and then, working swiftly, closed the entryway and set about starting a fire.

He built his fire next to the boulder. As the blaze mounted higher, he added more fuel, then dragged in a large log and placed the end of it in the fire. Quickly he built a second fire a good yard from the first one. Later he would scoop the burning embers onto the first fire and unroll his bed on the warm ground. It was an old wilderness trick. He could survive here even if the blizzard worsened.

Rain unsaddled the horse and carefully rubbed him down with a piece of old blanket. The supply of shelled corn he had bought in Cahokia was almost gone. He emptied what was left into the feed bag and hung it over the horse's nose, patting the big dun affectionately.

"This is about the last of it, Horse. I'd hoped to be at Quill's by now, but the storm slowed us down a bit, and now the dog on our trail will delay us even more."

The fire soon warmed the boulder and the heat was reflected back into the cave. Rain took a large tin cup from his pack, filled it with snow, and set it on a flat stone beside the fire. The wind howled and worried the leafless cottonwoods until their branches creaked and groaned. Rain's thoughts turned to the lone man who had been on his trail for the last two days.

On the day after he had crossed the Kaskaskia River, he had looked down from a bluff above the river and seen a man on a buckskin horse studying his tracks. This morning he had caught sight of him again. The man must be carrying a grudge against him, Rain mused. Or else he was getting paid a hell of a lot of money to get him. What else would cause a man to follow him in such weather?

"We'll just wait right here and let him come on, if he's got a mind to, won't we, Horse?" Rain lifted the empty bag from the horse's head and gently rubbed the space between the perked ears.

Slow anger built in him as he shaved jerked beef into the cup of hot water. He didn't like being hunted this way. It was hard for him to be patient. He knew what lay ahead, knew it was kill or be killed. A man didn't trail someone in this weather for the fun of it. A couple of advantages were on Rain's side. The man on his trail might not know that he'd been observed or that Rain had found shelter for himself and his horse.

Rain had learned seven years earlier, during the first few months he was on his own, that a man had to use his wits and make quick decisions if he expected to live very long.

Restless, he stirred the beef in his cup with the tip of his knife, then peered out through the opening in his hastily constructed shelter. There was nothing he could do now but wait and think . . . and remember.

One cold but bright day, seven long years before, shortly after he had left Quill's Station on his journey west, he had been plunged into a situation that required a quick decision. He had stopped to water his horse at a small spring that seeped from a rocky cliff when two trappers and an Indian came silently out of the woods and were within yards of him before he knew they were there. One trapper carried a long rifle in one hand; wrapped around his other was the end of a leash. He was leading the Indian who was bent almost double by the huge pack on his back. The other man carried a small pack, and the only weapon on him that Rain could see was a knife in his belt. They were disreputable-looking men with hard faces and dirty, unkempt clothing.


"Howdy." Rain swung into the saddle and moved the horse away from the spring.

Suddenly, one of the men lunged forward and grabbed the bridle, jerking the bit cruelly. The horse squealed with pain and tried to rear, but the man clung until the tortured horse realized that resisting caused the pain.

"Well, looky here, Hopper. This'n ain't nothin' but a wet-eared kid!" The ruffian grinned at Rain. His tobacco-stained lips spread, showing stubs of rotting teeth. The putrid odor of something long dead wafted from his unwashed body.

"A kid ain't got no business with a horse when we ain't got nothin' but this here heathen to tote fer us. Ain't that right?" The other man jerked on the leash around the Indian's neck.

A coldness grew at the back of Rain's neck, and then a thin wave of heat washed over him. He knew with certainty that they meant to kill him and take his horse and gun. John Spotted Elk had always said to trust his own instincts. Rain's dark eyes studied the men. He did not want to kill them, yet he did not want to die.

"I'm takin' this here horse. We done 'bout wore that Injun down to a nubbin. I'm goin' ta have me that gun, too."

The man lifted his brawny arm to sweep Rain from the saddle. In the same instant Rain's hand lifted as swiftly as a striking snake. The long, thin blade he held glinted briefly in the sunlight before he plunged it into the man's throat.

"I don't think so," he hissed as he withdrew the knife and focused his full attention on the other man, who was trying to get his gun in position to fire while still holding on to the leash.

The Indian jerked just before the gun was fired at its target and the shot went wild. Rain felt a sharp sting on his earlobe as the bullet struck him. He lifted his rifle, coldly took aim and fired back. The force of the load knocked the trapper backward. In his death throes he pulled on the leash and dragged the Indian with him. As the exhausted Indian fell, the thong looped over the huge pack drew the noose tighter about his neck.

While the shots still echoed through the hills, Rain leaped from the horse, raced to the choking Indian, cut the thong and set the man free to breathe. Then he quickly reloaded his rifle, as both Juicy and Farr had told him to do immediately after firing. The two trappers lay sprawled, their arms flung wide in that last minute when death came sharply. Rain held a cloth to his ear to keep the blood from running down his neck and looked at them. A strange calmness took possession of him.

"It was them or me," he muttered aloud.

The Indian, a Shawnee from a village in the north, helped him bury the men. Then, taking the dead man's gun, the Indian silently slipped away, leaving Rain with the pack of valuable furs.

Rain traveled west and sold the mink, otter, marten, sable and fox furs in Saint Louis to Manuel Lisa's Fur Company for a considerable amount of money. He banked the money with the company and went to work as a crewman on one of the keelboats that traveled up the Missouri River.

He grew to be a man in a hard land where only the strong survived.

Rain's thoughts came back to the present. His long fingers touched the lobe of his ear, feeling the nick left there by a bullet fired during that first year. Since that day by the spring he had lived by the gun and the knife, killed swiftly and mercilessly, but only in order to save his own life. He had little hope of dying peacefully in bed. Perhaps someday he would die quickly, if he were lucky, he thought now as he munched on the tough meat and drank the hot broth. He had chosen his way of life, and he had lived among men who understood no other.

Rain kept his two fires going, counting on the heavy snowfall to absorb the smell of the woodsmoke so that it would not lead the hunter to him. He sat between the fires during the long afternoon hours. When finally darkness set in and he became drowsy, he spread his blanket on the warm ground and went to sleep.

He awakened suddenly. The wind had died with the coming of dawn. The silence was eerie. He lay without moving except for the hand that slid to the scabbard against his thigh. Slowly he drew his knife and palmed it. He heard again the sound that had awakened him, the scrape of something against the frozen brush outside his shelter. He thought for a moment that some wild creature was seeking the warmth of his fire, then he noticed the twitching ears of the horse. Born and bred in the mountains, the dun had a strong survival instinct.

Rain rolled out of his blankets. He had lived by his own instincts for a long time. In the hard years behind him, he had learned that things were not always as they seemed to be. He had known careless men and had helped bury some of them.

Head up, listening, Rain waited. The firelight cast a rosy glow inside the cave. He edged out of its light. The brush that covered the entry began to move. Rain inched over until he was behind the horse's rump.

Suddenly the brush was swept away and a man lunged into the cave, rifle in hand. At that instant Rain sent his knife spinning through the air with the precision of a well-aimed bullet. The blade pierced the man's shoulder, the force of the blow turning him halfway around. He cried out and fell back. The rifle dropped from his hands. Desperately he grabbed for his gun, but it was out of his reach.

Rain walked out from behind the horse, his rifle ready. He didn't know why he had, at the last instant, aimed high. Such consideration for his attacker would get him killed. Yet in the instant when he glimpsed the boy's face, he had known he couldn't kill him. Even though it was a mere boy who was trying to kill him, he told himself cynically, he would have ended up just as dead. Someone like this boy would kill him someday.

Rain's face assumed the mask of stillness worn by the Shawnee he had lived among when he was young. His black brows remained straight and unmoving, his dark lashes shaded his eyes against the snow's white glare. His face was as immobile as if it were etched in stone.


On Sale
Apr 12, 2001
Page Count
384 pages

Dorothy Garlock

About the Author

Dorothy Garlock is the author of more than 50 novels that have sold 15 million+ combined copies and are published in 15 languages. She lives in Iowa.

Learn more about this author