Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obie's Quest

Cover by S. T. Casebeer
I painstakingly pecked out "Obie's Quest" during the early years of the current Millennium.  My historical novel  is comprised of over 110,000 words.  When one lacks proficiency as a typist, that's a lot of words! I am not an English major. I'm just a poverty-stricken, old hillbilly with a story.  I concentrated my efforts on telling that story, fully expecting that, at some point in time, the many facets of my innocuous little missive would be cut and polished by a professional editor who was equal to the task.  Suffice it to say, that didn't happen. Excuse the rough edges and I think you'll enjoy Obie's Quest.  STC


October 1844 would mark the end of a youthful journey and the beginning of a lifelong quest. We’d been at sea for three long months.  It was an hour or two before dawn and not a soul was stirring.  Have you ever had that feeling that you’re being watched? Right at that moment, I had that feeling in a powerful way.  I turned my head cautiously and glanced down the starboard side of the ship.  All at once something aft caught my attention.  I turned suddenly and had to squint and shield my eyes.  There, low on the eastern horizon, just below the sail, was the biggest, most extravagant moon I’d ever seen.  It was the same moon that had lit the skies over the Rhine valley during my youth, but it had always seemed distant and detached.  Now, thousands of miles from the only home I’d ever known, it was suddenly a comfort to see something so familiar.  It was the first time that a cold, lonely night had forced me to seek comfort and companionship in that ol’ moon.  It wouldn’t be the last.  My name is Obadiah Jeremiah Hezekiah Camp.  I know that’s a mighty big mouthful, but my folks were bound and determined to name me after all four of my great granddads.  You can call me Obie.  I was nine years old when my family and I left our ancestral home in Germany to sail for America. I didn’t realize it then, but the innocent, carefree days of my youth were rapidly drawing to a close.  Ahead lay inconceivable obstacles, incredible exploits, high adventure on the western frontier, and eventually contentment and an inner peace that many never find.
As I lay there on that hard wooden deck, staring into that starry stillness, the only sound was the groaning and squeaking of that old ships rigging, and the flapping of her canvas sails in response to an intermittent breeze.  I pulled the tarp up around my shoulders as a sudden gust of wind garnished the deck with a blanket of fog that stung my chapped face and glistened on the coil of rope that served as my pillow.  My brother Christoph lay on the deck at my side.  Christoph was thirteen.  He had serious doubts about this pilgrimage to America.  His apprenticeship to the Count’s brewmeister had been lucrative, and he’d been very hesitant to accompany his family on this risky and unnerving excursion.  He missed his home and friends, and had joined us reluctantly at the insistence of our father and the heartfelt pleadings of our mother.  
There would be no more sleep for me this night.  As the velvet black skies lightened to lavender in the east, a thin layer of scarlet became barely visible in the west.  It was land.  It was America.  Soon the melancholy stillness was replaced with hustle, bustle, and the excitement of preparation. The crewmen were busily pursuing their assigned tasks, and the passengers were crowding the decks in a frenzy of anticipation.  Yesterday, freedom, opportunity, and America had been only a well-worn, but very illusive dream.  This morning that impossible dream was palpable.  It lay on the horizon ahead of us, visible to the naked eye.  It was no longer just an incredible dream.  America was real.

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