Unbeknown to Dawn, her grandfather has shot an old swan out of mercy. In their coastal Alaskan town, her father buys the swan pelt, preventing her Uncle Alex, a fur trader, from selling it for export. Dawn’s father surprises her part-Aleut mother with a hat she helped to make and also with an idea to catch poachers. Shooting swans has become illegal but Alaska is a territory and Prohibition occupies the Sheriff. Dawn and her mother become involved with suspicious inquiries about the swan bonnet besides its haunting effect. Because Dawn’s grandparents see the swans first, Dawn agrees to secretly watch the migration with the deputy sheriff’s son. But after she and her mother encounter women from a ship and find out about a hunting party, they ride to the inlet. There are townspeople roving the shore too but who is the vigilante and who is the poacher?
Targeted Age Group: YA
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was considering a move to Alaska and began reading about it and its history. When I came across the drastic decrease in the swan population and its endangerment in North America, I wanted to know more about that. This led to research while my imagination began to draw up historical scenes.
This made Dawn flinch while Glenda stood motionless as a wooden baluster on the boardwalk. “That beauty was more than twenty years old, Alex,” she said. “She was feeble and her mate didn’t migrate back this spring. Why, she collapsed when she was feeding on shore. You know we haven’t been shooting swans to sell them! It was illegal to shoot swans in Britain, for centuries it was. I don’t care if I have to tell the sheriff about it.”
“Her mate might have been poached,” Young Fen said. “She was floating on the bay alone.” He turned towards the boardwalk so that Uncle Alex looked that way too. The deputy sheriff and Davy, his son, had just come out of Thaddeus’s Hotel and Eatery. “I know the sheriff hasn’t had time to chase swan poachers. And the liquor prohibition keeps the deputy busy.” Young Fen nodded towards the deputy even though he was yards away. “Dawn, you might take those eggs and butter over to the General Store. See if Davy needs anything for his mother first. They’re always waitin’ for the berries.”
As Dawn found the crate with the crock of butter and the basket of eggs, her father continued. “My mother thinks there’s been poaching near the cabin. You might have an idea who it is, Alex, hearing those quotes from people.”
“You hear them talkin’ all the time over at Toddy’s when the ships anchor. I guess you don’t eat supper there much.” Uncle Alex laughed with as much bluff as he had with a hunting partner. “In this territory, the snow is Czar, the ice is King, and the President is a berg floating offshore.”
“And there’s the deputy,” Young Fen said as Glenda put one of her berry baskets in the crate. “He’s talking to one of those ship people.” He stopped Dawn with his eyebrows. “What have you heard them quote at Toddy’s exactly?” Young Fen motioned for Uncle Alex to confer nearer Wallop as if the horse could help them arrive at a price.
“The natural demise of that bird is not an exactly, it’s a haggling.” Uncle Alex strode towards Young Fen, who said sharply, “Dawn! The eggs!”
She turned to see Davy coming down the boardwalk ahead of his father. He had his new elk hide hat on and his eyes, seeing Uncle Alex, were as sharp as Deputy Shamison’s badge. Davy was more interested in accompanying his father and his aims than anything else. Everyone at school knew it. Dawn stepped up to the boardwalk as Davy reached the smokehouse.
“Davy! My grandma brought some berries.”
“She did.” Davy wasn’t the kind of boy to tweak braids.
About the Author:
Katherine L. Holmes lives in Duluth, Minnesota, where, besides writing, she works with used books. She has an M.A. in Writing from the University of Minnesota, obtained after stints in publishing and newspaper reporting. Her first published book, The House in Windward Leaves, became a Finalist in both the 2013 Next Generation and the Indie Excellence book awards. More about her and her other books can be found at her website: https://sites.google.com/site/katherinelholmesauthorprofile/