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Stryker 5: Stryker's Woman

Stryker 5: Stryker's Woman

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Stryker 5: Stryker's Woman

Longueur:
204 pages
10 heures
Sortie:
Jul 30, 2015
ISBN:
9781310972218
Format:
Livre

Description

Ulrich von Waldsburg of Prussia and his entourage – which included a minor Belgian royal named Catherine de Merode – came to the American West to hunt and to observe the U.S. Army in action. But Catherine wasn’t just any conventional princess. When she was a child she learned ballet ... and also Savate, the French kickboxing style perfected in Marseilles. At Fort Laramie, she met Matt Stryker. Stryker was to scout for the Waldsburg party, but wasn’t there when the renegade Cheyenne, Lean Bear, and his warriors massacred the hunters and their cavalry guard and took Catherine captive.
Matt made it his responsibility to find and rescue Catherine de Merode. Little did he know the Cheyenne and then the Absaroka would turn Cat Merode into an animal ... a woman called Dog.

Sortie:
Jul 30, 2015
ISBN:
9781310972218
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Charles T. Whipple, an international prize-winning author, uses the pen name of Chuck Tyrell for his Western novels. Whipple was born and reared in Arizona’s White Mountain country only 19 miles from Fort Apache. He won his first writing award while in high school, and has won several since, including a 4th place in the World Annual Report competition, a 2nd place in the JAXA Naoko Yamazaki Commemorative Haiku competition, the first-place Agave Award in the 2010 Oaxaca International Literature Competition, and the 2011 Global eBook Award in western fiction. Raised on a ranch, Whipple brings his own experience into play when writing about the hardy people of 19th Century Arizona. Although he currently lives in Japan, Whipple main-tains close ties with the West through family, relatives, former schoolmates, and readers of his western fiction. Whipple belongs to Western Fictioneers, Western Writers of America, Arizona Authors Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Asian American Journalists Association, and Tauranga Writers Inc.

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Aperçu du livre

Stryker 5 - Chuck Tyrell

Ulrich von Waldsburg of Prussia and his entourage – which included a minor Belgian royal named Catherine de Merode – came to the American West to hunt and to observe the U.S. Army in action. But Catherine wasn’t just any conventional princess. When she was a child she learned ballet … and also Savate, the French kickboxing style perfected in Marseilles. At Fort Laramie, she met Matt Stryker. Stryker was to scout for the Waldsburg party, but wasn’t there when the renegade Cheyenne, Lean Bear, and his warriors massacred the hunters and their cavalry guard and took Catherine captive.

Matt made it his responsibility to find and rescue Catherine de Merode. Little did he know the Cheyenne and then the Absaroka would turn Cat Merode into an animal … a woman called Dog.

STRYKER’S WOMAN

STRYKER 5

By Chuck Tyrell

Copyright © 2015 by Chuck Tyrell

First Smashwords Edition: August 2015

Names, characters and incidents in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information or storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.

Cover © 2014 by Ed Martin

This is a Piccadilly Publishing Book

Series Editor: Ben Bridges

Published by Arrangement with the Author.

Chapter One

"En garde!" William held his short wooden sword pointed at Cat’s heart.

Stupid. How am I to fight you with no sword of my own?

Women have no swords. They must submit to the will of the soldier. William, two years older than Cat’s seven, smirked at having his way with Cat, whatever that meant.

Submit? You must be crazy. A woman of the House of Merode would die before submitting." Cat made small hard fists of her hands and held them stiffly at her sides as she faced soldier William.

If you do not submit, wench, I shall be forced to run you through.

Cat said nothing. She merely stood there before William, her fists held stiffly at her sides and her feet spread apart for better balance—she learned that at ballet practice.

The fledgling soldier, frustrated at Cat’s lack of surrender, lunged at her, the point of his wooden sword aimed at her heart. Wench, he snarled. Prepare to receive your just reward. May your soul rest in Hell this day.

Little Cat instinctively batted the wooden sword to one side, tripped the would-be soldier with an out-thrust foot. When he was sprawled on the ground, she planted the toe of her shoe solidly in his ribs. "Non, le salaud, I will not submit to any soldier through force. Never!"

William began to sob. He’d never been a hardy child, and being bested by Cat, two years younger, shattered his fragile ego. "Pas juste, he said between sobs. You’re supposed to submit when a soldier points his sword at you."

Never!

Now, now. What are you children fighting about?

At the sound of Harriett’s voice, both children came to attention, motionless until the governess stood before them. William? Catherine? Who is responsible for this ruckus? And Master William, your breeches are dirty. Would you like to explain the dirt, please?

Cat spoke. It is my fault, Harriett. William played the soldier and was determined to make me submit because he held a sword. I will not submit to the point of a sword. He thrust at me. I tripped him, and while he was on the ground, I kicked him smartly in the ribs. That is all.

Harriett gave William a sharp look. Master William. What were you planning to do after Catherine ‘submitted’ to you?

William traced a semicircle among the fallen leaves on the ground with his sword. I don’t know. Wenches are supposed to submit, not fight like a man.

Never. Cat sounded mad enough to spit. I do not understand at all that women must submit to men, sword or otherwise, and I never will!

Be careful what you say, little Catherine, Harriett said. It is true that men are much stronger than women. And by the laws of God and the Church, a woman married to a man belongs to that man.

Never! Cat stamped her foot. Never. Never. Never.

See? She refuses to submit even when a soldier holds a sword to her throat.

It was nowhere near my throat, foolish boy. Cat could not help taking a dig at the hapless William. I refuse to submit.

Come to class, Harriett said. We cannot spend your study time quarreling about something as esoteric as whether or not a woman should submit in the face of a soldier’s sword. Rather, it is time we reviewed the Napoleonic Wars. That will show us what soldiering is all about. Come.

Cat followed in Harriett’s footsteps. William lagged. He did not want to get too close to Catherine.

~*~

As was the case every morning, Cat spent three hours at the ballet school of Mademoiselle Beaumont. Even at seven years of age, Cat showed the balance and suppleness that shortened her name from Catherine to the feline one everybody knew her by. She did her barre exercises effortlessly, without even thinking.

Catherine de Merode!

Cat stopped with her left leg in retiré devant, holding the barre with her left hand. "Professeur?"

I heard of your escapade with William. You know he must become a noble leader of soldiers in the field. It is not for you to defeat him, but to build his confidence.

Cat scowled. "Merci, professeur, but I cannot submit merely because some ratty weakling points his flimsy sword at me."

Catherine. One must be feminine at all times. Often, for the fairer sex, femininity is the most powerful weapon we can muster.

"Professeur. S’ il vous plaît. Must a girl be weak to be feminine? Cannot a strong lady be feminine? Is there no way?"

"Concentrate on your ballet, cherie. Just concentrate. It will help your femininity." The professeur leaned closer. And it will make you oh so strong and supple.

"Oui, professeur, Cat said. May I continue with my exercises?"

"Continuer," the professeur said. She retreated and stood by the wall as Cat went through her prescribed regimen. Occasionally the teacher would correct Cat, but mostly she just watched, for Catherine de Merode, daughter of privilege, was more accomplished at seven than most women ever got. If she so desired, any troupe in the country, perhaps in all of Europe, would welcome her as a member, intent on training her to be a prima. Yet, as accomplished as she was, Cat showed no desire to pursue ballet as a way to fulfill her dreams. For a moment, the professeur wondered. Where will this girl find herself ten years from now?

After completing the exercises, Cat joined half a dozen other students, all older than she was, to practice a new composition to be presented at the wedding of Anne de Seville and Robert de Gabin in two months time. Although an aristocratic wedding, it was not royal, but it allowed ballet students to get their first taste of public performance.

Cat seemed to have an incredible memory for body movement. Once the professeur showed her how to do a certain technique, she could repeat it well at once, and each repetition brought her closer to perfection. Such a child. So very talented.

What came naturally to Cat required dedicated and interminable practice for other students to master. Envy sprouted among them. Why was this ... child ... able to dance so faultlessly when she performed exercises and practice with such nonchalance? Their envy grew darker and darker. But the envious could find no way to put Cat in her place. No way to ruin her. No way to bring her down to their common level.

Cat watched people closely whenever she rode through the city in her family’s carriage. It is not fit for a Merode to dirty her feet in the dust and mud of common streets, her mother declared, but the daily trips to ballet practice allowed Cat the chance to see how common people lived.

On her way from the Merode estate to the Royal Ballet practice pavilion in April 1867, just before Cat’s tenth birthday, she noticed two men fighting at the side of the street. A number of people had gathered to watch the fight, and her carriage had to slow to a crawl to make its way through the crowd. Cat watched carefully. One man fought in a most distinctive matter, using open-hand strikes one moment and devastating kicks the next. He seemed to be taunting the other, bigger man, as he stepped back to allow the larger man to get to his feet every time he got knocked down. Cat craned her neck to watch as the carriage slowly passed the fighting pair. The smaller man controlled the fight so magnificently. Cat decided she must find out how, what he did to be so nonchalant, yet so in control.

Georges, she called to the carriage driver after they had passed the fighting men.

"Oui, mademoiselle."

Did you see the fight? Cat moved to the front seat and knelt on it, facing forward, so she could more easily talk with Georges.

It is not seemly for mademoiselle to watch men fighting.

The little man fought very well, did he not?

Hmmm.

The little man knew how to fight, Georges. Do you know what kind of technique he used?

Georges did not answer at once. Then he repeated, It is not seemly, mademoiselle.

Please.

Georges said nothing.

Georges! Tell me what you know.

The smaller man ... he fought using Savate, Georges said. His tone of voice said he knew he had to tell Cat or she would pester him forever.

"Merci, Georges. Cat sat back. Savate. What in the world was Savate? If Savate enabled smaller people to control ... to fight on their own terms with much larger people, she must learn the method. Savate. Hmmm. Savate.

The carriage pulled up at the entrance of the practice pavilion. Georges applied the brake and clambered down to open the carriage door for Cat. She paused with one foot on the step. Georges, you must find someone to teach me Savate. Do you hear? I must learn Savate.

Georges merely bowed.

After a moment, Cat stepped down to the cobblestone driveway. She held her skirts up so they’d not be soiled by brushing the roadway. Savate, Georges, she said with steel in her voice. Find me a good instructor. Do you hear me?

"Oui, mademoiselle."

When Cat finished ballet practice, Georges waited for her with the carriage. He held the door open.

Savate, Georges.

"Oui, mademoiselle." Georges said nothing more. He merely closed the door, climbed up to the driver’s seat, and started the matched four on their way.

Cat fumed. She glared at the front wall of the carriage, not really watching where they were going.

She began to wonder why it was taking so long to leave the city and reach the Merode estate. She pulled the window curtain aside and saw that the carriage made its way deeper into the city, away from her home. And the street itself was no longer cobblestoned.

Georges! Georges! Where are we?

"Oui, mademoiselle. You instructed me in no uncertain terms that I was to find a place where you might be able to learn the technique called Savate, or by some, Chausson. I think this may be such a place. If you agree, perhaps I could accompany you to see the master, Professeur Lacroix.

Oh, yes, Georges, immediately. Cat no longer felt concerned about the muddy street or the foreboding buildings that lined the way. Georges had found her an instructor in Savate, that terribly effective way of fighting that allowed a small man to overcome a much larger adversary so easily. Cat fairly leaped from the carriage, nor did she fuss with her skirt in vain attempts to keep it out of the mud.

Please wait, mademoiselle, for me to get the plank. You must not walk in the muddy street.

"Lead on, Georges. I would meet the professeur." Even at ten, Catherine de Merode was already nearly a head taller that other girls her age.

Come, then.

Cat followed Georges so closely she almost stepped on his heels as he made his way along a narrow alleyway into a broad area behind the row of buildings.

Even before she could see them, Cat heard the heavy breathing and sharp cries of men laboring, fighting with one another, it seemed.

Georges and Cat emerged from the alleyway at the edge of an area obviously built for practice. Under foot, not bare earth, mud, or grass, but bricks laid neatly side-by-side. They were not mortared, so any moisture that fell on them slipped between the bricks to leave a dry surface ready for practice.

Six people worked out. The professeur stood to the side, calling out orders. "Fouette," he said.

The men took a ready stance.

"Figure!"

They made high roundhouse kicks.

"Median!"

The kicks were lower, at belly height.

"Bas."

The kicks, while roundhouse, were at a level that would sweep the legs from under an unwary opponent.

The professeur noticed Georges, but seemed to ignore Cat. "Georges, mon ami. Welcome."

"A moment, Professor Lacroix?"

"Bien sûr." The professeur told his students to keep practicing. This way, he said, and led them into the house.

Inside, he turned to Georges. What is it?

May I present Catherine de Merode, Georges said.

"Monsieur le Professeur. Se il vous plaît. I would learn the art of Savate. Please."

You are a girl, soon to be a woman. What use could you have for skill in Savate?

I made a vow long ago when I was seven. I vowed I would never submit to any man who tried to force me. I saw a man, a small man, gain victory over a much larger man. He used Savate. I am much smaller than most men. Savate could be my salvation.

Neither Monsieur Lacroix nor Georges spoke.

Cat filled the silence. "Monsieur le Professeur. I need Savate. It must protect me from those of superior physical strength. Se il vous plaît.

Self defense?

I would protect myself.

Can you come here every day?

I will bring her and take her away, Georges said.

"Bon." The professeur gave Cat a stern look. Be prepared. The way is not easy.

"I understand, mon professeur.

Cat began her training with Gerard Lacroix, whose school of Savate followed the manner of Michel Casseux as interpreted by Charles Lecour and Joseph Charlemont. Not only did

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