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The Appointment: The Tale of Adaline Carson.

Opening of the novel:

"Chapter 1.

Adaline lay awake in the wrap of her buffalo robe beneath the Turners' wagon. Close by, her cousin Susan had a canvas dew break and a buffalo robe and in addition a down-filled quilt her mother had sent off with her as part of her dowry. Susan was still asleep, snuggled deep in the robe and quilt. The sun was rising beyond the edge of the plain, the day beginning to seep in, and in the faint light Adaline glimpsed the ivory dome of her cousin's brow and a hank of blonde hair, so unlike her own. Just beyond, she saw a glimmering on the front axle and beyond it, the wagon tongue touched the ground. Directly above was the sling of hide lashed to the wagon's undercarriage, what was called a possum after the animal's way of carrying its young in a pouch.

The pouch held firewood. Adaline reached up to touch it, reassuring herself by its bulge that it was full. One of her duties was to keep the possum replenished, what seemed to have become a lifelong duty. She had fetched wood for her Aunt Mary Ann at the farm outside Fayette, Missouri, and at the convent school in Saint Louis to which she'd been sent for two years, then back in Fayette at the boarding school. Here the chore was more nagging, since in the six days of travel she'd seen that Mr. Turner built his fire too large and kept hectoring her for wood, while trees near to the trail grew scarce. . . .

Adaline's dreams came filled with circling birds and labyrithine geometries as lunatic as the constellations overhead. She was haunted by shapes like larvae that grew huge and then spun away. They were like the whirlwind woman, Neyoooxetusei, whom she remember her mother telling her about. Neyoooxetusei would put down for a moment, never resting, never waiting for the man who came after her but twirling off again before he reached her, her fluttering skirts darkening the sun Another man with no face walked across the plain."