by L. Leander
GENRE: YA Historical Fiction
Bertha Maude Anderson has no inkling of how famous she will become. She lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the year 1843. Her world changes forever when she is enticed to join The Romanoff Brothers Circus and her name is changed to Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders. Inzared discovers her true calling while learning to live with the nomadic Gypsies. From the hatred shown by some of the performers to the love she finds along the way, Inzared finds herself immersed in the rich folklore and customs of the misunderstood people who call the circus their home. Her one constant is Cecil, the elephant, and together they form a bond that no one can break as Inzared finds herself lured into the world of the Gypsies while clinging to her own roots and trying to break free of the chains that keep her from her destiny.
“Paytre,” a man’s voice broke through the hazy dusk. “Mala’s leg is acting up and she won’t be able to ride Cecil tonight. What are we going to do?” The ringmaster came into view, attired in a white shirt, red jacket and tails, ready to introduce the show. He walked funny and I saw that one boot was built higher than the other. In spite of the limp, he commanded attention, his bronzed face wearing a self-assured look as he tapped a whip repeatedly into his palm. I sensed he was impatient, because my Pa was always fiddling with his jackknife when he got irritated.
“Bertha, this is Shandor, the ringmaster and half-owner of the circus.” Paytre introduced us and explained the problem. “Mala is one of the bareback performers and she has been filling in on Cecil since our last rider disappeared. She hates riding the elephant, but she’s all we have. A few years back she broke her leg and it never healed right. At times she’s unable to ride because she has to wear a brace to keep her leg straight so she’s not in so much pain. It takes her out of the ring for a few weeks.”
He frowned as he thought. Suddenly he looked up and said, “How would you like to fill in for her?” He faced Shandor as he continued. “She can’t do the tricks, but she can ride Cecil in the ring.”
My eyes widened as I realized what Paytre was saying. “But…,” I stuttered.
Paytre put his finger over my lips. “Shh. You can do this.”
“We don’t use Gaji in our show.” Shandor spat the words out.
“Sir, watch me. I can do tricks on any horse you have and I ain’t scared to do them on the elephant either. Please, just give me a chance,” I implored. “I don’t know what a Gaji is, but I’m sure enough a hillbilly if that’s what you mean. We’re made of strong stuff and I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ll make you proud.”
Shandor’s stern gaze turned on me, but he spoke to Paytre. “We don’t need any trouble with the locals, as you well know. Where are her folks? She’ll need permission.”
I thought fast. “Sir, I’m an orphan,” I lied. “Ain’t no one to ask but me. I’ll be careful, and I’ll do a good job in the ring if you’ll only let me.”
The ringmaster hesitated. “Well, maybe just this once, since we are so near show time,” he said grudgingly. “Paytre, get her to the costume wagon and over to the rear entrance. It’s nearly time to go on.”
Paytre turned to Shandor. “She’ll need a stage name.”
Shandor thought for a moment. “She thinks she’s such a queen, she can be called Inzared.”
I gasped in delight at the foreign-sounding name he had given me. “What does it mean?” I asked.
“Queen. Queen of the Elephant Riders,” Shandor replied. “We shall bill you as Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders.”
ABOUT the AUTHOR
L.Leander is an author who lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ralph, during the summer months but spends the majority of the year in Mazatlan, Mexico. Ms. Leander is an award-winning singer/songwriter who has also won awards for her needle arts. As a child, Ms. Leander loved the circus, hence, her debut novel, INZARED Queen of the Elephant Riders. The book follows the adventures of an Appalachian girl in 1843 who runs away to join a Gypsy circus and becomes a famous elephant rider.
Three winners will each win an e-copy of “INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders” by L. Leander. Giveaway ends 17 November 2012.
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