The third and final book in the Dakota Territory Series: Double the Dream
After Ingor Oleson left Norway to claim a part of the Dakota Territory as his own, his brother Lars follows to do the same. Now another year later, their uncle keeps his promise and sends Anne and Katrin Anderssen to marry his nephews.
The young women are excited and expect their husbands-to-be to have a good life already carved out for them in the unknown land of the Dakota Territory. Lieutenant Adam Johnson allows the sisters to travel with the Army families moving west to the forts there now that the War Between the States has ended. Sergeant Tavis McDougal is his right-hand man.
The sisters are charmed by the officers, and wonder if they will find the Oleson brothers as charming. And what will become of them if they can't find the brothers? Will they ever have the happy lives they have come so far to find?
Startled by the rush of everyone getting off the wagon, the sisters sat clutching their bags until they could get off safely. They followed the others, but hadn't walked far toward the trains when they suddenly found themselves in a sea of blue. Not the blue water of the huge ocean they had crossed from their homes to land in New York, but a sea of dark blue uniforms, some rather ragged and dirty and others cleaner. Both seas of blue were just as terrifying.
Never having seen so many soldiers in one place, the sisters looped arms to keep together in the jostling crowd and clutched their bags and coats to their chests with trembling hands. They had to force their trembling legs to move them toward the huge black engines. Black smoke belched from their tall smoke stacks and steam shot out sporadically between the huge metal wheels.
Tall enough to see the trains over some of the other people around them, Anna suddenly stopped. "I don't know which one is the train we need to take," she admitted, speaking in Norwegian. "None of the signs say they are going west. Some have names, but I do not know on them. Can you see one that says Chicago?"
"Watch it there, soldier. Give those ladies an inch to breathe in," a big man in blue, carrying a gun as long as his leg, yelled as soldiers marched past close by them.
"What if the train leaves without us because we don't know which one it is?" Katrin asked, clutching her sister's arm. In Norway they had been so happy, so excited at the prospect of coming to America to find Ole's nephews, but they didn't feel that way now. America was a scary place and they didn't know which way to turn or how to get help.
"The sisters stood where they were, but it wasn't easy. The close observation by the soldiers all around them made their hearts beat more rapidly. Their heads pounded as heat rose up their necks and into their cheeks.
"They gonna be on our train, Sarge?" one soldier asked without looking away from the sisters. "They goin' to Chicago?"
Anna looked at the soldier directly. Was it possible she had heard Chicago? "Train to Chicago," she asked, her voice cracking. "Which is train to Chicago?" she said more firmly after clearing her throat. She prayed that she had heard his word correctly. "He did say Chicago, didn't he?" she asked her sister in Norwegian.
"Pardon me, but are you ladies looking for the train to Chicago?" a voice from behind them said in perfect Norwegian before the tall Sergeant had a chance to speak.
Tears of relief burning their eyes, they released the nervous breaths they had each been holding and spun around toward the most-welcome sound of their own language. A tall soldier with a broad smile on his face stood directly behind them.
"Oh, yes, sir," Anna replied in Norwegian, a smile on her face. "Can you tell us which train will take us to Chicago?"
"I'll do better than that. I'll take you to it, but allow me to introduce myself. I am Lieutenant Adam Johnson, in charge of this motley troupe that so rudely surrounds you," he continued in Norwegian. "I hope they haven't bothered you."
"Thank you, sir. No, sir." Anna, not really sure if she should or not, introduced herself and her younger sister Katrin. "We are most thankful that you speak in words we can understand very easily," Anna added. "We speak English, but we worry we will miss some important words."
"I understand," he replied easily. "Do you have your tickets?"
"No, sir, we need tickets to Chicago. From there we must find our way to the Dakota Territory."
The Lieutenant suddenly smiled broadly but didn't explain why. "That's a long way beyond where the trains go. But first things first," he announced. "The ticket booth is over there." He extended his arm, pointing to the right of the trains. "I was on my way there, and you are welcome to come with me."
He ordered the Sergeant to assemble the men and their families together and to stay there. "I will return with our passes as soon as I can."
Deciding they could trust a kind soldier, Anna and Katrin followed him. As they wove through the crowd toward the ticket window, they agreed in whispers that Lieutenant Johnson was a godsend. Once there he helped them purchase the correct tickets and get the correct change before he turned in the paper that arranged for his men and their families to ride the same train.