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• ISBN: 978-1-934757-97-0 • 264 Pages - 6” X 9” - Paperback •

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"Mort makes a fascinating read out of every subject he takes up." The Associated Press "Terry Mort is an author extraordinaire." Ann LaFarge The Hudson Valley News

The Voyage of the Parzival "It's not my fight," said Ethan Grey. It didn't matter. Mexico was at war, and he was in it. He'd wanted a cruise in warm waters, a chance to forget the war he'd just fought, the War Between the States. But the ship he chose so casually had another mission, and like it or not Ethan Grey was on board. The storms at sea, the battles with enemy ships, the long trip overland through hostile territory, the flight from French mercenaries; it became his war, too. But this time, at least it was simpler. It was just a fight for his friends. And for Maria. The Voyage of the Parzival is based on an earlier book by Terry Mort entitled, Shipment to Mexico


Chapter One

In the summer after the end of the war, Ethan Grey came home. During the months immediately after the surrender he was involved in the decommissioning of his ship and then in the paperwork of his own discharge. After that it took him a number of days to arrange the trip home to Maine from the Mississippi, for transport was scarce; there were so many men returning from everywhere to everywhere. And so it was mid-August before he came back to Oquossoc. For a time the quiet of the Maine woods and the slow rhythms of the village were a welcome and soothing change. This was only temporary, he believed. He did not think he could permanently settle back into life in a rural village where nothing much ever happened outside the cycles of nature. But for now, for the next month or two, it was a place to become private again, after years aboard ship where even an officer had very little chance for solitude and there never was any quietness. His ship was not a living thing, exactly, but it seemed that way sometimes, for it groaned and creaked and hummed and clanked all through the day and night, and when the guns were fired the sound of them was a metallic thud that reverberated in every space of the ship, no matter how remote. He could never escape the penetrating noise. And so now, sitting on a wicker chair on the front porch of his parents’ house, hearing only the sound of the loons on the lake, he was able to feel a sense of private peace that was exactly what he had remembered and wished for during those long years of the war. It was just what he needed, for now. -1-


The house stood on a trim lawn a few dozen yards from the shore of the lake. A wooden walkway led from the porch to their dock, and at the end of the dock there was a white flag pole where his father always flew the Stars and Stripes and, under that, the state flag of Maine. To one side of the house was an old boat house, solid despite its years. There was a long wooden ramp from the boat house to the edge of the lake, and they used this to slide their boats into the water some time each May, when the ice was finally gone from the lake. Behind the house were the barn and the outbuildings and a woodshed that was filled with split logs that were piled high, all the way to the sagging roof of the shed, to the point that Ethan was not sure whether the shed was really standing by itself or just leaning on the wood piles for support, like an old man resting on a fence rail. Some of the stacks in the back of the shed had been there for years; Ethan’s father did not believe in letting the wood piles get too low. As soon as he was old enough to heft an axe Ethan spent hours each summer day replenishing the stacks in the front, and it was from these that they took their wood in the winter, leaving the rearward stacks untouched. “Winters are long,” his father would say, as if it needed saying. “It’d go hard on us if we ran out of wood.” So those first few weeks after he returned, Ethan took up his old habits. He and his father cut wood and split it and piled it neatly in the front section of the woodshed. “Chopping wood warms you twice,” his father would always say, sweating heavily, and consciously echoing Thoreau. It was a joke between them, for neither one of them needed warming during the hot, moist days of late summer. Under any circumstances this kind of work was not something that Ethan enjoyed particularly. It was just something that had to be done. And the wound in his leg still ached now and then, especially when he strained to split through a thicker than ordinary log or one that had a knot in it. It also ached when the nights were cold or the days wet with either fog or rain. He had received the wound at Vicksburg when a shell from the city batteries exploded on his gunboat killing the young midshipman who was standing next to Ethan and sending jagged splinters into Ethan’s knee and calf, so that on the day the city finally fell Ethan was in a Union hospital bed soaked in sweat from fear that they were going to take the leg off. But the wound was clean and, though painful, not too dangerous, and the surgeons got most of the splinters out, although that summer, two years later, some splinters tried to work their way to the surface and Ethan had to ride into the village to see Doc Eliot who probed and poked and -2-


finally extracted several small slivers of metal and then patched him up again. Doc Eliot said that this would stop, someday, but he did not know when. “Only thing I can say for sure is, it’ll stop when you run out of splinters,” he said. After wood cutting in the morning, Ethan’s father left for the village and his lumber mill, and Ethan took his rod and one of the boats and rowed down around the point to the narrows where Mooselookmeguntic Lake joined Richardson Lake. This stretch between the lakes was a fine run of a half mile or so, dotted with large gray boulders and sharp little riffles bordering deep pools, where the big landlocked salmon liked to hold as they waited for the current to deliver them their steady meals. This fishing was a tonic for Ethan. It had always been so, but now it was especially good. Being there alone with only the sound of the rushing water was as much a part of being home as his mother’s apple cobbler. He did not feel guilty about not doing more work. He had saved most of his navy pay and could afford to take some time off. And his mother was anxious for him to take it easy and rest his leg. It was not the leg that needed resting, Ethan thought, but he was happy to have a convenient excuse for going off by himself. The fish were active and cooperative that year, and most evenings Ethan could return home with a two or three pound salmon, which his mother would bake or his father would put in the smoker for eating later in the winter. His father was always storing up for the winter, it seemed. Well, he had lived in Maine all his life and knew how things were. In the evening there were the smells of his mother’s cooking and the sweet smells of the white birch burning in the fireplace, which despite his father’s best efforts, still smoked a little when there was a stiff wind off the lake. It was this wind that made an evening fire welcome even in late summer. Then the three of them would sit around the heavy pine table his father had made and have their dinner and talk of nothing serious. Now and then Ethan would look up and see his mother or father watching him closely as if looking for signs of damage unrelated to the wound. But nothing was ever said about that. They were a warm and close knit family, but none of them had the habit of talking about subjective things. Ethan would tell them stories of the war, but the stories were little more than factual renderings of events. He did not talk about the important things, because he had not sorted them out in his own mind. The truth was, he felt a little numb inside, but he did not know whether this was just simple tiredness or something. -3-


About the Author —

Terry Mort Terry Mort is the author of the Voyage of the Parzival, a highly regarded novel set in the Mexican-French resistance movement following the U.S. Civil War, as well as the award winning Hemingway Patrols. In addition to his novels, he has done a book on his favorite hobby, fly fishing, and has edited works by Mark Twain, Jack London and Zane Grey. He did his undergraduate work in English literature at Princeton University and graduate work at the University of Michigan. After grad school he served as an officer in the Navy where he specialized in navigation and gunnery. His tour of active duty included a lengthy deployment to Vietnam. He has traveled extensively and spent time in more than thirty five countries. He lives in Sonoita, Arizona and Durango, Colorado with his wife, Sondra Hadley. Also by Terry Mort The Voyage of the Parzival The Hemingway Patrols The Reasonable Art of Fly Fishing Showdown at Verity The Lawless Breed Mark Twain on Travel Jack London on Adventure Zane Grey on Fishing -4-


The Voyage of the Parzival by Terry Mort  

The Voyage of the Parzival by Terry Mort

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