eBooks: Looking for more eBooks?
Click here to shop our huge selection of eBooks.
It is the spring of 1850, and the Chandler family is quietly leaving England for a well-deserved vacation earned by family patriarch Henry Chandler, a clerk for the Cunard shipping line. The holiday is a pretense. In actuality, the family does not plan to return to their home. They have recently joined the Mormon Church and are journeying west to join the Saints in Utah. But as they prepare to board ship, they encounter a desperate young woman attempting to travel alone. The Chandlers graciously offer to chaperone Gloria Palmerston to New York City. Little do they know this strong-willed young lady holds a dangerous secret.
Upon arriving in the United States, the Chandlers’ passage west is unexpectedly interrupted and the family is forced to work on a steamship bound for Panama as they inch closer to their goal of the Great Salt Lake valley. With hopes of reaching the Zion of the West through a San Francisco route, the Chandler family and Miss Palmerston embark on a heroic undertaking as they face stormy seas, dishonest confidants, unending toil, strife, and betrayal—but also the helping hands of the famous Sam Brannan and Porter Rockwell. But there are some things worth sacrificing everything for. Book passage on Steamship to Zion and see how one family endures and proves the measure of their faith.
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 256
- Released: 04/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
About the Author
Jerry Borrowman is an award-winning author of historical fiction and coauthored biography. He and Rudi Wobbe won the prestigious National Award from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge for sharing Rudi’s true-life experiences in Three Against Histler. A number of his books, including A Distant Prayer with Joseph Banks and ’Til the Boys Come Home, are LDS best-sellers. Jerry has been featured in a number of DVD presentations, including Stories from the Life of Orrin Porter Rockwell, as well as in television and radio interviews.
A Fresh Start
Liverpool, England—May 1850
“This is outrageous! I won’t stand for it!”
To observers standing nearby it appeared that Gloria Palmerston
was going to strike Captain Edwards, and even he seemed to brace for
the blow. But instead she abruptly turned on her heel and stormed off
in the direction of the steamship ticket office.
“Hey, watch out there!” But it was too late. In her anger, Gloria ran
directly into Marc Chandler, who had been standing patiently behind
her on the pier studying a sheaf of papers—papers that went flying as he
fell backward to the ground. “What’s that, then? Are you really all that
important that you can just bowl over anyone who gets in your way?”
“Hmmph!” was Gloria’s response as she muscled her way through
the crowd, some of whom were chasing down the scattered papers.
“Here, let me help you up.” Henry Chandler stretched out his
hand to his son and quickly pulled the twenty-two-year-old into a
Dusting himself off, Marc turned to the crowd. His grin showed
that he was nonplussed by the whole thing, which allowed those
standing nearby to laugh with him. Marc was one of those individuals
who displayed natural charm. He had dark hair, brown eyes,
a trim but athletic build, and a natural grace. As he accepted the last
remnant of the papers from an elderly woman, he thanked her. “I
hope it’s not like this in America,” Marc added.
“Look,” said Alexandra Chandler, Marc’s mother, “that young lady who
bumped into Marcus is over there crying. Henry. We must do something.”
“We can comfort her,” said Alexandra, biting her lip. “And you
can find out from the captain what all this fuss is about. No woman
should be made to cry, let alone a highborn woman like that.”
Alexandra turned on her family with a stern gaze—a gaze they recognized
very well. “So you go see the captain, and Honoria and I will go
talk to the lady.”
“Me?” said Honoria, “But why me? What would I say?” Honoria
was the Chandlers’ twenty-year-old daughter. Although quite attractive,
with large dark eyes and beautiful dark brown hair, she was
painfully shy and quiet, although her father preferred to call her
“Just come with me, dear. You needn’t say anything, but at times
like this it helps to have more than one woman to offer comfort.”
With that, Alexandra started off toward the ticket office, pausing just
long enough to momentarily return her gaze to Henry. “Well? You
and Marcus should go talk to the captain right now.”
Henry sighed, shook his head ever so slightly, but said nothing to
his wife. “Come on, then, Marcus. Let’s go see what we can do. Your
mother will never let us rest until we do. Will you watch our things,
“Yes, sir,” said Max, their fourteen-year-old son and the youngest
member of the family.
“I don’t know why we’d want to help her,” said Marc. “She bowled
me over with no hint of apology. It looks to me like just another
spoiled, upper-crust brat.”
“Now, Marc,” said Henry, “she was obviously distressed and
caught up in her own troubles.”
Marc stifled a retort. He decided not to press it. This was too
exciting of a day, and he wasn’t going to let some overdressed debutante
spoil it for the family. And, if truth be told, he found her one of
the most strikingly beautiful women he had ever laid his eyes on, even
if her perfume was so strong and fragrant that it could have knocked
him down just as easily as the collision or her attitude did. His eyes
wandered to the young lady at the ticket office.
“The lady is all right now that your mother is there, so you don’t
need to stare,” said Henry with a touch of mischief.
that way to make sure she wasn’t knocking Mum and Honoria down.”
Henry laughed. Then he stuck his arm up in the air to signal the
captain. “A short word with you, Captain Edwards?”
The captain saw him and said something to the other passengers
he was talking with. Then he made his way over to Henry and Marc.
Even though Henry was a relatively low-level employee with the
Cunard Line, the captain had already made it a point to welcome him
to the dock and to extend an invitation for at least one evening at the
captain’s table during the upcoming crossing.
“How may I help you, Mr. Chandler?”
“I’m sorry to bother you with something that is most likely none
of our business. But my wife is quite concerned about that young
woman who appeared to have an altercation with you. Is there
anything we can do to help the situation?”
The captain sighed. “She’s a sharp one, all right. A single woman who
wants passage to America. But she has no chaperone and so of course it’s
impossible for us to transport her. That’s why she was so hostile to me: I
had to tell her no, and now I’m sure I’ll hear about it from the company.”
“Pardon my asking, but she appears to be a prominent person—
how is it that she would be in a position to travel alone?”
“From what I can make out, she’s the daughter of a nearby landowner,
the mayor of that town. So she’s prosperous enough—she
offered to pay her passage in cash. But why she wishes to make her
way alone, to America of all places, is beyond my simple imagination.
She acted quite anxious to get on board.”
“She’s a menace, if you ask me,” said Marc.
“Perhaps . . .” replied the captain, “ah, it seems as if she’s enlisted
the aid of your mother. Here they come.”
Henry and Marc both turned to see Alexandra striding forcefully
toward them, the young lady and Honoria hanging back by where
young Max had positioned himself with the family’s steamer trunks.
“Right, then,” said Henry, “you better prepare yourself, Captain. My
wife has that determined look in her eye.”
“Henry. Captain. I’ve learned something that may be of interest
to the two of you. This young lady is very much in need of passage on
this ship, and I think it unconscionable that she be refused.”
Henry couldn’t help but wonder how he’d become an obstacle to
that plan but knew it foolish to intervene.
“I understand that, ma’am,” said the captain respectfully, “but
it’s unthinkable for a young lady of such obvious breeding to travel
unaccompanied on a voyage like this. That is a situation that virtually
none of the respectable people on board would stand for. Nor will
I stand for it. Someone has to be there to protect her, and my crew
simply doesn’t have time.”
“That’s what I thought,” said Alexandra, a little softer. “It shows
you to be a gentleman. But I believe we have an answer—if you still
have a cabin.”
“What have you planned, Alexandra?” asked Henry. “You know it
can be unseemly to interfere in other people’s affairs.”
“I know it can be the Christian thing to do.” Alexandra took a
deep breath, knowing full well that what she was about to propose
was questionable at best. But the young woman was so distressed and
desirous of making passage that Alexandra had concluded she had to do
something to help her. “I propose that we act as her chaperone. We are
a respectable family, and she can come along as our guest. Between my
husband and my sons, we can make certain she is protected.”
“But, you don’t even know her . . .”
“I know her well, enough, Captain Edwards. And I’d think you’d
want the extra revenue that comes from a first-class cabin.”
“But Mother, we really don’t know anything about her—except
that she is rude and impetuous and . . . I was looking forward to
this crossing more than anything, and I’m not sure I want to do it
standing guard over some princess.”
“Quiet, Marcus. A woman is in need and we can help.”
Marc inhaled sharply, forcing himself to keep quiet.
His mother had her hands on her hips and was standing squarely
in front of the captain. “Well, Captain Edwards?”
The captain pursed his lips. Even though Alexandra was in
command of the situation, the captain turned to Henry. “And what
do you think, Mr. Chandler? Are you willing to vouch for this young
woman and take her under your care?” No matter how forcefully a
woman spoke, it was the head of the household who must make a
decision such as this.
“Then it is in the interest of the company to book it.” Henry
turned toward where the young woman was standing. She looked
at him with a mixture of hope and scorn. Obviously she was not
delighted with the thought of throwing herself at the mercy of
strangers, even when they had reached out to her in kindness. “Let
me have a few moments to talk with her, but for the moment, plan
on her coming on board. We will act as chaperone if she’s able to
convince me that she’s not running away from the law or some other
“Henry, she’s not running away from the law, for heaven’s sake . . .”
“That’s enough, dear. You’ve won the point, but I really do have
to interview her first. It’s the only prudent thing to do. We must take
this responsibility on with full knowledge so it doesn’t come back to
haunt us later.”
Alexandra hesitated and then relented. “Of course you’re right,
dear. Go talk to her and make the best decision. I hope it works out
that we can help her.”
“Is that acceptable, Captain?” asked Henry.
“I have no objection. We will plan on it, unless I hear otherwise.”
Turning to Alexandra, Henry said softly, “I hope you haven’t
landed us in something troublesome. We have our own affairs to tend
to, and they may become muddied enough as it is.”
“That may be . . .” Alexandra’s voice was more agitated now. “But
how could I just stand there?”
“Others could, but you can’t. No use fretting about it. Now I’ll go
talk to her.” Turning, he said, “Marcus, why don’t you go and organize
things for the porters. And stand by to help Miss—whatever her
name is—when the time comes.”
“As long as she doesn’t blast past me again . . .”
“Be nice to her,” Alexandra scolded. “She may be our dinner
companion for the next two weeks, so I don’t want you nursing a
grudge or teasing her. Do you understand?”
As they busied themselves collecting the young woman’s luggage
and uniting it with their own, the family was surprised by how long
their father’s conversation lasted with her, particularly when they
observed her face flush at one point.
“It’s awfully hard to imagine father saying something that would
offend someone,” whispered Honoria.
Alexandra smiled slightly. “She is a very strong-willed girl.”
“And I’ve the bruises on my bottom to prove it,” Marc added.
Alexandra rolled her eyes. “You’re acting like a . . .” Before she
could finish her sentence, her eyes widened and she whispered,
“Quick, look away. They’re coming.”
“It’s all settled, then,” said Henry in a forced voice. “Miss Palmerston
is an honorable lady from a prominent family who wishes to spend
some time with relatives in New York City. She will be our guest for the
crossing and then part company with us in New York.” It seemed obvious
to everyone concerned that there was more to the story than Henry
was telling, but the terseness of his response and the set look on his face
conveyed very clearly that he was not going to say anything more about it.
“Now, Alexandra, perhaps you could see Miss Palmerston to her room.”
“Perhaps you can formally introduce all of us first,” said Alexandra.
“Yes,” said Henry, looking around nervously, “of course. But
we really should hurry. All of this excitement suggests that Miss
Palmerston should lie down to calm herself.” Through all of this,
Gloria had stood by impassively, perfectly content to have Henry
carry the burden of explaining what seemed inexplicable. “So allow
me to introduce Miss Gloria Palmerston. This is my wife Alexandra,
our daughter Honoria, and our two sons Marcus and Maximus.”
“I prefer Max.”
“Pleased to meet all of you,” said Gloria quietly. Glancing at Marc,
she added, “And I’m sorry for our . . . encounter.”
Marc raised his head slightly as he considered the sincerity of her
words. He found them lacking. “Of course. Apology accepted.” His
use of the word apology caused Miss Palmerston’s eyes to narrow and
her nostrils to flare slightly.
“Yes, well, then, if you’ll see her on board the ship,” said Henry to
Alexandra in a hushed voice.
“But they’ve not even sounded the call for boarding . . .”
“I know that, dear, but I’ll speak to the captain. It really is quite
urgent that Miss Palmerston go aboard.” Henry glanced around the
docks with a furtive glance as he said this, which raised everyone’s
“Of course.” Even though Alexandra lifted her right eyebrow—a
sure sign that she was curious—she said nothing more. She held out
her arm to Gloria, who stepped forward and accepted her companionship.
Henry walked off to meet up with the captain as Alexandra
and Gloria made their way to the gangplank, where the purser
allowed them to pass after receiving a sign from the captain.
“What on earth is this all about,” asked Marc when his father
returned. “She is definitely not the type who needs to ‘lie down
because of all the excitement.’ She’s the cause of the excitement, for
“That’s enough, Marcus. She needs our help. Just leave it at that.”
Just then Marc saw his father shrink back a bit. Following his gaze,
he turned his eyes to the outer edge of the crowd, where he saw two
rather rough-looking characters ride up on their horses, one putting
his hand to his brow to shield his eyes from the sun as he looked
over all of the people in the crowd, obviously searching for someone
specific. When Henry saw Marc staring, he added, “Why don’t we
make our way toward the front of the line. The porter will take care
of our luggage.”
“Sure,” said Marc, now very curious. Normally his father would
have handled the luggage to save themselves precious money that
would be needed once they reached America. But this was not the
time to pursue it. “Come on, Max. Let’s have a look at those side
paddles before we get on board. I want to learn more about how this
great ship works.”
“Me, too,” said Max excitedly.
“I’ll take Honoria on board,” said Henry.
As Marc and Max started toward the edge of the dock, Marc cast
a quick glance to the side. The two figures on horses were gone. “It’s
going to be a very interesting voyage, Max.”