Prior to the annexation of Texas to the U.S., a young, sensitive boy, taught by his cultured mother to play classical piano; read and love poetry and literature, Llewellyn Gans is in constant conflict with his father, Horst who berates his wife for teaching such subjects to his son when what he really needs is to develop the skills to survive in a harsh, unrelenting land.
The harassment and bullying leads to young Llewellyn deciding to leave home to find a job as a cowhand driving cattle from Texas north to the feedlots and transportation of the cattle to the East. To avoid heckling and harassment, young Llewellyn changes his name to Cody. Young Cody, while diminutive in body is an excellent horseman. Cody is fortunate in meeting another young man his age, Miguel whose Mexican mother and father taught him many of the refinements of Spanish culture.
The two young men share their interests and soon decide that after making some money, they would travel together to see some of the world.
In their stop over in New Orleans, Miguel meets, falls in love with and marries all Spanish girl whose father has a thriving business in importing cork.
Young Cody, alone manages through luck to deliver a fiery stallion to a woman horse breeder in France. His adventures with the woman Elsa and his work on the breeding farm complete the circle and he returns to the prairie. The men he meets and befriends make his adventure the starting point in fulfilling his life.
Llewellyn Gans was the only son of Horst and Eleanor Gans. Llewellyn adored his mother Eleanor and hated his father Horst. The Gans family dated from the days of the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia in 1781 when the American and French forces forced General Cornwallis to surrender and thereby effectively ended the Revolutionary War. The British had hired 30,000 mercenaries from Frederick II of Hesse-Kassel to fight the Americans. With the war lost in 1781, Horst’s father, Gunther Gans, a lad of barely 16 years of age, abandoned the Hessian mercenary troops after having fled from Yorktown during the fighting. Gunther Gans settled in what was Spanish territory and remained there until 1845 when the land was called Texas and annexed to the United States. He was then a man of 80 years of age and had fathered two children, Horst and Eva. Eva did not live past her birth.
Horst Gans, as an only son was brutalized by his father Gunther. Gunther’s strict German discipline and his expected exactness and strict obedience, hardened Horst and even though he feared his father, showed great respect and tried to emulate him in the raising of his own son, Llewellyn.
In contrast, Eleanor Gans, his mother was a sensitive, sweet woman who showed a great deal of talent in playing the piano. She was well read and had written some poetry. Her lineage was French and her family went back to the French and Indian wars of 1755 to 1763 and even further back in France and it was claimed that her family went back to Francois the First.
The family moved North into Quebec and then later settled in New Orleans. Shehad been educated by a French governess who taught her the manners and knowledge needed by a wealthy French girl. The intention was to return to France where she could marry a French man who possibly had a title but was poor. Unfortunately, her father’s dream was cut short by his death and so she and her mother remained in New Orleans., where some years later, she met and married Horst Gans.
These loves of education and appreciation of art she transferred to her son Llewellyn. She taught him French and when they were alone together, they spoke always in French. His father, Horst disdained what he called foppish, girl interests and if he could have, would have forbidden his wife to teach Llewellyn these arts but as circumstances dictated, Horst was away a great deal of the time on business and could not control what was happening while he was away. At times, young Llewellyn would come running to his mother and say, “Mother, I have just memorized a sonnet by Helene Pierre Ronsard in French, and he waited to hear his mother’s praise, with his eyes bright and sparkling. If he was in his father’s hearing, Horst criticized his wife and told her she was raising a daughter and not a son. Horst would have objected less if the boy recited something in German but he did not know the name of any German poet. “You will have him acting like a woman instead of a man. I want my son to be strong and fearless so that he can face the world and come out winning.”
In part, Horst was right. Texas, just after the annexation of Texas in 1845, the mostly male population was an undisciplined lot with scant room for the niceties of culture. Bars and prostitutes dominated the small towns and a man was better off if he could shoot and ride a horse. It was only later, when families started to move into Texas that important things like schools and a church became necessary and desired. A man whose attributes were reciting poetry and appreciating music had no place in the scheme of things when everyone was trying to claim land and position. It was a time when male dominance prevailed.