Chapter 1 Washington, D.C. April 25, 1824 "Houston must have known." The president turned his head away from the window, presenting his profile to the other two men. The expression on his face was not condemnatory so much as simply pensive. "Must have known for several years, in fact. Am I right, Winfield?" The tall, handsome general in one of the chairs in Monroe's office shifted his position. Only slightly, of course. The very fancy uniform he favored didn't lend itself well to extravagant movement while he was seated. "Oh, certainly," General Scott replied. "Driscol's been building another Line of Torres Vedras in those mountains. The original took Wellington over a year to buildand he had the population of Lisbon to draw on. Even with all the negroes who have migrated to Arkansas the past few years, Driscol doesn't begin to have that large a labor force. And the Cherokees and Creeks are useless for that sort of work, of course. For the most part, at least." The secretary of state, the third man in the room, cleared his throat. "Perhaps . . ." John Quincy Adams pursed his lips. "The work stretched out over that long a period of time . . ." President Monroe shook his head. "I thank you, John, but let's not be foolish. Sam Houston?" He chuckled. "I remind you that my son-in-law is the same man who, at the age of sixteen, crossed sixty miles of Tennessee wilderness after running away from home. Then he lived among the Cherokee for several years, even being adopted into one of their clans. He could find his way through any woods or mountains in Creation." The president's tone of voice grew somber. "Even drunk, as he so often is these days." Monroe finally turned away from the window. "No, let's not be foolish. He spends as much time in the Confederacy as he does here at home, since the treaty was signed. There is no chance that Sam Houston failed to see what his friend Patrick Driscol was doing. Nor, given his military experience, that he didn't understand what he was seeing." As he resumed his seat at his desk, Monroe nodded toward Scott. "It didn't take Winfield here more than a few days to figure it out, when he visited the area. Andmeaning no offenseWinfield's not half the woodsman Houston is." The general's notorious vanity seemed to be on vacation that day. His own chuckle was a hearty thing. "Not a tenth, say better! I've traveled with Houston a time or two. But it didn't matter on this occasion. Patrick provided me with a Cherokee escort, who served as my guides. He made no attempt to keep me from seeing what he had wrought in those mountains. Quite the contrary, I assure you. He wants us to know." A bit warily, Scott studied the president. John Quincy Adams didn't wonder as to the reason. James Monroe was normally the most affable and courteous of men, but they were treading on very delicate ground here. That most treacherous and shifting ground of all, where political and personal affairs intersected. Sam Houston's marriage to James Monroe's younger daughter Maria Hester in 1819, following one of the young nation's most famous whirlwind courtships, had added a great deal of flavor and spice to an administration that was otherwise principally noted for such unromantic traits as efficiency and political skill. The girl had only been seventeen at the time. The famous Hero of the Capitolstill young, too, being only twenty-six himself, and as handsome and well spoken as everFlint, Eric is the author of '1824 The Arkansas War', published 2006 under ISBN 9780345465696 and ISBN 0345465695.