Part One. (WIP)
As the sun licked the tops of the mountains I set about to find the most comfortable log or rock I could, along the side of the road, to sit on. It was still very early, but I had made it my mission to be on the road before sunrise each and every day. My father’s instructions still rung in my ears “find your path, but watch your back”!
He had been a trader, now many years ago, through this same country. It was a different time then. The natives were more your friends than enemies, and your enemies were those who had come to steal the skins you had worked so hard to harvest. Times had changed things. Now, the natives looked at you almost as an outsider and in truth, they were about the only ones still out roaming the countryside.
Quite a few settlers had fled back to the bigger cities; Baltimore, Philadelphia and the like.
My own family had pulled up stakes from along the banks of the Potomac River, where their family had been for almost 100 years and headed to the proposed safety of Fort Frederick on the Appalachian frontier. My father,so very old now, had really not wanted to go. He told everyone to leave him there, his fate would be the land he had claimed, the friends he had known and the ones he couldn’t leave behind.
The story had been told so many times of how the young couple had set out into the wilderness, alone with only a friendly Indian guide to help them. My father had been born the year Lord Baltimore had all his troubles in Maryland (1660).
From as early as I could remember, our guide now I knew only as “Chico”. It was many years later before I learned his full name, Checochinican. It was many more years before his whole story and that of his family would finally come to light. Chico had come down to Baltimore from up North. As far as I knew no one asked him why, but he seemed a man of some importance and know he wanted to head west for awhile. There was a family down the street from us who had the same plans and it seemed we all might go together. The boys were still very young and Mrs. Evarts thought they might wait a few years until they were a bit more grown. Chico and my father seemed annoyed but not terribly upset by this bit of news. It meant fewer horses and provisions to acquire, but they still wanted to leave in very early spring.
My father had shopped around for maps and come across one from a Mr. George Alsop, but it really wasn’t very good, as far as I could tell. Then a man had come to the house on day saying he knew my father was looking for a map of the west, he had one that might be of interest to him. It was a much better map, the paper seemed a bit worn and the bearer a little more desperate than you might have hoped to sell it. Still my father was able to acquire what he though an excellent map by Francis Lamb for a very good price. In my mind, my mother was never very comfortable with the idea of why the map had been such a bargain, but to her dying day, she never said a word, that I knew of)
Now with map in hand all my father had to do was wait out the end of winter. It had seemed, at least to me, the winters weren’t as cold as they had been. But at the tender age of 5 I can’t really say I remember much. I do know my father had heard from the Scot’s who would pass through that their times at home were getting tough. More and more seemed headed to these shores, especially south of where we were now. Everyday we tied another bundle, bagged more salted meat or I sat by the fire with Nana spinning yarn till the cat was dizzy.
Near the middle of March activity around the house seemed to pick up. Everyday someone new would stop by and with all our provisions I though we would need a dozen wagons to haul everything with us.
I woke early one Saturday morning and when I got downstairs the house was empty. Fear gripped me for a moment as I wondered aloud if they had all left without me. Quickly enough I heard my mothers footsteps in through the back door. The sensation of fear was shifted from solitude to exasperation as my mother grabbed me and a sack on corn in one fell swoop and swished us out the door into the morning sunshine. We were set unceremoniously with a plop in the back of a big, bulky wagon. My hair was soon tussled as I saw Chico and my father sitting on the bench, it seemed, just waiting for me.
This life’s adventure was about to begin.