THE VISIT

winter forest

In the lee of the great lake winter comes early and stays. The moist air carries across the water and the cold turns it into snow and dumps it deep and often. Fourteen year old Thomas has grown into a capable woodsman in the three hundred miles he has travelled from the Delaware River into the wilderness. A little wisdom and a little calm to push aside the fear.

From the pages of CAPTAIN’S CROSS:

Both Bear and Ben seemed to be shifting under their warm covers and left the fire and tea to Thomas. Draco was not in the camp, off doing what wolf dogs do in the night. Thomas put the water on to heat and stepped out of the camp to relieve himself. Thomas smelled him before he saw him. The Ottawa warrior was only twenty feet away, just visible behind an oak. The odor of sweat and bear grease mixed with rum and tobacco had drifted in the still air.

Thomas stood with his hands busy and willed himself to finish. His rifle was back near the fire but the pistol, short sword and knife were in his belt. The musket the warrior held was still in the crook of his arm and he was just watching. Thomas was close enough and the light had come up so that he could see the steam leaving the Indian’s nostrils.

Thomas judged that he could pull the pistol or the short sword and cover the distance to fairly defend himself, if he had to, but instead said in French, “Pardon me, my friend. I did not mean to soil your piece of the forest. We have elk and biscuits with our morning hot tea. Come and join us.”

The warrior did not move but Thomas saw his eyes shift to the left just slightly and then snap back. Thomas guessed, “And bring the others with you. We have trade goods, knives and blankets.” Thomas summoned up all his courage and simply turned to walk back to the fire, hoping a musket ball did not follow him.

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