Shadow Dogs
75 pages
English

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75 pages
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Description

From across the ocean to the Carolina Mountains comes a boy and his faithful yellow dog. Set in Colonial frontier times John is no stranger to adversity. Join John in a tangled web of lies and deceit, as he fights to survive while seeking his destiny. As John's adventure unfolds, see him struggle with his own inner demon, fight in the Battle of King's Mountain, and discover his connection to the mystical Shadow Dogs. John's story is one of both joy and heartbreak that you'll never want to end.

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 14 mars 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781950895779
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0017€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

The Shadow Dogs
Peggy McLain
Republished November 2017
Little Creek Books
Imprint of Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc
Copyright © 2017 Peggy McLain

EISBN: 9781950895779
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017961453

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons,
either living or dead is entirely coincidental. All names, characters
and events are the product of the author’s imagination.

This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, with the exception of brief
quotations within book reviews or articles.

You may contact the publisher:
Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc
PO Box 701
Johnson City, TN 37605
publisher@jancarolpublishing.com
jancarolpublishing.com


In Memory of Jason Lee McLain,
1970–2003




Dear Readers

The Shadow Dogs was a labor of love. Writing it got me through the toughest time of my life. You see, I am a breast cancer survivor. Always yearning to write, I said I was going to when I retired. In retirement though, no matter how hard I tried, the words never came, then cancer reared its ugly head.
While recovering from surgery, I thought I would try my hand at writing again. As I stared at the blank page, I wrote the first sentence, the first paragraph, and then the first page. After the first chapter, I was hooked.
Having over thirty years’ experience in job placement, the simplest advice I can provide today’s youth is to read all you can. Those who read, understand what they read and can follow written instructions, tend to prevail. Remember in life that you are no better than anyone else, and no one else is better than you. With hard work and dedication you can be a success. Whatever you choose to do, begin today by reading!


Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge the following people, for without them, this book would not have been possible. Thank you for your support and encouragement: Diann Ball, Roberta Brazier, Lydia Cox, Lynn Eastlund, Faye Henson, Mary Ann Karnes, Robert McLain, Betty Morrison, Matthew Morrison, Peggy Runnels, and Donette Sellers.



This book is a work of historical fiction. All significant characters are imaginary except John LeQuire Jr. and John LeQuire Sr. They are my fourth and fifth great grandfathers respectively. I have taken great creative license with these two characters, as well as with the Cheraw Indian Tribe, and it is my hope that their ancestors understand if I have overstepped any boundaries. Historical events have fact and fiction intermingled for artistic uniqueness.



Preface

M y favorite time of day is just when the sun breaks the horizon and starts its ascent into the heavens, when the forest comes alive with the chirps and the chatter of the birds. They break into song as if to say, “It’s a glorious day. I made it through the night.” They call out to their neighbor, “Are you there?”
Their neighbor calls back, “Yes, I am,” and it goes on and on until the light of day. Then it stops just as abruptly as it started, as the birds fly away to attend to the business of the day. This is the way of the forest.
The forest provides for, and shelters many of my friends, but the forest can be a formidable place. The forest can be a harsh, vengeful place to dwell, and it is truly survival of the fittest.
The forests have long since changed. I miss the mighty chestnut trees that once towered over this land, but they are no more. I can see them in my mind’s eye: they were many; their canopy covered the forest like a sea of green. The elk and the buffalo were once as many as the chestnut trees. They dotted the hills and valleys of the southeast, but they do not roam here anymore. They have gone by the wayside, like the wolf and the eagle who are very few now. The beaver and the bob whites too are few, and now even the groundhogs seem to be harder to find. I do not think they will last much longer. The forest would not have changed if it had not been for man. Man in his foolishness and greed took and took from the forest, until the old growth forest have disappeared.
My clan knew of many men, good and bad, and we know too, that all men are not foolish. To remember the past, we tell stories of such men.
One such story spans many years, and I think of it often when the birds sing in the morning.
Remember this, as I tell the story, I will tell this day: the past often determines the future. I have seen the future unfold as the past slips away. I know this to be true, for I am the spirit of the Shadow Dog .




A Burden to Bear

T he narrow path leading to the trading post was long. Winding up hills and down hollows, it crooked and turned like a wandering snake. However, no snakes were out on this cold morning. The path was situated in an old-growth forest, one in which a man could disappear forever, unless he knew those woods, and Johnny knew them. He had trod them for the past four years and knew every valley and ridge, every creek, spring, and cave just as well as he knew his name. It was early and the frost, still on the ground, crunched beneath his feet. After the harsh winter, the surrounding landscape was barren, except for one oak leaf clinging to a slumbering tree. Pausing for a moment, Johnny reached up and snatched that last, lone leaf of winter, threw it to the ground, and ran ahead. His breath was white from the cold. He and Lady, his trusted hunting dog, were far ahead of his father John, the Frenchman, and Yellow Dog, the Cheraw Indian.
Johnny thought he had better wait and let them catch up with him, but he was so excited he could hardly contain himself. He loved going to the trading post because there he could see Sarah Elizabeth. He thought about her a lot. He thought about her blue eyes, her wavy blond hair, and her smile—most of all, her smile. Although he had not seen many girls in his young life, he imagined that she must be the most beautiful girl in the world.
Johnny paused. Finally, he saw John and Yellow Dog on the path and ran back to meet them.
“One more mile,” Big John wheezed.
“I know,” Johnny offered.
They came to the foot log that spanned a small stream, just before the clearing that led to the trading post. The foot log was at least twenty feet off the ground. Big John had spent the better part of one sum mer, honing the log so it would be safe to cross. The ravine below was deep, and one would surely be injured, if not killed, if they fell from the log. Yellow Dog would wait there for their return. It was his stopping place. His ritual would be to rest against the tree at the foot log and talk to the Great Spirit. Johnny knew that Yellow Dog would not go to the trading post because Henry Hullings, the owner, hated Yellow Dog.
The trappers and the long hunters in this particular area of the Carolinas admired Yellow Dog for his hunting dogs. The dogs were always t here, in the heart of the forest, but no one really knew where they came from. Only Yellow Dog had been able to master the dogs.
Big John had given the Indian the nickname Yellow Dog soon after he and Johnny came to the New World. Before that, the Indian had been known as Deer in the Water, but the name Yellow Dog seemed to fit better than Deer in the Water, so it stuck. Yellow Dog liked it because of his kindred spirit with the mystical dogs. He thought it was a good name.
While clearing a spot for his cabin, John had found the Indian and a small yellow puppy by the creek. The Indian had fallen from a high rock bluff while trying to retrieve the puppy. John helped the Indian back to his cabin clearing, and cared for him until he was able to walk again. He made a crutch for the Indian, now answering to the name Yellow Dog. In gratitude, when Yellow Dog moved on, he left the frisky little pup for Johnny. The boy quickly named her Lady.
After that, their lives became entwined. As years passed, they shared everything until that terrible night, which was about to unfold.
John entered the Post. Henry Hullings greeted him. “Hey, John, come to sell me that dog?”
“ N o , sti l l c a n ’ t se l l he r , ” John ans w e r ed.
“You know you and that boy are starving to death, and the boy needs shoes,” said Hullings in his sly way.
“ I r ec o n ’ w e w o n ’ t sta r v e as long as w e ha v e the dog , and Johnny can wear moccasins,” Big John replied. John wanted to say more, but he bit his tongue and kept quiet.
In the meantime, Johnny caught Sarah Elizabeth’s eye and the pair stood frozen, smiling at each other.
Big John had no money to spend at the Post. It was the end of winter, and John just wanted to know if there was any word on the fur traders. He and Yellow Dog made money selling hides trapped during the winter. It was important to know of the traders’ arrival. They usu ally stayed for a day, and if you missed them, it meant you were out of luck or you carried your hides to the next town or the next until you could locate the traders.
William Parsons, a portly, jolly fellow, came in and announced, “Yo, the flatboats are coming. I saw them on the Pee Dee River, and if the weather stays good, they will be here tomorrow.”
The traders were headed for the port city of Cheraw but would stop at area settlements in the vicinity to buy hides, especially beaver and otter.
“Hear that, Johnny?” said John. “We’ll have to load our hides and be here first thing in the morning.”
“What about the ones at Yellow Dog’s camp?” Johnny asked.
Yellow Dog’s family helped tan the hides in exchange for goods, and there were still a number of hides remaining at the camp.
John thought for a moment, “We’ll put our hides in the cabin so they’ll thaw out and be good and dry. We’ll spend the night at Yellow Dog’s camp and bring his hides with ours at first light. We can stay with Yellow Dog’s family tonight. With his help, we should be here before anyone else.”
The pair left quickly to tell the waiting Indian the good news.
“Dang them, the Frenchman and that Indian, too! I c a n ’ t get a dog off either one of them , ” Hu l lings scorned at William Parsons. “I’m going to have one of those dogs if it’s the last thing I do. …..How about some home-brewed ale, Mr. Parsons?”
“You knew what I was thinking,” said Parsons.
They drank for some time until Parsons said, “I’d better git on home, or my wife will skin me alive and bring me all packed up to the traders in the morning.”
After dark that night, when no one was around, Hullings closed the Post as usual and, with a sack slung over his shoulder, headed into the deep woods alone.
It was after ten o’clock when Hullings felt it was safe enough to approach John’s cabin. He had overheard John’s plan to put the hides in the cabin and go to Yellow Dog’s camp to spend the night. Hullings knew he could not get away with stealing the hides, so he thought he would do the next best thing. He would ruin them. He doused his torch.
As he approached the cabin, he noticed Lady was gone. That was good. She would bark if she were in the cabin. So, that meant no one was there.
Along the way, Hullings had filled his sack with leaves and soaked the sack in the creek. He had planned to clog the chimney in order to smoke up the hides. If the chimney caught fire, and burned the cabin, hides and all, that would be even better. He was in luck. There was smoke coming out the chimney, so Hullings went about his business. The cabin had a low-slung roof. Hullings hoisted himself onto the roof and made his way to the chimney. He was slow and methodical, almost ceremonial—like an ancient tribesman making a sacrifice to the gods. He offered the wet leaves into the awaiting chimney. When he finished the deed, he leaped from the roof and disappeared into the forest under the cover of night.
On the way home, he mused to himself, N ow he’ll have to sell me the dog. He’ll have little money for his winter’s work. My plan is downright brilliant. Genius, I would say.
Without his torch, he had stumbled on the path leading from John’s cabin. His face and hands were scratched. He hoped they would not give his secret away.
It was almost midnight when Hullings crawled into his warm bed and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Johnny and Yellow Dog arrived at the cabin, but no John. He should be packed and ready to go.
Sensing something was off, Yellow Dog told Johnny, “Wait, do not to go into the cabin. Something is wrong.” Johnny stood perfectly still with Lady by his side.
Lady followed Yellow Dog as he cautiously entered the cabin.
Johnny wondered , Should I stop her? Do I dare call out to her?
He remained still with an unknown anticipation he had never experienced before.
Drawing his knife as he entered the cabin, Yellow Dog found John dead halfway between his bed and the door. As Yellow Dog kneeled beside his good friend, Johnny summoned enough courage to peek in the door. Yellow Dog was saying a Cheraw Indian prayer over John as Johnny entered. Yellow Dog looked at Johnny and, with a tear in his eye, shook his head. No words were spoken. Johnny knew his father was gone.
Unknown to Henry Hullings and the world, Hullings had murdered Big John in his sleep. He was unaware that Big John had stayed behind at the cabin while Johnny and Lady went with Yellow Dog to the Indian camp.
Without formality, Yellow Dog and Little Johnny buried Big John that day while sleet fell from the sky. Johnny thought to himself, Tears are falling from the angel’s eyes, as he fought back his own tears, as he stood at his Father’s grave. Yellow Dog showed little emotion, so Johnny considered, This must be how it is supposed to be. A man does not show his emotion. He did not know Yellow Dog was fighting back tears himself.
At the gravesite, Yellow Dog spoke, “Big John was a good man, and he loved you Johnny—more than the air he breathed was his love for you. He was a brother to me, and I will miss him.”
Johnny still in shock just said, “Good-bye, Pa’Pa. I will miss you.” Then it was over. His father was in the ground, and Johnny was alone except for Yellow Dog and Lady.
Yellow Dog knew it was a lot for the boy to bear, but he told Johnny, “You must go into town and tell the white people what happened.”
Johnny asked, “Why can’t I just go with you and be with you and your people, Yellow Dog?”
“If you go with me without telling the white men what happened, they will say I killed your father. Many in town want a reason to hurt my people. Go tell them what happened,” said Yellow Dog. “Go tell them that it is no man’s fault. Tell them it was the fire’s fault and how black everything was, with soot and smoke. Let them know it was at no man’s hands that your father died. Then come back to me and my people. You are like a son to me and may always live at camp with me and my people, but you must first do this.”
Yellow Dog knew better than his words. He had seen the signs of someone being there the night before, but he wanted to protect Johnny. Why must the boy be burdened throughout his life wondering who killed his father? What good would it do? It would be too much anguish for one so young to carry. Such a burden could spoil a man, slowly eating away at his soul until the end . Perhaps one day I will share the secret with Johnny, but not today.
With a tear in his eye, Yellow Dog said, “Go, Johnny. Be swift.”

It Was Meant to Be

Y ellow Dog watched the boy walk away. He remembered the night before when Big John made the decision to remain at the cabin. He thought, At least the boy was spared.
I told the boy this was meant to be. I do not know why the Great Spirit has taken John. The Great Spirit has a reason for all things. This reason is unknown. It may never be known.
In pondering, Yellow Dog remembered how John came upon him in the woods. Neither of the men spoke English very well, but over time, they had learned to communicate almost without speaking. John had told Yellow Dog of his life and how he had come to America. Yellow Dog could see Big John in his mind’s eye.
He reached out to touch him, but his vision fell away. A moment passed, and once again, he pictured Big John. Big John was small in stature but a devilishly handsome man. He was of dark complexion, raven hair, and coal black eyes. He was jovial, with a smile as wide as the horizon, but he was dead serious when it came to his loved ones.
John’s wife’s parents were merchants in France, but they were far from being wealthy since the business supported both families. It was hard to eke out a living working for Mary’s parents, but the families managed to get by and were able to scrimp and save a little money from the business.
John sold bread on the streets, while Mary helped in the kitchen. This was not what John wanted to do with his life. John was tired of the crowded city, tired of the stench of sickness and disease, but most of all, he was tired of the depravity of man. He wanted to be free from it all. He wanted liberty.
When Mary’s parents died, John convinced her to go to the New World. It would be a new beginning. So in 1763, John, Mary, and three small children set sail for America. John was going to be a fur trapper.
By chance, when John found Yellow Dog on that particular creek bank on that particular day, it set into motion the path that many lives would travel.
John had been in America for only a short time and was building his shelter before winter. It was already cool at night, and he knew he did not have a lot of time. Winter was near, and he could not afford to waste time. So each day, he labored from sunup to sundown.
The creek was not far from the cabin. One day, for no apparent reason, John stopped his work and decided to explore.
“Come on, Johnny,” John said to his then eight year-old son. “Let’s go poke around and see what we can find.”
Johnny played all up and down the creek while Big John inspected the creek bank. As they rounded a bend in the stream, it became at least ten degrees cooler. Rock bluffs rose up on both sides of the stream like a gigantic vestibule, rising out of the earth. At that point, the small stream disappeared underground, leaving a dry creek bed as far as one could see.
“Where did the water go, Pa’Pa?” asked Johnny.
“It went under the ground, son,” Big John answered.
“Why?”
“I don’t know for sure, but I think there’s an underground cave. Feel how cool the air is coming out of this crack in the ground.”
Johnny could feel it. He didn’t even have to bend down.
“I do!” exclaimed Johnny. “How do we get down there?”
“We don’t. We’ll go a little farther downstream to see if the water surfaces again, but then, we must go back to our work.”
As they walked down the dry creek bed, the towering bluffs became common creek banks again. John spotted a spring bubbling up out of the rocks.
“Here it is, Johnny, come see.”
Johnny ran ahead of Big John, splashing water all the way. He stopped, went over to the creek bank, and stared. He reached down, picked up a small puppy, and stood frozen.
Big John feared it was a wild animal, and he had no weapon. He thought, I’ll never go into the forest again without a weapon. What was I thinking? We are not in a city. We are in the wilderness. John ran to the boy’s defense.
When John approached, his son pointed.
There wedged in trees, roots, rocks, and bushes was a mangled man—an Indian. He must have fallen from the hill and rolled head over heels to come to rest hanging upside down in a tangled mesh of forest. John tugged and pulled at the thick undergrowth but could not free the Indian.
“Johnny, run back to the cabin and bring my ax. Take care with the ax on your way back.” John then introduced himself. “I am John LeQuire from France.” Hanging upside down, the Indian muttered something that John could not pronounce or remember.
John said, “I’ll just call you Yellow Dog for that pup yonder. I have never seen a dog that color before.”
When Johnny returned with the ax, Big John freed the Indian and helped him hobble back to the cabin clearing.
Each day, Yellow Dog watched John build his cabin. Each day, he saw the goodness and kindness of the man as the Frenchman nursed him back to health.
After Yellow Dog returned to his tribe, he brought John and the boy wild game. Without the Indian’s regular help, they would have starved that first winter. The men saw themselves as equals—they had saved each other’s lives.
Soon the trio were hunting and trapping together. They quickly learned each other’s languages and cus toms. They all learned a lot in the four short years since they met.
Yellow Dog followed the trail back to his camp and smiled as he remembered Johnny’s first real hunt with him and Big John. He remembered the bow and arrows he had crafted for Johnny and Johnny’s first kill—a young rabbit. Tender and good eating it was. He thought to himself, there will be many more days, and many more hunts.
Johnny fought back the tears as he approached the settlement located about a day’s ride from the town of Cheraw. It was only a wide spot in the road, but it had a trading post, a blacksmith shop, and a church that doubled as a school and meeting hall. There were only a handful of children who went to school. Most of the townspeople referred to the settlement as the Glen. The first white man to settle there was a Scotsman, and that’s what he had called it. Others called it Parsons, for William Parsons, who had garnered much respect for his wisdom over the years. And then, some called it Hullingstown, since Hullings was the richest man in town. Year after year, no one could agree on a name, so it remained the Glen, just a wide spot in the road.
Times were hard at the Glen . Dying was easy while living was hard.
An education was not important in the new fron tier, however, the preacher’s wife insisted that the children should at least know how to read and write. She appointed herself the schoolteacher and did quite well with her limited resources.
J ohnny thought, Sarah Elizabeth goes to school there. He had seen her with the other children one day when school let out.
Johnny’s thoughts rushed back to his father. Now that Pa’ Pa is gone, I have no living relative in America. My only kin are in France, and I do not know those people. I know Yellow Dog and his tribe, so that will have to be enough. Johnny came to the foot log, stopped, walked down to the spring, and drank some water from a gourd dipper his father had put there. He washed his face in the cold water. The sleet had stopped, and the sun shone down on him. It felt good. He thought that he would not cry anymore.
“I am a man now and the master of my soul,” Johnny vowed in a low whisper. He said it louder, “I am a man now. I am the master of my soul.” He said it again and again and again until he shouted to the top of his lungs. Somehow, the shouting made him feel better.
“ I did n ’ t mean to s c a r e y ou, gi r l , ” he c almed L ad y . “ I think we will rest here for a little while.”
Johnny leaned back against a tree as Lady sat by his side, ears pricked, always alert. She picked up a scent in the air and wandered off the path.
Johnny thought again, I have no one but Lady. Maybe I can live in the cabin and work at the blacksmith shop. No, that won’t do. The blacksmith has sons to help him, and I’m too small.
Johnny was small for his age. Scrawny was what Henry Hullings had called him. He was small, but he was strong and scrappy to boot.
Maybe I can work at the trading post. That would be wonderful. I can see Sarah Elizabeth every day, Johnny thought. That will be it. I shall live at the cabin and work at the Post. Maybe I could go to school too. No, I’m too old. The people will make fun of me. Anyway, I can count in French, English, and Indian.
On the voyage to America, Johnny’s mother had taught him how to count. He missed his mother. He could not exactly remember her face, but he remembered that familiar closeness when she held him in her arms. He remembered her happiness, her laughter, and the love that poured from her heart. He could not recall much of his life in France, but he remembered coming to the New World. He remembered the ship and the sea in its awesome splendor.
His mother, brother, and baby sister had all contracted dysentery on that voyage. He had bad dreams about the burials at sea—that would haunt him throughout his life. He wondered why he and Pa’P a did not become sick. He thought, Maybe it was the whales. Yellow Dog’s tribe believes that animals have mystic powers. Maybe that is why we lived and the others died.
Johnny’s mother, Mary, was afraid of the whales. She would not come out from below to see them. But the whales energized young Johnny, especially when they blew. He stood on deck for hours waiting to see a whale blow its breath into the air. His father stood with him so he would not be swept overboard by the massive waves. Maybe if Ma’Ma and the younger children had come out from below and smelled the salty spray of the whales, maybe they would not have gotten sick.
He knew his Pa’P a was sad for a long time and blamed himself for their deaths. He had heard his Pa’P a say this to Yellow Dog.
About that time, Lady treed a squirrel and Johnny chunked a good-size rock at the squirrel but missed.
“Come on, girl,” he said. “We need to go on so we can get back before dark. Come on. We’ll leave that squirrel for another day.”
Johnny crossed the foot log and hurried toward the settlement. He thought again of Sarah Elizabeth. What magic does she hold on me? Why do I keep thinking about her? What was it that Father told me? No matter what you choose to do in life, choose to be with the love of your life, as your mother was to me.
In no time, Johnny arrived at the clearing. He was feeling sick to his stomach but went straight to the trading post. Johnny mused, Sarah Elizabeth will be there. She will be the love of my life, as Ma’ M a was to Pa’ Pa. He always said a man was the master of his own soul. I am a man now. I am the master of my soul.

A Sadness Came Over Him

T he settlement was abuzz when word spread that the fur traders were on their way. Johnny had never seen so many people there at one time. The traders arrived on time just as Mr. Parsons said they would. They were anchored in a little bay located not five hundred feet from Hullings’ door. There was a carnival atmosphere in the air with happy children running back and forth. The adults were trading stories and laughing out loud. The Post did a brisk business, and Hullings raked in the money. Although he had been busy most of the morning, he kept a sharp eye out for Big John.
He thought, I’m a downright genius. Maybe the hides were not ruined. No, they had to be, or Big John would already be here. “Big John,” such a silly name for such a small, insignificant man.
Johnny came in with Lady by his side and made his way through the crowded store. He looked around for Sarah Elizabeth. He saw men laughing and talking, drinking ale, smoking, playing cards, and spending their money. A few women milled around looking at items that lined the walls. Some of the flatboat men slurped a stew. The air was stale and thick inside the Post. Johnny could barely get his breath. He was so hot after coming in from the cold. As he made his way to the counter, Hullings spotted him and Lady.
Hullings shouted over the crowd to Johnny, “Is Big John outside? What took him so long?”
Johnny was suffocating. He took a deep breath. “No, sir, my Pa’Pa is dead.”
Hullings turned white as a ghost.
William Parsons, standing close by drinking his ale, took notice of Hullings’ shallow complexion and the look on his face.
“Dead, you say, boy?” asked Hullings.
The room hushed. Everyone leaned in to hear the boy speak.
“Did that Indian he runs with kill him?” asked Hullings. “I never did trust that Indian,” Hullings said loudly. He wanted to make sure everyone heard him.
“No, no, sir,” said Johnny.
Everyone and everything was silent. It was as though time had stopped for Johnny. All he could hear was his own heartbeat, and it felt as though it would explode if he took a breath. William Parsons moved in close to the boy. He wanted to hear everything.
Martha Hullings, Henry’s wife, was in the back living quarters. She came out to see why everything had gotten so quiet.
“Tell us, boy,” said Parsons.
By this time, Johnny’s head spun and his hands shook. He heard people talking to him, but he could not make out what they said. He put his hand on Lady’s head to steady himself and stroked the dog. Johnny could not muster the courage to speak and felt faint as the room twirled around him. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Sarah Elizabeth. He gazed upon her and manned up quickly. He took a deep breath, stood straight, cleared his throat, and spoke.
“The smoke killed him,” declared Johnny. “Something happened to the chimney and Pa’Pa did not make it out of the cabin.”
“Where were you, boy?” asked Parsons as he glanced up at Hullings.
“I was with Yellow Dog. We were all going to Yellow Dog’s camp, but Pa’P a said Yellow Dog and I could leave before daylight and follow the trail. He would have food ready when we got there, and we could all leave together at first light. That way, we would be first to arrive to meet the traders. Yellow Dog said he breathed in smoke because it was in his nose. That’s what killed him,” said Johnny.
Amid whispers all around the room, Johnny turned to leave.
“Where are you going, boy?” Hullings shouted.
“I’m going to Yellow Dog’s camp before dark,” Johnny retorted.
“You stay here, boy,” ordered Hullings, “until we can figure this out. That Indian probably killed Big John. He might kill you too. A group of us will go to your cabin tomorrow morning and look around. We’ll decide what really happened,” Hullings demanded.
“You are wrong, sir,” Johnny said. “Yellow Dog did not kill my Pa’P a. No man did. You will see for yourself.”
Hullings was glad to hear Johnny say in front of the townsfolk that no man killed his father.
“The cabin is black with smoke. Yellow Dog did not do anything to Pa’Pa,” confirmed Johnny.
“You just stay here tonight,” Hullings ordered Johnny. “Or we’ll go get that Indian right now and find out what happened.”
Johnny remembered that Yellow Dog had warned him about some white men who wanted to hurt his people. He knew that Hullings hated Yellow Dog, but he did not know why. With reluctance, he agreed to stay the night.
“Martha, take Johnny into the back and feed him some stew. The boy probably hasn’t eaten all day.”
Johnny said, “Sir, my name is John. I am a man now. That is the God-given name my parents gave me, and that is what I wished to be called, sir.”
Hullings’ blood boiled. He hated this little imp as much as he did the Indian, but he must not let his anger show.
“Master John,” said Hullings, “go on now and have some food. You can take the dog with you.”
“Henry!” exclaimed Martha. “No dog enters into my kitchen!”
Hullings was quick with Martha, and it embarrassed her, “Hush woman! That dog is special. I say she can go back there with the boy. Give the dog some stew too.”
Johnny and Lady followed Mrs. Hullings through a massive door into a backroom. Sarah Elizabeth followed. The troubled townspeople quickly left the Post.
Many gathered outside and wondered, Can this be the start of something? Are the Indians going to give us trouble? Is Hullings stirring up a hornet’s nest? Confused and anxious, they all agreed to stay home the next day.
“That boy is running off all your business,” William Parsons advised.
“ It does n ’ t matte r , ” said Hu l lings. “ Th e y’ l l a l l be ba c k. W he r e c an th e y go? Th e y su r e c a n ’ t get ale anywhere else around here.”
The two men laughed. Finally after the fur traders had gone, only William Parsons remained, and by the end of the afternoon, he had drank quite a bit of ale.
Parsons asked, “How did you get all scratched up? Did Martha get a hold of you?”
Hullings questioned, “Why do you ask?”
“What are you up to?”
“What do you mean, what am I up to?”
“I mean, you taking an interest in that boy, feeding that dog in Martha’s kitchen. You are up to something.”
“I’m not up to anything. You need to go home. Your wife will be sending one of those boys after you again. She may send two if she thinks you can’t walk. And then you know you’ll have to repent.”
“You’re correct, Henry, she’ll be all over me if I miss supper. I can hear her voice ringing in my ears,” said Parsons as he swallowed his last gulp. He staggered to the door, tipped his hat, and said, “Good night, kind sir, but I know you as well as anyone, and I still think you’re up to something. Me thinks it has four legs and a tail.”
Hullings followed him to the door. He slammed and locked it as soon as Parsons stepped off the threshold.
“Good riddance!” Hullings exclaimed as he retired to count the day’s rewards.

Johnny had never seen so many things in a house: These are real rooms with doors you can open and shut. My cabin is so sparse, with one room and one door, a table and two chairs, a shelf on the wall, and two small beds. All these Pa’Pa made from

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